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Thanks Neven.

Though you should exercise your psychic powers more vigorously. I spent a fair bit of time yesterday looking through a heap of these maps and graphs. If I'd 'received the message' that you were doing the job for me, I could have saved a bit of time.


I think it is noteworthy that the Bering sea has considerable variability from year to year. So while this year is above average, it is below the extent/area seen in some years.

That contrasts to the Kara sea where there is usually little variation. So this year's below normal extent/area is almost certainly a record.

In fact of 2003-2010 it looks like 2005 had least ice in Kara sea and on 5 Dec that looked like


compare current

It looks to me like we are easily more than 24 days later and still at a record low for 5 Dec in Kara sea.


Hi Neven,

I am struck by the difference between today and 12 months back on the Atlantic side Sea Surface Temps;

This time last year, we had the strong hot anomaly creeping up the West Coast of Greenland, leading to record Surface Air Temps in WEst Greenland and over in Labrador in Canada.

This year, the positive SST anomalies are over in the Eastern side of the Atlantic, heading towards the Barents and Kara seas.

This seems more in tune with the long term trend, of increasing amounts of heat being transported along the Gulf Stream from around the Carribean to around Siberia.

Andrew Xnn

Here are images of SST's from 2010 and 2011:

Overall, SST's are flatter this year compared to last year. However, there are a number of similarities between the 2 years as well.

Interesting that the Hudson Bay was so warm in Dec 2010 as it was brutally cold along the Great Lakes. Below average temps are evident off the US east coast in 2010.

Believe SST's have more to do with the jet stream than the Gulf Stream. Strong Greenland block in 2010, zonal this year.

Chris Reynolds

Happy New Year all!

Thanks for another interesting post Neven. My post on methane will be delayed, my internet/phone failed before Christmas and I'm only just back on, then I start work again next week. I'm also wrestling with a recent paper about bifurcations in Arctic sea-ice - Abbot/Silber/Pierrehumbert "Bifurcations leading to summer Arctic sea ice loss."

But people might find my most recent post of interest - about new research linking reduced Arctic sea-ice to a winter cold pattern in the Northern Hemisphere.

Artful Dodger

Thanks, Chris. For those that haven't seen the paper yet, a freely-available public copy is here:


The AGU page for the paper is here

Abbot et.al (2011) extends the work of Eisenman & Wettlaufer (2009), accessible here, previously discussed on the ASI blog.

Key Points from Abbot (2011):

  • Bifurcations can occur as Arctic summer sea ice is lost in a low-order model
  • Whether bifurcations occur is strongly dependent on cloud behavior

Chris Reynolds

Artful Dodger,

Thanks, I should have linked to the copy - it's where I got mine from.

Another key point is that during the transition to a seasonally sea ice free (what we're seeing now), tipping points are less likely than for the next transition , to a perennially sea-ice free state. That result is common to Eisenman & Wettlaufer who find tipping points more likely in the transition to a perennially ice free state.

At the risk of making my blog post superfluous: Another relevant paper is Abbot & Tziperman "Sea ice, high-latitude convection, and equable climates."
It's a paper that I find scary.
"...the [perennially] ice-free state is stable for values that may be reasonable for the Arctic ocean during the late Cretaceous and early Paleogene (OHT = 0, CO2 = 250–2000 ppm,AHT = 80–100% modern)."
OHT = Ocean heat transport.
AHT = Atmospheric heat transport.


Interesting papers, guys. I framed them a little with stuff that is apt to be old news to the crowd here and made a post of it:



Hi all,

A new study from NASA, top of the news feed top right, is interesting, and may be relevant...

Russian river water is freshening the Canadian Arctic, but leaving the Russian side as saline as before.

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