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2005 1 Goddard N 13.66 11.84
2006 1 Goddard N 13.60 11.57
2007 1 Goddard N 13.77 11.79
2008 1 Goddard N 14.05 11.95
2009 1 Goddard N 14.08 11.97
2010 1 Goddard N 13.80 11.68
2011 1 NRTSI-G N 13.55 11.38
2012 1 NRTSI-G N 13.73 11.78
4th lowest for extent and area.


PIOMAS has updated with Januari data.

My graphs:
(daily data)
(monthly data)

Januari 2012 slightly above the record low 2011 numbers.


The cold blast in Europe is driven by airmasses originating from southern Russia and Kazachstan. Through it’s dryness and purity it loses vast amounts of warmth, radiating up to the high troposphere.
This configuration resulted in the lowest temp in the Netherlands in 27 years, -23 dC this morning.


OTOH temperature is again positive again today at Svalbard [2 C°], and according to the predictions te situation will remain the same for another week.

Record breaking daily maximum temperatures are going there for over a week:

26 Jan - 1 C°
27 Jan - 3 C°
29 Jan - 5 C°
30 Jan - 5 C°
31 Jan - 3 C°
1 Feb - 4 C°

No wonder the ice is receading in that region.

Incidentally, early January they have had there a series of record max too.

A Facebook User

I have noted over years of observation that a simple rule, while crude is remarkably accurate, is that if temperatures are below normal in Europe, they will be above normal in the Arctic. If the cold weather continues in Europe, expect a record low ice cover in the Arctic this summer.



There is one counter example that immediately jumps out:

2006/2007 was an record (>1200 year) warm winter (following record hot autumn and followed by record hot spring) in the Netherlands.
Yet it was followed by the impressive extreme arctic ice melt of 2007...



Keep in mind the weather had been extremely warm in Europe till 5 days ago. As a matter of fact, Autumn persisted till last week in most parts of Europe.

So, even as the temperature is now abnormal low here, (still -9 °C at noon), we can't argue there has been a severe winter.

Incidentally, it now raining again at Svalbard, wind straight from the South and temperature at +4 °C.
No doubt today will be a record breaking day again.


Bremen is up again since an houre or so.


At sight you can reckon about 75 % of the Kara sea must be ice free now!

Regarding the situation at Svalbard. If the actual situation would persist, the situation of the polarbears there would turn into the worst.

In spring polarbears need to be able to circulate on ice shelfs in order to feed (looking for seals and mammals like that). Now, if they would be forced stay on land they wouldn't be able to feed, as there isn't much of food for them on shore.

Hence polarbear's future at Svalbard looks looks grim. As a matter of fact, their situation is already grim.


Keep in mind the weather had been extremely warm in Europe till 5 days ago. As a matter of fact, Autumn persisted till last week in most parts of Europe.

Indeed. This year seems to be the exact opposite of last year, when the Arctic was warm throughout almost all of winter (cold in EU and US), but then had a big freeze in the last couple of weeks on the Canadian side of the Arctic.

This year it was freezing over there (still is), which perhaps partly explains the bigger volume according to PIOMAS during January. The other part could simply be the much larger area covered by ice (CT SIA was 840K more than 2011 on January 13th). But now, in the final phase of the freezing season, we have a 'heatwave' around Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya, both of them almost free of ice all around!

A positive AO during winter ought to cause transport of thicker, older ice through Fram Strait. If 2012 SIA remains comparable to 2011 SIA this month, PIOMAS volume could dive below the 2011 trend line.

On the other hand, all that enduring cold over the Beaufort Sea and Canadian Archipelago must've thickened up the ice quite a bit.

It will be an intriguing melting season. As always.

Jim Pettit

I find it interesting that Arctic SIA reached 12.5 million km2 for the first time yesterday (day 34), the same day it did last year. But what's even more interesting to me is that it took 27 days to get there after reaching the 12.0 million km2 mark for the first time, whereas last year, that feat was accomplished in just 10 days.


How rapidly could ice thicken if there is a return to normal temperatures? Are we not likely to have rather thin ice come early March when the sun begins to be felt?

Artful Dodger

D: About a cm a day... See the Barrow Mass Balance site for details.

Q: Anybody know which year was the last one in which any multi-year pack ice survived the Summer in the Beaufort Sea?

To me, this is the real crux of the issue as to how long perennial sea ice survives in the Central Arctic Basin.

No replacement of MYI in the Gyre = Death Spiral. Literally.


Artful Dodger

Barrow Sea Ice Thickness and Sea Level

The Mass Balance Site was deployed on landfast sea ice in the Chukchi Sea at Barrow, Alaska on January 11, 2012. At the time, ice thickness was 0.97 m


Barrow Sea Ice Mass Balance Site 2012
The latest measurements available are of Feb 04, 2012, 09:30 PM AKST:
Air temperature:
-27 °C, -16 °F Ice thickness:
1.22 m, 3 ft 11.5"
Current ice growth rate: 1.3 cm/day (1/2 in/day)

Chris Biscan

When does the ice at Barrow usually stop thickening up?


I was just considering the PIOMAS graph. It's startling that we've lost about 2/5 of the total ice volume that we had in 2007, even though last year's minimum area was about the same.

Also, I have to give a wag of the finger to Wipneus.

The September data point for last year is almost directly above the 2012 mark, meaning that I've been reading your graph as about a year off for over a year.

What looks like an ice-free arctic in September of 2015? Is really an ice-free arctic in September of 2014. As in 32 months from now.

All that being said, that graph brings it home like no other graph I've ever seen before. Beautiful presentation of the data there.

Chris Reynolds

Chris Biscan,

From here:
Near shore ice grows until May, as it's limited in extent I presume this implies thickening. After the overlying snow has melted the ice starts to melt in June. At the bottome of that page the final graphic shows break up between mid July and early August.


Dorlomin wrote:

How rapidly could ice thicken if there is a return to normal temperatures? Are we not likely to have rather thin ice come early March when the sun begins to be felt?
If you are spreaking about the region Svalbard - Barents sea - Kara sea, be aware we are dealing with something never seen before, so we only could have a wild guess eventually, but we don't do things like that, do we? So my message is to monitor day on day the situation.

Regarding "normal" situations, the ice dept is dependent of the amount of snow. As you migt know, snow is an insulator. Much of snow means less volume and density of ice. And of course the opposite when there isn't much of snow.

Bottom line, it's hard to predict volume and thickness. And that's the reason why we are here, arne't we? :-)


Chris Biscan wrote:

When does the ice at Barrow usually stop thickening up?

The shore ice depth at Barrow keeps growing till the last days of May. At these days the ice depth is usually about 1,40 meters.
From June on the ice begins rapidly to break whithin two weeks or so.
In 2005 ice only broke up in July, nevertheless 2005 has had a record minimum ice extension.

And in May 2007 Barrow has had record low temperatures during 3 weeks till 31 May.
Nevertheles, ice still broke up at 13 June IIRC, and, as we all know, 2007 had that tremendous minimum extension record.


I wrote a couple of blog posts on Barrow Break-up last year (just type in 'Barrow' in the search box in the left hand bar).

Chris Reynolds


Off the top of my head I can't recall a paper that addresses the winter AO index correlation with the following year. There is an impact during winter in the Arctic basin itself but this doesn't seem to have much of an impact on the following minima...

Using Mike Hurrell's DJFM AO index series, linearly detrended, graphed and correlated against the following year's sea-ice minima, the correlation is -0.23 (not significant).

This is to be expected due to the processes in the melt season. Looking at the PIOMAS graphs in the above post you can see that the process of growth happens at a much slower rate than the process of melt. The high rate of melt shows the power of ice-albedo effect, which is very dependent on weather (LW and SW fluxes). This essentially decouples the winter and following summer on an intra-annual basis. As the 1990s +ve AO period showed a consistent multi-annual bias of the AO can have an impact. However this is more due to the reduction of ice volume due to Fram Strait export increase, so there's a reduced volume upon which the powerful melt-season processes act, resulting in a reduced extent at the end of the melt season. We're seeing the same process at work in the longer downward trend - the loss of volume is a forced response to the forcing of AGW - this leads to reduced extents at the end of the year.


Meanwhile, nothing anomalous seems to happen during the Antarctic summer...
Just one thing caught me as I did a MODIS check one some interesting corners over there:
McMurdo 04022012
It’s illustrative of the impact humans can have on any landscape!
You can actually see the work of the icebreaker reaching MCMurdo last week!
Icebreaker MCMurdo 31012012



Months are plotted at the 'real' position. So september 2011 is plotted at 2011+8.5/12 = 2011.7083... The 'official' piomas graphs are the same.

I added gridlines at some time, because it is confusing some people.

Chris Biscan

The 00z GFS brings and to a lesser extent the Euro, widespread blow torch to the arctic.

20-30C 850mb temp anomalies.

That is insane


Chris R, I agree with what you write, of course. Just the other day I read this quote from Walt Meier on the NSIDC Icelights blog:

Meier said, “The Arctic Oscillation primarily affects sea ice through winds that cause changes in where the sea ice drifts.” When the Arctic Oscillation is in its negative mode, he said, the winds and ice tend to flow in a clockwise direction, generally keeping more of the older, thicker ice in the middle of the Arctic. In the positive phase, that old ice tends to get pushed out of the Arctic along the Greenland coast. Meier said, “This means that the sea ice tends to be younger and thinner and more prone to melt after a winter with a strong positive Arctic Oscillation.”

Summer weather has always been the dominant factor in ice cover decrease, but my conclusion after last year's melting season, was that the importance of this factor diminishes as the ice gets thinner (2011 didn't look much like 2007, especially towards the end, but was in a virtual tie record-wise).

This winter the AO has mainly been positive. Of course, this doesn't mean anything definitive, as the weather is still dominant, and what I've learned from the Arctic so far is that one thing happening on one side of it, means the opposite is probably happening on the other side.

But if a lot of thicker MYI has been transported through Fram this winter due to the positive AO (I have no idea whether it has been), the importance of weather conditions could be smaller than ever (in the new era of summer sea ice decrease).


As could been expected, two new dayly records in a row at Svalbard:

3 february: 0 °C
4 february: 3 °C

Interesting, it looks like the Siberian cold has taken in Finnmark (Nordkapp) too. And even in Tromso, to the South of Finnmark it was -16 °C at noon. In Finland temperatures as low as -31 °C at noon!

OTOH, the "real" Siberian thing looks a bit at the moderate side.
Yakutsk at the river Lena the temperature hovers around - 40 °C, and at the estuarium of the same Lena at Tiksi (near the New Siberian Islands) temperature shivers around - 20 °C. Mind, this is plain Siberia.

At Vladivostok (sea of Okhotsk) temperature now is -10 °C at midnight local time. So, compared to the usual -25 °C in february it's a bit "warm" there too. No wonder the ice in the sea of Okhotsk doens't expand.

Chris Biscan

SIA anomaly increased again by about 20,000km2


To visualize what’s going on on the Atlantic side, I put Uni Bremen 0402 under my CAD graph.
Loss assessment 04022012
In 2006 there was some icefree sea in the Kara. But it has never been as bad as now. About 26% of the Kara Sea is icefree, the Kara Strait still open (but narrow). The Barentsz Sea contains 38% less ice then according to NSIDC’s 1979-2000 mean. The Arctic Basin shows icefree waters northeast of Svalbard.
The release of warmth to the atmosphere is still continuing. It stimulates the progress of more lows passing through the Barentsz Sea.
The AO just doesn’t seem to be very relevant. It’s just a general difference in mean SLP between ‘north of 67’and mid-latitude around 40N. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Arctic Basin is actually covered by a high pressure cell in the lower troposphere.
To me, what’s going on is a disturbed, anomalous pattern of Rossby waves/jet stream, or, from another point of view, the Polar and Hadley cells. The lagging effects of several years of large sea ice losses, Atlantic Decadal Oscillation and continued storage of warmth in the oceans are at work. The wildly flipping AO is just an expression of these interactions, not a driver.
What will probably emerge out of this?
Since sunlight now has reached the Beaufort Sea, Pevek Bay, Kara Strait and Disko Bay, there are just 35 days left for possible extent growth. In theory, there is still time for a thin layer of FYI to grow over the anomalous loss in the Atlantic sector. But I don’t see that happen anymore.
Whatever weather manifests itself in the coming melt season, I think the 600K in blue hatch on the graph is bound to melt out. That’s the 2012 battleground...


Nice, Werther. Thanks.


Hi Neven,
I hope your blog is 'loaded for bear'to support my fancy for illustrations? I remember having almost blown some networks before...


Keep firing away, Werther. :-)


Hi all,

WUWT has a post up on the difference in melt rates of Arctic Sea Ice above and below the Arctic Circle@


Not sure what he's trying to prove, but its quite an interesting article. I can't recommend the comments though.



Chris Reynolds


Sorry, I omitted a crucial point from my previous post - the correlation stated is from 1959 to 2006 using CT's seasonal series.

I've just spreadsheeted NSIDC monthly extent for September detrended using linear trends vs AO Index for DJF of the previous winter. Done for two periods, 1979-2006, 2007-2011.

Hi AO vs Hi Extent - few instances, mainly clustered close to the axes.
Hi AO vs Lo Extent - larger spread of instances.
Lo AO vs Hi Extent - signifcant spread of instances.
Lo AO vs Lo Extent - few instances.
This supports the correlation of -0.3112. However it's not a strong negative correlation - Hi AO(Lo AO) -> Lo Ice(Hi Ice) some of the time.

For the period after 2007 there are far too few data points to reveal a pattern given the spread, however comparing the pre and post 2007 period the spread seems to be greater than the pre 2007 set. Correlation -0.012

So I'm wondering if in the new regime the winter growth and AO could actually be _less_ relevant because overall the sea-ice has so much less volume, so is more sensitive to weather in the melt season.

This year will add to the data.


Idunno, I had seen the post over at Jeff Id's blog. I admire him for his ability to make those vids and graphs, but unfortunately towards the end of his post he has to go and say this: "I am very much skeptical that we should be worried about any of this. If you add up all the sea ice in the world, we have a heck of a lot of it at any given time."

This kind of argument usually gets my hackles up and so I had to respond (I try not to because I often lose my temper and that's useless). After I tried to be as courteous and non-sarcastic as possible, Jeff Id concedes that, though not scared or worried, he doesn't rule out the possibility that disappearing summer sea ice in the NH might have nasty consequences. At least that's how I interpreted his response. Fair enough. The ice will tell.


So I'm wondering if in the new regime the winter growth and AO could actually be _less_ relevant because overall the sea-ice has so much less volume, so is more sensitive to weather in the melt season.

I see what you mean, Chris.

Well, every bit helps, if that's the right way to put it. There is still some thicker MYI left in the Arctic. If a positive AO in winter helps to push some of it out, the volume becomes slightly lower. I still think this could give the melting season a head start, all other things being equal (which they probably aren't).

But it doesn't matter below a certain threshold of total ice volume, just like summer weather patterns become less dominant for total ice cover and SIE/SIA minimums when the ice has crossed a certain thickness threshold (which I believe we saw in 2010 and 2011).

Chris Biscan

Watts post is nothing but trying to deflect from the fact that the ice is running at records lows.

It's 2012. We have seen a decade of a -PDO, an AMO gone neutral the last 6 years minus 2005, back2back strong la ninas, largest solar min in decades.

Despite this we have perpetually record low sea ice max and min

Record low ice extent running means

Record low sea ice area

Record low sea ice volume

Record low thickness

Record warm arctic SATs

Record warm Atlantic side ssts

Record low ice in the Kara, arctic basin, barents, and Greenland sea.

Record greenland melt.

Mr Watts is pathetic zero intellectual and ethical integrity pertaining to science.

Someone ask Mr Watts if he thinks the trillions of extra W/M2 causing a rapid positive feedback. Propelling snow and ice into a perpetual increasing feedback cycle.

Let's see what natural variance will stop it


I have no idea what the WUWT/tAV post is about or what it is trying to prove, but that could be me.

Edit: Dr Walt Meier shows up in there, as does Peter Ellis, both saying sensible things.

Steve Bloom

Don't forget the permafrost, Chris B.

Jim Pettit

I won't attempt a takedown of the post over on WUWT; Chris did a great job above. But in short, it appears the post is desperately trying to make two points:

1) If all the ice that's south of the Arctic Circle is removed from calculations involving area, extent, and volume, the total amount of ice that melts every year is much less than we're currently counting.

2) While that ice at the North Pole melts every summer, ice is thickening at the South Pole. When considered as a whole, then, the drop is much less than we're currently counting.

The faulty "logic" is obvious, of course; the first point is cherry-picking by omission, and akin to saying, "If you don't count that last Giants touchdown, the Patriots actually won." And the second is simply a logical fallacy, and akin to claiming that the 20-pound cancerous growth on my right leg cancels out the fact that my left leg has been lost to gangrene, and therefore I'm perfectly fit.


Jim Pettit wrote:

ice is thickening at the South Pole

Is it?

Perhaps you could care to prove your point at least a litlle bit?
And why don't we start from here:


OTOH, I don't know anything about the last Giants nor the touchdown nor Patriot thinghies, but that's probably me.


Interesting to see that Jeff has caught up with a level of specious reasoning peddled here a year or so ago...

To extend Jim Pettit's point 1, let's consider the area I'll call "Icetopia".

Icetopia can be defined as an area consisting of all those expanses that were ice-covered at both the 2007 minimum AND the the 2010 minimum. This is a little smaller than the equally arbitrary area referred to as "the Arctic Basin" (about 2.5 M km^2).

Since there are almost no anomalies for this area (ie it has never recorded significant areas of open water), what is the trend of annual anomalies in this area? Zero slope, as near as makes no nevermind.

Since I choose to ignore inconvenient melting in areas I consider irrelevant, and concentrate only on the arbitrary area I've defined, I can happily advise that any talk of an ice-free Arctic is piffle!

There has always been ice in Icetopia.
There always will be ice in Icetopia.
Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

Daniel Bailey

I believe the central tenet that Jim Pettit was making (from the WUWT post) about

"ice is thickening at the South Pole"
is that the WUWT-denizens are referring specifically to the central EAIS peak which is adding snowpack in the middle while ignoring the thinning going on around its (and the WAIS') edge. To say nothing of sea ice.

It's yet another example of this type of thinking.


Multiplying anomalies...
Although the current cold blast gripping Europe is just 8 days old now, I’ve compared it’s mean temp to 111 years of February weather. For the Netherlands, data reflect this is more than a 2 sigma event. You get this only once in say 40, 50 years...
It may last for 15 days and, depending on the rest of February weather, this month is bound to stay between 1 and 2 sigma on the low side.
It is the first, solid entrance of these parts in the worldwide rollercoaster. The Dutch don’t pay attention, occupied as they are in preparation of another episode in our ‘epic’ skate event ‘Elfstedentocht’ (a 200 km skate passing 11 Friesian towns). Still, this one is going to cost, in terms of traffic delays, road damage and colossal demand for house-heating gas...


Since Neven’s got no problem to get his blog fired at, thought I’d postcard you all from my place, last Saturday morning, a crystal clear sunrise at -15 dC (+5 F). The church in the background BTW is situated on a late medieval earth mound, underlining the fact that it’s also below sea level out here.
Kethel, Netherlands 4 feb 12



That is truly beautiful - but I want my winter back.
Terry in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada still waiting for snow.

David Klein

Sea level rises Bob Carter is at it again


Werther, that's breathtaking.

I want it made into a jigsaw.


According to the ecmwf maps the situation definitely will change on the 10th of February. The high pressure field now above Europe is supposed to expand deep into the Atlantic, blocking up that way the Southern winds to the Barents sea.
Europe might get a direct polar air streams instead of the Siberian one at present. And could have a lot of snow again. Winter hasn't given in yet!

OTOH, it looks like in Canada the St-Laurens, New foundland and Hudson region would have some Southerly storms which would bear off the Ontario.

So, no snow expected in Ontario in the near future.

My apologies.

Kevin O'Neill

There's a free Cryosat iPhone/iPad App available. Has anyone tried it to see what it's like?

I've been checking the ESA site regularly and have downloaded both CUT and Cryo-View, but haven't found any of the Cryosat data products available yet.

L. Hamilton

I use the Cryosat app for Android phone. This works well to check any of the anomaly graphs when you're on the go.

The animation does not work for me, but I don't need that on a phone.

L. Hamilton

Sorry, I'm confused, my comment above referred to the Cryosphere Today app.


Small update for the "official" PIOMAS graphs, now using a 1979-2011 base period:




New graphs at Cryosphere Today! Very slick!

(Or did we all notice that already?)


By the bye, for those keeping an eye on the bottom end of the globe, a nice tabular berg calved from the coast of Victoria Land in the last few days - 45 km long, 13 km wide, about 550 sq km all up. Biggest I've seen this southern summer.


Kevin McKinney

A few months back our friend the Lodger made some points about Soviet subs in the Canadian Arctic, which I promptly questioned.

It's rather tangential to our main concerns here, to be sure, but this story just came out, demonstrating that he had a good point:


Too bad we can't FOIA Russian sonar data. . .


New graphs at Cryosphere Today! Very slick!

Indeed. I didn't notice them yesterday or the day before, so they must be brand new. Maybe they'll have more to come?

Too bad we can't FOIA Russian sonar data...

Perhaps if we could get the Grand Auditor and his pack of docile dogs interested... ;-)


Hi all,

Approx 180 degrees in the wrong direction, but the Russian drilling team has reached Lake Vostock @



NSIDC has a new analysis out.

Nathan Tetlaw

Hi, Great Blog Neven.

This doesn't look normal to me:


Why is ice shifting off the Alaskan coast?


Welcome, Nathan. If you check this DMI sea level pressure map, you can see there's a big high-pressure system over the western part of the Canadian Archipelago. Now along those lines you see, or isobars, around the red/orange, the wind is blowing in a clockwise direction (with cyclones - low-pressure areas - the wind blows in an anti-clockwise direction along the isobars).

So my guess is that it's the wind causing those leads.

Nathan Tetlaw

Not unusual then?


Nathan asked

Why is ice shifting off the Alaskan coast?

On the contrary, this is a quite normal phenomenon.

As we all now, water begins to expand from just under 0 °C. The ice expands till - 24 °C if I do recall correctly - perhaps someone could correct me.

Of course, the opposite is even so true. When temperature rises from - 30 °C to -10 °C, the ice will shrink, and cracks will be formed especially at cost line.

Since 1,5 day ago temperature has risen quickly from - 30 °C till -5 °C in the Bering, the chucksy sea and the Beaufort sea.
So, that's why.

Incidentally, you can monitor the very same phenomenon at the Hudson bay. In the North East region temperature has risen from - 30 °C to -15°C, hence cracks are formed at the costline.

Of course, as temperature remains well below zero around Alaska as well as the Hudson bay, these cracks will freeze solid again in short a time.



January CH4 map


Sorry Neven, but the stuff won't go away.


I know, Terry, I'm reminded every time I pass wind.

Artful Dodger

1816 was known as the "Year Without a Summer", as severe summer climate abnormalities caused average global temperatures to decrease by about 0.4–0.7 °C

We're already 0.8 °C above pre-Industrial temperatures. Will 2016 be the "Year without a Winter"?


Kevin McKinney

Maybe "The Year Without A Winter (Except In Europe)?"


Bering Sea SIA is dropping a bit (see regional graphs page).


Neven wrote:

Bering Sea SIA is dropping

... and concentration is dropping too. We shouldn't wonder, as the Bering sea and entire Alaska in turn now have a hotspell:

+1 °C at Fairbanks in central Alaska, at this very moment. At the Aleutian islands positive temperature. At Wales (Bering street) still - 3 °C.


Lodger, the element you fitted in is locked radiation over the northern hemisphere on app. 400mb level in the mid-upper troposphere. As I represent warmth release, a part of it is in the form of convection, rising air mass right up into the high troposphere, creating a ‘bulge’ and high 500 mb level. The other component, your line of thought, is radiation, made visible through the Outgoing Longwave Radiation measurements.
Both have been extremely high and consistent over the anomalously low sea ice regions all winter. If the lock on radiation on 400mb level is indeed sharpened through a ‘methane cloud’, that could mean a large impact on Arctic/NH thermodynamics. I’m not talking ‘sudden release’ here but sipping accumulation.

Why would this all have noticeable impact now?
Low sea ice level is imminent ever since 2007 during the fall months. Is it time lag? Anyway, several effects are cresting. Together, they’re shaping up strong feedback.
The locked and stored warmth is still there, through the lower troposphere and in the upper ocean. Waiting to be enhanced as spring sunshine arrives.
Entries by Logicman, Terry, Lodger, Kris, you all muse on an extreme melting season coming up. If the max won’t even reach 13mk, it will be the first sign that it’s unfolding. The Bering isn’t important. It’s Arctic Basin MYI. Most parameters tell us it cannot have grown much.


Lead in the Beaufort...
Neven, glad you called Nathan’s shifting ice a ‘lead’. If you‘d used ‘crack’ I’d have recommended you to be a damage inspector at an insurance Co. Can you call a 600 x 25 km polynia, area 11.6K a lead? It took southern winds just two days to create this.
Last year, a 60k polynia had appeared by...day 141, exactly same shape and place.

If this isn’t all...sunlight also revealed wide ‘leads’ on the East Siberian coastline today, 300 km west of Pevek Bay.
This fits perfectly with the AVHRR images north of Greenland, showing the pack fractured and crushed in winters’ darkness.
I’m sure Kris has a point that new ice will form in those poly-leads. But they seem hardly BAU.


A little OT, but still about ice ( Himalayan ice cap). I found this piece on the ABC (the Australian ABC) website that reports on a paper by Tad Pfeffer from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research published in Nature.
Apparently, the ice caps in the Himalayas are melting ten times more slowly than initially thought: losing 4 Gigatonnes of ice annually rather than 50 as previously thought. This melt is contributing to an annual increase of 3.2 mm in sea level out of a total of 12mm per year.
The paper confirms pervoius estimates ice mass losses from ice sheets ( Greenland and WAIS).

Is there anyboidy aware of this research who would be able to comment further?


Phil, I've seen this pop up here and there on US as well as Dutch news sites.

It's a very interesting research paper with a lot of info, but somehow most headlines are about the Himalaya. Isn't that funny? Just goes to show how well those Gates have been rammed into the collective consciousness.

This melt is contributing to an annual increase of 3.2 mm in sea level out of a total of 12mm per year.

Of the total contribution of 12 mm of sea level rise in the period 2003-2010, Greenland and Antarctica contributed 8.8 mm, the world's melting glaciers and ice caps contributed 3.2 mm.

Together that's about half of yearly SLR. The other half is due to thermal expansion. The total SLR is about 3 mm a year, I believe.


Werther, I was doubting whether to say lead or polynya, and was afraid the latter was an exaggeration. But it isn't:

Latent Heat Polynya: is formed through the action of katabatic wind or ocean currents which act to drive ice away from a fixed boundary, such as a coastline, fast ice, or an ice bridge. The polynya forms initially by the first year pack ice being driven away from the coast, which leaves an area of open water within which new ice is formed. This new ice is then also herded downwind toward the first year pack ice. When it reaches the pack ice the new ice is consolidated onto the pack ice. The latent heat polynya is the open water region between the coast and the ice pack.

From Wikipedia.

Chris Biscan


Sea Ice basically gets crippled another day.

I would except the SIA anomaly to peak down to -1,350,000km2 once it hits the 9th or 10th


That's a definite possibility, Chris.

Looking at GSF and ECMWF those isobars show straight lines from the Northern Atlantic towards Novaya Zemlya into the weekend. After that it's over, so the ice can finally start to regrow in Barents and Kara. At the same time I think I see a low developing over the North Pacific that might slow down ice growth in Bering and Okhotsk.

But that's after the weekend. A lot can change before that.

It looks like 2012 will build up a head start into that final stretch towards SIA maximum.

Kevin McKinney

Neven wrote "The total SLR is about 3 mm a year, I believe."

Yes, I believe so, too--which is why I thought "Since when is SLR 12 mm a year?" Thanks for clarifying that--the story actually says:

From 2003 through 2010, they [ie., the Himalayas] collectively lost about 4200 cubic kilometres, enough to raise sea levels by 12 millimetres over that eight year period, the study found.
Al Rodger

How long have Cryosphere Today had those interactive charts? Kinda cool.


CT SIA shows another 35K drop for February 10th. That could be the last one for the next week or so.

DMI, NSIDC and Arctic ROOS all have trend lines moving up.

Timothy Chase

The Arctic Ozone Hole of Spring 2011 has been discussed on this blog a number of times. Most recently there was an extended discussion in the Open Thread comments here:

January 2012 Open Thread

I just did a little checking, and it actually turns out that in a 1998 Nature paper an Arctic ozone hole was predicted for the decade of 2010-2019 that would be partly due to global warming, although according to the authors, the hole might persist well beyond this.

The paper states regarding its model predictions:

Radiative cooling by increasing greenhouse gases by itself causes area-weighted temperature decreases of ~1-2 K poleward of 70° from altitudes of 200 to 50 mb during 2010-2019 in the winter in both hemispheres, relative to the control run. In the Northern Hemisphere, the reduced frequency of stratospheric warmings adds to the radiative cooling, resulting in total temperature decreases within the enhanced Arctic vortex of 5-7 K during December and January. Large ozone losses in February and March exert a sizeable positive feedback, so that modeled temperatures are 8-10 K colder in the greenhouse run owing to combined radiative, dynamical, and chemical influences.

Shindell, D.T., D. Rind, and P. Lonergan, 1998: Increased polar stratospheric ozone losses and delayed eventual recovery owing to increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations. Nature, 392, 589-592, doi:10.1038/33385.

Artful Dodger

Good dig, Timothy. This deserves it's own Post, don't you agree Neven? Guest author perhaps? Thanks again, Timothy.


Very good dig, Tim! I'm always open to guest blogs, of course. Just mail me (or now, whatever you like). Maybe I'll get round to it myself.

Do you guys have any idea what the current situation is? Any chance of another Arctic ozone hole this year?

Timothy Chase

Guest author? I appreciate the suggestion and offer. Some day, perhaps. With the Arctic, I believe I am far better suited to the role of reader and occasionally commenter.

But this particular bit might make it as an inset essay to my main essay on the greenhouse effect. Help round things out a bit with some other topics. Several good tie-ins, I think.

As for this year, I don't know what's happening up there. It probably won't happen every year, natural variability and all. But how is the Arctic Oscillation Index currently doing?

If it is strongly positive when the Arctic comes out of the shadows and ultraviolet radiation hits the stratosphere, I believe that is basically what you need for the large ozone loss.

Timothy Chase

Arctic Oscillation: Comparing this year to last

The latest figures I have for the daily Arctic Oscillation Index only go to the end of January, so that is what I will primarily focus on. However, I will have a little bit to say about what happens later in the year for 2011 near the end, just prior to providing the links to the data itself.

As of the 2012-01-31, the daily Arctic Oscillation Index was at: -2.275. On 2011-901-31 it was at 1.841. The last day in January of this year that AO was positive was the 20th. The last day that it exceeded the same day a year before was the 22nd. 2011-01-22 was -2.411 and 2012-01-22 was -2.01. The last day of January 2012 that the AO was positive was 2012-01-20. The last day of January 2011 that AO was negative was the 2011-01-26.

In 2011, the daily AO went negative again briefly in February from 2011-02-15 to 2011-02-18. Afterwards it stayed positive for nearly a month, then went negative again from March from 2011-03-12 to 2011-02-13. Afterwards it stayed for positive for over a month and a half, and didn't go negative again until 2011-04-29 to 2011-05-04.

Here is the link to the directory:


People will want:


The associated webpage is:

Arctic Oscillation (AO)

Steve Bloom

This paper characterizing heat loss through leads and finding that the little ones are most important may be of interest.


Thanks for the interesting paper, Steve. Is there any change in the amount of leads in the past years that you know of? It could be a potential negative feedback.

Artful Dodger

I hope everyone has noticed Neven's featured Post on today's Climate Progress blog? ( Well done, Neven ;^)

Arctic Sea Ice Update: Spectacular and Ominous
By Climate Guest Blogger on Feb 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Has the melt season started in the Barents and Kara Seas two months earlier than normal?...


Hey Neven, Now that the Max area pool has ended why not start the Minimum area pool? I am sure that many people already have opinions on what is going to happen this year.
I see a very high probability of a minimum lower than 2007. If it does not happen this year then it will happen next year!


Philiponfire asked:

why not start the Minimum area pool


Looks a bit premature to me. Many unexpected things could still happen on the road to the end of May.

IMHO, unlike the negationists, we better keep our heads cool. :-)


Indeed, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The melting season takes plenty of time as it is (although it strangely enough sometimes doesn't feel that way).


(Slight change at start to get past typepad?)

>"Looks a bit premature to me. Many unexpected things could still happen on the road to the end of May."

Should many unexpected things be an argument for starting later?

I am not sure but I think this is an argument for a measure that is different than a poll in that we want a measure that changes over time so we can see when big changes occur to learn what is important.

SEARCH has monthly reports starting June. I think something more continuous might be a useful addition.

For this I suggest Forsight eXchange
That is imaginary money not real.

Could do with a couple of people to propose and approve a claim something like the following (and also traders):

Arctic Minimum Sea Ice Area 2012

This claim pays FX$0.01 per 30,000 km^2 over 1,000,000 km^2 of arctic sea ice at the daily minimum per cryosphere today which has graphs and a data table (first column is date in digital years and third column is area in million km^2).

For example, 2011 record minimum of 2.9047396 if repeated would result in a calculation of (2904740-1000000)/30000 = 63.49 and so a payout of FX$0.63.

Anything 3.985 or over million km^2 would result in a payout of FX$1 and anything under 1.015 million km^2 would result in a payout of FX$ 0.


SEARCH has monthly reports starting June. I think something more continuous might be a useful addition.

Which is why I'll think I'll do a poll starting May. But we'll see as we go along after the maximum. Solvitur ambulando.


128k increase in arctic area means global area of 14.762 is likely to be this years lowest. That is I believe 5th lowest year for global area. It is not yet impossible for 4th at 14.732 from 2005 to be beaten but it is getting less likely.


of course things could change between now and September. that is my point exactly. anyone can make a good guess at the finish of a race half way through. far more interesting if you take a stand before the race starts based on past performance. that is talking about climate. guessing on current events is talking about weather is it not?


It's the short-term influences (weather, etc) that still dominate the final outcome of a melting season, Philip. Taking a stand only makes sense when you are projecting the long-term trend.

There is absolutely no way to determine right now what the minimum extent/area will be, much more info is needed. Most of that info will come once the melting season gets under way for real. Which IMO is in May.

Of course, everyone is free to share his projection for the 2012 minimum in the comment section. But for now I'm going to wait with a poll. :-)

Kevin McKinney

Neven, congratulations on the guest post! Well done.


Thanks, Lodger and Kevin. The story of Arctic sea ice writes itself basically, I'm just the medium. But it's nice and challenging to try and write something interesting/good for a broader audience.


128k increase in arctic area means global area of 14.762 is likely to be this years lowest. That is I believe 5th lowest year for global area. It is not yet impossible for 4th at 14.732 from 2005 to be beaten but it is getting less likely.

crandles, I haven't really looked into this, but the Antarctic SIA anomaly has been dropping quite a bit in the last few days (went down from a steady +0.35 to +0.23). Could this perhaps offset the Arctic growth that is inevitable in the coming week?


Last remarkable feature tonight...
8K open polynia's in the Ob and Yenisei mouths. Those don't even show on CT and Uni Bremen...


I could be wrong, I certainly haven't run any statistical tests....

Antarctic falls to minimum from day 0.1151 in last 10 years:


Arctic rises to maximum from day 0.1151

We have already had .128 of these arctic increases. Given those figures, the weather and the recent .128 arctic rise, I think we are likely to get another 0.15 arctic increase fairly soon. So .128 + .15 is larger than the largest .27336 antarctic fall.

I may be wrong, it may not work out like that, an antarctic double century may be in progress. However that .128 gives a good boost likely to hold off antarctic falls for at least a couple of days. So with this cursory analysis I still think we are likely (over 50%) to be past the global minimum sea ice area for this year.

I will now probably see a bounce back from that .128 gain rather that the further .15 I think likely over next few daysand big antarctic falls so I am not guaranteeing it.

(Re anomaly 0.35 to 0.23 is over 6 days, so if that rate were to continue which seems a somewhat dodgy assumption to me, that is .02 to add to .03 normal fall. The .128 covers 2.5 days at that rate.)

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