« Research for a novel | Main | Miscellanea »


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


Early snowmelt in Siberia and much warmer temperatures on the Siberian side of the Arctic combined with southerly winds have thinned the Siberian Arctic ice. However, the Canadian Arctic has been cold and ice has compacted to the thickest levels in years there. Some of this thick ice is now beginning to be pushed down the coast of Greenland.

Could this be the beginning of a dipole pattern with strong ice export from the Arctic? We'll see.

Early warming in Siberia will tend to continue, once started, because heat will continue to build up in dark snow free areas. And there are also likely to be the warming affects of the developing El Nino. I don't expect to see the ice stick around on the Siberian side as long as it did last summer.

John Christensen

Thank you for another great, and anticipated, update Neven!

While I would not agree that "last year's rebound has been fully negated after a couple of relatively warm months", there is certainly not much left, and we are basically back to relying on weather - which in any case is still the most prominent factor in determining summer minimum ice area and volume.

The two positive points:
- We have significantly more second year and MYI than a year ago
- For main melting areas in April and May (Barents, St. Lawrence, Bering, and Okhotsk), we had last year about 300km3 more ice than this year (assuming average thickness of .75M and using CT area numbers)

The negative points:
- Baffin has about 300km3 more ice this year compared to last year, which will melt out nearly completely in June/July, but will the increased ice cause any protection from ice discarting from the Hudson Bay and nearby strait?
- I don't like the compaction of ice east of Severnaya Zemlya, as this opens up the possibility of open water earlier in the summer than last year - prefer any ice cover compared to open water in main summer months.

To speak of the weather, it does seem the Arctic pressure area is disconnecting itself from the Siberian weather


(as the snow is melting fast over there), which I think is a good thing, exactly as we saw last year, and it may - if all goes well - help to insulate high and low areas over the Arctic from adjacent continental pressure areas.

Amazing spectacle!

John Christensen

D said:

"Early snowmelt in Siberia and much warmer temperatures on the Siberian side of the Arctic combined with southerly winds have thinned the Siberian Arctic ice."

The ice has not thinned due to warmer temperatures or melting, as it seems you are suggesting. The ice has been moved north due to prevailing offshore winds in Laptev over the past weeks, as you see here:


If that pattern had persisted I would agree that more ice would go out via Fram, but luckily (if it holds) it seems the weather has now changed to a weak central Arctic high, which causes westerly winds in the Fram Strait, hopefully slowing down ice export:


Both HYCOM and the DMI weather chart seem to support some strengthening of the ice west of Severnaya Zemlya in the coming week, but it is very late in the season for ice build-up..


Here's a MODIS image of the "thin ice" offshore in the Laptev Sea:

Some more can be seen on the forum.

John Christensen

Hi Jim,

I see from the Forum that you are suggesting this ice is "falling apart" and not refreezing, is that correct?

Since it is -15 - -20C in this corner of the Laptev Sea (from the DMI 60N weather chart) would you agree that the open water is caused by the pack compacting towards the North, or are you suggesting this temperature is too high for refreeze, or the data is incorrect on DMI?


John - I agree the pack is compacting towards the North, leaving a fair few isolated floes and some open water behind. By definition open water is above the freezing point of water! If you compare the various images you will note some refreezing has taken place over the last day or two.

However according to the CCI's visualisation of the GFS forecast 2m air temperatures above freezing are due to arrive on the Laptev coast in the not too distant future: http://cci-reanalyzer.org/Forecasts/index_gfcst.php


Offshore winds have pushed Siberian ice towards the Canadian side of the Arctic. The air along the Siberian shores of the Arctic ocean has been much warmer than normal but below 0 C. Thus, new ice has formed but it's much thinner than normal for this time of year in the Laptev and Kara seas. This ice will melt out quickly this year because it's very thin and Siberia will continue to warm up ahead of climatology. Is that clear now?

FWIW, I don't comment much here but I follow this blog and the Arctic very closely. I appreciate the constructive nature of the comments here. I post as FishOutofWater at Dailykos and my first name in real life is George. Typepad accidentally gave me the login name of D when I tried to login here once, but I use the name D nowhere else on the internet or in real life.

Siberian snow cover is one of the key factors in cold winters and warm summers. When snow begins early in September the cooling effects of the high albedo tend to continue through the fall leading to a cold winter in Eurasia. Early spring snow melting is apparently one of the key factors that leads to a build up of heat over Siberia that precedes a hot summer. Thus, the early retreat of Siberian snow that has already started this year http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/index.php is a key factor that will likely lead to early melting of sea ice on the Siberian side of the Arctic.

John Christensen

Thanks for your comments George and agreed on the ice notions.

Regarding the impact of early snow melt in Siberia, it will be very interesting to see if this will lead to early melting of ice on the Siberian side of the Arctic, or if the opposite will happen, namely that the temperature difference between ice-covered AO and heated surrounding continents will create a repeat of last year..

John Christensen

I am refering to this excellent blog entry by Neven last year:


And a key abstract from that entry:

The Summer Cyclone Maximum over the Central Arctic Ocean
Mark C. Serreze and Andrew P. Barrett, 2008, Journal of Climate

From the abstract:
A fascinating feature of the northern high-latitude circulation is a prominent summer maximum in cyclone activity over the Arctic Ocean, centered near the North Pole in the long-term mean. This pattern is associated with the influx of lows generated over the Eurasian continent and cyclogenesis over the Arctic Ocean itself. Its seasonal onset is linked to the following: an eastward shift in the Urals trough, migration of the 500-hPa vortex core to near the pole, and development of a separate region of high-latitude baroclinicity. The latter two features are consistent with differential atmospheric heating between the Arctic Ocean and snow-free land.


Greater ice thickness over the larger Canadian Archipelago area has already affected CAA weather to be mainly anticyclonic for more than a month. So 2013 lack of compaction of sea ice is highly unlikely. The NW passage will open late under a cloudier cover if El-Nino becomes strong. However it is strangely already here to some degree, consider the near entire North Pacific anomalously warm effectively being like an El-Nino for the Northern Hemisphere, the sea ice will melt quicker from the extra heat, thicker sea ice anticyclonic period will be lasting a while further, surrounded by cyclones in the open water regions bordering land without snow.


The warmer temperatures are absolutely key in retarding ice growth, but in themselves will contribute very little to the coming melt. As Neven indicated, the coming weather will now be the key factor, and with it, how much heat arrives directly, via insolation, or indirectly, via rain and fresh water outflow. Without sun, the transfer of heat to ice from air is not sufficient to permit rapid phase change.

Al Rodger

The data from Rutgers Uni shows NH snow cover now tracking 2012, the record year for early snow melt. It's early days mind. (The graph here (usually 2 clicks to "download your attachment) shows the 2014 anomaly against previous decadal & the 2010-3 averages).
UAH should update for March soon so we'll know whether the Arctic's Lower Troposphere record temperatures remain or have dropped down a little.

Al Rodger

The link that hopefully now works.

Hubert Bułgajewski

In Google Drive doc (PICT-CAPIE) you have an error: you "lost one day" of data CT area. 10 march: 13 007 717 km2, no 13 052 584 km2 http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/arctic.sea.ice.interactive.html

Data CT:
12 887 309 - 9.03
13 007 717 - 10.03
13 052 584 - 11.03
13 159 343 - 12.03...
.... 13 041 841 - 6.03 last data, 96-th day.


George, FOOW, what you wrote 15:31 made perfect sense to me.
Remember the AWI-map on ice thickness in the Laptev March 2012?

Laptev photo Laptev.jpg

It would be nice to have a corresponding recent map. But this situation was a result of winter ’11-’12, which produced a mean temp anomaly of just under +3 dC in that region.
Last year the anomaly stuck around zero over there. But this winter, it is close to ’11-’12 again, just about +2 dC. If my musings on ‘winterpower’ have any relevance at all, it should be no wonder to see a rapid breakdown in the Laptev.

Oh, the red was >+50cm thickness.


Werther - At a somewhat coarser resolution, here's Wipneus' homebrew SMOS map for March 31st:


Werther, I would very much like to see a map like that for this March. Last year was strongly affected by the sudden stratospheric warming in January. Strong subsidence over the N pole followed that warming into mid-spring. Then the very weak jet stream re-consolidated around the Arctic ocean leading to the month of Arctic storms from late May to late June. This year a SSW started but didn't quite make it and the jet stream has held together better.

This year's set up going into the melt season looks a lot like 2012, in my opinion, except for the likely El Nino. BoM.gov.au has the probability of El Nino at 70% in the latest ENSO outlook posted today.

The Beaufort sea is the one area with much thicker ice this year than in 2012. Perhaps that thick ice will help strengthen the Beaufort high, by reflective cooling, in the coming months.

Chris Reynolds

Regional breakdowns of PIOMAS gridded data and thickness distributions for Beaufort/ESS/Central here:


Well Jim, that pic shows that, if AWI would fly the area with their 'e-bird' again, it would reveal almost the same map as in March '12.
Not surprising, the temp record on Ostrov Kotelnyj and in Tiksi also hint on less 'winterpower'. While all winter was a tad less cold than last year, the 'heatwave' during March was remarkable. Even noticeable on remote Kotelnyj.


Wipneus, thanks for updating your graph, I've added it to the blog post now.

Hubert, thanks a lot for catching that error, AND for telling me exactly where it is. I try to dutifully enter new data points in my spreadsheet every day, but failing to do so even once means a lot of intent searching, especially with CT and its unhandy numbering (for muddlers like me).

Colorado Bob

Years of Living Dangerously Premiere Full Episode.

Colorado Bob

It's worst then we all feared.



Beaufort Sea ice may appear thicker, however it is highly fractured, which may facilitate warming and melt later in the summer, depending on the weather.

The fracturing pattern after the last few days makes much of it appear like a giant smoothie.

John Christensen

Thanks to Chris for a great regional PIOMAS update!

One item I noticed in particular is the considerable difference between your gridded view of ice thickness compared to HYCOM: 'Your' view has a lot more ice in the Central AO, while HYCOM is showing a significant branch of thicker ice in the Beaufort and Chuckchi Seas. I hope you have it more accurately placed than HYCOM, as the lower latitudes showing on HYCOM does not bode well for summer melting rates (depending on your view point).

And your statement: "I don't expect 2014 to beat 2012, but I do expect a more exciting year than 2013". What is this? ;-)
I found 2013 extremely exciting like the thriller where the hero is up against impossible odds, but starts out amazingly well, then almost succombs, and finally makes it through with few casualties.

I always favored the underdog..


It's a bit cloudy over the Laptev Sea this morning, but here's the view from Terra:

More on PIOMAS and Siberian snow at:



John - The Navy's ACNFS seems to capture the extent of the multi-year ice in the Beaufort/Chukchi better than PIOMAS. See for example this IJIS RGB image:

However I remain to be convinced that ice is as thick as CICE claims.

John Christensen

Thank you for sharing Jim, and I agree that this view does seem to be overstating the MYI, while being in better agreement with HYCOM on structure.

Chris Reynolds


PIOMAS doesn't explicitly model FYI and MYI, and doesn't seem to be picking up the MYI being shown as being exported into Beaufort and Chukchi by the Drift Age Model (DAM). This may however be because the MYI isn't that thick, so it might not prove the impediment to melt I have said I expect.

HYCOM is showing the MYI export shown in the DAM, but it's showing seriously thick ice there. Comparison with IceBridge would be best, but at present I'm not convinced by this thick ice shown in HYCOM. I think for the grid cell average thickness is not at 3.5m to 4m thick in Beaufort, I think PIOMAS is more likely to be on the nail. But...

HYCOM is intended for shipping isn't it? So do those running it intend it to be high biassed in terms of thickness to stop ice breakers running into 'briar patches' of ice too thick for them to handle. Just a WAG.

It is hard to get where people are coming from with 'good melt' and 'bad melt'. I've said before I don't get why some follow a system in a death spiral and keep rooting for ice survival.

2013 was an interesting experiment, the experiment is over and the volume pulse lasted a lot shorter than I'd dreamt possible - the ice keeps proving me wrong. But I still find big awe-inspiring crashes more exciting. :)


Check out ASCAT too.

The spur of whiter MYI is visible in Beaufort, but there are cracks in it and it's got nowhere near the brightness (high radar return) as the band off the CAA. That suggests it's dispersed - given that it came from the mass of white off the CAA its dielectric properties shouldn't have changed.

More images here:

Kevin McKinney

Al Roger, per your comment yesterday, UAH has indeed updated:


.17, basically unchanged from last month (though that global mean figure is masking a switch from oceans being relatively warmer than land to a more equal distribution of the anomaly.)

Al Rodger

Hi Kevin,
Yes. He has put his latest Global figure up here. But the page you link to with all the sea/land figures for different latitudes (ie the Arctic) is still only showing to February. It usually is updated quite promptly.
Nomad3 is updated for March with SST showing record warmth above 65deg & 80 deg. But it seems to me that ice is more affected by TLT figures.

Kevin McKinney




John Christensen

Sorry Neven, for deviating from the topic here - I will make this just one comment.

Hi Chris,

You stated " I've said before I don't get why some follow a system in a death spiral and keep rooting for ice survival."

My counter-argument is that it's not about the Arctic Sea Ice, but about the global eco-system that we have adapted to.

Consciousness about global warming and sea ice is not global; people in Syria, Haiti, Central Africa, Africa's Horn, and many other places have accute challenges of poverty, disease, and threats to their lives, which makes global warming a remote intangible concept of low priority.

I don't believe any population will remain in their huts, houses or caves made of dirt or straw at the risk of malnutrition, disease and exploitation from stronger powers in their area. They will eventually be educated and will want basic levels of social and economic freedom and stability.

It took the Western world about 200 years to reach a point where we start seeing energy consumption levels go down in some countries, as well as increase in transition to renewable energy sources. See example of Denmark:


It will take another 100-150 years to get the rest of the world to this point (probably quite optimistic), and this would even require many of the remaining countries to leap frog from subsistence farming to a modern society based on economic exchanges.

So yes, I am rooting for the ice, not to be naive about what is happening in front of us, but because I do not see how the entire world can transition to a different mode of energy consumption within years or a few decades given the social and economic situation of nearly a billion people:

From Worldhunger:


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of the population of developing counties. There are 16 million people undernourished in developed countries (FAO 2012).

The number of undernourished people decreased nearly 30 percent in Asia and the Pacific, from 739 million to 563 million, largely due to socio-economic progress in many countries in the region. The prevalence of undernourishment in the region decreased from 23.7 percent to 13.9 percent.

Latin America and the Caribbean also made progress, falling from 65 million hungry in 1990-1992 to 49 million in 2010-2012, while the prevalence of undernourishment dipped from 14.6 percent to 8.3 percent. But the rate of progress has slowed recently.

The number of hungry grew in Africa over the period, from 175 million to 239 million, with nearly 20 million added in the last few years. Nearly one in four are hungry. And in sub-Saharan Africa, the modest progress achieved in recent years up to 2007 was reversed, with hunger rising 2 percent per year since then.

John Christensen

Link to the DMI ice drift map, which clearly shows the continued northernly flow in Laptev:


This would be a significant difference from the setup a year ago, where the ice was stable here, while quite similar to the situation two years ago leading to unprecedented ice melt during summer months.

The early opening of the waters in Laptev should have a negative impact on the ice both due to early access of sun radiation to the water surface as well as reducing chances of creating the cyclonic environment we witnessed last year.


The feed from Aqua seems to be down today. Here's a lurid red (and still rather cloudy) view of the Laptev coast today, courtesy of Terra via Worldview:

Temperatures in Tiksi have now reached +1, and the winds are still from the SSW.

Chris Reynolds


I couldn't put it better than Nick Cohen.

And to paraphrase Slartibartfast:

"Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I think that the chances of 'getting people to act on AGW' are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, "Hang the sense of it," and keep yourself busy."

Unlike Slartibartfast, I am happy. I'd rather be right than happy, but it's good that the two states are not mutually exclusive :)

Kevin McKinney

Chris, that's a good piece in many respects. However, despair is not adaptive.

I will never, never give up--and I, too, am happy.

Chris Reynolds

It's not despair Kevin, it's pragmatism. And no, don't give up, I rarely voice this opinion because I don't want to get in the way of those trying to work for change. So I just keep my doubts to myself, most of the time.


Nine months ago Rob Painting posted on Skeptical Science about ocean heat coming back to haunt us.
He couldn’t have foreseen the timing, which seems to be right now. But after about 15 years in a dominant negative mode, PDO did change face. Soon the March index will show whether the trend parallels the one from the beginning of 1997.

The re-emergence of El Nino will reveal consequences of fifteen years of inaction on mitigation, a period by some ludicrously seen as a ‘stop’ of global warming.

As Painting made clear in his SkS post, during the recent -PDO years, the ocean has been storing the ‘unbalanced’ heat in its deeper layers. Since the last moderate ENSO-event ’09-’10 the troposphere has progressively become disturbed.
This coincides with strengthened forcing through greenhouse gases and gradual cease of the ‘rubber-band effect’ that lags/delays the climatic response. The diminishing temperature difference between the Poles and the Tropics could be traced in height gain on the 500hPa level over the Arctic.

This not only had an effect, as described by FI Dr. Francis, on the behaviour of the Polar Jet stream. Other influences could be identified FI in the constant SSW attacks on the Polar Vortex past winter. ‘Loaded', slow moving Rossby waves through the mid troposphere, a West Pacific warm pool spawning monster cyclones like Haiyan. All these signs preluded the powerful Kelvin Wave now propagating through the Pacific.

The coupled ocean-atmosphere system is out of balance and leads to more weather anomalies. That will also mark the ENSO-event that is now in progress. As I supposed last year on the character of the ’13 sea ice melt season: ‘action could well shift to the mid-latitudes’.

Now it gets to the Tropics.

What do I expect? A fascinating, though frightening series of events related to El Nino, an extended Arctic melt season, normal in the sense that it might not lead to a new minimum in SIE/SIA and volume this year.
Above all, a year that may violently surpass the ‘weird’ weather years experienced since 2010. With consequences that may present ’15 as a new record setting melt year for the Arctic sea ice and the Greenland Icesheet.

I find not much solace in climate predictions based on historical data and known processes.
The 'old' rules are progressively becoming irrelevant. The comfortable discussions on climate sensitivity will be challenged by reality.
Paintings’ stored heat is coming to haunt us, sooner and stronger than may have been foreseen.

Jai Mitchell

Increasing frequency of extreme El Niño events due to greenhouse warming
Cai et. al, PUBLISHED ONLINE: 19 JANUARY 2014 | DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2100 Nature Letters

The 1997/98 episode, often referred to as ‘the climate event of the twentieth century . . . Such a massive reorganization of atmospheric convection, which we define as an extreme El Niño, severely disrupted global weather patterns, affecting ecosystems4,5, agriculture6, tropical cyclones, drought, bushfires, floods and other extreme weather events worldwide3,7–9. Potential future changes in such extreme El Niño occurrences could have profound socio-economic consequences. Here we present climate modelling evidence for a doubling in the occurrences in the future in response to greenhouse warming.


The evidence and consequences of much thicker CAA sea ice is in, the underside melting has just started 3 weeks late than previous 4 seasons. Anticyclones are much more pervasive than last year at this time. http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/


There it is... as expected.... Jisao PDO index has updated for March:
2014** 0.30 0.38 0.97

Source: http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest


I added a picture of March 17 2014, it looks like the sea ice has pilled up for miles! But it is in fact colder thicker ice and sea water,
the two make the warming sun rays ineffective in warming the ice totally. http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/


As we lose albedo, either from lose of sea ice or loss of snow cover, we also lose a condensing surface for water vapor from the atmosphere.

Thus, loss of albedo implies more water vapor in the atmosphere or a longer residence time for water vapor in the atmosphere.

Most of the climate models do not address this but when we express water vapor as ppmv as we do CO2, it is easier to visualize that water vapor is a major factor, and an extra day's residence time in atmosphere results in a significant increase in atmospheric water vapor.

Loss of albedo has at least 2 significant feedback effects, and we should consider both.


@Chris Reynolds ... "HYCOM is intended for shipping isn't it? So do those running it intend it to be high biassed in terms of thickness to stop ice breakers running into 'briar patches' of ice too thick for them to handle. Just a WAG."

... Likewise PIOMAS? - isn't that all about not denting the conning tower when busting up through the ice to launch the missiles?

Suspect the HGTG reference is lost on many these days, BTW - but not me - Here's another...

"R17 is not a fixed velocity, but it is clearly far too fast."


@Chris^2 - The US Navy's ACNFS might well be concerned about denting conning towers, but I wasn't aware that the Polar Science Center is funded by the DoD?

I prefer the radio series obviously, but would you say there's an infinite improbability of normality being restored in the Arctic in the 21st century?


Kevin McKinney

Yes, unless there's 'covert ops' involved, PIOMAS has nothing to do with DoD. See:



Voilà le loup ! (here's the wolf!)


First sight of the dipole pattern with a deep low close to the northern pole. Weather patterns seem to be frozen for month since 2007, therefore 2014 could be as bad as 2007 or 2012.
Models are stuck this way for the days to come.


I've been "outed" as a "cowardly cross dresser", and I wear that badge with pride!

Here I present some shiny new Arctic sea ice resources, including PIOMAS volumes and a variety of thickness info from the ice mass balance buoys and elsewhere:


As recommended by no lesser authority than Anthony Watts, the self proclaimed "center of the climate blogosphere"!

Kevin McKinney

"...the self proclaimed "center of the climate blogosphere"!"

Hence the phrase, "rotten to the core." Or maybe, 'from the core.'



Hi Neven,

Over on the ASIG page the pressure map for the arctic is not updating. It seems that this link is no longer valid. Can you fix it please (I would like to be able to track those great arctic storms).


Unfortunately my German is not good enough to figure out where the link has moved to or whether it still exists on that site. Can anybody else help with a new link?


I'll see if I can find it, anthropocene. I wanted to update the ASIG anyhow.


If updating ASIGs,

displaying piomas v2.1 and current year would be better; the image to display should be:


Thanks for this and all the work you do.

George Phillies

Looking at the Bremen map, there appears to be a larger than typical for this season polyna south of the Nares strait. But perhaps I misremember. Is the ice bridge still in place?

John Christensen

Hi George,

Yes, the bridge is still in place.

You can check this on the DMI ice temp chart:


Or one a DMI satellite image (ASAR has a nice view):


Colorado Bob

Neven -
An OT :
I have just finished the 3rd installment of, " Your Inner Fish ".

Hosted by Neil Shubin
Paleontologist and evolutionary biologist
University of Chicago

Not one word about a landmark series.

This is " Deep Time for Dummies ".

So watch this series and learn how a fish, gave us all, opposable thumbs.

Neil Shubin has made 400,000 Million years of rocks "fun".

Axel Schweiger

Thanks for pointing out the issue with the average thickness plot. The average thickness should indeed be weighted by the area of the grid cells which our code for generating this particular graph didn't. It is now fixed. Thanks for pointing this out!


The comments to this entry are closed.