« Crowd-Source Prediction of September Sea Ice Extent (July report & call for August predictions) | Main | ASI 2013 update 5: cyclone time again »


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

Tor Bejnar

I'm so appreciative of the creative thinking and quality work products these and other folks do and make. Our understanding grows because they care.


Nicely put, Tor! My thoughts exactly.


I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, but I find maps and animations depicting the Arctic to be quite beautiful. Thanks to the artistic contributors for these visually appealing and helpful depictions.


Neven and all contributors to this thread. Thank you for your efforts, but I am sorry to report, that even one week old pictures may already be obsolete at this time of the year.

Please take a look at this picture:


from NE Greenland. I noticed a big chunk of ice, which is no longer attached to the coastal ice. The size of this single flake is roughly 50 by 100 km. The time until it disappears in the East Greenland current may give us a good indication of melt and disintegration rates in the pack.



I knew immidiatly what you meant, without even opening the link. The feature is clearly visible in the fullres video on Youtube (somehow the video doesn't show full res when linked to in a website, I encourage you to view it there, it's quiet beautifull). I've been tracking it for a couple of days now and wondered why it didn't get any attention. It seems to be moving only east at the moment, little southern movement.


The combined work of the many "amateurs" on the ASIB and the ASIF is truly impressive. These many animations bring the Arctic to life. Sadly, it is a life that is going through death throes. Every time I look at the daily HYCOM animation of ice thickness, I feel like I'm watching a sonogram of a dying heartbeat!


Yes, that is one big chunk of ice -- and it broke off quite rapidly. Good idea to use it as a condition sentinel from here on out.

Nasa Worldview overlays a distance scale; according to that, 83.9 km x 31.9 km = 2205 km2 (or 851 sq miles, 25.2 Manhattan Islands)

 photo bigBerg_zps0803f8a8.jpg


Just a quick animation of Big Berg by gimp-guillotining the last 9 days of Aqua at the DMI's excellent site.

 photo bigBerg2_zps449de1a8.gif


That's multiple year ice with contributions from the ice cap, yes? Or is it just 2 to 3 meter thick shelf ice?

I'm wondering if it had to un-ground itself to move, or if it just snapped off?

Paul Beckwith

@all, @Neven
I have created many YouTube videos over the last several days; feel free to use them as you please. They cover July, 2013 and August, 2012.

Basically, I feel that the cyclones will make or break the destruction of the ice. The first 4 videos (Part 1 to 4) examine the time bracketing the massive cyclone in August, 2012.

The subsequent videos examine the ice, ocean, and meteorology this July up to yesterday, with the idea of seeing a) if conditions are setting up for 1 or more massive cyclones, and b) how much damage will they do to the ice (The Great Arctic Flush?)

Arctic ocean events, Part 1: August 1st to 16th, 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nli47-9dT5o
Massive cyclone effects on sea ice motion and thickness + meteorology (500mb pressure, 200mb winds)

Arctic ocean events, Part 2: August 1st to 16th, 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqwIVEpSg3w
Meteorology (500mb pressure heights) and sea ice concentration versus SST (sea surface temperature)

Arctic ocean events, Part 3: August 1st to 16th, 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjYxRV0fzz4
SSS (sea surface salinity) compared to SSH (sea surface height) and detailed meteorology (tropopause temperature + pressure, surface precipitable water + pressure)

Arctic ocean events, Part 4: August 1st to 16th, 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAJRIV8YITY
Jet streams: 200mb vector winds daily ESRL data and 4 times daily SFSU data

Arctic ocean events: July 1st to 18th, 2013
Sea ice concentration, SST (sea surface temperature), SSS (sea surface salinity), and SSH (sea surface height)

Arctic ocean events: July 1st to 18th, 2013
Jet streams from NOAA/ESRL and from SFSU

Arctic ocean events: July 1st to 18th, 2013
Meteorology: 500mb pressure heights, 200mb vector winds (jets), precipitable water, tropopause temperature http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LONJT8JbM7I

Arctic sea ice thickness + motion May 14th to June 10th, 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ljHI0VITgk

State of climate change http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw1GEp8UBj4

Paul Beckwith

I forgot to include this video:

Arctic sea ice: Ice thickness versus speed/drift July 1st to July 17th, 2013

George Phillies


Beautiful reconstruction. For the benefit of the graphically feeble, such as myself, which way is north in those pictures? I had assumed top of frame, meaning the thing is breaking off and heading north, but perhaps I am upside down. Why north?

Incidentally, as that thing is huge, it is not moving that slowly; over the days you cover it moves something like a quarter of its length or around 20 kilometers.

On a slightly different note, the ice cube count is falling. The cryosphere sea ice area has fallen a half-million square kilometers in three days.

Eric Orr

Looking at worldview and rewinding back in time that chunk seems to be shelf ice and not myi.


The newest arctic cyclone is getting much bigger today, more organised and will get a jet stream kick due to the large isolated wave spinning around with it.

Jet stream link I look at. If you go back and build an animation for say 5 days you get a very good idea of track.

Dan P.

For fun, here's a faster animation to complement A-team's longer one. This one lasts 36 hours; you can see from the motion and the timestamp that the frames aren't evenly timed since satellite passes are irregular. Channels 1+2+6 as RGB, processed from individual TERRA swaths.

Also note the orientation is rotated a bit from DMI's version. George, you are right that in both our animations images north is close to straight up. Someone else might be better at explaining why the ice decided to rotate off in that direction, but from looking at the small pieces nearby it looks as though the currents near shore have a lot of local variation.


The cyclone is getting much stronger today. The COC seems to be staying put between the NS Islands and SevZem.

It will continue to grow in strength because you can see on sat animations warm, moist air being pulled from the north Atlantic, north Europe and northern Canada.

A huge amount of hot air from the US heatwave is currenting moving with the jet stream southish of Greenland. It might curve up slightly and nick the southern coast of GL - that will mean melt will increase in a day or so. It might go along the top and across Europe - that will feed into the existing storm in about 2-3 days.

You can tell alot about how the currents will help or hinder this latest storm by looking at the jet stream, the visible sat images, and the images from CT. All the animations everyone does show spirals and swirls in the ice caused mainly by storms and heatwaves. Follow those for a few days and you really can see a huge injection of warm, moist air hitting the arctic circle this next week.

I believe next week will see a massive drop in ice volume.


Actually, if you go to CT and view the image for 07/18 you can see the cyclonic action already affecting the ice - the red hook is the swirling storm a few days ago. It's now the 20th and I've been watching this thing gather momentum for the 24hrs. Everything points to it being sustained for days to come.



And another close up of Big Berg 2013, using the AMSR2 images:



The chunk of ice in NW Greenland is Multiyear ice that was grounded on the Belgica Bank for some years. When the sun was very low in spring, you could see the shadows of some little icebergs within that ice. Interestingly, the chunk that broke of is the bigger part of what remained at the end of last summer and the rest is mostly first year ice with some older floes mixed in. Only at the southern end there is some remaining grounded ice left. The currents close to the cost are from south to north, while further to the east they are north to south (East Greenland Current). For more information I highly recommend Andreas Muenchows latest Blog post at



@MaGa "The chunk of ice in NW Greenland is Multiyear ice that was grounded on the Belgica Bank for some years."

Indeed, this part of the east coast is usually steadfast. I've never seen the ne coast so bereft of a solid core against the currents and heat of the Fram.


New image from CT for the 19th

this is amazing


I'm sorry, I know I'm hogging and spamming slightly...but guys! this system is self sustaining. I've done nothing else for the last 10 hours but follow this spinning nightmare.

Every sat image shows this thing sucking air from every single part of the north.

Tom Zupancic

Regarding the NE Breenland fast ice, it appears that the ice at the position that broke loose around July 11 this year http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/imagery/subsets/?subset=Arctic_r02c03.2013192.terra
also broke loose last year about July 21, 2012 (see Eodis Worldview: http://earthdata.nasa.gov/labs/worldview/?map=-725024,-470272,2039776,1549056&products=baselayers,MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor~overlays,arctic_coastlines_3413&time=2013-06-28&switch=arctic (navigate to July 21, 2012)

The fast ice just to the South of this position reamained in place last year (it may be grounded based on looking at the sea floor in this location http://nordpil.com/static/images/arctic_topographic_map_full.jpg

Tom Zupancic

(Eodis Worldview requires a browser other that Internet Explorer.)


Everything requires a browser other than Internet Explorer. ;-P

Nice to see you again, Tom!

Ghoti Of Lod

I think buoy 2012M is positioned on that fast ice just southwest of the south end of the big piece that just broke off.


The worldview images look like there's surface melting in that area.


BigBerg13 is so big that it can be tracked at synoptic scale microwave imagery. Below the pink dot shows the North Pole on 89PR Ghz (our highest resolution) and on Jaxa 36VH 18V, which is a little better on cloud transparency. These frames, except possibly for 20 July 13 (the last), are equally spaced in time.

Above @ 00:58 on Nasa WorldView, north is not 'up' but rather the meridian going to it is perpendicular to the curving 80ºN latitude line shown (stereographic projections conserve angles).

The sizes of one degree lat-long cells on the reference ellipsoidal geoid in the table below are what you would use for quantitative measurements of currents and convection from microwave polarization ratios.

Terra does a nice job on the blue ice, as in the 11 Jul 13 DMI picture below. This could give some indication of history, thickness, melt status, and what will break off next (red arrows on final image).

Where is BigBerg13 headed? Probably swing around CW in the well-known eddy polynya just around the horn from Nord, asthis article from Sept 2012:

"The water masses and circulation in the area of the Northeast Water Polynya, located on the East Greenland Shelf north of 79°N, are described on the basis of an R/V Polarstern cruise during spring and summer 1993. The baroclinic flow shows northward components close to the East Greenland coast and eastward components at the northern limit of the polynya. An anticyclonic half circle is formed by this and the southward flowing East Greenland Current. In the south the circle is not closed. The upper water column, occupied by Polar Water, is affected by this circulation pattern, while deeper waters in the trough system of the area seem to spread independently."

 photo BigBerg13_zps4559d024.gif

 photo BibBerg13rgb_zps0185c39b.gif

 photo bigBergTerra_zps0e030358.png

 photo bigBergNextCracks_zpsabfb4698.jpg

 photo BigBerg13LatLon_zps39eec1e8.png


Nice spotting of buoy 2012M, Ghoti. I overlaid google map lat 79.20 N long 14.69 W on Terra (adjusting Mercator to stereographic) and your positioning is correct.

Air Temp: -1.52 C

Air Pres: 1013.25 mb

Ice thickness: 165 cm

 photo BigBergBuoy_zpsa67b17d8.jpg

Sourabh Jain

Hey Guys

You might find this video interesting. It talks about ice dynamics of polar ice.


Charles Longway

Kate, If this cyclone becomes GAC-2013 we may see flash melting in the center of the CAB this coming week. If I have this right cyclones export away from the center. I will be on the watch, thanks for the warning.

Alex Turner

North Pole cam 2 is pretty impressive this morning. Anyone care for a swim? http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/NPEO2013/WEBCAM2/ARCHIVE/npeo_cam2_20130720133651.jpg


CT July 1 to July 18:


At the beginning of the melt season, I thought this was going to be the year.

Then I thought, nah, there are too many factors preserving the ice and it's not going to happen.

Now I'm back where I started from.

It's getting REAL up north.


To give further context to the size of Big Berg, it's bigger than the island of Tenerife, (2034 km2, pop. +- 1 million) part of the Canaries archipelago, where I live.

That's a large lump of ice.

Julian Brimelow


You are right to be following this developing storm (not that the huge calving isn't interesting!).

This storm could be what we later refer to as the Great Arctic Cyclone (GAC) of 2013.

Fairfax Climate Watch

Sourabh Jain, that's a good video thanks!

Espen Olsen

Service announcement:

May I suggest you guys to tune in on Arctic Sea Ice Forum, the break up story about the Ice Island of Joekelbugt was reported first time on July 11 (few days ago)


R. Gates

Kate and others,

Thanks for pointing out the forming cyclone. ECMWF by late next week shows the storm to be quite impressive. Another "ice grinder"? This time of year, that much energy going into the Arctic with already thin, fragile, and spread out ice would tend to mean a significant melting event. Neven, you might want to pull this off into a separate post.


It seems to me that Sebastien and Vincent are heading into that storm. They are currently in the North Chukchi Sea, making for the pole.


http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/imagery/subsets/?subset=Arctic_r02c03.2012247.terra.1km that ice island is just big chunk of first year ice with older stuff in it that only formed last winter and has not yet been subjected to wave action. expect it to vanish rapidly.
the web cam just south of there is probably on the grounded ice that is visible in this modis shot from last autumn. or maybe just west of that.

Neven, you might want to pull this off into a separate post.

I'll discuss it in the latest ASI update that will be published later today.

Rob Dekker

Danp, awesome presentation of a cloud-free Arctic !

Is it my perception, or does it look like AMSR2

seems to underestimate the devastation in the Central Arctic, compared to your 8 day cloud-free picture ?

Jim Hunt

@ljgeoff - There's more on the voyage of Babouchka over on the forum.

And yes, they do seem to be sailing into something of a storm.


If the coming storm creates a GAC-2013 (or variant thereof), this would be the 3rd such storm in the last 12 months. Last year it was being talked about as a very unusual occurrence. Be it be a stretch to start saying that this is the new normal? And that when calculating ice melt, must take into consideration effects of this storms?
As has been mentioned here and other places, with less ice these storms could become more often and longer lasting year round that would effect ice in max in Feb., Apr., not only that but any human planned activity.
We humans do have a problem with rose coloured glasses that Damaging A may have 'positive' benefits, ignoring that fact that it could damage B,C,D,E....which have very negative impacts.

Kevin O'Neill

HYCOM Ice Speed & Drift projected for 7-27

Shared Humanity

While the eastern CAB may be dispersed,the HYCOM drift projection seems to suggest the cyclone will compact the ice in the Beaufort and north of the CAA.

R. Gates

I was thinking that just as they have begun to name winter storms, and have been naming lower latitude cyclones for decades, that we really need to start naming these high latitude Arctic cyclones with more personal names other than GAC-2012 or PAC-2013, etc. Furthermore, I would suggest that to start the naming, we use the names of men and women who have been explorers and researchers of all things in the Arctic, both past and present. I would also suggest we use last names,to make it clear which Arctic explorer we are honoring. We could begin with this list:


Now the government, who likes to take control of such things as the convention for naming storms may or may not go along with my suggestion, but even if they don't we can lead the way unofficially.

The upshot of all this is that in the future, should we have several of these storms in a year (as it looks like we will this year) we can more easily identify exactly which one we are referring to in discussion and analysis of effect. And who knows, maybe someday there will be an Arctic Cyclone Acropolis.


It's a great idea, R. Gates, if it weren't for the fact that storms can be pretty destructive. Imagine that Sandy instead of being named Sandy was called George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Now that wouldn't be fair.

No, If we're going to give them storms names, we should be naming them after their sponsors.

Espen Olsen


Hear, Hear!

R. Gates

Ha ha, Neven! There would be a kind of poetic justice in having an Arctic Cyclone Watts or Arctic Cyclone Monckton, and while the general public might not get the inside joke, it could a bit of dark humor for those of us more closely following these things.

Kevin O'Neill

Royal Dutch Shell
British Petroleum

or Coal Companies


I understand the dark humor aspect but regarding the naming, there should also be a scale, e.g.:

"And in related weather news, Arctic Cyclone Inhofe is forecast to reach Exxon class early next week. However there is a slight chance it could get as strong as GOP strength."



Before we delve into this kind of naming exercise, I kindly remind you, that we are talking about at least four different types of cyclones:

1) Polar Lows – a well-known winter feature, when high pressure over sea ice forces dry, strong winds over the sea ice-edge picking up moisture from the relatively warm sea water and produce fast-moving “atmospheric bombs”, which are hard to predict by conventional weather forecasting models.
2) Early Summer Arctic Cyclones – an apparently new cold-core semi-persistent feature over the central Arctic Ocean possibly related to advection of moisture from sublimation of snow over the nearby continents.
3) Late Summer Persistent Arctic Cyclones – a new type of cyclones over the central Arctic Basin, which have a devastating impact on the broken sea ice. Unclear whether they are driven by moisture advection from southern latitudes, or whether they are driven by evaporation from the leads between ice floes.
4) Persistent Lows in the autumn – a new type of lows presumably driven by the release of heat from immense volumes of warm ocean water in a new ice-free Arctic and katabatic winds off the great continental slopes surrounding the Arctic Ocean.

I may suggest, that we try to separate these new features in the naming process, but also that we stick to the positive traditions on this blog, by naming the cyclones after those oil and gas companies, which have given up already on further futile exploration in the Arctic. One French company – Total - has publicly declared, that it has given up its Arctic adventures because it is too risky to proceed. Similarly, some insurance companies have refused to insure such activities, which should also leave them a place on the name list.


The lower third of Big Berg broke off on 22 July 13 (according to cloud-penetrating microwave) and two days later the top third came apart as well. So it will be short-lived overall.

Of more interest, is the impending disintegration of the land-fast ice to its northwest. Buttressing of the 79 glacier may disappear following that.

 photo bigBergFinal_zpse0b411bd.gif

Steve Bloom

Let's please not forget that there are non-gents who frequent this blog, P-maker.



I am fully aware of this fact, so I will adjust accordingly.

By the way, I also noticed this morning's picture: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/images/MODIS/NEW/20130724TERR.jpg which shows even more break-up NW of the rapidly disintegrating "Big Chunk".


The ice below Buoy 2012M looks to have broke loose. The buoy was stationing at 79.20 N 14.69 W (noted above on 20 July) since deployment and now it is at 79.19 N, 14.87 W as disintegration of multi year ice along the NE shores of Greenland continues.

The comments to this entry are closed.