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Rob Dekker wrote:
"The upwelling from 200-500 meter all the way to the surface, recorded simultaneously on two different ITPs (and coinciding with a known and significant storm overhead) is, as far as I can see, unprecedented in the ITP record"

Quite so. And I think this can be perhaps understood as a consequence of widely fragmented ice in the arctic.

Wind is plainly driving this ocean mixing. The current state of fragmented ice perhaps ENHANCES the ability of wind to create mixing. Due to Coriolis forces with Ekman pumping involved, any lateral movement of surface water promotes mixing with deeper waters.

When the arctic is largely a solid, immobile ice sheet, wind cannot transfer momentum to the water. In ice-free water, wind has to kick up some waves to be able to transfer momentum to the water.

But when fragmented floes are present, each irregular piece of ice acts as a sail in the wind, so the wind transfers momentum more readily to the surface. And each piece of ice, being 90 percent submerged, quite effectively transfers that momentum to the water. With winds moving in essentially a single direction in any given area, vast volumes of surface water are more readily put into motion. The difference in motion between the surface and deep water inevitably creates mixing.

It's a positive feedback mechanism, not for climate, but for destruction of sea ice. The thinner and more fragmented the ice, the more readily wind creates mixing, which makes the ice thinner and more fragmented. Until, that is, the ice is gone.

Espen Olsen


Yes there are both real and sub sea islands in Jøkelbugt, the last island found there (1993) was Tobias Ø. And the area is very shallow many places only 5 - 20 meters.

Alais Elena

There is a very good article on NASA's site from 2008 (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/arctic_storm.html) showing the increase in storms coming into the Arctic. The figure shows the paucity of storms during 1950-1972 and a much larger number during just 2000-2006. Sea ice speed increased 300%.

Posted by Tenney Naumer


Good find, Tenney (fixed your link). And sea ice speed is one of those things that sea ice models do not reproduce well (see Rampal et al. 2011).

BTW, you were right that 2008 also had a detachment of a swathe of ice floes in the East Siberian Sea, but it doesn't come close to this year's event.


Tenney, your find is the find of the century. I already had someone mail me about Hakkinen's work in relation to some other stuff. Unfortunately I'm too busy right now to write more, but I'll try to get to this next week as it shows yet another link between AGW and what we're witnessing in the Arctic right now.


If possible, JAXA needs to get AMSR2 online as soon as possible. We need the best sensor to assess this situation. Is that too fast for the calibration and validation process? I'm going to ask Bob Grumbine.

Artful Dodger

The area of Texas is 696,241 square kilometer. Arctic sea ice extent dropped more than the size of Texas during the 5 days of the storm (Aug 3 - Aug 8).

Alais Elena

Sure. The ice now is so much thinner and "rotten" that there is almost no comparison with 2008.

There was another big melt out in the region of the present cyclone in 2008.

I scrounged around in my old USB drive and found 3 sea ice concentration graphics from August 10, 17 and 30, 2008, that show how bad a hit the ice took (this is a simple blogspot blog -- you have to hit the page down key a couple of times to get to the post):



Tenney, on the ASI Graphs website I've created a special page comparing sea ice concentration maps on different dates in the 2005-2012 period.

Chris Reynolds


I blogged about Hakkinen's 2008 paper on sea ice drift here:

There's a copy of that paper on the blog post.


That's right, Chris, I had forgotten about that! Thanks for reminding.

Chris Reynolds

I had too!

Artful Dodger

Neven, all AMSR-2 data is archived. After the calibration process is complete, a reanalysis will be done of all the data. Level 2 data will be available in 2013, and Level 3 data in 2014. The schedule may be moved forward if things go well.

Here's an excerpt from today's AMSR2 Press release:

JAXA completed the initial functional verification of the Global Change Observation Mission 1st - Water "SHIZUKU" (GCOM-W1) and has moved to the regular observation operation today as scheduled.



Thanks, Lodger.

Today's LANCE-MODIS images... I'm speechless.

Artful Dodger

The JAXA Long-term Sea Ice Concentration Data Set is now available. It includes a 33-year record of sea ice concentration for the Arctic and Antarctic.

Artful Dodger

More from JAXA on the AMSR2 spinup:

JAXA plans to deliver AMSR2 data to GCOM-W1 principal investigators (PI) and user agencies, which have agreement with JAXA, for calibration/validation purposes as internal distribution when initial check out phase is completed. Level 1 product will be distributed about 3-month after launch, and Level 2 and 3 products 4-month after launch.

To general researchers, JAXA will distribute products when calibration/validation phase is completed. Level 1 product will be distributed 8-month after launch, and Level 2 and 3 products 12-month after the launch.

Steve Bloom

This has to be the most information-packed thread in the history of this blog, at least that I recall. So much for "open"! :)

Neven, I noticed that you didn't use the phrase "positive feedback" to describe the situation. I realize it's by no means proven, but all the pieces of the puzzle seem to be accelerating toward a metaphorical Fram Strait. :)

In particular, the destruction of the fresh water lens by this storm over what seems to be a broad area is striking. My understanding has always been that the presence of that lens is essential to the presence of a stable sea ice cap. I would be very curious to know what models show in this regard, assuming it's occurred to someone to run the experiment. I know there have been a few papers that tested removal of the ice to see what would happen (it reforms fairly quickly), but what assumptions did those papers make about the lens and the effect of storms on it? I'm suspecting yet another model failure here.

Artful Dodger

Hi folks,

I'm working on a calculation, and I need some more data. Does anyone know the volume of Antarctic Sea Ice?

TIA, and Cheers!


This has to be the most information-packed thread in the history of this blog, at least that I recall. So much for "open"! :)

Sorry about that, Steve. Do you want me to put all the stuff about increased sea ice drift speed in it as well? :-p


Is there a possibility that the eastern half of Ward-Hunt is moving into Disraeli Fjord? MODIS imagery is still blurred (or my eyes are old).



The NASA image has reached the Guardian. This story could be getting some late traction. I understand why they're not covering it, as it is not directly affecting people, and its magnitude is way beyond what people can understand and imagine. This might change in the near future.


MODIS aqua has cleared & Disraeli Fjord is wide open.


Alais Elena

I have been interested in the poleward shift of storm tracks for some years -- I even have specific labels on my blog for these articles -- here is one by Caldeira from 2008:


Posted by Tenney Naumer

Alais Elena

Sorry, I should have left the link -- there are 23 articles under "Storm tracks moving northwards":


Posted by Tenney Naumer

Paul Klemencic

My comment on another thread asking for predictions:

OK, the storm took out a lot ice extent, so the last week lost 930k sq km, almost reaching a Megaweek Loss level of a million. Normally, we would expect to see losses of about 600k, so this lowers the expected minimum considerably.

Next up, an Arctic Dipole Anomaly. Given how badly the Central Arctic Basin pack was damaged, this could put open water over the North Pole this year… we should know more about this by Tuesday, the first real day of the Arctic DA.

Given current extent, and estimating 80k loss per day, we should break the previous extent minimum by August 25th, at the latest, and with slowing as we run out of ice to melt, hit 4.0 M by September 1st. Anyone, including me, who had NSIDC estimates for September higher than 4.0, needs to revise them down.

Janne Tuukkanen

To paraphrase one former American President: "This sucker could go down."

Artful Dodger

El Nino almost certain - US weather forecaster El Nino likely to arrive in August or September 2012 (cue JAWS 2013 music...)

Artful Dodger

Once more it seems events in the Arctic outpace the models...

Yvan Joseph ORSOLINI and Asgeir SORTEBERG, 2009: Projected changes in Eurasian and Arctic summer cyclones under global warming in the Bergen climate model, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters, 2(1), 62-67.


Using the coupled ocean-atmosphere Bergen Climate Model, and a Lagrangian vorticity-based cyclone tracking method, we investigate current climate summer cyclones in the northern hemisphere and their change by the end of the 21st century, with a focus on northern Eurasia and the Arctic. The two scenarios A1B and A2 for increasing greenhouse gas concentrations are considered. In the model projections, the total number of cyclones in the northern hemisphere is reduced by about 3-4%, but the Arctic Ocean and adjacent coastal regions harbour slightly more and slightly stronger summer storms, compared to the model current climate. This increase occurs in conjunction with an increase in the high-latitude zonal winds and in the meridional temperature gradient between the warming land and the ocean across Northern Eurasia. Deficiencies in climate model representations of the summer storm tracks at high latitudes are also outlined, and the need for further model inter-comparison studies is emphasized.
Artful Dodger

Orsolini & Sorteberg (2009) is freely available in this pdf

Artful Dodger

From the Introduction:

"Climate model projections for the later part of the 21st century under scenarios of prescribed increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs), indicate an amplification of global warming in northern high latitudes, linked to a strong decrease in sea-ice extent and snow cover".

From the Summary and Discussion:

"The Arctic Ocean at large and the Arctic coast of Russia in particular, are hence projected to harbour more and more intense summer storms"

"We conjecture that the model simplified sea ice-atmosphere interactions, and lack of resolution, result in weaker than observed heat and moisture fluxes, hindering the growth of cyclones over the central Arctic Ocean, that might involve open water/air interactions."

"we have further demonstrated the cyclone track changes are consistent with concomitant increases in both high-latitude westerlies and surface meridional thermal gradient across Northern Eurasia."


My Note:

It seems we won't need to wait until after 2070 to conduct field experiments.


From her aloft cam's hourly images, the USCG’s Healy left Unalaska, perhaps better known as Dutch Harbor, between 22:01 and 23:01 UTC on the 9th, having arrived between 00:01 and 01:01 on the 5th. The vessel’s PIO, ENS Erin Sheridan, bloged that the ship would take aboard “38 scientists that comprise the 1st mission science party” there. The Healy was out of Seattle on the 3rd, apparently having spent Jan until this month undergoing a refit. Well over a month ago she ventured out of the straight of Jaun de Fuca into the Pacific, but was back to showing Seattle from the camera after about 36 hrs.

I make her position at 23:01 UTC as East of Nunivat Island (large one just off the mainland Bering Sea coast of SW Alaska) by a degree or two of Longitude heading north.

Hourly camera shots at:


Grumbine’s blog is:


A poke in the ribs might yield more than the official agency statement of on ASMR-2. Or, it might not. I recall reading of some results not long ago, on water monitoring I think, based on its output. Fig 3 at this link is July 3 Arctic ice, but the “high resolution images” link didn’t load in the ~2 min I waited for it to do so.


Artful Dodger

Shout-out to Rob Dekker and Neven.

You've been picked up in an Article published on both Daily Kos and Democratic Underground

Good on ya', Mates!

Artful Dodger

Even more here:


Account Deleted

Yeap Artful there the little b$%*^!d. Thanks by the way for drawing my attention to the developing El Nino, as in this part of the world El Nino is a big conservation/forest management issue.

Artful Dodger

Hi Colin,

Late-arriving rains delay the Oct/Nov rice planting in la temporada del niño?

Charles Longway

NLPatents, Regarding your earlier post in preparint for your Shell Oil talking heads. Normally people would respond very quickly but we are at war. I would suggest adding the following points:
1. Conditions were set in the arctic for this storm since 2007.
2. East was hot all summer and expected to melt.
3. Fires in Siberia dropped ash that increased melt.
4. Methane may have contributed to heating.
5. Be sure to point people to the sea ice blog so they get exposed to the insights of the excellent commenters on Neven's blog.
Regarding diple anomaly, it is a high pressure system over North America with a low over Russia resulting in clear sunny skys and melting weather over the arctic and also ice gets blown out of the arctic in the the North atlantic where it melts out. If we get the DA we will be able to see the damage.
What you are doing is really important, covering the story of the year, while others cover trivia. Thanks so much for taking the time to understand what is happening.

Artful Dodger

This seems apropos, since ...

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings."

To wit, we have

"A diagnosis of warm-core and cold-core extratropical cyclone development using the Zwack–Okossi equation"
Azad & Sorteberg (2009)

Let's begin the discussion with a Wx reprise

437 AM AKDT MON AUG 6 2012



So we know at least this diagnostic characteristic of GAC-2012.

Account Deleted

El Nino in Sabah = drought.
Drought leads to fires and this leads to more of our Forest Reserves getting damaged if the Sabah Forestry Department doesn't take early action (I emailed one of the deputy director of SFD to warn him about the developing el nino).
On the positive side - El Nino is also associated with General Flowering events = the only opportunity that many of the rainforest trees flower.
This gives our group lots of research opportunities (so emailed the brainiac colleague to get them to start grant writing) and also the opportunity to collect seeds for restoration work/ ex situ conservation of critically endangered plants

Artful Dodger

... Paul is the Walrus

Google offers some helpful tips to bag this beast...

extratropical cyclone; warm-core and cold-core cyclone

Ian Allen

New Bremen map out. The Laptev Bite is opening.

Artful Dodger

Colin, glad to hear some good can come out of this. Fore-warned is four-eyed ;^)


this storm might be the mother of all black swans.

the sad thing is, it shouldn't have been unexpected.

is it possible for the entire arctic basin to melt out this season? if such a large area of the thermocline was disturbed, how long could it take until the system restores itself?


I picked up Rob Dekker's comment and posted it with background info on this stunning storm at DailyKos. I have been looking for years to find any evidence that the stratification of the Arctic ocean might be beginning to break down. This could be a first.

-George aka FishOutofWater at DailyKos

Artful Dodger

Hi Stan,

Well, I for one have been expecting Arctic Hurricanes since I introduced the topic here at the ASI blog on July 05, 2010 at 11:46

But no, it's not possible for the whole basin to melt out completely this year. I have also speculated that if el nino conditions persist into the late Winter/Spring of 2013, SSTs in the Bering sea are above average (rather than below like 2012), and the 2013 Solar Maximum coincides with the melt season as predicted, then you betcha: Another storm like this could just spin, spin, spin until it's eaten up all the cold contained in the sea ice.

Sea ice is Arctic Hurricane food...
a cold-core cyclone sucks in warm air from the continents (Siberia, North Slope, Yukon), moisture from the warmer open seas, and then pumps it to center of the vortex, which is steadily breaking up and spreading the sea ice beneath. Self-sustaining and stable too, as long as the heat differential exists between the core and the periphery...
In short: A monster.

How long to restore the halocline? At least one continental Spring runoff season is required to replenish the fresh water volume, plus some lag time for the water to spread across the basin. So about a year, I'd say.


Artful Dodger

Could a kilometer-scale methane hydrate plume produce sufficient atmospheric CH4 concentrations to support combustion? Could a lightning storm form over warm areas of Arctic ocean?

Now imagine a FAE-type of effect, but created by an angry Mother nature, prodded by Man. Could the resulting blast, heat and fire destroy a hapless drilling rig and her crew at sea? What happens then to their underwater gas well, newly uncorked at the start of Arctic freeze-up? What sequence of global events has unwittingly been triggered?

I hereby claim copyright on the Book, "Pandora's Deep". And rights to the Movie, and all digital rights. And I want Robert Redford to play James Hansen in the Movie ;^)

"Some pieces of the Old Order will remain, many will not..."

But most of all, I hope we never, ever drill for gas and oil in the Arctic. Ladies and Gentlemen, I've found my book.




Lodger, let me try that again without hitting the enter key. I've read of another interesting effect of gas in water, which is to decrease the bouyancy of the water. Read it in some mysteries of the sea. Apparently the gas can caus a ship to sink suddenly, even a large one like a drilling barge. Just a thought.

Artful Dodger

Yuppers, Mike. Burmuda triangle stuff. Rouge waves, too. Finger of God...

Oh, in my book treatment, the Northern Gateway pipeline thru B.C. is denied (way to go Enviro-movement), so Evilbridge Corp greedily reroutes it thru the MacKenzie Valley to a new Arctic Ocean Terminal.

Hot Bitumen flows from the pipeline into the belly of a waiting Supertanker, cold-soaking at a Beaufort sea terminal in -2 C SSTs...

Clathrates lurk, eager to flash out of solution...

Cheers, Mike



What I don’t understand is that the editor of this summary is referring several times to an Arctic Ocean as a sink for CO2 emitted through the burning of fossil fuels.
It is described as an important negative feedback on global warming.
I get the impression through this that the loss of Arctic sea ice is just a symptom, not potentially destructive in itself.


I'd like to add a mor cryptic impression from the study.
It is as if the editor states: 'goodbye sea ice, hello new CO2 sink'.

Artful Dodger

To the West, across the NSR along the top of Russia, lies the shortest route home for owners of the bitumen: Sinoil. Russia nuclear powered icebreakers have a 10 year record of keeping the route open to heavy shipping all Winter... what could go wrong?

Artful Dodger

Hi Werther.

One can not consider the carbon cycle as a whole by only examining the Ocean. Warming of Arctic water is causing permafrost to melt up to 1,500 miles inland.

Joe Romm debunked the "Arctic CO2 sink" mime back in 2011:



Hehe good mis-type: "arctic CO2 sink" mime.

The mime artist slowly pulls out an empty pocket on the left. No CO2 sink there. Then they slowly pull out an empty pocket on the right - no CO2 sink there. Then they look straight at the audience with a very sad stare and shrug their shoulders showing both empty hands. Nope - no CO2 anywhere.

Rob Dekker

Thanks for you note on increased ocean-atmosphere friction during low ice concentration. You reasoning makes sense, and indeed would act as (yet another) positive feedback mechanism, acting even down to the very last piece of ice remaining...

Can somebody please think of some negative feedback mechanisms that would save Arctic sea ice from crash landing ?

Artful Dodger

Oh hahaha, anthropocene. That must be like a "coal mime" ;^)

"See no CO2, hear no CO2, speak no CO2."

No, that'd be a Coal Monkey...

Artful Dodger

I stand humbled. These are the real Coal Mimers.
As in, "I had a tuff day at the Coal Mime."

Chris Reynolds

Was someone looking for a link to...

Dynamics and Statistics of Cyclones over the Arctic Ocean Compared with Extra-tropical Cyclones.
Takahashi & Tanaka.

I read over a comment about this paper but can't recall if it had a link. PS Tanaka has done another paper dismissing AGW as having a role in the Arctic, and IIRC he's been a poster boy of Pielke's - so treat with caution.

Rob Dekker

NSIDC's daily extent numbers are not quoted very often here, but that does not make them less interesting.
Here we go :

2012, 08, 04, 6.06299,
2012, 08, 05, 5.87559,
2012, 08, 06, 5.81533,
2012, 08, 07, 5.67377,
2012, 08, 08, 5.47461,
2012, 08, 09, 5.23462,

828k km^2 over 5 days, 165k km^2/day average, with a whopping 249k km^2 in the last day.

Did we ever see such large drops in August before ?


@Lodger: Let's hope it does not come to rouge waves like the ones seen in Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Andre Koelewijn


I checked the NSIDC daily data:
2012, 08, 02, 6.23881,
2012, 08, 03, 6.06293,
2012, 08, 04, 6.06299,
2012, 08, 05, 5.87559,
2012, 08, 06, 5.81533,
2012, 08, 07, 5.67377,
2012, 08, 08, 5.47461,
2012, 08, 09, 5.23462,
and as expected/feared earlier this week by someone else in one of the many posts:
a 1M drop in a week. As far as I understood, this is unprecedented.

(This is my first post - I have been following this blog for about two years now. Very informative.)


Thanks, André!

I'm going to the NSIDC daily sea ice extent numbers the attention they deserve from next year onwards, for instance using them for the double polls, because a combination of NSIDC monthly and daily minimum extent is less confusing than NSIDC monthly minimum extent and CT daily minimum area.

In the meantime, IJIS notes yet another century break, the 6th in 8 days. But more on that in the next ASI update.

Otto Lehikoinen

The current aari drift map shows that the ice on greenland sea would have reversed directions in response to the storm. I haven't checked the Rapid response images though to see how it is shown. http://www.aari.ru/clgmi/forecast/imgs/Ice1.GIF


I post over in the Environment/Energy forum over on Democratic Underground, and we're always happy to have more people who aren't denier trolls come join us. (You don't really have to be a democrat or even from the US as long as you're not actively opposing democratic candidates.)



Stratification question: The storm may have de-stratified the sea in the area it moved through, but wouldn't the sea be pushed back into the stratified state? The salty water should still be heavier than the fresh surface water moving in from the sides, so it would fall, and melting also provides for more freshwater at the surface. And during refreeze, brine rejection sends salt downwards, allowing for more freshwater in the next melt.

On the other hand, if a situation was given in which the Arctic Ocean was not stratified by salinity, then I think cooling of the surface would lead to surface water falling and being replaced by warmer water from below before it could freeze. If this could survive an arctic winter, all the time giving off heat to the atmosphere, then the sea would remain in a salinity-unstratified state. I'm not an expert, so I can't say how much of my guesses are correct.

Seke Rob

On queue of Rob Dekker | August 11, 2012 at 10:06 , reminding me the "yummy" discovery on July 5 of the NSIDC daily extent data, put this into the MASIE/JAXA/DMI chart as a 4th daily extent curve. Amazingly, not, their plot line follows the MASIE and more specifically the JAXA curve so close the last months, they're virtually 1. In a blinker to visualize the overlay: http://bit.ly/MASDMI

Obviously, NSIDC uses greater smoothing [multi-day].

NB: The .apng blinkers cannot be seen with IE (FAIK), default they can with Firefox. With Chrome they show using an add-on. Superior in resolution to gif, yet compact through optimization (The blinker file is 128KB, where the 2 individual images are 125KB & 129KB respectively.

Seke Rob

P.S., to compute anomaly for NSIDC, they've got a 1979-2000 baseline file up too... with 366 records, but they were good enough to include a date with each day number record. Essentially what they do is what I did with CT data, eliminate the 29th. The MASIE maintainers could take queue from that.

Seke Rob

Re AmbiValent | August 11, 2012 at 11:43

The last years finding of the sweet [cold] melt water having sunk to 200 meters in Baffin, pushing up the saltier layer from below, suggests that the exchange mechanism is in place and active, but how fast does that work. Would that work like DWF, but in chimneys style? Once that train is running, is it going to keep running? We don't know enough, but enough that there's little *doubt*, that the regimen has changed, and that may very well have happened quasi acutely somewhere 2005-2007, maybe even as early as 1997-1998. The surface sweet water lens has been shot to the Dragon Kingdoms come... so much is clear.


Does anyone know how to get the rest of this into print? Listening and typing is hard for me.

"But I do believe it's important to keep some distance between the science and policy advice if you like because while certain types of damaging weather events may be getting more likely as a result of global warming other types of extreme weather events may be becoming less likely so it's important not to jump to the conclusion that just because something's changing it's automatically bad.

Myles Allen talking to Richard Black on the BBC's Science in Action: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00wbjp5/Science_In_Action_10_08_2012/

I have had it on good authority that Myles is someone the UK Government take seriously.

Myles on sea ice found here: http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/fast-and-super-fast-the-disappearance-of-arctic-sea-ice/


To answer that last question in the piece linked by Geoff Bacon: Yes, Myles Allen is looking pretty silly right now.


After the 2007 crash Mark Serreze said this:
"“The sea ice cover is in a downward spiral and may have passed the point of no return. As the years go by, we are losing more and more ice in summer, and growing back less and less ice in winter. We may well see an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer within our lifetimes.”

And then some time later Myles Allen reacted as follows:

“Some claims that were made about the ice anomaly were misleading. A lot of people said this is the beginning of the end of Arctic ice, and of course it recovered the following year and everybody looked a bit silly.”

How does William Connolley call people like that? A tosser, right?

Seke Rob

Myles Allen is also of Climate Prediction Network... put your spare PC CPU cycles into helping compute simulations models for 40-80-120 years. http://www.climateprediction.net/index.php. Been participating in distributed volunteer computing since 2004. Run it only when your computer is on, or leave your computer running, all joint together in a virtual way to provide scientists with low cost supercomputing power.

He buried Lomborg in a debate over effect and cost of mitigation, i.e. he's got no doubt on AGW... but why this always returning "let's see" polito attitude... beats me.


I still don't get how he can just say
"of course it recovered the following year and everybody looked a bit silly."
given that the "recovery" minima after 2007 were still lower than any minimum before 2007.


CT SIA now at 3.155m (-48k).

Seke Rob

Meantime [CT-SIA], 'bout -48K:

2012.6028 -2.3061333 3.2030327 5.5091658
2012.6055 -2.2950063 3.1552105 5.4502168

Outlook update chart: http://bit.ly/CTNHM2 Getting it down to a minimum of 2.62M ... run away projection it feels like.

Al Rodger

AmbiValent & Seke Rob,
That'll be CT into new record territory by Wednesday. Last year's drop over the equivilant period was 400k (3.72 down to 3.32) so even without the storm, Wednesday is arguably a conservative estimate.


The latest ASI update is out. The end of a crazy week (I hope):

ASI 2012 update 9: stormy weather

Please use this post for the storm, and the update for everything else. :-)

r w Langford

Neven . Great update. Thanks for your and everyones great coverage of this historic event.

Al Rodger

Us UK residents will likely be oblivious to it but I have heard that BBCi player doesn't work outside the UK.
For those unable to access the 17 minute radio programme linked to, Black & Allen's discussion of Hansen et al 2012 lasts from 7:10 to 9:20. Allen basically says that we don't know old climates that well but we can say that the chances of extreme weather has increased as Hansen et al found. This is then qualified by the comment quoted above by GeoffBeacon.

Kevin McKinney

Werther asks about the NASA 'storm tracks' study:


... and in particular, the question of increased sinking of CO2 in--or is it "by"?-- the Arctic Ocean.

The linked report says:

The increased mixing of the ocean layer forces a greater degree of ocean convection, and instability that offers negative feedback to climate warming. Globally, oceans absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide carried by the atmosphere.

The basic logic makes sense to me: the major constraint on marine sinking of CO2 is the mixing rate.

(That was the big deal with Bolin & Erikson (1958), which you can find here:


They showed mixing was such that Guy Callendar was right about human emissions and atmospheric CO2 levels.)

So, if the Arctic Ocean is mixing much more efficiently (and of course also has much more open water on average), it is going to absorb much more CO2 than before.

What seems crucial is the magnitude of the effect. According to this:


... the Arctic Ocean is about 4.19% of total marine area.

If we assume that CO2 sinking is roughly comparable worldwide now--probably wrong, but just for argument's sake--then the Arctic would be sinking .04 x 30%, or .012%, of global atmospheric CO2.

So, if AO CO2 sinking there were to increase by a factor of 10, that would now be a stunning .12%. Doesn't seem like that would constitute much of a negative feedback! Even an increase of 100x in sinking doesn't seem as if it would be a large feedback, though 1.2% doesn't seem negligible.

And of course, as pointed out above, melting permafrost could potentially completely overwhelm this effect.

Still, I am sure Dr. Hakkinen has a much better grasp on this question than I do! (She probably has some actual values for numbers I've guessed at, for instance.) But I'd like to see more exposition of the 'negative feedback' idea. I'd like to understand it.

One last thing on the report: it also has a bit supporting the comments of SteveMFDP and Rob Dekker, above:

Progressively stronger storms over the Transpolar Drift Stream forced sea ice to drift increasingly faster in a matter of hours after the onset of storms. After analyzing past data from ground-based stations based in northern Alaska, on the mobile Fletcher's Ice Island, and in North Pole area’s formerly claimed by then-Soviet Union, and others scattered across the Arctic by the International Arctic Buoy Program, Hakkinen and colleagues reported an increase over 56 years in maximum summer sea ice speeds from about 20 centimeters per second to more than 60 centimeters per second, and wintertime speeds from about 15 centimeters per second to about 50 centimeters per second.

The moving sea ice forces the ocean to move which sets off significantly more mixing of the upper layers of the ocean than would occur without the "push" from the ice.

Lastly, on AmbiValent's question about stratification, I'd humbly opine that if mixed, the stratification does not spontaneously restore: there is no longer a separate mass of saltier water to sink! Thermodynamics 101, right?--un-mixing something takes work.


@Kevin McKinney
I was not referring to un-mixing the water. I just thought about the still-intact cool surface water in the rest of the Arctic still being lighter than the mixed water in the storm area. (That and the buildup by meltwater which is cool and fresh, and brine rejection which pushes salt downwards)

Janne Tuukkanen

AlRodger: Most BBC radio programmes can be listened overseas, TV broadcasts are restricted to UK. I know, because I've listened Melvyn Bragg's In our Time for years. Great show.

Al Rodger

Janne Tuukkanen,
Thank you for putting me straight on BBCi 'overseas'.
I also listen to In Our Time when the subject is of interest (which it often is) but I am not at all a fan of Lord Bragg.

Chris Reynolds


"George, Glenn and several others who came along found a 230-by-660-foot iceberg that was about 25 feet above the sealine on one face. It was covered with striations and rocks, suggesting it might well have been part of a glacier"


Just a couple of points/questions
http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/sst/ophi/color_sst_NPS_ophi0.png on this map the sea in mackenzie bay is shown at 20-24degC I'm speculating that the only possible source for that amount of energy is the kinetic energy in the current entering the arctic through the bering straight. At 70deg north that water is carried at 570kph at banks island it is forced north [lets say to 75deg north 430kph], or stopped by the inertia of the 'resident' ocean, thereby releasing the energy of 140kph of braking. The symetry of the radials of sea temperature suggest a large body of higher temperature water being suppressed by bottom melt and river outflows. How much kinetic energy is released by a km3 slowing by 100 kph? For me this also explains why we have a more or less straight line melting 'front' expanding out of beaufort in the 'apocalypse' find.
On the same chart in the fram there is very little sign of the vortice over what i think of as the plug hole, it shows up better on the anomoly chart but not as pronounced as usual, to my thinking this suggests colder water than usual is being sucked down. Is that due to mixing or simply the quantity of bottom melt available?

Christoffer Ladstein

Been a "spider in the corner" for a while, but the steam and tempo both in the arctic and surely this blog, have reached New levels lately!

Congrats to Neven to soon be able to celebrating 100 followers, and just by increasing this number and thereby spreading the word further, will most likely bring these important topics closer to worlds attention!!

I, for one, feel proud to have had the chance to be a part of this community for the last couple years.

So keep going Neven et. Al!!


Thanks, Christoffer.

Johnm33, how about the McKenzie river bringing in heat? And don't forget that there has been a lot of insolation in this area in May and June. If all of that energy had come through Bering Strait it would have showed up elsewhere as well.

Account Deleted

At 70deg north that water is carried at 570kph at banks island it is forced north [lets say to 75deg north 430kph], or stopped by the inertia of the 'resident' ocean, thereby releasing the energy of 140kph of braking.

Any source for these velocities? I haven't been able to find any figures close to these (or am I missing something)

Account Deleted

Nor in the papers by Kowalik (1998) or Coachman & Tripp (19??)


Johnm33 wrote:

I'm speculating that the only possible source for that amount of energy is the kinetic energy in the current entering the arctic through the bering straight

If it would be like that, still the question would remain "why this year and not in the previous years".

As a reminder, the polynia in that region appeared almost two months earlier as usual, and at that time the Bering was covered by a near record ice extend as well as thickness. As well as the entire Chuckchi sea.

Meaning all conditions were in favour of low temperatures in the Beaufort sea. But as we know now, it turned out to be quite the opposite.

Also as a reminder, in 2008 the Polarstern made an extensive research in Baffin bay. And one of the findings was the existence of deep layers containing Pacific waters. Water which only could come from trough the Bering strait of course.

So, IMHO it's not likely the Pacific waters would be blocked at the Mackenzie bay. Therefore there would be no friction which would lead to the disturbing high temperatures we are seeing there now.

Your guess is of course as good as anyone else's, but I'm afraid we really don't have a clue for now.

Peter Ellis

Colin: As far as I can tell, the speeds come from a fairly ferocious misunderstanding of Coriolis effects. As Neven says, the heat in that region comes from solar heating of shallow waters, and the Mackenzie river itself bringing in water. Even a cursory examination of Arctic ocean currents says that direct carriage of heat from the Bering Strait to the Mackenzie delta (without showing up in between) is arrant nonsense.

I do get worried about posts like this showing up on what has up till now been a pretty reality-based blog.


Not sure where to find the actual numbers but it looks like the CT CAB sea ice anomaly has reached a new low.



We're all here to learn, Peter. Nothing to be worried about.

Jim Williams

The ice melt does not appear to be slowing down after the storm.

Peter Ellis

[engage Watts mode]
Look, squirrels!



The water you're referencing bothers me a lot. A few days ago it was warmer than the Mediterranean, and it didn't cool off, the Mediterranean heated up.

It's quite a ways west of the Mackenzie Delta, doesn't show as particularly fresh and according to Chris B the temp is an average of the top 10 meters.

My recollection is that it was cloud free and ice free for a long period around the solstice and my assumption is that there would be little water current in the area.

Could this be an example of what summer insolation is capable of in the Arctic Ocean once the energy is no longer utilized as latent heat of fusion, or reflected away by high albedo snow covered ice?

Other areas that have been ice free for equally long periods, Barents Sea for instance, have had more cloud cover and possibly more important, may be subject to much stronger currents in the water and the air.

The latitude is fairly low and summer insolation should increase the further north we go, so this might be cooler than we should expect from a more northerly site experiencing similar conditions.

I had expected the storm to mix it up as there were 3M waves not too far from there.



2 Live Web cams at north pole. Cool to look at.

Artful Dodger

Peter wrote: "Look, squirrels!"

DNFTS, lol. But seriously, I've been working on a calculation to show just how irrelevant antarctic sea ice is to AGW.

I'm trying to calculate the ratio of Antarctic sea ice mass to land ice. References I've found show the mass of the ice sheet to be about 25.4 million cubic kilometers.

Lythe, Matthew B.; Vaughan, David G. (June 2001). "BEDMAP: A new ice thickness and subglacial topographic model of Antarctica". Journal of Geophysical Research 106 (B6): 11335–11352.

Now, does anyone have a reference that shows the volume of antarctic sea ice?

It feels like there's about 3 orders of magnitude (~1,000x) more land ice than sea ice.

"The Flea don't wag the dog, but it does chase squirrels"


Neven the Mckenzie river has usually appeared colder than the ocean close to the estuary, [even when the anomoly chart first showed up banded], as best as can be guessed from the chart, and even allowing for huge heat gain from insolation ? 22deg ? I think if I found that water was fresh to depth it might squash my speculation.
Great work you do here by the way.
Kris why this year? How unusual was alaskan weather this winter?[I dont know but wasn't it unusually hot in places?] Did the ice cover in the bering sea reduce evaporation? and keep this water both warmer and less dense? or hold it further south?
Colin clearly other views are available but mine[speculatively] is that south of the bering straight[at 60deg north] the rotation of the earths surface is close to 800kph, leaving bering straight at 70degN about 570kph so the water is heading east at that speed [like everything else in the area] some of the energy is expressed in the eastward movement as the water travels north but once round barrow point nothing is forcing it north, it can even head south 2deg or so, but once it reaches banks island its path is blocked and it stacks up heads north and forces all the current behind it to head north too where it meets resistence and express's the kinetic energy it has. [ if this energy just disapears it should be arrested for breaking the second law of thermodynamics]
Terry the mckenzie bay area showed up warm very early this melt season and before it got above 12degC i thought it was the river and the sun, later it made less and less sense, to me, but when i saw the band of melt on apocalypse4real's site which was very like the mixing in the oceans http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/data/sst/contour/alashawa.cf.gif and is still advancing north more or less as a straight line through the ice long after the solstice i figured it had to be something to do with the ocean, and then there was an open thread so i thought i'd see how others viewed the idea. Clearly mixed.


Hi all,

Realclimate dedicated arctic thread here:


Account Deleted

We have just past 2011 as the second lowest Arctic basin SIA at CT. Eyeballing the graph it appears we only have to loss another 100K in the AB and we will go past the 2007 SIA for the AB.

Timothy Chase

Artful Dodger wrote:

Now, does anyone have a reference that shows the volume of antarctic sea ice?
I can't get you the sea ice volume itself, but for the trend in Antarctic sea ice volume anomaly, you may want to check out:

Kurtz, N. T. and T. Markus (2012), Satellite observations of Antarctic sea ice thickness and volume, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2012JC008141, in press.

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