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The low pressure systems bring more clouds, reducing solar insolation.

I haven't watched the Arctic melt so closely in past years - the cloud cover certainly does seem to have slowed down the melt in July:

June 9 - Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, East Siberian Sea crystal clear:

July 15 - hard to find these Seas behind the clouds, little sections of water open to warming occasionally:

If it ever does clear up for a week or two, we'll see how thin the ice really is.

Lord Soth

Low presure systems, does reduce solar insolation, but they create windy conditions that causes ice destruction, breaking flows into smaller pieces that increase the surface area of melting.

The fact is, it is july in the Arctic, and the climate maximun temperture is either reaching its seasonal peak, or will soon will be.

I believe the ice is melting somewhere between the 2006 and 2008 levels.

If we take the diference between the 2006 and 2010 average melt and multiply by 15 days, we get 255K of ice lost that is not showing up.

If we take the difference between the 2008 adn 2010average melt and multiply by 15 days we get 421K of ice lost that is not showing up.

This puts the probable figures for ice loss somewhere between 123K above 2007 or 43K below 2007.

All we need now is winds that will compress the ice pack to remove the holes.

Pack compession did not occur in 2009, so their is no guarantee that 2010 will beat 2007 or even 2008.

One thing I am confident of, is when the sea ice volumes come out, there will be a new record for minimun sea ice volume.

With the ice pack going from a solid mass to an elastic state, 2010 will be remembered as the year where sea ice extent will fall out of favor as a tool to measure true sea ice loss.

Hopefully by 2011, we will have a tool based on both extent and volume from cryosat-2 that will give us at least weekly volume updates for the arctic, which will be more accurate, and will remove variance due to weather effects.


I just did a quick statistical analysis of the Jaxa data set which goes back to 2003. Here is what the daily loss in sea ice extent looks like for June, July, August & September:

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
June -53,536 -41,995 -57,531 -59,609 -63,328 -58,500 -55,936 -74,120
July -74,708 -70,015 -83,710 -70,025 -98,609 -81,260 -92,127 -52,354
August -46,764 -64,657 -45,000 -37,697 -57,041 -70,121 -49,655
Sept 15,019 -2,207 -12,705 -10,537 -21,211 -18,975 -9,756
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Minimum 6,032,031 5,808,750 5,422,344 5,918,438 4,254,431 4,718,594 5,249,844

( Sorry about the sloppy formatting)

As you can see the average for July 2010 so far is the lowest on record (by a long shot!). We can also see that in August the average daily loss is generally much lower than in July. I realise that this analysis is based on historical records not on facts on the ground. However the numbers seem to tell us that we are looking at an ice minimum for this year that will be somewhere between 5.5 and 6 million sqkm.

Artful Dodger

There is reasonably cloud-free MODIS coverage of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago for July 17. The N.W. Passage is well on the way to clearing the broken sea ice.

To me, it looks like the entire region may open up this summer. Does anyone recall ever seeing the entire CAA open? I believe this would be a first.


@Phil263 | July 18, 2010 at 05:10
Thanks for the analysis.

June was the fastest melt in this dataset, July is the lowest (so far). Maybe this summer will continue to be "unusual", and the rest of July, August and September will be surprising. Yesterday the JAXA melt was 78,125 sq km (so far).

We still have the second lowest sea ice area on record (these years are lower than the 1972 to 2001 years) - perhaps that is more important for eventual summer melt than whether the ice margins are spread out or compacted right now:

After all the outlying black/blue sea ice areas melt away,
I'm curious how much of the Beaufort Sea ice melts up into the heart of the Arctic Basin - I think it's unusual for the ice to be broken up like that inside of 85 deg North. I wonder if it's related to warm Pacific Ocean water coming up through the Bering Strait; it seems lined up with that.

If the clouds clear somewhat, the thin ice might quickly disappear. If not, we might follow the path of 2006:

Luckily, October will be here soon enough, and we'll have our answers.
Of course, whatever happens, the after-report from the scientists explaining "why" might take awhile to be released. And the Cryosat-2 data might not reach us till 2011...

Science is interesting, but slowwwwww.


Speaking of sea ice area: it has dropped to 1.4 million square km, with the Arctic Basin, Canadian Archipelago and Laptev Sea leading the way. The East Siberian Sea is still behaving erratically. I'm not sure what the situation with SLP areas is, there still seems to be a high just north of Hudson Bay and over Alaska, and a low between the Kara and Laptev Seas.


Apparently the deniers cannot even innovate on their own!

Read the comments. So funny. Many along the lines of "Brilliant, Anthony, what a clever idea, you are marvellous!".


spotted something interesting on the NOAA NP live cam 2 over the last couple of days. http://www.tadpolesoftware.com/ice/noaa2_Jul_17_to_18.gif

Its a great snap of pack breaking up within the mid Arctic basin during a 24 hours period. A large continuous crack/ appears and background instrument marker moves dramatically, first time i've seen this type of activity - up close evidence of the dramatic breakup of this so called 'impenetrable ice'.

The breakup seemed to be caused by a change in wind direction bringing light snow showers which are currently coving the camera at this time.

the NOAA site link updates ever hour http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/latest/noaa2.jpg whereas the http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/webphotos/noaa2.jpg only gets updated every day (Neven using the daily one on his graph page).

nice online tool for gif animations - http://www.image-tools.com/Animated-GIF-Generator-Tool.php

Kevin McKinney

Cool. Thanks for that, Peter--it's rather dramatic, in the context of the relatively unchanging vista one normally sees.

By the way--how can you tell that latest image is due to snow showers? No offence, but I wouldn't have a clue what was creating it!

Kevin McKinney

Preliminary melt value for 7/18 of nearly 75 K.

Jon Torrance

Got to be more careful about typos with all those adjacent number keys, Kevin - nearly 85K.

Nick Barnes

Interesting post from Stoat: http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/07/sea_ice_throing_in_the_towel.php


The last 2 days PIPS show the gyre direction as clockwise, which may explain why the melt is picking up again..
Also, the ice flow out of Lincoln sea via Nares strait seems to have resumed, based on comparing ASAR images from yesterday (in the DMI site; regular images show only the cloud cover).



Peter, thanks a lot for pointing me towards those hourly updates! I knew there were two websites for those cameras, but I didn't know there was a difference in update rhythm. Am updating the sea ice graphs page as we speak. I'll use that animation for today's SIE update if that's OK! You get an A+ for observational skills.

Thanks for that Stoat article, Nick!

Gili, I'm very curious to see what PIPS is forecasting for tomorrow (update should come in soon). If I'm interpreting the weather maps right the Arctic Dipole Anomaly is slowly turning positive.


Kevin, a low pressure entered the NOAA cam2 Arctic basin region, causing a)drop in temperature b)change in wind direction c)snow/rain mixed showers - all identified within the captured picture information. internal cam2 temperature dropped to 12c on the 18 before snow began. As wind picked up and changed direction, the background marker and its surrounding ice chunk moved in the direction of the wind, relative to the camera2 position.

've been capturing 3 or 4 cam2 images a day and comparing for the past week, pool expansion and surface melt is visible within the day to day compared images. sat and sun images show snow falling and partially obscuring the cam short which then covered the cam as of yesterday evening. I reckon the cam will clear again and snow melted away within a day or two.

Whats fascinating with these camera shots is to observe the difference in surface melt rate on sunny v's overcast days via observation of melt pool growth, internal cam temp readings. how the surface fractures and breaks, how new snow can temporarily cover these fractures/pools hiding the pack disintegration. how melt pools fill, empty, interact with other pools, how change in wind direction affect the surface melt, etc. etc lots of information to extract from these hourly cameras shots


Neven - always a pleasure to share. Quote from Carl Sagan seems fitting, When you make the finding yourself - even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light - you'll never forget it.

Peter Ellis

Peter - any idea what's going on with webcam 1? No pictures since the 7th, and the temperature record from the co-located buoy is being distinctly weird. It dropped by over 5 degrees C in a single hour a couple of days ago, which looks like some kind of technical fault to me. Goddard at WUWT is of course trumpeting that as evidence of cold temperatures at the North Pole, but I guess that's to be expected.

Peter Ellis

Excerpt from the POPS-13 record:

07/15/0900Z 86.858°N 1.317°W -4.6°C 1016.8mb
07/15/0800Z 86.856°N 1.328°W -3.6°C 1016.6mb
07/15/0700Z 86.852°N 1.326°W -3.9°C 1016.9mb
07/15/0600Z 86.852°N 1.359°W -3.5°C 1016.8mb
07/15/0500Z 86.849°N 1.378°W -3.4°C 1016.9mb
07/15/0400Z 86.847°N 1.395°W -3.0°C 1016.9mb
07/15/0300Z 86.844°N 1.415°W -3.8°C 1016.9mb <-- something weird happens here
07/15/0200Z 86.842°N 1.430°W 1.6°C 1017.2mb
07/15/0100Z 86.839°N 1.448°W 1.8°C 1017.5mb
07/15/0000Z 86.837°N 1.461°W 1.8°C 1017.9mb
07/14/2200Z 86.833°N 1.479°W 1.8°C 1018.2mb
07/14/2100Z 86.832°N 1.488°W 1.9°C 1018.0mb
07/14/2000Z 86.831°N 1.498°W 2.0°C 1018.0mb


PeterE, unfortunately my attention wasn't on Cam1 on the 7th, if someone has the hourly images on the 7th upto the last transmission, then one might be able to identify if cam1 moved or collapsed due to a melt pool forming at its base. I only discovered the hourly images on the 12th. In future, with more eyes on these cam images we should be able to deduce why certain events occur.


Peter2010, that animation looks great. I'm sitting here waving at that instrument in the back. :-B


PereE, when the wind direction changes, a 10c drop in temp can occur in a the space of an hour or less. You can see frequent example this from the Alert airport station. http://text.weatheroffice.gc.ca/forecast/24_hour_conditions_e.html?ylt&unit=m

if you map those coordinates into bing maps, if POPS-13 plot changes direction between 2 and 3am on the 15th, then the drop is very likely due to wind direction change.


silly me, NOAA provide an archive of all archive Cam pictures gathered and search tools here..


I was about to put that link up, but you beat me to it. Great observation, great auto-correction. You'd make a wonderful scientist.


thanks for the compliment Neven,
as a kid my mates wanted to be football players whereas i wanted to be a scientist like Carl Sagan (fortunate enough to have parents that insisted i watch cosmos series as a kid). then discovered in my teens that its a difficult(getting grants) low paying career, so went into software development field instead.

Kevin McKinney

You're charitable, Jon--the fault was with brain doing quick mental arithmetic late at night, not fingers!


Cam2 is clear of snow, background buoy is still on the prowl, at this pace it will be out of view within 36 hours.

Jim Dowling

Looking at the Unisys 10 day forecasts, it looks like there will be even more intense low pressure systems covering the arctic.

Short-term outlook is, therefore, for no increase in the rate of melting in July.


I'll be sure to make an animation of that! Thanks again, Peter.

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