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Looks like the cold blast for Europe is on...
After a long, lukewarm fall, patterns have finally settled through a negative AO and some other parameters (which are very attractive for speculation).
It looks like North America is ‘off the hook’. Anomalous low SLP and cold over Alaska, La Nina and specific PNA configurations may fence off a cold blast like underway in Europe.
My take is, though I like the ‘Siberian snow anomaly’-theory, that the Barentsz-Kara Sea ‘warmth’ is an important driver for recent weather developments. Both are related. The release of warmth from sea to troposphere, normally finished mid December, is still on. Even now 120K in the Kara Sea is still ice-free. Which is pretty amazing regarding the cold on it’s shores. But the same goes for the distribution of that cold. The whole coastal region from Norway up to the Taymir peninsula shows a temperature anomaly 5-10 degrees on the warm side.
I nickname the effects as ‘The Kara Bulge’, and it stimulates a strong high pressure zone to the south east. It grew through January, now enlarged to high pressure anomaly over a large part of the Arctic. Where’s the cold now? Near Kazachstan??? And where’s the goal?
Not specifically Scandinavia. It’s the Eurozone...sigh...


The illustration with my post above...



Like what you are doing with the long term graph page and wonder if you can fit in some of SekeRob's work. His


is incomparable for overall arctic freeze-up.


L. Hamilton

Neven, I like the new organization, and suspect you'll have even more candidates for graphs in various categories as time and the ice blog go on.

One you might take a look at for future consideration is this cycle plot showing the complete Uni Bremen time series for each month, 1972-2011. Far as I know that graph is unique.


Bob Wallace

Would it make sense to use the numbers from the first three graphs on the Long Term page to calculate Annual Average Ice Thickness?

Extent/Area are dropping, but what seems to be dropping most is the overall thickness of the ice.

If we want to hit the 'slow to comprehend' over the head with the biggest possible stick then I would guess that a thinning ice graph would be easier to grasp than is volume.


Hi all,

Anybody interested in a searchable database of 100,000 research documents about the High North? @



Twemoran, thanks for that graph from SekeRob. SekeRob, if you have more long-term graphs (I remember you made a bunch, but not the details), please let me know.

Larry, could you also give me the link to the cycle plot for NISDC SIE and SIA?


Bob, the slow to comprehend will retort that volume is based on a model.


Rob Dekker asked: Does anyone have any more info on the developments on PIG ?

I've been watching it fairly closely since originally commenting on it. The crack continued to propogate at an increasingly slow rate for another week or so but then more or less stopped extending. As far as I can tell on the resolution available, it appears to have continued to widen, but the length has not extended for some time. At this point the crack extends over 80% of the width of the glacier but seems to be stable for now.

Parts of the PIG's "snout" are afloat and other parts are aground. As far as I can tell, the crack propogated very quickly over an area I am pretty certain is afloat, but stopped over an area that I think is aground.

Perhaps it will take a "trauma" - storm surge, tsunami etc - if it is to calve in the immediate future. I tentatively think that the initial crack was caused by a medium sized earthquake on the floor of the Southern Ocean, so another kick like that might help it along.


Info from PIG - blog from the site


Not much that's new.

L. Hamilton

OK, my old files have multiplied like tribbles so I need to do some graphical housekeeping. Here are links for clean versions:

UB minimum extent bar graph:

CT minimum area bar graph:

PIOMAS minimum volume bar graph:

L. Hamilton

Here is a line plot of 5 September time series, including UB back to 1972. Pretty sure this one's unique.


L. Hamilton

Cycle plot of UB extent by month, 1972-2011. Again unique I think.

Cycle plot of NSIDC area and extent by month, 1979-2011.

Cycle plot showing regression lines for each month, NSIDC area and extent. Declines in every month are statistically significant.

L. Hamilton

And ... apologies to Neven for messing up his links.

I'll leave these ones stable and create new URLs for updates once the melt season kicks off.


I hope you are also able to add Wipneus's PIOMAS graphs:





What a marvelous resource!!!


I've added Wipneus' graphs (Wipneus, if you're reading: bedankt; let me know if you'd like to see something changed).

Larry, I can't thank you enough for those graphs. The NSIDC graph allows me to remove all those monthly NSIDC graphs that are slow to load from NSIDC's ftp server.

Idunno, thanks for that link. That's useful for the long-term graphs page as well.


It'd be nice to have an updated graph that shows how much observations differ from model projections. I have two of those on the one to last row (from 2007 and 2010). I've looked for a more recent one, but couldn't find it.

I've also put in the GISS and BEST temperature graphs, and a SST anomaly graph.

I'll look for some more graphs and maps (ice age, etc) tomorrow. This is a good start.

r w Langford

Hi All;
Here is a link to an article on Russian Arctic Ocean transportation and news of more nuclear and diesel/electric ice breakers being built.

L. Hamilton

Neven, thanks for your hard work. The new graphs organization has a much more thematic feel.

It doesn't belong on this blog but a few readers might be interesting in what an Antarctic cycle plot looks like. This one has the same vertical scale as my Arctic graphs, and making the point that Antarctic sea ice isn't trending in any one direction but it falls a lot closer to zero each summer.




Is this one you're looking for?



Neven: Wipneus, if you're reading: bedankt; let me know if you'd like to see something changed

Geen dank, it is fun and I am glad to contribute something.

My personal favorite is

If that could be added ( or perhaps exchanged for trnd1).

Artful Dodger

Wow, we are loaded for bear with just 6 weeks or so until the start of the melt season. Events in the Arctic in 2012 may well determine the course of public policy for 2020, and the fate of a livable climate.


Wipneus, I've added the graph. The lowest two rows are all PIOMAS.

Twemoran, yes, I had seen that graph, but it doesn't look very scientific. I've added it anyway for the time being to fill up the row. Thanks.


May I echo the thanks for all the hard work.


surprises me - almost every month seems to be trending upwards by more than
Maybe it is just me imagining upward trends when they are negligible.

Peter Ellis

Crandles: Hardly surprising, think about the scale of the axes. The x axis (time period) is compressed by a factor of 12 in the cycle plot, since you get the entire time period * 12 months. The y axis (area / anomaly) is expanded by a factor of ~3, since it has a range of 16 units compared to range of 6 units in the anomaly plot.

Thus, given that the aspect ratios of the graphs are approximately equal, you'd expect the apparent (i.e. "by eye) gradient to be ~12/3 = 4 times steeper in the cycle plot.

Peter Ellis

Sorry, I mean the y axis is compressed in the cycle plot as well (not expanded). But it's compressed much less than the X axis, hence the apparent change in gradient.


‘loaded for bear’... sure would appreciate your view on the specific parameters leading you to that idiom...


Wonder if this is worth a place on daily graphs and maps page:


Though it is quite tidy with just 3.


AO now below -4!

L. Hamilton

Crandles, the linear trend for southern ice area is statistically significant and positive only in the austral autumn, March through June. Whereas with northern ice area or extent the linear trends are stronger, and statistically significant for every month (simple regressions).

If you use smoothing instead of assuming linearity, the northern months still go clearly down, and often at a steepening rate. But the southern months wander a bit without such clear pattern.


Thanks Larry and Peter. :)


I've added a couple of things to the long-term page, like Ice Age graphs and maps, and SST and SAT anomaly maps from ESRL/PSD/NOAA. I also added a Arctic Ocean SST anomaly graph that is made and updated by Bob Tisdale.

He makes his graphs with data from the NOAA NOMADS system. I've been fiddling around a bit to see if can make a graph of my own, but how do I define 'Arctic Ocean' latitude-wise? 70N to 90N? 60N to 90N? 66N to 90N?

AO now below -4!

Yes, I noticed that today! It's cold in Europe!


Hallo Neven
Formally the southernmost point of the Arctic Ocean would be Cape Race on the Island of Newfoundland. It’s latitude is only 53 degrees north!
To be able to define these vast swathes of sea, I made that map, lately. On that basis, I would suggest to choose, more or less arbitrary, for the latitude of Bering Strait, about 65 degrees north. Through that choice, I would exclude the Labrador Sea and Hudson Bay/Foxe Basin. What’s left stands for 12.533 million km2.
Now we’re talking vast areas, it’s interesting to see this enormous swath of high pressure over Eurasia. It covers 8000 km WE x 2000 km NS, all the way from Norway to the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk.
That’s some kind of reversed Arctic Dipole! There were remarks (Masters’ Wunderground) on the cracks and leads showing on today’s AVHRR photos. Maybe the strong westerlies on the north of this supracontinental high play a role.
In a lot of senses, Lodger may be right. An icebear wouldn’t be very loaded over there. There’s not much freeze on these seas (part of the Basin, Kara, Laptev, even East Siberian). With strong wind blowing, compressing young ice and creating polynia’s, one would expect new ice formation. But it can’t be much.
Notice that sunlight is returning to the southern Barentsz Sea. There’s not much time for the extent to grow to 13MK. Remember the first opening of Kara Strait last year? It was around march 1. Now it is still open! On the long list of sad records, we may soon add the first icefree year over there.
LBNL, that AO is wildly changing phase and amplitude!


I found two recent study results-presentations that support the notion that feedback change on northern hemisphere weather patterns has started.
1.( linked by Skyepony/WU 29012012)
A link between Arctic sea ice and recent cooling trends over Eurasia
S. D. Outten and I. Esau (G. C. Rieber Climate Institute, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Thormhlensgt. 47, 5006 Bergen, Norway)
A band of cooling that extends across mid-latitude Eurasia is identified in the wintertime surface air temperatures of the latest ECMWF reanalysis. This cooling is related to extreme warming around the Kara Sea through changes in the meridional temperature gradient. Surface temperatures in the Arctic have risen faster than those at lower latitudes, and as the Arctic warming increases, this north–south temperature gradient is weakened. This change in the meridional temperature gradient causes a decrease in the westerly winds that help maintain the mild European climate by transporting heat from the Atlantic. Since decreasing sea ice concentrations have been shown to be a driving factor in Arctic amplification, a singular value decomposition analysis is used to confirm the co-variability of the Arctic sea ice, including the Kara Sea, and the temperatures over the mid-latitude Eurasia. These findings suggest that decreasing sea ice concentrations can change the meridional temperature gradient and hence the large-scale atmospheric flow of the Northern Hemisphere.

2.(linked by Scott Lincoln/WU)
AMS 22-26 january 2012
Jennifer Francis, Rutgers University, Marion, MA
Recent studies suggest there may be a connection between Arctic Amplification – the enhanced warming in high northern latitudes relative to the northern hemisphere -- and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in mid-latitudes. Observational analyses and model experiments indicate that sea-ice loss during summer and earlier spring snow-melt on high-latitude land cause weaker poleward temperature gradients, which in turn affect the strength and wave amplitude of the polar jetstream during months following the surface changes. Higher-amplitude patterns typically change slowly and often lead to persistent weather conditions such as droughts, floods, heat waves, and cold spells. Evidence supporting the chain of events linking Arctic warming with mid-latitude conditions conducive to extreme weather will be presented.


It doesn't look like the area maximum will be under 13 million km^2 based on past 10 years all increasing by at least 0.6m km^2 and sometimes over 1m km^2 from this time of year. We are currently at 12.414m km^2.

Also, you could argue that the recent trend has been unusually in that amount is less now than 15 days so perhaps a spike upwards is imminent.

On the other hand, area is high outside Bering strait and by Baffin Bay so maybe these won't increase area much further. Where the area is low, Barents and Kara seas, the water is warm and set to stay that way at least this week with strong winds blowing from Atlantic. Then maybe the sun is getting high enough for Southern Barents to receive more solar energy than usual because of low ice and therefore albedo.

This might suggest the increase in area could continue to be slow a little longer.

Or you might completely disagree with above assessment.

So how about a pool of guesses on the area maximumper Cryosphere today? Not much time left so I suggest guesses should be submitted before end of January.


Werther, thanks for those links. I've been reading more into it lately.

Crandles, I'll open a thread for people to guess. Very good and fun idea. Coincidentally, I cleaned up my CT area spreadsheet today (I made a mistake somewhere last September and missed a day) and had a long, hard look at it. The situation with regards to the maximum is extremely interesting, exactly for the same reasons you mention.

A couple of weeks ago I looked at Uni Bremen concentration maps and saw that all that water around Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya isn't that unusual (in the new era since 2005). 2006 for instance had a positive AO and NAO as well during most of the winter and shows the same configuration. But I'd have to check again to see how things looked for today's date.


Where the area is low, Barents and Kara seas, the water is warm and set to stay that way at least this week with strong winds blowing from Atlantic. Then maybe the sun is getting high enough for Southern Barents to receive more solar energy than usual because of low ice and therefore albedo.

On the other hand: that huge high over Northern Siberia means clear skies and thus a lot of radiation escaping to space.

Here's the Uni Bremen concentration map for January 30th 2006. Similar to this year around Svalbard and Franz Josef Land, but different at the western tip of Novaya Zemlya and much less ice on the coast from there to the White Sea.


Here's a concentration map for March 11th 2006 (CT SIA maximum). Everything North and East of Svalbard frozen up, Kara region filled with ice. And a lot of ice in the Okhotsk region.

The Sea of Okhotsk could in theory also add another 300K this year.

Still, a new lowest maximum record is a definite possibility.


I was certainly under impression that ice distribution around Svalbard was strongly linked to AO phase. No idea where I got that impression from though.

Christoffer Ladstein

Had no time to digest the news in here, but sure they will be worth a "tip of the hat"!

Fresh reports from Svalbard tell of temps there close to + 5 C!!! and HEAVY RAIN, Ny- Ålesund had close to 95 mm in 24 hours, causing floods and closed airport at Longyearbyen. And the worst is aan average temp up there the last 30 days 11 C ABOVE normal, very unsettling news, and thereupon no problem understanding this winters icecondition.
At the same time we have had a "steady as she goes" winter the last 1-2 weeks in mainland Norway & Scandinavia!

Hope for a good year!


Hello people,

After 3 months of heavy investigating I finally managed to sign in. :-)

Christopher wrote
Fresh reports from Svalbard tell of temps there close to + 5 C!

You can follow the actual situation and previsons at Svalbard here:


This month they had already the one maximum temp record after the other. Moreover, according to the previsions there are at least 4 days with minima above 0 Celsius in the loop.
Note also that the warms winds coming from the South turn a bit to the right into Nova Zembla and the Kara sea. Quite something exceptional, no doubts about that.

Greetings from Gent in Flanders.

Artful Dodger

Hi Werther,

I use the term 'loaded for bear' in the American informal sense, "ready and eager to deal with something that is going to be difficult".

With the our new collection of graphs, including original works by Larry Hamilton, Wipneus, and others, we are fully locked'n'loaded for battle in the Climate Policy wars.

BTW, a 'Bear load' is a heavy cartridge with lots of powder. A 'Rabbit Load' is soft and fluffy in comparison, and is what the Denialsphere is packing.

And you know what a bear does with a rabbit...

Kevin McKinney

"One of those things" administers a hit to Arctic research in 2012:



Kevin, I assume they were'nt 'loaded for bear'...

Kevin McKinney

"Barely loaded," rather?

Artful Dodger

I'm sure the Harper Government found cracks all over those diesel engines, with ground truth just gushing out.


Lodger…great pic under thread ‘ methane..’.
Though quite soon this methane-feedback may kick in, I think this pic reflects perfectly the continuing release of warmth by the open seas and the very related reversed pressure dipole.
Svalbard had its warmest january since ’07 (though the mean is still -3 dC ‘day’/-7 dC ‘night’), mean temperature over 80 degrees north (dmi) also shows january going for the warmest in at least 6 years.
The strong SW transport brings remnants of warmth as far as the Laptev Sea. Frantsa Yosefa reports sleat and wet snow at temps just below 0 dC. While deep freeze is over central/east Europe, stretches over the Taymir peninsula barely get -10 dC.


Amazing! I'm only 250 km from the Adriatic Sea, but it's colder here than at the edge of the Arctic circle!

Chris Biscan

We are about to see Sea Ice Area and Extent set new record lows the next 5-10 days.

The Barents might also set a record low. 20-45KT winds will pound the area from the South for the next week at least the models say with a constant flow of warm water and air into the region.

Don't forget everyday that passes the sun angle gets stronger.

The Pacific can not change much as is, and by day 4-5 is progged to see it's own torch and winds come back around out of the south as well as cold air dumps into Asia/Canada.

Winds are also forecasted to turn out of the south on the Pacific side in the Bearing. If both sides have winds blowing in we will surely see new record lows for this time of year.

Looking at the SIA graph, it's nearly impossible not to at this point.

When it updates threw January it will be below -1 mil km2 on the anomaly. Today the Barents took a beating. Just check out the Bremen maps, holy smokes.
Ice can't move that face unless it's under 1 meter, it's likely .3 to .7 meters.

Oceans take years to warm and cool. The arctic OHC is rapidly going up. Even with the solar min, it is now impossible for the arctic sea ice to regenerate and regulate climate in the manner it is supposed to.

People call it alarism...yet we are seeing crazy changes in the arctic unfolding rapidly, SAT, SST, and Sea Ice.

Also, do not forget about snow cover as we head into spring. Anomalies recently have been record from March-June.

Right now Snow depth and coverage in the CONUS is pathetic:


Unless there is a radical change in snow depth over the next 2 weeks. It will be to late for anything to change going into spring. The sun's power is already increasing fast in the USA and by March 1st even the Central Plains can not hold snow cover unless it's brutally cold. But they don't have that concern since there isn't any snow reflecting solar radiation back.

this will matter when March/April come and warm air intrusions off the Rockies/tapping southern CONUS air are slamming into North Central Canada.

Recently Snow Cover anomalies have been positive into march in NA by a lot. But still end up in the tank by May.

If this year it's already way behind, look out.


Canada's snow depth is garbage in South, South Central, Central, and North Central.

Look at all of those 20, 30, 40 CM, that is nothing.

Most of those areas average 50-80CM right now on the ground.

Gonna be a wild ride.


Crandles on maximum pool…
I take general Arctic weather to the open thread again. Also because Chris Biscan posted above.
Crandles, great you found this 1984 CT pic, showing open water north of Svalbard. It might not be that remarkable. But you admit that it is to the northeast. Notice that I’m rather uptight these days; my gut feeling is ‘things are happening’. IMHO the ‘Kara Bulge’ truly is something new here. If you can find similarities in the dossiers, show them. There have been AO- wintertimes before. But probably not in this strange overall, chaotic pattern as we witness now.
I stumbled on this pic showing the NH jet streams. Have you ever seen such a serpentine right up the Arctic and circling the Kara Bulge?
Jet stream 01022012


I agree the Kara/Barents situation is new. Actually back on 6 Dec I indicated there was a lot of variability in other areas like Bering Strait where we have high extent but it was unusual to have much variation in Kara region.

North of Svalbard was also open in 85,90,91,99,01,06 and 07. Less so in 83,93,94,02 & 08. Other years it was closed in.

I haven't seen such a serpentine before but I doubt I have seen enough maps of that type to know how unusual it is.

I didn't want to make you or anyone else uptight. It is more stating the obvious than gut feeling to say there is a lot less ice volume than there was and we don't know how this will play out. Unfortunately there is little we can do but sit and watch and hope for the best :( Cutting CO2 won't have much if any affect for next 20 years or more. We should of course be doing that desipte delay before benefits.


North of Svalbard

Actually, whe have to look to the East of Svalbard too. There is only left a rather small strip of ice there.

The rest of the Svalbard coasts are completely ice free. There is now less of ice there than in the 2007 september minimum extent. It even looks to me as in any minimum summer extent.



I'll be opening the Feb open thread tomorrow, to keep the poll post on top for folks to see.

A nice image from PIG:

"An amazing Nasa photograph shows how an iceberg the size of Manhattan is close to splitting from Antarctica.

The 30-kilometre crack in Pine Island Glacier's ice was set to eventually extend across the surface and calve a giant iceberg.

The rift was 80m wide and 60m deep, and when the ice breaks off it would cover about 900 sq km.

The picture, left, taken by Nasa's Terra spacecraft in November 2011 and only released overnight, illustrates how the crack had grown about 2km in one month.

It was taken after scientists in Antarctica discovered the rift in mid-October and was first photographed by Nasa's Operation Ice Bridge."

Huge Antarctic iceberg set to break away

Susan Anderson

Neven, thanks for all. Could have saved myself some amateur digging about Antarctica picture by coming here first.

That EO picture of the rift in PIG and related older material was all over the mainstream news recently. My amateur efforts did not turn up November, though I did find the original news was from about September. More amateur effort got some current cloud pictures from Google Earth centered on Antarctica which showed a lot of storms (well, I know there are usually storms around the poles) and Masters Wunderground commenters produced lot of graphics and maps (my artist soul craves them). Cyclone Funso (Cat 3-4 originally near Madagascar) seemed to have spawned a spiral all the way south which has moved on, and now there's a huge intense one from the Pacific ending up about where PIG is. Inquiries suggest the storms might not affect the crack directly, but somebody mentioned that big tides might. Also, February would be roughly equivalent to August here, so cyclone season would be hotting up.

Anybody have anything more knowledgeable or recent to say about this?

(A decidedly amateur fan of the experts above,
Susan Anderson)

Susan Anderson

One more titbit related to the above, mousing over Google Earth near PIG showed heights over 3,000 feet. Their cloud overlay is very handy for changing perspective on patterns.


Susan, if I've remembered correctly, FrankD is our in-house expert on PIG (there was some discussion in a previous open thread, October or November 2011). I for one am not. I don't even know where the damn thing is. But I know spectacular when I see it. :-)

Kevin McKinney

"I don't even know where the damn thing is."

Your (implied) wish is my command, mijn heer!


Daniel Bailey

Neven, here's a couple of links specific to both the Pine Island Glacier and to the research being carried out there:



Susan Anderson

Thanks for more info on PIG. I'm told we should pay more attention right now to the rapid warming in the Arctic which is really scary when it should be cold rather than warm. As with North America last year, perhaps the cold in Eurasian north is an exhalation from the Arctic - the question being is the cold moving out or just stretching for a bit.

I subscribe to Earth Observatory and love their stuff, so have read the diaries from the expedition blog, which it appears this year was unable to do as much as they wished due to weather.

Hope to continue to learn more by checking in from time to time. You guys are an education! I had located and was using an elephant metaphor for the visual, but it appears the location is more like behind the ear than where the eye might be, if you follow me. The other thing that is interesting is how much is inlet and the channel that allows currents underneath.

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