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And look how empty of ice the channels between the Queen Elizabeth Islands are. Amazing...

There will be first year ice there next year.

Rich and Mike Island

Is it unusual for ice extent to increase over 60,000 sq km in a day during mid September?

Andrew Xnn

80N temperatures are below average.
I think before calling it an uptick, they have to be above average. Otherwise, it's just trending towards the mean.

However, lets think about what it is showing us...

For 80N temperatures to be below average, it means that there has been below average exchange or air masses north of 80N and south of 80N. In other words, north of 80N has been more isolated than it generally does. Probably because there hasn't been the large storms/winds over the last few weeks.

So, there hasn't been a lot of compaction and instead as ice is forming instead.

If we don't see a big compaction period this winter, then the cover will be thin and melt quickly next year.

Consider 2006 80N temps and notice how temps trended lower during the initial formation period for 80N:



By the way, any thoughts on what Maria will do? Seems too far to the South but I thought I'd ask.

Ned Ward

Rich and Mike Island: Is it unusual for ice extent to increase over 60,000 sq km in a day during mid September?

Yes, it's somewhat unusual, but not unprecedented. In the IJIS record (2002-now) here are the ten largest days' increases that occurred before September 20th:

2003 Sep 13: +75k
2011 Sep 14: +65k (earlier this week)
2003 Sep 12: +64k
2003 Sep 19: +56k
2004 Sep 13: +48k
2011 Sep 13: +47k (earlier this week)
2004 Sep 14: +47k
2006 Sep 18: +46k
2011 Sep 15: +38k (yesterday, prelim)
2009 Sep 17: +35k

So 2011 is off to a rapid start, but it hasn't yet matched 2003's remarkable two-day increase of +139k from Sep. 11-13.

And right after that, 2003 dropped again to its yearly minimum on Sep. 18!

It was quite a roller-coaster week...


I think before calling it an uptick, they have to be above average. Otherwise, it's just trending towards the mean.

It has gone up some more (right-click to view the full image):

Rich and Mike Island

Thanks for the information Ned!


Search has a september 16 sea ice outlook up.

Kevin O'Neill

Paul K -

Did you ever notice that the IJIS extents never end in 2 or 7? The mathematical basis for that escapes me.

Pete Dunkelberg

Andrew: For 80N temperatures to be below average, it means that there has been below average exchange or air masses north of 80N and south of 80N. In other words, north of 80N has been more isolated than it generally does.

Well, some pretty chilly air escaped and made it as far as Minnesota.


Paul K -

Did you ever notice that the IJIS extents never end in 2 or 7? The mathematical basis for that escapes me.

The values must all be multiples of 156.25 (12.5^2), there are none which round to a last digit of 2 or 7.


Mark Shapiro


I'm watching USCGC Healy from your site, and it's in pretty heavy ice at 80 N and 128 E. Lately it (and another ice breaker) was heading due east -- right into the thickest ice pressed up against the Canadian shield, and now it seems to be turning around a lot.

I look forward to it's report on the ice conditions and thickness. I'm sure they won't get stuck . . .

Chris Biscan

-25,000KM2 on Jaxa tonight.

lol. awesome.

Rob Dekker

Chris, if 2011 goes as 2003, and shows a new minimum next week, then I owe you an apology.

Chris Biscan

This is a post I wrote at Americanwx.com I also wanted to post it here:

If there was already ice there which looks pretty clear based on the Modis images and the graph I just posted. there is a major difference in a blizzard dropping snow on very thin ice that is sitting around the ice pack that isn't picked up by the sensors at this point.

Than open water freezing over 200,000-300,000km2 in 4 days. You know that kind of refreeze is not possible given how warm the water is there. Today we saw 20-30km of it cut off the extent maps. Probably from melting snow or compaction. this wasn't permanent ice that will be forming in October as ice growth explodes. It would be a pretty big deal if we saw that kind of from scratch explosive ice growth anywhere in the arctic with what we saw this summer. But after seeing the ooz models I think this will become apparent over the next 3 days. Like I said to skier I just want to make sure we investigate things thoroughly.

I would guess in the course of a month at least 1,000 people read this thread. The exact numbers are probably higher. This thread comes up in Google searched all the time. And this will continue to rise as this "hobby" becomes massive. The Arctic sea ice volume is going to be around 3.8km3 to 4.1km3 at the min this year. If we only make it back to 20000km3 another melt year like this one would put 2012 on the brink of melting out. 2010 maxed out at 23300km3 or so. They had there min at 4400km3. That is a near 19000km3 loss. this season maxed out around 22000 we will end up around 4000km3 that is a 1800km3 loss.
If we use the last 2 years as forecast we would be at 1500km3. By then it's likely the ice sheet will be broken into large pieces that might break off of each other pending the winds. I say this and get called doomsday. Well regardless this is taking place so far. No matter what you think of an ice free arctic or one that is very close. Where it could happen. the world will watch like its the World Cup. these essage boards and forums will be searched for by millions of new people who want in on "being" there. This is a major event.


And if it did, we were not around to see it. But it's not likely. Which makes it a epic world news story, human interests story. Will be the most popular buzz worthy event in human history. The backlash will be unreal. Billions will methodically panic and want immediate change.

the point is. whether you believe it will happen or not wont change the media circus around this if we get close. Which I think is 2000km3 which will be a new record low extent but also a super thin in pieces ice sheet. Well We are only 2000km3 away now.

I would rather this place be a place that gets it right along the way place or whats the point. So far we have been horribly of as a group since the mid 2000s. No one on this board except maybe Ohsnow, how ironic predicted the ice to melt out this fast. Not even the alarmist. Each time another massive drop takes place this place comes up with new rationals on why the ice is getting better. And they all go up in smoke. So clearly something is wrong with the methodology. Or maybe the acceptance of reality.

It would be nice if we could stay with this instead of always playing catchup. With these current gains. There was hardly any questioning of it. I mean it's super common for 200-300km2 of ice to form out of no where with marginal surface temperatures for such a rapid freeze as well as 850s and very warm ssts. No its not. We have consistently seen ice new ice rapidly freeze at conditions much more favorable. this is also coming after the 2nd warmest summer on record up there SST wise. when the graphs show warm water next to the ice pack already there. It doesn't cool that fast. How convient that the new formed under a blizzard in an area that already has super thin ice swirls next to the pack there the last 2 weeks at least. there is a major difference in snow falling on this ice and say 200,000km2-300,000km3 froze over in Baffin Bay or the NW passage area. Or that ice in the Beaufort on the outside of the pack. Not only did it not form uniformly it formed linear to the movement of the weather system which is another reg flag. This is not about denying the ice freezing to better some liberal cause or my viewpoint. Wake up. I don't need some irrelevant, minor thing to better whatever you think I "root" for. I don't root for anything. this is about science. I have no control over how this plays out. I am just watching the game unfold and trying to learn as much as I can and watch this process as it is, not as I want it to be. I want a balanced healthy crysophere. I want the natural cycle of life that has been going on that helped humans and other small mammals thrive to continue as long as intended. Not for man to ruin it in a blink of an eye on Earth time. And even if Man is not responsible it's still a bad deal for a lot of life on Earth. This will end up killing billions of individual animals. Something humans could be responsible for. I get called names by posters for thinking people root for hurricanes to be big and strong so they get there addictions here met. Which is true to an extent for many. This is not. At least for me. I am an concerned observer because

Chris Biscan

the 00z models for at least the next 4 days have the best compaction regime we have seen all summer and it's not even that close.




Those tell us wind speed, wind direction.

and the sea ice one is the first data coming in today from the sensor for the the 17th. This is from processed data that is about 4-6 hours after the last final data from yesterday goes into the final.

its as raw as raw gets. you can already see the compaction machine in motion. By day 2 the winds start to turn inwards on the Beaufort. then by day 3 they are howling out of the west, compacting that ice too. Also if you notice by this afternoon the entire ice pack is face left turning winds which would prevent all divergence while creating 3 major compaction points.

1. The Laptev/ESB ice. Which is super thin goes under a 20-25kt nose of warmer winds. This area is very open to compaction.

example 1:




(1a. first you can see the ice start to compact. The winds literally just got there, they were actually diversive until this morning.

1b. you can see the ice now that the clouds have moved and the ice has lost some of its snow and its top melted and refroze to give us a better picture of the state of the ice there. not the mis leading high concentration image the satellites picked up recently.

That thumb of ice is still very weak. That thck area you see that is all white is all snow. That ice is super thin. And libel to compaction/quick cracking. The models currently have this area under a compacting winds through day 7. The winds slowly rotate out of the WSW, S, ESE, E. If your on the Russian side of the pole. The Euro has a big HP there after day 5. The GFS has a strong SLP and colder air that could cause some refreeze.

2. The Beaufort which has thin ice as well will be under compacting winds for the entire period on both models until the 5th where the euro flips. Days 2-5 are the most ideal as the winds swing towards the west and compact the ice more towards the main pack.

3. the fram/Greenland Sea is under warm water, warm temps, two rounds of compaction

both models have compaction there from day 2 on. With a mini lull day 3-4 and then 20+ kt winds pick up again.

gonna be one wild last week.

Chris Biscan


That is pretty warm all off a sudden. this warm flow continues for 4 days at least.

7 days or more as of now out of the North Atlantic.


Temps on the Russian side of the Pole have warmed dramatically the last 2 days.

anwyays, we will see.


I don't think people who still don't care about melting sea ice will care if the ice melts out. And they will only care about seals and polar bears if they already like them.

I guess some of them would start to care if the new climate is bad enough for plankton to make fish populations shrink.

Chris Biscan


The figure on the right presents an ice thickness climatology based on pre-1985 data. (Bourke and Garrett, 1987). In all likelyhood present-day ice thicknesses are less than these values. There is a strong spatial pattern in the ice thickness, with the thickest ice near the Canadian Archipelago and the thinnest offshore of Siberia. This illustrates that the spatial distribution of ice thickness depends on ice motion and ice residence time in the basin, as well as on thermodynamics.

talk about a downfall.


If the ice is melting out completely with live ariel coverasge from helicopters and live coverage from boats. I know Americans at least would eat it up like it was charlie sheen. Maybe we could put charlie sheen out there as it happens for play by play.

Maybe he can inject some tired blood and teach Al gore how to say Winning.

Hans Verbeek

Time to go in hibernation till July 2012.


Hi Neven,

Sorry this is on the wrong thread.

A paper from Polyakov, Walsh and Kwok examining the reasons for the recent decline in Arctic Sea Icegetsa rave review from Judith Curry.

I haven't even had time to read it, and int ten minutes have to be offline for four days. I did spot some pretty pictures at the end: temperature change per year at various weather stations, and some temperatur profiles of the seawater near the Lomonsotov or whatever it calls itself Ridge.

Lucia (The Blackboard)

The 7 day smooth JAXA extent is lower than it was 7 days ago. Only once since 1972 did the minimum in the 7 day average occur after we'd seen the 7 day smooth extent decline relative to the previous week's value. That was in 1997.

How do the weather maps compare to 1997?

Timothy Chase

idunno wrote, "A paper from Polyakov, Walsh and Kwok examining the reasons for the recent decline in Arctic Sea Ice..."

Preliminary Accepted Version:

Igor V. Polyakov, Ronald Kwok, and John E. Walsh (2011) Recent changes of arctic multiyear sea-ice coverage and the likely cause,
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society


Chris Biscan, thanks a lot for that thorough preview for the coming days. I agree that with the right conditions the fast ice 'growth' could slow down to a trickle. I'd still love to be wrong about calling the minimum, as it would have to involve something spectacular at this point.

Thanks for informing us about that paper, idunno! It looks very interesting (like all papers by Ron Kwok).

Kevin O'Neill

After exploring the likely causes of the recent losses of MYI, Polyakov et al sum it up in their closing paragraph.

The fact that the rate of MYI recovery observed in recent years shows a delay relative to thermodynamic forcing indicates that MYI is resistant to recovery.

MYI is resistant to recovery

That's not a conclusion that bodes well for the ice-pack.

Andrew Xnn

Indeed, there are a number of interesting lines from that paper:

66 The decrease of ice concentration at the strait compensated for the increase in the sea level pressure gradient across Fram Strait, resulting in a statistically insignificant trend in the Fram Strait area flux

82 Notably, there is an ongoing build-up of MYI in the Eurasian Basin.

128 Observational and modeling results suggest that gradual warming of intermediate waters of Atlantic origin, the so-called Atlantic Water (AW) of the Arctic Ocean, helped precondition the polar ice cover for the extreme ice loss observed in recent years

161 The absence of substantial MYI recovery between 2008 and 2009, despite the cooler conditions in 2009, implied by the change in fastice thickness, points to a role of the large thermal inertia of the ocean compared to the atmosphere.

201 The fact that the rate of MYI recovery observed in recent years shows a delay relative to thermodynamic forcing indicates that MYI is resistant to recovery.


I have put a post up to discuss this paper.

Chris Biscan

-15,000km2 on Jaxa. looks like some possible growth in the NW Passage area or at least ice being pushed into that area from the strong winds.


Jeff Masters has a nice summary of this year's minimum, much better worded than mine:

While the record low sea ice year of 2007 was marked by a very unusual 1-in-20 year combination of weather conditions that favored ice loss (including clearer skies, favorable wind patterns, and warm temperatures), 2011's weather patterns were much closer to average. The fact we pretty much tied the record for most sea ice loss this year despite this rather ordinary weather is a result of the fact that large amounts of thicker, multi-year ice has melted or been flushed out of the Arctic since 2007.

Chris Biscan


another day of ice retreat in the Kara, Laptev, and ESB. The FRAM is full of weak ice with warm winds. on there way, gonna get interesting there. Also the massive refreeze has stopped in its tracks. And now you can see snow melting in the ESB on the ice and the ice looking like it's melting out pretty quick. I look forward to a reanalysis of this rapid expansion of ice. I still have not seen one image from a radar sat or microwave sat of any new ice forming rapidly. There is ice forming right now in colder areas of the arctic but it's much slower like it normally is this time of year. Hard to believe surface temps rising from the mid to upper teens to the upper 20s in those regions would stop refreeze. Anyways, we will probably see another extent drop today. How the fram ends up and how much compaction takes place this afternoon will decide since there is no refreeze taking place of any significance.


Compaction/ North East Greenland:

The only real compaction I have noticed is south of Joekelbugt towards Shannon Island, that part was ice free a month ago, but the whole area is starting to show signs of refreeze (modis).

Chris Biscan

2010 saw very cold air move in after the 20th until the end of the month. And gained near 800,000km2 of extent in 13 days.

The models show nothing close to that right now.

here is the 850s for the end of September in 2010:


As of now the models are no where near that. And are showing a strong HP building over the arctic not SLP. The HP and Higher heights will allow warmer air to build while the HP pulls warm air in from the Barrents/Bearing Sea/Canada.


It's great that you're still keeping such a close eye on the Arctic, Chris! I'll re-join you in a couple of days. Things are still mighty interesting.

Chris Biscan

-25,312 on jaxa


You foresaw this drop in IJIS extent, really well, Chris Biscan!

I have to admit that I didn't see it coming, which just goes to show how lucky I was in calling the minimum when I did.

Let me see if I have got this right: the large and quick uptick that ended the melting season, was mainly caused by the openings between the ice floes in the Arm of weak ice in the East Siberian Sea refreezing (and having snow dropped on them). It has filled up a lot as we can see on the various sea ice concentration maps.

As there is not much more to fill up, and the waters around much of the Arctic are too warm to freeze up right now (despite a first smallish uptick on the DMI 80N temperature chart), wind patterns are now compacting the ice pack here and there (Beaufort and Greenland Seas). Hence the drop in IJIS SIE and the leveling off of all the other graphs.

Is that interpretation about right?

Fascinating stuff. I hadn't foreseen this. Looks like I'll have one last SIE update to write this weekend. :-)

Chris Biscan

Neven, Do you have those DMI pressure maps saved? I could really use them.

Some poeple don't think it was snow that caused it. But the sat images show the color changed dramatically right when the powerful SLP rolled on by.

Precip rates or weather conditions in the arctic are so hard to come by. so if anyone has links to metars or places I can see ships obs from the weather it would be great for the 12th to 15th.

but there was already ice there which is on those Russians graphics pages on the daily pages.

L. Hamilton

UB extent climbed steeply for four days, 9/13-9/16, putting the minimum way behind. On 9/17 and 9/18 it dropped slightly, however (-52k and -26k respectively).

Artful Dodger

Hi folks,

Radar images of sea ice (like the animation above) are very useful during the long Arctic night, and freely available if you know where to get them!

To access Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) radar images, do the following:

  • open the link below,
  • select "Ice" from the "Additional Products" pulldown,
  • select a date in the range Jan 1, 2011 to yesterday's date,
  • select the "Arctic" radio button,
  • click the "Get Images" button.



You can go directly to images from 2010 by manually adjusting the URL in the following link (example, where 2010 is the year and 001 is the day-of-year wanted, Jan 1):


Further Reading:

The Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) satellite was launched in 2007 by the ESA. Read all about this technology here:




Neven, Do you have those DMI pressure maps saved? I could really use them.

I do. Send me a mail (address is in the menu bar).

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