« Joe Bastardi found a cherry | Main | Peeking through the clouds 6 »


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

Seke Rob

GIS is about 1.7 million Km^2, so 25M km^2 is not area either.

Think that GIS is about 2.5 million cubic km and Antarctic is in the range of 30 million km^3.

Seke Rob

Wait, Bfraser says 25M Km^2 for the Antarctic. The summer reach is 14.2M Km^2 says my well informed internet friend.

Jim Williams

Random numbers:

http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/SyedQadri.shtml comes up with an ocean volume range from 1.310302
billion km3 to 1.5
billion km3

http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/HannaBerenblit.shtml comes up with a bunch of interesting numbers, such as 2.6 × 10^6 km3 (Greenland) and 25 × 10^6 km3 (Antarctica). Not saying these are the best espimates, just the ones I grabbed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Antarctic_Ice_Sheet also gave me this number: "It is estimated that the volume of the Antarctic ice sheet is about 25.4 million km3, and the WAIS contains just under 10% of this, or 2.2 million km3."

Plenty of warm ocean out there. (And we haven't even looked into the question of decaying uranium in the earth's core.)


Karl, what did you mean by this?

"Sorry, but all in all, AGW driven by CO2 is just not looking logical with the factual information we have, no matter what the models might want to say."

The models are clearly failing to predict ENOUGH warming. I've always assumed that this meant that they were omitting from consideration an important synergistic element in the observed melt, but that the underlying cause was indeed the well documented increase in atmospheric CO2. Are you suggesting that there is something more powerful than CO2 that we (and the models) are not considering? Is this a crypto-AMEG appeal to CH4 doomers? I'm confused.......


@Karl: You'll find no one here ever trying to "close down" rational thought. What you will find here, however, is people intimately familiar with the signs and science behind what's going on, and thus very predisposed to tuning out denialist rhetoric. Or combatting it. Or--my favorite--ridiculing it for the utter nonsense it is. The thing is, anyone who comes in here posting garbage from Watts' silly site, or who comes here to constantly lament how great this site "used to be before it got all political", or who repeatedly ignores the vast body of evidence that supports AGW theory to instead cherry-pick a few out-of-context tidbits they feel support the denailist POV, is going to meet a pretty stiff wall of factual resistance.

I've got no right to suggest anyone go away, so I won't do that here; the more eyes, the merrier. But I do think you'll find a possibly more eager and willing audience for illogical, debunked, non-scientific blather elsewhere than you will here.


John Smith


Mass-loss from the Greenland Ice Cap - known feedbacks, including:
- rising air temperatures;
- rising extreme insolation;
- rising precipitation;
- rising fallout of soot and other particulates;
- rising incidence of very large numbers of minor earth tremors.

You missed one, I think. At the moment the GIS is over 2km high. As it melts, the top is brought down into lower, warmer, denser atmosphere. Which increases the melt... etc.


Excuse me, that should be "melting", not "warming" in the previous post. Don't want to sidetrack this thread.



Models are mere predictions, fiction only until later facts show how well they relate to the real world.

I think that definition doesn't really capture the role of models in science. Models (in any field and of any complexity, from the motion of the planets to the X-ray crystallographic models of DNA to climate science) are attempts to map physical laws onto observable systems. Failure to model the observable system may arise from either the laws being wrong or the model being inadequate.

When it comes to climate science, models exist on a huge range of scales and complexities, from zero-dimensional models relating solar irradiance, albedo and greenhouse forcings to temperature, to detailed three dimensional models of the time evolution of climate system.

The former have survived many severe tests in explaining most of the past billion years of the earth's climate, including the glacial cycle and 20thC climate (and temperature projections into the future). See http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml>this lecture for more.

The latter have strengths and weaknesses - for example they can reproduce the glacial cycle and recent models can deduce the existence of the El Nino cycle from first principles, but as we know they are not so good at explaining the loss of Arctic ice.



I worry about that too, but won't isostatic uplift help a bit here? Or will it be too slow?



I suggest you look at the skeptical science website, especially the following links rebutting specific points you have made. If you have any questions on these points please post them on the correct thread on skeptical science.

"natural cycles powered by solar cycles"

"only causing warming at certain times and in certain places"

"look at a trace gas"

Al Rodger

A slap on the wrist for me. I think both my mistakes have been spotted. Greenland Ice is 25% less voluminous than I quoted & I'm surprised I wasn't further out given how I calculated it.
GIS = 2.85 cu km. Oceans are 360M sq km (unless you drown all the continents).
The substance of my comment however remains pretty much unaffected.

Janne Tuukkanen

For glacial rebound to happen, asthenosphere must flow underneath the sank plate. That movement is measured in millimetres per year. Yes it is slow in human time scale. Parts of Scandinavia and North America are still rising (less than 1 m/century from some 7 metres immediately after deglaciation) even as the ice sheets disappeared over 10 000 years ago.

Janne Tuukkanen

But how about happy thoughts: Maybe ice free Arctic will provide more snow fall to Greenland, the mass balance will go positive and Happy Times will be here again?

Or maybe ice free Arctic will provide massive warm rain fall to Greenland, the cold base glaciers will turn temperate and flow away as from broken honey jar.

Fortunately we have had comments from real glaciologists the latter would be most improbable outcome.


Folks, you should stop and think. Not everyone who visits blog sites finds it necessary to bolster their egos by commenting endlessly. There are always far, far more lurkers than commenters. Yes, Most of us know all of the related climate sites, especially those long in the tooth such as myself. Indeed some of us, including myself, have been associated with measuring and modelling climatic factors for, perhaps, far too long. The fact that we do not need to debate and create even more diatribe in what is an already over stuffed area may be an indication that we feel comfortable in our own cognitions and do not (very often) feel the need to create any reifications of them online.
Climatic models are pure abstraction the only real thing about them are the quantitative data put into them. If their outputs are not verified by real measurements then they remain abstract constructions. Now your ontological stance may have a problem with that but mine does not.
That is not to say models are not useful, of course they are, but only as far as they verify reality and in this case I believe they do not.
Oh and please do not quote SKS (or indeed WUWT) to folks endlessly, I come to this site for the data, that should in itself be an indication that some folk can think for themselves!

Al Rodger

Some light reading for those interested in the poor performance of Arctic Ice models.
"Limitations of a coupled regional climate model in the reproduction of the observed Arctic sea-ice retreat" Dorn et al 2012 (full text) sounds like it should throw at least some light on the matter. (I have yet to read it.) There are also a couple more relevant articles in this weeks new research listing at SkepticalScience but only available as abstracts.



what extent is likely in 2013? With no model having accurately predicted the current fall that I'm aware of, I've really no idea.

Hard to determine, however any measured statistical trend generally behaves as a random walk. We know where that walk is taking us, an ice free Summer. The random nature of that walk means that the extent next year is most likely going to rebound slightly.



If the models start to provide evidence of a chance of a 10 meter increase in sea level, then the Herculean task of planning for the relocating 5-10% of the worlds population and the infrastructure to service them would need to be done.

I am not sure where you are getting your information about the impact of a 10 meter sea level rise but it seriously underestimates the impact on coastal populations. New York city subways are currently usable only because massive pumps are used to keep the tunnels water free. Civil engineers have estimated that a 1 meter increase in sea level in New York could not only inundate coastal areas, but have a devastating impact on the subway system, sanitation facilities, power plants and factories. The subway system in Manhattan will be rendered permanently unusable. I have been to New York a number of times. Life in Manhattan will be very different without the subway. These kinds of impacts will be found all over the world. Interestingly, the impacts will be greatest in the western world where built infrastructure (at a very high cost) will be seriously damaged.

It's pretty easy to move a village, not so much Wall Street.


Going from sea ice models to ice sheet models, this paper by Levermann et al (2012) comments on the kinematic constraints paper by Pfeffer et al (2008:

On p.855 they say:
"An estimate of a maximum contribution to global SLR from WAIS using the same approach as for GIS (Pfeffer et al. 2008) is questionable since outlet glaciers are less constrained by topography in Antarctica compared to Greenland and thus discharge is potentially quicker than on Greenland."

In other words, 2 meters maximum SLR by 2100 may still be an under-estimate, on the same argument that Hansen & Sato use in their paleo-paper. All this not based on ice sheet models as such, since they're judged not good enough yet to be used for such projections.


"The fact that we do not need to debate and create even more diatribe in what is an already over stuffed area may be an indication that we feel comfortable in our own cognitions and do not (very often) feel the need to create any reifications of them online. "

It's a good thing Karl doesn't post just because he needs to bolster his ego or to create online reifications of his cognitions...

"We seem to be under some delusion that the Arctic sea ice is somehow not going to refreeze..."
Who is "we", then?

We should thank Karl for illustrating so clearly why projection is so comforting to ones cognitions. Textbook example, I'd say.



Excerpt from EPA report on sea level rise on Atlantic coast

Rising sea level can elevate the water table (ground water) to the point where septic systems no longer function properly. Even slight increases in the height of flooding could cause extensive damage and bring the thriving city (New York) to a relative standstill until the flood waters recede.

I, for one, can't imagine living in New York city where large portions of the sewer system fail due to periodic flooding.

Cholera anyone?


Cholera? Absolutely.

Look on the bright side, if you just keep drinking water, you can survive cholera.

That might not be very pleasant, though.

My grandfather once helped with a cholera epidemic in California (sometime around 1910 or so) for 2 weeks. He and his pals avoided infection by drinking only water with whisky in it.

Bet a flooded NYC won't have enough whisky for all, though.


Well FrankD you are a fine example of why lurkers do not post as often as the folk who like to put themselves up as the de facto gate keepers of a site.
Soft sciences are called that for a reason. Of course this conversation could continue and that's the whole point, to give certain folk a rationalisation for their own existence! But as I said, I come to this site for different reasons.


Has anyone noticed open water in the sea to the west (northwest?) of Axel Neiberg Island (the one directly west of Ellesmere)? I am seeing what I think are signs of open water -- if correct, is this a first?


That's one reason that Terry is always suggesting that the CAA is now a burial ground for MYI (in addition to the Nares and Fram).

Right, Terry?

Seke Rob

The lease on the plots is very short these days ;>)

L. Hamilton

Hardly qualifies as a "model" but I think the Gompertz curve approach is going to suggest a truly naive 2013 Sep mean extent prediction around 3.7 -- slightly higher than this year's actual value, but on a path heading below 1 million within the next 10 years.



The estimate of the percent of the worlds population to be relocated with a 10 meter sea level increase is from Deborah Balk, the acting associate director of the Institute for Demographic Research, in a study they did in 2007.

I do know something about infrastructure, I'm a Professional Civil Engineer with 35 years of practice involving infrastructure design and relocation. The task of relocating 5-10% of the worlds' population would be immense, and 80 to 100 years for planning and implementation is an incredibly short time period for something of this magnitude. Believe me, I do not underestimate the task.

The issue with models I was alluding to was that the probability of a sea level increase of x meters by a certain date is necessary information. When we design a dam or a levee, we look at the risk associated with failure given a set of probabilities. On a minor dam where the risk of death or damage is small downstream, we might design for a 0.5% annual probability of failure. A larger dam, where there is higher risk downstream, would be designed to a much lower probability of failure. The hydrologic and hydraulic modeling provides the basis for the design.

I see the climate, and especially sea level, models as serving the same purpose. If the risk of a 10 meter increase is extremely small, we do not have, nor should we, allocate resources to plan and implement a process to accommodate that. If the risk of a 2 meter increase is high over the next 90 years, we must devote the resources for that possibility.

I know that climate models are much more complex than the well established H & H models, but great effort needs to be made to improve and verify the models to avoid either wasting a limited amount of resources, or worse, failing to provide those resources when needed.

Jim Williams

Djprice537 | September 18, 2012 at 16:56: "The random nature of that walk means that the extent next year is most likely going to rebound slightly."

No. The a priori probability is exactly 50%. It might rebound slightly.

Now, if we were to assume that there is a downward trend then the projected a priori probability would be somewhere below 50%; which would be "most likely not going to rebound."

Either case doesn't really mean much.....

Karl (September 18, 2012 at 18:10): I come to this site for different reasons.

And just what would those reasons be, Karl? Because judging by your 15 comments to-date, it's been to either complain about how great the site used to be but no longer is (6), to complain that people here have been mean to you (2), to post debunked denialist talking points (5), to generally insult everyone who frequents these forums (2), or some combination of the above. So, again, why are you here? I mean, really?

I'm dying to know...


Hey guys sorry get off topic but the first comment had me wandering over the graphs page and that in turn has led me to wonder


It seems like it has to be a data anomaly. Look at
or in absolute terms:

It's, what, 18 degrees C? The anomaly is what, 10 degrees+ C? The lines are so cramped I can't tell!

I just cannot figure out what could drive that. Unlike in the north atlantic, there's no meandering current - it's an isolated pocket of warmth.

I've been looking at SST graphs for a long time, mostly in the tropics for hurricane reasons, which is what led me to coming to the sea ice portion of the internet. I've never seen something like that, but, admittedly, I have not looked at the far north.

What happened? Is this related to the storms in alaska? Something flushing huge amounts of warm rainwater in the sea?

Chris Reynolds

Hi Karl,

I'm sorry but having read your comments I get the impression you've had only the vaguest brush with studies using models, if that.

You cannot indentify a model that doesn't show: no loss of Arctic sea ice when not forced with anthropogenic factors but loss of Arctic sea ice when forced with Arctic sea ice. All GCMs show this, and this qualitative indication supports the view that current AGW is driving the sea ice loss.

Consider Wang and Overland "A sea ice free summer Arctic within 30 years?". This study shows that the models that better reproduce the seasonal cycle show earlier losses of sea ice. Both the seasonal cycle and the current ice loss are externally forced; the former by changes in the seasons, the latter by external global warming and the local impacts such as CO2 forcing. The pattern Wang and Overland support this interpretation - the models that respond most to one external forcing (seasons) also respond most to another (AGW).

Furthermore consider the fact that the current warming is produced in all model runs with anthro-forcing, yet the 1930s warming isn't, but warmings like the earlier 1930s period happen at different times in different runs or not at all. This supports Bengtsson's interpretation that the 1930s was due to internal climate variability. That all the models agree on warming with anthro factors shows that the current warming isn't due to climate variability - it is due to the common factor in those model runs - AGW, and I stress anthropogenic here. Johanessen 2004, Arctic climate change: observed and modelled
temperature and sea-ice variability.

I can guarantee that you're not being truly sceptical if you still believe the current GW isn't due to human activity, and that the Arctic ice loss isn't in turn due to human activity. How can I gaurantee that? I'm a poacher turned gamekeeper - I used to be a sceptic of AGW.



This year the CAA did act as a 'burial ground' for MYI, whether the gaping maw opens again next year will depend on whether the bones of this years feast got stuck in it's throat.

The CAA has the capacity to remove more MYI than Nares Strait, and is positioned to swallow any left overs that escape that voracious beast. Without MYI limiting the melt from Beaufort Sea, these warmed waters will have an easier time lapping up the CA from the Pacific side, and the spine of MYI that thrusts out toward Russia will be broken.

This year saw MYI from above Ellesmere sliding either into Nares or into the CAA. What had been the safe refuge became a killing ground.

It's a new pattern that will hasten the departure of the perennial ice cap - or I could be wrong.


Jim Williams

Jimboomega, I've been looking at that and ignoring it for pretty much the same reason as you. I keep thinking maybe it has something to do with river runoff in Siberia or something.


I'm a Professional Civil Engineer with 35 years of practice involving infrastructure design and relocation.

Relocating the New York subway is difficult to imagine if you want it to continue to serve Manhattan. One possibility would be to raise the subway to ground level(as well as the periodically failing sewers). This would render the ground level of the existing built structures obsolete. This solution is not without precedent in large urban areas.

In Chicago, a massive effort to install passable streets and functional sewers was begun in 1856. It took over 20 years to complete and walking through neighborhoods throughout the older sections of the city you will encounter endless blocks of vaulted sidewalks. The first floors of all of the structures in these neighborhoods appear as basements.

This did not solve all of the problems. Severe flooding would occur at least twice per decade throughout the city. In the 1970's, a century after the construction of the vaulted streets, construction on the deep tunnel was begun. It was designed to prevent flooding and the dumping of raw sewage into Lake Michigan, Chicago's source for drinking water.

After 40 years of construction, much of the system is complete at a cost of many billions of dollars. While it is still necessary to dump raw sewage into the lake as a result of severe weather, the frequency has dropped dramatically. The system is expected to be completed in 2029.

One problem, 60 years of construction to resolve. Imagine the problems arising from a 2 meter sea level rise.



It could be one of the river outlets?

Chris Reynolds

By the way Karl,

Have you read Notz & Marotzke 2012? You'll find my discussion of it, and a link to a paywall free copy of it here:

By the way I don't have a comment policy as such over there, but unlike Neven I will delete denialist comments without warning. The argument about the primary causation of AGW (human activities - largely CO2 emissions) is over, going over old ground is unproductive, tiresome and very boring.

Chris Reynolds


Frankly those temperatures are not believable. It's possible that there is a warm anomaly there, I forget the name of the river but there's a large delta just off that area, temperatures over that area are above freezing but not by that much
So even warmer water from a river doesn't account for it. Nor would infux from below because those temperatures are way above the warmest temperatures in the Arctic ocean. For context the excepional warming of 2007 was over 5deg C, but not by that much!


Chris Reynolds,

I came to the same conclusion as well. I simply couldn't find any source that would cause that kind of warming. Even runoff shouldn't be THAT warm.

Frankly I have struggled with some other SST anomaly sources since they tend to "cap out" at around 3-5 degrees of anomaly. Obviously if you have a large swath at the maximum that can be displayed, you imagine some areas in there are higher.

However, I did find this data from DMI, which just does not show anything like that level of warmth. Warm, yes, but nearly as much so as suggested by that other graph:

Is the previous one just unreliable measurements? What's going on over there? Is this something they should be made aware of, to fix their data?

Al Rodger

I find Levermann et al 2011 that you link to is a frustrating read. My interpretaion is that they are happy with Pfeffer et al 2008 as far as Greenland is concerned and agree a full collapse of the WAIS is not on the cards but argue that a partial collapse affecting the Amundsen Sea sector could happen which could cause 1.5m SLR if the whole sector all went. PIG & Thwaites that Pfeffer constrain by geology also contains ice for 1.5m SLR (It would require a speed-up of discharge from 2km/yr to a 90 year average of 53km/yr that Pfeffer et al dismiss.) Whether Levermann et al question Pfeffer et al on Amundsen or PIG/Thwaits or both, I cannot make out.

Levermann et al do, however, consider geology & at least question its influence on ice discharge rate & SLR, unlike Hansen & Sato 2011 whose Section 6 has more the feel of a justification than an investigation.



It's the Mackenzie river - a very large one, but quite a ways west of where the heat seems centered.
At first I thought it could be the result of large methane outgassing providing a very strong localized GG effect, but as the season turned to fall and insolation decreased that became untenable.

There is a perennial fire burning in the hills where a coal seam is in contact with a sulfur deposit that has been burning ever since it was first noticed hundreds of years ago, but again, even thick clouds of CO2 wouldn't keep things so warm this late in the season.

We've either got the worlds largest hot spring, a nascent volcano, or some faulty sensors. It would be interesting if Healy made an excursion through the area.



East - not west in the 1st sentence.



Twemoran, Thank you for the tip. Excellent site.

Arcticio, I am not offended by your comments, but I believe we may be both misunderstanding each other. I am merely referring to that which many always refer to on this site and that is the fact that despite the overwhelming evidence that we need to act now or the planet will suffer substantially the governments of the world do not.

I understand perfectly the politics behind this, as governments act for the people and the masses are currently in 'ignorance is bliss mode'. The economy (short term) is the main worry for most people, so governments act in regard to that. The bigger picture that the climate may ultimately negatively affect the economy is not being considered, as it is not on the public's or therefore governments' radar.

I guess all we can do is keep trying to raise awareness and change our lifestyles to reflect these concerns.

Jim Williams

Richaburton: "I am merely referring to that which many always refer to on this site and that is the fact that despite the overwhelming evidence that we need to act now or the planet will suffer substantially the governments of the world do not."

Let's get one thing clear. The planet doesn't give a damn. The Planet will "suffer" when the Sun expands to consume it.

We might suffer, but we suffer when our breakfast doesn't arrive on time.

Enno Zinngrebe

beaufort sea anomalous anomaly:

Beaufort Sea Buoy Map:

there seems to be no buoy swimming right in the curious hotspot (of course). I have no idea how one gets these buoy´s presumably live data. Maybe someone knows?

There seem to be no ships in the area tracked by ASI? But the above map shows many little black triangles - I guess weather stations - including on the coast right next to the Hot Spot. If that were truly 18 deg C ocean water that would have to show up in those stations.

is maybe the data site for one of the nearest buoys, 90041. Nowhere near such high T (they give just above 0 C which I find interestingly warm) but note that the temperature plot has many funny spikes to that 20 C plot limit, maybe this is a technical issue?

Steve C

Jimboomega, Jim, Terry, et al

The sea surface temperature warmth near the Mackenzie River outlet has been extraordinary and perplexing since around April. Ice started melting here quite early. Temps have been comparable to Mediterranean Sea temps over much of the summer.

Lately, when a low-pressure storm passes over, temps fall promptly to readings near the rest of the Beaufort Sea, but then creep back up as soon as the air is still.

Salinity maps don't show much surface fresh water here, as you'd expect if the warmth was from oddly warm Mackenzie River runoff. (similar warmth at the outlets of the Siberian rivers HAVE shown low salinity).

Vulcanism doesn't really make sense to me--it's the wrong spot in the Arctic for that.

The only thing that makes sense to me is that a million years of organic river deposits on the sea bed have finally warmed up enough to start, well, fermenting. If you've dealt with compost piles, you may have experienced how remarkably warm they can get, even in shade.

Surely there's gobs of methane on the sea floor here, and lots of other kinds of carbon. Bacteria can oxidize the stuff using either dissolved oxygen in the sea water or sulfate, converting the sulfate to hydrogen sulfide. That HS can then oxidize further with dissolved oxygen back to sulfate, or can get oxidized in the atmosphere. All that oxidation releases energy.

Now, this has not been a dramatic hot spot of methane release. But maybe its being oxidized in the seawater before it gets released to the air.

MODIS pics don't show the obvious green plankton blooms as elsewhere where there is a lot of mixing/warmth. But there are silicate-based blue plankton, too, and these waters have looked extremely blue in lots of MODIS pictures for months.

It would be VERY interesting to know what's happening to dissolved oxygen levels in the sea water here. Fish die-offs? Rotten egg smell from HS? Carbon isotope breakdowns in methane that is released would be illuminating, too.

I don't think this is a matter of false readings. We have a LOT of warmth here that isn't credibly from sun, from the Pacific, the Atlantic, and probably not from the river, either.



Let me apologise for the tone of our last exchange. I participate in another site where deniers are constantly sniping at anyone who neglects to dot an I or cross a T and I've developed a rather aggressive persona there.

I'm living in Canada at present and we elected a bunch of Neo Cons that think global warming is a liberal scam & even though a huge percentage of my countrymen realize we have a problem, the politics of division have netted us a government bent on hiding what information is available and scrapping any programs liable to prove them wrong.

We desperately need a concerted effort from governments at all levels to have any chance of surviving this, but petty political one-upmanship in a first past the post system seems to preclude this possibility.


Ian Allen

Neven, could we please have the new well-plotted AMSR2 Bremen maps on the graphs page? Chris Biscan broke the news on the 7th, I think you were on holiday. http://iup.physik.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr2/index.


Ian, your last link does not work.


Steve C,

Thank you for your post, one thing I have not been able to find out is how far back this anomalous warmth goes.

The only conclusion I could come to - other than the data *is* anomalous - is one similar to yours. Massive organic activity. I don't how much CH4 can dissolve in water, but it may be stimulating a bloom of a different sort. Methanotrophic bacteria, perhaps. The oxidation of a large amount of CH4 inside the ocean would create a lot of heat.

Either the data is wrong, in which case, that calls other data into question, or something in that area is generating a huge amount of warmth. That warmth will have a real effect on sea ice levels, and local and possibly larger scales. It is a phenomenon worth understanding, whatever it may be.

I'd say either DMI or NOAA is wrong; your report would suggest that it is DMI that is in error. I'm naturally inclined to think NOAA is wrong, since its values are so ridiculous. But, I have not seen any real measurements either way.


I have in a personal communication from Peter Wadhams that he has seen SSTs up there of 14 C, so 18 C is not a big stretch.

Also, in years past I have seen land temps of over 90 in that region.


The area was showing an anomaly prior to Great Bear melting out, so I can't believe that the Mackenzie is the source for the heat.

Probably an impossibility, but what would occur if a large deposit of sulfur was exposed to sea water? Would heat generated by the reaction be sufficient to produce what we're seeing, or would the gasses be so toxic that everything in the area would experience a massive die off (and hence be noticed).

If the temps are even close to accurate, and the source is geological rather than solar, we'll know once winter kicks in and the area remains ice free.



As to the high SST anomaly in the Canadian Beaufort (which actually is centered on the Mackenzie). It is warmer than normal,and setting some records, in the MacKenzie Valley all the way to the coast, and it is predicted to stay that way for at least the next week


Secondly, by this time there would normally be some Sea Ice rotating down from the arctic towards the coast. Not new ice but old ice coming down along the CA coast. That isn't happening yet because of the summer melt, storms, and the ability of ice to flow into the CA right now.

Warmer than normal temputures + no sea ice from the north=high anomaly


Here's the Sea Ice chart for the Western Canadian Arctic for last year on 9/19 (when sea ice was below normal)


compare it to 9/10 this year (9/17 should be up tomorrow)



Well, I guess you have to load your own archived charts to make the first link work.

Ian Allen

Not sure why my link failed but check out Chris Biscan's link on the "Cycle Plots of arctic sea ice " thread; sept 7th http://iup.physik.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr2/arctic_AMSR2_visual.png
(This works for me in preview)
The coastal waters are back under our scrutiny.

Frankd 1977

It didn't occur to me until today that there is open ocean a little over 200 miles from the north pole. For frame of reference (Midwest style) that's the distance from the loop in Chicago to the state capitol building in Springfield IL.


The distance from London to Paris as the crow flies :)



It is not the scale of the anomaly but rather the absolute reading that seems absurd. I just magnified the image to count the isotherms. Based on my count, the water closest to the shore is at about 20C. That is a temperature that is comparable to the current water temperature of Los Angeles on the West Coast, or somewhere between New York and Boston on the East Coast.

Such temperatures have no place in the arctic! At any time of year, ice or no ice. I doubt the Mackenzie is as warm as the Hudson.

Also, while the mackenzie delta is definitely in the area that is abnormally warm, the center of that warmth (going by the NOAA chart alone) would seem to be farther west, closer to the Canada/US border.

Have we seen this anomaly before? Is this going to go away when winter sets in, if so? I'm new to paying attention to the arctic.

Tony Duncan


A small but important correction. hansen has never predicted a 5 meter SLR by 2100. That comment was taekn completely out of context and has been unfairly used agaisnt him as are most of his utterances. What he said ( I am not quoting but I have read it a few times so I am confident fo the sentiment) was that the IPCC prediction of 1-2 feet was absolutely ridiculous, and that one might as easily say 5 meters. He quickly added that there was absolutely no science to back up that assertion, but 5 meters was as likely as 1 foot.
On the other hand hansen should be well aware of how demonized he has been portrayed and should know enough to not make comments like that.


One other thing. I checked a couple sources around Environment Canada and found water temperatures for the Great Slave Lake, the source of the Mackenzie River. One Buoy (farther from the river) is at 16 C, the other, closer to the mouth of the river, is 10/11. The temperatures have been pretty stead the last 24 hours.

Not warm enough explain it.


Jimboomega i've been looking at that area for months now, and can't believe the data could be wrong for so long, though clearly they're using different criteria to DMI. My guess was/is that it's the result of the kinetic energy of earths rotation being expressed. Warm southern water diving under the bering sea, due to its salinity, dragged at 800 k by the earths rotation. Passes through bering straight and immediately heads east, gets backed up by banks island then corkscrews south[and north] trying to maintain equilibrium. Then the kinetic energy is released somewhat like electric energy in a fire or kettle, that is where there is resistance, rather than it 'belonging'to a specific volume of water. My calcs show a 3.5c temperature gain in the water that makes the journey, so diluted by the turbulence but concentrated at the locality of resistance. Whatever is not expressed here corkscrews anti-clockwise north under the ice adding to bottom melt and mixing. I think this was kicked into action by the exit of 'fresh' water through the bering straight late last year forming a 'blanket' of ice west of alaska.
That said i think SteveC's just as likely to be right.
I commented on this on the previous open thread aug6?+/- when it was 24degc judging by the lines crossed.

Chris Biscan

That map showing 20C probably hasn't updated well with maybe sparse data there?

These temps skyrocketed early this summer when large HP's and warm southerly flows continually pumped heat into the region. The biggest player is solar insolaion.

Greenland is looking to get torched.


That's day 6-10 euro 850mb temp anomaly's.

albedo already dropping.


The southern 1/3rd at least will continue to pump out melt water and possibly show the dark ice again with heat intrusions like this.

On top of that the NW Atlantic is on fire:


It's no wonder SLPs don't move around the region to the South this time of year, they shoot up West of Greenland or over it but are slower and pump so much more heat over Greenland.

This is when snow is supposed to pile up before precipitation slows during the dead of winter.

With the freeze level getting to 7-8K feet it won't be snowing.


I haven't read Hansen & Sato, but Joe Romm's site gave this quote:

"BAU scenarios result in global warming of the order of 3-6°C. It is this scenario for which we assert that multi-meter sea level rise on the century time scale are not only possible, but almost dead certain. "


"What about the intermediate scenario, EU2C? We have presented evidence in this paper that prior interglacial periods were less than 1°C warmer than the Holocene maximum. If we are correct in that conclusion, the EU2C scenario implies a sea level rise of many meters. It is difficult to predict a time scale for the sea level rise, but it would be dangerous and foolish to take such a global warming scenario as a goal."

Yes, you are correct, Tony.

I would interpret that to mean EU2C to be at least 3 meters for an undetermined time, and BAU to mean 2 or more meters by 2112.

In terms of planning for infrastructure, it leave a pretty wide range between Hansen and the IPCC AR4 range of .18-.59 meters by 2099, depending on scenario - and not a lot of time to prepare if it is closer to Hansen than IPCC AR4.

David Vun Kannon

In a Phys.org article linked on the main page of this site is the following -

Record ice melts this year and in 2007 have alarmed many scientists, mostly because they thought it would take many more years to reach this state. James Overland, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said forecasts failed to account for the physics of lost solar energy reflection and warming ocean water. "These are really surprises to most scientists," Overland said. "In looking at climate models that are used to look forward, they've tended to say the Arctic may be ice-free by 2040 or 2050. It looks like things are happening a lot faster, and it's because not all of the physics that we're seeing today were well-handled in these climate models.

Is it really possible that such basic physics is not part of these models?

Dominik Lenné

@Bruce Worden about snow cover: Thank You very much for the link but I find the trend in those plots not convincingly increasing - and its not snow thickness on the ice sheet but snow area on land, which depends on different causes and has different effects.
I did a short unsuccessful web search on snow thickness on the ice - may be somebody has it in his/her bookmark list.


Polar View showing weakening sea ice west and northwest of Axel Neiberg Island:


Fairfax Climate Watch

Al Rodger said:

(I can reference this screed if anyone's interested.)

Al, yes please, I am very interested to see an examination/explanation of the limiting mechanisms that are theorized to keep SLR at/below the ~2m/century range.



Sorry, Axel "Heiberg" Island. Multi-year ice there is used to calibrate the passive microwave sensors, guess they'll have to use something else now.


Boy! I screwed that one up, too.

"It is used as the validation area for multi-year ice identification in passive microwave satellite data." from Peter Wadhams

Wayne Kernochan

If I may weigh in on SLR: Hansen has only pointed out existing data showing that Greenland melt has been doubling every decade, and that in the last decade SLR was approximately 3 cm, with the rise strongly affected by Greenland melt. If we simply double that for the next 5 decades (including this one), we're up to .5 m per decade), or about 2 1/2 meters total by 2100. If the next six decades, it's 5 meters total, which corresponds to an MIT study cited by Joe Romm a year or so ago. Note that all of these, including probably Hansen and Joe Romm, did not project summer Arctic sea ice melt before 2020, which has a strong effect on Greenland glacier speedup. Nor did they project melt to the top of the Greenland ice cap so soon.

In other words, 2 1/2-5 meters may be a low estimate. If melt was doubling per decade before the sea ice blocking the glaciers is removed, what do think will happen as higher temps and ice-free coasts drive deeper into winter?

Wayne Kernochan

Although I understand the Antarctic is still really off topic, I'll add my understanding of the Ross Sea ice shelf, the key WAIS "glacier blocker". It is anchored to the sea floor and therefore is a strong barrier to rapid movement of glaciers out to sea. What has been happening recently is not that it is calving, but rather that the ice shelf is melting in the middle (partway between shore and edge). Thus, at some point, the middle may simply stop acting as part of the blockage, dramatically speeding up glacier flow -- hence, I guess, the term "collapse".


Where is Argus Panoptes? Neven told me you could help with insights on the sea ice or lack thereof off the coast of Axel Heiberg Island.


Some pretty exciting stuff still going on around the Nares Strait -- one of the points of the Petermann tongue has broken off, no sign of any freezing up off Ellesmere or Axel Heiberg.



Tony Duncan and Yassur

In Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change Hansen & Sato say

However, the fundamental issue is linearity versus non-linearity. Hansen (2005, 2007) argues that amplifying feedbacks make ice sheet disintegration necessarily highly non-linear. In a non-linear problem, the most relevant number for projecting sea level rise is the doubling time for the rate of mass loss. Hansen (2007) suggested that a 10-year doubling time was plausible,pointing out that such a doubling time from a base of 1 mm per year ice sheet contribution to sea level in the decade 2005-2015 would lead to a cumulative 5 m sea level rise by 2095.

Peter Ellis

In a non-linear problem, the most relevant number for projecting sea level rise is the doubling time for the rate of mass loss.

Sorry, that's plain wrong. Assuming a constant doubling time is simply projecting an unbounded exponential, which is not just physically implausible, but literally impossible. Any exponential increase will stop, what matters is when.


so rephrase to 'in a non-linear problem, the most relevant number for projecting sea level rise is the doubling time for the rate of mass loss, until the period of exponential increase ends'. which hansen evidently thinks could be beyond the end of the century. is he wrong? if so why?


For those having issues with the Uni Bremen, some firewalls block the 8084 port. I use anonymouse to get around that.

I noticed the heat in the canadian beaufort some months ago. The Wunderblog tropical SST chart was showing it as high as 21c for weeks. It has dropped in recent weeks but has been massively high for months.

I would assume the sparsity of sensors doesn't help.

To be honest I gess we'll find out how hot it really is or isn't when the ice starts to grow again.

CT anomaly 2.582 and will climb rapidly as of Saturday as the mean finally starts to climb. The SIA is bumping along the bottom still.


Peter, in case of the combined Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet 5 m is clearly not out of reach for exponential linear increase to continue throughout this century. Antarctica has such a large coastline and volume that ice wouldn't need to speedup c.q. melt in-situ much to maintain the speeds required by 2090.

I wouldn't dismiss scenario's that Hansen deems plausible with a slay of hand. Do some calculations and explain why it's physically impossible.



As you know, I've been interested in the "Inuvik Anomaly" in SST this year for a while also.

If it were a busted sensor, wouldn't there be evidence from last spring (at the time of initial SI melt in region) or last year of persistently high readings?

As for the volcano hypothesis, the tectonic plate map doesn't find any of the usual culprits


although I suppose some kind of New Madrid-like mid plate stretching scenario is conceivable, however unlikely.

I assume you were joking about that, though......

Protege Cuajimalpa

Hi, TenneyNaumer:

Do you have any idea of the size of the Petermann tongue that has broken off? It looks that is huge.



I interpret Levermann et al to say that Pfeffer et al are probably correct on GIS, but not on WAIS, or at least the Amundsen sector, so mainly PIG and Thwaites.

Pfeffer et al assume an average speed of 14.6 km/yr for PIG/Thwaites in their upper limit of 2 m SLR in 2100, with an almost 40 cm contribution of these glaciers to total SLR. They have been accelerating quite of bit over the past decade and higher speeds than 14.6 km/yr have already been observed for short periods in some other glaciers (up to almost 40 km/yr).

Since the acceleration seems to have only just begun, and PIG/Thwaites seem quite unstable, I'm not sure that Pfeffer et al have shown convincingly that 40 cm is their maximum contribution until 2100. But I agree that Hansen & Sato and Levermann and others haven't shown the opposite either.

Chuck Yokota

If I might jump into the discussion of the Greenland melt and sea level rise: For a rate doubling every decade, the quantity for any decade is just over the total of all the preceding decades. So for a 5 meter rise, the final decade would have a 2.5 meter rise. Globally, this amounts to 900,000 km^3 of melt. The energy to melt this much ice on Greenland would require 4000 W/m^2, applied 24/365. This is equivalent to putting every square meter of Greenland under an oven broiler element continuously. There isn't that much energy available.


Logged in to catch up on the observations. I have little to contribute but enjoy the info. I just happened to click on the image on this post "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007".

The projected extent at the end of the century with an ice field over the pole seems laughable. Without the ice anchored and with increasingly powerful storms over the Arctic, how could sea ice extent be centered over the pole? The Green Peace link from yesterday reported 20 foot swells in the ice fields they were moving through. Wouldn't this unanchored ice be pulverized by this weather?



The Green Peace link from yesterday periodically reported 20 foot swells in the ice fields they were moving through.

Chuck Yokota

Oops, looked at my back-of-the-envelope calculation again; dropped a decimal place. It's only 400 W/m^2, only several times the solar energy falling on Greenland.

Jim Williams

Chuck Yokota, 1) it doesn't have to melt, and 2) there is plenty of energy available in the oceans.

Bruce Worden

For people who find such things fascinating, yesterday's LANCE image is spectacular:


You can really see the state of the ice (or what's left of it), and Greenland is nearly cloud-free.

Nightvid Cole

As you know, I've been interested in the "Inuvik Anomaly" in SST this year for a while also.

weather.com is reporting 33 deg. F (0.5 deg C) in Prudhoe Bay, AK with no fog or high winds. Surely this means the SST is below 10 deg C in the Mackenzie delta ...

I am convinced it is an instrument or model failure or bug at this point (although not back in July when other indicators agreed that there was an SST of 16 deg C in the region).



Also, if there was something volcanic in nature, I'd expect to see some sort of geologic activity in the form of earthquakes. Go to USGS and set the threshold to show all quakes... that area is very, very quiet. By comparison the big island of hawaii has had over 100 measurable quakes in the last 30 days (and other parts of Alaska have plenty also).

I do wonder what is going on with that data... in particular why the DMI does not show it. If you were going to tell me the water was 10C which is 5C above normal, I would have no problem believing it was due to the Mackenzie, insolation, etc. It's the scale that gets me, and apparently it has persisted a long time.

I do think it matters. Whatever is pumping that much heat in, will have some real effects over the winter, if it continues. Especially for the north shore. But I am, like Cole, convinced it is a an instrument or model error. Maybe they have some sensor or buoy that is getting very confused, and basing that whole area on that one bad reading.


Maybe someone posted this b4; but great visualization of ice retreat this year:



OK, Arctic amigos, I'm back home, at my beloved fast Internet connection. Give me a day or 2-3 to get everything in order and then I'll start covering this MF till it hurts. ;-)

In the meantime, if anyone can help Tenney Naumer with her question. She's seeing some massive opening up of the ice pack off the coast of Axel Heiberg Island, the island left of Ellesmere Island. But it's a radar image. I'm not sure it's an artifact or whatever. Not seeing it anywhere else. It'd be nice if Environment Canada updates their weekly ice charts (not updated since Sept. 10th).

You see, Tenney, even Argus Panoptes can be short of eyes, when watching the Arctic and looking ahead. ;-)

Oh, and I have a question too: Why is the ocean green on the MODIS Arctic Mosaic?


Shell has suspended drilling in the Chukchi Sea (http://www.reuters.com/article/comments/idUSL1E8KHHA120120917) - after ice began threatening the new containment vessel. What's interesting is that the rig is about 200NM NW of Barrow - where there ius supposedly totally 'open water'. Not quite as 'totally ice free' as we tend to think it is. Similar observations have been reported by shipping companies that are taking advantage of the shorter poolar routes. Yes, I know all about the '15%' threshold - just pointing out these in-situ observations.

Chuck Yokota

Jim Williams, 1) The question was raised in terms of melting, 2) Ice sheet collapse would not occur as incremental doubling in quantity, but as one or a small number of large catastrophic events. That would be a whole different discussion.

Jim Williams

Nice to have you back Neven!

Seke Rob

Re: Steve Gregory | September 19, 2012 at 18:29

1) Your link is dead so cant read.
2) This has been long superseded by later news and comments on this blog. They're drilling the top-holes now as a containment dome on/in the seabed got damaged and officially declared to not be going for the payzones until returning in 2013. It was thought the Shell ice report was a ruse.

The containment vessel far as latest news reading was nowhere near... was still in Seattle?


Jim Williams

I think the anomaly in this graph tells the real story of this year's melt: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.6.html

And it shouldn't be called the Arctic Ocean, but rather, the North Atlantic.

Seke Rob

Talking of news, the sidebar has this link


Click on the follow through Phys.org link to get the whole story.


@Wayne Kernochan

In other words, 2 1/2-5 meters may be a low estimate.

Actually, I believe that it is similar to "Moore's Law" (the prediction of the doubling of computer processor capabilities every 18 months). Hanson isn't specifying "why" the doubling should continue, and it is possible that this is simply one of the unknown unknowns that will cause it.

@Peter Ellis

Sorry, that's plain wrong. Assuming a constant doubling time is simply projecting an unbounded exponential, which is not just physically implausible, but literally impossible. Any exponential increase will stop, what matters is when.

Well, of course the doubling would stop when there is no more ice to melt. :(

With that said, however, some people on this blog prefer a Gompertz curve because the last little bit will be the bit that is most resistant to melting.

Only the future knows for sure, but any scenario of runaway ice loss is a very bad thing.


"some people on this blog prefer a Gompertz curve because the last little bit will be the bit that is most resistant to melting."

This is a tautology that can be used to justify a Gompertz curve whatever the reality is.

Even if all of the ice is equally susceptible to melting, there will always be a "last little bit". All of the evidence we have indicates that it will go very, very soon after the "penultimate little bit".


Ian: The 'index' at the end was causing the problem. Watch the periods too, make sure they aren't part of the link:


Looking at that link, I have been noticing the 'Laptev Bite' (or was it Bight?) is becoming more of a BigGulp... and although freeze-up is occurring in some places, this seems to keep melting away... I wonder how much of it might still pass the 30% or 15% threshold this season?


You can't model Area or Extent in a vacuum.

The curves for both Area and Extent should be squeezed to zero when volume equals zero, obviously, because Area and Extent are automatically zero when volume is zero.

Volume is what actually melts; what the heat of fusion is applied to.

Area and extent are just shapes or configurations of that volume.

The comments to this entry are closed.