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Wayne Kernochan

Hi Greg/GG,

Thanks very much for a very informative summary of antarctic ice trends. I don't think that Hansen/Storms of My Grandchildren and Ward/The Flooded Earth diverge from what you say, although I am no expert.

A couple of clarifications, if it helps: (a) I had been assigning the sea ice at "3 o'clock" on the NSIDC charts to east antarctica, not west antarctica. Since late October, pockets of open shoreline have appeared along that coast, well before the median of 1979-2000 showed open shore; surprisingly, the ice out to sea has not melted completely in many cases over the last couple of months, but even at the time of today's close-to-minimum extent, the shoreline in that area is still much freer of sea ice than was typical of 1979-2000. (b) I had not been assuming that the land ice was being blocked so much by sea ice attached to either side of a fjord, as I understand happens somewhat in Greenland, but rather by sea ice attached to the ocean bottom, as I understand happens in antarctica [and therefore, I assume, especially in the WA bay]. The longer open-water seasons would therefore, I would assume, increase the amount of shore along which the sea ice attached to the bottom melts, effectively removing some of the blockage of glaciers "upstream", and allowing undercutting of those glaciers to begin.

With regard to antarctic land ice "collapsing" and sliding into the sea in bulk rather than settling: what you say sounds right to me, but I understand that data on previous melt eras have indicated that at least in some cases WA land ice does indeed collapse rather than settling.

And an update as of Saturday: it appears that although the WA "sea ice island" is only melting slowly, the shore ice east and west of the WA bay is losing concentration pretty rapidly, as I expected.

Wayne Kernochan

Hi Neven,

Just in case you hadn't been considering it: it is possible that despite the more rapid increase in arctic sea ice area upcoming, the unusually rapid decrease in antarctic extent (cf the discussions above) will be reflected in an unusually rapid decrease in antarctic area over the next 1 - 1 1/2 months, and therefore in an overall decrease in sea ice area over the same period. - w

Artful Dodger

cbc.ca reports Polar bears likely to have tough year

Kimmirut resident Saqiqtaq Temela said there's hardly been any hunting on sea ice so far, with two people on snowmobiles heading out for the first time on Friday. "It's starting to form," he said. "However it's still delicate, I believe, and thin."

Kimmirut is a town of 400 in South Baffin Island, about 10 km from Hudson Strait. The town has a webcam which is updated every 15 min.

Artful Dodger

Meanwhile, MODIS is giving the first results of the new year with today's images of the ongoing melt in Ungava Bay and Hudson Strait.


Hi Neven.


The anomaly isnt pushing any limits at the moment, but only 2006 seems to have lower global sea ice area than 2011. Very little in it after todays update though.

Antarctic sea ice area has dropped by about one million sq. km from this date to the minimum in the two previous years.

If the arctic sea ice doesnt increase by that much then we will have a new global minimum.

I dont attempt to predict that sort of thing, but I will be looking again tomorrow.


Derek, I apologize. I was looking at the anomaly, not the total numbers! You are absolutely right, the total global sea ice area looks very low and might conceivably go even lower. That's why reporting on sea ice is so slow on the other side of the mirror! ;-)

I'll put an image of the graph under the lion.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention and sorry for being so slow (I'm hibernating, ahem).


I know the numbers for Arctic sea ice area are here, but where can I find numbers for the Antarctic sea ice area?

Gas Glo

Sorry cannot help with daily numbers but monthly averages for area and extent are available at


Thanks, Gas Glo, should have been more specific. It would be interesting if we had Cryosphere Today Antarctic sea ice area numbers, so we could ascertain if and when global sea ice area hits a new record low. The Arctic sea ice area numbers are there.


While Hudson Bay has been playing catchup, the Barents and Greenland Seas haven't been faring too well. A pulse of warm water (anomaly is only 1-2 degrees, but a large volume it seems) entered the Barents Sea and has melted 200,000 sq kms (CT area) in the last few days.

(set parameter to anomaly, and review over the last week or so).

It's left the ice concentration between the north of Svalbard to Novaya Zemlya looking pretty iffy (into the low 80%'s) as well. There is now a body of warm water movin north between Greenland and Iceland, and will perhaps nibble at SIA in the Greenland Sea.

From the state of the ice, it would seem much the same is happening in Bering and Okhotsk, but I don't have good views of that.

In other news, the "hole" in the MODIS mosaic has been creeping northwards day by day, and as of a couple of days ago is above the Arctic Circle, giving an so-so views of the main areas of interest. Some patience may be required for American and Atlantic views, but there are (as usual) clear skies over Siberia.


Fluffy polar bear story on the beeb

Seems they have briefly broken their moratorium on AGW stories.


Hi Frank D,

That anomaly between Canada and Greenland has been there or thereabouts since November 2009. Running about that hot. since then. It shows up better on the N Atlantic maps.

So, strictly speaking, it's not an anomaly compared to 2010.

I suspect that this is a stray waft of tropical water that isn't needed for the frontline of the major thermodynamic war of attrition being fought in the Fram Strait. I suspect that the Good General Neptune commanding the blue side is currently predicting victory this year. Onwards to the Pacific by Christmas!

All very World War One.

That little anomaly between Greenland and Canada look a lot more like the start of a Blitzkrieg attack of a deep column, leading through the Archipelago to the Eastern Beaufort and the Southern Arctic Basin, where it should begin to fan out in the Spring. Better hope it heads for Hudson Bay, as it clearly did last year.


Here you go:


Gas Glo

Using IJIS data, this is what I get for

Anomalies being 5 month averages versus linear trend for each month
Year Mar Sept
2002 N/A -24243
2003 405971 98709
2004 -28797 247104
2005 -189304 -84738
2006 -419213 37372
2007 -203516 -711425
2008 171358 120286
2009 197182 188257
2010 91332 128677

7 of 15 of the changes are to a different direction so anomalies seem as likely to go in same direction as in opposite direction, whether using IJIS or NSIDC data.

Gas Glo

Phil wrote "Here you go:"
Global minimum appears to be approx day 31 to 54 of year. Antarctic minimum is can be same day or slightly later: day 51 to 64.

Northern expected gain to day 39 = 13.76-13.23 = 0.53
Southern expected loss to day 39 = 2.91 - 2.13 = 0.78
Expected loss -0.25
Current total (22 day of year data currently available) = 14.516
Projected minimum this year 14.27

Minimum on 25 Feb 06 14.39

Conclusion this is a close race - might just reach a new minimum.

Greg Wellman

Yes, in retrospect I was being a bit literal in "East" vs "West" coasts of Antarctica. Your approach where there is more East coast than there is West coast because of where the dividing mountain range is makes more sense. And I agree that even when the ice off shore was a little more solid than now, coastal pockets of melt appeared pretty early. I'm not sure what those coastal pockets mean - are they just a random pattern in the melt, or a sign of upwelling warmer water ... maybe there will be a paper later this year to tell us.

On settling vs collapsing ... it might well be that to scientists used to glacial and geological time scales, what they call a collapse, might still be what you or I would call settling. To me a collapse is something out of gravitational equilibrium falling down. So in this context, hundreds of thousands of sq km of ice sheet dropping a couple of meters in a few minutes, producing a tsunami. If that can really happen then ... wow. If it can't produce a tsunami, then I'll persist in thinking of it as settling :-) A google scholar search on "antarctic ice collapse tsunami" didn't produce anything that jumped out at me - apparently tsunamis from elsewhere can play a role in ice shelf breakup though.

On sea ice blocking land ice ... Oh! You're talking about "anchor ice". From the wikipedia article of the same name: "Anchor ice crystals in the Antarctic are generally in the form of thin, circular platelets of 2-10cm in diameter. Large masses of irregularly-oriented crystals form anchor ice formations, which may be as large as 4m in diameter when attached to large immovable objects on the sea floor. [...] Anchor ice is thought to be relatively common in the Antarctic, due to large ice shelves that occupy many areas of the continental coast. Studies and observations of anchor ice formation in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica have shown that the phenomenon regularly causes the formation of ice on the seafloor to depths of approximately 15m, and rarely to depths of approximately 30m." If the picture and description at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anchor_ice_under_sea_ice.JPG is typical, then I'd be inclined to guess that anchor ice is not a significant physical brake on the progress of land ice marching into the sea. But definitely, less surface ice means less anchor ice, and less of both means that warmer water can reach the land ice.

Agreed, the shore ice on both sides of the WA Bay is eroding pretty quickly. It may be a little late for another large island to drift away but still, at the minimum in Feb, the amount of coast covered will be very small.

Gas Glo,
Thanks for the projected minimum calculation. Indeed it will be close - current short term trends say "new min" but any regression to the mean will put an end to that.


Its probably inaccurate to use different sources but ijis arctic sea ice area climbed on average 27000 million sq km (to nearest 500 million sq km) per day over the last week.

The average daily drop in antarctic sea ice area, from cryosphere, over the last week has been 91500 million sq km.

A daily global drop of 64500 million sq km.

We should have a new minimum in two days.

The ijis data is from the 24th and cryosphere from the 23rd, so we may be there already.


Derek, make that 'thousand' instead of 'million'. There, now we're even. ;-)

Phil., thanks a heap for those links! And Gas Glo, thanks for doing the quick calc.


I've converted the CT global sea ice area data to a spreadsheet and here are the minima for the previous six years (date of minimum between brackets):

2005: 14.732 (Feb 11)
2006: 14.392 (Feb 2)
2007: 14.634 (Feb 2)
2008: 15.579 (Feb 17)
2009: 15.113 (Feb 24)
2010: 14.880 (Jan 27)

2011 current: 14.516

Greg Wellman

Derek said
>A daily global drop of 64500 sq km (over the last week)

Going by just the CT data, the avg daily drop over the last week is 78 thousand sq km.
For just the last 4 days, it's a hair under 50 thousand sq km per day.

Seemingly a good chance of a new minimum when the Jan 26 data comes out. On the other hand, looking at the 2006 record, area fell as briskly to 14.52 million, then took 10 days to meander down to 14.392, and one more day to jump back up to 14.52

It really depends on how close to the minimum (in days) you think we already are. An early minimum could just prevent a new record. A late minimum could result in the record being broken daily for several days.

Gas Glo

Yes my 25th Feb 2006 was badly botched - it should be 1st Feb

I agree Neven's area figures but get different dates mostly just a day earlier but 2007 is 10th.
2005: 14.732 (Feb 10)
2006: 14.392 (Feb 1)
2007: 14.634 (Feb 10)
2008: 15.579 (Feb 16)
2009: 15.113 (Feb 23)
2010: 14.880 (Jan 26)

I should also correct:
Global minimum appears to be approx day 26 to 55 of year. Antarctic minimum is can be same day or slightly later: day 52 to 65.


That's weird about the dates, eh? Do you have 31 days for January?
You're right about 2007. I had Feb 2, is now Feb 11.

Today's number: 14.490 million square km.


Make that 14.491 million square km. :-)


One would think that the large "island" in the Ross Sea (about 200,000 sq kms @ ~50% by my reckoning) will not take much longer to melt out. Its demise should be enough to do it, assuming no major upward change in the Arctic.

Gas Glo

>"That's weird about the dates"

I originally was two days earlier than you. Now a 2 day difference is weird.

eg (2006.085 -2006)*365 = 31 which I took to be 31st Jan but I decided that was wrong because 2006.0000 gives 0th day of year whereas I assume it is really 1st Jan. So add a day to 31 to get to 1st Feb. I cannot see how you can count it to get 2nd Feb.


Gas Glo, here's what I did: I downloaded the data (by rightclicking 'save as' and then add .csv to the file) and then copied the data for every year (starting and ending for instance with 2005.xxxx) to another spreadsheet where I had all the dates (day of the month, month, day of the year) filled in already. You can have a look at the file on Google Docs.

Gas Glo

How do you figure 1 Jan 2010 is 16.594. It would seem to have come from
2009.9973 -0.5387404 16.5935574 17.1322975
2010.0000 -0.6033579 16.4544659 17.0578232
I would say 209.9973 is before end of 2009 and cannot be 1st Jan.

Similarly you have 16.663 for 1 Jan 2005 coming from
2004.9973 -0.3950391 16.6627846 17.0578232
2005.0000 -0.2141819 16.5992813 16.8134632
so appears to be 1 day out thoughout.


You are right, Gas Glo. I'm one day off. I guess I did a big doodoo while copypasting. Thanks for the correction and sorry I didn't check straight away!


I've just noticed that Global and Antarctic sea ice area numbers are one day behind Arctic sea ice numbers. Arctic sea ice area (CT) went down 22K. If Antarctic sea ice area decreases by more than 77K square km it will beat the 2006 record.

There, I've said it. Now it won't happen. ;-)

Wayne Kernochan

A quick comment on antarctic sea ice melt: afaik, NSIDC stopped posting updated maps between 1/22 and 1/25. When the 1/25 map came online, it appeared that the "Ross Sea island" referred to above had been melting as quickly as I thought it might, and the western shore of the WA bay almost as quickly, but the "goatee" on the righthand tip of the bay had not melted in such a way as to break off. To me, that means that whether there will be a further major dip in extent or area after 1/25 is still very much up in the air.

What I find remarkable is that, if all the areas of less than 60% concentration melted between now and 2/15, it would be possible to sail in open water either right next to the shore or very close to it around almost the entire circumference of Antarctica except the east coast of the Peninsula. I wonder if that's the next sailor's challenge ...

Wayne Kernochan

Hi Greg,

You are entirely correct about settling vs. collapse, and thanks for helping with my ignorance. I was able to google a couple of articles that clarified things for me. For example, the breakup of the Larsen B ice shelf was referred to as a collapse, and involved sudden fragmentation. On land, there were discussions of the the "collapse" of the Greenland [land] ice shelf that made it clear that in this context, collapse meant reduction to nothing or almost nothing. In other words, I had been confused by the sea-ice use of "collapse" to think that a fragmentation mechanism was involved, while in fact collapse simply means "it's gone".

I will add that while I was in delusional mode, I tried to imagine how a tsunami might result from land ice melt. The scenario went like this: assume that inland WA beyond the bay is a valley that ends in a sharp rise to the Antarctic plateau. Now assume that melt ice trickling through the glacier in the valley pools under the glacier, so that the entire glacier is effectively "skating on water" down to the sea. Finally, assume that the speed of the "skate" becomes so great that the land ice breaks off from the cliffs along the sharp rise, all along the cliffs (or, more modestly, at progressively greater distances from the sea). In effect, the "glue" holding the ice to the cliffs is severed, and the ice can "skate" into the ocean at an even faster rate -- such a rate that it creates a "sloshing" effect.

While it's hard to imagine that even this rate of speed might cause a tsunami, even if it did so, it's even harder to imagine that the cross-waves of the circumpolar current wouldn't cancel much of its effect in populated areas further north. As Patrick O'Brien pointed out in his Aubrey-Maturin novel Desolation Island, those suckers get really big.

As Robert Frost wrote (from memory):

Some say the world will end in fire,
And some in ice.
From all I know of human desire,
I hold with those who favor fire.

Of course, he had to add:
But ice
Is also nice
And will suffice. - w

L. Hamilton

Wayne, in the CT animation, that Ross Sea "island" looks to be melting away. The "peninsula" to its west (11 o'clock in the CT image), although higher concentration than the island, appears mostly detached from the shore.

Artful Dodger

GasGlo/Nevin: You're still off-by-one day for CT data. Let's break it down.

Look at the very first row in the Global Sea Ice Area table :

1979.0027 0.6242837 17.5963764 16.9720936

The timestamp could be misinterpreted as Jan 02, 1979. Yet we know that this data covers the first full day of the year, Jan 1st, 1979 because it is the first entry in the table.

CT uses a function like Excel 'YEARFRAC' to display time. The timestamp is NOT a 1-day period, its moment at the END of a 1-day period.

So the period covered is the 24-hr period ENDING at 00:00 Jan 02, 1979 or just the full day of Jan 1st, 1979.

In your example:

2004.9973 - midnight (00:00 hrs) on Dec 31st, 2004
2005.0000 - midnight (00:00 hrs) on Jan 1st, 2005

So the row beginning 2005.0000 is the 24hr period commonly refered to as Dec 31, 2004

If you're still not convinced, here's another hint which i will leave as an exercise for the Reader. Correlate CT daily data with IJIS data. You'll see the days with big swings between Positive and Negative changes in Area or Extent only line up properly with the above interpretation of CT timestamps.


First visible break-up Antarctic summer? On 23 januari two parts of the Pine Island glacier NW front took off. Not much, probably totaling 5-6 km2.
Pine Island Glacier 23012011
In red the original situation.


Thanks for the info, Werther!

You're still off-by-one day for CT data.

This is getting tiresome... :-)

This is probably also the (main) reason why our CAPIE graphs differ, right?

But why is there such a lag in the reporting in area numbers for Global and Antarctic? Today is the 27th and we await the data for the 24th?


I don't know if any of you has come across this paper about the Greenland ice sheet which was recently published in "Nature".
The gist of it is that contrary to expectations, hot summer temperatures may actually slow down the flow of glaciers towards the sea, as the melting causes the internal drainage system to adapt to the warmer temperatures. I don't know whether the slowing down effect has been modelised or quantified, but apparently, the same thing had been previously noticed about mountain glaciers.
The "news" was broken in mid -afternoon on a main stream radio here in Australia along with the message that we should not be worried too much about climate change since the Greenland ice cap is not really melting then sea levels will not rise !


If true, that would be very good news. Unfortunately it will be spun and that probably makes it a Pyrrhic victory.


Hi Werther,

Nice pic!

Could you tell us where you sourced that image? Is it from the NASA Earth Observatory?

Gas Glo

Antarctic falls 57k km^2 to 2397.7k, getting close, only 20k above minimum. But Arctic has risen 23k so we now need a 43k fall to 2354.9k which is less than the 57k fall reported.

Daniel Bailey

@ Phil263

I wouldn't get too worked up about it. Basically the same results as Schoof et al (2010): essentially the Zwally Effect in action.

In Greenland's case, the primary cause of ice loss is the Jakobshavn Effect: glacier acceleration in Greenland resulting from dynamic thinning of the terminus zone of the marine terminating outlet glacier reducing the effective bed pressure, allowing acceleration. The reduced resistive force at the calving front due to the thinner ice, now experiencing greater flotation, is then propagated “upglacier”.

I based a Skeptical Science post on correspondence with glaciologist Mauri Pelto on this very topic.

To help visualize why an enhanced Zwally Effect is of less import to Greenland than the WAIS, here's Greenland with no ice:

The WAIS has no such protective lip. Once the terminal ice retreats off their grounding lines into the deeper water behind, the Jakobshavn Effect will be enhanced. More warm, moist air over the upper surfaces will also enhance the Zwally Effect there, hastening their demise. Hansen 2011 speaks to non-linear tipping points, with meter+ decadal sea level rises possible as a result.

I'm such a downer today...

The Yooper


Good night, Frank
Always show the source...got this detail from rapidfire antarctic mosaic.


Couple of weeks ago I posted a paper about changes in North Atlantic sea temperatures and currents, well now it seems it has become the climate football of the week.


Joe Romm has some on it and the other side of the mirror are now claiming all melting is due to natural variation, ignoring the 180 degree backflip with pirouette to admit to melting.

Artful Dodger

Phil263 re: Sundal et.al (2011)

Supplementary Information for this paper states it is based on 1993-98 data. Seems the authors have taken 13 years to publish... Joe Romm refers to this paper as 'outdated research'.

Further, this study only looks at land terminating glaciers, not ocean terminating glaciers. Recall ~90% of Greenland ice loss is by calving, not by melt runoff which is the subject of this paper.

Hansen (2011) further debunks the kinematic constraint meme. It is no hook to hang your hat on.


Global sea ice area has gone up by 27K. Currently stands at 14.438 million square km.


Lodger and Daniel Bailey

Thanks for responding to my query and enlightening me on the subject of Greenland glaciers. I understand how the Jakobshavn Effect would have a stronger impact on the speed of flow than the Zwally effect. It 's pretty hard stuff for someone from the Social Sciences like me but I kind of get my head around it :-)


Thanks Werther, I didn't realise rapidfire also hosted an Antarctic mosaic (though I probably should have...). More pretty pictures!

Keep watching the PIG, I'll probably keep my eye on Wilkins.

(That is on the shortlist of sentences I never thought I'd write...)

William Crump


Please check out some of the additional information posted at


which suggests that using trend lines based on Arctic wide volume loss does not produce an accurate model of when the Arctic will become "ice-free".

Will Crump


A North Atlantic current flowing into the Arctic Ocean is warmer than for at least 2,000 years in a sign that global warming is likely to bring ice-free seas around the North Pole in summers, a study showed.


Global sea ice area has increased and is now more than 100K over the 2006 minimum record.


Neven, I'm sorry to contact you this way, but I've seen you bugging Van der Lingen over at cg.nl about his sealevel claims. Did you notice that Van der Lingen claims we can save 2 billion (miljard) Euro a year, every year, for the next 50 years on the Delta program? And did you also notice that the Deltafund is only getting 9 * 1.5 million Euro a year until 2014 and at least 1 billion only after 2020?

See: www.rijksoverheid.nl/bestanden/documenten-en-publicaties/rapporten/2010/09/21/deltaprogramma-2011-werken-aan-de-delta/deltaprogramma-ned.pdf

Page 8: 9 subprograms
Page 75: approx. 1.5 million per subprogram.

I don't plan to post at cg.nl but maybe you can ask him where he gets his 2 billion/yr from ?


Cynicus, if I remember correctly Van der Lingen never answered my questions regarding sea level rise or 'Kiwigate'. But thanks for the info. If I ever encounter the man I'll be sure to throw it in his face.

Pete Dunkelberg

Enhanced Modern Heat Transfer to the Arctic by Warm Atlantic Water by Spielhagen et al. (linked by Neven).

So the main warm current into the Arctic takes the same path that ice takes when blown out?


Let’s give our foreign blogfriends some perspective on what’s going on in Hans Brinker country.
Deltaprogramma 2011 is a government study/policy on flood-security in the next two or three decades in the Netherlands. It allocates billions of euro’s spending on all kinds of protective measures (span of 30 years or so). The Dutch have some experience with that and are proud of what’s already accomplished.
For the climate projections the programme is based on models by KNMI, presented in 2006. For the implementation of the measures, like adding up to 80 million cubic metres of sand to the coastline, the programme relies on massive use of energy, mainly coming from fossil sources. We did that a lot for some 130 years. So it seems we’re in this strange loop. What we did has consequences. To overcome these consequences, we do some more of what we did… Now that’s creative, isn’t it?
About the KNMI models. All scientifically peer-reviewed stuff. But science, in my opinion, is bound to extrapolate data of the past to the future… so it can never fully cope with change.
I remember a speaker stating during the KNMI presentation that ‘an acceleration of sea level rise is not detected on the Dutch coastline’. On the question of what would be the effect of say some 15 cm rise in ten years (at some point in time that’s what f.i. the Greenland south tip can deliver), the ‘80 million m3 of sand – no problem’ ace was played.
So what? Some billions of euro’s is a lot of money. But to me, it will not be long before you can raise that to 2-3 % of the Dutch BNP, annually. Given peak-oil, credit crunch and so on, where could an investor get that sort of money? Hard choices to be made, like bailing out some more private banks, rescuing some endebted companies and their workforce from bankruptcy, holding on to the Euro, maintaining a social programmme or reinforcing the coastline?
We should prepare now, adapt to what’s coming, as ‘green’ as we can. Including letting go of coastlines that can not be held by ‘ green’ measures…
Now that’s alarmist… almost like ‘revelations 13:16’. That could get one on speaking terms with a good Christian Tea Party voter. The difference might be that for the latter our destiny is predetermined (so why bother about AGW) and for the former there is always a personal responsability and a choice.

Gas Glo

>"Global sea ice area has increased and is now more than 100K over the 2006 minimum record."

Now it is 290k over the minimum with the typical pattern showing an expected reduction of only 140k. While a new record this year seems to be getting much less likely, looking back at last 10 years, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007 show enough loss after the .077 day that we have data for. A 50% chance? I think probably not. The amounts of loss seem to be getting less over time consistent with earlier dates of minimums.

I am rather more doubtful about whether we will have a IJIS JAXA minimum maximum this year but again am not ruling it out yet. There is only one year, 2007, where the increase from 30 Jan was low enough to get a minimum maximum.

Too soon to rule out a new minimum yet though.

Kevin McKinney

Tea Party and responsibility: it's striking that for the Tea Party, as for many on the right, personal responsibility is a cardinal virtue, whereas societal responsibility seems to be (re)defined as "arrogance"--as in, "What arrogance to think that we mere humans could affect the atmosphere/control climate/change natural cycles. . ."

Greg Wellman

Pete asked: "So the main warm current into the Arctic takes the same path that ice takes when blown out?"

Yes, at different depths. The ice is (of course) moving with a surface current, while the warmer waters from the south are actually subsurface by that point (they are surface further south - they sink as evaporation makes them more saline).

Andrew Xnn

Politics impresses me as just another form of rationalization.

Anyhow, a difficult task will be to determine the most economical way to deal with rising sea levels. 3mm/year isn't much. Of course it will probably accelerate, but it's still going to be so slow that people will deny/minimize/argue/rationalize for a long time.

Gas Glo

Pete asked: "So the main warm current into the Arctic takes the same path that ice takes when blown out?"
(Greg replied re subsurface flows.)

I don't know about the subsurface flows but I had thought there would be anticlockwise flow around Svalbard (viewed from above). I could easily be wrong about that.

However, I was wondering if the ice flowing out could itself be considered a (possibly main? earthbound) heat transfer to arctic on grounds that compared to water, ice has negative latent heat and a flow of negative heat one way can be regarded as a flow in the opposite direction. Maybe that is counted as an energy flow and not as a heat flow?


Gas Glo.

Watching daily SST anomalies, I agree there is at least some anti-clockwise flow around Svalbard. Ice heading south mostly does so along the coast of Greenland, while warm water flowing through the "GIUK gap" appears to split and split again as it flows north. Part of this current meets the ice head on between Iceland and Greenland, but the flow east of Iceland divides and loops south again, some turning W of Svalbard, some between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land and some between FJL and Novaya Zemlya. The net effect is as you describe - an anti clockwise flow around Svalbard. At least, thats how it looks to me.

I'd also agree on ice flow out is equivalent to heat flow in. Ice that is punted into the North Atlantic to be melted is as lost as Ice that has actually been melted in the Arctic.

Kevin McKinney

"I'd also agree on ice flow out is equivalent to heat flow in."

Me too, in spades--though I'd likely miss any definitional niceties involving heat/energy. Phase change is a powerful thing, heat-wise.


Yasi hits cat 5, good luck to any Queenslanders on this blog, she is a beast.

Gas Glo


CryoSat ice data now open to all


Thanks, Gas Glo!

Here's the post for this news we have been anticipating so eagerly. OK, OK, we still have to wait for interpretations of the data, but hey!

Artful Dodger

Here are January average IJIS Sea Ice Extents, in ascending rank order:

Year	  Jan_Avg
2011   12,648,508
2006   12,650,172
2005   12,819,158
2010   12,877,147
2007   12,903,604
2008   13,062,258
2009   13,122,520
2004   13,201,099
2003   14,088,906
SIE for Jan 2011 was 10.2% below the 2003-2010 average.

Lodger, that's true, but its largely off the back of the low extent as at 31 December.

The extent increase for the month was the second highest in the series @ 1343437 sq kms, 208,000 sq km (18%) above average, and second only to 2009. The lowest increase was 771093 sq km in 2006.

Overall, 2011 "improved" from last place @ 31 Dec, to third last @ 31 Jan, but was still 245,000 sq km's below average at that point.

2011 is certainly starting behind the 8-ball.

Gas Glo

Trend is down 96k per annum - only 132 years before ice free in Jan ;o)

Pete Dunkelberg

Thanks for the responses to my question. I recall that the Gulf Stream and other currents vary somewhat with season and other factors. For instance last year when the Arctic Oscillation was so negative there were graphics showing very orange surface waters surging along Greenland.

Recall also the dissertation of Irina Mahlstein "Improving climate model projections by model evaluation and regional aggregation "Improving climate model projections by model evaluation" (large pdf) , especially pages 25-30. "It might be surprising that the northward ocean heat transport is responsible for the large spread of the models in their future warming projections since the northward ocean heat transport contributes only a small amount to the total energy budget of the Arctic (Serreze et al., 2007). But ...."

This: Strong export of Antarctic Bottom Water east of the Kerguelen plateau from the other pole contributes to the strength of the world thermohaline circulation and overall heat transport, although the main energy source to keep the circulation going is wind and tidal energy (Rahmstorf.)

Coming back to my first observation, the Gulf Stream carries the most heat to the Arctic when it has the strongest headwind doesn't it? Is there a difference in timing of heat import and ice export from the Arctic?

Patrice Monroe Pustavrh

NSIDC has done really good job on posting fast report for january 2011:
January 2011 is the lowest for extent so far.


NSIDC has a new monthly report out. Interesting piece towards the end for Hudson Bay:

In contrast, regional ice growth has been particularly slow compared to past years. Hudson Bay did not completely freeze up until mid-January, about a month later than normal according to Canadian Ice Service analyses. The Labrador Sea region is still largely free of ice, except in protected bays along the coast. Normally at this time of year, ice extends several hundred kilometers from the coast all the way to northern Nova Scotia.

Gas Glo

Extent was a record low at 13.55m km^2 vs 2006 13.60m km^2 as noted in the report.

NSIDC Area is also a record low for January 11.38m km^2 vs 2006 11.57m km^2 so area is showing a bigger decline on the previous record low than extent.


I don't think we'll see a new global sea ice area record. With 14.696 million square km it's currently more than 300K above the 2006 record.


Hi, 1st post.

Can someone point me to the link where the numercial ice area number listed above (14.696) is found? I am only finding graphical representations. See here:


and it seems to indicate that the icea area is about 14.4 and very close to the record minimum. Is this graph not correct?

Thanks, Wyo


Welcome, Wyoming! Here it is: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/timeseries.global.anom.1979-2008



Greenman does a video on ice cores.

The Vikings..... who knew.....


Thanks Nevin,

If I have your data figured out correctly then the line below

2011.0658 -1.6399591 14.4116583 16.0516167

indicates that I was close reading the graph and that the minimum so far occured on 24 Jan. At this point is it likely that the 14.412 will be the low of the year?

If so we did not miss 2006 by much then (1/10th of a percent)

2006.0850 -1.5731411 14.3918705 15.9650116


Gas Glo

Wyoming, in the last few years the minimum has been as early as 25th Jan (2010) and as late as 23rd Feb (2004). While that may suggest time for further falls in the next 3 weeks, 300k above the minimum is substantial and it is rare to fall that much. 2007 and 2001 pattern of changes would do it. However there is also a trend towards minimums occuring earlier in the year making 24th Jan 11 more likely to be the minimum. I would say definitely over 80% likely that 14.411 is the minimum, perhaps as high as 90%.

Mark Kosir

Hi all...
I've been a silent follower for a while, so I thought I'd just add an ice-related comment. I don't see much related to Antarctic ice status (yes, a bit unrelated), but I've been watching MODIS for the last week or so, and it seems that the Ross Ice Shelf will soon start calving. See the link:
A crack appears to be forming, and breakoff is imminent.

Maybe someone else can also comment on the rest of the ice shelf. Depending on the angle of the sun, it seems other larger cracks are forming (or am I just seeing things?)


NSIDC Sea Ice News for February on http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2011/020211.html has a killer image about Hudson Bay, from data I had never heard of so far : http://nsidc.org/data/masie/ .

I guess we'll find many uses for these data !!

BTW, what about working all together, in an "open"' fashion, on some R scripts to analyse, describe and graph all these things ? I mean, most of guys (and girls) here have some Excel sheets, having some nice R code would be better, wouldn't it ?? I probably can provide some space on a server for this...

Enjoy !


@: Mark Kosir, is this unusual for this time of year?


Hi Mark, and welcome.

I assume you are talking about the crack at the base of that bulge?

It may well crack off soon (who am I to tell the ice what to do?), but I don't think so. That crack seems to have been there for several years. It can be seen on the MODIS image for this area from this Jan 2009:

The crack is presently ~45 km's long, and has grown perhaps 2.5 km's in length since Jan 2009. It is also widening and deepening perceptibly, but slowly (the shadows on the sides are longer, but even at 250m/pixel scale, the width has not increased a whole pixel in 2 years). Unlss conditions suddenly change - like the crack suddenly turning 90 degress, towards the open sea which is still ~23 kms away - its still going to take a long time to calve.

The other large cracks can also be seen on the 2009 pic I linked to above, but I haven't checked to see if they have grown significantly.

It will eventually lead to a massive (maybe 2500 sq kms) calving, but at the current rate, it won't happen any time soon. When it does go (perhaps not for another 5 or 10 years), it will be large, but still far short of the largest calving from the Ross Ice Shelf: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceberg_B-15

Mark Kosir

Thanks for the historical information FrankD... I'll go review images from 2009... didnt realize that the bulge has been around for so long.

Steve Bloom

I couldn't find this recent paper already mentioned here, and from the abstract it sounds significant:

"Glacial sediments from the Prince Charles Mountains, East Antarctica, record late Pleistocene ice thickness variability in the Lambert Glacier–Amery Ice Shelf system, one of the world's largest ice drainages. A former glacial limit, demarcated by minimally weathered deposits, follows a concave longitudinal profile, indicating a zone of strong ice streaming through the northernmost 500 km of the Lambert Graben. In situ 10Be and 26Al exposure ages from these relatively unweathered deposits indicate that the most recent phase of ice lowering occurred between ca. 18 and 8 ka, preceding by as many as 6 k.y. the deglaciation of adjacent coastal regions. Earlier onset of deglaciation in an area of strong ice streaming suggests a heightened sensitivity of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet to climate and sea-level changes following the Last Glacial Maximum than previously recognized."

Does this contradict the Greenland paper discussed at the start of the comments above?

Daniel Bailey

Nice paper, Steve. BTW, a free copy is here.

From the Discussion section:

"geological data suggest that both marine- and land-terminating margins of the western GIS will likely undergo significant and prolonged retreat if future temperatures match those reached during the middle Holocene."
Looks like more interesting times for the ice-watchers here.

The Yooper

Daniel Bailey

Aoplogies, Neven. I meant to post my previous comment above on the Cryosat thread. Could you please delete it? I will repost it on the appropriate thread.

The Yooper

Daniel Bailey

A webcache of the advance online version of Steve's linked paper is here.

Not perfect, but hey, it's free. :)

The Yooper


Breathing again yet Yooper? Tight game, but your boys done good.


Daniel Bailey

The "Frozen Tundra" is a mighty warm place today, indeed!

The Yooper


Interesting piece on Greenland in Sunday's Observer (UK), includes this:

"There has been much discussion in Greenland and elsewhere about the first sunrise this year in Ilulissat, down the coast. For the first time in living memory, the sun rose above the horizon two days early – a phenomenon that has baffled Greenlanders and scientists."




Hi, a yeeles. This was discussed a while back over at Wayne Davidson's blog.


Nice link Neven - I wonder if global warming means certain creatures don't hibernate very deeply.........:)


Only in the morning, Phil. ;-)

Patrice Monroe Pustavrh

I would more than agree on refraction. There are some other facts: Illusat has no high glaciers around, and if it would be due to glacier meltdown, we shall observe also that sunset was two days later in Illusat. Also, using sun angle calculator at http://www.susdesign.com/sunangle/ gave me results that sun indeed showed 2 days earlier than normal for coordinates of Illusat - as sun rises at 0 height at calculated day, we can reach conclusion, that sun is not obstructed and early sun rise was not caused by removing that obstruction.

L. Hamilton

I'm sure it's posted somewhere but could someone point me towards a dataset with Antarctic sea ice extent? CT gives Antarctic area, but from Uni Bremen it looks like the extent is behaving differently (relatively lower).

Steve Bloom

A new paper (discussion) that may or may not have been noted here already. Presumably the offending models will be identified in a subsequent publication. Any congruence with the results of Mahlstein and Knutti (2010) will be interesting to see.

Andrew Xnn

Extremely difficult to model something like this:

"In spring, however, cloudy conditions begin to dominate, causing temperatures to warm on average and move the ice closer to its melting temperature, even before the newly risen Sun is strong enough to matter. Thus, more persistent clouds as spring approaches may cause the sea ice to first reach its melting temperature at an earlier date, and more frequent Arctic clouds in a warmer climate might accelerate sea ice decline."

Probably why curve fitters will likely have the best predictions.

Artful Dodger

In the past week, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have finally reached near-freezing in Disko Bay, Greenland (69N 52W).

The first view of the bay, unobscured by cloud, after MODIS sunrise was 02/02/11. Tell-tale curly wisps of red still show in open water, revealing ongoing ice melt ice in Disko Bay.

Length of day for Feb 10, 2011 at Disko Bay was 6 hr 51 min, currently increasing by 10 min per day. So not much time left for freeze-up, if it occurs.

Disko bay also remained open throughout Winter 2010, which was the first such event during the AMSR-E era (2003+).


Lodger, I am always amazed where human settlements survive,I assume the settlements at Disko Bay rely on the ice for winter hunting. Perhaps they can find alternatives but it would be a huge change. It looks like the Labrador current is running all the way up the coast and I suspect permanent change here. Any opinions on west coast Greenland climate change and currents?


@ Lodger
WRT Greenland, I am amazed to see that the West Coast is ice free up to almost 75N while the East Coast is iced up down to further south than 65N. Something to do with currents, I presume, but then why is the sea around Baffin Island frozen over?
I follow the temperature records at Nuuk and Narsarsuaq (right on the southern tip) with interest and I note that these two places are currently seeing very cold temperatures after being relatively warm throughout December and January. The reason for my interest is that these two places are the exact two locations of the main Norse settlements Greenland ( Eastern Settlement at Narsarsuaq and Western Settlement at Nuuk), admirably described by Jared Diamond in his book "Collapse". The settlements were first colonised around 1,000 and seemed to have completely vanished by the early 1400s. According to Diamond, one the main reasons for the collapse of those settlements was probably the gradually colder temperatures in Greenland that came with the onset of the Little Ice Age. It will be interesting to see how the climate in Southern Greenland evolves with the increasing effects of CC. I am not sure how current average temperatures compare with those prevailing during the Medieval warm period. Are we already higher ? Anybody with information on this ?

Gas Glo

"I am amazed to see that the West Coast is ice free up to almost 75N while the East Coast is iced up down to further south than 65N. Something to do with currents, I presume"




Currents, yes. Warm current flows up the west coast of Greenland, As it flows north, it dissipates a lot of heat through radiation, convection and melting ice. It loops at the north end of Baffin Bay where it also meets the current flowing down Nares Strait and, now colder, flows south along the east coast of Baffin Island.

Note that most of the ice on the east coast of both Baffin Island and Greenland is not "made" there, but brought there out of the Arctic Basin through Nares and Fram Straits. This is clearly observable by comparing satellite pix - I recommend the excellent series to be found at the Danish Meteorological Institute (http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/kennedy.uk.php), especially their ASAR series.

Your timings on Greenland are out - the LIA didn't start until long after 1400, so it cant; be implicated in the demise of the Viking settlements. Rather, a return to "normal" conditions after the MWP. Recent studies suggest the water flowing into the Arctic is warmer than at any time in the last 2000 years, so it is currently almost certainly warmer than the MWP. However, given the inertia of climate we have not reached an equilibrium state, and conditions on land in Greenland may still be marginally cooler than the MWP - it takes a long time to shrink that ice cap back.

I would suggest you have your description of current conditions back to front. It should read "I note that these two places are currently seeing relatively cold temperatures after being very warm throughout December and January." The scale of the positive anomaly in early winter (more than 5 degrees and at times as much as 20 degrees) was many times greater than the current negative anomaly (2 or 3 degrees). That came after a year in which the temperature anomaly was 3 standard deviations above the average for the last 170 years (0.7 degrees above the previous record for that period).

As to what CC holds for the region - more WACCy weather with more frequent highs like in November/December, pumping warm air into the Arctic -> more melt.

"Interesting" in the same way that slow motion footage of a train hitting a bus is "interesting". :-(

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