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I like the explanation about why the dipole did not bring the expected consequences.
Perhaps related to this the AO has remained slightly positive. I never know if it is the cause, or the effect, or just a number not so easy to interpretation.


It would have been top 2 without this Cyclone, but there will be dispersal and the scatter may show a slowness in extent drops at first.

There is no doubt it will be a big Cyclone because the very big ones are always preceded by small one which is about the Pole now.


I further the likely prospect of a hole at the Pole by giving example of much smaller cyclone which just passed South of the N.P. today, the one preceding the big one:.


I like the explanation about why the dipole did not bring the expected consequences.

A 3-day Dipole in August doesn't make much of a difference. The way the pressure areas were positioned, didn't do much for the Beaufort Gyre either.

It would have been top 2 without this Cyclone, but there will be dispersal and the scatter may show a slowness in extent drops at first.

Wayne, are you saying that the cyclone will have a preserving effect overall and cause a stall in extent? Because of the cold it brings with it?


Hi Neven

I believe the Coriolis effect at their peak near the Pole may be largely cancelled by strong winds tending to go to the centre of the cyclone, but sea level rise would push the ice outwards and some scattering will result at the edges between open water and main ice areas, as well and in particular severe break up of ice over regions already vulnerable to scattering like North of Wrangle Island 'panhandle' and the ice bridge to "Ostrov Komsomolets".

Cato Uticensis

Thanks Neven for this update in a thrilling end of season indeed! Based on a pure synoptic analysis approach I expect that from today onwards there will be few opportunities for further compaction, and many more for dispersion.

The position of the minimum IMHO should not bring too much damage to the ice, unless the LP moves towards Beaufort and Bering areas. The centre of the LP (and therefore the strongest winds) as of today, seems to be positioned in the area where the ice is more compact and thick and this should somewhat limit the "mixing and churning" effect.

Moreover, the extension of the cyclone should completely eliminate opportunities for advection of warmer air from the south for quite a few days, while favouring a general cooling due to the persistence of very low values for the geopotential.

Overall, I expect that the following 5 days will be critical for the final outcome of the melting season, i.e. whether 2016 will end up within the top three or not.

Rob Dekker

During the GAC 2012, there were two ITP buoys that reported on significant disruption of the halocline below, suggesting massive heat being provided to the bottom of the ice during the storm in an effect called Ekman pumping.

This time, since no ITPs are operational in the Arctic at this time, there will be no witnesses of this effect.

Which is sad and disappointing that we could not get at least a couple of buoys recording what is about to happen.
But IF the ice starts to disappear in flash melts during this significant 2016 storm, you know where is comes from...

Jim Hunt

Rob - The current WaveWatch III "surf forecast" for the East Siberian Sea:


3 meter waves with a period of around 8 seconds heading in the direction of the ice edge.

Hans Gunnstaddar

"I wonder what the minimum for 2016 will be, and on what date?"

Based on the Gunnstaddar repeating bell curve minima pattern (2007-2012 & 2012 to present) it should drop to ~4 million sq. kilometers mid Sept. and 2017 will be a new record low, ~3.


This cyclone is not of 'see through' type, we can only observe its after effects after passage.


No major surprises yet, the ice is being pummelled, re-crunched and redirected. Of particular interest near open water zones increased in size.


Certainly the cyclone is doing more damage around 80N than the 2012 one did. However the ESS ice seems to be in better condition than it was in 2012. In 2012 it had been looking like smoke on the water for a while and the storm finished all of that up and dealt with the rest.

I'm not so sure that will happen this time.

However, as I've been saying from May, the Area is likely to be "interesting" when we finish. There are going to be areas of ice missing which have been constantly covered since our satellite records began and that's going to be far more significant than any area or extent records missed or made.

The ice going into 2017 is going to be in the worst state that we have seen it since the records began.

Jim Hunt

Neil - GAC 2016 is now down to 974 hPa:


The resulting (modelled!) 3 meter high waves are currently directed straight at the ESS ice you refer to, so it will be "very interesting" to discover just what happens next!

John Christensen

Thank you for the update Neven!

According to the DMI forecast we should see increased surface currents from today into early Wednesday in the CAB:


If this forecast holds, the increased current will be somewhat restricted in reach and should not cause much Ekman pumping, but the ice should certainly be seeing some action, deforming and overturning.
It will be interesting to watch, once it has cleared up.

Olivier Del Rio

And the first cyclone brushing the russian coast (around the 13th of August) brought heavy rainfalls. Perhaps still a bit short of Louisiana rainfalls, but still unbelievable for such a location. Mys Sterlegova recorded 45 mm of rain with a temperature of 7°C or 8°C in 24 hours... http://ogimet.com/cgi-bin/gsynres?ind=20476&decoded=yes&ndays=20&ano=2016&mes=08&day=14&hora=15 http://www1.wetter3.de/Archiv/GFS_Global/2016081400_9_as.gif And 12.4mm of rain for the station which was once near Ef climate, Mys Chelyuskin -some SYNOPs data lacking actually-. With a temperature around 2 to 5°C (and a peak of 14°C under a shower...). Why sea ice is melting despite all this cyclone? Because temperatures are perhaps a bit on the cool side, but are still crazy warm for such a synoptic situation. So it rains, day after day, and the energy not coming from the sun comes from the liquid water. In the end they are going to be able to have their own tropical cyclone, isn't funny an arcticane?


Much thanks Olivier,

I must add sea water +2 to +7 C temps moving from West to East North of Russia is also not good at all for sea ice.

Is there any link for Russian satellite HRPT shots possible? The cold war is long gone! Yet both sides act like it is continuing.



I noticed CGBM station reporting near the Pole, is this a coast guard ship?



The ice bridge to Wrangel may be broken soon, the movement of open water is dramatic with what few cloudless areas we have.

Jim Hunt

Wayne - Both the Louis S. St-Laurent and Oden seem to be near the Pole at the moment:




HI Jim,

Very cool, but their surface temperature readings don't seem to be at the surface, rather high up, unless they have installed a surface buoy.


There it is, storm is now at 969 hPa (and projected to go even a bit lower tomorrow):

The forecasts are interesting too, with the storm re-intensifying next week. But it's too far out to be reliable. I'll have an update tomorrow.


Water! Lots of open water just South of the North Pole in the Russian quadrant


Even if the GAC was partially involved. These are very interesting days.


Jaxa Annual Average Extent suggests "Top 3" for 2016:


According to the crew on Northabout, anchored at Piotr-Severnyy, the wind was stronger than forecast in the storm. Currently, GFS, has it still at 969 hPa - it's a long drawn out storm.
The Northabout seems to have now passed the North-East passage, and it's 'plain sailing' to the Northwest passage now.





If you are interested in the northabout's voyage, you can infer how thick the ice is by looking at the distance between the dots in the tracking page here:

Considering the wind has been a constant, big gaps between dots means ice-free and small gaps means careful helmsmanship :)

Olivier Del Rio

Not directly linked to arctic sea ice, but for information. Not afraid yet? Zombie virus are coming to haunted us from the permafrost. After anthrax north of Salekhard, scientists are now worried that zombie smallpox can now emerge from the no more frozen banks of the Kolyma ( in itself Kolyma is already sounding like the Death dancing with us xD ) : http://siberiantimes.com/science/opinion/features/f0249-experts-warn-of-threat-of-born-again-smallpox-from-old-siberian-graveyards/
For the WHO, which announced eradication of the smallpox in 1977, it will be an epic fail. And for many countries, smallpox is now a forgotten threat...

Jim Hunt

Jim - If you are interested in Northabout's voyage you can see moving pictures of her negotiating some of the sea ice that has crossed her path at:

"Northabout Meets Some Serious Sea Ice"


Jim - great interactive log you have there of Northabout. I expect they will zip through the Laptev sea this week with strong tail winds.


Latest 12Z ECMWF has cyclone bombing to 959mb Next Weds. 192 hours out. It's clear, no matter what the details, that this year's cyclone is in competition with 2012 and the competition has weeks to go.


How this will ultimately affect the ice only time will tell but it will help pull warm Atlantic water into the Siberian seas and that's not good news for ice. The intense Eckman pumping near the pole could lead to an ice free pole by 1 Sept. This is turning into an epic storm.


John Christensen

Agreed Fish; with the change in the forecast I need to retract my comment from yesterday about limited risk of consequences from Ekman pumping.

It will indeed be very interesting to follow.


I'm not changing my base assumption on this. The GAC in 2012 was the last great event of a huge melting season pre-conditioned by the losses in volume in 2010/11.

2016 is not in that class. This storm is a final act of a weak melting season which had a flying start but never evolved. Also the pre-conditioning of 2015 is not enough to give the storm enough easy ice to "vanish".

Well that's the way I see it.

I see it this way. 2006 was this kind of year, it drove the 2007 season and had an impact but not a huge one at the time. 2011 was another one which had an even bigger impact but was, in the end, only a feeder for 2012.

Post 2012 another 2006 esque event has an even bigger impact. But I haven't changed my position. I still see 2017 as the main event and for that we have to wait. No matter how big the impact of 2016.

Susan Anderson

Jeff Masters at Wunderground has put out an article on this. He references this site and the forum near the end. Good job imho.

The bit that surprised me is that he indicated this storm might persist for quite a few more days.

Bill Fothergill

@ Viddaloo

Since May, I've been putting the occasional post on the Forum's IJIS thread pertaining to the evolving state of the rolling 365-day average extent.

Your graph does a better job of describing this than I managed - a prime example of "a picture paints a thousand words". However, can I point out where there is a slight weakness?

As the early months of 2013 had lower extent numbers than the equivalent dates in 2012, the "absolute minimum" - thus far - for the 365-day average happened during 2013, on the 15th of May by my reckoning.

This 365-day average value bottomed at 9.915 million sq kms, as opposed to the 2012 year-end value of 9.971 million sq kms. In fact, from 1st Jan up to, and including, July 4th 2013, the rolling average remained lower than the 2012 year-end value.

By my calculations (always prone to revision, I might add) the 2016 rolling 365-day average dropped below the 2012 year-end value on the 23rd of July.

Nice graph though!


@ Bill,

Absolument! Been reading your forum posts and also quoting them in SoMe, as I find they do a better job than me explaining this in words.

For me, the charm of the Annual Average graphs is that I think they can focus more broadly on what's going down in the Arctic, and to a certain extent(!) anticipate strong positive feedbacks that will kick in late in the melt season — like the 2016 GAC — precisely because staying so low for so long will inevitably invite feedback action. And I think narrow daily extent focus kind of misses this point.

Put short: In a rapidly changing Arctic, even the ways the Arctic will change, are prone to changes. So daily extent, area etc may be deceiving. At least the Annual Average can be a valuable supplement.

Now, for your technical comments: I largely agree with what you say. Yesterday's posted graph is however more of an ad–hoc, pertaining to the Sep/Oct minimum daily extent. The #1, 2 & 3 are for minimum daily JAXA extents, and the graph shows they line up nicely with the end–of–year annual average extent sequence, among themselves. It's almost like you'd have to be a pollutician to expect 2016 to be out of the Top 3, just eyeballing this graph. (In real life, of course, it might still happen. Minimum is just one day, after all.)

PS: By my calculations, at least, 2016 AAE still hasn't gone lower than the 2012 end–of–year AAE. If my scripts are right, this doesn't happen till Saturday! :)

Bill Fothergill


I set up my little tracker a few months back using what was then the latest csv file from ADS, and it is set to increment on a daily basis. It has a place-holder "29th February" in every non leap year, and replaces the ADS tag "-9999" with a blank. Strictly speaking, this is therefore really a rolling 366 day average, but for 3 years out of 4, there is a blank for Feb 29.

For some reason, I keep getting an error message when I try to import the ADS csv file directly into Excel, and there is consequently an element of farting around each time I do this. That's why I set the routine up with a seed csv, and add daily increments, rather than mess about with a new csv file each day. However, as this can obviously fail to capture revisions, I did a "redo from start" in order to see if that was the reason why we have slightly differing figures.

However, I still get the 1st Jan 2012 - 31st Dec 2012 average to come out at 9,970,814 sq kms and the 17th Aug 2015 - 16th Aug 2016 average to be 9,958, 081 sq kms.

Irrespective of the detail, we both make the 2016 rolling 12 month average lower than all the other years - by quite a margin.


That's probably it. Leap years are a b*tch, and TBH I just ignore Feb 29th in the JAXA files. Yet I included it for 2016, and I use a 365–day double–checked average, currently at 9970515 km2 (that would be Aug 18 2015 to Aug 16 2016, mind you). I also use my own seed csv file for practical purposes.

But those are all details, in the larger picture we're down, down, down.


'the high of 1041 minus a low of 980 hPa is a pressure gradient of 61 hPa.

That is the pressure difference, the gradient is a different beast introduced to the physical sciences in 1873 or so by JC Maxwell. http://jeff560.tripod.com/g.html

To get a rough measure of the steepness or rapidity of change, the 61 would have to be divided by the distance separating the high and low.

Atmospheric pressure is a scalar field defined in three dimensions. The gradient of pressure is a vector field pointing at the direction of most rapid change.

The excellent map provided above uses colors to show the various pressures and contour lines to show isobars (concentric shells of constant pressures).

The gradient is only shown by implication: the perpendiculars to the surfaces of these shells. Its line integral shows the direction of air flow.

You'll find the same idea all over the forums in the oceanography and ice sheet sections. Somewhere in there I collected the 30-odd iso-whatevers that are used somewhere in climate science.

Humpty-Dumpty tried an alternative but it doesn't work. http://www.bartleby.com/73/2019.html

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