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The potential radical shift of an entire ocean biome

Extinction: It's not just for Polar Bears any more


There's also this article in Nature climate change. IMO they haven't been paying enough attention to this blog:



^ooops not Nature Climate Change, Nature news! Sorry about that.

Espen Olsen


It is a very interesting article.

Kevin McKinney

What a pleasant surprise when I navigated on over to ASI this morning! Thanks, Neven!


Great article - horrible CT reading. I would have preferred the reverse.

I don't see an option in the poll for 2.26. It really is alarming.


I guess from now on the CT index which will provoke most will be the anomaly one. Iced area still falling and the anomaly will explode. It's already very close to the October record in 2007

Unless the area drops below 2M but I can't see it.


Good encapsulation. The meandering jet stream results from the collapse or weakening of the polar atmosphere. This phenomenon naturally happened within Northern Hemisphere summer. The summer season is now longer for the NH. It is and was also compressed within a smaller geographic North South transect. We are witnessing the change of atmospheric boundaries , like if we were in a war situation room looking at a map with marked fronts. The borders are shifting more often at locations 45 degree latitude Northwards and much less to the South. This past summer was more like 50 degrees Northwards. Just because the Polar atmosphere is slowly but surely vanishing along with the Arctic Ocean sea ice.

Seke Rob

BTW, CT Area is now 22.1% below the Sept.10, 2011 prior set record of 2.905M. It's the single biggest decline of all prior records obliterated... most others sit in the 15-18% range.

Lewis Cleverdon

In his excellent article as Doc Snow on Hubpages, Kevin touches on one critical feedback on the loss of arctic ice cover that I've not seen described elsewhere.

- The decline of the temperature gradient between high and low latitudes, which robs the jet stream of energy and thereby both convolutes its 'Rossby Waves' and slows or stalls their advance around the planet, generates weather extremes increasingly impacting previously temperate regions. And it is doing so about 100 years ahead of the IPCC median schedule of expected effects.

I'd call this a feedback to the extent that it will generate political change that in turn will affect society's response to global warming and thereby alter the trajectory of the scientifically observed changes in climate.

As a direct consequence of the loss of arctic ice cover, it has a potentially transformative impact on our conduct owing to the radically early emergence of that loss. The bipartisan US climate policy of a 'Brinkmanship of Inaction' with China,
(whereby the latter's bid for global economic dominance would be deflected by its government's climatic destabilization via rising food-price unrest)
was apparently predicated by Neocons before 2000 on two wishful assumptions :-
that China would be far harder hit by extreme climate impacts than America;
and that America would be far better able to withstand the damages and costs of the impacts than China.

Obama, who signalled his adoption of Cheyney's climate policy in March 2009 by accepting the US unilateral 2005 CO2 baseline and reneging on the UNFCCC 1990 baseline, proceeded to crash Copenhagen, derail the senate climate bill, raise the ethanol mandate exacerbating global food-price escalation, and now denies the very need of a climate treaty.

Yet for all he does not mention climate if he can possibly help it, he has to know that intensifying weather impacts on Americans will generate irresistible pressure for a commensurate global climate treaty. The distractions of the raucous circus of denial and its rebuttal, and the mirage of a timely free-market renewables revolution, may both help to prolong the bipartisan policy, but they cannot sustain it. It will have to be dumped. The question is just what will replace it.

One option - as recommended by the infamous scientist Edward Teller in his seminal '95 paper - is the application of sulphate aerosols to mitigate warming directly. Given the side effects, and the unilateral nature of that approach, it seems unlikely to lessen the present drift toward global confrontation, and would be downright unhelpful to the goal of maintaining US economic dominance.

Another option is to seek an acceptable global treaty by means of putting the key obstruction - US historical emissions - on the table as a negotiating chip. This is a requisite change not only diplomatically but also materially, in that a global program of Carbon Recovery, whereby all nations recover their historic emissions by say 2100 at an agreed rate, is entirely necessary as one of the pair of geo-engineering options needed alongside emissions control for commensurate mitigation.

Notably, the latter course of acceding to a climate treaty, with a strong global trading value set on CO2e outputs by declining national output entitlements, would directly advance US economic prospects globally via its strong research, development and manufacturing base addressing the wholesale technological change required. As such, it offers a far better prospect of maintaining US standing as a global power.

Quite which course is chosen seems to me to be largely up to scientists, who can see the scale of threat and of backsliding on mitigation efforts, and have the option of assembling a coherent and irrefutable demand for policy change on behalf of the public.

At least, scientists will either now speak out on THE political issue of our times, or they seem likely to spend their careers watching the ecosphere, the society and the prospects of their profession degrade towards a chaotic and medieval dark ages.

To those who declare that it is not scientists' job to discuss and to speak out concertedly on the politics of the issue, I would point out that there is no other informed constituency that is able to do so effectively. So at what point does the arctic reality drive scientists' moral outrage to converge with professional self-interest and generate this seminal shift in their convention of reticence ?



Seke Rob

Interesting how a few weeks to a month ago, there was this exclamation from scientists in reports over the Rossby waves extending and moving slower, but not having an explanation for it. Personally, a good blocking over Washington DC and and Greater London for an extended winter period, so that they freeze their butts off, whilst they're in bathing trunks on the Baltic would be my favored "Hello" scenario for the coming winter, ideally with stacks of snow, from driveway to the gully on the 2nd floor. [but they would just believe Toninô that it's global cooling.

Whilst, pension funds being active in food speculation [driving up prices]... yes they are.


Great article. The only thing I would have included as well is some discussion of the carbon cycle feedbacks being thrown into gear by the Arctic warming.


There's also this article from John Vidal on the Guardians website:



If its true as suggested in that nature news piece above that none of the models used for the next IPCC report even allow for the possibility that the sea ice will be gone by 2030, does that mean it's time to move on from the IPCC?


Doug Lofland

While much of the focus is on new records being set on area and density, another record might be the closeness of open water to the actual north pole. Could a gyre, driven by the Earths strong rotation, be forming at the North pole right now? Also, notice on https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4realseaice2012/home/sea-ice-concentration-and-thickness-comparison the loss of concentration around the pole, in almost a circular pattern. 2007 never came close to doing any of this.

Kevin McKinney

Boa05att, I doubt that the first statement you give is true--that is, I'm pretty sure that some CMIP5 model runs give ice-free conditions by 2030. Hence, they would 'allow for the possibility.'

Second, where do we 'move on' to, from the IPCC? It sounds as if you think that the IPCC does their own primary research, but largely that is not the case; they summarize what is in the literature--which means that there is nowhere 'else' to go! We just have to hope for (and support) the development of more accurate models.

(Apologies if you already knew all that. In that case, perhaps you meant "move on from the Kyoto framework." That will have to happen in any case, as the expiration date (IIRC) is 2014, and besides, the whole Kyoto process appears to be on life support, at best.)

Finally, I'd remark that there is an awful lot more to the Assessment Reports than the Arctic ice, important topic though the latter is.

Artful Dodger

It means the ¹³C ratio is going up.

Kevin McKinney

Neven is right--that interview with Dr. Francis is good. (I've added a link to the lo-fi version to my article.)

Also very good is the "Climate Crocks" video linked by dorlomin in the very first comment.

Kevin McKinney

Err, Kyoto expires at the end of this year... not 2014, as I (perhaps wishfully) typed.

Espen Olsen


Good point! At least it got some thin ice to twist!

Kevin McKinney

idiot tracker, thanks! I did deal briefly with methane--which others would you have liked to have had high-lighted? Other aspects of the methane feedback, such as increased microbial metabolism? Wildfire-released CO2, perhaps? Something else? There are more articles to be written, and I will gladly steal any ideas you leave lying around...



Boa05att, +1 for Kevin's comments.

There's no "moving on" from the primary research.

We don't, and won't, know everything that is going to happen and when it will happen. That's science for you. Our understanding will improve. Right now we know plenty to know we're in trouble. So the science has done the job that policymakers and the public need it to do.


Regarding the gyre, I looked at weekly intervals of ice thickness (https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4realseaice2012/home/sea-ice-concentration-and-thickness-comparison) since early August, and see a rotation around the north pole. For reference, I used a line from Wrangel island (which I guess is the date line) and can see thicker ice appearing to move in a counter-clockwise direction.


Kevin McKinney wrote
"Boa05att, I doubt that the first statement you give is true--that is, I'm pretty sure that some CMIP5 model runs give ice-free conditions by 2030. Hence, they would 'allow for the possibility.'"

See page 25 of 29 or 2955 of Massonnet et al.

None of those runs appear to have under a million km^2 before about 2026. However you could move a steep line to start at end of observations and get down to a million km^2 by 2020. So that might just about 'allow for possibility of virtually ice free by 2020'.

However, ice free as in less than 100,000 km^2 seems to take until 2035. Unless you know of more runs, it does look to me like there is a shortage of models matching and exceeding the rate of decline of observations. There are a few but there are a lot more that don't match the rate of decline.


Hi Kevin thanks for your quick reply,

The exact quote from the nature news piece was: "But the observed downward trend in sea-ice cover suggests that summer sea ice could disappear completely as early as 2030, something that none of the models used for the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change comes close to forecasting" Followed by a reference to Stroeve, J. C. et al. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L16502 (2012) (which I am afraid I can't access).

I'm well aware of the role of the IPCC as a meta-review of published literature and not as a data collecting organisation. It just seems as though the models at the heart of the last assessment have completely failed to capture reality of the changes in the arctic, and as such all global climate policy is on the wrong path.

If it is the case that the new assessment doesn't factor it in the loss of seasonal arctic sea ice by 2030 as a likely scenario, which even the rag tag band of commenter’s found here can see is certainly extremely plausible. Then I would consider the report dangerously conservative and out of date by the time it’s published.

By striving for almost complete consensus (whilst powerful against critics) the IPCC has left us completely unprepared for the possibility that things might be much worse than the model suggest.

In the piece by David Spratt that I linked to above he compares key predictions in the last IPCC assessment to what is now known about the rate of climate change, finding the report to have been highly conservative in many cases.

The point I'm trying to make is that we should be applying the precautionary principle here, the IPCC shouldn't any longer just be reporting what it can attest will happen with extreme scientific certainty, as it was originally set up to do. But should now also be including some guide to how bad things could perhaps get if due to positive feedbacks.

I also appreciate your point that the IPCC report is about far more than just sea ice. But, as you and Neven and others have pointed out, the loss of arctic sea ice has the potential to dramatically trigger positive feedback mechanisms. Be that the melting of permafrost, loss of snow cover, release of hydrate or the melting of the accelerated Greenland ice sheet. If the sea ice is melting far faster than the models predict then it’s safe to say that these feedbacks (those that are considered in the models that is) will also happen far faster than currently predicted.


Continuing Doug's gyre concept, it seems that it would lead to at least these results: (1) a faster breaking up of ice from mechanical twisting; (2) freeing the NP ice from any land tether; (3) subjecting the NP ice to wind driven movement; and (4) possibly, encouraging upwelling from the warmer 200 meter level.

Chris Reynolds

Artful Dodger,

Typo - you mean 13C ratio is going down.
You might find this post useful as well, feel free to use the graaphics with the caveat about the southern hemisphere.

Doug Lofland,
Any such gyre would exist already because the ocean is a fluid as is the atmosphere.

Jim Williams

I would in general back Boa05att's position -- caveat vendor. It's not for us to prove the worst. It is for them to prove the best. No matter what the question, it isn't the worst case which must be proven, but the best case. Whether the question is climate, or if a chemical causes cancer. Prove that it doesn't, not that it does.

Doug Lofland

In addition to Ddresser's possible results of a gyre, it might also push water away from the pole temporarily until it re-freezes. This may have happened in 2007 on a small scale. I am working on a video animation of the real time tidal anomalies that occurred in Oct-Nov 2007 and will post when its done, and will be looking for similar this fall. If these tidal events of 2007 are larger, and a result of of more liquid and fluid arctic, it will be on the nightly news.

Al Rodger

On the subject of CMIP5 Arctic Ice models:
This Stroeve & Barrett presentation gives a graphic of model runs on slide 9. While only one or two runs hit zero before 2030, if 1 million cu km is taken as ice free, there are one or two (of many) runs thus going ice-free before even 2020.
The main variance from the satellite record (also graphed) is the general slope which is seemingly always too shallow.


Boa05att wrote:

The point I'm trying to make is that we should be applying the precautionary principle here, the IPCC shouldn't any longer just be reporting what it can attest will happen with extreme scientific certainty, as it was originally set up to do. But should now also be including some guide to how bad things could perhaps get if due to positive feedbacks.

This reminds me of the MIT Wheel.

Espen Olsen


The subject is discussed at Petermann Calves again, yes the images looks funny these days?


Yes, I should read more before I ask such questions, I just found the other thread :)



A couple of days ago there was a post regarding another cyclone heading for the central Arctic Ocean, along with a graphic showing the pressure chart 10 days out. Surely this would be very interesting and potentially worrying for the remaining weak ice. This is roughly only a week away now. Is there any more clarity on if this cyclone will definitely strike?

In addition, I've been tracking lows across the Atlantic and in particular the remnants of the tropical cyclones that have primarily been what is termed as 'fish hurricanes' recently; that is hurricanes that stay at sea. Due to this they are maintaining a great deal of energy as they cross the Atlantic and it looks like one or two are heading up past Iceland into the Arctic. Is it possible one of the these is the this 'next' Arctic cyclone.


idiot tracker, thanks! I did deal briefly with methane--which others would you have liked to have had high-lighted? Other aspects of the methane feedback, such as increased microbial metabolism? Wildfire-released CO2, perhaps? Something else? There are more articles to be written, and I will gladly steal any ideas you leave lying around...


You did mention the methane, and I should have been more clear as to what I was thinking of. It's the influence of the open water on the arctic coastline. That makes the sea ice a player in the larger game of the destabilization of the carbon sinks in the Arctic. I'm sure you saw the Yedoma article, which was all over Twitter:


"Coastal Yedoma is likely more vulnerable towards carbon release than other permafrost bodies as it is not only subject to thermal collapse from above but also to enhanced wave and wind erosion of the Yedoma-dominated coast brought on by sea-level rise and longer ice-free seasons," explains Örjan Gustafsson, professor of biogeochemistry at Stockholm University and co-leader of the team with Igor Semiletov of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Another Yedoma article:


The research group, which was led by Stockholm University, has calculated that the coastal Yedoma erosion currently destabilises around 44 megatonnes of the ice age carbon per year – ten times as much as previously thought – and that about two thirds of this end up as CO2 in the atmosphere, translating to annual CO2 emissions of about 0.165 gigatonnes*.

That's roughly the same as Pakistan's current emissions. And that's today, not decades from now. 0.5% of human emissions in 2012. In 2020? There's a story there, I would think, and the ice is a part of it.

Methane and carbon dioxide both are going to be emerging from the Arctic and the neighboring north. You mentioned some of the ways the Arctic sea ice contributes to this:

* methyl hydrates
* wildfires
* increased microbial metabolism (peat bogs, etc.)

To which I would add:

* Warming the coasts
* Increased erosion of permafrost-laden coastline
* Changes in the jet stream, resulting in more persistent and more extreme weather patterns, contributing to most of the above processes and the destabilization of land permafrost as well.

For an attempt at the big picture, there's a recent study: http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2012/09/permafrost-carbon-feedback-update.html.

The numbers are eye-popping.

Seke Rob

Above posted link, remove point after .html

Artful Dodger

Chris Reynolds wrote "typo ¹³C ..."

Quite right, mate. Fossil Carbon has less ¹³C and more ¹²C as the heavier isotope decays over time.

That is, when compared to carbon that comes from recently living plant sources.

That's how we can tell the methane source is fossil carbon, because of it's age. :^)


George Phillies

The radioactive isotope is carbon fourteen. Carbon thirteen is the rarer stable isotope.

Charles Longway

Right you are George. The atmosphere has: 99% 12C, 1% 13C, and a trace of 14C. 14C is made in the atmosphere from 12C by interaction with cosmic rays and has a ½ life of ~5730 years. 14C can be used with some degree of reliability for dating organic matter up to 60K years. Since the sources of carbon in the arctic are much older than the ½ life the 14C should be very low.


Richaburton, I think no on both counts -
First, 10-day forecasts of an individual low pressure system are so unreliable as to be essentially worthless. And that counts for the well-monitored basins such as the Atlantic, where you have a better chance of forecasting weather systems many days out as the initial conditions are better monitored. Beyond 5-7 days and the models diverge greatly on existence, intensity and position of weather systems. Probably best not to rely on individual forecasts more than four or five days out for the Arctic, where monitoring is more sparse. My guess would be that the low you saw forecast was gone on the next forecasting model run (for GFS, 6 hours later).

Tropical cyclones/hurricanes whose remnants make it into the North Atlantic tend to get gobbled up by the lows that are progressing across that part of the world. Once they've lost their "tropical" characteristics they're just another low, and are barely noticeable as they cross the likes of Iceland or Britain, where deep lows are common anyway. Most tropical cyclone remnants will quickly merge with another low, producing little noticeable change in that low's intensity. By the time they reach Britain or Iceland it's just another bit of rain! Where the next "Arctic cyclone" will come from is anyone's guess, but it's much more likely to be spawned locally (e.g. off the Siberian coast) and intensify from there in the right conditions.


13C/12C ratio (both stable isotopes) also has its uses - it can tell the difference between CO2 derived from organic matter (plants prefer to take up the lighter 12C) and CO2 derived from inorganic matter, e.g. volcanoes. The main use of this is to show that CO2 emissions over the last century are not volcanic in origin but have an organic source, as the 13C/12C ratio has been declining (see part 5 of Climate Change Cluedo as a good example)

Lewis Cleverdon

Kevin - the rapid acceleration of sea ice loss, and accompanying albedo decline, presumably will accelerate itself plus various other mega-feedbacks directly - permafrost, methane hydrates, water vapour, forest and soils' desiccation and outgassing,
and indirectly all of these plus the CO2-driven microbial decay of peat-bogs.

Yet it will also accelerate the northward advance of the meteorological equator, and the northward migration of global rainfall, with the latter deserving the title 'Mother of Feedbacks' given that the migration directly accelerates five of them, with two more indirectly as grandchildren.

With that many warming sources, all of which are interactive with eachother via diverse routes and timescales, how would even the greatest of mathematicians begin to build a usefully predictive model of the consequences of arctic sea ice loss in terms of other feedbacks' acceleration ?

Given that observation can never be of a sufficient resolution to capture the sensitivity to initial conditions on anything more than the simplest of short-run interactions, could it be that a core reason for the failure thus far to accurately incorporate multiple feedbacks into scientific projections is that reductionist science is simply not capable of doing so ?

I note that the recent evaluation solely of permafrost melt outgassing bypasses questions over the core issue of the fraction released as CH4, (with its transformative potential on the rate of self-reinforcement) and makes no clear statement about the projected rates of warming from the other six mega-feedbacks driving permafrost melt alongside anthro GHGs and the migration of rainfall. So I'm left wondering, is it actually worth any more than some shaman dropping a handful of bones and interpreting the patterm they make?

No offence intended to the researchers of that study who are doubtless doing their best, but if their best suffers from a fundamental systemic optimism bias, how is it helpful ?

So how soon does the focus shift from
- just another acre of computing power and better skilled modellers and we might get some useful answers -
- this self-reinforcing warming dynamic is patently bloody dangerous and we need to shut it down just ASAP -




I'm new to learning about this field but felt I needed to post this and this thread about what records mean seems like a good location.

I've just read an interesting blog post from someone who is actually out in the ice. They are suggesting that the record lows that have been reported may not be correct. In fact there seems to be some evidence that the amount of ice is significantly less than what the satellite measurements are showing. They have someone from NSIDC taking measurements that will be compared to the satellite records. Any thoughts on the matter?


Chris Biscan


Joe Bastardi says ice is recovering fast since August 26th.


Nice use of SST maps :D. Strange that he didn't use AMSR2 map. Right you are talking about our friend Joe.

R. Gates

Good old Joe is one of the Arctic Sea Ice Three Stooges. He, along with Steve Goddard and Anthony Watts are comical in all their gyrations in trying to prove what is obviously happening isn't happening. They're antics seem mainly intended to benefit their loyal band of skeptics and deniers. It's comical, but sad at the same time.

Meanwhile, here's an excellent post by Nathan Currier that should be read by everyone, if you haven't already:


Kevin McKinney

Thanks, idiot tracker, for that heads up. I'm Twitter-impaired and missed the Yedoma thing.

Boa05att, thanks for expanding. It sounds like you really want the IPCC to refocus on a more 'precautionary' basis.

lewis, I agree that 'bloody dangerous' is accurate. I've been trying to find ways of communicating that without sounding (too much) like a total loon to the general public. It's probably not working, since I don't think the general public is reading my stuff... but still.

And thanks to everybody who took the time to navigate over and read my article. I appreciate it--the response at this site has been phenomenal.

(Oh, and I mustn't forget to say thanks to the folks who also educated us a bit more on the CMIP5 runs!)



If you do include CO2, methane and soot from fires - it will be significant. The Russian fires burned the approximate equivalent of 29 million acres - more land than the US State of Pennsylvania, this summer.

The Sea Ice Concentration and Thickness maps are updated to 12 Sept, 2012.


Thanks Neven. Very good podcast. There was that one lady scientist (memory retention gene got lost in the womb somewhere) that sounded as though she were completely baffled but the ice melt. (1+1=2, 1+2=3....).
What scares me is that the number of reports on the 'ground' that are not find the ice they expected to see or in the quality. Granted the Arctic is a huge place, but if they are picking spots that should have the better ice than what does that say about the condition of the rest. And if the satellites are getting that part wrong could things be even worse then what AMSR2 is seeing.
BTW Watts, what ever happened to that great pack of MYI in the Beaufort that was the start of great ice comeback last year.
Let me see Alaska. nope, nope, nope, hummmm where is that ice again?


Latest CT area just under 2.24M sq.Km! would have hoped for some re-freeze by now.

Kevin McKinney

Thanks, A4R!

"...would have hoped for some re-freeze by now." Sunkensheep, wayne (an actual Arctic resident) commented on another thread that the weather has been very cloudy over much of the region. If he's correct, then I'd expect slow refreezing, as fall cloudiness has been shown in at least one in situ study to provide a relatively strong positive radiative forcing--one enough to be the major term in the energy budget, IIRC.

So when the weather clears, we should see some refreeze.

(But note I'm taking wayne's word for it concerning the weather! Haven't actually checked myself...)

L. Hamilton

Refreezing not yet -- both CT and DMI inched down to new records this morning, DMI by just a tiny amount (through 9/13):


The CT anomaly looks stark (through 9/12):



Arctic.io's split zoom feature is working again!!

Happiness is

Lord Soth

Take a look at the DMI North of 80 average tempertures. Shooting up again.


Please go down into that arctic night.
Temps should not sear and melt at close of day;
Rage, Rage agaisnt the dying of the light.

With my apologies to Dylan Thomas.

Seke Rob

Here's a DMI80N sequence of 1997 - 2012 . The graphs are not perfectly overlaying, but when concentrating on that area where cooling starts, it can be seen that only 1998 and 2010 comes somewhat close to 2012 so far, except 2012 goes furthest out from the base line.

IE users cant see the animation as in apng format.


Hi Seke,
Actually I've been giving the DMI N of 89dG some thought tonight,too. While you mark '98 and '10 for similarities, I've bookmarked 1991.
Today my 'conclusion' was the graph line is now entering singularity compared to the whole data range DMI has.
It may not be hard to figure, because as Kevin and Wayne wrote, the Arctic is covered in clouds and fog. Strove and the Polarstern crew also mentioned that as exceptional this fall.
As Neven has stated before (if I'm correct), a spike further in the season could reflect a broad release of warmth out of freezing area.
At first sight that would seem strange above 80 dG, because that part was usually completely ice covered. I presume the release could even there result in a short boost of lower tropo temps.
A spike is not to be expected soon. First, the anomalous seas have to gradually cool onto -1.8 dC. Then, refreeze could create a spike. The first event could be in the stretch up to Wrangel Island. Whatever is going to freeze up in the Laptev/Kara could even retard into december?

Seke Rob

Yes indeed, 1991 is even closer for that timespan. Sequence now running from 1989 to 2012 [Ctrl-F5 refreshes I hope]. Slowed 1991 down a bit to burn on the retina. Pity the data is not available, else then a clean animation could be made.

Ulrick Vonbek

Hello everyone. We have a little discussion going on at http://theweatheroutlook.com/twocommunity/yaf_postsm377542_Antarctic-Ice.aspx?find=lastpost#post377542 about correlation between minimum sea ice at the north pole and maximum sea ice at the south pole. Some think this is significant and we would really appreciate some help from an expert.

Dan P.

Werther: A spike is not to be expected soon. First, the anomalous seas have to gradually cool onto -1.8 dC. Then, refreeze could create a spike.

On another thread I was very dubious that refreezing could explain DMI temp spikes, and I still disagree with the specific statement you made here. Latent heat is not a bomb waiting to go off when you get to freezing (supercooling aside, since that doesn't happen in the ocean). Any explanation for sudden increases in T should also work for open water. In particular in neither case should the air temperature suddenly rise above the water/ice temperature, since the slightest hint of that will just stop whatever process is transferring energy upward. (there's no "momentum" to the transfer).

So I had been interpreting any quick DMI increases that aren't just noise to be incursions of warmer air from south of 80°. That is, "weather".

But P. Ellis pointed out another mechanism that does allow temperature spikes to represent quick freezing. As the season goes on, there are larger pools of very cold air above ice with decent thickness. Suppose local convection or broader weather patterns push this very cold air across a surface that isn't thick ice. (Much easier this year than any previous fall, given the small amount of thick ice.) I see 3 possibilities:

1. Cold air hits open water above freezing. Then it can quickly cool the water and raise the temperature of the air as high as the water temperature. Of course the new air is probably no warmer than the air above water was before, but the less-cold air that's rushed in on top of the thick ice should cool more slowly due to slower heat transfer with the solid ice.

2. Cold air hits open water at freezing. Then the same dynamic as (1) can happen, but the heat to warm the air up to freezing comes from latent heat during the freeze.

3. Cold air hits thinner ice. Then as Chris Reynolds pointed out there can still be plenty of heat transfer, i.e. bottom freezing. The air warms, once again much faster than the newly-warm air over thick ice can cool.

So I'm now convinced at least that DMI temperature blips CAN represent quick freezing. But we should appeal to actual surface T maps to see if they do. It seems as though bulk air movements from south of 80° remain an obvious potential explanation for sudden swings in temperature throught the season.

Glenn Tamblyn

The last para of the Stroeve & Barrett presentation is perhaps the most telling:

"The spatial variability of thickness, a large-scale slowly varying climatic feature of the ice cover remains not well produced by the majority of the models."

Yet it is exactly that aspect that is a major part of ice dynamics during the terminal phase of the Arctic decline. Below certain threshold thicknesses the ice becomes susceptible to effects that do not occur with thicker ice - mechanical events such as hsattering of the ice pack, the capacity for winds to actually generate waves where thick ice might supress it's formation, This leading to salt contaminationon the top of flows, deeper water mixing etc.

If they aren't capturing thickness veriability very well - and hey, that is probably the hardest thing to mode - then they won't be able to model the effects of thin ice very well.

All the things we have seen this year.

Katarzyna Djaków

ERA40 reanalysis show higher temperatures than ERA-INTERIM, so it's very likely that there is no sense in comparing DMI temperature chart from 1991 and 2012


Katarzyna, hi,
I see ECMWF has reanalisis too. I've been using NCAR/NCEP.
Besides that, there is no other sense in comparing the two than in a similarity in form. In every other aspect, '12 stands out as unprecedented in the satellite era.
For reason's sake, I checked CT (noting special for sep '91 area)and some weather parameters. It looks like '91 had an unusual influx of southern air out of Siberia.
That last part is similar. The period 1/9-12/9 shows a strong anomaly on 500Mb over Siberia, high over the axis Mongolia-Taymir, low on Mid Ural-Scandinavia-Greenland. That seems to halt any rapid cooling.


This illustrates the temporary configuration 1/9-12/9. Anomaly in max temps. I like how this takes us 'off-topic' into the mid-latitudes. Everything is intertwined...

Russell McKane

How far does a Polar bear have to swim from land to the ice edge?
As of 16th September 2012.

Using Google and http://data.ncof.co.uk:8080/ncWMS/godiva2.html overlay map

From Burrow 950 kms
From Svalbard 380 North 230 kms to Frame Ice transport
From Franz-Josef Land 379kms
From Komsomolets Island 393Km or 583 for congruous edge.
From OStrov Faddeyevskly 537 km

Granted they may have caught the ice edge earlier in season and no Bear is going to be in a fit state for such a swim now if they missed the early opportunities(lack of food). If they did catch the edge early their summer would have been one of constant losing ice and moving north. No time for birthing in an ice cave(particularly given the state of the ice and lack on MYI with good ice ridges.)
Once Ice refreezes they are then faced with a treck back to their traditional winter land the same distance. The life cycle of a
Polar bear must change if they are to survive these changes.

Nightvid Cole


You left out the New Siberian Islands, how dare you!


Can not find it now but did see a piece about the PBs. Granted in some areas they are in great danger, but in others they are making a come back. The main reason for this is because they thrive best on broken ice. As long as the ice can hold their weight the smaller the better as long as the floe is close together.
That is why in the CA they are still doing well.


Not sure where to put this, but came across this very interesting piece. Could this be a help in dealing with CO2 or could it end up being one of those many things that either wont work or create a whole new set of problems even worse then we have now.
Granted it has nothing directly to do with the Arctic melt, but as GW is directly related to CO2 these findings do pose some interesting discoveries.


@ Ulrick Vonbek | September 15, 2012 at 00:34 on the differences between Arctic and Antarctic sea ice dynamics, and correlations
Some of the posters over at weatheroutlook have noted the differences imposed by geography - Arctic sea Ice surrounded by land versus thick, high altitude Antarctic ice sheets surrounded by circumpolar current and atmospheric vortex, as well as the freshening, easier to freeze surface water from melt and precipitation. A part of that is from ice shelf collapse; Larsen B was about 220 meters thick. After it collapsed, melted, and spread out/mixed into the surface water around the continent, it would cover a much larger area when it refroze 1-2 m thick. 220 meters thick by 3,250 km^2 yields 400,000 to 600,000 km^2 at typical Antarctic sea ice thickness. This may account for some of the rebound in Antarctic sea ice* from the dip around 2002-2003, but the signal is very noisy - http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/nsidc-seaice-s/from:1979.6/every:12 - and very dependent on the specific time and way that the remains of Larsen B spread out. As for short term correlations, if one detrends the NH minimum, and the SH maximum, and compares them, one gets the following;
Pearson correlation efficient: -0.03768145
95% confidence interval: ( -0.3761304 , 0.30963904 )
Significance: p > 0.05

*my nonexpert blogging SWAG -"scientific wild a$$ guess"


Jtstewart, September 14, 03:16

Hourly photos from another ship in the Arctic Ocean, the USCGC Healy, are available here


The thumb nails are coded by day-time and clicking by a thumb nail, clicking on the image to get full screen, and another click on the image to get an enlargement that can be scrolled. At the top of the image is data on UTC time, position, etc. Note particularly the latitude. The Healy has been a bit west of north of Barrow for quite a while and between 75ºN and 83ºN. A good visual impression over time and a larger area of the ice in another part of the Arctic is there to be had.

A quick geographic orientation is available here, as is more data:


The PIO officer’s blog entry for the 15th has some interesting observations on the refreezing process.


I am always leery of Greenpeace and similar sources (as well as those targeted at a general audience). Not that what they report isn’t true (as Bistardi - in another thread here - and his tribe have no apparent compunction in doing), but that it’s selective. Stroeve I pay close attention to, but the bulk of the post is from Greenpeace and I take that into account.

Back at the start of record extremes being broken, Watts used the NSIDC charts of the Arctic Ocean that identify areas mariners may find ice, to claim more ice than NSIDC and others reported is the same sort of thing. There is, as likely as not, a bit more ice dibs and dabs than is “officially” counted. Note the ongoing effort that the scientists are making to get the facts right and to report measurements over time using consistent observation methods. The advocates, though not in any way comparable in veracity, tend to leave out inconvenient info.

Through the effort of Neven (and many commenters here), who can all bask in the glow of accomplishment during the post melt phase of the yearly cycle, you’ve come to a good place to learn.

Artful Dodger

W.B. thanks for the link to the Healy cruise blog. There is an extremely telling quote there from Sep 15, 2012:

"One of the goals for this leg of the deployment was to identify an ice floe thick and stable enough to deploy personnel onto the ice. Both science party and crew examined satellite images and searched visibly for an area that would permit an “on ice” deployment and liberty. Unfortunately, the seasonal ice melt in HEALY’s vicinity prevented this favorite crew evolution."

Let's make this point very clearly: The U.S. Coast Guard went into the pack ice looking for a floe large enough to walk on, and COULD NOT FIND ONE. Mission failure is NOT taken lightly by these professional sailors.

There IS no pack ice in this region, the Western Arctic below 82° N. Just the broken rubble and rotting remnants of a past that is quickly fading.

That's ground truth.



I am sure Watts, Goddard and Bastardi can tell you an other story!?


They already have that one well covered. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/03/16/you-ask-i-provide-november-2nd-1922-arctic-ocean-getting-warm-seals-vanish-and-icebergs-melt/
Of course they apply that to mean the entire Arctic.

Artful Dodger

Hi Espen, hi LRC,

No need to replay the play-by-play for those players. I wouldn't repeat their crap if I had a mouthful.

No need to like to them on this blog, either.

It's not interesting.


The numbers of lemmings in North East Greenland is decreasing dramatically, maybe because of?

It is in Danish (use Google translate)



Espen, it looks like a normal predator / prey cycle. As the number of prey increases, it causes a similar increase in predators, which causes a crash. This effect can be seen many places around the world.

Seke Rob

Propose to google translate the article... There was no rebound of lemmings in the last 12 years, where before there was a 4 year cycle. Normal?


Short read on rotten ice....


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

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