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Just to follow up on some observations made last month by Klon Jay, Espen and Neven concerning an unusual export event of multi-meter-thick sea ice hugging northern Greenland out the Fram Strait and subsequent break-up of coastal ice. This was not in the bay per se (Jøkelbugt) but in the shallows east and north of Pariser Øerner, just above Île-de-France.

According to the US Navy sea ice thickness animation and the DMI satellite imagery service, this began on 27 Nov 2012, as the ice shifted northwest, creating open water in the shoals off Morris Jesup/Kaffeklubben. The open water quickly refroze and stayed put through 12 Dec 12. The next day it began rounding the horn (Nordostrundigen), well on its way down the one-way street to the North Atlantic by 24 Dec 12, 'pushing' 555 km (5º of latitude) of broken 4-5 m thick ice ahead of it, while being 'chased' by still more thick ice from the north shore. This ice was then driven off-shore for several days -- where the leading ice thinned markedly -- before resuming its way south on 17 Jan 13.

Export out the Fram has seen plenty of studies -- almost all involving movement of sea ice extent as explained by the two leading terms of principle component analysis (aka empirical orthogonal functions) of sea level pressure, which are called the North Atlantic Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation (briefly, EOF of SLP into NAO and AO) -- but these don't really capture the essential point, thickness (or age) of the ice being exported today.

I ultimately located a more on-topic treatment by Smedsrud et al (Oct 2011, free full text). As they note, the issue today is where the heck is second year ice is going to come from with first year ice so depleted by mid-Sept (alternately where the heck is third year ice is going to come from with second year ice so depleted), especially given exiting of this older ice out the Fram?

I've attached today's satellite photo of region below with a few things briefly annotated.






Not wanting to alarm typepad above, here are frame grabs of the Navy animation of sea ice thickness together with a satellite photo and Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden (rhymes with warden, aka 79 NG) glacier movement (which is not impacted so far by the events mentioned).

A simple way to get control of the speed, individual frame magnification, time direction, allow text overlays and so forth for animations (won't work for all platforms): open animation in Firefox, Save Page As..., open in Preview. This piles all the frame thumbnails in the right column. Then step thru using Page Down and Page Up as fast or slow as you wish.


Espen Olsen


It is like watching the whole area (North east Greenland) like it was in the middle of July, I wonder what it will be like when we get into the real melting season?

Aaron Lewis

Again last night, our Bay Area California lows were similar to those in southern Greenland (27F), while in the Banana Belt of Alaska, lows were close to 40F.

Has anyone else noted that the salinity of the Arctic sea ice has increased over the last couple of months? This would allow the ice to melt at higher temps in the spring. If true, I would attribute it to the wind blowing off the open water of the Barents and carrying salt across the ice.

I fear that in early spring, this will facilitate a film of melt water forming on the ice that will change the albedo.


Here's a piece on that SSW R. Gates mentioned: Sudden Stratospheric Warming Split the Polar Vortex in Two

Wanted to blog on that one too, but alas...



I need a speaker for the first weekend in May on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

Anything related to the recent changes in Arctic ice and/or the ramifications of these changes would be acceptable as subject matter.

Can't provide transportation of lodging, but expect an audience of 50-150 Mensans and a very good lunch at the Falls Marriott Hotel.

Need to complete our program as soon as possible.

For more information:



In previous open threads people wondered why the FTP site with AIRS methane data/maps was unavailable.

Someone contacted Dr. Yurganov, he replied that the ASL site was obsolete now and that updates are kept here.


It's not just the north east Nares in the west showing activity too. 16-17 jan.
I've always thought the bottom layer of arctic water must exit at the base of the Fram, but all the studies say not, I can't believe the huge cataract in Denmark strait [ http://www.mnh.si.edu/press_office/oceanHall/book/OCEANbladFINAL.pdf ] is mostly from AW in the Denmark sea. Is the persistent anomoly south of Svalbard [ http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/sst/ophi/color_anomaly_NPS_ophi0.png ] the source there's certainly a bathymetric feature that looks like an estuary falling off a cliff thereabouts, and so far I haven't come acroos any work that deals with it. Help.


Hi cynicus,

For those interested, I have the AIRS/359 hPa imagery on my websites for comparison with the IASI 600 mb 10 day runs from 2008-2013. The IASI imagery is posted with Dr. Yurganov's permission.

For 2008-2012, see: https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4realmethane2012/home

For 2011-2013, see: https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4realmethane2013/

Also, I have been tracking the 2013 daily METOP 2 IASI CH4 and CO2 runs, with some posted at: https://sites.google.com/site/a4r2013metop2iasich4co2/home


"Does this qualify as winter wierdness?"

Pretty much. Besides the storm's intensity - it's location (CPAC and latitude) were extremely unusual. Storms of this intensity normally ap[pear in winter over higher latitudes - particularly in the North Sea region.

One of the most intense storms I've seen was in OCT 1977 while working in AK. The central pressure fell to 926MB when it crossed over Dutch Harbor (after crossing St. Paul Island about 8 hrs earlier with a record breaking 932mb pressure). It was the lowest pressure of any AK storm before or since. Winds at Adak Island (long abandoned by the Air Force) gusted over 100mph for more than 24 hrs straight - and several believable ship reports included Sig wave heights exceeding 26 meters; with 2 reports of 'rogue' waves exceeding 100'.

Nonetheless - this was quite a storm.

Should note this storm has weakened as it 'umb-bells' northwestward under the upper level low - and is not really heading for AK.



This pattern of strong to extreme lows in the Northwest Pacific and Bering has been reoccuring for months. This one is just bigger.

What it makes me speculate and conclude is that spread of sea ice in the Bering or Okhotsk is going to be curtailed as long as this pattern stays intact.

It tough for me to conceptualise formation of stable FYI with 12-30 foot seas.


Neven , Fishoutofwater did a pretty good job on the latest SSW.
Must add to the complexity. The tropospheric and stratospheric vortexes are very much synchronized, at the bottom between the 2 vortices is this strong anticyclone not so cold over the NE Arctic Ocean Russian side of the Pole. This High pressure is surrounded by 3 more or less steady cyclones all heavily influenced by open sea water or vast areas of thin ice.

Stratospheric Ozone is quite strong:

The Arctic stratosphere and troposphere is also warming very fast. All in all, a large 3d imagery unfolds. The SSW is a synergistic result of everything causing it to happen. What is exciting is that we can first relate to it as it happens.

The best TV explanation on it was with BBC, they are on a roll , BBC usually gets it right more often than any other network, it doesn't mean that they always get the facts right, but is good to applaud a job well done:


"So the cold and snowy weather is with us. But how long will its magic and mayhem last? The honest answer is that we do not know."

What I know is when the Arctic warms, the rest of the world follows shortly.

Russell McKane

Summer madness - Sydney AUstralia - 3pm local time broke all past temperature records with 45.8 degree Centregrade
Where I live just out of Sydney - Richmond 46.4 also an all time record. That is 112.28 degrees Fahrenheit> Fires again a big issue in eastern Australia. Fortunately none in my area at the moment. Sorry but I'm holed up inside with the Air Conditioning runing. the diachotomy between belief and surviving - we will all have to face more once this becomes the norm.

Russell McKane

Correction - don't trust the converter that comes up automatically in Google - LOL 46.4 is 115.52 NOOA Conersion tool.


Extremely interesting times, weatherwise.

Not having kept up archiving the decadal Composite reanalyses last two weeks, the situation is now very well described by Fishoutof water ( link http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/16/1179397/-Sudden-Stratospheric-Warming-Split-the-Polar-Vortex-in-Two ).

The SSW, that I’ve been hinting on in the beginning of December, has renewed. While it seems to Europeans and Northamericans that GW has no meaning (FI the Netherlands are mostly covered by snow now), on second thought one might be able to see reality.

GW is playing out the tricks that were foreseen. Though it is never clear when and where they hit.

What’s in in for ASI? Not much good. As Wayne wrote above, the persistent high over the Arctic axis Northpole-Kolyma region isn’t ‘filled with cold’.
It just reflects the ‘bulge’ on the troposphere wit hits centre fixed in the Kara region. It is accompanied by 1000Mb temps well above normal. Over Alaska, the whole Arctic Basin and the Atlantic side periphery.


@Russell McKane

Hello neighbour. I'm up the hill a bit in the lower mountains. Yep, it was very hot and windy today. We got up to 44.7C. Fried the leaves on the rhubarb plants I have growing into crumbling pieces of dry paper :(

The interior warmed up more than usual this year due to a three week delay in the monsoons up north. Now that's in full swing it will cool down once the air starts circulating into the center of the country. You can already see that happening in recent satellite pics.


oh @Russell McKane

My air conditioner doesn't work !

Home all day with the curtains closed sniffing the air for smoke. Had the cat and dog inside with me too, lots of fun and games


Clarifying '...the bulge with centre fixed in the Kara region...': that is about anomaly, of course. Actual SLP is highest in the East Sib Sea...


"We got up to 44.7C. Fried the leaves on the rhubarb plants I have growing into crumbling pieces"

Instant rhubarb crumble. Yet more evidence that global warming is beneficial.


Werther goedemorgen, seems like winter split in two along the respective continents and gave up on the Arctic Ocean. It is Astounding to see a high pressure in total darkness being so warm.

850 mb wise its -23 C near the North Pole from there much warmer south of -90 to 0 longitude (open water -14 C) and not much colder towards the 1050 mb Arctic ocean Anticyclone a mere -23 C. Meaning a huge isotherm area upwards from the sea ice surface, It is pretty much as you would expect with thinner sea ice. I have rarely noticed such vertical alignment between the troposphere and stratosphere over the continents where the Russian and Canadian Vortexes rotate. As if the SSW was made unstable from below and collapsed according to the tropospheric
weather patterns.

Fairfax Climate Watch

If CO2 levels continue rising along current trends (RCP 8.5 scenario), then temperatures in the US will rise by A LOT, see a simulated year of daily highs and lows for 4 US cities here: http://climatewatch.typepad.com/blog/2013/01/new-us-report-paints-dire-picture-if-emissions-continue-rising.html

R. Gates

One of the very interesting global teleconnected effects that occurs during the bigger SSWs over the Arctic is a simultaneous sudden cooling in the stratosphere over the equator. You can see this quite clearly in the big mid- January 2009 SSW:


And we have seen it this year:


This makes sense if you think of the high pressure anomaly associated with the polar SSW. That represents zonally falling air, and that large of a mass has to come from somewhere, and it comes from rising and cooling air over the equator with these large SSWs! What we have in these extreme events is a mega Hadley type cell that spans from the equator all the way to the pole in the stratophere. I find this quite amazing.


The weird fall/winter of 2012-2013 now produces a profound SSW, shows aspects of the 'warm Arctic-cold continent' pattern and presents a cold blast in western Europe and NE USA.
What remains to be analysed for me is whether this is different from FI the january 1985 event. Supposing that event was mainly 'natural variation'. Have to get deeper into this...

Jdean Dingler

Werther, what Chaos Theory tells us is that it can be difficult or impossible to associate cause with effect.

This weather pattern certainly could've happened before under other conditions. Improbable attractors will still be approached on occasion.

The question then is, will this become a statistically significant occurrence?

I'm very curious to see what the final peak ice volume is going to be for this winter. Like some of you others, I don't see how significant ice will form under these conditions.

The ice extent is anomalously low before the vortex was split. Now that we have warmer air more churn from the storms, I don't that it's unreasonable to speculate that the summer of 2013 will break another record.


Martin Gisser

Massive Arctic phytoplankton blooms as stabilizing feedback?

For many years I've been wondering what might keep a scorched Earth from runaway greenhouse warming.

There's an old simple model by Lovelock and Kump which smells a bit fishy to me (but who am I). The results are described in their famous 1994 Nature article, Failure of climate regulation in a geophysiological model. Ocean algae are only coupled to albedo (seeding clouds by producing dimethyl sulphide) and don't do CO2 sequestration. Result: [I]f global mean temperatures rise above about 20 °C, both terrestrial and marine ecosystems are in positive feedback, amplifying any further increase of temperature. Conclusion: As the latter conditions have existed in the past, we propose that other climate-regulating mechanisms must operate in this warm regime.

What are these mechanisms? I haven't yet heard of any.

Perhaps it is indeed ocean phytoplankton which might save the day (not ours, but at least Gaia's)?

Not coccolithophores (their calcium shells won't survive ocean acidification) but diatoms (with silica cell walls). Melting permafrost might perhaps help with nutrients (silly idea I guess). In Lovelock and Kump's model the algae get shut down by a growing thermocline (warm surface stratification shutting out nutrients). But I gess the Arctic ocean will get stirred for a long time (ice cubes from Greenland, polar night temperature gradient, ...?).

What do you think?

Some references:
* Massive Phytoplankton Blooms Under Arctic Sea Ice Science 2012 Vol. 336 no. 6087 p. 1408 http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6087/1408.abstract
* Ocean Acidification and Diatoms: http://oceanacidification.wordpress.com/?s=diatom
* Efficiency of the CO2-concentrating mechanism of diatoms http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/02/09/1018062108.full.pdf

Jdean Dingler

Martin, I don't know of any negative feed backs from phytoplankton that take place on short time scales.

Phytoplankton does release gases when it blooms. These gases can contain a variety of waste products including sulfur compounds and nerve toxins. If there is a mechanism whereby massive blooms could reverse the greenhouse gas effect, then the cure is probably as bad as the disease.

As I understand it, plankton can reverse the greenhouse, but this process will take tens of thousands to millions of years. Essentially, the phytoplankton need to uptake carbon, settle to the bottom of the sea and be covered up for a geological time span.

Essentially the process that gave us our oil and gas reserves.


I don't often post here because the level of discussion quite often sails above my aging grey matter. However, since this is an open thread I'd like to make a brief comment about spurring political action here in the US to address AGW. I was very distressed to learn today that Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas has been appointed Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Rather than to belabor the point on neven's blog, if you are interested please read my entire post (#15) on Dr. Rood's Blog at the WeatherUnderground.


Jdean Dingler

OldLeatherneck, if you want to influence him, you simply have to do what all of the other lobbyists do, pay him a higher bribe to do as you'd like to do.

There's a reason that these ignorant narcissists get their campaigns funded. They don't ask questions and they don't care about the consequences of their actions.

Jack in Texas....

Jdean Dingler

Severe Climate Jeopardizing Amazon Forest, Study Finds


Mike Constable

I am watching for the Ross Ice Shelf to start breaking up (large crevasses have been visible from space for 10+ years). If large bergs calve, or parts of the shelf break up like the Larsen, Mr Watts (WUWT) will be delighted with the increase in sea-ice area to 'prove' the lack of global warming.

I still wonder if the slow increase in SH ice area is not due to the vast volumes of ice liberated a decade ago (also from massive Ross calvings) spreading out and breaking up. Also there has been the increased flow-rates from glaciers freed from the restraints of their shelves to contribute area.

Ac A

Hey, anybody watching "Snowpocalypse in Russia"?




Alan Clark

The pressure in the Arctic is off the scale for January 19, over 1055hPa across a large area:


Bouke Van der Spoel

If you take a look at the last press release at
http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_releases/ ("Melt ponds cause the Artic sea ice to melt more rapidly")
it contains a graph implying that there's a 18% increase in solar energy absorption between 1980 and 2010, due to albedo changes of first year ice and melt ponds.

Given a 500W/m2 insolation (http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/6i.html) on the north pole during summer solstice, an 18% increase in absorption would lead to a 1mm/hour increase in melt while the sun is shining. Let's say it's cloudless for 10 hours per day, so we have an extra 1cm of melt per day. If this continues for 2 months, that's an extra 0.6 meters of melt.

Somehow I find that hard to believe. Is my calculation wrong or are there any subtle things I missed?


Bouke wrote:

Is my calculation wrong?

No, it isn't.

On the contrary, it's a confirmation of the in our little inner circle well know PIOMAS calculations. Which are telling us, if really everything would go wrong, major parts of the Artic would alreay be free of ice next summer (2013).

Kevin McKinney

Bouke, I took a look but didn't find the graph you mention, though I saw several photos with the press release.

Mike wrote: "I still wonder if the slow increase in SH ice area is not due to the vast volumes of ice liberated a decade ago..."

I don't think this is likely to be right, given the degree to which SH sea ice melts out every austral summer--though that's very much off the top of my head. A way to test the idea would be to look at trends in summer extent compared with winter extent; if the growth was relatively greater in summer, I'd see that as an indication that Mike's idea could be correct, since I'd expect that the thick glacial ice would be much slower to melt than typical SH FYI. (And Mike's idea probably requires that it be much slower to
melt in order to work, too.)


According to PIOMAS melt volume has increased from 16K Km^3 to 19K Km^3. Some/most of that must be due to open water. Not sure if effect of open water is included in the figure quoted but if it is: 37% reflected versus 62% reflected would suggest absorbed part goes from 38% to 63% which would mean a 66% increase of the melt volume. That hasn't happened so presumably the 66% increase only happens for what was MYI and is now FYI. If that applied to just 30% of the 1980 pack that would account for all the PIOMAS melt volume increase without needing any albedo feedback from extra open water.

Either this seems to suggest PIOMAS volumes are badly wrong or these figures don't mean what I am interpreting them to mean. So I am also finding my interpretation of the figures hard to believe.

Bouke Van der Spoel

Kevin, i meant the graphic, "Graphic depiction of the amount of sunlight above and underneath the Arctic sea ice"

Crandles, the only way to make it work then is if in 1980 summer temps were significantly below freezing, which would result in a lower heat loss relative to 2010. A quick look at http://iabp.apl.washington.edu/Summary/ discards that option: already in 1979, june-juli-aug arctic surface air temperatures were around freezing.


Now it has happened, that German reputated magazine for investigation of crisis and future problems "Spiegel" titles "Scientists wonder about stopp of global warming": http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/stillstand-der-temperatur-erklaerungen-fuer-pause-der-klimaerwaermung-a-877941.html

15 years of not heating up was suggested as "reason to think about the models" some years back and that 15 years are now over. This is significant, because "Spiegel" reports monthly about the danger of global warming.

In the Forum you can find >60 pages of comments of poeple wanting their money back (e.g. ~300$/year/person for zero-emission-electricity) - blaming politicans to use alarmistic scientists to get the money from the poeple and so on. Since Germany is a democraty, it is becoming more probable now, that in next years also Germany might start to follow the US-bandwagon towards a warm world...

dominik lenné

@SATire: Most of "Spiegel"- commenters (and everywhere in the world) just can't deal with uncertainty. They didn't learn it. They have no feeling to weight the importance of this or that kind of news. They are lost and resort to dumb boldness, just to reinstall their feeling of self security.

To blame are partly the media, which prefer clear and dramatic news over subtle and sound analysis and, after all, are made by journalists who themselves all too often didn't learn do deal with uncertainty.

But fortunately the dumb-bold type - though often dominating the comment columns of newspaper websites - seem to be a minority.

dominik lenné

@bouke van der spoel: your link to physical geography seems not to work - could you repost it?

dominik lenné

Found the problem - a ")" at the end included in the URL.


is correct.



"Most of "Spiegel"- commenters (and everywhere in the world) just can't deal with uncertainty. They didn't learn it. "
Maybe you are right - but a lot of commentors there are well educated natural and engineering scientists and know how to deal with uncertainty. Probably they are right - if only countries producing ~10% of CO2-emission agree to reduce it and to pay for it, it is quite certain, that it will not work. To build up costal protection for 3-4m more sea level is comparable cheap and will work for sure. I would like to ask you guys here - would you like to spend e.g. 1000$/year more for 0-emission electricity? If not - how could we ask other poeple to do it...


>"would you like to spend e.g. 1000$/year more for 0-emission electricity?"

When given the opportunity to put solar PV panels on my roof, reduce electric bills and have a good investment return on my money I chose to do that. If that is an option, spending $1000/year extra does not look like a good choice. Solar PV investment was an excellent investment (assuming we don't get a lot more cloud with climate change). It was only good due to overdone UK govt subsidy at the time. Maybe everyone is waiting for similar/better subsidy to be made available?

Espen Olsen


I think Satire, meant 1000$/year or more, not in personal investment eg. solar panels etc. but mainly in extra taxes or charges.



PV takes the greatest share in the 300$/year/person bill in Germany allready - a lot of poeple have it in their roove now, but it produces only a small share of the energy. Since with this 300$ about 25% of the electricty are renewable (most is wind), I think 1000$/year are necessary to pay 100% renewable.


1000 USD per year is a bargain really. The 1% could finance a lot of that.

You have to remember that energy, just like food, has been and still is preposterously cheap. And that's because all of the costs that aren't included in the price (damage to environment and public health) are put on our children's credit card.


BTW, blogging resumes later this week. I get an Internet connection at the new apartment on Wednesday.


1000$/year sounds optimistic to me.

Part of the point I was making was about what makes people jump into doing it and perhaps they need to know a reason why now is better than later. I became convinced that the time I did it was a good time to do it because the subsidy was too generous.

I paid £10000 for 4KW system. The price now is around £6000 but the subsidy is less than half. I am happy and installer obviously was able to overcharge. I use a little more electric than the system generates (but obviously not at the same times). Interest on £6000 is about $500/year but the country uses more power than domestic electric by a factor of more than 2.


In Germany poeple are forced by law to pay renewable energy by electricty bill - that is quite convincing ;-) But it may change soon, as I mentioned above


Crandles, 1000$ is very reasonable. Because PV was boosted, it became cheaper. So next 50% will cost less then last 25 %, I guess. PV dropped in price because market grow due to number of installed systems payed by German electricty bill.


Soory Crandles,

maybe we misunderstood: 1000US$/year/person is the inrease of the electricity bill. if all is renawable. It is not the flat rate, everybody has to pay it on top of his current electricty bill. It is computed by total subvention devided by citizens, because companies ofter pay less because we love to export things ;-)

Jim Hunt

You're pushing me up on to several of my hobby horses simultaneously SATire!

Since this is an open thread, here's Vaclav Smil, David MacKay and your truly on the perils of building subsidised large scale solar PV "farms" in Bavaria or South West England:


Germany's undesired exports of renewable energy to their neighbours:


and finally James Hansen on the virtues of a carbon tax (amongst other things):



yeah - if wind blows, netherland get electricty for free. They act as "battery" and the burn the gas, if there is no wind and we buy the electricty back: It is more efficient and is working well. But I fear, that the poeple want to stopp it soon, because it is costly and seams to be useless. Either because there is no global warming at all or either because it will warm anyway, because other countries do help... Not looking good in theses days here.


Because this is an open thread and I really appreciate the opinion of poeple from abraod in this critical phase, I would like to explain the German system to reduce carbon emission and I would like to ask you for your opinion:
1) renewable energy: Poeple get a guranteed fee for every kWh they generate with wind or PV for 15 years - so investments will get 5-8% interest rate at no risk and everybody with an own roove builds a PV and every farmer sets up a windmill. The difference between that guaranteed fee and the price on the market is paid by poeples electricity bill. Companies with big consumption do not have to pay it to stay competetive - that share has to be paid by the poeple, too.
2) housing insulation: everybody repairing his house is forced by law to build specific insulation. He gets some money for that, paid by tax-payers.
3) bio-petrol: To help German car companies the maximum amount of CO2/car was not as much decreased as possible (<140g/km) instead it is obtained by mixing 10% bio-ethanol to the petrol. Rising prices for food are the problem and poeple really do not like it.

All in all everybody pays a significant amount of money and poeple do not understand the reason anymore. So - politicans begin to change that. First step now is not anymore to guarantee the fee for renewable energy under all circumstances, making investments more risky. More of this is ahead to come. Other European countries would surely follow this way to save money and I doubt, that Australia will then reduce the CO2-emission of the world all allone (Japan and Canada just left the Kyoto-building)...

What do you think about possible future ways out of this scenario? Should we just look the arctis melting?

Bob Wallace

I don't know enough about Germany citizens and their politics to know if you could force people to insulate their houses. It would be very difficult to pass a law like that in the US. Here many people vote against their own best interests just because they don't like the government.

A FiT (Feed in Tariff) seems to be an excellent way to get more people to install renewables. Germany has had great success so far, installing so much solar so fast that they are seeing the cost of electricity starting to fall and the average cost of solar fall to an amazing $2/watt.

Small wind is not a winner. When it comes to wind turbines, the larger and taller the better. Get great big blades way up high where the winds are the most regular and strongest gives the best return on wind dollars invested.

Bio-petrol is a non-starter.

"If you were to take every gram of crops produced anywhere in the world for all purposes — and that includes every grape, every ton of wheat, every ton of soybeans and corn — and you were to use that for biofuels and essentially stop eating, those crops would produce about 14 percent of world energy," says Timothy Searchinger, an associate research scholar at Princeton University.

G. Philip Robertson and colleagues at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station have been looking at plants that don't require farm fields.

"First, we discovered that the grasses and flowers that take over fields once you stop farming produce a fair amount of biomass, especially if you provide them a little bit of fertilizer," Robertson says.

Robertson and his colleagues surveyed the Midwest acre by acre and identified 27 million acres of marginal farmland where these plants could grow, and where the acreage falls into a compact enough area that someone might want to build a refinery to produce biofuels.

They figured that it would become too expensive to transport this heavy and bulky plant material more than 50 miles, from field to refinery.

"At the end of the day, we discovered we could produce enough biomass to supply 30 or so of these potential biorefineries," Robertson says.

The 27 million acres identified in the latest study would provide less than 0.5 percent of (US) national energy demand,


A study of biofuel from waste in the UK found that only 4% of the UK's electricity needs could be met that way.

Of course you need to translate from "energy" and "electricity" into "transportation", but as long as we want to continue to eat we can't power many cars with biofuel.



System for PV was based on German system so I think that is admired and you started a long time before UK.

Extra house insulation - often free or part paid by grant system though details change: eg started with for over 60 year olds. Any refurbishment that needs planning and building regs has a fair bit of insulation required. Don't think that covers every house repair. Sounds fairly similar.

I think there are bio-petrols available but only at a few garages. Mostly not used.

UK ought to be able to do a lot with tidal and offshore wind and that doesn't affect food production. If Sahara was more stable they could attract more investment but that seems to have been put on hold.

It is too late to 'protect the Arctic' - we need to look to what weather risks the change will bring.

That doesn't mean stop trying for a carbon tax. Fossil fuel companies should effectively be made responsible for their carbon waste effects. They will have to pass on the costs to consumers who logically should consume less. Getting China not to retaliate against import duties on carbon cost of goods from them is going to be tricky. Developing countries need and deserve more time than developed world to implement the renewables' infrastructure. Getting US and Canada on board while allowing that is tricky....

Bob Wallace

Here's the most likely route out, IMO.

1. More of the world does what Germany has done and subsidizes its renewable industries so that infrastructure gets built and installed prices drop.

The price of onshore wind is already sweet. Solar prices are falling very fast and should continue to fall. We need to get the cost of offshore wind, tidal and geothermal down.

A carbon price with the revenue fed back to end-users so that their costs don't rise would greatly help.

2. We get some better battery technology (which seems to be coming) that lets us use mostly wind and solar to power the grid and move our ground transportation to electricity.

We need to more heavily subsidize EVs and PHEVs so that battery prices fall faster. The cost of driving with electricity is so cheap that once purchase prices seem reasonable to buyers we will see a very quick market switch away from fossil fuels.

3. We need to fund/require efficiency and non-fossil fuel alternatives. Set some limits on the watts a TV can pull based on its size. Same for refrigerators, etc.

Give low cost loans for building improvements and geothermal heating.

Governments need to spend some up front money to get the process moving. Once prices come down a bit more then market forces will take control and start an avalanche of installation.

Bob Wallace

$1,000 per person per year.

If we were paying the full cost of burning coal through our electricity bills rather than through tax dollars and health insurance premiums we'd be paying about that much additional now at the meter.

Replacing coal with renewables, if we were doing the math correctly, would be pretty much a straight across trade.

Really interesting thing is, after a few years the cost of electricity starts falling if we switch to renewables. If we pay off turbines or solar panels over 20 years we then get one or more decades of almost free electricity from that investment.

Wind turbines could easily last 30 years. Solar panels are holding up well after 40 years. Plus, a lot of the initial expense is covered. Just bolt on some new hardware when the old wears out.

At current interest rates it makes great sense for governments to float some long term bonds to finance renewables.


cry out of a thoroughly oil-and-gas-embedded country (the Netherlands), the German effort is appreciated, much. But could well be in vain. As I read a couple of years ago: “any drop of oil not used by you, will be happily consumed for a lower price by another”.
That produces the sad feeling I experience while I get out my bike for shopping or routinely shut off the lighting when I leave a room.

We have GHG output in our hands no longer, fate is decided upon in China, India, Brazil. Three billion people grasping for a life.
Peculiar though, how I read the Indian government investing in nuclear technology. They get the funds needed through unrestrained appliance of coal-energy and exports of primary production goods. It looks like a chicken run against time and AGW to maybe safely make it into a nuclear age, CO2 neutral and avoiding the heaviest brunt of consequences.

At Kudankulam, India, a giant nuclear facility is almost finished. The start of cooperation with Russia worth 45 billion USD and a 1000Mw plant a year.


Hi Bob,
"Set some limits on the watts a TV can pull based on its size. Same for refrigerators, etc." That is something we have learned from the Japanese: They take the most efficient product of they day and set that as minimum standard for some years later - every producer acts accordingly. EU does a similar thing - but less restrict and of course with more complicated burocracy ;-)

by the way - "forcing ba law" in Germany is not like in bad old Nazi-days - it is normal forcing typical for house building to save lives, investments and other poeples rights. So - quite appropriate and accepted, unless to expensive for the poeple so they stand up against it. Then politics are again forced to adjust again, as happening right now with the +300$/year electricity bill, which will automatically rise further as more PV/windmills are constructed...

By the way - windmills are not small. For clever investment you always choose the most efficient type. Typically several investors put together to build that windmill-parks. Off-shore is in construction, but quite tough in stormy north sea and nothing for privates. Big companies are doing quite silly things there, to get poeples money...


I do totally agree with you. On the other hand - with surely increasing oil prices German electricty consumers are probably not as betrayed, since they get for 15 years electricty at gueranteed price, which in case of windmills is allready competetive. PV is out for sure - it just reaches grid parity. That is without the significant taxes, wire prices and extra-money for renewables...

And do not feel to bad because of your oil and gas - we still burn a lot of brown coal, which is the most terrible stuff maybe next to oil sands.


And concerning China and non-developed countries: We surely hav not the right to ask them, to use technologies not proven to work efficiently even in rich countries. That would not be fair in any way. And we allready did emit a lot CO2 - they surely have the right to emit as much per person as we did in the past. If the rich countries can not proove, that it really can be done, nobody would ever save the world...

Bob Wallace

I was responding to "every farmer sets up a windmill". Here that would mean a Bergy or a Whisper or some other relatively tiny turbine.

The idea of community owned large wind turbines happens some here, but I suspect the vast majority of installations will be large wind farm operations. Economy of scale thing.


India is also doing a lot of solar. They are installing 1,000 small house-hold sized solar systems per day. They've now installed over 1 million and are about to triple the rate of installation by moving the program to two other states.

That's a thousand fewer people burning kerosene for light every day.

They are also installing community/village solar systems since solar with battery storage is now cheaper than burning diesel.

These solar systems are giving climate change a double whammy as they both lower CO2 emissions and reduce black carbon emissions.

China has set new goals for 150 GW of wind and 40 GW of solar by 2015. And they've capped coal consumption starting in 2015.

Brazil has just started an enormous wind project.

Aside from a handful of small countries, largely island nations, Canada and the US are the CO2 bad guys based on a CO2 per capita standard. We need to worry less about others and clean up our own houses first.

Ron Mignery

In a Scientific American guest blog, Ramez Naam stated:

In fact, in June, July, and the latter half of May, the Arctic receives more total solar energy per day than regions at the equator do at any time of year. The sun's rays are never as powerful in the Arctic as they are at the equator, but the 24/7 availability of sun more than makes up for that.

Is this true? Could the Arctic see tropical temperatures when the sea ice is gone?


Ron asked:

Could the Arctic see tropical temperatures when the sea ice is gone?

Actually, already now Summer temperatures of 30 °C are commun in Central Alaska and dito Siberia. And this feature seems to go further to the North every year.
Moreover, Tiksi at the coast of the Artic Ocean has had in 1991 a "freakish" temperature as high as 34 °C.

So, if there would be no ice anymore to moderate the temperature, Summer could be very hot even at the Arctic coasts in Juin-July. Hence the answer to your question is "Yes it could", but only for a short time.

Steve Bloom

Here's a new video from Jennifer Francis, recorded just a few days ago. It's a presentation to mets, so not too technical. It's pretty long, so hopefully there are some fresh details.

Steve Bloom

Oh, and here's a pdf and a ppt of the slides.

Steve Bloom

Aha, there was new material, starting at minute 24. I'm the wrong person to try to summarize it, so I won't try other than to say that it's more bricks in the wall.

Late in the presentation she did say that she didn't see much of a pattern in blocking events as yet, which causes me to wonder if she's seen the material Chris Reynolds blogged on recently, especially the striking graphs he worked up showing a sharp increase starting about 10 years ago.

Steve Bloom

Ron, winter ice will continue to re-form for a while, and it will keep summer temperatures tamped down. Eventually, if and when the ice goes in winter too, probably things will get pretty hot in the summer, but as we've just seen with SE Australia extreme summer heat doesn't make a place tropical.

Steve Bloom

Oops, missed your reply, Kris.

James Shearer

Steve, the video (although just posted on You Tube) is actually from January 2012 - the ppt file is from this years talk, of which several videos are available ( http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhRxxCqlepFJAzcizI6cEhe-0yX63GGcn ), but Jennifer's isn't up just yet.

Ac A

Few points to Jennifer Francis's wonderfull presentation.

a) we know that CO2 is now at the level where it has been 10-15 millions years ago (she says CO2 is highest in at least 650 000 y)

b) increase in arctic blocking events after about 2000 (Chris Reynolds) conincides with speeding-up of arctic warming after 2000.

c) she says Arctic was this warm 125 000 y ago, without reference, any guess?

d) she uses "update" of Kinnard et al. paper, but I do not think she was insipired by me :-)

thats all for now, cheers,


Steve Bloom

Thanks, James. That's confusing. It was still worth watching, though, since AFAICT some of that material has yet to make it into her published work. I'll look forward to seeing this year's.

Otto Lehikoinen

Ac A :
a) the 650 000y would be for the Antarctic ice cores, there's no good estimates that I know of the pliocene times (Chinese stalagmites?), the 10-15 millions would be the growth phase of the East Antarctic glacier, with very different oceanic circulation. I think there was some sediment cores drilled recently (off antarctic coast).

b) nothing to add to Reynolds, wishing I was that good with massive amounts of data.

c) this would probably be because the orbital forcing was different during Eemian (LIG, last interglacial?), NH having shorter but hotter summers then. (I'm pretty certain winter ice still persisted well)

as usual no references from me (not working on these), sorry.

Steve Bloom

I think c) is the standard view, Alex.

Looked at this year's ppt, couldn't see much new except that she's now talking about blocking events.

Otto Lehikoinen

Steve Bloom answered:"winter ice will continue to re-form for a while, and it will keep summer temperatures tamped down. Eventually, if and when the ice goes in winter too," there could develop a massive temperature gradient between Arctic coasts and inland producing a narrow range for southern animals to occupy. Plants on the other hand would have to manage in nearly permanent darkness during winters. There would probably be very frequent freezing fog events also bit off coast, so occupants of such an area would likely like to know how to skate ;-).

Ron Mignery

Steve Bloom

I did not mean anything pleasant by the term 'tropical'. If the Arctic temperatures approach even temperate levels in the Arctic day (spring and summer), I think the first catastrophic consequence will be a shut-down of the heat engine that drives NH weather. With no summer winds, ocean air will stay over the ocean and land air over land. This stagnation will cause massive summer drought in mid continents of the NH. If Wipneus' projection of June ice holds, this could happen within 8 years.


Ron Mignery stated:

be a shut-down of the heat engine that drives NH weather


Arctic waters still would remain much colder as the tropical ones. Remember, there is no sun over the Arctic in winter.
So there would be no reason at all the convection circuit should be interrupted.
On the contrary, as an ice free Arctic would allow the Gulf stream waters to travel right into the pole more storms, much more bigger than the one from last August would be the consequence.

We (should) know the American Army came up with that theory about 30 years ago, but that was just for cold war propaganda reasons. Thus we better put things like that aside.

Of course, and as it is happening already, it could well be virtually the entire tundra region would dry out and turn into desert, but that is another matter, that phenomena is due to the vanishing permafrost.

Ron Mignery


The heat to melt a meter of ice will instead warm a meter of water by 80ºC (or 10 meters by 8ºC). I would think the arctic waters would warm rather quickly even within one season. I don't know about the Gulf Stream; I was referring to the atmospheric heat engine.


Interesting to note that there is virtually no MYI left on eastern side of the arctic ocean. Everything left east of the pole is FYI, and some minor areas of what appears to be second year ice that nearly melted in september.

Aaron Lewis

Steve, Otto,
Current conditions of fractured ice in Arctic basin force me to reconsider the time frame for the transition from summer ice free/ winter ice to year-round ice free. I am starting to think that we are going to see surface currents of warm North Atlantic Drift water making its way into the Arctic basin, where it cools, sinks and forms deep water that is warmer than 0C. This is not in the models.


Indeed. I am experiencing difficulty grasping the scientific case for signifcant Arctic sea ice in the summer of 2013.

Look at the open water there north of Rudolf Island in Franz-Josef land -- nice day for sailing. Barrow AK -- year-round fishing now. Tiksi, Ru -- let's go sea kayaking! Joekelbugt, Gr -- could be beaches with landfast ice gone!


 photo NiceDayFJland_zpse14efc5c.jpg

 photo greenlandLandfastice_zpsd57ee875.jpg


Aaron, based on the fractured ice conditions that we currently see, do you have some estimates of how badly this summer will go, in terms of volume or extent?



A-Team I completely agree with you, I'm expecting the same kind of warming we saw in Mackenzie Bay to show up to the north of greenland before the solstice, and possibly in april, which will disconnect the ice from the coast, and then the ice will rotate clockwise and dissappear via Fram. Especially after the new post on A4R pages [linked in piomas].
Ron look at the gas giants [outer] very little differential temps but no lack of circulation.

Chris Reynolds

Ron Mignery,

During the Eemian the Arctic was temperate, had deciduous forests on its shores and didn't freeze in winter. Even crocodiles made a home in the region. Models that have attempted to reproduce this have either had too cold in the Arctic or too warm in the Tropics. This is called the equable climates problem. A solution to this is that a combination of increased cloud in the winter (keeping heat in by back radiation) and _increased_ atmospheric heat flux from mid latitudes, not ocean as the Arctic was a mainly enclosed sea. As has been stated above, the poles will always be colder than the tropics and southern mid latitudes, so the heat engine will not cease.

Chris Reynolds

A Team,

It's worth comparing HYCOM for the last three years:

An interesting question is this: What happens if you take the volume losses from the previous three years and apply them to current volume?

Jan 1 volume for the last three years:
2010 15.916
2011 14.455
2012 14.569
And 2013 (actually 31/12/12 - but what's one day?)
2013 13.349

Drop from 1 Jan to minimum.
2010 11.488
2011 10.438
2012 11.308

Apply those to the 2013 volume for 1 Jan...
S2010 1.861
S2011 2.911
S2012 2.041
And for comparison...
2013 3.261 actual
i.e. S20XX = scenario 20XX.

These aren't predictions, just answers to the question above.

These are anomalies from 1980-1999 baseline.

Note that the August storm had a negligible effect on PIOMAS volume, it's seen around day 217 (5/8/12) as a slight down tick in volume. The real loss of volume happened, as in the preceding two years, from mid April to end June. Note the extreme increase in loss rate at the end of the spring anomaly crash.

Tor Bejnar

I wonder if some definitions and assumptions concerning first year ice (FYI) and multi-year ice (MYI) need to be revisited. (2nd year ice being separately identified is a different consideration.) It is easy to understand that Arctic sea ice less than about 2 (or 2.5) m thick in April is FYI. I'm not, however, certain what portion of ice over 2 m in April is MYI. I have repeatedly read that wind packs sea ice against the Greenland and Canadian Arctic coasts. Much or most of this packing is of relatively thin FYI, so some of the thick ice in April is composed of the same 'high' salt content ice as is FYI. Such young thick ice may, however, have similar surface texture to true MYI. I do not have any expertise as to how new thick ice will differ from true MYI in its response to the influences of wind, solar radiation, air temp, water temp, ocean currents, etc. I believe, however, that soon, most of the existing ice over 2 m thick in April could be melted (or transported out of the Arctic and melted), and the next April have about the same amount of similarly thick sea ice.



See the post with January 20 updates for the UK Met models and HYCOM CICE.


I have added the UK Met 012013 kmz file at the bottom of the webpage.

Nightvid Cole

Multi-year ice from 24-hour-old satellite data:


We're screwed.


From the change in the UK Met thickness model, the visible open water and fracturing, I think that unless the winds drop, and ice is given time to thicken in Jan-Feb, we see significanlty lower sea ice extent/volume in September.

I have my doubts that will happen because of the consistent lows continuing to form and track through the Bering, in the Labrador Sea/David Strait, and the lows which continue to form in the water near South Greenland and track across areas near Franz Joseph Is.

Chris Reynolds

Nightvid Cole,

Check out the previous years.


Looks like an increase. But critical is how that data is obtained, and how it treats concentration.

Tor Bejnar,

From gridded PIOMAS, April average shows a peak volume since 2010 around 1.75m thick, which drops down in volume above and below this thickness. So to include this distribution over 2.5m can be considered older ice, under 2.5m can be considered young ice First/second year, without a large percentage having mechanically deformed thickening.

See this graphic
X axis (X is across) bands of thickness, Y axis volume of ice in each band. My reading of this is that whilst in the post 2010 situation the young ice category is clear, it is also suggested in the earlier years, but with a greater proportion of thicker ice categories.

Age is crucial as this facilitates brine drainage and changes the ice (including albedo) from a looser to a denser composition.

Ron Mignery


Arctic crocodiles? I assume you meant Eocene, not Eemian. The heat flux from lower latitudes hypothesis to explain the equable climate problem posits ocean currents, not atmospheric currents to carry heat to the poles. It was seasonal diminishing of the atmospheric heat difference that was worrying me. The resulting blocking events would be primarily a summer phenomenon; other seasons would perhaps be even more lively than they are now.

Steve Bloom

A4R, bear in mind that there are gals lurking if not actively commenting.

Ron, note that the western boundary currents are largely wind-driven via the Coriolis effect, so they're not going anywhere as long as the oceans stay liquid and the planet keeps rotating.

Chris, IIRC there was thought to have been winter ice formation even during the Pliocene warmth, so I presume Ron is correct that you were referring to the Eocene.

Ron Mignery


The western boundary ocean currents are driven by winds that are steered by the Coriolis effect but powered by the atmospheric polar temperature gradient through Hadley, Ferrel, and Polar cells. If the gradient declines, do not the winds decline accordingly? It is the role of those winds in bringing water-laden air from the ocean to the land that concerns me, not so much their role in driving ocean currents.


Chris, Thanks. I ran your calculations and the results check out.

Interestingly, one gets a similar result if annual melt rates (A) are employed instead of annual melt volumes(B).


This leads me to understand that the Piomas volume will drop somewhere below 2000 km3 by September 2013.


Oops -- the chart did not appear; I guess it needs to reside on a web page, not my computer.

Fairfax Climate Watch

The economic costs of continued climate change, starting with Dallas Texas and working outward to broader conclusions: http://climatewatch.typepad.com/blog/2013/01/will-this-be-livable.html


@Chris Reynolds

Thanks for that analysis on our shrinking volume.

However, I spent a few minutes scratching my head over one line before realizing that it was just a typo:

And for comparison...
2013 3.261 actual

That would be "2012 3.261 actual", right?

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