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The NSIDC has added a note to their latest monthly analysis:

We originally attributed the fracturing event to a storm that passed over the North Pole, and stated “This fracturing event appears to be related to a storm that passed over the North Pole on February 8, 2013, creating strong off-shore ice motion.” We corrected this sentence after reexamining weather charts. The updated version now reads, “This fracturing event appears to be related to a series of storms that moved across central Alaska starting on February 10, 2013, causing intense easterly winds along the coast and strong off-shore ice motion.”
Robert Fanney

@Steve @A-Team

I will contact the designer -- Eric Mercado and show him your initial work. I'll get a basic design from him to return for your approval.


@ A-Team & Steve Bloom

If humanity is to be included as part of the joke I suggest the classification "Homo Hubristic."

Jim Hunt

Hi A-Team,

I agree the web camera angle isn't ideal, but on close inspection the time at the bottom shows "2013-03-17 15:47:54" when what looks like "open water" is revealed in the distance.

Do your techniques reveal anything different for that date and (presumably local) time?

Espen Olsen


I am afraid there is no open water, and the camera only reaches a few hundred meters out in the sea. So you will have to wait for a while.

Robert Fanney

@A-Team @Chris RE @Jim

Well, the visible shot at Barrow shows open water. Probably fair to say that at some of that dark area is open water.


Check this out... Lincoln Sea thick ice has got its own little cracking regime going.

I suppose the latest originates from the loss of buttressing once the huge shoreline crack opened. Not done yet either...

 photo LincolnSea3_zps4e52bd9a.gif

Espen Olsen


Espen Olsen


Those cracks will soon be close to or even enter Robeson Channel, and it may start some action further down the drain (Nares Strait)!


A-Team, have you seen the new video's on the barrow website? I notice they've got the webcam working again.

This one is a one day starting in the evening of 17 March.


It certainly looks like open water. OK it's got a skin on it again now, but it was open water.

Jim Hunt

@Espen - As the current webcam image reveals there is certainly no open water off Barrow now. The image purporting to have been taken on the afternoon of the 17th looks very different however.


Barrow is 234 kilometers from the center of the warm ice (dark area on infrared). That's 146 miles away. (Or 145.75 miles farther than the Barrow cam can see.)

Your best bet here is not infrared but rather Jaxa-Ijis color radar because that always has open water to the south as internal reference..

Jim Hunt

Hi A-Team,

Thanks for that suggestion. I went over to JAXA, and this is what I've come up with, in this case from the 16th:

I reckon the colours in the bottom left and top right bear a certain resemblance to each other.



This is what Lance-MODIS had two days ago, I believe Barrow is in or near the red rectangle:

Steve Bloom

That would be great if a pro can do it, Robert. I have a good sense of scale and can fake competent (non-fancy) graphic art, but it takes me a long time.

Steve Bloom

Also, Robert, do we need more clarity on the changes that should be made?


It appears that work has begun at Barneo for the season. With the extensive fracturing of the arctic sheet, they need to be very careful.


Jim Hunt

Wandering aimlessly around the corridors at NASA I've stumbled across the wondrous Worldview. Here's a picture of the Barrow area (albeit "upside down") on the 16th:

and here's a link to Cape Morris Jesup earlier today.

Have a play!


"We corrected this sentence after reexamining weather charts. The updated version now reads, “This fracturing event appears to be related to a series of storms that moved across central Alaska starting on February 10, 2013, causing intense easterly winds along the coast and strong off-shore ice motion.”

Better because there is a correlation with actual buoy displacements. But apparently incomplete. Is it possible to play back the tape? Or A-Teams blue animation with dates on them?

Chris Reynolds


FWIW I'm anticipating a record steep spring volume loss in PIOMAS, and at least as steep an early June drop in CT Area anomalies, followed by the sort of steady downward slope seen in 2011 and 2012.

PIOMAS vol anoms.

CT Area Anoms.

June thickness (PIOMAS)

Robert Fanning & Others,
Thanks for pointing out the open water there. Not sure it covers the same area as the dark spot on the IR image - but scale can be deceptive, and I'm too busy to dig further.


Morning Chris,

A large decline is likely yes. Quoting from my post on the Forum (“…fracturing event…”):
‘ Third, SIA/SIE, even PIOMAS volume might be delusive. All have picked up through side effects of the weird winter pattern. But the main effect will still be that structural weakness of the pack and 'inefficient' spatial spread of the regrowth show in an amazing decline early this melt season.’

On your SIA graph: days 154-166 were devastating last year… they were for Greenland, too, I remember.

 photo Geo500Mbanomaly0306to16062012small_zps6296dad1.jpg

So, if there’s to be seen an anomaly like this coming spring…

(PS which has been the mean this winter...)



This jetstream pattern neatly fits the ‘devastation’-pattern in my post above.

From the invaluable site:

 photo Squall300MbjetstreamGFS21032013small_zps499cf1d8.jpg

To be compared to ECMWF (rotated in same position as the map above):

 photo ECMWF500MbGeo21032013small_zps2c462458.jpg

Is this going to be the prelude to spring?

Jim Hunt

In the cold light of dawn, some further experiments with Worldview alpha.

Wrangel Island on March 14th

My home. Same date. Same scale.

Espen Olsen

Station North Greenland and Lincoln Sea,

Heavy sea ice turbulence and cracking is seen north of Station North, this can be watched from the Modis Swath material of today. Further down the North Eastern coast of Greenland, of Joekelbugt and a bit north the fast/solid sea ice is seen disintegrating.

Another big fracture is seen across the remaining (from yesterday) solid Sea Ice in Lincoln Sea.


Seems like we're all agreed -- before the goal posts were moved a few times -- that the dark area at issue on beaufort 130319.1335.4 was in fact warm avhrr ice and not open water, even though color radar shows the Alaskan coastline, Barrow and east has had open water and slush on and off all winter. (See photo montage proof on my March 20, 2013 21:45 comment.)

Because of its odd spit geography, Cape Barrow is not a good proxy for the Bering Straits, much less trends for the Arctic as a whole, as the 01 Jan to 20 Mar 2013 animation shows. I paused it on 17 Feb 13, just before the Gyre rotation began to really accelerate.

Later in the spring, we can easily make a daily quantitative measurement of total open water and total slush, counting pixles with a color picker off a fiducial area. Folks, you cannot play the remote sensing game with just crops and screenshots. Gimp is a 5 minute download -- drag and drop an image onto the icon and you're going.

Open water in and below Nares Strait is also not a good proxy for the overall Arctic, as the 01 Jan to 21 Mar 2013 animation shows. I slowed the animation down to 600 ms to highlight the last 6 days because of developments in the Lincoln Sea ice. There is some extra 'pink ice' in the upper left of the Lincoln ... the start of a trend or more wait-and-see?

 photo openCoast4_zps20a80a77.gif

 photo LincolnNares2_zps3bbe1529.gif


Lousy visibility but as Espen notes, new cracks in the Lincoln Sea, ever closer to the shoreline. The way the weather has been the last weeks, Robeson Channel and opening of the Nares are unsuitable for spring melt watching. Visible and infrared can't see through the clouds and radar doesn't have the resolution. That's too bad because people have been monitoring Petermann glacier and the Nares for decades (good baseline for defining anomalies).

 photo lincoln21Mar2_zpsf6a59530.png


Indeed, Espen, we cannot expect good things from NE Greenland. I hope people here don't trip over the scan lines in MODIS/TERRA imagery.

This one is between Nord and Jokelbugt on 2013-03-20. The original snowy imagery does not show them at all.


 photo NordscanLines_zpsb10451f2.png

Espen Olsen

Up side down?

A-Team did you notice the fractures now enter the heart of the CAA by , Sverdrup Channel, Peary Channel and Gustaf Adolf Sea.
Strange start of melting/cracking season?

Jim Hunt

Hi A-Team,

I agree that on the beaufort 130319.1335.4 AVHRR the dark stuff was "warm ice". However I'm not yet convinced that what's visible here on Worldview on March 16th, and on the Barrow webcam on the 17th, wasn't "open water"!

For more recent pretty Worldview pictures see also:


Espen Olsen

Lincoln Sea;

Only 1/5 (my est.) of the solid sea ice in Lincoln Sea (LS) is now left after this fracture went along the Ellesmere coast and went straight across LS hitting the coast of Greenland opposite:


Vergent Bill

Icebridge just flew over the Lincoln Sea.



Vergent Bill

You can track Icebridge here:


Robert Fanney

@ Steve @ A-Team

I sent the basic design on to Eric. We'll see what he has to say. As for improvements, suggestions for epoch appropriate animals would be great.

I'll let you know when he replies if we need any more changes etc.

@All RE open water.

I was able to get this shot from the Barrow Ice Cam after Jim Hunt's tip yesterday:


Jim Hunt

Me too Robert! Actually it's still seems to be there at the very end (or should that really be the start?) of the Barrow "10 day" movie.

Jim Hunt

The cracks have now passed "the point of no return", and are heading down the east coast of Greenland.



Chris Reynolds


Because I suspect that the spring volume loss of the past three years is driven by an increased prevalence of FYI, I expect this year's PIOMAS spring volume loss to be even greater than 2012's.

Espen Olsen


I think all will be different, the "Northern Cracking" will be one, among many other factors we have already observed, and I think many of us (although few in real numbers) will witness something that will make a difference to millions and probably a lot more, by the end of this year!
So if someone is really in for some action, then stay tuned on Arctic Sea Ice Blog, and you will realize, what seems to be "Watching paint dry!" can be very scary!


Steve B, Robert F "sent the basic Dumbassic design on to Eric".

Good followup. There are a lot of resolution issues going from a 3" wide web column to a cotton tee-shirt or poster. I just used minimal raster screenshots whereas it would be better to keep as much as possible in scalable vector (Illustrator).

And by all means let's have everything geologically and paleontologically correct -- otherwise it takes away from our message. And Steve, yes I know all about the timing of Afrothere and Xenarthran divergence -- those are my papers you are reading!

Espen Olsen

Yes I think there will be a resolution problem with that design, not even mentioning the logistic problem!

Espen Olsen

The cracking of 2013 can be called "The Lizard Cracking", it resembles the texture of a reptile.



"The cracking of 2013 can be called "The Lizard Cracking", it resembles the texture of a reptile."

"Cracked like an eggshell" might be another useful phrase.


No, I had not noticed this central CAA cracking before (blue arrows?), Espen. I'm not sure what it means really. And I can't anticipate what cracks will happen next (orange?). And some of it is perplexing (red?)

Ellesmere.13.0321.1454.4 avhrr unenhanced:

 photo CAAvcracks_zps8c985da0.png

Espen Olsen


We are just watching a upside down cracking system, normally it is the other way around, but don't worry everything is under control! The only thing may be it is before the Easter holidays!

Chris Reynolds


I'm still not convinced this cracking will have a major effect this year. I'm more convinced that it may be telling us the ice is really thin - which we knew from PIOMAS/DAM/ASCAT anyway.


Oh I forgot. I must be the only one around here who's bouncing up and down with excitement at the prospect of a really entertaining season.


I'd be highly surprised if the cracking continues into CAA and Nares Strait, but nothing is impossible.

Oh I forgot. I must be the only one around here who's bouncing up and down with excitement at the prospect of a really entertaining season.

I'm also excited, but at the same time I feel like throwing up. A bit like taking mushrooms.

Which I have never taken, of course! (mom might be reading)

Espen Olsen

A-Team and Chris;

To be serious, we (very few) are watching something that will have serious consequences for millions more, although it may be entertaining or exciting to some extend.
And knowing the end result of this can not be stopped, anyway, since it too late already, or if it ever could be?
But let us all report this action on Arctic Sea Ice Blog in an honest way, to at least tell the world someone cared and was aware!


Looks to me like a broken windshield.

Or maybe Narcissus (Homo hubrissimo) finally cracked his mirror up on the Beaufort 130321.1815.

 photo narcissus2_zps9a41a862.jpg

I'm saving the images -- hoping to make a crisp 20" composite of cracking at its max. Clear over the best cracks but with dramatic storm clouds over the pole.

Espen Olsen

And I thought we had problems enough up north,
but we have an attack into the CAA from the south as well:


Chris Reynolds


I caught the rave era because I was managing the installation of PBXs in the South East and one of the installers invited me out with his mates for the weekend. It would be easier to list what I've not done. Now my one remaining vice - cigarettes, the single most addictive drug I've encountered.


As I've said before, I think we're privileged to watch this event unfold with all the data we have to try to understand it.


Under what conditions would this ice NOT totally melt/be exported this year?

Even if it's a "perfect" summer for ice retention as far as the weather goes, would export through the Fram and Nares straits not completely clear the ocean by early fall? (I know the Transpolar Drift is supposed to take a few years, but all that data appears to be pre-2007.)

The images from Rapidfire, especially the image that Espen just posted, look to me like the ice looked throughout the western ocean in June of last year.

I'm trying to think of a mechanism that would strengthen the ice, and I'm coming up short. Any re-freezing at this point is going to be a joke. My gut tells me that even if the floes were driven back together, instead of creating stronger ice, the pieces would just further crush one another and contribute to saltwater overwash at this point, but that's just based on the sense that the plastic deformation that the ice has historically exhibited is no longer on the table.

(I've gotten my expectations up for a catastrophic melt every year for the past 5 years, and i'm trying to keep them low this year despite all evidence indicating that this could be The Big One. Also, I know all my comments are strictly amateur, so thanks for being patient with me.)

Kevin McKinney

A-Team, I *love* that 'Narcissus' image! May I reuse it sometime? And if so, is there a higher-res version available?

Paul Beckwith

On this 30 day sea ice concentration movie (Feb 28th to Mar 28th; last week is model) it appears that the whole sea ice sheet pulls away from the CAA, starting the last few days ago.

Lots of cold water being exported out Labrador Sea, and encroaching ice on all margins, much faster in Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk than last year... http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticsst_nowcast_anim30d.gif

Yurganov presentation last week on methane from Arctic sea floor...

Note that GWP (Global Warming Potential) of methane is about 22 (only when averaged over 100 years); this goes to about 70 (averaged over two decades; and is >170 over a few years (which seems to be the most significant number to us). Also, the GWP is based on the mass ratio (44 for CO2 over 16 for CH4 = 2.75), not volume ratio. So an annual atmospheric gain of 2.5 ppmv CO2 (=2500 ppbv) would have the same radiative warming as 2500/(170/2.75) = 40 ppbv CH4. However Arctic cycle for CO2 is higher than Mauna Loa cycle(peak to peak annual cycle varies 18 ppmv in Arctic compared to 5 ppmv in Hawaii: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/history.html ); so would need (18/5)x 40 = 144 ppbv CH4 equivalent gain. We have that already, last year CH4 reached about 2100 ppbv over ice, this year 2300 ppbv was measured. This would mean the methane may already be causing more warming than CO2 in the Arctic. Can this be right?


I'll be posting a couple of guest blogs in days to come, but will then post another blog post on the cracking event. If until then you could keep the discussion limited to this thread (or take it to the ASIF), I'd much appreciate it.


Espen & A-team

Please calm down and hold your horses!

As illustrated by Neven on his image dated March 20 at 20:33, sea smoke is clearly indicating a lead off Pt. Barrow.

We have also seen several pictures now of the traditional "NE Water" Polynia off NE Greenland.

Nothing un-usual in these pictures.

I also have to remind you, that according to my old textbook on frost cracking, it is not un-usual to have frost cracks extending to a depth of 3 m, so please don't use frost cracks as a single criterium for thin ice.

Concerning the T-shirt competition, please observe that all previous geological epochs have been characterised by a species, which suffered mass extinction towards the end of the actual period. I would therefore suggest the Polar Bear as an appropriate symbol of the "Endocene". Future geologists digging out samples of the Arctic seabed, will eventually discover 25.000 corpses deposited within a very narrow time period - a socalled "marker horizon".


Kevin, sure. The best available image seems to be 844 x 1033 jpg put in the public domain by the Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei, 10.000 Gemälde für Commons. It was painted in 1595 by Caravaggio. The original, located in Rome at Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica is 110 × 92 cm (43.3 × 36.2 in) but I haven't been able to get my hands on it. There is some dead space on the top of the image that I cropped off. (There is nothing faded there to be brought out by cleaning as far as I could tell from enhancement.)

I redid the reflection from scratch using a colorized, sideways Beaufort 130321.1314.4.png at native resolution. The lower half opacity of the painting is set to 57%, allowing his reflection to appear on the cracked ice of 21 March 2013. These choices were all arbitrary and someone else might do it very differently.

Unrestricted use, anything anybody wants to do with it.

 photo narcissus5_zpsbf87baa7.jpg



Kevin McKinney

A-team, thanks!

Very much appreciated.

Robert Fanney

@ A-Team

Yet another brilliant Image!

No word back from Eric yet. I'll give him a call tomorrow to see if we can get this ball rolling. Sometimes he gets a bit snowed under. But I'll keep at him.

Points taken on not getting too worked up on the state of Barrow sea ice. Thanks for posting them.

@ All

Love the polar bear reference. Will see if I can have a bio major recommend appropriate animals for each epoc.

@ Neven and Chris

Not really excited this time. I thought last year would wake people up. Doesn't really seem to have done much. Deniers still deny, though more half-heartedly. And we see some efforts emerging. But not enough in my view. So, yeah, I'm more just feeling sick. Never tried the mushrooms, although now might be a good time to start. ;)

Best to all.


Paul Beckwith

@ P-maker

"As illustrated by Neven on his image dated March 20 at 20:33, sea smoke is clearly indicating a lead off Pt. Barrow."

Nothing at that day/time, could you please check the location. You are assuming sea smoke, methane could also do this.

Jim Hunt

Morning Paul,

Yet another interpretation! Have you checked any of my links? Here's my take.

1. The US Navy were predicting some "very thin ice" off Barrow.

2. As an ageing surfer long practiced in divining the state of the ocean from long distance webcam views I idly fired up the Barrow webcam for the umpteenth time. I was delighted to discover it was up and running again at long last, and what's more was displaying this image:

It looks like there's a tediously flat stretch of open water out there in the distance to me.

3. After successfully following A-Team's suggestions about how to differentiate between "warm ice" and "open water" I posted this Worldview image from March 16th.

Try clicking through to Worldview and changing the date. To a noob like me it looks like "sea smoke" over open water, but I'm open to persuasion on what it actually shows. As P-maker perhaps implies, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then you wring it's neck, pluck it, roast it and eat it and it still tastes like a duck I'd like to see some convincing evidence that it was not in fact a duck!

Jim Hunt

Going by DMI AVHRR this morning, it looks like the "Morris Jesup polynia" is back with us again, along with a bit of "Northeast Water":

Jim Hunt

The weather reports are similar to the end of November too:


50 mph offshore winds, and temperatures 15 °C above average at Nord yesterday.

Jim Hunt

The weather in Barrow on March 16th:


Not as obvious an "anomaly" as at Nord, but consistent easterlies and above average temperatures.


I have a thought. Ice has always piled up on the Canadian side. But in the past there was a thick band of ice all the way across to the Siberian side. An Ice-Bridge I believe I heard it was called.

Perhaps that Ice-Bridge was necessary to keep the ice pinned against the Canadian side. So that even when the winds/conditions turned to a direction that would exert pressure for the ice to leave Canada, the Ice-bridge was strong enough to keep the ice from pulling away from the Canadian side. Hence the ice would continue to pile up on the Canadian side without breaking and shifting back when conditions changed.

Perhaps this winter is the first winter where the Ice-Bridge no longer has the strength to keep the ice pinned against Canada. So now the ice is being shifted back and forth as the winds/conditions change. Hence the ice is shattered into pieces.


Seems like the Canadian ftp buffers filled and they are nto going to clear this site and the other hi res imagery


I am looking for a way to access this for newer imagery, other than DMI or Environment Canada's main site.


The motion of the ice pack is quite complicated. In the Ascat radar animation below -- which is enhanced to bring out cracks and multi-year ice -- some 14 identifiable features are tracked.

The final frame of the animation (5 second pause) shows that the streamlines of some points are nearly stationary over the 40 day interval while others are moving quite rapidly (but not necessarily in the same direction!).

The next few days might be somewhat predictable by simply keeping up the momentum trend.

 photo tracker7_zpse5990070.gif


A4R, I cannot get any avhrr imagery from that site either. Usually they dump the buffer and start filling a new one, already a bad practise.

Now they aren't offering anything new at all. Is there someone to email there? This might be a simple computer error.

Espen Olsen

Yes it is a bit annoying without those images.

Joekelbugt / Ile De France:

Further early breakdown of Sea ice in the area today, here is the latest image from the oven:


L. Hamilton

Question asked on 2 recent statewide surveys (1,171 interviews):

"If the Arctic region becomes warmer in the future, do you think that will have no effects, minor effects, or major effects on the weather where you live?"


Robert Fanney

@ Jim Hunt

A surfer as well, I've had my fair share of staring at the ocean for long periods. And this looks a lot like open water to me.

A-Team did note that Barrow's location has seen a lot of thin ice this winter. So, perhaps, open water isn't quite so unusual there. Just thinking about the last few years, it does seem that ice has thinned rather often in the vicinity of Barrow, even during winter.

@ All RE Ice Break-up Speculation

Just as a thought exercise, there are probably a number of factors leading to enhanced breakage/cracking:

1. Thinner ice
2. More mobile ice
3. Higher temperatures
4. Loss of anchoring of thick ice around the Arctic (which makes the ice more mobile)
5. Jet stream invasions of the Arctic from the south leading to more powerful weather systems (which push the ice around).
6. Large areas of open water that result in enhanced wave formation.
7. Saltier ice (less MYI), which is more brittle.
8. The potential that large cracks produced during the summer did not entirely 'heal' during the winter and create weak points where the ice is more likely to fracture come spring.

Just a few thoughts.

RE T-shirt

No response yet. Will follow up later today.


Let's hope the good stuff resumes. Here is the best I've been able to do with modis (Arctic_r04c02.2013080.terra.367.500m.coast) ... the swaths and scan lines are a nuisance.

Wide image resumes our coverage of central CAA.
 photo modisStinks_zpsaac11b0b.jpg

Espen Olsen

Here is an update from Lincoln Sea and Joekelbugt:

Not much have happened in and around Lincoln Sea, although fractured sea ice is getting smaller in size by the day.

Joekelbugt the solid /fast sea ice is continuing disintegrating.

Latest image from Modis Terra Swath:


Susan Anderson

Oh my god A-team, that is drop dead beautiful, gorgeous, words fail ...

I'm another ongoing lurking fan of *all* the people who work together here, not just the individuals but the way you have made a wonderful and wise community.

From time to time I compare Arctic events to water vapor animations and weather patterns further south,* and find we do indeed live in an interconnected world. On the northeast Atlantic of the US, we are being pounded by the other side of that warmth up north.

GOES east:
GOES west:

Jim Hunt

Hi Susan,

To extend the set, the band of heavy rain that brought yet another host of flood warnings to South West England last night:


Susan Anderson

Thanks Jim.

I think of you in association with the heartstopping view of the Estuary a half mile past Sharpitor House (Salcombe hostel) and many other treks and painting expeditions in the West Country. Sadly, I look to be homebound in future, but a piece of my heart is out there with you. Your climate is not the nice friendly thing that welcomed me in the nineties and early oughts.

(sorry about the digression, guys)

Paul Beckwith

Excellent article relating sea ice to everything else... http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/03/22/1195793/-The-Winter-the-Polar-Vortex-Collapsed


Thanks for that link, Paul!

Paul Beckwith

NASA movie on sea ice cracking just posted on YouTube... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YWX7ChjtxY&feature=player_embedded


Thanks for that link, Paul! :-)

Chris Reynolds

The latest "Northern Canada and Arctic Ocean" from Env Canada gives a reasonable overview.

Modified to negative to show the fractures better.


Jim Hunt

Thanks for the links Paul.

Some new images have started appearing on the Environment Canada FTP site, but there's currently a gap of 24 hours or so.

Espen Olsen

This "Lizard skin cracking" is not seen before, during the time I have watched the Arctic Sea, not even during July-August and I am more and more convinced this event will have important influence on the rest of season.

Espen Olsen

The image lab is up running again:


Espen Olsen


Where is that damned pyramid?

Do you still believe this will have no real consequences for the rest of the season?

Chris Reynolds


If you remember CAPIE, CT Area divided by IJIS Extent, I've inverted it and done it for August average to give a 'dispersion index'


I've done it as Extent(NSIDC)/CTarea as averages for August, because this way round as the ice becomes more dispersed the index goes up, this seemed more intuitive than CAPIE.

I've done it for August because September includes some growth, so August is the last month that integrates the changes to the pack in that melt season.

When I see all that cracking I must admit I wonder what will happen to the dispersion index this year.

Espen Olsen


Because the sun will take over now, after all the storms, and with all that surface. It is cake of piece, I got that wrong somehow!

Klon Jay

North Ellesmere shattering.

Klon Jay

That link doesn't seem to work. maybe this

Jim Williams

If the Navy has it at all right then what's happening North of Greenland is rather impressive: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictn_nowcast_anim30d.gif

Paul Beckwith

This link is part 3 of a very well done mathematical analysis of sea ice extent, area, volume, thickness, split (extent - area), and the ratio of extent/area; links to parts 1 and 2 within... http://tamino.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/arctic-sea-ice-loss-part-3/

Paul Beckwith

The pattern of cracking of sea ice in the Arctic, as shown clearly in the NASA video (which I keep watching over and over again) is clearly going to be a major factor in ice loss this melt season (ice extent only peaked a few days ago). In the past, the cracking only became an important factor late in the melt season (like August last year, especially during the cyclone from Aug 2nd to 10th or so), if at all. Before, the ice pack decreased in size by melting/weakening on the edges. Not this year. We have a completely different pattern. The whole pack is on the move, and cracking, with numerous leads and open water spots. And that includes the thicker multi-year ice which in the past stayed attached to the northern Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA). In summary, we have a regime change this year in sea ice; a critical transition has occurred and the pattern is completely different. And it is only March 22nd. The ice is not strong enough to stay intact now, the time of year when it should be at its strongest (up to now). That is one reason why I think that the ice will vanish this melt season; I have many other reasons also which I am hashing through.

Robert Fanney

@ Paul

That NASA video is just terrifying. The ice is breaking into splinters. And it's all breaking over such a massive area. I can't see where it's possible that such at think has happened before in March.


How much of a meltdown are we expecting come September?


The ice seems poised for a big one, but it also (still) depends on weather conditions. So, as usual, I think we have to keep looking day by day, week by week, month by month, and see how things go.

I'll post on this a couple of weeks from now.


Paul, you might look around this site first before posting -- we provide much more extensive scientific coverage at better resolution than the skimpy Nasa 'high resolution video' with its 3 km Suomi pixels and Beaufort Gyre-unaware annotator.

One frame per day of intermitant low resolution visible is better called time-lapse animation. Video is 35 fps or 3,024,000 (interlaced scanline) frames per day.

We provide 20 frames per day of 1 km infrared (ie ice and crack temperature aware), not just of Beaufort but everything south of the 0-180 meridians, as well as season-long daily polarized cloud-penetrating radar and multi-season single band ice-penetrating radar of the entire Arctic Basin.

This year cannot be objectively described as unusual without including 'controls' from previous years. Indeed the 2012 Beaufort cracked out just like the Nasa 2013, except -- as we showed here first -- 50 days later in the season.

Visible wavelengths fascinate laypeople but are not much used for scientific monitoring of Arctic Ocean ice -- and not just because of the disasterous coverage gap in winter.

The reason is given on day one of Remote Sensing 101: look at the histogram -- snowy scenes utilize a tiny compressed volume of the color space. Next look at intra-channel correlation with PCA: real bad. Shannon information-theoretic quantification says you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Jim Hunt

Morning A-Team,

I hope this is OK with you and Neven:


Please let me know ASAP if not!


... can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

That means nothing can be extracted with image enhancement on visible because the information just wasn't there to begin with. That's a pity because after 60 years of software development, some amazing tricks are available for doing just that.

For the Arctic Ocean ice pack, we are primarily interested in the thickness, brine exclusion status, surface salinity, tensile strength, elasticity, temperature gradient, snow depth, micro-topography, floe perimeter, future location, and assembly/melt history of affected ice etc.

No single satellite sensor can do all that, even once area scene calibration is supplied by airplane or ice line surveys or point ice camps.

Consequently we are primarily interesting in integration of remote sensing data sources. This takes the form of a stack (time series) of GIS stacks, each of perhaps 30 layers.

A prediction amounts to pushing the stack forward a few months in time. No one has been able to do this more than a few days.

Many people have thought they could dispense with the data and information analysis and intuit the future. That has not worked to date.

Even if someone did correctly intuit the summer melt-out, consider the stock market analogy: starting with a thousand penny-stock pundits in mid-March, 2-3 will get the mid-September price of the stock correctly.

Because there was no underlying quantitative basis, this just amounts a lucky guess rather than actionable investment advice back in March.


[Jim H, sure. Nice job on that cracked globe the lady is looking at.]

... for making that silk purse out of a single satellite sensor, the best product up there is the Jaxa-IJIS polarized color radar (among those providing a useable public-domain download interface).

This is a very rich resource; we've barely scratched the surface of the information in this dielectric-sensing ice-penetrating radar. (However it does have some resolution limitations and lacks multiple year coverage.)

To see this, load any day of their png imagery into Gimp only and hit Colors -> Auto -> Equalize with the histogram open so you can see intuitively what it does -- inflate the pixel volume balloon out to the walls of the color cube. Then compare this to the other sensor imagery.

We're on our own for photo-interp however, because institutionally they seem to be in a post-calibration, pre-publication mode. Doing original research is actually more fun than chasing down journal articles -- there you're always six months behind, here you are on the front line with breaking events.

Chris Reynolds


Thanks for linking to Tamino.

I've not had the time to keep up with other blogs and have just discovered that he's been asking questions about the 2010 event. Now finally more people might be made aware of its importance!

Robert Fanney

@ A-Team

Have to agree that the NASA visible shot is not so useful scientifically or as a predictive measure. And, certainly, for those here who have been tracking all the sensors, it doesn't provide much in the way of new information.

All that said, the NASA frame-by-frame visible is a compelling series nonetheless. I think it's worth looking at in its own context.

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