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All sounds very interesting. Too many links out for me to finish it yet.

First rule of a conference is to "find out how to get around before you have to get around".


Nice report, Neven, thanks. On the links, this one to Torge Martin is not right:

On the regional model by Maslowski and his group: did they say anything (new) on their 2016 +/- 3yrs ice-free projection/extrapolation?


Thanks, Lennart, fixed now.

On the regional model by Maslowski and his group: did they say anything (new) on their 2016 +/- 3yrs ice-free projection/extrapolation?

Nope, I had hoped to ask Maslowski about that, but as I said, he couldn't attend the conference.

Chris Reynolds

Thanks for the report Neven.


Neven, always heard about those very shy ice models, they are not very public, its a mistake, to err is human for a computer to fail its bad physics. Hope they can publish their projections, its extremely helpful both ways, to the model designers and also to the reviewers.

Robert S

Love the story about the stairway - somehow it's very symbolic of how many of us, I suspect, feel about the whole global warming process on our off days - stuck in a dark staircase with no clear way out...

Colorado Bob


Microorganisms are key players in emissions of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane from anoxic carbon-rich peat soils of the Arctic permafrost region. Although available data and modeling suggest a significant temperature-induced increase of GHG emissions from these regions by the end of this century, the controls of and interactions within the underlying microbial networks are largely unknown. This temperature-gradient study of an Arctic peat soil using integrated omics techniques reveals critical temperatures at which microbial adaptations cause changes in metabolic bottlenecks of anaerobic carbon-degradation pathways. In particular taxonomic shifts within functional guilds at different levels of the carbon degradation cascade enable a fast adaptation of the microbial system resulting in high methane emissions at all temperatures.


Love the story about the stairway - somehow it's very symbolic of how many of us, I suspect, feel about the whole global warming process on our off days - stuck in a dark staircase with no clear way out...

Indeed, Robert S. And if we worry too much that we're going to miss out on something and panic, we're totally screwed. We need to man up and go down, down, down to where the open door is (in fact there were two open doors, so I was relieved twice ;-) ).

Chris Reynolds

Just a ramble...

To add to the Maslowski et al and Martin et al presentations:

"Recent changes in the dynamic properties of declining Arctic sea ice: A model study" Zhang et al 2012.

Zhang et al finds:

"Results from a numerical model simulation show significant changes in the dynamic properties of Arctic sea ice during 2007–2011 compared to the 1979–2006 mean. These changes are linked to a 33% reduction in sea ice volume, with decreasing ice concentration, mostly in the marginal seas, and decreasing ice thickness over the entire Arctic, particularly in the western Arctic. The decline in ice volume results in a 37% decrease in ice mechanical strength and 31% in internal ice interaction force, which in turn leads to an increase in ice speed (13%) and deformation rates (17%)."

Martin et al finds:

"While in winter a thinner and thus weaker sea ice cover enables a greater ocean surface stress than in previous decades, the enormous retreat of sea ice in recent summers reduced the surface roughness of the Arctic Ocean and hence causes a negative ocean surface stress trend in this season."


"An analysis by Kwok et al. (2013) of
33 years of satellite-derived ice motion (1982-2009) found the largest spatially averaged trends in drift speeds between 2001 and 2009 in both winter: (+23.6% per decade) and summer (+17.7% per decade). These trends could not be explained by changes in wind speeds; instead, they coincide with the years of rapid ice thinning and the reduction in multiyear sea ice coverage during 2001-2 009, suggesting a response to changes in ice mechanics including reduced resistance to deformation."

They also find that:

"Lower-end estimates indicate that the recent AW warming episode could have contributed up to 150–200 km3 of sea ice melt per year, which would constitute about 20% of the total 900 km3/yr negative trend in sea ice volume since 2004 (Ivanov et al. 2012)."


"Observations of transports through Bering Strait showed a doubling of heat flux from 2001 through 2007, enough to explain a third of 2007 summer Arctic ice volume loss (Woodgate et al. 2010)."

Which brings to mind Bitz et al "Future abrupt reductions in the summer Arctic sea ice", which I referred to on another page in this blog's comments recently.

"Over the 20th and 21st centuries, this heat transport exhibits a gradual upward trend overlaid by periods of rapid increase
(Figure 3a). These rapid ‘‘pulse-like’’ events lead changes in the sea ice by 1–2 years, which is evident from the timeseries of detrended heat transport and detrended ice thickness (Figure 3b). For Run 1, a rapid increase in heat transport starts around year 2020, modifies the ice growth/
melt rates, and triggers positive feedbacks that then accelerate the ice retreat."

How much was 2007 preciptated by ocean heat, and is there a role for declining ocean heat in the recent volume increase?? I ask because at present I don't know.

But ocean heat is not the only thing, going back to Carmac et al.

"With summer discharge temperatures of order 15degC, the associated heat flux is 3 TW averaged over an entire year, with a peak of 12 TW in June and July (Whitefield et al. 2015). On an annual average, this heat input is 10% of the sum of the AW and PW inflows. However, the strong seasonal cycle of river inputs and the dominance of discharge into the coastal domain of shallow shelf seas suggest that these inputs may have disproportionately large impacts on their proximate shelves through their effects on melting ice and affecting local albedo (Dean et al. 1994). The resulting increase in summer stratification will result in more heat being trapped in shallow upper layers, delaying ice formation in autumn."

With the warming over Siberia in spring and early melt, what does this mean for the spring melt?

I have blogged last year:
And found that 62% of the enhanced extent loss within the Arctic Ocean in 2007 and 2010 to 2013 is from ice concentration between 0.8 and 0.4. That's at the edges of the pack - near where the rivers discharge.

So even if ocean heat flux is declining with a possible decline in the AMO (and I am far from convinced regards both of those). River heat flux hits its peak as ice is being primed for the rest of the season.

It's worth noting that Carmac et al refer to the New Arctic: "The Arctic has, as Jeffries et al. (2013) noted, entered a "new normal" state, with multiple
impacts on oceanic, atmospheric and terrestrial systems (Bhatt et al. 2014)."

Is anyone else impatient to see what the rest of this decade will bring?


Nice eclectic overview, Chris. :-)

Torge Martin's talk was indeed about how the increase in drift speed isn't caused by wind speeds, but by thinning.

With regards to river discharge, I wrote an overview back in 2011 on that: A warm river runs through it.

It's interesting to re-read the part about the Mackenzie River, and see the high temps all along it in Northwestern Canada, and the current retreat of the ice edge in the Beaufort Sea, although I vaguely remember reading last year that paradoxically a plug of fast ice in the Mackenzie Delta actually helps build up a lot of warm water, that, when released, causes massive warming of that part of the Beaufort.

But anyway, something I thought about today, and am reminded of again reading your comment, is that there are three big unknowns in the Arctic that form the lion's share of long-term unpredictability:

1) Ice thickness
2) Ocean heat flux
3) Melt pond cover fraction

And of course, atmospheric conditions, but weather will always be weather, so that doesn't count as an unknown. ;-)

So even if ocean heat flux is declining with a possible decline in the AMO (and I am far from convinced regards both of those).

That's also something I think about quite often (but not long, as I quickly realize I just don't know anything about these things), and the possible influence of the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge in the North Pacific. Because both 2013 and 2014 were similar in that they suffered more or less unchanging weather conditions during the melting season, with 2013 being cold and cloudy, and 2014 slightly less cold and cloudy, but with relatively little wind (and thus movement).

If atmospheric blocking plays a role in the way the melting season develops, I don't know if I want to see what happens when the opposite of 2013 and 2014 happens (in other words: 2007).

So yes, I'm impatient to see what the rest of the decade will bring. At the same time I don't want to know. It's perverse, really. ;-)


Great report, Neven, thanks for putting so much energy into covering all these topics. Maybe it's worth linking this post from the "Best of Blog" sidebar for all the useful links it contains? I'll definitely have to keep dipping back in over the summer.

Is anyone else impatient to see what the rest of this decade will bring?



Neven: I do understand your position on weather, but because of the blocking patterns, the resultings troughs and ridges, are we not starting to get season long weather patterns that in effect determine the outcome of the melt from the beginning of the melt/freezing season from the start?
Granted if you just look at a day to day look there is still great variability, but over all are we not starting to see predominate patterns over the season? You mentioned summers of 2013 and 2014 as a case, but there is also the case of last winter where the ridge and trough basically stood in one spot over North America for almost 3 months and that pattern sent storm after storm deep into the Arctic Ocean for most of that time greatly affecting the ability for that area to freeze at all.
I guess what I am trying to say is that have we come to a point where once a particular weather pattern is being established we can almost predict what the melt season will end up as, just because weather patterns themselves are becoming so long lasting?

"Is anyone else impatient to see what the rest of this decade will bring?"
Of two minds on that. Like how you get fixated on watching a train wreck when it is occurring, and then the great sadness of what great loss we have witnessed. On top of that when and where the next collapse will happen.

Chris Reynolds


Weather certainly doesn't count as an unkown, nor should it be relied upon in predicting record lows (I've seen that done). AFAIK nobody can predict summer weather from as early as April.

I asked Dr Zhang recently if there's any PIOMAS based research into ocean heat flux impact on ice. He suggested these three papers, while saying they hadn't done much on it.


I've already read the first of those links but was unaware of the second and third papers. The second is interesting. "Mechanisms of summertime upper Arctic Ocean warming and the effect on sea ice melt." Steele, Zhang & Ermold.

I've not had time to properly read this, just read it this lunchtime. However top melt of the ice due to atmospheric warming is strongest earlier in the summer, with bottom melt taking over as the major factor later in the summer. Overall bottom melt is the biggest factor through the whole summer, accounting for 2/3 of thickness loss. But bottom melt is strongest near the ice edge, being largely driven by the heat from warming open waters. It seems that heat from deeper in the ocean plays a relatively minor role.

This backs up the importance of:

1) Melt ponding in early summer (insolation peaks in June).

2) River heat opening open waters along the coast and giving a kick start to the ice albedo feedback at the edges.* The earlier we see open water (insolation peaks in June) the stronger ocean warming will be. e.g. the Laptev 'bite' last year. But does PIOMAS get fed data regarding river temperatures? I don't think this is explicit!

3) The more early open water, the more it can warm, the more that warmth can drive bottom melt, the stronger the thinning an creation of open water can proceed into late summer. (bottom melt is the biggest factor in late summer volume loss)

*I've been looking into river temperatures. Mainly from Siberia, since that is where the strongest summer recession is happening. However the best dataset I have found ArcticGRO and it is to sparse and too short to be of much use.
It might be worth looking at extent in regions (I'm rambling again...). The ESS doesn't lose extent in June, it has only the Kolyma flowing into i, which has a relatively small catchment area. And if I recall correctly that flows out behind the landfast ice, so may not manifest itself as an extent decline, rather a thinning.

Looking at Laptev and Kara, they're the outlet seas for three rivers with massive catchments, Lena, Yenisey, & Ob.

Using the regions off that map I have calculated a grid box and obtained NCEP/NCAR temperatures for that region, noted in the graphic below. They're graphed together.

Might be worth digging into.

It brings to mind the talk of algal blooms off Siberia I seem to recall from discussions of the last few melt seasons. I should have paid more attention but they didn't interest me at the time. Have people been noting algal blooms in newly open water in Laptev and Kara as early as June? Could be all that fresh river water forming a bouyant warm cap over the ocean - probably already generally accepted I just wasn't paying attention.


You know me, I'm just into it because I find it all so fascinating. At the firm where I work everybody drives and has holidays abroad, except me. Their plan to combat climate change seems to be 'Après nous, le déluge'. ;)

Jim Hunt

Chris - Re algal blooms, there's generally plenty of clouds obscuring the view, but what do you make of this from June 20th last year in the Laptev Sea?


Adam Ash

Re Methane...

This just in from off the coast of New Zealand...

'...Surprisingly, the team discovered that every area of carbonate rock and every fault seen on the seafloor was expelling gas, and in total, they calculated there were near to 766 individual gas flares within the area.

"That was really way beyond expectations," Dr Mountjoy told the Herald tonight.

"Flares can occur in these kind of environments but seeing them in that kind of density is highly unusual - and we've certainly found nothing like it in New Zealand before."'


Remko Kampen

Terrible news, Arctic researchers Philip de Roo and Marc Cornelissen - http://coldfacts.org/expeditions - probably drowned.


Very sad news indeed.


Chris Reynolds

Thanks Jim,

That's the sort of thing I was thinking of. But it's not really close to a large river, at least 100 miles from the estuary of the river to the right on that image. The Lena delta is south east of that location.

Remko, Sam,

I'm sure everbody's sympathy is with their families. I hope the recovery operation can at least recover their dog alive.

Susan Anderson

It might be a cautionary tale about how the ice in changing ... anyway, a moment of heartfelt sympathy to the brave ones who go out and look.

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