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Dave C

I made a simple chart of winter ice gains. There seems to be a step-change after 2007 in winter gain through January. This year's gain has been slightly above average for the last 6 years, but nothing exceptional. We are 3/4s of the way through the gain season. Gains after today don't seem to be affected by earlier gains or melts.

If you assume a 4.3 gain to the max we are at 21.3 for max volume this year. If you take the 10 year linear trend for ice melt then this year should have 19.1 melt. The 5 year trend would be 18.7. I think the 5 year trend is more accurate since it seems that 2007 fundamentally altered things in the arctic.

So assuming that this year remains average then an early guess for minimum volume is 2.6.

2003-22.9-- 12.1-- 73.3-- 4.4
2004-21.5-- 11.3-- 72.4-- 4.3
2005-21.6-- 11.7-- 71.8-- 4.6
2006-20.9-- 11.7-- 73.1-- 4.3
2007-19.7-- 10.7-- 71.8-- 4.2
2008-20.3-- 13.8-- 73.8-- 4.9
2009-20.5-- 13.4-- 74.4-- 4.6
2010-19.0-- 12.1-- 73.3-- 4.4
2011-17.7-- 13.3-- 76.0-- 4.2
2012-17.7-- 13.7-- 76.5-- 4.2
2013-17.0-- 13.7

Feb1- Ice volume through February 1st.
GnF1- Ice gain through February 1st.
Gmax- Volume gain from February 1st to the maximum.

John Christensen

Sharing of the Cold:

It will be interesting to see where we end up this year after the horrible year of 2012.

I like to compare the Arctic sea ice development against the NAO index, and the correlation between SIA or ice volume and NAO seems not to be completely coincidental.

In the period 1982-1995, NAO was positive almost every winter with 1985 as the exception. Arctic SIA would then be protected by a stronger Arctic circulation and jet streams moving less south in NA and Western Europe.

From 1995-1999, NAO was mainly negative, where we also saw the first serious events of Arctic sea ice decline (not saying that it did not decline otherwise, but that the decline accelerated).

After a brief period of positive NAO from 1999-2000, it has been mainly negative since, but with less consistency than the positive period from 1982-1995.

For this winter, after a long negative period from April 2012 - Nov 2012 with high air temperatures and SST on the Atlantic side on the high end, NAO has been fairly neutral, and sea ice volume gain has been strengthened in January after challenges of catching up last fall.

All of this is to say, that it seems a positive NAO is assisting to preserve what is left of Arctic cold, but that a negative NAO reinforces the negative trend for SIA and volume by sharing the cold with the NH continents and taking in warm weather systems from the Atlantic.

Hoping for NAO to stay neutral or positive may get the volume up a bit, but I agree with Dave C that volume gain at best would be 4.3-4.5 until melting resumes..


Dave C, I agree with your 4.3 for gain from 31 Jan to maximum.

For melt I prefer 22.78-0.213* Max vol =18.25

or maybe 22.78-.213*max vol fit + (max vol - max vol fit)=18.3 (max vol fit per gompertz is 21.24.)

Whichever, this suggests minimum volume at about 3 K Km^3.

I think this is more physically plausible than just trend of last 5 or 10 years as it is based on the less ice volume there is at maximum the more open water and thin ice appears during melt which through albedo feedback assists in melting more ice volume.

2010 and 2012 melts look higher than would be predicted from data up to those dates. This may be pushing your trends towards higher melts. Of course this might be a new feature of the thinner ice appearing after 2009 freeze season and you might be right to give higher weighting to these recent years than I did.

Ac A

OT, but interesting, from prof. Kevin Anderson:

From prof. Kevin Anderson: "I don't think it's OK to walk past a mugging on the way to pay the mortgage. Climate scientists need to be good citizens too. Our science tells us we are killing people in poor parts of the world by putting our lights on and we need to make people think about that. Scientists need to start standing up for what they believe in. By staying quiet we are legitimizing it. "




I've both updated my Arctic sea ice volume "death spiral" graph:


...and created a new SIV graph that projects volume through October for the current year based on prior years' volume increases and decreases after the current date:


Based strictly on the latter graph, I foresee a volume maximum of about 21,200 km3, and a volume minimum of roughly 2,700 km3.


I now have a date with PC problems, which I hope to solve tomorrow. Pillow is jealous.


I have retrieved this comment from Jim Pettit from the spam filter.

Tor Bejnar

I like your graph "Arctic Sea Ice Volume - Annual Maximum and Loss, and Ice Remaining at Minimum" because it uses two sets of data to show what is happening. If extended, what do the two curves (Yearly ice max and Yearly ice loss) project for 2013 and beyond. (The curves' formulas would do.) And thanks, Neven, for digging in the trash!


Hi Tor,

they will meet soon, when Sept ice is gone probably in 2017+-3 or so. After that, the two curves will be one blue curve of course.

Jim Pettit - are you using parabolic functions for extrapolation instead of Wipneus' exponential?

The very interesting question is - if max volume will proceed to decrease slowly or will it jump suddenly down after some bifurcation point?

Chris Reynolds

Jim Pettit,

Good stuff. I like the second graph, it brings out the new seasonal cycle post 2010 - those recent years clearly have a higher rate of loss over the early melt season.

You might find this blog post of mine of interest.
I initially thought you were doing the same as I had there.



I share your concern. I have been expecting to see behavioral shifts as the ice thins and as the ice retreats. I think we have seen the beginning of a view of these. So far these haven't looked so much like bifurcations, and they have looked more like changes in rates.

Since we haven't seen widespread sudden ice loss in first year ice due to wave action, at this point I suspect that if it does occur it will be in the last year or two. Safe bet there. We are in the last two years before the first summer essentially free of ice for a day to a month.

The cyclonic systems in the last several years have churned the ice badly, driven it toward shore, pulled it away, and all manner of other things. But, it hasn't been the step change it might have been.

I was expecting that we might see any of several effects leading to a butterfly graph transition (a la Catastrohpe' Theory of Rene' Thom).


Perhaps the largest changes of that sort have been the result of the cold pole movement (a la Chris Reynolds) and the consequent movement of the orbiting low pressure systems, then tertiarily the stirring of the Arctic resulting in greater surface mixing, etc... The broadest impacts from all of that seem to be in northern Europe with the loss of summer, and in the Northeast in the New England and the Canadian maritime provinces.

Per Rene's Catastophe' Theory, I still expect that we are headed through a polynormal transition, where the states we pass through, whether temporarily stable or not, are highly dependent on the path we take to get there. And with the high degree of chaos in the system, I expect that the detailed path will be unpredictable. On a longer time scale, it may appear smoother. But we will likely be left scrambling for explanations in many cases, be hit with many surprises, and never be able to sort out exactly how the transition occurred in retrospect. Or not. Perhaps the driving forces are smoother than I am imagining and there isn't a butterfly graph of states underlying it. Maybe it is just simple bounded exponentials.

We will all find out - very soon.



I just stumbled onto this very sad news today.

Antarctic Plane Crash Kills 3 Canadians

In recognition of their sacrifice, and the great danger that researchers at both poles face I think it would be good to start a separate thread thanking them for their service and dedication to all mankind.

I worry this coming year about the team(s) that may be headed to Barneo and all across the Arctic. It is getting extremely dangerous as the ice thins.



Sam, I contemplated your post like this…

´I have been expecting to see behavioral shifts … I think we have seen the beginning of a view … So far these haven't looked so much like bifurcations, and they have looked more like changes in rates.´
The beginning of a view of behavioural shifts; well, to me they’re not changes in rates but preludes to bifurcation. And we’re not paying attention. The 300 year old scientific approach to nature has guided humanity to a deep, meaningless materialism. The philosophical problems that have risen cannot be solved by more research along established lines (courtesy to Rupert Sheldrake). The practical implementation of scientific research has allowed humanity ephemeral wealth on the verge of imminent catastrophe.

´Since we haven't seen widespread sudden ice loss in first year ice…´
Last summer presented exceptional loss of FYI, following 2007 and 2010 collapses in volume and MYI.

´Safe bet there. We are in the last two years before the first summer essentially free of ice for a day to a month.´
I’m still unable to discern weather/climate pattern change on a statistical basis. But the continued data on atmospheric and oceanic temps, greenhouse gases and geophysical phenomena leave no doubt.

´ But, it hasn't been the step change it might have been.´
In my view, the A>0 solution in catastrophe equations has been passed somewhere in the early ninetees.
I thank you, Sam, for providing the link to René Thom and Christopher Zeeman. I never liked to suffer mathematical dogma, but I have a ‘spacy’ gut feel to some of it´s theorema. That sidestep allows me to introduce time here as a distinctive property. Obviously, we scientifically understand the temporary difference between our industrial coal- and-oil era, just 240 years and FI the Eemian Interglacial, lasting at least 16K.
To discern what’s going on, in my subjective mindset, the step change has little to do with our human concept of time. It is about interfering spatial processes. Our actions are profound and global, unprecedented.
It is no use to argue whether the Arctic will be seasonally ice free next summer, in 2020 or in the fiftees. People, all life, will get to live through the consequences. And these are already here. Our approach is a matter of morality. That will probably mean nothing to materialists. Nor to people struggling to survive on a day to day basis. But to those who care or have the means, the purpose is clear.

'I was expecting that we might see any of several effects leading to a butterfly graph transition (a la Catastrohpe' Theory of Rene' Thom).'
Look here, I don’t know what you perceive to be a phase transition. But to me, it is quite clear. It is just materialist science having difficulties to discern. Not to speak about economists. Most of them have no clue about the nature of life. Economic theory assumes labour, resource and capital to be comparable… Which is the sad result of sectorized science and the excommunication of the arts. More so for the executive powers and politics, which deals essentially with vested interests. Don’t count on Obama, or Xi Jinping. We’ll have to do it based on personal qualities.

´ The broadest impacts from all of that seem to be in northern Europe with the loss of summer, and in the Northeast in the New England and the Canadian maritime provinces.´
I guess you mean the continued, wet ’12 months for the UK. And Sandy. But anomalies and weirdness are widespread now, affecting ever more % of the planet’s surface (GISS; 15%).

´I expect that the detailed path will be unpredictable. On a longer time scale, it may appear smoother.´
You are very right. That is the main obstacle for science to inform the executive powers. As they will only act in the presence of clear danger, weather is the only thing getting their attention. Not climate. Nor the fate of generations to come, or any wellbeing of sentient creatures in this world.

´ Perhaps the driving forces are smoother than I am imagining and there isn't a butterfly graph of states underlying it. Maybe it is just simple bounded exponentials.´
Now there you´re expressing what I feel. It is easy to see where this is going to. But to suffer is the true nature of this, our world of will and perception.

Death and destruction seem to be inevitable aspects of taking form. In that view we´re not superior to earlier lifeforms.

But to some extent we seem to have been granted a slight moment of choice while fate deploys. May compassion guide us, not selfishness.

Sorry for the lengthy text. I was in a mood. Good night…


Very well put Werther. Anyone who has been following the volumetric side of Arctic ice decline has to have seen the writing on the wall.
I'm an old man by most reckonings & I'm quite sure that I'll be around long enough to see an ice free Arctic. This isn't a problem that I can pass of to my children or my grandchildren, this is something my generation will face.
We've played with the figures for sensible heat release in an Arctic without ice to melt, not because we believe these figures to represent a large part of the heat budget, but because they're so easy to calculate. The energy entrapped by albedo change in a cloud covered, greenhouse gas infused Arctic will dwarf the latent heat of fusion's release of sensible heat. Even if this somehow was not the case, the sensible heat released is enough to cook things within a matter of decades at the most.
I'm very aware that at this point I'm expected to write a paragraph about how, with enough care, self sacrifice or good governance we'll be able to weather this unscathed. I'd consider such a paragraph to be delusional & don't really care to spread a message of false hope.

We've had a good ride, but it's time to pay the piper.


james cobban

Werther, I was pleasantly surprised to see Rupert Sheldrake's name mentioned in your post above, considering that Sheldrake is persona non grata in most scientific circles, and this is a rather scientific blog. For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, Sheldrake is probably the world's most formidable scientific investigator of psi (paranormal) phenomena, and has recently written a book called 'The Science Delusion' which powerfully debunks the Renaissance-era ideology of materialism, showing how its ten main tenets are untenable in light of what scientists actually know today.


I apologize for being off-topic, and realize that this comment should be in the open thread, but I wanted to add to Werther's comment above.

This blog is unusual in that while it ostensibly deals with Arctic Sea Ice from a scientific perspective (and is endlessly fascinating in that regard), it's commenters cannot help but venture into more wide-ranging discussions from time to time, since the sea ice is really a proxy for what appears to be the sixth great extinction event, unfolding in real time before us as we observe. I enjoy this blog the most when its thoughtful and intelligent commenters reflect on our collective predicament, its causes and some possible gropings toward solutions. I do not think this is out of place here, given the existential threat to our civilization (and perhaps to 95% of all species) that the dwindling sea ice stands as a proxy for. I was saddened to see commenters like Superman (who was with us last summer) stop commenting on these broader issues. Neven, it was suggested back then that you might open a thread dedicated to such a discussion, so that those who are interested in such matters could take it offline, so to speak. Perhaps you feared diluting the focus of your blog.

So I will sum up. I think that we are in this mess because our Western civilization is founded upon i) Scientific Materialism, which sees reality as a meaningless clockwork with no place for consciousness (other than as a mere epiphenomenon), and ii) the monotheistic Levantine religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) which Joseph Campbell regards as unique outliers in the history of comparative mythology in that their one God is not immanent in his creation, in other words that, uniquely (and therefore bizarrely), the god's creation is not itself composed of god-stuff, and can therefore be treated irreverently by we humans because it is not in any way sacred. There is no punishment implied for desecrating the Earth, since it is not sacred to begin with (Alberta Tar Sands, anyone?). These two main threads were joined by what Naomi Klein calls 'disaster capitalism',


that virulent form of psychopathic and ultimately self-terminating capitalism that arose partly through some bad US Supreme Court decisions after WWII (e.g. granting corporations the same rights as people, but without the same obligations), as outlined in depth by Noam Chomsky.


This has led thinkers like Dereck Jensen


and Guy McPherson


to call for de-growth, and the end of our industrial civilization altogether, as soon as possible. I think that they are right in that the only possible way to avoid the sixth extinction would be to immediately end our current experiment in industrial, greed-based capitalism, but I do not think this is even a remote possibility given our form of corporate-influenced democracy. There is just too much money to be made from resource-extraction, and the capitalist framework has no protection from ultimately suicidal behaviour.

I therefore think that our Western civilization must succumb sometime later this century, perhaps after 2050, but perhaps even by 2030 (our complexity-theory commenters remind us that chaotic systems can 'flip' very quickly to a new attractor when they are disturbed). Of course there is also peak oil to hasten the decline:


I think that we have to start thinking in terms of how best to cope with life after the fall of our global civilization. After all, as Spengler has analyzed,


civilizations historically have had a life-span of about 600 years on average. Why should ours be different? Building community will be important if we wish to salvage something of our civilization. The transition town movement is gaining traction:


We need to expect the collapse of this iteration of civilization and think about what is worth salvaging from it to bring forward with us into the chaotic time that must lie ahead, if not for us, then surely for our children. And maybe there will arise, somewhere on the planet, a wiser culture that looks back with hard-won maturity upon this, the culture that indigenous peoples refer to as 'Little Brother', and forgives.

Sorry for running off topic for so long.

Chris Reynolds

PIOMAS Volume by Thickness - Regional Breakdowns.

I've previously broken down the PIOMAS gridded data into the volume contributed to overall volume by grid box thickness. I've now broken this down further into three regions that seem to me to make sense given their behaviour in terms of extent/area.

The owning page of this data is here, with links to data at the foot of the page. You'll also find direct links in the top right hand feature box of that blog.

It's all in CSV format so you can now get it into Excel.


We have evolved, especially our hands and brains, to escape previous limitations and become an information, tool-evolving malignancy that finds great “temporary” success in eating the ecosystem. As the food runs out and the earth’s homeostatic mechanisms are destroyed or greatly altered, we will recognize the nature of our folly more fully. We spend billions studying the cancers in our own human systems and yet ignore our own deleterious relationship with the ecosystem. We like being cancers, growing and consuming advantageously, it feels good, we've earned it, we're special - until we collapse.

Our progress has been rapid and our exponential and metastatic growth has been phenomenal, but our vaunted progress will end as resource scarcity makes the cancer’s clonal variants turn upon and eat each other. It’s already happening.

Humans have been directed by evolution into a systematic organization and management for which they are unprepared. It will not last much longer, as it is an uncontrolled, metastasizing cancer. It took us away from the natural vectors of death that formed us and will drop us back into a despoiled environment that we no longer recognize and where hardships will be magnified.

Tomorrow CNBC will be beating the drum for the cancerous agents to increase their efforts, more roads, more airports, more biocides, more invading tissues and consuming because that's what a cancer is supposed to do – get rich, at least temporarily. Sea ice is a great indicator and “no” smoking does not cause human cancer and smoking oil and coal does not cause ecosystem cancer.

Call me when it's time for the first big morphine injection.


James Cobban, I've posted your original comment in its entirety and removed the others.

Sam, won't do a post on the plane crash with the three scientists (RIP). I didn't do one on Seymour Laxon when he had an accident at the start of the year, even though I had had personal contact with him once and he's much more important to this blog's subject (there will probably be a post on his last research paper somewhere in the coming week). I hope you don't mind.

Back to James Cobban:

Neven, it was suggested back then that you might open a thread dedicated to such a discussion, so that those who are interested in such matters could take it offline, so to speak. Perhaps you feared diluting the focus of your blog.

Yes, I'm sorry about that. I once thought about discussing these things, but with winter becoming almost as eventful as summer, and me busier than ever (I'd like to join the discussion, but can't), I thought of an alternative. Later this week I will announce the start of the Arctic Sea Ice Forum, that will allow much more concentrated discussion of things relating to the cryosphere, and AGW etc in general. I expect it to be an excellent complement to the blog.


My apologies in advance for the following digression from science and Arctic issues but I think there needs to be a response to
James Cobban and his following comment:

"So I will sum up. I think that we are in this mess because our Western civilization is founded upon... and ii) the monotheistic Levantine religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) which Joseph Campbell regards as unique outliers in the history of comparative mythology in that their one God is not immanent in his creation, in other words that, uniquely (and therefore bizarrely), the god's creation is not itself composed of god-stuff, and can therefore be treated irreverently by we humans because it is not in any way sacred. There is no punishment implied for desecrating the Earth, since it is not sacred to begin with..."

James, your reference to Joseph Campbell exposes a gap in either his or your understanding of the Judeo-Christian worldview of the sacred relation of the world in relation to God. Also, the Biblical-Christian worldview is counter to your presumptions above.

In Christianity, the Old and New Testament of the Bible provide the content for Christian environmental theology, with a number of excellent books recently written on the topic.

Here is a response point by point from the Bible to counter your prior comments:

"their one God is not immanent in his creation, in other words that, uniquely (and therefore bizarrely), the god's creation not itself composed of god-stuff,"

Judaism and Christian understandings of the world as God's interest and self-expression interact with Genesis 1 & 2, beginning with its first verse, Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

In Genesis 1:31, it makes clear that God considered what He had made as self-expression of His character good: "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good."

While God is not immanent (sacred) in His creation, what He has made is considered sacred or special as His creation, and His self-expression. This expression of creative sacredness is apparent in His speaking things into existence, and having rulership over it. This is perhaps most apparent in the apostle Paul's description of Christ as creator in Colossians 1:

"He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,
for all things in heaven and on earth were created in him — all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him."

The point is that God is intimately interested in his creation - both human and the planet.

Cobban: "There is no punishment implied for desecrating the Earth, since it is not sacred to begin with..."

Not so. That humanity can abuse the planet because it has no "sacredness" is not the Biblical view.

Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, states that clearly in Revelation 11:18,

"The nations were enraged,
but your (God's) wrath has come,
and the time has come
for the dead to be judged,
and the time has come to give to your servants, the prophets, their reward,
as well as to the saints
and to those who revere your name,
both small and great,
and the time has come
to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

Human destruction of the planet is in contradiction to God's call to care for it. God's response to human destruction of the earth has been part of Christian apocalyptic since the first century.

Finally, God's intimate interest in the world is apparent in Christian understanding of the ultimate end of God's intent - to restore the world to its initial created state of goodness - as He made it. Revelation 21:1-5 states God's interest clearly.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”

And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!” Then he said to me, “Write it down, because these words are reliable and true.”

In conclusion: Judaism and Christianity view the world as "God-stuff." The biblical worldview demonstrates that God is intimately interested in what we are doing to the planet, that its abuse leads to ultimate judgment against humanity - those who encourage its destruction - and finally divine restoration.

We are in a mess that civilization/humanity has made, but the conceptualization of a disinterested Judeo-Christian God needs reconsidered.



you wrote a great post. One comment did unsettle me: "The 300 year old scientific approach to nature has guided humanity to a deep, meaningless materialism."

Maybe because I am showing personal bias here, I would like to respond to that thesis only. I think, enlightenment pushed humanity a big step forward. But progress was one-sided: Reason was used for material purposes mainly. Maybe that is due to one side of our biology - to reproduce efficiently man relay on beautiful life-style accessoires, individual opinions and strong beliefs to get the girls. We are just the taxicab for the gametes and act accordingly...

If we want to survive, we need to take also the other side of our biology seriously: Our ability for taking care, when the children are there. To use reason with responsibility is also part of our biological nature - that could give us some hope.

The 100 years time-frame of CO2 in atmosphere is just in reach of human perception. My grandma told me things from a different world, e.g. when she suffered the spanish flue in 1917. But we need to look back to integration to put the things together well again. Economics teached us to concentrate on derivatives and rates. Thus we think, a reduced increase of emission rate of CO2 could save us and we could start that, just when warming becomes uncomfortable for us. How stupid short-term this one allways is!
That CO2 stuff accumulates in atmosphere and is heating the planet for 100 years after we emitted it. Even stable emission would not help us at current rates. A drop of the emissions to zero right now would still result in an increased rate of further warming until the allready blown CO2 is eaten. We must make use of reason, if we talk about the relevance of confusing derivatives of derivatives of the heating rate, which itself is only a derivative of Gibbs energy (e.g. including temperature and melt). Only to understand, what we are just doing. So - science and knowledge is essential to enable us to act more responsible in a care-taking way of our biological nature.

If you think, this one is off-topic, you are surely right. I just want this one close to Werthers good post and please feel free to move it to a more appropriate place, Neven.

james cobban

Thank you Neven, for reposting my fragments, and more importantly for launching your new Sea Ice Forum later this week. Judging by the pool of talent your ASI blog has attracted, its fair to say that you may soon have two blogs of world-class importance and influence. You are building the kind of community that I wrote about above, and that is sorely needed. I only hope that you will find the time to be as active a participant in that discussion as we all would wish. Cheers to you, Neven.

james cobban

Sorry A4R, I didn't see your comment. I will reply later on today.

Nightvid Cole

I don't want to get into a philosophy or supernatural belief discussion here except to say that I disagree with James Cobban in his claim that Western civilization is "founded on" one of any two particular worldviews. We have a much more diverse set of views than that, and many of us are proud to embrace this diversity, though some are not. I'm not going to make comments on Apocalypse4Real 's long attempt to discuss stewardship theology.

I wanted to point out that if you look at http://saf.met.no/p/ice/nh/type/imgs/OSI_HL_SAF_201302091200_pal.jpg it looks like the North Pole is now covered with first-year ice!!!



I am not quite sure why my post pushed your buttons. No problem though. Neven, I quite understand your choice about the deaths.

To be clear, in my reply to Tor, I was not suggesting or arguing that dramatic catastrophic climate change isn't happening, or that the polar ice retreat is in any way a normal thing.

Quite to the contrary. We are going through a massive shift that will disrupt and change the entire world. Whole biomes will die and be replaced.

The thrust of my post wasn't about that at all. Instead I was simply agreeing with Tor and commenting about the mechanics of getting from there to here, to where-ever we go next, and how that proceeds.

The closest approximation we currently have is a simple exponential decline. That is complicated by a more rapid and clearer decline in volume than in area. The volume signal is much clearer and easier both to interpret and to use for projections than the area data.

As the ice thins and wave action expands (ceasing to be dampened by the structural integrity of the ice; and as the greater area of open ocean absorbs more heat; and as greater mixing occurs with depth; and as ... .... .... .... it would seem likely that at some point there may be/could be/should be a step change.

That step change would likely also then involve wholly different governing equations than the things we have seen before.

Yet, as we watch the ice collapse, that hasn't happened so far. The transition though dramatic and accelerating has been fairly smooth.

The exceptions that we have seen so far have come from the movement of the cold pole and the jet stream changes.

We will still see the first ice free arctic summer most probably in 2015, but plausibly in 2014, and possibly in 2016. After that, it will be interesting to watch to see if the way the melt happens changes and whether there is a more dramatic increase in the rate, extent, duration and other measures of the melt; and how that then ripples through the entire climate system.



Nightvid Cole,

The fracturing in AVHRR imagery seems apparent in most areas of the Arctic. While we have paid attention to the breakup near Barrow, it seems as extensive at Nord, and long leads breakup the ice extending from east to north of the New Siberian Islands.

Whether much will solidify the CAB pack in the next month or so is questionable.


I have read, including the apologies, the more philosophical discussions regarding the cause of our predicament. All of it has been enjoyable.

We really are looking at simply the most awesome example of "the tragedy of the commons". Each of us, individuals and nations, are reacting logically and the result is the most illogical of all, the total devestation of the earth's ecosystem.

I do not believe we have the will to deviate from this path. We will, instead, see increasingly frantic attempts to shore up a system (human society) that is based on a fundamental illogic (growth is the solution to our problems).

These frantic attempts will eventually fail as they encounter a fundamental truth ( the finite planet earth). Studies of the environment are replete with examples of how growth systems behave when constrained by a finite resource. They collapse. Temporarily successful attempts to forestall this collapse result in one thing, more exponential growth which, while it delays the collapse,results in a more devestating collapse.

This knowledge, to say the least, can be depressing.


Sam I think that this year we've 'seen' the fresh water normally retained beneath the mechanically processed thick ice leave through Fram and with it the old normal, I feel we're on watch through the very cusp of drastic change. Of course there's no certainties but I fear I'll be more suprised by a 'normal' sort of year than something extraordinary, possibly beginning as early as aprils new or full moon, depending on local weather conditions then and no great build up of ice mass meanwhile.

Chris Reynolds


We really are looking at simply the most awesome example of "the tragedy of the commons". Each of us, individuals and nations, are reacting logically and the result is the most illogical of all, the total devestation of the earth's ecosystem.

Reading the above discussion brings to mind some quotes...

From Orbital's track Forever I was introduced to this quote from the film Britannia Hospital:

We WASTE! We DESTROY! AND, we cling like SAVAGES to our SUPERSTITIONS. We give POWER to LEADERS of State and Church as prejudiced and small-minded as ourselves, who SQUANDER our resources on instruments of destruction... While Millions continue to SUFFER and go hungry, condemned FOREVER to lives of IGNORANCE and DEPRIVATION....

Heinberg's question: "Are we smarter than yeast" has more resonance with me these days. The point made is with respect to doublings of population; at what point does it become apparent that there is a problem? In the analogy at the point before the final doubling it seems like there's twice as much room/resources for the yeast as they currently occupy/use. The end comes upon them fast. We are playing Jenga on a planetary scale.

I suspect that as Ambassador Kosh stated (Babylon 5):

The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.

But what we face is, in the final analysis, merely an intelligence test. Mass extinction events have happened before, life will recover. If we chose idiocy we have earned what is coming to us. This is the meaning of the British phrase - You've made your bed, lie in it!

Against this background of wilful idiocy I am reminded of Dioclcetian's wise words, which happen to be my favourite quote:

At Carnuntum people begged Diocletian to return to the throne, to resolve the conflicts that had arisen through Constantine's rise to power and Maxentius' usurpation. Diocletian's reply: "If you could show the cabbage that I planted with my own hands to your emperor, he definitely wouldn't dare suggest that I replace the peace and happiness of this place with the storms of a never-satisfied greed."

So if we are to conclude that in all probability there is likely no way out, what are we to do? To paraphrase Slartibartfast (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

"Perhaps I'm old and tired," he continued, "but I always think that the chances of finding [a way out of this mess] are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied.

And when that doesn't work, remember to... Always look on the bright side of life. :)


Sorry for the delay, nearly lost my SSD, so was busy reinstalling my OS and running all kinds of tests (please, SSD, don't die on me...), but I've turned the blog post into a real blog post, with a corny joke at the end!

I only hope that you will find the time to be as active a participant in that discussion as we all would wish.

In two years time I will hopefully have more time, James. For now I have to hang the sense of it and just keep myself occupied with some other stuff as well. But then I will return to my musings. Either way, I agree with a lot of things others have written in this thread so far.

james cobban

A4R, Thank you for clarifying the position of modern Christian environmental theology, of which I was unaware.

You said: "James, your reference to Joseph Campbell exposes a gap in either his or your understanding of the Judeo-Christian worldview of the sacred relation of the world in relation to God. Also, the Biblical-Christian worldview is counter to your presumptions above."

I do not think that I have misrepresented Joseph Campbell's position. Whether there are gaps in his understanding of the Judeo-Christian worldview I leave to scholars more competent than I to judge.

Briefly, here is Campbell's position, from a review of his book 'Masks of God' found here:


"Religion in the West is the story of the battle between immanence (God as present in and suffusing the existence of the world) and transcendence (God as removed from and greater than existence). OCCIDENTAL MYTHOLOGY, Volume III in Campbell's MASKS OF GOD series, tells this story: how Western mythology turned slowly away from polytheism, the transcending of duality, and God's immanence, and toward monotheism, the ontology of duality, and God's transcendence."


james cobban

And from:


"Who or What Is God?
Joseph Campbell made a useful distinction. In the religions that originated east of Iran, ultimate reality is generally understood as an immanent, impersonal energy within everything, whereas west of Iran, ultimate reality is understood as a transcendent being, a personified entity above and outside the created world. This fundamental distinction would have far-reaching effects.

In Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, this immanent source is known as Brahman, Buddha-consciousness and Tao, a reality beyond all concepts and definitions—the mystery behind the masks. All existence, including the gods, flows from this ultimately nameless source. In Hinduism, this is particularly apparent. The many gods of the Indian pantheon are part of the created world, not its ultimate cause.

West of Iran a very different understanding of God or ultimate reality emerged out of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Here God attained personhood and stands above and outside the created world. We are not manifestations of God-consciousness; He is the creator and we are merely creatures. This fundamental dualism shapes all of the other elements of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic worldview.

In the fundamentally nondualistic eastern worldview, the spiritual path involves realizing one's unity with this divine source, a realization covered over by ignorance. God-discovery is, in a very real sense, self-discovery. The purpose of religion and spirituality in the east is to awaken us to who and what we really are. In the western traditions, the spiritual path is one of obedience to a set of divinely revealed doctrines, beliefs and practices designed to bridge the chasm between us and a distant God, a God who cares, but a God who we have exiled through disobedience."

james cobban

Its too much to get into right here, but perhaps the Christian environmental theology you mention is at least somewhat influenced by the Gnostic traditions Elaine Pagels writes about in 'The Gnostic Gospels', which deals with the 52 papyrus texts found at Nag Hamadi in 1945, and which clearly demonstrate that the Church in the early Christian era in the first and second centuries AD was far from monolithic, with many branches of Christianity simultaneously extant, some of which promulgated an Immanent God.

Scientific materialism was a development that occurred within the culture-sphere of these Occidental religions, rejecting the belief in the Transcendent God, but continuing to accept the idea of duality, the separation of the material world from the mental (what religion would term the spiritual) world (this is Cartesian duality). Science could operate without persecution from the Church so long as it confined itself to investigating only the material aspect of things. But, as Rupert Sheldrake argues, this materialistic view has hardened into a dogma amongst modern scientific materialists, who position themselves as self-appointed guardians of the materialist creed, pretending to represent science as a whole, when in fact science is a method, not a position, and the materialists are actually defending an ideological position that can be termed 'materialism'. Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens are two prominent materialists. Rupert Sheldrake points out that these dogmatic materialists tend to be atheists whose antipathy towards Christianity is so strong that they will go to any lengths to deny scientific evidence for the existence of consciousness existing independently of the brain, lest this open the way for spirituality, or worse, the Pope, to slip in through the back door.

The point I was trying to make is that our cultural traditions in the West have made it easy for us to regard the Earth as something that is there to be exploited, without any real concern for its well-being. The field of Economics has run with this idea, with its concept of 'externalities'. I was trying to suggest that we should try to understand what elements of our culture have brought us to this unfortunate point, the point that Edward Albee has called 'the saddest of all points, the point where there IS something to be lost', so that we may pick out the best elements to carry forward, while leaving behind the worst. I am not hostile to Christianity, for it has at least kept alive the idea of divinity, of sacredness. Nor am I hostile to science, which, as a method of rational inquiry, is innocent of ideologies such as materialism. I think, in fact, that it is time for science and religion to become much more unified through the scientific exploration of consciousness. The word 'religion' itself, I remember from my Joseph Campbell, comes from re-ligio, referring to the ropes (ligatures) that bound a team of oxen together, with 're', indicating a re-uniting with the ineffable, with God, binding us once again to God. Science, without the dogma of materialism, seems to me to be a quest for exactly that.

Dave C

"The closest approximation we currently have is a simple exponential decline"

I wouldn't really agree with this. The data set is too small to say anything definitively, but based mostly on intuition it seems that ice melt before 2007 was under different conditions. You might be more accurate by looking only at more recent trends. If you look at the last 5 years of melt and refreeze, it seems that refreeze is catching up slightly.
2013 should be a good test. Linear predicts about a 2.6 minimum this year, Exponential 2.0. That is a fairly sizable difference.
Still, even if we are on a linear trend that isn't much consolation. Ice-free in 2017 is virtually the same as ice-free in 2015.

Volume loss prediction based on last 5 years-
2013-.7 (above average refreeze to date)
2017-.58 (ice-free in 2017)

"Which ice pack is better armed for the melting season, the 1 million square km ice pack of 2 metres thick or the 2 million square km ice pack of 1 metres thick?"

That is a good question. Based on the last 5 years, the thinner ice does not seem to be resulting in accelerated volume melt. Too few numbers to decide, but the relation looks random to me.


Nightvid Cole


I wasn't discussing the issue of breakup, rather the age of the main intact floes in a given area.

Although it would be interesting to compare the "meltability" of broken-up multi-year ice to first year ice...

Bob Wallace

I'm less interested in philosophising and more interested in problem solving. So let me pitch some potential talking points.

Let's assume that the Arctic sees its first ice free day/s in the next couple of years. What is that likely to do to our weather? How will life change for us, say over the next ten years?

More heat in the system will cause more extensive heat waves and droughts. Stronger hurricanes may occur but they may tend to take a more eastern track and not strike land as frequently. The tornado season may shift as may the most frequently hit areas. Sea level will rise, a bit. More floods and more heavy snow storms when it does snow.

Will this bring about a fall of civilization and bring the era of Mad Max? Hard to envision that.

We'll pull back from the ocean's shores and out of the lowest of the flood plains. We're already doing that.

We'll have to work harder/smarter to feed ourselves. We're working on those issues already. And we'll get some help from economics.

As food prices rise it will get more expensive to use food for livestock production, which is an incredibly poor route to getting protein into our stomachs. We'll use the food we do grow more efficiently and eat less meat.

Will we have the massive sorts of famines that have occurred in the past? Something like the Great Chinese Famine of 1959 to 1961 when up to 43 million people might have perished?

Hard to imagine that happening. We've got communication abilities such as didn't exist then. We have the ability to move food to people.

Will we get through the next decade unscarred? Very unlikely.

Ten years from now I think we'll be on our way toward a renewable energy grid. I suspect coal use will be down drastically from where it is today for the simple reason that renewables are now affordable alternatives. And a few years of nasty weather events is likely to be a very strong motivator for everyone.

The renewable energy revolution is well underway. Germany generated 26% of its electricity from renewables in 2012. They're going to hit their 2020 goal more than five years early.

Can we get this problem stabilized at no more than 2 degrees C higher than today? I think we've got a good chance of that.

Do I think we'll get there by mythology or science? I'm betting on science.


James Cobban: Thanks for your thorough replies, I appreciate the time it takes to exlpore these avenues of worldview. Briefly, I am quite familiar with the development of early Christianities, and was not considering Gnosticism in regard to what I wrote.

Nightvid: Age of the flows interests me as well, I need to update the Godiva 2 imagery and other sources. I'll take a look at what you referred to earlier. The ice of this year seems to be setting up for an interesting melt season.

Jim Petit: I am very grateful for your ongoing work, hats off to you, Chris Reynolds and others getting more numerous to name for great research!


>"Which ice pack is better armed for the melting season, the 1 million square km ice pack of 2 metres thick or the 2 million square km ice pack of 1 metres thick?"

Literally interpreted, the answer is neither survives as 2K Km^3 is way less than ~18 K Km^3 typical melt. The 2m thick pack survives a little longer as it has less surface area so it takes longer to apply the necessary heat.

In reality, we are now dealing with volume of circa 21.3k km^3 and recently maximum area has varied between ~13.1 and 14 m km^2.

Not sure if this answers the question but melt volume correlates marginally better with thickness at maximum than with volume at maximum. It correlates with area at maximum much less well:

Correlation co-efficient with thickness -0.466
Correlation co-efficient with volume -0.428
Correlation co-efficient with area -0.273

(No de-trending applied before calculation of correlation. Using CT daily area maximum, PIOMAS volume daily maximum, and Piomas Volume daily maximum/CT area daily maximum for thickness.)

So at a quick glace it would appear that a thin pack with low volume is even worse than a thicker pack with the same volume.

A 0.1m thickness drop is a bigger % drop than a 3% volume loss. So this thinner pack looks like even worse news than just the volume drop. :-(


Sea ice volume is without doubt a better monitoring and prediction tool than the other products out there (age, area, extent) and folks here have taken the analysis and graphical presentation to a fantastic level, beyond anything in a scientific journal.

However, like the other two Piomass reduces a (time-dependent) scalar field to a scalar, thus discarding ice movement and the actual locational distribution of ice thickness, which are both very much influenced by the contemporary geometric constraints of the Arctic Ocean.

Making a similar reduction of the 700 mb geopotential air surface wouldn't predict the weather so well.

The four main geometrical issues are sill depths (currently 45, 480, 620 and 840 meters for the Bering, Denmark, Iceland-Faroe and Faroe-Shetland straits), lopsided continental shelf bathymetry, intrusion of Greenland and Ellesmere to 83N, and off-center position of the earth's rotation axis (North Pole) with respect to the maximal possible ice pack gyre (center 83ºN OºW, radius 1380 km, elliptical in polar stereographic projection).

With less mass and the same wind, the Beaufort ice gyre can morph into something larger, moving faster. Previously older thicker ice was 'spun off' to a Greenland/Ellesmere refugium (called the wedge or switchyard) bounded on the east by the Transpolar Drift and Fram export current.

The animation below shows a collapse and export of the wedge, predicted for the 13th of February. The end game of summer sea ice (coming soon!) will not offer this refugium ... something that empirical extrapolation of ice thickness will not catch.

 photo wedgeMove_zpsd94dcca7.gif

 photo wedgeCurrents2_zps0f3d4584.jpg

Ac A


fantastic catch! Keep in mind that we are changing the climate in one year which took several decades or even 100s years in the past.

So we really should not be surprised be the surprises... :-)




Another great catch!! Yes I agree this site adds more real info on the arctic situation, than most of the science world, I have a feeling what I read here is confirmed several months later in some science report. I guess many scientists on this subject, think we are a real pain!
And we have the advantage we can think/write what we see, without political repercussions, or loosing face in the scientific classroom!


Hi A-team,
On the risk of being overaccurate, the triangle you draw on the CICE enlargement fits the Wendel Sea.
The one on the overview does Lincoln Sea.
It doesn't change the mechanism you identify. But the scale is not that large.
Still, I think you found another indication for the weakness/mobility of the pack.


Nice way of putting it, Alex Ac A.

Awesome new crack system has developed in the last 24 hours between Ellesmere and the North Pole. I'm expecting the long horizontal crack in the lower left to join the other two major fractures at Morris Jesup Land later today. This ice -- a lot of thick multi-year -- is headed out the Fram Strait.

The image is 840 pixels wide.

 photo nPoleCrack11Feb13_zps1c463fa9.jpg



Regarding your Beaufort Gyre and cracks between Ellsmere and the North Pole posts....

I have been looking at the SIA graphs for each of specific called out regions on Cryosphere Today. If you look at the minimums for each in the past melt season, all are at or below the previous record minimum , (all but two at zero area, Canadien Archipelago and CAB) with one notable exception, the Greenland Sea. The Greenland SIA minimum has been on a slow rise since 2003. Is this due to an increasingly effective transport of arctic ice out of the Fram, so effective as to cause an increase in the minimum SIA?



Wipneus produced this https://sites.google.com/site/arctischepinguin/home/piomas/grf/fram.png

There appears little change in volume exported through strait, and we know the thickness is decreasing albeit slowly in Fram Strait then it stands to reason that the area exported through Fram is increasing. Thinner ice might melt faster but could still end up with higher area in Greenland Sea.


Lots of crushed sea ice North of Nares Strait (Kennedy / North West Greeenland), it seems to develop hour by hour:


Check:The image 11-02-2013 1305


Crandles, that Fram export graph of Wipneus looks like straight absolute volume. Is there another version that is normalized to the volume remaining, ie percent export? (Since volume is trending down, this would have the effect of export trending up. Can't export what's not there.)

Thanks, Werther. For the lower figure, I simply took a clean heuristic figure from the dozens available on a google search on "image Beaufort Gyre"). No two depictions were alike! (Indeed the Navy ice speed and drift animation shows considerable short-term variation.)

Research -- including wedge flyovers -- initiated back in 2006 resulted in a much more nuanced characterization of the Beaufort Gyre in 2012 (lower central salinity, correlation of flow with Arctic Oscillation index, and so forth). Beaufort Gyre is obviously less studied in winter.

The shelf-life of sea ice research -- relevance of yesteryear to today -- may now be very short. We may be looking here at sliding off entire contents of the 85th parallel-to-pole spherical cap.

 photo beaufortGyreSwitch_zpsbacb5b09.png



>" Is there another version that is normalized to the volume remaining, ie percent export?"

Do you need another version? Why not just work out the trend in volume remaining?

I am not quite sure what volume you want to use (average for year/April/.../volume in area it is moving from/...).

Jim Hunt

Prompted by A-Team's recent predictions for the Wandel Sea, I note that DMI are currently displaying a fairly clear picture of the area:

I decided to go back over previous years at around the same time of year, and unexpectedly found myself answering a question first posed at the beginning of last December about previous occurrences of the "Morris Jesup Polynia". Here's another DMI image, this time from February 14th 2011:

Wunderground confirms temperatures were 20 °C above "normal" at Nord back then too, again with strong southerly winds.

I guess the next obvious question is when will be the next time that something similar happens?


I've released Bob Wallace's comment from captivity. Sorry for the delay, Bob. TypePad doesn't let me know here are comments in the spam filter. Besides, it should know by now that Bob Wallace is bona fide.


The 2m thick pack survives a little longer as it has less surface area so it takes longer to apply the necessary heat.


So at a quick glace it would appear that a thin pack with low volume is even worse than a thicker pack with the same volume.

A 0.1m thickness drop is a bigger % drop than a 3% volume loss. So this thinner pack looks like even worse news than just the volume drop. :-(

Thanks, crandles. Those were the lines I was thinking along of. But PIOMAS itself is not showing a drop in average thickness, so maybe things really are looking a bit less grim that at the start of the year.


You folks might already have seen this, but if not please take a look at how the GL Lincoln sector has deteriorated over the past few days. Compare 2013-02-12 12:55 UTC with 2013-02-09 13:25 UTC, which are both pretty cloud free.

Access link is

Ac A


thanks for perspective, however:

The renewable energy revolution is well underway. Germany generated 26% of its electricity from renewables in 2012.

I would not call it "energy revolution" - it is heavily debt-fossil-fuel-based, in an super rich car-export economy. NOT a model for most countries, IMHO

Now, I am NOT saying that we should NOT use fossil fuels to transition to low carbon economy, in fact, we should do (almost) ONLY that.

I am saying that BAU (growth based economy) is finished, green or non-green. Global fraction of energy from renewables might be growing, but is miniscule still, and we are forced to go WAY DOWN with our total energy consumption, which will by implication reduce also our total ecological footprint in the long-term.

Even if wind touches 300 GW of installed power and solar crossed 100 GW - it still is electrical energy, not solving by almost any meant liquid fuels problem (a.k.a. peak oil), which will drive prices of *everything* up, as well as worsen international mood between and within contries (already happening).

What I can say with confidence is, that the world will be MUCH different in 10 years from now, and the rate of change will be MUCH faster than during 2002-2012.

And I don't think be "change" necessarily positive change...



"maybe things really are looking a bit less grim that at the start of the year"

Morning Neven,
I had a sort of same hunch. Probably as a result of the persistent high in the Sib sector, extent trend and DMI +80dN through the last four weeks.
A little bit of hope, mixed with a strange disappointment, since I want more 'proof'.

But have you compared the CICE thickness model 20120217 to this years?
That doesn't look hopeful at all.

The Atlantic sector looks very thin, right up to the pole and into the Laptev Sea.

Bob Wallace

Alex, you are making an assumption, apparently, that our supply of oil is soon to be significantly unable to keep up with demand. I will suggest that is fairly unlikely.

If supply does tighten the immediate effect will be to lower demand. Those who can least afford oil will cease purchasing it or will purchase less. There will be more carpooling, more use of public transportation, less optional driving. There's significant elasticity in demand.

Then, there are the ongoing increases in vehicle efficiency. Over the next ten years efficiency will greatly improve, especially in US cars and trucks. That's now dialed in.

Finally, if oil supply does significantly tighten, within 3-4 years of it becoming obvious we can shift production to plug-in hybrids. That's how long it takes to bring a new vehicle design to market. And a few companies already have PHEVs on the road.

85% of all US driving days see vehicles traveling 40 or less miles. Within the electric range of the Chevy Volt. For those other 15% of driving days the first 40 can be electric.

50% of all US driving is done with cars that are 5 years old or newer. The average car lifespan in the US is somewhere around 13 years.

If what was offered in our showrooms were PHEVs we could, in short years, decrease our personal oil use to 25% of what it is now.

Even lower when you realize that a large number of our fuel vehicles could be replaced with 100 mile EVs.

Very expensive fuel would create a much faster fleet turnover rate.

I, too, think the world will be much different 10 years from now. I think we will be using far less coal and oil.

I actually think 10 years from now the end of the liquid fueled vehicle will be in sight. I suspect that we will have 200 mile EVs around five years from now and EVs as cheap as ICEVs sooner than 10 years from now. Since EVs cost a small fraction as much as ICEVs to operate I think the new ICEV market will be, at best, a niche.

If oil supply is, as it seems, plateauing and will, sometime in the future, start a gradual decline I see no problems. We've got the solutions in hand.

Bob Wallace

"Even if wind touches 300 GW of installed power and solar crossed 100 GW - it still is electrical energy."

World wind nameplate capacity hit 282.5 GW in 2012 and PV solar slightly surpassed 101 GW. Those numbers may be revised up a bit as final number trickle in. 2013 should see very large amounts of solar installed due to rapidly falling prices.

There are few countries, if any, that are not installing wind, solar, geothermal or tidal generation. Except, I would assume Paraguay.

Paraguay not only gets 100% of its electricity from hydro, it actually exports 90% of the electricity it produces.

Paraguay is about 1,000% renewable.


Bob, how I would like to express your approach to my wife and daughter.
They’d be happy to see me have a better feel for the future.
But I can’t. So I usually don’t bother them.

To bother you; I have never noticed you commenting on EROEI?

Since I’ve read ‘The Seven Sisters’, 1991, on the story of the control and exploitation
of oil, I’m quite convinced that the major part of technical, social and material wealth including our mere numbers were built on the fabulous return on easy oil.

You’ll have to make feasible that alternatives could help maintaining the ‘bubble’ we have pumped up (….litterally) for so many people.

Espen Olsen


""Paraguay is about 1,000% renewable.""

I guess Laos is on that list too (only electric power though)


But have you compared the CICE thickness model 20120217 to this years?
That doesn't look hopeful at all.

The Atlantic sector looks very thin, right up to the pole and into the Laptev Sea.

I actually did that a couple of days ago, and it doesn't look all that great. But I'm not so sure about the accuracy of CICE (although it remains an apple to apple comparison), and perhaps this will improve too. But as things stand, it seems that all of the MYI has been pushed into the Beaufort Sea. That used to make for a big barrier protecting the ice pack in the central basin. Until last year.

Two more months and we can start comparing with previous years. Then we look at melt ponds (CAPIE). And PIOMAS at all times, of course.

Ac A


actually, I think oil already IS "significantly unable to keep up with demand". That was starting sometimes before 2005 (when the plateau of conventional oil started), and oil prices shooted up (helped with speculation, housing bubble was already well under way). Now, most of low EROEI renewables and unconventional oil (tar sands, shale oil, biofuels, etc.) are economic ONLY thanks to these unsustainably high prices, and government subsidies as well.

Low EROEI means you need to put way more effort to extract energy than is the case for high EROEI sources, thus NET productive energy is much lower.

I agree that solar power is continuing to get cheaper (though that progress is slowing down too), and wind is growing rapidly (at current rate of increase it would take more than 1250 years to replace all energy with wind ;-). I know we can have hybrid cars, or 100 % electric cars (these were precedessors of ICE engines, BTW ;-), but they are still expensive and most people are ALREADY drowning in big debt - (not) paying down mortgages etc.

So I really think our global village is adapted to much cheaper energy prices (for US suburbs it is calculated to be around 20-30 dollars per barrel of oil) and each energy revolution happened when we switched from lower quality energy source to better quality energy source. (Nuclear energy revolution never happened, IMHO - giving us less than 5 % of energy today)

This I don't see happening today, except that rise in energy prices makes some crazy energy sources economic.

What I see instead is slow (or fast!) decline in countries like Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan, Japan, USA, European Union (especially Greece, Spain, Italy, lately France), Great Britain etc - mostly related to unsustainbly high debt and declining net energy.

Declining energy consumption is a GOOD THING, but with increasing global population it is socially unsustainable, I think.


Ac A

Oh yes, back to climate, we have another "surprise", permafrost melting "faster than expected" (again):

Sunlight stimulates release of carbon dioxide in melting permafrost




Hi Alex,
That report was mentioned yesterday on the Open Thread by Steve Bloom (in via Science Daily).

Ac A

Thanks Werther,

now, after reading that paper, I think most people are even more scared about Arctic ice, willing to even more drastically reduce their respective carbon/ecological footprints - and willing to help others to do so.

Central banks are helping us all, too, by devaluing the currencies, so banksters are climate warriors after all! :-)


Stefan Becker

>> The renewable energy revolution is well underway.
>> Germany generated 26% of its electricity from renewables
>> in 2012.

> I would not call it "energy revolution" - it is heavily debt-fossil-
> fuel-based, in an super rich car-export economy.
> NOT a model for most countries, IMHO

That's not the point, the point is how heavily it is fought by fossil fuels big money.
The point is that co2 emissions are still rising at tremendous speed and that new coal plants are being built even in Germany with planned lifetimes of 40+ years.

For the last few years now, lobbyists and their polit puppies have remodelled the german EEG to be a big subsidy mechanism for the big industrial power consumers as they were being freed from the "EEG-Umlage" but profit from dropped prices on the power-market due to more renewable energy on the market. At the same time prices for normal consumers and small businesses have risen tremendously as they had to take over the whole "EEG-Umlage" and did not see a cent from the sunken energy market prices, rather the opposite. And profits of the big power providers have risen to record heights.

And if you hear governing politics, lobbyists and most of the big media talking high prices are just the fault of the "renewable energy revolution". And they are really working hard to keep only one good renewable energy source left and that's big offshore windparks which is the most expensive renewable energy, requires high investments for new cable infrastructure and most importantly can only be build by the big power providers.

But as they say: Hope dies last


Stefan Becker

Ahh and I forgot to mention one perverse mechanism of the "EEG-Umlage". As it is calculated as the difference of power market prices and the guaranteed prices at which you can feed your renewable energy into the market the drop in the market prices has increased this difference and thus increased the "EEG-Umlage".

Ac A

Stefan, obviously, Barack Obama got it backwards:

..as long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.

In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.


There is a good write up of the Cryosat/PIOMAS observations/model issue here:


I personally would be very interested to see how the Cryosat figures look if added to any of the excellent graphs from Wipneus, Jim Pettit...

It seems to me that the Cryosat data is telling a different story to PIOMAS.

From the abstract of the (paywalled) Laxon paper linked in the BBC story...

"Between the ICESat and CryoSat-2 periods the autumn volume declined by 4291 km3 and the winter volume by 1479 km3. This exceeds the decline in ice volume in the central Arctic from the PIOMAS model of 2644 km3 in the autumn, but is less than the 2091 km3 in winter, between the two time periods."

That's just a completely different shape of graph, no?


Hi, everyone. Can i request some critic on that article http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/02/10/has-global-warming-stalled/? It is really strange - in last years we got several positive feedbacks for increasing temperature such as albedo change and methane releasing, but global temperature don't rising. So it must be strong negative feedback too, what can it be?

Ac A

Lanevn, here is one from non-climate scientist, so it might be well inderstandable (see also comments for further references, skeptical science etc.):



Jim Hunt

Bob - Continuing on from the open thread (a better place for this sort of discussion?), whilst I am a born optimist, I wish I was as optimistic as you seem to be about the future of renewable energy.

Some more facts from the "free market" coal face over here in Europe. Chinese "solar panels" are so cheap the EU is considering imposing import tariffs on them. The good 'ol US of A has alredy done so:


Meanwhile the Great British electricity consumer is suffering from "fuel poverty" whilst subsidising US capitalists:


What with one thing and another maybe "the revolution" won't work out in quite the way you predict?

Stefan Becker

Lanevn, I think this sceptical science article is a good summary regarding this matter: http://www.skepticalscience.com/big-picture.html

And the one big negative factor seems to be aerosol (global dimming) but it also seems to be one of the least understood factors.


For a few years (2012, 2010 and 1990 so far), I have taken PIOMAS thicknesses in April and September.

I discarded any cells that had zero thickness in April. I sorted April thickness, thickness reduction and September thickness by September thickness and produced averages for each decile. That gives me for 2012:

Apr Thick, Reduction, Sept Thick
0.058553478, 0.058553478, 0
0.572480337, 0.572480337, 0
1.122923139, 1.122923139, 0
1.601478836, 1.601478836, 0
2.087651403, 2.087651402, 4.43247E-10
1.317933088, 1.317448419, 0.000484669
1.548861945, 1.492142027, 0.056719918
1.930705475, 1.470039892, 0.460665583
2.220763057, 1.142817656, 1.077945402
2.895054369, 0.961668537, 1.933385831

5th Decile shows thinning from 2.08m to practically nothing. I suggest that these PIOMAS cells have net transport of ice out of the cell and replacement by thinner ice so the melt season is not really melting over 2m in any location.

I am not sure what proportion of cells are affected by this net outward transport. If I say just a tenth of cells, that would be convenient. However looking at other deciles we see 1.6m reduced to nil and also 1.55m reduced to 0.06m. So a typical thinning if there is only just enough ice to be melted seems in the region of 1.49 to 1.6m.

The thickest decile of ice is likely MYI and it does not have the advantage of albedo reduction as the ice gets thin that the 1.5m ice that melts out has. This has still melted 0.96m. That is still 64% of thickness reduction. If thin ice can reduce albedo by a third then this suggests that MYI is not proving much harder to melt than FYI. If we adjust for PIOMAS bias according to cryostat, it isn't much harder to melt at all.

Perhaps that is because 1m of thickness is FYI and only the 1.9m of ice that remains is MYI.

Here is the same information for 2010:

Apr Thick, Reduction, Sept Thick
0.070073662, 0.070073662, 0
0.579148767, 0.579148767, 0
1.087041563, 1.087041563, 0
1.819007023, 1.819007023, 0
1.627556691, 1.627299714, 0.000256977
1.707793234, 1.668643949, 0.039149286
1.873710527, 1.551606002, 0.322104524
2.190832976, 1.322599517, 0.868233459
2.327946774, 1.064743429, 1.263203346
2.643471501, 0.941755426, 1.701716075

and 1990

Apr Thick, Reduction, Sept Thick
0.028659423, 0.028659423, 0
0.354934311, 0.354934311, 0
1.311915586, 1.311915586, 0
1.636352002, 1.634613097, 0.001738905
1.57219955, 1.520422864, 0.051776686
2.070338827, 1.65018048, 0.420158346
2.427638441, 1.11041297, 1.317225471
2.832848323, 0.934815656, 1.898032667
3.793467507, 0.999020435, 2.794447072
4.958427313, 0.737480514, 4.220946799

Here we see 1.47m of thinning to practically nothing left versus 0.74m of thinning of the thickest ice.

Reduction in melt thickness is down to 50% for this MYI compared to 64% in 2012.

Is this a suitable basis for saying that the MYI is (100-50)/(100-64) = 1.39 times more difficult to melt?

39% more energy needed might be somewhat harder to establish in this sort of manner than a rather vague 39% more difficult to melt.

Hope the analysis is useful in some way. I can do a few more years if wanted.


Doh correction needed:

For 1990 it is 1.57m minus 0.05m is 1.52m (not 1.47 accidentally dedected 0.05m twice)

So 1.52 vs 0.74 only 48% of melt vs 64% of melt in 2012.

So (52/36=)1.44 times 'more difficult' to melt.


Alex, Stefan - thanks a lot.


I have one more question. In 2009 we had 260 spotless days and if we look at TSI monitor http://lasp.colorado.edu/lisird/sorce/sorce_tsi/ we see that TSI for that days something like 1360.8 W/m2. As 0 is theoretical minimum for spot numbers it is like minimal solar activity. But if we look at reconstructed data http://lasp.colorado.edu/lisird/tsi/historical_tsi.html we see 1360.14 W/m2 for Dalton minimum. Why 0 in year 1700 less than 0 in year 2009?

P.S. Sorry for my english, hope I am understandable.

Ac A


I am not expert in this field but my first suggestion is that as the Sun is getting older, its activity goes (very slowly) up. Though 300y might be a short time to explain this difference...



They say http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_the_Earth solar luminosity is increasing

Chris Reynolds


The TSI isn't based on sunspots alone, if you click on the 'about' tab on that page the reference paper refers to magnetic field.

During the Dalton Minimum the sun was in a solar minimum, we have just come out of a Grand Solar Maximum. A period of no sunspots back during the Dalton Minimum is not the same as a period of no sunspots now - the sun is more active now, sunspots or no sunspots. Lockwood estimates it will take decades to decline out of the Grand Solar maximum, which is why he doesn't agree recent harsh winters are due to the sun.

I'm not very up to date on all this now, but solar cycles was my last defence when I used to be a sceptic of AGW. Lockwood and Frohlich finally removed that defence of my scepticism.

Your English is fine, I understood your question perfectly.


I am not sceptic of AGW, just interesting in better understanding of different nuances. But if sun will really fall into minimum like Dalton or even deeper we will be glad of having antropogen CO2 to compensate this.

Nightvid Cole


This would only take an added ~15 ppm of CO2 , in contrast to the current amount which is ~110 ppm above the natural level (390 vs 280). Even the 315 ppm of the late 1950s was ~35 ppm over natural values and thus overkill! We would be MUCH better off all things considered if 85% of human emissions did not occur.

Rob Dekker

Lavern, we may be lucky, or maybe not.

The Dalton minimum lasted 4 solar cycles (about 40 years).
If the sun goes into anther Dalton minimum, we buy ourselves 40 years to de-carbonize the global energy supply.

The problem is that we don't know if we are going into a new Dalton minimum or not, and even if we do, we may not have the discipline to fix our addiction to fossil fuel before the next solar maximum will hit us like a rock.



Regarding your Piomas cell areas.

When I take your cell area*thickness from heff file for each cell for April 2012 and sum the result I get 21.592 instead of 21.923 which is 1.5% under. Doing this for Sept 2012 I get 3.343 instead of 3.261 which is 2.5% over. So there is a 4% swing in the results from just the first two that I tried.

I am wondering if I am doing something stupid or if you have managed to get closer than this and if so how.

(I think Robs areas lead to a similar result.)



Your monthly figures are off:

April 2012: 21.730
Sep 2012: 3.372

(your gridded figures are fine)

Remember PIOMAS ignores leap years, so should you.


Thanks Wipneus,

Definitely me doing something stupid, 21.923 and 3.261 are daily max and min instead of comparing to monthly average.

Chris Reynolds


I've been calibrating spectrum analysers for 12 hours - technically tricky and repetitive - so will get back to you tomorrow.


Since we're being all spirally and whatnot, I thought I'd mention that I've posted a new "death spiral"-type image.

Click to enlarge:

This one should be self-explanatory, but in brief, it's a(nother) polar plot showing September average (note: not minimum) PIOMAS volume by decade and year, with one full decade required to complete each circuit. It's pretty clear that the bullseye will be reached within just a handful of years.

(I plan to animate this one very shortly; that should be eye-opening.)


A couple of graphs:



It probably isn't obvious what I am doing without a few words of explanation.

I have taken Piomas cells that have ice in April. Sorted these by thickness remaining in September and divided into 10 deciles each decile simply having the same number of cells. First second and third deciles are completely melting out and 10th Decile is the hardest to melt.

So what do I make of the information?

Hardest to melt decile thickness has reduced from 4m to 3m over last 9 years. Melting in that area has increased from 0.8m to 1.1m. Clearly if these linear trends continue, then that hard to melt decile will take a good bit longer before it melts out.

Does that mean a gompertz tail is going to occur?
Well not necessarily, it could be a bit like saying last 2cm of a pencil is not getting shorter so it will never run out.

In the other graph, I think we can see a hint of an acceleration effect:

When the 6th decile is practically melting out the 7th decile start declining at a faster rate. Now that is practically melting out, 8th decile doesn't look like it will take long and we will soon start to see rapid reductions on 9th decile.

Even accepting that that effect is present and will cause acceleration, I am still left wondering if 2015 or even 2017 is realistic for a complete melt out.

I am also wondering if the data gathered might help with predicting volume reduction in 2013. The melt thickness in all cells needed to reach the melt volume looks a fairly straight line, but lack of the April 2013 data (until Jan 2014) may prove a bit of a problem.

Don't know if anyone want data like the following for 2012, for the previous 9 years (or more):

2012, Apr Thick, Reduction, Sept Thick, Apr Vol, Sep Vol, Area
1st Decile 0.058553478 0.058553478 0 0.135343342 0 2.275856323
2nd Decile 0.572480337 0.572480337 0 1.228269018 0 2.201264616
3rd Decile 1.122923139 1.122923139 0 1.843718867 0 1.657933729
4th Decile 1.601708739 1.601708739 0 2.534566606 0 1.538423679
5th Decile 2.087715476 2.087715475 4.43515E-10 4.501708306 6.58409E-10 2.078636502
6th Decile 1.317933088 1.317448419 0.000484669 2.052252953 0.000663998 1.402196647
7th Decile 1.549020747 1.492233631 0.056787116 2.053842374 0.062825959 1.187978717
8th Decile 1.930777577 1.469934862 0.460842715 2.420008884 0.566843745 1.219110121
9th Decile 2.220719032 1.142585552 1.07813348 2.419116847 1.156311797 1.08234191
10th Decile 2.895506614 0.961791267 1.933715346 2.403389003 1.556060664 0.835787902

Cells 16534
Apr Vol 21.5922162
Sept Vol 3.342706164
Vol Reduction Equivalent if in all cells 1.7688

Tor Bejnar

Another great presentation, Jim!

I noticed today that there is not a PIOMAS wikipedia article, although PIOMAS is mentioned in the article "Measurement of sea ice". I imagine someone at the Polar Science Center (PSC) could write one. The article on PSC's website answered all my questions about how the model works.

Wayne Kernochan

@lanevn: according to Hansen, the temperature of the Earth due to the Sun's light/heat goes up by 1 degree Centigrade every billion years. While this has imperceptible effects over human time periods, it does say that (because, according to Hansen, we are apparently surprisingly near Venus' acid-rain-plus-heat life-ending "runaway greenhouse effect") the results of human carbon emissions are much more dangerous than they would have been 2 billion years ago.



Great image, and hats off to all who create simple yet powerful images to help depict what is happening to Arctic sea ice.

I have a question: Does anyone know of a paper or study on the impact of smaller intense SLP's on Arctic Ice during winter?

I have spent about three hours this evening tracking when a major fracture occurred north of Greenland in the last week on the Ellesmere - Pole AVHRR imagery and narrowed its formation to a 4-8 hour window in correlation with a small low pressure system that moved over the pole.



Chris Reynolds


Any OWFE comments you have we can carry on over at my blog (or here if you prefer). But this new stuff you're doing is best discussed here I think.

The finding of less thinning for the thickest ice is supported by these grpahics, check out AnnRangeLossXXXX which is simply March thickness minus September thickness.
Darker reds being less thinning than lighter reds - this shows a depression in contours of thinning as one heads from the periphery into the central pack. Darker colours into the Fram Strait are due to net ice transport into that region.


Chris, thanks for pointing out your annual range graphs. Yes I think less thinning of thicker ice is well supported.

To me
only shows limited hint of acceleration.

8th Decile was down to 1.93m thick in September which is little more than 1.77 melt in 2012. 8th Decile is clearly disappearing fast likely to be practically gone this year. With 7th and 8th deciles gone any accelerating effect now has to impact 9th and 10th deciles because that is all that is left. I guess that could cause more acceleration than is apparent on above graph.

Any thoughts on:

My calculation of MYI being around 1.44 times more difficult to melt and more FYI attached to bottom of MYI now than in past

How long the last decile of thick ice take to melt out.


Jim, that's your best one yet! I always liked the polar plot, but thought it had a bit much detail to be really punchy - this is a classic case of less is more.

I like the animation you've done, too - again simple but effective.

Chris Reynolds


I'm not sure strictly about MYI being 1.39 (or 1.44) times more difficult to melt. The calculation is fine, the issue hinges upon what exactly raises the thickness of a grid box to well over 2m.

I suspect that part of the difference between 1990 and 2010 or 2012 is lower concentration of MYI in the grid box cell. As the cell thickens into winter a greater proportion of FYI within the cell would increase the range of thickness between April and Sept, as the FYI within the MYI thickens rapidly thermodynamically. However the MYI itself doesn't thicken rapidly thermodynamically. This process reverses in the summer. Whereas with a largely MYI grid cell there would be overall less thermodynamic thickening hence the annual range would be less.

This indeed seems to be the case with your decile 10 data for 2010 and 1990.

The seasonal thinnings are:
1990 0.74
2010 0.94
2012 0.96
I see this not as MYI melting more per se, but as FYI within the largely MYI grid cells melting more (or slightly less than FYI in a purely FYI grid box). Three data points don't make a trend of any confidence. Is this generally an upward trend for the years you have?

As for the suggested persistence of thick ice and the Gompertz tail. I'm interested in the inverse of CAPIE for August as a measure of dispersion. ie.
NSIDC Aug Extent / CT August Area.

I've honed in on that because I'm compiling a list of indicators and I think the final years of the pack will feature late summers with the remnants of MYI as blocks bobbing around in the ocean. The dispersion index is already rising and I suspect will climb significantly in years to come as the pack fragments.

Chris Reynolds

Forgot to add...

I don't see a long tail as reasonable, especially given Cryosat backing up PIOMAS. But a short tail is feasible, with larger extents than areas due to dispersed remnants of the MYI pack. Hence greater dispersion index.

Chris Reynolds

Actually I ought to justify my claim about sub-grid processing and increased thinner ice within grid boxes.

The PIOMAS model sea ice component is based on the sea ice model outlined in this Zhang & Rothrock 2003 PDF.

Equation 5 calculates the thickness distribution within a grid box.

Equation 6 is thickness redistribution which accounts for thickening due to ridging.

Equation 8 is the thermodynamic equivalent of equation 6 and has a role in equation 7,

As I understand it - and I'm no mathematician) - as the ice thins the thickness distribution (Gaussian) calculated at sub grid level should bring into play effects of increase FYI within the cell. Term g is the thickness distribution function and plays a role in both thickness and enthalpy - implying a sub grid scale impact of thinning.


>"Three data points don't make a trend of any confidence. Is this generally an upward trend for the years you have?"

It is pretty noisy compared to just looking at 3 years. Yes, more early years should be looked to at if any sort of measure is possible.

10th Decile
Year Apr Thick Thinning
2012 2.8955066 0.961791
2011 3.1260451 1.275351
2010 2.6434715 0.941755
2009 3.5456704 0.943563
2008 4.0532420 1.187363
2007 3.9751804 0.895240
2006 3.1515258 0.556656
2005 3.8071072 0.970840
2004 3.6717502 0.704669
2003 4.0464449 1.031151

3 smallest in first half of years is as possible as 1 in 8 if randomly distributed so I don't think a trend is proved but perhaps it is likely.

>"I see this not as MYI melting more per se, but as FYI within the largely MYI grid cells melting more (or slightly less than FYI in a purely FYI grid box)."

With only 3 years looked at, there was an amateurish assumption of later years being preferential melt of FYI but for earlier years the ice would be mainly MYI. This would need a substantial improvement with more years data looked at. With such noisy data it may well not be possible to generate a sensible estimate of different proportions of MYI melting.

>"But a short tail is feasible"

Sounds fairly sensible to me. 9 years for 4m to reduce to 3m with some acceleration reaching 2m might take around 5 or 6 years rather than 2 years on Wipneus volume extrapolation.

The area of the 10th decile is consistently about 0.83m Km^2; smaller than other deciles because the cells concerned are near Greeenland.

Thank you for your replies above.

Chris Reynolds

Thanks for the longer series.

At best there's a suggestion of higher values prevailing after 2007. But in view of thinning as small as 1990 in that set. I think the most conservative assumption is no trend.

I had a vague memory of doing something similar to this. I was right.

I have scatter plots of initial thickness of each data point (X axis) vs thinning of each grid point from:
Case 1: Pre 2007, 1978 to 1982 vs 2002 to 2006.
Case 2: Post 2007, 1978 to 1982 vs 2007 to 2011.
A graph for each month.

I've got a rough draft of a blog post, it was all done just before I fell ill last year - which is probably why I forgot so totally.

I also have the source spreadsheet - per month columns of thickness during each period as above. Case 2 is done. I can re-run case 1 and email to you if you want it.


Sounds interesting, yes please if you don't mind Chris.

Bob Wallace

Werther -

"I have never noticed you commenting on EROEI?"

When it comes to renewable energy, post the 'first generation', it's pretty much irrelevant.

The energy payback for solar panels is less than two years. They lose about 0.5% output per year so that after 40 years they are still putting out at around 80% of their original level.

You put enough fossil fuel/whatever energy into the system to build a solar panel. The energy from it can build 20+ more solar panels.

The energy payback for a wind turbine is 3 to 8 months and the turbine should have a useful life of 30 years or more. One turbine will generate the power to build 60 to ? more.

The old EROEI worry with fossil fuels just doesn't apply. The fuel for solar panels and wind turbines is free.

Build one and it will give you the electricity to build many more.

(And most of the materials are recyclable.)

Bob Wallace


" I’m quite convinced that the major part of technical, social and material wealth including our mere numbers were built on the fabulous return on easy oil.

You’ll have to make feasible that alternatives could help maintaining the ‘bubble’ we have pumped up (….litterally) for so many people."

Let's look at "easy oil" vs. electricity.

There's little we can't do with electricity outside of flying planes and crossing oceans. We will need liquid fuel for those things unless/until we develop much better batteries. Batteries that pack as much energy per pound/kg as liquid fuels.

We can drive cars/trucks and run our trains on electricity. We already do that.

We already run our factories largely on electricity. We run our houses largely on electricity.

We can do a lot of our farming with electricity. There may be a need for some liquid fuels.

We may be able to 'grow' what liquid fuels we need if we keep the need to a minimum. We can do that by being clever. For example, move our mid-range flights to electrified high speed rail. Start manufacturing close to market rather than shipping great distances.

Now, let's compare easy (cheap) oil to electricity for transportation.

An EV uses about 0.3 kWh/mile. Average US electricity prices are $0.12/kWh. So $0.04/mile.

To drive for four cents in a 50 MPG gasmobile you'd need to find $2 gallon fuel.

It seems to me that we're entering a new era in which energy is going to be cheaper and more abundant than ever before.

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