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Susan Anderson

If any of you have time, you might provide some balance in the DotEarth version, only because a lurker or two might be taken in by the specious arguments that thrive in that uncensored environment, encouraged by Andy Revkin's seizing at any straw to underplay what is going on:


The UW publication stands for good science with which any spin can be debunked. I think most of our bunch of Neven-followers never doubted the nature of what was going on at the time.

What remains to be studied, you're right Neven, is the attribution of Gaagi to the AGW/ASI pattern evolving.

I remember the jetstream-animation on
that featured an energy boost for Gaagi. It is tempting to compare that with the changing Rossby-wave pattern as FI Dr. Francis describes.

Chris Reynolds

What's wrong with Revkin's article? I read it and can't see anything wrong. As for denialists in the comments, as I don't want to polute Neven's blog with foul language I can't express my opinion.

As for the storm...

The data shows it didn't cause 2012 to be a record.

Area anomalies were at record lows by early June, ref. And if you plot areas aligned to the date of maximum for each year, instead of starting from 1 January as usual 2012 looks even more bizarre, ref. Volume paints a similar picture.

Anyone claiming the Arctic storm caused this year's record is merely showing how slight their acquaintance with the issue is.

Dealing with such idiots is a tedious waste of time.

Chris Reynolds

Oh and for added context, here's the sea ice from satellite for 31/7/12, before the storm. The lurid green and yellow region is what the storm hit. As the Zhang/Schweiger study showed, it would have gone anyway.

Thanks for the post Neven.


I happen to agree with Susan's characterization of Revkin. Was it really necessary to give the last word x 3 for 'balance'? I would say Justin Gillis is the better reporter within their newly dismantled environment desk.

However, when I chased down Revkin's links, they all went to the same asinine NASA statement back in Sept -- and that was quoted accurately enough. NASA cannot backpedal fast enough and often enough after their disasterous Arctic ozone hole pronouncement -- recall their undercutting this year record Greenland melting as "right on schedule": Tom Martin, NASA.

Zhang et al. write:

"The increase in the simulated total melt during the storm is not due to top melt, which is relatively small in magnitude and decreases slightly during the storm. The decrease in top melt is due to a decrease in the simulated surface net heat flux (NHF, turbulent plus radiative heat fluxes). The decrease in NHF is in turn due to a decrease in the net surface radiative heat flux (RHF, shortwave plus longwave), owing to the cloud cover that reduced the downwelling shortwave radiation. In contrast, the simulated surface turbulent heat flux (THF, sensible plus latent heat fluxes) increase, owing to the strong winds that enhanced turbulent exchange at the surface. However, the decrease in RHF is greater than the increase in THF on 7 August and the following days, leading to the decrease in NHF."

"The increase in the total melt is due to a strong increase in bottom melt over most of the ICAPS throughout the cyclone. Atmospheric heating of the ocean SML, MbotA, is not a significant contributor... Instead, the strong increase in bottom melt is due to ocean dynamics. The average bottom melt due to ocean dynamic heat transport MbotO is amplified by a factor of four, to about twice the magnitude of MbotA during the cyclone. Increases in MbotO are apparent over most of the ICAPS, except inside the eye of the cyclone."

"The increase in ocean dynamic heat transport during the cyclone is due to enhanced heat entrainment into the SML from the NSTM layer. The NSTM is at ~15 m depth on average before the cyclone. During 1–4 August, the NSTM and hence the upper ocean heat content increase, owing mainly to solar energy input. Significant heat loss occurs in the NSTM layer during the cyclone, owing to enhanced entrainment into the SML where this heat is then available to melt ice. The total heat loss in the NSTM layer over the ICAPS during 6–8 August is found to be equivalent to the total 3-day bottom melt of 0.30×103 km3 due to ocean dynamic heat transport. Particularly large heat losses occur in the Canada Basin, equivalent to up to 0.4 m ice melt over the 3-day unprecedented; it exceeds any previous 3-day loss by a factor of 1.7 and any 1979–2011 mean 3- day loss during July–August by a factor of 7."

Here is a piece of the key illustration. Probably the most interesting part to us is their calculation of mixing in the first 15 meters of sea water due to wind mixing and the corresponding heat change.

 photo greatCycData_zpse434373b.jpg

Aaron Lewis

This is the kind of thing that has caused me to mostly stop citing climate science literature. The Arctic ocean, sea ice, atmospheric energy, and radiation balance is a feedback system. Each affects all of the others. On needs a working system model for any kind of attribution.

They said the storm did not affect sea ice. OK, then the authors' estimates of 2012 sea ice melt prior to the melt season should have been accurate. However, in the spring of 2012, they under estimated sea ice melt. I do not see that their Arctic models work very well. Their models are tuned to avoid drama.

Big storms involve a lot of energy, thus we know that in the summer of 2012, the Arctic was a high energy environment. Ice does not survive in high energy environments. Whether it was the storm, or the high energy environment that drove the storm that ate the ice, really does not matter, because it is a feedback system.

What is new is that a large amount of latent heat is making it into the interior of the Arctic and condensing. Previously this latent heat was condensed out farther south. This latent heat melts ice. And, Makarieva et al have formalized a group of concepts that I have accepted for a very long time. The paper is doi:10.5194/acp-13-1039-2013 at http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/13/1039/2013/acp-13-1039-2013.html; Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics


You might enjoy this animation from 1-15 August I made of the 2012 Great Cyclone event using Gimp image processing freeware.

I took AMSR false color polarized rader imagery kindly provided by JAXA whose default RGB channels are 36 ghz vertical, 36 ghz horizontal, and 18 ghz vertical polarizations. The big advantage of this over AVHRR infra-red grayscale: no clouds, each daily scene captures the whole Arctic, color is richer than gray.

While fantastic information about ice condition and thickness is captured by default color palette, these are not at all apparent to the human eye (subtle shades of whitish blues). So I used the hue-saturation tool in Gimp to adjust the color to my liking, saving the settings as a reusable summer palette. (Winter optimization is quite different.)

I'll let decide for yourself whether this supports wind-driven melting, foreordained melting or some of both.

 photo CycloneJaxa_zps33c94bc0.gif


It is quite frightening to watch how almost the entire area between 0 and 90 longitude east (the area between Svaldbard, Franz Joseph and the north pole) has been emptied of thicker ice and filled with weak FYI only a meter or so thick. This is an area that has always been filled almost entirely with 2+ meter thick ice during wintertime. Last year, all the ice that was thinner than 2 meters melted away completely. So if this ice doesn't thicken considerably in the coming months, or get replaced by thicker ice from deeper within the arctic basin (something which seems highly unlikely if todays wind patterns persists for much longer) I think we might be about to witness a complete melt out of ice in this sector between 0 and 90°E next summer, the pole included. With one of the last chunks of MYI currently beeing flushed out in the Beaufort as well, it looks as though a "2013 sea ice disaster" is inevitable.


I'm of a similar opinion, Doomcomessoon. I've been watching that area the last month on high resolution AVHRR (rather than processed products). February 2nd and you still could not sled from the 85th parallel down to Rudolf Island (in FJ). What's going on there is the usual ice-directing wedge has formed north of Morris Jesup (W1 on images below). If you look at the streamlines on the Navy ice speed and drift, they diverge at the tip of the Wedge. Ice to the west circles down the CAA; ice to the east heads for the Fram. The ice, being thinner and structurally weaker these days, is fracturing along the streamlines.

After the fall refreeze, winds become relatively less relevant to ice motion than pack inertial movement and the drag of currents that carry on all winter below the ice. It's the difference between surfboards and sailboats: momentum transfer from wind to pack requires vertical (or rough or ridged) surfaces. There's less of that in the winter now and more in the summers. The volume (ie mass) being less, the effect on pack movement from a given wind impulse is now greater. (See 'Vector field characterization in ERS-1 imagery of sea ice' by M. Thomas et al, doi:10.1109/TGRS.2012.2184124, and doi:10.1029/2012GL053545)

The other area with consistently rotten ice lies between Wrangel and Barrow -- the first week I thought it was cloud cover. (Not talking here about the standard leeward polynas.) Diverging streamlines (W2 on images below) have created a gigantic fracture system there that is still growing. People talk about massive heat loss from these features but the fact is, ice-over insulates them almost immediately this time of year. On these infrared images, it is instructive to contour up the heat by 'posterizing' the 256 shades to a much lower number, below bottom is 16.

 photo wedgies_zps5e603399.png

 photo wedgies2_zps284263e8.jpg

Chris Reynolds

I hate being part of a consensus, but I may as well join in...

This graphic, or at least the final frame seems to be in some dispute on the 2013 open thread.

But an earlier graphic seems to me to support the final frame.

And independent of Fowler/Maslanik/Tschundi, the thickness plots I've calculated for PIOMAS seem to support it.
Note the change over the last three year Decembers, actually there are links back to 2006. Note the similarity between the thicker region of ice in PIOMAS and the older ice in the first graphic of this comment.

If this really is the situation, it's hard to see how next year can't turn out to be a 'science-fiction melt'. We'll know by July what the situation is, by the end of July CT area anomalies will be at record lows, if something is going to happen.


Yes, 2013 looks like it will be breath taking.

Sad as that is, and as helpless as it may make us feel, now is a good time to say thank you to Neven once again.

We have this amazing chance to watch and analyze in real time because he created this amazing blog, that attracted such an amazing cadre of participants, experts and near experts alike.

Thank you Neven!!

I think as disastrous as this melt season will likely be, it likely won't be the first ice free Arctic summer. That is still likely to be 2014 or 2015.

Woo hoo, ride the collapse. At least we all see it coming. Most people haven't a clue that this is happening, and even less what that means for the future.


Mighty fine new resources there, thank you Chris.

I am trying to imagine myself having the good sense to join this blog back in 2007, or even realizing back then that the Arctic Ocean was the only tail really wagging the climate change dog.

After that banner melt year, it must have seemed that the sky was falling in. (In fact it was.) When the ship had to over-winter again in the ice for 2008-2011, the crew mostly stayed on board, boiling sparse lichen into a weak tea of downward trend, even as corrupt captains of industry sought to heave them over the side.

So ... what happens if summer 2013 shoals out (ie, is a so-so melt year like 2008 was to 2007)? We can't really rule out natural (or unnatural) variation -- extreme cold snap this spring, little summer insolation because of thicker clouds, ocean currents not bringing in their usual heat, sulfate aerosols, whatever.

Maybe so, we'll have to wait and see. But it's also true that faint heart -- reticence -- never won fair lady (the satisfaction of saying we told you so). So I see nothing to lose with a prediction: the short-term trend is inexorable. Too many unfavorable feedbacks have already been set in stone. Events will not wait on incremental heat from coming methane, soot, and carbon monoxide emissions. The ship will sail with the tide.

Now suppose by pouring over the data together, we could give humanity, such as it is, a six months warning. I don't see much benefit coming from that, more likely just food fights and fuel fights like the UN chief just said. We are not all in this together in the minds of the well-off.

Longer term, our contribution is describing the initial new regime of melt-out summers and re-freeze winters and determining what it would take -- massive, century-long lifestyle changes -- to roll that back.

Artful Dodger

Greetings, A-Team

Good to have you along for the ride this season, but Neven's little hangout has been running since just June 6, 2010.

Neven's original intent was to shut down the blog after the Sept minimum, or whenever the melt finished in 2010:


Since then, we've managed to keep Neven interested. I've on record there predicting Summer 2013 as the earliest possible date for sea ice collapse. We'll see ;^)



Artful Dodger

A Brief History of Time:

Welcome to this blog! was the first article
Posted by Neven on June 07, 2010 at 12:02

The first Comment was Posted by:
Kevin McKinney | June 12, 2010 at 14:47

Many others quickly joined and remain regular Commenters, or have blogs of their own. Personally, I 'lurked' here until June 15, 2010 before I finally chimed in. :^)

The 1st month June 2012 was a remarkable time, well worth scanning to watch how a blog is born.

Since then, this blog has grown steadily in size and influence, propelled no doubt by our dedication to Arctic science, and the reasoned discussion in a collegial atmosphere of mutual respect.

As another famous Northerner sang at the 2010 Olympics, Long may you run Neven!

Warm regards,

Artful Dodger

Hi Neven,

Can you please check your typepad 'spam' folder for my comment from moments ago, subject:
Welcome to the Blog!


Susan Anderson

Thanks for the responses. One could say Gaagi was a symptom. DotEarth rarely crosses the line, but it subtly undermines, and promotes opinions that opine climate change is being overhyped. My observation is quite the reverse.

I am deeply grateful for the work you all do here. It's an amazing place to keep up with the most recent developments, and the graphics and animations is wonderful.

Speaking of neat graphics, this was useful:


Lodger, I've released your comment from spam prison. It's now three comments above this one, here.

Steve Bloom

A-Team: "the Arctic Ocean was the only tail really wagging the climate change dog"

Well, IMO that's somewhat of an overstatement. We need to bear in mind 1) the global current changes, driven primarily by tropical warming, that have been a big part of what's happening in the Arctic, and 2) the warming-driven expansion of the tropics that's been compressing the entire atmospheric circulation toward the poles.

So perhaps it's more accurate to refer to the tropics and the poles as a hammer and pair of anvils, with Holocene climate caught between.

Chris Reynolds

A Team,


I was still dealing with my former scepticism about AGW back then. 2007 was a wake up call, since then the impacts of the Arctic on weather have only intensified.

"what happens if summer 2013 shoals out.. ..like 2008 was to 2007"?

This is a key question. However things are different now. 2007 was driven by extreme weather, a very unusual AD type pattern. The same cannot be said of 2012, where was the extreme weather there? As the research Neven's post discusses shows, and as CT anomalies support, the storm didn't make 2012 a record. I fail to find anything else unusual about 2012. 2011 was a de-facto draw with 2007 after the intervening years failing to meet 2007's record, now 2012 is a new record.

As I discuss here:
2012 is a really weird year. In terms of area it was the latest start to the melt season in the CT area record, this was to be expected given the relationship between date of maximum and rate of sea ice loss. However, whilst a similar relationship holds for volume, in terms of PIOMAS volume date of maximum 2012 wasn't so unusual, so the date of maximum issue seems to be at best a partial explanation: Why did 2012 behave so oddly? I can only conclude that thin ice is playing a role.

So 2007 and 2012 were different. And they're different in another crucial respect - volume. Volume is much lower now than in 2007. Critical here is the relationship between volume and the efficiency with which open water is formed by a given thinning from max to min volume within a melt season (open water formation efficiency - OWFE). As volume decreases so the ice thins, and so a given loss of thickness exposes open water more easily. I'm in the process of doing a blog post on that (Dosbat in the left hand column of this blog), so as I need to check my results before saying anything further, I'll break off now.

Steve, Agreed.

Kevin McKinney

"A Brief History of Time:

Welcome to this blog! was the first article
Posted by Neven on June 07, 2010 at 12:02

The first Comment was Posted by:
Kevin McKinney | June 12, 2010 at 14:47"

Not the most perspicacious, the most voluminous, nor the most amusing, but--"Dammit, Jim!"--the first. I'd forgotten...

Gotta take your distinctions as they come. Thanks, Lodger!

Kevin McKinney

I suppose the best of all possible explanatory video clips to accompany the above comment would be this one:


Chris Reynolds

With regards those ice age plots - the situation isn't as bad as they make out, for some reason the team making them haven't incremented by one year to age the ice. See open thread. I'm emailing them now.

Aaron Lewis

If you look back at my spring 2012 post where I said that 2012 melt would break all records (which was dismissed at the time as not plausible), I also stated that in 2013 we would have substantially ice free conditions, and by 2016, we would be seeing substantially ice free conditions by June 21 (allowing massive solar warming).

Ten months on, I do not see any reason to correct my timeline.

I am not trying predict weather a year out, I am trying to estimate total energy in the Arctic. That is climate.

Espen Olsen


I agree 100% with your predictions.


Tschudi usually updates the files once a month -- Jan 2013 might become available this coming week. Hopefully he will clarify the multi-national confusion over the operational meaning of "graduation day" for sea ice age.

Recall you can get these files by logging in as anonymous at ftp://ccar.colorado.edu/pub/tschudi/iceage/ with freeware ftp clients such as Fetch.

They are using a Lambert azimuthal equal area and clean gifs (not lossy jpegs) so you can count relative areas fairly accurately by counting pixels (maybe ask Mark if he can go back and embed them in all the files). For example using the 'color tool' + 'histogram' in Gimp freeware. Thus for week 06 of 2012, the proportions are:

 photo pixelCount_zpseb386375.png

I animated week 6 (early February) for each year back to 1978, so the last 34 years.

 photo Week6SeaIce_zpsb3f6dc84.gif

They have not updated their slick sea ice age video beyond mid-August 2012. Here you want to look at today's near total absence of Fram Strait sea ice below Jokelbugt in the East Greenland Current (it's melted!) and see how seldom that situation has arisen in the past.

This is consistent with Aaron's earlier remark that warmer North Atlantic water is influencing this region of the Arctic Ocean more than usual.



Don't miss this -- it's happening right now, by the hour -- so head on over to 80N 150W. A huge fracture has been opening a bit east of Barrow, Alaska the last few days and it's really accelerating. The AVHRR images come up every few hours as the satellite comes over -- but they're not archived so you have to "be there" to catch them. I attached a still of the key region with a few land features labelled and an approximate distance scale as the animations is intended primarily to illustrate pack ice motion.

The imagery motions agree quite well with the Navy HYCOM ice speed and drift animation. That predicts five days out and so gives some indication of what to expect. I just attached a still for today. All the ice is moving the same way, clockwise in the Beaufort Gyre. It is just that the ice southeast of the lead just can't keep up. The ice no longer has the mechanical strength that it once did and so is fracturing under extensional tension.

 photo wCrackStillFeb03_zps6b4e76c5.jpg
 photo WcrackspddrfFEB03_zps9ce7bd6f.png



 photo barrowCrack_zps33c733ec.gif


Oops, distance scale didn't make it in the photo above. That's 555 km moving diagonally between the crosshairs at 80N 150W and 85N 150W (five degrees of longitude). At its widest, the lead is about 36 km at 19:49 hours satellite-time on 03 Feb 2013.

Below I enlarged the image to pixellation and posterized to 12 levels of gray. It looks from that like the lead is already frozen over in some places but is still has intermediate stages.
 photo WcrackBlowup2_zps933c404b.png

Espen Olsen


Nice catch!



Amazing stuff, when the CME stops effecting the IASI METOP 2 output, I'll be interested in seeing what CH4 release changes are occurring in the area....Whether the fracturing reflects wind, ocean current or warmer water impacts.

If warmer water, we should see an increase in methane...


Clever idea there A4R to use pre-spring methane imagery as a lead, fracture, low ice extent and polyna condition overlay.

It is a bit overcast there today so I took a whack at enhancing JAXA polarized radar for ice fractures and thickness/age classes. Meanwhile ... check out the amazing melt action around in Morris Jessup and Nord infrared imagery (northeastern Greenland).

I'm thinking of booking space over at Biosphere II in nearby Oracle so I can wait this out in comfort for a couple of decades.

 photo jaxaFrac_zpse377d501.jpg

 photo morrisJessup03Feb103_zpsffbf8836.jpg


1. What do people think the annual max will top out at this year? Any polls to be posted?
2. What happens to the Danish north of 80 2m average temperature chart when the ice cap melts? Will that shoot sky high?
3. What is the concensus on January PIOMAS? Was it cold enough to generate some good ice thickness this year?

Nightvid Cole


1. Neven can make a poll, I guess. It's going to depend on the weather in March to a large degree, both due to wind blowing ice around and due to the potential for late cold snaps to push up the maximum as in 2010.

2. It depends on when in the season the melt-out occurs. If it's early enough (say, June or early July) that the now open water gets hit with high insolation, then yes, it will go way up. If on the other hand, it doesn't happen until late August or even early September, there will not be enough solar energy left to warm the water up much. However, there will still be enormous temperature anomalies in October as the surface cannot drop far below freezing until the ice re-forms.
3. It'll be available in a few days. Patience is a virtue!!

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