« Record dominoes 8: NSIDC daily sea ice extent | Main | Why Arctic sea ice shouldn't leave anyone cold »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Hi Neven,

Have a great holiday and thanks for all the hours of work you have put in over the last months to bring this to people's attention. A damned fine job, done well.

Above, in the section Sea Ice Area, you refer to "9 days" of August. Is this is wrong?

Steve C


Yours is a well-deserved vacation. Please enjoy it thoroughly and recharge your psychological batteries. If doing so means ignoring this blog for a little while...well, the ice and heat and data will still be here when you get back.

You've cultivated an exceptional garden here. It's an extraordinary nexus of raw data, useful analysis, thoughtful contributors, lively discussions, and critically important ideas.

Considering the importance of the changes at hand for the globe and humanity, you damn well deserve major awards.


Above, in the section Sea Ice Area, you refer to "9 days" of August. Is this is wrong?

It definitely is, idunno. I copied it from the previous ASI update and forgot to change the numbers. Thanks, going to fix as we speak.


Enjoy your holiday Neven. Maybe there will be some ice to come back to :oP


Any comment on the ice drift as reported/projected by PIOMAS? What does it mean? It looks to me like it's mostly going to compact the ice further, and maybe push more of it (some of it the loose ice in the Laptev Sea) down the Fram Throat. I mean Ice-Grinder. I mean Strait.

Frankd 1977

Have a great vacation Neven and thank you for all you do on this blog :)


Thanks, everyone. Off to bed now!


Thanks for all your hours of very, very fine blogging. Have a good vacation! See you on the flip side.


Enjoy your holiday Neven. Congratulations for running such a good blog in what I think are very dramatic times for the Arctic.


What is stunning are the JAXA sea-ice daily extent loss figures of around 120,000 square kilometres per day for the last three days, when compared to daily rate of sea-ice extent loss for 1-24 August in previous years:
* 2007 62,976 square kilometres per day
* 2008 72,785 square kilometres per day
* 2009 53,859 square kilometres per day
* 2010 55,109 square kilometres per day
* 2011 63,342 square kilometres per day
The melt is accelerating very late in the melt season in a pattern that has never before been observed. It looks like 2012 may in retrospect be seen as the year when a new melt regime took hold.
David Spratt



Have a well deserved rest, your efforts here have produced a forum unlike any other.


Account Deleted

Neven, Have a good holiday. I suspect that fairly soon after the dust clears for this year there will be a range of fairly depressing paper coming out as the arctic researchers try to make sense of this train crash and its implications.


Neven, Thank you for a most informative blg, and one that covers a subject of vital importance to the whole world. Enoy your holiday. You've earned it! Now I must look at something much more impoortant. Just what are our soccer players up to?


I see the CAPIE nadir has continued its trend of creeping a little earlier each year. That the process of "the ice pack ... compacting, and loose individual floes disappear[ing]" is happening a bit earlier on average.

Don't know what that portends though...

Enjoy your holiday Neven. Spend some time with your other family. :-)


Neven, this is a marvelous blog you have created and your hard work over the past two years really shows. I stopped making my own posts on some aspects of the Arctic because you did the same thing so much better!

There is a missing element to this Arctic melt puzzle and it is the temperature of the warm water eating away at the ice from below. Further, during the winter months, it is preventing the ice from becoming as thick as it might have been in years gone by.

It is an enormous pity that Envisat's radar images of the Arctic are no longer available because by comparing them to prior years, it was possible to see that the ice was not freezing back as thickly as it used to in the usual places. This is not just from the older ice flowing out the Fram, but one could see that the fjords all around Greenland were not freezing as they had done in the past. This can be seen in the remarkable thinning of Petermann's floating tongue, for example.

Artful Dodger

Hi Neven,

"Time with family is like Arctic sea ice; there's never enough, and it's always gone too soon..."

Here's one small upside to this year's mega-melt: They've found Franklin

CBC News - Special Report: Searching for Franklin

Enjoy your Holiday!


Artful Dodger

Well, let's try once more Searching for Franklin.


Watching Arctic sea ice is that strange mix of fascinating and horrifying. Where now for ice extent, with a few weeks of likely extent loss left. Early or late minimum? Does it even matter that much now? 3.5M sq km? Is 3M sq km possible (probably not)?

My take on the last few years has been to watch the ice gradually become thinner and more spread out until this year was little surprise (got too thin). But unlike 2007, I see no reason why 2013 will be anything other than a further new record - a continuation of the thinning, spreading out.

To quote Shackleton from 21st November 1915 (with due apology to girls present):

"She's going, boys".

Bob Wallace

It's looking like some of the remaining thicker multi-year is about to get flushed out the Fram. We could start next year's melt with very little MYI.

That "2016 +/- 3" prediction? I'm putting the probability of a -3 summer melt in low double numbers. Or I will if PIOMAS volume comes in as low as I expect it will.

We've been melting away about 18,000 km3 of ice during each of the last few years. We might up that a bit this year and open with not much more than 20,000 km3 next spring.

We're seeing a 'new type' of melting this year. Even without severe weather the ice is steadily melting. So far as I know no one has identified a significant braking force that will slow the melt. And we probably add El Nino Pacific temps to the mix next year.

My advice, pay attention to the volume, not the extent or area - those two dimension measurements. A very large thin sheet of ice can melt quickly.

I won't at all be surprised if the band is playing 'Nearer My God to Thee' as we watch the last ice go down this time next year....


Greenland, day 283.
Routinely checking up on some visible, large glaciers I saw change on Helheim Glacier too. Comparing to day 181 I measured a gradual retreat over an area of about 11,2 km2 this summer.
Through a Wiki page I saw that this one has a very dynamic character. The calving front has been varying a lot in this 5 km stretch of it’s fjord, so there is no great difference with FI ’05 in the actual coordinates of it’s location.
The relevant part is that, like Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier 340 km to the NE, the dynamic shedding has really picked up again on this part of Greenland.

PS Now we have retreats and calvings on nearly every large outlet glacier of the GIS. While it was hard to notice anything at all through '10 and '11, changes fall like ripe fruits this year.


I'm likely one of the few non science-geeks (I say that lovingly) here....but if you take a few steps back, the outcome is not that surprising. From my vantage point as an "observer"...the facts have been continuing to line up for quite some time, and the feedback effects have ALL been kicking in, ESPECIALLY in the Arctic. With albedo at all-time lows, with more CO2 and CO4 in the atmosphere (and growing daily), with more and more tundra disappearing daily, with more and larger forest fires happening every year, these "events" (like the ice sheet disappearing before our eyes, HAVE to take place at an increasing speed. Basic science says they have to....and they are.

And the thought that "events" will take place in coming years and decades at even a FASTER PACE around the globe is a very sobering thought.

From my "non-scientific" perch, the Arctic disappearing is step 1 in a very bad "recipe for disaster" in coming years and decades. Something that Hansen had/has predicted....and something that continues to play out.

I don't think it is any "accident" that on a year that the Arctic ice is retreating so quickly that Greenland has a record melt. Greenland is act II in this awful play, and having the Arctic ice sheet disappear makes its demise almost certain over coming decades. I expect the melting in Greenland over coming years to be off the charts...

As a "non-scientist" I am embarrassed by the "non-scientists" (especially in Washington) who can't understand the BASIC SCIENCE involved in what is happening.

Until they do....we are heading down a very ugly path.

Artful Dodger

The latest value: 4,043,438 km2 (August 26, 2012)


CT area:
2012.6438 -2.4064679 2.6525486 5.0590162
2012.6466 -2.3111002 2.7270751 5.0381756


For SIA, I think 84458 is still the value for decline in first 9 days of August (as repoted in ASIU9. I think it should say 51575 for 22 days which is more in line with average August values as the graph shows.


As it is stated Lodger, "only" minus 35 thousand km² today at IARC-JAXA.

And to repaet just for educational reasons, unlike NSIDC's one this gragh shows the average of only two days.

Scroll herto to the bottom of the page:

However, we adopt the average of latest two days (day:N & day:N-1) to achieve rapid data release.


Just found interview with Bob Watson on BBC TV

Brilliant compared to web piece.




"As a "non-scientist" I am embarrassed by the "non-scientists" (especially in Washington) who can't understand the BASIC SCIENCE involved in what is happening.

Until they do....we are heading down a very ugly path."

I would not assume 'ignorance' on the part of the politicians and policy-makers. It is my firm belief that the Inhofes and Bartons and others of that ilk know exactly what's going on. Even though they themselves may not be technical wizards, they have access to some of the best minds in academia in their own states and any other states they choose to visit. But, they want to keep their jobs as long as possible. And, for politicians to stay in office, two conditions are required. They have to satisfy their campaign donors and they have to satisfy the voters.

Well, we know where the Exxons and Koch industries and their ilk stand on fossil fuel use. That leaves the voters. In the USA, they have become completely addicted to a high energy intensity utilization lifestyle. They are willing to pull out all the stops to extract as much fossil fuel as they can to satiate their addiction. Any politician who proposes the type of austerity measures that e.g. Kevin Anderson suggests would be thrown out of office the next election.

While Michael Mann, James Hansen, Kevin Anderson et al show a relatively grim picture based on some of the data, I believe at their core, they believe as I do; we have probably gone over the brink. In their speeches and papers, they lay out the impending disaster, but they always end with a glimmer of hope. There is always a five or ten year window in which we can jam on the brakes and avoid going over the cliff. I suspect if they were sitting at a table over a few beers, there would be common agreement about where we really are. There appears to be a strong reluctance among the politicians and scientists to lay out the harsh reality to the public. Probably the same reluctance an oncologist has in telling an adolescent he has Stage 4 cancer.

But, even if there is a chance to avoid the climate change bullet in theory, I see no chance of avoiding it in practice. I don't know anyone who has changed their lifestyle in any significant way in the last decade to help reduce energy use. Some people may have downsized from a large SUV to an intermediate SUV, but that was due more to the high price of gas than any desire to avoid climate change.

I have discussed the ice melting issue in the Arctic with a number of people in recent weeks. Most have zero concern about its impact on their daily life; some look at it as an opportunity to eventually take a cruise to the North Pole, and some of my business acquaintances think it may allow improved logistics to extract fossil fuel and other resources more easily from the Arctic. So, even if there were a slim chance, almost no one would bite the bullet to achieve it.

Josh Cryer

Found the Neven guest blog preview here (for those who are interested, I'm sure he'll be updating this blog really soon now): http://hot-topic.co.nz/why-arctic-sea-ice-shouldnt-leave-anyone-cold/#more-11698


I Ballantinegray1

Have a good hol Neven , Just back from mine and I now need a rest!!! (the joy of a Son).

I think a lot of my Peers in the UK forgot to factor in the loss of ice at the base of the 'older ice' over the seasons it existed and, as such, thought that ice would be a lot more resilient come this melt season?

As we have seen even the thickest of ice melted at rates you'd expect of F.Y. ice.

The same is true for this year with bottom melt ,in some areas, continuing long after 're-freeze ' has begun.

We can now trust ice volume/thickness but this does not tell us how much of, say a 4th year floe, is old ice and how much is single winter re-growth on the base?

Early season we see the slow 'top melt'phase that you'd expect of the older ice but then 'blammo!' bottom melt kicks in on the F.Y. ice below.

I also see that we 'doomsayers' are now expected to hold all the solutions to the issues we have been trying to highlight since 07'?

How does that work???

Again ,have the best of breaks for you and yours and thank you so much for your (and the rest of you's!) hard work over this hectic season

Tor Bejnar

Seke Rob,
Neven gave me the perfect "in" with his "What a loss" theme.

What a loss it is on your "ASI Extent Max/Min Day & Days taken scaling 16-4M km2 marks" graph that all previous years show "No Step" when every year could show a "Last 10 days km2 Ave" (or 15 days - 1/2 mo. - if you prefer). We can calculate the current Step Day Ave for previous years, but it is not so obvious what the current rate was in previous years, especially early and late in the year. (And before max and after min, the 10 day average will just go positive.)

There is a moderate consistency over the decades on how fast or slow ice melts on a particular week. As examples, the date of ASI max and min are remarkably stable, the first full 1M drop has usually taken a month or so, and the fewest number of days to drop 1M has generally occurred during the month around Day 190.

I so appreciate this and other graphics you make available. I am in your debt! (If I ever get the time, I'll continue my exploration associated with that other graphic presentation of yours I like so much.)


NSIDC less then 4!

2012, 08, 24, 4.08920
2012, 08, 25, 3.97332


NSIDC under 4 M Km^2, 3.97332

Artful Dodger

Oi, there are still six NSIDC reporting days left in August. Maybe only 15 until min SIE? Can't see how the daily min stays above 3.7 M...


What long range forecast impacts can we anticipate that might increase or drop that estimate?

I am still wrapping me head around where we have fallen to in an "unremarkable" weather year - as long as you discount record Arctic temperatures, low snowfall, and thinner starting ice.

Timothy Hanes

I have started signing routine correspondence
"Carbon tax or death."
I can't really add anything to that.

Lucas Durand

It's hard to say what "people" think about the effects of climate change because I think public perception varies widely and there is a lot of - deliberately sown - confusion.

Policy makers on the other hand, as Superman has suggested, are informed on the risks I'm sure - but how they act on that information is another story...

Rex Tillerson recently went on record to acknowledge the existence of climate change risks, but expressed a belief that "It's an engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions."...

I'm not sure what I found more surprising; Rex Tillerson acknowledging that climate change is real, or the hubris implied by his statements.

I think the lack of a coherent response to the increasingly alarming observations that are being made has something to do with a general inability for people to think in terms of second order consequences ("It's all just so complicated") and maybe some kind of societal avoidance behavior (ie not wanting to look down "the rabbit hole" for fear of knowing where it leads).

In any case, I agree with you that (as un-emiprical as this may sound) it feels like we are losing our grip on "things" - it's becoming less and less about humans making their own decisions about the future and more and more about the events of our time taking us all on a ride to who knows where.




For you East Greenland watchers, it's still quite cloudy, but you can see through enough to tell that the current storm has put quite a beating on the fast ice area off the coast that many fixate upon:


Timothy Chase

D wrote:

Rex Tillerson recently went on record to acknowledge the existence of climate change risks, but expressed a belief that "It's an engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions."...

I'm not sure what I found more surprising; Rex Tillerson acknowledging that climate change is real, or the hubris implied by his statements.

Assuming he was being honest, this might afford an interesting window.

It seem to imply that he doesn't understand how climate change will affect people in terms of drought and consequent famine, for example. Which reminds me of the following passage:

With so much on his plate, detail was never going to be at the heart of his working day. Asked about the Texas City "assets," [where an oil refinery explosion occurred due to a stretching of resources including the understaffing and extremely long hours for the people who worked there] Manzoni was unapologetic. "It would be very unusual," he said, "for me to look at individual assets." The year that Manzoin became group CEO, Texas City had been described as "in complete decline." In 2003, an audit claimed that the "condition of the infrastructure and assets is poor at the Texas City refinery." In July 2004, Manzoni finally paide a visit to this, the largest refinery in his portfolio. But according to his depositin, he still had no inkling that anything was wrong.

Margaret Heffernan (2011), Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, pg. 163

Likewise, the hubris that you point to almost seems by its very nature to be the sort of thing that is required to get to where he is:
Frances Milliken, on of the academics responsible for work on organizational silence, did a marvelous study comparing how those in power communicate differently from those who lack power. She found that, like the rich, the powerful are different from other people. Confronted by risky situations, they are more likely to expect positive outcomes. They're so optimistic at least in part because they have--or think they have--the power needed to overcome most adversity. That psychological distance between themselves and others means that they can't think as concretely as other poeple; inevitably they have to think in far more abstract terms. But what is frightening about Milliken's study is that the combination of power, optimism, and abstract thinking makes powerful people more certain. The more cut off they are from others, the more confident that they are right.

ibid., pg.169

Incidentally, I am a former libertarian who is struggling to see.



If your jaw is dropping that badly, you might want to invest in a jaw sling for the next three years. Either that, or plan to spend it standing on your head.

The sudden rise in compaction isn't at all surprising. A cyclonic system over Svalbard has been driving reconsolidation for a few days now. A second smaller system on the other side of the arctic was also compacting the ice there.

More amazing to me is the tremendous fragmentation of the ice across much of the arctic. The sensors and rules can't be very effective in assessing the conditions we are seeing these days. To get an accurate measure would require square kilometer or less resolution. Even then, it is doubtful how useful it would be.

Along the northern Canadian arctic off Ellesmere, the ice is still relatively thick. But both the amount and thickness are rapidly falling as the years race by.

We've now seen significant arctic cyclonic systems in the summer in at least two years driving ice breakup and compaction. That should increase in the years to come.

The bigger question is just how sudden the big ice melt will be. We are on an arctic ice death spiral. As the ice rapidly thins, we see conditions like this year with massive fragmentation across many size scales. There must come a point at which the complete loss of sheet integrity combined with storms leads to rapid upper layer mixing and even more rapid melt of the remaining ice.

Based on the trend lines, 2015 looks like the most likely first essentially ice free arctic summer (less than 10% remaining ice held up on the shores of Ellesmere and Greenland). Definitions will be a problem as they always are with some arguing that the shore bound ice means that it isn't "ice free".

That is all irrelevant of course. In just a couple of years that too will be gone. More interesting will be to see if the non-linearities in the system continue to dominate to such a degree that 2013 or 2014 manages to be the near end of summer ice.

That too is only academic, as by the mid to late 2020s we will see the first essentially ice free arctic summer. Or - not.

Once the winter ice begins to fail, and the driving force of the great oceanic circulation collapses, all bets are off as to what happens next. Does the gulf current short circuit to Spain plunging northern Europe into the deep freeze and temporarily reprieving parts of the arctic ice?

Does it instead stall in place leading to broad changes in oceanic patterns with all manner of weirdness? Do we then see non-linear wave effects in various oceans with sporadic 150 rouge waves as exist at times off the southeastern coast of Africa, and off Antarctica?

Clearly weather patterns will move. But how chaotic will they get? WIll agriculture as we've known it end slowly as climate shifts and biomes move and die? Or will the chaos lead to a more rapid transition to an unstable period as the system attempts to hunt for a new normal?

Have a wonderful vacation. And thanks for your wonderful blog.

Seke Rob

Re Tor Bejnar | August 26, 2012 at 15:38

Read it twice to be sure what you meant with "what a loss". Of course, where the minimum has already been surpassed for all previous years, it's hard to put in a number and not sure any [still to go average] is fitting to the chart, but playing we can to see what the message is being conveyed. The chart is already data-jampacked, so need to be careful the info does not dilute, or just plain causes more question than answer, or even creates the notion that prior years will catch up [you might be able to dream up nuttier conclusions the FS class with D&K affliction in the "not even wrong" segment can come up with... you know those that contrive a correlation and without a second of thought (oh that could hurt) will happily declare it causation]. To be continued at some unknown time in the future... surely after the melt has reached final / confirmed bottom. :O)

Glad you like it and "that" other chart. BTW, FTM parked on overlay or underlay of the decadal averages. You'd need a 1 page manual to then understand, and manuals get lost all the time [or forgotten]


Timothy Hanes

I agree "Carbon tax or death" but let's stop calling it a carbon tax. We should call it a carbon pollution fine.

To deal with the crisis it must be hundreds of dollars (or pounds) a tonne of CO2e emitted (with payouts for sequestration). With that enormous income the world could be a much better place.

Hansen prefers a 100% dividend paid to every citizen, which might suit the politics of USA. I prefer use it to create jobs - a better solution for Europe because it shows that we need not have economic growth at any price.

Lord Soth

For the most part I took a break in watching the ICE in 2012. With the lost of the ASMR-E sat last October, and with ENSO neutral conditions, I figured we 2012 would be just another contender, but would not seriously challenge 2007. Boy was I wrong!

I can put the record lost for the 2012 ICE lost down to two reasons.

Although, it was more cloudy than sunny in th Arctic in 2012; Canada and the USA is having a record hot summer. The NH itself will probably be in the top three for warmest summer on record, and this heat is being transfered to the Arctic via warm winds and ocean currents.

The second reason is that (in the summer) the Arctic Airmass, which is a cold dry stable airmass is no more. So much open water opens up in the later summer, that the airmass becomes Maritime Polar which is cool, damp and unstable. The Maritime Polar airmass is known for its violent storms.

We saw the first storm in the arctic generated by a Maritime Polar airmass, and the damage it did to the ice; a few weeks past.

As we lose more ice, the length of season where a Maritime Polar airmass replaces the Arctic airmass will increase; and eventually the arctic will become seasonal ice free.

I don't believe we will ever see another clear summer in the arctic like 2007. Years like 2012 will be the new normal, but with an increase in violent storms.

Yes the central arctic will soon be open for navigation, but sailor; bring your Gravol !


Hi Lord Soth,

Agreed. It's also possible to view the CT negative ice anomaly as a Maritime Arctic positive anomaly. So we do have accurate figures on how much more expansive the open ocean is.

I did some back of fag packet figures and got 50%. There's about 50% more open sea than 1979-2008 average. Using that to predict the likely consequences in storm strength is way above my pay grade.

Actually, though, it hardly matters. I think that in a year or two you'd be able to ignore any remaining ice as an insignificant factor. Neven's Arctic Sea Water blog will soon be upon us.


Lord Soth

Perhaps one more reason.

In 2011 the CA melted out, being replaced with FYI.
2012 saw a "flash melt in the area, then our little storm (and the current) pushed lots of MYI into the islands - which promptly melted, possibly in part due to island temperatures.
With the loss of MYI, that normally would have followed the Beaufort Gyre, the Beaufort melted back more rapidly than previously, and the finger of MYI usually pointed accusingly at Russia, wasn't replenished.

An over simplification certainly, but I think that this process (MYI advection into the CA), could prove to be an ongoing factor (as long as there's ice to advect).



Hi Terry,

I have been forming the impression this year that, every year, we wait for the Nares Strait to melt, and then start prediciting that ice will be flushed down, from Lincon to Baffin Bay.

Au contraire, mon frere, this year it has looked a lot like water has entered the Lincoln Sea, via Nares. Little ice out, and PetermannII sails in splendid isolation.

On the other hand, when the ice melts in the Canadian Archipelago, ice does then seem to leave the Arctic.

Further, openings through to the Arctic via the CA are bigger, and directly adjacent to the oldest, thickest ice.

Steve Bloom

Quite possibly, Terry, although note that until very recently it was assumed that the CA would be part of the final ice "refugium." How times do change.

Steve Bloom

IMHO, idunno, Neven's Blocking Event blog might be a more appropriate subject for the future.

I Ballantinegray1

The current forecast looks likely to push both the battered edge of the pack ,and the central ice, toward the warmer Bering side of the basin where the Grye could drag it over the warmed ocean 'capping off' the heat as it erodes the base of the thicker ice.

If this were to happen would this not leave a substantial area of warm water at shallow depth ready for any mixing next melt season (and a very rapid melt of any ice in the area)?

I know we are in the 'slowdown' end of the year but we do still have a lot of energy in the ocean so any late summer cyclones could still do a lot of damage to the remaining ice even if it does not fully melt it out.


As a mathematician wholly ignorant of the arctic except for what I have been able to gather here and elsewhere on the web, I perhaps have a different perspective that some might find of value. Imagine the arctic as a glass of water with an ice cube in the sun. Let's further assume there are no currents in the glass and no breezes to disturb the air above the glass.

Then there would be a lens of water and a certain amount of air that would surround the ice cube and remain at the freezing point. The ice itself might start out at a temperature considerably below freezing, but it too would have a margin that was just at the freezing point.

The glass would heat up because of insolation, and cool down because of radiation. But temperatures would remain pretty much the same. The expansion and contraction of the ice cube, alternately taking up and giving off the heat of fusion, would act as a thermostat. Cold drinks on hot days. The difference between insolation and radiation would be almost perfectly reflected in the growth or shrinkage of the ice cube.

Now of course things get more complicated in the real world. But whether the ice is growing or shrinking still depends in a large part on just the difference between insolation and radiation. The seasonal variations are by far the largest. Most of the other factors, to the extent that they are what they have been in the geological past, have not changed that much. The new blanket of greenhouse gases have their effect in decreasing radiation.

Now in our ice cube analogy, the ice cube is the coldest thing in the environment. But since the water has a lower albedo than the ice, the insolation-radiation difference becomes minus sooner in the water than on the ice. As days get shorter, ice's higher albedo makes less and less difference to insolation, as there is less and less insolation to reflect. But since a good absorber of light is a good emitter, the radiation from the water will be far larger than that of the ice. With the water already at its coldest beside the ice cube, the ice cube will expand when the water loses so much heat that it “threatens” to go below freezing. Such expansion will release the heat of fusion, mostly into the water, and warm it. Since the less ice area there is the more exposed water and so the sooner insolation/radiation will tip towards refreeze in the autumn in the arctic as a whole. This might account for the peculiar fact that there does not seem to be a trend towards later and later minimum dates.

Now as soon as a patch of water is covered in ice it radiates less heat. The ice is not as good a radiator as open water. Thus the water below the ice loses less heat then open water. So ice will form in open water before the already formed ice will thicken. Ice will form as a thin sheet over the whole surface first before the water below the ice can begin to cool. Of course this does not take into account all the many other local factors. But in general the larger the area of open water to refreeze, the thinner the first year ice will be because it will take more of the winter to cover the open water. Thus the large anomalies of ice thickness we see in October, as first year ice expands across the arctic. Much of the extra heat is trapped under the thin ice.

Now the arctic is not a glass of water surrounded by air. Russia and Canada are its borders. These land masses with a low albedo, can get cold a lot more quickly than the ocean. There is no transfer of the heat of fusion here to control temperature. So these land masses can cool the air which can in turn cool the ocean and it's ice. Ice will form not only around the already existing ice, but near the land as well. This too might account for the stability of the minimum date. But this effect is soon minimized when the land is snow covered. The snow raises the albedo very high, reducing heat reflection from the land. The all time record low snow cover this year might encourage a quick refreeze, unless snow cover quickly increases this fall.

Seke Rob

What you think with all that extra water vapor going around from the open Arctic ocean and clouds of it hitting up against cold air? So far [in the last ~4 decades] on a global scale, 4% more going around, where 7%$ is 1C change equivalent, to have a proxy that the thermometers don't lie. Trend albeit not steep] is, more snow in Winter, and to come off earlier too... it's less cold in winter as well.

Seke Rob

That 7%S to read as just 7% [water vapor]. And it's compound, so 2C is 1.07*1.07 = 14.5% for 2C. Where future/now rain develops, it is/will be bucketing down instead of drizzling [the Brits so love].


Rob stated:

it is/will be bucketing down instead of drizzling [the Brits so love].

Actually, it is already happening, isn't it? Meaning more suddenly torrent rains from Spring till Autumn, in a band roughly lattitude 40°N - 55 °N.

Albeit it is a fact still denied by deniers.



You're focusing mainly on the conduction and radiation sub-set of the heat transfer, and ignoring the convective component. The full ice cover acts as a conduction insulator (the thicker the better), a radiation insulator, and reduces the convection and mixing as well. With full areal coverage, it performs the latter function by serving as a solid boundary, which requires a no-slip condition at both the ice-air and ice-sea boundaries. This prevents winds from 'pulling' the water and enhancing currents, and suppresses convective mixing. The latter helps minimize the lateral transport of energy into the Arctic, thereby retarding the bottom melt. When the ice disappears, the air communicates with the ocean, and the Arctic communicates better with its warmer neighbors. The result is more chaotic conditions, and the effective elimination of an 'anchor' on the global climate.

Eli Rabett

First as with all the others a wish for a well earned holiday. Yes the Arctic ice situation is out of control, but in such a chaos it is best to wait and see when nothing is to be done

Second, exposing Eli to the crowd, a wild assed guess. With the compaction (everyone booed and hisses when the bunny wondered">http://rabett.blogspot.com/2012/08/toujour-gai.html">wondered whether there would be any ice south of 80 N, but it is going to be close), the refreeze is going to be very fast north of 80, and very slow south, as there is no floating ice to keep the top layer relatively fresh and cold. It's going to be a two step, with the first being cooling the upper layer down well below O C.

bill kapra


As a physicist, I'm drawn to the old 'imagine a cow is a sphere' analogy too but you have to be cautious with this one.

The 'glass' of the arctic is a very open system. Ocean currents move at speeds high enough to flush the entire volume of the basin on time scales shorter than the seasonal melts. And atmospheric circulation provides both convective inputs and conductive effects that likely overwhelm the simple model you suggest.

Howsomever, it is well to consider the big picture of your model in the context of minima, maxima, and transitions.

My best guess (disclaimer: I am a dynamicist but not a climatologist) is that dynamic equilibria will reestablish and that, rather than highly erratic oscillations, we'll see a new pattern emerge whose feedbacks tend to stabilize around new regularities.

Your image of a quick, superficial refreeze does seem appealing. Likewise, a robust, minimized thick-ice ridge along Greenland and the CA seems to me likely to persist in summer extending through most of the high latitudes. The fact is that the smaller the ice cap, the less area is available for mobile energy (in whatever form) to reach. And the ight at those latitudes provides precious little insolation over the course of the season.

The best guesses of many clever people have proved wrong with this system but I'd wager small bucks that 'ice free' is not in the cards and that winter max extent and area will remain near historic levels.

Volume... well that's a different matter! Likely that keeps falling precipitously around the year until it hits a stable max associated with ubiquitous thin ice in winter and very limited thick+northern ice in summer.


Superman: Yes.....you are likely right that many in Washington DO KNOW what is going on.

We live on a "finite earth"....and yet people talk about "sustainable growth." Do they NOT understand the meaning of "finite"?

I won't ramble on endlessly....but I WILL do "my part" in attempting to get "get the truth out"....and to expose those who lie or mislead about climate change (are you listening FOX, Joe Bastardi, Antony Watts, etc.? For me, I can't stand by and do nothing when I see injustice done. This is like the tobacco companies saying that tobacco doesn't cause cancer, or that "fracking" is safe. My ethics don't allow me to stand by watch that take place. And I urge others to speak up as well.


Timothy Hanes

The slopes on the IARC-JAXA and Arctic ROOS graphs are really freaking me out. Pull up, you're going down, pull up, pull up!!!!!

Fairfax Climate Watch

Bill Kapra,

I disagree with your analysis. It seems more reasonable to me that the minimum date arises primarily as a function of how much solar energy the Arctic land and water surfaces have absorbed during the summer. For over 2.5 months, 80N receives more daily insolation than the equator, a high input.

This year the Arctic and nearby areas have had very low snow and ice-covered area totals, compared to average. Plus, it seems to have rained a good deal there this year, possibly translating to reduced snow cover on top of the sea ice, which changes the albedo dramatically, depending on the type of ice. But even the most reflecting types of ice absorb much more insolation than snow-covered ice. For example, as recently seen in the satellite images, the blue ice around the edges of the ice pack presumably indicate an efficient absorption of infrared light.

If the minimum date is primarily a function of total insolation absorbed by water and land surfaces, then this year should see a minimum occur later than average.

As far as a new equilibrium being reached with the sea ice, I don’t see why that would happen, given the increasing GHG and ocean heat stores. Perhaps an equilibrium might exist for two or more years at a time, but beyond that, it seems climate forcing should destabilize any equilibrium.

Fairfax Climate Watch

The issue of solar radiation absorption raises another question to me. Both open water and snow-free ice absorb solar radiation at similar rates. And just the top two or three meters of ice and water absorb the majority of incoming radiation. So when the snow-free sea ice thickness falls below a certain threshold, wouldn’t solar radiation start melting the ice both at the air-surface-interface and the water-surface-interface?

bill kapra

One thing to be careful with re. insolation is the angle of incidence. Extreme latitudes receive much, much less energy per square meter than middle latitudes. Also, the oblique angle vastly increases atmospheric absorption/reflection associated with clouds, water vapor and just plain old air. So, although there is day-round sunlight, its energy delivery is low.

bill kapra


Shout out! Your comment on Domino 6 thread regarding thin ice peninsula was astute. Well played sir.

The whole section from 90°E to 130°E up to about 85°N seems to be mainly thin (less than 1 meter thick) sea ice:

This is a whole peninsula of ice that might melt away this summer:
if ocean temperatures continue the bottom melt for a few more weeks."

Bob Wallace

Bill, have you seen this thickness image?


I think you'll have to click to see the image - first time I've tried the tinyurl thing.

Steve Bloom

Bill, I think everyone is clear that the final blow to the ice will come from below, not above. Also, to my knowledge the argument among Arctic sea ice specialists as to the first ice-free period is about when, not if. In particular, this year's early melt-out and then replacement from the north of the Canadian Archipelago ice, with the replacement batch in the process of melting again (although it's not clear if it will have time to compete the process), would seem to make for a strong argument against long-term survival of a band of ice adjacent to the archipelago, especially as its mobility increases due to decreasing thickness.

Steve Bloom

trying to close that open tag


Came across this: http://iamaguardian.com/861/ozone-climate-change-harbingers-and-victims/
The 1st part deals with ozone holes and their effect on biology. I do know that the hole in the Antarctic is thought to have made it colder by pulling in tighter the winds there and trapping in the cold. In the NH the winds follow a very different pattern because the geography is very different (lots of mountain ranges). The question that struck me, does anyone have a clue what the NH hole will do from the climate/weather side of the equation? The 2nd is would increased UV rays heat the Arctic ocean faster and if so has that been put into the equations?



Here the announcement of the IARC-JAXA of the 24th of August minimum SIE record set at 4,21 million km².

The previous SIE record according IARC-JAXA happened on 24th of September 2007 and had been set at 4,255 million km².
Thus exactly a month later than 2012. But 2012 isn't even finished yet of course.

Also to be noted, from 24th of August 2012 on IARC-JAXA uses exclusively AMSR2 data, so it's the most reliable source there is.

Incidentally, UNI-Bremen announced it's home SIE record on 8th of September 2011, set at 4,240 million km2.

They cunningly have removed the details of the announcement from their website, but the pdf file still is available here: minimum2011-en.pdf.

To be noted too, on their actual SIE graph the SIE still seems above 4,240 million km2.

Thus not at all a fallen domino. Or better, people, let's face it, at present it's just a mess there.


Endgame (for this season…)

ECMWF and GFS are projecting a reversed dipole. It develops tomorrow and continues through the rest of this week.
NCEP model guidance shows a deep incursion of high southern winds on ‘stream’ 250 hPa level. Over the Barentsz/Kara region a bulge is forming. It extends into the Laptev. Is this what is to be expected for the coming fall?
We could have open water blowing into the North Pole within a week…

Artful Dodger

Hi, Werther

Personally, I like the NCEP GFS North Polar Region 500 mb Vorticity, Wind, and Height 5-day animation (I think 500 mb winds show the storm track better :^)

Something large this way comes...

L. Hamilton

DMI updates early, down -89k for Aug 26. I did rescale the y axis for my graph, although due to Photobucket issues I'm not sure whether you can see the 8/26 version yet.


Their 30% SIE index presently stands 348k below the annual minimum reached in 2007.



IJIS has updated and is teetering on the 4million square kilometre brink. It is now 4000,625 km^2.
I wonder if NSIDC will have a 5 day average record tomorrow.

Artful Dodger

Yet another new low CT SIA:

2012.6466 -2.3111002 2.7270751 5.0381756
2012.6493 -2.3556986 2.6431620 4.9988608

Now just 2.64 km^2.


You bloody well get the best out of these data sources…I didn’t get to these animations yet.
But I see a yearly pattern rising here. Like last year, the Kara/Barentsz region seems to function as a ‘pathway’ for fall warmth to enter and assemble in the Arctic.
Then, the 500 Mb 'bulge' rose first week of September. Simultaneously, SST's rose and winds turned south.
That's forecast for next week, too. Strong southern winds right into the Pole. And the pack is patternless, mobile.
Just 1 mkm2 is still structured against Greenland/Ellesmere.

Seke Rob

Follow on to post SekeRob | August 26, 2012 at 19:36 in reply to Tor Bejnar | August 26, 2012 at 15:38, the "No Step" column had an additional test bolted on, that in case there's none but the trickle out, the average is printed of that trickle out. This fairly represents [IMHO] what these were for the same time on the calendar, though the trickle out periods were later in many cases. Things were just as much slowing down then [with more/harder/non rotten ice around].

http://bit.ly/IJISMD (Restart Browser or clean caches to see new version).

If this poses an issue, I'll revert the "No Step" printing, as it's too much programming for a really fringe piece of data. The sole orange bar is a strong statement... the pits. We know the daily melts were much smaller even a few years ago and if a *supposed* skeptic looks at it and does not grasp... Lucky Luck always won of the Daltonians... (I have zero empathy for the 8th decimal crowd of the Tonino surreality)


Can not find a good link. Just listening to radio to CBC reporter mentioned in a piece about the search for the Franklin Expedition ships that where a few weeks ago the ice was packed where they were planning to go and now it is wide open


LCR told:

reporter mentioned in a piece about the search for the Franklin Expedition ships that where a few weeks ago

Sure about that?

The wreck has already been discovered and it's position pinpointed in Summer 2010.

The next step will be to send down a remotely controlled video camera to get actual pictures of the wreck. There are no plans to bring it to the surface, and all legal steps will be taken to ensure the site remains protected.

Noel Ward

Have a fine holiday, Neven and thanks for all you do on this terrific blog. I've not been able to spend much time with it this summer, but it's wonderful and valuable information, aided and abetted by the regular suspects who post here with so many thoughtful insights.
The ice, at least some of it, will still be here two weeks hence as we approach the end of melt season... unless it also doesn't go according to the "normal" schedule.
Be well!

Artful Dodger


Try the CBC News website, here:



The 2010 discovery was HMS Investigator off Banks Island, North West Territories.

The 2012 search is for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, abandoned by Franklin and crew a thousand kilometers away in what is now Nunavut, Canada.



End of the summer thaw….
I’ve been fiddling a bit with the DMI plus 80 dG temps graphs, copying them into CAD.

With the dip last two days it is clear that the thaw period has ended day 238. Snow will fall and as soon as the sun sets, puddles and leads will start freezing up.

It doesn’t mean volume will stop receding. But for me this was the moment to get some info from comparing to other seasons.

First: the length of the thaw period was 85 days (day 153 (exceptionally early) – day 238)
(2010: 79 days, 2011: 71 days)
Second: ‘warmth volume’ ( = the area of the graph above/under zero during the thaw period):
2011: 39.9
2012: 34.3
This is interesting. Temps just over the icesheet surface remain close to freezing. So why would 2012 show less warmth than ’11? Underlining that, temps on 850 hPa were definitely higher this year.
Did the massive melt above 80 dG cool the surface layer more compared to ’11?

Third: a question… what in the DMI graph reflects the exceptional melt this year?
I compared the three last winters on the ‘warmth-volume' (above climate mean).
’09-’10: 304.1
’10-’11: 326.9
’11-’12: 551.7
So at least on this indicator last winter shows as an exceptional preparation of this summer’s collapse…

Fairfax Climate Watch


I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "...although there is day-round sunlight, its energy delivery is low."

I agree that attenuation is significant at Arctic latitudes, but I still think that the fraction reaching the surface is what I consider a large amount of insolation during the summer months.

The NSIDC also calls this surface insolation large.

From the NSIDC: "...the amount of solar radiation received in summer along the Siberian arctic coast compares favorably, by virtue of the long period of daylight, with that in lower middle latitudes..."

And also: "Even though the Arctic receives a large amount of solar energy in summer, the high reflectivity (albedo) of snow and ice surfaces keeps absorption of solar energy low. Therefore, the heat gained during the long summer days is small and highly dependent on surface properties such as topography and albedo." http://nsidc.org/arcticmet/basics/arctic_climate.html

And back to my original point, with the sea ice reduced, and reflectivity of existing ice diminished, there is a lot of extra energy in the water and land surface layers.


Greg Wellman

Nares strait is an interesting case this year. Peterman (2012) is making about 1 knot southbound (has just entered Kane Basin) but sea ice doesn't seem to be taking the same flow. The path of the giant berg is presumably indicative of the main current flow, but perhaps there's a surface wind or wind-driven current going northbound. The polynya in the Lincoln Sea would then be in-situ melt, or just pushed clear, from that surface current. Its shape certainly reminds me of the "bubble" that a light fluid jet can blow in a surrounding medium.

Tor Bejnar

Seke Rob,
That's an interesting alternative to "no step". I'm sure, however, it would be easily misunderstood or worse. I'm very happy to wait for the calm after the "Is this the minimum?" storm that is sure to arise after every reported increase (or rumor of an increase). (Remember the "Surely, THIS is the maximum" earlier this year?)

Tor Bejnar

There is a transition between "full melt" mode and "full freeze" mode. (For example, small northern ice-free areas freeze over while southern ice edges continue to melt.) Area increasing while extent continues to decrease is one way of noticing this. Volume decreasing while area increases would be another. Might Arctic MODIS show this, ever? Are there other indicators? Is there a graph showing this? I'm thinking, Delta Area vs. Delta Extent or something.)

A year ago I postulated that the melting season would extend into earliest October because of all the warm water around. I was wrong. I've noticed a comment or two this year with that same prophecy. Has the environment changed to make this more likely? Or did I just have "bad luck" last year, or are a bunch of us overly pessimistic?

Fairfax Climate Watch

Tor, it looks like ice cover last year extended further than this year. Maybe we will see that October melt this year.


Thanks Lodger for filling in th details. Posted that between breakfast and catching a bus. Also as office goffer my technology level consists of pieces of paper, word of mouth, once a week phone call and oh yeh something called a brain that is required to retrieve at a moments notice one of thousands of pieces of factoids that can not be found in the data banks expect in the ned to know file which of course excludes all thoose who do need to know. Ah my job and I love it.


One sign of hope is that WUWT and Realclimate must be getting fewer hits. I remember in 2007 those 2 sites almost always got on the 1st 2-3 pages several times regarding ice. Now they only show up if you search specifically one of their bizarre headlines. The only other ones that come up are the usual collection. Another indication they could be having difficulties is that they are getting very few commenters now and also their headlines are getting more desperate sounding.
On the other hand if you search ice extent and select week or 24 hrs, very often this site appears on the 1st 2-3 pages or its syndicated blogs. If the focus is kept on the ice this sites influence may be greater then we appreciate thanks to Google Search.

Kevin McKinney

I hope you are right, LRC--I've long predicted that reality would scupper the credibility of such as Watts and Goddard. It would be nice if that happened before things get even worse than they already are...

Timothy Hanes

LRC, I don't understand your point about RealClimate

Timothy Hanes

Geoff Beacon,
I'm a longtime lurker, and I appreciate the, shall we say, purity of Neven's site regarding the emphasis on the ice and things like Eckman pumping, snow-cover anomalies. I learn so so sooo much from the intense devotion to the Arctic and these comments, it is actually thrilling to me to read these posts. Thank you Artful Dodger (by the way, I'm a Dickens's fan too) and Seke Roger, and Kevin McKinney, I'm from Atlanta so I feel far more proud of my heritage for your residence here. Werther, Kris, Paul, I can't tell you how I value your posts.
So Geoff, I feel strongly about the issues, but let's take it over to Climate Progress. One thing I've found lately, conservatives respond VERY positively to revenue neutral aspects, I wonder how much they would love replacing the income tax, with a carbon tax.


@ timothy: Sorry wrong one Real Science Steve Goddard's site.


@: Mdoliner43 | August 26, 2012 at 22:13

"Water, ice, and snow generally have a high emissivity, 0.94 to 0.99, across the thermal infrared region." www.icess.ucsb.edu/modis/EMIS/html/em.html (yes, that MODIS)

Ice cover lowers the heat loss by virtue of its lower thermal transport(conduction only) compared to water(conductivity+convection). Snow covered ice allows even lower surface temperatures by virtue of its' high thermal infrared emissivity and low conductivity compared to solid ice, which is why -40 degrees surface temperatures are common with only a meter or two of ice+snow over -2 degree water - but it also means that not much thickness beyond 1-2 meters can freeze in the winter even with such low surface temps. A potential feedback for thinner winter ice(some ice will always form when the sun sets in the arctic) is that so much open water will be a large new source of atmospheric water vapor over the pole, which will result in rapid early accumulation of thick insulating snow cover. Once the ice reaches a thickness that is mechanically stable to wind and wave action, preventing wetting of the snow(0.5 meter?), the insulation will prevent much further growth in thickness even with -40 degree surface temperatures - and it's possible that thicker snow will allow much lower winter temperatures than currently seen in the Arctic. When there are outbreaks of Arctic air in January or February to New York or London, they will be deadly, IMHO.


@ Geoff: There will be no such thing as a revenue neutral solution to this problem. It will take a LOT of up front R&D expenditures and a LOT of expenditures to change infrastructure and massive losses by current big companies such as the shutting down of oil wells coal mines changing agriculture away from cotton and corn (both have much cheaper and better alternatives, just too much money sunk into them and gained from them). One of the major issues is the fact that big business present day practices have very little real money in them. If you have watch at all the financial markets, for the last 30 yrs are more almost all gains in big business have not been in R&D. almost all of it has been the shell game called mergers and acquisitions. A&M is nothing more thing buying and selling of businesses jacking up the price of them at every step, but to the man on the street there is absolutely no increase there in fact mainly decrease. Even to the owners, their cash situation really has not changed because it is all artificial money. Granted that is way over simplifying the situation, but the bottom line is there most be massive changes done by businesses and massive investment by government which means taxes must be increased tremendously. In the end though. there well be much more money made then there is now. It is just getting to that point. Imagine Going from the horse and bug and cottage industries, to the railroad and factories of the early industrial revolution. Truth be told most of the investment of the RR and factories did not come from the private sector, it came from government. And the tax burden at that time was huge. Same situation now.
To get back to the ice. I am concerned the there will be big problems with the ice this winter in that if we get big storms blowing through the Arctic, the ice is soo thin that it will keep braking it up. Even if it piles it up thick in some locations, broken ice does not have the strength of a solid sheet. This could mean that if a storm hitting the wrong spot early in the spring could really make a mess of the ice very fast for the next summer.


Thanks to all those on this blog that are focused on the dire issue of the ice melt. I keep hoping someone will bring up the subject of SAG (stratospheric aerosol geoengineering) and SRM (solar radiation management) and discuss the role these insane and ongoing global climate modification programs have had in damaging and altering the natural climate systems of our biosphere. It seems like the ongoing global geoengineering programs are a completely ignored "elephant in the room". Certainly the science is clear on the damage these programs have done to the ozone layer over the poles in recent decades. After a decade of study of the covert global geoengineering programs, I believe it would be completely impossible to quantify the damage these programs have done to our planet and climate. One source for information is "geoengineeringwatch.org" Hope all will investigate this issue and start to put this factor into the equation.

Kevin McKinney

.....OOOOkay, then.

Timothy Hanes

Oh, ol' Triple Point Goddard, eh? My favorite denier, the denier even deniers have to sometimes deny.


The latest IARC-JAXA image shows the NWPassage finally is getting open and free ...


Oh no, chemtrails are commenting. Are they nutty, a disinformation campaign to get the attention from real environmental problems or both?

Artful Dodger

Hi Redin (hi folks!)

Please do not feed the trolls.

Neven will be back soon enough...



Good point, sorry about that. I am a little edgy since they recently started to spread to Sweden. Is there any way to delete a post?


Day 241
Healy is steaming rapidly towards the Pole. It is almost 900 km N of Barrow. Just 35 km from the S boundary of MODIS tile r04c03, 400 km into the Canadian Basin. It is freezing, 30.3 dF/-1 dC.
No ice in sight, not even a shred…

Rob Dekker

OBUOY4 and the ice it was on has been terminated, during a rolacoaster ride over the past week through the Fram Strait ice cruncher.

I had been capturing still images from OBUOY4's webcam over the summer, but a system reboot during my vacation killed killed the process. So I missed the images from the last few weeks, and can't show a movie of OBOUY4's final roller coaster ride.

OBUOY6 may still go through the same ride this season, so we may get a second chance.

Meanwhile, OBUOY7 and OBUOY8 have been put in place, in what may be the last patch of MYI in the Arctic that will survive this horrendous melting season : North of Greenland, on the West side.

Realtime monitor of all OBUOYs is right here :

The comments to this entry are closed.