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On June 2 I commented on ‘If this is real…’. After having scrutinized MODIS tile r04co4 I vented the bold impression that the whole FYI band in the CAB ‘is bound to melt out’.
Although, meanwhile, PIOMAS has presented confusing data for May and SIA/SIE remain on the high side, after having watched all relevant MODIS tiles again tonight, I feel, hélas, restrained in my opinion.
All our usual attitudes in data collection over the Arctic are deceiving us. This is a new world...
The myriads of polynias have spread and grown. About 15% in size during the last nine days.
Don’t mind all peripheral seas. It’s the CAB, stupid. We may be lucky to see the 1,8 MKm2 more or less ‘safe’ lead/mesh pack against the CAA surviving. The North Pole is at the rim. It ‘ll be a sad guess whether it will remain icebound.

The CAM out there shows a big lead, like a sign of what’s to come…


Thanks, Chris. What is your interpretation of her phrase "'interesting' summer" exactly.

It does look as if we are about to have an enormous swath of sudden melt right across the ice pack any day now. Would that be unprecedented?


I'm not seeing how Modis or similar imagery can be used to confirm or deny the Navy Hycom thinning model -- it has been way too cloudy for weeks for any of their sensor channels, not to mention the horrific swathing.

I can overlay the predicted thinning areas easily enough (see earlier) but getting a clear view of the ice underneath is problematic. It is not good enough to have 'during' -- we need the same spot 'before' the event. Otherwise, we have no idea whether the predicted thinning changed anything or was like that anyway, before our persistent cyclone.

People may be looking at the 'true color' Modis and not realize how cloudy it really is. For that, look at the 367 false color imagery taken at the identical time. There you can better see the various kinds of clouds with various opacities and properties, from totally opaque to areas where the ice sorta shows through, to areas that seem clear but aren't. The rapid motion of the clouds relative to the time interval between swaths creates an inconsistent cloud cover mozaic, exacerbating white clouds over white ice providing very little working contrast.

Modis 'true color' sensor means channels 143 for RGB, which they call bands. Their numbering system, pardon my french, is stupide: the bands are not listed in wavelength order. Bands 1234 should have been named 3412 (their RGB is thus 321). Modis false color involves channels 367 (ie channels 167). Or so they say. However this proved a falsehood -- it was not channel 3 but a contrast-degraded version of it.

Gimp allows band decomposition and recomposition, so I layered 13467 and looked at various combinations for RBG and four channel CMYK, both for single day and consecutive days (thinning, melting, warming, moving ice change color) but nothing came of it (swathing, clouds).

In summary, the two Modis products are quite useful over land in summer (eg, for Arctic river runoff) but have little value over ice unless the weather is a lot clearer than it's been. It does provide a quick synoptic view, from which very small clear areas can be examined at much higher resolution than with our other sensors, as well as rapid inter-year comparisons (to 2009).

Microwave is our only option for evaluating Navy thinning predictions.

 photo modisBad_zps1470bc0d.jpg


@ Chris Reynolds

Oh dear goodness! The last time Jennifer Francis said we'd have 'interesting' weather, hurricane Sandy emerged two weeks later. So if this is any indication...

I've been digging through the research as well and I can't find anything on a comparable system in June, especially one that thins the central ice.

(For confirmation, I agree with A-Team. Modis is a mess due to cloud cover. But JAXA resolution on their microwave sensor isn't too hot either. Although, a close look at that reveals a mess of cracks through the central Arctic with Laptev as a hot spot. Looking at CICE/HYCOM, we already see thinning/divergence. The forecast is pretty stunning, though. It is worth a Tigger moment or two, I think. :)

Apparently, most Arctic storms last for about 40 hours. Large cyclones do spring up, but mostly in winter. The long ones can last for more than a month. So, food for thought. The GAC 2012 was a bit of an anomaly at 13th strongest on record, but during early August. It lasted about two weeks.

As for PAC 2013, looks like it began in the Beaufort around May 26th. So we are about 16 days in so far.

Notably, long range ECMWF has gotten weirder and weirder. June 21 shows a PAC barely hanging on at 1005 mb in the central Arctic while a 990 mb low approaches from the CAA and a 985 mb low sweeps in from about the same direction as last year's GAC.

Now that's a mess in the making if I ever saw one.

@ Wayne

I will have to learn more about him. Wish he were here to witness these events, however strange and disconcerting they are.

"PAC will fade when the opposite conditions prevail, that is cold sea or sea ice cooling the air and creating an anticyclone, or La-Nina to reign heavy, or more thick ice surviving the melt."

So warm storm it is?

We have a hint of La Nina, though I wouldn't say it's 'reigning heavy' as yet? Sea is warmer than the air at present in many locations. And not much chance of broken ice doing much to cool the air?

'Interesting weather' indeed.

As for broken ice... Is this a year-round condition that's needed in your view? Or just summer? Things look pretty amazingly broken almost everywhere except just north of the CAA at this point. And even that is starting to look messy. I can imagine it will probably look even worse in a few years.

@ Daniel

Nice links for Mackenzie. Thanks for them.

@ All

Any thoughts on Fram Straight export? Thinning and export via PAC would seem a pretty brutal combination to me.


@ Daniel

So here I am looking at the Mackenzie delta on Lance Modis when I should have typed Maslowski...

A permanent cramp in the brain is not a flattering feature. Especially embarrassing when multi-tasking fails ;)

@ Wili

Unprecedented to have this kind of storm thinning the ice in June, yes. The jury is still out on how major an event this could turn up. As many above note, we need solid, consistent confirmation.

Ghoti Of Lod

Modis may be almost useless for checking thickness but does this look like 5 meter thick ice as indicated by the navy chart?


I suppose fragmentation doesn't necessarily indicate anything about thickness.


@ Ghoti

That feature has grown since yesterday.

One of Neven's criticisms of the CICE/HYCOM model that I believe is entirely valid is that they've tended to overestimate how thick the thick ice is.


OK. One last post and I promise to stop being so noisy.

I want to add a qualification to my support of A-Team's analysis. There are, despite the cloud cover, some pretty compelling Lance-Modis shots that indicate we've lost a substantial amount of ice (concentration) in in the CAB. And a low concentration is a pretty good secondary indication for thinned ice.

If we had clear skies, I think the confirmation would be even more compelling in Lance-Modis. But since we have s storm, we'll have to content ourselves with gaps in the clouds and those dark ghosts of open water beneath the thinner clouds.

For my part, the gaps seem to have grown and grown since PAC began (Werther's 15% looks about right, I think, maybe more). And the visual shot has been useful to me, even if it doesn't give us the ability to 'count all the picsels'

Best to you all. I've enjoyed reading every post.


A-team, superb work as usual! We are seeing "pancake" ice formations which were formed likely between October and early December when the ice froze from a wide open Arctic Ocean, but was not consolidated as a whole, some pieces broke off and floated about in a topsy turvy grind and impact with other ice pans, therefore the roundish whiter ice formations are oldest, the thinner black ice consolidated everything together later, and is melting faster.

Lesson learned from 2012 and from my latest refraction work, clouds appear to help the melt go faster, only place where the sun has a huge potential impact is at about the Pole from now till mid July. Elsewhere a normal diurnal day - clearer partially cloudy noon twinned with a cloudier midnight would be the most devastating, right now some sun appears to reach the surface but not a whole lot.


Re: Aaron Lewis | June 09, 2013 at 22:44 posting.
Even though we can not see the condition of the ice under this current cyclone as it has lasted far longer the projections said it was going to, can we not deduce the following?
a) the cyclone has found/created open water.
b)if that is the case, then the ice was either thinner or far weaker then thought.
c) if the centre is in that condition is it not reasonable to extend it to the majority of the arctic?
d) if c is true unless, and we do not get claim low temperatures all summer, then we could see a farther major collapse of the sea ice.

Jai Mitchell


I am pretty new at this but this location shows movement of about 13 KM between the 8th and 9th of this year. That seems a bit much


David Vun Kannon

Speaking of falling off a cliff, the Greenland SMB is doing just that.
Halfway down the page, top panel. About to exit the 2 sigma band.


Signs of thin ice:
In Baffin Bay there is no significant slabbing. When a thick slab rides up over another thick slab they fuse together. In the case of thin ice you get lots of cracked ice.
Check out the rate of ice retreat in the NWP, each side of Banks Island.

For the glacier watchers among Neven's - and my - followers:

Chris Reynolds


Given the preceding reference to thinner ice. I think Dr Francis is anticipating a large melt. But wisely leaving things open.

For myself; I'm not sure if we'll beat 2012, I think we will beat 2011/2007. But either way, it's going to be an 'interesting' season.

Chris Biscan

The 00z GFS break's out the Spartan Hammer(Halo reference) and start's swinging it on the Pacific side and the vortex.

It will be interesting to see how this unfold heading into peak insolation. And if the GFS is onto something with this pattern change how it effects the "churned" up ice.

While the Euro supports this. We haven't seen the Euro go for the jugular yet. The GFS beyond 180-240. Strengthens the H5 ridge and Surface HP. And centers it over the Beaufort, extending into the central arctic.


Is it just a shadow from a pressure ridge or is that a lead in the background of Camera 1 at the north pole?


A question for you clever guys from a newbie here who has been lurking for a year or so.
We will sometime in the next decade reach the point where there is effectively no sea ice remaining in the arctic, and as a result the advection of ice through the Fram strait drops to a trickle or stops entirely.
At this point the current heat budget that is going in to melting this ice as it passes down the east Greenland coast will be available to warm up the water on the east coast of Greenland.
At that point what impact will the warmer water have on the climate?

Will it increase the rate of melt of the Greenland icepack?
Or as the prevailing weather systems run west to east will it rather impact the climatic conditions of Northern Europe, Scandanavia and potentially Siberia?
What impact would such a change have on the marine ecosystem in the area and around Iceland, and would this be further impacted by the increased runoff from glaciers in eastern greenland bringing both fresh water and nutrients?

For myself; I'm not sure if we'll beat 2012, I think we will beat 2011/2007. But either way, it's going to be an 'interesting' season.

My thoughts exactly.

Chris Biscan

The Euro completely agrees with the GFS and goes Nuclear.


Greenland Sea has less ice area than in 2012, as one of the only places in the Arctic. Does that mean there is less export to Fram Strait?

Could be a sign that the Dipole Anomaly is weak?


Uni Bremen AMSR2 is showing significant open water in the CAB. I wonder if this really is or if it is only melt ponds.

Lars Kaleschke
Uni Bremen AMSR2 is showing significant open water in the CAB. I wonder if this really is or if it is only melt ponds.

From the blueish colors in the MODIS arctic mosaic you can infer that this is the effect of meltponds. http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/imagery/subsets/?subset=Arctic_r04c01.2013162.terra

See also http://www.seaice.de/Roesel_IEEE_2012.pdf

Steve C

Mignonette writes:
"Greenland Sea has less ice area than in 2012, as one of the only places in the Arctic. Does that mean there is less export to Fram Strait?

Could be a sign that the Dipole Anomaly is weak?"

I don't think it's a reflection on the potency of the dipole anomaly.
I don't know of a good day-to-day (or even month-to-month) published measure of transport through the Fram.
But I infer rate of transport roughly from the wind fields implied by ECMWF's pressure isobars, and I look at these daily.
If there's validity to this eyeballing, I can say that transport through the Fram seemed to be quite brisk over most of the winter, but quite sluggish throughout the spring. There IS a known seasonality to Fram transport (published somewhere and cited somewhere on this blog in the past). Transport is typically fastest in the winter.

It would take some days for a dipole anomaly to begin accelerating ice transport through the Fram, I believe.


And who knows, maybe Atlantic waters are warmer, making the ice edge retreat somewhat.

Remko Kampen

Surprised at some conservative estimates here. We are not going to merely beat 2012, we are going to obliterate 2012.
If anyone wished for the total wipe out with still limited means this is the way to do it: spread out the ice from the centre to the warm continents for destruction there and leave the centre to the sun.



I was looking here


And here


To be honest, that looks like open water but it's really hard to tell with all that cloud cover, but I'm not seeing any single piece of ice large enough to show these sizes of melt ponds.

It looks like August down there to me....

Kevin McKinney

LRC--"Even though we can not see the condition of the ice under this current cyclone as it has lasted far longer the projections said it was going to, can we not deduce the following?
a) the cyclone has found/created open water."

I am going to make a 'fools rush in' sort of response--my meteorological grounding is, er, extremely imperfect (though improving.)

But, with that caveat out of the way, I don't think you can safely conclude your "a." Arctic cyclones are 'cold-core' storms, and aren't fueled by (warm) water as are the more familiar tropic storms. As I (very imperfectly) understand it, the energy sustaining them comes pretty much strictly from pressure gradients within the atmosphere. Thus, the longevity of this storm probably has more to do with atmospheric circulation than with ice conditions per se.

Some basics can be found here (though this is not my favorite Wiki article ever):


To those with better-developed grounding in this topic, please feel free to jump in!

Lars Kaleschke


those images are located north of Svalbard. I thought you meant the Canadian Archipelago. On your MODIS selection you can clearly see a divergent ice cover, single ice floes and open water, and probably not many melt ponds.


Looking at the 11 Jun 13 Modis visible of central CAA that Lars provided at the highest 250m resolution, we can see sediment inflows onto the blue ice coming from the many rivers in the Queen Maud Bird Sanctuary west of Sherman Basin.

It's not clear whether melt ponds exist yet at a scale where they would comprise solid blocks of pixels. I did not see any fiducial areas of open water within the scene -- but given a reference area, it is simple to reliably propagate its signature (without any understanding of what gives rise to it) across the entire image with the magic wand of PS or its two counterparts in Gimp.

More subtly, we'd like to distinguish snow-free ice (which will be blue but affected by trapped air bubbles and micro-fracturing) from snow-free ice fractionally covered by small, irregularly shaped dispersed melt ponds (different shade of blue) -- the cite Lars provided gets into that. I don't know the extent of flyovers or goundtruthing that has gone on over the years.

Perhaps Wayne knows someone situated at Gjoa Haven or Cambridge Bay who could venture out in a snowmobile.

By the way, Typepad has in fact cut the allowed width of post graphics down to 400 pixels. This means the last 8-9 months of 415 pixel width images and animations will now be cut off on their right edges.

There might be some way for Neven to change the widths off the three columns -- there certainly was with html 1.0 frames. Better to have allowed widths more like those in the forum.

 photo CAAmud_zpse90f54ff.png

Remko Kampen

Kevin, a Polar Low, sometimes nicknamed 'Arctic Hurricane', is a totally different object.
It is actually a warm-core, circle symmetric convective disturbance to be found where a deep, very cold airflow rushes over a body of much warmer sea water. It actually resembles tropical cyclones in dynamics and small size.
Polar Lows do not form over sea ice (or land)!

The arctic cyclone proper is indeed a cold core system. It resembles a cut-off lower- and upper air low of lower latitudes in that it is also largely devoid of baroclinicity, read fronts.

Here ends what I can say about that thing from my meteorological background... I don't understand it's resilience, other than from normal resilience of cut-off lows (the kind of thing that actually led to the recent drowning of part of Europe).


The other issue with looking at the ice through small Modis windows in the clouds is that the windows come and go while the ice underneath moves on. Suppose you wished to use Modis visible or near IR to compare the ice of May 22 with the 'same' ice June 12 to see if any effects can be associated with the persistent cyclone. (That's only a first step in showing caused by, or contributed to -- correlation is not causality.)

It's easy enough to make a cloud mask using the IR channels. You might take all the disconnected windows to the ice in your May 22 scene and intersect them with the open windows of the June 12 scene. That could yield a few patches in common where the ice is being observed at the same lat longs. However it's not the same ice because we know from microwave that it has been rotating briskly ccw over this period. So really you needed to fast-forward the May 22 windows to the new positions of the ice underneath and make that intersection.

However that's not so straightforward without rigid-body rotation -- here the ice has significant compressional and extensional divergence. And the windows are too small relative to errors in microwave measurement of rotation -- microwave resolution is low to begin with and, without some serious hassling, we have only the day but not the hour of the imagery tiles. So recognizable persistent features in the floes are necessary. We've found those before (eg the Beaufort floe with the Bill Clinton profile, the goat's head, the upper multi-year ice triangles, the mystery dark dots) but only having clear daily synoptic scenes in AVHRR or microwave. The prospects for doing that through tiny Modis windows are truly remote.

Here's the Navy forecast out to 19 June. More of the same, no drastic developments, no backing off. We have 3 visible, 5 infrared, and 4 microwave frequencies that we commonly look at (because they're posted conveniently, others are 'available' inconveniently).

Of these, it looks to me like 5.3V Ghz Ascat active and 18V Ghz passive are having the fewest problems with clouds and snowpack interference. I can animate HSV color combo out of those by downscaling the Ascat for the grayscale and tinting with the 18V and mask down by the thinned areas on the Navy forecast. The imagery does not finalize until about 4:00 pm in my time zone, 9 hrs from now.

 photo Navy19Jun_zps654e0547.gif

There might be some way for Neven to change the widths off the three columns -- there certainly was with html 1.0 frames. Better to have allowed widths more like those in the forum.

I've tried this before, but couldn't get it to work. I'll have another look.

I'm also under the impression that less comments are getting caught in TypePad's new spam filter system.

Hans Gunnstaddar

If you go to graphs and look at Greenland melt, the current percentage of surface now having some melt (only 1/3 the way through June) is equal to the average maximum usually hit in mid July. At the same time Arctic ice extent (so far) is not dropping like it did in 2012. Does this mean weather over Greenland is not indicative of weather over the Arctic?


The "Blow torch" appears to be definitely ON.


Koeln shows temperatures all across the pacific side of the basin up as much as 8C.

They're up 2-3C on the Atlantic side as well.

Now at or above most of the basin.

I Ballantinegray1

The little i know about polar weather has me wondering if the lack of mobility of weather systems further south (stuck weather patterns due to impacted Jet) means that the earths rotation is able to exert more of an influence over the positioning, and lengevity, of the low?


Bambara asked "... the current heat budget that is going in to melting this ice as it passes down the east Greenland coast will be available to warm up the water on the east coast of Greenland.
At that point what impact will the warmer water have on the climate?

Will it increase the rate of melt of the Greenland icepack?"

There is a scientific consensus that the current perennial summer loss of the shore-fast ice in NE Greenland will accelerate land-ice loss.

You can read more in my article and comments "Glacier Changes in NE Greenland" -


Hi A-team, its +11 C in Cambridge now, Maximum was +12.2 yesterday , about + 10 C above average. Will be +16 tomorrow... Its melt ponds.


Hans. The melt we are seeing on Greenland is indeed above average, but I would actually say it looked even worse last year with melt area exceeding mid July average before June even started.
Without putting too much weight on this specific example, I would say that both greenland melt and arctic melt are pretty much related to each other, and that greenland weather thus are quite indicative for arctic weather, and vice versa. First and foremost because the two regions are geographically close to each other, which means that a high pressure over greenland is often accompanied by a dipole over the arctic baisin.

Dan P.

Does anyone know of a source for individual satellite swath images for the MODIS Terra/Aqua images?

NASA composites these swaths into the mosaics we're used to staring at, complete with annoying stitching problems. These problems are especially severe at the poles.

But in reality this is merely because of NASA's choice of stitching algorithm! Because the satellites are in polar orbits, the poles are actually the most densely sampled parts of the globe. Although the orbits vary off the poles, with 2300-km wide swaths they should capture the pole on every pass (every 90 minutes).

The choice of stitching is sensible enough when nothing interesting is going on at the poles, but it is killing us right now. Imagine if we could combine the cloudless parts of 16 full daily passes in the polar region rather than being stuck with a single badly stitched mosaic! You can see the improvements when you do this yourself with a stack of a week or more of cloudy images (use e.g. "darken only" layer mode for a quick & dirty approach in gimp). NASA uses some version of this technique for some of its MODIS products, though I don't remember ones geared towards the Arctic.

I waded around downloading the raw .hdf data files for passes, but they are huge (10-150 MB depending on which product) and the learning curve is steep for producing an image.

As a side note, A-team is right to push us towards the 3-6-7 images, which I think are CMY channel composites. The infrared really helps distinguishing cloud from ice compared with the visible. But it seems like there's room for improvement, as the satellites have 36 total channels ranging well into infrared:


"Does anyone know of a source for individual satellite swath images for the MODIS Terra/Aqua images?"

Yes. I was 'lurking' and saw your comment, so I logged in. :-)

You may also find other useful items via the Rapid response home page -

Paul Beckwith

My latest blog for Sierra Club Canada…

Here is what I have been posting on social media; the most important thing is to get the public looking at the data.

If you think the ice will stick around longer than look at the data for a few minutes each day for a week or so to get an informed opinion. It is updated here on a daily basis…

For in depth discussion, analysis of satellite images, links to peer reviewed papers, and the very latest on Arctic sea ice conditions this is the best site out there…

Too busy to do this? The Arctic albedo collapse messes up the jet streams which results in extreme weather events worldwide, in turn reducing global crop production. Look at the UK, today it was announced that their crop production is down about 1/3 this year and they are importing grains...

Dan P.

Thanks logicman! I had run across both of those links but hadn't spent enough time with the first one to see that it did actually have full resolution images from each swath.

Sadly, the fact that they're JPGs in a random stretched projection (presumably oriented along the orbit) makes the problem of combining them hard enough that I'd rather just learn how to do the same with the original HDF files. Plus I think there's something a little buggy in how they projected the data, as you can see lots of ugly artifacts near the pole when you zoom in. However, if I'm trying to grab a few swath images or their corresponding data files, this is the best place I've seen to do it.


Ban P - how deep do you want to dive into the data?
It may help to know that LANCE used to be called MODIS, so a Google or Google Scholar search for MODIS may be useful.

A user manual:

Some technical discussion:

User tools (software) -


For anyone who wants to play with the raw data, here are some useful links:

A user manual -

Some software tools -

A technical discussion of some software -



Today's AMSR2 image was showing significant open water (or almost open water), north of Svalbard and past the pole on the Russian side.


It changes daily so I don't know what tomorrow will show.

I note that Barrow is now nearly 9C today, up from -1c just a few days ago. And, yes, it looks like a blowtorch was turned on it. It's melting with a capital M


In fact it looks so bright right now (3pm Alaskan time showing), that the camera white balance is struggling...


I'm also under the impression that less comments are getting caught in TypePad's new spam filter system.

If only !

Please check.

[It's definitely not perfect. Sorry for the inconvenience. It'll be perfect once Steve Bloom's comments come through. He's been hit hardest, it seems. He deserves an Arctic umbrella as compensation. N.]

Ghoti Of Lod

O-buoy 8 is finally providing data and webcam images from the Beaufort. Hurry and go look before there isn't anything to look at!


O-Buoys are 2012L and 2012H. Looks like they may fall into the slush soon.


It looks like there's still a lot of snow cover on that webcam in the Beaufort.

R. Gates

Very interesting to watch the massive sediment influx into the Beaufort from the Mackenzie river:

This brings a lot of warm water into the ocean, sending SST's in the area upward in the next few days and melting a lot of that blue ice.


O-Buoy 7 also has a webcam, but are those real time?


Oh, and forgot to say yesterday: Ice arches at both ends of the NWP are breaking up.



Today's AMSR2 image was showing significant open water (or almost open water), north of Svalbard and past the pole on the Russian side.
I've been looking at the Uni Bremen AMSR2 maps and the MODIS images, and I'm beginning to wonder whether there will be any ice left on the Russian side of the Greenwich Meridian and the Date Line by the end of the melting season.

The cyclone has really broken the ice up so there's lots of open water, and lots of ice edge for sun-warmed ocean waters to eat away at. On the other hand, we're only eight days away from the Summer Solstice now, and cloud from the cyclone is providing cover at the time of the year when the sun is at its strongest, so perhaps there won't be enough time to melt it all.


The effect continues on the image for the 12th and becomes more widespread with more open water showing.

Barrow is remaining over freezing overnight and is showing quite significant melt.

Things are starting to kick off. All we need now is clear skies and we may see record daily, weekly and monthly loss rates.


Meanwhile, the cyclone has taken control over the Central Arctic again. Melting activity will be limited while this lasts.

Can we expect next month's PIOMAS volume to lag further behind 2010-2012?

I am not sure how irreversible the damage is caused by the churning and divergence. The fringes have plenty of ice to replenish the weak areas.

David Vun Kannon

Neven, perhaps we could have a post about the Greenland ice sheet progress this season?
Looking at the steep declines in daily mass balance, it seems that the SMB decline for Greenland has already touched the 2012 level. (Panels 1 & 2 of the chart at
halfway down the page.)
However, this strong melting is not spread across the ice sheet in the same way as it was in 2012. As Doomcomessoon pointed out, the 2012 review page shows that much more of the surface was experiencing melt at this point in 2012. That says to me that the melt this year is more intense and localized.


David, I'll see what I can do. At one point I, of course, will mention Greenland.

Remko Kampen

Mignonette, forget it. That low will spread out the ice from the unique slush street that is over the entire Greenwich/180° now while the ice pushed to the continental coasts will be absolutely blowtorched as an almost unprecedented (scale, amplitude AND time) heat wave washes over Alaska op north starting just about today.

T850 Anchorage: http://plaatjesdump.nl/upload/4af089ac76965e3900194c79f0a77bff.png
and Barrow: http://plaatjesdump.nl/upload/f35ad139dbb1c554a34adfc4c16050a4.png

The entire NH atmosphere seems to have opened total war on the Arctic. Like I said earlier, if you want the wipe out this year with means that are still limited, this is the way to do it! You spread the centre ice to the hot continents for destruction there and let the sun take leisurely care of the rest.

Hans Gunnstaddar

Been gone for a conference for a few days so late on thanks to doomcomessoon for info on Greenland melt, with graph I hadn't seen before showing 2012 melt. Knew it was a lot from what I read, but to see it graphed in comparison to average - phenomenal!


The models keeping colder temperatures over the central Arctic is a problem for the foreseeable future in doing damage to any fractured ice there. I think the damage is going to have to be done from the outside-in until that pattern changes.


Steve C writes, 'I don't know of a good day-to-day (or even month-to-month) published measure of transport through the Fram.'

Right, we are on our own with this -- the academic types have dropped the ball. With the ice thinner, more fluid, and more responsive to wind momentum transfer today, Mickey Mouse himself would not trend seasonal numbers from the distant past that are not even normalized to remaining multi-year.

This a hugely important number to provide in real time for a current melt season, especially with multi-year broken out from the first and second year ice that was going to melt anyway.

The multi-year ice has accelerated markedly the last few days to 32.8 km/day today from its average over the last three weeks of 12.7 km/day. The direction too has changed, from a rotation about some pole halfway to Siberia to a straight eastward shot towards the Fram.

Another 40 days of this and all the multi-year ice east of the line from the north pole to Morris Jesup will have reached the point of no return, which would represent some 20% of the what is left today of the thick ice along the CAA.

This would be a prodigious volume of exported ice whose melting thermodynamics would then be handed off to the effectively bottomless reservoir of heat of the North Atlantic and need not be provided by the Arctic Ocean.

The loss of multi-year ice is irrevocable and preconditions the overall ice pack to subsequent massive melt years (ie, the ice doesn't vary about a longterm static mean).

For compactness, the data are comma delimited columns and semicolon delimited rows. Day 163 is 12 Jun 13.

 photo fastFram_zpsedd2d02f.gif


Nice initiatives there on the remote sensing, Dan P! Indeed, it would have educational importance to document an ice-free north pole at good resolution in true color, should that occur this summer.

Arctic sea ice is sort of an afterthought for Terra, Aqua and indeed many of the satellites we're using. Giving that collapse of the whole climate house of cards starts with the Arctic sea ice, in retrospect it should have had a lot more targeted surveillance. While some blew up at launch and others fell silent way prematurely, that risk is normally compensated for by launching multiple simpler satellites that provide redundancy in coverage.

That is an intriguing notion, that Modis rapid-response has snuck in CMY for RGB in 3-6-7 false color without providing notice. Given that our monitors are hardwired to display only RGB and Gimp works only in that space, it takes some head-scratching to see how to test this. CMY for 3-6-7 suggests the .png was told these were RGB. So opening the file in Gimp and converting to CMY really is converting the initial CMY values to RGB (since this is just a transformation of color space of period 2).

If so, then we can use the channel overlap to see if channel 3 is the same in both the so-called true color and 3-6-7 separated into 3 CMY grayscales, the first of which should be identical to channel 3 of the three true color grayscales. Layered up in Gimp, 'subtract' mode should give straight black. I tried this on r04c04.2013162.terra and r04c04.2013162.terra.367 but it didn't.

The histograms are skewed quite differently ... I suspect they altered the contrast in the 'true color' to get something closer to true color. This is getting too geeky for the blog -- though the discussion of how we are supposed to follow events under clouds on the ice is not -- so I'll just wrap with what is providing the 'awful orange' on the 3-6-7. (Gimp does not offer CMY, the K was 11% on CYMK).

We are better off with the 3 grayscales AVHRR. I've assembled those previously into RGB with less than stellar results -- the ice and cloud temps are such that there's only one good channel, depending on sun seasonality.

 photo awfulOrange_zps36146fbf.png


Is that goats head dancing about the North Pole? It is hard to believe it has survived.

A-Team, awesome job with the animation, as usual!

Glenn Tamblyn

The latest thickness animation from HYCOM is showing patches of less than 0.5 metres, essentially at the Pole. http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictn_nowcast_anim30d.gif

The odds for a polynya at the North Pole are definitely shortening.

Talk about 'watch this space'!

Shawn Matthew

The state of the ice looks horrible on the latest MODIS visible shots, not sure how you could spin this in a positive way. The ice may have greater extent than last year but that's because it's more spread out. A large portion of the Arctic Ocean ice pack is broken up into little chunks, not sure how that is supposed to survive the summer.


I agree, Shawn,

ASMR2 today has 38 open sea (less than 10% ice) pixels on it’s map. Coming from 6-8 a couple of days ago. The jpg-map pixel is about 80 km2.
To cross-examine, I took to MODIS. I picked this detail:
 photo DetailCABholes14062013verysmall_zpse20f5df9.jpg
Some faint, high clouds stretch over the SW quadrant of the detail. Lots of open water. What looks like a floe (that's why I placed the ?; you can hardly call it a floe...) on the 1km resolution appears to be a cluttered collection of debris. Reminds me of Wayne’s description of this FYI rapidly being reduced into its original pancake forms of freezing up last September/October.

It looks like the briny structure of these bits and pieces is easily falling apart in the new, dynamic properties of the CAB.

The role of atmospheric temps hasn’t been very important up to today. As for the top ocean layer, I suspect it is rapidly collecting insolation now. Two days ago on the Forum, I estimated the grinded rubble to be between 65 and 150 cm thick. Now, I think it’s near the low side of that. When the warmth really kicks in, it will be gone in ten days.

John Christensen

Fram Strait export,

With the current Greenland Sea Ice Area almost 100kkm2 lower than the same time last year and with most of local FYI in the Greenland Sea melted away by now, it seems this SIA would reflect to a high degree the level of export via Fram. Since this SIA is below normal this year, does that indicate below normal export via Fram (so far), or are we less concerned with overall export and more focused on whether the export is from MYI?
This would assume that MYI stays compact and therefore that volume export could be high, while not reflected export in terms of SIA.
Still, it does not look like we are as of yet experiencing above-normal export, or?


@ Kevin McKinney: I too am no meteorologist, but from what I read in blogs when GAC 2012 was occurring, in order for an Arctic cyclone to keep its cold core, it needs to have access to water. That is why in the past most Arctic cyclone died very quickly. They were mainly on top of solid pack ice and therefore lost its cold core.
For those arguing that there is low melt going on because of the cold temps and lots of cloud cover and all the new snow. Came across this article about a study, http://www.science.su.se/english/about-us/news/humid-winds-towards-the-arctic-affect-the-summer-ice-cover-1.136733.
Now I may be reading this all wrong, but could not this be meaning there is very serious melt going on right now?
Because of the cyclone, which is pulling in lots of humid warm air from the south, which is what is keeping it going for so long, we really can not get a good read as to what the real ice conditions are like. Once we get clear air and the satellites can get good pictures, we could find out that all we are looking at is very thick slush. On top of that is not the cyclone mainly doing most of its worst on the hole that all sats have and a lot of ice extent graphs tend to treat as solid ice?


On the crowd prediction thread, I highlighted the similarity of the melting patterns between this year and 2009 to justify my prediction of a higher minimum ( around 5.5 million). Here are the two UniBremen maps for 2013 and 2009 as at June 15.



On the crowd prediction thread, I highlighted the similarity of the melting patterns between this year and 2009 to justify my prediction of a higher minimum ( around 5.5 million). Here are the two UniBremen maps for 2013 and 2009 as at June 15.


Phil, personally I believe that chances of 2013 reaching a minimum in the vicinity of that of 2009, are about as big as chances of the Arctic being ice-free (below 1 million km2) come September.



It is now June 16, SIE is at 10.9 million and we have average a daily melt of 47.7 k so far in June. The comparison with recent years is striking:
2012:SIE 16/6: 10.2 million (average daily melt 80.4k)
2011 : SIE 16/6: 9.9 million ( average daily melt:73k)
2010: SIE 16/6 : 10.1 million ( average daily melt : ( avearge dialy melt 61.6k)
2009: SIE 16/6: 10.7 million ( average daily melt: 46.4 k)

I concede that I do not have the knowldege that many of the people posting on this site have, but to me 2013 looks very much like 2009. IMHO, when I read some of the predictions being made on this site, it seems to me that there might a reality gap.

IMHO, when I read some of the predictions being made on this site, it seems to me that there might a reality gap.

I agree up to a point, but I thought the same thing last year (not giving enough options on the polls for instance, because I thought they weren't needed), and then came the big record smasher. The 'alarmists' were much closer to reality than the realists or the reticents.

This is not your father's Arctic, as they say, and I really believe that 2013 will end way below 2009, regardless of the weather. The question that I'm interested in right now is: will 2013 go below 2007/2011?

The weather is changing, the ice pack is looking very patchy. Everything can look completely different in two weeks, despite the worst start to the melting season in at least 10 years, I believe.

Ian Allen

Phil263, I don't think it really makes much sense to talk about average "melt" in km2 when referring to extent. The CT area, in so far as it is accurate is what gives us the melt area, and is moving much faster, now below 9M, down 199k today. The time from 11M to 9M on the Pettit graph at 22 days is beaten only by 1999 in the whole series


For some strange reason commenter Philip OnFire can't comment from China where he lives, and so I'm putting this one up on his behalf:

the thing that I find most profound about this new map is how dramatically it draws attention to the system change we are seeing in the northern hemisphere in just one season. yes there is a big chunk of extra ice extent. but look where it is. down on the far south east of Greenland. down in the far south of the sea of Okosk (sp?) landfast ice against the Siberian coast where there was none or much less last year and far down the labrador sea and the south end of Baffin bay. but the central arctic is just gravel. I know it is very large gravel but more than half of the arctic basin is fragmented. all that lower latitude ice is going to melt and the scen has been set for a crash in the middle. if we do not have an ice edge at or near the North pole this year I will be amazed. it suggests to me that the cold weather we had in europe and norht America has frozen the sea in a band of cold below 80 degrees north and that relatively the central arctic has been warmnone of tha tlow latitude landfast ice looks thicker than tissue paper anyway. I am betting on back to back record years unless things change in ways I can not see. MASIE has dropped close to 1 million km2 in the last 12 days. the melt is on!


First time poster, but have been following your blog for 2 years now. I completely agree with your post in response to Phil and that this is "not your father's arctic". Today's arctic is all about volume, thickness & the quality of the ice.

I am a non-scientist, but have worked with a number of them over my career in medical diagnostics. They do have a tendency to get so wrapped up in the science & forget the implications of certain aspects of their work. A good example of this was when we were managing a clinical trial for a new point-of-care flu diagnostic, some folks were almost giddy over the news that flu A had gone epidemic in many parts of the nation. So trial accruals were ramping up very quickly. I had to point out that "people die from the flu so you might want to tone down your excitement".

Over the past 2 years, I have noticed the same thing on this blog. Sometimes folks seem to get the whole thing backwards. Your reply to Phil concluded with "...despite the worst start to the melting season in at least 10 years...". Don't you mean "best start"?

I know that everyone's intentions on this blog are in the right place. But we have to resist the temptation to get excited over rapid melting of AI, or disappointed if it isn't breaking every record since the dawn of time. We are watching a climate train crash in slow motion...and, yes, over the coming decades many, many more people will die from severe weather outbreaks (flooding, tornadoes, heat waves, drought & topical storms)as a result.

We all need to keep that in mind when commenting on this blog. Don't want to give the climate denialists anything that they can grab hold of to attack the excellent work that you & so many of your colleagues are doing. Keep it up!

Oyvind Johnsen

I am a first time poster as well, have been following the blog since last summer. I don't think Neven is excited about the melt. However, when talking about the melt season, it's quite natural to interpret good/bad as good or bad for melting. Which doesn't mean that fast melting is a good thing.
I agree with your general point, though.

Oyvind Johnsen

More precise: If you are studying variations in melt seasons without attaching any feelings to the different outcomes, it's obvious that the "worst start" must mean the slowest start. Although it's of course better to write the slowest start:-)

I don't think Neven is excited about the melt.

I'm excited and worried at the same time. I wrote about these mixed feelings 3 years ago. There's a link in the right hand bar under 'Best of Blog' leading to a blog post called 'To Melt or not to Melt'.

In a nutshell: I'm very worried about what's going on in the Arctic (though not depressing me or anything, I can separate those things with my very own denial mechanisms). At the same time, it's a bit surprising/depressing/mindboggling how last year's record smasher didn't make much of an impact, not in my own social surroundings nor in the world at large, I believe. Apparently it needs to get worse. So let it get worse.

But no, I don't want that, because that will probably mean people will die, and living standards will go below the minimum for a lot of people.

That's the dilemma. I'm open about that.

Don't want to give the climate denialists anything that they can grab hold of to attack the excellent work that you & so many of your colleagues are doing.

I wrote about this very thing a couple of days ago on the forum. I don't take my own credibility so seriously. It's up to other people to judge that. All I can do, is be as transparent as possible about what I do, why I do it and what I stand for.

I'm not interested in controlling the narrative out of fear of some backlash by fake skeptics. They will lash out anyhow, if they get the opportunity, as they're not happy about what events in the Arctic are doing to their narrative. Their silence (total lack of analysis or showing the whole Arctic picture) is deafening, except around the maximum, of course.

In fact, last year I did try to control the narrative somewhat by not giving enough lower options in polls, figuring that a lot of people would vote very low and that it would make the ASI Blog look bad. What happened, was that 2012 totally smashed all the records.

So I'm not going to worry too much about this aspect of appearances, unless a lot of people go all out alarmist on me. Then I will say something about it. Very simple, actually.

Solvitur ambulando...

George Phillies

It is perhaps of interest that while the Sea Ice Extent is changing rather slowly (cf, e.g., NSIDC) the Sea Ice Area (http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.recent.arctic.png) appears to be dropping fairly quickly, which the anomaly in the area relative to the historical mean has been increasing respectably quickly. Your acreage may vary.

Rob Dekker

Here is one interesting effect of all this stirring and shaking by cyclones over the Central Basin over the past month : It causes salty water from the halocline to reach the bottom of the ice, which causes bottom melt.

We are starting seeing some evidence of that happening now.

Woods Hole Institute has installed Ice Tethered Profiler (ITP) buoys across the Arctic, which measure salt content and temperature data up to 700 meter deep below the ice.

Over the past month, the three ITPs in the North Pole area where most of the cyclone activity and ice fragmentation happened are all showing increasing salinity and mixing in the water under the ice.
Specifically check out the 3rd frame in these pictures (salinity down to 200 meter) :
http://www.whoi.edu/itp/images/itp58dat3.jpg (at 85.8285° N, 24.0584° E)
http://www.whoi.edu/itp/images/itp57dat3.jpg (at 87.3145° N, 84.6689° E)
http://www.whoi.edu/itp/images/itp61dat3.jpg (at 87.3124° N, 4.0752° W)

Since the salinity increases under the ice, the melting temperature reduces, which means that water temperature reduces (while the heat goes to bottom melting the ice). Check out the 1st frame in the pictures.

Now, eye-balling these profiles suggest that the top 100 meter reduced in temperature by about 0.2 - 0.4 C over the past 30 days, which suggests that bottom-melt of some 25 - 50 cm may have occurred (which is some 30-60 W/m^2 melt caused by salinity increase alone).

Can we find more evidence of that (amount of) bottom melt ? Well, yes. There is some :
The good people at CRREL installed a good amount of Ice Mass Balance (IMB) buoys, which measure the ice thickness directly.

Three of these buoys are in the same area as the ITPs, and the one in the 'thick' of the fragmented area (2012J) shows this ice thickness development :

This IMB indeed shows significant bottom melt over the past month, consistent with the ITP data of salt increase and temperature reduction in the upper halocline over the past 30 days.

The other two buoys in the area (2012E and 2012B) do not show much bottom-melt yet, which may mean that the turbulence under the ice is not distributed evenly, or that the effect I describe here is much less than I concluded just by eye-balling the ITP data.

Either way, I though it was worth mentioning that not all melting comes from above, and that the storms raging over the Central Arctic may have caused melt that is not visible from above.


Thanks a lot for keeping an eye on those buoys, Rob. Somehow I must've removed them from the ASIG, although I also had a look at them during and after the cracking event.

People who are following the ice break-up in the NWP need to switch tiles on the Arctic Mosaic tomorrow.

Shared Humanity

...if we do not have an ice edge at or near the North pole this year I will be amazed.

Given the fairly rapid drop of SIA and a stubborn SIE, suggesting the ice pack is being dispersed, could we possibly have difficulty defining the ice edge at September minimum? Could the pack be dispersed by normal cyclonic activity to such an extent that there are large, free floating packs throughout the CAB that survive melt?

I remember, during the 2012 GAC, a large contiguous pack of ice broke away and settled in the Chukchi Sea. It eventually melted away completely but it persisted for weeks.

Jai Mitchell

Rob Decker,

2012J is showing an ambient temp of -25.95C
This is likely the open circuit signal.

I sent an email to request verification of operation. I don't think this buoy is vertical/above ice. . .not sure what to think about it but it is definitely not performing. Last it called in, it only had 135cm of sea ice.

Kevin O'Neill

Buoy 2012J, despite its problems, is a clear example of the temperature and bottom melt relationship. Wayne Davidson has pointed out in the past that ice doesn't really begin growing until the air temps are consistently below -14C. Note the clear relationship seen on 2012J's data graphs: ice growth began in November once the temps were below -14C and bottom melt began before the end of May -- even at 87.85N -- with air temps at -14C.

You see the same spike at -14C in the fall as you see in the spring. For ice of this thickness the relationship can't be much clearer. One signals the beginning of ice growth the other signals the beginning of bottom melt.

The signal is usually still present on most of the other buoys, but on thicker ice the temperature gradient doesn't allow bottom melt to begin immediately. With thicker ice the air temps can hover around zero for a couple of weeks before any real bottom melt begins.

In an arctic spring ice doesn't begin melting when the temperatures get above zero - it starts melting when temperatures are consistently above -14 ... at least it does if you have thin ice with clouds overhead.

Kevin O'Neill

I combined the Surface graph with the Temperature graph so the correlation is easily seen:

Jai Mitchell

Received word back about 2012J the temperature sensor is definitely out and they have a backup. The temperature sensor provides inputs to the snow level sensor so that value will change when they begin using the new temp data.

The respondent also mentioned subsurface melt. There are also 2 sensors for this and they both indicate bottom melt. They don't seem to know why this is happening.

The levels of bottom melt on 2012J is at least twice the amount found at a nearby location (2012E) If (estimated) error sensitivities and time lag are taken into account.

However, 2012E does show subsurface melt and it is unclear why that would be happening. . .

2012J IS located much closer (really on the border) of a major melt patch (is there a name for this yet? surely not a polynya) that is located just to the north and east of Svalbard.


any ideas from the peanut gallery? I have a pet theory. . .



I wondered whether it might be that 2012J is close to an open lead - but I don't think that's the reason. We know 2012H, OBuoy 8 is practically in a lead (just look at the video!) and at a lower latitude, and there's no sign of bottom melt there yet.

Ghoti Of Lod

OBuoy 7 has had extensive melt ponding visible from the webcam this week. Surprising to me today is seeing that these melt ponds seem to be draining already. I didn't expect that so soon.



Don't think it's draining, just that the visibility changes with the angle of the Sun. If you look at the video you'll see it come and go 2-3 times over the last few days, in a strict daily rhythm.

michael sweet

The NOAA daily sea surface anomaly graph here shows the temperature under the ice above Siberia is 0.5-1.0C higher than normal all the way to the pole. I would expect the temperature under the ice to be at the melting temperature. Does this mean more underside melt? The warm areas here have been expanding the last several weeks.


Ghoti Of Lod
I just looked at the images, plenty of melt ponds, doesn't look like the ice is very stable.

Ghoti Of Lod

Yeah, given the ice is sloping and the imagery showed the webcam is on a separate piece of ice from the buoys in the view, the drainage troughs seen in the last couple of days are to be expected.

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