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If you have trouble getting some sleep tonight, you better not watch the horrid mosters lurking in the artic ocean http://mgds.ldeo.columbia.edu/healy/reports/aloftcon/2010/20100806-2001.jpeg
be afraid, be very afraid


Aaaahhh, how did Jeff Goldblum get there? Those scientists are toast.

BTW, I didn't know there were flies in the Arctic around this time of year.

Artful Dodger

Let's wind the clock back to Summer 2007. The Arctic Dipole Anomaly (DA) produced steady winds which, along with remarkable Pacific heat influx, pushed and THICKENED the sea ice that did not melt into a semi-circular band between the Kara and Greenland seas.

Fast forward 3 years to Spring 2010, and the Beaufort Gyre has transported that remaining thick, melt-resistant sea ice 180 degrees back to the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, facing the Bering Strait.

This is the situation that has played out in Summer 2010. The last stand of the multi-year ice. And like in war, if the Rear crumbles, the battle is lost as the Front is outflanked, bypassed and finally overrun. We will know in just a few weeks. Watch the SSTs for signs of imminent collapse. They are the most reliable predictor.

Perhaps in our near future, an open water Arctic Ocean will be dominated by persistent low SLP and cloudy skies (like July 2010) that will raise the polar albedo somewhat. Pray that it does, because beyond here there lie REAL Dragons, not just gigantic flies.

Steve Bloom

Maslowski looks better and better all the time.

Kevin McKinney

Flies in the Arctic?

Oh yeah. Never been there, myself, but I've read Farley Mowat's "People of the Deer," including the bit about the fly larvae parasitizing the caribou, and any number of accounts about the awe-inspiring Arctic mosquito population.

Of course, all that was on the tundra, not out in the middle of the ocean somewhere. I'm assuming that fly was a hitchhiker--or, I should say, stowaway?


Neven: "The window for such events is starting to close as we speak.".
It is indeed! I have graphed the daily changes in SIE as well as the average change over the last 8 years for the period 1 August- 15 September . The graphs are based on 3 day moving averages and I have shown only the last 5 years for clarity.
It is clear that the line is moving upwards throughout the period, but the slope is even more pronounced after mid-August. Unless we see a few century breaks in the next few days, based on recent previous years patterns, we cannot expect that the decrease for the rest of the season will be much over a million sqkm.

Artful Dodger

Phil, you may be surprised comparing the 2010 ice pack to any other year. We have never been in this position before: most diffuse pack, thinnest pack. Linear fits on past years are now out of context. Remember, solar insolation is not the main forcing in August. Sea surface temperatures is most important. Any influx of heat from either Atlantic or Pacific sides can cause a quick phase change in the sea ice.

Nick Barnes

I'm not sure about this idea, but certainly I've never seen open swathes of water in the central pack anything like this year's. Tonight's MODIS has a huge polynya centered at about 87N, 180W, hundreds of kilometres across, not completely open water but no more than maybe 30% concentration. It's just phenomenal.

Artful Dodger

In Human terms, think of the Beaufort Sea Ice as an aging, arthritic Prize Fighter. Past his prime, punch-drunk and hanging on to the ropes, praying for the Bell. Surviving only in the cool cover of unprecedented July clouds.

Meanwhile, over the Southern Beaufort Horizon, this SST Anomaly continues to build. And, 30 Knot SE winds are predicted for the Chukchi Sea on Aug 9.

Steve Bloom

Neven, the word verification box won't appear, so I can't post a link. I can see the characters, but the entry box doesn't show. I'll try it unhot instead.


Steve Bloom

Hmm, so it's only a problem with embedded links. Odd.


So anybody up for a little local forecasting, about when the Northen Searoute will open up, and that funny shaped thing still hanging on to Taimyr will let go? Todays TERRA is semiclear so you can compare the look with passive and active microwave. And if anybody is good at interpreting Russian icereports, the icebreaker passed recently. And
how are those weatherforcasts looking, still good?


Another thought about breaking up is how very easy it's getting to spot where the multiyear ice is situated in the icepack. When i compare my favourite passive microwave map from Bremen with Fowler/Maslaniks iceage map (one fron v25 is in Julys Search update, a slightly later in NSIDCs latest icereport), the correlation is striking in some places.

The clearest to me are the outlying areas of 2nd year ice, one in a semicircle north of the New Siberian Islands, the other halfway between Barrow and the pole. Theese areas are still high concentration in the maps, surrounded by broken ice on all sides.

When we go closer to the pole we find a large area of 3rd year ice, but now this ice is instead heavily broken, and on the other side halfway to the Franz Josef Land, lots of 3-4 year ice, also totally broken up.

Iceage based melt forcasting is very much an evolving science as Julienne Stroeves writing in the Search reports show, but it's fun to be able to follow it so closely in real time.

It would be even more fun to have access to the old iceage-maps/drifttracks to be able to follow the ice back in time to see where it has been and what in has been through. Like the old Russian Polarstation NP-22 which circled the arctic for nine years following the Beaufort Gyre, http://iabp.apl.washington.edu/pdfs/RigorWallace2004.pdf in sharp contrast to the latest NP-37, which had to be evacuated in the early summer due to the floe it was situated on breaking up. http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100516/159032877.html

Maybe inspired of this Russia is not planning any more manned icefloe stations, instead they are building a floating island out of steel.


how are those weatherforcasts looking, still good?

Wetterzentrale forecast a high over the Beaufort Sea from Monday and for the next six days. The 2010 SIE chart is in badly needed help if it is to stay in the race with 2008 and even 2009. SIE drops are quite low at the moment (61 k preliminary today!).
Saturday's report from DMI doesn't look too promising, but I am not sure how they gather their data; the graph shows 30% extent.


Thanks Phil, i'll try some private forecasting, looks like some packed isobars at least.

Regarding DMI there where an article on the other side of the mirror a few days ago, you could try that. You dont't have any relation to the Phil over there by any chance?

r w Langford

It appears that a huge piece of landfast ice is breaking up on the north east side of greenland. This may increase the outflow of ice from the arctic if the winds and currents push southeastward.
Always enjoy all posts and comments on this site.

Andrew Xnn

So far, no inflection in slope of ice extent.


Usually happens sometime in August; 2008 looks to have latest date.

Thomas Woodruff

Watching the Bremen SIE maps, the spread out ice in the Beaufort/Chukchi Seas is melting away before very our eyes under an incredible high pressure ridge. Is this the start of the Dipole Anomaly?



I am not sure where "the other side of the mirror" is, but any way to answer your question, I am not contributing to any other blog on a similar topic.


Doersn't look like much melting is happening right now: only 17 k decrease in SIA overnight see CT and SIE went down by 48 k...

Artful Dodger


Pardon my jumping in, but I thought siili might be away from the Confuser (temp. i'm sure!)

I believe 'the other side of the mirror' is a reference to Anthony Watt's (in)famous pseudo-skeptic blog 'Watt's up with That'. These days, Steve Goddard (apparently not his real name) is a frequent guest blogger specializing in Arctic Sea Ice.

I don't waste much time there ( 2x time per year?)... to quote old Ben Kenobi, "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy". You've been warned, don't blame me if your head implodes when trying to follow some of the twisted lines of logic over there. It's a denialist hangout, pure and simple. DENY-DELAY-EXTEND.


WUWT = We Use Wishful Thinking

Working quite well this melting season too. Just a few more weeks of the 'AGW is a hoax'-mantra and we'll be left with an ice pack of 5-10 cm thickness at an extent of 5.5 million square km.


I don't spend too much time on WUWT. At first, I was interested in finding a " balanced" opinion, but I quickly realised who these people really were. Being an outsider, I am open minded about climate science and to be honest it took me a long time to be convinced. However, I am aware that many in the denialist camp (but not all) are mainly driven by political ideology or simply by what they believe is the protection of their business ineterests ( short term view in my opinion).
OTH I think that climate science must be impeccable in its credentials if it doen't want to be target of critics with different agendas. The recent case of the Himalayan ice fields is a clear example of sloppy reporting ( I doubt that it was sloppy research). I believe that climate change scientists are doing a great job, and hopefully they will be building enough evidence so that at some stage, the general public will be ready to accept the economic sacrifices that are necessary if we want to tackle the big environmental challenges that we are facing. However, we mustn't be carried away and as a researcher myself I think it is important to keep a dispassionate attitude towards the facts.

Artful Dodger

Phil, you're in a special position to influence attitudes and shape opinions. Have you seen Grist Magazine's excellent series of articles How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic?

Now there's even an iPhone App out there which connect to the Skeptical Science blog so you can walk around "packin' heat". Notably, the App has a slider to set the level of difficulty in the answer to Easy-Intermediate-Expert.


To return to the title, i think there is a better chance that the ice in the northern East Sibera Sea will depart, as is has done in previous years, and according to the models, the ice is especially thick there this year.

Just below it, the ice is opening up from both sides, compare what has happened in two days: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/subsets/?subset=Arctic_r05c04.2010218.terra.1km&vectors=coast

Steve Bloom

Here's some dispassion, Phil. I've corresponded with another permafrost expert, and it seems there's a consensus in the field that it really could start letting loose on a large scale at any time. When it does happen (now inevitable IMHO) among other interesting experiments we get to find out what the upper constraint on ice sheet melt really is. What fun, eh?

The difficulty is that there really are a number of known unknowns that seem poised to bite us in the butt rather badly. The idea that we will be able to escape all of them seems just plain crazy. As Ray Pierrehumbert says, we *should* be alarmed.

Even so none of this should be a barrier to doing good science.

Steve Bloom

Hmm, "dispassion" was supposed to be a link. I guess I should give up on the embedding. Anyway, here it is: http://www.19wcss.org.au/FileLibrary/19_wcss_thawing_frozen_soils_could_unleash_carbon_.pdf .

Artful Dodger

Steve, are any remote sensing assets targeting methane release from the tundra? If so, any data for the Siberian 'Summer of Fire'? Cheers.


On secont thought, maybe the area between Barrow and the pole is a better candidate, it is almost encircled already, and the PIPS2 and ECMWF forecasts looks like they are continuing to show anticyclonic circulation arround it, so who knows?

Steve Bloom

Don't know specifically, AD, but I assume that since the ESS reports from last year all involved on-site measurtements there must not be anything. It would be interesting to overlay the July termperature anomalies for Siberia with a map of the permafrost. In any case we should be seeing some information as soon as the field season is over.

Artful Dodger

Steve: I have a soils scientist buddy and it's all field work for them, no Satellite monitoring. But since the landsat era, I thought methane was detectable from orbit. I don't know enough about the subject to judge. Certainly aqua/terra are equipped to detect forest fires. It seems to me a widespread uptick in methane release would signal an Arctic tipping point.


As I understand it the Russian heat wave is largely in European Russia, the Permafrost is largely in Asian Russia. It is one giantic country.

Artful Dodger

Yes indeed Dorlomin, European Russia has been raked by wildfires like another Barbarossa, with tragic loss of life. Russia's Met Center is calling the heat a thousand year event.

Tundra fires in Eastern Siberia have also burned ~100,000 km^2. See the smoke plumes in this MODIS image from 10 days ago.

The smoke from the Siberian fires dispersed as far as Nunavut and Manitoba, Canada. On MODIS today, it looks like about 1.75 million sq. km covered with smoke in Europe (look at the lower left of the Arctic Mosaic):

Artful Dodger

Pardon, I meant the lower-RIGHT of the Arctic Mosaic, above ;^)


Three days ago i dared you to forecast when the Northen Searoute should open, without any contestants, but today it must be very close to the point when at least Henry Larsen wouldn't hesitate a second.

It is still a bit cloudy, but it could be possible to trace a line through the black water in todays Terra image http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/subsets/?subset=Arctic_r04c05.2010222.terra.367.250m&vectors=coast

The radarimage also show that the time is getting near http://www.seaice.dk/iwicos/latest/envisat.GMM3d.n.20100810.gif

And if we are to believe the models, the remaining ice should be fairly thin in the area http://topaz.nersc.no/topazVisual/matlab_static_image.php?action=NA_ARC_NWA_Function&file_prefix=ARC&match_date=20100810&depth=0005&variable_name=hice

And the forecasts like PIPS and ECMWF looks like the icemovement pattern will persist for some time, moving the ice away from the coast.

So we'll see what the yachts will do.

And if you look closely at the radarimage on the other side of the pole, you'll spot the new Patrick iceisland drifting free on it's way to Nares strait.


I'm remain impressed with the intent of this thread - post.
The "Breaking Away From The Pack" seems to be in a much stronger mode.
A composite image on past six day interval

Artful Dodger

Neven wrote on August 06, 2010:

"So the big question is: can these patches break free from the pack and lead a life of their own?"

I think this topic deserves to be revisited, now 2-years on, since these foretold events occurred several time in 2012.

I think at least part of the story is the difference in melting point between new sea ice, 1st-year ice, and MYI.


Artful Dodger

We saw repeated episodes of large chucks of ice separating from the pack and melting. Notionally, there seems to be several factors in play.

In no particular order:

  • persistent low pressure => diversion, Ekman pumping
  • MYI ice transport to Southern latitudes
  • quick melt/albedo feedback in areas of 1st year sea ice
  • mechanical breakup of thinner ice
  • increased surface mixing, halocline
  • large ratio of open ocean vs sea ice leads to increased water vapour, storms

The above is just is a partial description of the new Arctic. More, faster, in 2013.

Ekman Pumping:



Could you not include swells and currents? In reports from scientists on the ground in the last 3 yrs especially they have reported swells from storms reaching 100s of k into the pact where before they would have been stopped on the edge. On top of that I suspect you would also start seeing more evidence of the normal Arctic currents influencing the pack above it because of the wretchedly rotten condition it is in.
As neither of these 2 events are uniform across a very large front I would think they could create disturbances and weaknesses that could help push sections into slightly different trajectories that when hit right by other stronger events then will cause them to break apart.

Artful Dodger

LRC asked: "Could you not include swells and currents?"

Well spotted, LRC. Swells are the mechanism for increased mechanical breakup of the sea ice.

Julienne Strove commented on this phenomena this year, as did David Barber in 2007 when swells reached hundreds of kilometers into the pack ice.

The weakest part breaks, then the two separate parts are free to move independently. Polar Sea provides video.


Artful Dodger

David Barber says the NSIDC numbers are about “a 15-per-cent over-estimation of how much ice is actually there” in this article published September 21, 2012:



Thanks for the link Lodger; pretty straight-shooting article.



That's one hell of an article from an oil town paper!



Terry A few things about why it got in that paper. It is part of a large national chain, she is a journalist based in Ottawa specializing partly on environment issues, and Dr. Barber is a prairie boy. The prairies are loyal to their own especially if they feel they are getting kicked by the Bay St./Wall St crowd and are fighting back at them.

Artful Dodger

I thought you'd enjoy the irony, Terry. The original was picked up from canada.com but still some progress.



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