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Chris Reynolds

Anna May,

Such concentration shifts come and go and unless persistent may not necessarily mean melt.

Apropos of which...

Yesterday's MODIS Arctic Mosaic is particularly good, with very little cloud to obscure the ice:

There is some break up in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA).

Is this unusual?

By changing the year in the URL you can jump back to recent years. i.e. take the url ending "?subset=Arctic_r03c01.2013107.terra" I've emboldened the year, which can be changed.

Here's where I draw an enormous amount of flak and make myself very unpopular (again).

That's as far back as you can go.

Conclusion - nothing odd happening this year.

Here's an area right in the middle of the pack.


Conclusion - nothing odd happening this year.

How can I say this? Check out 2010 and 2013. I'm not convinced I'd be able to say which year is which. Why would 2010 and 2013 be similar, they both had strong negative AO indices with high pressure causing large scale movement of the pack.

There is reason to expect a remarkable and exciting year. But the state with respect fracturing of the ice isn't part of that reasoning in my opinion.


“It looks like the sea ice is in the process of a radical loss of integrity.” (Robertscribbler.wordpress.com | April 18, 2013 at 19:28 )

The temptation to re-publish a drawing dating back to June ’11 is too big:

 photo NorthGreenlandleadsandfloesday160-1.jpg

It is a part of the CAB day 163, showing large floes >16 km2. They amass up to 43% of this 90K km2. The rest was leads filled with rubble.

This ice has long since left the CAB to die in the EGS. But it is illustrative of the “integrity” that’s now restrained to about 2 Mkm2 north of CAA and Greenland. The rest, FYI, is irrelevant, prone to melt out. If this loses “integrity” coming August, it’s over.

I still wonder what kept it more or less together last year. I found suggestions by, I think, Lodger e.o. most convincing. The melting contributed to keep a top layer of the ocean of about 4Mkm2 in the CAB at -1.3 dC or lower.
That’s why I think a repeat of ó7 dipole could be decisive (lots of sunshine...).

Paul Beckwith

I am glad that you are analyzing cracks, this is one of the things that I suggested be looked at when I posted about a group-effort publication.

I may have missed your calculations of hundreds of thousands of km of crack length in 2013, is it posted somewhere? Are you also able to use the thickness data with the crack location region to estimate the crack surface area? Also, are you able to analyze crack longevity. For example, many of the cracks appearing in Feb. onward are likely to be the same cracks that were born earlier in the winter. Or maybe they were even there in the previous year?

Paul Beckwith

This morning I gave a keynote 45 minute talk on climate change in the Arctic and global implications at an Ottawa conference (LEAForum) for 100+ high school students in Grades 9-12 and 20+ teachers at the Museum of Nature.

Here is the link to the presentation on my Google Docs. It is about 30 slides and a bunch of movies, geared for about a 45 minute talk.

Feel free to use this material in your own presentations if you want, or the entire presentation, with acknowledgement.



Neven, the CAA red/yellow has been ongoing for several days now. I've noticed that this has happened regularly since 2007, when the deep water channel opened, but I didn't really notice it before.

It seems to me and I have no empirical data for this, that it is cracking and movement of ice which, when it becomes severe enough, allows older ice to flush through from the perennial areas, closing it back up again. Then, as the ice which was there is inundated by older ice, it then takes quite a while to melt out.

Certainly if you look at the last few days Arctic Mosaic, on 250m, there is a lot of cloud. But there is also significant cracking, breakup and ice movement. Not just in the Beaufort.

Well that's how I read it anyway. Glad to be wrong.


No problem, Neil. Keep an eye on it, and discuss on the ASIF. We talked about this just the other day.



I had just a moment to briefly look at your presentation. I'm most impressed with the professionalism of your product. Thanks for sharing.

I'm collaborating with Terry Moran on a presentation he is giving to the MENSAs in Niagara Falls next month. I've just recommended to him that we may want to use some of the materials from your presentation to enhance what he has already gathered.

Again, congratulations on a superb production!!


I am, I think your common follower, trying to learn enough to convince those around me this is real and that it matters. At best I am ignored when I try to talk about this topic. And though the sequences of arctic ice break up got their attention, my inability to describe what this meant to them, quickly loses it.
Very much appreciate Lodger's Apr 16th 11 point consequences of Arctic Sea Ice loss and I have a question with regards to point 3: Dr Jennifer's stagnating polar jet stream idea.
I live on Canada's west coast (NE Pacific) and know we are very much affected by the whims of the jet stream and the huge storms they bring. Not a bad thing in the rain forest but we got only 1/2 our expected rainfall this winter. So when the arctic warms enough to weaken or extinguish (can that happen?) the jet stream, how will the weather systems move into the northern hemisphere in the summer and fall? And what about when the ocean is so warm up there in total darkness that the ice never freezes , will there still be a jet stream?
Dr Jennifer says "If it's rainy where you are, it'll probably get rainier" But how will this happen if there's no jet stream to move the systems?
If these are not to dumb for questions, could someone help us out?
Thanks for this blog, it's the only ammo I have.
quiet voice in redneck logging town

Hans Gunnstaddar


That’s the website for CO2 levels as measured in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The high water mark this Spring will be in May, but look at the number for March 2012: 397.34, which is only .11 less than a full 3 ppm than this time last year at 394.45

In the 60’s it increased less than 1 ppm per year, then in the 70’s sometimes hit 1 ppm, then approx. 2 in the 90’s and now add close to 3 ppm per year. As carbon emissions continue to rise from increased coal burning in China, in spite of lower emissions in the US & EU, overall global emissions rise, while the biosphere carbon sink diminishes due to degradation, CO2 ppm rises to ever higher increments in successive years. If this trend continued unabated, we would later hit 4 then 5 ppm or more added per year. Of course there are limits and we will find out what they are. Hopefully it won’t take a massive cloud of methane belching from Arctic waters to tone down fossil fuel burning.


So when the arctic warms enough to weaken or extinguish (can that happen?) the jet stream, how will the weather systems move into the northern hemisphere in the summer and fall? And what about when the ocean is so warm up there in total darkness that the ice never freezes , will there still be a jet stream?
Dr Jennifer says "If it's rainy where you are, it'll probably get rainier" But how will this happen if there's no jet stream to move the systems?

Lillybrown, I lack the knowledge or brains to say something useful about this, and I don't think even smart folks can give a definite answer, but this is the exact thing that makes current trends in the Arctic so discomforting, and sometimes outright scary.

We are seeing the trends, we have an idea of what could happen, but we don't know what exactly. All we know, is that the downward trends are probably not going to go away soon.

These two things together - some certainty about the trends, but great uncertainty about outcomes - should warrant action. Strangely enough they don't.


Scott, that's right, ice melts at 0ºC on the celsius scale so the infrared satellite images of the ice pack will always be in minus territory.

Actually, zero is defined as the triple point of Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water (VSMOW) -- Andy Celsius himself set 0ºC as the boiling point of tap water and 100ºC as the freezing point.

VSMOW has a defined isotopic compostion that is very important to evaporation, precipitation and interpretation of paleo ice cores and the overall geochemical record, namely deuterium at 156 ppm, oxygen 18 at 2005 ppm and oxygen 17 at 380 ppm.

The ice covering the Arctic Ocean is a long ways from VSMOW, primarily because its salinity -- which varies both geospatially and vertically according to the extent to which brine exclusion (aging) has proceeded -- lowers the melting point.

Although salts have no place in an ice crystal lattice, the ice pack is hardly one big ice crystal, so the salinity of summer meltwater ponds on the ice will vary according to source, stage and deposition from waves and wind.

Dan Fahrenheit's scale -- which the US will use until hell freezes over -- was actually more useful: 0ºF is the freezing point of brine (water saturated with salt, 26% ). In other words, liquid water can stick around until −40 °C, as it might in a tight protected brine channel.

The camera on the AVHRR satellite measures near-surface temperatures of the ice, or failing that, top temperatures of an intervening cloud. It does not see the intervening temperatures of the air column, that is determined by other means.

The temperature and salinity of the seawater just underneath the ice can be measured by sensors embedded in the ice. In winter, there might be a few dozen of these still working, spread out over 13 million sq km. Careful geodesy plus modeling plus historic data can also get at density and so temperature. I have no idea what daily SST products offer during wall-to-wall mid-winter ice.

Next up is the heat equation, as with subsea methane clathrates. That determines the evolution of the temperature gradient of the ice slab, sandwiched as it is above the relatively warm water and below the much colder winter air warming in the spring.

This is complicated by just where heat from the sun is adsorbed -- reflected from a dry snow cover, scattered about and eventually captured within the ice, transmitted down to photosynthetic diatoms living in bottom brine channels, or down a few tens of meters to pelagic plankton in the water.

Using the grayscale legend on the photos, I showed earlier how to color the whole Beaufort Sea ice by its near-surface temperature. That could easily be animated.

More simply, take a recognizable floe -- say that one resembling Bill Clinton in profile I started a couple months back -- and just color its temperature over the season using the ever-changing legend as it swings around the Beaufort Gyre.

Nightvid Cole

Andy Celsius himself set 0ºC as the boiling point of tap water and 100ºC as the freezing point.

Other way 'round my friend, other way 'round.


Anna, being from the Northwest passage of the CAA I can say that there is no surface melted water, but strange photochemistry making the sky white, the Upper Air is strongly adiabatic, creating ice crystal showers at warmish surface temperatures.

This said, it does not mean that the sea ice is not melting. It is from the under side at longer and longer periods of day, as captured by new sew ice radiation budget captures you can study: http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/

Having looked back previous 4 seasons, 2013 has the earliest underside melt on record. Will add evidence this weekend.

Chris Reynolds


There is still a jetstream during the summer, so it is reasonable to presume that the jetstream will not cease. However the changes in the Arctic have the potential to establish a new normal or 'baseline' of behaviour of the jetstream.

As the Arctic transitions to a sea ice free state, what is happening in summer is that the ice is still keeping most of the Arctic Ocean cold. Just as a drink with ice in it stays cold until all the ice is melted, so the Arctic Ocean is cooled even as the ice melts during the summer. However just as in a car battery, the melt of the ice is actually storing up potential energy. This potential energy is release in the autumn(fall) and early winter as new ice grows in the cold during those periods. The growth of this new ice involves release of a lot of energy (effectively the energy that went into melting ice during the summer), so there is a strong warming in autumn and winter. However there is also warming from warmer air coming into the Arctic, this is year round but strongest in the autumn.

So the current effect on the atmosphere is very seasonal, and the changes to come will be very seasonal.

At present the autumn warming of the Arctic seems to be causing more snowfall over Eurasia, which is in turn driving the northern hemisphere circulation into a pattern called the 'negative Arctic Oscillation' during winter. On the following page the graphic at the bottom of the page shows the impacts:
In Canada this tends to be outbreaks of Arctic air, with interuption of the jetstream - more cold events and less storms/rainfall. However this probably won't apply every winter, just more often.

In decades to come the Arctic will experience longer periods of open water during the summer, how fast this progresses depends on how much the winter warms, because that governs how much ice grows in winter, which determines how much ice needs to be melted in the spring/summer to expose open water. The point is that the open water can warm to above the freezing point of water (like a drink where the ice has melted). Furthermore in winter thinner ice, and less ice in places like the Barents and Kara seas will continue to impact mass airflow. So the existing pattern of colder winters should remain for a period at least, but to it will be added summer impacts. The modelling studies I have read show Arctic outbreaks will be less cold because they project up to the end of this century when the globe (and Arctic) will be much warmer. However change in the Arctic is well ahead of that schedule, so until the Arctic warms enough to reduce the severity of cold outbreaks we can expect the pattern of recent winters to remain. I have not read studies which make clear the summer effects of an early loss of Arctic sea ice.

If the Arctic warms enough during winter then it is possible that sea ice will not form. The effects of this state on winter northern hemisphere will be very great. What studies there are imply that in the past one factor was probably increased warm airflow from mid latititudes into the Arctic, keeping the region above zero. This would imply a change in winter precipitation and storm track patterns. However there would still be relatively cold air in the winter over the Arctic, and relatively warm air to the south, so a jetstream would still exist. I don't think anyone has a clue as to where the jet would be and which areas would be warmer/colder, or wetter/drier.

James Dunlap


From the ESRL.NOAA.GOV site one gets the following.

1971-1980 inclusive avg incr 1.36/yr

1981-1990 inclusive avg incr 1.54/yr

1991-2000 inclusive avg incr 1.48/yr

2001-2010 inclusive avg incr 1.91/yr

2011 incr 1.68

2012 incr 2.40

1998 incr 2.84 highest year

1987 incr 2.71 2nd highest year

This year is definitely in the running for the highest year but it is not certain. The trend is ominous all right but we are not bumping along right at 3 ppm increase a year yet. One does have to average to some extent to cancel out the yearly noise.


Andy Celsius himself set 0ºC as the boiling point of tap water and 100ºC as the freezing point.

"Other way 'round my friend, other way 'round."

No the original poster is correct, after Celsius's death Linneus reversed it! Strange but true.

Artful Dodger

Lillybrown wrote | April 19, 2013 at 09:21

"So when the arctic warms enough to weaken or extinguish the jet stream (can that happen?)"

Hi Lilly,

Polar night jet

"The polar-night jet stream forms only during the winter months at around 60° latitude, but at a greater height than the polar jet, of about 80,000 feet (24,000 m). During these dark months the air high over the poles becomes much colder than the air over the equator. This difference in temperature gives rise to extreme air pressure differences in the stratosphere, which, when combined with the Coriolis effect, create the polar night jets, racing eastward at an altitude of about 30 miles (48 km). Inside the polar night jet is the polar vortex. The warmer air can only move along the edge of the polar vortex, but not enter it. Within the vortex, the cold polar air becomes cooler and cooler with neither warmer air from lower latitudes nor energy from the sun during the polar night."

So this is what's happening now. The polar night jet breaks down, letting the cold out and the warm in. When the reserves of cold diminish, there are only weak temperature differences to drive this jet.

I see a more pressing issue for you on the BC coast. How is the pine bark beetle infestation there? It seems a much more immediate threat to the way of life for a lumber town. Remember, the expansion of the tropics and temperate zones is a direct impact of climate change, and is driving the succession of temperate rainforest woodlands toward grasslands.

You may get more traction with locals by discussing this issue. Don't expect them to like the answers. It's much easier to like a lie than hear the truth.

Welcome to the blog. ;^)


Cheers Lilly and welcome,

In the first phase of human-caused climate change we have polar amplification. During this time, temperatures at the poles heat faster than temperatures around the rest of the world. The result is that temperature differences between the poles and the temperate regions are less. In the Arctic, the pace of this change is amplified.

So, as Dodger mentioned above, this reduced temperature difference results in a slower jet that producers more large meanders or blocking patterns. How long this phase lasts depends on how fast Greenland ice melts.

That said, eventually we hit the next phase of climate change in which the tropics heat rapidly at the same time a lot of fresh meltwater starts coming off of Greenland. This change intensifies even as it reorganizes the polar jet. Such a jet would then speed up, but be centered more and more in the region of Greenland and be off-set to the north pole. So not your typical jet to say the least but a faster, re-established jet no less. The problem with this new jet is that it is much closer to the tropics and so you have serious risk of large, continent scale, frontal storms packing the strength of hurricanes and powered by much hotter air so close to a cold air mass established by the cooling effect of ice burgs and fresh melt water.

In either case, the first phase that we are currently in and the second 'Storms of My Grandchildren' phase that begins once serious melt begins in Greenland, climates are much less stable than modern humans are typically accustomed to.

Hopefully, a good answer to your question.

Hans Gunnstaddar

Phase II: Fascinating! I've read between the lines enough to have collated phase I, but hadn't reasoned phase II yet, so that was an amazing moment to realize the truth of that because it's easy to see the logic of that transition. Let me guess, just as the jet will be seeking the warmer air of the tropics, the northern bell curve portion will seek the cold of Greenland as an anchor.

There's a whole lot of ice there to mix with warmer air to produce some outrageously powerful storms.

One of my visions for the future has been periodic, yet incredibly powerful winds and recurring extremely high temps that force those making it through the bottle-neck to seek shelter underground. Maybe that's a vision many others are having too, and why so many seek underground survival structures. I won't go that far because that only delays the inevitable another maybe six months at most, then what? All those nicely packaged products are gone along with all the entertainment and it would be time to become one with the outdoors. Till the soil, track game and all that? Oh my!


@Triskelion - urf. No distopian slow decay into extinction, please. My intent is to halt it, and create a world which is both livable, and has a future.

Yah, no doubt we are going to go through trouble, but I'll do everything I can, and train everyone I can, to find ways to mitigate and over come it. The signs are there. We just need to keep pushing.


A very good answer, thank you all very much. Well not so much Neven, who sent this old gal to bed last nite with a worried brain, with his terrifyingly vague "we don't know" hahahaha
Lodger, I'm actually on an island on the west coast of BC in the temperate coastal rain forest, what's left of it!
What Robertscribbler mentioned about big warm storms, that has already started. Our November pineapple express can really get rocking these days. But other than that it seems to be getting warmer and drier here, like the BC interior you mentioned Lodger. Our valley lakes no longer freeze in the winter, and we get little snow.
I want to feel sorry for the interior forestry industry but they were told about the beetles in the 80's and did nothing for 20 years. Hoping the weather would get cold again and freeze the larvae, but that didn't and isn't happening. Their solution is to panic cut the whole thing down as soon as an infestation shows itself (2 yrs too late)
They are trying to replant but my guess is they must concede to the climate changes and change their plan. Presently the number of vineyards in the valley's are growing rapidly. And a thriving fruit and vegetable market exists there. I believe they are trying that same thing here since we seem to be getting more sun and a longer growing season.

The reason for my concern is lack of knowledge about what's really going to happen. The predictions for northern, central and eastern Canada have been frequently mentioned and so far, seem to be following what Dr Jennifer and others are expecting. But I just can't find anything in the way of predictions for us.
Well other than our version of the 9.0 earthquake we are over due for. It took the Japan earth quake to wake the west coast up as to how bad it can get. If you all keep posting those great arctic ice breakup, that might work, at least to get the public's attention.
Thanks again for your very informative blog. Scary or not I'd rather we hear the truth.

Hans Kiesewetter

Did anyone notice that we can see the arctic again?. Webcams are back!

Jim Hunt

I certainly hadn't noticed Hans. Thanks for the heads up.

I had however noticed that the Barrow webcam seems to be offline again, stuck on April 16th :(



Thanks Hans. A couple of things , the horizon has this "fog" like appearance, likely ice crystals bank. The camera height and image quality is better than previous years, smooth surface suggesting first year ice. Now for those good photoshop like A-team who know the new refraction technique http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/, the horizon height will vary
although not greatly because of height of camera, hopefully on a good solid mount. This variance will tell about in what state the ice is, melting, freezing or steady, and with time, and some variance measurements how thick it is.

Hans Gunnstaddar

jdallen_wa wrote: No distopian slow decay into extinction, please.

Where did I write about extinction? Maybe for many other species but not homo collosus (term comes from Willam Catton). I think many of us will pass through a bottle-neck and if you think that can be avoided, well good luck on what will in my opinion be a frustrating endeavor.

I actually think it is necessary from the standpoint of moving human consciousness forward.


North Pole web cam is exceedingly interesting, the sun hardly changes altitude hour by hour. So the sea ice analysis by refraction method will take days, unless it gets cloudy. A significantly higher sun will lower the horizon.

Ac A

Greenpeace got almost 3 millions signees for "Saving the Arctic". A have to say I am positively surprised, even if its only petition!




Might as well go surfing and webcam peek what is going on at the beach, sea ice and the sea horizons react similarly: http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/

Chris Reynolds

Thanks Alex,

I've just signed, but I'm reminded of something Ambassador Kosh once said.

Rick Aster


I find that the webcam images make good computer desktop images. I’ve been using a foggy East Greenland Sea scene as my desktop since fall equinox, and I just now updated with an image from today.


Quoting A-Team:
Dan Fahrenheit's scale -- which the US will use until hell freezes over -- was actually more useful: 0ºF is the freezing point of brine (water saturated with salt, 26% ). In other words, liquid water can stick around until −40 °C, as it might in a tight protected brine channel.

I didn't know (or forgot) that 0ºF is the freezing point of brine-saturated water - but wouldn't that be -17.7ºC, not -40, for the limit of liquid water? (given std atmosphere of course)

(Or did -40 leap to pen because it's where C and F agree?)

What is the salinity and melting point, anyway, of typical FYI - how far below 0ºC can we start to actually see melt that does not re-freeze?

-John (I'm a long-time reader but rarely find I can add anything - except I've an idea I might be able to present soon, re: explaining things in simple terms that might get more attention - I hope)


We have some cracking, open water off East Siberia now. Temps seem to be in the range of -10 C. Looks like a bit of refreeze going on. But it appears to be pretty slow.

Still seawater freezes at around -1.9 C. The issues with the Siberian side of the Arctic now is that sea water temps are, in large regions, between -1.5 C and 0. So the air needs to be a bit colder to re-freeze it once it's exposed to open air.

Worth noting that for brief periods yesterday some locations in that region were close to or even above freezing (air temperature).

Anyone taking a look at the current cracking going on? Seems to be relatively vigorous.


It looks as though the situation on the atlantic side of the arctic is about to take a turn to the worse again. Over the next five days, strong southerly winds will be pushing the ice east of Svalbard in to the pack while at the same time bringing along mild temperatures from far south all the way to the north pole. Meanwhile, almost equally strong northernly winds west of Svalbard will help flush even more ice out farm strait.

Ac A


I am afraid, Kosh might be close to the truth!



Wayne writes, "of previous 4 seasons, 2013 has earliest underside melt. Will add evidence this weekend. The camera height and image quality is better, smooth surface first year ice. Now for photoshopers like A-team who know refraction technique http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/, horizon height vary because of height of camera, hopefully a good solid mount. This variance: state the ice is, melting, freezing or steady, with time, variance measurements how thick it is captures ice radiation budget."

You have gotten onto something quite interesting here measuring refraction, Wayne. Image processing software could make four small improvements here, objectively (consistently) locate the horizon to fractional pixel level and do so under somewhat cloudy/foggy conditons on a large volume of imagery. This depends on a rock-solid, windproof camera mount.

Below I expanded your split horizon from the Redondo Beach web cam to pixellation. It would be slightly better to keep the initial camera file format (png or tiff) rather than lossy compression (ie irreversible) to jpg.

It would be fantastic if your horizon included a ice mass balance buoy. These measure and report daily on temperature, pressure, snow and ice thickness variations. The best buoy in the vicinity of Resolute is 2013A off Grise Fjord, deployed on 22 Jan 13. Although not moored, it hasn't budged since being set out. It is currently at 76.39 N, 82.89 W at 26.11º C, 1008.42 mb, no snow cover, on 1.34m thick ice.


 photo redondoSplitHorizon_zps38673bc0.png

 photo 2013ABuoy_zpsde39a85d.png

Espen Olsen

This frustrating, but trying once more:

What on ice is going on here? 2 or more big cracks are seen over the GIS just south west of Dronning Louse Land / North East Greenland::::::


Here is yet another very serious miscommunication from Stroeve on 17 April 2013, picked up in typepad's news link column. This is not someone mis-speaking, but part of a very consistent pattern of public statements over many months.

"Scientists aren't certain how long it may be before all of the Arctic sea ice disappears in the summer months.  But most scientists "think it's going to be in the next two to three decades," said Stroeve. 


It's correct on its face: sure, if you wait until 'all' the ice is gone in June (a 'summer month') and poll scientists who are 'mostly' modellers who aren't about to admit their life work was a colossal blunder, you can arrive at 2033-2044.

The public and policy makers won't see the extreme spin here. What they hear is, NSIDC says is not our problem, it's 25 years off and might not even happen -- it's just a distant extrapolation, not even a consensus on 2040.

The fact is, this statement grossly understates the timing and climate change implications of Arctic melt-off and the consequent policy urgency -- the Arctic is already failing as planetary heat moderator. By 2015, the full impacts of this loss will be almost entirely upon us.

Setting the goal post so high -- every last ice cube must be gone by the first of June or it doesn't count (01 June is defined as meteorlogical summer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer) is to live another 25 years in serious denial. And then wake up to a truly hopeless situation.

I wonder what drives this criminal evasiveness in so many climate scientists. To be frank, I think it is all about covering their butts.

They screwed up royally, it is all on the public record, and now they're trying to put off the day of reckoning as long as possible, walking back their 2100, their 2080, their 2050, their 2040 a decade at a time, while they still can.


Good question, Espen. It looks to me like the minor crack has to be an artefact of some kind, as it continues right through the Precambrian rock and not even along a plausible route there.

The major crack terminates at its top at a swath line. These images are composites from different satellite passages. So this requires very rapid formation of the crack at lower swath time, but after the upper swath has been taken.

If artifacts, I have no idea what could have given rise to them, as they don't appear to be individual scan line malfunctions. However the 250m resolution is a stretch -- I find it a bit pixellated, so not worth the file size pain.

 photo greenlandCrack_zps2fd30c92.png

Espen Olsen


Yes I noticed it went true the rocks, but I can at least see 3 cracks on that image, and I can see true heavy clouds today from the swath images, some vague cracks!


Speaking of the 2013 reality check, let's talk about real-time Arctic Ocean buoy data. These devices -- some just installed in April -- are embedded into and under the ice and report daily ice thickness to the nearest centimeter by upward directed sonar as their floe drifts along, so are not to be confused with bottom-anchored moorings watching the ice pass overhead, for which stored data is retrieved only annually.

The above-ice parts of the device measure snow depth as well as air temperature and pressure. Awaiting clarification, but it appears the internal temperature of ice and sea water underneath are measured with thermistors at 45 different locations.

It's easy to get the data because the Army has something better than a grudgingly open data policy: "We encourage the use of all data on this web site," only asking for a citation to the url below rather than future paper way down the road. The lead author, DJ Perovich, has been out on the ice since forever; his data was the subject of my very first post (which nobody wanted, this being an ice theory blog back then). Start here: http://imb.crrel.usace.army.mil/newdata.htm

Perovich, D., J. Richter-Menge, B. Elder, T. Arbetter, K. Claffey, and C. Polashenski, Observing and understanding climate change: Monitoring the mass balance, motion, and thickness of Arctic sea ice, http://IMB.crrel.usace.army.mil 2013.

I look at the downloads for my favorite buoys, 2012L and the goat's head buoy 2012J. The first is formatted as a flatflle database with 5,656 rows and 55 columns. The data is read out once an hour (once a day for the thermistor string), meaning each calendar day takes up 24 rows, only one of which has the profile temperatures. It covers the buoy's track from 27 Aug 12 to 20 Apr 13.

To reduce file size, you could average out each day, index hourlys into a relational database, keep only the thermister line for each day, allowing concatenation of all buoys. Although file size here is not an excel-killer, a basic flatfile database has less baggage, allowing faster sorting and summarizing. The issue really is who has the most elegant graphing capability.

The latitude and longitude of the buoys are given with incredible GPS accuracy -- on the 20th, it was at latitude 74.9399 and longitude -147.7217 -- and I don't think they're kidding about significant digits.

This is far greater resolution than that of any of our ice models or imagery, the point being -- since the first order of business is to overlay real ice thickness and ice temperatures onto the 3 ice-penetrating radars, the infrared imagery, the Modis visible, Piomas cells in wipneus polar stereographic projection, and the Navy ice thickness animation -- we can pull out the properties of the exact pixel corresponding to the buoy.

That's assuming we could locate lat-long accurately on these images. In practise, not one of them provides product map scale and no two are the same, not to mention rotated away from Greenwich by variable amounts. However I can work all these out easily enough from the sharp buoy mask provided.

Just to whet your appetite, buoy 2012L is not reporting a single centimeter of ice gain or loss this whole time. It's stayed 3.35m thick. If this holds for a lot of other buoys, I'm planning to hit the trash button on a whole lot of model papers, products and posts.

I suspect this observation will provide a very useful ice thickness calibration for radar -- if it stays consistent. The air temperature at the buoy ... that we want to compare to the near-surface infrared legend. And so on.

 photo buoys1_zpsd1d37c95.png


Thanks A-team, will try other formats, but California is always interesting, and Redondo beach variations are not as big as sea ice, but still plainly visible. The big one is NOAA North Pole Cams, they seem to be quite high up, perhaps 2 meters high? Will have to find out. They , NOAA , seem to got the message, and have lines on their images, very practical. The thing is, as the sun rises the horizon will drop, the rate of drop per sun elevation, gives away the thickness. Will be interesting to compare shots now with say a couple of days later. As the ice thins, the horizon will drop further and further. Keep up the work!

L. Hamilton

"I wonder what drives this criminal evasiveness in so many climate scientists. To be frank, I think it is all about covering their butts."

Hey, I love your visualizations but object strongly to this characterization of NSIDC and other scientists who aren't certain the end is nigh yet. They all see things changing faster than the models, are working to understand why.


"I wonder what drives this criminal evasiveness in so many climate scientists. To be frank, I think it is all about covering their butts."

I spoke to Julienne Stroeve on the issue of when the ice cap would melt at, of all places, Steven Goddards "Real Science" site. She said 2030/2035 for a partial meltdown.

I think that the phrase 'criminal evasiveness' is way too harsh but it does seems that there are two different species of Deniers.

Aaron Lewis

I concur with A-team. The modelers said “We are the experts!” And then they treated a serious issue as an academic exercise. Many reports contained disclaimers that the work was academic and should not be used for engineering or policy. However the “experts” not offer (alternative) estimates suitable for risk management decisions and policy. So everyone used the academic numbers for decisions and policy. Serious experts would have put out a set of decision and policy numbers with risk factors included. However, the “experts” said such risk factors were somebody else’s job (e.g., they leave evaluation of the error bars on their error bars to non-experts.)

Chris Reynolds

A Team,

"I wonder what drives this criminal evasiveness in so many climate scientists. To be frank, I think it is all about covering their butts."


Peter Ellis

Just to whet your appetite, buoy 2012L is not reporting a single centimeter of ice gain or loss this whole time. It's stayed 3.35m thick. If this holds for a lot of other buoys, I'm planning to hit the trash button on a whole lot of model papers, products and posts.

Why would you do that? It's well known that once you get past about 2 metres thick, ice doesn't thicken much more by accretion. Instead it thickens by ridging, over-riding and slabbing. If any of that happened to the ice the buoy was embedded in, it would destroy the buoy! It's therefore not surprising that none of the buoys are able to observe it.

The models operate at a much coarser resolution: each pixel represents the average thickness across many square miles of ice, and thus averages together the ridges and the areas between the ridges.

Peter Ellis

we can pull out the properties of the exact pixel corresponding to the buoy.

No you can't. You can pull out the properties of maybe the 100mx100m area immediately around the buoy, most likely substantially less. This is an insignificant fraction of the corresponding pixel.


There was a very small drop in North Pole cam horizon, after a mere .2 degrees increase sun elevation between 16 and 21 April. The challenge here is to evaluate what this means. If instead the horizon rose, that would have meant thick multi year ice, or ice accretion increasing 1st year ice. Its tentative but I suggest that the ice is melting in the underside already. Because the sun is always risen, and quite high above the horizon, there is plenty of energy making it so. http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/

A-team, can’t do higher resolution applications, no time and don’t have the right software. Suggest any reader here well endowed with good equipment to do some fancy displaying. Go to http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/
And do your stuff.

Artful Dodger

Hi A-Team,

The Ice-tethered buoys are manufactured by a company in Hawaii. USCGC Healy sails from her home port in Seattle to Honolulu to pick up new buoys, then a stopover in Dutch Harbor, AK before heading to the Chukchi sea and their Summer tasking, including deploying and recovering buoys.

Here's an 'Aloftcon' image (a webcam looking forward) from Healy's navigation bridge of the Aloha tower in Honolulu: (click the image to visit the archive)

The full-size aloftcon image (1280x960 pixels) is here if you have trouble following the link.

BTW, there is a sensor package that crawls up and down the cable through the water column once per day. That's why you see the data for each depth in sequence. The thermistors are moving. ;)

[Changed the link to the archive. Let me know if not okay. N.]



"From the ESRL.NOAA.GOV site one gets the following.

1971-1980 inclusive avg incr 1.36/yr

1981-1990 inclusive avg incr 1.54/yr

1991-2000 inclusive avg incr 1.48/yr

2001-2010 inclusive avg incr 1.91/yr

2011 incr 1.68

2012 incr 2.40

1998 incr 2.84 highest year

1987 incr 2.71 2nd highest year"

It would be useful to also show the graphical representation of the monthly smoothed sunspot number per cycle.  It makes interesting reading.

Image Link

Cycle start dates

  • Cycle 21 started in June 1976 and lasted 10 years and 3 months.
  • Cycle 22 started in September 1986 and lasted 9 years and 8 months.
  • Cycle 23 started in May 1996 and lasted 12 years and 6 months.
  • Cycle 24 started in December 2008.

First those figures show that all the first and second highest happen in the first two years or so of the cycle starting.  Although 2012 was much later, due to the extreme low start of the cycle.

Second, I think it's also important to note that the decadal dates for the temp increases begin and end on a cycle peak, with only one trough between them.  I'd rather see the averages for one entire cycle rather than over two half cycles.  

Third and most important of all!  The cycles have been decreasing in sunspots and, therefore solar flux for 40 years.  YET, the loss in the arctic continues.  Not only continues but races ahead.

Does anybody have a risk management for a return to 1970's solar sunspot and flux levels???  Or even cycle 23 levels?

I believe this chart and the comparison with the increasing heat levels,  would make a very strong argument for the dangers of ignoring the current arctic situation.  In my estimation it can only get worse.  Much, Much, worse.  Hoping for less solar output is not a good mitigation path in my very humble opinion.

I don't seem to be able to manage the image propertise. Well at least in preview. Sorry if it's too large.  

Chris Reynolds

Neil T,

When I was a sceptic of AGW one paper trashed my last bastion - solar influence.

Impact of global dimming and brightening on global warming.

Subsequent research has shown a complex regional pattern, but the broad message of that paper remains. As a worldwide average, surface insolation reduced in the last part of the twentieth century, due to changes of aerosols in the atmosphere. So regardless of whether one claims clouds, aerosols, or actual radiation from the sun, one cannot claim AGW was caused by changes in sunlight.

Here's the killer quote from the paper.

Despite the fact that surface insolation at the turn of the millennium is rather lower than in the 1960s, land surface temperatures have increased by 0.8C over this period (Figure 1). This suggests that the net effect of surface solar forcing over the past decades cannot be the principal driver behind the overall temperature increase, since over the past 40 years, cooling from solar dimming still outweighs warming from solar brightening.

Rather, the overall temperature increase since the 1960s can be attributed to greenhouse forcing as also evident in the BSRN data outlined above. Thus, speculations that solar brightening rather than the greenhouse effect could have been the main cause of the overall global warming over the past decades appear unfounded.

One denialist said I wasn't being scientific if I allowed one piece of new evidence to change my opinion. I won't repeat my response.


Internal consistency considerations show this buoy data has nothing whatsoever to do with ridging, over-riding, or slabbing.

I would call these a mix of traveller anecdotes about inconsequential areas, uncritically repeated received wisdom from the old days, and model fantasizing -- the track data proves them completely irrelevant over the long life span of buoy 2012L.

The pixel resolution on the best satellite imagery we have access to is over a kilometer on a side. This is still small relative to dimensions characteristic of ice thickness changes. Buoy position is known far better. So what? -- toss the excess.

The first thing to do with this precious daily buoy ice thickness data is overlay the buoy track on satellite images of the same date. You might wonder why nobody is putting out these daily products. I sure do.

An overlay requires a different rotation, offset of the north pole, and rescaling for each satellite. The main thing here is to avoid anything that degrades (dithers) the precious pixels of the satellite image. To get negligable alignment error in the case of Jaxa radar, try:

... rotate Jaxa 180º
... scale buoy map by 52.13%
... offset buoy pole by (x,y) = (-1,-61)

Below, I took a 3x3 pixel average about the point where the buoy sits today and made the reference color square in the upper right.

If the subtleties of color space voxels in Jaxa radar correspond to ice thickness, then all the other pixels on the image of the same color will be within a narrow thickness range of the buoy, which has been indistinguishable for many months from 2.13 meters.

The pale green overlay shows this, with a radius of 10 in rgb color space about the reference color.

This procedure seems to work quite well vis-a-vis other ice thickness products -- could this be a coincidence? No.

The only question is whether buoys lead to something better, which they surely do as a daily product. However once calibrated, the satellite data alone could suffice.

 photo buoy2012L_213m_zps9ccf1d6b.png

Artful Dodger

Hi Neven,

No, I intended to link to a particular day in Healy's 2011 image archive, since that is when she was in Honolulu.

The link should be:


It is easy to navigate from that page back up to the top level menu. ;^)


Artful Dodger

Hi A-Team,

Peter Ellis is right about the processes of growth for MYI. Once sea ice is about 2 m thick, it is in thermal equilibrium between heat loss to the atmosphere above and heat gain from the ocean below.

This particular ice floe was specifically chosen by Healy or Louis St. Laurent as the largest, thickest floe they could find in the target area (I haven't looked to see which ship deployed this buoy). That's so the floe survives as long as possible. It's not a random sample of the sea ice in the area. It's the thickest ice still remaining.

The slabbing and thickening likely just happened years before the buoy was implanted. Don't expect average sea ice data from the buoy, but it does give us exactly what we need.

That is, how is the thickest MYI surviving?


I am from the Toronto Canada region. I do not have any credentials of any sort to help me in what I say, but I do find that those I talk to tend to fall into 2 camps.
1) The right who even if you can get them to agree that climate is changing think it is just cyclical and even if man has influence there is no way they would allow anyone to change the way things are because it would absolutely devastate the economy. Probably change their tune after everything collapses when the climate gets too far out of whack (tend to be an extreme pessimist about the political/economic leaders to get their act together before things really get bad).
2) They agree with me (maybe just to humour me) especially when I point out the window to our habour which used to be frozen so hard at least 3-4 weeks of the winter that the ferries could not run, and that the 1-2 week spells of -40C windchills no longer are present. Believe we might have had them in the -20C's 1 or 2 days this winter.
The compounding problem in Canada is that other then the area around Vancouver, British Columbia. No high density population zones are in great danger of really severe weather. Note: Canada does not have much of that as the average pop/area is around 3-4 per sq mile. Cities are quite dense though.



I think you misunderstood my point a bit.

I don't doubt for a second that Anthropogenic CO2 is causing what we see and driving arctic ice into decline. I haven't doubted it for 17 years and I'm not going to start now.

However my point was this. Quoting figures of temperature rise, ice decline and melting indexes, without reference to solar output, gives the deniers (and the hopeful), one more thing to grab ahold of and wish away the inevitable.

Currently we are quoting decadal average temp increases with no reference to decadal solar cycles. That can be made to look like we are trying to hide something. The sun is not just the primary heat source for the planet, it is just about the only significant heat source for the planet. If we ignore that what message do we send? Hansen knows that and has done a lot of work on it.

My main point was that we should show increasing temperatures in a time of decreasing solar output. Like for like, so that it is clear and unequivocal.

Most people I meet who flippantly dismiss the impact of AGW from CO2; dismiss it as "it's the sun stupid". It's easy, they can get their heads around that. Step out on a sunny day and "feel" the heat. Of course it's the sun, what could be more powerful than that right?

Try wrapping them in a thermal blanket in the height of summer. Immediately they'll feel slightly cooler. Then they will slowly start to bake. Remind them that the same blanket keeps them warm in winter.

It is not about heat sources, or heat sinks, or heat loss. Per se. It is about balance. We are out of balance and will pay the price. People need to know that.

Chris Reynolds


I didn't misunderstand you. It was just a relevant interjection that might prove to be of use for anyone faced with the "It's the sun." rubbish.



Yes on re-reading you are right, it was complimentary. To long spent talking to deniers....



Redondo beach L.A. , sunny, sandy and hot has a lot to do with the Arctic, joined by horizon effects, I've added lines, http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/ . The horizon height shifts with state of radiation of the sea, either loosing a lot of long wave radiation (day time) or a bit less (night time).

Concurrently in the High Arctic, this effect has been somewhat diminished by very strong Ice Crystals Photochemical showers which weaken sun rays reaching the ground. These ice crystals make the sky look white, like snow diminish horizontal visibility. They are slowly vanishing making way to warmer weather dynamics. They exist primarily because the atmosphere is strongly adiabatic, with very little inversions. This causes a conundrum, surface temperatures are slightly above normal,
yet the atmosphere is dramatically different than usual. In here is where the contrarians fake skeptics fail. They will jump all over their favorite target exclaiming the temperatures are not so warm.
But the lower atmosphere is radically different. They fail to notice that because they are 1 dimensional thinkers. A strongly adiabatic profile in lieu of a stratified one, is the definition of warming!


Wayne, now that you are mentioning ice crystals:

This morning spaceweather.com showed an unusual elliptical moon halo:

Bigger pic at http://spaceweather.com/gallery/indiv_upload.php?upload_id=80972

In the comment:

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley comments on the apparition: "There have been quite a few ellipticals seen in the last few weeks both in Europe and the US. Something strange [is happening] in all our skies!"

"These unusual ice halos are much smaller than the ordinary 22 degree halo encircling the sun or moon," Cowley continues. "In the 22 degree halo the ring is effectively made by light refracting through a 60 degree ice prism. The smaller elliptical halos need much narrower prisms and we think that six sided plate shaped crystals with very shallow pyramidal ends might do the work. The problem is that such crystals are unphysical and computer simulations using them do not predict the halo very well. An alternative is the wedge shaped sections of small snowflake-like crystals. Whatever their cause, they are rare and mysterious!"

Myself I wonder if any form of regular crystal shape can produce such a continuous aberration.

But I also wonder if it is something you have any knowledge of?


Wipneus, interesting, likely linked with what we see in the Arctic. It may be due to the collapse of the Polar Stratospheric Vortex #2 of this season. Or it may be from an exotic source, for example accumulations on sea ice over the winter being re-injected in the the atmosphere. There is definitely something in the air, an aerosol, which help cause these.

Peter Ellis

A-Team, Lodger - you both miss my point.

The buoy is measuring a given thickness, and likely all the MYI around it will have got to a similar thickness by congelation freezing alone.

However, there will be parts of the same floe (or nearby floes) that will have ridged and thickened by over-riding and slabbing, and so may be four, five or even ten metres thick. Something like 40% or more of the entire Arctic ice volume is in these gigantic ice ridges.

"Ridged ice in the Arctic makes a major contribution to the overall mass of sea ice; probably about 40% on average and more than 60% in coastal regions" <-- Peter Wadhams)

The region surrounding the buoy will therefore look like a patchwork of fields with walls in between - the "fields" being the undeformed 2-3m-thick ice, and the "walls" being the ridges that go to several times that thickness.

The buoy cannot ever measure ridge formation, because if a ridge formed in the region the buoy was embedded, it would destroy the buoy! The buoy only measures the thickness of the "fields" and the "walls" are invisible to it.

However, the computer model operates on a much wider scale, and the "thickness" of any individual pixel will be the average of the fields and the walls (the smooth floes and the ridges).

Thus, there is nothing whatsoever inconsistent about a situation where the computer model thinks a given pixel is increasing in average thickness, while a buoy says the thickness is static. All that means is that the computer model thinks the "walls" are getting higher, and so the average thickness increases.


For the first time in two weeks I can comment on Typepad...Aarrrghh!

A-team and others who have contributed to this thread, your work has been useful in attempting to get a group of 50+ college age young adults to grapple with climate change, the Arctic impacts and what it means for global society. At the end of 90 minutes I asked them, "What did you learn?"

One of the more astute replied from the audience - "we are doomed." I was able to get them to think about and discuss the kinds of social issues that will be the results of this changes, and what ethics come into play in resolving them.

One note of gratitude to Jim Hunt - whose comments a while back from the Arctic Council were particularly helpful.

More methane data will come soon, right now I am reading research papers in the real world.


Jim Hunt

My pleasure A4R.

If you spend lots of time in the real world with groups of college age young adults you may find this interesting too:



Thought I might give the view on this from 'down-under'
(or the south-east corner at least).
After the crippling drought - which brought with it Stage-4 water restrictions in many areas, and serious impact on the murray-darling system - broke in 2010, support for Co2 reduction measures fell sharply. [This was also helped by major campaign by big business, and almost all privately owned media against the carbon tax].

There is a general consensus among the population that Greenhouse gas emissions are a problem, and awareness (if somewhat vague) that the arctic is melting because of them.
- from the NW Passage opening, and 2007 ice loss reports if nothing else.

But the arctic is far away from us, and the line pushed by the media is that Australia is too small to make a difference if it acts alone, and with other major emitters (read the USA and China, in that order) not pulling their weight, all we will be doing is 'pointlessly putting our economy at disadvantage' to those countries.

What is not reported here is the other changes happening in the Northern Hemisphere - Such as those of atmospheric circulation patterns. When I mention these kind of changes eg. the shift north in the sub-tropical boundary, change in location of cyclones and anti-cyclones and frequent flooding in the UK, are quite likely the result of climate change and melting arctic sea ice, the reaction is wow!
If someone were to make something along the lines of 'inconvenient truth' but instead spell out what has been happening over the past decade (when fake sceptics say 'global warming paused / stopped') - or local media was to do a decent report on it - That would have a great impact here right now, particularly coming after a rather warm summer and an highly unusual March (early Autumn) heat-wave.

The only thing that would have greater impact on policy is for the USA to stop dragging their feet, as that is the most common excuse for doing next to nothing about it.

Shared Humanity

Sunkensheep....The only thing that would have greater impact on policy is for the USA to stop dragging their feet, as that is the most common excuse for doing next to nothing about it.

Don't hold your breath. The increase in CO2 levels in your lungs will kill you.

I live in the U.S. and we are fracking crazy.

Jim Hunt

It's not only here in the UK that people are suffering from floods. How about Spain:






and hottest off the presses, Saudi Arabia?


L. Hamilton

The "Arctic warming and your weather" research that Neven introduced above has just been published (online first) in the International Journal of Climatology. The abstract is below; send me a note if you'd like a copy of the paper.

Hamilton, LC and M Lemcke-Stampone. 2013. "Arctic warming and your weather: Public belief in the connection." International Journal of Climatology DOI: 10.1002/joc.3796

Will Arctic warming affect mid-latitude weather? Many researchers think so, and have addressed this question through scientific articles and news media. Much of the public accepts such a connection as well. Across three New Hampshire surveys with more than 1500 interviews, 60% of respondents say they think future Arctic warming would have major effects on their weather. Arctic/weather responses changed little after Superstorm Sandy brushed the region, but exhibit consistently strong partisan divisions that grow wider with education. Belief in an Arctic/weather connection also varies, in a nonlinear pattern, with the temperature anomaly around day of interview. Interviewed on unseasonably warm or cool days, respondents are more likely to think that Arctic warming would have major effects on their weather. This unscientific response seems to mirror the scientific discussion about extremes.



Congratulations, Larry!

L. Hamilton

On surveys we've been asking the public whether they think late-summer Arctic sea ice area has increased, decreased or stayed about the same compared with 30 years ago. A (very brief) new paper in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences plots what that looks like. Here's the key graphic:

Write me if you'd like a copy of the paper.

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