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Interesting stuff, and thanks for this hard work. I'll postulate that ice export through Fram Strait is a major factor in the record breaking years. Hopefully July will remain cool, with winds not conducive to ice transport.


dominik lenné

Since 2010, there are signs of a change of the annual cycle towards a more rapid, deeper melt in late spring offset by a stronger freeze up in autumn. So the amplitude of the annual volume oscillation increased apparently.
This is to be expected for a state with higher air temperatures: higher melt rates in summer because of the air temperature and higher freeze rates in winter because of the thinner ice.


The ice motion anomaly graph is quite useful; corroborates the explanations others have given for more thick ice in ESS and Laptev. Also noteworthy that volume hit a record low this spring despite lower-than-average Fram Strait export. This underscores the dominant influence of the warm winter.


Since especially 2013 melt, I understood that the days of 2007 like favourable melt dipoles were even less likely, because of the greater extinction of very thick sea ice. The ice field has changed since September 2007 and so was in larger part dynamic Polar met circulation. As the icescape changes further, so will Arctic weather. Dipoles will form at different locations, but I doubt as strong as during summer 2007.

June average daily extent loss was greater than June 2012. I am a bit confused by Piomas, nothing unusual, just how to reconcile their results with some other reliable observations has been a challenge.


A large volume of the remaining ice is out of the central Arctic. This year the central Arctic is very thin. A powerful heat wave is beginning to melt rapidly the thick ice in the Canadian archipelago. Moreover, Siberian rivers will dump heat onto the shallow Siberian shelf and take out the Siberian ice even if the weather on that side is relatively cool over the ocean.

The combination of forecasted weather and the location of this years thicker ice is a set up for a large ice volume loss in July even if Fram export is slow. That doesn't mean this year will beat 2012 but it does mean that the slowdown in volume loss in June won't carry over to July.



Also, the volume distribution this year favors continued large losses in August as the pole gets less light but the areas south of 80 deg still get heat from the sun and the warm waters surrounding the Arctic ocean.



Amazing open water vastly greater than 2013 explains the latest presence of a persistent Cyclone. I analyze Dynamic Circulation implications:


It doesn't mean a 2013 melt season repeat, largely because of winter past warm weather and where most snow landed.


The Nares is moving from top to bottom but the view is partially obscured by clouds. The opening of the Nares will remove some of the thick ice. Meanwhile the latest GFS prog is not consistent with the last one so I await the ECMWF to get a better idea of what's coming over the next 10 days.

Wayne, when the upper dynamics shift all that warm water in the Barents and Kara seas will make for some good storms. Lately the lows have been spinning near the coastal boundary between warm continental air and cool sea ice, but the heat in the Arctic seas will eventually come into play.


John Christensen

Thank you for another great update Neven!


"but the heat in the Arctic seas will eventually come into play"

Yes, but right now the temperature of the Arctic seas is rather blend: Colder than surrounding land and warmer than the ice-covered areas.

The warm open water areas will be able to cause some cyclonic weather only by Oct/Nov, when the land and ice have both cooled down again.



I must add, we are going to witness again massive extents of loose pack ice, which is literally new to assess. So far we know that this ice/open water duality attracts Cyclones. But we don't know much more on the huge scale of the Arctic Ocean for instance. Wide open water is easier to assess, we have had such experiences. There can be a flip side to the Cyclone attractiveness to mix pack and open water, which is moisture neutral, the loose pack is cold enough to keep open sea water cool, as opposed to wide open sea water, less evaporation occurs, and dryer air prevails. This would in turn reduce overall cloudiness and increase insolation, of course only on a very large scale, its a possibility.

Cato Uticensis

Thanks Neven for this update on PIOMAS, I always appreciate your equilibrium and your intellectual honesty.

The latest updates from GFS and ECMWF confirm the prevalence of cyclonic conditions on the Arctic for the next 7-10 days. Both models foresee the formation and deepening of the umpteenth cyclone on central Arctic, with very low pressure and geopotential values.

This is ECMWF http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/Recmnh1681.gif

...And this is GFS http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/Rhavn1801.gif

If we consider how July did one year ago, with that HP monster extending over most of the Arctic, and we compare it with what is happening this year, well... I can't honestly see how 2016 could do any worse than 2012 or 2007.

This is ECMWF for 18th of July. http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/Recmnh2401.gif

OK it's still far away to come. But if this is confirmed, by that time we will be 1 month away from the solstice with all the consequences that this brings in terms of reduction of solar radiation and duration of daylight.

I might be wrong, but it doesn't really feel like we are going to break any records or, even, just get close to them.


Yes, new records really seem to be out of reach now, but I still feel that a top 3 position could be obtained relatively easily. There's something about this melting season that I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it's the high SSTs, and the realization that it may take compaction to break records, but it will take dispersal to go ice-free (as soon as volume is low enough, that is).

Either way, what we'd like to see, is a return to pre-2005 levels, but things just keep looking ugly.


Yes a return to 2005 levels but not in dreams...
If you carefully review the last SST maps, --DMI, Navy or NOAA--, you will notice an almost simultaneous surge of temperatures in the ocean seas surrounding the Arctic (North Atlantic, Barentz, Bering, North Pacific). This is consistent with observations that temperature anomalies in the NH were on the rise again end of June. We may have a July like last year.
What drives such surges in temperature goes beyond my understanding, but I remember these surges in the Pacific last year.


There's a good article on PIOMAS over on the UW Today Blog (University of Washington).

Cato Uticensis

Actually I know I tend to be overoptimistic. It's all about cherry picking in the end: I want to see the glass half full rather than half empty. Honestly, considering the long-term trend it's much more empty than full I reckon.

It's true the SST are high, it's true the ice extension is just miserable, in spite of the very good June, but it's also true that weather conditions (and forecast) are not quite supportive of melting on Laptev, ESS and CAB. Moreover, the ice volume data from DMI are far from depressing: as of today volume is higher than in 2015 and some 50% higher than in 2012, if I'm not mistaken (some 5,000 km3 more). It's not little in my view http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icethickness/images/FullSize_CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20160707.png

On the other hand I cannot foresee the implications of the current situation in terms of ice extension, volume SST and weather conditions with regards to the minimum in September. I leave it to Neven as I will eagerly waiting for the next status updates :)


CAB is solid but Laptev and ESS are suffering the storms. And the ice close to the coast should melt nevertheless.

Cato Uticensis

Fully agree with you navegante. Ice close to the coast is very thin and will not last for long...


I didn't see a 2007 like dipole having a chance to manifest itself. These are the days of other Arctic weather Dynamics. Some are unknown, but the larger view of current sea ice is very dim, very simple mathematics project minima to be 4.4 million if we have a 2013 rest of melt season. We are definitely not a 2013 season, there are too many dissimilarities, lets make it 60,000 km2 a day loss: 4.09 million > top 3.
65,000 km2 still 7000 km2 a day loss less than 2012: 3.7 million at minima > top 2.

Colin Maycock


I think you have to view the DMI ice thickness figures with a degree of caution - as there seems to be a bit of disagreement between their prediction and those of Navy's HYCOM, as well as the last data reported by CryoSat
e.g. DMI seems to have a band of 4.5 m thick ice just north of Greenland and CA - which isn't present in either of these other 2 sources.
It also had the Kane Basin as being filled with ~4 m thick ice - but the latest MODIS images suggest this isn't the case


Arctic Sea Ice Collapse 26 June—16 July: Annual Average Volume

A new feature in this plot is the forecast seen above the dotted green line — #1/[email protected] km³ — meaning Arctic sea ice volume will be somewhere between lowest ever to 4th lowest at autumn minimum on September 11th and in the range of 3.6 to 5.1 thousand km³. Ironically, on the day of this debut forecast, the range is very wide and ambiguous. Anything from not one single year to all the years 2012, 2011 and 2010 might be lower in volume come Mid–September. Presumably, this wide range will narrow significantly in coming updates, so that the likely autumn minimum can be more accurately predicted.


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