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Global CO2 for 2016 is finally in, 3.16 for the year. Making the average for the last two years 3.06.

Extent continues to roughly track 2007, however the month on month volume change was exactly the same as 2011.

If you cross check chartic with volume you find that 2016 extent jumped in the first nine days of Feb then stalled and 2017 overtook it, then it jumped up towards the end of Feb.

I guess when around than half the ice is 1st year, any sudden increase in 1st year ice is going to impact the overall numbers more than in previous years.

I'm expecting the peak in extent in the next week or so. What that will do for volume numbers I'm not so sure. I guess it depends on how fast the ice starts to drop.

Judging by the way 2017 is below the curve, I would say that it should peak in volume no later than mid April. Which will be another large departure from the norm.


According to Wipneus' graph for monthly average ice volume, the May trend curve fell below the March trend curve sometime around 2010. So it has been in the cards for some time that there would be an earlier volume peak.

Robert S

Even just a normal melt season will get us within touching distance of 2000 km3. We're at the point where we have to hope for continued poor melt seasons to preserve any substantial multi-year ice... and if the albedo and other feedback start to really kick in...

G man

PIOMAS and DMI are not in agreement at all. DMI shows current volume in line with last year. Also OSISAF shows an 100%+ increase in volume over 2006. What's your take Neven?

Hans Gunnstaddar


Neil, thx for posting avg. for past two years at 3.06 CO2 ppm. At the link above it has info. on the acceleration of CO2 ppm increase over past decades. Here is a summary:

2.11 2005-2014
1.87 1995-2004
1.42 1985-1994
1.06 1965-1974
.73 1959-1964 (6 years)

If, and the emphasis is on if 3.06 continued to be the average for the time period 2015-2024, then it would have increased by .95 over 2005-2014 time, a very big departure from increases over previous decades.

However, at that link further down it shows individual years and in some cases varies wildly. For example, it looks like in 1997 or 1998 it shot up near 3 ppm but that was also a big El Nino event, much like the one we just experienced. So it probably figures the average increase for 2015-2024 will increase more in line with previous decades, i.e. unless natural emissions (from for example permafrost thaw) are now venting at a much higher rate.

Hans Gunnstaddar

If we take 2.11 - .73 = 1.38 divided by 55 years (1959=2014), the average rate of CO2 ppm increase per year = .025, so on average (over that time period) it took 10 years to go up .25 ppm.


Hans, as the ocean warms it can't hold as much CO2 (or methane or O2). Also, as the ocean acidifies, it can't absorb the CO2 as quickly. Also, as you noted, we might also be venting more from feedbacks. Finally, we are also destroying the remaining rain forests, which were also carbon sinks.

It seems that despite a plateau in emissions, CO2 levels will continue to increase, and even accelerate. We humans are screwed, as are the millions of other species with which we share the biosphere.

Wayne Kernochan

As long as we're discussing CO2, I'd like to credit Bill Fothergill. Back in November, he projected a year-to-year monthly Mauna Loa CO2 growth rate of around 2.50 ppm, while I feared a growth rate of 3.50 ppm. You were right, Bill, and I was wrong.

Hans: There's a nice visualization (the black bars in the growth rate graphic) at the CO2 Mauna Loa site showing a 10-year average increase, only in this case years 1-10. Two things that might be of interest: (1) the average of 2011-2016 is 2.5 ppm, compared to the 2001-2010 average of 2.0 ppm; and (2) despite 1998, the 1991-2000 decade average growth rate is lower than the preceding and succeeding decades.

I conclude that however you slice it, the CO2 growth rate continues to increase.



I find your analysis of the data provided by Wipneus quite poignant, not to mention well explained and logical.

Nice job!! (A significant- and terrifying - conclusion to be sure. Now: "What does it mean?", I think we should all be trying to ask ourselves)

Jim Hunt

I await your forthcoming update with interest Neven! Here's my own take on the "state of play" of Arctic sea ice at the moment:

"Facts About the Arctic in March 2017"

which includes this graph of February PIOMAS volume since 1979:

A lively debate has ensued amongst the commentariat! To give you a flavour:

Also, I acknowledge some of the claims are questionable. I think some of my claims are correct, though. I hope that through patient and civil debate, we’ll be able to answer more questions.

Bill Fothergill

@ Wayne K

For some time, what little grey matter I have left has been functioning as a random number generator. The end result is that, from time to time, one of these random projections ends up relatively close to the mark.

Thanks ;-)

@ Jim

I've just pointed Rob Dekker in the direction of that thread on the GWC. He is after a set of historic FDD values, and so that zip you provided for Glenn Tamblyn may suffice - or may not.

@ everyone

As Jim indicated, there is some "fun for all" to be had on his current GWC article...


Hans, I was playing with the numbers a few weeks ago.

If you map CO2ppm to solar maximum (flux and sunspots) and El Nino events it makes extremely interesting reading. But, of course, you have to also map in the volcanic eruptions too as Mt Pinatubo showed when it skewed two years of PPM figures.

However the trend is quite clear. If even a moderate EN lands on top of solar maximum, the result is quite large. If it lands in the middle of solar minimum, the effect is there but much smaller.

Bill Fothergill

@ NeilT "... you have to also map in the volcanic eruptions too as Mt Pinatubo showed when it skewed two years of PPM figures ..."

I'm not sure exactly what you're suggesting here Neil. The 1991 Pinatubo lowered global tropospheric temperatures by about ~0.4 degC for about 2 years - whilst elevating stratospheric temps by considerably more. However, despite the seemingly cataclysmic nature of the eruption(s), this made no appreciable difference to the atmospheric CO2 levels.

The USGS has a nice little article on volcanic CO2 emissions here...

Concentrating just on Pinatubo, Tamino did a take on this several years ago...

The text of specific interest reads...
"On average, humanity’s ceaseless emissions release an amount of CO2 comparable to the 0.01 gigaton of the 1980 Mount St. Helens paroxysm every 2.5 hours and the 0.05 gigaton of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo paroxysm every 12.5 hours. Every 2.7 days, they emit an amount comparable to the 0.26 gigaton preferred estimate for annual global volcanic CO2 emissions."

In other words, total annual average volcanic emissions of CO2 equate to less than 1% of annual anthropogenic emissions. Of that ~1% value, Pinatubo would have contributed approximately one fifth.


I explored the relationship between El Nino and global CO2 increases and global CO2 concentration acceleration a couple of months ago. There is - and there is not - a relationship between the two.

Here is the link:

This is being updated with the March global CO2 and should be posted in a couple of days.

PIOMAS and DMI are not in agreement at all. DMI shows current volume in line with last year. Also OSISAF shows an 100%+ increase in volume over 2006. What's your take Neven?

I'm not an expert, G man, but my experiences with the DMI volume maps are such that I don't place a lot of trust in them. I look at them occasionally, nevertheless, because every piece of information can be useful.

However, there's a much more interesting divergence as we speak, and it's one between PIOMAS and CryoSat-2. That's the interesting bit I wanted to add to the blog post, which I have just published (below the monthly thickness graphs).

The implications could be significant, but there's no way of telling, although I will try and have a look before the melting season starts.

Hans Gunnstaddar

Sorry I can't get back to anyone on the subject of CO2. I ate some triticale in crackers, a hybrid grain I get an allergic reaction to that interferes with my sleep making me feel out of sorts, disoriented. Took some Benadryl and am just taking it easy until the reaction wears off. Now I know how bees feel that run into genetically engineered crops.

r w Langford

Off topic but of interest in survival of Arctic Ocean biota.
As usual the Arctic Ocean is the proving grounds for perturbations to biological systems from CC. Ph, Oxygen, Nutrients, Temperature and other factors are exhibiting abrupt changes which individually or in combination affect distribution and abundance of life forms. Changes are occurring very fast. An excellent discussion of world oceans and CC. Not a happy read.

r w Langford

One conclusion in the paper

"Another factor is whether more than one rapidly-developing stressor occur together. The Arctic appears to be a “hotspot of change”, says the paper, experiencing very rapid changes in pH, sea surface temperature and oxygen all at once."

Rob Dekker

Thank you Neven.
That is the best overview of the differences between PIOMAS and CryoSat-2 that I ever read.

And let me add that I share your opinion that PIOMAS is probably closer to the truth. It is much harder to determine freeboard from 150 miles (?) high with cm accuracy than it is to model sea ice growth if you input atmospheric data (temperature, wind etc).


Thanks, Rob. I do not demand perfection from either models or satellite observations, but I wish this divergence could tell us something about the amount and distribution of snow on the ice, and then compare that to other years.

A bit like we divide area by extent to get an idea of the ice pack's compactness. Or volume by extent to get an average thickness (like I do with PIJAMAS).

Unfortunately, both modelled and observational data are highly uncertain (maybe the agreement up till now and the current divergence or coincidental). And then there's the differences between the PIOMAS and CryoSat-2 (AWI) grid, average vs effective sea ice thickness (as explained here), and so on. There's no way to quantify this.

But maybe by comparing to ASCAT and other sources, and by making monthly SLP and SAT maps, we can get something of an idea.


Neven thank you for your post.
I may be missing something. always assumed that snow has higher albedo than ice (at least in the optical range), and that a nice thick layer of snow (think of +50 cm) delays onset of surface melting. However this thickness seems more the exception in the Arctic except for the core of the oldest ice.

I may be missing something. always assumed that snow has higher albedo than ice (at least in the optical range), and that a nice thick layer of snow (think of +50 cm) delays onset of surface melting. However this thickness seems more the exception in the Arctic except for the core of the oldest ice.

You may be right, navegante. In fact, according to this Wikipedia article on Albedo fresh snow has an albedo of 0.8 to 0.9, whereas ocean ice has an albedo of 0.5 to 0.7. So, I clearly have that wrong.

What I meant to say, was that snow may cause an earlier melt onset because it will melt easier/faster than ice when confronted with down-welling longwave radiation (due to clouds). This will cause the albedo to go down, so that even if it re-freezes, it will be more vulnerable to melting when shortwave radiation (ie sunshine) takes over.

But to tell the truth, I don't know nearly enough about these things to make definite statements. It's how I imagine things could go and why it would be a bad thing if there actually is more snow on the ice than usual..


I agree with Navegante as well

But it is complex


There was extensive insolation on Barrow Strait spring 2016, yet the sea ice broke in early July, while preceding year with normal snow lesser sun exposure, the break was beginning of June:


However thicker snow does create more melt ponds, so Neven has a point, the melt Ponds create a severe drop in ice albedo, even if late this drop can be very devastating.

Speaking of albedo

The biggest player may be cloud cover, we remember 2013, just after 2012 great drop, the monotony of greater cloud cover saved the pack from further vanishing, in particular I remember Neven's video
about Beaufort late August (I believe) with only top of sea ice surviving, which is of course the less saline ice. Anyways I have several extra very convincing horizon shots about cloud effects, basically the horizon height varies on a clear day, as the sun elevation goes up and down, on a cloudy day the status quo is kept, the horizon flatlines, with a barely noticeable diurnal thermal variation except for whatever the sea ice transmits and is reflected by the bottom of clouds.


The latest shots at the bottom should convince.


Hi Neven, thank you for keeping us informed again. Glad you still find the time.
In this update you bring up a topic i a was wondering about lately. If you look at the NOAA/ NCS/ NCEP SST anomaly maps on the ASI Graphs page, you'll find a lot of spots with SST anaomalies between 0,25-0,5 degrees where there is supposed to be solid sea ice. Especially on the Siberian side of the arctic.
If this map is correct, i guess it would mean that sea ice is less thick there than normally, thus permitting a higher heat flux from the ocean through the ice to the atmosphere.
This could support your first hypothesis, the transportation of ice away from the siberian coast , ridging and the formation of new ice, and hence more accurate measurements by Cryosat-2.
On the other hand, these temperature anomalies may also be caused by general thinning of the ice, which is reasonable in the light of the lack of freezing power for so long. In that case PIOMAS gives us better insight.
I don't know if this reasoning makes any sense, but if the cause is general thinning, we will find out soon enough, come the next melting season.


The reasoning makes sense, but the question is whether those 'hot' spots are real (perhaps by comparing to previous years). Also, if you look at this sea ice drift map for December, you'll see that the ice didn't pull away from those hot spots, but rather from the Kara and Barentsz Seas.

Hans Gunnstaddar

Got over allergic reaction and got some normal sleep and brain is working again, which is nice - lol.

Fryingpan, Wayne K., NeilT & A4R regarding CO2 acceleration, just wanted acknowledge your posts and add the average increase decade over decade has been .3 so the jump from 2.11 to 3.06 (just 2 years avg. increase) is .95, which is over 3 times the .3 average, indicating it's extremely anomalous or we have passed a major tipping point. My suggestion is it must be due to the recent El Nino and should be reflected in 2017 CO2 lower readings.

In fact at https://www.co2.earth/ it shows avg. readings comparing Feb. of 2016 (404.04) with 2017 (406.42) and the difference is 2.38 indicating the 3+ ppm increase was most likely temporary.



Hence the reason I was talking about looking at what happens when a strong, or very strong, EN comes in on, or near, solar maximum.

You can't just look at EN and CO2PPM. You have to look at solar peaks too. The impact of solar peak and trough is apparent and impacts the whole picture.


You made a very clear statement there, you said Mt Pinatubo has _no_ discernible impact on CO2 ppm.

Remember I am talking Global, not ML. I'm also talking about influencing the environment and how that environment produces, or absorbs, CO2; not the amount of CO2 emitted by the volcano itself. Volcanic Dimming has an impact, SO2 from volcano's have an impact on temperatures, globally. There are a lot of impacts.

OK, here is the years and the global ppm growth in each year for a 15 year block. So you tell me that Mt Pinatubo, 1991/1992 had no impact on CO2 ppm.

1982 1
1983 1.84
1984 1.24
1985 1.63
1986 1.04
1987 2.69
1988 2.24
1989 1.38
1990 1.18
1991 0.73
1992 0.7
1993 1.22
1994 1.67
1995 1.97
1996 1.07

I would be _very_ interested to year your reason for those two figures in those two years.

Looking at the full table since 1959, there has been no year, other than the Mt Pinatubo years, since 1977, which increased by less than 1ppm.

I did do some basic checking before posting.

Elisee Reclus


1987/1988 seems to exhibit an anomalous spike of even greater significance than the 1991/1992
dip allegedly associated with the Pinatubo event.

Any suggestions as to why this should be so?

Hans Gunnstaddar

"Hence the reason I was talking about looking at what happens when a strong, or very strong, EN comes in on, or near, solar maximum."

Yes, I did read that in your earlier post and found it new and interesting information.

Bill Fothergill

@ NeilT

The opening sentence in my earlier post was... "I'm not sure exactly what you're suggesting here Neil."

That is still the case. As Elisee pointed out, between 1986 and 1987, the global annual CO2 increment jumped from 1.04ppm to 2.69ppm (ie a delta of 1.65ppm), compared to a drop from 1.18 to 0.73 between 1990 and 1991 (a delta of 0.45ppm). That's nearly four times as big a delta as the one you ascribe to Pinatubo.


If you look at the second article referenced on that page, the abstract states that...
"A two-dimensional model analysis of the data indicates that the low CO2 growth rate in 1992 is mainly due to an increase in the northern hemisphere CO2 sink from 3.9 Gt C yr-1 in 1991 to 5.0 Gt C yr-1 in 1992."

If Pinatubo was thought to have had a major impact on this particular metric, it would seem odd that the researchers failed to mention it in the abstract.

In terms of "recent" explosive volcanic events, possibly the most comparable to the 1991 Pinatubo eruption(s) was(were) the 1982 el Chicon eruption(s).

The annual global CO2 increments over that period were...

1981 1.15
1982 1.00
1983 1.84

I'm not sure how your hypothesis concerning Pinatubo's effect would fare when used to address the el Chicon eruption(s), as any putative impact would appear to have the opposite sign between the two events.

Jon Hurn

Anyone brave enough to call the max? There's a lot of heat coming in from the Pacific...

Jim Hunt

I was "brave" enough to call it weeks ago Jon!

My second attempt:


Jim Hunt

The Northern Sea Route seems to be opening up rather earlier than usual this year:



Whether the max has been reached or not, it looks highly likely that it will be a new record lowest max (JAXA SIE), third in a row to stay below 14 million km2.


Apologies I've been travelling, no cabin on the ferry Portsmouth Caen and a long drive after and we hosted a party last night.

In short my spreadsheet says this.

1987-88 Medium El Nino smack on top of the peak solar with no volcano's higher than VLE4.

El Chicon, I checked that at the time and just to check it again, it occurred at a time of extreme El Nino, just past the peak solar, almost exactly what we are seeing with 2015/16 in terms of how they coincide.

In 1982/83 we should have seen a very strong bump up in CO2 but El Chicon shrank it.

Bill. Why the article said what it did, I don't know. What I do know is that back in the early 2000's the scientists had to go back and include the Volcano's in the mix to shut the denialist rhetoric up. This is an extremely complicated system where weather, atmospherics, solar, CO2 and Volcanic ash in the troposphere play significant parts.

I just wanted to see where CO2 and El Nino played along with Solar. I could not make it match well so I had a look at VLE5 eruptions as we know they have a global impact.

So much I see. Whether it is right or wrong I don't know. But I do see it.

Golocyte Golo

Dear all, I've been lurking since 2012---a long time!---and am finally breaking my silence with a question for anyone who might want to help.

As an interested outsider to the field of climate science, I am aware of the 3-cell atmospheric circulation model. The polar cell, in principle, should have a high pressure zone in its center, with a surrounding zone of low pressure over which (roughly speaking) the jet stream exists.

At the moment however, there is a gigantic ---low--- pressure situated over the sea ice, and the surface-level barometric pressure maps show surrounding fields of high pressure. This appears to be precisely the opposite of what the 3-cell circulation model says should exist. So what does this mean for global atmospheric circulation? Has it temporarily broken down into some other, more complex pattern?

Further, during this past summer (summer 2016) you may recall the arctic was covered with low pressure systems for most of the season. I had the same confusion then. Doesn't this imply general surface-level lifting in the center of the polar cell? Isn't that where atmospheric down-welling should exist?

So there. I do not understand how this squares with the theoretical model of atmospheric circulation. If anyone has any insights to offer, thanks!

Bill Fothergill


Hat's off to you for trying to unravel that load of interacting variables - it makes my brain hurt!

The son of one of my university chums is doing some post-doc stuff on climate modelling at the Barcelona super-computer centre. When he and I next speak (or email each other) I'll see if he can shed some light on how they attempt to model the situation. (Although we all know that models have seriously failed to capture the rate of change in the cryosphere.)

Bill Fothergill

@ Golo

OK, I'll take a swing at your question, and set myself up to be shot down by those more knowledgeable than me.

The polar jet stream is a product of the way "warmer" mid-latitude air flops over the colder (and hence denser) arctic/polar air at the polar front. When there is a reasonably strong thermal gradient across the front, the ensuing Coriolis deflection makes for a reasonably strong polar jet stream.

When this jet stream is "strong", it stays in more or less a West-to-East direction, with only a limited amount of north/south meanders. However, as the temp gradient weakens, so does the strength of the polar jet. As it weakens, the meandering gets much more pronounced.

These meanders do move west-to-east as well, but large north/south meanders can get "blocked" in place by local high pressure zones. Where the meander takes the track of the jet stream much further north that usual, large areas normally experiencing frigid arctic air suddenly find themselves exposed to atmospheric conditions which are normally found much further south.

Of course, there is a form of quid pro quo at work here. Where the meander takes the jet considerably further south than normal, one might want to hunt out the woolly underwear.

That kind of messes up the simple theoretical 3-cell atmospheric model.


Thanks Bill.

It makes my brain hurt too. You get to this stage where you can't verify anything because there are too many variables involved.

However I had found that playing with the key main variables tends to make sense. This I've learned from realclimate.

Solar is an oft ignored variable. This is very odd because it is the biggest single input of heat into the system and even tiny variations in the output of the sun has a large impact on our climatic variations.

I'm just idling, pretty much, now. I expect 2017 to be something dramatic, 2018/19 to be something of a pause before the storm. If you look at everything I have written on this to date, 2018/19 will be smack in the solar minimum with a possible El Nino in the growth stage.

What this means for 2022? Nothing good as far as I can see.

The only wild card I can see in this picture is a VLE5, or above, eruption. That would set things back a couple of years. But not much more.

Golocyte Golo

Hi Bill, thanks for your insights. A meandering, deeply buckled jet stream is something I can understand. I have even heard of the polar jet breaking into two, and temporarily creating two vortices, one over the CA archipelago, and one over Siberia. This seems to make sense as a pathological but temporary situation caused by extreme buckling of the jet stream, which gets rectified as the normal atmospheric forces reassert themselves.

But the current setup of having a general low pressure at the pole and general high pressure surrounding it seems like something different.

Second, there was last summer's pattern, where for nearly the whole summer it seemed persistent low pressure existed in the arctic. How does general low pressure in the arctic square with the circulation model?

Are there more complex (non 3-cell) circulation models that sometimes show up?

Part of the motivation for my question is rooted in climate change. If the future gives us an ice-free arctic, it seems a gigantic warm pool at the pole would create winter-time polar low pressure, which would drastically alter atmospheric circulation. Just speculation though.

I know there are climate scientists within Neven's audience. Has this been examined in the professional literature? Maybe somebody shoot me a reference?

Al Rodger

Golocyte Golo,
I'm no expert on this but I do see a bit of a hole in the descriptions of atmospheric circulation. The theory of the three cells is described well enough in many places but I don't know of a good description of the actual reality resulting from the likes of land masses and summer&winter.
I would suggest that it is helpful to consider the cell system of the atmosphere as driven by the tropical solar heating and that it is a lot weaker over the poles. Indeed, would it be better to call it 2½ cells rather than 3?
The one piece of learning I found helpful in understanding the atmospheric circulation is that the jetstreams are a sort of 'release-valve' equalisng the East-West corriolis effect. That sort of takes the mystery out of jetstreams.
Specific to your question, the magic word here is "Arctic Oscillation". When the AO is positive (perhaps confusingly) there is negative pressure over the pole. The index of AO from the NOAA shows it can persist in a positive state (more negative pressure) for some months.
But even those positive phases do usually show a residual high pressure zone within the cell. Events as extreme as early January 1993 (illustrated here) are the rare exception. The CCI Climate Reanalyser shows Global NH Mean-Sea-Level-Pressure allows a useful view of how the pressure systems over the Arctic vary each month and annually. Over the year, pressures average out to show the positive pressure over the pole.
The usual discussion of the impact of AGW on atmospheric circulation is the expanding Tropical cells. The wobbly Arctic cell usually comes under discussion of the AO. I see a Review article from 2014 (I don't remember reading it) which may useful place to start on the literature.

Golocyte Golo

Long term forecasts are now showing deep, broad low pressure filling the central arctic basin for the entire coming week, and high pressure over Siberia, Europe and North America forming a contiguous or nearly contiguous ring. At least naively, wouldn't this indicate a circulation pattern of lifting over the arctic and subsidence over the mid-northern latitudes?

Again naively, one could construct a 4-cell circulation pattern, where south of this mid-latitude subsidence zone exists another lifting zone, over which the jet stream exists. (Naïve interpretation of the current jet stream configuration actually seems to support this.) Are there any climate scientists here who can tell me in detail why such Kelly Ann Conway-style "alternate" climatology is fantastically stupid?

Or do "alternative" circulation patters really exist sometimes?


Golocyte Golo,

I know this is not a popular question, but when you used the term "ice free arctic" previously, were you talking about "ice free" for 12 days, 12 weeks, or 12 months?

The same question arises with what you are asking now: What do you mean by "alternate" circulation pattern? Do you mean an actual "climatological" change, that lasts 30 years?

Obviously, any pattern that we actually observe is possible, by definition.

Perhaps if you were more specific it would be easier to clear things up. The issue of the jet stream and modulation of the Coriolis effect is the subject of an actual scientific debate, so there is information available.


The current Arctic Ocean Cyclone adds to the winter sum of them vastly outnumbering Anticyclones, which I have counted, 3, perhaps 4 since October. The Hadley cells standard profile look would seem to have changed from custom, not that it always has to be the same.

What is very different the once vastness of winter, in the past always gripping much of the world during almost all of darkness, now we see its greatness much diminished, regionalized, segmentized, not quite contained:


Fake skeptics may explain winter for a couple of days and hide for a few weeks when its almost as warm as summer. Need I explain what is left of winter looks like. Just in case they proclaim the coming ice age once again.

Golocyte Golo

Hi zebra; the hypothetical I was engaging in would be a year-round ice-free arctic, as might exist in a distant warm future, or the distant warm past such as the Eocene.

But that very uniform situation of year-round open water may not be the only way to strongly disrupt global circulation (in my highly amateur view). In the near future we might have thin ice in the arctic winter, therefore much more heat transfer to the atmosphere, leading to a general "cold continents, warm arctic" scenario and conceivably therefore a general wintertime arctic low and a profoundly changed atmospheric circulation.

Zebra, as for what time-scale I am curious about, I would say "all time scales." Let me try to clarify. Perhaps right now we are seeing a chaotic phase change, so perhaps the atmosphere switches intermittently between different circulation patterns, sometimes the standard 3-cell model, sometimes something very chaotic, perhaps sometimes something very orderly but non-standard (maybe a 2-cell or 4-cell system?).

Conceivably that's what we're seeing now. Then long-term, in 200 years when there is a year-round ice-free arctic, we will enter a new but stable climate regime (I am highly skeptical of the hypothetical 1-cell system I have seen elsewhere---it seems perfectly clear that the Coriolis force forbids this).

As wayne also noted, we have seen a great deal of arctic low pressure for some months now. What my amateur-climatology mind is curious about, is whether or not this means we are *presently* seeing a transition (perhaps temporary or intermittent) to some non 3-cell atmospheric circulation regime.

If so, does this provide hints as to the future of atmospheric circulation, should the Earth warm further?

Surely this has been explored in the professional literature somewhere.


Golocyte Golo,

From following the topic, I get the sense that climate scientists are focused more on characterizing shorter term changes.

As I mentioned, there is an active debate about the role of the Arctic in the global model. So, some would argue that whatever you are observing now falls into the category of enhanced natural variations, rather than an intermediate non-state. And this would be dominated by tropical inputs.

But if we were in that intermediate condition (far out to sea relative to the islands of the attractors), wouldn't the answer to your suggestion of hints be "no"?

I think it is more fruitful to try to pin down the shorter term phenomena that we can be definitive about, particularly in the context of the ongoing political conflicts on the subject.

Golocyte Golo

Zebra, indeed I am also highly interested in shorter term changes. In fact, present circumstances as well as medium term circumstances (like last summer's general arctic low pressure) are precisely the source of my confusion.

I have a hard time accepting the view that the current state of arctic low pressure and mid-latitude high pressure is a "variation" of the classical model. This is ---precisely the opposite--- of what the classical model would predict.

How can general, broad, deep low pressure in the arctic, such as exists now, has existed for several days, and is forecast to exist for at least a week into the future, coexist with the 3-cell circulation model that demands strong high pressure in the arctic?

Do other (non 3-cell) circulation models sometimes manifest? What are these models?

Powerful, persistent arctic low pressure simply doesn't make sense, particularly in wintertime. This has surely been explored in the professional literature. If not, then you damn climate scientists better get on your game. Something is afoot, and if you don't catch it, some clever outsider will.

Golocyte Golo

Al, thanks. Your response and the survey article you gave are very interesting and I'll put in some time trying to understand them.

I will definitely say that the proposed behavior of the tropical cell seems much easier to understand.



I'm not a climate scientist, so if you want to challenge them you have my blessings. ;-)

But I try to get people to prepare their arguments better according to the best practice of physics. That's why I try to pin down time periods that people are talking about, for example, and actual magnitudes of phenomena.

As I understand it, low pressure systems/storms have made incursions into the Arctic historically-- in the "traditional model" as you would have it. So, with the increased energy in the global system (global warming), it would be reasonable to think that these incursions might occur more often, or be stronger, or persist longer. All of the above or some, obviously, depending on physics.

That's why I used the term "enhanced" natural variations.

Now, I have suggested in the past that the actual climate scientists should be more assertive about attributing extreme events to global warming, and that is beginning to happen. But you appear to be suggesting that there is some kind of state change, based on a couple of years of anomalous weather.

You seem to have an idea of how the transition to a new equilibrium would happen in a complex system, but you are compressing the time element at least, and overstating the change in physical parameters, at least as I understand the magnitudes.

Al Rodger

Golocyte Golo,
I've not read the paper below myself yet, but it looks like it might make interesting reading. It was poorly referenced in a book and so didn't spring to hand when I first went looking for it.
Qian et al (2016) 'Climatic anomalous patterns associated with the Arctic and Polar cell strength variations' (PDF)


There can be a lag in extent numbers because most Arctic sea ice is extremely fluid, any passing Cyclone may stretch out loose pack towards open oceans, but it may be safe to say that the maximum was reached, we await the next daily report with great drop number to confirm this.


That was quick, 103,000 km2 drop. if a trend, that was it , maximum
March 6, which by the way is not the only number to worry about,
since we have almost every day all time lowest extent numbers. Onwards to the melt, will it be very cloudy as usual or not cloudy as the the temperature rises more to give a drier temperature dew point spread, also ENSO seems delightfully complicated, so far Arctic late winter blue skies are less than normal.


A 112K drop even, if you are referring to JAXA, Wayne. And yes, I would call the max too, another record low on record. Very impressive. I expected it would go a bit higher, but it didn't.


That is correct Neven

I would like to refer to past maximum's which all occurred at about earlier than mid March as well, going all the way back to 2003 with one outlier 2003, nearly all of them since have had a long drawn out near maximum lag, with a 2nd level maximum. If we are entering a new era
of loose Ice Pack with a lot of open water, this lag should last not as long, with examples 2007, 2011 and 12, along with wind driven "spikes" of drops and rises. Let's see if this happens.

Hans Gunnstaddar


Adding to the low extent peak or near peak is Scribbler's latest post, indicating Jan. came in at 1.14C & Feb. came in at 2nd highest Feb. temp. at 1.32C above 1880 baseline!



Another about 100K drop with JAXA extraordinary for this time of the year, Should impress the entire sea ice community. Indicates a lot of open water amongst the pack, as sea ice velocity suggests. A further region by region is needed, but CT is still down.


Indeed, Wayne. No year since 2005 in the IJIS/JAXA data set has had a larger daily drop after a century break.

A further region by region is needed, but CT is still down.

I don't think Cryosphere Today will ever go up again, as the scientists involved have moved on. I wish they'd announce it officially though, so we could thank and honour them for their pioneering work in making sea ice data available to the public.

As for regional graphs, there's a dedicated page on the Arctic Sea Ice Graphs website, with a collection of both MASIE and Wipneus/Uni Hamburg AMSR2 regional graphs.

It's clear that extent is low mostly because of what is happening on the Pacific side of the Arctic, with Bering and Okhotsk going low. But SMOS is indicating that there is a lot of thin ice on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, and ice is already retreating in the Kara Sea (from the southwest shores of Novaya Zemlya).

Given the weather forecast for the coming week, this is going to continue, and so I expect 2017 to stay low, if not lowest, on the JAXA SIE graph.

Jim Hunt

"Snow White" has (confidently?) called the 2017 minimum maximum!


For the NSIDC daily number that's 14.447 million square kilometers on March 5th:


Thanks Neven,

May be U Chicago would change their minds hire some new comers and continue the program. A second opinion is always welcome. Makes this University look like a beacon for the Planet, I'd like McGill Dartmouth, U of T, U of V, M and S in Canada to replicate. This is no lite passing bye cause. But your page is very good. I see lots of open water over the basin, visually and indirectly by ice drifts, a further drop hasn't kicked in yet.

Always well done Jim!

Is there any math to be gained, or a narrowing to obtain a true sea ice extent between JAXA and NSIDC, 14.5 km2 at start of season is quite nice better than compared to 13.8. There are huge ice albedo considerations.


Wayne wrote:

...14.5 km2 at start of season is quite nice better than compared to 13.8. There are huge ice albedo consideration...

It's absolutely unclear what you are talking about.

OTOH, it looks absolutely clear you aren't aware of both the NSIDC and ADS-NIPR standards, and the differences between them.

Thus, to sum up:

- ADS-NIPR, as well as UNI-Bremen are publishing a two days mean based on data given by AMSR2.

- NSIDC is publishing a five days mean based on data given by a bunch of satellites, including AMSR2.

Bottom line, you only can compare ADS-NIPR to ADS-NIPR. And NSIDC only to NSIDC. To compare NSIDC to ADS-NIPR would be a clamorous mathematical and scientific error.

About Cryosphere, it's absolutely clear that with Trumpyboy firmly in seat there won't be any additional funding anymore.
So, as Neven has put it rightly, instead of letting floating around erroneous data, the should have brought the honor to themselves by closing officially the project as wel as it's website.


Thanks Kris

I don't get the difference with these numbers, that is not clear at all still, this is why I always stick to JAXA. The 5 day JAXA average was mostly not much different to its 2 day mean. So how does one get 700 K more than the other? I wonder??

As far as Trump is concerned, we shouldn't rely on him at all for anything serious, and rather place priorities, such as making people aware of the seriousness of this matter, rather than wait for a budget which won't come for at least 4 years. The world's center of reason has left the White House.

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