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Neven, on the paid version of TypePad, hopefully it will allow expansion of this blog.

Inform me of an address for you to receive an International Money Order and I believe I can show one months worth of appreciation.



Jack, thanks a lot for that. When the time comes I will be making available way for people to donate. This will be done entirely transparently, with donations being used to cover costs and surplus donations to go to some good cause to be determined later.


Odd things (?) happening in Nares Strait over the last few weeks. Up until 21 January, ice was steadily moving from the Lincoln Sea to Baffin Bay.

22 Jan - flow reverses, with ice moving northwards into Lincoln Sea
26 Jan - flow returns to normal direction, but very slow moving
30 Jan - ice bridge forms at the south end of Kane Basin
(between the 26th and the 30th a very odd smudge appears on the ASAR pix, near Etah - curious as to what that was: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/kane.uk.php))
3 Feb - movement in Kane Basin ceases. Ice above that point still moving but ever slower as it piles up against the blockage.
9 Feb - all movement ceases.

I doubt the ice bridge will last all that long - it doesn't look anywhere near as robust as the one in the Lincoln Sea in 2009, but for now, there is no ice leaving via Nares.


Thanks a lot for that, Frank (fixed that link BTW)! I have been too lazy/hibernating to check those DMI images of Nares. I hope it will soon be visible on MODIS.


Yale Environment 360:

Arctic Roamers: The Move of Southern Species into Far North

Grizzly bears mating with polar bears. Red foxes out-competing Arctic foxes. Exotic diseases making their way into once-isolated polar realms. These are just some of the worrisome phenomena now occurring as Arctic temperatures soar and the Arctic Ocean, a once-impermeable barrier, melts.

Artful Dodger

Arctic Change Assessment to study changing climate and melting sea ice, glaciers and permafrost. The aim is to help Arctic countries cope with inevitable, irreversible change.

Pete Dunkelberg

Here is another paper modeling summer ice oscillation: Tietsche et al.: Recovery Mechanisms of Arctic Summer Sea Ice. This paper may be more convincing that Zhang et al. It will be very interesting to see how general Arctic modeling plays out versus the read thing. Meanwhile I am a bit wary of overfitting and /or extrapolating like stock chartists ;) But no, that's not right. Discussions here have some physical theory behind them. Not as much as the models, but with much more empiricism about the actual Arctic.

Pete Dunkelberg

Arctic Roamers: note the comments at the Nature page. But this from the Yale page may be different this time:

A bigger concern, however, was the discovery that neither beluga whales nor narwhal have antibodies that would help them resist phocine distemper, a deadly virus that was first discovered in the marine environment in 1988 when it killed 20,000 harbor seals in northwestern Europe. Since then it has spread to seals in Russia’s Lake Baikal, striped dolphins in the Mediterranean, and to several other marine mammals species worldwide.


@Neven: I hope it will soon be visible on MODIS.
South end around Etah will be visible in just under two weeks, and it will take another 10 days or so to traverse the whole length. Should have the whole thing by ~11th March (Day 70). The central hole should be filled in ~29th March (Day 88) giving full coverage.

Did I link-fail? That's what you get for insomnia-driven 3:00 am blogging...
(Note to self: Use that preview button more.)


Frank, modis/asar keeps us quite busy, isn't it?
The Antarctic/Pine Island-Larsen part doesn't really show much of interest. There is a break-up visible at the other side, Enderby Land, near White Island. I think it isn't a shelf, but landfast seasonal ice. On the other hand, the Arctic defies my expectations during wintertime. Although the last five weeks showed considerable cold weather over the Archipelago, the Basin and the Siberian side, the pack still looks fractured and moves around with large leads. Lodger called for Cape Morris Jesup to be of interest this winter. Indeed, driven by a strong counterclock dipole this week (and a ten degrees spike up in the temperatures north of 80 degrees), the leads get wider and wider there. Not that the ice is being driven out to Fram strait.. it's going the other way. Just like in Nares Strait, there is a lot on the move, and the winter ice pack is certainly not a thick, rigid and compact unity. I wonder how the volume stands, and how the melt season will kick in. Could it be that the cold air-effect is compensated by relatively warm ocean water under the ice? The Northern Waters polynia never froze this winter...


I've been checking the PSC Arctic Sea Ice Volume Anomaly every few days but it hasn't been updated for a month and a half now. I know they are not the most reliable at updating but does this seem unusual? It gives a whole new meaning to the word "continuously".
Do we know what's happening with volume at the moment?

Artful Dodger

Pete Dunkelberg | February 15, 2011 at 04:42

Tietsche et al.(2011) uses highly dubious methodology. Their bright idea is to take an Arctic Sea Ice + Global circulation model with past forcings (randomly varied but with no trend over time), then instantaneously remove all Arctic Sea Ice on July 1st of Year 1. No other changes, like SST

Not surprisingly, their model shows that Sea Ice returns within 2 years. No doubt, when forcings are set low enough that the equilibrium has perennial sea ice. Big deal. This in no way models what will happen in the real world in the years following the first sea ice free boreal Summer.

When sea ice disappears on its own (without the deus ex machina stunt pulled by the Authors of this paper), then BY DEFINITION forcings will be above an equilibrium state which includes Arctic perennial sea ice. Then continue adding >2 ppm CO2 / year!

What they do not do is ramp up their forcings in time until sea ice disappears naturally and THEN magically add a healthy Perennial Ice pack. You'd see in a few years the magic pixie dust would be all gone again. Sea Ice disappears in response to a net energy imbalance.

There are so many other problems with this paper that I'm considering complaining to the Journal which published it. It's a terribly poor job.

Peter Ellis

Lodger, I think you're doing that paper a disservice. They do indeed look at the forcings forward in time with a disintegrating ice pack. As with other models, the ensemble forecast has September ice extent down to 2 million square kilometers by 2040, and negligible levels (~0.1 million) in the 2060s.

What the deus ex machina ice removal thought experiment shows is that if there is a freak year causing much greater loss than expected, there is a subsequent recovery over the following two years. If you remove the ice in 2040, the ice will "recover" back up to the 2 million dictated by conditions, and in 2060, it will "recover" to the dizzying heights of 0.1 million. That is, there is no "latching" effect caused by the albedo flip - Arctic ice cover is dependent on overall climatic conditions rather than self-perpetuating ice-albedo feedback. This is an important finding! I understand it differs from the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps: if you magically removed these today they would not grow back again.

The mechanism they identify is straightforward enough: more open water means more heat absorption during the summer, but also more radiation during the winter. For short-term perturbations, these balance out - even in the maximal perturbation case where you remove all sea ice completely.

The take-home message is that Arctic ice decline is driven by large-scale climate changes, and that year-to-year fluctuations will not alter the overall picture. True, there's no "latching effect" whereby a random freak event causes a permanent change in ice cover. However, that conversely means that the long-term changes we are seeing must be consequences of "general climate conditions" and not simply after-effects of high-melt years. You can see this directly in the ice data: after the 2007 melt, Arctice ice extent did indeed recover in two years, just as they predicted - it recovered all the way back up to the ever-downward-accelerating trendline...

Pete Dunkelberg

In short if very unusual winds blow most of the ice away this summer it will probably recover, but to a declining trendline. I am (as you can tell) not watching the ice closely like the rest of you here so I don't have much to say. I may make a tiny contribution by motivating others to look even more closely at just how much heat enters and exits the Arctic, and by which routes. ;) Observations and discussions and even light arguments here lead to hypotheses that can be soon tested. Progress happens.

Artful Dodger

Peter and Pete: I like your comments, but still hold the author's of this paper are doing society a disservice by providing a misleading picture of the future progression of Arctic sea ice. I don't have time to respond properly today, but will add more to my critique of this paper as time allows. Cheers, and be well 8^)

Peter Ellis

I honestly have no idea where you're coming from with this.

Firstly, the study isn't intended to study "the future progression of Arctic sea ice" - it doesn't address the sea ice equilibrium response to climate change, rather the response to nonequilibrium perturbations. Secondly, in as far as it does look at future ice progression, it agrees with the majority of other models out there: substantial ice loss by 2020, much less ice in 2040, essentially all gone by 2060. That's already below all the model results used in the IPCC fourth assessment (AR4). It agrees with Mark Serreze, who says that we're “looking at a seasonally ice-free Arctic in twenty to thirty years.” Feel free to agree (as I do) with the more aggressive predictions out there, but I don't think it's fair to criticise the authors for following the current consensus among climate scientists.

Now, if you want to complain about the way the denialsphere has taken their conclusions and spun them into something completely unrelated, that's another matter. Simply put, the authors show that after a short term perturbation, ice will recover back to the long-term trendline within two years. WUWT and the rest of the idiots out there are claiming the study shows that after any perturbation, the ice will recover back to historic highs within two years. That's clearly nonsense, but it's also not what the authors said!


The beacon on Petermann Ice Island appears to have failed: "no position reports received for callsign 47557". :-(

On the upside, the beacon lasted just long enough to track PII until it reappeared on the MODIS images: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/subsets/?subset=Arctic_r03c01.2011046.terra
(you might need to zoom to 250m scale)
On the extreme RH edge, towards the bottom, the cape projecting from Baffin Island is Henry Kater Peninsula. About a third of the way from HKP to the bottom edge of the image is what was designated PII-A (it should have been PII-B, IMO, as the second largest chunk, but thats another story...)

Before the beacon failed, it was chooffing along quite nicely, traversing more than half the length of Baffin Island in about two months (which also shows how mobile the ice in Baffin Bay is at present).

I'd say it will probably become a shipping hazard in around late April. Depends a lot on weather of course.

Gas Glo

>"which also shows how mobile the ice in Baffin Bay is at present"

Comparing to last year's image, I would have thought last year looks more broken up and mobile.



Lord Soth

FrankD, I think i see PII-A

I see it close to the right margin; in the open water in the lower right image. Below the ice island, is there a section of black (open water) the same size as the ice island, shaped like a bloated flipped letter E.

If that's the case, I got the ice island.


Hi Frank D,

The ice island beacon is back transmitting. It's been cutting in and out. Now looking a bit unsteady on its pins and heading more South Easterly...

Elsewhere on t'internet, explorersweb has a report on a Russian Arctic expedition. BBC reports a massive solar flare, and Skeptical Science has a good summary of the global state of the various lumps of ice.

I think that the Open Water NE of Cap Morris Jessup is, at around 84°N, about as far North as we have ever seen open water at this time of year. Is this right?

According to Topaz, ice in this area has reduced, in places from over 2.5 metres to zero over the last few weeks.

A bit of good news for any Americans... various meteorologists seem to be predicting that the next time the polar vortex goes into wobbly spinning-top mode, the cold is heading for Moscow over the next week or ten days.

But if the high over Greenland persists, the polar vortex may wobble a lot more yet, I guess... Ne'er cast a clout til May be out.


It's still showing up on sailx.info although with the occasional break, three fragments can be seen on Environment Canada:
They're the little crystal shaped symbols, one just off Clyde, one a bit further SE and one trapped further N (W of Thule) in the fast ice (E).



There's the assumption among most ice-prognostacators that the northern sea ice is declining in a linear manner, and my gut instinct tells me that that's not necessarily the case. Most curves have areas that appear to be flat when viewed on the appropriate scale, and the overall movement of ice seasonally has a sinusoidal pattern.

I think when the ice gets low enough, we will begin to see currently unpredictable behavior in the seasonal declines, lows, and recoveries, and any planning for a linear decline will be in vain.


Thanks everyone for all the great discussion, much is over my head but I'm learning a lot. So glad all of you in the Northern Hem are stirring!

This caught my eye today:
February 14, 2011

Lessons learned/reinforced by Winter 2010-11
Steve Ostro, Senior Meterologist

La Nina & El Nino are not the be-all and end-all of everything.

.........Prior to this winter, I was intrigued about the possibility, but a little, uh, skeptical about the degree (no pun intended) of influence that had occurred so far. Now I am convinced that the loss of sea ice is having a significant effect upon weather not only locally but also downstream. ......



Thanks everyone for all the great discussion, much is over my head but I'm learning a lot. So glad all of you in the Northern Hem are stirring!

This caught my eye today:
February 14, 2011

Lessons learned/reinforced by Winter 2010-11
Steve Ostro, Senior Meterologist

La Nina & El Nino are not the be-all and end-all of everything.

.........Prior to this winter, I was intrigued about the possibility, but a little, uh, skeptical about the degree (no pun intended) of influence that had occurred so far. Now I am convinced that the loss of sea ice is having a significant effect upon weather not only locally but also downstream. ......



Hi everybody ! (Its *not* Doctor Nick)

Lord Soth - you got it! Its only the front third or so of the original calving. Don't know what happened to the rest (and it might be a bit hard to find!)

idunno & Phil - Awesome! Thanks for the heads up. The lowest "crystal" is clearly PII-A, but there were three other chunks. Perhaps one of these "crystals" is actually two chunks (the two smallest were very small). We'll see when MODIS gets that far north.

Rlkittiwake - we kicked this around a bit while Neven was trying to hibernate - Open Threads 2 and 3 might interest you.


Of course, I typed that linearly, so "it might be a bit hard to find" doesn't exactly gel with the rest (assuming those other "crystals" *are* PII chunks)...oh well....


Hi Neven,

Petermann and Greenland watchers will enjoy (well, "enjoy" is perhaps the wrong word) the interview with Jason Box in the latest Climate Show:


He's off to the Petermann in March to recover the images from the Extreme Ice Survey cameras, which should have spectacular images of the ice island calving.


Comparison PIG 2501 1702
According to the MODIS pictures a large landfast ice bridge sealing off PIG bay is breaking up since yesterday. CT and Unibremen present this as 'shelf ice' and don't count it as 'sea ice'.


On the sobering words by William Crump. Yes, out of fear and excitement I tend to follow the predictions of Dr.Maslewski. Crump stated hat we have no reliable notion of first year ice thickness. So the trend lines can only be interpreted to predict when we may lose all multi year ice in the Arctic Basin. In his opinion there is no ground to dismiss mainstream scientific forecasts that point to a seasonally ice free Arctic Basin before the second half of this century.
I have no proof of the actual overall thickness of first year ice. But during winter and spring 2009 the Catlin Arctic Survey did fieldwork on the pack over a 450 km zone in the northern Beaufort Sea. They found mostly FYI, averaging 1.8 meter thickness. Other sources, like www.galathea3.emu.dk, mention a normal winter thickness in very cold areas of up to 2 meters.
In summertime the thickness of FYI goes from anything between zero and the overall mean thickness, which was 4100 m³/3600000 km³ (some 1.2 m). As I did my map comparing concentration at the minimum 2007/2010, it was easy to see that most of the low concentration ice was FYI, and it was located within or just south of the 80 degrees circle of latitude. A lot of the high concentration ice still was second or more years old, averaging 1.6 m. Just squeezing these ‘ flawed’ notions, I wouldn’t be surprised that the FYI at the summer minimum is less than 40cm thick on average. So the melt goes from 1.8 meters in very cold winter areas down to an average of 40 cm. in the end of summer.
As the second and more years old ice has still some time left, north of Greenland and the Archipelago, it would be very vulnerable to unfavourable winds and currents during summer time. As for the FYI, I don’ t see why that wouldn’t completely freeze out one of the coming summers.
So from an amateurs’ point of view: William, let’s hope we still have some coverage left in summer, maybe up to 2025, but the FYI could be all gone in september, maybe even this year. There is a very good/bad chance the North Pole will be ice free for the first time in a considerably large geological timeframe. There is little constellation in the mainstream scientific forecasts…


Oh, bollocks!

Neven, can you delete the above posts. They are absolute piffle.



Hi Werther,

I think that the PIG break-up you have described is the same as I was asking about on 10 Feb. I first noticed it several days before this (but I am relying on weather underground maps, and I'm not sure how accurate or responsive they are.)

I also find it interesting that it is marked as "shelf ice" on CT.

I will be watching to see if it now becomes "sea ice". I also seem to remember that the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf was entirely clear of purple "sea ice" earlier this austral summer; Now it has quite a big blob of sea ice.

Cross-referring back to the Arctic, the MASIE time series plots for Beaufort and the Canadian Archipelago show absolutely static levels of coverage through this period in verey year plotted

But in both cases the 2011 extent is absolutely static at a higher level than all previous years. I strongly presume that this extra extent of "sea-ice" represents a collapsed ice shelf or two...

Does anybody know?


In response to the Open Thread 5 discussion on the likelyhood (or not) of central basin completely melting out, I have finally been motived to create the tools I needed to divide the TOPAZ data by cryosphere today regions. (Neven, this means a guest blog may be coming soon -- please email me at bfraser at alumni.ucsd.edu to help me figure out how to get some graphs into it, I don't have a site of my own to host them on.)

In any case, here I will post the end of month figures for the entire TOPAZ data range for both the central basin and total arctic. Unfortunately, TOPAZ doesn't divide FYI from MYI, so we can't address that specifically.

You can see that, as FrankD predicted, the central basin area at the end of May was above 4 million every year (in fact, 2007 wasn't even the lowest). Also note that the ice volume is declining rapidly for all months. Assuming that everything goes linearly, or even nearly so, I'd have to agree with Maslowski that it'll be gone before 2020.

(Area is km^2 and volume is in km^2 x m)

Date central Extent central Area central Volume Total Extent Total Area Total Volume
5/31/2007 4,307,031 4,151,529 10,926,918 11,139,063 9,838,834 22,982,493
6/30/2007 4,302,813 3,870,642 9,093,705 8,385,469 6,519,746 13,875,997
7/31/2007 4,191,875 3,271,172 6,361,153 5,792,656 4,101,785 8,116,717
8/31/2007 3,447,500 2,850,266 5,970,332 4,336,875 3,331,743 7,453,133
9/30/2007 3,389,531 3,041,980 6,344,702 4,539,063 3,821,995 8,799,294
10/31/2007 4,286,719 4,088,959 6,258,005 8,111,406 7,096,036 11,036,436
11/30/2007 4,294,844 4,239,619 6,756,974 10,101,875 9,543,788 12,982,500
12/31/2007 4,307,031 4,271,436 7,336,058 11,617,031 11,278,629 15,299,441
1/31/2008 4,307,031 4,275,605 8,053,747 11,980,313 11,546,363 17,350,504
2/29/2008 4,306,719 4,276,719 8,835,574 12,172,813 11,800,932 19,696,692
3/31/2008 4,307,031 4,280,252 9,444,532 12,232,500 11,816,195 21,851,541
4/30/2008 4,307,031 4,249,197 9,806,591 11,898,438 11,399,612 23,323,113
5/31/2008 4,307,031 4,101,472 9,488,576 11,442,188 10,281,432 21,701,460
6/30/2008 4,300,156 3,939,126 8,148,513 9,404,219 7,773,831 15,201,573
7/31/2008 4,213,281 3,492,368 5,744,752 6,832,344 5,190,471 8,630,646
8/30/2008 3,916,250 3,202,311 5,049,890 4,886,250 3,767,412 6,323,773
9/30/2008 3,922,969 3,637,152 5,566,048 4,934,219 4,387,042 6,844,185
10/31/2008 4,307,031 4,273,580 6,023,069 8,514,375 7,997,181 8,307,008
11/30/2008 4,307,031 4,274,554 6,307,636 10,360,313 9,966,815 10,370,885
12/31/2008 4,307,031 4,262,695 6,597,014 11,525,469 11,124,453 11,937,081
1/31/2009 4,307,031 4,268,525 7,354,770 12,006,719 11,704,120 14,641,279
2/28/2009 4,307,031 4,282,675 7,860,333 12,359,219 12,065,439 16,865,795
3/31/2009 4,307,031 4,281,543 8,435,799 12,569,844 12,230,192 18,858,058
4/30/2009 4,307,031 4,279,734 8,890,782 12,296,563 11,841,263 19,101,358
5/31/2009 4,306,250 4,199,725 8,897,530 10,945,000 10,048,379 17,682,620
6/30/2009 4,294,531 4,061,058 7,692,899 9,345,938 8,007,594 13,329,492
7/31/2009 4,211,094 3,521,011 4,934,055 6,129,844 4,838,017 6,714,471
8/31/2009 3,982,188 3,249,815 4,365,774 4,997,656 3,899,410 5,325,341
9/30/2009 4,015,000 3,811,160 4,909,465 5,395,000 4,885,620 6,165,417
10/31/2009 4,225,781 4,134,498 5,077,166 7,860,156 7,293,319 7,217,544
11/30/2009 4,284,688 4,203,718 5,513,834 9,897,813 9,518,911 9,010,229
12/31/2009 4,306,875 4,269,459 6,251,945 11,337,969 11,012,861 11,475,701
1/31/2010 4,307,031 4,275,040 7,099,189 11,875,469 11,508,216 13,828,359
2/28/2010 4,306,875 4,274,582 7,330,997 12,222,031 11,921,449 15,897,847
3/31/2010 4,307,031 4,268,059 7,687,664 12,443,594 12,015,574 17,451,437
4/30/2010 4,306,094 4,257,289 7,783,455 11,893,594 11,214,656 17,882,114
5/31/2010 4,305,000 4,145,845 7,644,098 10,870,938 9,598,749 16,047,306
6/30/2010 4,230,000 3,908,548 7,255,696 8,100,469 6,815,480 12,251,177
7/31/2010 4,214,063 3,683,812 5,674,460 6,236,875 4,904,994 7,250,836
8/31/2010 3,910,469 3,465,441 4,239,130 4,777,500 4,014,388 4,946,361
9/30/2010 4,034,688 3,827,012 3,922,587 5,062,188 4,582,225 4,512,306
10/31/2010 4,304,219 4,239,686 4,067,206 7,969,844 7,393,312 5,447,024
11/30/2010 4,307,031 4,280,522 4,933,908 9,755,938 9,341,702 7,577,424
12/31/2010 4,307,031 4,278,943 5,617,242 11,432,500 10,970,285 10,098,051
1/31/2011 4,307,031 4,282,356 6,304,695 12,034,063 11,684,530 12,396,634

Let me know if there are any other regions or analyses that people are particularly interested in....


Clare, thanks for that link!

Gareth, thanks to you too for telling us about this new episode of the Climate Show. I have turned it into a blog post.

FrankD, your comments have gone tot the shredder (looked interesting nevertheless).

Patrice Monroe Pustavrh

Neven, there is small problem with link you provided - .html extensions.

Patrice Monroe Pustavrh

Ah, me lazy stupid bitch. Correct link in here:

William Crump

Still no PIOMAS update for 2011.

I agree Maslowski's prediction is exciting and if it came true perhaps it would motivate us to do something about AGW, but then again, perhaps we will be irresponsible and leave it to future generations to clean up the mess we are leaving them.

But is Maslowski's prediction really science? He used October - November data to predict and ice free September.

I am pushing the central Arctic Basin observations because I believe it shows why his analysis is flawed.

Have other climate scientists endorsed his view and is there a critical review of his claim?

The real danger of such an aggressive "ice free" prediction is how its failure to occur will be viewed by the public.The denialists will have an undeserved field day with this.

Thanks for the new data sets.


The Beafort sea data is interesting, but how much does this region contribute to ice coverage at the minimum? Does Caitlin have a data set for the central Arctic Basin?

Can anyone do a trend line analysis on the first three columns of Bfraser's data set that shows the central Arctic Basin will decline to zero? Curved trend lines are acceptable. I suspect it will show that trend lines for total Arctic data are declining much faster than the central Arctic Basin and are not reliable as indicators of when the Arctic will be ice free.

FrankD you appear to be very good at this.

Thanks for tolerating my observations.


Thanks, Patrice, link is fixed.

Gas Glo

>"Can anyone do a trend line analysis on the first three columns of Bfraser's data set that shows the central Arctic Basin will decline to zero?"

Linear trends on 4 datapoints for 31 Aug 2007/8/9/10.

Extent and area for central and total (all 4) are upward -> never ice free
Central volume ice free in 7.2 years
Total volume ice free in 5.8 years

The difference between 5.8 and 7.2 seems pretty small to me but there really isn't enough data to do this esp. when there is little to disagree about over 2007 was exceptional and there was a 2 year recovery after this exceptional year.

Patrice Monroe Pustavrh

@William: Well, I am definitely so expert, so you can blow me down (and if you will do it with hard science, I'll be glad to be beaten to the floor). But, in the paper from Tietsche et al.(2011), mentioned higher in this post, which Lodger has criticised a lot, there is prediction, that ice can recover from ice free event. This paper also suggests that even if we have very low extent, ice recovers in autumn and winter and it could well be, that Maslowski used november numbers to reduce variability - even if a lot of ice is melted in september comparing to some other year, variability in november ice could be lower from year to year according to this study. So it may not be so unreasonable to use november trends to predict ice free Arctic in september, as some variability is taken out.

Gas Glo

The trend in the volume for central arctic basin per topaz figures is -588k. 31 Aug 10 was 4239k divided by 588k gave the 7.2 figure. If I used 3923k figure for Sept10, maybe I should report the times to ice free as 6.7 and 5.2 years.

The central basin volume trend seems downwards even taking a period over which extent and area are upwards. By starting with the exceptional 2007 year, we have reason to suppose that the 588k reduction figure is more likely to be too small than too large. Volume reduction seems much more consistant than extent or area trends.

FYI has only one growing season to grow and the melting will be of both FYI and MY ice. Once there is very little multiyear ice, then, with a declining volume, substantially all the ice melts. As the volume reduction gets to be a larger and larger proportion of the minimum ice volume, I think we can expect a very rapidly accelerating trend in the FYI thickness. If we don't see this yet then maybe it is difficult to notice yet but that doesn't mean the rapid acceleration won't be soon.

William Crump


Many thanks for the data, but how do you conclude that the central Arctic Basin will be ice free by 2020?

Based on Column 1 data I see the following:

YearMay 31

Jon Torrance

Adding to Gas Glo's work, if I use Bfraser's data to calculate average ice thickness in the Arctic Basin in September, I get:

Year Area Volume Thickness(m)
2007 3041980 6344702 2.085714567
2008 3637152 5566048 1.530331424
2009 3811160 4909465 1.288181289
2010 3827012 3922587 1.024973792

The best fit linear trendline Excel gives for that data set has an annual rate of decrease in thickness of 34 centimeters per year.

Jon Torrance


"The Beafort sea data is interesting, but how much does this region contribute to ice coverage at the minimum?"

I can't tell you how much it contributes but it clearly does contribute by melting, thereby mopping up a lot of heat energy that might otherwise end up in the Arctic Basin and melt the ice there instead. Metaphorically, ice in the Beaufort Sea throws itself on a grenade each year in order to let its buddy, Arctic Basin ice, sustain a mere flesh wound. It's puzzling to me and I suspect to most of us reading here that you resist the idea that this mechanism is a significant factor in the survival of ice in the Arctic Basin.

William Crump

Sorry about that it got away from me before i was ready:


Many thanks for the data, but how do you conclude that the central Arctic Basin will be ice free by 2020?

Based on Column 1 extent data the following in millions of km2:

Year May 31 July 31 Sept 30
2007 4.3 4.2 3.4

2008 4.3 4.2 3.9

2009 4.3 4.2 4.0

2010 4.3 4.2 4.0

Looks more like a new equilibrium has been established rather than we are on course to an ice free Arctic!

Based on Column 2 area data the following in millions of km2:

Year May 31 July 31 Sept 30
2007 4.15 3.3 3.04

2008 4.1 3.5 3.6

2009 4.2 3.5 3.8

2010 4.15 3.7 3.8

Wow, unless my eyes are failing, the central Arctic Basin refreeze by September 30 puts it at a higher extent than July 31! Again, where is there a decline to an ice free Arctic in these numbers?

The column 3 volume numbers show a decline, but is this a decline due to loss of thick multi-year ice or a decline in the volume of first year ice?

Based on Column 3 volume data the following in thousands of km3:

Year May 31 July 31 Sept 30
2007 10.9 6.4 6.3

2008 9.5 5.7 5.6

2009 8.9 4.9 4.9

2010 7.6 5.7 3.9

The volume decline from the PIOMAS model is impressive, but what does it mean? Since extent and area are holding up this may only be an indication that the central Arctic Basin is becoming "ice free" of multi year ice. I do not think it supports any conclusion that first year ice is declining in thickness.

The 2010 volume of 3,922 km3 was sufficient to generate an extent figure of 4.0 million km2 and an area figure of 3.8 million km2.

That translates into average ice thickness of about 1 meter at Septembet 30, about what first year ice should be at this date. How is this any different from the thickness of first year ice in prior years?

I can find ICESAT winter thickness data for first year ice, but where is the ICESAT summer thickness data for first year ice to compare with these figures?

Yes, volume has declined as older thick ice has been trasnported out of the Arctic, but first year ice appears to be flourishing.

Gas Glo

>" this may only be an indication that the central Arctic Basin is becoming "ice free" of multi year ice."

But but but ...

"becoming "ice free" of multi year ice" is exactly the same as saying becoming seasonally ice free.


Actually, what William Crump is saying isn't impossible. It is possible that each year, some fraction of the FYI survives, while all (or essentially all) of last years ice is advected. Then once some of the FYI survives till its birthday it becomes MYI, but is too mobile to stay where it needs to be to remain all the way till September. (It'd probably be luck of the draw which ice survives, so some years we may even see some third year ice.)

In my opinion, this isn't a stable situation, as FYI is thinner and saltier, and once the thick MYI is all gone the FYI just won't survive whatever heat influx was sufficient to cause decreases in the MYI (especially as the temperatures up there continue to rise....)

In other words, the only reason that we are seeing an increase in FYI is that, without the MYI there to hold in the heat, the is more winter heat loss == more ice formation. However, there must be a balancing and then some increase in summer heat gain, or there wouldn't be net ice loss during the year. Once there isn't any MYI to absorb that summer heat, the FYI won't be able to survive.


Oh, just to be clear, I am predicting seasonally ice free by 2020.

Although, just looking at the linear fit based on volume, one would expect the winter to be ice free even sooner than the summer, which is absurd. I guess what's going on is that the formation of ice is being slowed down even more than the destruction of ice is being sped up (probably primarily through warm ocean currents). However, as the ice thickness continues to fall, it will eventually reach the point where the loss of insulation causes much higher heat loss, and ice formation will speed up and allow the summer destruction to catch up with it.

In any case, I expect the next 1-4 years to be quite revealing..... unfortunately.

Gas Glo

Right, yes, it isn't impossible.

It is possible, even sensible to imagine an area where freezing exceeds melting even though this isn't true of the whole Arctic. Whether such an area might be N of 85N or N of 88N or displaced from pole due to where warm currents tend to flow is pure conjecture for all I know. The last refuge of both the seasonal ice cover and the MYI is likely to be in the direction of advection from that 'more freeze than melt' area. Those three areas may all be different but I would have thought still likely to all be in Central Arctic basin?

Is this likely to be sustainable for any period of time? Doubtful I suggest. The incoming water to the 'more freeze than melt' area where previously ice flowed in is likely to get warmer and warmer.

Just found this wikipedia graph:

It is only likely to be sustainable for some time if the shape of the above graph tends to an only very slowly declining line

eg 64+1, 32+.99, 16+.98, 8+.97, 4+.96

There could be a S shape but that end curve has to kick in pretty soon with significant effect.

I am more concerned about the possibility that rate of loss of volume over last 4 years is an underestimate because of 2007 being exceptional. I hope the area decline remains slow but the volume seems to give plenty of cause for concern.


Well, GasGlo, it is possible that the rate of loss over the last 4 years is an understatement, but it is also possible that it is an overstatement, since TOPAZ shows much thinner ice than PIPS (I'd like PIOMAS and especially ICESAT2 to put their opinions in -- though PIOMAS has pretty much agreed with TOPAZ in the past, I believe).


The Beafort sea data is interesting, but how much does this region contribute to ice coverage at the minimum?

It's where the thick MYI is going to die recently!
Here's next year's quota lining up:



Okay, sorry for the backed out response. I had confused two sets of data that made my analysis junk. The problem I had is that Kwok (that William Crump links to in OT-5) has several graphs. In my figures, I inadvertantly grabbed the area one (in thousands of sq kms) and used it as volume (in cu kms).

Neven's right, it was an interesting approach, it was just rubbish - garbage in, garbage out, and all that.

As it turned out, I needed to do nothing more than follow WC's links in more detail. He linked to a graph in Ron Kwok's paper showing the increase in FY extent (which nobody disputes, since MY ice is clearly shrinking faster than the total). But Kwok has another graph, showing FY thickness.


And the answer is, declining. Not very fast (only 6 mm per year), on a noisy (not statistically significant), short (not "scientifically significant") trend. But its what is available.

Kwok's thickness graph shows a decline for MY ice. His MY volume and MY area graphs show the same thinning, but even greater (from 2.92 in 2004 to 1.86 in 2008). Whichever is more accurate, I would argue that while the loss of multi year ice was a big factor in volume loss in 2004-2008, given the diminishing area and volume, and the fact that it is little thicker than FY ice, that MY ice could not have been as big a component of more recent losses. Qualitatively it seems likely that thinning of FY ice IS a significant component of volume loss over the last three years.

Personally, I don't believe first year ice is different from multi year ice in any way that is relevant to September area/extent/volume. Nor do I accept Williams unproven contention that the Arctic Basin Area trend is the only relevant measure.

So I merely provide what was requested - make of it what you will.

William Crump

FrankD and all:

Thank you for considering my unproven viewpoint.

I do not expect everyone to agree and I enjoy the discussion and welcome references to new data sources that I have not come across, particularly if some one can come up with a data set on the Arctic basin that shows a flaw in my view.

The volume drop calculated by the PIOMAS model is very worrisome, but what does it mean? (Rhetorical question.)

FrankD has drawn declining curves using the PIOMAS data that fit historical information and predict a rapid demise of September ice. I applaud his efforts as I do not have his skill. When I look at all the trend lines I see that this method predicts rapid demise of July through December ice. No offense, but that is not going to happen in the time frame indicated by the trend lines, and I do not believe that FrankD believes in all of the trend lines either, but it is an interesting exercise.

Some of the discussions here have indicated that the future of the trend lines is that they will flatten out in an S-curve fashion. My view provides a possible mechanism for why this flattening will occur.

The biggest weakness of my view is that I do not have thickness data for first year ice in the central Arctic Basin.

I have had to rely on area and extent data. I thought I saw some data from ICESAT that showed that first year summer ice was not declining in thickness, but I can only find the winter ice data. Even if I can find the ICESAT summer data, it covers a very short period and provides no data for 2009 and 2010 so even if it supports my view, it may no longer be valid.

I readily concede that the North Pole will become ice free, but I do not attach any importance to such a small location as wind conditions can easily push ice away from the pole. By contrast, the area between the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland and the North Pole is a different matter as the winds appear to push ice from Siberia toward these areas and the last thick ice resides off the coasts of these land masses.I would not expect this area to be ice free even if the North pole is ice free.

I think FrankD makes a valid point when he states:

"I would argue that while the loss of multi year ice was a big factor in volume loss in 2004-2008, given the diminishing area and volume, and the fact that it is little thicker than FY ice, that MY ice could not have been as big a component of more recent losses. Qualitatively it seems likely that thinning of FY ice IS a significant component of volume loss over the last three years."

Although I do challenge his view that MY ice decline was not a big factor in 2010. I challenge this based on the following information provided by the NSIDC in their October 4, 2010 report which indicates that there was a large decline in multi year ice in 2010:

" The ice

Researchers often look at ice age as a way to estimate ice thickness. Older ice tends to be thicker than younger, one- or two-year-old ice. Last winter, the wind patterns associated with the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation transported a great deal of multiyear ice from the coast of the Canadian Arctic into the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Scientists speculated that much of this ice, some five years or older, would survive the summer melt period. Instead, it mostly melted away. At the end of the summer 2010, under 15% of the ice remaining the Arctic was more than two years old, compared to 50 to 60% during the 1980s. There is virtually none of the oldest (at least five years old) ice remaining in the Arctic (less than 60,000 square kilometers [23,000 square miles] compared to 2 million square kilometers [722,000 square miles] during the 1980s).

Whether younger multiyear ice (two or three years old) in the Arctic Ocean will continue to age and thicken depends on two things: first, how much of that ice stays in the Arctic instead of exiting into the North Atlantic through Fram Strait; and second, whether the ice survives its transit across the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas or instead melts away."

I readily concede that future volume declines at the minimum will have to come from first year ice as that is about all that is left, so if the PIOMAS model is accurate and it shows a continued decline this September I would view this as supporting the view that first year ice is declining rapidly enough to creat an "ice free" Arctic in the Maslowski time frame. But if it does not show a decline from the 4,079 km3 level of 2010 or as I am speculating, it shows an increase above the 2010 level then perhaps volume declines will flatten out in future years.

Based on historical data which FrankD has been kind enough to provide, there is not much precedent for volume upticks when comparing monthly data to the prior year, so this would represent a change in the historical trend.

I wish PIOMAS would post as the negative volume anomaly has shown a sharp uptick from June through December of 2010. If the negative anomaly had stayed at the June level, then I would be willing to concede that an ice free Arctic is immenent, but that is not what has happened. In spite of the low level of ice extent reported by JAXA and NSIDC for November and December of 2010, volume is doing better than it was in June based on the reduction of the negative anomaly, although as of the end of November it still had not caught up to the 2009 November volume. (Frank do you have the December 2010 figure?)

I initially was looking for support of the rapid decline position and started going through the Cryosphere regional data looking for additional support for the position. As I did this, I noticed that ice in the central Arctic basin constituted almost all of the ice that remained at the minimum. I expected that I would be able to easily show that this ice was on the same downward trend line as the rest of the Arctic, but that was not what I found when I came across the historical September chart by Adrienne Tivy for this region. Instead, it appeared that the central Arctic decline was much slower.

As I tried to prove my pre-conceived notion of rapid decline, I found that the data I was using to support my view contained a flaw as a predictor of future conditions because it contained a bias in that the easiest to melt ice was already at a zero level at the minimum. While the data accurately showed the historical decline, I could not use it as a future predictor, because many of the regions that had contributed to the decline no longer had any ice left to contribute to future declines.

With the patience and sharp analysis provided by FrankD in a number of discussions we had at Patrick Lockerby's web site on Science 2.0, I have tried to develop and refine my unproven viewpoint. I would agree that I have not developed enough data to prove my view as the data is missing, but I do believe I have opened up an avenue to challenge the unproven view of Dr. Maslowski that the Arctic will soon be "ice free" and have provided a basis of challenging trend line analysis using Arctic wide data bases.

Ultimately, the ice will provide the answer to this issue, until then, we can continue to discuss the timing issue, but I have little doubt that the ice conditions will continue to decline and that we are headed for a permanently "ice free" Arctic at the minimum. It is just a matter of time.

I do have one additional prediction though; Joe Bastardi's position that the Arctic has started a long term recovery will become the source of much humor in the future. Perhaps such offbeat predictions will be called "Bastardes" in the future in hionor of his failed predictions.


Just where is this PIG bay? (Google keeps telling me it's on Cuba...)


AmbiValent, try these coordinates: 74.16S 104.44W on your G Earth search box.
It's now high summer on the Antarctic coasts.
NOAA/NESDIS shows SST's with anomalies up to 2 dgrs C since the sea ice has largely melted out. We may see the effects of a warm ocean pulse related to the high ocean heat content. Just like Richard Alley showed in an AGU lecture last autumn (see Climate Progress 15 12 2010).
Peeking through the clouds, you may notice things are happening over the remnants of Larsen B icesheet, too. A lot of blue at the glacier fronts over there.


AmbiValent, welcome. PIG stands for Pine Island Glacier.


The latest pictures of all the Antarctic ice shelves are shown here http://nsidc.org/data/iceshelves_images/index_modis.html


Thanks, all... I was aware that it had to be an acronym, but when I was searching for something like "Prince Ingmar Gustav" land/sea/whatever I never found anything...

Pete Dunkelberg

Neven: PIG stands for Pine Island Glacier. But where's the island?? Evidently there isn't one and the name comes from the name of a ship, the USS Pine Island.


I would like to weigh in supporting Lodger’s position on the Tietsche et al.(2011) paper. The authors used a model and a model can be tuned to produce any result you would like. We have some evidence from the real world. Refer to the Hansen & Sato paper at http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110118_MilankovicPaper.pdf
There is at least a 1 degree step change in global temperatures when the arctic first froze 15Mya. There is a larger step change associated with the Antarctic freezing and unfreezing. Unless the authors can show why these real world events don’t apply to the present conditions their modeling is just wasted computer cycles.
People keep trying to extrapolate using data from the last 3 years please go look at the spaceweather.com SFU graph http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/f10.gif We have just had the deepest solar minimum in a century or more. 2008 and 2009 both show evidence of the reduction in solar heating (at least in the area/extent numbers). If you believe the PIOMAS volume numbers the solar minimum effect was negligable. PIOMAS is a model and so I remain skeptical of the results.


First Year Ice (FYI) is physically quite different from Multi Year Ice (MYI) - I recommend this very good introduction by Professor Wadhams.

I think that the unusual behaviour of the Hudson Bay this year, freezing very late, is a good indication for the next years in the higher latitudes: ice arriving later, having less weeks to grow, starting to melt earlier with a longer and longer melt season. Hudson Bay established a record - its melting behaviour should be interesting, too.

Gas Glo

Antarctic area has certainly plunged in last few days (for time of year). It is already lower than 17 of the 31 annual minimums. If as much as was lost in the last 4 days was lost again, we would be very close to second lowest Antarctic area.

I am not surprised at IJIS not updating after reports of major solar flares heading our way. But does this make it surprising that CT has updated area figures each day?

Meanwhile in Arctic, a minimum maximum extent per IJIS looks unlikely (only 1 in 7 year's movements from 17th Feb would get a minimum maximum). However per CT the chance of a minimum maximum area look good (17 in 32 years movements would make a record).

Peter Ellis

There is at least a 1 degree step change in global temperatures when the arctic first froze 15Mya. There is a larger step change associated with the Antarctic freezing and unfreezing. Unless the authors can show why these real world events don’t apply to the present conditions their modeling is just wasted computer cycles.

What on Earth are you wittering about? On a 15 MYear timescale, a "step change" is anything that takes less than about ten thousand years. The model you're complaining about is looking at the difference between two years and 60 years. Both of those are effectively instantaneous in a geological context.

Your argument is invalid by more than two orders of magnitude.

William Crump

Is Maslowski's prediction part of a peer reviewed paper or was it a presentation at a symposium?

Maslowski, W., State and Future Projections of Arctic Sea Ice,
Changes of the Greenland Cryosphere Workshop and the Arctic Freshwater Budget
International Symposium, Nuuk,. Greenland, 25-27 August, 2009

Have other climatologist published peer reviewed papers that support Maslowski's view?

I am only finding papers that say the ice free Arctic will occur on a much longer time scale than Maslowski and several of the commentators here are predicting.

Maslowski appears to back pedal on the prediction saying he only predicted that it would be nearly ice free based on volume, which may leave a large area/extent of thin ice.

Rather than debate goofy claims by non-researchers like me, can anyone provide a link to a research paper that supports Maslowski's claim?


Hi everybody,

William - Ma


William, the only thing I vaguely seem to remember is that Maslowski did his projection before 2007, but I'm sure others here know more.


Hi everybody,

I have no idea what Typepad is trying to do to me.

William - I have had great difficulty also tracking down any of Maslowski's papers. There seem to several, all behind pay-walls.

His is perhaps the most commented-upon prediction. It was famously used by a Mr Gore as the basis of a prediction in which Gore misquoted the degree of certainty attached.

His method, as I understand it, is to say that if you mix a certain amount of ice and a certain amount of seawater with a certain amount of heat, the ice will melt at a certain rate; Remove heat and the water will freeze at a certain rate.

Looking at the amount of ice that melted between around 1996 and around 2006, Dr Maslowski (who is approximately the US Navy's leading oceanographer), says, well, if it cqrries on at that rate, it will all melt by 2016 +/- 3 years.

If you can find some major flaw in this, you would be terribly unwise to post it up here. Take it to a major oil company. They should offer you several million dollars.

@Bfraser especially, thanks for some great work on the TOPAZ data. Please sir, can we have some more?

Also thanks to Jeremy and fredt34 for some very interesting links.

@Runincircles, I think that the effect of the Atlantic MultiDecadal Oscillation is possibly more important than the suncycle. 97 per cent of AGW is estimated to be trapped in the oceans. I have personally formed the view that the Arctic sea ice decline is caused almost entirely by excess heat in the Atlantic Ocean.

To add to Gas Glo's post above, the total global ice cover has started to drop down a bit too...

I am delighted to report back to the group that my favourite suspect, the warm water anomaly West of Greenland has slackened slightly.

On the other hand, a very odd thing is happening in the Greenland Sea/Fram Strait. CT sea ice are has fallen about 10 per cent each week for three weeks.

This may be just the effect of a wierd pattern of ice drift, but it is possibly a sign of imminent system failure in the Fram Strait area. I myself am watching that space...

I did write a longer version of this, but it got chewed, so...


Potholer goes to town on Chris Ms nonsense including arctic related misinformation

Many chuckles


As I was already very concerned with Arctic Ice in 2007 (in fact I really started in 2005 after Katrina), I have a fresh memory about Maslowski forecast / projection (he's not Nostradamus, hence it's not a prediction, nor a claim), and I can provide some links:
- It appeared on this article on BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7139797.stm - you should read it.
- Maslowski bio is here : http://research.nps.navy.mil/cgi-bin/vita.cgi?p=display_vita&id=1023568034 - he works at the Navy and he is the boss for
- PIPS 3 model, http://www.oc.nps.edu/~pips3/, which happens to be the U. S. Navy Polar Ice Prediction System, running on a damn big supercomputer.

If you follow the links about the models, you'll see... that they're "quite" serious.

So, I do pay attention to a guy who works for the US Navy, has advanced models, huge computers, and probably secret data, when he announces that ice will go away soon.

And I'm not really surprised that a military guy hasn't published peer-reviewed papers since he works for the Navy.

Maps from PIPS 2 are released here, http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/pips2/ , but why would the Navy release their information and power from V3 to "competitors" ? Don't you think Russia and China also have big models, computers and teams?


Idunno -If you look in the IPCC section 6.3.3 you will see that the estimated NH temperature dropped about 0.3 degrees during the maunder minimum. What other effects were you refering to that have that scale of change associated with them.

Mr. Ellis - I am sure you are right about my wittering - non linear albedo feedbacks et all. Just a statement from the IPCC from memory so the quote is not exact - "Gradual climate change trends reach points where non linear feeedbacks occur resulting in rapid temperature changes" Lessons of the past and all that

Gas Glo

This has probably been posted here so feel free to ignore it if it is repetition.

"They summarize, "Using a high resolution, global, ocean-ice circulation model, we present an alternative view that freshwater discharged from glacial Lake Agassiz would have remained on the continental shelf as a narrow, buoyant, coastal current and would have been transported south into the subtropical North Atlantic."

If they’re correct and fresh water from glacial Lake Agassiz did end up in the Gulf Stream much farther south, between 20 and 40 degrees of latitude in the subtropical gyre, it’s revolutionary. "Basically, our model says that this flood ended up 3,000 miles further south than we all thought."


Fred34 and GasGlo (wrt you comments on Hudson Bay melting behaviour and projected freeze from here to max): you may care to examine the current state of the ice in Baffin Bay, Hudson Strait and on the east coast of Greenland. In particular:
http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/subsets/?subset=Arctic_r03c02.2011051.terra and

Subjectively, I would say all area exhibit more fracturing and mobility than recent years. Without reference to the numerical data, I would suggest that we are already seeing thaw conditions in these areas - even the butt end of the NW Passage is beginning to break up. It might take a while for this to be reflected in extent data - as we know increasing extent can just be the diffusion of the pack - but, personally, I think it looks quite flimsy compared to the equivalent time last year (and, from CT images prior to that).


Hi Runincircles,

Agreed entirely that if we are entering a phase of sun activity comparable to the Maunder minimum, this will be hugely significant. I don't personally think we are, and I don't think this is what you were trying to suggest...?

With regard to the Arctic sea ice, I am now slightly heterodox. I think that the influence of sun within the Arctic is not much above the historical level. Ice melts when the sun rises and sea water freezes when it sets. Business as usual.

What has changed is that the temperature of the seawater arriving in the Arctic has increased. This is not a seasonal input, like sunlight - and explains to my satisfaction why the drastic decline in ice volume and general health persists throughout the year.

Recently published research has found that "Water entering the Arctic is the hottest in 2000 years".

A commonly quoted estimate is that 97 percent of AGW is "stored" within the world's oceans.

As of last week, a group of scientists has published that they have found the missing sea level rise. Models predicted about 2.1mm per year, and scientists have measured sufficient land ice melt and ocean warming in the upper 700 metres of water to add up to this.

Actual measured sea level rise is about 3.1 mm per year. Last week they have published that the missing millimetre is accounted for by the thermal expansion of the abyssal ocean, below 700 metres. This was previously considered nearly impossible to contemplate. And in the light of Hansen et al (2011), it is very worrying, but more especially in Antarctica.

So, back to the Arctic and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation... This is a natural pattern of variability in the Sea Surface Temperature in the Atlantic, with an apparent cycle of about 60 years; We are right at the peak of the wave right now, and have been approaching that peak for the past decade. We have at least another decade to go of this natural cycle delivering more heat than average into the Arctic.

This Atlantic heat is currently keeping the Arctic Ocean ice-free, as it always does, from North of Scandinavia up to 81°N, above Svarlsbard. It is very significant.

I would of course concede that the whole ocean circulation pattern is solar powered, but it is to some extent a record of the accumulation of 3 billion years or so of solar insolation, and I do not expect that the heat delivered by seawater to the Arctic in 2011 will be greatly affected by the sunspot number in 2011.

Having said this, the real double whammy would be the sun coming out of hibernation, and behaving as normal during solar cycle 24, combined with the AMO behaving as normal for the coming decade...


Hi everybody,

I've just now stumbled across the rather fabulous "World Ocean Review 2010". Written by some few hundreds of scientists, it covers in clear scientific prose some of the stuff I have written up as drivel in previous posts here. (and a lot more besides)


I can't remember this being posted up here before, and apologies in advance, I've probably posted up the link wrong. It's there or thereabouts...and a right riveting read.

Daniel Bailey

Re: William Crump, other concerned parties

Maslowski's original May 3, 2006 prediction can be found here.

As luck would have it, I can point you to his most recent (that I can find) version as well (available here):
Advancements and Limitations in Understanding and Predicting Arctic Climate Change
Wieslaw Maslowski
Naval Postgraduate School

State of the Arctic Meeting, Miami, FL, 16-19 March 2010

The pertinent info can be found on page 12 with the money shot conclusions found on page 13.


The Yooper



I s'pose there's some satisfaction in a grim, teeth-clenching told ya so fashion. No joyous leaping into the air with fevered cries of "I knew it!" for this one.

This is truly train-wreck stuff. And it's not such a slow-motion thing either.

Thanks anyway, Daniel.


idunno - great write up thanks. I think you would find the following link from NASA very interesting.
it basically talks about linkages between the solar cycle and the NAO. No natural cycle can currently compete with the AGW warming but it is interesting to watch the effects of these other fluctuations on the AGW ramp.

Daniel Bailey

Dear adelady, I was staying in character with my current avatar, The Comedian (from The Watchmen). This world has such sadness yet in store that one has to laugh from time to time to retain one's sanity. After all, is not this stage we play on in it's final act?

If I have offended, please accept my apologies.

Maybe back to Ozymandias, eh? Pity, the Comedian was such fun...perhaps Rorschach, he the twin of temperament to I?

The Yooper

Pete Dunkelberg

Let's not "...concede that the whole ocean circulation pattern is solar powered...." (idunno)

Thermohaline circulation

What drives the THC?
The short answer would be: high-latitude cooling. In cold regions the highest surface water densities are reached, this causes convective mixing and sinking of deep water, which drives the circulation.
Reality is more complex. Pressure gradients at depth, resulting from density gradients in the overlying waters, are the driving force in the equations of motion. As the density forcing occurs at the surface (see above), a subtle question is why the density differences and the circulation affect the whole ocean depth and are not confined to a near-surface layer. [6] showed that a deep circulation only arises when heating (buoyancy source) is at depth and cooling at the surface. The reason that there is a deep circulation after all is turbulent mixing, which brings down the heat on a time scale of ~1000 years. It has been shown that in the long-term equilibrium the strength of the thermohaline circulation in models depends on the turbulent mixing coefficient [7], and that the energy required for this turbulent mixing comes to a large extent from the moon via tidal currents ([8]).

This discussion can be labelled: is the THC pushed or pulled ([9])? I.e., pushed by formation of cold deep water, or pulled by downward diffusion of heat through the thermocline? The answer is a question of time scale: ultimately, in the long run, it is pulled. But on shorter time scales, up to centuries, it can be considered pushed in the sense that it is density changes in the deep water formation regions which affect the circulation strength. If this density drops too much so that deep water formation is not possible, the circulation stops. Ultimately, on the long time scale of turbulent mixing, the deep ocean density will drop as well until new deep water formation can start.

That press release at physorg (Gas Glo) - here is the paper - Condron_Windsor_2011 is also on ocean currents. And there is Fukamachi_etal_2010_Strong_export_of_Antarctic_Bottom_Water_east_of_the_Kerguelen_plateau.pdf and Våge_etal_2009_Surprising_return_of_deep_convection_to_the_subpolar_North_Atlantic_Ocean_in_Winter_2007–2008.pdf all supporting two conclusions:
1) More data and more supercomputers are needed, and
2) I have no idea what to expect from the ocean currents.

Artful Dodger

Dr. Wieslaw Maslowski has many published papers in public Scientific Journals:


Moreover, the Chief of Naval Operations (the U.S. Navy's top Admiral) recently testified to Congress that the Arctic would be Sea Ice free in late Summer by 2020 (his testimony was the subject of a recent post on Climate Progress).

The CNO is not a Scientist. He does have some very smart ones working for him however, like Dr. Maslowski at the Naval Graduate School.


I've come across the first minimum extent prediction for 2011: 4.54 million km^2, with a confidence band of +- 0.59, based on NSIDC monthly data from 1980 to 2010, using a quadratic regression model. That would be between 2007 and 2008 September extents.


I wouldn't swear to it, but I think you find that CNO (Admiral Gary Roughead) has not testified to that effect, although he has certainly commented on a number of occasions that the arctic is in and "ice-diminished" state.

The congressional testimony I think you're referring to was from Rear Admiral David Titley, who is CNO's chief advisor on climate, navigation and oceanography. He IS a scientist (PhD in meteorology) and heads the Navy's task force on climate change (set up by Roughead in May 2009). A transcript of his testimony can be found here: http://democrats.science.house.gov/Media/file/Commdocs/hearings/2010/Energy/17nov/Titley_Testimony.pdf

But it doesn't mention 2020. Joe Romm actually noted in the Climate Progress thread you refer to that the "quote" need to be checked out. That figure seems to come from an "interpreter of interpretations" - the only figure I can find that is definitely Titley's is 2035-2040, which he refers to in a section he wrote for a symposium: http://www.jhuapl.edu/ClimateAndEnergy/Book/Author/Titley,%20David.pdf

"In May 2009, I told the CNO that, by 2035–2040, the Arctic would probably have about 4 weeks of basically icefree conditions in the late summer/early fall. I said on a confidence scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is perfect and 1 is nothing, I would consider that statement to be about a 2. Since then, I would keep that forecast, except I would probably change the confidence interval now to maybe a 3 or 4. There has been some recent research that says that a few weeks of ice-free conditions could exist by the 2030s."

And while RADM Titley is not Maslowski's boss, I bet he reads everything Maslowski writes, VERY attentively.

Artful Dodger

Frank, US Navy predictions of the first sea ice-free Summer were mentioned multiple times on Climate Progress, for instance this post on Dec 19, 2010:

Rear Admiral David Titley, the U.S. Navy’s chief oceanographer and director of its climate change task force, “predicts an ice-free Arctic in late summer by 2020.”
Adm Titley also described the most likely progression: 4 weeks of sea ice-free conditions by the mid-to-late 2030's, and months ice free by mid-century. This is what appears in his written statement, which BTW is not a transcript of his verbal testimony to Congress.

Lord Soth

I put little faith in the sea ice maximun for predicting the new minimun, as the divergent results of 2006 and 2010 shows.

However we are now less than two weeks to the average maximum sea ice extent, and IIJS extent has been flat lining for close to a week. A sudden spurt of sea ice may occur, however we now stand a good chance of having a new miniimun value for the sea ice maximun.

Although, you can't read much into this, it is still an interesting thing to watch over the next few weeks.

L. Hamilton

Also interesting though perhaps unimportant, the Uni Bremen graph of Antarctic sea ice extent appears to have reached a new minimum, wrt the 9 years they plot.



Lodger, you're telling me what I just told you. Perhaps you need to reread my post (?)

Joe Romm has cited 2020 several times, but his source is a Daily Fail article about Cancun. You had a good giggle at me relying on a crank Wikipedia article, but British tabloids hardly consititute the acme of scientific rigour.

I didn't dispute the US Navy hold the position of 4 weeks ice free in the late 2030's (I posted the links!). But it wasn't 2020 and it wasn't CNO saying it. I don't even personally doubt that we *will* see an ice free preiod in 2020 (or before), but Roughead didn't say that, and neither did Titley (pending a link to a more reliable source than the Daily Mail).

Substantially, I think you're correct. I think your detail was amiss.

But, you know, whatever....

Gas Glo

Lord Soth, I agree we should put little faith in the sea ice maximun for predicting the new minimum.

2003 and 2007 suggest low maximum implies low minimum, but 2006 and 2008 suggest inverse relationship. Other years are not clear which way they indicate as taking two random numbers of 1 to 8, the median gap probability is 2. We have 2 result where the gap is 1 or 0 places that is 25% of the 8 year sample. We should have about 35% of our result in this rangeand only about half of that probability for gaps of 5 or more. Thus the actual occurances are pretty close to probabilities for random positions so it seems the positions are pretty close to random rather than suggesting a correlation. If the distribution suggests any direction then it is for a very marginal influence relative to random placings that low maximums imply a high minimum.

>"however we now stand a good chance of having a new miniimun value for the sea ice maximum."

I don't agree with that. Only the pattern of movements for 2 of 8 years would result in a new minimum maximum. I think I would suggests perhaps lower than 25% chance as 2010 had a late maximum and this fake (April Fool's) recovery style may be becoming more normal as the ice retreats northward.

A minimum maximum is much more likely with CT area data.


Hi everybody,

Thanks runincircles. Interesting link. Rereading my entry above, I didn't actually answer your question though...

Suggest that the Arctic amplification of AGW over the last decade would be beyond the range of the Maunder minimum effects. As I'm not a scientist, I won't speculate.

The relevant maps can be generated at...


Three or four that I think most interesting are

A comparison of 2001-2010 versus a 1901-2000 baseline.

2010 versus 2001-2010

(Both showing an accelerating trend of SST increase in the whole North Atlantic/Arctic Ocean, with particular hotspots in Fram Strait, Baffin Bay and the Grand Banks)

2007 versus 2001-2010. (Showing that something very peculiar happened in the North Pacific, which I believe must be associated with the 2007 sea ice anomaly.So I think 2007 may be a freak year.)

The ongoing build up of heat in the North Atlantic/Arctic seawater looks much more like "the new normal". I think this may be sufficient extra heat to explain an awful lot.

Look at the hot bit (seawater), and it may tell you more about the cold bit (seaice) than looking at the cold bit directly...because whatever the cold bit does will be done to it by the hot bit.

@pete dunkelberg. Thanks for the clarifications and the interesting links. All I really meant is that the AMO occurs in the solar system. So, like, whatever...

On a lighter note, I have come to realise that there are people out there on the internet who apparently don't believe that the AGW debate is happening within the known universe.

A couple of days ago, steve goddard, chatting away with the loonies in his links section has now posted that he expects the worldwide temperature in about fifty years time to be minus 35°K.

I'm not too sure what happens at this point, but doesn' this mean that a couple of years later the Earth should have eaten the moon, several of the nearer planets and...

I think we should be told.

Lord Soth

Yes its hard to predict the maximun, as weather not climate is the major component. It's a lot easier to destroy new ice (frazil, nilas, grey, grey-white), than older ice.

Storms have a major impact on new ice. The ice off the coast of Labrador and in the gulf of St. Lawrence was cut in half by storms in the past week alone. All this ice is grey or grey-white and is less than 12" thick. It didn't stand a chance, as seen in this graph.


In the long term, we should see a decrease in the maximun sea ice extent amonst all the noise, as climatic effects take hold. Also we should see the peak move several weeks later since the season lag moves latter the farther north you go. (about a month difference between central latitudes and the high arctic).

It would be interesting to have more data. We have sat data since the seventies. Is there any data like IJIS that gives us ice extent for the 80's and 90; instead of a 9 year record from IJIS. A 30 years worth of extent data would help alot in reducing the variance, and we be able to see a trend on the maximun (amplitude and phase shift).

Christoffer Ladstein

Though i notice that quite a few of you are not really good at the Hibernating-stuff, I have to say and admit I'm myself been of "to other seas", but just by visiting this page is certainly enough to awake even the hardest sleeper!! Take that as a modest compliment.....

Here is an article in english about the brave "desperados" onboard (or more hopefully on ashore on ice!!) the Berserk, which have been missing in the Antarctic the last couple days, due to most terrible weather.

Gas Glo

Lord Soth, does it have to be extent area? Or would area data do?

Gas Glo

1979.189 15.074604
1980.1863 14.7429981
1981.2054 14.3082495
1982.1808 14.7734251
1983.1561 14.7548742
1984.2164 14.2622805
1985.2246 14.5948057
1986.2 14.4870262
1987.1534 14.6827326
1988.1918 15.0071096
1989.1589 14.1837082
1990.1891 14.6883049
1991.2164 14.2229528
1992.1616 14.3987179
1993.1891 14.7550344
1994.1753 14.5278549
1995.1836 14.2743616
1996.1425 13.8432703
1997.1315 14.3325729
1998.1589 14.5411863
1999.2219 14.2953978
2000.1671 13.9185286
2001.2109 14.5263119
2002.1453 14.3224802
2003.2219 14.3390617
2004.1891 13.7756853
2005.1781 13.4600563
2006.1918 13.358222
2007.1561 13.3171978
2008.1946 13.8907156
2009.1671 13.853056
2010.1808 13.8120375

Linear regression:
Slope 0.999600843 -0.036450613
Adj to years/year 0.000399157
Adj to days/year 0.145692265

So 1 day later every 7 years. Reduction in area of .036m km^2 per year

Gas Glo

D'oh :-( I meant 1 day earlier every 7 years.


Hi everybody,

...for example, has anybody considered that, as the both Passages are opened to seawater for, presumably longer and longer each year, this allows the greater unimpeded movement of surface warm water...

This is in itself a positive feedback to itself. As the Passages fill with saltier, warmer water, they become harder to refreeze.

The final result could be, I think, the establishlent of a vortical pattern in the Arctic, similar to that in the Southern Ocean. At the centre of this, the remaining ice could be relatively unaffected.

So we could end up with a perennially open North Eastern passage before we see an ice-free Arctic. With consequences probably a little too awful to start addressing yet...

But the question is, could this happen? If not, why not? Anybody got anything?

Greg Wellman

I'm not sure that surface currents would increase into the "passage" areas enough to make a difference. The bulk of the heat transport into the arctic is subsurface anyway. It is certainly true that the longer a region is unfrozen, the harder it will be to refreeze because it should be saltier - but that doesn't particularly depend on a surface current to bring in more salty water - there's more time each year for the fresher meltwater to evaporate and/or mix with saltier layers below.

The arctic will have to warm a lot more to keep the NE passage open during winter. So I might expect an effectively ice-free summer by 2025, but a winter NE passage not before 2100. These are my rough guesses based on published simulations, current trends etc. Odds of me being wrong on the dates: high. Odds wrong on the order of these two events: low.

The comparison with the southern ocean is interesting, but the geometry is so different (in the south, you have a very deep ocean surrounding a small continent, in the north you have a relatively shallow ocean deepest roughly in the middle) that I would not expect similar circulation patterns.


Hi Greg,

I'm not going to try to agree or disagree, just clarify and invite any further comments...

By the comparison to the Southern Ocean, I just meant circular and Westerly. It aint gonna look like the Roaring Forties.

I'm not sure the Arctic needs to warm a lot to keep the Passages open longer. And the more there is locally, open water, the more that area will warm. See Greenland this January. And all winter, the East side of Baffin Bay has been dozens of degrees hotter than the West.

There is also inherent weakness in the ice along the shorelines, as one side is shore fixed and the other side is tidal.

Finally, for the passages to be open does not require a massive volume of water to be warm, as the sea is shallow here. The heat delivered by the Gulf Stream at the moment sinks way down in the Fram Strait area. But as the NE Passage opens longer, warm water could become more pressed by buoyancy/repelled by gravity into the NE Passage. There, it cannot sink to 700 metres. It must remain much nearer surface...

As previously noted, Atlantic water currently keeps the Arctic ice free up to above Svarlsbard at around 81°N, perennially. The Passages are both well below this longitude...


idunno - Atlantic heat transport into the Arctic certainly makes a difference. I would ask you to think about the Beaufort though. It is entirely melting out these days and it is on the other side of the ice pack. Could the greater effect of the Thermohaline circulation be an effect of the reduced ice as opposed to the cause? If it was the cause would the melting on the other side of the Artic be as substantial as it has been? Oh and thanks for the link.


3 points about "ice free in the Arctic":

1) Rear Admiral Titley says he has told the Chief of Naval Operations that “we expect to see four weeks of basically ice free conditions in the mid to late 2030s.”
Four weeks of "basically ice free conditions" might be very interesting to the Navy, but in terms of a climate wake up call, a single day of dramatically low sea ice conditions will get much of the world's attention (e.g. dropping below 2 or 1 million km^2).
This will happen much sooner than "four weeks" of basically ice free conditions.

2) Maslowski's often cited 2016 ± 3 years "essentially ice free" Arctic is for Fall.
The "ON" in his graph of Arctic Sea Ice Volume Trends is for "OctoberNovember".
Arctic ice free Septembers will occur much sooner.

3) By “ice-free,” Maslowski tells me he means more than an 80% drop from the 1979-2000 summer volume baseline of ~20,0000 km^3.
An 80% drop from 20,000 km^3 is 4,000 km^3.
Since PIOMAS says last September averaged 4,000 km^3, that means there has been days already "ice free" last September.


I expect some huge drops in Arctic sea ice area/extent either Summer 2011, 2012 or 2013. Unless CryoSat-2 shows that PIOMAS was fundamentally flawed, which I think is unlikely. Get the popcorn ready...

Lord Soth

Thanks Gas Glo for the regression analysis on the sea ice area maximun.

For this time of year, area and extent should be close anyways.

Mark Kosir

Just reading some scattered postings regarding 2011 minimum predictions, and comparisons between 2007 and 2011. I just started poking around MODIS. There are a number of good ice coverage and ice mobility comparisons. Take the below for example:


Yes, I'm a day later for 2007 (cloud cover!)... but 2011 definitely appears more mobile at this point, with lots of "scaling" near the west coast of Greenland. Like others, I'm interested in the first images of the Nares Strait, and the state of ice bridge at this point.

Its all scary and mesmerizing at the same time :(...


Hi runincircles,

WRT the effect of the Atlantic on the Beaufort, that's so much grist to my mill.

Actually, I agree, the Beaufort is the last place I would have expected the Atlantic to be having an effect.

I was wrong.

The research was published last year by the Naval Postgraduate School; a thesis by a woman called Megan M Stone. It's up online, but my computer is playing up, so a brief summary from memory;

Googling her name and Beaufort gets you there.

She looks for factors that predict the October ice cover in specifically the Beaufort Sea. Of 27 possible candidates, 24 are rejected as meaningless...

The third best predicant is the level of ice coverage in the Beaufort earlier in the year.

Better than this is the Sea Surface Temperature somewhere near Iceland in September. Presumably the effect would be transmitted by the winds in the polar vortex...

Number 1, and a much better "predicant" is the SST in May in ... the Carribean!?§!?


Also, above, the point I was aiming towards is that I think we have all been assuming that zero sea ice in September is a very significant milestone. A more significant milestone may prove to be the simultaneous opening of both Passages. This allows for some very significant changes to develop in the surface fluid dynamics.

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