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Artful Dodger

UWash has updated their PIOMAS Daily Mean graph to include this text: "Dots represent monthly average plotted at mid month". Well done, and good catch to Jon T, who correctly pointed this out. This will make for more reliable estimates of average ice thickness based on PIOMAS ice mass anomalies.

Andrew Xnn

Wonderful update Neven; really appreciate your good work!

Have been trying to understand what exactly happened back in June when there were all those incredible melt days. Looks like that period actually started around late May and ended nearer mid June. On the AO graph, this period looks to coincide with the AO going from an extreme negative reading (-2) to a extreme positive reading (+1.2). That is an extended period of a gradually rising AO index.

So, I guess that the currently negative AO index is essentially cocking the gun. Hard to say for how long the AO will rise. However, the AO is not a negative now as it was back towards the end of May, so while we might be in for a good run, it doesn't look to have as much potential as earlier in the year. Still as has been noted, the ice is starting to flow. The Cryosphere today website is a few days behind. So, there is not much of a shift presently.

The PIPS arrows of today are really long pointing towards the Fram.


If we have any pixel-graph counters online, todays Uni Bremen extentgraph shows a very hefty downtick after an increase, so if that transforms into tomorrows Jaxa numbers, they are going to be huge.


Sea ice area as measured by Cryosphere Today has stopped dropping in the past few days, and even gone up a bit. This has resulted in the anomaly (compared to the 1979-2008 mean) becoming a lot smaller: -1.183 million square km. I wonder if it will start dropping again or that this is a first harbinger of the end of the melt season. It sure looks like it when looking at that curve.

If the SIA curve had aleady bottomed out, this would be a major departure from previous years. SIA is currently just over 4 m, it reached 3.5 m in 2009, just over 3m in 2008 and 2.9 m in 2007. You have to go back to 2006 to have a SIA minimum over 4 m and this was not reached until mid-september.

I note that the recent pattern of the SIA curve on CT does not match the SIA curve on Jaxa which is still dropping nicely and Arctic roos where the curve has resumed its downward course.


...todays Uni Bremen extentgraph shows a very hefty downtick after an increase, so if that transforms into tomorrows Jaxa numbers, they are going to be huge.

I tried to work out if there was a relationship between the Uni Bremen Extent graph and the next day SIE number posted by JAXA and couldn't see a clear relationship. Yesterday the Uni Bremen extent curve had an uptick and we got a 70k + drop with Jaxa. Also look at the change / month graph which shows a sharp rise today. Actually I am wondering whether Uni Bremen is not behind Jaxa...


Lodger, always good to see you post. I hope Jon Torrance is also still lurking. Your insights are very helpful and will be needed in these last weeks.

However, the AO is not a negative now as it was back towards the end of May, so while we might be in for a good run, it doesn't look to have as much potential as earlier in the year.

Andrew, I fully agree. OTOH the ice should be much thinner now...

Phil, thanks for those links to other SIA graphs. Thanks also for your thoughts on Uni Bremen vs JAXA extent graphs.

Kevin McKinney

CT anomaly for 8/16 is showing -1.237, and there are a couple of hints in the basin-by-basin data that ice transport is starting to show an effect. It also looks as though part of the low-concentration area roughly north of Point Barrow has melted to below 15%, dropping off the CT map.

Oh, and 2010 appears to have clinched 4th lowest SIA minimum, just eyeballing this graph:


Things continue to be interesting.

Gas Glo

>"UWash has updated their PIOMAS Daily Mean graph to include this text: "Dots represent monthly average plotted at mid month". Well done, and good catch to Jon T, who correctly pointed this out. This will make for more reliable estimates of average ice thickness based on PIOMAS ice mass anomalies."

I also see that the text that said 14,400 km^2 for september has been corrected to read 13,400 to agree with the graph. ie "The model mean seasonal cycle of sea ice volume ranges from 28,600 km^3 in April to 13,400 km^3 in September."

13400-10100est anomaly if maintained from 31st July=3300km^3 for 2010 is substantially less than 13,400-7,500=5,900 km^3. So only about 56% of the ice volume that was present in 2007 and 2009. That 1000km^3 uncertainty over the number made the above calculation uncertain so glad that is resolved even if it is resolved in the bad direction.


IJIS revised downwards: 72,500 square km lost on yesterday's date. Decent.


I notice the DMI index of 30% ice extent has plunged downwards. It was in the same ballpark as 2005 and 2006, but now has rejoined its "sisters" 2007, 2008 and 2009.

I watch U of Bremen closely - its morning update (European time) gives a good idea of what the melt will be the following morning. However, their charts could do with more tickmarks and horizontal gridlines.

The change/ month chart confuses me a bit - can someone explain it to me? Is it a rollup of the change over the last month plotted by day? 2010 change/ month seems to have been almost constant since June.


NSIDC has a new update out.


I'm disgusted to see the NSIDC writing about Antarctic on this Arctic Sea Ice and News page. They really shouldn't obey the denialists and give them some arguments.


IARC-JAXA data: http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/plot.csv



After a strong 76,718 sq km sea ice extent drop, 2010 is still second lowest, above only 2007.


Fred, I am sorry but I respectfully disagree.

Scientific news should present all relevant facts comprehensively. News about the Antarctic is relevant because the arctic sea ice melt is an indicator that climate change is happening. In my view, this information should be provided in the context of what is happening to snow and ice all over the globe.
Cherrypicking facts that suit their hypothesis is what "speudo-skeptics" such WUWT do....
From what I understand, there are many reasons why Antarctica is not affected by climate change the way the Arctic is ( ozone layer hole, different dynamic...). I remember Artful Dodger writing about this when I suggested that we could extend this site with a follow up of Sea Ice melt in Antarctica this southern summer.

Whether CC impacts on Antarctica or not, Australia is definitely affected (see the Australian BOM analysis, even though this year has been wetter than usual.

Jon Torrance

Still lurking, Neven, but I've been in Trondheim, Norway since early in August and only doing the minimum to feed the Arctic obsession. Just back in North America now, having overflown both Iceland and the east coast of Greenland on the way back - got a good look at many glaciers since the weather was mostly clear.

"I notice the DMI index of 30% ice extent has plunged downwards." - Steven Goddard will be so overjoyed the different extent numbers are coming back into closer alignment :) Seriously, I wonder whether he'll now start hinting that DMI must be fudging their numbers,whether he'll simply forget their chart exists, or some door number 3 that isn't occurring to me at the moment.

Artful Dodger

Fredt34: NSIDC has included Antarctic updates for quite some time now, no doubt influenced by the discredited "fair / balanced" meme.

"Fair" would be to admit your mistakes, correct your views, and carry on. We won't be seeing that anytime soon in the denialsphere. An NSIDC scientist commented recently to Steve G* that his use of PIPS 2.0 Ice thickness maps is flawed, and the response was basically "I've been doing it this way for a long time, so it's okay to keep doing it wrong, as long as I'm consistent!" (don't ask me for a link, there is real work to do, and their strategy is to distract us from it).

"Balanced" would mean the IPCC would present at 50/50 probability on it's Climate change predictions, rather than a "95% certain to exceed this value" estimate. IMHO, the central weakness in modern Climate Science is systematically understating Risk in order to obtain high certainty.


You may be referring to this comment made by Lord Soth on Aug 2nd.

"Re: Phil263: South Pole Melt

The dynamics of the South Pole sea ice melt is totally different and mostly irrelevent..."

Artful Dodger

Phil263: You may ask, why is Antarctic Sea Ice "largely irrelevant"? Well, the simple reason comes down to brine...

First year sea ice is salty. It has not yet undergone the process of brine rejection that happens as Sea Ice ages. 1st year ice melts in much colder water than fresher, 2x yr ice. As a result, in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica almost all the Sea Ice melts every year, and never becomes multi-year ice. Also, the 1st year ice has natural growth limits as it expands into ever warmer Northern waters. Kinda boring...

What would be interesting in the Antarctic? Multi-year sea ice growing in extent around the entire continent, ceasing it seasonal loss, and freshening (if I ever see that, even I might advocate the burning of more FOSSILS!)

BTW, it is the seasonal nature of Antarctic Sea Ice that is allowing warm oceans to accelerate the retreat of large WAIS glaciers like PIG. In fact, recent GRACE results show that even Eastern Antarctica is in a net mass loss of its Ice Sheet. Now that's interesting!

For an excellent introductory essay on Sea Ice dynamics, read this article:



Thanks for the very informative comment and for the link. I was wondering why sea ice completely disappeared each year in the Southern Hemisphere. From your discussion,, I understand that the dynamics relating to land ice, particularly on the Antarctic peninsula are probably more of interest.

My apologies to you and Lord Soth for incorrectly attributing those previous comments about antarctica.

Artful Dodger

Antarctic concerns go far beyond the peninsula. The entire WAIS (the West Antarctic Ice Sheet) is showing signs of potential collapse. The potential for sea level rise is about 3-5 m.

Think of an ice sheet the size of Queensland (and a kilometer thick) setting sail. and displacing it's own weight in the world ocean...


Regardless of the Minimum Extent ( max melt ) levels "satellite measured" this year ( 2010 )
and the pro v. con discussions it intrigues me why I am so obsessed with following the Arctic Melt.

Someone said IF the observations of the "Calibrated Mark-1 Eyeballs" about the conditions of the Arctic Ice are at least within a 50/50 chance of being accurate all we have to do is watch for the seasonal bird flights in and out to note when or if the ice is recovering.

What day will the minimum extent occur on?
My "leaking boat" predictions for next years' melt (2011) if the day is earlier than SEPT 15 then melt decreases in 2011 and conversely if the day is after SEPT 20 then the melt will increase during 2011.

Anyone with a longer limb to go out on?

Kevin McKinney

I think that is a pretty long limb, all right. The long term average date makes sense to me as a metric--any given year's minimum date, not so much. There's too much quasi-random variability, IMO. (Cf. 2007, 2008 and 2009.)


Dear Phil263,

Last night I was using my Iphone to painfully enter this comment, so I probably didn't develop as needed.

You're right, it is one of NSIDC's (National Snow and Ice Data Center) tasks to measure and inform about Antarctic status - for instance they do this on the excellent "state of the cryosphere" page, http://nsidc.org/sotc/sea_ice.html.

I'm just upset that since march 2010, they publish Antarctica news on the Arctic page, "Read year-round scientific analysis and see daily image updates of Arctic sea ice". I've just re-read all the Arctic "special bulletins" since 2006, and this thing just appeared in March 13, July 6, and recent August 17; never in 2006 to 2009. It's also awesome to find the same sentence, "meanwhile in Antarctic" in these 3 bulletins, as if Arctic decrease and Antarctic state were linked or trying to reach some equilibrium - a link or goal which just doesn't exist.

I've started watching the NSIDC bulletins about Arctic ice in fall 2005, after their alarming news release on that year, coming just after Hurricane Katrina. So far they just released news when needed ; after NSIDC wrote in september 2005 in http://nsidc.org/news/press/20050928_trendscontinue.html : "For the fourth consecutive year, NSIDC and NASA scientists using satellite data have tracked a stunning reduction in arctic sea ice at the end of the northern summer. The persistence of near-record low extents leads the group to conclude that Arctic sea ice is likely on an accelerating, long-term decline.", they decided to group the news about Arctic in a special section - just because it suddenly appeared to be of highly special interest, moving much faster than forecast.

I don't doubt they'd create a special section about Antarctic evolution if triggered by special or alarming events, occuring regularly - but it's not the case so far, events are not frequent enough, and their consequences are currently lower. Anyway, it would be strange to read in such an Antarctica section "Meanwhile a glacier in the Himalaya has not receded".

(Phil, of course this explanation isn't against you ! - I'm just trying to explain my feeling in my poor English)
(and if a good soul can post a link about Comments & links syntax, I'd be grateful forever)


Jack Taylor: What day will the minimum extent occur on?


With this weather, the smart money is probably on an early finish. Personally, my non-smart money sees it differently. The turn of the season is marked by melt in some areas and freeze in others. I think the sh*tty condition of the ice means that the weak late-season melt will still be gouging holes in the extent numbers, while the freeze up is just papering over the cracks until after the 20th (your nominated date).

Going out on a limb - I'll plump for latest ever: after 24/9 (2007's record). The temps aren't as high, and the final number won't be close to 2007 but my WAG is that the season still has a long way to run.

BTW - if anyone wants to watch the demise of a couple of the four remaining Arctic iceshelves, have an optic at the north coast of Ellesmere Island. At the time of year that the high latitudes are supposed to be firming up, one of the few remaining solid areas of ice is falling apart. Ward Hunt - the biggest - has a big crack from 2008, and it looks to me like the eastern end is going to be toast in a few days.

Lord Soth

I was looking at those ice shelves also; but could not make a determination if the Ward Hunt ice shelf has developed a new crack; or is it just the snow that is melting off the shelf, to make things look worse. The next week or two will tell.

With the update from last night; the melt was just shy of 80K at 79,687 sq km.

L. Hamilton

By my count we now have day 229. Here's a graph putting the 229s all in context, based on IJIS. I'll update this as things progress.



I have also kept an eye on the northern coast of Ellesmere Island ever since the clouds cleared. Are those big chunks breaking off also part of some ice shelf? I don't think they are. It took me a while to find out the names of all the shelves over there (unfortunately forgot to bookmark the links).

Anyway, it could be me, but I just didn't find this ice breaking off particularly sexy. :-)
Still keeping an eye on it though. Lots of fantastic clear skies lately with that big high-pressure area, like this one from the NWP. If it weren't for all that ice being transported past the Queen Elizabeth Islands, the NWP would have perhaps been declared open already.

But the weather forecasts aren't looking good. After the weekend some big depressions are coming to mess up the ice transport through Fram yet again. The AO Index has already plummeted upwards in advance. Perhaps a few more days of relatively big decreases...


Is anybody watching the far northeastern corner of Greenland (near Kap Bridgman?), and the large ice chunks breaking off? I thought this area was mostly multi-year ice. It looks like several large cracks are starting to open up in that area.


Yazzur, I might do an animation of this later on. For now you can watch this short animation that compares today's image (day 229) to one from 2009 around the same date (day 235) and an image from last year when the melt season was more or less over (day 259).

Kevin McKinney

Neven, that's a nice image of Northern Greenland. It's still amazing to me how fragmented the ice is, deep into the pack, even though it's rather an old story by now.

On another topic, the Arctic Mariners report "more of the same"--a lot of cold & wet, with adverse winds--but add that they "haven't cracked the whiskey bottle yet."

Final topic: for those who may be interested, I've got a new Web article up. It's a review/summary of Gwynne Dyer's "Climate Wars," which IMO is a book well worth checking out. Perhaps you can get a sense of whether or not you agree from the article. Anyway, the article is here:



Kevin, I received a notification from HubPages. I'll read the other half tonight. Very interesting, as always.

Our Norwegian friends are very far into the ice belt blocking the Northern Sea Route and hope to find a way through. I find it very exciting.

Apparently Peter I, a Russian yacht, looking to also circumnavigate the Arctic in one season, took some damage to the ship and will have to pause in Tiksi for repairs.

Gas Glo

Our Norwegian friends are very far into the ice belt blocking the Northern Sea Route

By last position update at 21:00, they have got as far south as last planned point by coast and should be heading east ... if the gap is still there.

Kevin McKinney

I'm wishing them good luck, too. . .

Artful Dodger

I find it awe-inspiring to contemplate that no Human being has ever sailed the circumpolar route because the last time these waters were ice free, Homo Sapiens hadn't evolved yet. In fact, there may not even have been any proto-hominids yet! and certainly none with ship building skills.

I pray the spirit of Roald Amundsen is standing watch with our Norwegian friends, and hope that RadarSat-2 continues to watch over the sea ice!



Thank you for your response. I understand where you are coming from. I think You've got a point.


Excellent review of Gwynne Dyer's latest book. I enjoyed "War" and I am sure i will also enjoy this one.
One thought after reading through the seven scenarios. The " no economic growth" scenario is not explored. This is the only scenario that makes sense and will keep us out of trouble. The idea of a "steady state" economy is still a long way from the mainstream but we are progressing. There was even a full issue of The Economist in early 2009 which was devoted to this issue.

Kevin McKinney

Thanks, Fedl34!

I'll have to look up the article you mention. The problem with "steady state," I think, is that the problem of dealing with economic inequity is amplified enormously, as any improvement for "have-nots" really does then need to come out of the share of the "haves"--who of course tend to have the lion's share of political power anyway. Growth tends to "paper over" this sort of difficulty.

I've wondered if it's possible to transition toward more emphasis on "intangible goods"--as in the so-called "information economy," perhaps.

Daniel Bailey

Re: fredt34 @ August 18, 2010 @ 14:24

(and if a good soul can post a link about Comments & links syntax, I'd be grateful forever)

I used to wonder that very thing, so I know how you feel. With Neven's kind forebearance, I will attempt to help.

Here's a couple of html coding tips that other sites provide that I found useful:

Skeptical Science HTML Tips

Facebook HTML Cheatsheet

Additional tips:

  1. I use Windows Notepad (not Word, as it will insert all kinds of unwanted formatting) to compose comments.

  2. I then I paste them into a comment field on a blog that supports the Preview function.

  3. Then I clean it up & make it look pretty easier to read.

  4. Then I post it on the site I wish to comment on.

Works for me. Hope this helps!

The Yooper


JAXA reports SIE 5,792,031 (preliminary) down 37,188.
2010 is now:
28,437 above 2008
245,157 under 2009

The difference with 2008 is likely to increase over the next few days with a series a big melts including a century on the 25th. 2009 has a few reasonably high melts as well.



"Steady State" economy does not mean a "static" economy . "Steady State" refers to the volume of the tangible inputs, i.e natural resources which are transformed into human artefacts. In a "steday state" economy, knowledge would still increase and so would quality of living.

Ecological Economists such as Herman Daly and Robert Constanza agree that the present inequality between nations does not allow for a move into a ' no-growth" world, freezing the opportunities to develop for the poorest countries. We need a transition period where the richest countries will need to "de-grow" to allow the poorest to do some catching up. This is not likely to be a very popular idea. I know, but the alternative may be one of the seven scenarios described by Gwynne Dyer !



I couldn't reconcile your summary for 2008 vs 2010. My analysis shows 2010 still ahead of 2008 by a meager 49,000 km^2, while you report 2008 less than 2010 by 28,437.

Ah, leap year does make a difference. I compare on Day of Year, not calendar day. 8/18/10 was day 230 in 2010. Since 2008 was a leap year I compare 8/17/08 with 8/18/10; mystery solved.

DOY won't matter once we reach the minimum in mid-late Sept.



Yes I did compare SIE at the same date. Considering that SIE losses for the next 10 days in 2008 totalled 585,313, 2010 will have a hard time to keep up especially if as Neven expects the weather turns again.
BTW, considering the look of the Beaufort sea area on today's Uni Bremen map, I am wondering why the loss was so low?

Artful Dodger

There is a thousand kilometers of sea ice on the move towards the Fram Strait. The loose, mobile pack has responded over the last 4 days with a MASSIVE move toward the door. A 10 day animation of the Fram Strait, based on IJIS AMSR-E concentration maps shows the incredible power of the DA to advect sea ice. If winds continue in this pattern for any length of time, or return to these conditions before freeze-up in Oct or Nov begins to limit ice mobility, we're going to see some serious losses.

Neven, how can I send you my animation?


Lodger, that sounds great.


Northern Passage has escaped to open sea!

There is a high probabillity that they will be the first to go through northeast and northwest passage in a single season!


Kevin McKinney

Phil, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I'm afraid the idea of "de-growing" would/will really provoke serious blowback--indeed, isofar as similar concerns are expressed by denialists whom I encounter, it may be arguable that it already has!

Yet it does seem inescapable that there are "limits to growth." (With the distinction between "steady state" and "stasis" duly noted, of course.)


Does anybody know why CT's SIA numbers seem to have bottomed out ( only 80k drop over the last seven days), while JAXA and Arctic Roos are still showing nicely sloping curves?
Even CT area reports do not seem to confirm that the loss in SIA has stalled...


The " no economic growth" scenario is not explored. This is the only scenario that makes sense and will keep us out of trouble.

Oh Phil, you stole my heart with that one. Now I will have to upgrade to a paid TypePad version, just so I can download a plugin that enables me to put a big golden star next to your name. ;-)

You seem to be getting 'it', and I can't wait for all other AGW people to get it too. My favourite blogger Michael Tobis gets it too. Joe Romm not yet, but he's close.

The concept of unending economic growth, that has been with us for so many generations that most people think of it as an immutable law of physics, is at the core of all global problems, of which AGW is the big amplifier. There will be no sustainable solution as long as that economic concept isn't thrown into the recycling bin.

Coincidentally, just after reading Phil's comment I received a copy of the Steady Stater and the Daly News from CASSE (the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy).

I call upon all readers of good will to check out CASSE and subscribe, donate, sign their position, whatever you can do. These guys are busy with the real solutions to the core problem, not to the symptoms.

I'll be busy this coming year with building a house, but after that will offer my services to CASSE to spread the word in Europe.

r w Langford

"no economic growth makes sense" I agree with this and many of the suggested solutions to slow use of resources, however the ultimate solution is a very large reduction in human population. Every habitat has a "carrying capacity" against which populations bump their heads. Whether lemmings or rabbits all populations obey the natural law of diminishing availability of food or habitat destruction with population growth. Homo sapiens surpassed that point a long time ago. "Nature" always exacts a price for overpopulation. We can comply to this with use of our intellect or wait for nature to trim our population for us. This is why arctic ice is such a bellweather for the people that read this and similar blogs. I am constantly amazed how seldom this fact is discussed by people totally aware of climate change. It seldom appears in the general press or popular technical or scientific articles. The turning point will come when enough people understand this.


Posted by: Neven | August 18, 2010 at 17:44
Are those big chunks breaking off also part of some ice shelf? I don't think they are.

You're right, the aren't, that's just sea ice at this stage. There might be a chunk come away from Milne, but I think that's probably just sea ice that was previously pressed up against it.

Of course its clouded over now, but day 229 gave a nice view (link is to the 1 km pic, but its better to zoom in): http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/subsets/?mosaic=Arctic.2010229.terra.1km

This site has a simple but fairly good map with the location of the ice shelves labelled:
The only one that isn't labelled is Alfred Ernest, which I think is to the SE of Serson.

I also recommend Dr Luke Coplands Ellesmere Island Ice Shelves and Ice Islands (pdf on the web, can't remember where I found it now),


Frank, thanks for the great link(s)! That saves me a lot of time if I decide to have another look at this stuff and make an animation of it.


I have added the latest two images to the Lockerby Ice Island animation. Fascinating stuff. I wonder if and when it will round the corner and go off to explore the big wide world.

Artful Dodger

Phil263: Notice that our Norwegian navigators are DRINKING melt-water from sea ice collected in the Laptev Sea. How's that for Freshening/Brine Rejection? ;^)



Lodger, Yes I noticed that the other day while reading their blog and I looked this up on the web. BTW, they are clear off the ice by now. Next stop NWP. That will be interesting !

Artful Dodger

"Next stop NWP" s'truth, those Norse've been everywhere... i wonder if THAT's why my father has red hair... ;^)

Lord Soth

They will have many options for the NWP. Ice ussualy reaches a minimum in the NWP in mid september. Currently the best route has about 2/10 ice; which they should easily handle after what the Norwegians have been thru. By the time they get there; most routes should be clear, except maybe the entrance to McClure Strait on the West.

I suspect they will go up the right side of Banks Island, into Parry Strait, Pass Resolute and into Baffin Bay. The Queen Maud route is another possibility but the water is shallow and the Navigation is more difficult.

Gas Glo

PIOMAS has updated to 16th Aug. Further slight recovery to anomaly of ~ -9700 Km^3


Jaxa reports 5,756,406 ( down 39,688). The "big" melts have been very short lived!


It sure looks like it. I don't know if that big swing in the AO index has something to with it, but it is remarkable. I was expecting a few more relatively big melts (60K-100K), but with the current weather forecasts of cyclones dominating the Arctic, I guess the race is now with 2009 for 3rd place.

Upside: no record melt with all the potential incalculable consequences for Northern Hemisphere weather.

Downside: pseudo-skeptics have enough material to convince the jury that the Arctic is still recovering.



Thanks for your nice comments 19 August 19:45.

I am happy that you put the consequences of lower melt this year in perspective; On the one hand, the news will be bandied about to justify inaction on CC, but OTH a lower melt is better for the arctic and the planet. And this is what we really care about!


I don't know about that, Phil. Sometimes I feel something has to come crashing down hard so people really get that wake-up call. The longer it takes, the worse the consequences will be. One of the best things to happen for instance is a gentle contraction of the economy, or another small crash and recession to make people see that the end of the line has been reached.

Same with AGW. A few hurricanes, a record minimum extent, on top of what has already happened this year, and everyone might finally start discussing solutions for real. Then all that has to be done is convince everyone of the necessity of ditching the concept of unending exponential growth, and we'll have a sustainable steady state society in no time.

Simple, eh? ;-)

But if things keep progressing at this tempo, then the analogy of the frog in boiling water becomes terrifyingly apt. We'll have pseudo-skeptics saying in 10 years time: "So what if the NWP is open in the third week of June? Last year it was the second week of June. Ercho, the Arctic is recovering."


Neven, I agree with you. people must be scared into action by "little" scares before it is too late.... But will a "little " scare be scary enough?
I don't know if you have read " Collapse' by Jared Diamond. He describes how past societies have collapsed even though there was clear evidence of what was happening and what should be done . The case of the Norse settlement in Greenland is a good illustration.


But will a "little " scare be scary enough?

A series of little scares, especially if they occur in Europe and the US instead of Pakistan and Russia, should do the trick. I also think one of the main reasons the little scares don't work, is that there is no alternative. It's a very complex matter, and before you know it people are blaming the government, the bankers, the foreigners, the environmentalists.

Whereas to me it is clear: the great obstacle for any sustainable solution is the neoclassical concept of unending economic growth that has infiltrated our culture to the point that we cannot imagine ourselves being anything else than consumers that produce for the greater good of GDP (disguised as 'society').

So if 'we' could somehow get a bit of that steady state philosophy out there in the collective consciousness (for instance through CASSE) and continuously show that the enemy is Us, by the way we have constructed this hierarchical system of dependency of 98% of the players to make sure all wealth ultimately flows to 2% of the players, people might start to see that this is the root of all global problems. In other words: eliminate the neoclassical concept of unending economic growth (that is violating the laws of thermodynamics) and you take away the instrument or the weapon with which people and the planet are sucked dry.

Of course this is just the first step, but the only first step there is. In theory.

In practice we will probably see something along the lines of what Jared Diamond (I didn't read Collapse, but know what it's about), George Mobus, James Howard Kunstler, John Michael Greer, Dimitri Orlov and many others are predicting.

But maybe not. People are incredibly inventive and resourceful, at the very last moment. There are many black swans in the coal mine. :-)

So perhaps a few little scares, a renewed recession due to wheat prices causing some more subprime disasters to appear or Spain and Portugal (or better, the UK and the US) joining Greece, or crude oil barrels costing more than 120 USD, or hurricanes blowing oil slick all over Florida, or corals dying big time, or huge forest fires in California, or SE Australia's 4th record heat wave in 3 years...

Perhaps the next El Niño year.


Neven, now we are probably slipping off the ice but I agree with you wholeheartedly and I would like to pursue this conversation . Does CASSE have a blog? I get their newsletter but I do not really have the time to comment. It is the good thing that we are reaching the SI minumum in the few weeks time...
At the moment, I am also preoccupied with the Australian election which may deliver a disastrous outcome. Not that the lot we have at the moment is great, but with the alternative we are jumping from the frying pan into the fire as far as envirionmental policies are concerned. The only potentially good outcome is that a high vote for the Greens in the senate would give them the balance of power. What do other Australians think?



The Greens will get the balance of power in the Senate and Labor will just scrape over the line ... I hope. I have swung between pessimism and optimism for this campaign. Pessimism is dominating slightly, but only to the extent of me thinking that Labor will get 77 to 78. I would not want the polls to move any further, however.


What do your Greens say about the neoclassical concept of unending exponential economic growth? Not much, I bet.


Totally in agreement with you about the 77 to 78. Was confident that it would be the case until today, not so sure now

Neven, Bob Brown the Greens leader is definitely an advocate of the steady state economy ., although the Greens' policy website is pretty coy about this. I guess like other political parties they are playing the game of not scaring off the "soft" green votes ( i.e inner city professionals)!

Account Deleted

The problem is that we have been discussing solutions to most environmental problems for ages - what is lacking is the political and social will to implement the solutions.


Greens are very unlikely to get the balance of power immediately: the four senators from the territories take their seats immediately, but the rest don't until July 2011. So they'll almost certainly take one of the two territory seats they would need to gain the balance of power, but not both, so they would need to wait for 10 months before gaining control in their best case scenario.

In any case, they can't drive good policy, only stop bad. Julia's "citizens assembly" or Tony's "climate change is crap"? Whoever gets in, no one will do anything. Gillard has said there will be no change until 2013. Abbott has virtually said there will be no change. A huge green vote, and continued good polling over the next two years and we might see some action.

Frankly, it's just embarrassing....worst....campaign...ever...

OTOH, if the Greens win some LOWER house seats, that WILL make the spin doctors fill their pants. Not likely though. :-(

In other news - I'd suggest that claims of big melts being over are a bit premature. 2008 had the biggest August melt ever, including the latest century break ever. On 20th August that year though, the melt was 27,300. The last month is very sensitive to weather and will see some bigg'uns mixed in with the littl'uns.

Neven - I totally agree that people get used to the little scares, and while I don't wish bad on anyone, I do want something shocking to jerk people out of their complacency. Or as Sir John Houghton put it (the real quote, not the fake trope): "If we want a good environmental policy in the future we'll have to have a disaster...". Sadly, I believe he is right. I wish he wasn't.

It doesn't look like this will be the year for the shock factor. But as others have mentioned, we're loading the gun. I'll be watching 2011 even more closely than this year.


CT area dropped by 126,768 square km.


BTW todays melt took us past 2004 (5784688 - 11/9) and 2006 (5781719 - 14/9).

Next target is 2002's 5,646,875 on 9/9/02. That's another 110400 on the figure for 19/8. Probably pass that on the 22nd.

After that, 2005's 5,315,156 on 22/9/05 - another 441250, which should get passed in the first few days of September, I would guess.

Assuming that happens then we can lock in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 as the four worst years on record, whatever the final position for this year.


CT reports a big loss in SIA for the 18th (-126k). 2010 is now back under 2009 and closing in on 2008 as you can see on the updated graph here.

The loss appears to be mainly in the Beaufort and the Central Basin.



Sorry for the overlap with your post!


Phil, CT area, economic growth, we're very much on the same frequency here. :-)

And thank you and FrankD for a little insight in Aussie politics. My problem with the Greens, in Oz and everywhere, is that they will most likely disappoint like Obama by not taking the bull by the horns, but instead try to greenify the big monster of perpetual economic growth.

In the end what all politicians want, whether they be right or left (which nowadays is the same), is be buddies with the big corporations. Only a movement from the outside can cause a paradigm shift. Politicians are part of the problem, not of the solution. Blahblahblah, I'll shut up now...


FrankD @ 13:05
" - we can lock in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 as the four worst years on record, whatever the final position for this year. -"


Regardless of how 2010 ranks within a period of Five (5) Years,
unless its minimum extent is below 2008, and possibly 2007,
there will continue to be claims from deniers that the Arctic Ice
is recovering.

Anything with a higher minimum extent than 2007,
does that speak to Multi-Year-Ice (MYI) expanding?
Or, does it indicate a difference in compaction and/or dispersion?

Until a minimum extent is less than 2007,
it will be virtually impossible to silence the claims of recovery.

"the figures don't lie, but, liars figure" - ?anonymous?

My persuasion is the condition of the ice continues to deteriorate,
but it may require another Five (5) Years to change enough beliefs
of those that are neither "alarmist" nor "deniers" to be more than

Lord Soth


After the melt season is over; Multiyear ice is still loss during the cold months due to the multiyear ice being pushed thru the Fran strait into warmer waters via the transpolar drift. New ice is formed to replace the multiyear ice being pushed out.

After 2007, there was very little multiyear ice left in the spring of 2008. One of the reasons for high August 2008 melt rate, was that 2008 was dealing with mostly thinner first year ice.

Since then, there has been a small increase in multiyear ice. 2010 is doing quite well in melting thru this multiyear ice, and has kept in the running with 2008 for August.

If we get good export of ice this winter, we will be in the same situation as 2008, with very low multiyear ice. You may hear talk in 2011 of the North Pole melting out, like we heard in 2008.

Steve Bloom

"Upside: no record melt with all the potential incalculable consequences for Northern Hemisphere weather."

While the first near-ice free minimum will be of great symbolic importance to those who are paying attention, by itself I don't think it has much climatological meaning. The ice-free period will be brief, and they way these things go it will be some years before it lengthens enough to become persistent. And by then it will seem ordinary!

If anything is going to grab people's attention, it's the big heat, precipitation and drought events, or perhaps more to the point a large-scale outbreak of human suffering as a consequence of a particularly nasty combination of such events, although black swans such as a sudden spike in Arctic methane release are also possible.

IMHO our hope has to be that some riveting event will occur before the combination of competition for resources and the cost of repairing the damage from extreme weather events gets to the point where people decide to just batten down the hatches, screw the hindmost and keep burning fossil fuels because of the short-term benefits.

Steve Bloom

LS, perhaps I'm missing something obvious, but how is it we can have more multi-year ice since 2008 at the same time as reduced overall volume?


Lord Soth @ 17:12
"After the melt season is over; Multiyear ice is still loss during the cold months due to the multiyear ice being pushed thru the Fran strait into warmer waters via the transpolar drift. New ice is formed to replace the multiyear ice being pushed out. - - -
- - - If we get good export of ice this winter, we will be in the same situation as 2008, with very low multiyear ice. You may hear talk in 2011 of the North Pole melting out, like we heard in 2008."

Yes, I believe the Transpolar Drift is real and export through the Fram Strait will continue, see http://www.polk-nc.com/arctic-Fram-Olga2010-composit.gif
on my simple web page, http://www.polk-nc.com/arctic-tenXten.html#pack

My persuasion is the condition of the ice continues to deteriorate,
( perhaps I should say disintegrates ).

Regardless of where 2010 ends ( ranks ) at, until the numbers beat 2007
the "Skeptics - DENIERS" will continue to claim the ice is recovering and they have a very loud voice and growing.

Minus a huge volcano we will have to be patient for 2011 to come and go.

Steve Bloom

Speaking of screwing the hindmost...


Lord Soth

I believe they measure multiyear ice to second year ice to first year ice by area; so yes we should have less multiyear ice by volume than anytime in the past. Somebody correct me if im wrong.

Artful Dodger

Steve: sea ice age is a measure of salinity, not of volume. It is important because fresher ice is more resistant to melting. Even so, Summer 2010 has seen dramatic melt of multi-year ice in the Beaufort sea.

Jon Torrance

Trying for a maximally simple answer to Steve Bloom, multiyear ice is by definition old but not necessarily thick, i.e. as melt makes a particular floe of multiyear ice thinner and thinner, I think it continues to qualify as multiyear ice right up until the moment it becomes sea water.


SIE only 16k down on Jaxa today.... Am I wrong or are we already reaching the minimum? In the meantime, the graph at Uni Bremen is still showing a relatively steep decline! Both are getting the amsr-e images right?

Patrice Pustavrh

Lodger, have you meant: It is important because fresher ice is LESS (instead of more) resistant to melting ?

Artful Dodger

Patrice: fresher ice is FAR more resistant to melting. That's why all the new ice in the Bering and Chukchi Sea melted out so fast this May/June. First year (brine) ice melts at in water temps above -1.8 C, while multi-year (fresh) ice melts above 0 C, and other feedbacks tend to preserve the ice (ie: fresh melt water floats on the surface of salt water, and tends to refreeze to the bottom of a floe).

Read more about ice dynamics here: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/essay_wadhams.html

Lord Soth


The melt season is not over; areas of the Canadian Arctic continues to melt until mid september. In contrast, August 2008 which was a remarkable melt month had 1 melt day in the teens and 1 in the twenties in the last 10 days of August.

As we get into the late days of summer; cloud cover and storms will do more to melt and breakup the ice; than clear days, as cloud cover will retain the heat, like a blanket.

Patrice Pustavrh

Sorry, I understood fresh ice as new ice and not as ice containing less salt (sorry, I am not native English speaker)...


Lord Soth,

Are you saying that the current High Pressure over the Arctic is inhibiting the melt?


Lord Soth


I don't think the clear skys are inhibiting the melt just yet, put it is having less of an influence. I imagine sombody has done the calculation to find when the heat gain during the day; balances the heat lost at night under clear arctic skies, but I don't have the number. Also, below freezing tempertures will heat the sea water under clear skies also, just like a black interior of a car during winter; so its gets rather complicated.

However we are soon reaching the point, where weather patterns that determine the expansion or compression of the sea ice pack, will be the orveriding factor, in determining the final extent.

The relativitly warm arctic shelf waters can melt any ice that gets pushed into it, and after a certain date, cloud cover will keep the seas warmer longer after reach the point of net solar heat loss under clear skies (taking in account albedo effects of sea water).

But we need the right weather to push the ice into the warmer water.

It all comes down to thermodynamics and weather.


Lord Soth,

Thanks for that explanation of the dynamics of Arctic ice melt.


@FrankD August 20 13.05

After another minuscule SIE drop today (- 29k), it is unlikely that we will reach the 2002 bottom (5,646,875) tomorrow, may be on the 23rd. The 2005 and 2009 records appear possible in theory. However, if the current pattern of SIE declines over the past 4 days ( daily average of 29,670) continues, we would reach 5,400,000 at the beginning of September assuming it the decline does not reduce further. From there, It will take another melt of 85 k to beat 2005 and 151 k to beat 2009 !

Greg Wellman

I think the melt will pick up again, with a bottom just under 2009. 2008 is almost certainly out of reach. More importantly, I think CryoSat will confirm PIOMAS - that we are in a new regime of low volume where small changes in weather can have a big impact on measured extent, particularly at the end of the melt season, and thus there's a good chance of a shocking melt-out sometime in the next 5 years.

More importantly, sea ice is only the overture - Greenland is the main event. The mass balance numbers for this summer should be interesting - it's been relatively warm for months, the western slopes are rather grey, and unless I'm misreading MODIS, the Humboldt has been discharging an enormous quantity of ice in berg form.


The low SIE reductions of the past few days are noteworthy and it may well be that we are seeing the end of the melt, however that might not be the whole story. For one thing, there's a lot of marginal ice around, with large areas hovering around the 15% cut-off level and only a little bit of additional melt in these areas (or wind-driven clearing, for that matter), could change matters significantly. Then there are the interesting states of affairs of the coast of Greenland, where large chunks of land-fast ice just keep dropping off and melting in the Greenland Sea, reducing the formerly ice-free area there. There is also a large blob of multi-year ice entering Fram Strait from Northern Greenland and occupying formerly clear ocean of the polynia there. Lastly, there is the interesting large triangle of thinnish (but probably >15% concentration) ice floe just to the right of that, also entering Fram Strait. So, IMHO, whilst it might be "all over,rover", there could equally be a few surprises to be had yet.


I think that the reduction in extent is far from over, and that JAXA will pick up pace again. As said before there's a lot of ice on the border of 15% concentration, where a small change in the situation on the ground has a big impact on the numbers.

There is also the possibility that even what looks like close to 100% concentration solid packice on the passive microwave images like Uni Bremen, about a full degree into the pack at 78N 152W, on Healys webcam looks like very small floes in advanced stages of decay.

The weatherforecasts are also showing a continuation of the the present weather the following days which should give more compaction and outflow.


We will probably get a lot more to know about the quality of the ice, including the "thick multiyear ice", during the rest of Healey and St. louis' trip in the ice - the planned route can be seen at http://continentalshelf.gov/missions/10arctic/welcome.html - Until now they have followed the plan quite closely


Greg says: "sea ice is only the overture - Greenland is the main event. The mass balance numbers for this summer should be interesting - ... the Humboldt has been discharging an enormous quantity of ice in berg form."

Nicely observed, Greg! I mentioned in my blog that Humboldt is likely to show record calving this year when figures are published.

Consider this: the mass of the ice is a direct measure of its ability to act as a thermal capacitor. For centuries the ice has chilled to well below zero C in the winter and has thus absorbed vast quantities of heat in summer without melting. We are now in a climate phase where the thermal input of summer melts the ice.

The ice once insulated the sea while acting as a thermal capacitor. The Arctic ocean is losing its thermal shield and is becoming the major Arctic thermal capacitor.

In my opinion this is a greater positive feedback than the albedo amplification effect.


Daniel Bailey

Tamino over at Open Mind has a nice post looking at a new paper by Ian Eisenman (2010, Geographic muting of changes in the Arctic sea ice cover, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L16501, doi:10.1029/2010GL043741), which shows that seasonal differences may be due to geography.

The source paper is available here.

Enjoying the insights you guys share, thanks!

The Yooper


Maybe the melt is gettin to North Pole webcam #2? In the latest image, although it's still not totally clear, something is going on, it looks like more leads are opening up and the camera is starting to tilt. Compare the location of the windgauge to the horizon in the latest set of images to previous ones. http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/latest/noaa2.jpg

r w Langford

Speaking of the main event, I suspect that the main event will be melting of calthrates because of warmer ocean water and from methane and CO2 release from melting permafrost. Antarctic and Greenland raise water levels but do not affect global temperatures except from their cooling capacity. Melting of the Arctic icecap is not catastrophic unless you are a polar bear. Calthrates and methane may be catastrophic to all of us.

Artful Dodger

Did anyone notice the Beaufort Sea's incursion into the Central Basin yesterday? Here is the Aug 21 SST map:

The Healy and Louis St. Laurent are nearby, just to the East. Healy is posting hourly water temps between -1.0 and -1.3 in the purple area N of 76°24':

Gas Glo

>"The ice once insulated the sea while acting as a thermal capacitor. The Arctic ocean is losing its thermal shield and is becoming the major Arctic thermal capacitor.

In my opinion this is a greater positive feedback than the albedo amplification effect."

I know nothing so don't take too seriously - but is this contradictory?

The ice acts an an insulator preventing ocean giving up too much heat in winter. With less ice more heat can escape reducing the rate at which the planet gains heat. This is a negative feedback to reduce effect of albedo positive feedback effect.

So which is it, positive or negative?

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