Oct 31, 2019

Arctic sea ice at lowest extent on record for late October

by
Scott Sutherland
,
The Weather Network
The September 18, 2019 Arctic Sea Ice extent (blue-white), compared to the 1981-2010 average minimum extent (red line). Credit: NASA Goddard
The September 18, 2019 Arctic Sea Ice extent (blue-white), compared to the 1981-2010 average minimum extent (red line). Credit: NASA Goddard

On September 18, Arctic sea ice reached its minimum summer extent for 2019.

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Even as the extent began to grow towards the end of September and through October, it once again slipped to the lowest extent on record for the entire second half of this month.

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Less bright ice covering the Arctic ocean means there's more dark water surface. This results in more solar radiation being absorbed by that dark water, when it would normally (in the case where the ice extent was at more normal levels) be reflected back into space by bright ice. As more solar radiation is absorbed, more heat is emitted by the water as it slowly freezes, and this raises air temperatures in the Arctic.

Research is showing us that this can have a dramatic effect on winters for Canada and the United States, due to the impacts these warmer temperatures have on the polar vortex...