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As far as I understand the expansion of antarctic SIA is mainly, if not entirely, caused by stronger katabatic winds from deep inside the inland icecap.

I have heard somewhere that the ozone hole and the cooling of the stratosphere are somehow causing the katabatic winds to increase in strenght, and thus being responsible for the increasing SIA, but I don't really see the connection.

Is there any connection at all, or is there an entirely different reason why SIA is increasing in Antarctica?


I believe ocean currents have something to do with it as well.

But it makes sense that when the stratosphere gets colder, the Antarctic katabatic wind gains in strength. The Antarctic is such a big lump of ice that it is the dominant factor in the climate of the lower latitudes. What it does, is actually pull the air from the stratosphere downwards. When that air is colder, it makes sense that it comes down faster. And thus the katabatic blows everything away, except the penguins.

All of this I know thanks to a documentary I translated 45 years ago. :-)


Yeah, I'm truly shocked that Little Anthony hasn't yet run a breathless headline on this latest record... ;-)

Since we're talking about sea ice area, I thought now would be a good time and place to mention that--no surprise--November was the sixth consecutive month, and the seventh month this year, for which the 2012 monthly average Arctic SIA was the lowest on record:

JAN / 2011 / 2010 / 2006
FEB / 2012 / 2006 / 2011
MAR / 2011 / 2006 / 2007
APR / 2007 / 2006 / 2004
MAY / 2011 / 2006 / 2011
JUN / 2012 / 2010 / 2007
JUL / 2012 / 2007 / 2010
AUG / 2012 / 2011 / 2007
SEP / 2012 / 2007 / 2011
OCT / 2012 / 2007 / 2011
NOV / 2012 / 2007 / 2009


Thanks, Jim!

I'd also like to add this excellent observation by commenter Yuha in another post:

I believe we have just seen the largest ever single day drop in Global CT SIA, -561k km2:

2012.9069 -0.3898046 20.2006760 20.5904808
2012.9095 -0.8500094 19.6394539 20.4894638

It was a combination of -377k drop in the south and -185k drop in the north (in November!). Even separately those numbers would be quite exceptional though possibly not unprecedented.

The previous record is -523k from January 2008. There is also -1.2M in December 1987 but that is an obvious typo, sensor glitch or other error.


I believe we have just seen the largest ever single day drop in Global CT SIA, -561k km2:

Hmmmmm.....southern pole melts faster...... northern pole freezes slower.


It should seem obvious to anyone who actually is watching that the south pole behaviors that are different than the north (new SIA maximum)is entirely due to their unique geographies.


Also...I really enjoyed the UN permafrost link on the previous thread. I learned more about permafrost in 38 pages than I knew before reading.

What was most amazing was the graphic showing permafrost and sea ice on the north pole.....almost a perfect circle in relationship to the Arctic circle. Duh.....
Should we be following this as a CT ice maximum each year? Is there anyway that we could recreate this metric back to 1980?


If I understand the way trends in permafrost behave, this would be a perfect way to signal long term climatic change.


Thanks for the answer Neven. I agree that when the air gets colder, it sinks faster and therefore also result in stronger katabatic winds, however, the statosphere and the troposphere are usually not intimatly connected through various windsystems and heatexchange systems, like the upper and lower troposphere. That is after all why that troposphere can be warming while the stratosphere is cooling rapidly (That is at least the way I've been thinking about it, but you must correct me if I'm wrong). So to me it seemed a little bit strange that the cooling of the stratosphere also should cool the air above the Antarctic inland and thus result in stronger katabatic winds.

But if I've understood you right and the air above Antarctica get so cold that it drag down the cool air from the stratosphere, wouldn't it mean that the katabatic winds only would grow stronger in the future as the global warming continues to cool the stratosphere, which again would imply that the SIA will grow bigger and bigger until this strange feed-back-loop somehow ends? Or I'm getting it all wrong?


sea ice movie


The results provide evidence that anthropogenic emissions of ozone depleting gases have had a distinct impact on climate not only at stratospheric levels but at Earth's surface as well.

Eli posted on Stoat blog:
Kang, Polvani, Fyfe and Sigmond in Science 332 (2011) 951 and to be honest a bunch of other people before them referenced in the “Impact of Polar Ozone Depletion on Subtropical Precipitation. They point out that there has been a strong movement of the Southern Hemisphere westerly jet towards the pole driven by the lifting of the tropopause associated with the Antarctic ozone depletion.

Kang and friends argue, supported by modeling that this effect is seen even as far as the tropics as the Hadley cells shift poleward, an observed trend.

Observations, cooling of the stratosphere due to the formation of the ozone hole, increased precipitation between 20 and 40 S latitude, shifting of the Southern Hemisphere westerly jet and the Hadley cell, poleward, and, oh yes, flooding in Australia can all be drawn together qualitatively as shown in the picture to the left taken from Feldstein’s appreciation in the same volume of Science, and quantitatively with GCMs.


So I sounds to me as if it is ozone depletion that has dominated in driving the stronger katabatic winds. GW may also be cooling the stratosphere but in future, ozone might stop falling and start rising to offset troposphere cooling due to GW.

Even if the winds grow stronger due to GW, it is possible that the sea ice is already getting thinner and GW temperature rises might dominate the wind effect in the not too distant future.


Ugg try again:

So It sounds to me as if it is ozone depletion that has dominated in driving the stronger katabatic winds. GW may also be cooling the stratosphere but in future, ozone might stop falling and start rising to offset stratosphere cooling due to GW.


It probably would have been better to link to eli's post:

which would provide diagrams like:

I can understand that the tropopause rises due to stratospheric cooling.

But I get lost with what is happening with stratospheric cooling changing wave momentum flux and how that changes location of polar and Hadley cells. Presumably the arrows represents path of causation because the polar and Hadley cells move towards pole not away (so dotted circles are where cells were before the change).

Wondering if someone could explain what is happening.


Endless aggravation with Typepad. Founded in 2003 and still in beta?

Like bluesky, I'm concerned that early cutoff bakes in obsolescence to the 15 Sep 13 IPCC Working Group I (science) AR5 report. Those dates are the 31 Jul 12 for article submission (not publication) to a scientific journal, and March 15, 2013 for acceptance for publication (passed peer review, acceptance letter issued by editor, but not necessarily published or released as pre-print). IPCC writers have no way to obtain a comprehensive set -- journals do not disclose lists of submitted or unreleased articles, much less their content. Note an article, say on 2012 sea ice minimum, necessarily submitted no sooner than October and published say 15 Feb 2012 -- seven months prior to their report -- would be excluded from consideration as the rules are written.

I looked at yesterday's excellent but already obsolete Science article on Greenland + Antarctica ice loss (euphemistically called SMB, surface mass balance) that Joe Romm treated as a good 'science stunner'. That was submitted 30 July 2012 so made the cutoff by a single day, probably by intent. It was accepted 5 Oct 12 (67 day turnaround), never released as a pre-print (at Science Express) and only published on 30 Nov 2012 (further 56 day delay, 123 day total process).

This article, seemingly prêt-à-porter for IPCC, carefully reviews altimetry, interferometry, GRACE, glacial isostatic adjustment and their associated uncertainties, had 47 authors but was unaware of the Slepian function PNAS article (reviewed above), despite explicitly recognizing weaknesses in their GRACE analysis that the later article remediated. This was submitted earlier on 24 Apr 12, accepted later 9 Oct 12, and published sooner 19 Nov 12. That says to me that scientists will not cooperate for the larger good (duh). They'll point to Watson & Crick stealing Rosalind Franklin's data.

The IPCC approach -- a faded snapshot overtaken by events on the ground -- is unworkable. It has served its purpose (a consensus exists). Do we need endless directorates, data protocols, meetings in nations-at-risk (Seychelles anyone?). It is silly to focus on 2100 when the case for pre-emptive action was clear enough by 1980 and when the consequences are already upon us.


I see bloggers over at Skeptical Science still fighting the last war -- defending predictions of the Grandiose Climate Models. So the IPCC is on the horns of a dilemma: admit that GCMs have failed miserably, or knowing that, go forward with them anyway. Which is what they did:

Computer modeling of atmospheric gases for ground temperature that explicitly excludes (all the new IPCC-allowed scenarios) big heat budget changes (albedo loss in the Arctic Ocean, Greenland and tundra) and their rapidly growing emissions guarantees that everything will be wrong again -- outside the envelope of the 20 pseudo-independent models, again on the wrong side. Events are moving much faster than they are predicting. I can see why Caldeira quit as lead writer.

So forget IPCC. For informed citizenry and better decision-making, we need real-time updating on a dozen main science topics (sea ice, tundra, Greenland, Antarctica, ocean acidification, sea level rise, paleo, methane, carbon dioxide, atmospheric chemistry, clouds and aerosols, surface temperature, drought, extreme weather events). Easy enough to do on a wiki with restricted registration.

This blog is quite good for real-time coverage and analysis of open source satellite and weather products. Journal coverage is a lot harder -- maybe 8 articles a day to read, paywalls to full text for some, copyright obstacles to re-distribution for others (though Dropbox is seeing more and more pdfs because of Tor).

Is it really necessary to wait upon peer-review? My opinion (as peer-reviewer) is that peer-review often adds value but is greatly over-rated as quality control. Incremental, even major, improvements do come out of it. But if you reject the paper, authors just take off rough edges from offending sections and resubmit elsewhere, as often as needed, to lower impact journals. So it ends up being published anyway, more or less like it started. We have a 'paleo' article under review at Science right now and that's our fallback plan too. But according to RetractionWatch data, you can't filter by journal impact factor: the big-name journals are the worst offenders.

In my opinion, most scientists can attend seminars, chat with someone at a poster session or look at the ppts or video from a meeting and make reasonable decisions about useful information therein. If not, what then is the purpose of these incessant meetings? So, taken with a grain of salt, the AGU meeting is a precious source of climate change information. It is a glimpse six months into the future -- the pre pre-print world. So to answer Steve's question, I think crowd-sourcing article digestion is about the most useful thing to do right now.

In my experience, it is better not to physically attend (unless held in Seychelles) but to spend the $485 registration fee at a pub and the time on reading abstracts and eposters. AGU membership is an additional $50 per year and open to "any individual who is professionally engaged in or associated with the geophysical sciences." This year they have free live streaming option for key sessions, talks provided in Video on Demand format, and the ePoster program. To get start times for live streaming events, text "AGUVirtual to 69302!". You can buy their journal articles in 50 block bundles (though DeepDyve is cheaper).


That was very informative Crandles. However, I'm not so sure that ozone levels in the atmosphere will stop falling. Remember that when greenhouse gasses trap more heat in the troposphere, less heat reaches the stratosphere, and because ozone do not form in temperatures lower than -78 C this is already having a significant impact (The large ozone hole that formed over arctic last winter is a good example). But when it comes to what is happening with stratospheric cooling, changing wave momentum flux, and how that changes location of polar and Hadley cells, I'm the wrong guy to ask.

Wayne Kernochan

I want to weigh in as someone who has been critical of the relevant scientists in the past for talking about the "certain" rather than the "likely" and thereby not conveying the seriousness of the situation. I don't think that the solution is to deep-six the IPCC and replace it with something faster-moving. It is very valuable imho to establish certainties in this area; it's just that no effort is made today to pull together models including uncertain but likely effects like permafrost and other methane.

The point is that we need something in addition, not as a replacement: models that move ahead of certainty, like Maslowskis's for arctic sea ice volume, but comprehensive, not focused on one aspect. We have the forward-looking research in areas like methane, Antarctica, and permafrost; now we need something to put it together rapidly and repeatedly.

As for the way that the IPCC affects politics: again, I think the corrective is a forward-looking counterpart, else if we ditch IPCC we may find no ears listening even to the underplayed alarms.


Agree with Wayne here. I see hard-working, well-intentioned scientists doing grave damage with their focus on the 2100 (resp. 2050) timeframe. Even now I hear people talking 2030 for loss of summer Arctic sea ice (preposterous). This will lead to further incommensurate and tardy response.

Not saying they are closet deniers (trojan horses) or lukewarmer variants but not seeing any practical difference either.

Historically, we didn't have dramatic effects to point at. Now we do, across the board. So a lot of it had to be models back then. And a lot of that -- really all of it -- turned on CO2 (and so the non-stop dissing of methane, albedo, permafrost etc etc).

IPCC reports march in lockstep with the CO2 community. 2014 and we are still talking about atmosphere-only runs? Needless to say, modelers who have spent the last 20 years writing CO2/surface temp code are totally invested in that and nothing else.

Today, nothing turns on further CO2. This presents two dilemmas.

First, after saying for years the models are right, now we have to say they are dead wrong (grossly understate onrushing climate change). Imagine what the funded denier community will do with that.

Second, after saying for years the top priority is reducing CO2 emissions, now we have to say the top priority is reducing methane emissions (beef production/gas leaks being the easiest).

That exquisite review of Greenland/Antarctica trends and uncertainty in Science was fully pre-wired by IPCC (see Richard Kerr comment piece accompanying it). That makes me think IPCC has the bases covered with another 10-12 similarly definitive articles coming. These would provide a great starting point and be easy to patch with incoming incremental studies.


On the record high shipping: I'd very much expect a new record next year, even without a new low in sea ice area or extent (not that those are unlikely either). There's an increased interest in building ships designed for the arctic, now that the business model's been established and the advantages have been made clear.


Briefly, that animation above is sea ice age for 2007. Five classes (FYI to 5+) plus open water. Lagrangian particle tracking (no stacking).

This is a Lambert azimuthal equal area on a clean gif so you can count pixels in free-trial photoshop to get areas by age class for each frame.

Mark Tschudi kindly pointed me to his weekly sea ice age data gifs from week 45 of 1978 to week 48 of 2012. About 25k per.

ftp://ccar.colorado.edu/pub/tschudi/iceage/ log in as anonymous.

After download, you can make gifs free online for your favorite period (or favorite season) at http://toolson.net/GifAnimation/Create

Mark and team have an even cooler animation at ClimateWatch. Amazing to see that much older ice exiting the Fram in 2012. Landfast ice on Ellesmere also has tanked.

I have redone it with a better color palette and a sound track (Vivaldi's Four Seasons of course). Shortly.



I'd like to second the comment above about PermaFrost.

I'd love to see a chart/graphic similar to the seaice ones that could be used to document the loss of PermaFrost. Along with escaping methane?

I think the public in general needs quick simple 'infographics' that can be splashed around. Put "tons of CH4" on a CNN screen and people's eyes will skip it automatically. Put two maps to compare and people will at least understand something is going on.

John Christensen

On the Antarctic SIA:

1) This year saw a smaller than expected ozone hole over the Antarctic (about 20% reduced from last year), believed to be caused by slightly warmer lower stratosphere:

2) The Antarctic SIA almost reached a new record high on day 268 (16.222M km2 on CT)

It does not seem like a major factor of the high SIA would be the size of the ozone hole and lower than normal temperatures in the lower stratosphere, at least other factors have considerably outweighed this factor in 2012.

John Christensen

Smaller than expected maximum ozone hole that is..

John Christensen

My vote would therefore be for strong (strengthening?) circumpolar currents as a major factor explaining increase in Antarctic SIA, as you will also note that SST in a band around Antarctica of 300-600 miles beyond the edge of the sea ice is below average:

(Select 'Global' as Geographic Domain)

As was discussed earlier on this blog, it was also found that currents leading into the Arctic via the Fram Strait have warmed since the 1860's, increasing the energy exchange between the stratified water layers in the Arctic.

The combination of warmer currents into the Arctic combined with CO2 helps explain, why volume is going down so fast, even compared with SIA, being hit both from above and below.


Holland and Kwok abstract says

The sea-ice cover around Antarctica has experienced a slight expansion in area over the past decades [1,2]. This small overall increase is the sum of much larger opposing trends in different sectors that have been proposed to result from changes in atmospheric temperature or wind stress [3–5], precipitation [6,7], ocean temperature [8], and atmosphere or ocean feedbacks [9,10]. However, climate models have failed to reproduce the overall increase in sea ice [11]. Here we present a data set of satellite tracked sea ice motion for the period of 1992–2010 that reveals large and statistically significant trends in Antarctic ice drift, which, in most sectors, can be linked to local winds. We quantify dynamic and thermodynamic processes in the internal ice pack and show that wind driven changes in ice advection are the dominant driver of ice concentration trends around much of West Antarctica, whereas wind driven thermodynamic changes dominate elsewhere. The ice-drift trends also imply large changes in the surface stress that drives the Antarctic ocean gyres, and in the fluxes of heat and salt responsible for the production of Antarctic bottom and intermediate waters.

John, do you think this is wrong and if so, why?

Yes, there is a band of cooler water around the ice, but what causes what? Wouldn't a shift of the polar cell towards the pole tend to pull colder air over that region and cool the SSTs? If we already have that explained, does it make sense to use that to propose a different cause?

(Not that I understand things well enough to suggest you don't have more involved reasons to suggest a different cause, just trying to understand.)


For those interested, the AIRS Giovanni and IASI methane imagery have been updated.

Some interesting concentrations especially in the CAB in the AIRS data and in the Kara Sea in the IASI.



I have redone it with a better color palette and a sound track (Vivaldi's Four Seasons of course). Shortly.

Cool, A-team. If you want me to turn things into blog posts, just send me a mail.

BTW, why don't Tschudi, Fowler and Maslanik update their Ice Age website if they have the GIFs at hand?


Pacific northwest has been pummelled for the last 6 days with wind gusts up to 90 mph and feet of rain. It is expected to last for 3-5 more days.

Sticky weather?

Climate Changes

@ Crandles

"So It sounds to me as if it is ozone depletion that has dominated in driving the stronger katabatic winds. GW may also be cooling the stratosphere but in future, ozone might stop falling and start rising to offset stratosphere cooling due to GW."

Ozone over the Antarctic has been at its highest this year since implemetation of the Montreal Protocol... could it be offsetting the cooling already? http://www.temis.nl/protocols/o3hole/

Climate Changes

*for graphs scroll to the bottom of the page. :)


Re 1. ozone hole smaller and
2. near record area on day 268 2012.

Is day 268 the right time to look? Earlier in year anomalies weren't particularly high but maybe that is part of the pattern with GW driving area downwards at minimum when there is little ice area but winds driving area upwards at maximum.

Is it possible that once the polar cell has shifted towards the pole there is some inertia and it takes a few years of warm stratosphere to shift it away from pole again? Doesn't sound likely to me but then I don't even know what the mechanism is.

So yes, I am struggling to explain that but then I probably would be expected to struggle given my lack of knowledge of what is being suggested. I'm out of my depths :(

Harvey Puca

Russia has now started construction of three very large nuclear ice breakers which will allow for year round shipping via the northern route.


Harvey Puca

More information on Permafrost can be found at the International Permafrost Association:


Here is a working group of the IPA dedicated to permafrost and climate:



John couldn't get your link to work,[404] is this the page?http://ocean.dmi.dk/satellite/index.uk.php


NSIDC has Nov as first year with area below 8M Km^2, but extent only 3rd lowest:

2005 11 Goddard N 10.47 8.73
2006 11 Goddard N 9.84 8.07
2007 11 Goddard N 10.05 8.00
2008 11 Goddard N 10.62 8.73
2009 11 Goddard N 10.27 8.05
2010 11 Goddard N 9.88 8.11
2011 11 NRTSI-G N 10.01 8.12
2012 11 NRTSI-G N 9.93 7.68

Klon Jay

Very interesting current ice thickness animation, with thick ice pulling away from N. Greenland. Sign of things to come?



Sea ice concentration at a record minimum for November 2012 at 7,7 millions km².

Against three times in a row 8,1millions km² (2009, 2010 and 2011) and 8,0 millions km² in 2007.

That is something, isn't it?


@Neven, if you still would be around here, could you delete the superfluous messages, please!


Sorry people, but at times typepad is driving me nuts.
Publication had been refused 3 times, but at a 4th try the previous have been published to.

Jim Hunt

@Kion - See also discussion about the "Morris Jesup Polynia" over here.


2012 Sea Ice Outlook post-season report is now available:

All individual Outlook estimates (20 groups total contributed) in the June and July reports were higher than the observed September arctic sea ice extent. June Outlooks (based on May data) had a median value of 4.4 million square kilometers; July Outlooks (based on June data) had a median value of 4.6 million square kilometers. However, of the 19 participants in the SIO June report, for example, 10 projected a September ice extent of 4.4 million square kilometers or less; thus, the majority of the participating groups were low relative to past years and thus were strongly in the right direction.


A major lesson of the 2012 Sea Ice Outlook is that all contributors and those with objective methods underestimated the sea ice reduction, yet did note a continuing low level sea ice extent relative to previous years. They collectively conclude that recent September sea ice minima are more related to longer term shifts in thermal forcing and ice melt and thus persistence, and in most years, month-to-month meteorological variability over the summer months tends to cancel out extremes in atmospheric forcing. Thus we expect to see continuing low levels of sea ice extent. Long term trends now appear more important than short term weather events. Influences from the rate of melting, of thin ice, and loss of multi-year sea ice in 2012 were underestimated, even by objective methods. The information for a more extreme projection should have been available in data. A further quantitative review is warranted to improve the seasonal Outlook.
Jim Hunt

Please forgive my typo Klon. It was late last night (UK time) and I'd just returned from the pub, where I'd shared a few beers with the man from the Met Office I first bumped into a few weeks ago.

Until now I'd never realised the US Navy provided a publicly available Arctic sea-ice forecast. The "things to come" you refer to seem to include large areas of multi-year ice becoming detached from northern Greenland.

Here's a picture of the current state of affairs in that neck of the woods. Click it for more hindcasts.

Satellite image of the Cape Morris Jesup area of Greenland on 4th December 2012 - Click to see recent images

The Met Office man was predicting "late 2020s" for an "ice free" summer in the Arctic. I bet him a beer it would be sooner than that.

Do you think I should arrange another meetup tonight, to collect my winnings?


Further record speculation (probably not this year): how long before we see a new record low 365-day Arctic average? That's about the only unbroken Arctic ice record which I've seen sceptics still holding onto; the 2007 record remains the lowest yet, due to the fairly high peak 2012 extent and low peak 2007 extent. But with the average for the last six months of 2012 having been considerably less than the 2007 average for that period, I'd expect this record too might well be broken some time in the next six months. (Although it's far too early yet to speculate on where peak 2013 extent might fall).

See this graph for a rough illustration of this metric: http://www.climate4you.com/SeaIce.htm#IRAC%20JAXA%20recent%20Arctic%20sea%20ice%20extent


Watch out for the blog, which Paddy is referring you to. It is maintained by the notorious Ole Humlum, who appears on this list of skeptical scientists: http://www.desmogblog.com/international-climate-science-coalition.

By the way, the Desmogblog is currently running a feature describing the troubles Shell have with their Arctic operations – see this post: http://www.desmogblog.com/2012/12/03/shell-s-arctic-oil-spill-gear-crushed-beer-can-simple-test


4 Dec: 'Arctic sea ice news' is out


Aaron Lewis

I expect enhanced precipitation to leave a film of low salinity water floating on the sea, which will freeze and result in high peak area/ extents in late winter. However, it will be a film of ice and will melt quickly.

I do not expect a record peak, but I would not be surprised at something approaching 14 million km^2.

Kevin McKinney

"Although it's far too early yet to speculate on where peak 2013 extent might fall..."

Apparently not!


Does enhanced precipitation come from enhanced evaporation? Does that net out to negligible change in salinity or does some of the evaporation fall as precipitation on top of sea ice which freezes in place and does not dilute surface water and leaving it saltier?

Or is most of the precipitation from water in warmer winds from further south that then cool down?

There is negative auto-correlation in 1 year lagged ice extent. So perhaps enhanced precipitation from outside the region diluting the water which can then freeze makes more sense.

Another possibility is that the large volume of ice melted this year has diluted surface water, making it easier to freeze. I think I have heard of this one and I think it sounds more plausible to me.

Is this what carries through to create the one year lag negative auto-correlation? Is the late formation so little snow cover and therefore little insulating effect also involved with the negative auto-correlation?



I am indeed pretty dubious of the metric in question - it seems to have been seized upon by some sceptics simply because it is a "last hold-out", as it were. But if it looks like it'll fall soon enough, it's one more bit of debating ground they'll have to abandon.


One thing I don't get from the nsidc data in the latest bit of Arctic Sea Ice News. Based on Figure 2, November ice extent seems to track lowest in 2012 for most of the month, and 2012 seems to clearly be the lowest in average overall, but in Figure 3 it's only the third lowest November on average. Do you know if there's some difference in how the extent figures are calculated across the two different graphs?

(I noticed something similar in the previous installment, but it wasn't quite so stark a contrast as in this month's).

Klon Jay

Jim, thanks. I've been looking for events such as this, hypothesizing that the reduced area of multi-year ice will become more mobile as it shrinks. I wonder if this "Morris Jesup Polynia", which seems to be freezing over leaving the old ice offshore, will make it more likely that section of old ice will be shunted south.

Aaron Lewis

I see more moisture from temperate and even tropical regions. In the old days, such water vapor condensed out much farther south. And the Arctic was too dry for any significant precipitation.

The other side of this is that circulation systems and cells that we learned in school, do not seem to be working.


627 / 574…
Thanks, Lanevn, for directing us to this first GIS mass loss assessment through GRACE data.
Yesterday I put some suggestions on the ‘Unprecedented melt’- thread July last summer. That was based on CAD ice/snowlimit comparison 2009 – 2012. I expressed some relief on what I found visible. GRACE is actually on the 'relaxed' side of that relief.
Although there’s never been comparable mass loss (in the sat era) during summer like we saw last summer, the difference with FI 2010 wasn’t extreme (570 km3 against 680) according to GRACE. An explanation could be storage of meltwater in firn or subsurface voids.
Still, a 574 Gt mass loss could show up in a 4.1 mm total yearly SSL raise pulse. But ENSO, accumulated continental rainfall storage and atmospheric humidity could have mitigated that pulse.
Anyway, the process seems to be more stretched in time than I expected. But it still fits south Greenland icesheet collapse in the period to 2050 and 50 cm SLR.


Oh... I notice I'm juggling numbers above (570-574-680). I should read well first. As I interprete, the summer loss 2012 was stated in the article as 627 Gt, the yearly loss as 574 Gt. So 53 Gt accumulation during winter '11-'12.


Paddy, yes I am a bit puzzled. Fig 2 is labeled as extent and it looks lowest month on record by quite a margin. There is no line for 2006 (and previous years). So while 2012 could be above 2006 as it is per the monthly numbers and be consistent with that figure, I don't see a reason why the monthly number is coming out higher than 2010.

NSIDC provides daily extent numbers. See:

If I work out averages for November from that with first number being a 30 day average and second number being a 30 day average of 5 day periods ending on each day in November, then I get

2006 9.66 9.58
2007 9.76 9.59
2008 10.34 10.21
2009 9.77 9.61
2010 9.61 9.46
2011 9.80 9.63
2012 9.40 9.20

2006 11 Goddard N 9.84 8.07
2007 11 Goddard N 10.05 8.00
2008 11 Goddard N 10.62 8.73
2009 11 Goddard N 10.27 8.05
2010 11 Goddard N 9.88 8.11
2011 11 NRTSI-G N 10.01 8.12
2012 11 NRTSI-G N 9.93 7.68

It would seem that the published daily numbers match the fig 2 with 2012 being noticeably lower than 2010.

The daily numbers don't match the monthly numbers but I could understand some extra quality control procedures changing the numbers a little. However there seems quite a good correlation between the numbers if we exclude 2009 and 2012, In those two years the numbers diverge much more than in the other years.

Not quite sure what to make of that. I could imagine there being more detailed work near coastlines but 2009 and 2012 seem rather different to each other rather than being two extreme years in same direction.

John Christensen

@johnm33; Yes, that is the right link.

It is also great for following the situation in the Arctic.

Note that again this year, the Bering Sea appears to be cooler than normal, as was also the case last year. Makes you wonder if the open water in Barents and Kara is pushing high pressure areas towards the western part of the Arctic.


John Christensen wrote:

Makes you wonder if the open water in Barents and Kara is pushing high pressure areas towards the western part of the Arctic.

Looks like to long a shot, all the more as it is usually the other way around, meaning high pressure pushing back low pressure. Also, Alaska's Western coast and the Bering Sea have been tortured since a couple of weeks by depressions. Do have a look at the ecmwf charts.

By the way, if it would stay like that at 12-13-14 december Svalbard, Barentz- and Kara seas would be hit by some subtropic currents, as it was in the record breaking month of February 2012.
Remember, an almost unbelievable and thus startling record of 7 °C on the 8th of February at Longyearbyen.


@Paddy, Crandles
This is caused by the way these numbers are calculated. In one of the other threads out here is an in depth explanation. It is basically caused by the 15% threshold - if a grid cell has >15% of ice, the cell is considered to be 100% of ice. If that block is for 6 days (>15% of the month) filled with >15% of ice, then for the month, it counts as 100% ice. Suppose that block of ice floats from grid cell to grid cell, that single block of ice can make 5 grid cells count as 100% ice for the monthly figure. The daily figure would show 1 grid cell of 100% of ice during each day of the month.

Doug Bostrom

Sea ice animation upthread reminds me of how ice behaves on the Great Lakes, except of course it's the Arctic Ocean. What a remarkable thing to witness.

Artful Dodger

Well then, that's the 14 ball drained. The remaining question is now "will we run the table"?

Jim Hunt

Hi Klon, It's my pleasure.

Lodger's link obviously doesn't include the most recent spaceborne observations of northern Greenland. Like you I've been wondering whether the evidence that a large area of multi-year sea-ice has become "detached" for the first time ever meant it was significantly more vulnerable to melting out next summer, and hence whether my "bet" might be settled long before 2030.

I'm also very curious about how the US Navy go about measuring, modelling and then predicting Arctic sea-ice thickness.

Artful Dodger

Hi Jim,

Watch this place!



@Bosbas, Crandles,

Thank you for your responses.

If the lower average monthly ice extent for past years is indeed because ice has been more mobile in 2012, and thus seemed more extensive over the course of a month, then it would indeed seem to explain it.

And if that is the explanation, then personally, I think it makes sense to place more emphasis on the daily figures, representing the extent of sea covered by ice at any one time, rather than on the monthly figures which would instead seem to represent the extent of where the ice has been. But that may just be my bias talking...

Ghoti Of Lod

It looks like a session called "What's going on in the Arctic" is being web streamed from the AGU meetings at 11:30am PST (GMT-8).



The US Navy has a lot of interesting Arctic products. Sea surface salinity, height and temperature; ice concentration, ice thickness, ice speed and drift. I am in total awe -- somebody did really beautiful work on the color palette.


The Navy didn't seem to mind people rooting around in their file system, but I couldn't get a ftp connection going for the main ice archive so I wrote for the log-in. I saw 5,366 gifs starting 02 June 2010 at 18Z hours named like this: ictn2010060118_2010060200_035_arcticictn.001.gif

Like Fufufunknknk, I'm a great believer in eye candy for effective scientific communication. It's amazing that people will put their hard-won data on these butt-ugly low res base maps (atm methane, Greenland, ...). People on this blog have put out far superior ice products.

I'll try the 365-days as inline animations here. They also offer the last 30 days. It would take reorganization of their archival gifs to go back farther in time or to cut to just the summers.
Also they would be more effective if cropped just to the Arctic

ice speed and drift

ice thicknesst

ice concentration


Nevin, thanks ... I will email you links to the goodies if I have trouble getting TypePad to display them.

Dept of Argh: usually caused by the Typepad cookie gone rancid. In Firefox, Tools -> Clear Recent History ... -> will take you to a place where you can delete this cookie specifically, as well as browser history cache. That will fix log-in and posting.

I couldn't get them to divulge such secrets as how many urls were allowed in a message rejection as spam. Nor what html 1.0 is allowed besides bold/italic/underline. So it is like learning out what is inside a piano by rolling them repeatedly down the stairs.


I think we would get far better coverage in the press if we did more of their legwork for them, especially in the graphics department.

They are not going to make animations themselves from some raw file in the supplemental data section of some paywalled journal. No time for that.

They are not going to run an ugly graphic that will repulse their readers nor an overly complex one that readers do not understand.

Below I was doing some experimenting on an ineffectual graphic. Here bathymetery and DEM were public domain and came up on a 5 second google search. So I tinted their colors (0K colors onto 0 CYM of CYMK) so it would show how mass loss correlated with elevation, slope and aspect. Not perfect and not everyone's solution but a conceptual improvement I would say.


r w Langford

NOAA State of the Arctic 2012 report released today.


I'm also having trouble posting comments, clearing cookies and cache is not helping, so I'm using Chrome to post this. I think it might be due to the latest FF update, because I'm not having any problems on my desktop where FF is still 16.0.2 and not 17.0.1.

Anyway, just wanted to say that I'll be doing a post on Greenland tomorrow. And one reaction to a previous comment:

Looking at Kris' comparison, it's clear that the contrast between Pacific and Atlantic is even more pronounced than last year.

Jim Hunt

Good morning Lodger, and thanks for that link. I'm familiar with ocean going buoys from the dim and distant days when I was a DIY surf forecaster.

However I'm still not clear how the US Navy can use the data from the "ice-going" equivalent to generate the pretty ice thickness animation revealed by A-Team above.

Do you have any other links that might put me out of my misery? I happily admit to being a bear of very little brain!


Jim, those graphics come from HYCOM/CICE. I.e. it is a coupled ocean/ice/atmosphere model.



A-Team Thanks for http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/arctic.html I've just been watching the whole season on http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticsst_nowcast_anim365d.gif
and http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictn_nowcast_anim365d.gif
both show the mackenzie anomoly showing up mid may and lots of other interesting features you just don't 'get' looking day to day. Especially the extraordinary lines [cracks?] that appear suddenly, sometimes hundreds [thousands?] of miles long and at other times as grids. Are these caused by currents beneath the ice or the consequence of wave and wind action?

Chris Reynolds


Wind action is the biggest player, but there's also ocean currents, and tidal forces.


Chris this http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictn_nowcast_anim30d.gif
has great examples of them shooting like lightning from 120/80 first towards the pole then clean across to the fram just before the MY breaks free of the coast.
Does anyone know whether DMI have a full season temps/anomolies site, or NOAA for that matter?


Morning John33,

You’ll be able to generate any info on temps, pressures etc using:

I looked for the year round trend 2012 after having read your post. Didn’t do that yet. The (eyeballed) average anomaly for the Arctic is + 2 dC.

It varies from 0 dC (winter) to +2 dC (spring), +1,5 dC (summer), + 3,5 dC (autumn).

Outliers the regions:

Kara/Barentsz +12 / +6 / +1 / +9 (definitely becoming Atlantic)

Beaufort Sea -2 / 0 / +4 / +5 (albedo flip, warm Canada)

Bering Sea -4 / -3 / 0 / -1 (Alaskan side coldest, PDO?)


Yet another article about the implications of the arctic warming for the rest of the world:


Jim Hunt

Hi crandles,

Thanks for the additional information. The point I'm trying to tease out is how the numbers, and hence the pretty colours, in the ice thickness animation displayed above are derived. How much is "modelled", and how much is actually "measured"?

I wonder about that particularly because other models I've come across don't seem to do a very good job when it comes to sea-ice, I assume in part because getting a handle on thickness is a bit tricky.

I have a hyperactive imagination, and I'm wondering about top-secret satellites, squadrons of aircraft loaded with GPR, fleets of nuclear subs full of Peter Wadhams clones or numerous teams of SEALs on training exercises carrying augers on their backs!


>"How much is "modelled", and how much is actually "measured"?"

I would say it is mainly if not all modeled. The model will have been tuned to minimize both the errors comparing model to observations and also to minimize dangerous situations like predicting thin ice but there actually being thicker ice that could be a danger to shipping.

There seem to be different model results starting on different days. This suggests actual information is being assimilated into the model. I am not sure but would suspect this is mainly atmospheric initial conditions. There could also be some limited adjustments like ice extent to match observations and sea surface temperature information. I very much doubt there are squadrons, fleets or teams of aircraft, subs or seals providing thickness information. I would expect observations of thickness are only used in tuning the model.


I am not sure where to post the following, it shows how the European Commission is in denial of the current state of climate change (in relation to the Arctic sea ice) and is even ready to write it in a letter signed by a EU Commissioner.

Mid September, just before the NSIDC announced the record low SIE and following Geoff advice, I wrote to all 8 MEPs of the European constituency where I usually vote. After many phone calls and additional e mails, 2 (and now maybe a 3rd) MEPs agreed to ask a Parliamentary question to the EU Commissioner in charge of Climate Change, Mrs. Connie Hedegaard.
The first answer in response to my e-mail with scientific references has just arrived. My e mail included the video “weird weather 1” released earlier this year which explains the impact of reduced SIE on the jet stream and extreme weather. The e mail was also referencing the Kinnard et al paper about the SIE lowest for at least 1400 years, was reminding that actual SIE was 50 years ahead of IPCC 2007 predictions, and was asking why the EU was still using an out of date science (IPCC 2007) to devises its policy... Here is the answer signed by the EU Commissioner herself that I received yesterday:

Ares (2012) 1245303

Dear ....
Thank you for your E-mail of 22 October 2012 concerning the melting rate of the Arctic sea ice.

The European Commission bases its climate policies on the best available science and on the scientific consensus of experts in the field of climate change. The scientific consensus view on this subject is re?ected in the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Fourth Assessment Report from 2007.

The Fourth Assessment Report (AR) already anticipated that the sea ice extent will reduce in the Arctic at a significant pace and that this may have an effect on the occurrence of extreme events. The recent reports and measurements provide the evidence of what was predicted. The
question, though, that requires further scienti?c clari?cation in the next IPCC AR, currently under preparation and due in 2014, is whether the pace of sea ice decline in the Arctic is

In addition, the Commission is committing increasing resources in communicating the latest developments in climate policy (http://ec.europa.eu/clima/news/index_en.htm), engaging the general public with the campaign "A World You Like in a Climate You Like" (http://world-youlike.eur0pa.eu/en/), and reaching out to the public through social media (facebook, twitter, flickr, pinterest).

Yours sincerely

Connie Hedegaard"



in all fairness, the links you provided led me to this page:


It contains direct references to the latest Arctic Report Card. Thus, the concept of monitoring climate change as it unfolds this autumn is very much on the agenda in Brussels these days. Please allow some time for this brand new information to sift through the policy-making process.


A scientific consensus takes time to be reached and referring to 2007 AR4 as the latest consensus appears defensible to me.

It does seem a little alarming to me that acceleration is given such prominence as the scientific question needing clarification. Sounds like: for the moment we won't make huge efforts to act until that question is clarified and when that is clarified we will find some other minor issue on which to blame delayed action. At 2007 acceleration wasn't clear; with PIOMAS data, its proved accuracy and Wipneus's piomas-trnd2.png graph available, waiting for scientific consensus on acceleration does not seem a sensible reason for delay.

It seems to me the relevant scientific question of whether we should do more to minimize effects of climate change was answered long ago. So delay shouldn't be blamed on waiting for scientific clarification even if there are some details of how bad things will be waiting to be clarified by scientific consensus.



Yes, I see a reference which seems to link to the latest report card. However, it gives that link to support
"Glacier loss along the Greenland margins was exceptional in 2010: an area of 419 square km of ice was lost – over three times the average annual loss of the previous eight years."
and the footnote specifies page 55 of the arctic report card.

However page 55 of the 2012 report card is about marine ecosystems not about glacier loss. OK maybe it is a bit too soon for it to reflect the 2012 report card. So is it the report card of 2011? No, page 55 is on ocean acidification. The reference is actually to page 55 of the 2010 report card. So what does that say about how well the new information is getting through the policy making process? Hmm 'sifting' as you put it (or maybe sieving) may be the right word.


crandles, agreed!

The Devil is in the detail and you are spot on.

According to my Oxford English Reference Dictionary:

"sift" means "examine (evidence, facts etc.) in order to assess authencity etc."

"sieve" means "examine (evidence etc.) to select or separate."

We may also agree that both sifting and sieving are needed at this stage.

Chris Reynolds

John, Werther,

This is another useful NCEP/NCAR site (don't know if you've found this yet Werther.
It's monthly time series.

I selected Variable - Air Temperature, at Level - Surface.

Then I selected latitude 90degN to 70degN. And longitude 0 to 360 (right around the pole).

I chose Seasonal Average, and the months Sept to Dec for time period, to look at autumn warming. Had I selected monthly then I'd have got the full seasonal cycle.

I selected area weight grids, to adjust the resulting graph by the area of each grid box, which changes a lot close to the poles. And output format - plot.

When I pressed Create Timeseries, I get this:
Autumn Amplification
Original Size.

I often use Google Earth to get coordinates for the region I need to study. There is a bug at present - selecting seasons across December (e.g. November to January) gives odd, and unreliable results.

Hope this helps.


Chris Reynolds stated:

selecting seasons across December (e.g. November to January) gives odd, and unreliable results.

That's the reason why:

The NOAA OLR dataset is missing Dec 1 .



In doing the same exercise as Chris, but for SST (sea surface temperature) and for the months Juin till August, you'll get this plot:

SST Juin till August .

[Warning: takes some time!]

Look at 1996 which declares a thrilling downfall.

Noteworthy because in the following winter, at the 4th of January it was the last time the notorious Elfstedentocht in Friesland had been raced. Well, to be political correct we rather should say "... has been raced hitherto".

Nevertheless, it's not unlikely the two phenomenae should be linked. And if so, the future of the Elfstedentocht looks rather grimm...

Chris Reynolds

Hi Kris,

The 1/12 OLR issue is a new one, the problem with crossing year boundaries has existed for longer.

Thanks for that plot. The SST exponential at the end will be due to more open water. But the spike around 1980 - what caused that? Before considering that question it might be best to consider what SST means in an ice covered ocean? How is the presence of ice handled - I don't know I'm afraid.


A quick note:

The previously announced "hotspell" at Svalbard has started alreday, at Longyearben airport the temperature had been risen today to 2,2 °C. At present still 2,0 °C.
The spell will stand only for a couple of days, but next Saturday already there should be a new one.

While you are on the track, do have a look at the average temperture there from December 2011 till 2012.

It looks very much like the average temperature over a year has been twice as high as the "normal" average temperature. At least.

Jim Hunt

Warning - Politics ahead! The news is in from the climate change "negotiations" in Doha:


Connie says "Is this a fantastic step forward when it comes to reducing emissions?. No it's not!"

Samantha says "It's a weak deal. Don't let anyone tell you different."

Kumi says "It's a betrayal of our children's and grandchildren's future."

Al Jazeera says "If this conference is anything to go by, urgency is in short supply"


I don't know what Kris means by "twice as high" (given that the temperatures are below 0 Celcius) but the average of the average values is -1.85C and the average of the normal values is -6.57C.


Bfraser wrote:

don't know what Kris means by "twice as high"

-4 °C is twice as high as -8 °C, isn't it? -5°C is definitely higher than -6 °C. :-)

Nevertheless, the difference turns out to be more as trice (as high).
Thanks for reckening it out, as my little me is far to lazy for activities like that.

Now, the bottom line is, if it would be and/or stay like that (-1.85 °C) over a year, the Svalbard Islands would become enterely sea ice free during the year.


A quick note

Peeople, do have a look at the ecmwf charts

A vast cyclone or huge depression or whatever you want to call it is developping now in the North Atlantic.
The center is supposed to hold for at least 10 days right in the middle between good old Scotland and Nova Scotia.

Masses of warm air and moist will be sent to the South of Greenland, the entire East coast of Greenland and further North to Svalbard and the Barentz- and Kara seas.

It's beginning to look like last years phenomena will repeat itself.

And for a starter, at station Nord the temperature already has risen to -13 °C. Yep, twice as "hot" as the average. :-)


Am very late posting for this as it was being talked about a lot earlier on. As IPCC has major trouble reporting anything because of politics what we need more of is institutes similar to Ontario, Canada's Perimeter Institute. Objective is to bring together some of the best scientific minds in a large variety of subjects in close proximity of each other feeding ideas off of each other and see what comes out.
You never know what will come out will be clarified and thought of when you get an astrophysicist, a geophysicist and an urban designer together in the same room talking to each other as what could happen on a daily basis at PI. Which is the origin intent of that institute.
A provincial TV station has a weekly program that as broadcasts of some talk or other (subject matter has no limit) usually from talks given at PI.
This blog actually accomplishes a similar roll in that you have people from all kinds of backgrounds all talking about ice.

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