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Jim Hunt

Very interesting Neven, and Apocalypse4Real.

Where I hail from (~50 N) thunderstorms are generally accompanied by copious amounts of rain and occasionally some hail. I cannot help but wonder what else might be descending onto the sea ice from above apart from the lightning during such storms?

Perhaps the next generation of Arctic buoys should incorporate rain gauges as well as snow depth sensors?

Aaron Lewis

I do not fear rain at the poles, so much as more water vapor in the air. Whenever, the dew point is above 0C, the water vapor is melting the snow and ice.

Water vapor allows the rest of the world to collect heat, and rapidly transfer that heat to the poles via the atmosphere, rather than by the slower ocean currents.

Suddenly, heat in the atmosphere can rival direct radiation from above for melting snow and ice. Water vapor alone can melt 28 cm of ice in a day. It is hard for direct solar radiation to melt that much ice, that fast. Water vapor and solar radiation can melt more ice. And, water vapor in the atmosphere helps hold energy near the surface so it can melt ice, rather than being radiated into space.

Lighting is just an indicator that there is a great pile of water vapor in the local atmosphere. Thunder in the Arctic is the Death Knell of ice.

Alais Elena

Absolutely agree with Aaron here -- I've been downloading IR satellite images of the Arctic from here https://weather.gc.ca/data/satellite/hrpt_dfo_ir_100.jpg
since 2007, and it is clear that WV is moving in earlier and earlier in the year.

If you check that link now, there is something of a cyclonic storm over the Beaufort.

Jim Hunt

Alais - There is indeed. I've been following that storm for a few days:

"The Mid July Surf Forecast for the Beaufort Sea"

A small snippet of the assorted images:

The “Big Block” multi-year ice floe north of Barrow has split asunder overnight


Tamino has a blog post on Arctic Heat.


It seems like a very interesting shift. However, the increase in ability to detect arctic thunderstorms over the period (particularly the documented step change in 2012, although I'd imagine there may have been other smaller changes over the period) make it a little hard to judge what actual degree of change there was in their size, latitude, and incidence.

Does anyone know more about the source of this data, and to what extent our ability to detect thunderstorms up there has changed?


It seems like a very interesting shift. However, the increase in ability to detect arctic thunderstorms over the period (particularly the documented step change in 2012, although I'd imagine there must have been other smaller changes over the period) make it a little hard to judge what actual degree of change there was in their size, latitude, and incidence.

Does anyone know more about the source of this data, and to what extent our ability to detect thunderstorms up there has changed?

Colorado Bob

Arctic heat, plus lighting = fire

And they're really rolling & note all the silt in the Mackenzie river, and delta.

Fires and smoke in northern Alaska

21:00 UTC

Russian fires –
05:15 UTC


North and West of the last image –
05:10 UTC


Yesterday’s passes, fires burning right next to Arctic Ocean in Russia –
07:45 UTC


Alais Elena

Well, Jim, that cyclonic storm is still pulverizing the heck outta the sea ice. How many days has the storm lasted so far? When did it begin?


Bonjour Alais

Quelques jours seulement.

The loose pack in the gyre area was basically scattered in smaller pieces, artificially increasing extent in that region, I would expect a great drop in extent after the Gyre resumes its great clockwise revolution. This is a good example of a cyclone affecting a region of rotten sea ice.

Colorado Bob

Study finds Greenland lost 1 trillion tons of ice in just 4 years
July 12, 2016
Greenland ice loss has recently contributed to twice as much sea-level rise than in the preceding two decades. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters


Jim Hunt

Alais - Running the GFS SLP animation on this page at Meteociel will hopefully give you the answer:


The storm started to build over the Laptev Sea on the 15th. Now it's slowly moving off towards the CAA.

Colorado Bob

Scores of City-Sized Siberian Wildfires Spew 2,500 Mile-Long Plume of Smoke Over Northern Hemisphere


Bill Fothergill


I suppose that's one way to prevent methane release into the atmosphere as a result of melting clathrates.

Just burn the f***ing stuff at ground level.


Colorado Bob

Bill -

I know how you feel. Been watching this one closely over at RS, this mornings passes are grim. But it dawned on me about Neven's post

“The Anaktuvuk River fire, the biggest in North Slope history, burns across the tundra Sept. 10, 2007.”

Was caused by lighting.

Now look at today's morning pass

07:50 UTC
Fires and smoke in central Russia


Half of this image is burning tundra. Over some of the richest methane deposits in the world.


Does anyone have a CAB extent number increase or stall due to scattering from the last cyclone? I suspect some interesting numbers very soon....

Jim Hunt

Is this the sort of thing you're looking for Wayne?



Thanks Jim,

Fascinating, I did expect an increase, perhaps it was more within Beaufort region? Cryosphere Today blues, I wonder when the good people in Chicago will fix the glitches?

Susan Anderson

Thanks Colorado Bob for those links to the fire images. I had been wondering how they were going. Are there figures for the amount of territory burning? As I understand it, many of them are inaccessible. Some years back I was looking at unquenchable coal fires (we have one in Pennsylvania) and was shocked to see how many there are in China. But that's a mite OT for the Arctic. Peat fires, too. All this burning, though, dirty air not good news.

Jim Hunt

Wayne - In which case take a look at:


There was certainly a bit of a blip in the Beaufort Sea extent over the last few days.


Thanks so much as usual JIm

There will be a huge dip in overall extent coming soon, that 40 or 50 K Beaufort extent gain with substantial slow down in rate of melt was part of the 15% threshold zany factor, the ice was scattered such a way in areas with less 15% ice and made several grids 15%+ again . Obviously there wasn't a great refreeze , but the Beaufort Sea water temperatures are way too warm along with a rare summer 2016 mini standard dipole compaction just about to come. Your CAB basin numbers are literally a presage to a big blue water in August. Nothing is in the geophysics cards to stop it, I am afraid to say. Perhaps I would suggest a natural flow of sea shore winds, like summertime lakeshore effects pushing the colder air (and ice) towards the very hot continents, but this would generate anticyclones.


"There will be a huge dip in overall extent coming soon"

......... substantially bigger than JAXA just released 111,030 for July 20
1 day off 2012....

John Christensen

For anyone interested in knowing about thunderstorms and lightning in the Arctic Henry Harris provided very enlightening accounts back in 1896 (Arctic Hail and Thunderstorms, Harris, 1896):

"On the Investigator, in Mercy Bay, 74" N., 118" W., at 8 p.m. on November 3, 1851, a flash was seen resembling sheet lightning in the south-west, and at the same hour on November 13, 1852, there was a most vivid flash of lightning in the south-east.
On August 15, 1850, in about 70.8" N., 148" W., the weather assumed a highly electric appearance, with the air close and oppressive, leading to thunder, vivid flashes of lightning, and heavy rain. Temperature rose from 34" to 45"."

"In Capt. Ommanney'a weekly manuscript newspaper, The Aurora' Borealis, appeared the following:-'' It has been asserted by various authors that there is no thunder and lightning within the Arctic Circle; this we are able to disprove from the fact of a vivid flash being seen, accompanied with a loud report, on the night of August 28 [1850], when in Wellington Channel," 75" N., 95' w.
The 8th of the following November, the Ldy Franklin, in Assistance Bay, 74.9" N., 94.4' W., registered two flashes of lightning in the south-east at 3 p.m., and at 8 p.m. of January 28, 1851, a flash of lightning was seen by one of the men."

"When in command of H.M.S. Euydice in 1854, Capt. Erasmus Ommanney was cruising between 65' and 71" N., 23" and 41" E., and the log shows thunder, lightning, or both, on two days in July, seven days in August, and one day each in September and October, or 11 days in four months, sometimes three entries in one day. The thunder occasionally loud or heavy, and the lightning noted at times as sheet or vivid sheet flashes. Temperature ranging from 37" to 57".
In Archangel Bay on June 30, 1874, Capt. Bennett of the brig Luna, had thunder and rain, temperature 71.5, and next day, July 1, lightning, temperature 74.5."

"On being released from Franz Joseph Land after losing the Eira, Mr. Leigh Smith's party set off in a boat for the coast of Nova Zembla, and on July 25, 1882, distant thunder was heard when in about 75.4" N., 48" E.
At 7 am., August 2, in about 74" N., 54" E "A fearful thunderstorm came on, with very heavy rain until 9.30 a.m." Sir Allen Young, in the P.S. Hope, was about the Nova Zembla coast on the look-out for Mr. Smith and his men, and on July 20, in Little Karmakoula Harbour, Möder Bay, nearly 73" N., thunder, with a heavy shower lasting 15 minutes was experienced, temperature 56".
On August 2, when the Eira's boat crew had a storm out at sea, the Hope was in the Matotschkin Shar, 73 N., and at 8.30 am. there was thunder for five minutes with heavy rain, temperature 48.5. Noon weather b,c, q, t, temperature 58". Two days later, at 8 p.m., b, t, q, 59"; midnight 1, t, r, 55O,and a remark, "Violent storm of thunder and lightning, with heavy rain from 10 p.m. to 1.30 am."

Notes for June/July 1870 on the west and east coast of Nova Zemlya:

“Here then we have from June 30 to July 30 no less than six ships giving between them 21 observations of thunderstorms on 12 separate days.”

This article unfortunately is pay-walled, but certainly indicates a regularity of Arctic thunderstorms and lightning from the limited number of ship logs and articles that were researched by Henry Harris, especially considering the limited number and distribution of observers in the high Arctic back in the 19th century.
Consider also the much lower altitude of freezing in clouds over the Arctic, which lowers the altitude of the thunderstorms, limiting the visibility of these, and causing a relatively higher frequency of cloud-to-ground strikes than found in more southern latitudes.

John Christensen

From the same paper during an expedition around Bathurst and Melville Islands in the northern CAA:

"In “further papers relative to the recent Arctic expeditions in search of Sir John Franklin” (Parliamentary Papers, 1855),‘pp. 217-251, Commander Sherard Osborn’s Journal shows “ t ” in the weather combinations on eight days in May, June, and July 1853, between 75.6” to 76.5 N., 98’ to 106’ W., temperatures from 17’ to 57”"


Since this place is also for news, I just wanted to lead your attention to this recent tragedy in Norway:

https://www.nrk.no/hordaland/dyretragedie-pa-hardangervidda-1.13109691 (in Norwegian)

Apparently 322 reindeer were killed at once the other day, presumably struck by lightning.

This tragedy comes after 15 lone male reindeer have been found dead in 2014 and 2015, also in Norway.


The mysterious deaths begs the question, whether old survival strategies for reindeer are still valid?

If you are a lone male outside the herd, you should not stand alone on a high rock during thunderstorms.

If you are part of a herd of young and/or a female reindeer, you should not stand so close to your mates during thunderstorms.

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