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Susan Anderson

Earth Observatory has provided an image of the November storm in the Bering Sea that might be of interest:


"In early November 2014, a superstorm charged across the Bering Sea with record-low pressure, bringing high winds and waves to the region. It even triggered events leading to an extreme cold snap in the central United States. While scientists have a good handle on the processes that cause extratropical cyclones like this one to form, the details of cloud features embedded in these storms are not yet fully understood.

"Extratropical cyclones represent some of the largest and most powerful storm systems on Earth, and produce the majority of fresh water received at middle and high latitudes" said Derek Posselt of the University of Michigan.

""Scientists are currently examining how clouds are not only caused by winter storms, but also feed back on the storm strength and life cycle.""


Yes thin ice is indeed on topic, I have been working on for years the complexity in detecting thin ice beyond modeling. I must point out how difficult it is, while 2014 was a lesser minima than all time low 2012,

look: 2012 refrozen more over Bering sea area than 2014



2014 is more in line with 2007 refreeze in that area.

This brings the larger question whether 2014 ice was overall thicker than 2012 at this time of year. If 2012 was much thinner
than 2014 then why did the ice refreeze more rapidly over said area? The answer is of course local in nature, but that is a simplification forgetting that thicker sea ice itself generates cold air in darkness. It appears that 2014 had a significant stealth melt
with new evidence found by a technique so potent it can find
localized atmosphere on the moon:


I would suggest to ESA Rosetta cameras to try similar horizon shots Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko , their cameras are too focused on of course something they never seen, but the comet horizon offers more.

This brings the larger question whether 2014 ice was overall thicker than 2012 at this time of year.

Wayne, I post with some regularity ice thickness maps derived from the SMOS instrument on the forum. Perhaps they are interesting in regard to the questions you ask.


Chris Reynolds


We'll know over winter if PIOMAS is correct as Cryosat and IceBridge data comes out. Personally I have no doubt PIOMAS is reflecting increased thickness and volume correctly.


Thanks for that.


Cheers Chris ,

As long as Piomas is quite different in calculating ice thickness than the models who failed projecting 2007 or 2012 minimas by 30 some years, you may have a point. But I doubt Piomas capable of doing a good job because remote sensing has trouble getting he ice surface temperature right. And especially the thickness alleged does not reflect atmospheric conditions above. Which allowed the jet stream to go wildly North, practically burying Buffalo as a result, the Great Lakes are still warm as should be in November but Arctic particularly sub-Arctic air was deflected almost straight Southwards.

Outstanding work as usual Wipneus,

It is essentially hard to explain that the air cooled further in 2012 with no ice at all in the Chukchi vicinity from minima. The physics involved would be exotic. As they may be. Or is sea ice way thinner than estimated at minima in 2014 which kept more heat than a wide open 2012 sea in darkness? In fact on my blog I demonstrate that Chukchi sea ice and surface air is warmer in 2014 than 2012, a very hard to fathom reality?


George Phillies

I am so not amused to note that I received in the mail a piece of agitprop from the Heartland Institute claiming that lead global warming deniers are scientists, and lead global warming advocates are only politicians.


An interesting blog on working on the Arctic ice. http://rawahranger.com/2014/11/thin-ice/
Shows I think how poor our best guesses really are.

L. Hamilton

Our survey research on the politicization of US public science/environment perceptions, including Arctic sea ice, hit the streets last week and has been written up with key graphics by Chris Mooney at the Washington Post:

The paper itself will be open access for the next month or so, you can download a copy here:

I'll have more polar results to report at the AGU meetings in a couple of weeks.


I've suspected all year that piomas may be underestimating the mass of the ice, that is much of it formed from snowfall and freezing fog from above, rather than solid ice from below. So instead of solid ice we have a 'layer cake' of snow and ice disinclined to topple or sustain melt ponds, and prone to break into small floes and be blown around easier. Yet to be convinced i'm right but still suspect it.


oops! that should be overestimating


LRC, thanks for the link. Very cool article.


Piomas doing a frisky uptick this time:


Starting to look like a 4-year pause in melting allready. Much like 1982-87.

I have yet to hear any plausible reason for the break in the trend this time, but northern polar temperatures have been gpoing down over the last few years, much like they did in the 80's:



What is most amazing about the latest POMAS numbers is the speed of recovery since the volume bottomed out in 2012.

1/3 of the volume loss over the entire observed period since 1979 has been recovered in little more than two years.

If the trend since 2012 continues for only four or five more years, the entire volume loss since 1979 will have been recovered.

This bodes well for the future health of the Arctic ice sheet.


Ostepop1000 - would that your words were true, but I fear your conclusion is far too optimistic.

The recent uptics appear to me and most of the rest of us as a regression to mean, not a change in trend.

As to temperatures going up - that depends very much on how you limit your dataset by season, region and altitude. Again, here, the trend is still rising temperatures, and perhaps more important, for dramatic long term changes in weather pattern, which bode very ill for us living in mid latitudes.



This uptick does not constitute a break in the downward trend, and it does not constitute a new upward trend. Basing a trend on the 2 years since 2012 would be completely bogus.

Here's a video from last year that addresses that:


Jim Hunt

I was reading the Christmas and New Year special edition of New Scientist over breakfast this morning. On page 49 I came across an article entitled "Pole Position". The online version is entitled "Racing refraction: Who reached the North Pole first?":


Unfortunately it seems to only be visible in full to subscribers, but here's a brief extract:

[Wayne] Davidson is a meteorological observer based in Resolute on Cornwallis Island in Nunavut, Canada, which, at a latitude of almost 75° north, is deep inside the Arctic Circle. His particular interest is refraction in the atmosphere. This is essentially the same as what happens at the surface of a pond or a piece of glass: when a ray of light goes through regions with different optical properties, it gets bent.

We rarely think about this happening in the air, says Davidson, but it is everywhere and it distorts our view of the world. "The horizon and everything around us is constantly shifting," he says.

For some strange reason the article neglects to include a link to Wayne's blog, which is of course available above.

Fame at last Wayne?!


For tonight,I wish all of the blogfriends a merry Christmas and some solace from climate-stress in love and friendship.
You can read my Christmas story 9inspired by an AGU-lecture)on the Forum, in the Weird weather-thread. Maybe wait till after Christmas eve...


Thanks, Werther. I wish you and everyone reading this a warm and quiet time for contemplation and being around those you love.


Hi Jim, I hope not! I want Arctic science subjects famous not me!
Yes but thrilled to have contributed something in new scientist.

Merry Christmas Jim, Whether, Neven and all here (even the usual deniers). Speaking of Christmas, the latest "Santa bomb" in North America, a news story about a winter storm, seemed an exaggeration, but a "bomb" usually sheds light, and in this case it was like a permanent brighter glow, so imagine , more light than imagination may give. And so again reality exceeds fiction.



It will be colder in North America in a few days, despite unusual warm temperatures, and we will hear from our friends the contrarians, loud and clear cold coming ice age stories. But the reality is the Santa Cyclone went North, to the left of a Cyclone is Southward flow, pushing down the cold gathered in darkness swiftly. The more intense the Poleward Cyclone the more fierce the temperature change to the colder to the Plains and most of the continent.


I've seen much of this:


A massive Low pressure system centered over Greenland spanning from Norway to Minnesota , from Northern Siberia to the state of Kansas. Where its colder in Midwest plains than over Ellesmere Island. This brings the sea ice image near future clearer, there will be less of it. The pattern such above is seen recurring either looking back or forward. A wild winter warmish and cold seems established.

Kevin McKinney

Checking out the daily graphs page, it looks as if we are starting the new year with lower extents than in the last couple of years. NSIDC has their graph line flirting with 2 SD down once again.

And looking at the DMI 80 North temperature graph makes it no surprise: it's predominantly been a warm winter in the Arctic once again, so far. Ice thickening will be slowed as a result; perhaps we'll see the consequences of that in upcoming PIOMAS updates?

Too early to think much about spring, of course. But I'm starting to *start* to think about spring…

I Ballantinegray1

We have seen an 'extent' stall 9 since Dec 25th) and the destruction of all the ice in Bering from Jan 1st to 4th so i'd expect all of that , and Fram export of our Atlantic retained ice to impact the 'growth in volume over both Dec and Jan Piomas dropping us back into the 'bad years' of reduced volume? Then we do have to think of spring? with Bering and Okhotsk being such late developers and new ice replacing the 2.5m+ ice over our side of the basin things might start with a rapid drop ( as this late formed ice succumbs to early melt pressures?)

Of course this is all 'Weather' dependent but we have just had one of , if not 'The' hottest years on record and ice is no friend of heat?

Kevin McKinney

Indeed, Bg1.

On another topic (and also suggesting confirmation of one's intuitions), an interesting citation came over the transom at RC this morning, courtesy of the inimitable Hank Roberts. It's a research letter drilling down (yes, that horrible pun is entirely intended) into the details of just which FF reserves should remain unburnt if we are to make our 2 C carbon budget.


HT to 'Nature' for not paywalling that…

This won't surprise anyone here, I suspect, but one of the money quotes is: "…all Arctic resources should be classified as unburnable."

Jim Hunt

Temporarily at least, the IJIS Arctic sea extent is at the lowest ever value for the date - 12,585,887 km2 on January 9th 2015.

Meanwhile the latest edition of the NSIDC's Arctic Sea Ice News has been published:


The NSIDC report that:

Arctic sea ice extent for December was the ninth lowest in the satellite record.

Their review of 2014 concludes that:

In September of 2014, the Royal Society of London held a workshop focused on the reduction in Arctic sea ice extent. One outcome of this meeting was a greater understanding of the overall trajectory of September ice extent. In a nutshell, it appears that very large departures from the overall downward trend in September extent are unlikely to persist into the following September. If a given September has very low ice extent, strong winter heat loss results in strong ice growth, so that the “memory” of the low ice September ice extent is lost. If a given September has a high ice extent, winter heat loss is more limited, meaning less ice growth.

I Ballantinegray1

Hi Jim, Happy New Year!

Do you think there might be a threshold value where the DMI's observations no longer apply?

I mean if we see another 'perfect melt storm year'( earliest possible return we are told) drop values down into the 'virtually no ice' will that throw another forcing into the equation making ice rebuild more difficult ( swells across the whole basin/high relative humidity across the basin/introduction of TM air mass storms into an ice free basin in Autumn etc)?

In my rather 'large strokes' of understanding things it looks like the DMI's observations are Mother N. struggling to keep things 'stable'? With AGW forcings steadily rising and it now looking like the 'naturals' are flipping positive then maybe we ought to expect another shocking ice loss year over the coming decade as renewed warming bites? At such point does not Mother N./the system flip to the next stable regime ( ice free?)?


Happy new year Jim

Well they missed the most basic concept of open sea water in darkness, the lower atmosphere is more adiabatic, when so,
this causes much faster cooling on surface by convection, giving the illusion that there is some sort of ice "recovery" . Which on the surface looks whiter, but the rapid fresh cover made so by added convection keeps the greater heat stored in sea water for the spring melt. But thinner ice lags the start of winter at lower atmospheric layers which alters the pressure systems configurations , inviting warm cyclones Northwards instead of repulsing them Southwards. These lingering adiabatic cycles thus reduce the buildup of winter in darkness, and hence sea ice accretion.

However adiabatic processes do the reverse in summer, and it was what we've seen during 2013-2014 melts. We underestimate
the adiabatic nature of the lower atmosphere, which prompts
greater cyclonic events, in summer this cools the Arctic. However,
the heat stored in the Arctic ocean will eventually overtake accretion and accelerate melting even during a cloudy summer.
The only thing shaking off this trend is ENSO, if we have a La Nina in spring or summer, there would be naturally less clouds, accelerating the melting further. Mean time, is a matter of thermal balance, when heat stored in ocean would accelerate the melt and clear the clouds above by greater heat injected by sun and sea water during a coming summers. Analyzing how vast Anticyclones persist in darkness will reveal if we are in a "recovery" or not. There is no such thing so far, just a changing nature of dynamical weather which may make the surface colder or warmer by the presence or not of clouds. So 2015 starting #1 in lowest extent is not a surprise.

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