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If area follows pattern of a random year movements then 31 out of 34 and all of the last 15 years suggest max has passed. Not quite sure about how expected weather should change that, but it does seem highly likely that max has passed. Perhaps still a very slight chance but if you don't call it until area has fallen by 500k then perhaps you look silly for waiting so long before calling it. So perhaps it is better to call it with a '?' added?

Espen Olsen


Be careful, with all that cracking it could easily push the numbers up, not in reality but officiously?

Kevin McKinney

Ah, I think it's a good call. Sure, it could be wrong, but so what?

"Prediction is hard, especially where the future is concerned," somebody once said.


I would tend to agree about both area and extent, but after having been burnt so badly with last year's failed prediction(s), I'd be hesitant to lay any money down just yet. 2012 SIA, after all, did see an additional 225,000 km2 growth after yesterday's date. But then again, even that flukish amount wouldn't push this year's area back over its peak-to-date of 13,799,198 km2 on Day 59. And with the forecast, as you've noted, even that much further growth doesn't seem likely.

Extent seems a little iffier as the putative peak is so close and so recent, but the same forecast applies, so it's probably done, as well.

(FWIW, "plume" projection graphs for both Arctic sea ice area and sea ice extent indicate that this year's respective maximums have probably been reached.

So: good. Bring on the melting; 2013 is going to be very, er, interesting...


The arctic oscillation is in an extremely strong negetive phase, exceeding -5


This is the second strongest reading recorded in march, in dr. Master's blog,


I wonder what the record strongest arctic oscillation is. Arctic temperatures have responded by warming to an extremely high level for this time of year,


The freezin' season is likely over, a future of greater extremes and catastrophes awaits. Those of us who live on the US east coast should pray we do not see a strong negetive AOI like this in september, if a major hurricane gets involved it will be our doom. It may be a matter of time.

Steve Bloom

"Doom" is a bit too strong. Most damage will be surge-related (note the tendency toward large storms with weaker winds) and such areas are easily evacuable. Expensive as hell, you bet.


There's a lot of open water on the Barrow webcam right now.



There's a nice smooth decline in SIE. about 40k down each day for the last 5 days.
Look for BaffinBay/labrador Sea. But bering and Okhotsk Sea too (there, spring has begun).

See also my posts on the 'crack is bad for you (...right, I get the humor now, Neven... better late than never...)thread'.

It is premature, but this could be the harbinger time.


A thing I notice.

Sea-ice is declining in Baffin Bay, which is unsurprising when you see the temperature anomalies. A large area of sea-ice there has analysed surface temperatures above 0C in the daily mean.

I would say that it's not impossible that this could change, potentially bringing about a temporary reversal of the decline.

On the other hand, if it persists, we would expect to see a very early melt of sea ice in Baffin Bay, compared to previous years.

[By the way Neven, one cannot thank you enough for putting together all these graphs in one place]


Being No fan of the meaning of maximum extent, there may be some value in it if it is more broken down in age components. The larger question would be something like the "black ice " factor. In other words what is the ratio of > than + 2 Multi-year divided by total extent. Of which as we have learned, and about to find out even more, if this ratio is large (early 80's) the minima extent in September will be expansive, as the opposite gains smaller and smaller ratios (1998 onwards) the minima shrinks likewise. No one should underestimate the difference between multiyear and first year ice. The best model examples being Baffin Hudson Bays, and also Foxe Basin. But other examples are mainly forgotten, McClintock Channel perineal ice , the ice that crushed and killed the Franklin expedition in 1848, is gone year by year at recent minimas. With no sign of recovery. Likewise the 10 year Laptev sea ice discovered by Fridtjof Nansen Expedition 1893 is nothing but a memory. Recovery like contrarians like to broadcast at this time of the year is not a maximum extent to average records, its an impressive extent of older multi-year ice. Which is not happening. Therefore contrarians bragging about how nice the ice extent compared to average are just bluffing their ignorance delusions to the uninformed.

Christoffer Ladstein

What I find rather intriguing is the corrolation between late refreeze of the Arctic in the autumn to the negative AO. Currently it's standing at an incredible -5 to -6, making a "hell of" a winter in Northern Europe these days (March 2012 was 15-20 C hotter!). Western Greenland OTOH is witnessing springtemps Way Above normal for the season, all this more or less thanks to the AO, right?! Will this extremeness just keep on getting more extreme as the ice extent spirals downward?

Anyway, spring is upon us, at least in the Northern hemisphere, people tend to forget that global warming don't necessarily mean HOT at their place that very day...

Espen Olsen


I agree with you, unless we start to differentiate between MYI and Y1I (FYI), Y2I, there is no relevance to use the maximum extend in the Arctic Sea, as it is now it it can only useful to set a date from when the melt season started.
And rightly as you noted, it can only be a useful tool for certain parties.


Epsen, its something Cryosphere today can probably do, a black ice ratio has potent meaning. Right now I can already hear the contrarians making fools of themselves scientifically, bragging about extent, but certainly not politically, which is actually why they willfully destroy their scientific reputation.


Sorry Espen not Epsen ...:)


On the significant use of extent…
I guess the rate of FYI, Y2I and so on could tell something about the expected melt season downfall.

Max/min gives about 16% Y2I and older (see also the AARI map) and is almost completely confirmed to the CAB.

I mentioned the present 5 day SIE decline just because extent seems to respond to the general weather pattern. Even weather wouldn’t be significant, if it were not for this pattern to be consistent in the mean since October.

Echo-ing the work done by Chris Reynolds and Wayne. The pattern produces more and more strong ridging far into the Arctic, especially over Greenland. Greenland is the cold pole pivot.

It is a reciprocal twin: loss of sea ice – dipole/Greenland Block. The point is, will it continue into spring?

Jim Hunt

@Rlkittiwake - "There's a lot of open water on the Barrow webcam right now" is not strictly true, although there certainly was some on the 17th of March.

All this excitement has persuaded me to indulge in yet more poetic licensing:


"The biggest 'crack' in the Arctic sea ice just at the moment is roughly the distance between Exeter and Newton Abbot across."


Werther, Extent is largely a matter of temperature and lack of winds or waves. Sea ice begets sea ice, but the sun puts an end to all that. Many complexities are simplified, its easy to say that first year ice melts faster but there are many factors making it so:

"What they believe happens is that as sea ice gets older, it becomes less salty. First year ice, however, remains fairly salty, and when first year ice melts, it produces denser melt water than the melt water from older ice. As older sea ice shrinks all over the Arctic, more salty melt water from year-ice mixes into the ocean. This denser water then sinks more rapidly, pushing more warm water upwards, which in turn contributes to more rapid melting."


First year ice is so salty its undrinkable. Multiyear ice makes astoundingly delicious water.

Under the ice sea water itself is morphing, likewise from above the energy absorbed by darker first year ice also changes the surface to air interface characteristics, on a whole changing weather dynamics on a grander scale.

Andrew Dodds

Wayne -

There's a good experiment you can try.. with a popsicle, or other flavoured ice, just see what happens when you suck it. All of the impuirities/flavourings come out first, leaving a stick of near-pure ice on a stick.

This will be what's happening inn the Arctic - multi year ice will get a bit of heat, and melt slightly. The vast majority of the salt will go straight into the small amount of melt, leaving pure ice behind.

Hence the older sea ice is, the less salty.

Aaron Lewis

The sun is up, the albedo is down, and race has started. It is a long race, and a day or two at the start does not matter.

Given the fractured nature of the ice, I expect that 2013 will be the biggest sea ice melt event in recorded history.

Espen Olsen


I think you are right, this season will a game changer, and even some people I don't want to name, will realize so, either the hard way (loosing their sponsors)or by common sense, believe it or not!

Jim Williams

Looking at 1) Current Baffin/Newfoundland Sea Ice Area, 2) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly in the North-West Atlantic, 3) the Surface Air temperature Anomaly West of (and over) Greenland, and 4) the AO, I'd like to re-ask a question I asked last fall. What happens if the Gulf Stream decides to flow to the West of Greenland?


How interesting Andrew, will give it a try, but I think I noticed it long ago. Some multiyear ice has been comparable to distilled water even, by a laboratory no less. Here is what caught my eye:

"end of August" -1893- " it (the Fram) was held up for four days while the ship's boiler was repaired and cleaned. The crew also experienced the dead water phenomenon, where a ship's forward progress is impeded by friction caused by a layer of fresh water lying on top of heavier salt water."

There was a lot of meltable multiyear ice in 1893 during Nansen's expedition. We must consider this world mostly lost until sea ice extent at minima regains vitality.



Andrew, you may not have realized that Wayne is that Wayne....

Otherwise, it seems that this season, the one in which, according to the Navy's researcher W. Maslowski, the arctic sea ice might well disappear, had started... You know, I'm NOT impatient to see how it goes this year and I'm quite frightened...

Artful Dodger

Werther wrote | March 21, 2013 at 13:41

"Max/min gives about 16% Y2I and older (see also the AARI map) and is almost completely confirmed to the CAB."

Hi Werther,

The problem with this simple calculation is that it ignores MYI loses due to sea ice transport. Historically, about 10% of sea ice is advected South through Fram Strait every year. And that figure could be changing.

I'd suggest this refinement: Find the annual minimum sea ice area for the East Greenland sea (ie: Sep 2012). Then find the annual maximum for the EGS (ie: Apr 2013). Sorry I don't have tabular historical data for you: (click this graph to see the full image)

Then make a simplifying assumption: no sea ice forms over Winter in the EGS (reasonable since it's entering warmer water). This leads to the conclusion that the difference in EGS area equals the area of sea ice advected over the Winter.

Use this new figure to reduce the amount of MYI at the start of the melt in 2013, since we know all advected ice is MYI (survived at least 1 Summer).

The difference in the annual EGS max-min cycle is almost 500K km^2, so I think this affects your results significantly.

Artful Dodger

Neven, could you please check the Spam box for my comment posted moments ago?

Andrew Dodds


I just like the analogy.. it also works, interestingly, as an explanation for why the composition of basalt differs from that of the mantle generally, or why hydrothermal vein deposits tend to be full of rare and valuable minerals.

There's interesting stuff going on when you suck a Popsicle.

This year will be.. interesting as far as sea ice goes. As far as I can tell, we are one exceptional year away from essentially-zero ice.


Hi Lodger,

I don't want to put in much time, so while my simple calc was indeed rudimentary, I would like to answer to your post as briefly.
On Fram expulsion, I considered the general wind pattern this winter, as well as the movement of the pack on AVHRR. That gave me the impression that more FYI than 1/2 or MYI left the gate this winter.

I'll get back later...

Artful Dodger

Hi Werther,

After the minimum there IS no FYI, since any ice remaining is the surviving sea ice. By definition, it is all MYI.

So if we again simplify to 2 categories of sea ice, we can focus on the trend in MYI. That's the curve fitting that hasn't been done. :^)

L. Hamilton

Could go up again of course, but DMI is past its average max date, and 256k below its high point for this year.


Illusiat Fjord has an unusual amount of open water for late March.
Bussemand Glacier in East Greenland retreat.


So the fjord was flushed again, eh?

John Cartmill

The lack of snow up and down the West Coast of Greenland is also scary to me.

Espen Olsen


Yes nice spotted, I thought about that too a few days ago!


(Cross posted on the sea ice forum)

Now I will place money that this year's Arctic sea ice maximum was indeed reached on Day 59, with 13,799,198 square kilometers. My thinking:

  1. On Day 81 (yesterday), sea ice area decreased around another 100k km2. That's the sixth drop in the last seven days, for a single week decrease of 341k km2.
  2. To surpass the maximum to-date, area would have to grow by nearly 344k, and that much post-Day 81 growth has never happened (See the linked image). Even last year's unusual late growth spurt added just 108k km2 after this date.
  3. Only four years in the SIA record had maximums occurring after Day 81: '85, '99, '03, and '12.
  4. Area is currently 145k less than on this same day last year.
  5. By this day in 2007, area had already fallen below 13 million km2 on its way to a new record minimum.
  6. Various forecasts hold out little hop for a late freeze.

So, while my word doesn't mean much, I'm 99% certain that this year's area maximum has been reached, and we're on the way to a new record low minimum roughly 6 months from now.


Area now down to 13.455 so looks much more likely to be past maximum. Following pattern of any year does not reach a new max. However, following pattern of 2011 from either of next 2 days would do it.


Sorry Jim 2011 increased 382k from the next day's data (12.713 to 13.095).

L. Hamilton

DMI, which often leads CT by a day or two, on 3/22 is about 300k below its high point from 3/17.

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