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Jim Williams

FrankD: "At this point, geoengineering is like grabbing another bucket to bail the sinking boat."

I'm more inclined to see it as taking another bucket and pouring sand into the boat -- maybe over the gaping hole, maybe not.

Given that by the natural cycle we'd be beginning into another ice age about now, if the geoengineering happened to be successful then I'd expect to be covered by an ice sheet before long. I simply don't believe we're wise enough to do the right thing.

We've made our bed. It's a bit lumpy. It's time to adapt to the shape.


the ultimate natural way to do this is through the rock-carbon cycle, specifically through the acceleration of the hydrological cycle and increased weathering of rock, which aturally sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere, washing it downstream to the ocean and turning it into safe limestone.

There is a Dutch scientist who is proposing a geo-engineering strategy that uses this process. He calls it acclerated weathering or aging. He has crushed rock into the equivalent of sand and spread it across large tracts of soil as a test. Measuring the amount of CO2 taken out of the atmosphere has just begun. The measurement process is proving to be tricky.

One added benefit is that this accelerated aging actually serves to enrich the soil for agriculture.

I Ballantinegray1

I find it a worry that so many folk seem to be thinking that a 'Sulphate Parasol' could be used to cool the pole.

When I look at the globally dimmed period, post WW2, where the U.S. and Europe went on their coal binge I find that the period when the worst of the problems were being washed out of our atmosphere appears to coincide with the fastest warming rates the planet has so far seen?

Did the Asian coal boom coincide with the alleged 'flat-lining of global temps (post 98)?

Have we lost the Arctic ice's extent/area over a period where we were globally dimmed by the Asian coal fest? (not to mention cool drivers and low solar) and if so what is set to occur as they (Asia) start to clean up their acts (with western help) by fitting similar scrubbers to their smoke stacks/towers?

If the 80's CO2 levels allowed for the rises in temps we saw then what scale of warming are we about to emerge out into?

And then what chance for the Arctic?



True, but it was always closed by fast ice for most of the year, Once in a while in the past huge mutti-year ice escaped through CAI channels, some even coming from Russian river mouths. Now these channels are mostly open during a longer time period. The way to save MYI is to have a very cold winter. As far as Fram Strait is concerned, it is obvious that this ice flowing out serves a purpose, it is needed for the THC, or the THC itself is pulling it out by the current it gives, It would be unwise to tamper with that.

By THC are you talking about the trans-arctic current? I don't have any idea how someone could close the Fram Strait and I said Nares and the CAA. I can think of a few ways to plug those up with an ice bridge. We should have grounded that piece of Petermann Glacier in Nares.

If you were talking about the trans-arctic current, don't worry about it, because arctic surface currents are basically just the predominant wind direction and they reverse when the weather tells them.



ThermalHaline Circulation, a monstrous sea current nearly covering the entire planet. One wonders what will happen if there is no more ice to feed it. I was thinking in terms of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (me bad not CAI) . The Natural current bringing ice through the Archipelago to Baffin Bay or Beaufort sea has equally
a purpose not necessarily understood. I think that when there is no ice between the channels MYI tries to cover it , in effect causing a natural ice dam protecting the larger pack. Closing the channels may be a good idea but we need to understand the system a little more, for now the ice clogs the channels relatively well. The trans Arctic Current is part and parcel of the THC because sea ice seems to go to Fram Strait no matter what winds may try to do otherwise.



I thought we might get some help from this volcano, but it's ash plume in only 9,800 feet above sea level and the volcano is 10,771 feet above sea level.


If you put sulfate aerosols in the troposhere it's acid rain, but high up in the stratosphere is what large volcanos do and it will cool the Earth for a couple years, because water seldom gets that high. I think they were considering high altitude balloons. I know the size of the aerosols is important and it would be a massive project to do the whole Earth.

The arctic and sub-arctic have a lot of clouds and fog in the summer. I think the albedo solutions are the best and that could even involve cloud seeding to make snow cover.


Hello Djprice, dear blogfriends,

Have you considered with what energy all that necessary rock has to be pulverized?

The problem with any sequestration, mitigation or containment is that it will cost lots of energy. It seems to me that any attempt to ‘undo’ 220 years of reckless release of fossil fuel energy would require some similar, monumental measures. In the process, it would also undo most material surplus our species has harvested since the beginning of exploration of coal, oil and gas.

It is inconceivable that seeding chemicals could easily result in reducing CO2 and methane to its pre-industrial level. I get an image of FI an fleet of planes, deployed on a scale of sortees that would dwarf WW II level airforce commitment for decennia (has to be offset also..). To me, that’s the scale to maybe have a sufficient effect (but not necessarily benign). Land-based ‘industries’ to continuously feed the atmosphere? That would require an equal staggering amount of energy invested.

It’s a sort of law of thermodynamics, the combined EROEI of the whole fossil fuel age would maybe be reduced to practically zero. All these decennia of cheap gains would have been worked out in vain (they probably are anyhow).

We have to stop emitting and radically quit the dumb burning of this wonderful planet’s assets. In the process it is inevitable to let go of what’s not sustainable (a lot, hardware as well as well-fare state arrangements). Meanwhile we could adapt to wacky new weather through a sort of ‘guerilla-gardening’: low investment, hard but honest labour, mobile enough to relocate for less worse opportunities and start all over again in case of temporary setbacks.

I’m not saying we will do this collectively and in free will. But we will be forced to do this, as a consequence of continued BAU. Considering that sad scenario, I have a gut feeling that forcing will be among us around the same time that we (I don't count myself in...) will witness the final stage of the collapse of the southern Greenland Icesheet. I ‘calculate’ that moment for 2050-’60 ( +50 cm SLR ).

We’d better start preparing now, even on a personal level.
Get skills, get practice… not I-phones…

Well, that's as undefeated as I can get.

If Wipneus is following this thread, I'd be very interested to see if he's done an early-bird "just-a-bit-of-fun, don't-take-it-too-seriously" forecast for September 2013?

Of course I did look at them. The exponential fit suggests a 2013 minimum of 1.9 (range -0.3 - 4.1) [1000 km3]

Like you said, I do not know yet how serious I am going to take this. First fully digest 2012 happenings.

Note that I prefer for volume the single day minimum where Larry uses he September average. The reason is that PIOMAS appears to be already smoothed enough.



Here is what I don't understand. It's like the Earth has terminal cancer and treatments are being rejected that have been proven to not have side effects. The Nares Strait was closed by an ice bridge most of my life and so was the CAA plugged up with sea ice. Volcanos went off in my lifetime that cooled the Earth.

I don't see the Earth coming up with a negative feedback that could prevent it from becoming Hothouse Earth. It takes a lot of heat to melt ice and once melted, that same amount of heat can quickly raise the temperature. If you raise the global temperature 1 degree C, you get 7% more water vapor and water is a very potent greenhouse gas. We don't want permafrost loss, snow cover loss, sea ice loss and all those additional greenhouse gases. It isn't going to put us in an ice age to cut back on the thermostat. The Earth is warming too quickly for it to be done safely and we should work to prevent it.

I've looked at arctic currents and never saw them contributing to thermohaline circulaton. The currents I found in the arctic are wind driven. Closing Nares and the CAA has been done and we can't close the Fram Straits to my knowledge. I've seen sea ice drifting back towards the arctic in the Fram Straits. It just generally doesn't go in that direction.


Hello blogfriends

Although I do not have the knowledge that most of you have I remember an interview of Dr. Cecilia Blitz at RadioEcoshock (already mentionned somewhere else in this blog as it includes interview of J Francis and M Serreze)
and her thoughts about geoenginnering in general (while also explaining the bad side effect of adding sulfur in the upper atmosphere, like depleting the ozone layer and drying the climate):
"there is a good chance there might be something we don't expect that is not favourable, It worries me, I would have a hard time arguing that this is a benefit or a good idea even in the face of dramatic sea ice loss"
This is the humility of a scientist who knows the limit of our knowledge on the complexity of the climate system, and she knows what she talks about (Associate Professeur at the Atmospheric Science Department of University of Whashington, physicist of the Polar Science Center... famous for its PIOMAS...). More generally maybe we should stop thinking that we humans have the power to model and remodel the earth as we want... as we have been trying to do recently and we all know the results.
C. Blitz also explains why the Antarctic sea ice is growing, which is worth listening.
It seems that an array of other leading scientists do not put forward geoenginneering as they suspect the likely unknown to who knows what, as far as I know this not defended by J. Francis and lots of others...


There is a Dutch scientist who is proposing a geo-engineering strategy that uses this process. He calls it acclerated weathering or aging.

That could be Emeritus professor Schuiling and the mineral olivine. Earths mantle consists of olivine, there should be sufficient quantities to be quarried.


Prof Schuiling is also know for an idea to pump sulfuric acid (from industrial waste) into lime stone layers deep under the Netherlands. Lime is converted to gypsum that is more voluminous. The expanding layers would lift the Dutch surface above sea level, making expensive dikes unnecessary.

Chris Reynolds


I've previously checked the NCEP/NCAR SST plots for the end of September, I've just redone for 1 - 7/10/12. However what I've just seen hasn't changed what I'd concluded from the previous viewing of those plots.

The anomaly from the mean depends on the long term mean for each grid point. During that long term mean the grid points were mainly covered in ice and had very low temperatures, down to the order of 269k, or -13degC. As the ice recedes further into this region relatively minor temperatures masquerade as extreme anomalies, because they're working off the baseline of the skin temperature of the climatological presence of ice.

So extreme lows in extent/area lead to extreme anomalies by virtue of the extreme nature of area/extent, not necessarily temperature per se.

This can be seen in 2007 most strongly, where the anomaly has a hard edge right where the ice edge was in the first week of October. Which is because within the pack temperatures are closer to the climaotlogical mean skin temperature. But at theSiberian end of that anomaly area the edges of bands in the anomalies follow the baseline plot.

I should have mentioned, you can see the baseline plot by selecting 'Climo' against the options for Plot Type.

The process in play will settle this issue finally, but on balance I think the anomalies we're both seeing are more an artefact of the baseline than giving real information about conditions 'on the ground'. That's why I concentrated on the closing of CT area between 2007 and 2012 as indicative of energy that needs to be lost before freeze over can ocur.

Sorry for not peppering this reply with appropriate images but I'm feeling rather unwell and don't feel up to the work involved.

Chris Reynolds

Forgot to add, if like me you manually scale to allow interannual comparison remove that selection before viewing the baseline. I know it's obvious but I often forget and it leads to a monotone map.

Chris Reynolds


I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly...

Has anyone figured out the legal problem as well? Say some group of governments do embark on some scheme. What would their liability be for any delterious effects?


Let a lone the goverments who want the ice where the pepper grows!

Jim Williams

Chris Reynolds: "Geoengineering?

I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly..."

Talk about hitting the nail on the head!!!

What shall we do when the seeding works and the Earth's average temperature falls by 3 degrees?

Jim Williams

Chris Reynolds: "Geoengineering?

I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly..."

Talk about hitting the nail on the head!!!!

What shall we do when the seeding works and the Earth's average temperature falls by 3 degrees?

Chris Reynolds

Rather than be negative, I'll offer what I think is the most likely attainable option to get ourselve out of the pickle we're in.

In the 1960s with primitive technology* the US repeatedly put people on the moon. That should put into context what we need to do now to deal with the two issues of AGW and Peak Oil. *It really was primitive, I know, I've worked in telecoms engineering since the 1980s.

We need a worlwide, massively funded, push to get alternative energy. Renewables like wind, solar and wave will be part of the mix, but there is ample reason to beleive they're not the whole answer. Ultimately we need to crack the sort of energy provision that can provide a long term supply for the industrial world. Uranium (and possibly Thorium) fission reactors can provide a bridge, but Uranium is a limited resource, expensive to mine, and Thorium presents the same problems of waste and processing. So getting fusion working needs to be the major concern of our species over the next few decades. Stuff going to Mars, stuff further space exploration and large super-colliders, stuff geoengineering to save regions like the Arctic. While we still have relatively cheap oil, gas and coal, the survival of our civilisation demands our attention. Should we fail or delay further we face the real risk of sliding back from the heights we have attained, forever.

If we have a steady input of long term energy we can weather the worst impacts of AGW and reduce impacts by leaving oil, gas, and coal for what we should have been doing with them all along: Chemistry. Fusion power is the only way I can see of averting a century of catastrophe and economic and social recession.


If there's one thing the 'experiment' has shown so far it is this: Our climate is far more subtle and unstable than we had thought. We're awaking a large and potentially dangerous animal from it's fitful slumbering during the holocene, prodding it with new sticks is very unlikely to improve its mood and predictability.

Jim Williams

I don't think that, as a species, we are up to it. Dealing with the problem requires a pattern of behavior totally at odds with the "Big, Strong, and Fast wins" mentality which we have been evolved to within small groups. We simply do not have to social cohesion of ants.

Lars Kaleschke

Here you find some good information about the enhanced weathering method. Although it might sound good at a first glance, reducing the ocean acidification and removing CO2 from the atmosphere at the same time, it seems not to be a suitable treatment.


Chris Reynolds


What about the cohesion that forms when a group is faced with peril? In this respect the Arctic may just turn out to be what is needed to make people concerned for their offspring wake up. It may not be, which is not of great importance. We may consider it important, but in the great scheme of things we're but another species. What we're doing is just another mass extinction, out of which an equally wonderful ecosystem will emerge through just another evolutionary radiation.

In the intelligence test we face the current events in the Arctic are a warning light. If we're too stupid to recognise a warning for what it is, then our civilisation is worthless and deserves to be selected out.

We should not allow ourselves the luxury of denial. What we are going through is an intelligence test.


I prefer this solution to injecting stuff into the ground to make the Earth rise (won't that make the surface fall elsewhere - the way isostatic uplift does?)


At least this way, surface area at the seacoasts that is lost to SLR could be replaced as needed........
The "islands" had better have good anchors, though, and plenty of Dramamine.......



Are you sure J. Francis isn't talking about the bad side effect of adding sulfur in the upper atmosphere by using aircraft?


The only practical way I know how to do that with an aircraft is use a KC-135 Stratotanker, which can reach 50,000 feet. You would have to add SO2 or SO3 in a manner to disperse it, because you want separation between particles and as small as you can get, hence use gases. The mitigation of sulfur to CO2 is on the order of one to several hundred thousand, so an estimate of the weight of material needed to counter unwanted CO2 can be estimated.


I've pointed out to Denialistas many times, there is a price to pay for both action and inaction. I believe CO2 and deforestation were the main forcing that started global warming, but once started I believe the only negative feedback the Earth can give is cloud formation. By the time that permafrost gives up it's carbon, the temperature should be much higher than the IPCC estimates. Since when have they been right? It's not just an issue of losing the arctic sea ice, but snow cover and permafrost. I think it will eventually cost us Greenland and WAIS, which is going to take out a lot of cities and land.

I don't think it's human arrogance to use sulfur under these circumstances and I don't think whitewashing geoengineering is wise. I mentioned building sea ice and preventing it's loss and that is geoengineering. At first I just asked if anyone heard of such an idea, but I did find out it has been proposed in a much different way. Biochar and cloud formation are geoengineering, as well as planting new growth forests.



Hello Chris,
Thanks for your response. I admire your patient and thorough approach. I do not always agree with your conclusions. But that stimulates me in looking for more detail. However, time is limited...
Thanks for showing me the Climo-option.
Your remark on former ice cover that almost automatically triggers major anomaly is right. It was a subject earlier in the life of Neven's blog, too.
On making comparison...I fit these graphs in CAD under a carefully scaled topography of the Arctic. It is fitted with the MODIS grid, too. It enables me to fix and compare lots of detail. The scaling on a NH Polar Stereography works well up to 60dN. Further south area gets distorted too much.
I'll get back on this. See ya!



"I've looked at arctic currents and never saw them contributing to thermohaline circulaton. The currents I found in the arctic are wind driven. Closing Nares and the CAA has been done and we can't close the Fram Straits to my knowledge. I've seen sea ice drifting back towards the arctic in the Fram Straits. It just generally doesn't go in that direction."

The winds make a small dent compared to the current which seems to have less influence over ice circulation to Fram Strait, especially if you look at Neven's vids. If only wind driven the Beaufort Gyre should have turned counter clockwise after all these cyclones of summer past. But the thermohaline current is like a liquid vacuum cleaner, it is literally strong and huge, It coincides with West Greenland incredible at times Southward winds. Sea current at some locations is more important than I once thought.

Before blocking Nares strait one must consider if it is worth it, the amount of ice going through is a small fraction of Frams flushing and there is the implications with Smith Sound Polynya further South where in the dead of winter thousands of whales find all its open water necessary to survive. Icebergs may be in part responsible for breaking up the ice there....


Chris Reynolds

Thorium MSRs show the best promise and they can't meltdown. They can also get rid of radioactive waste and aren't good for nuclear proliferation.


On alternatives…

I have often wondered why our collective governments don’t arrange all possible effort to get fusion going.
That being acknowledged, the comparison to the US dash for the Moon in the sixties is attractive. But it should be clear that that endeavour was possible under the maximum EROEI enjoyed through the full fossil fuel age. And, if my recollection is right, it wasn't even a substantial part of the US GDP at the time.

Very soon no society shall have the sort of spare capital to do anything similar. The necessary funds could be ruthlessly relocated to do it, but that would probably be accompanied by the end of democracy. At least, parliamentary democracy under divided executive power.

On the philosophical side, it is interesting to validate whether Chris’ “heights we have attained” are really worth living for. Well, I guess I have idealised Jean Auel’s stories to much…

Right, off topic...back to the Mean Composites...

Chris Reynolds

Thanks Werther,

If there is a substantial delay in refreeze I'll reconsider my position, should only be until later next month before the answer should be in. I wish we still had JAXA's AMSR-E.
I do my comparisons using 'alt-tab', yours seems a better method.

Thanks, I keep meaning to read more detail on these technologies, but never have the time. The way things are going at work I may not have the time even to keep up to date on the Arctic the way I have been.


I think Werther's post further up is a great summary of our predicament.

It’s a sort of law of thermodynamics, the combined EROEI of the whole fossil fuel age would maybe be reduced to practically zero.

It may be even worse than this. Burning things is taking things from a highly concentrated energy state to a lower, more dispersed state. All the FF carbon was/is very concentrated, in tiny areas of volume relative to the top few miles of the Earth's crust taken in total.

Now this carbon is effectively everywhere, and we are thinking, hmm, how can we counteract its effects? How much energy is that going to take?

Maybe it would be good to think about just how much energy, and time, went into getting the carbon from its previously dispersed low energy state into the concentrated FF state in the first place. As a guesstimate, approximately a hundred million years of sunlight and photosynthesis went into that process. How much energy is that? It could be roughly calculated, but I am sure it is unimaginably enormous.

So, we burn it, get the goodies, and then think, OK, let's find a way to put the genie back in the bottle. Barring the sudden intervention of alien technology, that is probably not going to happen.

Then we think about the need to stop burning the FFs, or at least not so much - and then when we think about how much energy will be required to build and maintain the thorium reactors, solar installations and zillions of other alternatives necessary to maintain a state of energy flow even close to where we are now.

And then... I think we are adaptable and clever enough to survive and possibly even thrive on some reduced population level even in the Hothouse, but that is about as undefeated as I can get at the moment.


If we could build huge vats at sea some using seacrete and some encased in permanent formwork, and thus impervious to the acidic effect of co2, we could dump/ confine our waste and use the energy of the wind tides and waves[+ sunlight] to create electricity to provide light, feed the light to algae and rely upon the algea to digest our waste, creating vast carbon dumps in the process. These would inevitably ferment creating ch4 which we could burn, feeding the co2 to the algae, and power to the grid. We could use coal in power stations built above these vats dumping the carbon and solid wastes as food for the algae. Planting fast growing trees/bamboos on wasteland, marginal land or even roadside could add enormously to the amount of carbon available to dump in such vats. We could even burn the problematic wastes that are the currency of so much environmental crime, knowing that the toxic effluent is contained at our pleasure,[along with the co2], and worked on by the algae. My understanding is that you need about 19bar and ?c temp. to change dead algae into crude oil,so once you have dead algae at sufficient depth all you need to do is blast it with microwaves[for how long?]to 'cook' it, and hey presto crude! Cities built in modules at sea as floating seacrete islands, in areas with reliable trade winds and towed to less stormy climes where they can grow, and prosper, are possible. http://www.build.new-
atlantis.org/seacrete.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biorock
Of course it all depends on what structural engineers view as neccasary as to whether it's feasable.
Looking around our [european] coasts it's clear that algae is already on the case we just have to learn to cooperate.


Thanks Smaug (free from The Hobbit),

I like how you put part of my comparison in that vast geological perspective.
Meanwhile, I've been working the mean S'kin Surface Temps for the first week of October 2007, 2012 and climatic mean 1981-2012 in CAD.
I did <-18dC, <-10dC, <0dC and <+4dC.
First, to get the complete pic I should work that out for the complete Arctic Ocean, 15.66 Mkm2.
Second: enclosed by +4, 2007 was app. on the climatic mean, 11.3 Mkm2. This year, 2012, that area was 9.5 Mkm2


The climatic mean is -10dC over that 11.3 Mkm2 (mind, first week October!)
For 2007 I calculated -4.3 dC
For 2012 I get -6.2 dC, that gets compensated to -5.3 when the area warmer than 2007 in taken in the calculation.

The difference in area is in the Labrador Sea/Baffin Bay, the East Greenland-, Barentsz- and Kara Seas.

My prelim take is that Chris Reynolds has a point that the surface skin contains less heat than in 2007. The cold is especially deeper north of Ellesmere and Greenland now.

OTOH, the Atlantic side shows "Atlantification". There, Chris, we'll have to count in oceanic heat flux.

Finally, the difference with the climatic mean is staggering for both years. FIVE degrees mean over such a large area is what you call anomaly, even if it stand for just one week in the fall.

Bob Wallace

"Thorium MSRs show the best promise and they can't meltdown. "

The big problem with them is that they are only hypothetical. There are none in operation so we don't actually know if they would work.

What we do know is that they would likely be very expensive (as reactors are) and would take a long time to build (as reactors do).

We have in hand, right at this very moment, operating technologies which can produce all the electricity we could possibly ever want and do the job for a very affordable price.

We just need to ramp up our installation of wind, solar and geothermal. We've got multiple very promising battery technologies in place to make renewables 24/365 power and it would take us several years of intense installation before new storage would be required.

Lynn Shwadchuck

I don't know if anyone here knows enough about the feasibility of fusion energy to tell whether this story is good news. This scientist complains that the perpetually quoted fifty-year period before it's practical is caused by perpetual funding cuts. I wonder what industry could be behind them?



Bob Wallace

You must have Thorium MSRs mixed up with fusion.

Alvin M. Weinberg pioneered the work on Thorium MSRs in the '50s and '60s. Two prototypes were constructed and operated. Weinberg tried to get our government to develop Thorium MSRs and our government refused. Thorium MSRs aren't good for making nuclear weapons, so why should the government care about what Weinberg thought, even though he developed the first two types of commercial nuclear reactors. I believe they wanted our existing technology to make nuclear weapons. Developing our existing commercial nuclear reactors was expensive and required government subsidies.

Thorium reactors don't need expensive containment, because they aren't high pressure. They can be built to scale, but they should be designed to clean up their own nuclear wastes and not transport it. They are high temperature, but you could shoot a hole in the side of a reactor and the liquid salts would just flow to the floor and solidify with very little effect on the environment. They could be designed as replacement units for our existing reactors and used to clean up nuclear wastes. The world has 4 times the amount of thorium as it does uranium and thorium is considered a nuclear waste in making rare earth elements that all electronics need. China, Japan and the UK is interested in thorium MSRs and China controls 95% of the world rare earth production. There are also private interests in other countries.

We know from the previous MSR reactors, some work needs to be done making special alloys, but I didn't see anything too complicated to scale it up to commercial size.

We don't have technologies to produce electricity in places that don't have wind or solar capability at a reasonable price and it isn't just our country, if we want cheap energy to get away from fossil fuels. Hydroelectricity and all renewables have certain limitations. It's usually someone who hasn't examined the concept behind Thorium MSRs and who just has a reaction to the word nuclear that determines their opinion. The nuclear reactors that are in operation are the dangerous ones and 75% of our nuclear reactors are leaking tritium. Maybe they should start listening to the scientists and they should find other ways to build their nuclear arsenals.


Ggelsrinc, Thorium, from what I have read is a promising possibility. A current version of the information from Lawrence Livermore has them concentrating on coming up with advanced detection of radioactive particles at very low levels. The goal is to be able to tell the difference quickly between radioactive materials in transport at any one time and the health of nuclear stockpiles in particular. Fortunately, Thorium with a half life over 1 billion years is not a health threat to anyone. The way I envision Thorium is a connection to a geothermal field on a house by house basis. Scaling of transport and market based controls are not yet on the design board. Even assuming Thorium detection becomes practical, my best case scenario estimate is 20-40 years for thorium market penetration to begin making a difference. Worst case is 60-100 years. I do not think mankind has that long to wait. Meanwhile the ice continues to melt and the future of geoengineering raises the hairs of caution on the back of my neck. Like Chris, I really do not see a possible geoengineering solution.

Bob Wallace

As I said, there are no working thorium MSR reactors in operation. And, as you say, "some work needs to be done making special alloys", i.e., we don't actually know if we could build one that worked.

There are no places where wind, solar, tidal or geothermal could not be used for electricity. We're installing wind and geothermal in Alaska, for example. And half the year solar works like a charm there.

There might be the odd remote village that would still need liquid fuel to run generators, but that's so many decimal places below 1% that's it's not worth mentioning.

Again. We have technology right now that would allow us to quit burning coal in a few years if we would get busy and install it.

Then, in some more years we could get rid of natural gas.

We have technology to eliminate 80% of our oil use for personal transportation. We could move roughly half our air travel to electrified high speed rail, get there just as fast and not produce CO2.

We could cut our bunker fuel in half with more efficient ships and more local manufacturing.

Time to quit twiddling over some whiz-bang idea that hasn't worked to date and go with what clearly works, can provide us with more than ample power, and will be cheaper than what we're now using.


Bob Wallace

I've checked into energy solution for many years and all those technologies you talk about. Since we have the technology to make electric cars, can you show me the technology to get the lithium to make those electric cars, just for the US and then we will figure out how to get enough for the rest of the world? China controls 95% of the rare earth market. Are you aware that thorium and uranium drive up the cost of rare earth mining, because they are nuclear wastes?

Electricity has to be produced on demand so that means grid storage has to accompany any form of electricity production that isn't continuous. AC transmission is limited to within 500 miles, but DC can transmit further without too much loss. The whole southeast of the US doesn't have good hydro, wind, solar or geothermal capacity. The southwest is good for solar and the northern coasts and the great lakes are good for wind. There are other places and the best way to analyze it is to look at a wind map. The US is in better shape for wind than Europe.

The big interest in solar now is First Solar bringing down their prices for their PV cells. Those PV cells are made out of cadmium telluride. They are down to around $0.73 per watt and they hope to get production costs down to around $0.50 in 4 or 5 years. First Solar has switched to the utility size market and the southwest with abundant sunshine is promising. Tellurium is produced as a by-product of making other metals and until recently there was no use for it. The world only has so much in stockpile and there are no mines to produce tellurium, in fact no one has tried. I doubt if there is enough in the whole world stockpile to supply our country's needs, so that means more expensive thin film silicon panels would be required for solar energy. There is also the reality that PV cells on glass can't be used everywhere, even if efficient.

Our electricity production relies on nuclear reactors and coal for base power production. Some of our hydro has been switched to provide grid storage, by allowing the dams to shut down and store water at times. There are other smaller hydro schemes that could add some capacity. Sodium sulfur batteries and electric cars seem to our best choices for grid storage, but I don't know where to get the lithium to start using electric cars worldwide.

The difference between using these modern technologies in the right place or the wrong place is many times the costs. Thorium MSRs, which are two fluid, liquid fluoride thorium reactors show the best promise of providing the world's energy needs. Biochar shows the best promise of removing carbon dioxide and still providing fuel.

We are still going to need mitigation to buy us the time to change these things and the will to act.


Back on the Ice: why is the Cryosphere area anomaly still decreasing. Can we have a refreeze thread Neven (TIA)


In 2007 the absolute anomaly minimum was reached around Oct 22. That domino is likely to fall in a few days.

There is some continuous discussions on the CT area dominoes thread:



...and on that subject, today's CT anomaly of -2.585 is the lowest of this year, and No6 in the all time list.

(I personally do not think that this is a very good forum for discussions of alternative power sources, which are surely discussed elsewhere. I think that trying to keep track of the behaviour of a wilful and capricious ocean is already quite a task for one small blog. Just sayin')



I totally agree with you!

Jim Williams

Lynn Shwadchuck, forget about hot fusion. It's never going to be economically feasible. Check out what's happening with LENR instead.

R. Gates

"I don't see the Earth coming up with a negative feedback that could prevent it from becoming Hothouse Earth."


Perhaps not on human lifetime scales or even the relatively brief timeframe of human civilization, but this beautiful planet has survived much worse than anything humans can throw at it. Quite resilient is this Earth. If it gets hot for a while, some species will do well and some will perish. Such has been the pulse of life for hundreds of millions of years.

Seke Rob

Oh boy, someone is thinking LENR [the Andrea Rossi E-cat fraudster science] will work. Sorry Jim, but I think you're being had... they'll be "re-searching" this when SLR has surpassed worst expectations and the Dutch have retreated to the Vaalser Berg [a euphamism for a hill 333 meter at summmit]

On olivine mentions, think it was Hansen who postulated that there were huge slabs of it south of India [now Tectonically subducted], that worked big time to weather CO2 out of the atmosphere. Weathering out is a slow process, but if this on large scale could be sped up to help sequester CO2, that would help.

Jim Williams

Seke Rob, read this from NASA on LENR: http://futureinnovation.larc.nasa.gov/view/articles/futurism/bushnell/low-energy-nuclear-reactions.html


Thanks, Wipneus.

That suggests 2013 shapes an an interesting test on the whole exponential -v- sigmoid debate, or (with tongue in cheek) catastrophists -v- gradualists, to invoke some old-school terminology...

This year reality went a little below Larry's Gompertz and a little above your exponential; but since both predictions were fairly close to each other (given daily -v- monthly), the result shed little light on the question.

But next year sees quite a divergence in the predictions - again, even allowing for your different baselines, and the substantial error margins, Larry's 3.1 is quite a distance from your 1.9.

A 2009-type result would flirt with the upper limit for exponential, while a 2010-type would be on the lower bound for Gompertz. Neither result would totally rule the less successful model out entirely of course.

More likely, reality will track close enough to both to be within the error bars of both and once again we be left debating. But there is a moderate chance that one will emerge as the somewhat better bet.

Jim Williams

I'd bet a wooden nickle it's going to favor expotential, but 1) I don't have a wooden nickle, and 2) I hear they're worth a lot of money these days.

I just don't see the growing negative feedback required for gompertz.



Gompertz prediction for 2013 annual minimum is 3.0 [1000 km3] (range 1.2 - 4.9). About 0.1 below the September mean figures.

For 2012 the Gompertz fit predicted 3.85 [1000 km3].

And no, the error bands are such that "reality" is not likely to run out from either one. Especially since Larry suggests 2000 km3 as "virtual ice free".

Seke Rob

Jim Williams | October 12, 2012 at 18:04

Have read a thousand articles the whole LENR/E-
Cat business to include articles from NASA personnel how their articles by the peddlers of fiction are misrepresented... hey they're into converting nickel to copper alchemy and the amazing thing is, the isotopic signature of that copper produced is exactly the same as natural copper. Buy that?

Bob Wallace

"can you show me the technology to get the lithium to make those electric cars, just for the US and then we will figure out how to get enough for the rest of the world? China controls 95% of the rare earth market. "

First, Boliva has enough lithium to make several billion EVs. Then, we've reopened our North Carolina lithium facility. Additionally work is underway to extract lithium from geothermal waste water at the Salton Sea. Worst case, we could extract all the lithium we could ever want from sea water and add only a few hundred dollars to the price of a car.

Japan just discovered a very large deposit of rare earth minerals off its coast. We just opened a rare earth mineral facility in Nevada. Other countries are opening rare earth mineral mines and processing. And we are building both EV motor and wind turbines without rare earth minerals.

Don't confuse where the present supplies are coming from with where supplies could come from. China was the low cost provider and forced others out of business. Now that demand has risen other players are coming on line.

"Electricity has to be produced on demand so that means grid storage has to accompany any form of electricity production that isn't continuous."

Yes, but we've got 100 GWs of hydro and another 21 GWs of pump-up storage along with many GWs of dispatchable gas generation. We won't need storage for a number of years.

That said, we've got two companies going into production with low cost grid scale battery storage at the moment. They're past the prototype stage and completing their factories.

"The big interest in solar now is First Solar bringing down their prices for their PV cells. Those PV cells are made out of cadmium telluride."

Silicon PV is as cheap as thin film. Cadmium telluride is not a required technology. First Solar is staying in business by using their product to build large solar arrays and then selling their completed projects to investors.

"Our electricity production relies on nuclear reactors and coal for base power production."

Nuclear has stayed about flat, with output upgrades for surviving plants replacing ones that have dropped out. Nuclear is likely to start declining as we go on. Nuclear is too expensive to consider and it is unneeded.

Coal contributed over 50% of our electricity a few years back. It fell to 42.2% in 2011 and fell again to 36% for the first half of 2012. We've got about 100 coal plants scheduled to close in the next few years and are unlikely to build any more. We've permitted only one new coal plant in the last three years and that was "special case".

Natural gas has increased its market share, which is good and bad. Bad, obviously the fracking. But good in that it emits about half as much CO2 as coal(and no mercury, etc.) and it is highly dispatchable. Wind and solar, having no fuel costs, cause gas turbines to shut down.

" Thorium MSRs" are a dream. They are not a reality.

"We are still going to need mitigation to buy us the time to change these things and the will to act."

We have no workable mitigation plan, if you mean geoengineering.

We do have the ability to drastically and rapidly cut our CO2 emissions. A few years back Jacobson and Deluchhi gave us a blue print for how we could get almost 100% off fossil fuels in 20 years. Since then solar panels and wind turbines have improved so the job would be easier.

Not a 'walk in the park' undertaking. But doable. And their numbers have been confirmed by multiple further studies. The clean energy is there for our taking.



R. Gates:

this beautiful planet has survived much worse than anything humans can throw at it

The rest of your comment I agree with, but this one part is not quite accurate, I believe.

What we have thrown at this planet easily compares with any of the great traumatic and sudden events of the planet's history (except for the very first birth trauma where a planetary body the size of Mars whacked the hell out of our place and created the moon.)

This is why our age, aside from now being known as the Anthropocene, is also known as the Sixth Great Extinction. What we are doing (and it has only really gotten going just now) is already ranked as similar to the previous five Great Extinction events. But yes, the planet will continue on, and will thrive in new ways.

But all this relates to what seems to be missed again and again, especially in the discussions of geoengineering and alternative energy technology. It is all about the scale of things.

Effectively everything we have built to date rides on the back of cheap fossil fuels. Massive, and seemingly inexhaustible quantities of what has been essentially magic pixie dust, that we have used to gild our globe with endless wonders.

Now it is starting to look like the pixies are growing tired, and yet we are still married to every magical way of being and thinking they have shared with us.

Yes, we can build solar, wind, and who knows what else, while we still have some love from the pixies. But how much?

How will we do this while we also ask them to take care of all the trillions of dollars in deferred maintenance in the rest of our infrastructure, in the USA alone?

I imagine that there will be one day, perhaps five hundred or so years from now, when a mother and daughter walk the trails of North America.

They come across the vast tracks of the open pit tar sand mines, and the astounding rusting and crumbling remains of whatever geoengineering schemes we cook up.

The daughter looks to mom and says "Mommy, what is all this stuff?"

Mom says "This is what remains of the Great Global Civilization. They built these things and dug those pits at the very end. By then they had been insane for quite some time. They just hadn't realized it yet."

I would dearly hope some of our remaining power is used to radically prepare for what is really coming. We need to protect, as deeply as possible (maybe in a literal sense), what knowledge we have gained. We need to build resilient systems and new technology that can survive great planetary change.

That is where I would like our energy to be focused. Not on any more schemes to save the systems we are still insanely married to at this time.



Prof Schuiling is also know for an idea to pump sulfuric acid (from industrial waste) into lime stone layers deep under the Netherlands.

Mad scientist had stupid idea.
Delete all his work?
Have you heard of Newton?


Have you considered with what energy all that necessary rock has to be pulverized?
Prof Schuiling plan involves dumping olivine pebbles into fast flowing sea currents so the wave action will grind them. That slows the Earth's rotation and moves the Moon further away. Problem?


I would be intereted to know what you think of the geoengineering we are doing now as described by Nadine Unger

Some sectors of the economy produce a mixture of pollutants -- particularly aerosols -- that cause cooling rather than warming in the short term. Since warming can accelerate as we remove aerosols, we've been inadvertently geoengineering for decades with aerosol emissions.


Your proposals seem almost as barmy as some of Newton's (so they can't be right?). My idea - fill the sea with shiny balloons. Have you seen the albedo map

Bob Wallace

The big problem with them is that they are only hypothetical. There are none in operation so we don't actually know if they would work.

That's just what a "Public Affairs Officer" of the Nuclear Industry Association told me last week. Must find out more about Baroness Byrony Worthington

Let's remember the biggest geoengineering lever of all - a very large carbon tax.

P.S. The balloons? No I'm not joking - but I don't really know. Remember The Italian Job? "Hang on lads. I've got an idea". That's where we are.


Correction ... "Hang on a minute, lads, I've got a great idea! Err... Err"


I'll predict that predicting 2013 now renders the projections very bad. Predicting 2013 minima should be done in April, following the coming spring equinox. after the maxima, especially when ENSO tendencies can be defined more clearly.

Real skills to be good at foresight are made easier with what is available on the net, although not as good as they should be, the current outline of the pack ice edge matches the outline of the -10 to -15 C surface temperature. With that in mind I'd expect many guys and galls here being far more precise at next maxima. The reverse process follows more or less the same rule. But in large comparing previous years temperature layouts is one way of doing it.

Lynn Shwadchuck

Jim Williams: thanks for the link to Nasa's LENR lab. I'll share it with someone who could only see space elevators as the solution.

R. Gates


I do not disagree with your rather well put post. But it seems you are more in agreement with me that life will survive and even thrive after the Anthropocene, regardless of whether there is great extinction event underway just now. To me the interesting questions are:

1) Will the next great age the Earth slips into after the Anthropocene be sans humans or not?

2) What form will the unwinding of the current great global civilization take? There are many scenarios this unwinding could take, and I'm not say it will happen, but if it would, some of the those scenarios are obviously rather unpleasant-- though I suppose nothing worse than other major turning points in history.


Greenland-Antarctica the glacier response suggests a new bi-polar disorder. Now we are back to looking at retreat of Apuserajik Glacier in Greenland after having a look at Thwaites Glacier at the start of the week

Jim Hunt

We seem to be drifting away from next year's sea ice into engineering of various sorts. Maybe this part of the conversation should be taking place in a topic of its own?

However, going with the flow towards my own area of expertise, here's a couple of links. Eleven professional engineering institutions say "We have the technology to slash global emissions", plus a primer on "Grid scale energy storage" from the Global Energy Network Institute.

Chuck Yokota

Here is an article about recent research aboard the Polarstern.



Thank You Chuck,

I am sure Polarstern reports will trickle out more over the next few weeks, I tracked their course on weather maps. They left a trail of data. Wonderful to study at that. Near the Pole 2010 scuba divers with Ghislain reported a strange fascinating world under the ice as well. Polarstern ice studies is of particular interest, please link as often as they release something.


Tamino's latest is interesting - surface temperature increase in the Arctic is most pronounced in October...




I would be intereted to know what you think of the geoengineering we are doing now as described by Nadine Unger

"Some sectors of the economy produce a mixture of pollutants -- particularly aerosols -- that cause cooling rather than warming in the short term. Since warming can accelerate as we remove aerosols, we've been inadvertently geoengineering for decades with aerosol emissions."

I understand what Nadine Unger is saying, but her geoengineering is an oxymoron and the way it is done is sloppy. If we accept we can inadvertently geoengineer a planet than we've been doing that for thousands of years with things like deforestation and rice production. There is no requirement for geoengineering to cool a planet.

In this particular case, Nadine Unger seems to give industry a pass and says vehicle transportation and household biofuels need attention. Electric cars will be years away from being near universal and I don't see how household biofuels can be changed much, unless she's talking about handing out those stoves to the poor that produce less soot. I don't see much immediate change coming from her suggestions.

It takes about two weeks for something in the atmosphere to circle the Earth and that's about as long as those tropospheric sulfate aerosols last. I don't like the acidification from stratospheric aerosols, which can stay in the atmosphere for a couple years, so I sure don't like doing it in a couple of weeks. I'm a grown up and don't always get what I like, so I see a need to immediately act by using stratospheric aerosols, even if we lose some ozone in the arctic. Coal just has too many bad things in it to make it acceptable, such as mercury and arsenic. Coal has to go, but we are going to need time to build renewables and we aren't going to use geothermal for a base, like that Scientific American article suggested. The best renewable energy to use depends on specific locations and those locations should be nearby and they need to produce electricity on demand. Here is my "pipe dream" for base energy: TWO-FLUID MOLTEN-SALT BREEDER REACTOR DESIGN STUDY (STATUS AS OF JANUARY 1, 1968).


We've obviously been working of refining plans for Thorium MSRs for more than 45 years.


Bob Wallace

Much of what you said is wishful thinking. Korea and Japan are considering lithium production in Bolivia, but Bolivia has Morales as a leader and he nationalized natural gas production from Brazil's state owned Petrobras. As the former head of the coca workers union, he isn't a stable source of lithium.

It's ridiculous to say geothermal can replace base power in 30 years, like that Scientific American article said. Wind and solar need grid shorage and they need to be placed in specific locations, or a lot of redundancy and storage is required. Having the technology doesn't mean it can used everywhere.

Silicon PV is as cheap as thin film. Cadmium telluride is not a required technology. First Solar is staying in business by using their product to build large solar arrays and then selling their completed projects to investors.

The cheapest silicon PVs are those thin film silicon by the bankrupt Solyndra. Saying silicon is as cheap as cadmium telluride PVs doesn't trump the fact they are twice as expensive.

I wish the world was as simple as just making it up and all our problems would be solved, but it isn't.

Bob Wallace

Ggelsrinc - US lithium sources

Nevada - http://www.westernlithium.com/

North Carolina - http://energy.gov/articles/expanded-north-carolina-lithium-facility-opens-boosting-us-production-key-manufacturing

California, Salton Sea - http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/09/simbol-materials-launching-lithium-production-salton-sea-geothermal-site/

Canada - http://www.canadalithium.com/s/Home.asp

Australia - http://www.talisonlithium.com/

These are just a few of the lithium sties around the world.

"But many analysts remain skeptical that thin film can compete with silicon, given silicon's overwhelmingly larger scale of production. Thin film may have had a chance once, but it's taken it too long to reach large-scale production and lower costs, according to Jenny Chase, manager of the Solar Insight Team at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "That ship has sailed," she says. She expects that thin-film companies might succeed only in niche markets, such as applications where very lightweight or flexible solar panels are needed"


Clearly you do not know what you're talking about.

I'll not go into all your other mistakes as people here do not want discussion of ways to avoid the worst of climate change.

Chris Reynolds


Tamino's latest is interesting - surface temperature increase in the Arctic is most pronounced in October...

Thanks, this has been known in the literature for years, the low level warming is due to heat loss from newly open water.

OW fig 4

Figure 4 of Overland & Wang, 2010, "Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes are associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice." The vertical cross-section composite plot of air temperature anomalies (◦C) for the section covering East Siberia Sea, Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea (135–225◦E) from Bering Strait (∼60◦N) to the North Pole (90◦N) for October–December 2002–2008.


Bob Wallace

Why don't you cut the nonsense, go to the USGS and discover real sources of lithium reserves all over the world? You aren't replacing the world's vehicles with the sources you cite and they wouldn't supply enough lithium for even our transportation needs. You also need rare earth elements to make electric transportaion economical. That production doesn't exist and won't exist for many years, regardless of desire. We just funded a lithium recycle plant and lithium has many uses that are necessary, besides batteries.

We don't have the capacity to make electric vehicles right now and a good part of those lithium reserves are located in a narco state with a history of nationalizing businesses, even state owned businesses from it's neighbor.

I do understand reality, like you can't use geothermal for base power without massive expense to use hydrogen drilling all over the earth. Posting an article saying you can do something, doesn't make it a fact. Do you have any idea what's required in expense to just clean up the results of vaporizing rock, let alone the energy to produce the hydrogen and equipment? Yes, there is a technology to make geothermal possible all over the world, but it's very expensive. You don't seem to understand grid storage is necessary to use wind and solar or that electricity has to be produced in a small region and done so on demand. I've posted about sodium sulfur batteries years ago when they first hit the market for wind turbines. Sodium sulfur battery grid storage needs to be rebuilt on site, which means the batteries are many and need to be recycled.

I gave you sources for thorium MSRs dated in January 1968. The only reason the nuclear industry doesn't use thorium is countries wanted to make nuclear weapons while cutting costs by producing electricity. Countries weren't interested in safe nuclear energy.

Kevin McKinney

Not another iteration of the 'renewables vs. nuclear' wars, I hope. They used to break out with some regularity at RC, and rarely generated nearly as much light as they did heat.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.


Does anyone know why the IJIS extent plots are stuck at 10/10?

See http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/cgi-bin/seaice-monitor.cgi?lang=e


Does anyone know why the IJIS extent plots are stuck at 10/10?

AMSR2 graphs continue on the "Bremen" website, so that is not the problem.



Donald, there has been a great injection of heat from the South fuelling a near steady Low cyclone in a near perfect Thermal Dynamic position between cooler ice air and wide open water of the Arctic Ocean.


As I wrote often, the ice wont spread unless temperatures over the open sea water is colder than -11 C, forget about ice! :

Temperatures over Arctic Ocean open water is about 0 C. The refreeze is stalled for the near term.


Kevin McKinney

Where is the iteration in pointing out, it can't be thin film verses silicon, because there is thin film silcon?


Wayne, thank you.

Chris Reynolds


I suspect you may be confusing cause and effect. Is it not the presence of ice that allows the temperatures to fall to below 10degC, where there is water air temperatures will be kept up by heat flux from the ocean.


Wayne Does that low mean fresher water is heading south through bering? Sure seems possible. http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/marfcst.php?fcst=FZAK52PAFG#PKZ210
Wasn't something similar last year responsible for the loss of a huge amount of fresher water too?



"Is it not the presence of ice that allows the temperatures to fall to below 10degC"

It is so, the contiguous presence of ice consolidating the pack
adjoining to Ellesmere and Greenland forms an area free of influence from a warmer sea favours the drying of its air above. A similar thing would be Top of Greenland almost continuously under the presence of a high pressure. Is not quite identical, but Greenland and the pack share same temperatures now.

", where there is water air temperatures will be kept up by heat flux from the ocean."

Well explained! This heat flux in a wide open area is difficult to tame!

"Does that low mean fresher water is heading south through bering? Sure seems possible."

Close to the sea surface temperature profiles are dearly needed, it could be. I am not sure.



Electric cars will be years away from being near universal and I don't see how household biofuels can be changed much, unless she's talking about handing out those stoves to the poor that produce less soot.

I think we have to change how we live drastically See here, here and here. I would not be against electric cars if they cold be made in a carbon negative way. I seem to remember a new car creates about 4 tonnes CO2 in its construction. Electric cars may not be much different. Let's arrange our lives to cut our traveling - unless it can be done without emitting CO2.

Yes, let's stop coal and put sulphate in the atmosphere as a tourniquet. I still have some hope for olivine and similar.
But who knows?

What we need is a very high carbon price, which could get very powerful forces (even big oil &etc) on board. We would quickly be changing the way we live - and we may like it. I think plenty of ideas would come if we had a price greater than $1000 per tonne of CO2e.

Otherwise it's "Hang on a minute, lads, I've got a great idea! Err... Err"



Continuing analysis of several NCEP/NCAR reanalysis for data ranging 1-10 October doesn’t yet reveal how the low ice situation will work out.
1. Geopotential heights in the middle and upper troposphere were high over the Gulf of Alaska, to lesser extent over the Kara- and Labrador Sea regions.
Especially the NW American configuration reflects a positive PNA, relating to a pattern that occurred on regular basis through the fall of 2009. It seems to relate to an emerging El Nino.
It will be interesting to see how the recent faltering of the ONI values will affect the PNA.
Generally, the heights over the mid-latitudes look significantly lower than the climo mean. Thus, the gradient between polar and mid-latitude pressure does seem to be small.

2. While the surface skin temperature is a little less high as in the same period in 2007, it is higher than during the last two years.
Temperatures in the boundary layer and on the 850 Mb level are( see pic above), in line, higher than the climo. Compared to last year, the spread is different. In relation to the PNA, the Midwest in the USA experiences low temps. The North Sea countries in Europe get some of the same, though not as extreme.

3. Sea level pressure is, in relation to the geo heights as described in 1. anomalously higher in a circular pattern over the Polar Circle.
4. Zonal and meridional winds do, in relation to point 1. and 3, look less intensive than during the last few years.

It is hard to say, based on the above, whether the pattern will go ‘wacky’ in the coming months. There are some indications, FI the resemblance to positive AO and weak jet. OTOH, some resemblance to negative AO induced cold in the USA and Europe is also noticeable.
It is clear both tendencies will bruise a clear definition of what’s going on. What I do purge out of this is that a cold snap isn’t necessarily attributable to negative AO. It can also emerge in a positive phase, on the windward side of a wandering polar jet.

As I made this resume, Wayne blogged on the intrusion of a strong low on the Beaufort side. He is right, temps remained well over that what’s necessary to freeze the peripheral seas around the Central Arctic Basin. As soon as the new low appears in the reanalysis, we could start to get a more complete pic of what October presents.

Aaron Lewis

The advantage to geo-engineering is that a few companies will make a lot of money - even if it does not work.

The cheap way to put up a sulfate cloud is to have the airlines use a higher sulfur fuel. But that is not a solution you hear. What you hear are projects that require lots of engineering and infrastructure design; projects that would generate big bucks for the big engineering/constructors.

The real solutions of population control and conservation have been ruled out as "politically unacceptable". That is, nobody makes a lot of money implementing these solutions. In fact, many economies have improved dramatically as the rate of population grow declined. And many good economies included thrift(conservation)as a core value.


For my take on naive/intuitive predictions for 2013, it seems like there will be some point where there has to be a breakdown in the maximum part of the cycle, similar to what happened with the minimum breakdown in 2007.

This breakdown will likely be foreshadowed by the appearance of several different 'wacky' changes, similar to what Werther mentions just above and what is being looked for in other parts of this thread.

Certainly the volume decrease has passed the wacky point. Whether the various oceanic and atmospheric mechanisms will join in the fun yet...?

The big question: is what we saw with the 2012 minimum, and the intense summer storms of 2012, part of this signal? Like a dark, cloaked figure pointing a very long, very bony finger, down into an even darker tunnel.

I do think it could be any time, and it probably will be hard to miss. It will be the effect of a cause that we are still blind to, but this effect will only allow a freeze-up that is well outside the bounds of what we've seen in the last 20 years.

Isn't it fun knowing that our climate instability really is like a hidden bomb in some wild techno-thriller movie? Those red LEDs just keep on ticking...

The fact that we had the setup of this phenomenal low in 2012, without much or any of the pro-low conditions we had in 2007, makes me think there is a very decent chance these decisive wacky patterns could appear this winter cycle, and we might see something strikingly new in the 2013 max.


Aaron Lewis:

The real solutions of population control and conservation have been ruled out as "politically unacceptable"

Not to worry, Nature has the real solutions well in hand. Ohio and Florida don't have any say in the matter, either.

Yes, a few companies could try to make some money off of geoengineering, but they won't. Ultimately, because no one will stand for it.

By that time, people, pretty much everyone, will be well aware that our climate is screwed. They will know who profited the most from the screwing as well.

Those same companies are the ones who would be the best equipped to build the big projects that will be attempted. There is an excellent chance they would be nationalized almost instantly, when it gets down to it.

You can bet there would be a full-scale revolution underway before anyone allows those same companies to profit off of geoengineering, temporarily successful or not.

The ugliness and desperation that is going to be unleashed when the blinders finally fall away is going to be absolutely astonishing.

No, no one will be profiting, thank God. We will be in an effort that makes WWII look like a quick trip to the corner store to get some milk. Sacrifice will be so suddenly and deeply part of the mix that profiteers of any kind will likely be dealt with in short order.

michael sweet

We need to keep in mind that most of the geoengineering schemes,like sulfur clouds, cause severe drought. So we still have heat and worse drought. This is because when sunlight is reflected it no longer evaporates water from the ocean. Will the countries that suffer the drought agree to the geoengineering? Who gets to choose?

Removal of CO2, primarily from not emitting it, is the way to go.


Michael, you are right that high-altitude sulfur clouds will cause drought. By the time it is clear enough to everyone that we are in a truly desperate state, this will be sold as a benefit of sulfate geoengineering.

Number one, because everyone will be thinking "how could it be any worse than this?" and number two, because we will be well-aware by then that increased flooding due to the increased evaporation cycle has gone into the realm of totally intolerable.

So the very likely side-effects of slowing the evaporation cycle will look like a potential salvation, even though it will be completely unpredictable, in any real sense, just how these "benefits" will play out.

It is becoming rapidly clear that the only thing that will stop geoengineering will be economic and other pressing difficulties that just overwhelm the kind of widely organized response that geoengineering would require.

It is clear for one reason: our climate really is going off the rails, and everyone will know it sooner or later. Sure, it takes longer to wake up to this than it does to stormtroopers marching into Poland, but that only means the response, when it finally happens, will the all the more desperate and far-reaching.

All that said, we are already well down the path of insanity on our current course, and the time of geoengineering, if we still have the power to even attempt it, is only going to be the final, thrashing death of our Great Global Civilization.

What comes after, whether we can find a way to be in harmony with it, eventually, or not, will be Nature doing her beautiful and completely impersonal geoengineering like she always does.


I equate the academic indifference of focusing on whether the data represents an exponential or Gompertz function with Nero fiddling as Rome burned. The data for sea ice volume, which is the best data to tell us what has happened, isn't accurate enough to predict the time scale. Regardless of which data best reflects reality, the reality is the y axis has declined to a value that should cause alarm amongst nations, but doesn't. I see one silver lining in the very dark cloud approaching humanity and that is, it's possible the Earth may give mankind a wake up call in the near future that motivates nations to know they are at war.

I don't want the arctic sea ice to get to the point where Neven feels like picking up his toys and going home. I want that sea ice back to the way it was when I was a kid and Neven's great grandchildren are running this blog.

I believe for humanity and the world to exist as we know it, the arctic needs to be put back to the way it was and kept off limits for development, much like the way we treat the antarctic. It's an unfortunate truth that even collectively as nations, we behave like children, always wanting more and never caring enough for what we have, be it natural or human resources.


The best carbon tax I've heard of is a tax that is collected and returned to people based on their usage. It would be a complicated system of accounting that would collect and distribute carbon credits based on how an individual uses carbon. It sounds good, but I have my doubts.

I think the best system involves cheap energy that isn't based on carbon and that's why I think thorium MSRs are the answer. I can understand a knee jerk reaction to nuclear, but if you really study that technology and it's alternatives, I think it's the best choice based on what we know now.

Aaron Lewis

I'm not trying to shoot you down, brother, but airliners don't travel high enough to produce stratospheric sulfate aerosols that would be beneficial. I would think that way might produce >1% of the necessary result and <99% acid rain. The sulfur compounds need to be placed much higher than airliners travel and with specific particle sizes not demonstrated by exhaust. Moreover, just allowing airlines to travel in that area would destroy ozone, because they exhaust water from the fuel they use. It isn't a good idea for man to put excess water at the altitude necessary to mimic a volcano.

michael sweet

The estimates, I've heard, tell me we have 7% more water vapor in our atmosphere, because of the CO2 we put there. The correlation between drought and the amount of moisture is dubious. Drought is caused by excessive weather influence encouraging drought and not the total amount of moisture in the atmosphere. If we want to stop drought, we need to restore the arctic to it's former cold state. That will allow weather systems to moderate.

Russell McKane

I know this is OT, but then most of the recent posts are. Neven we probaly need an new open thread.

I have been keeping an eye on Barrow and sea conditions - Check out the Barrow Webcam on webcam tab above. This is ben caused by a persistant Arctic Low ( not prepared to say Cyclone - as these require sea temps over 26.5 deg C) How is this storm going to affect Ice growth and development (as apposed to our August Storm)?
Also what will be the effect of these storms on coastal erosion with so much of the Arctic coast still not protected by a sea ice layer. Barrow has at least a rudimentary leve in place. But I rather think the town will be in trouble if not able to maintain it over time.


There are such things as Polar Cyclones or Polar Votexes. Temp has little to do with it. What is important is the circler pattern and speed of the wind. A good indicator of the strength of the storm is how low the mb level gets.
The reason the inside temp is not important is that what is important is the temp differential between the core and the air coming into the cyclone.
The cyclones you normally hear about need a hot core with a cool airmass nearby to fuel it. The problem temperate zone cyclones run into is that the ocean temps tend to be too cool to keep it going.
Polar cyclones are the opposite. They need a cold core with warm air coming from the temperate zones. Where PCs run into trouble is when they pass over ice, then the air they start bring in is the same air as coming from outside the PC and that kills it. Over open water those storms can last a long time because their temps in the core come from water they are over. Their movement also becomes more unpredictable because the spin of the earth is so tight in the arctic.
At this stage of the year, especially as the water has been on the warmish side anyway, what ice is there iis not staying in one place. It could possible collect in one spot and make things look like MYI (although nothing like it as it will be full of air and salt) spread it out farther apart and when things calm down and get colder provide more ice area to grow from or lastly if the water temps are right cause a flash melt in that area.
All things concidered though storms this early in the freeze season are not good for the long term health of the ice. As for the erosion, you are right, the land is going to take a severe pounding especially if it lasts any length of time.


Morning folks,
Now that Russell mentions Barrow... As part of the reanalysis work, I checked on the max temps for 14 October on the Arctic coasts.
They ranged from +3dC (Svalbard) to -4 (New Sib Islands). That's not going to freeze much. Just Ellesmere/North Greenland gets to 'normal' (-20 Alert).


Jaxa has resumed the AMSR2 images.

My animation:


On refreeze…
The pace was quite rapid in these first two weeks of October. The curve was steeper than during 2011 and 2007. Some 53% of the Basin and it’s periphery is now covered (the EGS excluded).
For the remainder of the month the curve should go to app. 7,9 Mkm2 to be on track with ’07 and ’11.
To fix that, all peripheral Seas should be covered between 10% (Kara) and 90% (ESS). If that happens, the big heat release should start in the near future. On one hand, possibly spectacular “recovery” ( I think the odds aren’t very high and refreeze will take longer).
OTOH if so, the ‘whack’ could start soon …


Werther, Wipneus or Anyone

I've followed the arctic sea ice for many years, but the truth is, I ignored the arctic once it was at a minimum. I knew before this minimum or discovering this site, I'd be following the refreeze and I noticed others on this site said the same. My question is, have others had such refreeze interests in the past?

Observation is always the first rule of scientific investigation. Sifting through tons of data aren't going to clue me to the changes a wise observer would have seen.

Somewhere in this world, there has to be the "Super Geeks" (I'm not name calling, we need you now), who watched sea ice through thick and thin, max and min. Maybe, they are like me and avoided blogs, which tend to promote a single opinion, be it right or wrong, with their group think, but whatever, people somewhere had to follow the arctic sea ice refreeze and learn from the experience. The fact is, I tended to lose interest and focused my attention on the antarctic during arctic refreeze. I never dreamed I live to see the day that arctic sea ice would be gone.


Well, Ggelsrinc,
I think it was during ’04 or ’05 I found CT. Before that, there was the Larsen B event in the Antarctic and my first lurking at NASA imagery.
Like you, I usually lost interest in lurking after the Arctic minimum and went straight on to follow Antarctic summer. But they weren’t as spectacular through the last five years. I had expected something earlier on Larsen C…

Last year the Arctic winter watch became much more interesting. Events on the Kara region in november and february. Late Hudson refreeze ASO.

I suppose I’m waiting for a clear warning call now. The loss of sea ice obviously isn’t in itself enough to make the headlines. Maybe a ‘whack’ is what could do the trick. But I might be disappointed.

After all, like Neven often wrote:
‘nothing is a dead certainty in the Arctic’



The refreeze is taking on some speed now, within days it will be on par with 2007 in extent/day.



My question is, have others had such refreeze interests in the past?

Maybe not so much in the past. Neven used to make a post on "the fat lady has sung" and went into hibernation.

Now we are very much in uncharted territory, big questions have no answers yet and 2012 does not seem to be over. One of the "big" dominoes still has to fall: CT's SIA Anomaly is broken or close to breaking. Several regional Ice Area's have still zero ice and their anomalies are plunging: Kara, Laptev, E. Siberian, Beaufort.



That's what I meant as I mentioned the peripheral Seas, Wipneus.
Espen, I noticed that...both '07 and '10 were on 7.9 Mkm2 by the end of October. The question is, will '12 get there, too, and will there be a different response in the circulation.
Several of us seem not to be very impressed by the actual refreeze. You see it hardly extending out of the rapidly expanding nightblur on MODIS...


Doh...I meant '07 and'11...



"Several of us seem not to be very impressed by the actual refreeze."

Yes that is a fact, where similar to sport actually?!


Well...I like skating...but I wouldn't give it a try in the Arctic periphery, yet.
BTW in '07 refreeze in the second part of October took away from the Laptev,East Siberian and Beaufort coasts (shallow, fresh waters). These area's are not really cold yet. We'll see in the next week.



So the rapid breakdown of the Wilkins ice shelf was not interesting enough?

If you look closely enough It's been quite dramatic.


Hi NeilT,
I'm sorry if my bavarding triggers a 'who is truely interested'-dispute.
OTOH, the Antarctic seems to be a much harder nut to crack by AGW than the Arctic. Maybe my judgment is skewed, but the accelerating mass loss over the Antarctic is more alarming to me than the relatively small and not yet completed loss on the Wilkins.
When that part of PIG goes, don't think me hypocrite; the PIG is attached to the WAIS. Wilkins clings only to Alexander Island.


Looking at the remaining N pole webcam (cam2) now sailing through the Fram it looks like a lot of churned up ice nearby also no sign of the posts.



Werther or anyone else who wants to listen

I'm old and worn out. I only picked that avatar, because I used a Facebook account to get on this site and that avatar was the best I had to offer. I'm a man, once a Marine and always one, but I had six children and even had four grandchildren last year in a very short period of time. Well, we cheated because one of my twin daughters had twin daughters.

I have a science background in Chemistry, like the oldest son of my Brady Bunch. I also have a background as a warrior.

Maybe as a Sputnik child, I grew up thinking someone with a white hat would rescue me. The point I'm trying to make is, I don't think it's insane to fight against superior odds, where sound judgment says you are going to lose. I don't think I'm unique by being that way and somebody put to the test will do the same.

The human race is at war, whether people know it or not. Perhaps a trumpet will sound next year to alarm the youth and give an old warrior some rest. Excuse my French, but we are getting our asses kicked by the Earth and politically. The Denialistas own this hour.

What does this have to do with arctic sea ice or predictions about it becoming ice free? I guess it's all or nothing, depending on how you look at it. I can only hope for sanity amongst nations who think they own the arctic. I fault the United States, Canada, Russia and Denmark for their guttonous behavior.

We can only hope the equation for an ice free arctic is changed before arctic sea ice reaches zero. It's going to take a lot more than zero emissions to put this world back to what it was, when I was born. This Earth has a memory locked away somewhere, like an elephant, and we need to harness the feedbacks, before they get totally out of our control. I think we are only going to get one shot to repair the damage and I think dying while tryijng in battle against impossible odds is better than sitting on our asses and doing nothing.

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