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John Christensen

Well, look at the reward for staying up late on a Friday evening - great update again Neven!

And yes, Fram Strait is almost getting as interesting as the PAC and 80N temperature. It seems less ice is finding its way down there compared to previous years, but others would know more. Safe travels!


Many thanks for the update, Neven! The continuing high pressure systems you mention are rather foreboding, particularly considering that it was at about this time that 2012 ceased its spectacular June freefall; I'll be interested to see if the high pressure persistence allows 2013 to catch up. if I'm very much looking forward to the average June NSIDC concentration graphs; I notice that the final shape of the ice following both the 2012 and 2007 melts VERY roughly matches the configuration of consolidated vs. fragmented ice in the June average concentration maps, and although that suffers the triple flaws of minute sample size, subjective judgment, and retrospective comparisons, and thus probably isn't worth a hill of beans*, I'm under immense suspense this melt season and I'm liable to grasp at any potentially-predictive straw I can find.

*Which, I imagine, would actually be worth a fairly large sum of money. Let us suppose that this is a very small hill of beans. Or just one bean, maybe.


A question from a newbie/village idiot.

I've been tuning in to Bremen and Cryosphere concentration maps. What are the pros and cons of both of them? I appreciate the greater resolution of Bremen but I don't know how much of it is artefactual (yellows and greens)and how much of it is "real".


I'm wondering this year can melt out like 2012. It appears from this amateur eye that we are hoping the holes in the central basin are going to do it. Not seeing it. But maybe I'm missing something.


Neven, I have also noted the sparse ice around the Fram Strait. Most years there is a solid 'nob' of ice that persists all year. It's so nearly gone you might as well call it.


Does this do anything to the speed at which ice flows through or is that driven by other forces like wind and current?


The warm air from Alaska looks like it might be circulating into the top zone soon too



Wow, does this new image show the hot air or what!


David Vun Kannon

Looking at the regional charts,it seems to me that the largest differences in 'behavior', compared to last year, are in the Beaufort and Kara Seas. But both of these will melt out in time, in any case.
In the CAB, there is also a substantial difference in area, but the difference in behavior seemed less obvious. maybe it is just the scaling of the chart.

On the GIS, mass balance had been bouncing around the mean until early June, then it dived down to the lower edge of the two sigma (once in 20 year) band. All of the movements of the PAC left a bubble of high pressure over Greenland. 2013 and 2012 are nearly identical so far on the accumulated mass balance chart, but we will have to wait until July to see if 2013 follows 2012 off the cliff.

Kevin McKinney

Yes, another excellent post from Neven.

I think this is where things get interesting--will the 'pop' be enough to rival last year's record? If this were a horse race, 2013 would be looking rather 'dark'--but not impossibly so, perhaps.

Kevin McKinney

Hah! DMI finally hit zero...



Things are hotting up in Alaska.

Regarding questions about Fram Strait -

The flow of ice out of Fram Strait was, in the past, broadly matched in volume by the formation and growth of the 'perpetual' ice of the Beaufort gyre. Only by leaving the gyre and entering the transpolar drift could this ice be lost, except for an entirely trivial loss via Nares Strait and the Canadian Archipelago.

The transpolar drift was guessed at by William Scoresby and later confirmed by Fridtjof Nansen. In their days the ice at the exit through Fram Strait most commonly formed a solid jam from Greenland to Spitzbergen, slowing down the rate of ice export in Summer.

This year the shorefast ice, already much reduced in volume from previous norms, is breaking up early. The consequent extra free width of sea in the strait permits more ice to flow out.

More ice flows out, but it is ice already much reduced in thickness compared with previous averages. In consequence, it melts long before reaching Cape Farewell, unlike the ice as described by Scoresby, below.

( "Old Greenland" refers to Greenland's south-east and western coasts.)

"By the action of the south-westerly current, a vast quantity of ice is annually brought from the north and east, and conducted along the east shore of Old Greenland as far as Cape Farewell, where such masses as still remain undissolved are soon destroyed by the influence of the solar heat and the force of the sea,
This ice ... appears originally to have consisted of field-ice, a kind which perhaps requires the action of frost for many years to bring it to the thickness which it assumes."
Chapter 1, The Arctic Regions, William Scoresby, 1820


Summer has arrived! Area down 1Million in the last week.

L. Hamilton

Of that 1 million, I think about 200 came from the East Siberian Sea. Dimly seen through a plane window yesterday:

Kevin McKinney

Nice pic!

L. Hamilton

Yes, I was stoked to learn our flight would reach 79N, then disappointed to see clouds the whole way.


Large number of icebergs off the coast off of Labrador


Dan Ellis-Jones

I know this is TOTALLY off topic, and probably off blog too - but has anyone noticed the continuous huge temperature anomalies in the Antarctic? It is winter down there (I'm in Perth AUS, so enjoying the cool weather - but unusually dry), but it's still a persistent and significant anomaly. It can be seen on the surface temperature anomaly maps in the graphs section. Anyone have any information/opinion on this? I’m thinking it might just be the difference between -50C and -30C, but it’s certainly interesting for us Southern Hemisphere folks!

The current concentration in the Arctic is obviously lower over a much larger area than in recent years, judging by CT comparisons.

But we've been waiting for 'the cliff' for a while now, and although it seems to be ramping up, every day we wait is another day less for rapid ice loss to catch up with 2012. And thank whatever belief system you have for that!

But I get a feeling that we might wake up one morning and have lost a gigantic section of ice at some point in the next month.

Also, I’d be interested to know if the very high temps over Alaska/Siberia are affecting the methane/CO2 levels in those areas yet – and if the native bears are having lovely, unusually warm, baths in the big rivers flowing into the Arctic basin!


I am reminded of a post that Tamino made some time ago, where he showed that adding in information on the area/extent in June added very little predictive power for predicting the September minimum extent.

What matters from here onwards is the same that has mattered in previous years: weather and the trend.

We have seen the effect that the weather can have, in that it has delayed the melt in areas such as the Kara and Beaufort Seas. The effect of the trend is also there to see, in that the ice in the central Arctic is so thin that it has been pulverised by PAC-2013.

We can't predict what the weather will do for the next couple of months - it will be interesting to watch and see - but we can be quite confident that, because of the trend, the minimum extent will be one of the lowest on record.

Climate Changes

"But we've been waiting for 'the cliff' for a while now, and although it seems to be ramping up, every day we wait is another day less for rapid ice loss to catch up with 2012."

July and August are the months were most of the ice within the Arctic Basin melts. Plenty of time to catch up, and dare say, overtake 2012.

Climate Changes

@ Neven. Posted earlier today... has it been eaten by the fairies or have I been classed me as 'spam'?

[Sorry about this, CC. Things have improved somewhat, but there are still legitimate comments that are marked as spam. Normally I check this several times a day, but I'm away from home this week, so I can only check in the evenings. N.]

Wayne Kernochan

Too lazy to figure out which post/forum this goes in.

I recently checked Mauna Loa (and global) CO2 for the first time since Mauna Loa crossed 400 ppm for a day. It appears that in the last week in May, it was above 400 ppm on average for a full week, and on one day it approached 400.5 ppm. For the month of May, Mauna Loa CO2 was nearly 400 ppm (399.77) and was approximately 3 ppm higher than last year. It appears that so far this year Mauna Loa and global CO2 are averaging close to 3 ppm above last year, which would be a figure well above all other years since 1998 (2.93 ML). Btw, last year's was the second largest increase on record (2.65).

My overall conclusion: I don't know if this will affect overall weather the way 1998 may have (global yearly temp record which has not been surpassed in a major way since, although we're getting pretty darn close), not to mention Arctic sea ice melt. But it does add a potential melt booster. It does seem to confirm that CO2 atmospheric concentration continues to increase exponentially rather than linearly. And it does present a bleak prospect for the next few years.

Jim Hunt

Over on the forum we're discussing "What the buoys are telling us".

I'm not quite sure whether this counts as "going POP" or not, but according to a webcam in the Beaufort at the moment, a 2.25 meter thick floe full of instruments is currently falling apart at the seams.

John Christensen

Regional SIA:

I have not yet ventured into any summer minimum guestimate, but from a regional perspective I will add one here:

East Siberian Sea melted out completely in '07, '08, and '12, but with thicker ice in this area, and a stretch of thicker ice going across from the Canadian side, it should be able to hold out this summer.

There is somewhat less chance that Beaufort can hold out this summer (melted out completely in '08 and '12), since the models are showing a stretch of thinner ice/floes further north, which at some point likely will isolate the remaining ice, making it harder for it to survive the summer.
As has been argued on the 'persistent cyclones' entry, it is not the SIA by June that will impact minimum by September, but rather PAC13 since it has held temps down, while not destroying the ice too much in these adjacent seas.
Interesting summer!


Hallo, you have alraedy seen the webcam picture's of O-Buoy #8, it seems it have capsize?

David Vun Kannon

@Dan Ellis-jones - yes, Ive been watching those huge anomalies in the Antarctic as well. If you click through the chart and then go over to the 'X' for 365 day temps, you'll see that the annual anomaly is about 4C on a base of -30. So, yeah the Antarctic is warmer, but not going to flood the world tomorrow.


@Wayne - The variation in the year-to-year increases in CO2 have very little effect - if any - on the year-to-year variations in global temperature/Arctic sea ice.

Carbon dioxide is actually a pretty weak greenhouse gas, and it's only the accumulation over many decades and centuries that is now having an effect on the climate.

The year-to-year increases in carbon dioxide are affected by ENSO - this is why 1998 is the record year, as the strong El-Nino meant that the land and oceans did not absorb as much carbon dioxide as they usually do. The strong El-Nino is also the reason why it was such a warm year in the global temperature record, because during an El-Nino heat is redistributed around the tropical oceans in response to changing wind patterns.

At the moment the ENSO phase is almost at La-Nina levels, the opposite of El-Nino, so for carbon dioxide levels to be increasing so quickly does indicate that human emissions are still increasing.

John Christensen


And DMI 80N just sneaked below 0°C again.. Not a warm Arctic summer this far.

John Christensen

Looking for help on understanding the temperature and DMI 80N:

In the same way that fall temperatures tend to stay high due to water/air heat exchange caused by open water, I am imagining that summer temperatures stay low caused by heat exchange due to ice melting.
Also, it seems that the melting is the reason for the summer temperature to stay within a very small margin compared to 80N temperatures of other seasons, where deviations from norm are greater.
Finally, this leads me to think that a current 80N average temperature of 273K is very different from 275K, and that melting represented by 273K is quite a lot lower than it would be at 275K for the reasons stated above.
Is this a reasonable deduction, or is the DMI 80N average temp such a poor measurement that you cannot make significant deductions from it?


Misfratz, I´ve carefully mused on your post. I want to be sure no one reading it could conclude that the present CO2 content and accumulation trend isn´t relevant.

Your individual statements are accurate (IMHO).
For the record or anyone on search for info, yes, FI nitrous oxide and methane are more potent greenhouse gasses than carbon dioxide. The effect of all water vapour in the atmosphere makes even that, through sheer volume, more important.
But it is the vast emission of the stuff by our fossil fuel consumption that made carbon dioxide the most important and dangerous destabilizer in our biosphere.

Indeed, the present growth in CO2 content indicates both accelerating emission and loss of carbon uptake in the oceans and soil. It looks like neutral-negative SOI/ENSO as a negative feedback is being overwhelmed.
It is a point of discussion and research whether and how the continuous rise in CO2 content has any direct effect on weather. Superficiously, I tend to agree with you that it has ‘very little effect’, FI on the course of an individual melt season. But I’m not so sure if that assumption holds at a deeper level of scrutiny.
On the matter of decades/centuries, I want to express my own gut feel that around 1992 a threshold was crossed ( I just saw that was around 350 ppm, coincidentally the amount held as ‘end of safe’ by Hansen). With a comparable unscientific hunch I think ‘weather weirdness’ on a measurable global scale came into play around 2010 (around 390ppm).
Using my abacus I get 18 years / 40ppm for the difference. Now 10ppm doesn’t seem like much, but it stacks on an already dangerous level within three years.

We are just not sure how the coupled atmosphere-ocean dynamics operate on the mesoscale level. I wouldn’t rule out some direct influence on the formation of FI hurricanes, Sudden Stratospheric Warmings etc.


John, as I’ve been reading most of your posts, I have a sense that you are one of the more cautious members of our little society.
No problem, BTW.
You know, I’ve been puzzling with these DMI graphs, too. I’ve been cadding on the winter anomalies through the last few years. I think those are relevant, as they often match with the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis data. But in summer, these temp data are treacherous.
As has been stated by other posters earlier, the DMI temps don’t reflect the whole input of energy in the Arctic region during summer.

Hans Verbeek

Arctic Oscillation forecasts are dead in the water / sitting ducks.
All quiet on the Northern Front.


@Dan Ellis,

I have noted the Antarctic temperature anomalies, they seem to have some correspondence with high methane and CO2 concentrations over the Antarctic.

The warmer temps over Alaska and Canada have been creating pockets of high methane readings at lower altitudes, especially over the Brooks Range as snow melted, and now as permafrost areas begin to experience significant ground melt, including in the river basins.

One other CO2 interest are readings between 460-480 ppm from O-Buoy 7 since activation.

It seems to be working well, but that is an interesting reading set to think about as we muse over Arctic acidification.


I when you ask about the DMI lower temperatures don't forget that 1st year ice melts about 1.7 degrees cooler than MYI. The DMI temps look to me to be held a little bit lower because there is much more first year ice.

Steven Newbury

Maybe I'm getting this wrong but wouldn't the heat exchange between atmosphere and water be more significant than the other way around, that is melting ice/water cooling the air, rather than air cooling the ice/water? Furthermore, wouldn't the heat exchange between ice and air be less efficient, so air temperatures would be less affected by the temperature of the ice (and so warm more readily from insolation and atmospheric dynamics), than they would in the presence of open water/leads/polynas.

Hans Gunnstaddar


If you take a gander at the arctic ice extent for 2013 at the above link, you’ll notice the blue line for this year is almost perfectly paralleling the 1979-2000 in the lower average range. I posted a few weeks ago on its consistency and since then it has remained on a smooth, consistent trek. At the time of my first prediction of 4.35 M Sq. K’s (which I doubled up on during the 2nd prediction), I thought it might be a bit too conservative (especially in comparison to most other predictions) but I’m now wondering if it will be more like 5.

I’m also struck by something else and that is the rebound after 2007’s record melt with increased ice volume in 2008, and wonder if the same could happen this year. That would suggest there is some kind of feedback response. Not that the response in the long run is sufficient to counter a warming planet, but if 2013 goes down in a similar vein to 2008, it will give rise to questions about what that feedback response may be.

Chris Biscan

The computer models out through the first few days of July are very favorable for protecting the ice.

The euro even forms another powerful cyclone. So more cold temps and clouds. More snow.
If the folks thinking its causing bottom melt are right it may be a huge coup.

If not the ice will be well protected from the mega torch in NA and Parts of Eurasia.

Obviously the models could be wrong

Steven Newbury

Or maybe the torched continental air could be drawn up into the Arctic by the cyclonic winds?

I Ballantinegray1

I'm sorry Chris B. but where is the airmass in the cyclone coming from and where does the cyclone draw it's WAA from? Over summer the answers must be 'from a warmer source' and that 'warmer source' must hold more moisture ( less easily chilled than 'dry air') Any precipitation in the peripheries of the basin will be rain and so aid rapid melt and expose more open waters there ( lessening the 'chilling of the air mass heading poleward). Removal of the peripheral ice opens more space for ice to 'relax' into under the wind field of the cyclone.
Rinse and repeat.

John Christensen


I am not the expert on meteorology here, but it appears that the Arctic low is not sucking in warm surface air from the neighboring continents, but rather just isolating the Arctic air mass from the surrounding continental air masses. Convection is therefore not very high; the bottom layers of air within the low should mostly just be moving in counter-clockwise direction with limited vertical action.
This would be due to the low being caused by the temperature differential between the Arctic and surrounding continents, as discussed on the 'On persistent cyclones' entry.
If this had been a tropical low, the main driver had been the rising warm moisture at its center, which sucks in the surrounding surface air masses.

As you see on the DMI Arctic weather chart, the temperature differential between the Arctic Ocean and e.g. southern end of Barents or the Bering Strait is quite amazing right now:


Lows in May-July tend to favor conservation of Arctic sea ice - as also discussed on the 'on persistent cyclones' thread, but we would agree that the balance is very fragile with strong heat nearby and thin ice across the Arctic.


Thank you for the comment. Earlier, I thought I knew more, but am realizing the amazing complexity, causing me to be more cautious..
And yes; I have done some comparisons also of DMI 80N temp data compared with PIOMAS daily volume data and would agree that at times there seems to be a good correlation between cold spells and volume gain, or lack of cold causing lack of volume gain. Summer is probably the most difficult period for these temp measurements due to clouds/moisture.


Thanks - I did not know that. I would have thought melting (chemically) would happen at the same temperature, but that FYI would react much quicker to any above-zero temperature due to higher content of air in the ice. Do you have more information on this (sorry if this is a dumb question)?

Conrad Schmidt

I'm struck by how much open water there is close to the pole: 50% on two sides. Could the upwelling that takes place around open water and leads lead to accelerated bottom melt in these areas?

Jai Mitchell

Obuoy #8 has an interesting webcam perspective.


I am pretty sure this is the one that was leaning at a 30 degree angle all last week.


@John Christensen -
Salt/brine migrates out of sea ice over time.
See http://j.mp/sea_ice_salinity; follow the link at the end for more fun facts about MYI.


@John Christensen -
Salt/brine migrates out of sea ice over time.
See http://j.mp/sea_ice_salinity - follow the link at the end for more fun facts about MYI.

(oops - previous post had an interfering semicolon)


"@ Conrad Schmidt | June 25, 2013 at 15:08
I'm struck by how much open water there is close to the pole: 50% on two sides. Could the upwelling that takes place around open water and leads lead to accelerated bottom melt in these areas?"

With claims 90% of Global Warming occurring in the oceans it seems this could be having a significant effect. ( ? Arctic Ocean as an Arm of the Atlantic Ocean ? )

With a slight increase of water temperature to change the equilibrium to favor melting it could be a tremendous factor.

k eotw

Last year was an example of what happens with conditions conductive to melt. This year is the opposite. The current normal is somewhere between. There'll probably be a big drop off in extent in July/August but this year isn't going to beat last. Can't have a new record every year, the weather is too important a factor.

John Christensen

Yes, brine does migrate out of sea ice over time, so that MYI contains less salt.
However, when FYI melts it starts from the top where melt ponds are created. These ponds then migrate through the ice and washes out the brine, leaving behind empty spaces in the ice.
Therefore, while FYI melts out much quicker than MYI, the melting takes place at the same temperature.
The only scenario where brine is actually melting the ice, is in winter time, as the ice compacts and squeezes out the brine, leaving potentially a thin layer of highly salted water below the ice, allowing for some degree of bottom melt to take place.
I do not see any source that brine in summer allows ice to melt at less than 0°C, so please share (the link did not work).

John Christensen

Sorry, let me correct the statement above about bottom melting: I suppose as brine is concentrated in lower parts of the ice due to compacting of the ice during winter freeze, the concentration can get high enough to actually melt the ice allowing brine to escape downwards.
Once the brine touches the water it should be too heavy to stay in place and will descent as other brine created during the initial freeze.

Lord Soth

The AO has been positive or neutral for the last 2 1/2 months and is forecast to be this way, for the next two weeks.

The arctic skies have been overcast, and temperatures have average 2 degrees below normal for several months.

The big question is, when and if the skies clear.

If the stormy overcast clear summer continues, then I say we will be lucky to break 5 million square kilometers. If the skies clear soon, it is still possible to hit the mid 3's.

Looking back, 2006 had so much promise, but fizzled out, and 2012 broke an all time record, and they have roughly the same extent, for this given date.

The ice is doomed however. If we get another 2007 weather pattern, the only ice left will be hugging the Greenland and Ellesmere coast.

Statistically, the weather has to clear sometime, however this is what the British was saying last year (worst British summer on record).

So I will just patiently wait for the cliff which may or may not arrive.

Wayne Kernochan

@Mishafratz, @Werther: I appreciate Werther's clarification on where I see Mishafratz as understating the connection between CO2 levels and climate, translating to "average" changes in weather. I had a more modest goal in mind: to consider whether the 3 ppm (or 0.75%) increase in CO2 would have a comparable effect on the exponential (up to now) decrease in volume.

We have been debating, as I understand it, whether changes in weather patterns that lead to relative cold during June would result in a "bounce-back" of volume and hence area and extent. That would require counteracting not just the linear decrease in volume (I'm speaking very loosely) due to CO2-fueled temp increases so far but also the acceleration due to the CO2 atmospheric increases. In effect, the CO2 increase increases the difficulty of achieving a volume increase (in Sept.).

By how much? Well, (I realize this is bogus math, but it does suggest a significant role for the CO2 increase) if we take the last 5 years as a guide, the volume has decreased by perhaps 10% per year, so the CO2 emissions make it 8% more difficult to achieve bounceback. Not the major factor; but not negligible.

I would summarize by saying that when it is not clear whether all the other factors this year will cancel out, it's still worth it to consider an effect that is lost in the short-term noise in most circumstances -- like this one.


@John Christensen - quoting from the link:

...the freezing point of sea water varies. For every 5 ppt increase in salinity, the freezing point decreases by 0.28 degrees Celsius (0.5 degrees Fahrenheit); thus, in polar regions with an ocean salinity of 35 ppt, the water begins to freeze at -1.8 degrees Celsius

So, for FYI (for which there has not been enough time for the ice to 'freshen' much), both top melt and bottom melt will begin at somewhere between -1.8 and 0 degrees Celsius.

For the FYI that survives and becomes MYI, more salt will have been 'washed out', as you say.

I don't know if this is the only mechanism by which the salinity of older ice is reduced, but in any event the effect would be that older ice requires a higher temperature to melt.


@RealityBytes said...

I don't know if this is the only mechanism by which the salinity of older ice is reduced, but in any event the effect would be that older ice requires a higher temperature to melt.

Sort of. Mostly. I commented on a thread on the forum about this. While MYI will not melt in lower-temperature sea water, it *can* and *will* be acted on by chemistry. Ice may not melt, but it will dissolve. Here's where I think Ekman pumping can come into play even with low temperatures. Increases in salinity would by extension translate into stronger attack of the ice, even MYI ice. Without a high gradient of temperature to protect it, eventually, even at -1.8C, the ocean would eventually dissolve the entire pack.

The .28C increase per 5ppt salinity starts to loom important as well; given FYI, if you kick the salinity up to 45ppt, that's the equivalent of half a degree of heating. Considering some of the research I've seen about melting, *that* could translate into significant melting of FYI - as it effectively increases the 'temperature' of the seawater by half a degree. Applying some of the equations I've seen, that could result in as much as 25MM/day of bottom melt.

This might explain some of the melting we've seen, and why it appears to be *transient*. By nature, melt would tend to reduce salinity, eventually reaching a balance. That would tend to be stable, until the next "stirring" event, which kicks Ekman back on, and changes the halocline.

I'm *very* interested to hear what people think about this....


Better ... but still quite a few bricks short of an igloo. There's a lot known here and it's really quite involved. Try the 56 pages of Chap 2:

Growth, Structure and Properties of Sea Ice
Chris Petrich and Hajo Eicken 2009

Thermodynamic equilibrium dictates that the interface itself is at the respective melting/freezing point. Since the freezing point decreases with increasing salinity, an increase in salt concentration goes along with a drop in temperature. This leads to a heat flux from the ocean towards the now colder interface.
At the same time, the higher density (equation 2.9) of the more saline brine in contact with the ice bottom can also lead to enhanced transport of brine through convection. In a simplified approach, the effects of turbulent convective transport and molecular diffusion can be subsumed in an ‘effective’ diffusion coefficient. However, heat transport through this convective boundary layer from the warmer ocean to the colder interface is still faster than the transport of ions away from the enriched interface to the ocean.
As a result, a thin layer is established ahead of the interface that is cooled below the freezing point of the ocean but only slightly enriched in salinity above the ocean level. This layer is said to be constitutionally supercooled since its temperature is below the freezing point of the brine (Fig. 2.3).



Thank you for weighing in, A-Team :)

Sounds like the the melt causes convection which surpasses the actual chemical attack of seawater on the ice.

Makes sense.

At the same time, seems like the "slush" we're seeing in the high arctic would be almost as subject to chemical melting as it would be to convection. Would be an interesting study...


O-Buoy 8 may be about to do a face plant in what looks like rain-on-snow in the central Beaufort. The animation below from the last day or two shows a surprising amount of action under the water. Would you step out on this stuff?

Because of the last 3-4 weeks of cloud cover -- portions of which are totally opaque to all the satellite sensors -- we really have no idea what is going on, other than on the periphery.

Ask yourself, what exactly are sea ice concentration / extent /area algorithms reporting when they cannot see down to the ice? They're defaulting to rubbish.

Our charts never seem to show error bars yet they must be rather large this time of year under these conditions -- large in the sense that comparisons to a less cloudy year would really be problematic for the Arctic Basin.

 photo obuoy8_zps6a237379.gif

Jai Mitchell

It looks like the moisture transport into the arctic is happening at the 250 mb level. The polar jet is operating in such a strange manner it looks like a subtropical jet has moved into the 35-60N latitude and another jet (polar)? is trying to establish itself north of 70' with cutoff lows spinning in multiple vortices all over the globe and eruptions of high pressure peaks in the northern jet expanding into the arctic.

Is this a new regime of climate?


There seems to be some presumptions being made here, unless I am totally miss reading what is being discussed.
FYI and MYI are constance with there historical structure. Salinity levels in the ice are also constance.
Based on the speed icebreakers can move in the Arctic, I witness account of what is happening to 'solid' ice sheets in resent years, would I be to presumptuous in thinking that for sake of clarity FYI and MYI should be dropped in favour of ice thickness?
The reason I state this is there have been many accounts describing how MYI 10+ meters thick has disintegrated from waves traveling 100's of miles through the ice pack. I believe this clearly shows that all the ice must be treated as weak slush no matter how long or thick that ice appears to be. If that presumption is correct then we have to rethink what can 'melt' it and also the actual chemistry of the ice itself.
If the ice is brinier then we assume it is then melting point changes dramatically. Also if the consistency of all the ice is grainier then assumed in our calculations, then what 'melts' the ice also must be changed.
Some examples that come to mind right now would be a storm off Baffin Island could turn ice sheets off Alaska into ice cubes. A mist of a few days could create enough moisture in the ice to 'melt' a significant % of the volume of the local ice.
Then you get the impact of the melting permafrost. That stimulates biological activity which heats up the land around it, which then melts more permafrost and on we go. Then we also run into the danger of bog fires that then create more havoc in the local area, but also creates its own weather.
I may be totally wrong, but I really do think that there is so much changing in the Arctic that we should seriously take a look at what makes up the Arctic.
I may not know much, but I do know the the FYI and MYI of 20 yrs ago is not close to the same as the FYI, MYI of today and therefore how the ice of today will not react the same as it did 20 yrs ago. In the open environment, ice rarely equals ice when you change the parameters that it is existing in, and there can be no disputing the fact that many of the parameters have changed in the last 20 yrs.


It looks the position of O Buoy 8 is back normal http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy8/webcam


It looks the position of O Buoy 8 is back normal http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy8/webcam

John Christensen


I appreciate the feedback on salinity levels.
My main classic reference is this:
Data regarding ice thickness and salinity levels:
- New ice: 14-16 ppt
- 40cm thickness: 6.0-9.0 ppt
- 80cm -: 5.5-7.0 ppt
- 3.5-4m -: 2 ppt
For a lot of the FYI it therefore seems ice would melt at -0.3 to -0.4C (not considering other factors). The difference in 'melting ability' from brine between FYI and thick MYI is therefore around or less than 0.25C.
However, as I read somewhere (cannot find the reference), since the brine is isolated in droplets in the ice and not truly mixed with the ice, the ability for brine to melt the ice is further reduced, and the brine normally stays in place until washed out early in the melting season, unless it gets concentrated enough and by gravity melts itself out of the ice.

Remko Kampen

Jai Mitchell | June 26, 2013 at 06:57 - "The polar jet is operating in such a strange manner it looks like a subtropical jet has moved into the 35-60N latitude and another jet (polar)? is trying to establish itself north of 70' with cutoff lows spinning in multiple vortices all over the globe and eruptions of high pressure peaks in the northern jet expanding into the arctic.

Is this a new regime of climate?"

Looks like it. Well observed. Presently the Greenwich sector of the hemisphere is acting fairly normal, the rest of the hemisphere is fubar particularly on the Alaskan/Siberian side.

Jim Hunt

OBuoy 8 isn't exactly "back to normal" VCAC! It's upright again, but has moved a fair way from its original position. Before:


Some more "in between" pictures are available over on the forum

Jdean Dingler

The brine isolated into droplets isn't in a stable state.

When the temperature of the ice increases, it will seek equilibrium and melt the ice that contains it.

The formation of these droplets is really just a function of temperature. The higher the concentration of salt, the lower the freezing point of the water.

What I think LRC is trying to say is that because these droplets are not frozen, they are weakening the ice and making it easier for wave action to break it up.


Vcac -- no one can have any idea what you were looking at from the generic url provided -- the webcam changes every 10 minutes and apparently does not archive.

By 26 Jun 13 at 13:20 UTC, Obuoy-8 had pitched farther forward, though the horizon is still level. It may have some ability to right itself -- or motion of the ice in which it is embedded makes it look that way.

It is instructive to look at this very small region and ask how extent, area, concentration, and volume algorithms would (or should) classify it, had they the resolution. Would any two people agree?

A word of caution too on the buoy tracking home page at UW. This has various gross plotting errors (eg 973540) and additional major conflicts around the North Pole with feature tracking curated directly from Ascat. My sense is that no one there has looked at the page in a couple months.

 photo obuoy8_zps684b14ef.jpg


Here is the export and melt action in the Fram for 03-26 June 13 as seen by cloud-penetrating mid-frequency microwave.

Be wary of interpretive products made from different sensors that no longer directly image the floes themselves.

 photo 24rgb_zps88c7c04f.gif


Here is the same scene from 2012, only a month later 25 Jul 12 to 17 Aug 12. The first date represents the earliest imagery available for this satellite.

This year already appears more melted out -- and what will it look like a month from now?

 photo 24rgb12_zps5fd95d89.gif


thanks for the information, but if the cam updates every 10mts, there is somethine going on there, is this the effect from the
persistent Arctic cyclone - or PAC-2013.



Thanks so very much for those animations of export through the Fram Strait!!

For the past 3-4 days when I've been flipping through the various Rorcshach Tests available here on the ASIG, my eyes were trying to tell me that there was a lot of ice flowing through the Fram, and my brain was having trouble accepting that information.

Not the first time by brain was wrong! My retinologist will be so pleased to hear this.

Espen Olsen

I think one of the major differences this year compared to previous years, is the lack of volume being exported via The Fram Strait, and due to this "new" situation we may end up with a clean and ice"free" coast of Jøkelbugt and Dove. This small amount of "ice cubes" will result in relatively warmer sea water in the area. This also happened in the early 2000s and earlier in the 90ties as shown here : https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,238.0.html


Actually, the discussion over on the forum is reaching a different conclusion - that we still have export, but that it is melting faster...


But then, volume may be down, because increasingly, it is FYI rather than MYI getting shoved out the Fram.

Susan Anderson

Speaking of Baffin Island, here's some evidence of our collective insanity:


dumb and dumber:

"Canadian military airdrops supplies to tourists stranded on Arctic ice floe

"Nearly two dozen people on adventure holiday were set adrift after 30-mile slab of ice tore away from Baffin Island ...."

Elizabeth Dobbins

We (University of Alaska Fairbanks) have 2 PacificGyre drifters that have been frozen in the ice on the western Beaufort Shelf since last fall. They are left over from our 2012 field season, but the batteries lasted over the winter.

They have started to move. I've got them mapped on our project website: http://dm.sfos.uaf.edu/chukchi-beaufort/index.php They are the blue thumbtacks over on the right. There aren't any ice images, but NWS's ice categories is on the map too.


I use this link to watch the jet stream. I prefer the top down view over the pole. I usually build a 2 day animation but you can go much longer if you want.


Dan Ellis-Jones

Looks like summer has arrived in Barrow. I've been watching the webcam and conditions there for a few weeks. I think it's melting out about on schedule - maybe a little late. The 3-day and 10-day animations are very informative, and give an interesting look at how sea ice reacts to changing conditions.

The forecast (depending on where you look) says that it'll be above 10C and raining on Sunday - with a possibility of it being 15C+. Warm rain like that should probably wash out what's left. I have high expectations for Barrow to be (virtually) ice-free on Monday!

I've noticed (being a newbie at all this!) that there is often very little swell/wave action in the Arctic, even in what seems to be stormy weather. Am I just looking at the wrong webcams at the wrong times, or is this a result of it being at the point of least rotation of the earth, or something of that ilk?


Thanks, Elizabeth Dobbins.

That fits well with visible MODIS information. The flaw lead in front of the grounded fast ice finally opened up the 26th in front of the Alaskan North Slope.
A few days of high pressure now on the Beaufort, generally winds drive off the coast direction Ostrov Wrangelija.

MODIS shows the ice in the Beaufort somehow holding together, without much structure. The analogy with glass comes to my mind. A lot is covered by melt ponds, like te webcams buoys 7/8 show.
June is colder than last year out there, about three degrees, but NTL there’s melt. Lots of polynia’s accentuate the FYI/vulnerability of the ice.

Next week ECMWF shows some stronger easterly winds. It would be very surprising if conditions would preserve a lot of ice in this region.

Jim Hunt

Dan - You need winds blowing over long stretches of open ocean, preferably thousands of miles, to produce lots of "swell/wave action".

Try the Pacific coast of Alaska for that sort of thing. "Surfing in Alaska" - http://youtu.be/i4uxkyUmXwg

However areas of open ocean in the Arctic, and hence swells, are increasing. This sometimes has unfortunate side effects. "The New Arctic is not a place for small boats" - http://youtu.be/L8IxxGWvM9s

Jim Hunt

A-Team - The Typepad patent "spam" filter is being a pain in the posterior at the moment. If this message gets through, the OBuoy 8 images seem to be archived in private, then assembled into a publicly accesible video.

The latest version is over 20 Mb but does ultimately reveal the "buoy calving event" in some detail.

John Christensen

Yes, it will be interesting to see how it fares this year. We have about 430kkm2 of broken ice (CT SIA) left in Beaufort by now, which is above normal and significantly more than the 200kkm2 at this time last year.
Still, it only melted out by mid-Aug last year, so makes you wonder if there is enough time to melt it, before lower temps return by early/mid-Sept?
An interesting topic for this year is clearly how the combination of thin slush ice fares under favorable conditions compared to prior years with better ice conditions, but less favorable weather.
Again, from research on the consequences of rapid SST increase and melting of Beaufort MYI in 2007 (http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~shs/Climate%20change/Data%20sources/Perovic%20ice%20cover.pdf), I would tend to prefer the current situation, though this is an extremely fragile state requiring the low to stay in place, while not getting strong enough to break the ice further and/or disturb deeper water layers too much.


Looking at Barrow, it looked to me like it had melted out yesterday.

If that is the case, it's in the top3 earliest years since records began. It falls into one of the 0 grounded pressure ridge years. The explanation, as I understand it, is that the very thin FYI did not create large enough pressure ridges to reach the sea bed.

It will be interesting to read the final analysis.


TISKI, RUSSIA - Weather report as of 10 minutes ago (12:00 UTC):
The wind was blowing at a speed of 3 meters per second (6.7 miles per hour) from West/Southwest in Tiski, Russia. The temperature was 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit). Air pressure was 1,008 hPa (29.77 inHg). Relative humidity was 81.2%. There were broken clouds at a height of 945 meters (3100 feet) and overcast at a height of 3962 meters (13000 feet). The visibility was >11.3 kilometers (>7 miles).

THULE, GREENLAND - Weather report as of 13 minutes ago (11:58 UTC):
The wind was blowing at a speed of 3.1 meters per second (6.9 miles per hour) from West/Southwest in Thule, Greenland. The temperature was 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). Air pressure was 998 hPa (29.46 inHg). Relative humidity was 74.4%. The sky was clear. The visibility was >11.3 kilometers (>7 miles).

PEVEK, RUSSIA - Weather report as of 432 minutes ago (05:00 UTC):
The wind was blowing at a speed of 10 meters per second (22.4 miles per hour) from West in Pevek, Russia. The temperature was 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). Air pressure was 998 hPa (29.47 inHg). Relative humidity was 81.6%. There were overcast at a height of 3048 meters (10000 feet). The visibility was >11.3 kilometers (>7 miles). Current weather is Light Rain .

michael sweet


The sea ice prevents swells from forming and damps swell where it exists. Where the ice covers the sea, no waves can form from the wind acting on the surface. Where only a small amount of open water exists swells do not form. If you are watching sea ice webcams you will not see waves. Later in the summer, swell will form in areas that used to never see waves like that. these waves cause a lot of erosion since the shore is not resistant to them.


BARROW, ALASKA, USA - Weather report as of 10 minutes ago (12:03 UTC):
The wind was blowing at a speed of 2.6 meters per second (5.8 miles per hour) from South in Barrow, Alaska. The temperature was 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit). Air pressure was 1,008 hPa (29.76 inHg). Relative humidity was 80.9%. There were a few clouds at a height of 2591 meters (8500 feet), broken clouds at a height of 3962 meters (13000 feet) and broken clouds at a height of 5486 meters (18000 feet). The visibility was 16.1 kilometers (10.0 miles).

Remko Kampen

What for, Kate? Another goes like this I mean:




From the NWS. Look at the margins.


The animation below puts sea level pressure (supplied by JMA -- Japan Meteorological Agency) over Jaxa 89 Ghz passive microwave from 22 May 13 to 26 June 13.

The idea here was to bracket dates of the persistent cyclone of 2013 while showing response of the sea ice pack below. However as you can see, clouds sweep western part of the Arctic, obscuring the ice below even though 89 Ghz is the highest frequency microwave probe available.

The animation is set to run fairly slowly as the pressure map jumps around quite a bit. To see the numbers, it may be necessary to download the whole image and step slowly through individual days.

Some numbers are upsidedown as I rotated the original data to "Greenland down" position (called EPSG:3411 polar stereographic at NSIDC) which is becoming standard (or at least Modis rapid response just switched over to it).

This is a better choice than "Greenwich down" (45º over) which primary image providers should avoid but about half are using.

 photo 89GwindOverlay3_zpsaf6d63c9.gif


"What for, Kate?"
Because I can...wtf??

High temps for the region above average...gosh...why oh why would I post that in a forum about arctic ice....gosh..let me think for a minute...


Obuoy-8 looks here like it has died and gone to heaven. However these are not puffy clouds but rather a nose-down view through some clods of snow. The web-cam has some form of gimballing that keeps the horizon level even as its vertical has become nearly horizontal.

These webcams are interesting as they call into question common supervised classifications, that is coordinate expansions of the Arctic ice pack into orthogonal 'state vectors' such as wet snow, dry snow, first-year ice, multi-year ice, bare ice, melt ponds, open water, etc that comprise the various sea ice algorithmic products.

 photo buoyInClouds_zpsa6ed3f47.png

Yesterday, the Huffington Post saw fit to use a stock photo of Antarctic penguins to headline coverage of stranded tourists off Baffin Island. Actually, an attempt to establish a penguin colony in the Arctic a couple decades back, I recall an island off Iceland, failed after a few years, presumably because of predation. So Neven was not too far off the mark in his zero-day biogeographical knowledge of the Arctic.

 photo touristStranded_zps208d0c7f.jpg

Espen Olsen

Cracking across Nares Strait/ Robeson Channel:


Christoffer Ladstein

Kimmirut also "witnessed" open water along the shoreline, for the first time this year. Typically my memory don't tell me when this took Place last year, just know it seems like an awful long wait every year! Guess we now may turn Our eyes to Cambridge bay, Nunavut or somewhere Close!

Any real proof for any hotter seas along the Arctic this season? To be able to melt out this sluggish slush we can find at least on the siberian side of the Pole!

Ghoti Of Lod

O-Buoy 8 went over this past Monday (morning eastern time). The image seemed to show broken ice and water runoff channel. Looked to me as if the chunk of ice it was on ridged up onto the chunk we had been viewing leaving the buoy more or less horizontal.


Does an extent drop of 495,000 kmsq in 4 days count as a pop?



Here is another view of Fram export via Ascat 5.3 Ghz backscatter. Over the last 54 days, export was minimal initially but accelerated greatly during the persistent cyclone, followed by a two-day satellite glitch eight days ago, followed by slowing export, followed by imagery that had lost its tracking features due to cloud properties and seasonal surface changes in ice dielectric.

The primary export over this period has been the lesser multi-year ice -- not the very thickest ice hugging the CAA coastline nor the abundant two meter thick ice in the central Arctic Basin. (What ever became of the Transpolar Drift current?)

If so, this might mean less total surface area of ice going down the East Greenland coast than in some years but with perhaps comparable volume loss -- and significantly, greater loss of more important ice attributable to persistent cyclone gearing.

While thicker ice might melt more slowly even if the North Atlantic waters are warmer, less total floe surface area would have a similar effect if the North Atlantic waters are the same. During periods of clear weather (?), individual floes can be tracked in Modis and those originating from coastal calving discounted.

DMI provides daily sea surface temperatures for the Arctic and a decent explanation of how they get from what the infrared records to what they actually display.

As discussed on the forum, this year seems unprecedented in numerous aspects (including the developing wedge which could split the MYI in half as envisioned at Navy Hycom), rendering inter-year comparisons and trends problematic and providing very little predictive insight.

 photo framAscat_zps7e60907d.gif


Well this certainly looks like pop.


Along came the rain and the wind and bye, bye, ice.

When it came back again it wasn't the same ice that had left.


Looking at those data is very interesting.

April extent loss 1.18mkm^2
May extent loss 1.14mkm^2
June extent loss to date 1.7mkm^2 with the last 4 days accounting for 0.45 of them.

If the current loss rate continues for the next 4 days, then June loss will be ~2.2mkm^2 which is almost double the May loss.

The question has to be, will it accelerate or will it slow again?

Jai Mitchell

Various locations in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are forecast to exceed their all-time record high temperatures for those locations during the next week. It appears that a high pressure region will expand from alberta through Alaska and expand north and east from the forecast.

The beginning of the surge of high pressure and higher than record temperatures can be seen at the very end of the linked animation


that is a lot of warm air moving into the northwest territories starting at +150 hours from today.

Jai Mitchell

Sorry, +126 hours from today.


Why wait?


Kugluktuk is forecast to hit 28C, tomorrow. It's just off the Coronation Gulf south of Victoria Island, which leads into the Amundsen Gulf, just SE of the Beaufort.

Not quite a record, but spitting distance.

Looks like the rest of the week will be 10-12C warmer than "normal" also, except when it is raining, when it'll only be 2-3C high. It only gets worse.

Jai Mitchell

Baker Lake is projected to reach 29C on Sunday. This is 6C above the previous highest recorded temperature http://weather.gc.ca/city/pages/nu-14_metric_e.html

of 23C in 1983.


The ice looked so much worse at this time last year, I still am not sure how so many are so certain that we can break the record this year. I think even 2007 and 2011 might be tough.


The ice condition is weak. The temperatures favor replacement ice formation for at least the next 10 days. I am changing my September area minimum to 3.00-3.25 from 2.25-2.5. Volume at 1.05 meters times an extent of 4.2 yields 4.4. Without continuous sunshine for the remainder of the melt season there is just too much ice to melt for the available solar energy. I would love to have measured how much energy was transferred from the water to the atmosphere during the SSW events early this year. I have to believe there is a connection between those events and the continuing cold weather in the CAB. Any thoughts?

Steve Bloom

Thanks for linking that, Jai, it's not an animation I've seen before. It makes it easy to see the ridge as a hot air mass rolling downhill (barolcinically speaking) toward the Arctic. It's especially interesting to see this happening right on the tail of the Alaskan extreme heating event. Related poisoned weather effects are the rare midsummer atmospheric river that just delivered rain to California (mainly in the mountains, but the air here has felt downright tropical the last few days) and the forthcoming retrograde trough in the east (recalling that it was one of those that pulled Sandy into the coast last fall).

We live in interesting times.

Henry, resist the temptation to project late season behavior based on early season behavior. That doesn't work anymore.



Describe "so much worse".

Have you looked at the ice in the central arctic via Lance-Modis?

If you are drawing that conclusion just from looking at extent, I could see how you might think that. Yes, it has been cold and cloudy in the CAB; even so, in that region specifically there are more than a million square KM which if you squint right, and hold your tongue just so, you *might*be able to say there is as much as 60% coverage. Might.

There are exactly 2 things that are better this years melt season than last: 1) we've been blessed by slightly cooler, cloudier weather and
2) the ice has the*appearance* of covering a larger extent.

Everything else is worse.

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