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dingojoe

Even this early, things can change rapidly with the right weather and a strong southerly wind has really done a number on the sea ice from Svalbard to Franz Joseph Land to North Kara over the last several days.

R. Gates

Excellent start of the season perspective Neven. Two areas that are worth watching early are the declines (or lack thereof) in both the Barents and the Kara, as any real "recovery" would come from these areas. Over the past few days the Barents has shown how rather weak its ice has been, with a dramatic drop:

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.6.html

Often the Kara will lag the Barantz by a few weeks in terms of trend, so it will be worth watching it. So far it is a bit healthier than last year:

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.7.html

The amount of open water earlier in the season for both the Barents and Kara can be good indicators of how the melt season will progress. Last year both started out below average (especially the Barents) and we of course had a record low year. If the Barents continues declining rapidly and the Kara begins to join in then 2013 could give 2012 a real run.

Of course anything is possible in the Arctic, but I am not "feeling" a virtually ice-free condition this year, but something more akin to last year or even slightly higher. Of course another Great Arctic Cyclone or two would change the prediction! Overall, I want to watch the Kara for a few more weeks to see if that build-up you mentioned is something that will hold, or decline rapidly once the real melt season begins. On the Pacific side I look for this area to be the real leader in terms of early season melt-out. The Bering is only slightly lower than last year at this time, but the ice is overall not in as good of shape. I think it will be ice-free earlier this year, which will lead to the Beaufort opening up earlier (along with the lower amount of MYI).

Dave Willis

In theory, a system that is basically stable will "regress towards the norm" after an extreme event.

However, my gut feel about the Arctic these days is that so many factors have changed - less albedo, more current flow, less snow cover, more shoreline exposure, local methane concentrations, more wind/wave effects from more exposed open water...the list just goes on - that there is scarcely a "norm" any more - it has become simply unstable as a system. Anything goes!

I expect very low minimums from now on - and Maslowski is closer to reality than those who talk about 2030 for an ice-free summer!

Dave Willis

PS - forgot to add - nice summary post Nevin, as usual. Thanks

Apocalypse4Real

Neven,

Well done!

Just one thought, it seems, at least according to the HYCOM CICE thickness, that quite a bit of MYI has moved into the Beaufort in the last couple of weeks. It would seem that it will take some time to melt - but when it does, it will reduce MYI even further.

A4R

Steve Bloom

There's an extremely interesting new Arctic sea ice paper hot off the press. Title/abstract:

Springtime atmospheric energy transport and the control of Arctic summer sea-ice extent

The summer sea-ice extent in the Arctic has decreased in recent decades, a feature that has become one of the most distinct signals of the continuing climate change. However, the inter-annual variability is large—the ice extent by the end of the summer varies by several million square kilometres from year to year. The underlying processes driving this year-to-year variability are not well understood. Here we demonstrate that the greenhouse effect associated with clouds and water vapour in spring is crucial for the development of the sea ice during the subsequent months. In years where the end-of-summer sea-ice extent is well below normal, a significantly enhanced transport of humid air is evident during spring into the region where the ice retreat is encountered. This enhanced transport of humid air leads to an anomalous convergence of humidity, and to an increase of the cloudiness. The increase of the cloudiness and humidity results in an enhancement of the greenhouse effect. As a result, downward long-wave radiation at the surface is larger than usual in spring, which enhances the ice melt. In addition, the increase of clouds causes an increase of the reflection of incoming solar radiation. This leads to the counter-intuitive effect: for years with little sea ice in September, the downwelling short-wave radiation at the surface is smaller than usual. That is, the downwelling short-wave radiation is not responsible for the initiation of the ice anomaly but acts as an amplifying feedback once the melt is started.

So two questions come to mind: What sort of water vapor transport can be observed this spring relative to last year? And speaking of last year, is there a possible connection to the increased cloudiness over Greenland that led to the observed extreme ice sheet melt?

I haven't read the paper yet, but have requested a copy and will hopefully be doing so soon. The supplement to the paper is open-access and can be found here.

(I now consign the mortal remains of this comment to the Typepad spam filter in the hope that it may find resurrection.)

Neven

(I now consign the mortal remains of this comment to the Typepad spam filter in the hope that it may find resurrection.)

I had just turned on my computer, Steve. It was there for only 8 minutes. :-)

TypePad and their spam filter team is now looking into this, and I send them a message as soon as comments get caught. Maybe that way they can make sense of what's going on. So keep posting comments, and if they get caught, I'll release them asap. And then hopefully TypePad solves the problem soon.

Artful Dodger

Hi Neven,

Good summary, good comparisons, good work ;^)

I think you should draw attention to the absence of multi-year sea ice (MYI) in the Western Arctic in 2013. Specifically, compare with The Arm in the Chucki sea in 2010, and Stronghold in the Beaufort sea in 2012.

This formed a protective barrier of near-shore MYI preventing warm Pacific water from reaching the central basin pack ice (click the image below to see the rest of the 2012 Beaufort 'Stronghold').

2013 has no such protection. The first-year sea ice (FYI) will melt quickly in the first part of Summer, and expose the central pack to influx of warm sea surface temps (SST) just as insolation peaks around July 5.

I think this will lead to quicker diversion of the MYI and subsequent advection into the Southern Beaufort sea. No MYI ice survives there.

Prediction? less than 1 M km^2 sea ice area.

Neven

Lodger, I did write this:

The shape of the old ice pack looks similar to that of last year, except that there's no barrier of transported multi-year ice in the Beaufort Sea. That means there's no buffer zone on the Pacific side of the Arctic to slow down melt towards the end of the melting season, as happened in 2010 and 2011. This probably has to do with the fact that the barrier got annihilated during last year's record melting season.

But I agree it deserves emphasis.

Prediction? less than 1 M km^2 sea ice area.

It's possible, but it will need 2007 weather conditions.

BTW, I released your comment from the spam filter as well. It's strange how folks like you, Steve Bloom and Chris Reynolds get caught the most. I really hope TypePad gets a handle on this soon.

Artful Dodger

Neven wrote | April 29, 2013 at 10:26

It's possible, but it will need 2007 weather conditions.

Hi Neven,

Thanks for driving the spambulance ;^)

I don't agree about 2007 weather however. There was nothing remarkable about Summer conditions except the persistent dipole anomaly. That led to more advection through Fram strait to the E. Greenland sea, but the majority of the melt was caused by Pacific heat moving through the Bering Strait into the Chukchi sea.

2006 had greater insolation than 2007. Insolation didn't cause the 2007 record minimum SIE.

In 2013, without MYI in the Southern Beaufort and Chukchi, the reduced heat required to melt FYI means that the SIE loss will proceed faster. Exposing more black water to the peak insolation of high Summer means less ice survives in September.

Was there even 500 K km^2 old sea ice left at the start of the 2013 melt? Dr. Christian Haas says 2012 conditions in the Southern Beaufort were sufficient to melt 10 meter thickness of sea ice.

So again, I am watching the mobility of the remaining MYI North of the CAA. If it goes South, we all do.
--
Cheers,
Lodger

Neven

Lodger, your comment got caught again in the spam filter. I've notified TypePad. They must be very happy with all this info. So thanks! ;-)

So again, I am watching the mobility of the remaining MYI North of the CAA. If it goes South, we all do.

Indeed, that would be key. If the thick ice stays where it is, snuggled together like a group of penguins, it will probably not melt out. If it starts moving around...

crandles

http://www.aari.ru/resources/d0015/arctic/gif.en/2013/20130423.GIF

still doesn't show much old thick ice in Beaufort. I think this is wrong with the other sources all agreeing that a big area of old thick ice has moved towards Beaufort.

Early in the season it seemed there was very little thick ice there. Now it is looking like a thicker swathe than usual at least on the eastern side. Alaskan edge has little. If that keeps drifting that way, this melt season might avoid records but leave the ice in a terrible state for 2014.

Timothy Chase

Dave Willis wrote,"In theory, a system that is basically stable regresses to the norm after an extreme event..."

The way I think of it is that we are in a system that is no longer in quasi-equilibrium, has a trend, and for such a system, the trend takes the place of the norm. The tend is what the system regresses to.

Aaron Lewis

From my view, the three things that make the start of the 2013 melt different are: the increased areas of higher salinity, increased water vapor flow into the Arctic Basin in March/April, and the anomalous low sea surface heights in South of Greenland and in the Barents Sea.

Together, these indicate different atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns that will result in ice melt patterns that we have not seen before.

In retrospect, I consider the early spring ice cracking to be partially a by-product of these ongoing changes in circulation.

Aaron Lewis

Timothy Chase,
Different kinds of systems, behave differently as they are stresses.

In the Arctic Ice system, we have a non-linear feedback system that is tethered to physical constants such as the freezing point, of water at different salinities, and the density of air under different conditions.

As the heat content of the system trends upwards, suddenly some non-linear feedback loops no long function, and system rapidly transitions to a new state.

The rate of system transition from one state of equilibrium to another state of equilibrium may be hugely more rapid than the (previous) trend in heat accumulation.

When feedback systems go "out of control", previous trends do not predict future system behavior.

The system does not regress to a trend, it progresses to something very different.

Espen Olsen

Aron;

***In retrospect, I consider the early spring ice cracking to be partially a by-product of these ongoing changes in circulation.***

But this "by-product" will work as a catalyst for record-melt, have you noticed the cracking in Beaufort the last couple of days?

Erimaassa.blogspot.com

5 century row has apparently taken place. at that rate the ice would be gone in 123 days, that is by september 2nd, but cherrypicking isn't allowed here so I won't change my vote.

Shared Humanity

The system does not regress to a trend, it progresses to something very different.

I agree with this but doubt we are anywhere near a new equilibrium, even a temporary one. The crash will continue. I do believe that previous trends (logarithmic declines) are predictive until this equilibrium is reached.

What will this new equilibrium be and when will we get there?

R. Gates

Shared Humanity,

As long as GH gas concentrations continue to rise, the anthropogenic carbon volcano continues to erupt and any chance of equilibrium is impossible. Certainly an ice-free summer Arctic may be a quasi-equilibrium point, but from there, who knows. We probably need to follow Hansen's lead and start looking to the Pliocene for some potential equilibrium points. The question arises: (and certainly AMEG has covered this well) Given that a Pliocene-like climate may be in our future, or something even warmer, will will still be able to feed 7+ billion humans?

R. Gates

Regarding the early melt season, I noticed right now we have a very unusual end-of-season "soft" SSW going on, which can be seen in both stratospheric temperatures and pressures. The AO index reached a peak high and then started dropping as this late "soft" SSW has proceeded. This high pressure will likely warm Arctic temps up at lower tropospheric levels in the next few weeks, pushing any residual cold air left over from winter out. I've not ever seen a stratospheric warming pattern like this at this at this point in the season. Quite odd...

Anthonywobrien

Maslowski's 2016 looks better than ever for an ice free Arctic minimum. We can probably lop off 2013 and 2019 as possibilities.

So my two cents worth: record minimums every year from here on in. That includes this year.

Timothy Chase

Aaron Lewis writes, "When feedback systems go 'out of control', previous trends do not predict future system behavior.

"The system does not regress to a trend, it progresses to something very different."

You are correct that regression to a trend presupposes that over the short-run negative feedbacks dominate, and it is certainly possible that at some point this will no longer apply, e.g., in the case of bifurcation, where the noise of the system is amplified rather than dampened.

However, I what I have seen so far among participants have been disagreements over what sort of trendline best fits the data or will best forecast the behavior of the system, whether it should be exponential, for example. But I have not seen people arguing that trendlines per se are no longer applicable. Furthermore, I am not aware of any evidence that suggests that, in the Arctic's current state, trendlines per se have lost their predictive value.

Chris Reynolds

Good post Neven,

This plot is being discussed over at the forum.
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8115/8684706810_9bb4de3e11_o.png
The horizontal axis is the April average thickness (PIOMAS).

Plots in grey are for all years for 1978 to 2012, lighter plots more recent, darker earlier. Red = average of 1978 to 2012. Green = average 2007 to 2012. Blue = average 2010 to 2012.

The ice is sorted into sets of ice with 5cm bands of April thickness. The percentage of area at that thickness that melts to zero thickness (less than 5cm average thickness) in September (monthly average) is then calculated. This is the vertical axis.

I've previously shown how for March the PIOMAS thickness is massively biased to ice under 2m thick.
http://dosbat.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/nosedive.html
The ice will thicken from that state in March, but only by something of the order of 10 to 20cm max, that's not going to change the basic position, there is more ice under or around 2m thick this year than in any year. A lot of ice is in the

Going back to the first link in this comment it can be seen that PIOMAS grid cells with an effective thickness of less than about 2.6m thick (April thickness) have a rapidly increasing tendency to reveal open water at the end of the season (September average). By about 1.5m thick about 70%(avg) of grid cells are open water during September, and by 1.3m thick the recent average is around 90%(avg) open water formation.

Here are the march percentage contributions to total volume for ice thinner than 1.5m and thicker than 1.5m

Year <1.5m >1.5m
2010 33.54 66.46
2011 36.45 63.55
2012 40.11 59.89
2013 44.10 55.90

Neven

Thanks, Chris.

Mdoliner43

What about the quality of the ice? i have seen a lot of stories about rotten ice. Volume is, after all, a proxy for ice mass. Today's ice is not your daddy's ice, or does winter repair all that rotten ice and make it solid again??

Fairfax Climate Watch

I've plotted sea-ice volume loss between March and Sept for all PIOMAS years versus date of max volume. There looks to be a relationship.

2013 numbers to reach ice-free state included:

http://www.fairfaxclimatewatch.com/blog/2013/04/arctic-sea-ice-breaking-up-holes-forming.html

Steve Bloom

Aaron: "increased water vapor flow into the Arctic Basin in March/April"

Source for that data, please. I really want to see what it looks like vs. 2012.

wayne

Very impressive data displays Neven.

The largest aspect not detected by remote sensing is the nature of the sea ice surface to air interface. This is something I've been working on for quite some time. I've included it in my latest projection for this years Northern Hemispheres weather. < http://www.eh2r.com/ > on my main web page. For now my blog is 100% dedicated to sea ice latest discoveries, including the first day when sea ice underside is melting more than 12 hours a day, something again remote sensing can't detect. Currently CAA NW passage melts about 6 hours a day and is in in a steady state for 2. 8 hours melting or steady, 14 hours freezing. Very close to 12.

My projection includes sea ice extent melt very likely greater than 2012. The reasons are long to explain. But when I can literally see radiation exchanges I am a bit ahead of the satellites!

Chris your March numbers are bang on! There is more heat being exchanged from sea ice than the last 3 years. The interface is more adiabatic, this creates all kinds of exotic exchanges, whatever is on the ice rises by sublimation. This slows the melting process, but will accelerate it when open water appears.



Fairfax Climate Watch

...to elaborate on the graph I just linked to, the basic assumption underlying the trend is that more days of melt mean more total melt.

I estimated day 105 for max volume based on tracking of the NAVY CICE model. I know their forecasts aren't wonderful, but their hindcasts seem alright.

Plus, the area per pixel is scaled in such a way to make interpreting results by pixel color count possible after splitting the thicknesses and using a histogram ;)

Paul Beckwith

I heard that there is a meeting of so-called "top" scientists at the White House within the next few weeks; topic of discussion is Arctic sea ice and extreme weather.

Better late than never...

Paul Beckwith

In other news, I have successfully completed my comprehensive exams (oral and written) for my PhD (general topic: climatology; specific topic: abrupt climate change). Next up is a bunch of papers...

Fairfax Climate Watch

...and the early melt could also indicate warmer incoming ocean currents, a trend that might last for several months naturally. Or because of global warming, perhaps essentially forever, with ever increasing temperature of the water. In which case, the absolute volume of ice lost each year from max to min should keep increasing, if everything else remains constant (which it doesn't obviously, but we know that and can work around it).

Ac A

Paul,

congratulations and good luck with your papers!

@all,

Arctic sea ice in steep descend more than four days earlier than in 2012

but I think it is too premature,

Alex

Kevin McKinney

Thanks for this summary, Neven--clearly a lot of careful collecting, collating and comparison went into this one.

"What will this new equilibrium be and when will we get there?"

Dunno when, but I expect the 'new equilibrum' will be a perennially ice-free Arctic Ocean. Oh, there will still be some freezing, of course, but a stable pack will not, ultimately, be a regular feature of the central Arctic basin--unless 'business' becomes a good deal less 'usual' than is presently the case.

Shared Humanity

R. Gates....Certainly an ice-free summer Arctic may be a quasi-equilibrium point....

I guess I did misuse the idea of equilibrium from the point of climate change. I was thinking in terms of human time scales and perceived equilibrium that could drive policy in the near term. Humans generally mark time by generations with the average life span equal to about 3 generations.

Could an ice free summer Arctic with a cold pole over the GIS and crazy weather across the planet be that perceived equilibrium, something that persists for a couple of generations? Or are we doomed to a rapid progression to a perennially ice free Arctic with a different (far worse?) weather that serves as that temporary equilibrium?

Aaron Lewis

Steve,
The first thing I do every morning is look at GOES WV, to see what are the circulation patterns. Then I look at http://squall.sfsu.edu/gif/jetstream_norhem_00.gif.

Since we do not have good numbers for Arctic systems stability when forced by increased water vapor transport into the Arctic, what I am looking for are 1-in-a-million events. Those can be picked out with a mark-1 eyeball.

In 1970, there were still Native Greenlanders that had never seen rain. In 2002, I started tracking rain in Greenland. In the next consecutive 60 months, it rained somewhere on Greenland every month. I take that as a 1-in-a-million event.

Now, I see more WV flowing into the Arctic than in 2007. (And 2012! Last year there were a few storms. This year there was an extended parade.) By 1970 standards, the snow in the high Arctic this spring was a 1-in-a-million event. It took a huge amount of latent heat to produce all that snow. In 1970, all that latent heat would have driven weather/atmospheric circulation much farther south.

R. Gates

Shared,

I guess I take a longer-term view of any potential equilibrium point, and am convinced by the momentum already displayed in the disturbance of the cryosphere that even if we could somehow keep CO2 at current levels it would be many decades to centuries before the full Earth system would reach any equilibrium...i.e. Greenland and Antarctica will continue to respond to 400 ppm for several centuries and we can't reach full equilibrium as long as they continue to change. Considering the fact that we can pretty much bake into the cake at least 450, 500, or even 600 ppm of CO2 (and we haven't even talked much about methane and N2O) before humans get their act together and really take charge of this Anthropocene, we can guess that we'd better prepare for many decades of very chaotic weather, and thus, many centuries before any equilibrium will be reached.

I think the most important issue-- one broached by the AMEG braintrust-- will humans be able to feed 7+ billion of us with such chaotic weather?

On a rather negative (but objective) point of view of course, is that nature could find a way to get this big carbon volcano (anthropogenic greenhouse emissions) under control on her own terms, as in disrupting human society so much that human greenhouse gas emissions are brought under control through that disruption, thus, solving the problem whether we like it or not. I find it more than curious for example, that in all the crazy weather events that I see happening all over the world, that I often see automobiles overturned, on top of each other, or otherwise non-operable. This certainly reduces human carbon footprints rather immediately. I AM NOT suggesting in any way an intentonal "Gaia's Revenge" in this at all, but rather, that once weather becomes that disruptive, the human carbon footprint is decreased automatically, without our intention or compliance. Again though, the main concern should be along the lines of AMEG's concern-- global food supply disruption and the chaos and suffering that can result from that.

Robertscribbler.wordpress.com

@Sharedhumanity

On our current path what we have in store is this:

1. A worsening of blocking pattern events associated with sea ice loss for about the next two to three decades. This set of conditions will be disruptive to the world's agriculture and industrial based civilizations (all) and make predicting weather and supporting viable food harvests more difficult. Stresses may result in increased poverty, increased debt loads in societies, increased yearly levels of damage to infrastructures, potential for increasing poverty, increased dislocation and number of homeless persons from extreme weather events and/or migration, and increasing rates of infrastructure turnover (things don't last as long as the weather worsens).

The blocking patterns spawned by the erosion of sea ice and the meandering polar jet tend to bring hot and cold air into more frequent collisions also increasing the risk of powerful hybrid storms (Sandy).

2. After this time, enhanced Greenland melt pumps a lot of ice bergs and melt water into the Atlantic ocean creating a powerful local cooling and speeding up the jet in this region even as it pushes the cold air pole southward. Simultaneously, the tropics begin to warm up. Cold Atlantic air close to hotter and heating tropical air provides fuel for powerful storms humans have never before witnessed. These extraordinarily storms have the potential to span continents and pack the punch of strong hurricanes. Such events were warned of in James Hansen's "Storms of My Grandchildren" and are very likely to occur if we don't get CO2 emissions in check very, very soon. Needless to say, this period will be worse than the current period of blocking pattern spawned extreme weather which we are only now beginning.

OldLeatherneck

Quoting R. Gates:

I think the most important issue-- one broached by the AMEG braintrust-- will humans be able to feed 7+ billion of us with such chaotic weather?

Since the world's population is expected to approach 9 billion by 2050, and no one dares take about any humane way to stop this, I fear for the worst.

With severe droughts and more floods, the ability of agribusiness to feed the world will be severely impacted. When you couple that with infrastructure destruction due to storm surge and rising sea levels, civilization is in for a very bumpy ride for the remainder of this century.

For those that don't follow the Forum regularly, I've got a thread going entitled "Global Impact (Economic & Societal) of Declining Arctic Sea Ice." Commenters on this thread have provided valuable links and insightful thoughts regarding every issue you have just addressed.

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,30.0.html

Hans Verbeek

Northern Hemisphere snowcover is finally decreasing back to normal. I guess May will show normal or even below normal snowcover.

http://moe.met.fsu.edu/snow/nhtime-4month.png

Come November we'll see above normal snowcover again.

OldLeatherneck

Just lost a reply to R. Gates in the spam locker.

[Released now, as have those by Kevin McKinney and Hans Verbeek. I'm sending all spammed comments to TypePad now. Hope they find a solution soon.]

Jai Mitchell

Lodger,

If the lack of MYI leads to significant surface outflows as you predict, the abnormally strong negative PDO will provide more than enough warm water at the Bering Strait.

current SST anomaly graph from NOAA.

(Interesting temperature spike shown at ESAS)

Sam

This melt season is starting out far differently than previous seasons.

Check out the latest melt pattern from the AMSR arctic maps:
http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr2/arctic_AMSR2_nic.png
http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr2/

It appears to be confirmed on the 2013 North Pole web cam #2 with the appearance of a pressure ridge in the background.
http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/

Sam

Ghoti Of Lod

The latest few north pole webcam photos show a pressure ridge building. Compare
http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/NPEO2013/WEBCAM2/ARCHIVE/npeo_cam2_20130430221806.jpg

to

http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/NPEO2013/WEBCAM2/ARCHIVE/npeo_cam2_20130501041232.jpg

This will upset the horizon measurements unfortunately.

Sam

Neven,

I posted a comment awhile ago that seems to have gotten caught in the spam locker. It appeared briefly on the list, then on refresh it was gone.

In addition to the North Pole web cam #2 images showing a pressure ridge. The latest AMSR shows a radically different melt pattern this season.

Sam

[Released the comment, it's above the comment that's above this one. Well-spotted, BTW. N.]

wayne

Hi Ghoti Of Lod
"This will upset the horizon measurements unfortunately."

Nope it doesn't, I have just made a comparison yesterday including with this buildup http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/

What you see about this apparent bigger ridge is likely an inferior mirage, which comes when the ice surface is much warmer than the air right above. Its a sign of great warming of the ice.
Meanwhile the horizon dropped further, I am about to calculate the overall ice thickness, is a bit tricky. But in the mean time if you look at the recent horizon drop, its quite impressive. This equally means a great warming of sea ice capable of eradicating inversions right above.

Jim Hunt

Wayne/Sam/Ghoti - A most interesting discussion on "pressure ridges" versus "a sign of great warming of the ice"!

How might one easily and "scientifically" differentiate between two apparently different interpretations of exactly the same, albeit remote, images?

NLPatents

My second favorite part of this blog - the links to data - is gone!

Wha' happen'd?

Neven

NLPatents, I'm changing a couple of things and moved some links to the top of the right hand side bar. Just click on 'Arctic Sea Ice Graphs', and there's your data. :-)

Paul Beckwith

@wayne
I have been perusing your excellent blog EH2R; in your April 7 blog entry you compare ice darkness (albedo) between 2013 and 2012 and attribute the difference to algae. Any idea what the albedo difference would be between these two images, and how it varies with ice thickness. Thinner ice --> more light penetration --> more algae but is it linear or is there a threshold. I am trying to get a feel for how large this biological positive feedback is to the ice melt and was it occurring in previous years.

wayne

Hi Jim.

It is very easy to differentiate by multiple comparisons. So the latest picture :
http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/NPEO2013/WEBCAM2/ARCHIVE/npeo_cam2_20130501101655.jpg

Shows definite ridging or human pile up of snow. I tend to favor near by ridging from open water which may cause tremendous illusions at first.

I hope the Russians are not building another air strip right over NOAA's viewing area.


wayne

Paul

Congrats on your PhD.

The slightly greener ice is readily visible with the naked eyes given proper sunlight conditions. I must think that algae spores float and freeze with sea water, they then proliferate in especially the softer bottom of the ice column. The thinner sea ice has a higher softer bottom section which turns the ice much greener. Sea ice once viewed from a floor less tent always appears green.
The ratio of soft ice to hard ice has been altered and may indeed cause the greening we see.

wayne

And I, even in Scotland the sea horizon drops. And will do much further than many places on Earth especially during summer.

Clare

OT sorry Neven!
Finally the 'tip jar' is back. So I've booked my seat at least for the first 'session', hope to again later on during the summer.
Thanks for all your work, Neven, and that of the commentators joining you here.
Clare

Neven

Thanks, Clare. I'll officially announce it soon. Finally had the time and stamina to do the layout thing (trying to make it as not-ugly as possible).

OldLeatherneck

Neven,

I went to make a donation, via credit card, only to discover that my lack of ability to understand German made that difficult. The fact that I understand some Portuguese, can get by with some limited Japanese and after 40 years can still count to 5 in Korean provided no help in this matter.

While I'm willing to be generous, I was afraid that I'd make a mistake that would enable you to install Italian marble floors and Brazilian granite counters in your new home!!

Neven

Hmmm, that's weird. When I click the link - and I'm in Austria - I get an English page. I'll look into it.

Neven

Okay, I may have accidentally solved this. OLN, could you give it another shot, please? The Samsung 12 ft megamonitor costs 2500 euros. ;-)

OldLeatherneck

$$$ are on the way.

Thanks for all you are doing for humanity!!

Sam

You can really see the ridges from northpole webcam2. As the sun goes around, they jump out.

http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/NPEO2013/WEBCAM2/ARCHIVE/npeo_cam2_20130501041732.jpg

General page for the pole with both webcams:
http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/

Index page of recent shots for webcam2:
http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/NPEO2013/webcam2.html

Archive for webcam2:
http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/NPEO2013/WEBCAM2/ARCHIVE/

wayne

And the answer is: the over all North Pole ice is not much more than 2 meters thick, http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/ , melting fast, the new ridges likely from a squashed not so old frozen lead, are not blocking the horizon completely, it is even interesting as the horizon will lower even further. There is another 9 degrees of sun to rise or so. To recap: there is close to 2 meters of North Ice its been melting from the bottom before April 20, as the melt continues the horizon will lower more if the webcam doesn't move that much.

Jim Hunt

Thanks for all the clarifications Wayne.

My remark was slightly tongue in cheek, given all the flak I took for insisting I could see open water on the Barrow webcam back on March 20th!

P.S. It seems Typepad's self references are still not working properly :(

Neven

It seems Typepad's self references are still not working properly :(

What's that, Jim?

Jim Hunt

If I click my link above I don't end up seeing the comment I'm linking to. I end up on the final page of comments on the thread instead.

Neven

Ah, yeah, that one. That's because it's on page 2 and you can't link to comments that are not on page 1. Sorry about that.

I'll nag TypePad about that as soon as the spam system works properly.

Doug Lofland

Hello Neven and everyone. This blog is a great resource and way ahead of anything else I have seen. I just donated 20 euros, and would hope all the followers can do something on a regular basis.This can't be easy to maintain. Keep up the good work!

Paul Beckwith

The Guardian just ran this article on Arctic sea ice discussions at the White House and discusses AMEG in length.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/may/02/white-house-arctic-ice-death-spiral

Better late than never. I was just on a conference call with Peter Wadhams yesterday...

JFL

Doug had the right idea. I am a long-time lurker, love the blog, donating 20 euros.

Many thanks to Neven and all posters.

R. Gates

I commented about this a few days ago, but I wanted to bring to everyone's attention some unusual mid and high stratospheric warmth over the Arctic that has been developing for the past few weeks and is certainly outside what is normal for early May. First, have a look that the typical patterns for stratospheric warmth (after January SSW events), by looking at 2006 and 2009 Look closely at these charts for what the stratospheric temperature profile looks like from about 30 hPa all the way up around May 1st:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat-trop/gif_files/time_pres_TEMP_ANOM_ALL_NH_2006.gif

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat-trop/gif_files/time_pres_TEMP_ANOM_ALL_NH_2009.gif


Now look at this years:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat-trop/gif_files/time_pres_TEMP_ANOM_ALL_NH_2013.gif

Also, look at the pressure anomaly:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat-trop/gif_files/time_pres_TEMP_ANOM_ALL_NH_2013.gif

You can see quite clearly that we had a late season "soft" SSW, and this has created this anomalous warmth in the mid and upper stratosphere. We see this also in the AO index, that went negative when this "soft" end-of-season SSW hit:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/ao_index.html

How this plays out and works down into the troposphere as the real melt season begins will be interesting to watch, but given that I previously said that 2013 was most similar to 2006, I now would say that 2013 has diverged greatly from 2006 and stands out on its own as a very unique situation in the polar stratosphere.

Susan Anderson

Just checked Earth Observatory and found a bunch of Icebridge material including some great photos if anyone is interested:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/index.html

Neven

Thanks for that, R.Gates. My impression of the Arctic is that events are mirrored, depending on what the season is. So if stratospheric warming causes negative AO in winter, maybe it causes positive AO (more cyclones, cloudiness) in summer?

Sorry for being so übersimple. It's the best I can do. :-)

Kevin McKinney

"Sorry for being so übersimple."

Command of umlauts is not to be despised...

Neven

Especially when one has a German keyboard. :-P

Or alt-129. ;-)

Steve Bloom

"I'll nag TypePad about that as soon as the spam system works properly."

It may not be the Arctic Ocean, but I'm very confident something will be frozen over when that happens. :)

Martin Gisser

Seconding JFL - except I don't know how to donate (and refuse Paypal). I know Neven in real life has to work very hard to earn some money, and has a family to feed. He is a serious c21st hero. This blog is not the luxury of some rich guy with lots of spare time.

Neven
He is a serious c21st hero.

How my ego relishes moments such as these...

And then I laugh really hard. :-)

Darren Wood

Where did the Daily Graphs go?

Neven

Darren, I'm explaining some of the changes in this latest blog post.

Remko Kampen

Meantime sea ice area is dropping like a stone. Anomaly increased by more than 100,000 sq km in just two days time.

Wipneus

NSIDC arctic sea ice news for April is out:

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

Steve Bloom

Remko, relative to recent years there's nothing unusual about the drop so far. It would become notable if it breaks out of the pack of prior year trends before June 1 or so, but even if this turns out to be an extreme melt year that might not happen.

John Christensen

To Neven,

As always; amazing work on the winter analysis - really great reading to sum up what happened in the past season!

On the comments regarding a protective arm of MYI towards the Pacific: I don't get it.

It may be my lack of foundational knowledge, but from all sources I have read, inflow from the Atlantic or the Pacific never happens at the surface, because the local Arctic waters with relatively low salt content will stay above the inflowing salty waters from the outside oceans. Inflow therefore happens at depth both when these are caused by ocean currents as well as by surface weather patterns and will have no immediate interaction with any ice in the Arctic.

If the wind is pushing north from Bering into Chuckchi, the inflowing water should therefore slide in below the local Artic waters and ice.

Or does inflowing water in fact get in and mix at the surface level, even hundreds of miles into Chuckchi and the Arctic Ocean?

crandles

>"On the comments regarding a protective arm of MYI towards the Pacific: I don't get it."

Agreed that inflow generally isn't at the surface but what has this to do with it?

Surely surface can and does circulate more clockwise than anti-clockwise with Beaufort Gyre regardless of what inflow waters are doing at below surface level.

Beaufort melts out but by end of January:
http://www.aari.ru/resources/d0015/arctic/gif.en/2012/20120131.GIF
vs
http://www.aari.ru/resources/d0015/arctic/gif.en/2013/20130129.GIF

However, I don't think that is doing recent movement well:
http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictnnowcast.gif
is more like it showing lots of thicker ice off Banks Island but not much north of West Alaska/Bering Strait.

John Christensen

Dodger back on April 29 called the MYI in Chuckchi a Stronghold and 'protective barrier' and the lack of this MYI would 'expose the central pack to influx of warm SST'. This is what I do not understand.

To me, the MYI 'arm' reaching Chuckchi was like a lone hero riding to the castle of the enemy to defend his home, only to find himself to be the first to be shot down, having done nothing to protect his home. The MYI branch in the Western Arctic ended up isolated and melted away completely, being hundreds of miles from the central pack and thereby having no impact on central pack melting.
And with Pacific water inflow creeping under the Arctic surface waters, the impact of the inflow should be primarily the vertical heat transfer and not mixing of Arctic surface waters with warmer Pacific waters.
I would like to understand, if I have these mecanisms wrong, but I just do not understand the 'stronghold' or 'protective' here.
The shape of the current MYI pack seems better suited to withstand the oncoming melt season.

jdallen_wa

I've found a paper recently which piqued my interest:

http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~shs/Climate%20change/Data%20sources/Perovic%20ice%20cover.pdf

It generally covers the energy dynamics behind the melt out of the Beaufort Sea in 2007. At the time, I was attempting to dig up observed data pertaining to melt rates of sea ice in the arctic.

In the General, the article concludes this:

Annual melting at the pole, averaged over 7 years (2000 - 2007) was about 26CM of surface melt, and 25CM of bottom melt.
Annual melting in the Beaufort (averaged over multiple locations) was 64CM of surface melt, and 210CM of bottom melt.

From that, presuming (wildly) generally similar conditions between 2007 and this year, it seems to me the implications are not that good.

Let's consider some HYCOM model data. As I understand it, the general consensus is that HYCOM overestimates the thickness of thin ice, and underestmates the thickness of thick ice. So, consider the following two years - 2011 & 2013 - at about this date.

5/13/2013
http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictn/nowcast/ictn2013051218_2013051300_035_arcticictn.001.gif

5/13/2011
http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictn/nowcast/ictn2011051218_2011051300_035_arcticictn.001.gif

Now, 2007 and 2012 notwithstanding, 2011 was one of the more dramatic melt years we've had. Now, if we consider the comparison, and apply the results above, that suggests to me most of the "light blue" ice (2.5 meter or thinner) has a very high probability of disappearing this year. Part of what is driving this expectation on my part is the fact that the net energy in the water has increased significantly since 2007, and from appearances, there is a strong flow of energy via the N. Atlantic drift past Svalbard into the Arctic Ocean.

I'll be very interested to see how the next few weeks play out, but my impression is, we may see a sudden disappearence of Beaufort Ice, or Siberian Ice, much as we did in 2012, via prompt melt-out from bottom melt.

I'm very interested to hear more knowledgeable folks opinion on this.

jdallen_wa

A follow on question: Anyone aware if information similar to the 2007 paper is available for 2012 data?

Account Deleted

Hi,

I wanted to ask you guys, I am curious if the very big crack that goes from North Greenland to Alaska, which can be observed in Modis images, is just normal for this time of the year or has more significance. It certainly looks impressive to me, but I did not pay much attention to what happens with Arctic ice past years, so maybe it is nothing out of the ordinary.

John Christensen

@jdallen_wa,

Thank you very much for the link to this article. I have not seen an update, but I do not think there is much disagrement on the arguments or conclusion of the article: Once you have open sea water, it will drastically alter the heat absorption capacity, as it changes from a highly reflective to a highly absorbing surface.

This causes in-situ rapid increase of SST, so there is no need for inflow from the Atlantic or Pacific oceans in order to provide conditions for strong bottom melt - the sun and then wind to move the ice across the heated waters will do it.

Related to a 'barrier' of MYI to project against inflow therefore also does not seem relevant to me, both since influx from exterior oceans will go beneath the sea ice, and because the MYI pack is much better protected, when the circumference is at a minimum, somewhat reducing the events of ice moving across heated sea surface waters.

This seems correct to me, but I would also appreciate more insightful feedback and critisism.

Neven

John, my simple take on this, perhaps too simple, is that the ice pack grosso modo melts inwards, so it could make a difference if on the outer edges there is thicker MYI. We saw that happening in both 2010 and 2011, where the MYI managed to hold on long enough for the freezing season to set in.

John Christensen

Neven,
I agree that this should generally hold true, but as we saw by the end of July/early August 2012, the melting happened further north in the Chuckchi/East Siberian area isolating the MYI arm in this area with open water on all sides as a consequence.

Split starting end July:
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/ARCHIVE/20120730.jpg

Rapid disintegration by Aug. 9, 2012:

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/ARCHIVE/20120809.jpg

It was based on this experience from 2012, I was struggling to understand that even if in general a branch of MYI might be able to hold the melting away from the central ice pack until freezing sets in again, why the MYI arm for this particular year was considered to offer any barrier.

This could be a feature of the new reality in the Arctic that increased water temperatures and increased forcing will isolate any thicker ice layer that is not consolidated in the central pack at highest possible latitude much quicker now, and based on what we saw last year it would be surprising if the minimum SIA this summer extends significantly beyond the current area of MYI, but let's see..

Neven

I agree that this should generally hold true, but as we saw by the end of July/early August 2012, the melting happened further north in the Chuckchi/East Siberian area isolating the MYI arm in this area with open water on all sides as a consequence.

Well, then we are in general agreement, John, which is always a nice moment. :-)

I expected last year's Stronghold to do the same thing as in 2010 and 2011, but it didn't. It got devastated and not just because of GAC-2012.

So even if there were a barrier this year it would probably not make a dent yet again, because the ice seems to be too thin (at those latitudes) to keep things together. The term MYI says something about age, but not necessarily about thickness.

Like Lodger says: This MYI is not your grandfather's MYI (or your father's, for that matter; or your 5 year older cousin in Albuquerque).

But even worse, there's no MYI barrier at all this year, and so I'm dying to see what this will do. How far is the edge of the ice pack going to retreat?

Espen Olsen

2013 will be a decisive year, after the record low in 2012, until now there is not much difference between the 2 years from a space shuttle perspective, the only difference I can see, it is still pretty cold in the CAA, but along the coast of Ellemere and Greenland I see potential differences, the ice is literally loose all the way from Amundsen Gulf (Beaufort Sea) to Flade Isblink (North East Greenland.

Conrad B Senior

Unlike the Antarctic which has a landmass to limit heat flow, the Arctic is a land locked body of water, subject to shifting ice due to weather--it will of course be subject to more variation. However, by virtue of it's landlocked nature, heat flow from warmer waters is limited. For this reason it will never be ice free. All the climate models have been proven wrong. Personally, I'd like to see the Arctic essentially ice free, so I can sail there. But it won't happen except in rare intervals for very short periods of time. The North Pole will have an ice cap for millions of more years--until the continents open up warmer waters to the region.

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