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I have posted the August polls for NSIDC SIE and CT SIA minimums on the ASIF. Commenter slow wing has posted an August PIOMAS SIV minimum poll.

Please, take a few seconds/minutes to vote, as I'm interested in seeing how collective voting changes over time.


Having been distracted for a while, my activities on the topic were limited to lurking. Because I haven’t done any work on the data, there’s no reason to fill the blog with brouhaha. Others have been doing a great job on some of the subjects that have occupied me through the last couple of years.

Nevertheless, what I’ve seen keeps amazing me, like last season. It looks like the state of the sea ice is in a quite stable regime since ’07, that year, ’10 and ’12 showing the low limit of the ice parameters, ’08, ’09, ’13 and probably ’14 the upper one. It amazes me, because I had expected no regime at all. A sort of chaotic break-down, a decade long, ending in FI Dr. Wadhams’ forecast of a first ice-free minimum around 2016 +/- two years.

I’ve been wrong before. I expected the NW-European rivers to enter a period of yearly dangerous flooding after the near-disasters on the lower Rhine in ’95 and ’98. It didn’t shape up like that. Even though sometimes not that far away river basins were hit by nasty flooding, some more than once during the last ten years.

Maybe we should just count our luck. The biosphere may be a tad more resilient and balanced than I and other alarmed people had assumed. But I hope the time given doesn’t lure humanity into a sense that there’s no need for urgency to mitigate and adapt.

BTW thanks Neven. I posted without having read nor having looked around. I'll pick up...

Eli Rabett

The entrance to the NWP main channel is open on the Alaska side and the main channel itself is showing signs of melting. This could be interesting.

What is different this year is how compact the ice has remained.

Kevin McKinney

Thanks for another fine summary, Neven. I'm not surprised to find yet another surprise around the most recent bend in the ice road--at the risk of sounding a bit like the late great Yogi Berra.

Kevin McKinney

Oops! Yogi is "great," but not "late!" Wouldn't want him to boycott my funeral.

Jim Hunt

Eli - For Northwest Passage watchers everywhere, please also see the ASIF thread on that very subject:


The positions of the assorted small vessels attempting the trip this year can be seen at:



Hi Neven,

Did you wonder if the fissured and fractured nature of the early pack is now draining the melt ponds before they are able to get going?

The pack seems to have significant areas which are no longer contiguous ice but have hundreds of meters of open water between them.

Could this be changing the weather over large areas of the pack? Certainly you can't see 2014 as any kind of recovery. The ice is in worse state than ever, not by statistics, but actually by looking at how it fits together.

Also I note that there is now significant clear water north of the islands making up the Vilkitskiy Strait, making the Northern Sea Route open if you want to go round that way. The strait itself appears to be opening slowly, but the route itself is now open.


I agree, NeilT.
Coincidentally, I just commented this on the 'Melt Season' thread on the Forum: "Eyeballing, it looks to me there's not much left of what I've been calling 'mesh-pattern' ice..."


Hi Neil,

Did you wonder if the fissured and fractured nature of the early pack is now draining the melt ponds before they are able to get going?

The pack seems to have significant areas which are no longer contiguous ice but have hundreds of meters of open water between them.

Could be, but there haven't been that many melt ponds this year anyhow.

Could this be changing the weather over large areas of the pack?

I wish I knew the answer to this question!

Certainly you can't see 2014 as any kind of recovery.

I see it as a rebound, the second one in a row (just like following the 2007 record). We'll have to wait and see what remains of it at the start of the 2015 melting season. And, of course, a rebound compared to pre-2007 is not really a rebound.

A recovery would mean several years like this in a row, preferably happening even when weather conditions are conducive to melting. More volume, more and thicker multi-year ice, no passages opening up, etc.

The most interesting thinking in this area (or adjacent to it), has been Chris Reynolds' new Slow Transition theory. But that's more about a plateau that a recovery.

The ice is in worse state than ever, not by statistics, but actually by looking at how it fits together.

I don't know, Neil, you really have to be an avid ice watcher (like Werther for instance) to be able to make a pronouncement on the general state of the sea ice compared to previous years. You know, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 were pretty hefty in their own way too.

Also I note that there is now significant clear water north of the islands making up the Vilkitskiy Strait, making the Northern Sea Route open if you want to go round that way. The strait itself appears to be opening slowly, but the route itself is now open.

Indeed, you're right. I hadn't looked that closely. Still, I think most shipping companies preferring taking the Vilkitskiy Strait route as soon as it clears. The northern route is perhaps too close to the ice pack. I might be wrong though.


Last I saw on the Northern Sea route is that Russia insists any shipping takes icebreaker support and also the ships are supported by near real time satellite updates like the recent circumnavigation of the arctic events.

These things will change over time as the ice retreats more. And it will.


That was my view too Werther. I wasn't thinking 2007 onwards. I'm comparing what I used to view from about 2000 up to 2007. I know that AMSR2 has higher resolution and there is significantly better imaging than there used to be. But We would simply never see so much clearly broken up and openly floating ice in the decades gone by.

The ice dynamics changed but the way of quantifying it as to how the pack looks, works, melts or even affects the environment around it is lagging.

Time, as Never keeps telling us, will tell. Doesn't help my itch to know though.

John Christensen

Thanks again Neven for a great update!

I am nearly always in complete agreement with you, but for this update maybe slightly less so.

As was discussed last summer, I had indicated that weather for great ice conservation would be different for late spring/early summer, as compared to late summer, as also seemed to be in agreement with the articles of your great entry 'On persistent cyclones'.

As much as arctic lows/stormy weather is great in keeping temps down for late spring/early summer, as well as spreading ice/keeping ice cover up, the opposite should become the case at some point in August: The ice does not support well any increased mixing with the top water layers, which by now have been considerably heated.
Secondly, by now the sun is moving south (midnight sun at around 78N only) and Beaufort, Chuckhi, ESS, and Laptev again changes between daylight and probably 3-4 hours of night, so that with a high pressure, temperatures will drop to negative temperatures for some hours every day, slowing down the melting process.

Not sure if that date in August has been reached, where a high is better for ice conservation than a low, or if by now, both scenarios would have similar impact, and that other factors such as Fram transport and NAO/Atlantic heat transport are the remaining factors of major influence left..

The NAO could be turning slightly more negative in the coming week, which I would be more concerned about, but let's see if this materializes:


John Christensen

I am terrible with links and images, but the latest DMI 60N temp image shows exactly the night on the 'western side' with negative temps from the CAA across to the ESS (10.56PM CET):


John Christensen

And finally - as is true for any classic battle - how the melting season ends will be decided at the center, in the CAB, where we currently have 1-200K km^2 ice more than last year (CT area), and last year the CAB dropped another 500K km^2 between now and minimum due to the low concentration values in many areas and near the Pole, and continued lows.

With the lack of heat transport (near neutral NAO) or Fram transport, and near consistent low 80N DMI temps, and with the high weakening shortly, but no significant low entering the CAB, it seems the CAB will fare significantly better in 2014 than 2013, which again very likely will cause area, extent and volume numbers to exceed those of the 2013 melting season for the entire Arctic area.


"Eyeballing, it looks to me there's not much left of what I've been calling 'mesh-pattern' ice

Werther and NeilT, that is because its been very very cloudy near the Pole. However, once in a while there is a sliver window, enough for a brief look:


August 5 Shows "Mesh" or broken ice all the way to the Pole.

Hi John, there has been very rapid degradation of sea ice North Of Beaufort, one patch is about 120,000 km^2, both numbers of area and extent can't compute the true rate of melting. Melting has to be virtually all but done before it gets counted. There has also been some full moon tidal action contrarian to the High Pressure flow. But ECMWF later than a week small low, might break up what is already barely uniform. So I think is best to wait till the sun is well below 20 degrees above the horizon at 75 North before grasping the full nature of this years melt.

John Christensen

Hi wayne,

Your link shows broken ice and low concentrations all the way to the Pole, but the date of the images is 8/28-2013, not 8/5-2014.

When you look at the latest image (8/11-2014), you see the ice has cracks and some melt ponds, but overall has good concentration near the Pole.

"Melting has to be virtually all but done before it gets counted".

You would need to discount the integrity of the PIOMAS model to claim this. The combined area for Beaufort and Chuckchi is slightly higher than last year, so certainly there will still be melting, but my point above was that we need a 700K km^2 drop in area in the CAB to align with 2013. The ice being thicker overall, I do not see how this level of melting can be realized, but let's see..

Jim Hunt

John - On WorldView it is but a single click to change year or day of month!

Wayne - See also a relevant animation on the ASIF:

"Loss of MYI and volume"


Hi John, use the link and click on August 5 2014 . No it is an observation, with Jim's latest link just above, it is very difficult to fathom how ice area increases when in fact its shrinking , but alas CT today 121,000 km^2 of less area makes sense, but the day before there was an increase in area. And Jaxa had a 90,000 km^2 in extent drop at same time, at current strange rate may be Jaxa for 2014 will be less than 2013 soon. At any rate, judging melting is poorly done by CT and JAXA, but flawed methods are inter-comparable with time.



Here I give example as to why care must be given when reading extent and area numbers. Melt rates are not measured accurately, and the only way around this is to look at the ice with excellent sat photos readily available on the net. This is why 2014 numbers look a bit weird, when so, one must look for the reason behind the strangeness and not make conclusions until the time is right.


I suspect sea water has reached the surface area of Buoy 2013F:


The darkness of water is surely an indicator. With official measurement of 150 cm of ice, this is certainly what we sea by satellite pictures of most areas at present time.


Thanks, Wayne,
I'm sure a lot of us have been watching this scene for weeks. I think it is the first time the scene seems to reveal that what started as a meltpool over a FYI regrowth between last years splinters, now is in contact with the underlying ocean.

John Christensen

Hi wayne,

I appreciate your patience with me - yes, I see that the area to the right (between the Pole and Franz Josef Land) is of significantly lower concentration. CT did not indicate this, but now (8/10) indicates a 60% concentration in this area, which seems reasonable.

The sensors and algorithms have always had challenges providing accurate measurement, but since we are using the same approach for measuring (as broken as it may be, e.g. overstating the ice area), we have comparable information between each year, unless you find we have a special situation this year, which would fool the sensors to a more significant degree than prior years?


Werther, this year is tough to assess like any other year. 2013 was marked by omnipresent clouds, with hardly any compaction. Yet sea ice melted a great seal nevertheless. This year was made by last year's lack of insolation, a cooler sea water made the ice set earlier.
This made the present compaction possible, reversing the extreme cloudy trend. So you are right that ice is now thinner and ripe for melting.

Hi John, that is a good question, I fear that the more inclined to believe "recovery" contrarians will twist this years looks for every extra ice bit they find. The melting started late on the North American side as expected, what fools was little cooler surface temperatures which existed due to this greater ice extent. But the return of the Gyre made the Atlantic side of ice pack more spread towards it, where you can observe the greatest gains with respect to last year. Finally a great deal of ice scattered with lots of open water could make this years melt look lesser than 2013 with current 15% threshold. Only correct observations can point this out. But contrarians don't care about complexities, they rather go to the simplicity jugular. However I demonstrate in my second part how fast current melt appears to be going:


In a mere 5 days the progression of sea water is much larger than records appear to indicate. So lets sea how much destruction a late dipole gives, it may surprise most of us.

Tom Zupancic

As a Ph.D. scientist with expertise in a completely different field, and as a very occasional poster here, I had a couple of comments about the present melt. First off, the climate system is complex. Thus, it is not clear how one explains year to year variation regarding Arctic Sea Ice extent/area/volume. That said, this topic is totally politically loaded. Regardless,following the annual progression of the Arctic Sea Ice melt over the years has been fascinating. One has to be a complete idiot to not realize that the Arctic Sea Ice is melting away. This reality exists regardless of how 2014 turns out. Just my 2 cents worth.

Hans Gunnstaddar


Northeast Passage: Russia Moves to Boost Arctic Shipping

In the distant past, traveling from Hamburg to Shanghai by ship meant sailing around Africa, a journey of at least 28,000 kilometers (17,400 miles). A short cut became available in 1869, with the opening of the Suez Canal, an event so epochal that Giuseppe Verdi was asked to compose a hymn for the celebration. After that, the Hamburg-Shanghai route measured only about 20,000 kilometers. As a result of climate change, a maritime route of only 14,000 kilometers now separates Hamburg and Shanghai.

Shipping, oil & natural gas exploration, gems, all sorts of benefits to business, yet science knows the pitfalls of this progression.

Colorado Bob

Heavy fires destroy forests in Russian Far East


02:25 UTC


Smoke over eastern Russia
What does one see ? A long rooster tail of smoke flowing North onto the ice pack.

If one clicks the 250 meter resolution , and looks closely at the sea ice to the Northeast , you can see it is grey, lots of soot on the ice pack. And if one looks closely at the coast line, huge amounts of sediment flooding into the sea. Not caused by flooding from rains, but permafrost thawing, The rivers look like coffee with milk.

If one reads the Russian "news" , it always helps to see what the Lance MODIS images are seeing.

By the way, this area is where Igor Semiletov, found his kilometer wide methane plumes. Seeing all that grey ice & thawed mud flow into the East Siberian Sea , doesn't make me happy.

ThE SnYpEr AzZ

I've been wondering how the different effects of summer wild fires net out. On the one hand, the smoke and ash in the atmosphere block some solar rays. Because most of the fires are in the summer, this should be a significant negative feedback. When the pollution settles onto the earth, it will produce positive feedbacks which vary according to the surface. Darkened sea ice and glaciers retain significant extra heat. Is there any math out there that simulates these effects by location and time of year ?


Colorado Bob -
The sheer scale of fires in the Northern Hemisphere is staggering. There have been huge swaths of smoke in the atmosphere for over two months. I don't think most of the world really recognizes just how remarkable that is, nor what effects it is having on weather and environment writ large. There would be a lot more excitement in the media if they did.


It would be nice if we could use different names for the two different recurring phenomena that we appear to be both calling the "Laptev Bite". We first used that name for the polynya appearing isolated in the southernmost deep water near the Laptev/Kara sea border. This year's polynya is a lee shadow (where ice is blown away from the coast) specifically of the New Siberian Islands, and also to a lesser extent of the entire coast in the area, farther east near the Laptev/East Siberan sea border. Maybe we should call it the "Laptev V".

Here's a closeup of some dark presumably multiyear ice at about 5cm resolution from the Healy on July 20, approximately here.

The darkest I can find left is here, right along the East Siberian arc of second year ice.

The fires have mostly died down, at least for the moment. They were quite large on the Russian side, but the smoke mostly (not entirely) blew south. On the Canadian side, there were in absolute terms, not that much smaller, were more anomalous, and spent a long time training smoke over the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland, particularly northwestern Greenland.

That link has simulations for surface feedback for Greenland, by measured albedo, so it captures the surface effect of smoke.

I do tend to wonder why, if the surface albedo change of Greenland is so obvious, there isn't more interest in the albedo change of the sea ice itself. Obviously it's harder to recover from satellite information because part of each pixel might be ocean, but we have ice fraction measurements. It seems like mostly we're just assuming that the albedo of ice is constant.

There's an interesting paper here. The surface generally cools under smoke, but total atmospheric forcing is positive in high albedo conditions.

TOA net shortwave flux decreases when smoke is present over dark surfaces and tends to increase if the underlying surface is bright. For example, at solar noon during midsummer at Barrow, a layer of smoke having AOD(500) = 0.5 will reduce the net shortwave flux at TOA by ≈30 W m−2 over the ocean while at the same time increasing it by 20 W m−2 over an adjacent area of melting sea ice.
Additionally the smoke will stabilize the atmosphere leading to some unmeasured amount of additional shortwave radiation, possibly canceling the initial cooling.

Hans Gunnstaddar

CB, you have links on fires up north. Not sure if you have seen this one. Below is a link to the northwest territories fire map. Has boxes on right to click to add to the overall picture of what is happening there with fires, lightening strikes and hot spots, etc.


Hans Gunnstaddar

To add to the above map is a link with number of fires in 2014: 365 & number of hectares affected: 2,856,670.90


John Christensen

Hi Neven,

"In the meantime we watch what this late momentum can still achieve and whether 2014 might still end up below 2013. The race is on."

While it is still too early for a verdict, I would say the past three days have shown that the vast high across the western Arctic did not manage to impact area or extent much, at least as seen on IJIS, CT, ROOS, and DMI. Not saying the rendering of data compared to reality is exact, but compared to 2012 and 2013 by the same models, melting has slowed down these past few days.

What IMO makes this possible - in addition to the temporal distance from solstice - is the lack of heat transported to the Arctic as indicated via the NAO index.

As you see from the link, the summer months of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 had significant negative NAO index between -1 and -2 or beyond -2, while the NAO was positive during the summer of 2013 and only sligthly negative (0 - -1) this summer so far:


One could argue that significantly negative NAO had become part of the new normal in the post-2007 Arctic environment, which would have accelerated the breakdown of Arctic sea ice, but with the data from 2012 and 2013, it appears the NAO is still following whatever natural or chaotic variability pattern.

If the current NAO forecast holds, it will move to the -1 - -2 area in a couple of days, so let's see if this will change things, elevating temperatures, allowing more melt ponds to form, before the NAO will get closer to neutral again about a week from now.

Christoffer Ladstein

""To add to the above map is a link with number of fires in 2014: 365 & number of hectares affected: 2,856,670.90""

That's almost 3 times larger area than all cultivated farmland in Norway...phew!


As I write this, the GFS analysis has the temperature at 850mb around 85N 165E at greater than 8C, from advected Pacific warmth pulses There is no significant slowdown of melt apparent in the clear visible imagery. It looks more like thin film water rather than actual melt ponds, but what you're seeing in the radar data is, first a lot of surface water appearing in the data, and then it disappearing. Compare the East Siberian area with the area two weeks ago. If you're still convinced we've seen a big slowdown in heat input recently, take a look at the DMI Arctic Ocean SST anomaly loop. This water heat will continue to result in bottom melt, even with bad weather.

Even the radar extent numbers see a large influence of surface water this time of year. Whether you're looking at large cells or small cells, at 15% or 30% extent numbers, there is currently a large area of ice with actual ice coverage around 20% or 40%, and relatively small amounts of surface water jiggle this area back and forth across the extent thresholds.

There's still a lot of thick ice up there, but it's not due to poor melt over the past two weeks.

Of the major single dimension projections of the surface pressure field, the NAO is proably the best predictor of sea ice melt. Take a look at the slightly postive NAO pressure field for July, though. That's a lot of sunshine over the Arctic Ocean, even with the slightly postive NAO. I'm not sure whether it was the lack of advected heat, or a lack of albedo feedback conditioned by something else, but the melt in July just didn't match the amount of sunshine.

John Christensen

Hi Blaine,

"Of the major single dimension projections of the surface pressure field, the NAO is proably the best predictor of sea ice melt. Take a look at the slightly postive NAO pressure field for July, though. That's a lot of sunshine over the Arctic Ocean, even with the slightly postive NAO."

You are mixing two indices here:

The NAO tells something about blocking highs in the Northern Atlantic. When the NAO is negative more heat moves northward into Barentz and swirls counterclockwise into the Arctic. When the NAO is positive, the Atlantic heated moisture moves east across Northern Europe and losses energy, before it enters the Arctic from around the Laptev Sea.

The AO, however, is an indicator of Arctic high and low pressures - i.e. clear skies vs. cloudiness and storms.
Negative AO means high pressure, positive AO low pressure.

Both indices for July were weak in their signal, both sligthly negative meaning predominantly clear skies, but relatively low heat influx from the Atlantic side. I say relatively low, as the sligthly negative NAO should still allow some heat moving North, but this is still low compared to prior summers of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, as you see here:


What is scary is that the summer of 2007 looks very similar to 2014, but with the main difference (Not considering here the major impact of Fram transport in '07) that the negative AO came earlier, so to Neven's point, maybe the setup in late April - mid May is so crucial, as the early formation of e.g. melt ponds will enhance the consequences of weather conditions favorable to ice melting later in the season..

Hans Gunnstaddar


‘Arctic snow layer is thinning at rapid rate, researchers confirm’

“A new study that will be published in Journal of Geophysical Research has confirmed some bad news: the layer of snow in the Arctic region is most definitely thinning, and at a very fast fast. Scientists used data tracking the depth of snow that sits atop Arctic ice from almost a hundred years ago, and found that the snow is melting rapidly as the region warms. Thinning is worst on the ice in western Arctic waters, close to Alaska.

The research team looked at Soviet measurements dating all the way back to 1937, and a period of Soviet data from 1954 to 1991. They compared that data to NASA data collected by air from 2009 to 2013, as well as data from ice buoys collected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They found that the snow levels have gone down from 14 inches to 9 inches in the west of the Arctic region, near Alaska. Further north and west of Alaska, near the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, the snow had thinned from 13 inches to 6 inches. About a third of the snow near Alaska has declined, and almost half of the snow near the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

The team suggested that the snow may be getting thinner because, as the oceans warm from climate change, they don't freeze until later in the year. That means that most of the region's heaviest snowfalls, which happen in the early fall, fall into the sea and melt."

Hans Gunnstaddar


I won't paste the details of this article because they are so voluminous, however suffice it to say there have many knock on effects from radiation releases from Fukushima.

Special alert to CB who was following info. on star fish.


Hans - I'm afraid that link looks like a gish-gallop of anecdotal and marginally related material. I also question accuracy; a quick glance suggests some of the numbers are WAY off, or are stated in a fashion to create a sense of alarm where none is justified.

I'm not saying this in any way to understate the consequences of Fukushima - they are great and troubling - but it has become cachet to ascribe all manner of environmental difficulty to it, in ways which I think are both questionable and inaccurate.

Obsessing on hypothetical, questionable effects from Fukushima also distracts us from evaluating other, more supportable causes of the events we see taking place.

As an example, consider these discussions of Puget Sound starfish die-offs:


The driving factors are increases in water temperature and disease; utterly unrelated to Cs, Sr and I release from Fukushima.

Not mentioned, but also coming significantly into play are changes in ocean chemistry on a massive scale.


In short, I don't think the obsession with Fukushima can survive reasonable application of Occam's razor.

I am wondering why you are posting about it here?

Hans Gunnstaddar

"I am wondering why you are posting about it here?"

CB had posted many articles on here about the star fish die off, and there has been speculation regarding whether or not that was from Fukushima. And I do not claim to know by way of the posted article whether or not that is the case, but thought it was a good follow up since the article suggests the possibility of a connection.

Just as you are alarmed by trying to connect Fukushima to many anomalies occurring in the Pacific, I am just as alarmed that there seems to be a complete disinterest in whether or not it is causing some of the problems listed in that article.

I thought it was a short post and may be of interest within a group of people interested in environmental situations, especially those that affect animals. In any case, I shall cease and desist from posting anything unrelated to the specifics of the headline topic from now on.

John Christensen

Hi Christoffer,

"""To add to the above map is a link with number of fires in 2014: 365 & number of hectares affected: 2,856,670.90""

That's almost 3 times larger area than all cultivated farmland in Norway...phew!"

Interesting to chose Norway for that metric - of all countries in the world, only Singapore has a lower percentage of agricultural land in percentage of country area.. ;-)


Other noteworthy elements of agriculture in Norway (in case there would be anyone wanting to contemplate any relationship between Norwegian agricultural statistics and forest fires): The agricultural production in Norway covers 50% of their need for food and employs about 2% of their workforce. But they do like their oil, these Norwegians..

John Christensen

Agreeing with jdallen that we should focus on the ice - or lack of the same.


Hans Gunnstaddar referring to and citing web pages like that one about Fukushima give you no credibility at all. worse gossip than you read in women's magazines. just one example of spurious linking is the sea star issue. here is a link to reality >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfish_wasting_disease

the idea that a tiny event like Fukushima could have significant effects on the Pacific ocean is laughable and defies all logic and common sense. do you have any idea how big the Pacific ocean is and how small the radiation leak is by comparison? you are more at risk eating a banana picked anywhere in the world than you are at risk from eating Pacific fish.
no more comic book sources please.


The Siberian seaway is fully open.

It looks like the Northwest Passage will open in about a week.



I don't see any sign of the NW passage about to open. The NW passage looks about as choked with ice as it has been the last decade.

Kevin McKinney

"The NW passage looks about as choked with ice as it has been the last decade."

There is quite a bit of ice, but then again, if my memory serves (always a dicey proposition) there's a heck of a lot less than about a week ago.

We'll see...


Naa Henry1, Although I have foreseen NW opening later than usual, (at least more than 3 weeks later than last year, in March 2014), it is nowhere like a decade ago, may look like a decade ago, but not so. The start of freezing season for the passage is well after minima date, at least in a month and a half from now. Especially considering the North Pacific warm, very warmed by a small El-Nino at present. The passage should open later than previous recent years, but this will be how many years in a row with both passages open? Can any outlandish statement about a recovery be supported by facts?

JAXA numbers show 2014 gradually approaching, likely to be smaller than 2013 soon. This is because some areas already with apparent great melts will have more than 86% of open water instead of 80%. CT numbers should also drop for the same reason. There is a distinct difference between last year and 2013, the Gyre has returned, somewhat weak, but there never the less.
The pause in normal ice movement is a dynamic factor affecting sea ice extent numbers. We have recently seen, a rekindle over what a normal gyre can do.


Wipneus has recently commented on the high amount of ice still blocking the northwest passage - there's certainly more than in most recent years, and if it's open in a week's time I'll eat my proverbial hat :-/


Espen Olsen

Steensby Gletscher, North Greenland.
A sizeable (~32 km2)calving happened a few days ago, and is about 50% larger than the calving in 2012, this only the 2nd calving ever reported.




We'll agree to disagree then. The area of ice in the Canadian Archipelago is the highest since 2004 looking at archived AMSR-E maps. The NW passage I predict will not open this year. If it does, it won't be the main portion through the Parry Channel, it will be by the skin of its teeth through one of the southern routes.

Christoffer Ladstein

John Christensen: Thanks for reminding me of the national unbalanced Production. This is what I fear most of all With a changing climate due to the dwindling volume of ice in the North, every nation ought to be more or less self supplied. Neven is himself a devoute gardener, at least he will become one day when his housing Project is more finished.

Following the rapid decline and breakup of the ice around Greenland and all the channels in the Canadian Archipelago is really among the most facinating stuff to watch out for every year.
At the Forum (see Espens link above) you get to realize the immense scale of Greenland and it's many fjords. The Steenby calving looks rather miniscule nd minor compared to fastice reaking loose closer to the shoreline, but if that Steensby seem small, it's nevertheless the exact size of the municipality I live in just South of Oslo. So all out there, I think we forget what tremendous scale and numbers we're juggling in the air daily with the CT, JAXA, PIOMAS and whatever numbers we're talking about....

Kevin: Your memory serves. Positive!

Christoffer Ladstein

BTW, Jan Mayen, the smallish island North of Island, experienced the hottest July (7.4 C) since recordings started in 1921.
This might be thanks to the warm Ocean surrounding the island, also still staying put halfway through August.

http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/satellite/index.uk.php (click anomalies as parameter)

Funfact about the Maximum summer averagetemp at Jan Mayen: While most Places in the North have the max-average temps in the end of July/ start of Aug., Jan Mayen have dipped that Maximum date just 3 days ago see links below.


And then take a look at Longyearbyen (compare "average" With "normal":

Both Places got scary high temps FAR ABOVE the normal for the Whole 12 month period....

Espen Olsen

Yes Christoffer, we are handling km2 like bankers are handling billions.

Espen Olsen

Other noteworthy elements of agriculture in Denmark, swines are far more common than Danes in Denmark.


Henry1, appearances deceive at face value, is what you have under and in the ice that matters. Some of the floes are multi-year, but most have peaking ice temperatures, which means they break with the winds, especially Western winds, which are not as common as they use to be. We will see, if winds dominate from the East then Parry will be jammed wind ice packs. If Westerlies prevail, goodbye Parry ice!

Jim Hunt, most fascinating is buoy 2013d, as thick as it can get 3.4 meters, loosing more than 30 cm under ice in about a week, despite constant warmer air and sea water for months it didn't start to melt until recently. Goes to show there is a melting season, and it is especially now. The overall temperature of sea ice is crucial in quick accelerated melts no matter how thick it the pack may be.

to really appreciate how fast ice is disappearing:


But a really important in the near future sea ice indicator would be the overall temperature of ice column.

Jim Hunt

Wayne - The sensors on 2014D have been flaky for a while, and the buoy may now have gone to meet its maker. The last data reported currently seems to be from August 13th. The last reports from the bottom sounder certainly suggested significant recent bottom melt.

Note also that there is a new kid on the block for buoy watchers around the world:


CRREL IMB buoy 2014F has just joined all the other buoys in the Beaufort. No numbers from the top & bottom sounders yet though.


help me out here guys what am I not understanding.
this graph. http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/arctic.sea.ice.interactive.html is showing area melt almost dead stopped with a drop of only a little over 100,000km2 in the last 11 days.
MASIE is showing a drop from 7363030 to 6282898 in the same period.
this >>>

is clearly showing continued melt and thinning ice and the Laptev bite is getting closer and closer to the 85th parallel. closer than I recall it being before.
I am confused.

John Christensen

Hi philiponfire,

Yes, the edge of the pack is still melting, overall reducing the volume of ice. However, as melt ponds are being snowcovered or freeze over, this will increase the area number (satellite sensors used for area calculations 'see' melt ponds as water).

CAPIE shows the relationship between area and extent, and as unusually high this year, explaning this phenomena.

John Christensen

But agreed, the CT area numbers are remarkable!


yes but why is this year so dramatically different to previous years on area when extent is dropping "normally".
the areas of bluing ice seem to be getting bigger not smaller. the North West passage is showing signs it may break up, which earlier in the season I would have bet real money was not going to happen this year.


Phil, I agree, it seems quite weird and 2014 is very close to be lower than 2013 in extent. Logically 2014 should do likewise. Unless there is a lot of small broken ice packs configured in a way making extent smaller but area greater. Or there is a resolution disparity between the way extent and area is measured.

Thanks Jim, 2014F seems strategically placed to monitor sea ice before it breaks up. Or may be there is wider open water near 2013F seen by fog bank at horizon:


the sun is to the south south East, its possible there is a fear of further breakup or its plain renewal over a solid pan of ice in order to continue monitoring in the immediate region.

John Christensen

Hi philiponfire and wayne,

The difference between area and extent calculation is the reason.

When you look at the comparative images of CT area of 8/7 and 8/14 this year, you see why the area number is not going down:


In the Beaufort and ESS, you see ice concentration levels increasing from 60% to 80-90% in many areas. This will cause the CT area to increase, but will have no impact on calculation of ice extent at DMI, ROOS, or IJIS.
Evidently, ice concentration did not go up from 60 to 80-90%, however.
Models calculating ice area tend to include melt ponds as open water.
When melt ponds either freeze over or have a fresh snow cover, the satellite again will see it as ice, and bingo: The ice area has increased, even though in fact, the satellite is just again recognizing the ice, which was always there..

In the past week, the reduction in melt ponds across Beaufort and the ESS in particular was about the same as the actual melt around the edges of the pack, so the area number has stayed 'flat'.
This is why, as I believe Neven has explained a number of times, many scientists monitor ice extent during summer, or both area and extent, and why the CAPIE number is very interesting.

Calculated yesterday, CT area / IJIS extent was 79.45%, which is extremely high, as you see from Neven's graph above, meaning we currently have a very consolidated pack with unusually few melt ponds.

I hope this helps.

John Christensen

Sorry; I calculated CAPIE based on the latest numbers from CT area and IJIS extent, but as the CT is a day or two behind IJIS, I did not calculate based on numbers from the same day and therefore overestimated the CAPIE value. The actual value should be 75-76% based on numbers from the same day, which is still very high, but not off the charts.

John Christensen

Interesting article on decline in Arctic ice snow cover:



Hi John, for melt ponds to be counted, you need a higher resolution captures. Furthermore, in most places with buoys, the top of ice water melts in the morning and freezes at night. Which should be quite normal for this time of the year at high latitudes. For ponds to be counted it would mean the CT uses early morning satellite data regularly.

John Christensen

wayne, you need to study..

Try this:


Or this, to get the detailed version and a possible technical solution:


From the latter paper:

"The retrieved MODIS sea ice concentration shows, that sea ice concentration derived from microwave sensors underestimates
the actual sea ice concentration by 40 %."

Kevin McKinney

This link just came up on RC, and will be of interest here. It's an observational study of the albedo effects of the declining ASI:


In summary, this study demonstrates a close relationship between SSM/I sea ice cover and CERES planetary albedo during the CERES record (2000–2011), thereby independently corroborating the passive microwave satellite observations of sea ice retreat. We find consistent agreement between these satellite observations, a climate model, and in situ surface observations.

Using the relationship between SSM/I and CERES measurements to extend the albedo record back in time, we find that during 1979–2011 the Arctic darkened sufficiently to cause an increase in solar energy input into the Arctic Ocean region of 6.4 ± 0.9 W/m2, equivalent to an increase of 0.21 ± 0.03 W/m2 averaged over the globe. This implies that the albedo forcing due solely to changes in Arctic sea ice has been 25% as large globally as the direct radiative forcing from increased carbon dioxide concentrations, which is estimated to be 0.8 W/m2 between 1979 and 2011. The present study shows that the planetary darkening effect of the vanishing sea ice represents a substantial climate forcing that is not offset by cloud albedo feedbacks and other processes.

Together, these findings provide direct observational validation of the hypothesis of a positive feedback between sea ice cover, planetary albedo, and global warming.

(Paragraph breaks added for online clarity, footnotes redacted.)

John Christensen

OMG, the Arctic snow rabbit Manneken Pis has entered the stage today:




Well John, as you can see, Cryosphere Today has likely grids in Excess of 20 nautical miles, making their maps report bad image of reality. In effect CT is good for very thigh pack ice but not for scattered pack ice, like 2014. Making year to year comparisons more tricky. The proof is in the NW passage.

Thanks for the melt pond paper, still reading it, the problem with some papers is that they use science speak as much as any lawyer would write an effusive legal opinion stretching our minds
beyond the limit of our understanding of it.


By using Google Earth CT missed 50,000 Km^2 of open water in one archipelago small area as per


That is while using their section 40% or so coverage of apparently ice clogged McClintock channel. So wider overall mystery is busted, 20 nautical miles resolution is no match for JAXA depicting the open water accurately.


Oops CT missed 5000 not 50,000 km^2 in the area presented, but since it has missed so much in one sector, it means that they failed measuring a lot of sea ice area accurately, likely by resolution constraints, by a much greater number than 50,000 for the whole data area.

Jim, 2014b was floating in its drill hole since July 31 according to official buoy site. That is hard to fathom, is likely floating since its moving very fast. But they are the experts. If so, we have a good profile of water column temperatures. Very fascinating.

John Christensen


Everybody is aware that the models used to estimate sea ice area and extent have limitations. They provide estimates.

The models do have some value from a comparative year-over-year perspective, when you compare e.g. CT Area estimates for August '14 against CT Area estimates for prior summers.

In addition, there is value in the the relationship between e.g. CT Area and IJIS Extent, due to the difference in how these models calculate ice area and extent.


Lots of movement on land to worry about, old ice on the move.


K Stabenow

A Pollyanna view from PBS and NASA of the Arctic Sink holes:



John, "Everybody is aware that the models used to estimate sea ice area and extent have limitations. They provide estimates."

Ya of course, but missing wide open water 40 by 250 km makes me wonder if these estimates are a bit off at times. The data map which replicates the sat pictures better should give better numeric results. Not sure if year to year comparison applies well all the time, for instance broken ice next to open water is not the same as compacted solid ice next to open water. How did CT missed open water so much? Again it must be resolution problem, not all melt ponds, their grids must be huge in excess of 20 nautical miles. While JAXA may be 16 km. The difference in resolution matters when making a calculation to Extent -Area difference. In other words our analytical skills are compromised if we do this calculation.


"Pollyanna". KS - you are being amazingly kind. Tee hee, tee hee, isn't science fun?!, giggle

Steve Bloom

Just to note that per Bremen the Laptev bite has now crossed 85N and AFAICT doesn't seem to be slowing down much.


Steve , Jaxa 2013 :5,487,870 km^2, 2014 5,489,997 km^2, tomorrow may signal 2014 lesser than 2013, soon to be lower than 2008, likely to compete with 2011. To be fair with 2013, wildly scattered largely with loose pack ice, but CT 2013 had more Area at this time, which does not make much sense. And yes Parry Sound is almost open, albeit small, by a mere 10 miles wide or more, but soon to to be much wider . So much for the clogged NW passage.

The Laptev bite increases the ice shore line perimeter significantly, and increases melting. 2014 thaw is beginning to look more important than a mere 2 weeks ago.


Right on schedule the ice is coming off Melville creating an open water path through the Northwest Passage. It'll only be a little bit of time before the channel is fully open.


John Christensen

Regarding the Laptev Bite:

DMI has some great tools to see what is happening:


When you select 'ice thickness' you see how the ice is being weakened all the way to the Pole and then turning towards the Atlantic side.

With the 'surface current' and more significantly with the 'ice drift' view, you see that the warm waters of the Laptev Sea is moving under the ice, probably causing significant bottom melt and destabilization of the ice.

The low currently right above Franz Josef Lands combined with melt water from Siberian rivers should be main factors, so with the low moving towards the western side of the Arctic, the current should ease, allthough this low will cause plenty of water/ice mixing, which will at least deteriorate the edges of the pack around the Arctic in the coming days.

I would think this major low is probably causing the last major melting event of the season, as temperatures have started going down with the sun moving south.

K Stabenow

Were there any fly overs of Greenland and the glaciers this year? last year there was a blog of pictures of the flights over a 3-week time period which was so fascinating. Does anyone know if there is one this year?

Jim Hunt

KS - For some of the "deliverables" from IceBridge Arctic 2014 see:


For a blow by blow account of the campaign itself see:


Steve Bloom

Thanks, Wayne and John.

I took a minute to eyeball the recent progress of the bite toward the pole, and at this rate it would be there within a couple of weeks. On the one hand that seems strange for so late in the season at that latitude, but on the other hand that warm water probably isn't bothered much by slightly freezing temperatures.

IIRC the bite has not been seen to do this before. It 2012 it got to only about 80N at minimum. A bite as such wasn't even apparent at that point, but that may be because the sides had all melted back as well.

This behavior seems very striking to me. Could it be an indication of a lot more warm water entering the Arctic, at least in that region? With enough of that, weather unfavorable to melt will cease to matter much.


People should have a real good look at the amount of warm water in the north Atlantic and north Pacific heading for the Arctic.

Further, perhaps not of such concern to Arctic sea ice, the melt on Greenland is extraordinary:




That Pistone paper is fascinating, mostly for trends in the well-disclosed data not mentioned in the writeup.

As I would expect, the geographic correlation between ice concentration and albedo is explains most of the difference, but deals with melt ponds on solid ice rather poorly, leading to a relatively poor geographic correlation. For the area average, though, the correlation is excellent. The authors appear not to have noticed that this means that they are doing a quite good job of predicting Arctic-wide melt pond-based albedo decrease using nothing but the Arctic-wide ice area.

In particular(see figure S6), despite the large trend in albedo from 2000-2011, there is no discernible trend in the monthly residuals after accounting for the effect of differing sea ice areas. This would appear to rule out a large forest fire soot forcing as being responsible for a significant share of the recent ice area decrease.

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