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Artful Dodger

Fred: NASA's ICESAT-2 is scheduled for a 2015 launch. ESA has also committed to another CryoSat mission to provide a 20-year continuous record of ice thickness.

Artful Dodger

Fred: NASA plans to launch ICESAT-2 in 2015. Additionally, ESA has committed to a second CryoSat mission to extent the continuous volume record to 20 years.


NSIDC has current sea ice at the third lowest level for October? I guess they mean that third lowest is averaged over the entire month because it looks like it is lower than the other years for the last few days.. maybe tied with 2007.

Kevin McKinney

Thanks for noting the update at NSIDC--it's here, for others who want to take a gander:


Yes, the October value is a mean for the entire month. And yes, the current extent value is challenging 2007 for the lowest extent for this time of year--IJIS for 11/2/2010 has 2007 about 86k km2 lower, which is not much in the scheme of things.

And thanks to Lodger for the additional information on future ice thickness missions, too!


For the interested, the latest issue of The Climate Show includes an interview with Kiwi yachtsman Graeme Kendall, who sailed through the NW Passage a couple of months ago, solo and in only 12 days (from Nuuk to Alaska). Worth a listen/view, even if I say so myself... ;-)

Kevin McKinney

An update on the freeze: the IJIS SIE value for 11/3/2010 has nosed under the 2007 value. Of course that's the prelim.


Lodger : please forgive me, but where did you read about this 20-year commitment ? I've not read this anywhere... I've just found this interview, http://www.sciencepoles.org/articles/article_detail/mark_drinkwater_on_cryosat-2_and_its_mission/ : it just says "The nominal lifetime of the mission is three and a half years, but present indications based on onboard fuel resources are that we may be able to operate up to five years or more " (and the commissionning period probably must be substracted). He also says "It will give us a more complete picture of how the sea ice extent changes we’ve seen in passive microwave time series data over the last 20 years are related to net ice volume change"... but this seems to relate to NASA's Icesat, not Cryosat.

I'd love to see this commitment !

(please don't feel offended by this question !)


For those who were following the Petermann ice islands there's an update here:


Artful Dodger

Hi Fred: A follow-on mission to CryoSat is part of ESA's "Opportunity Mission" concept, which includes overlapping the 2 NASA ICESAT missions with 2 ESA missions, thus providing 20 years continuous observations.

Read the ESA CryoSat Science Report (9 MB PDF file) for the "Big Picture".

Additionally, you could call ESA HQ France for more information: +33 1 5369 7654

Thanks again for pointing us to mercator-ocean.fr for weekly salinity (Salinité) maps. Je vous remercie. Très salée!


Check out the CH4 readings on Ny-Alesund on Svalsbard.

That will wake you up in the morning.


Hi, A question of ignorance: Methane is going up everywhere, why the particular concern over Svalsbard? Are you concerned with the outlier point?


Posted by: Gareth | November 03, 2010 at 22:39
"the latest issue of The Climate Show includes an interview with Kiwi yachtsman Graeme Kendall, who sailed through the NW Passage a couple of months ago,"

The latest pix show its *still* jolly boating weather (if not exactly a hay harvest breeze) in Coronation Gulf and Victoria Strait....

The area where Franklin's ships got terminally stuck in the ice is still all blue water, in November (!)

Early prediction - NWP will open early again in 2011 and the North-South channels through the Archipelago will again be major avenues for ice export from the Arctic Basin.


The Canadian Ice Service charts for that area are also interesting:




Question about Geographical Locations (area/extent) for satellite measuring by the Sea Ice Monitoring Agencies.

Is it ALL of the Northern Hemisphere for Arctic Ice or ONLY for Latitudes above the Arctic Circle ( approx 66N ) ???

Doing a "blink comparison animation" for the Max Extent, especially the Anomaly of 2010 March 08 to 31 when the extent increased, after decreasing before MAR-08.

The Sea of Okhotsk, where winter ice is between the Kamchatka Peninsula - Kuril Islands and Sakhalin Island - Asia Coast, does it or not have an influence on temperature of water in the Bering Sea - Bering Strait to the Chukchi Sea ???
etc. - etc.

Artful Dodger

Yes Jack, you're on to something with this observation. The Central Arctic Basin and contiguous seas have a total surface area of about only 9 M km^2. There is about another 7 M or so in detached areas, roughly shown in the CT Area overview map:

Of course, only changes to the perennial ice pack in the Central Basin are relevant for diagnosing Climate change. Seasonal sea ice always grows out from existing perennial sea ice (or from land fast ice). Once the pack ice is gone, the Arctic ocean will transition rapidly to a new equilibrium.

Lenton et al. (2007) discuss Policy-relevant potential future tipping elements in the climate system. The authors rate loss of the perennial sea ice pack as the number one risk, as ranked by immediacy of risk, and certainty of the outcome. Read the paper here: Tipping elements in the Earth’s climate system


"The Central Arctic Basin and contiguous seas have a total surface area of about only 9 M km^2" - AD @0536

Thanks, Lodger.

I don't know if I'm on to something or not, maybe shooting for an over simplification way to do an amateurish comparison.

But in March 2010 when SIE, IJIS, went from 14,375,000 (8th) to 14,407,344 (31st) an increase of 32344 in 23 days is not a significant amount, but the "Lack of Decrease" for 23 days at that average time in the season is noteworthy, if considering average MAX SIE dates with decrease only following
03,11,2006 = 13,782,344
03,10,2007 = 13,945,625
03,09,2008 = 14,516,875
03,05,2009 = 14,412,813
03,08,2010 = 14,375,000
03,31,2010 = 14,407,344 = + 32344

Now, if the Central Arctic Basin covers less than 10^6km^2 then when ALL the ice is virtually land fast in the central basin and an increase occurs - where is it at??

Has got be on the fringes, but since it is such a small increase was the ice thinning (melting) in some areas but not decreasing in extent = some growth (re-freezing) or spreading??

Will have my "blink comparison animation" done soon and then more questions, OK.

Artful Dodger

Jack: The late season growth was largely in the Beaufort Sea. Notice the bifurcated peak sea ice area. The late growth and early melt out is expected for 1st year sea ice, which is salty. Only fresher, multi-year sea ice has a chance of surviving the Summer melt. As we saw (and NSIDC reported), all of the multi-year sea ice in the Beaufort sea and half of it in the East Siberian sea melted out this year.

At this point you may notice that you can not extract these critical values from a time series of Arctic wide Sea Ice Extent values. The critical data is not there.


Lodger: I guess you mean the Bering Sea. The Beaufort sea would be completely frozen over in March!

Kevin McKinney

For those interested, I've just published an "enhanced review" as I--er, I mean, "my marketing department"--likes to call them, of Dr. Andrew Weaver's "Keeping Our Cool." He's a repeat IPCC lead author, and one of just a couple of climate scientists to take the step of fighting back against denialist libel in the legal system.



Kevin: Excellent review of AndrewWeaver's book.
Question: with the new "Tea Party" / Republican majority in the House, are we finally going to see some meaningful climate initiatives by the US government?
Answer: Are you kidding? We just spent another $600bn to stimulate the economy (i.e to keep the Dow Jones on life support) and we do not want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. We can't afford any environmental policy !


"The late season growth was largely in the Beaufort Sea" Lodger @ 20:24

Have to go along with Phil263 @ 00:06 and presume you meant Bering Sea. Basically have excluded the Beaufrot Sea because all ice the there, as regards to extent, appears to be land fast in March of each year, thickness - concentration another aspect not included in my "comparison under construction." ... Searching Western Arctic below 70N, into Bering Sea - basically south of St Lawerence Island, and Eastern Arctic around 80N and below there are some "visual" good growth around Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya to account for the extent increase of 32,344km^2 during the 23 day period. Soon.
More Later.

Kevin McKinney

Phil, thanks very much. (I just hope the "sarcasm switch" got flipped just after that, and just before your question about the House!)

Thanks also to all who took a few minutes to give it a look--of whom there were not a few from this site. Much appreciated!


Kevin: My comment about your review was definitely , not included in the sarcasm.
I have just finished reading Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer which you reviewed back in August. Great book overall, although I tend to disagree with him about geo-engineering being a possibility of last resource. IMO dabbling with the Earth's climate would be even more dangerous than resorting to nuclear to decarbonise our economy.This is what Gavin Schmidt wrote on Real Climate in 2006 about the recent article on geo-engineering published by Paul Crutzen:
"Crutzen’s paper may well address these issues comprehensively (and I look forward to seeing it) but, in my opinion, the proposals are unlikely to gain much traction. Maybe an analogy is useful to see why. Think of the climate as a small boat on a rather choppy ocean. Under normal circumstances the boat will rock to and fro, and there is a finite risk that the boat could be overturned by a rogue wave. But now one of the passengers has decided to stand up and is deliberately rocking the boat ever more violently. Someone suggests that this is likely to increase the chances of the boat capsizing. Another passenger then proposes that with his knowledge of chaotic dynamics he can counterbalance the first passenger and indeed, counter the natural rocking caused by the waves. But to do so he needs a huge array of sensors and enormous computational reasources to be ready to react efficiently but still wouldn’t be able to guarantee absolute stability, and indeed, since the system is untested it might make things worse.

So is the answer to a known and increasing human influence on climate an ever more elaborate system to control the climate? Or should the person rocking the boat just sit down? "

Kevin McKinney

Just kidding, Phil.

Nice analogy from Gavin. But I'm not sure about the timescales--geoengineering as a last resort presumably would be something deployed as the boat was metaphorically in mid-roll, just past the point of dynamic stability. And I'm beginning to think that may be how it plays out; there's always some idiot standing up, waving his arms and raving about the recovery of the sea-ice, as I'm sure you've noticed.

Of course, Dwyer does point out the risks in his book--in the "geoengineering" scenario, Tambora re-erupts in the midst of a sulphate aerosol injection campaign and there's a "volcanic winter" that ends up starving a bunch of people.

You're right, it would be better to just *stop* with the emissions. But so far, we haven't had much luck with persuading people to do that, have we?


I think the timescale of geoengineering is relevant not only as to when would a solution be implemented but also for the timescale of a solution itself compared to the problem. I mean, if you think of the cycles of nature: winter/summer, ocean circulation, volcanoes, etc., if the solution can be implemented and withdrawn in a much shorter time scale than the cycles, the risk of spiraling out of control is significantly lessened.

For example, if there were the equivalent of venetian blinds in space that could be opened/shut on a daily basis, it would be possible to give the arctic a cold day or two in midsummer and only dampen heating cycles. Tweaking combined with removing the source of the problem seems a safer alternative to adding a new element to act as solution.


Kevin McKinney

You have a point, John. In the Dyer scenario I mentioned, the problem was in part that the sulphate injections couldn't be "turned off" when massively augmented by natural emissions. The element of "commitment" is present, though, in most proposed measures of geo-engineering, isn't it?

Of course, even with such a flexible measure as you suggest still is potentially problematic in terns of political control--that is, if there's an existing capacity to control insolation, at least in certain places and times, then someone has to be in charge of deploying it. But everybody affected has to agree on the "somebody," which means they must trust them. That poses the further issue as to whether all players would have the same (or at least compatible) interests in the measures undertaken.

I think, to plagiarize, that he who geo-engineers best, geo-engineers least--"least" being defined with "in order to avoid disaster" being included in there somewhere. If it could be scaled sufficiently, I like CO2 air capture if it comes to that--it wouldn't even really be geo-engineering in the same sense; more like "assisted mitigation."


Arctic Ice "Anomaly" in March 2010 when melt had started then re-freeze, as discussed with Artful Dodger previous posts.

It is a work in progress until the ice is in melt state February - March - April of 2011.?.

Notice around Sakhalin Island Sea of Okhotsk and Bering Sea in the Western.

Also, was ice extent growing in the Davis Strait during the time in Eastern.

Since melt occurred so fast during April - May - June, what's the big deal about the Anomaly ??

Jon Torrance

Since many of us no doubt aren't looking for sea ice news quite so obsessively now - NASA Study Shows Role of Melt in Arctic Sea Ice Loss - http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-379

That aside, I would have expected the Search Sea Ice Outlook summation of the melt season and predictions of same to be out by now but I suppose I can be patient a while longer.

Gas Glo

Update to PIOMAS ice volume graph to 7 Nov 2010:

http://psc.apl.washington.edu/ArcticSeaiceVolume/images/BPIOMASIceVolumeAnomalyCurrent.png>graph href>

anomaly now about -8.4k km^3.

Should we trust that spike down to -11.2k km^3 ?

Is it surprising that since extent minimum we haven't had an area anomaly minimum lower than at that time?

(http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.recent.arctic.png shows area anomaly minimum was in June this year instead of October for last 3 years.)


Gas Glo: It looks like the anomaly recorded earlier this year ( -11.2k km^3) was a fluke: error in measurement? The current anomaly looks more consistent with the overall (downward) trend.
May be I am wrong but i believe we have to wait and see the data analysis from CryoSat2 to evaluate the PIOMAS model.


Gas Glo & Phil,
If you look carefully at the PIOMAS graph you will note that every year since 2005, between June and September the -ve anomaly increases, before partially recovering later in the year. The only exceptions are 2006, for which there was little late-year recovery and 2009, where the summer dip was shallow.

The fluctuations in the anomaly, as with the CT Area, indicate a continuing degradation in the health of the ice. I don't think its a fluke or an error - I think you will continue to see it saw-tooth its way down to -13.5. At that point, you will start to see the "double-dip" that has become characteristic of the CT Area Anomalies for individual seas, and for the same reason. The anomaly can't go lower than -13.5 in September; that equals zero ice volume.

As to the very early maximum -ve anomaly, the answer is simple, in my opinion. In 2007, while the melt was large, the central core of multi year ice held together. This year it was in such poor state that it started spreading. Compare the CT area maps for 15 September for the 2 years:

In 2007, the coverage is pretty much 90+% or nothing. In 2010, by contrast, there's quite a large area of red (60%) between the Laptev Sea and the pole and north of Svalbard, and a large area of yellow-green (30-40%) in the East Siberian Sea. The only reason this did not either get compacted or exported between July and September was the unusual weather. Had 2007 conditions prevailed, the CT anomaly would have fallen further in those months - perhaps not quite to 2007 levels, but not far off.

Now, perhaps the weather we had this year is the new "usual", and 2007-type conditions will not be seen again. Is that good? Well, no. A spread out pack like we saw this year has more surface area, and will melt more quickly. Even if it is no longer exported it will simply melt where it is. So that July 2010 "recovery" in the CT anomaly simply masks a new kind of disaster - the fragmentation of a lot of old pack, which can only accelerate the eventual demise of the permanent pack.

The uptick doesn't mean we got more butter. It's just been scraped more thinly over the toast...



SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook posted today.


The post season report from SEARCH can be found here .


For those among you who would like more information on the "big picture" about anthropogenic activities and the environment, I suggest the CASSE ( Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy) website . This site was mentioned by Neven a couple of months ago.


You folks in Europe, ICE LOSS in the Barents and Kara Sea(s) are predicted (modeled) to cause your winters to be colder.

Global Warming Could Cool Down Northern Temperatures in Winter.

Andrew Xnn

Looks like Arctic Sea ice extent has finally "caught up" with 2007.

However, over this late November / early December time period, 2006 emerged
as the a least sea ice extent. Difficult to say why that was, because it had not
been an exceptional year up to that time.


re. Dorlomin’s "Check out the CH4 readings on Ny-Alesund on Svalsbard.

I know a number of you are hibernating = well earned, or posting/reading elsewhere but it is spring here downunder!

I am wondering about these (I understand yet to be verified) readings which seem to be heading skyward at a disturbing rate?! I had a look at other monitoring sites at a similar latitude but cant see any others showing such a steep rise?

I wondered if this is being discussed anywhere - I'd be grateful for a link, sorry just in English, or Dutch for my husband to translate - or whether any of you can help with some explanations?hypotheses of what this is demonstrating please?

And an Arctic related song for you all:
Zoe Mulford's "Open Waters"




Clare: Excellent arcticle from the newsvine. The Zoe Mulford video is cool too!
Quite cool beginning of summer here in SEQ thanks to La Nina. Won't say that I am complaining. let's enjoy the cool breezes while we can!


Cool breezes? It's 35 here today.

Thinking about ice is a nice distraction.


Adelady: La Nina doesn't seem to affect (Adelaide???) as much as the Eastern seaboard. You've got the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) to contend with instead. But apparently it is already decaying!


Well, rats.

We had a good wet winter (attributed to La Nina) so I happily trotted along expecting some nice moderate spring-summer weather. The world gets less and less the way I want it apparently. At least we're off water restrictions for the time being.

Daniel Bailey


Re: Svalbard CO2 and CH4 funkiness

The visualization on this site is a bit better, I feel.

The Yooper

Gas Glo


I did try to see if I could get any reaction from climate scientists at


I threw in a couple of possibilities with clearly differing levels of implications. Not at all sure about the other suggestions made - but I am certainly no expert.


seems to indicate it is on the way back down.

Gas Glo

>"Clare: Excellent arcticle from the newsvine."

I am not so sure:

"If permafrost were to thaw suddenly, in a flash, it would put a tremendous amount of carbon in the atmosphere. We would feel temperatures warming across the globe. And that would be a big deal," she said. But it may not happen so quickly. "Depending on how slow permafrost thaws, its effect on temperature across the globe will be different," she said."

Err - how about 'It definitely will not happen so quickly' being more appropriate. And is there anything new really - I think I prefer this article from 2006:


Perhaps? more relevant to Svalbard might be the 2008 stuff on methane from Ice shelves eg:


Kevin McKinney

Meanwhile, the freezeup is proceeding relatively slowly, according to IJIS. We're lower than any other year at this time, with the exception of 2006--which, as noted above by Andrew, was rather anomalous for late November-early December.


ESA's ice mission goes live

Launched in April, the mission has recently completed commissioning – an important phase that ensures the satellite, instruments, data retrieval and data processing procedures are in optimal working order.

Now that this period is over, the mission has entered its exploitation phase and will start delivering vital data on ice thickness to the scientific community.

Sorry for not doing a bit more here, like commenting etc (I'm very good at hibernating ;-) ). I'll be very busy till the end of the year with work load climaxing, but things will be picking up slowly in the new year.

Lord Soth

At least 1M of the PIOMASS spike can be accounted for the early melt of Hudson Bay, which occured one month early than normal. Another note, is that it is almost December and Hudson Bay is a month behind in freezing over, and the Fox Basin further North is just begiining to freeze over with tempertures 14 degrees above normal.

I wouldn't want to be a polar bear, who basically fasts for the four months they are off the ice in the Hudson Basin. This year they will be fasting for six months, and im afraid that many are not going to make it.

I think its time for Open Thread #2, as scrolling thru over 200 messages is not fun. Neven its time to wake from hibernation for a bit !


Lord Soth, you are absolutely right. Here's Open Thread 2.

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