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Also, the ice all over western Greenland is looking very bad, with extensive lakes and 'rivers' feeding them. Sam
Toggle Commented Jul 16, 2015 on PIOMAS July 2015 at Arctic Sea Ice
As everyone has noted, this is a fascinating (and terrifying) melt year. I am somewhat surprised that no one has made note of the calving of the last of the thick hard land fast ice off of Ellesmere on July 2. Perhaps that has come up in the forum. The shelf that calved is almost exactly the area of the U.S. State of Delaware. It is sliding westward and quickly beginning to break up. In the last day, there has been a sudden shift and rapid breakup has begun in the Northwest passage at both ends too. And from the looks of it, the Siberian Seaway is very close to opening across its entire length. There is a lot of broken ice and ice fields still blocking the way to open navigation, but I don't see any firm ice sheets on the route. Sam
Toggle Commented Jul 16, 2015 on PIOMAS July 2015 at Arctic Sea Ice
Wow. The minor fracture off Ellesemere is now a major fracture that extends all the way from the Beaufort Sea to the Atlantic. The thick land fast ice is now completely free to move with the wind and currents. The last remaining piece that had only narrow fractures was the part over Ellesmere. Not any more. This should be an amazing melt year.
I agree that in terms of global warming, the barycentric argument is grasping at straws to try to in some way excuse continued inaction and profit making while the world burns. However, we should not then throw the baby out with the wash water just because that is a bad argument. Doing so would echo the opposition to J. Harlan Bretz noting the factual and extremely important evidence of massive cataclysmic floods on the Columbia Ricer on the basis that flood catastrophism is religion and we are doing science. That was foolish and wrong headed. I believe we would be equally foolish and wrong headed to discard barycentric astrophysical arguments on the basis of fallacious arguments trying to avoid blaming humanity for global warming. Likewise, reducing the arguments to gravitational tidal affects is also wrong. The complex orbital dynamics clearly occur and cannot be avoided in a multi body system. Gravity and resulting accelerations are important. But so too are conservation of linear and angular momentum (both orbital and body rotations) and the first, second and third order moments of inertia and the complex impacts on these. These lead to complex changes in torque and rotational accelerations, as well as drifting changes in the orbital parameters of all of the bodies involved. In the near term, these will at the least appear to average out. Howeve, the situation is made more complex by the non average deviation from baseline and most importantly by fluid dynamics. This is especially true for that big gaseous object we call the Sun. It is abundantly clear that the combined orbital oscillations of the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn, and to a lesser degree the other planets drive the solar atmospheric circulation. Even minor torque changes disrupt that systems stability and gaseous distribution and flows, as well as the main solar sun spot cycle. Holding those minor imbalances for years creates a bias that moves a lot of parameters. It is not at all surprising this results in major impacts in the solar atmosphere, and consequently to earth in a variety of ways. The end effect is quite observable in the solar minima cycle in sun spots. This is less dramatic than the main cycle, but none the less important, as some minima can lead to a very quiescent sun for prolonged periods. And, that can have somewhat large climatic effects (e.g. The little ice age). Even though we are smack in a solar minima, that is not happening now. Let me repeat, that has happened before, but is not happening now. This minima is a relatively mild minima, which serves to lengthen and lessen the expected cycle. The reality is much more complex though and will extend over two to three cycles. What I do find interesting are two things. First, a good understanding of these cycles and their effects could lead to a vastly better retrospective model of the past, which could iron out some of the minor discrepancies or more properly irregularities that exist between observations and the modeling (which include the larger 22,000 - 25,000 year cycles of precession, insulation, movement if the nodes, oscillation of the polar tilt, etc...). Second, I am perplexed that so many astronomers seem to be either completely unaware that this issue exists, or adamantly opposed to it based on what appear at least to be either anti religious, anti political or overly simplified physics arguments. It us all too easy to try to simplify the complex orbital systems to simple gravitational effects. And I am sympathetic to a degree, as the arguments of the denialists do often seem like a never ending barrage of gibberish. The Suns orbit is so perturbed by the planets, that it is quite fair to say that much of the time, the Sun itself orbits the vacant barycenter of our solar system. At other times the barycenter is near the center of the Sun. And as anyone who has ever played on or around the center of a merry go round can attest, moving in, over and out of the center can have huge dynamic affects and in the case of humans can result in severe vomiting. Now what does any of this have to do with the polar melt? Well, I would argue that during the little ice age it had a significant impact deepening the freeze and altering climate and weather. I would argue that it is having a very small effect during this minima. Worse, whatever effect it is having is serving to mask the effects of human caused global warming, meaning that it is leading to a lessening of the warming impacts at the worst possible time. In no way is it, or can it, lead to a sharp increase in warming as we are seeing since the 1960s or so. What it can do is provide a slightly dampening of the apparent warming, leading politicians and profiteers and denialists to rage for more inaction all the while momentum builds and a faster rate of change is locked in for the future. And I again emphasize that this is a mild solar minima. Sam
Also unnoticed in the press, the daily average CO2 levels measured at Mauna Loa exceeded 404 ppm for the last two days for the first time in human history. (404.17 and 404.01). We are at or near the peak for the year. Next year we will blow through 405 and 406 and may flirt with 407. When you combine that with methane and nitrogen oxides, the levels are much higher, unsustainably higher, which bodes ill for the ice. Sam
Toggle Commented May 18, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
The lake was lost in 2002 with the ice breaking up off Ellesmere. That repeated in 2003 and 2010. The jet stream in the meantime has gotten very strange over North America. It is projected to get stranger with a strengthening cyclonic flow at 250 hpa, and a deep and deepening ridge over the pacific.,52.46,525,52.46,525 Winds are driving heat north into the arctic. That is projected to continue as well. For the moment, surface winds are pushing the ice back on shore competing with the gyre. The projection reverses that in the days to come.,70.18,1245,70.18,1245
Toggle Commented May 18, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
The ice first fractured open on April 22 all the way to Ellesmere. A separate rupture started building from the Greenland side. And within days a minor fracture opened all the way across. That was when I commented about the fracture clean across the top of Ellesmere. The western end then opened and fractured (shattered really) seaward of Banks island as the gyre sheared open ice all across several seas from just west of Ellesmere all the way to Alaska. But as you note, in the last week this has become a pretty spectacular breakup from Banks island to the western end of Ellesmere, with continued movement on the fracture off Ellesmere. This region is the home to the last of the land fast thick ice. If we get a substantial melt in general and breakup this year, it looks conceivable that this ice could be moved seaward and become subject to much faster melt. It's definitely worth tracking. I don't remember this happening before. I remember watching in horror as the ice off Ellesmere fractured for the first time draining an annual lake with a unique ecosystem estimated to be thousands of years old. I do not remember what year that was. It might have been as early as 98-99 or as late as 07. But that was likely the first time. Now it has fractured several times, though I do not recall anything quite like this. Sam
Toggle Commented May 17, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
We have a new development. The thick ice has broken up north of Banks island for much of the last decade entering the arctic summer. Now, the thick ice is breaking up north and east of Prince Patrick island and coming ungrounded. It did that in 2012 - in mid August. Did this happen in 2007 as well? How unusual is this, especially this early? Sam
Toggle Commented May 17, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
Bryant, You seem to be making the fundamental error of believing that this is an argument about beliefs and that that is what is important. Nature doesn't give a rip what anyone thinks or believes. It operates on fundamental principles with a total disregard to thoughts, beliefs and feelings. This isn't about an argument in a class on rhetoric. This is about the fundamental realities of the world that immediately threaten the continued existence of our species on earth. There is no chaining oneself to poles going on. This isn't rhetoric. It is scientific speculation on where we are precisely at this moment and where we are headed. There are of course great unknowns in that. However, erring at all in our understanding of this can lead us to continue actions that have a very high risk of ending the existence of the vast majority of species currently extant on earth, including humans. Let us get very real here for a moment. The atmospheric changes resulting from human emissions of CO2, methane and nitrogen oxides have now caused oceanic and atmospheric changes that are dramatically changing atmospheric and oceanic circulation. This has directly caused the beginning of a perpetual drought in California that will depopulate most of the state in the next several years. Following that we can reaaonably expect to see the same happen across a swath from the Oregon California border east to Iowa and south through Texas. This will become the great American desert comparable to the Sahara. In time temperature rise will render Dallas and Houston with climates similar to present day Death Valley. The people from that region have already waited too long. The crops are failing. Their mass exposus will reverse the exodus of the dust bowl with titanic societal changes in the east, if that is where they end up. At the same time, the changed jet stream is for a time dragging the remaining arctic cold southward over the eastern U.S. This isn't as massive a change as the locals perceived it to be. And it will not last. But, just now it shapes the thinking of the people who live there and who dominate U.S. and world politics. That couldn't come at a worst time for sanity. The bulk of the world gets it. It is only a small but important set of people in the U.A. who do not. Ask the people of São Paulo or Australians in general. They now know what climate drought feels like and how that can rapidly change and destroy whole nations. The declining great oceanic circulation in the North Atlantic is already shifting the northern end of the Gulf Stream and cutting off that flow of heat to Europe. In the next several years that will change climate and weather there immensely. But in what ways? The jet stream motive force is the heat differential from pole to equator. As that declines the driving force is falling. At first that has slowed the jets and made them erratic. Now it appears to be making the early steps to something else as chaos has begun to develop in the jet streams over Asia. And the western Antarctic has now begun unstoppable terminal collapse. The next three decades are going to be an exciting, harsh and amazing experience. Though some in the U.S. desperately want to frame this as a debate over beliefs, it is none of that. This is a global crisis greater than ever faced by man. And yet we are treating it as a freahman debate club argument. Grow up. Wake up. Get real.
Toggle Commented May 14, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
Correction... We are headed at breakneck speed back to the Eocene.
Toggle Commented May 14, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
Bryant, Tonyjuggler, Have you completely lost your ability to reason? The arctic is nearing terminal meltdown. The climate system on the whole is on the verge of a state change as a result which will be cataclysmic for most species on earth including humans. Drilling anywhere and continuing to increase emissions in the face of all that is freaking nuts, unless of course you have a death wish for all of humanity. But to go that one better and support drilling in one of the most sensitive and difficult places on the whole freaking planet - I am flabbergasted by the over the top level of stupid that requires. There will be no possible cleanup from a spill or blowout in the arctic. Choosing to drill anyway and risk that is blow out the gaskets madness. Then to just add one more level of icing on the cake, the liklihood of failure in the arctic is orders of magnitude greater than anywhere else. And as to strict regulations.... Bah humbug. There is no such thing. No one will go to jail. No person will be fined and lose their personal fortune. There will be no accountability. The regulators are fully cooptedn by the industry. And the politicians are cuddled up in their pockets. Reason is fine and wonderful. But it is near to meaningless anymore. We have likely blown through dozens of points of no return, and as a consequence we are headed inexorably to a world unlike anything humanity has ever known. We are headed to the Eemian at break neck speed and now for good measure we've decided to strap the biggest rocket we can find to our ass and light it off, to see what'll happen. Here, hold my beer. Watch this.... Being polite, saying kind words to the psychopaths so they like you is a sure enough ticket on the ride to hell.
Toggle Commented May 14, 2015 on Bill McKibben nails it at Arctic Sea Ice
Oh also, this years El Niño is shaping up to be a monster. More than that, the blob in the eastern pacific is developing a swooping tail. This pattern is also beginning to show up in other ocean basins. At the same time, the polar and mid latitude jets are becoming rapidly more confused and chaotic, especially over Asia. Some years ago I asked how close we might be to an atmospheric reorganization from a three cell system to a single cell system. That resulted in some fascinating discussions and a first order thermodynamic analysis that suggested that we are very close. I am curious, does anyone here know if that work has been extended and refined to get some idea what conditions may trigger the reorganization? Is the chaos we are beginning to see the first signs of that, or is it something else? Will the first years of ice free arctic summer be enough? Or will it take perennial I've free conditions to trigger it? Sam
Toggle Commented May 13, 2015 on 2014/2015 Winter analysis at Arctic Sea Ice
If El Niños are key, and looking at the plot of El Niño/La Niña year intensities, this years melt may be epic. In the recent past 2007 and 2012 do at least on first glance appear to correlate to intense melts. Sam
Toggle Commented May 13, 2015 on 2014/2015 Winter analysis at Arctic Sea Ice
Very sad news indeed.
Toggle Commented Apr 30, 2015 on EGU 2015, my impressions at Arctic Sea Ice
Pjie2 It's all relative to the size scale of the area in question. Would you prefer shattered, crushed or pounded? Sam
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2015 on CryoSat-2 sea ice thickness maps at Arctic Sea Ice
That alleged 3-4 meter thick ice isn't looking so good in the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Western Arctic the last two days. Actually, it looks like it is being pulverized, and it looks much more like one would expect for 1-2 meter ice. Sam
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2015 on CryoSat-2 sea ice thickness maps at Arctic Sea Ice
Chris, I agree. If PIOMAS and HYCOM are right we will likely see Sept areas of about 3 million km^2. If DMI is right, make that about 3.5 million. But if Vishop and Cryosat are right, we are probably looking at 1.25 million. Sam
Toggle Commented Apr 23, 2015 on CryoSat-2 sea ice thickness maps at Arctic Sea Ice
I believe this is going to be a fascinating (likely terrifying) year. First: The ice volume projections are all over the place. The Danes ( Istykkelse Arktis) project the greatest ice thickness extent. The U.S. navy Hycom ( are next most extensive. These contrast hugely with Cryosat (actual measurement) and the Japanese Vishop ( SeaIceThickness). At least two of these are wrong. I suspect that DMI, Hycom and PIOMAS are all wrong. I believe Cincinnatus is relying on the DMI. I believe the reality is as we see from Cryosat and Vishop. The PIOMAS projections are likely way off the mark and have been for a couple of years. (Was there an algorithm change to PIOMAS?) Second: To bolster this, today the Worldview imagery is showing an ice fracture along the entire length of Ellesmere with the thick "fast ice" coming ungrounded from land. If as in past years the 2.5 meter and less ice melts (greens and most yellows in the Vishop image) we should see a record melt. If in addition we see large waves stirring the ocean (likely) and any major cyclonic systems (which we have seen the past several years), we may see most of the thick fast ice go as well. Third: The jet streams in the past month have gone bonkers. For a few days two weeks back, the jets over Europe and Central Asia looked like rorshach test. This may be indicative of the beginnings of the destabilization of the three cell atmospheric circulation into a chaotic pattern ahead of a shift to a one cell system. Hang on to your hats. Things look to be about to get very interesting.
Toggle Commented Apr 23, 2015 on CryoSat-2 sea ice thickness maps at Arctic Sea Ice
Neven and all, I think it is good and healthy from time to time to have the ignorant posts from a denialist or two. I would never argue for opening the gates widely. However, we here get very focused on the minutiae of the arctic ice melt trying to understand the precise mechanisms and dominant forces causing the melt to occur in the precise way that it does. The dolts serve several purposes. They remind us that for many of our brethren (far too many) that untested opinion is all they know. They do not live in the world of tested and refined hypothesis. They haven't the faintest idea how to live in the real world that we each take for granted. They live instead in the world of shouted slogans and gang rule, of loud mouthed gang leaders and megalomaniacs with no care for the future or anything but their own ends. More than this, as demonstrated so well here, the occasional interloper will not last long, as usually serene folks get pushed out of their chairs and are then forced to marshal some of the best and most cogent explanations of the processes dominating our world today that I have seen anywhere. I think this refocuses us all, so that we each can muster these arguments in the day to day battle against the forces of ignorance, short term greed, and worse. Sam
Toggle Commented Sep 7, 2014 on PIOMAS September 2014 at Arctic Sea Ice
The momentary opening of a narrow channel through the northwest passage appears to have become clogged and reclosed. Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 24, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 8: neck and neck at Arctic Sea Ice
Right on schedule the ice is coming off Melville creating an open water path through the Northwest Passage. It'll only be a little bit of time before the channel is fully open. Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 7: late momentum at Arctic Sea Ice
"Pollyanna". KS - you are being amazingly kind. Tee hee, tee hee, isn't science fun?!, giggle
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 7: late momentum at Arctic Sea Ice
The Siberian seaway is fully open. It looks like the Northwest Passage will open in about a week. Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 7: late momentum at Arctic Sea Ice
Yikes! I just noticed that NOAA et al had to add an olive colored band for 8+ degree C anomalies in the ocean west of Svalbard and northwest of Iceland. Http:// Also, several of the ice indices have turned south and now put 2014 near record levels for the date. Sam
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 4: high times at Arctic Sea Ice
Careful there Steve. Someone might call you for icing! Sam
Toggle Commented Jun 12, 2014 on The day the ice cap died at Arctic Sea Ice