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One last addition, which may not be so important at this time of year: Northern Hemisphere snow cover has been one of the lowest, if not the lowest, for weeks now. Especially in North America.

Jim Hunt

It has indeed been a hell of a month Neven! One I have been following closely over at:


You have covered a variety of more esoteric metrics above, but looking at the traditional(ish) ones, Wipneus' "high resolution" Arctic wide area and extent numbers are both currently "lowest for the date" in the admittedly rather short AMSR2 record:

Click the images to view the full size graphs.

We shall now have to wait with barely bated breath to see if the Arctic weather allows a "July cliff" to take Arctic sea ice area further into uncharted waters this summer.


Great post, thank you!




A brilliant summary.

I would like to see this summary posted to serious newspaper and news channels AND THEY SHOULD PAY YOU !

In the UK, Sky News is doing an excellent series of 'Reviews' on climate change following on from their very successful series on 'Plastic Waste'. Events are at last moving in the area of public awareness. In my opinion the necessary changes will only happen if there is an overwhelming tide of public opinion driving the 'decision makers'.

The better informed that the public are the better the chances that the necessary actions will be taken. Hence, my opening comment relating to news outlets.


Nice article: the graphic that stood out for me was the Accumulated Albedo-Warming-Potential...


..I also find the precipitable water graphic concerning!


Excellent summary, Neven!

Just one small correction: I am now with the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and not a member University of Hamburg anymore.


Sourabh Jain

Great work Neven.

"In recent years, the Arctic has dodged bullets and cannonballs. It looks like this year, it may have to dodge a nuclear bomb."

I have been following your coverage of Arctic's melting season for almost six years now, but it is the first time I noticed such 'alarmist' language from you Neven.

It really means that things are far worse for Arctic than it looks. Recent century drops in extent confirms that view.

Doc Snow

Thanks for another excellent summary, Neven! And greetings from an old collaborator.

As usual, I'm hoping for a bad season, on the theory that it may help waken more people to what is going on while there is yet some scrap of time to act more decisively.

But of course, neither the Arctic, the atmospheric circulation, nor CO2 levels give a damn about what I hope.

Anyway, thanks again.

Doc Snow

And, while I'm yakking, I'll note that 2019 is again below 2016 (July 2 reading), as it was when Jim commented a few days back. So it's once again "lowest for date", albeit by just a smidge.

Interesting, on another subject, that the DMI "north of 80" graph looks so unremarkable, given what we know from other sources about how June went. But then we already knew that the metric is illustrative more than anything else.



It looks to be worse even than that. The rate of decline is now faster than 2010 and 2012. Currently 2019 is one day behind both and slightly ahead of 2016.

Barring something that appears to be highly improbable, by the end of July it appears likely that 2019 will be about 4 days (or more) ahead of 2012, with conditions set for even worse after that. 2012 was an anomaly. 2019 may or may not follow suit.

What ever the course, the next few years will no doubt see a faster and more severe melt. There will of course be the occasional steps back on that trend. that is the nature of random and pseudo random processes.

We appear to be fully on course for a likely ice free day, week or month in September of 2022-2023, possibly earlier.

The immense export of formerly thick ice through the Nares is one of the most worrying and disturbing signs. Combine that with the ice being ground up in the Beaufort, the rapid export in the Nares, and all of the factors Even so well highlighted above, and the picture it paints of the future for the arcitc ice is indeed glum.



Thanks, Kevin! Good to read you again. :-)

Doc Snow

Sam, yes, things are pretty dire, and going to get worse for quite some time to come. Yes, we're going to see an ice-free September, and quite possibly sooner rather than later.

But you're 'braver' than I am in terms of extrapolating trend lines. In the short term, Arctic conditions can and frequently do "turn on a dime." All of which said, it does appear that absent such a turn, this year is going to be noteworthy. And if so, it won't be the last noteworthy one.

My hope is that it *is* a bad year. It's not good for the planet, but it is good for human consciousness of what we are doing with our 'business as usual.' We seem to be stirring a bit in our climate change sleep these days--possibly even wondering whether we should open an eye and peer at the alarm clock. An ice-free September would perhaps represent a sounding of that clock.



Doc Snow,

I am not wedded to the extrapolations of current trends. I wish things do make a turn around. More than that I wish you, Neven, and so many others to be correct, that a great shock will galvanize the populace of the world into dramatic action. I do not say “I hope” as I heard someone suggest the other day that hope without action is simply a wish. I agree.

I have had far too many discussions with people both in person, in writing, by electronic means and others of late to believe this (that shock will galvanize people to change what they believe) to be true. Globally we now seem at least to be in a fractious time. The advent of social media no doubt plays a terrible role in that. People seem to have divided off into factions and camps, hearing only those things that support their chosen beliefs, and their tribe or team.

Worse even, far too many seem entirely unable to entertain the idea that they might be wrong. Instead tribalism and tribalistic modes are the norm. Reality is relegated to being something unimportant and open to the merest whims of people, rather than being the grounding rules of existence that it is.

Emotions and desires are taken as important. Actual conditions are not.

Still, I wish you all to be right. I wish myself to be wrong. So far that looks to be a losing bet.

The ice my yet surprise us. If it does, I expect that surprise to be no more than a minor respite. And most unfortunately of all, if it does surprise us, those same denialists will jump on that as absolute proof that they were right, and that those scientists were wrong yet again.



Then again... to the idea that somehow a major melt will be an alarm bell or shock that will drive action....

We must bear in mind the physiological differences that have been observed in the brains of those we tend to label conservative versus those we tend to label liberal. I hesitate to even use that terminology as it is both extremely misleading and subject to wide misinterpretation. Both labels are also words. And both as labels and words they are ambiguous and have multiple meanings, several of which are in conflict with one another. E.g. what does it mean to be conservative or liberal in ones approach to an experiment or analysis? What sort of conservative or liberal is meant in any given context? Is it European, American, Australian, somewhere else? Is it today, a decade ago, 50 years ago? What time frame and belief groups is it referencing? Etc...

Still, in the past decade researchers have discovered that those labeled as conservative have larger right amygdala’s. Those labeled liberal have more grey matter in the anterior cingulate cortex. Two other areas show possible increase in those labeled conservative by the researchers, and self assigned as such by the research participants.

Conversely, those assigned as liberals by researchers and self assigned such by participants show increased grey matter in the anterior cingulate cortex.

These brain regions have been associated with particular behavioral traits and are evolutionary developments. Suggestions have been made about what the driving forces are for those, and these seem tentatively to have support.

The point here though is broader. The research suggests strongly that those labeled as conservatives have a stronger aversion to fear, specifically localized fear, fear for self, fear for family, fear for self identified group. And this fear is driven in the hemisphere dominated by emotion, shortcutting logical analysis and rendering arguments based on reason both ineffective, and counter productive.

What this suggests is that something like catastrophic melting in the arctic rather than driving a response to stop climate change may do the opposite. The current political climates have caused the “conservatives” to brand climate science and research as being out of their group or tribe. It is alien.

The risks are not viewed as immediate or local, and hence not an immediate jeopardy to self, family or group. On the other hand, the “others”, “liberals”, “scientists” are branded as out of group and seen as adversaries. Fear of the outsider is a local current fear. So anything that seems to bolster the out groups is something to drive fear for the “conservatives”.

What I believe this suggests are entirely different strategies. These must either reduce fear to move from emotional to logical reasoning, or must move the fears to ones that are immediate, local fears not by those that are considered outside the “conservative” group, but rather that are inside the “conservative” group, or alternately outside of both labeled groups.

In short, based on self selected belief as “conservative” or “liberal”, people will respond very differently to the ‘alarm bells’ from a massive melt in the Arctic. Reason will be driven, but only in the group labeled “liberal”. Quite the opposite may happen in the group labeled “conservative”. And this has nothing to do with attributes of “good”, “bad”, “right”, or “wrong”. It has to do instead with evolutionary imperatives that are not serving us well as a species.

Arguments targeting reason will fall on deaf ears to those in fear who are reasoning with emotion. Likewise, appeals to emotive reasoning will fall on deaf ears for those in a very different sort of fear who are working from intellectual reasoning. Worse, the stronger those arguments become on each side, the greater will be the polarization and hardening of beliefs, making persuasion even less likely.



Sam, your reasoning about liberals and conservatives is spot on. It is so frustrating at times. Evidence and logic seem out the window with some because "God will save us." I didn't know about the difference in brain structure though; thanks for that.




One early paper on the studies from 2011:



Elisee Reclus

I don't know how much we should rely on neuroanatomy to explain behavioral differences.
Personally, I'm inclined to believe perceived short-term financial gain plays the dominant role. Follow the money.


People believe in God and/or are completely irrational from both sides... (and I don't mean those things are the same thing.)

Virtue signalling is where the allegedly morally superior people try and hide but they know nothing and finally accept as fact that they are no better than any other human that ever lived.

Science has always been political: leave that side of it to the politicians and let the people have proper access to the scientific literature. The media just plays a devilish game of devils advocate and if corporatism is becoming a global problem then let that be the leaked story that leads!!

BUT don't give me your virtue signalling...lol

Elisee Reclus

Never having heard the term before, I had to look up "virtue signalling". I assumed it was just another innocuous technical expression (like "crisis actors") cleverly weaponized as a pejorative. Here's a comment from Wikipedia:

"Jane Coaston of the The New York Times notes that in using the term "virtue signalling" one is "trying to signal something about their own values: that they are pragmatic, appropriately cynical, in touch with the painful facts of everyday life". In The Guardian, David Shariatmadari argues that this makes it "indistinguishable from the thing it was designed to call out" adding that it is "smug posturing from a position of self-appointed authority." Neoliberal political theorist and economist Sam Bowman, criticized the term claiming that "virtue signalling is hypocritical. It’s often used to try to show that the accuser is above virtue signalling and that their own arguments really are sincere".

"Adam Smith Institute Executive Director Sam Bowman opined that the meaning of the term popularised by James Bartholomew misuses the concept of signalling and encourages lazy thinking. In The Guardian, Zoe Williams suggested the phrase was the "sequel insult to champagne socialist" while fellow Guardian writer David Shariatmadari says that while the term serves a purpose, its overuse as an ad hominem attack during political debate has rendered it a meaningless political buzzword."



As I find it difficult to express myself clearly, can I congratulate you on such clear writing on a complex subject.

Surely Sam is a bit too pessimistic about the difficulty of persuasion.

Campaigns to use seat-belts (and not to overfill electric kettles) worked whwn there was the political will to spread these messages.

Perhaps, naively, I sense the political will changing on climate change. Even the BBC is beginning to take it seriously.


But given the forces of evil, this is likely to be too little, too late.


Thanks, Geoff. Yes, it's going to be an exciting time to see whether the monster can be steered in a somewhat better direction. For every potential positive step, there's a negative one, and vice versa.

I always thought that most of the hard work would consist in overcoming hard denial, which is why I started this blog. Arctic sea ice loss is simply undeniable, both intellectually as well as visually (which is even more important). I now see that there is also a lot of soft denial out there, in the sense that most people who believe that AGW is a serious issue, also believe that its consequences can be mitigated without substantially or structurally changing the system (ie our lifestyles).

So, that's the next step, I guess.


9 days is a long stretch for atmospheric weather models and the resulting predictions should be taken with a pinch of salt. But if these guys are right there is a big cyclone in the making.




My caution to everyone is that fear as a motivating force for the folks who do not believe in AGW may actually drive them into fighting even harder against the idea, rather than galvanizing them to action as it does and would most of us.

I have little clue as to how to navigate that. Unless and until the fear is harnessed as a personal fear for them and their family against the changing world, they seem likely to instead focus on the fear as a fear of someone trying to hurt them. And that someone is anyone trying to tell them something they fear and do not want.

So rather than being motivated by a real fear of the terrifying and real future we face if we fail to act in huge ways, it seems likely that they will be motivated to believe that it is all made up, and that the real thing to fear is the messenger who they perceive is lying to them.

They will then no doubt search for ways that the messengers might be profiting off of them to bolster their own views. And that very much has already played out in the arguments. So too has demonization of the messengers.

Mind you that this is entirely an emotional response, not a logical one. Fear short circuits the brain and bypasses logic. Fear is primal and leads to anger and to a response to try to either fight whatever they perceive is causing the fear, to flee from it, or to freeze immobile before it.

Any attempts at reasoning in the face of fear seem destined to fall on literally deaf ears. Though the sound may impinge on the ears, the message never makes it past the filters int he brain to even be heard.

What is likely needed is messaging that simultaneously assuages the immediate fear for physical safety, and/or manages somehow to redirect the fear to be about the right source and reason. That messaging has to 'speak' emotionally to the fear, rather than to logic or reason.

The urgency is so great though, that the assuaging of the fears cannot be such that it leads to inaction. And that all feels like requirements equivalent to trying to ride a heard of elephants through the eye of a spinning needle.


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