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One of the most frequently encountered failings of humans is the inability to handle complex information. Another is the even more dominant and frequent problem of people choosing what data they like. This may be because it supports their tribe, their preconceptions, it brings them money, it avoids things they are afraid of, or ... other things. Combined they spell trouble. The simple truth is that all of the data applies all of the time. Projecting based on incompletely understood systems is difficult, and sometimes impossible. Projection based on an inadequate period, and inadequate time basis is prone to bad projections. In the case here, it is not a matter of choosing extent, or volume, or area. All of these apply simultaneously. Each has issues. Those must be considered. Volume is largely assessed via modeling applied to data sets. And each of the four or five independent methods provides somewhat different answers. Extent is assessed using arbitrary rules that were intended to smooth the rough edge and provide a bounded estimate. Extent based on the 15% criteria is highly prone to error as the ice edge moves from being a true edge to encompassing most of the sheet. This is to be expected as the ice thins and the sheet destabilizes. Area has similar problems to extent though not as severe. Extent is particularly bad as a tool, as it is prone to dramatically overestimating the ice. Compaction or expansion of the same ice due to currents and wind can rapidly change extent measures in either direction. Extent is also bad in that as the sheet shatters, extent as a measure tends to obscure the loss of ice. This can and has lead to horrible decision making advice suggesting that the demise of the ice is vastly farther off than it is. All of these have difficulty with unknowns. As well as we understand the processes, we are still missing major parts. Each of the measures can be skewed by ponding, by changing ice character, changing ice color, changing ice salinity, snow cover, ground fog, and other factors. More than this, though the data appears similar to a dataset involving a simple process with simple random variations in the data, neither of these is the case with the arctic ice. A huge array of factors complicate that. Certainly there is true randomness involved. But there is also quasi-random variation, autocorrelation, common mode actions and processes and other factors that make this not amenable to standard statistical tests. These are still useful, even though they are wrong. And we have to always bear in mind that they are wrong. But in the end, there will be dominating factors. Thickness is one such in the case of the Arctic ice. As a result, volume projections will be those that show the earliest loss of the ice. And these will be the closest to correct. Liking a different data set does not make it dominant or controlling. Choosing to like a data set isn't a measure of its importance. It is rather a failing in understanding the problem. Sam
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2019 on PIOMAS August 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Doc, NSIDC still has 2019 (5.511 million square km) leading 2012 (5.632) for ice extent, though 2012 may overtake 2019 in the next few days. If it doesn’t, they are likely to stay together through the minimum. The ice condition in the western and Siberian sectors is pure trash resulting in wider than usual variation in the assessment of both extent and area for each of the different groups assessing it. I think we can all agree, the ice is in terrible condition. Despite that, this will not be the year of the great dive below one million square km.
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2019 on Comparing at Arctic Sea Ice
Elisee, You mistake terror and awe for schadenfreude and glee. Humans are not at all good at maintaining an ongoing state of terror. In time it morphs into a resigned version that is harder to read. In truth this is a trait we share with other primates. Chimpanzees in particular exhibit a gruesome “smile” that isn’t a smile at all, but to those unfamiliar with it is often mistaken for a smile. I think you make the same mistake here. We all of us are terrified and weary. Tragedy is unfolding before us. We are both powerless to stop it, and unable to look away, thinking, feeling, believing that there must be something we can do. And holding out vain hope that somehow, someway that the next terrible terrifying step off the cliff into the very edge of oblivion will be the one that will finally awakens our sleeping and ignorant brethren to the peril we all face, and which can only be ameliorated by massive concerted action by every human alive on earth - - all working together toward one goal with every ounce of effort, strength and wisdom that we have. But then too, many of us are stark realists. We see that not only is that an unlikely outcome, but rather an outcome we can almost certainly reject. We are left then trying to figure out if there is anything at all that we can accomplish that has any meaning at all, or whether we are now just passive observers at the beginning of the end of the world as we’ve known it. There is no happiness or glee in that. There is only tragedy and sadness at all that we are about to lose. Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2019 on Comparing at Arctic Sea Ice
Robert S., It’s worse and even more complicated than just the simple aspect of having more exposed edges. The breakup into what amounts to icebergs stuck together now offers several new modes of attack. The thinner sections between these is more prone to fracture and melt. This allows much easier breakup from tidal and wave action. The thinner ice also allows light and heat to penetrate into the insulated ocean beneath the ice more easily. There has been considerable discussion in the forum about the impacts of open ocean on heat radiation. That also then leads to increased evaporation, higher humidities and an increased propensity for cloud formation as the atmosphere attempts to cool through radiative losses. The increased moisture in the air strongly acts to blanket the outward IR flux limiting that somewhat. The heat balance is extremely complex. The thinner ice leads far more easily to rapid shattering of the sheet under any stress. That includes not just tidal and wave stress, but also wind stress and movement of the whole sheet itself as ocean currents and wind compete to turn, twist and move the sheet. All of these work together to stress the sheet, fracture it and disperse it. That in turn leads to greater differential between ice area and ice extent, which may falsely suggest a lesser degree of loss of ice based on the 15% criteria. This differential will get worse as the sheet enters terminal decay. All the while, the thinning of the ice makes the surface conditions ever more fragile. The first year ice has a significant amount of salt incorporated into the ice. It is both more plastic and more prone to sudden melting. That adds yet an additional layer to the complexity. And as wind, wave and ocean currents become more dominant, mixing with depth in the waters under and near the ice creates warmer more saline conditions that further increase ice melt and decrease ice formation. In a completely mixed condition, ice may not easily form. Lastly, it has been amazing to watch this year as large multi year ice plates have broken off Greenland and Ellesmere, then encountered hard rock in the Nares Strait, or land on northern Greenland. When this happened, the crystalline nature of the multi year ice became quite apparent as the large sheets split from the contact point across the ice plates like a diamond cutter tapping a fracture plane in a diamond. Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 2, 2019 on Comparing at Arctic Sea Ice
Yes. Followed now by a century drop. ‼️
Toggle Commented Jul 11, 2019 on PIOMAS July 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Neven, That looks like a pretty safe gamble. With the coming weather things may get exciting for ice watchers. NSIDC Sidads showing drops over the last few day, since July 5 of: 191k 159k 201k 247k That is a stunning 798k in 4 days. The bottom is pretty much falling out of the ice numbers at the moment. Sam
Toggle Commented Jul 10, 2019 on PIOMAS July 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
Neven, 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. Sam
Toggle Commented Jul 8, 2019 on June 2019, one hell of a month at Arctic Sea Ice
Vaughn, One early paper on the studies from 2011: Sam
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2019 on June 2019, one hell of a month at Arctic Sea Ice
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
Toggle Commented Jul 6, 2019 on June 2019, one hell of a month at Arctic Sea Ice
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. Sam
Toggle Commented Jul 6, 2019 on June 2019, one hell of a month at Arctic Sea Ice
Doc, 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. Sam
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2019 on June 2019, one hell of a month at Arctic Sea Ice
AJbT, I would add to your list that there is now almost zero 4 meter thick ice left. The last sliver is just north of Greenland in an area that is being consumed from both sides. Also, as the graph Wipneus posted shows, the ice anomaly is worse than and approximating the 2012 anomaly. If June continues as warm as it appears, a cliff seems very likely. Sam
Toggle Commented Jun 5, 2019 on PIOMAS May 2019 at Arctic Sea Ice
William, Yours seems to be a reasonable supposition in my opinion worth examining. The most vulnerable ice is or was at the lowest latitudes. At least to a first order assessment, ice farther north seeing less heat input from the sun would seem to be less vulnerable to melt than more southerly ice. That might in theory result in slower melt toward the end as the heat energy is less However, in the Arctic we have the case of ice caught with land to the south, and open ocean to the north. That changes things a lot. My argument wasn't about what may happen, or even what is happening. I am a spectator along with everyone here. My argument was with the assertion in the conclusion of the paper lacking a basis in the data presented in the paper. That too is fine as a conjecture. It isn't actually a conclusion. Unless I missed something or misunderstood the authors argument, it appears to be a belief that crept in where it shouldn't have been. It is possible that it is correct, though it seems unlikely to be so (to me). It seems more likely that other factors have resulted in the at least apparent slowing in the rate of loss of ice. And one of the most likely there I suggest is that it has little or nothing to do with the underlying systemic processes, and instead has to do with what appears to be (and which may actually be) randomness in the system. It may equally as well be due oscillations in the climate that we already know about which have a real or pseudo random appearance impacting the melt rates. Or, it may be due to things we either simply do not know or understand, or that we do know but have failed to correctly apply. Going back in the annual data, it is easy to find other times in the last 30 years where short term apparent trends appear that suggest changes in what's happening. They weren't real. They were seemingly random walk anomalies. However, there appears at least to be some degree of autocorrelation in the data. This has been commented on before as being a pattern with a four or five year period. If that is real, it suggests something like one or more of the various oscillations playing a key role. And if that is indeed true, the apparent several year trend toward slowing melt may be highly misleading. We may well see a rapid reversal over the next several years with anomalies that push strongly toward a rapid melt out of the whole Arctic. But this too is simply conjecture. We seem to be missing key pieces to understanding precisely what is happening on the 1 to ~5 year time scale. And since by any measure we seem to be within 10 years of the first ice free Arctic September, it seems unlikely that we will solve that quandary before solving it becomes entirely irrelevant. On the other hand, if we do see a strong shift toward rapid melt out, that could hasten the first time we see an essentially ice free Arctic September. The psychological shock of that might make a difference in humanities response to catastrophic climate change. I won't hold my breath for that to happen. I think it is far more likely that humanity will respond with the equivalent of a global shrug, or using a new word, responding with a global meh! as the fully fail to understand the consequences for all of us, and for the Earth's biosystems as a whole. I also expect that humanity as individuals won't understand even as the impacts batter down their doors from natural and human duisasters maiming and killing them, and those they love. The human animal though in specific instances appearing to be brilliant in general seems not to be all that bright. Sam
Drat. Spell checker nonsense ... Should read ... melt more slowly is not supported ...
William, The article is a fine discussion of MYI. The final conclusatory sentence that suggests that first year ice will melt more slowly is. It supported by the data or article. It is without basis. The last few years trend in ice melt may suggest that to be true taken apart from all other factors (Various Oscillations, changing flow fields ...). But it cannot be assessed apart from those. Equally, the apparent lessening rate of melt loss may be a statistical happenstance in a random data set. Sam
Wayne, I too offer my thanks. I cannot say I fully ‘gronk’ the meaning of your work, though it is clearly important information, and you clearly do get it. I would add to your lament the near complete absence of recognition of the importance of the third dimensional movement of air and energy in the atmosphere. I have been unable to find detailed tracking of that anywhere. It is almost as if the folks studying the atmospheric movements decided that vertical movements were/are unimportant, when clearly they are hugely important. Sam
Toggle Commented May 3, 2018 on PIOMAS April 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice
John, Remember as well - if we could somehow magically cease all global warming gas emissions overnight, that the negative feedback from sulfates and aerosols would quickly be removed leaving the warming from CO2 and methane. Combined, these drive us over the edge. How do we ever manage to back down from that? Sam
Toggle Commented Apr 12, 2018 on PIOMAS April 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice
Robert, Effects such as those you describe are I think likely to occur. The problem remains that we have very little understanding of the system behavior when it diverts very far from our recent historical range. As a direct result, the models we have, excellent as they are, have serious limitations in predicting the behavior as we move farther from the norm we have known. Up to know, we have been repeatedly surprised by feedbacks no one considered. The vast majority of those have served to make things worse, not better. We can hope for feedbacks that slow the transition from 3) to 4). Relying on that hope is I believe extremely dangerous. We are already seeing massive changes in the atmosphere, as you have so effectively and patiently reported on. Thank you for that frightening as it is, it is essential information for us all. Thank you too to the incredible scientists and researchers both professional and amateur that have worked so hard in the several dozen fields needed to make sense of it all. Especially thank you to Neven for his tireless work, and for creating and maintaining the Arctic Sea Ice Blog and forum. The consequences we face have become ever more apparent to everyone working in this field, with serious impacts to all of our psyches. Some of the more immediate and terrifying aspects coming fast upon us include the immense changes in the jet streams and oceans, and the consequential changes to precipitation and temperature, and the impacts of those on availability of water (drought and deluge), fire, crop failure, species migration, pollination, biome health (disease and collapse) and more. These are already wreaking havoc. I can foresee no possibility of these not getting worse ever more rapidly, leading to more population migrations (exodus from drought zones), and resulting conflicts. Syria is one such impact. Areas in Africa and South Asia appear to be close or worse. Well, that is depressing enough. But there is so much more. The question remains, what will it take for humanity to globally understand the threat and to react to try to respond in a truly meaningful way? Back to the ice and the current condition. It seems quite apparent from this most recent update and even more recent data that we are headed for a new record low Arctic ice maximum, a vastly softer and warmer arctic at the start of the melt season, and a vastly more disturbed atmosphere shepherding ever more warmth into the arctic. It also seems inevitable that this year we will see a record low minimum ice area and volume. The vagueries of random processes are such that we cannot guarantee this to be true, and we will all have to wait to see. Whatever this years results, the trend year on year is clear. The ice is going - rapidly. And we will soon enter step 3), the era of an at least partially ice free Arctic.
Toggle Commented Feb 23, 2018 on PIOMAS February 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice
Susan and Robert, It has been plainly evident since about 2000 or perhaps the mid-90s that the impacts of warming gases would lead to the arctic melt which in turn would ultimately lead to the loss of all ice in the arctic and subarctic. The failure of the cold pole (the loss of the ice) inevitably leads to the failure of the heat engine that drives climate. Greenland with its immensely thick ice sheet is of course a special case. It inevitably will be the last of the northern ice to melt. That logical sequence then presents us with several interesting time periods. 1) the Holocene 2) the period of rapid global warming up to the first ice free arctic summer 3) the period from then to the first/last ice in the Arctic Ocean in winter 4) the period of Greenland ice melt with no arctic ice 5) the rapid transition following the loss of the Greenland ice 6) stabilization in a post Holocene period with no heat engine in the northern hemisphere, even as the heat engine continues in the Southern Hemisphere driven by the Antarctic ice 7) possibly the long slow transition from full Antarctic ice to no Antarctic ice 8) possibly the full ice free Earth I doubt that we will push the Earths systems hard enough to reach 7, let alone 8. However, the release of the methane and carbon from the northern tundra combined with large clathrate seabed releases, particularly from the Arctic might push things over the edge. The timeframes are so long though, that I suspect that the human perturbation of the system isn't enough to overcome the orbital parameters that have put the Earth in the mixed ice quasi-steady state of the last 3-10 million years. Whatever the case, we will all be long dead before then. It is the end of 2) that we have to concern ourselves with now, 3) which we will soon enter, and 4) that we must be mindful of as it will be here along about 2035-2050. 4) will be devastating far beyond even 2) and 3). Most of us will have passed on before then. Young folks alive today will get to feel the brunt of that provided they survive the chaotic era getting there. The bigger problem is that as the weather and climate destabilizes in 2) and 3) things will get weird and rugged. We are getting our first minor tastes of that already. It is about to get really exciting. That terrible weirdness probably begins in earnest in about 5 years as we shift from 2) to 3). Stepping forward to 6), the post Greenland ice era, we at least have some ideas what the climate results might be like. That era will likely look a lot like 35 million years ago with an equable climate. The arctic will be heavily cloud covered, at least in the winter, and very warm. The storm systems from the equator will be much bigger. And the atmospheric circulation will be entirely different. The rain bands humanity knew, grew up with, and developed agriculture and civilization with will be gone. A new stability will arrive, though it will look little like what we know today or experienced historically. The impacts on whole biomes (including humans) will be catastrophic (from our perspective). However, the devastation of whole ecosystems will create new niches for evolution to explode into. The downsides are obvious in some aspects and not in others. The unexpected may include huge oceanic dead zones, the proliferation of purple Cyanobacteria, falling Oxygen levels (perhaps as low as 14%) combined with rising sulfur levels (H2S and SO2) making it hard for life on land everywhere and in the oceans. As little as we understand about that regime (and hence we cannot model it as we have no models), we know even less about the transitional regimes in 2), 3) and 4). 2) starts as we are now with chaos beginning in the atmospheric circulation. 3) is worse until it stabilizes somewhat in 4). 4) will be decidedly strange with a lopsided cold pole. For however long it takes Greenland to melt some variation on things we know about weather may persist, with huge oceanic changes occurring throughout. Agriculture at least may remain possible, though distributed in very different ways from what we know now. The unfortunate thing is that we now appear entirely unable to avoid 2) and 3). The most unfortunate thing is that those will likely be enough to trigger the release of the tundra and clathrate carbon stored rendering any human response meaningless, other than for changing our trajectory somewhat and adjusting/delaying the timing for when these transitions occur, and perhaps how severe they are And if the tundra and clathrate releases do occur, I can see no way that the Greenland ice doesn't completely melt over the next several centuries. With methane fizzing out of the arctic, and bursting out of the Yama region, massive tundra fires and tundra collapse occurring across Siberia and Alaska, I cannot see those releases not occurring. It is likely even that we're we to cease all carbon emissions magically overnight, that the residual warming from the loss of the sulfate aerosols and particulates alone are enough to push us over the edge with no additional carbon emissions. Far from having time to wind down our emissions, it appears likely that we have run out the clock. If there is any possibility of avoiding this, it is now. And even with everyone cooperating and doing everything possible, success at avoiding 4) or even 5) appears highly unlikely. Sam
Toggle Commented Feb 20, 2018 on PIOMAS February 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice
Wayne, This is a part of the thing I have been commenting about here for quite a while now. My deep concern is that as the volume of ice declines in the arctic, that that starts a chain reaction, the result of which is quite horrible, and that clearly we should all want to bend every effort to avoid. As the ice melts, the driving force of the atmospheric heat engine first declines, then fails. As the engine declines in power, the system becomes unstable. And as Francis and so many others now have noted, the jet streams weaken and destabilize. As that happens and as Francis has noted, the rate of oscillation slows and dramatically deepens. Hot air moves far north. Cold air moves far south. Once the arctic ice is gone, Greenland remains as the driving force for the normal circulation. However, it is very much off center from the north pole. The result both pegs the circulation and stabilizes it to a degree, and destabilizes it by making it highly eccentric. That doesn't much help the oceanic systems. They fail first as the falling cold waters of the arctic melt fail. With that the global oceanic circulation fails. And the oceans dramatically alter over short time periods. Once Greenland melts, nothing remains to drive the northern half of the global atmospheric heat engine. Once that happens, the three cell atmospheric system that has driven the weather for the entirety of primate existence - fails. Rains no longer fall where they once did. The whole system changes. And with that, everything we know is thrown out the window. Our models fail. Our history fails. Everything fails. The Earth begins the rapid conversion first to the odd semi stable system with Greenland as our only cold pole and driver, and then to an equable climate. It seems inevitable that all human systems then fail. Billions of humans die in short order. We should all want to avoid that future at all costs. We seem not to want to do anything to avoid that future. And so now it seems we near the beginning of one of the last chapters of the story of man. The countdown has begun to the last of the summer ice, then the last of the arctic ice, and then to the last of the Greenland ice. Can Antarctica hold as refuge to protect some remnants in the southern hemisphere. Even that now seems doubtful. If so, the last chapter will close beginning a radically different new era on an ice free Earth. Sam
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2018 on PIOMAS January 2018 at Arctic Sea Ice
Susan, I have been watching those (both the linear high pressure zones, and the interacting lows) and been fascinated by them. I have wondered too how they will interact with the Arctic ice and the thickness of the ice - the topic of this thread. I have been loathe to comment on it here or in the ASIF, as it doesn't seem to directly relate, though as you note it no doubt does. You can get an idea what this all looks like from this speculative projection from windy.,2017-09-25-12,43.771,-42.188,3 And with that, I will leave it, as this seems to be off topic. Sam
Toggle Commented Sep 16, 2017 on PIOMAS September 2017 at Arctic Sea Ice
Complex dynamic systems are just what those words say - complex and dynamic. Various indicators of what the system is doing are useful. And these will exhibit variation that we can assess as uncertainty. The actual uncertainty in the system is in the chaos of natural systems, and the dynamics of the system. Those are too complex to sort out, so we are left using surrogates. Worse than that, we can never actually know all of the details of the real system. As a result, our models, no matter how detailed, refined and complex, will always be emulations. All that being what it is, when we look a the variability in the system as it progresses, we have to expect that in any given period that the system is going to wobble about. Generally this will be within expected bounds. Sometimes it won't be. That might indicate that we have missed something about how the system works, or about any transition it may be going through (e.g. eye wall replacement in hurricanes are a decent parallel). Still, the general trend beyond the variability will continue. It is all too easy to get sucked into short term oscillations in the system and jump to the conclusion that they indicate something about the system when in reality, we are looking in too tight of a time scale for the natural level of variability in the system. All the same, it is still a good thing to consider whether such variations are actually indications that we have missed something important and to then go looking for what those may be. Whether we find something, or find nothing, the exercise is useful. I would offer one other thing to consider. We seem to have a very large increase in atmospheric vorticity near the equator. This may be real, or not. It may be part of the variation, or an indication of some organizing principle that we have all missed. My suspicion is that we can learn a good deal about what is or what may be happening by looking at other systems as they go to the low end of driving forces. Some examples of these are: Streams: which meander more and more as the slope gradient driving their flow declines, and that also become more tortuous and variable as the load of fine solids increase. Viscous fluids in pipes or troughs that develop odd behaviors before they stabilize into laminar flow. Undoubtedly there is some tradeoff occurring between the strong driving force of thermodynamics in the temperature difference from the pole to the equator, and the coriolis and drag effects among many others. There may be cusps in the system were the result may be chaotic transition between competing states. Just some things to consider. Sam
Toggle Commented Sep 8, 2017 on PIOMAS September 2017 at Arctic Sea Ice
Sam Thank you for taking on this important work. Thank you too for sharing. I cannot even imagine how you will go about modeling slump and collapse in this sort of system. The complexities are huge. I don't want to take your time away from this work, so I am not looking for detailed answers, though I do have a couple of questions. What do think are the key dominant parameters to model this? Might this apply farther south in Siberia for tundra collapse there as well, or are other parameters likely to come into play? Sam
Clarification: the PETM transition is a very different kind of transition. It applies to how rapidly the state of the world changed with with CO2 and methane changes. The ice models have similar timing for their transition.
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2017 on PIOMAS July 2017 at Arctic Sea Ice
Bill, I had not seen that paper yet. Thank you for pointing it out. It is terrifying in its implications. However, it suggests things we really need to be aware of. And it applies directly to ice volume. Caveat: the paper details and contrasts what the models suggest. And, the models are just that models, not the reality they are modeling. That they all show the same behavior suggests that we seriously need to pay attention. They can however mislead us. Most importantly, they may under represent the rate of change because of the large number of missing feedback mechanisms (clathrate collapse ...) and missing unknowns (cloud formation in winter ...). Still, what they show is a roughly 30-35 year transition from a seasonally ice free Arctic summer to a perennially ice free Arctic! Yikes! And this comports well with recent studies of the PETM transition. We now appear to be within five years of the first ice tree Arctic summer (<1 million km^2). This then suggest that we are within 35-40 years of a perennially ice free Arctic (so about 2048-2057). Personally, I am of an age such that I may live to see that. And I find that personally terrifying. With the added feedbacks and unknowns, it may occur sooner than this. My larger concern is that as we approach this transition, that the dynamics of the oceanic circulation and of the atmospheric circulations are likely (will undoubtedly) change in dramatic ways, ways that our models are not likely to be good at predicting. These changes may (likely will) have major impacts first on ice thickness and volume, then next on temperatures and precipitation patterns and seasonality all over the northern hemisphere. This has immense implications for crop production, drinking water, power production, drought, deluge, pestilence, war, and other feedbacks. What this all points out is how critical it is that we never allow conditions to reach the point that we see an ice free Arctic summer. Yet, that is already baked in. We cannot stop that. So now what do we do? What can we do? Sam
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2017 on PIOMAS July 2017 at Arctic Sea Ice