A fresh update from the Polar Ice Prediction System (the operational model run by the Naval Oceanographic Office for sea ice forecasting) reveals that the North Pole arctic sea appears to be adding yet more sea ice to its depths, as was first reported at MSB in an article titled, 70 Trillion cubic feet of New Arctic Ice.
The polar ice system gathers ice concentration data from the Special Sensor Microwave Image run by the U.S. Navy, and each day is run through supercomputer modeling software to provide accurate information for Navy ships and submarines at sea.
The image above shows the monthly progression of arctic sea ice thickness from November 2009 through February 2011 (20-Feb-2011).
An increase in the volume of ice is of course expected during the winter months, but this winter may be proving that more ice than the recent ‘usual’ is building up in the Arctic Sea. This may be one result of the present ‘La Nina’ that is underway in the Pacific equatorial waters, a phenomenon whereby the surface ocean waters cool, which in turn results in weather pattern changes.
Dr. Roy Spencer, with a Ph. D in meteorology and former Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center recently reported, “January 2011 experienced a precipitous drop in lower tropospheric temperatures over the tropics, Northern Hemisphere, and Southern Hemisphere. This was not unexpected, since global average sea surface temperatures have been falling for many months, with a head start as is usually the case with La Nina.”
Global temperatures have fallen dramatically during the past several months, one of the steepest declines since accurate satellite measurements began in 1979.
In addition, the arctic sea ice concentration is now largely 100 percent. That is, it is now possible to walk across the ice from Canada, across the north pole, and over to Russia… about 2,000 miles.
The following image loop shows the sea ice thickness during the month of February for the past 3 years. It does appear that at least during these recent years, the arctic sea ice has become more prevalent – thicker.
So what does this all mean? It just goes to show how the Earth goes through cycles and trends, and that the current trend appears to be one of colder weather.
From a preparedness point of view, the current trend suggests possibly cooler weather on average, this Spring and Summer, which theoretically could effect the growing season and results thereof.
The cooling trend being a effect of ‘La Nina’ suggests that we learn more about it, and the other possible consequences of a ‘La Nina’ cycle (weather pattern changes – precipitation or lack thereof, depending on geographical location).
Maybe one bright side to this is that we may not need our air-conditioners as much this summer…
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