« Looking for winter weirdness | Main | CT SIA finally above -2 million km2 anomaly mark »


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

Chris Reynolds

Jim Hunt,

We can only wait and see. I've fairly recently come to the conclusion that what we face is best viewed as an intelligence test. If we fail we fail.


It doesn't surprise me Joe Romm would do well, he seems to have a much better memory than I, for one, have.


Enno and P-maker,

Glad to be of assistance. P-maker, changing the scaling might help you as well. I had not thought of that, but I do it for each run of the ice thickness maps.

My assumption on source is the UK Met, which adds the data from the NCOF, National Center for Ocean Forecasting, into this section of the Godiva data.


Is anyone noticing the gusts being recorded at Nord? 363 kph could be a broken anemometer but it would be interesting to find out. The NEW Polynia appears to have opened at any rate.

The 165 kph,(102 MPH) gusts at Mittarfik on the west coast with drizzle and 1.6C temps must be melting (or sublimating)a lot of ice.

Wouldn't want to be out on a fjord or puttering about in Fram Strait in this kind of weather.

(Ogimet is the source of the data)



Sorry, Terry, you've lost me. 363kmh is absolutely impossible.

wunderground reports Mittarfik Nuuk at 72kmh, at 6degreesC. Highest/wierdest that I can see...



Something is definitely wrong - the URL is


& they've always been accurate in the past.


Jim Hunt

@Neven - The snow has finally reached South West England - http://tinyurl.com/snosw

@Chris - Following Ggelsrinc's exhortations I've been making myself very unpopular whilst endeavouring to introduce the restless natives to the concept of Arctic Amplification - http://tinyurl.com/sandyheads

Based on a very small sample it looks like a "fail" to me, at the moment at least.


Gents (incl. Idunno, Enno, Neven, A4R, Chris & Wayne)

My compliments to Megan Stone. This document – http://edocs.nps.edu/npspubs/scholarly/theses/2010/Jun/10Jun_Stone.pdf - is a great thesis despite some jumps to conclusions here and there (e.g. Fig 18 b & Fig 21 b), . However, fine diagrams and well-documented regression analysis are really helpful.

As I read it:

1) You can’t use climatology as a predictor in the Arctic anymore.
2) At the end of the melting season, you can’t use persistence anymore.
3) You can’t use model data alone without any evidence of observed salinity and wind measurements.
4) A warm Carribbean Sea in May has severe implications, such as:
- a. Beaufort sea ice disappears
- b. Icelandic low turns into a high
- c. Late-season hurricane hit New York
5) Existing indices such as NAO and AO are useless for predictions nowadays
6) Using independent datasets - mainly based on fresh observations - seems to be a good way forward.

Let me try to walk you through this year’s events on the basis of what I learned from this thesis:

In May – high SST’s develop in the Carribbean and other tropical seas due to Global Warming (Fig. 22 c).

In June through September – extensive hurricanes develop all over the Tropics. These “heat pumps” advect heat to the Arctic and melt ice en bloc (this blog)

In September – advection of warm Gulf Stream water northwards to area between Newfoundland and Greenland (Fig 22 a)

In October - “lack of weather” appears over Alaska and katabatic winds follow from nocturnal cooling of Alaska north Slope (Fig 18 b)

In October – upwelling due to katabatic winds keeps the Beaufort Sea open and warm SST anomaly appears (Fig 20 b)

End of October – record-low sea ice extent in the Arctic and warm Gulf Stream water produces a high pressure ridge south of Greenland (Fig 17 b)

Early November – Hurricane Sandy is “blocked” by Atlantic pressure ridge and hits New York (most media)

November – Hurricane Sandy hits Greenland and more melting adds to current misery (the near future).


Interesting, P-maker, although I don't know about the link with SSTs in the Caribbean (still haven't read that paper). I would think the situation in Barentsz/Kara also has something to do with it.


Neven, agreed!

Carribbean "heat pumps" may feed energy into the Barents Sea. Similarly, Western Pacific cyclones ("Typhoon Heat Pumps") may contribute meridional heat advection to the Beaufort Sea.


Hi P-maker,

Actually, I haven't read it for some time, but I don't think I remember it saying all that.

Also, the caveats 1. that its a grad paper and 2. not cited much by any mainstream academics, and 3. possibly falsified by subsequent data???? (I wouldn't know where to start.)

It does seem to me to suggest that the Gulf Stream and associated currents play a role in both the ongoing decline in ASI and the decadal increases in the SSTs of the North Atlantic waters adjacent to the ice edge.

Espen Olsen

November 4th 2012:

IJIS 8.004.844 km2

Ice Age Alert: Unprecedented Arctic Sea Ice Freeze In Progress
Arctic Sea Ice hammering through EIGTH MILLION Square Kilometers For The First Time Since Records Began, this late in the season!


Canadian researchers find that the winter snows are disappearing much faster "...particularly in May and June...".


I wonder if this could be contributing to warming of the rivers feeding into the Beaufort Sea, and thus SSTs?


Indeed, idunno, there's a recent article on the Nature website on that subject (probably what the HufPo piece refers to): Arctic snow cover shows sharp decline


Scientists expect the downward trend in spring snow cover to continue, but they don’t know whether the decline will remain so steep. “It would be dangerous to extrapolate by putting lines through dots and continuing in the same direction when we don’t fully understand the mechanisms that are causing the rates of change,” says Martin Sharp, a glaciologist at the University of Alberta.

Derksen says that scientists need to understand why the observed changes do not match up with the projections of widely used models. He found that the snow-cover projections generated by the climate models being used in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underestimate the extent of spring snowmelt in the Northern Hemisphere. “Even if we’ve become a bit more willing to be aggressive with the scenarios we use to drive these models, it still doesn’t seem to be enough to describe what we’re observing,” says Sharp. “We end up being conservative.”

And what to think of this one from CBCnews: Alaska storms could be linked to loss of Arctic sea ice

It's starting to seep into the collective consciousness...

L. Hamilton

"It's starting to seep into the collective consciousness..."

I mentioned earlier that about 60% of respondents on our recent statewide poll thought that future Arctic warming was likely to have "major effects" on the weather where they live.

If you break that down, there is no significant variation by gender, age or education. There's a huge political effect on belief in weather effects from Arctic warming, however.




I wonder how Sandy has altered perceptions. My feeling (from outside the country) is that reissuing the questions from your earlier paper might show the same demographic splits, but with a larger percentage realising that something is wrong.

60% thinking they will see major effects locally is encouraging & may indicate that the most effective arguments made so far have been those focusing attention on Arctic sea ice as the canary.


L. Hamilton

"I wonder how Sandy has altered perceptions. My feeling (from outside the country) is that reissuing the questions from your earlier paper might show the same demographic splits, but with a larger percentage realising that something is wrong."

Stay tuned. We'll ask the same question again on the next iteration of our poll, which will probably be in January. Of course by then other events will occur, perhaps a warm or cold winter.

If results from the first two polls are interesting, I'll try to continue asking this question in the future to watch for change.


apologies if the following from J. Francis has already been mentionned (answering to a question from Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times:

"The jet stream pattern — particularly the strongly negative NAO and associated blocking — that has been in place for the last 2 weeks and is projected to be with us into next week is exactly the sort of highly amplified (i.e., wavy) pattern that I’d expect to see more of in response to ice loss and enhanced Arctic warming. Blocking happens naturally, of course, but it’s very possible that this block may have been boosted in intensity and/or duration by the record-breaking ice loss this summer. Late-season hurricanes are not unheard of either, but Sandy just happened to come along during this anomalous jet-stream pattern, as well as during an autumn with record-breaking warm sea-surface temperatures off the US east coast. It could very well be that general warming along with high sea-surface temperatures have lengthened the tropical storm season, making it more likely that a Sandy could form, travel so far north, and have an opportunity to interact with a deep jet-stream trough associated with the strong block, which is steering it westward into the mid-Atlantic. While it’s impossible to say how this scenario might have unfolded if sea-ice had been as extensive as it was in the 1980s, the situation at hand is completely consistent with what I’d expect to see happen more often as a result of unabated warming and especially the amplification of that warming in the Arctic"

Maybe another prerequisite for Sandy was the mysteriously aborted El Nino, as El Nino wind shear might have killed Sandy in the Caribbeans:
"This year is totally unique in the 63 years we've been keeping statistics on El Niño. Never before has an El Niño event begun to form in July and August, then quit in mid-September."
-NOAA's Mike Halpert on the unprecedented onset and demise of El Nino in 2012.

Protege Cuajimalpa

The NSIDC 2012 November analysis is now public. I cannot understand why 2012 SIE October average is above 2007, if the first fifteen days of October-2012 where substantially below 2007, while the last second part of the month where just slightly above 2007.
Other thing that I notice is that DMI Centre of Ocean and Ice change their values at their graph. While they explain the nature of the change (“The plot above replaces an earlier sea ice extent plot, that was based on data with the coastal zones masked out. This coastal mask implied that the previous sea ice extent estimates were underestimated.”), it seems to me that the stats change a lot. I cannot believe that 2012 minimum change from ~ 2.5 to ~3.9.
Does anybody have the answer to these questions?
For reference, see:


Protege: I cannot understand why 2012 SIE October average is above 2007

You are right that the daily values for October 2012 average to a value less than October 2007:

2007 2012
6.0152 5.8275

The reason that the NSIDC monthly values differ is (I believe) because they are calculated differently with respect to the 15% cut-off.

There was a nice explanation in a comment on this blog when the September averages were published. I will see if I can find a link.


Here you are:


Chuck Yokota

No new comments are visible to me since November 3, although I see from the recent comments sidebar that more are being posted.

Chuck Yokota

Ah, that made the next page icon appear.

Protege Cuajimalpa

Hi Wipneus:

I have been thinking if the 5 day average that NSIDC uses could make the difference between the daily graph and the October month average, but at this moment, I believe that there is an inconsistency between what they report daily and the October monthly average.
If we visually analyze the graph, we found more or less 11 days that the 2012 October value was approximately 250,000 km2 above the 2007 October value, but the other 20 days the 2012 value was under 2007. Even if removing the 5 day average would mean that we have to remove the first 5 October days, where the 2012 value was substantially under the 2007 value, these days would be replaced by 5 days that the graph shows at the beginning of November, in which 2012 is also under 2007.
So for me it is very difficult to believe that 2012 October average was 230,000 km2 above 2007, when only 11 days where 250,000 km2 above 2007, and the 20 other days where under 2007 (some of the 2012 days substantially below 2007).
So, there is an inconsistency on the NSIDC November analysis.

I don’t know how to include a graph in a Typepad comment, but here is a link to the graph which explains what I mean:


Best regards,

Juan C. García



I already said you are quite right, the daily values and those in the NSIDC graph which are 5 day averages, have a lower monthly October average for 2012 than 2007.

BUT: the NSIDC monthly averages, as quoted in the report, are calculated differently.

Protege Cuajimalpa

Hi again, Wipneus:

The point is that I do not believe that the difference is because NSIDC applies a different calculation procedure. Being clear, I believe that there is a huge mistake on the NSIDC November analysis (blasphemy!).
NSIDC says that 2012 October average is 7 million km2, but this average is overestimated. According to their daily graph, the October average should be from 5.7 to 6.3 million km2.




My understanding of the calculation is that you should consider the following
Grid point 1:
day 1 - day 25 = 0% ice
day 27-31 = 100% ice
Grid average = 5/31 ~= 0.161%

The ice extent greatly overstates the health of the ice in the Spring and the Fall, since a point with 100% ice for 5 days of the month is considered to have ice.

Wipneus, did I get this right?



That is my understanding as well. If it is enough to explain the more than 1 million km2 difference, I don't know.

Chris Biscan

The Atlantic side is in peril.

Overall there is clearly a fundemental base line being reached with heat retention and heat being pumped into the system up there causing Fall Ice to start to fall off as well.

Espen Olsen


October 6th 2012: 8.182.813 km2 or 6,3% less than 2007 same date: 8.736.563 km2


Hello everybody.

Here's an interesting paper about salinity changes through years.


Basicaly, it's another proof that mankind has impacted the entire planet, including ocean temperature and salinity. It gives hints about how salinity might evolve in the future. That might help to imagine what will be ocean currents, temperature, climate changes, extreme events... and artic sea ice features.

By the way, since it's my first post, I need to congratulate Neven about this blog. I found it last july. It's just amazing and the more usefull website about climate changes.

Folks, keep it alive until Artic Ice is gone (or even later since this is coming so fast).


We are examining winter weirdness and anomaly.
Adding opinion to change as described on Wayne’s eh2r blog.

Enough has been said on negative NAO and weird storm tracks. This is on anomaly.

On 5 November we see 25% of the seas under the dark Polar night area still open. It used to be just 10%, mostly in the Barentsz Sea.
Let’s not take the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas into account. Then we see the Barentsz/Kara region and the adjacent Arctic Basin 500K under 2007 and 300K under last year! On a side note: the Baffin Bay has 250K less than both these years, which is as impressive.

Meanwhile, the first decade of November produced more of the atmospheric anomalies we saw during October. The relative high 500Mb potential SE of Greenland and over Taymir cooperate with relative low potential over the Norwegian Sea. This promotes mean southerly flow into the Barentsz region.

A preliminary recap.
A fast refreeze over freshened stretches of the Arctic Ocean resulting from the record melt season. It stalled two weeks ago, where temp and salinity anomalies got too strong.
Regular blocking and jet-stream meandering intermittently prohibit a normal Polar winter to establish.
OSDPD SST anomaly for 5 November fits well. Large warm anomalies compared to last year in the Labrador, Okhotsk, Beaufort, Kara and Barentsz Seas. No (not much) ice in Baffin Bay.

This set-up to be continued, chances are small for normal winter sea ice extent. Not to speak of volume…


Hi Werther, et al,


The Chukchi Sea is now showing a positive anomaly:


In the course of the last year, virtually every region has shown a record anomaly. The one really unusual one though, is the Bering Sea...


This had both a POSITIVE record anomaly and an outright record of ice cover (in April). It now has very low SSTs, as does all of the North Pacific.

Looking at the the CT area plot...


This phenomenon shows up. In January, there was very little ice on the Atlantic side, and it looked like we might well have a record low minimum. But the ice area in the Bering Sea kept growing and growing, and by March/April the area nearly reached the average line, prompting Ice Age Alert fears in the usual quarters.

Are we going to get a replay? Is there a consistent change of pattern?


Evening Idunno,
You pointed at the Bering sea being anomalously cold. As it is a sort of a loner in the large range of relatively warm seas, I’ve been checking OSDPD back to 2000.
I did some Reanalysis with the NCEP/NCAR composites, too, back to 2006.

So here’s my guess. The last time the Bering Sea was relatively warm was November ’06. Since, the Bering always was 1 or 2 dC colder than the climo. Only Nov 09 looked neutral.
ENSO? There may be a connection. El Nino-years: Bering tends to be warmer.

Then the reanalysis. The period jan-nov shows positive anomaly on geopotential 500Mb and SLP in 06 and 09.
The other years show negative anomaly. The center differs: Western Alaska, Gulf of Alaska, Pacific coast. The configuration during these years tend to favour northern winds over the Bering.

This year, SST anomaly is lower than Nov 11. The configuration mentioned above was strong. Higher SLP near Kamtchatka and lower geo over the Alaskan Gulf. The config also supports southern winds over the Sea of Okhotsk, which could explain that Sea being anomalously warm.

The ocean component could be upwelling of cold Pacific bottom water as an aspect of the thermohaline circulation. There may very well be a connection with ENSO there, too.
Extrapolating the momentary situation into winter, I’d say we’re in for spectacular freezing in the Bering Sea.

But, as ‘nothing is a dead certainty’, could the faltering of El Nino be a phenomenon of volatility? Could that volatility also show in the Bering Sea later on? If a weak El Nino finally settles, upwelling in the Bering could diminish.
It could influence the position of ridges too, giving Alaska a milder winter than through 10 and 11.


How weird can this go?

I see the Polar vortex like it’s a four-lobed blob out of North Greenland. Negative Geo and SLP anomaly like a snake running out of Europe into the Arctic. Positive opposite SE of Greenland. The Arctic besieged by large high SLP’s over the Boreal landmasses. And the ‘Kara Bulge’ on the higher troposphere manifesting itself.

Models like GFS pointing at continuation of this weirdness, when it calls for yet another Sandy-like stormtrack in twelve days. Blog entries on anomalous cold fall weather in Scotland. Completely in line with the weird set-up! Likewise, Svalbard and Iceland are also on the cold side.

Meanwhile, Ostrov Vize and Frantsa Yosefa are still embedded in relatively warm Barentsz and Kara Seas, getting temps above freezing while in total darkness! Illustrating how ice extent is now the lowest ever for the date.

Not good! Show me this is not unusual…


This arrived at via a story on the sidebar:


Some first-hand reports of the wierdness found by USS Healy in October.


I agree Werther, the systems may be moving internally to well defined boundaries as you described. Lows stay prominent From Greenland sea to Kara Highs mainly hangout over Boreal forests. I wrote up a current mortem: http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/, as opposed to post-mortem because the open sea water persists.


And some further weirdness from Beaufort. This time, Shell...



What happens when a drilling rig meets a meethane plume?

James Lovejoy

Talking about wierd,temperature north of 80 degrees is about 10 degree celsius above 1958-2002 average. See:


Any ideas what's causing it, or speculation on when it will return to normal? When it touched the average about a month ago, I thought 'that's it' then it started going warmer than average again.

My totally unsophisticated estimate is that right now the ice pack is thickening at less than 1/2 the normal rate. Have I totally missed something with this?

What's this going to mean when melting begins May-June 2013?


Don't know where the right thread is for this. This is a series of beautiful photographs:




more along the same lines. This picture caught my eye this morning:


and here is a link to more of the same stuff from Nature Photographer of the Year in Denmark:


Please enjoy weirdness, when it's pretty.



Followed your link but got a not available screen - Did check out your entry from November 4th & was very impressed - Was this the entry you were trying to direct us to?



I’ve been hypothesizing on the weird phenomena, as they showed through October and November.
I suppose heat is relayed through the troposphere from the Tropics to the Arctic via regular, though anomalous transport corridors. They represent weaknesses in the Ferrell cell, which would normally tend to restrict mid-latitude air masses within its circulation. The weaknesses evolve on extreme ridging.

Part of the reasons why the Polar vortex is small and lopsided into the Atlantic is latent heat release by anomalous open water in the peripheral Arctic seas. Wayne gives an excellent insight there. Another is ocean heat influx.

The atmospheric volatility is dominant. I plan to summarize some of these phenomena that come up from the Daily Composites soon.

James, I think this will at least continue until the Kara and Barentsz Sea, as well as Baffin and Hudson Bay release heat and start freezing over. Winter can get colder still, but when the freeze is considered as a sort of banking account, it looks like there’s not going to be much credit there.


Looks like northern Bering sea have stable negative SST anomaly at least during a year and maybe more. I don't understand how could it happened, where is all that warm water from Pacific? Is it some new tricky wheather pattern?


My un-scientific, amateur guess is that warm water from the north Atlantic is pushing north. The Gulf Stream is overshooting its landing zone, and pushing into the Arctic. This pushes water out the Bering Strait. Warm water in, cold water out. At least until the deep cold water of the Central Arctic Basin warms up or has been replaced.

Bernard Vatant

Speaking about the Gulf Stream what about the shutdown of thermohaline circulation hypothesis? We have been warned in Europe to be prepared to the weakening of the Gulf Stream and return of terrible icy winters. What we are seeing today seems to go exactly the other way round. Any recent works on this issue?

Mike Constable

Just seen this:-
- flow on the Missouri is too low because of the drought, the corps are going to release less water so even the lighter loaded barges won't be able to work. That threatens farming and industry that depend on the the barges for transport. If things seize up the weather (climate?) will have struck a bit of a blow against CO2 emissions!


Won't it mean use of lorries rather than barges and isn't that bad?


"Won't it mean use of lorries rather than barges and isn't that bad?"

More than bad - USA trucking (lorry) companies are complaining they're unable to find and hire drivers for their current freight operations.



how come the right hand column of this blog keeps posting a link to an obsolete Wall Street Journal article behind a pay wall, when links such as this one is available free of charge on a competing web site?


That is weird indeed!



Can you explain the relevancy of the year old article from Bloomberg?




Sorry, my mistake. I just read Nov 24 and thought it was fresh off the press yesterday.

I'll start reading more carefully, before I spread more noise on this blog.

My sincere apologies



P, that's an RSS feed that looks for news articles containing the combination of Arctic and "sea ice". My control doesn't go beyond that. Why some articles stay on top for so long (WSJ or Washington Post), I don't know. They probably keep refreshing the date of their articles.


Jack Taylor,

"Won't it mean use of lorries rather than barges and isn't that bad?"

Actually, much of what is shipped will become railroad traffic. It will add to the time and number of trains running north and south across the US. The lorries will be short haul to rail points. Still it will possibly not be able to move as much tonnage as the barge traffic.

The big problem is that we are developing a snow drought again this year in the US West. Without water replenishment, the US faces a major issue through the winter and perhaps next spring.

The Rutgers snow and ice anomaly shows the story.

Mike Constable

I put my Weatherbug link up above because of the following paragraphs:-

Barges carry 20 percent of the country's coal and more than 60 percent of its grain exports. Other cargo, including petroleum products, lumber, sand, industrial chemicals and fertilizer, also gets shipped along the Mississippi River.

Barge operators and those who ship on the Mississippi have warned that a shutdown would have disastrous economic consequences on those industries, with companies laying off workers if it lasts for any significant amount of time.

CO2 production is related to economic activity, if it is depressed there will tend to be less? Therefore wars and their preparations are probably big, unprofitable (for the environment) sources of CO2, judging by their size in national budgets!

Mike Constable

Just seen pictures of Pine Island Glacier on NASA Earth Observatory, calving cracks in about the same place 11 years apart. But look at the difference in sea ice 79 days earlier in the melt season!


Otto Lehikoinen

There's the 8th year anniversary coming up in two weeks (dec-10th). Any plans? Sure it's not something to celebrate much, but anyway. (subject: CT SIA continous negative anomaly)

Otto Lehikoinen

It looks like Antarctic CT SIA positve anomaly is today a yearling. Congrats!


Mike C

Thanks for keeping an eye on the PIG development over the years. However, after a quick look at the 11 year old January picture, I am sorry to say that this accompanying text is not precise:

"Sea ice abuts the floating glacier tongue except in three places along the front of the glacier. These ice-free areas are called polynyas. Polynyas are routinely present in these three locations when sea ice is present. The polynyas most likely form where warm ocean currents rise toward the ocean surface."

My interpretation is quite the opposite. It looks very much like three fresh (snow)meltwater pools, which have formed in the sea ice just off the three lowest points in the landscape (near the two margins of PIG and in the middle).

But again, this year's picture clarly shows that all the sea ice has been blown away from the PIG front by stronger katabatic winds.


Weird weather for last decade November – First decade December? This is the ECMWF stage.
Persistent strong lows over the Gulf of Alaska and the Kuril region. The Okhotsk Sea will be stormed ice free several times. Negative AO. Winter trying to seep into Europe via Scandinavia.

Nasty lows keep entering western Europe.

A particularly bad one is modelled for the 5th December. A deepening low north of Scotland on the way to the German Bight in the North Sea. It’s projected to deepen below 980 Mb, pulling in a large stormfield the full lenght of the British coastline. Hope that one doesn’t come true…


Where is my text ???



That theory about the polynyas formed by ocean currents comes from the cited paper by Bindschadler and others. There is a non-paywall copy here:


L. Hamilton

If the story hasn't been posted elsewhere, this is winter weirdness of a sort: a Norwegian gas tanker sets out on the first winter Arctic crossing:





Dear Yuha

Thank you for this reference. I do not dispute the effect of bottom melting in Antarctica and in Greenland.

I was referring directly to this image: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=76437 from 13 Jan 2001.

Against the upwelling mechanism proposed by Bindschadler et al (2011), I would refer to the following facts from their own paper:

1) “Freshwater pools” in the sea ice only occurs during the summer season, which indicate snow melt as the most likely source of this melting pattern
2) “Exiting flows” have been observed at depths of 300-800 m in front of the glacier, but no mechanism has been provided to explain the lift of this water to the sea surface
3) The location of these three “freshwater pools” does not change from year to year, which points in the direction of topography being a dominant factor
4) If three “freshwater rivers” actually existed in the voids under the PIG, they would be close to 0 deg C when appearing in front of the glacier and thus not show up as warms SST anomalies on the surface
5) The Landsat images provided, do not convince me that the three “warm freshwater pools” are consistently present throughout the summer in its entirety (including years without sea ice).
6) “Serendipitous” was the phrase used by the authors, when they described their modeling results. I had to look up this word, and the Oxford Dictionary says exactly what I think it is: “a fairy tale”

I hope, I did not offend any of the authors by writing this. We all learn through this blog, so thank you again for giving me this opportunity.

Kevin O'Neill

P-maker - 'Serendipitous' in common usage means 'by accident', usually a fortuitous accident.

Peter Ellis

P-maker: They are clearly open water, i.e. polynyas. They are far too dark to be melt pools. Melt pools over sea ice look greyish or blueish in visible wavelengths - you can see a margin of ponded sea ice all round the edge of the glacier tongue, which looks completely different to the polynyas.

It's grossly insulting to label work from peer-reviwed, pulished scientists as a "fairy tale" based on nothing more than your own boundless ignorance and gut feelings.

The quality of commentary on this blog really has taken a catastrophic downturn this year. I hope it clears up by next year or I'll just write it off like I do for YouTube and other such sinkholes.


Peter Ellis: i hope not. of course you are right on the matters of fact, as usual, but it's inevitable that as what is happening in the arctic attracts more attention, more people will come to this blog to learn about it. obviously it can be frustrating when people display a current lack of knowledge, and/or respect for people who know more than they do, but i hope you continue to share your understanding. particularly when people say things which are obviously wrong, because that's especially helpful :)



I think one of the things that distinguish this blog is the civility displayed - even toward those that are factually mistaken.
It's liberating to have a place to try out ideas without fear of ridicule, and a few of the new guys may not yet realize that it has to be reciprocal to work.

I'm guessing that by the time the melt season begins most of the rough edges will be worn off & things will be back to the way you remember. In the mean time, this probably isn't a bad season to be throwing some long passes to see if any of them are completed.

(football metaphor in honor of local Grey Cup win)



Peter Ellis

I had no intention of labelling these phenomena "melt pools". I totally agree that it is clearly open water.

What I tried to communicate was, that these open pools in the sea ice could have been created by snow melt from the glacier and NOT from up-welling ocean water - hence the apostrophes around the temporary phrase "freshwater pools".

Also thanks to Kevin. Language is a difficult thing to handle, but we need it in order to communicate.

Jim Williams

P-maker, may I suggest the the Oxford English is great for native speakers and poets looking for the roots of a word, but that when it comes to the daily usage of a word doing a google search of "[word] definition" (E.g. serendipitous definition) is generally a better idea.

Mike Constable

As I read it, the deep 'warm' water is melting the PIG from below. Any melt would tend to float towards the surface as it would be less dense than seawater. The topography(?) of the underside of the ice-sheet then channels the melt to the positions of the polynyas, where this water may appear 'warm' at 0C when compared with ice melting in seawater?.
One feature that struck me from the Earth Observatory image was this year's lack of sea-ice near the glacier, with traces of ice (or fog?) being blown away from the glacier towards the remaining sea-ice further out - possibly indicating stronger katabatic winds to account for the increase in Antarctic sea-ice too?


Mike C,

That’s exactly my point! Those three open areas can only be “freshwater pools”. Whether they are the result of snow melt/surface runoff from the glacier – as I alluded to – or they are the result of bottom melt, as you claim – or a mixture of both – will most likely never be found out. 11 years ago the World was different and we have very few observations to support either hypothesis.

I hate to carry on lifting evidence out of the Bindschadler et al. paper, but it appears to me, that the model flow lines in their fig. 13a are from the exiting flow at 300-800 m depth. They also state very clearly, that the glacier has no detailed bottom topograhy in their model. Another detail, which I overlooked the first time, was the fact that no central polynya was formed in 2007/8 (see their table 3), when a large rift crossed the central part of the PIG. The authors speculate that “The middle polynya was never observed during
this season and, once the iceberg drifted away, no sea ice formed at the new ice front. It is likely that the rift disturbed the exiting flow of water which otherwise would have formed the middle polynya.” My simple answer to this would be, that the snow melt/surface runoff from the glacier plunged into the rift, and therefore no meltwater polynya could be maintained that summer at the ice front.

Your observation about the strong katabatic winds this year is however significant. If these persist for another few weeks, we will most likely see upwelling of 3-4 degrees C warm ocean water right next to the PIG front. That would be a scary scenario indeed, considering the already rifted appearance of this glacier.


Continuing to monitor weirdness, potentially related to sea ice loss.

It looks like the 'whack' is at hand now. After two months of continuous anomalous weather in different NH regions, the general pattern is about to change radically.
The strong, small polar vortex is splitting (see Daily Composites 25th Nov) and the process seems to be parallel in the very cold stratosphere (maybe a Sudden Stat. Warming?). This being realised, sets the stage for a severe cold snap this winter and multiple blocking events.

It will take time to tell if and how this relates to specific SIE/SIV loss. That AGW is involved, should be evident. I look forward to credible analysis on the relation to sea ice and the faltering El Nino.

What could come out of this for the sea ice winter regrowth? Not much good, I fear. Conditions have been warmer than usual up to now and they will remain that way.
Even if we see SIE growth through Bering, Hudson, Ochotsk and Kara FYI.

Espen Olsen


November 27 2012:
Dropping to 9.800.000 km2

from 9.824.375 km2,

only 2006 was lower on this date at
9.576.406 km2


Espen, I suspect that the IJIS data will be revised in a day or two. They occasionally do that, and the round number is suspicious.


Donald the frequency of round numbers is mainly due to all numbers being a multiple of 156.25 (12.5*12.5) so about every 64th day the number ends with four zeros. 5 zeros should be every 640 days. Last two that I see are 15 Sept 2011 and 16 March 2010 so the gaps are only 14.5 and 18 months. A little more frequent than expected but this is extremely weak evidence that it is suspicious.


crandles, thanks.

Espen Olsen

From Aftenposten, Norwegian Daily:

Scientists have found reason to sudden cold shock in Europe, the text is in Norwegian use translator!


Russell McKane

It appears that the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) major crack is now complete. The ship has disengaged all it needs now is to slip glacially into the bay.
The following picture is from The Aqua images from 27th November.

It as been contrast enhanced using paintshop pro - curves.


Morning Russell,

Good call! I was planning to have a look this morning but saw you come out.
This affirms my suspicions I put in the 'methane' thread on the 18th.

Waiting for the headlines now.


On Pine Island Glacier.

CAD comparison showed the glacier front having moved app. 450 m in the skewed length axis-direction since 23 October. The crack did the same fora bout 300 m, widening in the process from 400 to 700 m and connecting with the NW side of the glacier.

The direction of movement is straight. There’s a difference with the Peterman calvings; these rotated immediately when the dissection was complete. My guess is that the PIG front is much thicker and the calving part is still (partly) grounded or in contact with the bottom slope. The crack could be tilted, like a geological fault-line, which would force the calving part to gradually slide off and accelerate very slowly over the steady tempo the glacier advances in general.

The calving has an area of about 830 km2. At a thickness of maybe 400 m it would contain an incredible 330 km3!



Look at the 28 november UNI-Bremen map.

A new freshly formed heat polynia to the North-Eastern coast of Greenland.

No wonder as there is a "hot spell" there that started at the 27th of November. Maximum temperature [-1 °C] no less than 23 °C above average! As you can see at the Wunderground charts.


Kris, hi,
The AVHRR images on DMI confirm that. It fits with the splitting Polar vortex and negative AO. Intrusion of less cold air into the high Arctic, spread of built-up cold over the continents.
Interesting times…

Jim Hunt

Well Werther,

Temperatures are certainly not 23 °C above average over here in soggy South West England! The impromptu lakes and the roads are frozen this morning The truck carrying my heating oil made it through thankfully.

How long do you predict these conditions will last?


Hi Jim,

My colleagues, my wife, not even my daughter think I’m credible. I’ve speculated on flooding of the Rhine (hasn’t happened since the last high flowrate spring 1998), on 15 cm SLR in 10 years (still waiting…), on a cold blast December ’11 (came at least 7 weeks late) and to quote the daughter ‘You said all the Arctic SI would melt’ (she was teasing with my words, but in fact it wasn’t that far besides reality).

So in this cold spell… I wouldn’t be surprised to see 2010-11 repeated.
Keep watching the Daily Composites for recent trend and GFS/ECMWF to have a clue.

For weirdness-clues… watch SST’s in the N Hemisphere, Hudson, Kara, Okhotsk and Bering freeze, the Polar vortex/ENSO complex relationship and the CO2/CH4 measurements.

Never overlook that last part. It may not be scientifically supported, but I often wonder on the GGas performance.
There's a 'rubberband'-effect in their manifestations, so we haven't yet felt the consequences of the last say 20 years of the rise. Add to that my fear that each ppb now is actually accelerating these manifestations... and it's going up faster and faster...

Chris Reynolds


Have you read Cohen's paper on the 2009/10 winter?
Check out the process described in Results & Discussion, now that you're using NCEP/NCAR it might make some sense.

Right now there's a bipolar temperature set up at 50mb (strato), NCEP/NCAR.

This year saw a rapid advance of snowline in October (Rutgers). It's later than I expected but there's a massive high developing next week over Siberia with intense cold (GFS ECWMF).

Does the similarity of the stratospheric set up - despite it being opposite mean the AO will plummet again, and we'll have another severe winter? I don't know, but the situation is interesting when following Cohen's paper.

The major thing I'm missing in my tool kit is I don't know how to track wave activity fluxes using NCEP/NCAR.

With regards your last comment. Two sets of researchers have pinned the lack of AGW in the past decade on suphate aerosols, ENSO and solar activity. Yet during that time we've seen the Arctic crash, methane pulse, weather disasters increase. What will happen when the warming we've missed out on gets back on track?

Chris Reynolds

Oops should have said - see Cohen figure 2c with regards the stratospheric set up I link to - and give the NCEP/NCAR link a while to work, it's direct to the site, not an image.


Morning Chris,

Last evening you introduced some new terms in the discussions. I had to search for ‘wave-activity flux’. As I chaotically immerse myself into climatology, I have to step back every now and then.

What is the focus? To get a clue how heat forcing travels through atmosphere (and ocean) to contribute to Arctic (and, eventually, Antarctic) change.

Why is that relevant (for an amateur)? Because the modelled, science predicted change seems to be outpaced by reality.

What’s the purpose? To be able to convince people that (local) policy on climate change, based on IPCC targets, is very probably too conservative and inadequate.

I suggested earlier in the threads that Rossby waves ‘ transferred heat’ on the extremes of ridging. This sort of musing occurs to me also on how signals (heat) are relayed between tropo- and stratosphere. That’s why I think this ‘wave-activity flux’ is worth reading into.

Meanwhile, I checked on the 50 Mb 2711 mean (Chris’ NCEP/NCAR pic above); the anomaly dipole high in the stratosphere. It occurs both in temp and pressure. It also appears near the tropopause (250 Mb), but doesn’t show in temps.
Mid-troposphere; the split parallels in both atmospheric layers. Ridging out of the oceans is intense. The cold ‘sinks’ are over the continents (Mongolia, Nunavut).

What does this signify? Extreme negative AO settling? An anomalous SSW?

Chris Reynolds

Hi Werther,

My focus is to try to see if I can track the progression of the process Cohen outlines using NCEP/NCAR. If I can do this I can watch such an event unfold. Out of the recent winters this year looks closest to 2009/10. But without WAF I can't fully track the process.

The IPCC is too conservative, and will probably remain so IMO. I've been discussing this with Arctic.io recently.

Jim Hunt

Thanks to Kris (and Enno on another thread) for the collective heads up. My own take on all this winter weirdness:


"We know, with uncertainties of course but with a pretty good measure, how the climate will develop and this is the basis for decisions to be taken for society, by the society and by the politicians.

We have to be aware of these influences that human behaviour has on the climate and we are now able to predict what is going to happen if we behave in this sort of way."


Does anyone know the name of the polynia off Cape Morris Jesup, or how frequently it forms?


Jim Hunt

I'm no expert I'm afraid Terry, but this one appears to be "just around the corner" from the Northeast Water Polynya:


Russell McKane

Exciting week for me and perhaps you, This week is the start of the UGS Fallmeetings which includes many video on demand sessions and live webcastes from the latest science in many areas but there are a lot of sessions of Cryosphere and areas of interest to this Blog.
Check out the program here
Follow links to on demand - this has a 48 hr delay so by Wednesday US time plenty will be available to view.

IN the mean time you could follow COP18 Doha Here http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop18/templ/ovw_onDemand.php?id_kongressmain=231 but it may just give you an idea wh nothing is happening fast at the international leve- I recommend the on demand press conferences more than the general meetings.

Jim Hunt

Quite so Russell. For my somewhat cynical views on ever increasing emissions of "stupid hot air" please see:






A remarkable sample taken from NCEP/NCAR Daily Composites.
The Polar vortex completely split on 29 November (at least in the mid-troposphere).



The Artic Parade has been updated to the 1st of December 2012 -

In respect to previous years it very much looks like:

- Hudson Bay is right on average whereas the neighbouring Baffin bay is quite a bit under average.

- Bering Strait and Chuckchi Sea are a tad above average.

- Barentz- and Kara seas are awfully under average,

- The 2007 "void" in the Chuckchi Sea has been virtually "moved" to the Barentz- and Kara seas.

By the way, the heat polynia at Greenland's Northern coast still is present.
Minimum temperatures of -10 °C apparently aren't cold enough to have it frozen back again.

Well, after all, in that region -10 °C still is a staggering 14 °C above avarage.

Jim Hunt

Hi Kris,

That polynia is indeed still visible in your December parade, and also in some quite clear images on my own blog, courtesy of DMI/NOAA. You've obviously been following this sort of thing for much longer than I have. Have you ever seen anything similar in that location previously. If so, when?!


I've been noticing the polynia off Cape Morris Jesup on the Environment Canada AVHRR images. HRPT Resolute Arctic Composite updates ~every 1/2 hour.

I don't recall it in 2010 or 2011. It seems to be a flip side of the NEW Polynia with strong southerly winds in Fram Strait and katabatic winds off Greenland having opened a large shore polynia. The very high temps in the area probably aren't helping it to heal.

Buoys in the area have reversed direction in the past few days with 409080 particularly heading north west at a high speed from just north of Independence Fjord.

It would be unusual for this large a polynia to not be named if it is in fact a regular feature.


Russell McKane

Correction - Sorry meant AGU fall meeting not UGS - Link above is right one though.

The comments to this entry are closed.