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Since the Larsen B ice sheet collapse in 2003 I’ve been wearing my eyes to check satellite imagery for change in the Antarctic. The same goes for Greenland. For a map fanatic as I am, that wearing doesn’t lower my interest. But, to parafrase Shakespeare, ‘his wife laments, Sir, her husband is “checking the ice” again this morning’ (instead of “gone a-birding”, which, in my case, is also a normal habitude).

This summer was the first in years I saw my perseverence bitterly rewarded through visible change almost on any side of the GIS.
Now waiting is for a visible response around Antarctica. It has taken years in which the Larsen C showed nothing else than some ‘melt-striae’ on it’s northern mountain-side base. Meanwhile, there’s been collapse on the Wilkins Icesheet, some calving on the PIG and Amery.
Nothing spectacular outside my usual awe on the natural splendour MODIS keeps opening up for us.

We know from scientific research there’s a response. And soon, FI the coming El Nino-season, it will show. Any change is, as a consequence of the zonal regularity around Antarctica, gradual. Not as markedly regional as it is in the Arctic. The one exception is the Peninsula/Drake Strait region.

For two years, out of our sight, warmth has been stored in the deeper ocean layers. The THC connects the Antarctic to this charge, much more than the cell-structured atmosphere does on the Southern Hemisphere.
I can only muse on the character, change in the Antarctic might have.
But I feel it will be sudden and widespread, when it kicks in.


Antarctica sea ice extent at maximum is similar to Arctic sea ice maximum, when its colder than -11 C as it happens at the both polar regions of earth, a lot of ice can cover the oceans. Neven should phase match and compare Arctic Minimum with Antarctic minimum, a closer look reveals Antarctic 2012 minimum to be close to average, this is the true metric of warming, not the faint one day maximum contrarians are making cart wheels about... Arctic did have great extent last March, so their point about maximums should be compared to minimas is again misleading.

By necessity, we need to remind contrarians about how strong sea ice extent was at March maxima in the Arctic. Yet it went to all time lowest.

Antarctic minima is more interesting and needs greater attention in geography. While the Arctic has only one mega Glacier, a certain Greenland which calves in summer, being a small fraction of the size of Antarctica in ice volume and coastal area, Antarctica the giant calves just as much. I await for better information which is rare about Antarctic ice Minima. I am unfamiliar with the finer details .... There is likely more laughing coming at fake skeptics expense already enjoying another 15 minutes of embarassing limelight.


Werther did you see that a second rift paralleling the first has developed over the Austral winter on Pine Island Glacier, note bottom image in post from 9/17/2012


I think there are more formidable forces at work in getting climate change taken seriously than fake skeptics - a mixture of die-hard climate modelers and government departments. The recent editorial in Nature, Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming, increases my despair. According to RealClimate, Why bother trying to attribute extreme events?, the editorial was influenced by an invitation only workshop, Attribution of Climate and Weather Extremes: Assessing, Anticipating and Communicating Climate Risks. It was...

Hosted by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, the Environmental Change Institute and the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, with the support of the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the US National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Risk Prediction Initiative of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.

Organising Committee:

Co-Chairs: Peter Stott, Met Office and Randy Dole, NOAA

Local hosts: Myles Allen and Pete Walton, University of Oxford

Steering committee: May Akrawi, FCO; Chris Hewitt, Met Office; Marty Hoerling, NOAA; Arun Kumar, NOAA; Falk Niehoerster, Risk Prediction Initiative, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences; Chris Sear, DECC; Peter Thorne, NOAA.

Key orgaisations for me are are

  • The Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment

  • The Environmental Change Institute

  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office

  • US National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration

  • UK Department of Energy and Climate Change

  • UK Met Office

Except for the NOAA, I would apply one or more of these phrases to members of the above group:

  • Combating climate charge is too expensive for the UK

  • Combating climate change is not business friendly

  • We won't believe the real world until we can model it

  • We have reputations to preserve

Has anyone any views on the choice of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences rather than the Scripps Institution of Oceanography?

Is my despair justified?


The "silly season", indeed. Not that I ever expect anything more out of denialists. The thing is, even were the Antarctic ice sheet to somehow melt away entirely in the next six months, denialists would ignore that--and, of course, the catastrophic 60-meter sea level rise--and say, "Yeah, but Fairbanks, Alaska, got two inches of snow last night. So much for your global warming! Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk." (And I'm sure Watts and Goddard would be right there with all the kindergarten-level charts and graphs a denialist could want.)

The depth of ignorance displayed by some (both intentional and unintentional) is astounding, and--often--very depressing.


Hello Mauri,

Yes, I did; see my post yesterday on the thread “(not so) cool vids”:
‘ LBNL Pine Island Glacier shows a second large rupture some km’s north of the one we saw coming through last January. And temps have been anomalously high on 1000 and 850 Mb all through winter over Antarctica.
So what about next summer?’

Now I see that you noticed that on the 17th september and posted it on your site.

It could signify continued basal weakening of the PIG. Could it also be a first indication of visible change around the Antarctic next summer?

Seke Rob

A *Global* sea ice extent chart, build on NSIDC data for the silly season, with a silly named link, courtesy of Photobucket:


Anyone not convinced the XXX Sigma deviation is a bit bigger on the whole? If this were the Six Flags roller-coaster, even the seasoned riders would get nauseous.

The Arctic and Antarctic separate:




Please don't feed the trolls.

Geoff Beacon,

In my estimation, even many on this blog have not come to appreciate the full breadth and velocity of the impending change. The article in Nature is within the scope of what is discussed here.

IMHO: The accelerating change in ice volume, which appears to have fully overcome weather related variance is the story. By focusing on extent, area, etc (which, granted, has a better relationship with the albedo feedback), detracts from the message.

Once the month ends, and the final volume minimum comes out, I hope the media and everyone here begin to speak about 2015 as a legitimate candidate for first ice free day rather than an overstatement. Wipneus' graphs have been better predictors than any of the models, and therefore have a better probability of continuing to be a better predictor.

Dismissing them in favor of a more moderate "stance" is really strange.

There is one thing I can tell you, when volume melts from 1000 km^3 to zero in August of some year between 2015 and 2018, we aren't going to care that extent also went from 2000000 to 0.

What is everyone else's estimation for first arctic sea ice free day?*

*sea ice free = less than 100,000 km^2 CT area or 100 km^3 PIOMAS volume.

I'm betting August 24, 2016.

Think Neven will put up a poll on this?

Al Rodger

Just to add a pedantic flavour to the Silly Season, John Mason sets out on thin ice with his "This truth is incontrovertable..." Churchill quote at the head of this post. Churchill was actually in denialist mode when he said it. The context can be read in Hansard where he bemoans the panic caused by the 1916 Zeppelin attacks on London (or anywhere else they found worthy of lobbing the odd bomb at). Indeed, beyond the panic, the main problem would become "this infernal barrage ... a remedy worse than the desease" (Churchill quote from elsewhere).
Churchill would in later years, of course, hold an entirely opposite view and argue for a strong Royal Air Force which here in 1916 he was arguing (at some great length) against forming.

Yet Churchill even in 1916 was indeed denialist. There was real danger from German air power. By 1918, Gotha bombers were planning a murderous fire blitz on London and Paris, plans that should have given every reason to panic in light of the learning that had been gained by Der Englandgeschwader, plans only cancelled at the last minute when German High Command (thankfully) lost its nerve.


What is everyone else's estimation for first arctic sea ice free day?*

That will depend very much on the precise definition. The denialists will hang on to the last cubic centimeter.

Measured as <1% of the arctic ocean area, my best estimate is in 2015. When precisely will depend on weather and storms.

However, 2014 is possible, and 2013 isn't entirely out of the question either.

If one or more of the volcanoes in Alaska or Kamchatka erupt in March to June, as happened from 2008 to 2011, this could delay the enevitable.

Regardless, by 2019 we will see the first ice free day.

Most likely is a week to two months at less than 1% cover in 2015 followed by a rapidly changing dynamic with the first essentially ice free winter between 2022-2026, and almost certainly by 2029, and certainly by 2035.

Thereafter this will all have been a lovely dream.

If the Greenland cold pole holds we may see several decades to a century of quasi stable weather. Cropping areas will be less and will have moved. Famine will be widespread with some years much worse than others. Summer will be a dim memory for England and Ireland as the circle of lows sets up over the island and parts of Europe.

Seke Rob

Famine is a market forces function more than ever... substantially man made already. Momentarily speculation on Corn and Soya is popular with investors. (Subscribes to a daily news brief). Came by a piece of land where the combine was running on a plot that looked dismal (harvesting here goes on through the weekend). Stopped briefly for a chat with the tractor driver. He said they got about 30% less than normal... and here is not the US corn belt that went through extreme drought. We had a few soakers very beginning September and 10 days ago.

Jim Williams

Sam, why "Most likely is a week to two months at less than 1% cover in 2015 followed by a rapidly changing dynamic with the first essentially ice free winter between 2022-2026, and almost certainly by 2029, and certainly by 2035" ?

It seems to me that as soon as there is no perennial ice left to melt the salinity jumps and the halocline collapses. Ice free Summer is followed by ice free Winter in no more than two years. (Volcanoes permitting...)

Bruce Worden

Seke Rob,

Those are great plots. They really make the point, and they make the deniers look stupid. I'd like to see those graphs up on all the science sites.

The presentation is good, too. What software do you use to make them?

Jim Williams

"There is one thing I can tell you, when volume melts from 1000 km^3 to zero in August of some year between 2015 and 2018, we aren't going to care that extent also went from 2000000 to 0.

What is everyone else's estimation for first arctic sea ice free day?*

*sea ice free = less than 100,000 km^2 CT area or 100 km^3 PIOMAS volume.

I'm betting August 24, 2016."

I'll go with the long shot. August 1, 2013.

It's not very likely, but given that I haven't seen this Winter's freeze yet it isn't all that implausible.

Seke Rob

Bruce, Office 2010. The zoom-in frames are automatic [requires some arm twisting to set them up]. As I mentioned elsewhere, was experimenting with publishing them in emf vector graphics, via a dirty path of livelinking them into Powerpoint slides, then exporting in emf and then pulling them into Inkscape. Too laborious and files prohibitively large [which they're not supposed to be]... Inkscape crashes on them at the point where 99% has been loaded.

Here's a fresh *global* copy with data through the 21st. http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q210/Sekerob/Climate/NSIDCGlobalSIEDev1979-present_zpsc4c0a6b5.png That red vertical sure got the trolls that like get fed hyperventilating on yet another nanosecond recovery. For them there is a new med, similar to viagra with prozac... latter added for the inevitable disappointments.

Seke Rob

edit: The last little vertical tip is a render issue. Think I just figured out how to get that off.



It seems to me that as soon as there is no perennial ice left to melt the salinity jumps and the halocline collapses. Ice free Summer is followed by ice free Winter in no more than two years. (Volcanoes permitting...)

The pessimist in me very much agrees with you.

I suspect that the system has enough thermal inertia that it will take at least two to three years longer than that. Add in the other usual culprits and that likely adds a couple more, hence 2022+.

The winter melt curves are trending at 2029. As you rightly note, once the ocean warms, the melt will accelerate all other factors being as expected (which they of course won't be) pulling that back at least a couple of years, hence 2026.

With the changing cold pole, moving jet streams, possible large eruptions on Cleveland and the rest, changes in the Pacific and or Atlantic oscillations, this could happen sooner or later. My best guess is sooner.

However, if panic sets in and the PTB do as they did over the last decade or more, we could see a lot of covert geoengineering efforts (a la chem trails - read Teller et.al.). As always, if attempted, these will have unexpected effects. Apolgies Neven, not trying to take us off topic.

The real wild cards I suspect are the ocean mixing, wiping out the surface effects that have allowed ice, vastly increased methane release particularly off Siberia, collapse of the tundra with huge releases of carbon that far dwarf anything man can do from melting, rotting and fires.

Then there are all the other things we didn't expect and do not and cannot predict, e.g. Possible desertification in Brazil leading to large amazon fires, collapse of the oceanic conveyor, collapse of parts of west Antarctica or eruption of a super volcano (e.g. And most likely, Yellowstone).

You know things are bad when we need to root for a super volcano to avoid another cataclysm. But hey if Yellowstone went, the U.S. is gone in days, so it could be worse.

Woo hoo! It's going to be an exciting time.



Is "Do not feed the trolls" a comment on my comment?

Can you expand?

What do you think of the views of Jennifer Francis and others that Arctic warming is causing more droughts and floods? See the note I've put up for the European Climate Commissioner. Would you argue that we should wait until until better models can reliably link exceptional events to global warming before we start taking the situation more seriously?

Seke Rob

If Yellowstone goes... then 25% of the world energy consumption goes too. Let's hope it does not and keep working on pushing the information into the mainstream. If not a vegi a veganist, one day less per week to eat meat and you already make a burbed methane difference (Think it was 17% coming off livestock).

To finish off on

edit: The last little vertical tip is a render issue. Think I just figured out how to get that off.
a version with the squary curves smoothes... there's little that can't be done in Office, albeit, occasionally it requires some serious contortions:


Aaron Lewis

I have already stated that I expect an Artic sea ice free day next summer- if we have a repeat of the Arctic cyclone, and I very much expect Arctic cyclones every year until the Arctic is ice free year-round.

Moreover, I expect that in 2015, the Arctic sea ice will have substantially melted by June, 21.

I expect substantial loss of winter sea ice in 50 years, and a mostly sea ice free Arctic in 100 years. This will be enabled by latent heat transported from the North Atlantic & North Pacific. (With water vapor in the Arctic atmosphere, all the rules change. The computer models have not caught up with this yet, and the guys that built those models are still in love with them.)


Geoff Beacon,

My don't feed the trolls comment was general and directed towards the title of this blog entry, and our tendency to let the denialist trolls get our goats. It was not directed at you. I like your commentary, so I was lazy and didn't start a new comment.

As to the European commish - when I first found the PIOMAS page I couldn't sleep for a week. I have no idea what if anything can be done. Waiting for a new model is not a solution, but it changes the topic. At least she didn't say PANIC.

As to the droughts - The impending instability will be biblical. My concern about a big change like turning a frozen continent into an ocean, is that nothing can possibly stay the same. Some places with the worst climates now will become great for growing - but without the infrastructure or the soil. Places with the farms will need to switch crops and/or get new water sources. Famine and drought will cause mass migrations and war.

My only solution is to capture and ship Greenland water to the US mid west, China and India in supertankers, to replenish the depleted aquifers and hope the extra water can keep the disaster away from the nuclear powers.

To others, let's not pray for a Yellowstone eruption, please. The US is a net source of good in this crazy world. (Who gives us most of this data - even in the Bush years? ;) )

But I'm admittedly pessimistic and do sincerely hope I'm wrong. And I've enjoyed an incredibly warm summer of +4 degrees Celsius water in a place where that makes the difference between jackets and T-shirts.

L. Hamilton

I've started to update my "long-term" bar graphs now that we're apparently past the minimum. Because "Antarctica!" is suddenly in blogosphere vogue, this year's CT area version includes both north and south.






NL - You are an optimist.

Larry - Nice update adding Antarctica. I wonder if it's possible to separate the Antarctic sea ice from glacial and graph the sea ice only - it's the way we treat things in the Arctic.



Larry - ignore the last post - I see that's what you're already doing.



Unfortunately for us all it looks like the graphs are moving swiftly into the 'normal' range and who knows maybe in the above range. Also as the satellites still can not tell the difference between MYI and rotten ice and possibly even because of all that extra moisture greater snowfall to make distinction even more difficult, we could have a winter where all the charts will say we are back to average.
We know that this is not nor can be case, but those with the purse strings will say that it is to expensive a gamble in this economic environment and postpone this even more or make things worse by loosening regulations.
As for betting. If we have '07 weather next summer. could be all gone next summer. 2 yrs of this summers weather will still finish it no latter then mid summer '15. The only ice that will be left will be what comes off of GIS and the few other spots that still have some land ice hanging on.


Nice graph, Larry. I see that Arctic minimum sea ice area almost went below that of the Antarctic.


Thank you, Larry, for that graph. Eyeballing it, perhaps there has been a slight increase n Antarctic sea ice, but with a layer of cold fresh meltwater spreading out from increased melt, it's neither surprising nor any comfort. The overwhelming message of that graph is the decline in the Arctic ice, and even a small increase in the Antarctic is unlikely to alter the dire prospects we in the Northern Hemspere face. No doubt, if Goddard and co had been on the Titanic, they would have looked at the flotsam and claimed that what remained of the ship, like the deckchairs, were now truly unsinkable, so there's nothing to worry about. From the point of view of many denialists there is little to worry about; the checks they bank from the polluters will tide them over even as much of the biosphere, including most of humanity, pays the price for years of greed, mendacity, and indifference.

Peter Ellis

No doubt, if Goddard and co had been on the Titanic, they would have looked at the flotsam and claimed that what remained of the ship, like the deckchairs, were now truly unsinkable, so there's nothing to worry about.

What a superb line. I shall nick it and use it henceforward ;-)


Peter, you are most welcome. Anything at all that can convey the message is useful.

This year, I have been working in Colrado. At home on England, it has rained out the summer, but here all the state is in severe drought or worse. In June I had to evacuate at an hour's notice because of the massive High Park forest fire and was unable to return for 17 days. I consider both the UK's lousy summer and what I'm seeing here as closely connected to what is happening in the Arctic. I could return here next year, but if the winter is dry, I hate to think how many high temperature records will go next year and how many million acres will burn.

Yet most people here are unconcerned, and Romney is promising a policy of "burn, baby, burn" for fossil fuels. Congress, completely in hock to the polluters, is doing its very best to sabotage all forms of conservation and alternative energy.

To take the Titanic analogy one step further, had it been Captain Romney in charge, rather than the reckless Captain Smith, after the collision, they would not have even checked for damage, but Captain Romney would have reversed the ship to have a second tilt at the iceberg. However, unlike Captain Smith, he certainly wouldn't have the decency to go down with his ship.

Bruce Worden

Thanks, Seke -- again, those are great plots.


Norway is the leading country when it comes to technology for developing and operating oil and gas fields offshore. No wonder when you take the harsh weather conditions into account and how close we are to the Arctic.

BUT, we are also one of the biggest producer and exporter of fish. Our ocean is one of the most fertile biotope for fish. Before we found oil, our greatest asset was fish. Fish is still a major part of our export. We sell fish to 153 countries worldwide.

One of the richest area for the fisheries is the Barents Sea, but it is also the most vulnerable biotope. It is way up North, in the Arctic.

So, what do we do? We drill for oil and gas in an area with the harshest climate imaginable and with one of the most important source for fishing.

What is this government thinking ? Statoil, the biggest oil/gas company in Norway, has found several very promising oil/gas fields much further south, so we have more than enough produce. AND, we are probably the richest country in the world. The so called oil fund is approaching 4000 billion NOK, and we are around 4.500 people in this country. You do the math……………

So, WHY are we taking the risk of destroying huge parts of the Arctic, including our own fisheries, by developing oil/gas fields in the Barents Sea? ONE large oil spill will be an utter disaster in that area, and because it is so far north, it may take 30, 40 or maybe 60 years to reestablish the biotope to normality. As a fisherman said some years ago: “We can eat fish but not oil”. Simple but true. We must not forget that pumping oil/gas will come to an end one day, but we will always have the fish, and we will be dependent on that simple fact. So, why destroy the most sustainable source of income for our country?

The responsibility for this destructive policy lies wholly in our government. The government consist of three parties: The biggest, the Social Democrats (Arbeiderpartiet), and two very small parties; the Socialist Party (SV) and Senterpartiet, earlier called The Farmers Party. Both SV and Senterpartiet are very conscious and focused on the environment. It was therefore quite a shock when the minister for Petroleum and Energy, Ola Borten Moe from Senterpartiet (!!) stated that we (Norway), will drill for oil and gas up to the North Pole.

What one minister say may not be that important. My main concern is the policy of this government. Drilling after oil and gas in the Arctic is utter madness.


JanEek stated:

Our ocean is one of the most fertile biotope

Rhetorical question:

Are you absolutely sure the ocean is a Norsk property?

Which leads to your not so rhetorical question:

So, WHY are we taking the risk of destroying huge parts of the Arctic

Which could be answered by:

As it is nobody's property nor responsability, everybody just acts as it pleases to himself, as it fits in his own particular intrests.


Sorry, you are wrong about "it is nobody's property nor responsability". Without going into to much detail, the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea are regulated basically as "Economic Zones" between Russia, Norway, Iceland and England. In addition, fisherman from the EU countries are given a quota each year.

So, huge part of the Arctic seas I am talking about actually are Norway's Economic Zone.

I am curious as to why this is so important to you. My point is that NOBODY should drill after oil/gas in these waters.


Jan Eek,

Kris is living his own life here, so now you are informed!


OK, Espen. Thanks.... :-)


Things are much more complicated then that (althoght Norway and Russia do have an agreement. http://www.nortonrose.com/knowledge/publications/57646/who-has-rights-to-the-natural-resources-in-the-arctic
Part of the reason for so much activity recently is to establish 'influence' in the Arctic region. Once that is established then the 200 mile limit comes into play. The biggy though is that if it can be proven that a continental shelf that is attached to the countries land extends beyond that limit then the water zone extends to the edge of the shelf.
For Canada there is a farther complication which is the section of the North West Passage that passes through the islands that Canada claims. That could be designated as international territory for reasons of transportation. Then anything north of that that Canada currently claims could be lost to Canada because of lack of influence.
Then you get the Chinese now using government funds to buy up a lot of oil and resource companies, using their companies to extract the wealth that is there. They could easily use their economic levers (such as companies and foreign debt) to defacto gain major influence in the Arctic.
Like I said. It is very complicated and potentially could end up ugly purely for economic reasons. Right now the US does not seam that interested in things, but when the 3 arms of their government gets interested that is when we all could suffer from the results.
"The age of consequences."?

Jim Williams

Not too sure which bin to toss this into, and I"m still chewing over what it has to say. The tone is a bit biased, but it seems at first glance to be well researched: http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2012/09/further-confirmation-of-a-probable-arctic-sea-ice-loss-by-late-2015-loss.html

Since I've already predicted next year (mostly because it's an extreme possibility) I guess I'm not in position to disagree.


Idunno wrote:

Ice age alert!

IIRC London has a society claiming the World isn't round but a flat plate. And this society's members too are proud of it.

To return to serious business, it's the 5th of October now and still no snow cover at Barrow.

And temperature even will stay above 0 °C for a week or so!

Artful Dodger

Everyone should read this article by Hannah Hickey:
"Cyclone did not cause 2012 record low for Arctic sea ice"

"New results from the University of Washington show that the August cyclone was not responsible for last year’s record low for Arctic sea ice. The study was published online this week in Geophysical Research Letters.

“The effect is huge in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, but after about two weeks the effect gets smaller,” said lead author Jinlun Zhang, an oceanographer in the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory. “By September, most of the ice that melted would have melted with or without the cyclone.”


I read it, Lodger! ;-)

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