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Chris Biscan


Expect to add another day to it.

Remember that Sat Scan was done in the last couple hours and doesn't take in the next 12-15.



I hold my breath waiting for CT. Will the loss in the Beaufort/Chukchi region be confirmed in CT area loss? Will it show on their maps?
A tip of the veil is lifted by USS Healy. Today it’s location is about 700 km north of Barrow. There is no ice…

Rob Dekker

Neven, how do you manage to post so many excellent reports on developments in the Arctic so quickly ? This must be your 4th great post in the past 24 hours alone. Do you have omnivision or a dozen computer screens that keep track of everything that goes on ?

Regarding the 'flash melting' in the Beaufort, it is interesting that the visual animation suggests a flash melt, but the Uni Bremen extent graph shows only a 'minor' dip

So there still seems to be no independent (and not even dependent) explanation for the 'flash melt'.

Still, if we assume for a moment that indeed the visual animation is correct, then Patrice's explanation may be correct (that concentration dipped below a threshold, which causes the sudden disappearance). However, there are two arguments against that :

(1) The ice concentration in the area that disappeared was in the range of 50-75% just the day before. Why would it drop so much in just one day ?
(2) All observations use a concentration cut-off threshold and still report rather smooth extent/area decline graphs. It would be an amazing coincidence if such a large portion of ice drops below that threshold.

I have another explanation, which is fairly simple :

AMSRE mainly detects 'snow'. With the surface temps below freezing, and the ice very thin right now, the observed microwave emissions mostly detect how 'frozen' the top few cm of the ice surface are. Russel did a good post on this, when looking at the ice 'temperature' as observed by AMSRE in the 9 GHz spectum.

So, imagine a calm day on 50% ice concentraton. the top layer freezes, and AMSR detects 50% ice concentration. Now imagine a rough day with high seas. Water flushes over the ice, whipes out the snow, and AMSR detects mostly water. Thus, ice concentration drops like a bucket. The low pressure zone even suggests that it's stormy weather right now in the Beaufort.

Wait a day or two, after the storm passes, and the surface freezes over, so that AMSR will detect higher concentration again.

That's my explanation, which, even if it is correct, still suggests that the ice is very thin, and fragile, or, in your words, slush puppie.

My expectation is that even if it 're-appears' after top layer freeze on calm days, on-going bottom melt will knock it out before September.

So Peter Wadham's "just melt away quite suddenly" quote (which I thought was actually spoken by Miskowski in 2006) should be changed a bit to "ice could get so thin that water could flush over it, which will make it effectively disappear from microwave observations".

Rob Dekker

Sorry. That quote "In the end, it will just melt away quite suddenly" was from Maslowski, and from 2007 :

But of course, we all know now from Murdock's media machine that the sea ice is growing, the planet is cooling and polar bears cannot drown in storms.


Good comment, Rob. I had a hunch wave activity must be playing a role, too. It’s good to look for the physical explanations.
By the way, I read Polarstern’s First week report. I don’t think Neven’s followers are extreme alarmists. Half of the crew on board is betting on lower extent than 2007! They probably forget their scientific reticence when they’re having fun.


That's another good explanation, Rob, Thanks.

I also thought the quote was from Maslowski, but when I looked it up, I saw that it was said by Peter Wadhams.

Chris Biscan


DMI graph lost between 150,000km2 and 200,000km2 since yesterday and 300,000km2 since Saturday.

Rob Dekker

Neven, thanks for that correction ! Honors of that quote go to Wadhams it seems.

I confused that quote with Maslowski's statement from (May) 2006 :

If this trend persists for another 10 years (and it has through 2005) the Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer!



Clear enough, Chris. A lot of the slush puppy has been hovering anywhere between 15 and 40% concentration for weeks. Whether its disappearing through wave activity, melt, flush into the pack, the scores on DMI 30%, on IJIS extent and also on PIPS, TOPAZ volume have arbitrarily reflected stalling for weeks.
IMO that goes for PIOMAS daily numbers, too. Remember, september last year we (Lodger, Anu…) have been calculating with extent, volume and thickness. From PIOMAS anomaly, then, there was even a calc of 3900 km³. I can’t imagine 2011 being ‘ better’ than that when the fat lady sings.
So, what we see happening now reminds of a reset on OUR clockwork. The season itself is right on track, as it was, because the process never stalled. And it is on course to goodbye.
Mind you, I think 3,2MK between Banks, Cape Morris Jessup and ‘near’ the north tip of Severnaya Zemlya will be ‘safe’ for this year. Leaving not much more than 3200 km³.
Finishing, there is, of course, thicker ice left. Keels of old slabbing. 35% of more or less complete floes in the pack. But most of it is rubble. Next year it may all spread out like we’ve seen in the Beaufort-East Siberian Sea region.


Perhaps we will pass WUWT's July forecast today.

Link: SEARCH July report.

Chris Biscan

Wattupwiththat in June Predicted a 5.5km2 finish.

Is there a blog post over there I can check out?

What you wish would happen and what is happening are not one in the same.

I would love to read his reasoning for making that prediction. Considering June started the lowest on record by many measures and as it ended and July ended the pace was the same.

Yet he picked 5.1 then 5.0?

He expected the arctic to lose 1.5milkm2 from August 1st to September 15th or 20th.

That would have to be like 30km2 per day.

August alone at 50km2 per day would cover that.

How horribly Bias.

Lord Soth

Ice does not form until sea water is below -2 and there is a complicated process in sea ice formation

Sea ice does not skim over like a lake in cold weather.

In salt water ice goes thru the stages of

Frazil - Grease - Slush (only after heavy snow fall) - Shuga - Dark Nilas - Light Nilas - Rind and finally Young Ice.

The following link provides more info in detail about sea ice formation.


I doubt that the sat sensors would pick up anything below light nilas.

So I don't buy the thaw refrezze hypothesis.

Also I doubt that any water below -2 exists anywhere in the arctic at present.

Just missed a century break by 1.562K but this could be achieved on revision.

With less than 500K to beat the 2008 record, I seriously doubt that 2011 will do any worse than second place, and a first place finish looks more possible.


when you look at your animation and study the colour change it makes sense to me that what has happened is a massive wind blow into the pack. if we number the sectors left to right as one to six and the rings from the north pole as A to D. then the following becomes obvious to me.

sectors 2B and C have undergone major compaction absorbing all the ice that was in D2 and C3. Has there been enough wind in the last 3 days in the right direction?


People, I urge you not to focus too much on WUWT or similar sites. It just drains our energy. Let the ice do the talking.

PS This is an advice I still have to learn to follow myself.


sectors 2B and C have undergone major compaction absorbing all the ice that was in D2 and C3

My guess: 2D yes, because the wind was coming from the mainland. 3C no, because I would think the anti-clockwise blowing winds of the cyclone (check the isobars in the DMI sea level pressure map in the opening post, the lines that divides the intensity of pressures area up) would have pushed all that dispersed ice towards open water.


Chris Biscan/

At WUWT they arranged a poll, just like the ones Neven has. So it was up to the readers to guess. However, instead of calculating an average of all votes, Watts simply submitted the single result with most votes. Had he calculated an average the June and July predictions would have been much higher than 5.1 and 5.0...


The more I look at that animation, the more I think it's some sort of artifact. It just looks... weird.

L. Hamilton

(Almost-duplicate post -- I placed this accidentally on the earlier thread, but it should have gone here.)

Whatever happened, it's registered across all the graphs this morning (UB, DMI, CT, IJIS). UB lost 106k from 8/20 to 8/21, and their 8/23 graph is still heading down.

I updated the CT North area graphic, here are the numbers:

Year min(areaN)

1979 5.30673
1980 5.50771
1981 4.95649
1982 5.13906
1983 5.38693
1984 4.69589
1985 4.99285
1986 5.38184
1987 5.28899
1988 5.14489
1989 4.81592
1990 4.62893
1991 4.46038
1992 5.02678
1993 4.47295
1994 4.8161
1995 4.4103
1996 5.23818
1997 4.89971
1998 4.2624
1999 4.2045
2000 4.16877
2001 4.53362
2002 4.03471
2003 4.14166
2004 4.28297
2005 4.0918
2006 4.01692
2007 2.91944
2008 3.00356
2009 3.4246
2010 3.07213
2011 3.18004

Russell McKane

Take a look at http://www.seaice.dk/test.N/ sea ice browser August 22 envisat.n.WSMForbits 07:56 It is the only image of this area in Forbits resolution but it shows heavy sea swells and decimation of our favourite slush puppy going on - very informative.

Russell McKane

WHile you are there flick through the other arctic ice maps - you will notice that the East Siberian is also taking a hammering - the 23rds is partially up and flicking back and forward dates shows the rapid changes here.
Rob Dekker - Noting you understanding of microwave images - what is your take on these?

Lord Soth

Revision is out with an addtional 4K lost

We now have a century break of 102.8K for August 22.

r w Langford

OT The one day antarctic surface temperature anomaly is unbelievable. Check it out on the graphs page. Something is seriously broken. Climate?


The USCGC Healy has moved into the general area being discussed here. You can click here to see what they are observing;



This link shows the Healy's position, but is a number of hours behind real time;


Andrew Xnn

If there is big storm and the ice is broken up, then the ice will begin to rise and fall with the waves.

The waves could become larger than the freeborad of the ice.

This could obscure the ice and throw off the satellite measurments.

The wave action would also serve to mix the waters, but until the seas become calm it may be difficult to get good measurements.

Paul Klemencic

Tzupancic1, Talk about timing and positioning: the Healy is in the right place, at the right time, and on the perfect course. They went right up the center of the quadrangle that lost all the ice extent (over 50k sq km) yesterday. And lo and behold, no ice up to 75N, very little at 77N, and finally seeing 60-70% ice at 78N. (click back on the photo images to see what they see). Then they moved more centrally, and the ice concentration fell off.

Good use of our taxpayer money for Arctic research, to have this vessel in the right place at the right time.

We now have a century break of 102.8K for August 22.
Our fat lady is not even warming up yet then....
Wayne Kernochan

@r w Langford: It's not completely OT, Neven among others has been commenting periodically (more on the global total sea ice area).

Actually, this (high Antarctic temp anomaly) has been going on since June, and, as another commentator noted, is to be expected with global warming -- winter temps are going to be warmer faster. It seems, though, based on a quick scan of past years, that an average 10-20 degree F anomaly is is a big jump from those.

It also appears that we won't be seeing the effects for some time yet. Temps in the Antarctic in winter are still well below 0 F. The land temps may have delayed sea ice freezeup, but it now appears to have caught up to the average.

What you should be looking for next, imho, is indications that the warmer-water circumpolar current continues to move south, and probably to speed up (more energy/wind in the water and air). That would mean faster ejection of sea ice into warmer waters during sea ice melt, and more melting of Peninsula glacier-end ice shelves and of the Ross Sea, initially. That, in turn, should produce some net small decreases in sea ice area, especially at minimum. It's noteworthy that so far this year, Antarctic sea ice area has had a negative anomaly about 85% of the time, which is on track for one of the 2-3 most frequent negative anomalies since we started recording in '79.

Hope this helps. - wayne

p.s. we're past the date in the past record where combined global negative anomaly achieved its record (-2.4 or so). While it would take a major downward jump in Arctic anomaly to still achieve the record, I'm not ruling it out just yet. - w

Michael Stefan

It seems to me that the Southern Hemisphere is seeing something similar to last winter in the NH, with extreme warmth over the Antarctic and cold outbreaks in the mid-latitudes (check out South America). Not only that, the Antarctic Oscillation has been a bit screwy recently, even going off the graph (the scale for the AO was extended after the winter before last):


The general pattern over both poles has been similar in recent weeks, as indicated by heights and SLP (the latter averaging as high as 1070(!) mb over the past 30 days in parts of Antarctica), only in the Arctic temperatures are being held down by the freezing point of water:



Patrice Pustavrh

Rob, nice explanation from your side. Giving that we are seeing 30% drop at the same time, I would agree with your explanation better than mine. However, at least in some areas, drop can be attributed to threshold effect.
My thinking on this goes something like this: As the ice spreads around, area (giving unrealistic condition there is no melt) should stay constant and extent should increase. Now, imagine that you spread ice enough that concentration starts to fall below 15%. Both area and extent will decrease, since, at least to explanation at Arctic Roos site, the cells below 15% are not included into neither area nor extent.
Well, I've been checking MODIS image and at least for some of the areas, where there is 0 ice, some fragments of ice are visible. Check http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/imagery/subsets/?subset=Arctic_r05c03.2011234.terra
But, as Rob has said: In 50% concentration, it is hard to imagine that spreading is responsible to show such decreases and I do agree with him. And it is probably the sum of all factors (melt, spreading, compacting, snow replacement, ice being thin and mobile) which contributed to this freaking situation we have observed.


The latest update of the Bremen map, shows dramatic changes, you guys better watch yourself : http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr/arctic_AMSRE_nic.png

The "Season" is not over by any means, if I was a Polar Bear or a Walrus I would be very worried!

Regards Espen

Patrice Pustavrh

Espen, good one. And it looks at least from the 15% concentration, Northern Route of NWP has opened up.


I wonder if anyone knows where I can find info about how strong the winds were during the storm?


Hi Espen. I compared UB 2308 to yesterday. It seems the AMSR-E put back some of yesterday's losses in the Beaufort-Chukchi region. I'd say half of the area CAD showed as 200MK has refilled with 10-35% blues and greens. Now it fits allright with the IJIS century break.
We have to be aware that under these conditions AMSR-E doesn't 'notice' all and makes the grid count on 15% very difficult.


Hi Werther,

I find the Bremen map very reliable, as I find the results compatible with the Modis Images, or in common computer language: "What you see, is what you have left"
Regards Espen

Tony Duncan

Did any of you expect 100K loss? it is great getting these different sources of info. love the ship pics. Don't understand some of the other links posted, which is fine.
I am not sure why the different graphs show such different extents for this year relative to 2007.
Dekker posted this one
which shows 2011 even with 2007.
JAXA still shows 200K more ice this year, and Goddard managed to find one where 2011 is crossing 2008 as of yesterday. (though I just checked it is did make a sharp downtick today)
I realize that different parameters are used, but relative to their own data shouldn't they be giving more similar results. Is it just margin of error, or are the differences in analysis significant enough to cause significant differences in results? If that is not clear, are systems that look at 30% ice likely to have significant differences between years as ones that use 15%. Or am I misunderstanding something about all this


Tony, the explication is simply politics I am afraid, I have some "real science people" as friends, and even when we talk as friends they are afraid of telling it all, that is what make me scared of "science"!!!
Regards Espen

Paul Klemencic

Procedural Question: Neven, do you want the day-to-day extent, area, and weather discussion on this post, or keep it on the 'SIE 2011 Update 17' post, where we would normally carry on?

Before I start commenting on both threads, I could use some guidance. I suggest taking the discussion back to the Update 17 post until the weekend, when a new status post usually appears : )

Then this post can be used for fast melting issues, and storm discussion.

Tony Duncan

Not strictly relevant,
but Goddard just posted this article about Hansen predicting 20 ft sea level rise by 2100. http://www.independent.com/news/2007/jul/05/new-study-predicts-greater-sea-level-rise/. I have seen no mention of this beforehand, and it seems like an unbelievable prediction. Would that not entail large scale melting of significant percentages of Greenland and Antarctica ice? The article says it is based on paleorecords, but I can't get to the actual article. Of course whenever I look at the sources Goddard provides he usually mangles what it really says. While I realize the current situation is pretty unique are there records of "flash melts" on the order of a century in continental ice sheets?


Hi Paul,

Do as you please, Paul, we are all in the circumstances of what is happening, I realize comments are not in the right place all the time, but that is is what is happening when you are "Live"
Regards Espen

Kevin O'Neill

Tony, the NORSEX map you linked to is for area. Areal measurements have larger errors than extent.

The long-term extent trends should be the same for 15% and 30% measurements, though individual years may differ due to specific ice conditions. Any year that has a large area of low ice concentration will obviously be quite different.

L. Hamilton

Tony, the 2007 Hansen et al. paper is here,

At first glance, I don't see where it predicts a 20-foot rise by 2100.

Kevin O'Neill


Goddard is constantly recycling old material as if it were news. He's probably talking about Hansen's 2007 paper that says a 5 meter sea level rise is possible under IPCC BAU conditions (business as usual).

Hansen and Sato re-explore much of this material in Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change


I agree with Paul (sorry I'm only reacting now as I was away for the day, shame on me): keep the discussion here to the flash melting area and speculation.

All other stuff, JAXA SIE etc, in the SIE update thread.

Rich and Mike Island

I asked the date of the latest century break last month, but I forgot. Is this the latest? We went down 10% of the way to a record low in one day!

Chris Biscan

Norsex uses a 25km grid resolution. Which is why it thinks the ice is much larger.

This Steve is a complete joke using Norsex.

Seke Rob

Re: Tony Duncan | August 23, 2011 at 21:46

Tony, that link you posted is 'dated'. My first ports of call on such sensationalist news items is Real Climate and sure enough, they did discuss SLR and commentaries mention this 20ft with an in-line comment: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/how-much-will-sea-level-rise/

(not put the ''no follow'' code as this is an ''approved'' blog.)

Tony Duncan

Sorry folks,
I did not look at the date on the linked article. It IS 2007, and I scanned the article and see no mention of anything other than potential multi meter increase due to nonlinear ice sheet disintegration. Totally consistent with his other work. Of course this is the type of thing that he would get upset at me for pointing out.
I will try to be more careful in the future.


This blog post is going to take over the function of the Slush Puppie animation as of tomorrow.

I Ballantinegray1

Hi Guy's!
I do think the overwash of swell may play a part in sensor 'moments' but it will also play a major role in melting out the ice that is swamped? The healy shows quite sparce ice in it's locale so I'd not be surprised to see continued large drops (in extent) as the thin ice secimbs to wash and swash.
I don not think we have a good idea of the thickness of the periphery of the pack and so we may have much more vulnerable ice than we fear we have?

The other thin is the older ice sat above Fram. We could do witout that being lost to the Atlantic?

The lost of the Paleocrystic 'spine' means that we have very little 'resilient ice' in the basin and it is onlt 'weather' keeping it intact. Luckily the 'Cane season is a no show so recurve storms do not appear to be an issue?

I Ballantinegray1

Wish I'd have 'spell checked'.....

Seke Rob

Re: Rich and Mike Island | August 23, 2011 at 22:18

I was the one who missed to unhide the 2008 column to see that 2008 has a later one on Aug.25 of 121,562 KmSq. Think crandles corrected me on that.


I seem to be getting thanked for a few things I haven't done. Thanks for that, but I think it was Neven that deserves the thanks.

Seke Rob

Who said: What's in a name? (That which we call a Rose)... And I'm bad at names ;)

My plodding sheet had August 27 stuck for long as passing the 5 million extent point, but the algo moved it up to the 26th today, courtesy of yesterday's century. A red bar will pop up the day after in the stacked bar chart.

I Ballantinegray1

So what if all the open water on the pacific side drove swells throughout the basin as the first stroms of autumn hit? Bottom melt is a lot slower than a quick rinse at 'cool'.
I think a lot of folk are 'winding down' here but I truely think we will have a sting in the tail this year.

spend a couple of days washing over 'slush puppie ice' and the ice is gone.....One sheeeet (storm) is plenty!

Rob Dekker

Apart from this storm causing waves flushing over the top there is a second reason that suggests that the sharp drop may be caused by top-layer changing from snow/ice to more water :

The storm brought in warm air from the south, wich caused the top-level of remaining sea ice to melt and melting ponds to re-open. You can see that happening very nicely from the ubuoy5 movie (located at 78 N 140 W, on the boundary of the the area mostly affected) :


Also note the wind speed and direction in the obuoy5 monitor :
which suggests 7 m/sec winds (18 kt?) from the south over the past two days, and temps returning to top melting.

Remeber that AMSRE is very sensitive to top layer state (snow/ice versus water), and since we are now in a transition period between top melt and freeze, we could see some rapid variability in AMSRE recorded ice concentrations in the coming weeks.

If true, then once the storm clears and the top layer freezes over again, we should see re-appearance (ice concentration increase measured) of ice that still survived this storm.

Steve Bloom

Sounds plausible, Rob, but can you point to any past occurrences of that effect on this scale?


This particular Healy image caught my attention regarding the discussion of storm waves over-riding the sea ice; http://mgds.ldeo.columbia.edu/healy/reports/aloftcon/2011/20110823-1101.jpeg

How would the sensors interpret this surface?


Check it against the ub concentration map. Or the 12.5km one on jaxa. They both use the same sensor. Just different resolutions

Rob Dekker

Steve, no I have not seen the effect of snow melt have such a dramatic effect and over such a wide area as this time.

Tzupancic1 pointed at a Healy picture which dramatically shows the first effect I mentioned : sea water flushing over ice, whiping out snow cover.

That will definitely affect the AMSR sensors (registered as water now), until that water-over-ice freezes over again and gets covered with snow. Of course that would only happen for the larger chunks of ice with reasonable thickness.

Another Healy picture shows sort of both effects at work :

The thicker bigger chunks of ice did not get washed over by sea water, but the rain and high temps caused the snow cover to reduce to a watery slush.

In the end, I tend to agree with Patrice, who commented above that this 'flash melt' is probably caused by a combination of effects : The Swiss-cheese 'slush' effect that we started with, waves washing sea water over thin ice, cracking of thin slaps to small chunks, melting ponds opening up, snow melt reducing to slush, combined with measuring effects like the 15% 'concentration' threshold etc etc.

The big question is how much ice remains thick enough to top-freeze again an be covered with fresh snow so AMSR can 'see' it again...

Either way, this storm shows how devastating "stirring the pot" can be over 'slush' ice.

OT: This storm can't have been good for wildlife : I'm glad I'm not polar bear (cub) wondering around there in that storm (with also a 700 km swim ahead of me)...


The animation has been updated.

Steve Bloom

The status of the thin ice in the Beaufort region aside, the pack-wide day-to-day concentration changes shown in the animation are striking. The appearance is nothing like 2007.

BTW, just so I'm clear, is the slush puppy ice referred to here the same as pancake ice?

Simone McNaught

Not wanting to take you away from whats turning out to be a fascinating summer in the Arctic but we down here in the Southern Hemisphere are having a few problems of our own.

As you are probably aware we are seeing some massive high temperature abnormalities across the Antartic continent at present.


Obviously this still has little affect on ice melt due to the very low winter temperatures.

My questions are these: What is causing the high temperatures and what affect they may have on the Southern Hemisphere weather. Also what is happening in the higher layers of the atmosphere.

Is there likely to be some disruption to the SH Jet Stream positioning like the NH Jet has seen. Could this make for some extreme weather events for Australia and New Zealand.

Interesting to note that New Zealand has just had its heaviest and most widespread snow storm for over 50 years. Snow was recorded as far north as Auckland!


Simone, it all depends. If next year the same thing happens, or if it happens a couple of times in say ten years, then we start talking trends. Just one time could be a coincidence.

But we had two freaky winters in a row on the NH, so I'm curious to see what happens this year.

Steve Bloom

Simone, you can find the broad effect discussed in scientific papers you can find on Google Scholar using the search term "expansion of the tropics." This is IMHO the scariest of all climate trends because of its many implications. To my knowledge no paper has been published pinning the recent polar outbreaks to the expansion, but to expect that the winter polar vortices (which hold the cold polar air masses in) will maintain their stability in the face of the expansion seems a little unrealistic.

BTW, has NIWA put out any sort of statement on this event?

Ned Ward

Interesting questions, Simone.

My understanding is that the Antarctic polar vortex has broken down this month, allowing cold polar air to "leak" out of the Antarctic. Normally the vortex acts like a fence keeping very cold air penned up in Antarctica, so when it breaks down you get warmer temperatures in Antarctica and colder temperatures further north.

Anthropogenic forcings (ozone depletion and global warmings) have mostly been producing a trend towards a more positive Southern Annular Mode/Antarctic Oscillation, meaning a stronger polar vortex. So the recent pattern (negative SAM/AAO) is a bit unusual. In fact, in late July/early August the AAO index dropped to around -5, well off the bottom of the usual charts. I think it's only been similarly low a few times in the past 30 years (1989, 1990, 1997, and 2002).

In the last week or so the AAO has gone positive again, meaning the vortex has been recovering strength. So it's possible that this odd pattern (anomalous lack of cold in Antarctica, and too much cold further north) might be coming to an end. Or ... maybe not; some of the model forecasts show a negative AAO developing again.

I think you are right to suspect that this is similar to what happened in the northern hemisphere during the past two winters -- the Arctic Oscillation went negative, causing a bit of a warming in the Arctic and colder winters further south.

Ned Ward

To my knowledge no paper has been published pinning the recent polar outbreaks to the expansion, but to expect that the winter polar vortices (which hold the cold polar air masses in) will maintain their stability in the face of the expansion seems a little unrealistic.

Steve, I don't think that's exactly correct, at least not for the southern hemisphere on the timescale of the next 50-100 years. Most of the papers I'm familiar with (e.g., Arblaster 2006, Miller 2006) suggest that ozone depletion and greenhouse warming will generally strengthen the Antarctic polar vortex. Even inside the vortex this won't completely counteract the overall warming trend, but it will lead to slower warming on the Antarctic plateau and more rapid warming further north.

I think that there's a lot of individual variation among climate models' forecasts of the northern hemisphere polar vortex, but Miller 2006 seems to say that the ensemble mean implies a generally positive AO over the 21st century, and thus continued persistence of the polar vortex.

Ned Ward

Sorry to have gone off-topic here, but for anyone who's interested, daily data on the various oscillations (AO, AAO, etc.) can be found here for the past few decades (up to the end of last month):


and here for the most recent four months:


For fun, I've just calculated the mean AAO (Antarctic) index for each five-year window from 1979. Look at this pattern:

1979-1983: -0.110
1984-1988: -0.102
1989-1993: -0.041
1994-1998: +0.147 (outlier)
1999-2003: +0.005
2004-2008: +0.082
2009-2013: +0.213 (only 2.5 years)

I don't know what's up with 1994-1998 (aftermath of Pinatubo? massive 1998 El Nino?) but the other six time periods show a consistently increasing AAO.

There really is a lot more to "climate change" than just "global warming" ...


I've updated the animation. That cyclone fizzled out real quick:

Greg Wellman

Breaking: 2011 IJIS area falling below 2007 IJIS area.

Not quite there yet, but pushing for a new record.

Galloping Camel

It is exciting to think that a new record for the Arctic ice minimum may be set in 2011.

Isn't this something that we should be rejoicing?

Steve Bloom

Er, no, GC. Loss of the sea ice is a harbinger of many much worse things, to say nothing of the direct effects on Arctic ecology. The only possible plus is that large numbers of people may respond to it by getting serious about climate change, although I doubt it.

Ian Allen

Rob Dekker, the 15% thing is just a decision point, not an instrumental threshold, you can see concentrations down to 1% shown on the black and white bremen map, which can be contrasted with the 10% cutoff on the colored bremen map to see some very low conc. ice just now.

Timothy Chase

"The only possible plus is..."

Actually there are countries looking to stake out rights to whatever minerals or deposits might become available. Oil companies looking forward to new fields becoming accessible. (1, 2) shipping routes that will open up.

For an example of the latter...

Although Varzuga and Indiga are the first tankers to sail the North East Passage this summer, they are not the only. Russia’s biggest shipping company, Sovkomflot, intends to carry out a first major oil shipment from the Varandey terminal on the coast of the Pechora Sea through the North East Passage to Japan later this summer.

Arctic oil tankers collided

Russia planted a flag on the ocean floor about four years ago, then there are countries in Northern Europe, Canada, the United States, and there are even indications that China might get involved (1, 2).


We sometimes talked here about CT SIA lagging IJIS SIE by a couple of days (besides the obvious fact that the reporting of the former is lagging 1 day). This sometimes seemed to be so, but at other times not really.

I have been looking at the CT sea ice concentration animation and the flash melting is also visible there, though less spectacular and spread out over two days.

I'm wondering: Is the drop in the CT SIA data still to come? Perhaps today?


I do not think so Neven. between CT chart dated 19 08 and chart dated 23 08 there was a total drop of 181,000km and that is your lot!.
If you look at the CT false colour charts for that period you can see from the colour changes that there was a massive compaction event just as I described in a previous post. Extent was lost not so much area.

not in that area of course but you can see some beautiful compaction ridges on the modis picture for 25th in the Laptev sea area.

Seke Rob

Arctic SIA drop per CT:

22nd 2011.6411 -1.9161577 3.1608412 5.0769987
23rd 2011.6438 -1.9939168 3.0650997 5.0590162

'bout 95KKmSq. CAPIE change by how much?

Continuing to update the MASIE Spaghetti Chart

Remko Kampen

Threshold average thickness about two feet, then wind and/or currents may break up the ice exposing it to 'flash melt'. Saw this happen the first time in autumn 2006 when a hole the size of Great-Britain suddenly appeared in the East Siberia Sea.

Two gigantic episodes of 'flash melt' can be witnessed in 2007.

It is my impression models of sea ice melt underestimate or generally completely neglect the phenomenon.

Extent and area measurements may differ wildly due to such an event, e.g. area may fall rapidly while extent may temporarily even go up.

Seke Rob

Am doing the occasional squint and column hide, but actuals change from 19th to 23rd

19-Aug-2011 231 2011,6329 -1,8430079 3,2694285 5,1124363
23-Aug-2011 243 2011,6438 -1,9939168 3,0650997 5,0590162
Net Change: -0,2043288 Million Km square (My decimals are here comma)

Serious, 51K per day. Whatever is compacting may also be partial stacking.


'bout 95KKmSq.

Voilà, that's what I mean. Thanks, Seke Rob.

CAPIE shot down to 59.85%.

Saw this happen the first time in autumn 2006 when a hole the size of Great-Britain suddenly appeared in the East Siberia Sea.

Two gigantic episodes of 'flash melt' can be witnessed in 2007.

Remko Kampen, thanks for that info. I thought this was a first. I can imagine ice disappearing from sea ice concentration maps a bit everywhere and then get high area and/or extent decreases. But in this case all of it disappeared in one spot due to a big cyclone.

Do you have the exact dates in 2006 and 2007 so we can retrieve the images from the UB sea ice concentration map archive?


Seke Rob here is your stacking.



sorry wrong link.



Posted by: Greg Wellman | August 25, 2011 at 05:30
Breaking: 2011 IJIS area falling below 2007 IJIS area.
Not quite there yet, but pushing for a new record.

I noticed that - interesting.
Is the area just arriving at the bottom plateau a few days later than in 2007, or will it continue dropping through the 2007 floor for a few more weeks, setting new record lows ?

The next three weeks will decide.

Ian Allen

This year seems unstoppable. Why was NO media fuss made over the unambiguous record minimum CT maximum area this year- surely the rationale given for paying more attention to extent, melt ponds, is a summer thing. The old saw about only the summer ice melting fast doesn't wash. the winter ice has decreased at least 60% as much.

Noel Ward

Ian, the lack of media fuss has lots of reasons. At least here in the U.S. (where everything is spun and politicized) there is declining interest in anything to do with global warming. I don't know about people in Europe and elsewhere, but in the U.S. people only react to disasters that make the 24 hour news cycle. Slow motion ones like the Arctic don't count. Very discouraging.

But maybe this year can get some press and attention, especially if it influences NH weather again.

k eotw


Timothy Chase

Noel Ward wrote:

Ian, the lack of media fuss has lots of reasons. At least here in the U.S. (where everything is spun and politicized) there is declining interest in anything to do with global warming.
On the other hand, there was a recent article that dealt with the remarkable increase in weather-related disasters in a major new outlet:
With hurricane season still ahead, a record-tying nine $1 billion weather disasters have already racked the nation this year, federal, state and private forecasters reported Wednesday.

In 2011, record-tying nine $1B weather disasters
Updated 8/18/2011 12:56 PM

Regarding this year, they state:
The year has been marked by floods, drought and tornadoes, such as the May twister that killed 160 people in Joplin, Mo. Meanwhile, a Texas heat wave has cost $5.2 billion in crop and livestock losses so far "It doesn't take a wizard to predict that 2011 will go down in history," Hayes says.


They note that this is part of a trend:
Nationwide, the number of natural disasters has tripled in the last two decades, according to insurance firm Munich Reinsurance America. Thunderstorm losses since 1980 have become five times more severe, on average. There were $20 billion in such losses by midyear in 2011, doubling the average of the past three years.


Global warming didn't get mentioned in the story, but "climate" was:
The old record-setting year for nine billion-dollar U.S. weather disasters was hit in 2008, according to National Climatic Data Center records. The center adds up disaster costs using insurer, state and federal agency records going back to 1980.


Alright, what they actually mentioned was "climatic" since that is part of the name of a government agency. But they also throw out an explanation as to what is going on:
With roughly half of the U.S. population of 311 million living close to the nation's coasts, and economic growth in Southern states hit hard by the tornadoes and flooding this year, Hayes says the nation faces an increasing risk from extreme weather simply because of demographics.



After the tornadoes, the Mississippi flooding, the heat wave, now this hurricane. The US is really taking the brunt this year, Russia and Pakistan last year. I wonder when it's going to be Europe's turn (Australia had the flooding and Yasi). There's a heatwave where I live, but up to this point the summer has been pretty wet.

All in all, a lot of natural catastrophes in the past 2 years.

Timothy Chase

Neven wrote:

After the tornadoes, the Mississippi flooding, the heat wave, now this hurricane.
Don't forget the drought that is hitting Inhofe's Oklahoma and Perry's Texas. We haven't been having anything like that up in the Seattle area. Past couple of years have been quite temperate.

Crows were panting a few days back due to the heat. It had gotten into the low eighties. Not quite 30°C. Normally I wouldn't expect crows to pant unless it were in the mid nineties. Perhaps 35°C.

But I can certainly feel for the people in the red states. It must be tough voting these politicians into office, suffering the consequences, and being none the wiser.

Patrice Pustavrh

Neven, Europe is facing unusually high temperatures in Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and to some degree here in Slovenia too, with daily highs up to 37 deg C in Slovenia and highs up to 40 deg C in Serbia and Croatia (not sure for other places, but MeteoAlarm has red alarm in most of this countries for extreme heat: http://www.meteoalarm.eu/ )
So we are getting our share too. But, unusualy, end of July was quite cold here with temps more suitable for September than July. But, I'll say, it is just weather. But on the other hand, statistics of extreme (or weird) weather events globally may show us to what degree we have caused climate disruption. It would be fine, if someone show us some data on this.




Guys, please find out if you can asap when those maps are made?

how can that be?

FLash Melting?

Pete Dunkelberg

"All in all, a lot of natural" (or anthropogenic) "catastrophes in the past 2 years."

Yes, a couple. Or five comment pages worth for 2010.

For the USA this year, Hurricane Irene hasn't come ashore and may not but if you look at Capital Climate and keep clicking Older posts at the bottom, extremes keep coming longer than you can keep clicking.

Greg Wellman

Heh, just because yesterday I noted the IJIS area graph for 2011 touching the 2007 area and seemingly ready to cross it ... today it flatlines with zero change in area.

Meanwhile IJIS extent seems determined to thread the needle between 2007 and 2008. Nonetheless, such low numbers in a year whose weather was nowhere near as favorable to melting as 2007's indicates further deterioration in the overall state of the ice.

r w Langford

I noticed today that a city in Texas has had seventy days in a row of over 100 degrees F and still counting. Hurricane Irene is projected to be the largest in fifty to one hundred years. What will it take for us to wake up and accept reality? It reminds me of an alcoholic who is dying from alcohol but can do nothing to stop drinking. Perhaps we are petroholics and need to go to Petroholics anonymous. Carboholics might be a better term then we can all go to CA meetings. I wonder what the recovery rate would be.

Bob Wallace

The alcoholic has a very hard time giving up alcohol because there is no substitute for the effects the alcohol gives them. In the same way people, in general, are not likely to give up electricity and driving cars.

The only solution which I can see is to give them substitutes which do not cause CO2 to be released into the atmosphere.

We have the technology in hand to produce all the electricity we want from wind, solar, geothermal, and other 'renewable' sources. Prices for wind produced electricity are low and prices for solar are rapidly dropping. We're at about the point where people can have 'clean' electricity for the same price as fossil-fuel generated electricity.

It will probably take some government pressure to cause utility companies to switch to renewables as the cost differential is not great enough to cause them to retire fossil fuel plants.

EVs need just a bit of improvement to allow us to move drivers painlessly off petroleum. We need mainly prices to come down which should automatically happen when manufacturing volumes increase. Once the purchase price of EVs and PHEVs comes close to that of ICEVs buyers should rapidly move away from liquid fuel vehicles. EVs are so much cheaper to operate. And people who drive an EV for a while seem to really love them.

Ned Ward

Hurricane Irene is projected to be the largest in fifty to one hundred years.

"Largest" in what sense?

Bob Wallace

Largest in "width". This is one fat puppy.

Rob Dekker

Neven, I'm not sure if this is the right thread to post on journey of the Healy, but here goes :

The Healy crossed 80 N a couple of days ago, and for almost 200 km (two degrees) found it's way through the area with very little ice :

So little ice that some people questioned the ice concentration maps. I think it found it's way through that yellow/green (50-75% concentration) area in the UniBremen map around 167 W :

But interesting is the speed of the Healy : if I did my analysis correctly, then the Healy steamed at some 6 kt's (some 10 km/hour) through that low-concentration area.

Now, the Healy entered 83 N area, and finds denser ice concentration, and slowed down to 3 kt's (5 km/hour). This speed (3 kt's) is the normal crusing speed of the Healy as long as ice is no thicker than some 4 ft (120cm). That says something about the upper limit of ice thickness in the area around 83 N / 165 W.

Also note that in regard to ice thickness in the area, is that according to NSIDC, there is a 'ridge' of MYI around 83 N that they will hit very soon, or already has :


It will be very interesting to see how far the Healy can get until they hit that ridge. Or, even more interesting, if it turns out that that MYI ridge is actually not that difficult to pass..

Maybe time to put the Healy web-cam back on the sea ice chart pages ?

(Also note that the web cam on Obuoy5 seems to be stuck at Aug 25).

Rob Dekker

Previously I suggested that there would be a recovery from the 'flash melt' as soon as the surface would freeze over and snow cover forms. Now, it seems that the wind in the Beaufort is still from the south, and thus no top freezing occurred yet.

With Obouy5 stuck on Aug25, we have no visual confirmation of top-freezing occurring yet in the 'flash-melting' area, but looking at 80 N+ DMI's temp chart
it seems that temps are dropping quickly up there.

So unless there is another storm coming through, I expect at least some top-freeze to happen soon in the 78+ N area, and with that we should see an increase in ice-concentration off-setting some of the earlier flash-melt area lost.

So, I expect SIA to stall in the next couple of days. (Of course unless Paul K's analysis of the one-week delay is correct).


Maybe time to put the Healy web-cam back on the sea ice chart pages ?

I'll do that, Rob. Thanks.


This animation is now updated again in the Slush Puppie post.

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