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Colorado Bob

Deep-Sea Corals Record Dramatic Long-Term Shift in Pacific Ocean Ecosystem.

Dec. 15, 2013 — Long-lived deep-sea corals preserve evidence of a major shift in the open Pacific Ocean ecosystem since around 1850, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The findings, published December 15 in Nature, indicate that changes at the base of the marine food web observed in recent decades in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre may have begun more than 150 years ago at the end of the Little Ice Age.

Colorado Bob

Followup: Sea stars (starfish) still dying, still mysteriously


2 days ago off Seattle, watch the clip, and tell me that's not a dying ocean.


"While this increase in ice volume is welcome news, it does not indicate a reversal in the long-term trend." -they really buried this perspective.

Hans Gunnstaddar

Not sure that's evidence of a dying ocean, because a school of fish swam by, there are crabs, and other types of sea life, but certainly the starfish are dying and that's cause for great concern.


I agree, Hans; it is very easy to fall into a trap of pessimism and depression, looking at what is happening, and watching the wheels come off of parts of the system. It becomes easy with that to overstate both perils and consequences. They are quite bad enough, yes, but I will never surrender to fatalism. I have too many arguments to start, and people to motivate.


So should we be using these CryoSat numbers or the lower PIOMAS numbers when pointing out to people what is happening to sea ice? Which is more accurate? (Of course, both show dramatic ice loss over the decades.)


Wili, I always forget the details, but there's a difference in the area where PIOMAS and CryoSat measure/model sea ice thickness.


Thanks, neven. That makes sense.

Rob Dekker

wili said :

should we be using these CryoSat numbers or the lower PIOMAS numbers when pointing out to people what is happening to sea ice? Which is more accurate?

That is an excellent question in my opinion.
Both Cryosat and PIOMAS heavily rely on modeling, albeit different models, with different input parameters, and both undoubtedly suffer from significant inaccuracies.

I think that Cryosat' strength is in displaying details in the ice pack, but has questionable value for the overall mass of sea ice. After all, even a 10 cm mis-calculation of this radar system that is hovering a few hundred km above the planet surface will cause a 100 cm error in ice thickness and thus about 100 % error in ice mass/volume. Frankly, for a radar system, I don't know how they manage to estimate ice mass with any sort of accuracy at all.

And I still do not understand why Cryosat does not present estimates for 'summer' ice mass. After all, during summer there are plenty of leads (open water) between the ice floes, which gives a great 'baseline' for the radar, so one would expect that the most accurate estimates of ice mass could be made only in summer. Still Cryosat explicitly ignores that season. Why ?

PIOMAS on the other hand, has a hard time re-constructing details in the ice pack, such as ridging, false-bottoms in sea ice and re-freeze rates on a fragmented pack.

But after decades of validations by in-situ ice thickness measurements PIOMAS must by now be the best model we have in estimating overall, large-scale ice growth under atmospheric and oceanic conditions, although these atmospheric conditions are also derived from models using satellite measurements.

So maybe, with Cryosat being great in the details, and PIOMAS being great in the overall ice mass estimates, the two systems may complement each other very well.

Maybe what is surprising is not how much these two systems differ, and which one to 'choose' or is 'better', but in fact how close they are, given that they produce numbers from completely different measurements and completely different models.

James Dunlap

Colorado Bob

A friendly note. As almost all of your posts are off topic I thought you might like to know that Neven (our host here) created the Artic Sea Ice Forum for his readers to create and follow a large variety of topics that they are interested in. (Link is in the bubble on the upper right side of this blog screen).

We have extensive posting on almost all of your news items and you should come over there to post those things and add to the discussions. We all read both the ASIB and ASIF so your posts will not be missed by anyone and it would better fit what Neven wanted us to do as we used to clutter up his specific articles and it was frustrating him.



In the Piomas thread below, some people expressed...concerns about the unit of measurement of GW used in the new widget to the upper right.

SkS now has an alternative, kinder, gentler measurement unit: Kitten Sneazes


Now we just need some focus groups so we can determine which measure more effectively gets across the gravity of the issue. '-)

John Christensen

The 2013 Arctic Report Card is out:


So maybe, with Cryosat being great in the details, and PIOMAS being great in the overall ice mass estimates, the two systems may complement each other very well.

Well said, and don't forget SMOS, IceBridge, and hopefully ICESat in the near future.

John, coincidentally I put up a blog post for the Arctic Report Card.


The question I have not seen answered directly is this: Did the "rebound" of 2013 result from a change of albedo that actually caused radiation from the earth to exceed insolation, or did it result from weather that drove the excess heat somewhere other than the arctic. Clearly if the first is true it represents a pause in global warming.


Mostly weather. There is no "pause."


No pause indeed.

I'd hardly call retrenchment to levels roughly near those last seen in 2009 a 'pause.' We had three years running worth of volume losses. It would have been an extraordinary trend indeed to not show some bounce back or noise in the larger melt trend.

In general, the 'pause' language is starting to get a bit silly. November was the hottest November on record and the last hottest year on record 2010 was also the last El Niño year on record, and a weak one at that. The next El Niño year will, most likely, set another hottest year marker. Or, if we stay in the current neutral/La Nina trend, other forcings will probably push a record hot year within the next five.

And that's just atmospheric warming. Ocean warming proceeds apace and glacial melt rates show the ice sheets are taking on heat as well.

There is no pause. Only the mirage of pause.


"The question I have not seen answered directly is this: Did the "rebound" of 2013 result from a change of albedo that actually caused radiation from the earth to exceed insolation"

The answer is here on this blog, almost day by day descriptions if you read back. Its been very cloudy, a two edge sword, in summer making the Arctic cooler, in winter, causing the opposite, November is #1 warmest not because there was more sea ice, but because it was cloudier.

Its more complex than the satellites can help realize, I reason the warmer air over the Arctic not necessarily conducive to a greater ice factory. And there has been really no great let down in cyclonic action. So I'll sit and watch wait to find out if the instruments gauge this right.

A friendly note. As almost all of your posts are off topic I thought you might like to know that Neven (our host here) created the Artic Sea Ice Forum for his readers to create and follow a large variety of topics that they are interested in. (Link is in the bubble on the upper right side of this blog screen).

CB, of course, you can post any links related to the Arctic or cryosphere in general, but it's true that they are easier to find in dedicated threads on the ASIF.

Andy Lee Robinson

Kitten sneezes are a bit too esoteric, even for me, so I've invented another unit of heat gain, one that is quintessentially English...

Starting with water at 22°C:
250 TJ/s = 2.555 billion 0.3l cups of tea per second.

Colorado Bob

Neven, JimD -

No problem , and many thanks .

No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


The rivers in Siberia are flowing , and discharging warm water into the ocean in Dec.

Doug Lofland

Neven, CB, JimD and all -

What I really like about this blog is not only the great posts by Neven, who puts a lot of research and thought into each new subject, but most of the comments and links that pop in. While some are "off topic" and perhaps a small distraction to the subject at hand, the sum of it all has been invaluable to me and my continuing education here at Acropolis U.

I am very time limited, and often read this on my tablet during a break, and just don't have the time to spend in the ASIF or anywhere else, so, for me, it has become a one-stop shop. I also want to thank everyone for their contributions.


Hi Doug and Bob,

Perhaps the best would be for Doug to follow Bob's general environmental news feeds here:


If Bob wants to continue to cross-post the Arctic-specific items here, that's also helpful, imho.

In my own view this blog is at its most useful and effective when concentrating on the Arctic Sea Ice.

Colorado Bob

I think the world of Neven's effort here. And JimD is right , I go off topic , and I do it a lot. My Bad .

That being said, the nature of what's happening at the poles is not just the metric of ice. I saw this today , and it's pretty impressive :

Atlantic Amphipods Spreading Into The Arctic Ocean

AWI plankton expert Dr. Eva-Maria Nöthig explained that the amphipods were easy to detect because they were found hiding in “sediment traps which have been suspended for 13 years in HAUSGARTEN, the AWI long-term observatory in the Fram Strait.”
Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113032104/atlantic-amphipods-moving-into-arctic-ocean-121913/#qAABUbkAks8WwpCm.99

They first saw this change in 2004 , now these Amphipods are breeding in the Fram Strait.

." , the authors report that amphipod predators will likely need to consume about five times the number of Atlantic species in order to ingest the same amount of energy typically acquired from Arctic amphipods. "

This points to big changes , as we all know.


CB,the warmth you describe in Siberia and as the photos show has to be affecting the winter refreeze. This also looks directly related to the blocking ridge of high pressure over western North America and the far Eastern Pacific Ocean.


Wrt Siberian lack of snow: Must be a local thing, as global snow maps (Rutgers and NOAA) show snow in all of Siberia.


Hi Neven,

OTOH, the ASIG page has a map showing a massive 30 day anomaly for all of Siberia, which would appear to date back to include all of November, as featured here:



You mean a temperature anomaly? That's because of Russian steampipes. ;-)


Yeah, sorry Neven, wrong link, as I see we are both aware (comments 6 + 7), its Russian steampipes...


James Dunlap

My apologies to CB. I did not mean to sound harsh I just figured he did not know about the Forum and he is a great fit there with his posts. Guess I was short of coffee and not operating at full efficiency yet.

Pete Williamson

Wili said

"So should we be using these CryoSat numbers or the lower PIOMAS numbers ........ (Of course, both show dramatic ice loss over the decades.)"

Sorry the pedant in me couldn't let this slide by. It's not possible for a satellite that's been generating data for 4 years to tell us anything over the decades. Just 4 years!

My wider point can be summed up by something a lecturer at university once said, from a google search it appears to originate from the geneticist William Bateson. Bateson's advice was to "treasure your exceptions". My understanding of that is to take note of observations that confound your expectations, it's data like this that has the potential to give greater insight into what is occurring more generally in the arctic. Yet most commentary seems to want to do little more than label this data point as weather and then move on.

Also I see ESA's point that the MYI has undergone a recovery but their data suggests to me that the 'recovery' is much more extensive than that (Barentz being the exception). The map for 2013 shows cyan/green extending much further into the Arctic than previous years and for that phenomenon to be homogenous over all the regions were ice is present. Shorthand, the ice is thicker everywhere (almost)!

And finally a question. Why do we have to call this weather? The great clearout of MYI in 2007 was weather. Why can't we say all the post-2007 data is weather given the large impact that year and subsequent storms etc have had. It seems rather one sided to invoke weather for the years when ice loss is less.

Why can't we say all the post-2007 data is weather given the large impact that year and subsequent storms etc have had.

Because of the downward trend perhaps? We'll see in coming years whether the 2013 rebound was caused by weather (cyclones dominating for all but 2-3 weeks of the melting season), or because there's a shift in factors (negative feedback, cycle) that influence the amount and volume of sea ice. It's too early to tell.

But given the downward trend so far (not just after 2007, as it started well before that) it's more likely that the 2013 rebound had to do with weather. For now.

That doesn't mean that 'we' have to call it weather. It means 'we' call it either weather or a shift, and probably weather.

Who is 'we' BTW? :-)


On Cryosat, pauses and forecasts…

I remember writing in June ’11 on the blog on the first Cryosat-2 reports coming in. “….think the Cryosat-2 team is going through a daunting task calibrating an ever moving pack…”.

I know FI Wipneus has been comparing Piomass and Cryosat earlier this year and showed a reasonable agreement between both observation trends. But the map the Cr.team has produced on thickness this October puts me back in the June ’11 cautiousness.
The pattern still has very, very low resolution. And it doesn’t relate to what was visible on MODIS nor on ASCAT. Examples are the “Barentsz Bite” and the “splinter-zone” right along the Pole up to the Chukchi sector.

This leads me to not weigh much importance on statements like 9000 km3 (’13) to 6000 km3 (’12). I still think the satellites don’t have much ‘grip’ on the actual structure and quality of the ice- and snow cover over the Arctic Ocean.

That leaves me to focus on NCEP/NCAR data on temps, on SST’s, on Geopotential atmospheric data and the vagaries of the THC, ENSO, PDO and so on.
And yes, obviously mean temps are slowly rejoining the averages during the period ’07-’12, after being coldest since 2000/2004. Of course, this must have had a consequence for sea ice. The Kara and Barentsz Seas show considerable more ice than during ’07-’12.

Meanwhile, as I’ve been suggesting earlier this year, AGW is present in a relative shift of theatre to the mid-latitudes. Siberia is an awful large place. Of course a lot is snow covered on the low resolution Rutgers’ maps. But mean temps are exceptionally high (though still mostly freezing) over a large part.
The local thingies Neven suggests are at least France or Texas-like swaths N and E from the courses of the rivers Ob and Yenisei. And it gives locals the creeps for it has often been raining instead of snowing…

This is the anomaly for December up to today:
 photo TempanoSiberiadec2013small_zps33452aff.jpg

Chris Reynolds


A theme of my blogging in the last few years has been the consistent atmospheric pattern of years 2007 to 2012. This pattern is unique to the June/July/August (JJA) average throughout 2007 to 2012.

The pattern resembles the AO in that it has a strong high pressure over the Arctic, but it is different with a strong atmospheric ridge over Greenland surrounded by a ring of low pressure tendency. The correlation of each month of the summer with the 2007 to 2012 JJA average pattern is shown in this image:
Screen finds that whilst the resultant summmer rain in Europe is not outside the range of natural variability, the pattern of clustered years, 2007 to 2012, is very unusual. Overland finds that the years 2007 to 2012 show an unusually strong summer Arctic Dipole, again this is a feature of the pattern.

2013 was a marked change from the pattern, with June being notably almost the reverse of the 2007 to 2012 summer pattern.

Therefore the atmospheric set up in 2013 was the exception compared to all other post 2007 years.

As shown by PIOMAS and in Richte-Menge & Farrell "Arctic sea ice conditions in spring 2009–2013 prior to melt", by April 2013 sea ice conditions were similar to 2012. What rebound there was happened earlier in the freeze season in bringing sea ice volume up to levels of April 2012 from the September 2012 minimum.

It was in May/June 2013 that unusually cold conditions caused PIOMAS volume to increase above 2012. The differences between 2013 and 2012 for each monthly average are as follows:

Mar 0.044
Apr -0.049
May 0.147
Jun 1.532
Jul 1.305

Therefore what happened in 2013 was a weather driven anomaly.

Hubert Bułgajewski

Freezing slowed. Now arctic ice is the third smallest on record.
1,8 mln km2 (JAXA data)

Hubert Bułgajewski

Damn, sorry: 11.8 mln km2 (JAXA)
12,3 mln km2 (NSIDC data)


So, one not very warm summer negotiate effect of several years of "rapid melting". That mean that current climate state still stable enough to resist current AGW factors.

Doug Lofland

I have really been wondering if the release of Methane is causing the increase in sea ice formation, and maybe even limited the melt-off in 2013, where the trend had broken down.

While all the literature I have read concerns the increase of atmospheric Methane levels and the potential warming effects, I have not seen a paper on what happens when that Methane rises from the depths, through the water column to reach the atmosphere.

Almost all gases cool as they decompress. Some gases, such as Freon, have a greater capacity, and are useful as a refrigerant. Hydrocarbon gases are even used as refrigerants and Methane is considered a low grade refrigerant. Air even has enough of the property, that at a ski resort, they simply discharge compressed air in the presence of water to make snow.

When a gas bubble rises up through a water column, the rate of decompression increases as it gets closer to the surface, such that the greatest decompression occurs in the last few meters. So could there be enough Methane decompressing, that it could aid sea ice formation?

In this article http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24639-arctic-storms-speed-up-release-of-methane-plumes.html#.UrXPcNJDuSo they mention that the rate of release of Methane per day was 500 kilograms/square kilometer. It also said that the Methane was from thawing sub-sea permafrost, which was breaking down due to temperature and ocean turbulence. What it did not say was if it was strictly a trapped gas, or was the source of the Methane from Methane clathrates. If it’s from clathrates, then, in the dissociating process, fresh water would also be released in addition to gaseous Methane. Almost sounds like a perfect formula to make sea ice to me.

A mathematical model could be developed if the depth and starting temperature were known, to calculate the cooling effect on the surface. I am fairly time challenged right now, any takers out there?


@Lenevn: What? That seems a little like a guy who hasn't earned a dime in several years when he finds a wallet containing $300 suddenly claiming that his current financial state is still stable enough to resist current economic factors. In both cases, a dreadfully incorrect conclusion has been reached.

Shared Humanity

Growth of SIA and SIE has stalled in the last few days.


@Doug Lofland - the energetic effect of disociation of clathrates, and resultant release of fresh water ( at depth, mind you, where it would be rapidly rendered saline ) is absolutely trivial, and far and away outweighed by the greenhouse effect provided by the released Methane. Just from a thumbnail guesstimate, it would be six orders of magnitude smaller than simple changes in weather.

Colorado Bob

Arctic Message in a Bottle Predicted Climate Change in 1959 (Video)

Arctic researchers have discovered the proverbial message in a bottle, only this message from 1959 predicts climate change from a past where the idea was unimaginable. The message was found in a sample bottle by researchers exploring Ward Hunt Island in Canada. The bottle was found among rocks in a remote location that is almost 500 miles from the nearest town, where the average temperature measures approximately zero degrees Fahrenheit.

The message inside of the bottle is written in pencil and includes instructions for the person ultimately finding the bottle. Also written on the note were the names and addresses of those who wrote the message. The names belonged to well-known polar researchers Albert Crary and Paul Walker. The men were in arctic north Canada studying future movement or melt of a large ice sheet, and built two rock piles that would help in the measurement process. The bottle was discovered in one of the rock formations they built.



What I find interesting is the build of Antarctic sea ice that is shown on Cryosphere today. For two years now there has been no instant were the anomaly has been negative. It has been consistently positive and growing for the entire two years. There is no other two year period like it on the chart.

Arctic snow, temperature and ice may well be effected by black soot due to the industrialization of the northern hemisphere, but that would be a much smaller problem in the Southern Hemisphere.

Regarding a record November global temperature, RSS and UAH don't even show November as being in the top 10.

What I find interesting is the build of Antarctic sea ice that is shown on Cryosphere today. For two years now there has been no instant were the anomaly has been negative. It has been consistently positive and growing for the entire two years. There is no other two year period like it on the chart.

I find this extremely interesting. If I'd have the time, I'd set up an Antarctic sea ice blog. Do you have any idea what could be causing such a fascinating anomaly?

Regarding a record November global temperature, RSS and UAH don't even show November as being in the top 10.

Global temperature data sets rarely agree on the details. There might well be instances when RSS and UAH show a warmest month (for instance, during an El Niño that shows up in a more pronounced way in satellite temp measurements), where NCDC/HadCRUT/GISTEMP don't.

Chris Reynolds


You're rather transparent.

CO2 causes sea ice loss.

The Antarctic sea ice increase is interesting, but this is the Arctic Sea Ice Blog, the clue being in the name. You'll find some useful detail on Antarctic sea ice increase here:

Hans Gunnstaddar


Researchers say they have discovered a large reservoir of melt water that sits under the Greenland ice sheet all year round.

According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the ice sheet lost 34 billion tonnes of ice per year between 1992 and 2001 - but this increased to 215 billion tonnes between 2002 and 2011. (one would think that an increase in this example of 632% would be convincing enough for AGW denialists.)

The scientists have also come up with a rough estimate for the amount of water that is contained in the aquifer which itself covers an area of 70,000 sq km.

They believe that it holds roughly 140 billion tonnes of water, which is the equivalent to 0.4mm of sea level rise per year - about half of what Greenland contributes to the sea every year.

Colorado Bob

The paper Hans posted :
Mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet contributes significantly to present sea level rise1. High meltwater runoff is responsible for half of Greenland’s mass loss2. Surface melt has been spreading and intensifying in Greenland, with the highest ever surface area melt and runoff recorded in 20123. However, how surface melt water reaches the ocean, and how fast it does so, is poorly understood. Firn—partially compacted snow from previous years—potentially has the capacity to store significant amounts of melt water in liquid or frozen form4, and thus delay its contribution to sea level. Here we present direct observations from ground and airborne radar, as well as ice cores, of liquid water within firn in the southern Greenland ice sheet. We find a substantial amount of water in this firn aquifer that persists throughout the winter, when snow accumulation and melt rates are high. This represents a previously unknown storage mode for water within the ice sheet. We estimate, using a regional climate model, aquifer area at about 70,000 km2 and the depth to the top of the water table as 5–50 m. The perennial firn aquifer could be important for estimates of ice sheet mass and energy budget.


Colorado Bob

" We estimate, using a regional climate model, aquifer area at about 70,000 km2 and the depth to the top of the water table as 5–50 m. "

2 more hot summers like 2012 , and this could all just flow right into the ocean.

Colorado Bob

Back to the bomb widget -

Joe Romm has joined the same metaphor , but with his own twist.

Earth’s Rate Of Global Warming Is 400,000 Hiroshima Bombs A Day


In his thread the perfect metaphor came up.

What I call , "Boiling Lake Superiors" How many Lake Superiors are boiled off everyday ?

Everyone understands boiling water in a pot. Nobody understands 300 terawatts.

This is a good way to reframe the debate.
Hiroshima was 64 years ago. It has no meaning in the modern mind.

But is we're boiling away Lake Superior every 2 days. That has impact, and no baggage. As when Neven posted the widget.

Colorado Bob

Question -
Who's going to sign on to a 63 year old metaphor ?

No one.

I think the bomb widget sucks.

Colorado Bob

All you big brains -
Get me the evaporation rate of every large body of fresh water on the Earth.

Colorado Bob

No more Hiroshima bomb widgets.

If we make a new one.
And if you really love the
Hiroshima widget, jump off the highest rock near your house,

Colorado Bob

You people are very smart, and there are many ways to explain the Earth to people.

Don't let me down.


Yes, Bob, I too think the Hiro-measure is too small. The widget would be more dramatic if the number would go up once in, say 15-20 seconds so an energy of ~60*'Hiro' would be a nicer measure. This is close to one Megaton of TNT which would be the energy usage of some 100000 US households per year.

This though is a misleading number since much of the extra thermal energy cannot be used as a source of electricity as it goes in to the ocean, the number should be at most 27% of that. Then one would probably have to add in the conversion loss in thermal -> electricity. Can't remember now what it is, maybe something like 40%, so now the landfalling extra heat in a minute would power only ~50000 US houses for a year. So 2 billion (10exp9)(american style) households could be powered by the extra heat. Assuming 3 persons per household this is most of the world. That sounds a bit too much. (this would though require solar power plants everywhere on land) Maybe I did some error in there. There might be a better equivalent in the transportation sector. Please check the calculus before citing, I've been known to make errors.


sorry Colorado Bob but making a reference to lake Superior is extremely provincial in mentality. no one outside the United states has a clue how big it is or what the contents boiling off would look like.


Erimaassa, you are in the ball park energy wise, but out past left field as far as utility is concerned. To capture the energy as usable work - think watts - you need a gradient in density. The extra being picked up is far too diffuse. The scale of devise required to capture it would be far too large.

sorry Colorado Bob but making a reference to lake Superior is extremely provincial in mentality. no one outside the United states has a clue how big it is or what the contents boiling off would look like.

Indeed, it's so typically American to believe that your lake is superior to all others. ;-)


jdallen: yes, but 'Hiro''s definition is much too consentrated, so why not use a more spread out method of energy use? One could of course use only the undeveloped land areas for the calculation, this should diminish the amount of US houses powered by some 60% still, further reductions could be 'only when it's day', 'only when it's sunny', what else, calculations could become cumbersome if practicality is taken into account. Some people may state that it was practical to use one 'Hiro' to end WWII faster. I agree the current unit has some shock value to some, but for people like Bob and me there could be another widget with a different unit. 'Millions of miles driven with a 1960s truck'?


I think the number of boiling Lake Superiors is a great parameter, and I say this as a European. Finding a good reference that fits everybody isn't really possible, and personly I don't mind that much either. As far as I know, there is allready a place to discuss this, and I must admit I liked this thread a lot more when the discussions were about everything, but this widget.

Doug Lofland

Neven don't blame the Americans, Lake Superior was named by the French, and in their language it meant upper.

James Dunlap

Well the French may have messed up naming Lake Superior a bit, but they got the Grand Tetons right :)


Eh? I thought "Superior" in French translates as "French";-)

I don't much objest to Hiroshimas; but if an international measure is needed, I did see one site measuring the heat in international swimming poils raised to boiling point.

Shared Humanity

So how much water is stored in Lake Superior and what does this represent in terms of the daily drinking water of humans.

For example, this is enough energy to evaporate the daily drinking water of 4.3 billion humans!

Hans Gunnstaddar

Maybe the bomb widget should correlate to the hot air from X millions of AGW denial-Al Gore haters per nanosecond. The question is; what is X? Whatever the correct answer is I am sure it's a whole lot of hot air.


Well, to link Lake Superior to the subject of this thread, imagine all of mean Arctic Sea Ice volume would fit into its bounds…

That comparison has two sides. One… the Lake seems rather small and it could take it all… Two… it’s awfully large, as I remember it contains an island, Isle Royale, that is home for hundreds of Moose and a band of wolves preying on ‘m. I read that as a boy and I’m still impressed with that feature… I’ve never seen the Lake, but I know it’s there and in a way that feels good to me.

Ghoti Of Lod

The Isle Royale story is more closely tied to ice than you may realize. Without a winter ice bridge to the island there is no wolf immigration and the wolf population becomes completely inbred. Read about it at http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/interactives/isleroyalewolves.html


It would be a little short, as its volume is about 12,000KM3, so there'd be a bit of ice spilling out onto surrounding US and Canada, but not much.

Collectively, the volume of the Great Lakes in total is about half that of the Caspian, as a general reference.

Superior *is* an inland sea, absolutely; the time to cross them before steam (and even during) was measured in days. All of the lakes collectively have an enormous impact on local climate.

Andy Lee Robinson

Boiling away Lake Superior in 2 days?
That's not what I make it.
Someone please check my figures!

$tstart = 4; # start C average
$tend = 100; # C boiling point
$dt = $tend-$tstart;
$jkgC = 4181.3; # J/kg/C
$Hvap = 2260000; # J/kg
$dE = 2.5×10¹⁴; # 250TJ
$vol = 1.2232×10¹³; # m³

To boil away Lake Superior
(($dt) × $jkgC + $hvap) × 1,000 kg × $vol / $dE
(96 × 4181.3 + 2260000) × 1,000 × 1.2232×10¹³ / 2.5×10¹⁴ = 130217214s
130217214 / (365.25 × 24 × 60 × 60)
= 4.126334512 years.

To bring to the boil:
(($dt) × $jkgC) × 1,000 kg × $vol / $dE
(96 × 4181.3) × 1,000 × 1.2232×10¹³ / 2.5×10¹⁴ = 19639934s
19639934 / (365.25×24×60×60÷12)
= 7.5 months

Chris Biscan

Cryosat appears to be having issues with resolving the effect snow cover has on estimates.

2013 has very high snow cover all over the arctic basin. One buoy shows almost 1 meter.

2011 had little to none. Look at how thin the CAB was on Cryosat. I highly doubt that is accurate. Even though there was a lot of thinning there.


A meter of snow has far massively more insulating potential than a meter of ice and would present a huge hinderance to ice thickening. On the spring side it is far more vulnerable to above freezing temperatures, and could lead to rapid ponding, even without a lot of insolation. I don't see anything good coming of it.


jdallen_wa, I was thinking about exactly the same, and I would asume it could have a severe effect in areas dominated by FYI.

But how unusual amounts of snow are we really talking about, and does PIOMAS have any similar problems with snow?


This struck me as being of interest:

The thermal transfer rate in ice seems to vary from about 1.6 to 2.2 W/M2 by comparison, that of snow varies massively depending on grain size and compaction, from as little as .02 to nearly .9. The "average" figure used seems to be .18 W/M2. As a mental exercise, that suggests 10CM of snow would have the same resistance to transfer as a meter of snow. The upshot is, all else being equal, 30cm of snow on top of 2m of ice, with average air temperatures of -20c could actually result in slow bottom melt.

This mechanic is fairly near and dear to the minds of Great Lakes ice fishermen; when ice is relatively thin (<20cm), and temps relatively warm (-1 to -5c) snowdrifts may hide death traps.

I wonder how much current modeling considers this?


EDIT: ... Snow as a meter of ICE.

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