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Nightvid Cole

Now would be an apt time to add


to the sea ice graphs/maps page, it will be fun to watch over the winter (although somehow the URL needs to keep updating to the latest date....can anyone do that?)

Jeff Stone

I'm trying to figure out the last of Jim's stats:

•This stat doesn’t seem to impress or even interest anyone beside me, but I think it’s pretty telling anyway: until this year, area had never fallen below half of the daily average. It’s now done so 17 of the past 18 days.

Is he saying that if the average ice area over the year is about 7 million sq.km (just eyeballing a graph), we'd never gone below 3.5?

r w Langford

Glad to have you back as captain of this ship. You really nailed it with your statement 'We are entering the age of Consequences". That will resonate far and wide. I feel a visceral twist as I read that. Very ominous and unfortunately correct. When I look at fellow Canadians I see blank faces completely unaware of what has happened and what is coming. There is no escape.
Another nail in the coffin, many others everywhere. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/18/mega-mine-australia-global-emissions?INTCMP=SRCH

Account Deleted

unfortunately most minds seem incapable of grasping the reality that there is only one earth with one interconnected ecosystem and that climate and weather are not the same thing. for as long as their own little piece of planet is still "normal" then all is well with the whole world. Oh and of course for many people a little warmer is no bad thing anyway. who cares that others suffer for it!


>"Between brackets is the average daily area de/increase for the first 19 days of August."

I think that is September.

Jeff Stone,

I believe it is the average for that particular day of the year. So

2012.7206 -2.4334037 2.4129515 4.8463550

Average for day .7206 over 1979 to 2008 is 4.846 and the actual of 2.413 is less than half this. (Or can be expressed as anomaly is more negative than area is positive.)


Of course the Wall Street Journal's Matt Ridley thinks this is of no consequence.


I am appalling fascinated by the stance in some major US media sources.


Short read on rotten ice....


My uneducated guess is that most of the multiyear ice is rotten.


Very interesting that the ice in the Antarctic is evidently growing at the same time that it's melting in Greenland, and not only to the degree accountable for by seasonal changes.


As you can see, 2012 is lowest of all years since 2005. This means that the pack is more spread out than in those years (also explaining the rapid climbing of IJIS extent number we're seeing in the past couple of days). Imagine what would have happened with compacting winds, like were seen in 2007 (light blue line). SIE and SIA would probably have been even lower.

If there is less compaction as the freeze begins, does that put the ice at greater risk during next year's melt as the multiyear ice is knitted together with 1st year ice?


Very interesting that the ice in the Antarctic is evidently growing....

Source please.


Could the compaction that occurred in 2007 have contributed to the plateau of the subsequent four years? Somehow it may have contributed to a temporary robustness of SIE in the central Arctic basin.

Again, a question springing from a deep well of personal ignorance.


Expressed a different way.....

If the Artic basin ice had been dramatically spread (very low CAPIE) just prior to freeze, with SEI essentially the same, wouldn't we expect to see a wild melt the following season?


As far as farming practices go, The best plant to survive the up coming changes and the most versatile of uses, is also the plant band world wide by the UN (although more and more countries are starting to quietly circumvent it). That is the hemp plant. 99%+ varieties have virtually no THC, so being smoked will only get you very sick. Problem. Grow too much of it and the present day synthetic fiber industry will go bust. the steel industry will get crippled and most of the current petrochemical industry will get knocked out. (hummm maybe part solution to CO2 trouble). http://www.informationdistillery.com/hemp.htm
Know this is of topic as regards to Arctic ice, but it is to help inform that


(Pt 2 forgot what I was in the process of saying)
"Know this is of topic as regards to Arctic ice, but it is to help inform that" there are ways to help combat the climatic changes that are coming and could also help drop CO2 emissions not only by changing how things are manufactured, but also although more CO2 friendly practices (such as although trees to age and stop the growing of high CO2 end use emitters such as cotton and corn (by that I mean the amount of work that is spent on the end products that come from those plants emits large amounts of CO2).
In a long round about way what I am getting at is that many will not pay attention to what is going on with the ice unless someone can give alternatives to what they have now that will not greatly inconvenience how they live now. I understand that is not what this blog is about, but do feel that from time to time it is useful to point out that one can reduce CO2 emissions without having to return to caveman days. And that if one does nothing about CO2 emissions as the saying goes, we have seen nothing yet.

Bernard J.

Over the next few months I suspect that many of the ice metric trajectories (but certainly not volume...) will head back into the spaghetti, to be trumpetted by the Denialati as evidence that all is well.

If it's not already been done, it might be useful to have a post that scuppers any attempt at pulling the wool over the eyes of the unknowing, by explaining the physics of winter ice formation, and why its areal/extent trajectories at this time of year are not expected to display the same extreme loss (at least for the near future) that is occurring with summer Arctic ice.

Such a post would be heavily linked-to over the next six months.


Now that AMSR2 is operational, IJIS doesn't seem to revise the last data point,

Did I miss something? The amsr2 graphs are up, but contain a lot of false echo's. The site still says that Winds is used for the extent calculation.

Timothy Chase

Marnietunay2 wrote:

Very interesting that the ice in the Antarctic is evidently growing at the same time that it's melting in Greenland...
Djprice537 wrote:
Source please.
Perhaps I can help:
Rignot, E., Velicogna, I., van den Broeke, M.R., Monaghan, A., & Lenaerts, J. (2011) Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise. Geophysical Research Letters, 38, L05503-L05508. doi


Crandles, fixed, thanks.

Wipneus, I only noticed that the final data point doesn't get revised any longer. Because it was revised so heavily upwards I didn't use that last data point for the ASI updates.

Could the compaction that occurred in 2007 have contributed to the plateau of the subsequent four years? Somehow it may have contributed to a temporary robustness of SIE in the central Arctic basin.

Good question. I've also wondered about this often. 2007 was a huge compaction event, so one would tend to think that it thickened the MYI considerably.


Neven, they did not stop revising, rather omitting it. The last point is now the day before today.

Either they did this on purpose, realizing the uselessness of that value. Or this may have to do with the Windsat's orbit just not having that very small glimpse on today’s ice cover.


Neven, they did not stop revising, rather omitting it. The last point is now the day before today.

I see! Thanks for clarifying, wipneus.


Hi Neven,

Well, ice watching in the winter used to be a bit of a snooze fest, but not anymore.

I think we'll all have to get it out of our heads that there will be a last stand of ice hanging around Ellesmere and north of Greenland. Ice arches are gone. Shelves around Ellesmere virtually all gone, and check this out:



Neven , the slow refreeze is already in place , being exactly where it was coldest didn't form a speck of grey ice. The clouds are doing their thing. DMI pressure animation map shows a continuous stream of warmer air keeping the Barents sea region atmosphere warm, the tracks from the lows cool ssts, their dying point near Novaya Zemlya brings up warm air in tandem with the High over Laptev to the Pole. The pressure map doesn't show the clouds as they are huge players in slowing the refreeze.

As a result Cold atmosphere is maintained on three different regions; NE Siberia, South Central Canadian Archipelago and NE Greenland, the jet stream is to the south of these zones. However Ireland, UK and Scandinavia are still under the influence of Cold Temperature North Pole #3 (which was unique not long ago) hanging about NE Greenland giving all this unsettled rain. The splitting of cold spots is a sign of a weak cold fall as well. In effect millions of people are already experiencing what all this open water does.



This excellent BBC weather presentation shows the reality of these lows heading to Barents sea.


Neven wrote:

2007 was a huge compaction event, so one would tend to think that it thickened the MYI considerably

In my opinion it's not an issue, not an issue at all. And neither whether it will be a quick refreeze or not.

Because there is one very big difference in respect to 2007.

In 2007 there was still left about 36 % of multiyear ice. In consequent years 2008/2009/2010 that multiyear ice spread out and helped very much to maintain the Arctic ice shield (a bit).

Now there is only left about 11 % of multiyear ice. Nothing left anymore to "regulate", thus we might see a new full blown attack on the ice shield already from next spring on.



It may well be that you are right, but could not you just be a little less cocksure when you write, it would suit you.

Conrad Schmidt

Am I correct in thinking that the fall/winter refreeze is a negative feedback loop; one of the few in the arctic? If so then the next minimum should be less than this one.


Conrad, yes. There is a negative feedback by way of less insulation allows more rapid ice formation.

I don't follow your next sentence. Even if it was a positive feedback like albedo effect in summer, a positive feedback might still be overwhelmed by natural variability (weather) in the system for a year or two.

With it being a negative feedback, then the question is which is growing more rapidly, the albedo and other positive feedbacks or ice regrowth and other negative feedbacks. So far the positive feedbacks appear to be winning but that isn't guaranteed for the future. With the models doing badly, I am more inclined to expect experience so far to be a more reliable guide for the next couple of years.

As far as trying to figure out the noise, there is a one year lag negative autocorrellation. So if this year appears unusually low, then it might be sensible to expect next year to be above the downward trend.

I am increasing convinced that the negative ice regrowth feedback is rather limited in size. With a large melt the regrowth starts later but is faster due to less ice insulation. However the volume of ice shouldn't be expected to overtake the volume of ice in previous year because once it catches up in volume, then the reason for the faster regrowth, thinner ice providing less insulation, disappears.

Also, in the centre of the pack the ice might still get close to the thickness limit where upwelling heat is arriving at the same rate it can travel though the ice. However around the edges of the pack, the later start of the freezing is likely to make more difference to the maximum ice volume.

So unless we get a particularly cold winter, we should expect ice volume to still be lower than previous years despite the faster regrowth. That may allow a faster start to the melt and albedo feedback takes off or weater might intervene and prevent that rapid start to the melt.

Steve C

I think that was a wonderful integration of available information about new weather patterns and their expected impact on the ice and elsewhere.

Another point I see from the pressure maps. It would seem the persistent blocking high over Greenland may prevent the low pressure systems around the arctic from moving in the usual counter-clockwise fashion.

I keep seeing low pressure systems arise in the same areas over and over, and move relatively little before fading. It's like we have a standing wave pattern of storms intensifying and weakening in the same areas over and over. Specifically, south of the Bering straight for one, the area from southern Baffin Bay to Newfoundland for another, and the triangular area bounded by Iceland, Svalbard, and Norway for another.

Seke Rob

It's just a traffic generating statement... Given his track record of about 99.999% wrong [actually can't remember anyone ever having reported outside his blog that he was ever right], he's D&K reference material, the non-plus ultra.

Records summary through 21st, MASIE/NSIDC not reachable, CT now news:

(No DMI number, but saw the 30% metric had a drop yesterday (No new record though)

The algorithm chiefs will have to do their melt-pond adjustment switch flip early, maybe they did already, since the extent outline had retreated to territory never seen before. It's pure 100% liquid still in 1M Km^2 and more of former SIE [except 2007]. Here's IJIS taking the prior years difference from day 265 actuals:

2002 5985781 -2209687
2003 6047031 -2270937
2004 5925625 -2149531
2005 5315156 -1539062
2006 5851406 -2075312
2007 4276719 -500625
2008 4809219 -1033125
2009 5432813 -1656719
2010 4915313 -1139219
2011 4771875 -995781
2012 3776094

Aaron Lewis

Look at the SST in the SE corner of Disko Bay (DMI Greenland image). All summer long I thought that was shallow water warmed by sunlight. Now, there is no sun and given local tides, it is not thermal inertia.

Any ideas?


Something that may slow refreeze this week, Polarmet is forecasting a 987 mb low over the CAB mid-week.


The effects are appearing in the CICE forecast imagery for 0926-0928.



When I posted the 2012 minimum on my Facebook page, two people whom I thought understood it immediately posted about the Antarctic extent. I guess they don't understand the differences between winter and summer and the Arctic and Antarctic. Sigh.

Maybe this winter--and next summer--we'll begin see some of the consequences of a melting Arctic. Even so, it takes more than a season or two for the effects of this summer to be linked to weather in the NH. And having the average person make the connection is yet another matter. Most people see colder temps and think, "It's snowier and it's 10 degrees colder than normal. So much for global warming." Or think "Gee it's hot this summer." Sadly, there needs to be some severe changes --storms, drought, extreme temps-- in local weather in many places for most people to "get it." And even then the deniers will say it's sunspots or normal variations.


Indeed Steve C, these cold zones give almost standing Rossby waves which wont be the same when sea ice freezes over. Already North of Greenland and Ellesmere is becoming uniquely coldest. Its a slight change from the recent summer pattern...

Alan Clark

I wish the deniers would learn to sing from the same song sheet instead of putting forward various mutually exclusive claims. They never seem to argue between themselves which one is the truth, and some seem to support several opposing positions at the same time! Will we ever see the ostriches flying in formation? :-)


Timothy Chase

Perhaps I can help:

Thanks for link to research article. I was already clear on ice mass loss. The post last night was clearly from a troll and I wanted to respond.


Aaron Lewis

For those of us that are new to this site and unable to easily navigate and find the info, could you provide a link?


Maybe this winter--and next summer--we'll begin see some of the consequences of a melting Arctic.

I think we are already seeing them. It won't be until we get a number of years in a row with very clear explanations due to the jet stream, blocking highs etc. before everyone realizes that something needs to be done.

Lynn Shwadchuck

...before everyone realizes that something needed to be done.


Thanks again, Neven, for your great work alerting those who don't want to look the other way, as to the seriousness of the situation. The phrase "The Age of Consequences," is all too appropriate. Looking at the US drought monitor, I can't help wondering if we aren't already seeing those consequences. I expect the northern Hadley cell to expand as the Arctic cooling system of the Earth declines.

The area in moderate drought or worse hit a new record this week. See http://thinkprogress.org/climate/issue/

For Nebraska, it's 70% in exceptinal drought

for anti-science Kansas it's 100% in severe or worse, with 51% in exceptional drought see

and for denialist King Inhofe's Oklahoma it's a mere 99.87% in severe drought or worse with 42% in exceptonal drought. See

Unless there is substantial winter and spring precipitation, I hate to think what these areas could look like in a year. The Age of Consequences indeed.


Southern Scandinavia :
As a mushroom enthusiast, I can report this years mushroom harvest is zero and the prior season almost as bad, and I am reporting from historical 100% sure spots in both Denmark and southern Sweden.
Mushrooms are known to be a very sensitive "fruit" and only small variations in the weather can change their appearance.
Not only the mushrooms told me something is different, I my self observed very big differences over the past 3 years, colder and much wetter summers (like heavy "tropical" showers) extremely cold winters compared to the last 30 years.
And my gut feeling is, this is only the beginning of something else?

Chris Reynolds

Alan Clarke,

"I wish the deniers would learn to sing from the same song sheet..."

I wish they'd just shut up. And, having just spent half an hour looking for information on a certain topic - I wish they'd stop poluting Google with their poorly considered blather.

Timothy Chase

Djprice537, I understood as much, and as you did, it is a good idea to keep responses short. But I was "helping out" the troll, providing the missing literature on the ice sheets. She was thinking ice sheets, wasn't she? Bringing up Greenland...

But if she meant Greenland's ice sheet and the Antarctic's sea ice, then given the melt from Antarctica's ice sheet freshening the surface waters, raising the melting temperature. And you have the freshening of surface water leading to greater ocean stratification as salt water is denser. This isolates the surface from the warmer waters below. Both of which help to explain why there has been comparatively small expansion of sea ice around Antarctica, although there are other aspects.

Since most of the melt is from the West Antarctic Peninsula, given the East Wind Drift, much of it drifts towards the Ross Sea. As such, it is no surprise that sea ice has expanded in that region. But in most other places the trend is down.

Timothy Chase


Second paragraph, first sentence should have been:

But if she meant Greenland's ice sheet and the Antarctic's sea ice, then given the melt from Antarctica's ice sheet you have the freshening the surface waters, raising the melting temperature.

Ned Ward

I think the reference to "Antarctic ice increasing" is probably referring to the work of Zwally et al. using ICESat to estimate mass balance of land ice in Antarctica. There was a presentation earlier this summer, and a technical report filed with NASA a couple of weeks ago.

Zwally's analysis suggests that Antarctic land ice is still in positive mass balance, which pretty clearly disagrees with the GRACE data.

Of course Watts, Goddard, etc. have all seized on this as "GRACE is wrong" but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Having worked with ICESat data myself some, I'm inclined to believe GRACE :-) ....


But, but, but, isn't Zwally the guy who said the Arctic would 100% for sure be free of ice this summer?

Dan P.

Djprice: I believe the unusual SST readings Aaron was referring to are at http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/sst/ophi/color_anomaly_NPS_ophi0.png

I found it from the sea ice graphs page linked under "daily graphs" at the top on the blog. I visit that page all the time, and it's fair to say that when someone posts a description without link, they're probably getting there from that page as well. But obviously there's no problem asking where it comes from!

On the unusual SST anomalies: I have no idea where they come from!

Dan P.

crandles, responding to Conrad: However the volume of ice shouldn't be expected to overtake the volume of ice in previous year because once it catches up in volume, then the reason for the faster regrowth, thinner ice providing less insulation, disappears.

I agree completely. There aren't any generic limits to how big positive feedbacks are. But for a negative feedback to actually push you back past the equilibrium position, you need some kind of hysteresis. That's not impossible, but it only happens under special circumstances, and you need some good physical reason to posit it. The theory that rapid melt would shut off the atlantic conveying current and thus global warming would lead to an ice age was one such attempt, but no one thinks it's really plausible.

If you push a physical system in one direction, usually it ultimately moves that way even if it doesn't go as far as you pushed it. It doesn't usually wind up moving in the opposite direction.

Timothy Chase

Chris Reynolds wrote:

I wish [the deniers would] just shut up. And, having just spent half an hour looking for information on a certain topic - I wish they'd stop polluting Google with their poorly considered blather.
You could narrow your search a bit. I put together a couple of tools. The first is a search engine for over a hundred websites (I am counting all Nasa, Noaa, Nsidc only once) and blogs, with eleven narrower, more specialized searches.

The second is a search tool, a browser extension, although currently it is only for Google Chrome. It gives you immediate, right-click access to the internal search engines of a fair number of websites, access to the specialized searches of the search engine I linked to above as well as Google Scholar and some other useful tools.

Plus you can expand it to include other search engines and web tools. I have TinyURL, Wayback Archive, Web Cite, and Whois domain tool. Here is a little demo video. I like to think of it as an extensible swiss army knife, but I call it CG Detective.


Aaron Lewis wondered:

All summer long I thought that was shallow water warmed by sunlight.

Disko Bay stays every year where it is and so do the banks whether swallow or not. And hitherto fortunately each year the sun comes back at the very same place.

So, what's different now?

Do have a look at the Artic Hotel webcam.
There are still some icebergs and floes visible, but the amount has been reduced considerably since half of Juin.

Another webcam, the icecam with a view from a different angle only can confirm the situation.

Bottom line, as the amount of ice and floes has been havely reduced in Disko Bay, the water temperature has raised considerably. Elementary my dear fellow, elementary.

And, of course, the real cause of this phenomena is the llulissat glacier running out of resources. The Ilulissat glacier is in a very bad state as has been shown to us here in the glaciers department of this blog.



"Elementary my dear fellow, elementary."

When do you learn!

Timothy Chase

Ned Ward wrote:

I think the reference to "Antarctic ice increasing" is probably referring to the work of Zwally et al. using ICESat to estimate mass balance of land ice in Antarctica.
I found the abstract:


If true this would be due to increased precipitation in the form of snow resulting for a time in the accumulation of mass rather than mass loss, something that was actually predicted by some of the models.

Ned Ward wrote:

Of course Watts, Goddard, etc. have all seized on this as "GRACE is wrong"...
Gee, something that hasn't yet passed peer review simply must be given more weight...

Ned Ward wrote:

... but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
I wish the politics didn't even enter into the equation. Regardless of how this particular issue is resolved, both ICESat and GRACE offer perspectives that have their limitations and value. Reality, and the curiosity that is our fundamental motive for its discovery, should always come first. The fundamental error of creationists and other ideologues consists of losing sight of this.


Anyone have an inside track on the latest and greatest PIOMAS data. They must have had their minimum volume by now. The suspense is killing me. Did volume go much below 3400?

Obsessed minds want to know ...



I expect the northern Hadley cell to expand as the Arctic cooling system of the Earth declines.

Your suggestion has left me in the doldrums.

R. Gates

Welcome back Neven, and thanks for another excellent update on the Arctic. Truly, without any reservation at all, the best on the web.

The melt season is over and it will be interesting to see how the fall and winter respond to this very low ice condition. How much heat will be released by the open water? What does this mean for the growth of ice during the winter and next summer's melt? What about the role of the increased cloudiness and water vapor levels in the Arctic caused by the greater expanse of open water? Will we see another strong sudden stratospheric warming event over the Arctic as we did last winter and in 2009? What will the effect of all this be on the lower latitdues?

All these will be interesting questions to observe and answer this winter. But overall, this summer we did in fact see a continuation of the inevitable decline in Arctic sea ice as we head toward that future ice-free summer. Whether Maslowski is correct and we get that first ice-free condition in 2016 or other natural variability and feedbacks kick-in and that ice-free date is extended by 5, 10 or even 15 years somehow really doesn't matter. In the geological and climatological sense, these are rapid and startling changes.

Thanks for keeping your "wits" about you Neven. I think we all will have periods ahead when changes will be so startling that emotions may get the better of us, but we need your consistent strong objective reporting here to help provide a strong accurate record of the historic events in the Arctic unfolding before our eyes.

Bruce Worden

"Conrad, yes. There is a negative feedback by way of less insulation allows more rapid ice formation."

I keep hearing people talking about this negative feedback, but it doesn't make sense to me. Yes, at some point you'll likely get a very rapid freeze up of the open water, but I can't see how you get more total ice at the end of the cold season. Consider: System A is warmish open water, system B is ice-covered coolish water. System A has substantially more total energy than system B. So if you remove the same amount of energy from both through the winter, there is no way that system A ends up with more ice than system B. System A may initially release more energy, but if system A overtakes system B in total ice, then at some point they would be equal, so how is it that system A then releases more energy than system B to end up with more total ice? It would require the initial conditions to set up some persistent air or water circulation pattern that caused less energy inflow or more energy outflow in system A than in system B.*

But we're not seeing that. We've had large areas of open ocean at the end of the melt season for the past few years and we continue to see lower and lower ice volume, and a continuation of the long-term trend toward lower maximum ice area.

*Looked at another way, you would expect the two systems to approach one another asymptotically -- i.e., they would reach the zero energy state at the same time. But how does the system that starts with more energy (A) cross under the one that starts with less (B) and then the second system (B) begins to shed more energy in order to "catch up" with the first (A) again? I can imagine a weird crisscrossing asymptote like this might be possible to construct in a dynamic system (orbiting bodies w/ momentum transfer; non-Newtonian viscosity; something), but thermodynamics is pretty unidirectional and temperature-proportional in its energy transfer.

Kevin O'Neill

Bruce, the forcing is additional heat poured into the arctic. One result of this additional heat is less ice cover in the fall when air temperatures begin to drop. Since there is less ice cover to insulate the ocean, more heat escapes than would otherwise. This is a negative feedback.

No one is claiming that this 'less ice cover' feedback is the same magnitude as the forcing itself. We know there also positive feedbacks (like ice albedo), and some that are both positive AND negative (clouds). But there is no doubt that less ice cover is a negative feedback.

Think of it this way: a cup of steaming coffee with a lid on and a lid off. Which is losing more heat? The ice is the lid.


"Although an entirely ice-free Arctic Ocean during at least one week a year is still several decades away at this rate, we are halfway there after just three decades." - Matt Ridley

Ah, the old "Linear projection of the area decline" fallacy.

Being totally ice free during at least one week per year is probably only 4 to 6 years away.

Don't let that volume graph exponential melt trend get in the way of your misrepresentations/misunderstandings, Mr. Ridley.


"Think of it this way: a cup of steaming coffee with a lid on and a lid off. Which is losing more heat? The ice is the lid." - Keven O'Neill.

True, but it's obviously not enough to balance out the positive feedbacks from melting day anomalies destroying continental snow packs and glaciers, nor the baseline forcing from the CO2.


For those people pointing at increases of SIA in the Antarctic, just remember.

1, The global SIA is declining significantly.

2, Just because local sea ice area increases does not mean sea ice volume has increased.

3, There is much more ice melting world wide besides just sea ice: Continental ice in Greenland, Himalayas, Patagonia, etc, not to mention inland lakes melting weeks and months ahead of long term averages during late winter and spring. Patagonia is in the southern hemisphere, proving a southern hemisphere continental warming trend exists.

Lewis Cleverdon

Neven - about the Age of Consequences, and this exceptional site's contribution . . .

The ripples of concern at this year's radical confirmation of the exponential trend of sea ice decline have to be spreading through both the scientific and activist communities, and this is one of rather few places where they’ll converge. While I'd hope this aspect of the site as a meeting place will grow (activists’ grasp of the science often seems to me dire) it brings the problems of success with it. Though the coherence of conversations between larger numbers could readily be bolstered by sub-threads (akin to TOD, but preferably author-titled) the choices over to what extent the site’s focus might be extended, and in which directions, are more complex.

At one pole there is the purely scientific inquiry into ASI-decline impacts, from GIC mass-loss & SLR, to the interactive mega-feedbacks, to hemispheric climate destabilization via the jet stream, etc – and at the other pole there is the essentially political debate with deniers, rapturists, oil company shills etc, that some activists delight in. As a dissenter from the ‘received wisdom’ of the denial groups’ supposed functions, I must confess that debating them seems to me more demeaning than utterly pointless – particularly when there are SkS and numerous other sites all piling in on a daily basis.

If ASI were henceforth to put a greater focus on Consequences, I’d greatly value that careful inquiry on the scientific pole noted above, but also on areas converging with the politics – for without a scientific appreciation of just what would be a feasible commensurate response to redeem our position, how can effective policy be promoted ? Similarly, there is the ‘politics’ within the scientific community, whereby observed changes due to feedbacks are given no more weight in the modelling than is the precautionary principle, to the point that science has persisted for two decades in misdirecting the UNFCCC negotiations as to just which century would see an ice-free summer arctic. – An expression of regret, and a commitment to review practices, would seem fitting . . .

At the core of the politics is the question of just why US global climate policy under Bush has since been maintained and relentlessly advanced, and though some who are willing to debate deniers may find that issue unpalatable (each to their own) in my view it seems clear that until the pressure for action is focussed on the actual resistance to action and on its tawdry rationale, our position will continue to deteriorate. Beyond that there is of course the central question of just what treaty is required, and quite how national shares of tradable emission rights should best be allocated under its stringent CO2e budget ? Again, this may be beyond the pale for some, but perhaps it needs saying that I’ve yet to find any public forum that gives this central question any serious focus.

Facing the Consequences constructively requires morale, and for most of us that is eroded by the emerging scope of the climate problem and the ongoing politics of inaction. Scientists have an advantage in their training to a dispassionate perspective, but I guess that few are wholly immune to some degree of angst on the issue. I’m reminded of an eminent US psychoanalyst whose address to the AGM of his professional body focussed of the fact that, given the present state of the world and its prospects, any patient who doesn't face some depression has something seriously wrong with them. (Did his professional standing no good at all).

In this light I hope that you may consider extending ASI’s focus both into the physical consequences of the sea-ice decline and into the questions of doing something useful about it, i.e. into the politics of the issue, not only because scientific input is sorely needed in that field, but also because all concerned may be the better for exploring and advancing the commensurate remedies rather than focussing solely on the ailment’s symptoms.

With regrets for the length, and hoping these ideas may perhaps chime with what you’ve been thinking about –




I'd like comments on The 'big melt' at the roof of the world by the BBC's Science editor.

Apparently "Polar ice appears to be in retreat".

Russell McKane

Geoff , I read this last night with some concern. But we have a saying here in Australia. School boys in short pants shouldn't walk on top of picket fences.



Your suggestion has left me in the doldrums.

I think you can probably remain becalmed in the doldrums. I expect the northern Horse Latitudes to move up with the Hadley cell. Unless, of course, a group of southern Republican Governors combine to hold a day of prayer, when all will be well.

The refreeze will be fascinating. On the one hand, less ice means less insulation of the sea, so a greater heat loss by radiation and evaporation. On the other hand, more water vapour and clouds implies a greater greenhouse effect, slowing the refreeze. Then there is the question of water stratification. There is also the concern that extra heat may be advected into the Arctic, especially from the Atlantic. We shall see over the next few months how these, and probably other factors like land snow cover, play out. With so much water to refreeze, will the latent heat of freezing (80 cal/gm if my memory serves me correctly)also slow things up further?

Chris Alemany

We've had a strong ridge of high pressure over us here in the Pacific Northwest of the US/Canada for what seems like forever for this time of year. It's also sending all the sub-tropical (colloquially know here as the Pineapple Express) rain and storm systems into Alaska and northern Canada.

I am trying desperately to convince myself that the persistence of this pattern has nothing to do with lack of Arctic sea ice.

Someone reassure me please! lol


Chris Alemany: it happened before!

Ethan O'Connor

I don't know if this paper has made the rounds here or not, but it's great reading:

Rand Corporation Memorandum 6093-PR / November 1969
"Numerical Prediction of the Thermodynamic Response of Arctic Sea Ice to Environmental Changes"

This memorandum's underlying purpose is to evaluate the feasibility of deliberately eliminating the sea ice through environmental modification! So it's a great set of perspectives that are fairly resistant to most skeptical objections about motivation :)

Due to computational resource constraints, they had to assume a horizontal homogeneous Arctic (a much more reasonable assumption back then!), but a few key conclusions:

-They conclude that to eliminate the sea ice based purely on the first-order response to increased oceanic heat flux would require a 400% increase in Atlantic->Arctic ocean advection

-They conclude that the two most effective mechanisms for rapidly eliminating the central pack are albedo reduction and reduced net long wave radiation loss. Check, and Check, thanks to soot and net greenhouse forcing!

And there are these two gems of quotes:

"The cases discussed in this section suggest that modification of the snow or ice surface is the most effective means of large-scale ice removal. Ideally, the surface should be covered with a substance that reduces not only the albedo and Io, but evaporation and long-wave emissivity as well. However, in addition to the logistical problems involved in such a project, it may be difficult to find a material with a long-wave emissivity substantially less than one [my note: hence, block it in the atmosphere after emission!]. Furthermore, a finely distributed dark solid, like coal dust, would rapidly melt into the ice and lose its effectiveness. The ideal material would be dark, nontoxic , lighter than water, slowly soluble in water, and have low emissivity. A systematic search should be made to find a substance with an optimal combination of these properties."

and, in case you thought this all sounds a little reckless:

"As man's technological capabilities increase, it becomes more and more urgent that the factors influencing climate on a large scale be understood. For example, it may now be possible for man to remove the arctic ice pack; the result can only be surmised. Another possibility is that in man's increasingly effective tampering with nature, he may accidentally intervene at some critical stage in the climatic process, producing unexpected effects on a world-wide scale. Such considerations cannot be neglected in the formulation of climatic experiments."

All in all, a very worthwhile read for a unique and orthogonal perspective on the sea ice from our typical discussion here :)

Ethan O'Connor

Ack, closing my tag and including the link:


The should be right after properties."

[Fixed the tag, Ethan. Thanks for an interesting read. 1969? Wow, how prescient. N.]


Iceberg explosion Upernavik Greenland:

DMI reports an iceberg explosion off the coast of Upernavik between September 16 and 17 2012. The report is in Danish please use a translator:



Geoff, BBC's David Shukman should be careful with contrarians. It reads like his ship made it to 86 N

"The same had happened the day before. And this was within striking distance of the North Pole - Nansen eventually reached 86 degrees North, further than anyone at the time. And no one back then had even thought of global warming."

Yes he sledged towards the Pole from the Russian side while his ship was adrift in ice. He returned to Franz Josef Land (80.5 N)
in June 1896 on ice not open water.

Before being adrift, the Frams route on the NE passage hugged North of Russian coast in 1893 while in 2012 the Fram could have reached 85 North all while circumnavigating the entire pole at least once.

Anybody capable of enduring winters really coldest temperatures could have skied to the North Pole from before 2011 because of sea ice. From now on, only the most toughest skilled skier/swimmer can perhaps do so by way of land from the Canadian side.


IMS has not reached a minimum and is still falling. http://www.natice.noaa.gov/ims/

When the fake skeptics start shouting about the great recovery of seaice, it will be funny to watch them discard IMS after clutching to it as a last resort-straw before.


Facepalm, my impression exactly, the coldest air is over extreme North of the continents. The sea is very warm and it takes sst's at -2 with surface air temps of -11 C to start a solid refreeze. None of which is over open water.

Russell McKane

Wayne that reminds me of a question I have wanted to ask the blog team. Does anyone know of any summer attempts on the Pole this year?Over the Ice that is?



Just to be absolutely sure, can I tweet DS to tell him he's got it wrong and point him to your comment?

I'm saving these tweets for tweetstothebeeb. My MP has passed my concern about the BBC's climate reporting to the BBC.

Seke Rob

Russell, search for hovercraft... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBJWBA2TAnY&noredirect=1 saw something was done in the Arctic with this transportation device. That would have been the tool to go over ice and water.

Seke Rob

Here's another link the to hovercraft story ... http://www.npd.no/en/news/News/2012/Hovercraft-expedition/


For those interested in an archive of Arctic sea ice concentration imagery - see the following NOAA link, which has imagery back to 1995:



Regarding the negative feedback of an ice free ocean surface (I say this as an amateur who doesn't know anything about ice or the arctic):

I can see the argument that at most the negative feedback would equal the ice covered ocean were it not for layering. But I can imagine the situation where there is a gradient from warm water up to freezing temperatures just under the ice. Over the course of the winter, that lower hotter water slowly releases its heat, reducing ice cover below what it would otherwise be.

If that same water has reduced total heat due to agitation by mixing and releasing heat, over the winter there would be more ice formed since there are no warmer lower layers to melt the ice above.

In other words, in an ice free ocean, the total heat available/used to melt ice over a winter could be less than in an ice covered ocean.

Bruce Worden

I understand that the ice provides insulation that slows the loss of heat. What I can't see is a mechanism for ending the season with more ice in the open-water case than in the ice-covered case.

Even if they start at the same temperature, the open-water system has substantially more heat in it (because ice at a given temperature has less heat than water at the same temperature). As the open water loses heat, ice forms, creating a layer of insulation, and the rate of heat loss decreases. The rate of heat loss, and total heat, asymptotically approaches that of the ice-covered system. So I don't see how in a finite period of time you ever end up with as much ice as the ice covered system, let alone more.


Please remind David Geoff! Before the contrarians do cart wheels....

Russell, Not that I know off for this year. But last year fierce Norwegians tried and abandoned in early June, was too dangerous,
slippery and wet with very loose ice.


>"I keep hearing people talking about this negative feedback, but it doesn't make sense to me. Yes, at some point you'll likely get a very rapid freeze up of the open water, but I can't see how you get more total ice at the end of the cold season."

One way you can get more ice at maximum in the seasonally ice free version is that it misses out on autumn/fall snow cover which is excellent insulation compared to just ice. This could tend to be temporary noise as the following year you do catch the snow in autumn and you return to seasonally ice free. So you could get an alternating pattern of ice free every other year for a few years.

However, as others have pointed out, this doesn't need to happen for the ice regrowth to be considered a negative feedback. If summer volume is falling very rapidly but winter volume is not falling as rapidly then there is probably a negative feedback during the refreeze season. We are seeing this, so there is evidence for this being a negative feedback. Just because a feedback is negative doesn't mean that negative feedback will fully stop the decline of ice.

Chris Reynolds

Negative feedback?

If people doubt that ice loss drives a negative feedback in the autumn, they need to click this link (Taken from a paper by Overland):
It shows the low lying October to December warming due to open water and thin ice. As it's an anomaly (difference from long term average) it shows that this is not the usual state of affairs.

Mainly it shows that late in the year the Arctic is venting large amounts of heat into the atmosphere, the more open water and the thinner the ice in September, the more heat will be vented.

Kevin O'Neill

Bruce, to my knowledge no one is saying this negative feedback is greater than the forcing itself (leads to more ice than there would be without the forcing)- except for maybe a few deniers. But it has lead to increased ice formation (in terms of extent or area) - which is one of the reasons why we see the annual range from maxima to minima increasing. Obviously the less ice extent there is at the end of the melt season the more room there is for ice to grow. And the arctic winters do a good job of layering at least a thin layer of ice over any exposed water.

But in general, a negative feedback *can* cause a system to crash. Just as a positive feedback can cause a system to runaway. If you doubt this, consider building a house of cards. The height grows with each forcing until the negative feedback of instability kicks in and the whole thing comes tumbling down.

The fact that a feedback is positive or negative tells us nothing about it's size or significance - simply whether it adds to or detracts from the original forcing. What most of us agree is that the net sum of forcings and all feedbacks in the arctic is positive - otherwise the ice wouldn't be retreating.

Bruce Worden

crandles: "One way you can get more ice at maximum in the seasonally ice free version is that it misses out on autumn/fall snow cover which is excellent insulation compared to just ice."

Okay, that's one I can accept. It's the kind of thing I was referring to earlier when I said "It would require the initial conditions to set up some persistent air or water circulation pattern that caused less energy inflow or more energy outflow in system A than in system B." Snow cover differences could have a similar effect if they persist and allow for differential energy outflow even when ice cover was equal.

As for alternating years, there would be an at-least-partially-offsetting positive feedback when the thinner snow melted sooner, exposing (lower albedo) ice to the sun's input. I have no idea what the relative scale of these factors is, so it's hard to guess how might play out.

My guess is that all of this is second-order and we're going to continue to see rapidly decreasing ice until we don't have any.

Chris: No argument that the open water dumps more energy to the atmosphere than the ice covered water. Especially since the water is relatively warm from basking in the sun all summer. But that just means you have relatively warm Arctic autumns (and, I suppose, eventually winters too). Aside from wreaking havoc with NH weather, the warm blanket of air would actually tend to retard ice formation.

Kevin: Your house of cards analogy is also a good description of the state of our civilization vis a vis the climate. Just make the people adding the cards blind, deaf, and greedy, and it's about perfect.

Artful Dodger

Hi, Russell McKane

Børge Ousland, leader of the first circumnavigation of the Arctic ocean, is planning a sailing expedition to the North Pole for Summer 2013:


"FULL LENGTH CANADA TO NORTH POLE EXPEDITION: In 2013 we try to gather a strong, motivated and enthusiastic team to challenge this 50 day ordeal. Information upon request."



Oddities don't have an end this year apparently.

Do have a look at Denmark's SST maps.

It's easy to see the cold water coming from Fram Strait is accumulating at the entire Northern coast of Iceland. Instead of streaming through the Denmark Strait to the Labrador and New Found Land regions.

As it is confermed by the SST anomalies map, an accumulation of almost -4 °C SST as normal.



Knowing Børge the rotten ice doesn't have a chance to stop him!

se deg snart

Artful Dodger

Hi Wayne,

You may indeed get a chance to meet Børge as he plans to head North from Canada.

Personally, I'd considering sailing East to the Laptev sea, then North to the Pole. But Børge clearly knows the Arctic.

"Alle liker ikkje eitt; somme liker kaldt og somme heitt"


Rob Dekker

The first up-tick in Arctic sea ice appears to come from the area in the Arctic Basin that we come to call the "Laptev Bite".
AMSR2 images show a significant increase in ice concentration there :
The "hole" at 87N / 120 E is pretty much replaced by 75% ice cover and so is the "bite" at 82-83 N / 120 E.

Still, there seems to be something not quite right with that picture of rapid refreeze.

For starters, Modis does not seem to display high ice concentration increase in that area.
Here is the last somewhat "cloud free" shot of the Laptev Bite area from 3 days ago :
which shows extensive open water, where AMSR2 at that time already reported 50 % ice cover.

Also, atmospheric temperatures in the area dropped below freezing, but are not very low yet (only some -5 to -8 C according to CRREL buoy 2012J) :
which also shows that bottom melt has stopped, but it's not bottom-freezing either.

Finally, and probably most interestingly, there are two new ITP buoys in the Laptev Bite area, which report very interesting data :

ITP57 shows that there are significant amounts of warm salty water still convecting (Eddying) up to the surface, from the halocline at 200 meter.
which shows that the last couple of days a significant amounts of -0.5 C water with 33 psu salinity made it to the surface.

And ITP58 shows that (in response to warm upwelling elsewhere), cold, fresh surface water still sinks rapidly down to the halocline and below :

I don't thing that there is going to be much serious ice freezing happening in the Laptev Bite area as long as there is still so much vertical heat and salinity exchange going on between the surface and the still very warm halocline below (which is exceptionally warm, salty and instable in the Laptev Bite area).

In short, the re-freeze in that area may not be as definite as the AMSR2 pictures suggest...


Morning Rob,

I think you are right as well as the representation through AMSR2 within the limits of the data processing.
Last time I watched MODIS, I saw a lot of what I think is thin grey ice or Nilas. It could well be more than 80% concentration.
It is a pity that the fading light won't allow us to watch how long it takes until it's white, thicker ice.
On volume, I presume we're not even talking of a minimum yet.
LBNL your comments on the new buoys and probable eddying are very interesting!

Artful Dodger

Look at the 60-day track of buoy 711760, now NE of Cape Morris Jesup, Greenland.


If this motion translates into sea ice advection thru Fram straight, were are bleeding multi-year ice from the jugular.


Ja Lodger

So much for the Arctic Dipole effect dumping ice through Fram Strait. These tracks are excellent to also see the state of freezing.

Jim Williams

The official state of the climate is always a good read: http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/

Dave Leaton

Other numbers:

CT SIA melt season daily average:

2012: 68,300.6 km2
2003: 60,698.8 km2
2008: 60,150.1 km2
2010: 58,053.6 km2
1993: 56,494.9 km2

Full record linear est: 203.684
Cherry-picked 1996-2012: 809.233

Chris Reynolds

Wayne, Lodger,

I'm re-reading a stack of papers right now. One I read last night was Smedsrud, 2011, Recent wind driven high sea ice export in
the Fram Strait contributes to Arctic sea
ice decline.

Their figure 3 shows that minimum transport is in summer , with highest transport the rest of the year. So we'd not expect large transport at this time of year.

Figure 4 is interesting too. In 2007 there was higher transport over summer, the following years show a long floor in summer, I presume this was because of the Polar Express of that year, a pattern that's not occurred since. This ties in with my blog posts on the Arctic Dipole pattern and anomalous Greenland High (Summer Daze). It's notable that since 2007 the Greenland high has often spread over towards Iceland, which should reduce pressure gradients across Fram and thus reduce ice transport during Jun-Aug. Is this what has caused the floor in figure 4 in 2008 & 2009, and the drop in 2010?

Jim Williams

They have been expecting it for rather a long time now crandles. I'm still inclined to expect it...for a bit longer anyway.


The BOM describes it as "close to El Nino thresholds".


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