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Can someone explain the small difference with 2011 please?

If 1.the extent is smaller than in 2011 and
2. there is less multi year ice
3. the winter was a lot warmer, then I don't understand the small difference.

Or is the volume of 217km3 a lot, even though it doesn't like that much to me?

Clueless FM

Thx for yet another brilliant and most importantly *fact–based* update, Neven! As you may or may not know, a certain professor of Doom & Gloom has gone on record stating that October added no sea ice volume, and recently that (late) December to March added no significant volume (see link below), which if you add up those two claims amounts to about 10,500 km³ of “not seen” Arctic sea ice volume increase over 4 of the 7 months of refreeze period.

And as the first week of July last year had about 10,500 km³ of sea ice, it makes one wonder whether or not this glaring blind–spot of his could explain why the good professor says “it would not surprise me at all if we had an ice–free or nearly ice–free Arctic in July”.

Whereas if he wasn’t so abysmally bad at even basic research, and his statements were indeed true that for the first time in human history October didn’t refreeze and Winter Solstice to late March saw no significant refreeze, hitting a virtually ice–free state even before July 1st, would be a walk in the park.

Ref: http://youtu.be/-xhhvNWxUHY

John Christensen

Thank you for a great update Neven!

You did leave out one key element though - the SSW event in late February, which I find is the main reason for the Arctic cooling during March.

Michael Mann said this about the SSW event:

“This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying – it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate”


That statement is remarkable for a scientist, assuming he was aware that an SSW event took place.

The director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University would have been greatly aided by the excellent blog entry by R. Gates in January 2013, which explains causes of these recurring events:


Either way - and what I have not seen described anywhere - is that subsequent to these SSW events, which occur every 2-3 years, the polar vortex seems to solidify and cause Artic temperatures to drop sharply after the initial warming at surface level.

This effect is clearly visible in Zack Labe's chart above, in the DMI 80N temps, and in significantly higher sea ice accretion in following weeks.



The latest link in the news feed says that the difference between a 1.5C target and 2.0C target is as stark as whether (get it?!!?) we want AN ICE FREE ARCTIC ONCE EVERY 4 YEARS OR ONCE EVERY 40 YEARS!

Clueless FM

Several problems with that, I believe, AnotherJourneybyTrain.

1) Ice–free once every 40 years sounds nice, but how likely is that when A) we have global warming, and B) the ice–free state is a game changer on its own?

2) Global temperatures are never gonna stop at 1.5 or 2C, what will all the positive feedback loops humans have triggered.

There seems to be some idea in the media that we'll enter a "new normal", and then things are just going to be stable at a slightly lower level of Arctic ice — for instance 51 weeks of sea ice in one year, and then 52 weeks of sea ice the next 39 years, with a repeat every 40 years until the sun implodes.

While that sounds nice and all, I'm not sure it's the correct interpretation of what the relevant science reports say.


All winter long had 2 dominating main vortices within the Polar Vortex, the biggest most frequent one being the CAA relinquishing in an osclllating pattern dominance to the other roughly near Ohkotsk to East Siberian seas , until very end, when Novaya Zemlya Island Barents sea area had a very late smaller 'vortice'. This late arrival blocked incoming warm moist air from North Atlantic cyclones, which was happening throughout the past dark season, often ably pointed out by Jim Hunt.

The main feature of winter past was the size of the vortices within the Polar Vortex system. They wee smaller, made themselves vulnerable by radically injecting Northwards these especially moist warm cyclones from our main biggest oceans. Often the vortices migrated Southwards by their own feedback action, pulling cyclones up, broke loose smaller rogue vortices to disrupt a milder winter to the South.

As a result, the drying of the Arctic came extremely late, more than 3 months late, http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/2018/03/drying-out-arctic-ocean-atmosphere.html

Of which a complex just discovered feature was revealed, Neven's 925 mb
temperature map presented above, made CAA warmer in March that is correct, but only in the much lower atmosphere, ongoing vertical Sun disk captures, measured a massive cooling above that altitude, to date, 16th place coolest over the past 18 Arctic winters, smaller vertical sun disks imply massive cooling, because these measurements include extremely large atmospheric distances.

In other words, the dye is almost set , either there will be this Novaya Zemlya block twinned with massive CAA dominance pulling cyclones towards Southern Norway, making drier air over the Arctic Ocean more possible, or
the East Siberian 'vortice' will rise in prominence again, making warmer dryer air from Siberia devastating sea ice much further, either ways looks bad, but as I wrote the dye is not quite set, I will come up with my usual spring projection in a few weeks. A few weeks at this telling time of the year may provide certainty in the coming summer circulation patterns.

Kevin McKinney

"2) Global temperatures are never gonna stop at 1.5 or 2C, what will all the positive feedback loops humans have triggered."

Let's not go full-on-McPherson here. *If* emissions can be made to follow something like the 2 C trajectory, then yes, what we know says that temps will indeed 'stop' at something like 2 C.

And that's important, since if your statement were true the logical conclusion would be "Let's party like it's 1999."

james cobban

But Kevin, how confident can we be that "what we know says that temps will indeed 'stop' at something like 2 C"?

Yes, the IPCC reports do indicate that, but we also know that they rely on five-year-old data, so that when they publish their reports, the data is already five years out of date. The last report is now five years old, so it represents the state of play from ten years ago. We know too that the IPCC doesn't even try to incorporate well-known but difficult-to-quantify feedbacks like permafrost melting or clathrate release, and they always err on the side of caution, so it might be a bit optimistic to take their assessment at face value. I think we'll probably pass the 1.5 target with the next big el Nino in 5 or 10 years, so that target is certainly too optimistic, IMO.

Clueless FM

James Cobban already said much of it, but I'll agree with Kevin on the *IF*s. There are 3 big IFs as I see it:

IF #1: If nations improve their game so UN modelled necessary emission cuts are met relating to "Paris" and "2C warming".

IF #2: If UN model blind–spot feedback mechanisms and time–lags do not really mean anything.

IF #3: If "terribly bad luck" weather-wise does not happen (think Blue Ocean events), and additional (yet unknown) feedback mechanisms or similar do not happen.

Somehow, I think these 3 big IFs indicate global temps are not gonna magically stop at 2C. Because, after all, what Kevin McKinney is suggesting, is that we could somehow stop global warming in its tracks, just by polluting the atmosphere a little less with fossil carbon than homo saps did for decades at the height of their folly.

John Christensen


The "we could somehow stop" combined with "their folly" sounds a bit schizophrenic, as I assume you are human, living in a house and have a computer.

Also, remember that burning of fossil fuels and cement production together is about 50% of the increase in radiative forcing of greenhouse gasses.

See changes in radiative forcing:


And the CO2 cycle:


John Christensen

Sorry, let me clarify further, as the 50% can be seen as misleading.

Percentage of increased radiative forcing of greenhouse gasses due to human activity:

- CO2 (Burning of fossil fuels): 44.9%
- N2O, O3 (Engine combustion, industry emissions, chemical solvents): 17.2%
- Methane (Various reasons, mainly human inflicted): 14.8%
- CO2 (Deforestation): 12.3%
- Halocarbons (Non-natural gasses from industry): 10.8%



Remember as well - if we could somehow magically cease all global warming gas emissions overnight, that the negative feedback from sulfates and aerosols would quickly be removed leaving the warming from CO2 and methane. Combined, these drive us over the edge.

How do we ever manage to back down from that?



Sam, it appears that China is retiring some of the dirtiest coal plants and is on track to move away from coal for the most part. They are also moving away from ICE cars as well, thereby reducing emissions of sulfates and aerosols. Might this be one of the reasons for the refusal of global temperatures to fall very much since the last el nino?

How much do sulfates and aerosols affect temperature? I am thinking that incoming sunlight is reflected back into space by these substances before it reaches low altitudes thereby preventing some warming. Just how much effect they have is what I am not sure about.


It does not seem so many years ago that the scientific community were quoting 380 ppm of CO2 as the level at which the natural Carbon Cycle might be capable of re-establishing a natural equilibrium level if carbon emissions were quickly and significantly reduced. Carbon emissions continued to rise and 400 ppm was then held to be the 'point of no return'.

After a three year levelling out period, 2017 saw another rise in atmospheric CO2 and CO2e levels.

In November 2015 the CO2 level was 400 ppm, it has been above this level ever since and on the 10 April 2018 it was 409.56 ppm.

CO2 and CO2e remain in the atmosphere in various forms, acting as greenhouse gases, for more than a thousand years.

I beleived the scientists then and I beleive them now. 400 ppm was the point of no return unless carbon sequestration is deployed on a global scale to mitigate or defer global warming and avoid dangerous climate change.


Well, D-Penquin, 440ppm is locked in and that was known over ten years ago!

Al Rodger

Concerning this not-very-cryospherical discussion:-
The workings of the carbon cycle mean that were we to magically stop our CO2 emissions, the atmospheric concentrations would drop, roughly halving our contribution to atmospheric CO2, the other half being salted away in the oceans, most of in over a century time-scale. Thus stopping at 380ppm would have seen levels of 330ppm restored in coming centuries, stopping at 440ppm would see 360ppm.
Were we able to cut our emissions of other GHGs which have a shorter atmospheric life, this would yield quicker drops in climate forcing.
And mentioned up-thread, the SO2 emissions are very short-lived so drops in their negative forcing would quickly contribute a significant boost to AGW were they cut in a hurry. However, the cutting will not be immediate and so any significant boost could theoretically be mitigated by cuts in N2O or CH4 forcing as well as the more slowly falling CO2 forcing (when emissions are cut enough for that to begin).
There is, as well as the question of how long it will take us to actually cut our emissions, also the question of what the climate may throw at us while temperatures continue to rise under mounting AGW. The 2ºC now 1.5ºC limit attempts to bring some sense to mitigation polices and ensure such positive feedbacks (or the worst of them) will not kick in during the coming century.
Sequestration of our carbon polution can be wielded as a magic bullet and an excuse for us not to pursue the more radical mitigation policies, the ones that we should be pursuing. But it seems very unlikely that mankind will not be sequestrating carbon in future decades, hopefully with more enthusiasm than our current mitigation efforts.

Robert S

And continuing on the slightly off topic vein, just a detail on the emissions from cement manufacturing. About half of those emissions are recaptured within 50 years by the cement through carbonization... so we have some built in uptake there as well.


Al Rodgers

Are you suggesting that greenhouse gas emissions are solely of anthropometric origin?

CO2 and CO2e will continue to enter the atmosphere after the cessation of anthropometric emissions adding to the total of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere and temperatures will continue to rise.

The Carbon Cycle may or may not stabalise the global carbon content over the millenia but in the meantime what stops the globlem heat/energy budget increasing along with global temperatures?

Is global warming that affects ice condions in the polar regions 'off topic'? If so, we are limited to comments on 'effects' and 'causes' are off limits. I know, the other site is available for 'wider' debate but I like this blog better. Of course if Neven decides this is too far of topic I will refrain from further comment.


Robert S

Any idea between the balance of cement production and uptake?

Concrete over all deserts and paint with light reflective paint to replace the lost albedo of melted polar ice AND sequestration of CO2 as a bonus.


Robert S

Sorry, your answer to my question is in your posting BUT concrete production still adding to greenhouse gases. We must think about an alternative to concrete for housing the billions still without suitable and sanitary accommodation.


I'm from the Southern Hemisphere in
Australia(Perth, Western Australia) but some of the news feeds are saying there is a delayed spring in the North: how true is this?

Al Rodger

Robert S,
Your "about half of those emissions are recaptured within 50 years" seems a bit optimistic. The values I see quotes have been mor like 25% in 100 years and taking 1,000 years to finish. Of course, the process is greatly accelerated by demolotion and breaking the concrete into tiny bits and values seen from such a process are perhaps approaching 50% in 50 years. But it still sounds optimistic.
Of course the chemistry of the concrete is a factor, there even being 'green' phosphorous-based concretes that emit no CO2 on calcination (or should that then be 'phosporination'?)

Al Rodger

Your comment that "CO2 and CO2e will continue to enter the atmosphere after the cessation of anthropometric emissions" presumably concerns the melting permafrost and may well also concern the potential for a couple of rounds from Shakhova's Clathrate Gun.
I would be the last to play down the evidential basis for the impacts of AGW but I do occasionally have the odd face-off with folk saying we're all doomed because AGW has or will have soon kicked off a game-changing feedback from GHGs pouring out of the melting cryosphere. It is true we have not begun to reign back on our rising climate-forcings driving AGW. It is true that when we do reduce those rising climate-forcing (which globally we have yet to start to reduce) to zero, as we must, the chryosphere will continue to melt. Indeed, this is one of the compelling reasons for the Paris 1.5ºC AGW limit.
So the level of GHG feedbacks from that future melting cryosphere are a concern and do need discussion (although probably not here at any great length).
So briefly, my own message is that the doom-laden melted-cryosphere message which evokes greatly significant levels of future CO2 and CH4 emissions from the cryosphere is not sustained by the evidence, that being evidence of the levels of such present-day emissions or evidence for future levels. But it must be stated that there are big question-marks hanging over this issue which continue to make it one of great concern for the future.
And how should we handle such a potential danger? Certainly the evidence needs improving. And our understanding of that evidence needs improving. But sadly, it is not the only ugly outcome that AGW could throw at us, outcomes which also require better evidence & understanding. And is 'panic' any better a response to AGW than 'denial'?
Bottom line - stick with the evidence.

Clueless FM

«stick with the evidence » — The official (United Nations) line is to just ignore evidence, innit?


Gentlemen, if you're going to take this route, I'd kindly invite you to come to the ASIF. That's a better place for bickering.

Kevin McKinney

AnotherJourneyByTrain asks:

"...some of the news feeds are saying there is a delayed spring in the North: how true is this?"

IMHO, it's a highly selective reading of the facts at best. It's true that the northern tier of the US has had something that might be called a 'delayed spring', but here in the South it's more accurately characterized as an 'unstable spring'. And actually, the most remarkable winter month in the US in terms of records set was February, for which something like 16 states in the East (including South Carolina, where I live) were record-warm.

Right now, the NH as a whole is 0.8 C--the same as the global anomaly--and western Europe looks pretty toasty to me, as does most all of East Asia and Northern Africa:


(Note: this page will update, so later readers of this comment will see a different picture, but my comments are/were accurate as of writing.)

Once again, though, there is a lot of cool territory in the US northern tier and in Canada. Somehow that region tends in general to drive a lot of comment/coverage... quite a bit of which tends not to reflect the rest of us in the NH at all.

Martin Bernstein

Hi everyone. I’m a longtime lurker and am hoping to get some help from the hive mind on something a tad unusual. It’s actually about Antarctic ice mass changes.

Back in 2015, Zwally’s study suggesting that Antarctica was gaining ice prompted this on the NASA site: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-study-mass-gains-of-antarctic-ice-sheet-greater-than-losses

Well, earlier this year or late 2017 I’d swear I read a follow-up article, updating the 2015 report and saying that the ice mass balance had turned negative with, I believe, Zwally saying this had happened way earlier than he expected.

Problem is, I can’t find it now. It’s possible I’m misremembering, but I’m pretty sure I linked to it during a contentious debate on climate change on FT.com at the time. There are mentions of GRACE, but none have the quote from Zwally. In another climate, I’d just conclude I was misremembering, but these days I have to wonder if it was removed by the politically motivated in the administration.

Does anyone remember seeing this or know a way of checking? Thanks for entertaining my confusion!

John Christensen

On sea ice volume: DMI max SIV possibly reached April 16th slightly above 24K km3 near 2015 level and comfortably below 2004-13 average:




If I understand it well enough, the controversial bits with Zwally 2015 is 1) about the timescale of the observed volume increases in East Antarctic and 2) the different results of the Grace measurements.

2) is targeted in "Alba Martin-Español et al, Constraining the mass balance of East Antarctica, Geophysical Research Letters (2017). DOI: 10.1002/2017GL072937"

See also https://phys.org/news/2017-05-growth-east-antarctic-ice-sheet.html


We investigate the mass balance of East Antarctica for the period 2003–2013 using a Bayesian statistical framework. We combine satellite altimetry, gravimetry, and GPS with prior assumptions characterizing the underlying geophysical processes. We run three experiments based on two different assumptions to study possible solutions to the mass balance. We solve for trends in surface mass balance, ice dynamics, and glacial isostatic adjustment. The first assumption assigns low probability to ice dynamic mass loss in regions of slow flow, giving a mean dynamic trend of 17 ± 10 Gt yr−1 and a total mass imbalance of 57 ± 20 Gt yr−1. The second assumption considers a long‐term dynamic thickening hypothesis and an a priori solution for surface mass balance from a regional climate model. The latter results in estimates 3 to 5 times larger for the ice dynamic trends but similar total mass imbalance. In both cases, gains in East Antarctica are smaller than losses in West Antarctica.

1) The time period of the volume increases has implications for the density,thus for the mass increases (Zwally 2015 argues a density close to solid ice, other researchers assume a much lower density closer to fresh snow).

Schröder et al have a paper in The Cryosphere Discussion. Discussion started March 19 and is open until May 14, no comments yet. This paper user observations over a much longer time span (1979-2017) and find a significant acceleration of the East Atarctic ice sheet volume. That (IMHO) makes is much more likely that the volume increases are mostly from snow, thus of low density.


We developed an approach for a multi-mission satellite altimetry analysis over the Antarctic Ice Sheet which comprises Seasat, Geosat, ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat, ICESat and CryoSat-2. In a first step we apply a consistent reprocessing of the radar alitmetry data which improves the measurement precision by up to 50 %. We then perform a joint repeat altimetry analysis of all missions. We estimate inter-mission offsets by approaches adapted to the temporal overlap or non-overlap and to the similarity or dissimilarity of involved altimetry techniques. Hence, we obtain monthly grids forming a combined surface elevation change time series. Owing to the early missions Seasat and Geosat, the time series span almost four decades from 07/1978 to 12/2017 over 25 % of the ice sheet area (coastal regions of East Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula). Since the launch of ERS-1 79 % of the ice sheet area is covered by observations. Over this area, we obtain a negative volume trend of −34 ± 5 km3 yr−1 for the more than 25-year period (04/1992–12/2017). These volume losses have significantly accelerated to a rate of −170 ± 11 km3 yr−1 for 2010–2017. Interannual variations significantly impact decadal volume rates which highlights the importance of the long-term time series. Our time series show a high coincidence with modeled cumulated precipitation anomalies and with satellite gravimetry. This supports the interpretation with respect to snowfall anomalies or dynamic thinning. Moreover, the correlation with cumulated precipitation anomalies back to the Seasat and Geosat periods highlights that the inter-mission offsets were successfully corrected and that the early missions add valuable information.


Schröder, L., Horwath, M., Dietrich, R., and Helm, V.: Four decades of surface elevation change of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from multi-mission satellite altimetry, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-49, in review, 2018


John Christensen

The Centre for Ice and Climate at Cph Uni has a nice overview of densification of ice caps:


Based on this, I agree with Wipneus; the mass gain in Eastern Antarctica is of relatively low density - unless the areas have been impacted by above freezing temperatures during SH summer.


Al Rodger

I do not presume the release of clathrates in my assessment of future CO2 and CO2e atmospheric concentrations if all emissions from fossil fuels, cement and land usage ceased immediately.

1. Forest wild fires increase in size and frequency, the arboreal forest retreats, the savannah changes to scrub land that in turn reverts to desert.

2. The oceans are warming and the water/surface air flux changes, moving in a negative to positive direction.

1. and 2. These changes are happening now with the current greenhouse gas level and adversely affecting the Carbon Cycle. There are many more current factors adding to the increase of greenhouse gases and reducing uptake. In addition, the significant loss of global ice cover reduces the albedo effect. The result is increasing global temperatures.

The global heat balance has already 'locked in' a CO2 level of 450 ppm and there can be no greater illustration of the heat balance change than the graphic at the top right of this Blog!

In a radio interview Neven gave the analogy of Arctic sea ice loss as 'watching a train crash in slow motion'. The prediction of deaths and injuries would be impossible to calculate before the event. The analogy holds for AGW and I think our children and grandchildren will say 'you could see it was going to happen and you did not do enough to stop it just because your scientists could not prove it, where was your commonsense and humanity?'

For the reasons above, it seems commonsense to me that, cessation of carbon emissions is critical but alone will not be sufficient. Sequestration and carbon storage will be an essential component of reducing and stabalising the CO2 and CO2e levels of our atmosphere until once again the Carbon Cycle can cope with the impact of humankind.

It is not all doom whilst we can do something about it. Vigorous and informed debate is required beyond the cessation of carbon emissions. It is now time for technology and engineering to move into the void left by science and the IPCC.


Hi Martin,

I don't know if this helps any but I found this on DiscoverBlog:


Is Antarctica Gaining or Losing Ice? Nature May Have Just Settled The Debate
By Eric Betz | May 16, 2017


'Zwally still stands by his 2015 study, but in an interview last week, he said nature has recently changed the equation. His team is crunching numbers from the past two years, looking at ice melting and snowfall rates in Antarctica. And they found something startling.

The melt rates in West Antarctica just increased significantly. His calculations now show that the continent is in overall balance. The findings haven’t been peer reviewed yet, but he plans to present them at a science conference later this year.

“In our paper we said that might happen in two to three decades,” Zwally says. “Well, this is an unpublished result, but now we’re very close to the zero line.”'

Back to lurkland.

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