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Espen Olsen


I am aware the images from DMI only covers the area around Greenland, but combining these sat-images with the sat-images above you will find those cracks in the sea ice goes all the way from the Fram Strait to Bering Strait.


I am Late for this party.
FYI @TenneyNaumer and anyone else.
WGET which has a version for all operating systems (OS) is the simplest way of downloading pages. I am not going to give instuctions as it is very depended upon your OS and what you want it for. There are a lot of forums out there that can give you the help you need.
As an example of above: you can set up a script that will download the jpg image however often you want it to an change the name of it at the same time. In this way you will not need to be at the computer at the time it is downloading the image. You can also use wget to download an entire webpage of images that are archived.
It truely is one of the more useful downloading programs out there and it it free. The big problem is that you do need to have a certain amount of confort using scripts.
On another note: This week is the 1st time I have seen a thin layer of ice in Toronto Harbour. (Ontario, Canada) 25 yrs ago it would be frozen hard enough for 2-3 weeks a year that the ferries could not move (not ice breakers).

Nightvid Cole

Chris Reynolds said:

Comparison of week 52 for years of this century shows that while there has been an increase of oldest category the overall extent is the lowest for any year, except possibly 2007 itself

Do you mean area of second year and older ice?

Mike Constable

Looking at DMI
on my computer the images looked very similar:-

Kennedy = Lincoln = MorrisJessup (slight movement right)

Kane = Qaanaaq = Pituffik
Not as described as far as I can see!
(I was trying to see Petermann 2012 in Kane Basin, wondered whether it showed as a blockage)

Chris Reynolds

Nightvid Cole,

Wasn't very clear was it, but you did correctly infer what I was saying.

This year there has been an increase in oldest ice (5+yr). But overall extent of multi year ice (2yr old and older) is the lowest since week 52 of 2007. When comparing week 52 of post 2000 years.


Perhaps a stupid question, but could the increase in 5+-year old ice be due to the 2007 melting season? The low extent/area at minimum was also caused by major compaction of the ice pack. One would think that might have compacted and thickened the MYI somewhat, maybe enough for a part of it to survive more than 5 years.


>" but could the increase in 5+-year old ice be due to the 2007 melting season? "

I think yes, but not in the way you suggest. 2007 cleared a lot of MYI in all categories down to unusually low levels. The trend for areas is still downward but this trend is overwhelmed by the recovery from the unusually low level in certain years only depending upon time for recovery. So 2009 showed upward movement in 2 year ice, 2010 showed recovery of 3 year ice, 2011 showed recovery of 4 year ice and 2012 shows recovery of 5 year ice.


Peter Ellis

You have to think of it in terms of ice cohorts.

2007 was a record summer melt, which means that a record amount of new 1st-year ice formed during the winter of 2007-2008. This ice became 2nd-year ice in winter of 2008-2009, 3rd-year ice the following year, and so on. Naively therefore one would expect a substantial increase in 5th year ice in December 2011.

However, this didn't come to pass. There are two reasons for this. Firstly 2008 was also a huge melt, so this cohort did particularly poorly in its first year. Secondly, this cohort also got slaughtered in summer 2010, and failed to mature from 3rd year to 4th year ice.

In contrast, the ice that formed during winter of 2008/2009 was followed by the comparatively weak 2009 summer melt: i.e. proportionally more of this cohort survived its first year, and has subsequently matured. It shows as a "bulge" of 2nd year ice in December 2009, 3rd year ice in December 2010, 4th year ice in December 2011 and now it has just tipped into the 5+ bracket.

Steven Goddard has been obsessively following this and touting it as a "recovery" of multi-year ice depite the fact that it's the only cohort of ice to show any improvement. All other brackets are down dramatically.

What I'd love to see would be a series of graphs showing the absolute area of each ice cohort from formation onwards.


Thanks, Espen. What I am trying to do here is produce season-long, Arctic-wide fracture tracking in order to see if future summer floe boundaries recapitulate weaknesses developed in winter. The resolution of the imagery determines the detection limit on lead width -- the best imagery seems to be NOAA-19 infrared at 1.19 km pixel width and a very decent 1:42 orbit repeat.

That's already a rather wide lead, 1190 m, but a fracture is a whole line of pixels which can be recognized earlier and enhanced by Sobel, Laplacian, or Gaussian difference edge detectors before it freezes over enough to support a snow layer. Even then, it is thinner, so closer in temperature to the sea water underneath, so still detectable by temperature imagery like the 10.8µ channel here for a couple weeks.

Fractures occur in regional event clusters. Events can assigned dates by using spectral color order. This allows the map to interpretably display clusters of different dates that overlay at angles.

Here is a little animation of an early Feb 2013 fracture in the central Canadian Basin as it happened. In the final frames you can see roughly 150 km of new crack propagating southwestward over 6 hours. That pencils out to a speed of 25 km/hr.

 photo miniAnim5_zps82926b12.gif


Thanks, Espen. What I am trying to do here is produce season-long, Arctic-wide fracture tracking in order to see if future summer floe boundaries recapitulate weaknesses developed in winter. The resolution of the imagery determines the detection limit on lead width -- the best imagery seems to be NOAA-19 infrared at 1.19 km pixel width and a very decent 1:42 orbit repeat.

That's already a rather wide lead, 1190 m, but a fracture is a whole line of pixels which can be recognized earlier and enhanced by Sobel, Laplacian, or Gaussian difference edge detectors before it freezes over enough to support a snow layer. Even then, it is thinner, so closer in temperature to the sea water underneath, so still detectable by temperature imagery like the 10.8µ channel here for a couple weeks.

Fractures occur in regional event clusters. Events can assigned dates by using spectral color order. This allows the map to interpretably display clusters of different dates that overlay at angles.

Here is a little animation of an early Feb 2013 fracture in the central Canadian Basin as it happened. In the final frames you can see roughly 150 km of new crack propagating southwestward over 6 hours. That pencils out to a speed of 25 km/hr.

 photo miniAnim5_zps82926b12.gif


I've managed to assemble 3 weeks of infrared images into a video:



I have updated the METOP 2 IASI CH4 through Feb 6, 2013 pm.

There is alot of methane release in the Norwegian, Barents Sea areas, at times with a 1,500 mile area above 1890 PPBv.

There have been major releases in the Okhotsk and in Inner Mongolia - above 2100 PPBv at times across an 800 mile area. The Okhotsk releases have drifted across the Pacific into the Gulf of Alaska through the week.


Chris, you mentioned issues of tracking Ch4, it seems that METOP 2 is not having that problem since concentration does change over time. I have to reread your comments, and will do so later.

Nightvid Cole

Peter Ellis said:

Steven Goddard has been obsessively following this and touting it as a "recovery" of multi-year ice depite the fact that it's the only cohort of ice to show any improvement. All other brackets are down dramatically.

Not to mention just how scary it is when you compare






Chris Reynolds

Peter Ellis,

Excellent explanation. I think you've largely nailed it.

There is also however the issue of the cycle found by Comiso in "Large Decadal Decline of the Arctic Multiyear Ice Cover."
See figure 5.

2012/2013 should be on the top of a cycle, or the start of the declining phase of a cycle.

I emailed Dr Comiso about this to ask if he had more information or ideas as to why there was a cycle in his results. He didn't know of one and didn't know of anyone looking into it.

Chris Reynolds


Whilst I have confidence in the satellite CH4 data as an overall indicator, i.e. it says methane goes up over a large area - I accept that. And I think repeated anomalies in specific locations are worth looking at with regards possible ground sources. But I have doubts about using the original AIRS plots to spot and diagnose transient local changes of methane, precisely because in that product they could be due to transient mismatched surface emissivity assumptions. It's quite possible Dr Yurganov may have improved the algorithm for the new product - without reading the relevant papers I couldn't say. And I'm rather too busy to go tracking down and properly reading the relevant papers. Furthermore you're using quite another system so what I've posted may not be relevant.

Sorry but I just don't have the time to keep up to date with everything, so issues like methane and Greenland I keep out of consideration, and catch up every now and then. So I'm not too aware of your work on CH4.

I just wanted to reply to A Team, who said such issues were unlikely to be a factor (well very roughly), with the result of my previous discussion with Dr Yurganov.

Aaron Lewis

Chris Reynolds, Artful Dodger

> “Bangs head on desk”

The meaning of “well mixed” for a particular system; depends on the reagents, system state, and the reaction of interest. When your first atmospheric science text says right there on the first page that “the atmosphere is well mixed”, they mean that the ratios of major gases remain fairly stable horizontally and vertically. However, movement of gases in the atmosphere is slow relative to some reaction rates of interest. A truly “well mixed” atmosphere in the context of all important gas reactions would have uniform (gas law) temperature and uniform humidity, while the Earth system maintains gradients. The Earth system maintains vertical and horizontal gradients in methane concentrations. (If you do not think these are important at the human scale, then you have never had to put out an oil well fire. When atmospheric mixing is rapid relative to the reaction rate, the fire goes out.) There are vertical and horizontal gradients in ozone concentrations. These include LA 40 years ago, Beijing today, and the ozone hole. Add up the damages, over a period of years, and the economic effects are significant.

For people that are thinking about fast chemical reactions, the Earth’s atmosphere is not a well mixed system. One can define and bound sub-systems of the atmosphere that are well mixed in the context of some reactions, but one cannot say that the “Earth’s atmosphere”, defined and bounded as a single chemical system, is well mixed for all chemical reactions and all thermodynamic properties of interest.

If you don’t define and bound the system, then you cannot do the chemistry. If you cannot do the chemistry, then you are going to get the wrong answer. The first page of the first text should say, “Define the system, bound the system, write equations of state, and calculate Gibbs energy.”

Nightvid Cole
Sharp eyes, yes it should be 50,000,000 ppbv (or 5%v). (Lower flammability limit for natural gas.) What I did not say, and should have said is that the methane concentration in those bubbles and plumes could higher, and under some plausible conditions, near 95%v.


Chris, I can recommend to you the very extensive Russian methane helicopter surveys this summer on the Laptev and ESAS. Also they have had a permanent ground monitoring station in Tiksi for last 2-3 years (not seen that data online). Those portable high precision Los Gatos climate gas briefcases.

The days of methane artifacts are largely behind us. However I think quite a bit of the winter effect this year is just borrowing from spring release.

I understand 110% what you mean about choosing keeping-up priorities ... winter sea ice was supposed to be a sleepy time. Whatever happened with that?

I am flabergasted by what is going on at the N Pole /Banks Island is 'calving'/Nares has a upsidedown ice bridge/big Fram flush coming Feb 09 and 10/ice going out the Bering Strait.

Nice effort there Articio with that video! I've got a comprehensive high resolution daily processing pipeline going across the board -- blessed Gimp is able to automate the whole animation enchilada.

 photo BanksIsland_zpse0e7ba14.gif


Today I found two, at first glance not related, events stirring my imagination.

The first is a fierce winter storm now lashing the New England states in the US.

The second is yet another good rattle my Dutch neighbours in the northern provinces experienced today, living over one of the largest natural gas extraction zones in Europe.

What is making these events special?

New England endured storm/hurricane Sandy three months ago. The tracks, the steering pattern, the intensifying, it all looks very similar to the present dangerous storm. On 5 December I wrote:

“While the polar jet keeps flowing along the edges of the Rossby waves, the ridges and throughs remain almost fixed (or, said in other words, constantly re-install) on their geographical locations.”

An assumption that still sounds pretty valid.

Under the Dutch northern provinces a natural gas bonanza about 2100 billion m3 now has been depleted for some 60%. The sandstone layer 3 km deep, 100 m thick, 900 km2 wide is now crushing. Earthquakes are growing in amount and intensity.

The confrontation with the costs of unbridled exploration of natural resources has surfaced, perfectly aligned with ‘global weather weirdness’ and the imminent demise of Arctic sea ice.


@ Chris Reynolds: "not keeping up with everything" I understand that completely, and at the same time learn so much from all the different topical threads here - even when intermingled. I am still learning about CH4, despite following it for a couple of years.

@ A-team: Do you have a source for the Laptev ESAS helicopter surveys from this summer? I'm interested.

@ Werther: The "fixation" or reinstallation of weather patterns has been an amazing phenomenon all winter. I have been watching SLP after SLP form in the NW Pacific, run a line into the Gulf of Alaska and at times dissapate or actually move back along the same track.

Similar pattern of lows in the Labrador sea - moving to Iceland.

I am watching here:


Chloe Holford

does nobody else fear that we are on the verge ( or midst?) a rapid warm up as a result of the changes in the Arctic?

The emergence from past ice ages has involved periods where the increase in solar forcing has been lost in ice melt (global temp wise) only for it to suddenly appear with rapid temp increases as the ice finally wanes allowing bare earth/sea surface to appear.

Have we not just witnessed similar across the Arctic? What of the energies once spent on melting the ice that now 'melts' for a portion of the year?

What of the energy now absorbed instead of being reflected?

Never mind the slow 'drip, drip' of the ghg forcings have we not just witnessed the start of a phase of rapid warming at the hands of Mother N. ?

James Lovejoy

@ Chloe

Yes, me.

My guesstimate is that about 2 trillion tons of ice is the net melting each year. (Almost 1 trillion of Artic Sea Ice, then Greenland, the rest divided between Antarctica & glaciers.)

I see a big feedback starting soon. Not the first year that we have a near ice-free arctic, but a few years later when the albedo change causes the artic ocean to heat up enough to really slow winter re-freeze.

Once that happens, one of two things can happen. Either the 16-20 thousand cubic km of ice that currently melts in the artic ocean will move to Greenland Ice Sheet melt, or that energy will heat the atmosphere, ocean, or a combination.

Either way, it's not good.


This is probably a really dumb question, but I've always wondered if a massive chunk of the GIS would ever slide off and into the ocean. I mean a huge part, sliding off because of melt, a mile thick and hundreds of miles across?? Is that at all possible.

I know that's far fetched but just asking...it's an open thread :]


I released this comment by Aaron Lewis from the spam filter.

Kate, I don't think that's possible (just yet). Greenland is basically a ring-shaped archipelago with open water in the middle.


To further study full and new moon effects on sea ice go to bottom of first article http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/. There is a picture animation likely with much thicker 2002 ice, it remains to observe what thinner sea ice tidal effects are like, since the new moon approaches lets see with much higher resolution satellite pictures. So far it seems the entire CAA coast is vulnerable in the dead of winter unlike not so long ago days when these events were strongly related to shore ice breaking likewise in spring or summer.

Jim Williams

Kate, you want to check out the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). That's the big chunk of ice that could "slide off and into the ocean. I mean a huge part, sliding off because of melt, a mile thick and hundreds of miles across".



Methane measurements from Tiksi are available here http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/dv/iadv/graph.php?code=TIK&program=ccgg&type=ts


DoomCS, thanks/good find, url not working for me.

A4R, I saw this summer's Laptev/ESAS helicopter surveys are in new Joye/Semiletov/Shakova journal articles + AGU abstracts/posters but there was a German group that also did these earlier.

Not recalling where I put all this. Might be faster just to email, they are helpful. Or these links:




North pole has been seeing an invasion of warm thin ice (if not some open water). Infrared image is after a *lot* of tweaking contrast and so forth trying to find some ice (no luck this week in the bright white areas below).

 photo nPole_zps98611c5f.gif

Nightvid Cole

@ Aaron Lewis:

Isn't it clear that the diffusion/mixing time-scale of relevance for the methane
feedback(s) is that of the layers of atmosphere in which methane would contribute to the maximum marginal greenhouse effect? Or perhaps all layers, weighted by a function representing greenhouse contribution?

Chemical reactions and diffusion probably have to be simulated, I would not put my faith in any claims that any reasonably representative set of coupled whole-atmosphere concentration equations can be solved analytically!!!


That movie showing the fragmentation of Chukchi Sea ice in January made me think of how different the story of the Karluk would probably have been had it occurred a century later. A pretty good Wiki summary:

Really shocking how much has changed......

Steve Bloom

Thanks for those links, A-Team. I hadn't visited the Joye site recently, and there's a bunch of new material.

While there seems to be a lot of work in the pipeline, AFAICT this is the only only recent relevant publication (title/abstract):

The degradation of submarine permafrost and the destruction of hydrates on the shelf of east arctic seas as a potential cause of the “Methane Catastrophe”: some results of integrated studies in 2011

On the basis of the analysis of published data and in the course of the authors’ long-term geochemical and acoustic surveys performed in 1995–2011 on the East Siberian shelf (ESS) and aimed to research the role of the Arctic shelf in the processes of massive methane outbursts into the Earth’s atmosphere, some crucially new results were obtained. A number of hypotheses were proposed concerning the qualitative and quantitative characterization of the scale of this phenomenon. The ESS is a powerful supplier of methane to the atmosphere owing to the continued degradation of the submarine permafrost, which causes the destruction of gas hydrates. The emission of methane in several areas of the ESS is massive to the extent that growth in the methane concentrations in the atmosphere to values capable of causing a considerable and even catastrophic warning on the Earth is possible. The seismic data were compared to those of the drilling from ice performed first by the authors in 2011 in the southeastern part of the Laptev Sea to a depth of 65 m from the ice surface. This made it possible to reveal some new factors explaining the observed massive methane bursts out of the bottom sediments.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? I've requested a copy, although I suspect you and a few others here have already seen it. Obviously it doesn't include anything from the 2012 observing season, but did you mean to imply that the authors you listed might be willing to provide any newer material? I did see the abstracts from the AGU fall meeting, but those didn't seem to add much (although the presentations themselves may well have).

Jim Williams

Thought I'd move the existential angst over here to the open thread where it belongs.

I say it's a race between the Borg and the Berg. Current guesstimates for "The Singularity" are 2045 -- the Borg. Seems to me that's about the same time frame as we're looking at for catastrophic climate change such as collapse of ice sheets -- the Berg.

So, I think the future either belongs to robots (even if those robots are us), or to the photoplankton. There's not going to be much room left for "life as we know it."

I don't buy into the arguments that there's still time. They're nothing but wishful thinking.

Nightvid Cole

Not so fast, Jim. Maybe things will be unpleasant and there will be famines and climate refugees, and the world population in the 22nd century will be reduced to 3 or 4 billion and then stabilize as we adapt, without a singularity occurring.

You must first rule out the more mundane possibilities before asserting something extraordinary will occur!

Jim Williams

I would hold, Nightvid, that it is the survival of Homo Sapiens into the 22nd century which would be extraordinary -- though I will grant the possibility of civilization collapsing without complete extermination as a reasonably likely, if not probable, possibility. What I would find truly exceptional is civilization surviving without radical transformation which effectively excludes Homo Sapiens from "Humanity." I say it is either the Borg or the Berg. Civilization in the form of a supreme Homo Sapiens is not going to survive.

Nightvid Cole

Why do you think it will be so hard to keep going as usual ANYWHERE? I understand your point as far as some climates are concerned, but surely somewhere on the earth will still be livable in a way recognizable to us, perhaps with a bit of innovation in biofuel, fast plant growth, and agriculture.

Our species has survived through a supervolcano 70,000 years ago, and many of their technologies were not lost. If we could make it through that, why not human-made climate change?

Jim Williams

I'll accept survival as a possibility Nightvid, for a small population, but not along with civilization. Do you have any reason other than hope for thinking otherwise?

Actually, I'm betting for the survival of civilization -- just not as we know it.

Obviously, no one actually knows what will happen -- but I think it pollyanna to think things will simply be fine. The odds are for collapse first, and survival of a radically different civilization (of cyborgs) second. The chance of a civilization like what we are used to is extremely low.


I’m taking my thoughts following the contributions of Terry, James, Google-friend, A4r, SATire, Sam and djprice to the open thread…

First, I’d like to make clear that my remarks on Sam’s initial post were not made as critic or meant to harm his opinion in any way. It is that some of his content got me ticking… I used a form I regularly apply to philosophic-politic essays to make up my own mind and sort out a meaning.

Second, I know I’ve entered a bold remark on the nature of science. That doesn’t mean that I carelessly dismiss any well-meant effort by people who I hold to high esteem. I am not competent to place my limited gifts anywhere near their merit. That doesn’t mean that I can’t have an opinion. That opinion is for the largest part not even my own achievement. I have to give credit to a lot of gifted writers I had the privilege to encounter (their books…). One of them FI André Klukhuhn, Dutch science philosopher (‘The history of Thought’).

Third, James, I read with interest your short evaluation of monotheist religions. I don’t have the impression that the desanctification of the natural world is rooted there. Please note what A4r replied. While I do not consider myself a Christian, I hold strong view on the ubiquitous presence of God. I ‘feel’ the void of possibility behind the objects (in a Spinozan way). I accept the duality of beauty and decay in the universe and the role of suffering in it. What I detest is the licking, groping attitude in profit-aimed science and technique.

Fourth, SATire, I respect the credits you give to enlightenment. I admire how you introduce ‘care’ as the deprived virtue that should be re-integrated with ‘reason’. I have my doubts whether the exponential materialist welfare can be fully attributed to ‘enlightenment’. If so, I wonder if the ‘big step’ you mention is really that big.

Last but not least… haven’t been working on my Greenland project much lately.

Not that it matters much. We are all watching in awe through means that were installed by the use of fossil energy in the first place.
In a way, we’re always looking backwards. Yes, our days are numbered, but they were from the beginning. Finally, we’ll be looking deep into ourselves. And we’ll realise with a shock there’s none (which could be quite liberating).

Await the sun, Tiksi is visible, like Disko and the Mackenzie delta. The next stage is being set…


Steve B, let me root around a bit more the next few days. I had newer stuff than the 2006 methane helicopter transects, though never have seen a place to download raw datasets of actual readings.

What will the Next Big Thing be after loss of summer sea ice -- Greenland, Antarctic, Amazon, land permafrost, sub-sea, ocean circulation, blocking weather patterns...? As Chloe notes, not the drip, drip, drip of carbon dioxide -- summer sea ice loss is something like 35 years of additional CO2 business-as-usual.

My thinking is all of the above, but which next is too close to call.

Arctic methane for sure will go up. Earlier break-up, open seas mean much shorter residency times for methane capped under ice, so less time for methanotrophs to have at it, meaning much more escapes into the atmosphere.


Cheer up, folks, spring is just around the corner. Just today I saw infrared channels 2-3 poking up from beneath the snow at cis.ec.gc.ca (link is above). And Modis/Aqua visible is now offered at DMI Greenland. So a bit of daylight at Barrow and 79N glacier.

You can recognize these from .2. etc in the file names. 920nm light is just a bit outside the range of human red cones so the scenes look more familiar. Now we can make color images by putting the three infrared grayscales into RGB channels (6 possibilities before inversion possibilities).

beaufort.130208.2240.2.png 2/8/13 10:56:00 0.92µ
beaufort.130208.2240.3.png 2/8/13 10:56:00 3.74µ
beaufort.130208.2240.4.png 2/8/13 10:56:00 10.80µ

Or, to better visualize ice movement, stack 3 successive days of the sharpest channel (10.8µ) in RGB. I'm looking right now at combining Jaxa polarized radar with the scatterometer channel to get better resolution of sea ice age and thickness classes and their movement.

Epic movements right now -- the stationary ice wedge above Nord looks on the verge of heading Sud.


A-team, and all

Methane is up. The last few days have had significant increases and also continuation of high levels of unmixed methane at 586 and 718 mb that seems wind driven across the Atlantic and Pacific as it disseminates. Some methane from the Sea of Okhotsk drifted all the way to the US.

Currently methane above 1890 ppbv, and some above 1950 ppbv, covers the North Atlantic from the Labrador Sea to the Kara.

See the last few days, I have upped my imagery frequency to capture what is happening.


Steve Bloom

New sea ice paper, looks interesting (title/abstract):

The transient versus the equilibrium response of sea ice to global warming

To examine the long-term stability of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, idealized simulations are carried out with the climate model ECHAM5/MPIOM. Atmospheric CO2 concentration is increased over 2000 years from pre-industrial levels to quadrupling, is then kept constant for 5940 years, is afterwards decreased over 2000 years to pre-industrial levels, and finally kept constant for 3940 years.

Despite these very slow changes, the sea-ice response significantly lags behind the CO2 concentration change. This lag, which is caused by the ocean’s thermal inertia, implies that the sea-ice equilibrium response to increasing CO2 concentration is substantially underestimated by transient simulations. The sea-ice response to CO2 concentration change is not truly hysteretic and in principle reversible.

We find no lag in the evolution of Arctic sea ice relative to changes in annual-mean northern-hemisphere surface temperature. The summer sea-ice cover changes linearly with respect to both CO2 concentration and temperature, while the Arctic winter sea-ice cover shows a rapid transition to a very low sea-ice coverage. This rapid transition of winter sea ice is associated with a sharply enhanced ice–albedo feedback and a sudden onset of convective cloud feedback in the Arctic.

The Antarctic sea-ice cover retreats continuously without any rapid transition during the warming. Compared to Arctic sea ice, Antarctic sea ice shows a much more strongly lagged response to changes in CO2 concentration. It even lags behind the surface-temperature change, which is caused by a different response of ocean deep convection during the warming and the cooling periods.

Very interesting, even, although some of that phrasing is a hard to interpret precisely. I've requested a copy.



I did not use the word care-taking for welfare. So I agree with your doubts but I have no clue about which big-step you read. "I have my doubts whether the exponential materialist welfare can be fully attributed to ‘enlightenment’. If so, I wonder if the ‘big step’ you mention is really that big."

Welfare in Europe was mainly a reasonable answer against the socialist and communist thread and it worked quite well to rescue capitalism localy for some time.
With the biological care-taking I mean something mother bear would do if their children are in danger to save their future. E.g. future green government would invade some fundamentalist regions to prevent them from burning much more then their share of fossils risking the future of our children. Reason and care-taking nature must stop the old imperative "spawn and exploit the planet".
I am not saying science or moral are better than religion or vice-versa, since those are all "male concepts to impress the girls" which failed so far and together they brought us where we are now.
I know, this concentration on basic biology with bias on its female part is a bit rude. But it is a non-local basic concept and in my view much better than Jims' "Borg-path".


> Nightvid wrote: Our species has survived through a supervolcano 70,000 years ago, and many of their technologies were not lost. If we could make it through that, why not human-made climate change?

Although above is true, the position is unsupportable. Right now all I want is to survive, same applies to my kids and I'd never give anybody the right to call it an experiment including acceptable losses.


>"survived through a supervolcano"

Humans survived. Did civilization survive (let alone civilization as we know it)?

70000 years ago human population was well below earths human carrying capacity. Forcing some movement of people with environmental change could well cause people to interact and adapt better than other species without needing to fight for/to protect land with appropriate resources.

The situation if* human population is at/near/over carrying capacity is somewhat different. Can civilization cope with an enforced population fall? Hard to know if there is a lack of similar situations.

I am not sure that if* is true.

However, eco-system collapses through mass extinctions could be an alternative route to problems at a civilization collapse level.


While I don't see the loss of mankind as a likely outcome of what we have unleashed, I also don't see much hope for the survival of any civilization remotely comparable to our own.

70k yrs ago the material culture that survived was capable of being reproduced by family groupings & I've no doubt that scattered remnants of our species will be able to retain these & possibly even more complex tool making capabilities - but not much more complex.

When the last LED, vacuum tube, ball point pen or ball bearing has been salvaged, it won't be replicable.

I'll save the rest of my rant for Neven's eagerly awaited new blog, but I fear my contributions on that side will give little comfort to those that see this as a mere blip on the road to human progress.


Jim Williams

It's a race Terry. Either automation succeeds in being able to replicate, or civilization fails. In either event Homo Sapiens is not going to fare well.

I'm betting on the success of automation, and the advancement of civilization myself....but I'm doing it purely out of wishful thinking. I have no good reason to believe that civilization will survive. I just know that it is The Borg, or it is failure.


kinetic energy is difficult to imagine to begin with, so try this thought experiment. Take a sphere, [football/basketball size], filled with water and have it tied to a pole say with a 4m length of string, set it in frictionless motion so it orbits the pole, now halve the length of the string, and imagine it is constrained from doubling its orbital speed, it will describe a sine wave about the path of its orbit so that this oscilating line equals in distance the old orbital circumference. It will also be rotating about its own axis twice as fast as previously. Its not a football/basketball, its a ballon and all the tensions of its new state will be expressed on its surface, actually its more like a big soap bubble.
Of course the radius from the center shifts far more subtly but if 85N =R1 80N=R2 75N=R3 and 70N=R4 and that takes you from Canada's north shore to the top of Greenland this http://www.whoi.edu/science/PO/dept/scientist/biosketch/EddyformationnearthewestcoastofGreenland.pdf study moves through just 4deg.
Unless we get a massive build-up of ice soon the atlantic waters which appear to have flushed out the protecting layer of fresh water from beneath the ice sheet are going to destroy any ice clinging to the archipelago/greenland coast.
Just as the apparent motion of ice/water heading north is eastwards so the apparent motion of ice/water heading south is westward, or clockwise,[and curiously has to gain energy or freeze] so once the ice disconnects from the coast it will be set free to rotate and exit through Fram strait, as A-Team has already spotted it doing on the Piomas thread.

Steve Bloom

johnm33: "the atlantic waters which appear to have flushed out the protecting layer of fresh water from beneath the ice sheet"

Do we know this?

Steve Bloom

The hits just keep on coming:

"Sunlight Stimulates Release of Climate-Warming Gas from Melting Arctic Permafrost"

The immediate question that comes to mind is the extent to which this will modify the recent Schaefer et al. results.


Morning Steve. I have tried to get to grips with the amounts noted in your linked articles.

I don’t know how much frozen plant material is stored in the permafrost. Schaefer et al speak of 1,5 trillion tons of frozen carbon.
There must be 17 to 18 million km2 of Arctic permafrost. Not all of it contains large amounts of accumulated, trapped plant material. A large part is frozen bedrock with a thin layer of soil. Two environments would hold most interest. Birch and fir forests and tundra peatlands.
Both could be (partly) as old as the pleistocene period (if locally it would have survived the large interglacials). Or, minimally, continuous since the start of the last glacial period (Würm/Weichselien; env. 70K years).

Let’s assume the really relevant part for large accumulation would be the wet birch/fir forests and tundra peatlands formed since the last glacial. They probably still make up 10% of total permafrost area (that would be 1,7 mkm2, FI the Yamal peninsula, the Hudson Lowlands etc). For total accumulated soil we’d have to look for known processes.
In the Netherlands, alder forests formed say 8 m thick layers in the last 8K years. Under very productive circumstances. Spagnum bogs grew much slower.

For relative calculation, let’s assume 5 m in 10K years. But, surely during the glacial period, productivity would have been low and not all plant material would have been stored each winter. Let’s account for that and use a conservative 1,5 m accumulation in 10K years. The total organic volume would be 18bm3.
Subtract the ice content (app.20%) and take the C-share for organic matter (45%). The result could be 6,4bm3 of carbon, 12,8Gt. From the molar mass difference, the calculation could be 44 Gt CO2 when it’s all released.

Compared to a yearly 35 Gt CO2 release (2010) through AGW, it is significant but not determinant (that's us...)

But it isn’t that far off the Schaefer calculus, 100Gt until 2100. And the Lake Toolik project shows that the release process could be much faster than thought.


Steve I've been watching and thinking about this since Waynes post in october when he pointed out that despite the satelites telling us sea ice was forming, the conditions were not right, that is although the sea was cold enough air temps were above -11C and he suggested we had snow cover. Consequently a thin insulating layer protected the ocean and sufficient time passed for the summer melt waters to be flushed out. I'd say it's a racing certanty that most of the fresh water has been flushed out, but I don't always win my bets.

Nick Stokes

I've made a high resolution SST animation of the Arctic region over the last year. It shows the ice as a region of zero anomaly, but also shows some of the heating influences during the summer. It also shows the recent extent of icefree see in the N Atlantic.

There's an Antarctic animation too. The circumpolar currents are interesting.

Jim Hunt

Thanks for those strangely synchronous animations Nick. Further to my recent comment over on the PIOMAS thread, I note that the "Morris Jesup Polynia" I refer to over there makes brief appearances in your 2011 video, as well as in 2012.

Seeing it sooner would have saved me a lot of head scratching!



Steve Bloom

John, off-hand I would expect given the warmth of the NA water that the ice would go very quickly without the fresh water layer. Serendipitously, I just spotted this new under-review paper that may shed some light on things.

Steve Bloom

Urk, sorry about that last. Wrong thread.

Steve Bloom

Hmm, I take it back. Very strange Typepad behavior; for a moment it was showing me the PIOMAS thread.

Steve Bloom

Werther, it's very late (early) for me and I'm off to bed, but just to note that the yedoma permafrost is huge, thick and as old as the Pleistocene since Siberia doesn't glaciate. Isn't the Yamal part of that?

But without considering your figures carefully, I think the key point is Schaefer's finding that the permafrost release (much methane, too, right?) would be large enough to become self-sustaining in the very near future. The danger of the preocess described in this new paper is that it could result in a much higher spike, which in turn could do other damage.

BTW, I somehow missed the Lake Toolik results and so would appreciate a reference. TIA.


 photo Yedoma_zps1417c548.jpg

Thanks, Steve, another interesting natural feature!
Part of the space where I'd referred to in my post, yes. But a different geologic background.
PS think I messed with the calc units once more. Hope I won't attract the wrath of our better math friends. Get back later...


This picture struck me as rather beautiful showing swirls of ice in the East Greenland current. I thought I would share it

Aaron Lewis

Nightvid Cole
Given that the system contains large amounts of ice and clathrates that are thermodynamically discontinuous at their melting points and boiling points, I concur that the system cannot be solved analytically. However, It may be possible to use numeric simulation to estimate its behavior with the necessary accuracy.
Likely, the time scale is set by the release of carbon from natural reservoirs. Contenders include free methane in porous geologic formations capped by permafrost, clathrates in the sea floor, biologic breakdown of melting tundra, and oxidation of melting tundra to CO2. However, this is not a race, it is the cumulative impact from all sources.

Once one considers carbon feedbacks then the whole concept of “climate sensitivity “ is nonsense. When the system is warm enough for various forms of carbon to mobilize from their repositories then there is a surge of methane (and CO2), and the anthropogenic carbon emissions that climate sensitivity is related to, and calculated on, are irrelevant. Note that the system is large, and rate of carbon feedback emissions are dependent on total joules of warming (including all feedbacks) rather than on time.

The rate limiting factor is how fast the CH4 & CO2 do mobilize from their repositories into the atmosphere. When large plumes at high concentrations are rapidly emitted, they make their own weather to speed atmospheric mixing.

Espen Olsen

Amundsen related :

Expedition diary up for sale


Was sold today for +/- Euro 20.000,-


From the "some of the people all of the time" department:



I just saw that. That's some truly bizarre spin. :-)

Steve Bloom

Aaron, note that the idea of Earth System Sensitivity is to take all feedbacks into account. The nature and timing of carbon feedbacks remains a hard problem, though.

Chris Reynolds

WTFWT? Bunch of mindless knuckle draggers.


I have updated the AIRS and IASi 10 days methane comparison for Feb 1-10, 2013. The 600 mb IASI are not as extreme as late January, but the daily METOP 2 IASI is showing higher concentrations at lower altitudes.



Ghoti Of Lod

Once again the denialist Canadian government is suppressing publication of Arctic science. See Andreas Muenchow's blog post.


Espen Olsen

Just a question, has any vessel of some kind, ever sailed in from the north entrance of Nares Strait and through that to the south?

Jim Hunt

I suspect I'm taking your question slightly too literally Espen, but the answer is yes. In 2003 the Healy sailed out of the north entrance of Nares Strait, did a quick U-turn, then sailed back south again:




Sadly it's not a "once again", but rather a "still".

Our Conservative gov. believe's that AGW is a "Liberal Myth" & uses it's sweeping powers to ensure that facts don't interfere with ideology.



Occasional contributor to this blog, Dr Andreas Muenchow, is in the news here:


Further info from his own blog here:



A Question:

The greenhouse potential for CH4 in given as 25 x CO2 over 100 yrs or as 72 x CO2 over 20 yrs, yet the atmospheric lifespan is only 12.4 yrs.

What is the equivalency for CH4 during 12.4 yrs, or over much shorter time frames when presumably almost all of the gas is viable?

If a "cloud" of CH4 bubbled out of the ESAS and drifted over the Karla Sea, what effect would this have directly under the "cloud" during the week, month or season that it remained in place?

Simply running the 20 and 100 year figures backwards to 12.4 yrs gives hugely divergent results so I assume this isn't the correct methodology. It seems intuitive that the short term effects are going to be much stronger than in longer term, but I have no idea how much stronger.

Hope this isn't a double post!


Andreas Muenchow

The USCGC Healy in 2003 entered Nares Strait from the south, as did every other surface vessel (we do not know about submarines). All data from this 2003 expedition are public and posted in easy-to-use ASCII format at http://www.udel.edu/CATS/index.html ... use as you see fit. The first ship to enter the northern reaches was HM Discovery in 1875 commanded by Sir George S. Nares. The last ship to enter the same waters was the CCGS Henry Larsen who reached its farthest north in 2012 near 82 degrees and 15 minutes north.


I just wanted to make note (and if someone else has already done so, my apologies) that as of Day 45 (2/14), CT SIA is currently at 13.231 million km2, which is already 87,000 km2 greater than 2011's record low area maximum of 13.144 million km2. Since it's likely to be around three to four more weeks (or longer) before this year's maximum is reached, the 2013 maximum may very well end up higher than just about any year since 2003. I wouldn't be surprised, in fact, if SIA were to nudge over the 14 million mark this year for the first time in a decade.

However...as has been stated many times, including after last year's late and high maximum--all the new ice is thin and fragile, and will begin to disappear in massive clumps once the sun starts popping over the Arctic horizon.

Jim Hunt

The Grauniad suggests that "Canada's environmental activists seen as 'threat to national security'":



Jim, in CT SIA only Bering sea is above average - as we have seen last year, that probably does not say much... the wind is again like that. Weather does not help against AGW-effects.

Espen Olsen


Thanks for the answer, does that mean no surface vessels passed true the Nares Strait the whole way from the north, whatever that is? And is there any rules for such a passage?

Artful Dodger

Hi Terry,

The methane oxidation rates you provide are per GWP values and lifetimes from 2007 IPCC AR4: (see Table 2.14, page 212 in the AR4 pdf linked on this page)


However, it is appropriate to use the current concentration of CH4 for climate forcings in this year. The 1 year C02e for CH4 is about 120x.

As long as methane levels continue to increase, the methane oxidation rate is irrelevant, as any CH4 decomposed is automatically measured as CO2. No modeling or estimating required.




Thanks for the great question on CH4 forcing, it was something I needed to think about again.


Thanks for the CH4 GWP source, I'm adding the information to the CH4 pages I maintain.


Artful Dodger

On another thread, Bob Wallace wrote:

"World wide emissions are still rising largely due to China and India."

Hi Bob!

I'm familiar with the back story to Chinese coal consumption, but can you tell us more about India? Are they also building masses of new coal-fired generation?

I've heard elsewhere that off-grid micro-solar is a large and accelerating trend in India. How does that affect their emissions trajectory? And are there currently plans for grid-based wind or solar projects?


Artful Dodger

h/t to Kevin McKinney for this link on another thread to Time for change: China flags peak in coal usage.

I'm concerned about the correct interpretation of this particular statement:

"The State Council last week set a total primary energy consumption target (including renewable energy and transport fuel) of 4 billion tonnes of “standard coal equivalent” in the five years to 2015. Confusingly, 1 tonne of actual coal equates to about 0.68 tonnes of coal equivalent, according to Dr Jiang."

Does this mean that China's goal of 4 billion tons of coal will actually see 4/0.68 = 5.9 billion tons of coal burnt? And how does renewable energy figure in? Does including it allow more coal to be burned without reporting? Anybody have some clarity on this plan?

Nonetheless, less do some quick math. At the thermal coal ratio of 2.86 tons CO2 per ton of coal, burning 5.9 billion tons of coal produces 16.8 billion tons of CO2 per year.

Then, SkS reports that 1 ppm of atmospheric CO2 is equivalent 7.81 billion tons of CO2. That means coal combustion in China adds 2.15 ppm annually to the atmosphere (if they are indeed burning 5.9 billion tons).

Now obviously, carbon sinks in the natural world remove some of this, and other, human caused CO2 but clearly the carbon sinks are overwhelmed and unable to keep up.

But since 2.15 ppm is almost exactly how fast the Earth's atmosphere CO2 level is rising, and China uses half the world's coal, we can get to a zero annual increase in CO2 by cutting worldwide use of coal in half.

Sounds simple? Sound like a worthy goal? Let's make a better plan, and Let's roll!


Espen Olsen


Heading North. Passed the 1.4 million line on February 16 2013 at 14,018,906 km2



The 1 year C02e for CH4 is about 120x.

Intuitively it seems as though the 120x CO2e is far too low. If you can provide a link or an explanation of how you arrived at that figure I'd appreciate.

"As long as methane levels continue to increase, the methane oxidation rate is irrelevant, as any CH4 decomposed is automatically measured as CO2. No modeling or estimating required."

I'm not sure why increasing levels are necessary for this to be true. If levels are static, rising or lowering there has to be greenhouse effect at that moment that is independent of how much longer the CH4 will be with us.

While it's interesting to know what the effect will be compared to CO2 over a 20 or 100 year period, it would also be interesting to know what the effect will be over the particular melting season that we are watching - and perhaps over a shorter time period over a particular ice formation that happens to lie beneath a dense "cloud" released from a short lived plume.


Please ignore the above - I was trying to figure out the HTML tags and hit post instead of edit.


[Fixed, N.]



"However, it is appropriate to use the current concentration of CH4 for climate forcings in this year. The 1 year C02e for CH4 is about 120x."

Intuitively it seems as though the 1 yr 120x CO2e is far too low. If you can provide a link or an explanation of how you arrived at that figure I'd appreciate.

While it's interesting to know what the effect will be compared to CO2 over a 20 or 100 year period, it would also be interesting to know what the effect will be over the particular melting season that we are watching - and perhaps over a shorter time period over a particular ice formation that happens to lie beneath a dense "cloud" released from a short lived plume.

If I'm lying in bed for 100 min with two blankets over me and after 12.4 min, one of the blankets is removed the effect that the second blanket had over the first 20 min, or over the whole 100 min period might be of far less importance than the effect it was having while it was actually in place.

As you stated oxidation rates should be irrelevant if what we are interested in is the real time effect that an increased level of CH4 is having on temperatures directly beneath a plume or cloud that is not yet mixed with the rest of the atmosphere.

A4R's charts seem to indicate high levels of CH4 over ice free areas. Is it possible that these are ice free areas simply because they lie under high level concentrations of CH4 or more likely that these areas are exuding more CH4 which is in turn trapping more long wave radiation which again is causing more CH4 to be released? A positive feedback mechanism working in a possibly very small geographical area & over a short time period.


Sorry but for some reason I can't seem to control the italicize function - looks fine until I check it in preview - hope it's clear enough this way.

Jim Hunt

Lodger - According to Scientific American "India is poised to contend with China as the globe's top consumer of coal"


However their grid is struggling even more than the United States' at present:


Maybe "bottom up" is the way forward instead?



Lodger & A4R

"As long as methane levels continue to increase, the methane oxidation rate is irrelevant, as any CH4 decomposed is automatically measured as CO2. No modeling or estimating required."

I'm not sure why increasing levels are necessary for this to be true. If levels are static, rising or lowering, the greenhouse effect at that moment should independent of how much longer the CH4 will be with us.

I see the oxidation rate a hugely important when we're concerned with the cumulative effect of CH4 releases over long periods of time.

When we're concerned with how the Arctic ice is behaving during a particular melt season, and being cognizant of the fact that much of the radiative energy won't be measurable as sensible heat & may in fact be hidden in the following season's freeze, having a number that we can plug in indicating how much additional long wave radiation will be trapped because a cloud of CH4 is over an area might be helpful.

Actually the number that would be most helpful to me would be similar to the albedo ratio but indicating the ratio of outgoing radiation that could be expected to be reflected back towards earth for each increase of 100 ppb of CH4. Not over any particular period of time, but for any time that the CH4 concentration was at that level.



Lodger and Terry,

I hope that we can source the CH4 GWP numbers, I am adding this to the following page:


Also, my observation is that we are getting bursts of CH4 from:

1) Sea areas that are undergoing freezing,
2) Potential sea bed releases,
3) Land areas with very cold atmosphere temp where potentially the CH4 is concentrating - not breaking down or being dispersed on wind changes.
4) Areas outside the Arctic/NH where methane is being released at high levels by human activity.

I think it is not by accident that the high temp anomalies in the Svalbard area roughly correspond to higher CH4 readings. I have no proof - just an observation.

Ron Mignery

Does this kill the italics?

Ron Mignery

Guess not...


Quoting A4R:

I think it is not by accident that the high temp anomalies in the Svalbard area roughly correspond to higher CH4 readings. I have no proof - just an observation.

I tend to agree with you on this. I posed a related question about a week ago regarding the CH4 remaining at it's full radiative forcing potential during the dark months, in the arctic, when there is no sunlight to begin the oxidization process. If significant amounts of methane are being released over one area, it will greatly enhance the GHG effect over that area until it is disbursed by winds. That's my non-scientific thoughts about that.


Here is something that may give us a point of scientific substantiation:

"...the US EPA uses a global warming potential of 21 over an integrated 100-year time frame, based on the 1995 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Kyoto protocol.
However, the latest IPCC Assessment from 2007 used a value of 25, while more
recent research that better accounts for the interaction of methane with other
radiatively active materials in the atmosphere suggests a mean value for the global warming potential of 33 for the 100-year integrated time frame (Shindell et al.

"For the 20-year time frame, Shindell et al. (2009) provide a mean estimate of
105 for the global warming potential. Using this value, Howarth et al. (2012)calculated that methane contributes 44% of the entire GHG inventory of the U.S., including carbon dioxide and all other gases from all human activities. Hence while methane is only causing about 1/5 of the century-scale warming due to US emissions, it is responsible for nearly half the warming impact of current US emissions over the next 20 years."



Apologies if this has already been posted:
Weather and Climate Summit - Day 3, Dr. Jennifer Francis
Published on Jan 25, 2013

Session 6: Dr. Jennifer Francis - Rutgers University
Topic: Wacky Weather and Disappearing Arctic Sea Ice: Are They Connected?


Even I can follow this, she explains things so clearly.

Bob Wallace

Lodger - India is one place where I just don't feel comfortable making predictions. I'm a great fan of India, have been visiting there for over 30 years, and have no idea what India is likely to do.

India has plans to build a lot of coal plants and they've got a lot of coal. I don't know that means that they will build a lot of coal plants.

New coal plants are not cheap, nor are they quickly brought on line. Both wind and solar are cheaper than new coal.

India is starting to install a fair amount of solar and that is likely to accelerate. Solar gets paid back fairly quickly when it lets you turn off diesel generators. Before India can build many coal plants they are going to be a lot more familiar with solar.

My guess would be that if/as soon as we have a decent storage solution India will quit building coal plants. The math will not support them.

India has been installing wind generation. I think they're something like number five in the world in terms of installed wind. It's very strange to be in the ancient 12th century fort of Jaisalmer and look out at a desert full of wind turbines.

India's wind turbine manufacturer, Suzlon, is one of the largest ten in the world. They produce more capacity than does Germany's Siemens.

They also just announced their first geothermal plant which will be located south of Lucknow. And they've built a number of new hydro facilities. India the world's number seven largest in terms of electricity from hydro.

I suspect India's grid future is as unsure as most of the world's grids have become. Solar has come down in price much, much quicker than anyone predicted. Nuclear seems to be dying off. Coal is threatened in places which have only a moderate amount of renewables on line. My best guess is that India will install what is the cheapest and that's going to be renewables.

India's neighbor, Bangladesh, has a very successful micro-solar program. Over 1 million installations to date with over 1,000 more going in each day. India isn't as far along but they do have a program in Uttar Pradesh and I read somewhere that programs are starting up in three other states.

The thing about micro-solar is that it has the potential to spread like wildfire. India is full of enterprising people and running a solar company which installs very small solar system is the sort of thing that tens of thousands of Indians would love to get started in.

Micro solar is doubly important for global warming and ice loss. It replaces kerosene for lighting which means less CO2 and less soot/carbon black.

Fairfax Climate Watch

Climate protest in Washington D.C. on February 17th went very well! See photos and video here: http://climatewatch.typepad.com/blog/2013/02/climate-change-rally-draws-large-turnout.html

and more photos here:http://climatewatch.typepad.com/photos/signs_of_change/index.html

John Christensen

Quote from NSDIC, February 5, 2013 on Arctic sea ice extent:

As has been the case throughout this winter, ice extent in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic Ocean remained far below average. While the Kara Sea was completely iced over, nearly all of the Barents Sea remained ice free, and open water was present north of the Svalbard Archipelago. The lack of winter ice in the Barents Sea and the vicinity of Svalbard has been a common feature of recent years. Recent work by Vladimir Alexeev and colleagues at the University of Alaska Fairbanks provides further evidence that this is related to a stronger inflow of warm waters from the Atlantic as compared to past decades. On the Pacific side, the ice edge in the Bering Sea continued to extend slightly further to the south than usual.

That finding is in line with this article from Nature Geoscience [Nature Geoscience 1, 659 - 664 (2008) that I have not found to be disputed:

Here we present hydrographic data that show a sudden increase in subsurface ocean temperature in 1997 along the entire west coast of Greenland, suggesting that the changes in Jakobshavn Isbræ were instead triggered by the arrival of relatively warm water originating from the Irminger Sea near Iceland. We trace these oceanic changes back to changes in the atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic region.

Finally, just by observing CT, I do not see any downward trend in SIA or SIE for the Bering Sea, which is shielded from Atlantic oscillations. I have not seen any article discussing this, but could easily have missed that.

The question here:

With findings like these is there scientific agreement that decadal or multi-decadal atmospheric and/or oceanic oscillations are impacting on Arctic sea ice and glacier speed in Greenland (where the fjords are deep enough to be impacted)?

Facing the risk of severe disagreement, I find this being a key question, as it would help us understand if one or more factors independently of AGW are contributing to the current significant decline in Arctic SIA and especially Arctice sea ice volume.


I’ve been following the interesting mid-winter discussions on cracks and leads, PIOMAS and Cryosat. So what does this all bode for the coming melt season?

A couple of weeks ago, I commented upon the decadal anomalies as I’ve been compiling through NCEP/NCAR since September. I supposed only cold weather through the rest of winter could maybe prevent a collapse.

In the first decade of February the cold returned to the Arctic. With the Polar Vortex re-installed, the cold has rounded up from the continental seaboards. DMI +80dN shows mean temps well below those of last year.
All through January and February, winds came in from Siberia and the Ural over the Kara Sea.
SIA, SIE and weather enhance the odds for a benign sea ice summer. CICE shows ice thickness in the Beaufort -, Chukchi – and East Siberian Seas to have grown to a ‘normal’ 180cm. I expect the PIOMAS graph to pick up well close to the 2012 volume line this month.

There are some signs, however, that the situation at max still isn’t very hopeful. We have been able to follow the structural weakness of the pack with much more detail than before. Just a day ago, A-team showed us a map that captured the imagination. The remaining, structurally stronger pack measures only 1,8 Mkm2! And even that cracks easily.
Another indication is the CICE thickness map; it shows thin ice up to the Pole from Fram Strait right into the Laptev Sea. So cold winds helped freeze the Kara Sea, but it will still melt out soon enough. And the persistent open waters north of Svalbard seem to contradict the cold temps compared to last year.

There’s the unknown factor; ocean heat content. I suppose that factor will be strong enough to melt out the whole Atlantic sector along a line indicated by the CICE model maps. Whatever weather may arrive through this summer, that is probably ‘baked in’. But it might prevent a collapse in the Bering sector.

So here’s my take. A normal summer 4,0 Mkm2 extent/2,5 Mkm2 area. A dipole or sunny summer: 2,6 and 1,7 Mkm2.


Thanks to everyone for the time and thought you've put into answering my question. I really thought that someone, somewhere would have worked this out and that I was just unable to find the results of their studies.

I didn't think that a 100 ppb difference in CH4 cover would make a large difference, but then I wouldn't consider a 100 ppb difference to constitute much of a plume either. When S&S were reporting kilometer wide outflows in the ESAS I assume that the CH4 readings in or close to the plume would be much, much higher than the diffused clouds that were eventually picked up at Barrow. The 100ppb was only thrown out as a metric to work from.

It's entirely possible that equating hot spots with high methane levels is either all in my imagination, or more likely a chicken egg scenario where the heat is causing the CH4 outgassing and there is no feedback. I'm going to continue to watch these areas during the next melt season though, especially now that A4R has been publishing the satellite methane maps regularly.

I've posed my question on a few more boards & if anyone comes up with a solid figure I'll post it here.



I wouldn’t like a concerted assault on your positivism. But as Ac A commented on the PIOMAS thread, I feel compelled to give you my point of view concerning EROEI.

You say energy return on energy investment is pretty much irrelevant for solar and wind energy. For the source is litterally endless. You’re right, of course. And that’s why we should transit to that source.
But I think it is an illusion that it could support the expansive growth in material wealth and population numbers we experienced since the first oil was commercially exploited in Pennsylvania late nineteenth century.
Let’s try an example. I can’t imagine 8 million cars and 1 million vans all refuelled on electricity through the current grid in Holland. At least, not without depletion of resources and necessary investment in other societal sectors.

So I guess possible future societies will differ in many ways from the almost global one we experience now. Much less travelling, commuting, transport, FI. Resources could still be exploited and can remain providing interesting means for communication, science, arts or whatever.
But the scale for successful (in material sense) transition will be dictated by the natural environment.

On your comment on India. You suppose nuclear to be dying off in India. A couple of weeks ago I commented on the Kudankulam PS and the Russian-Indian nuclear deal to build 16 plants, one each year. That’s not what I call an intent to let the sector die, is it?

Artful Dodger

Bob Wallace, thanks for the detailed insight into the energy revolution in India and Bangladesh. There is much potential for positive change there. Good analysis. ;^)

Seriously, have you pitched your ideas to PBS for a new documentary? This is a story that needs to be told!

Werther, agreed on the area of MYI remaining in the Arctic. There was ~2.2 M km^2 at the end of the melt season. A normal Winter's sea ice export season of -10%, and we're below 2 M km^2 MYI at the start of the melt season.

My prediction is 2013 CT sea ice area falls < 2.0 M km^2


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