I just saw that Anthony Watts couldn't restrain himself and has posted one more instalment in his series of predictions for the Arctic that have supposedly failed to come about. I know there's no use in telling him that the IPCC projects the Arctic to become ice-free somehwere between 2080 and 2100, or that for instance Wieslaw Maslowski revised his projection for an ice-free Arctic to 2016 ± 3 years after receiving constructive criticism from his peers, because Watts will simply always prefer smear over truth. But this latest thing he just posted is interesting.
As a reaction to the overblown story of the North Pool - when a couple of weeks ago NPEO's North Pole Webcam showed a large melt pond right in front of the webcam - Watts has a couple of quotes from 2000 by Al Gore etc. about large expanses of water at or near the North Pole. His timing couldn't be better, because in the past week a very large expanse of water has been opening up, not too far from the North Pole. We saw some of that in 2010 (see North Hole blog post), but this event looks like it's going to be even bigger and widespread.
It has finally started to show up on several sea ice concentration maps:
Many commenters here and on the Forum have been keeping an eye on this ever since that persistent cyclone in May and June started churning up the ice pack in an anti-clockwise fashion. Due to this melting season's almost constant cloudiness and the back and forth shifting of ice floes, it was difficult to see what exactly was going on down there. But now that the zones of low-concentration sea ice in the interior of the ice pack are getting one last beating of warm winds (and who knows what is happening below the ice) things can't remain under cover.
The hole near the North Pole is most outspoken, but how about the North Pole itself? Are we going to see another North Hole? Here are a couple of images showing the current situation, when the many clouds allow a view of what goes on below.
This is from commenter Pmt111500 over on the Forum, "stitched & a bit adjusted Modis 20.08.2013 (25km rings)":
Here's a combination from the same thread made by Pmt111500 and danp who has been doing some fantastic stuff (see here) to squeeze the maximum information out of various satellite images:
Over on the Short to Medium Term Arctic Sea Ice Conditions Discussion thread on the Forum commenter frivolous21 posted this animation of IARC-JAXA AMSR2 sea ice concentration maps that shows the difference between August 11th and 21st:
Almost one half of the ice pack is clearly in a very advanced state of disintegration, most of which would've melted out already if this melting season hadn't been so anomalously cold and cloudy, and with so little transport through Fram Strait. On the flip side, the lack of transport has allowed the amount of ice in the Greenland Sea to go as low as in 2010, while the ice pack edge on the Atlantic side of the Arctic has retreated quite far this year.
Who knows, maybe the big hole to the north of Franz Josef Land might become connected to the North Atlantic, meaning a ship could get within 5° of the North Pole (and perhaps even further if concentration decreases near the Pole even further).
A ship, not the submarines that Mr Watts always shows to 'prove' that nothing out of the ordinary is going on in the Arctic:
I'm looking forward to his next analysis-free post that insinuates there's nothing going on in the Arctic. This year he has a lot more spinning material than just the IMS sea ice extent graph he used last year to call every single other graph out there into question. A post he never adjusted or retracted when that graph too showed a new record (just like all the others), which is strange, as he is fond of demanding retractions from others.
In the meantime over on the Arctic Sea Ice Blog and Forum we wait and see whether the holes around the North Pole will get even bigger, or whether the ice pack is saved by the bell that will toll when the freezing season takes over. Every melting season has its own defining characteristics. This and the series of cyclones could be it for 2013.
Please use this post to share more (updated) images of the hole near the North Pole and the low-concentration zone around the Pole itself.