« PIOMAS April 2013 | Main | PIOMAS April 2013 - extra update »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

David vun Kannon

First time I've seen this graphic:

Ice is absorbing almost as much heat as the atmosphere? What is going to happen when we lose a big chunk of that? Scary...


I've been looking at that last and longest video for a bit, and there's one interesting thing I didn't know about presented by - I believe - Bruno Tremblay. He says that when a lead comes into existence and the water comes into contact with the very cold air you get this chimney effect where (a lot of) heat from lower depths gets sucked up towards the surface.

I never heard of that one before, but if true, it gives the cracking event yet another aspect.

I'm watching the rest tomorrow, first half hour has been pretty good so far.


Something I just realized the other day - maybe you experts have seen it long before.

This relates to Wipneus's trend graph for Sept. Minimum Volume, (displayed in Peter Sinclair's Climatecrocks vid)and known to all here, I am sure.

Since about 1998 (the big El Niño year), the observed volume is tracking much closer to the exponential curve - less variability than before. Does this mean anything?

Suggests to me that 2015-2016 looks pretty likely!

Shared Humanity

David vun Kannon - "Ice is absorbing almost as much heat as the atmosphere? What is going to happen when we lose a big chunk of that? Scary..."

This is a cause for my own anxiety. I am not a climate scientist. I find much of what is discussed here too difficult to understand but I have visited here, almost daily, for a year. The discussion about how the models are dreadfully behind the curve (pun intended) fascinates me and frightens me. The world's best scientists are surprised by what is happening.

I think your comment might point to the main reason behind the surprise.

I have a 35 year career in electronics manufacturing. A great deal of the science of soldering relates to the phase state change of solders. You want a eutectic alloy solder that quickly moves from a solid to a liquid at a precise temperature. When a non-eutectic alloy solidifies, its components solidify at different temperatures, exhibiting a plastic melting range. A eutectic alloy solidifies at a single, sharp temperature. Conversely, when a well mixed, eutectic alloy melts it does so at a single temperature.

Observing the physical state of a eutectic solder alloy (63% lead/37% tin) at 26C it is a solid. At 40C it is a solid. At 170C it is a solid. At 182.9C it is a solid. At 183C it is a liquid.

I believe the rapid and surprising loss of ice is because we are not fully appreciative of the phase state change behavior of H2O and how it will behave as heat is applied. I know I have read on this blog about plasticity, shear strength etc and I don't believe we ignore this aspect entirely and yet we still appear surprised when H2O quite rapidly decides to go from ice to water. This could explain our surprise by the rapid collapse of the observable sea ice. This also suggests that we may be equally surprised by a sudden and rapid collapse of the Northern Hemisphere permafrost or the Greenland ice sheet.

Ice is ice until it is not.

Artful Dodger

Hi Neven,

Here's another video you may enjoy, this on yesterday's NASA ICEBRIDGE flight over Greenland.



Jim Hunt

Here's the first video in Stefan Rahmstorf's lecture series on climate change. This one is "The Basics of Global Warming"


P.S. I can't work out how to embed it in a comment. Is there a way?

Ice is absorbing almost as much heat as the atmosphere? What is going to happen when we lose a big chunk of that? Scary...
Well, judging by the graphic alone, most of the heat will go into the Oceans instead, and it will make very little difference.

Looking at it in more detail, I did some back-of-enveloped calculations on what would happen to SSTs in the Arctic once it was ice-free, and, because the specific heat capacity of water is a lot lower than the latent heat of fusion of water-ice, I'd naively expect SSTs in the Arctic to shoot up rapidly in that scenario.

This has implications for delaying the re-freeze of sea-ice in the Autumn, supporting above freezing temperatures in the Arctic for a longer period of time, thereby extending the length of the melting season for the Greenland Ice Sheet, etc.

Ac A


here is another, from AGU:



Ac A

And another one, I have seen for the first time, also with jet-stream animation:




Ales, your first link is the AGU talk I referred to. I was annoyed by it when watching it, but will have to watch again.

Ac A

Sorry, cant stop browsing for some reason, here is nice Anady Lee Robinson-like animations of PIOMASS spiral with a nic music!


Ac A


Cecilia Bitz seems a bit conservative to me, defending some climate models in a strange way - that actual arctic decline might be a part of "natural variability" and some of the models do show rapid decline of arctic ice.

That implies that she thinks that actually arctic ice decline might slow down significantly in the coming years. This is what you mean by "scientific reticence"?



Yes, that's it, Alex. It got my hackles up a bit. It was almost as if she held that presentation in 2008 or something.

Jim Hunt

NASA Discovers Massive Phytoplankton Bloom Under Arctic Sea Ice:


The commentary mentions "carbon dioxide", but not Wayne's point about "albedo"

Nick Whalen

As what is happening in the Arctic approaches its event horizon, I think Cecilia can be forgiven for making the assumption that a new normal is not reached, or at least not reached too quickly. I think she is wrong, but the very nature of an event horizon means I'm no more correct - and I have no skin in the game. I can say the sky is falling without professional consequences, because I'm not a professional scientist.

Neven, I would love to see everyone's current thoughts on the temperature/salinity staircase, deep ocean mixing in the Arctic - and whether or not the apparent local maximima in overall salt water density as it approaches freezing for different salinity levels will act as another buffer for change in the Arctic or act as a positive feedback. If you are looking for another topic someday, maybe you could refresh this one.



You don't need to say the sky is falling, but what you can do, is say that we cannot exclude the possibility that the sky is falling or could fall soon. The caveats only seem to go one way.

But I'll post on this (hopefully) in coming weeks.

David vun Kannon

What is the temperature profile of Hudson Bay throughout the year? I'm asking because it occured to me that it might give us a clue to what an ice free Actic might look like. Yes it is shallower, but it is still a big body of water that completely freezes and then completely melts. So, good proxy or bad for the whole AO?


Hi Neven,

There were some really interesting remarks made by Prof. Ross Gaurnet (who was incharge of the Australian Governemnts review of climate science) on the subject of scientific reticence, which I think you might be interested in:

"It is remarkable that the review of developments in the science—new observations and results of new research—have all either confirmed established scientific wisdom, or shifted the established wisdom in the direction of greater concern... In an area of uncertainty, this is not what one would expect. One would expect some new knowledge to surprise by being more worrying than the central points in the mainstream science, and some new knowledge to surprise because it is less worrying. When all the new knowledge that challenges the old is on the more worrying side, one worries about whether the asymmetry reflects some systematic bias.

... Publications lags introduce unfortunate delays between discovery and influence in the policy discussion, but there is no reason to expect them to cause systematic bias in the direction in which new knowledge changes the established wisdom.

I have come to wonder whether the reason why most of the new knowledge confirms the established science or changes it for the worse is scholarly reticence. I wonder whether we are seeing the effects of a professional reticence about stepping too far in front of received wisdom in one stride...

There must be a possibility that scholarly reticence, extended by publications lags, has led to understatement of the risks.

That is not a reason to clutch for knowledge outside the mainstream wisdom: if our discussion ceases to be grounded in the established science, we have no firm, common ground from which to work on the most difficult policy problem of our times.

We should, however, be alert to the possibility that the reputable science in future will suggest that it is in Australians’ and humanity’s interests to take much stronger and much more urgent action on climate change than might seem warranted from today’s peer-reviewed published literature. We have to be ready to adjust expectations and policy in response to changes in the wisdom from the mainstream science. "

From Chapter 6.1. Reflections on scholarly reticence

You would also likley be interested in a recent paper by Bryce et al on the subject:

"Climate change prediction: Erring on the side of least drama?"



the upbeat is Chopin, not Tchaikovsky. I'll try to remember that from now on.

Jim Hunt

An interview with Julia Slingo, head of the UK Met Office:


Julia says "I believe we should pull together the best scientists to really see how do we detect an influence of the Arctic on the jet stream and on our weather patterns around the world. It's a really urgent question."

Better late than never?

Paul Beckwith


Amazing about Slingo, is all that I can say. John Nissan and Peter Wadham's and other of the British based AMEG people have presented to her and many others in panels in the British Government on this exact issue over the last year and have been basically ignored, and even worse ridiculed.

Now that the weather has gone to the crapper in the UK they are waking up. Will this be one country at a time waking up to the dangers of abrupt climate change when they are individually directly affected, or will it go to a collective wake-up? A US poll indicated that fully 3/4 of the US population has experienced some sort of extreme weather recently.

Over the last several years, I have fully expected that we would see a tipping point in human response/recognition of the severity of the problem and it looks like it is starting. This Slingo thing is huge, she pulls a lot of weight with the UK political system.

Of course all this makes everyone's work on this site very high visibility and vitally important.

Jim Hunt

Hi Paul,

It does indeed look at first sight like a major U-turn. Whether it constitutes "a collective wake-up" remains to be seen. Has anyone noticed similar revelations anywhere else around the planet recently?

I also wonder which scientists are on Julia's short list, particularly given today's tragic news about Katharine Giles.

Tor Bejnar

Thin Ice: the inside story of climate science
"In recent years climate science has come under increasing attack, so geologist Simon Lamb took his camera to find out what is really going on from his climate science colleagues."

Just the trailer is available now at http://thiniceclimate.org/
The full length will be available April 22-24 (NZ time) - Earth Day.

Conrad Schmidt

Hi, Paul. Off topic. I linked to your geo-engeneering idea, which I like, over at the forum.
AGW>>policy and solutions>>saving ice cap with geo-engineering?
Alas nobody liked it.

Andy Lee Robinson

Neven, here's a novel animation of the Death Spiral uploaded a couple of hours ago...

I wrote an easing algorithm to control accelerations more realistically, and made some more transformations... It's only a bit of fun using perl and povray again, but I managed to recreate Excel's radar plot exactly. I'll redo my original version soon too.

It follows that I can use this engine to plot and animate anything now, depending on how many processors I throw at it...


Espen Olsen


Nice piece of work, reminds me of the days I did 3D Studio Max.



Thanks, Andy! It's perfect for the extra PIOMAS update I have just written and will publish in 5 minutes.

Andy Lee Robinson

Great! :-)
Some aren't so happy about the "Poison Chalice" format, but it's mainly 'art'... Could spend years playing, but I decided to show it as development stands now.
I can do another one and shift the months to make a conch shell instead, and I still need to write some music to go with it...
So many possibilities, so little time!

Artful Dodger

Awesome job Andy Lee. I'll be sharing your musical talents on piano over on the ASI Forum. Wonderful!


Andy Lee Robinson

>blush!< :)

Jim Hunt

Hopefully on topic - What has Nature ever done for us?

Tony Juniper at TEDxExeter 2012:


Jim Hunt

Courtesy of TEDxExeter 2013. The Impossible Hamster!


"Crazy consumption and really gross domestic product"

Jim Hunt

Prof. Harriet Bulkeley says

"If we think that climate change needs to be addressed in the city, we probably need to think a bit harder about the progressive element of how we respond to climate change. How can we ensure that it has those environmental and social justice benefits?"


Tor Bejnar

Thin Ice: the inside story of climate science

This documentary is available for free through April 23 (as long as it is April 23rd somewhere in the world). It doesn't mention Arctic ice melting fast (or slow) (or at least I didn't hear it!) but does a decent job of covering many significant climate change issues via interviews with real live climate scientists. It offers a human approach (or a "scientifically skeptical geologist" approach).

(I first read about this on the Real Climate blog.)


A bit off topic (and maybe someone else has posted but I missed it)...

"NASA Rover Prototype Set to Explore Greenland Ice Sheet":




My thoughts went to Jim's "impossible hamster" when I read the message from our CEO that we "only experienced single digit revenue growth in Q1 - these are challenges we must overcome".

The comments to this entry are closed.