Did a 2006 Arctic “Heat Wave” Largely Cause 2007’s Sea Ice Melt?

In terms of the mechanisms restricting ice melt this season, to the extent that they have anything to do with air temperature, a cool Arctic above 80N means an absence of overrunning air from southern latitudes. Every sharp temp spike up there is simply a wind spike — from the south. While warm sea water incursions matter significantly more than air temps when it comes to sea ice melt, air temps do matter. As an example, 2007’s then-record melt could have taken place without a prolonged high-Arctic warming, wind-generated, during the first months of 2006.

Yes, there were other mechanisms at play during the summer of 2007 that even NASA admitted were simply weather. But a really important element of the causality of 2007’s melt was weather that happened more than a year before. That wintertime “heat wave” has never been written about by NSIDC or any other group as a component cause of 2007. The big question is: Why not?

Meanwhile, returning to 2013, a faster-than-average gyre, as has been seen this summer, equals a buffer against warm overrunning air. And, lo and behold, less melting of sea ice.

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About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
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