This is Tom Zupancic's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Tom Zupancic's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Tom Zupancic
Recent Activity
Clearly, we are observing the reality of a fundamental change in the climate system. The current unprecedented events are... unprecedented. The canary is singing. Is anyone listening?
Toggle Commented Dec 7, 2016 on PIOMAS December 2016 at Arctic Sea Ice
Just a short note. I remain skeptical that recent precedents for sea ice conditioning are a sine qua non for significant Arctic Sea Ice melt. Rather, I prefer the hypothesis, based on the premise that it takes heat to melt ice, that there are alternative mechanisms that can result in substantial sea ice melting. I especially like this hypothesis when it appears that initial conditions this year are fundamentally different.
Toggle Commented Jun 25, 2016 on 2016 melting momentum, part 2 at Arctic Sea Ice
Neven, I absolutely agree, "Solar radiation obviously trumps everything at this stage of the melting season". This is now the solar irradiance maximum. Following the various satellite images, it clearly appears that the amount of solar irradiation being absorbed by the unusually extensive area of open water in the arctic has been substantial, especially in the Beaufort, but around the arctic sea region more broadly as well. Thus, I tend to question the conventional wisdom derived from 2012 as the current melt moves progresses. Rather, given the many uncertainties involved in projecting events in such a complex system, I prefer to start with the hypothesis that what happens each year is driven by a unique combination of factors, as opposed to a short list of key, well recognized processes. For example, in 2007, the dipole anomaly was highly significant. I seem to recall that ocean heat flowing into the Arctic Sea from the Bering Sea was also important. In contrast, 2012 had low initial sea ice volume and extraordinary June ‘conditioning’; not to mention the Great Arctic Cyclone (GAC). In comparison, 2016 is different. The present circumstance follows an extended period of sea ice volume decline punctuated by an extra ordinarily mild freeze season resulting in reduced sea ice volume. Then there was the persistent high pressure over the Beaufort that extensively fractured the relatively thin ice pack. (Getting back to solar irradiance, this fracturing allowed for unprecedented absorption of solar energy, early on… and this process has continued). I could go on regarding the Siberian side and the Kara Sea, or the significance of the recent widespread Arctic Sea ice dispersion, or the unusual heat currently present in the global climate system, but I will simply reiterate that it appears each year is unique, and this year is different from others in multiple ways. Ultimately, I would hypothesize that the way in which the 2016 melt progresses will be distinct. Having observed this process for some time now, my impression is that the present Arctic Sea ice is highly/unusually vulnerable and it would take ‘weather’ more impactful that the present persistence of low pressure systems to prevent a substantial melt.
Toggle Commented Jun 15, 2016 on ASI 2016 update 2: closing the gap at Arctic Sea Ice
Just a short note as the 2016 Arctic Sea Ice melt gets going. Given that the scientists posting here know a lot more than me about how this complex system works, as the melt gets going I simply wanted to mention, as a curious bystander, some comments regarding the relevant processes that affect the melt. So, setting aside the historically extreme prelude to 2016, ie. the warm winter that affected the amount of starting ice and the extreme amount of heat currently present in the climate system, (obviousy, it is heat that melts ice). Clearly, moving the ice into warmer regions is also relevant. As well as moving heat into the arctic via ocean currents. I will ignor the albedo effects of soot and such, since nobody has any good data about that. But albedo effects in general would appear to be relevant/substantial. I will further ignore kinetic energy such as waves as well as latent heat. Whatever. As an outside observer, correct me if I am wrong, it appears that this year starts with less (a lot less?) ice than usual. A key part of that ice, the old part, got fragmented and exposed to melt early on (by a process that led to substantial solar irradiation). Meanwhile, it has been consistently 'warm' in the far north. Thus, It would appear that events have set up a potentially substantial melt of arctic sea ice this year. Perhaps even an unprecedented melt. So many factors that drive sea ice melting have been combining so far. Am I missing something?
Toggle Commented Jun 9, 2016 on PIOMAS June 2016 at Arctic Sea Ice
As a scientist observer, just a couple of comments... given that the system is complex, I would suggest that too much attention has been focused on melt pond formation. Rather, given that it takes heat to melt ice. In the historically warm present, does that mechanism matter this year when so much open water that can absorb solar irradiation exists? Also,so much new energy has been accumulated in the oceans. Thus, regardless of tropospheric energy levels, the present is unique. (ie, heat already present in water might simply move north...) That is, while weather has historically been a key factor in determining Arctic Sea Ice melt, the heat that has accumulated in the oceans is a fundamental driver. Also, the exceptional heat in the troposphere right now is hard to ignor. The heat accumulated in the ocean/climate system is clearly substantial. As a specific comment/question, I would suggest that given the complex nature of this system there are multiple alternative hypotheses to understand the present.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2016 on ASI 2016 update 1: both sides at Arctic Sea Ice
Just a short note; there has been a lot of speculation on the forum about the likely outcome of the coming Arctic Sea Ice melt. Having followed this phenomenon, and this forum in particular since 2007, I have just a couple of comments. First, weather always determines what happens. Then, obviously, it takes heat to melt ice. Here it gets more interesting. How much ice (this year starts out with less). But so much has been said about preconditioning (melt pond formation). This affects albedo (after all, where does heat come from... the sun...) So total solar irradiation is key. But I personally have always wondered about heat already in the water... the movement of heat into the Arctic Ocean by various currents, but I'm just a Molecular Biologist. Of course, heat in the atmosphere gets a lot of attention, and the planet is quite unusually warm, as measured in the troposphere, right now. Then, of course, we have weather patterns such as the dipole anomaly that drive ice export through the Fram Straight. Then there is water in the atmosphere. This one confuses me. Does the presence of more water in the air add heat to the artic and promote sea ice melting, or not? What are the relative influences of these various factors (and what am I omitting)?
Toggle Commented May 13, 2016 on PIOMAS May 2016 at Arctic Sea Ice
Regarding the potential impact of the current fragmentation event in the western Arctic, I think it is useful to factor in potential effects from solar irradiation. The sun is currently shining on the Beaufort Sea. Albedo here has been reduced. It would appear that this solar irradiance is currently adding anomalous energy to the system.
Toggle Commented Apr 18, 2016 on Beaufort quick update at Arctic Sea Ice
As a Ph.D. scientist with expertise in a completely different field, and as a very occasional poster here, I had a couple of comments about the present melt. First off, the climate system is complex. Thus, it is not clear how one explains year to year variation regarding Arctic Sea Ice extent/area/volume. That said, this topic is totally politically loaded. Regardless,following the annual progression of the Arctic Sea Ice melt over the years has been fascinating. One has to be a complete idiot to not realize that the Arctic Sea Ice is melting away. This reality exists regardless of how 2014 turns out. Just my 2 cents worth.
Toggle Commented Aug 12, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 7: late momentum at Arctic Sea Ice
Neven, as a scientist allow me to express my admiration for what you have accomplished with this forum. It is incredible. Just to be somewhat relevant to the discussion, what should one make of the current rapid drop in Arctic Sea Ice Extent? Is it due to melting or compression?
Toggle Commented Apr 18, 2014 on Miscellanea at Arctic Sea Ice
My opinion on the criteria for a named storm is that it should be based on basic physical parameters that define 'what is a storm'. Duration should not be relevant. Previous criteria are: 1) Duration: > 5 days 2) Core pressure: > 5 isobars (i.e. > 25 hPa lower than core pressure of the nearest high) 3) Wind speed: > 5 Bf (i.e. > 11 m/s or 40 km/h) 4) SST difference: > 5 degrees C (i.e. core SSTs > 5 degrees colder than any Arctic Basin SST anomaly) Thus, from this list I agree that 2, 3, and 4 are useful. Duration is not a factor in naming other weather phenomena, and would not appear to be relevant here. A storm forms and then more weather happens. Also, about namin,g Neven wrote earlier, "Tell you what, I'm asking the Inuit Circumpolar Council what they think of all this." Neven, I agree. Let us know what they have to say.
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2013 on The Naming of Arctic Cyclones at Arctic Sea Ice
I personally agree with the idea of giving the Arctic Cyclones names that are significant to the people of the Arctic. As a rare poster (albeit, an avid follower of this forum), I did not want to presume to speak for the group, but perhaps someone here could directly contact some people on the North Slope of Alaska and ask them what they think. Here is one link I found "Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope "
(Eodis Worldview requires a browser other that Internet Explorer.)
Toggle Commented Jul 20, 2013 on Ice pack in full at Arctic Sea Ice
Regarding the NE Breenland fast ice, it appears that the ice at the position that broke loose around July 11 this year also broke loose last year about July 21, 2012 (see Eodis Worldview:,-470272,2039776,1549056&products=baselayers,MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor~overlays,arctic_coastlines_3413&time=2013-06-28&switch=arctic (navigate to July 21, 2012) The fast ice just to the South of this position reamained in place last year (it may be grounded based on looking at the sea floor in this location
Toggle Commented Jul 20, 2013 on Ice pack in full at Arctic Sea Ice
There are some interesting topological features in this region that might contribute to the process of heat transfer in this part of the Arctic Ocean
Tom Zupancic is now following The Typepad Team
Jun 11, 2013