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Hey Neven just thought Id share this, caught it little bit ago as the sun was going up. Though the ice nerds might appreciate its aesthetic quality.


Daniel Bailey

Since I have a history of going out on a limb I have few qualms about continuing to do so. :)

Since I was correct in my earlier comparison between Lake Superior landfast ice and that off Barrow, let me bully pulpit some more. Here when sustained sun and winds from land towards the water present themselves for extended durations (with on open water surface nearby), the shore ice in Superior quickly loses integrity and begins dispersing. The ice furthest from shore begins flaking away & is driven further into open water. Eventually leads into the landfast ice open all the way towards shore and then large segments of the pack raft away.

Where Lake Superior ice differs dramatically from that off Barrow is the melt ponds. In Superior, little melt ponds form as the vast majority of melt occurs through bottom melt and wind-driven mixing of the surface waters. Off Barrow, the warmer oceanic waters coupled with currents, tides and solar-driven melt ponds no doubt have created ice which is now friable, scabrous, honey-combed ice. I would expect the ice there, once it starts to disperse, to disperse very rapidly.

My 1.12 cents worth (after inflation).

Timothy Chase

Neven, you've got a TYPO. First paragraph, third sentence.


Each year a few kilometres of fast ice gets stuk to the coast.
The word "stuk" should be "stuck". Please correct and delete my comment as it adds nothing substantive.


Thanks, Timothy. Typo fixed.

Thanks for the preaching, Reverend Yooper. We'll see what God has in store for the fast ice off Barrow. ;-)

Nice pic, dorlomin. :-)

R. Gates

Neven, tthanks for the links and update to Pt. Barrow. I do follow this a bit now and then, though it is of course more out of curiosity than for what it may tell us about what is going on Arctic wide as local weather patterns really drive the break up.

Having said that, however, there does seem to be some association between the amount of open water in the Beaufort Sea, Kara Sea, and Barents Sea early in the melt season and the final summer sea ice minimum, so to the extent that Barrow area ice does reflect what might be happening in the Beaufort, it is interesting to note. I suppose a case could be made that as we go further into the next few decades with generally thinner sea ice that we'll see the ice around Barrow tend to break up earlier each season. With the local weather variability, such a trend might take many decades to spot.

Artful Dodger

Neven, I make the 2011 melt at Barrow to be 17 days ahead of 2010 then, according to the first appearance of melt ponds. I wonder if there is a history of break-out dates for Barrow Sea ice? ;^)

Daniel, the biggest difference between Pt. Barrow and Lake Soup is salinity. Looking at the Temperature Profile chart, I see see that the temp in the water column beneath the Sea-ice is about -1.74 C. This puts salinity right at 32 psu, which is above the salinity threshold where cold, fresher water floats.

Instead colder, salty water sinks and is replaced by warmer water from below (the threshold is about 30 psu). Thus water stays exactly at the freezing point, and the sea ice keel either thickens or thins as heat moves within the system. Kinda cool, wot?

I first noticed water column temps at the Ice Mass Balance Site going up about a week ago when the lead opened in the Eastern Chukchi Sea. Still, there is 1.57 m of fast ice to burn, so it'll be a while yet.


I wonder if there is a history of break-out dates for Barrow Sea ice? ;^)

That's for the next blog post. I didn't want to overwhelm my readers (and myself) with too much info. :-)

Christoffer Ladstein

I won't deny the fact that I pay the Barrow webcam a visit VERY frequently! And I find it such a pity that the Wales webcam have been out of order since 13.th of May, ruining our chance to witness the spectacular breakup/out which must have been taking place there the last 10 days!?

Dodger: That Barrow ice of 1,57, is it positioned geographically in such a way that the currents and windsystems are not able to transport the ice away, out in the open sea, thereupon churning the ice into smaller and thinner bits?!

Timothy Chase

Christoffer Ladstein wrote:

... the Wales webcam have been out of order since 13.th of May, ...
... and may I ask what day of the week that was?

Artful Dodger

Christoffer: Pt Barrow is covered in Land-fast sea-ice (a.k.a. fast-ice). It's physical attachment to the shore makes it's melt/breakup dynamics different than the main sea-ice pack.

Christoffer Ladstein

Timothy: Point taken, he he! But repair went into hibernating mode, or do we have to wait until next friday 13'th....

Dodger: Sure I see that the measuring device is located 1 km offshore, and though both land and seabed is of a shallow carachter, there still ought to be a good chance for an early breakup?!
(I see the seatemperature underneath the ice have risen to a less chilly -1,5 C, are we to blame that upon the warm water pouring in through the now almost ice-free Bering strait?!)


The zero thermocline seens to have penetrated north of Alaska.

While its only air temperatures that will still likely have some impact on the ice.

Artful Dodger

Hi again, Christoffer.

I'm not sure which temperature record you're looking at, but I read the water temp at the Pt Barrow Mast as about -1.74 C:

By definition, once fast-ice breaks away from the shore, it's no longer land-fast ice. So of course, it can "thereupon churning the ice into smaller and thinner bits".

But remember the Pt Barrow breakup outlook is for WHEN that disconnect occurs, the time that fast-ice sets sail...


Rob Dekker

Forgive me Neven, if I prematurely show the graph of the previous year break outs at Barrow (since you indicated that you want to preserve that for a next post) :


This graph is truely fascinating. Not just because it shows that break out estimates are based on solar irradiance on the ground at Barrow, but also this graph shows the brutal irradiance during the Arctic summer :

The average of 250-300 W/m^2 on the ground during much of June (and July) equates to 6-8 kWh/day insolation.
That amount exceeds the average insolation of the sub-tropics, tropics and even the Sahara desert. No wonder the ice melts so fast during that time...

Rob Dekker

To show that 6-8 kWh/m^2/day indeed are more brutal than insolation across much of the planet including the tropics, here are the annual average insolation plots :


Forgive me Neven, if I prematurely show the graph of the previous year break outs at Barrow (since you indicated that you want to preserve that for a next post

No problem, Rob. It is indeed interesting when looking at solar flux. Especially when considering that the ice in the Beaufort Sea looks even more Barberish than last year.

Looking at the weather map for Barrow, things seem to be cloudying over and remain chilly according to the forecast until the 29th of this month. So maybe those melt ponds were just a fluke.


Cecilie Skog and Rune Gjeldnes is planning a trip to the North pole by canoe.

Not much media coverage on this story, but here is a google translation.

Lost in translation (from the title):

poleventyr = polar adventure

The trip is also mentioned here (also google translate).

I'll be happy to give updates when more information is available (there was an other trip planned by kajak this year but this trip has been cancelled).

Wayne Kernochan

Hi all - this is a brief delurk because some of the recent comments, here and at climateprogress, don't seem to take into consideration some points that have been bothering me (please feel free to correct me):

1. According to World Without Ice, Arctic ice once frozen is not static. There are two currents: one, taken by Nansen's Fram ice floe in the early 1900s, cycles towards the North Pole and then out in places like the North Atlantic; the other, the "Beaufort Gyre", turns in a circle while attaching the ice at one point and spitting it out at another. And so, little ice is eternal, and ice even at the North Pole may be at 80 degrees next year and melted entirely after five years from formation.

That, in turn, means that ice thickness at any point in the year should vary around the average in a kind of normal curve. And that, in turn, means the kind of volume approximations we see in the graph, and PIOMAS, say that when average volume goes to zero, only half the area of the ice at a typical minimum is actually gone.

Moreover, the fact that area and extent have been slower to go down than volume indicates that the normal curve is "tight" around the average. So when they go (again, at a particular time of year), they'll go fast. Thus, if the average volume goes to zero in 2014, there'll be 50% of the normal ice left, but the drop in area and extent is really accelerating, and the next year we'll see maybe 70% gone, and the year after that 90% gone. There is no reason for the decrease in "volume" to slow down as you approach zero.

The second point is that, again according to World Without Ice, the big difference between Maslowski's model and the others is that he thinks there's a much bigger effect from warmer water flowing in from the south, and moving in the current across the Arctic, and melting the ice from beneath, all year round. The anecdotal evidence from local data indicates that his volume figures may indeed be close to correct, which suggests that this water does indeed have a greater effect on Arctic ice volume than anticipated -- again, at any time of the year -- and we know that the rate of heating of this water from the south is increasing, at every time of the year. Given that, we should not assume that volume decrease at any time of the year should be only linear or less, before or after the ice is gone at minimum -- despite the fact that insolation isn't happening half the year. Not to mention that this increasing heat in the Arctic Ocean is going to translate to increased energy, increased storms, increased current rates, increased heating of the atmosphere even during the winter.

And finally, if we assume that we continue or increase the pace of volume decrease to the point where some parts of the Arctic are going to be ice-free year-round, one of the first places to be affected is going to be the Siberian Sea, as a southerly point strongly affected by currents that don't let the ice linger. Remember the Siberian Sea? Where all the methane is? And the conservative projection in climateprogress says it will do a major release over the next 100 years -- but assumes a slow rate of melt of Arctic ice. Assume the rate I'm describing; then while we're still going towards ice-free year-round, the methane release is going to be ramping up CO2 right on the edge. Do you think that might speed up the rate a little? Increase temps to 0 degrees C, even, since in some places they're already 1/3 of the way there?

I feel like Aragorn in the movie version of Lord of the Rings. Hey, Frodo, no matter how scared you are, you're not scared enough.

Gas Glo

Wayne wrote "There is no reason for the decrease in "volume" to slow down as you approach zero."

I think it probably will a little as September approaches 0 volume and more for other months. The main two reasons for a change in rate of volume are summer albedo effect as area and thickness reduce in summer. Secondly as ice thickness reduces particularly in winter more heat can escape through the ice and out to space. So far it appears that the albedo effect is overwhelming the insulation effect. Both are likely to become more important as area reduces at a faster rate and as the ice thins.

I find it hard to believe there is enough time and volume left for the insulation effect to start growing more rapidly than the albedo effect before virtually ice free conditions.

There are other reasons to believe the volume decline will slow down. For example see graphs like
While that shows area not volume, I expect volume shows a similar slowdown in the rate of decline.

That doesn't mean these slow down in rate effects are significant but to say there is no reason for a slowdown is perhaps a little misleading.

I think it is possible to think about above effects and conclude I don't think these effects are significant.

What I think is more difficult to exclude is the possibility that acceleration seen over the last 10 years or so is some form of oscillation that could reverse. I haven't seen or heard of any evidence for it so it seems like a prayer to a god of the gaps. Nevertheless difficult to exclude.

Just my uneducated opinions - I am certainly no expert.

Rob Dekker

Wayhne wrote "the kind of volume approximations we see in the graph, and PIOMAS, say that when average volume goes to zero, only half the area of the ice at a typical minimum is actually gone."

I'm not sure, but it sounds like you misinterpreted 'average' volume as being some 'annual' volume. That is not correct. PIOMAS graphs shows a monthly anomaly and FrankD compiled the monthly 'absolute' average from that in the graph that Neven used in a previous post :


This is a graph of monthly averages, and thus, if it hits zero for any particular month (September is likely the first one) that means that volume is zero (ice free) and not "only half the area of the ice at a typical minimum" as you suggest.

So, in your words "no matter how scared you are, you're not scared enough" may actually be an understatement.

Rob Dekker

Gas Glo : Looking at the volume chart from FrankD (above) I share your belief that there is not enough time and volume left for the insulation effect to start growing more rapidly than the albedo effect before virtually ice free conditions.

Regarding Beaufort see chart that you showed that may offer a shiver of hope that area or volume decline would slow down, please note that the Beaufort sea is constantly fed by drifting ice pushed out of the gyre.

I think that an area such as the Hudson Bay, which is more isolated and not affected by major ice drifts, may show melt pattern that may be more representative of the Arctic basin on it's way down :


Which shows an exponential decline, until only a little bit of (shore-bound) ice is left over. What do you think ?


No matter how you look at it, that ice is on barrowed time.

Sorry. It's driven me nuts. Had to say it. I'm leaving. Sorry again.


Fred, puns are always welcome here. I think I'm going to do a post in a few days with the title "Bering in mind". :-p

Rob, Wayne, Gas Glo, it's okay if you continue your discussion here, but I won't mind either if you take it to the latest PIOMAS post. :-)

Barrow isn't warm right now, but very sunny:

Kevin McKinney

Fred, are you going underground, or going for the punning gold?

Either way, I'm tempted to think you're really a barrow-wight. . .

Kevin McKinney

Oh, got distracted--a near century-break yesterday on IJIS SIE.

(Has the revision come in yet?--not sure about that.) Currently the value is 11,413,438 km2. That takes it below 2010 by a hair, and within 80K or so of 2006.

Gas Glo

Rob, yes after I made my post I decided that Hudson may well have been a better choice. Insolation is increasing until 21 June but it isn't only insolation there is also water temperatures which are higher in July and Aug than June. So while you suggest exponential decline, I am not sure whether it is more like proportional to heat transfer to the ice rather than exponential.

I certainly agree that it appears to be at a very low level before it shows signs of leveling out and I think I did indicate I didn't think it was going to be significant. Perhaps I should have put more emphasis on it looking completely insignificant.

Other people have mentioned effect leading to rate slowing down as the volume of ice reduces but I thought it might be worth considering these graphs to give an indication of whether it might be significant even though the time scale is rather different. Useful, maybe or not?

(Kevin, I don't think the revision has come in yet. After 3 consecutive CT area century breaks so area reducing faster than extent I think we are due a good run of extent reductions. Capie should be well down in last 3 days.)

Wayne Kernochan

Hi Neven -

Just briefly, sorry, and I will indeed move my comments to the PIOMAS post. That should barrow -- oops, bury -- the discussion quite effectively :) - w

Gas Glo

Since I mentioned consecutive CT area century breaks, would you expect more long strings of century break during 1979-1995 or during 1996-2011?

Given that I have asked, maybe you can guess so I won't try and keep you in suspense: 1996 to 2011 has 2 long strings of 6 or more consecutive century breaks: a string of 7 consecutive in 2003 and one of 9 consecutive in 2010.

1979-1995 has 9 strings of 6 consecutive, 1 string of 7, 3 strings of 8 and 1 string of 9.

Is this to be expected for some reason that currently eludes me?

(Incidently number of century breaks are very similar 623 and 626 but the periods are not quite identical length.)

Does it have any implications?

I am wondering perhaps you get long strings when the ice area is unusually high near the middle of the melt season. When the ice falls to lower level, it keeps consistently low which is what we are seeing this year with comparatively few century breaks and the ice consistently low. Potentially meaning the ice is in poor shape.

Are things really as absurdly strange as that sounds or have I just completely lost the plot?


Regarding the date of this year's break-up at Point Barrow, it could be affected by grounded pressure ridges. I happened to notice this story in The Arctic Sounder last week. It describes unusually large pressure ridges off of Barrow this year.


There are also a couple of pictures with the story.


That's a great link, Tzupancic1, thanks.



You might want to check out this story from yesterday's Arctic Sounder, "Ice-forecasting project uses Facebook to improve safety for walrus hunters and whalers"


a few quotes; "With the climate and sea ice in flux because of warmer temperatures - thinning ice can endanger hunters and their camps."

and "The project allows hunters experiencing climate change first-hand to inform scientists and each other about what they're seeing, such as the thickness and movement of ice..."


Regarding the Point Barrow Sea Ice Break-up again, the observation that there are large pressure ridges off of Point Barrow this year is important. Such pressure ridges historically delay break-up.


Indeed, Tzupancic, I will discuss this in the follow-up.

And thanks for the links. To be honest, I had seen the headlines already, but didn't read them because they were about whale and walrus hunting, which doesn't particularly interest me. But there you go, there is a nugget of gold in everything.

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