Facts About the Arctic in August 2017

What seems likely to be the most interesting period of the 2017 Arctic sea ice melting season is upon us! The PIOMAS gridded data hasn’t been released yet, but the overall volume numbers reveal that 2017 has now relinquished its “lowest ever” position to 2012. Here’s Wipneus’ graph of the volume data:

piomas-trnd4-20170731

plus his anomaly plot:

piomas-anomaly-20170731

Our favourite high resolution AMSR2 area and extent graphs now also allow comparison with 2012. Here’s how they look at the moment:

UH-Arctic-Extent-2017-08-04

UH-Arctic-Area-2017-08-04

As you can see, round about now is when 2012 Arctic sea ice extent started to noticeably race ahead of the rest of the pack. Will 2017 follow suit? Are there any Arctic cyclones on the horizon for example? Well, the one forecast for August 4th hasn’t materialised. Here’s this morning’s Environment Canada synopsis:

Synopsis-20170804-00Z-Crop

However both ECMWF and GFS agree that a sub 985 hPa storm should have arrived by Sunday morning. Here’s the ECMWF version from MeteoCiel:

ECH1-20170804+48h

There’s stronger storms in the forecast further out, but once again we’ll believe them if and when we see them!

We’re keeping a close eye on the Northwest Passage once again this year. Most of the southern route is open already, but as we predicted the old ice in Larsen Sound has a lot of melting still to do. Here’s how it looked from the icebreaker Nordica a few days ago:

On top of that the old ice around O-Buoy 14 is currently rushing south down the McClintock Channel to replenish it. Here’s how that looks at the moment:

OBuoy14-20170803-0301

Meanwhile the melt along the Northern Sea Route is well ahead of last year. Here’s the University of Hamburg AMSR2 concentration map of the area:

Arc_20170803_res3.125_LARGE

There’s also now a lot of open water on the Pacific side of the Arctic, and Sunday’s cyclone is forecast to create a large area of 2 meter plus waves heading in the direction of the ice edge:

Significant_height_of_combined_w in multi_1.glo_30mext.20170804_00024

I expect that to have a noticeable effect on the already fragile sea ice by early next week, assuming the storm arrives as forecast! There is an ice mass balance buoy handily placed out on the ice in the path of the storm. Buoy 2017A is currently located near 77 N, 147 W, and its assorted sensors suggest the ice underneath it is now less than 20 cm thick:

2017A-2017-07-30

2017A_thick_20170731

Here’s how the area around the buoy looked a couple of weeks ago:


Image of 2017A from WARM 6 on July 18th 2017. NSF project: NSF OPP #1603548

The $64,000 question now is will the 2017 Arctic sea ice metrics stay in amongst the recent pack, or race after 2012 instead?

 

[Edit – August 6th]

This morning’s synopsis from Environment Canada suggests the cyclone has bottomed out at a MSLP of 982 hPa:

Synopsis-20170806-06Z-Crop

Here’s how the cyclone looked from space yesterday:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the sea ice north of the Beaufort Sea on August 5th 2017, derived from the VIIRS sensor on the Suomi satellite
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the sea ice north of the Beaufort Sea on August 5th 2017, derived from the VIIRS sensor on the Suomi satellite

I think that I can convince myself that the salinity profile from ice tethered profiler 97, currently located at 73° N, 134° W, reveals mixing from depth in the wake of the storm:

itp97-Salinity-20170806

The synthetic aperture radar on the Sentinel 1B satellite can certainly see through the clouds, and reveals open water in the Central Arctic north of the Beaufort Sea yesterday evening (UTC):

Sentinel 1B image of Arctic sea ice at 79N, 160W on August 5th 2017
Sentinel 1B image of Arctic sea ice at 79° N, 160° W on August 5th 2017

 

[Edit – August 7th]

Here is Wipneus’ latest AMSR2 concentration delta map:

AMSR2-Delta-20170806

The effects of this weekend’s storm are readily apparent! Just in case you’re wondering Wipneus reports:

Area: -172.0 (+324k vs 2016, +138k vs 2015, -669k vs 2014, -523k vs 2013, +493k vs 2012)

UH-Arctic-Area-2017-08-06

 

[Edit – August 8th]

The next pulse of swell is currently forecast to be somewhat higher and longer period than the last one. This one is also taking aim at the Beaufort Sea MIZ:

Significant_height_of_combined_w in multi_1.glo_30mext.20170808-12Z_00045

Mean_period_of_wind_waves_surfac in multi_1.glo_30mext.20170808-12Z_00045

 

[Edit – August 9th]

According to Environment Canada the latest cyclone is already down to 980 hPa MSLP:

Synopsis-20170808-06Z-Crop

 

[Edit – August 9th PM]

The MSLP of the current cyclone is now down to 976 hPA:

Synopsis-20170808-18Z-Crop

The latest WaveWatch III forecast has increased the predicted peak height and period of the resulting waves once again:

Significant_height_of_combined_w in multi_1.glo_30mext.20170809_00037

Mean_period_of_wind_waves_surfac in multi_1.glo_15mext.2070809_00037B

 

[Edit – August 10th]

Large holes are appearing in the sea ice on the other side of the Arctic too. Take a look north of the Laptev Sea for example:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the "Laptev Bite" polynya on August 10th 2017
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the “Laptev Bite” polynya on August 10th 2017

Meanwhile the current cyclone on the Pacific side of the North Pole appears to have bottomed out at 974 hPa:

Synopsis-20170810-06Z-Crop

 

[Edit – August 11th]

Here’s the latest sea ice concentration one day delta map from Wipneus:

AMSR2-Delta-20170810
Despite the expected divergence caused by a low pressure area crossing the ice, both are and extent of sea ice on the Pacific side of the Arctic are still falling.

 

[Edit – August 12th]

The waves are considerably smaller in the Beaufort Sea today, but not in the Bering Strait!

Significant_height_of_combined_w in multi_1.glo_30mext.20170812-00Z_00007

Here’s the latest one day delta map:

AMSR2-Delta-20170811

and here’s video showing the motion of sea ice in the Beaufort & Chukchi Seas so far this summer:

 

[Edit – August 13th]

Here’s an animation from Wipneus revealing the effect of the two recent cyclones on the Pacific side, plus everything else that’s been going on in the Arctic:

AMSR2-Basin-Anim-20170812-600

Click the image to see a much larger (3.3 Mb) version.

 

[Edit – August 16th]

AMSR2 Arctic sea ice extent has taken another tumble, and has dropped below 2016:

UH-Arctic-Extent-2017-08-15

Only 2012 left to beat!

 

[Edit – August 18th]

A PIOMAS mid month update has been released, including gridded thickness data. 2017 modelled volume has failed to follow 2012’s trajectory towards the September minimum, and is now on a par with 2011:

piomas-20170815

piomas_thickness_20170815

Watch this space!

58 thoughts on “Facts About the Arctic in August 2017

    1. Good info Jim, My analysis agrees. You would think Arctic Mission (AM) would of deseminated if up to speed since claiming NASA support which must be more rhetoric than fact. I see AM to date confirming PPPPPP suspicion until shown otherwise.

  1. Amazing how unclear everything is even at this late date. Range of forecasts could still be up to 2 million sq K in 50 days.
    Watching with interest but too scared to make a prediction as he who predicts is usually wrong with sea ice.

  2. Thanks Jim, this is a very useful collection. One is puzzled by the combination of events as to how it will play out, with a bias towards it not being a new low. Psychologically speaking, once a year like 2012 happens, it becomes the new benchmark and distracts from the extremity of the big picture.

    In my daily amateur checks of circulation on Nullschool (an addiction, I confess) I note all kinds of cyclonic activity outside the tropics. Antarctica is OT, but it might be interesting to see what that thing over by the Kuril Islands does. It’s got a powerful circulation and a tight eye, which is unusual for extratropicals. This is much too far south to be about the Arctic, but the northern Pacific has multiple gears/cogs and they do seem to be forcing some energy through the Bering Strait and even across land.
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/overlay=temp/orthographic=192.25,53.13,466

    I wish I had studied meteorology when my brain was young enough to retain a bit more … I don’t know if to be dismayed or excited by all this, well both I guess.

    1. Note: confusing my reader; Kuril Islands are between Japan and Kamchatka (Russian peninsula), nowhere near Antarctica.

        1. Thanks. Yes indeed Jim, but given I had to check a map to locate the Kuril Islands, I was overexplaining for anyone confused by linguistic proximity. We geography buffs don’t realize how many people are geographically challenged.

          Your blog is wonderful!

    2. You are very kind Susan.

      There have certainly been previous occasions this year when weather systems have brought heat and moisture into the Arctic from the north Pacific. You may also be interested in this somewhat controversial paper that suggests that:

      The similarity of high-latitude circulation variability associated with sea-ice loss to the teleconnections with the tropical Pacific suggests a contribution of sea-ice losses from SST trends across the tropical Pacific Ocean.

      Is Arctic Ice Loss Driven by Natural Swings?

      1. Finally got my round tuit and took a look. The extract you include above makes sense, but the exploitation of this information to formulate a specious argument is anti-human and disgusting.

        My point is different. Since I starting watching weather patterns and circulation closely in the mid-oughts, they have radically changed, and are much wilder. Jennifer Francis discusses some of this.

        My suggestion about the Pacific churn pushing up through and past the Bering Strait is that increasing chaos and extremes are adding a further stress on the whole system. It’s not “instead of” it’s “in addition to”.

        I suspect you agree with me, but the emphasis in your always entertaining discussion seems to point away from this.

        I’m not being polite; I value your elucidation in my scatterbrained way.

    3. “Psychologically speaking, once a year like 2012 happens, it becomes the new benchmark and distracts from the extremity of the big picture.”

      Exactly my sentiments as well, Susan. What happens I think is a new minimum is hit, which becomes the new benchmark from which to judge succeeding years, when in fact what should be looked at is the range of lows in recent years, i.e. the overall trend is to less ice. It’s not like we hit a new low then bounce back up to a consistently expected (no worries mate) range, but instead stay low until in some year 2012’s low is broken, then we start the whole process of using whatever year that is as a new benchmark to judge subsequent years. Then in say year 2021 people will say, “Oh, it wasn’t even as low as 2012.” Huh?!

      The denialsphere did that with world temps post 1998, saying the world was cooling. Of course once 1998’s record was surpassed, no mention was made by the denialsphere about their cooling theory having been eviscerated and of a world warming further. It’s now likely post 2016 to them will be argued as a cooling world, i.e. until it’s surpassed.

      1. Could not the High Benchmarks of the late 70’s be used for the same purpose??

        Clearly accounts before Satellites, by experienced people on the ground in the early to mid 1900’s point to far less Arctic Ice than the high point in 79’…

        Benchmarking by all time highs and lows works both ways..

        [URL redacted – Mod]

        1. You’re repeating yourself Phil.

          1) What “High Benchmarks of the late 70’s” might those be?

          2) Where’s your “mid 1900’s” evidence hiding?

  3. Not here to argue, just a question.

    Different blogs have reported that if we look at the Arctic ice extent on the 1st August in the period 2006-2017 we will notice a little growth, this, only if we use MAISE data. Vice versa, using SMRR-SSMIS ones the trend is clearly negative. Therefore, I’ve sent an email to the nsidc asking which one of the two data set is correct to be used in an analysis like that and their answer was the following one:

    Note: From publication of MASIE in November 2010 until June 2014, only the last four weeks of data were made available. This was because MASIE is based on an operational product that may not be consistently produced and may not be appropriate for looking at changes in ice over time periods longer than a few weeks. In June 2014, we decided to make the MASIE product available back to 2006. This was done in response to a large volume of user requests, and because the IMS product output, upon which MASIE is based, appeared to be reasonably consistent through time. However, satellite resources in use by analysts do have a finite lifetime. With old sensors being retired and new missions launched, the tools available to IMS analysts have changed over the MASIE period of record and will continue to change. Therefore, the sensitivity of some sensors and their seasonal advantages in ice detection may lead to small biases within the time series. As the data product name states, this multisensor data set is produced with a number of satellite resources which are non-stationary throughout the product lifetime, and extreme caution should be taken when involved in long-term trend analysis.

    Please use the official sea-ice data record, https://nsidc.org/data/nsidc-0051, for long-term trends.

    The point is: do we have to use MASIE or not?

    Thanks for your collaboration,

    Michele

    p.s.: I still believe that the analysis has to be done looking at the big picture and not only daily, but my doubt remain the same.

    [Reformatted slightly – Mod]

    1. Welcome Michele,

      I actually interviewed Walt Meier of NASA (and ex NSIDC) about that very question. Here’s what he told me:

      DMI, MASIE and the Sea Ice Index – An Interview With Walt Meier

      My summary of Walt’s words of wisdom:

      If you’re on the bridge of a vessel sailing in Arctic waters then MASIE is the right tool for the job. If on the other hand you’re sat in front of a computer trying to get the best estimate of trends in Arctic sea ice extent then the Sea Ice Index is what you’ll grab from your toolkit.

      To reiterate, anybody who shows you MASIE data whilst claiming that it reveals some sort of trend or change in trend of Arctic sea ice extent is desperately trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

      1. Of course Arctic Ice has decreased since a high point in the 70’s… Meanwhile DMI shows an INCREASE in Greenland Ice Mass which corresponds with flat/decreased Sea Levels the past few years.

        I agree the Poles are a bellwether for the Planet’s Temperature.. However, realistically we only have exact Sea Ice Data going back to 79… Too short of a time period to draw future conclusions, we are in a cycle… Again, Amundsen etc, showed a low point in Arctic Ice well before AGW Theory.. Then Ice GREW through the 70’s..

        Overall, how much, if at all is Mankind affecting the Planet’s Temperature??

        [URL redacted & spelling corrected – Mod]

        1. I can probably guess, but you haven’t quoted your sources for the ludicrous statements you make. In brief:

          1) DMI do NOT show an increase in Greenland ice mass.

          2) Whilst the NSDIC’s sea ice index “gold standard” only goes back to late 1978 there are other sources of data. In particular “Amundsen etc.” do NOT show a low point in Arctic sea ice extent, and you seem to be sadly misinformed about the beginnings of “AGW Theory“.

          3) Have you by any chance read the IPCC’s conclusions about “anthropogenic global warming”

          1. Jim, I think you knew that Phil meant the “Surface Mass Budget” as reported by DMI. It is possible, though I don’t know for certain, that the Greenland ice sheet has grown this year. Just check the math and the facts. The increase in this year’s surface mass budget — about 500 Gt as of earlier this week — and the short, uneventful melt season mean that ablation and calving from glaciers and ice shelves would have had to increase substantially from average to offset that. Maybe that happened, but no one has identified such an increase. A helpful scientist probably will now.

          2. Hi Michael,

            If that’s what Phil meant then surely he should have said “Surface Mass Balance/Budget” and not “Greenland Ice Mass which corresponds with flat/decreased Sea Levels the past few years”?

            This year’s SMB is around 150 Gt/year above “average”. That doesn’t seem to be enough to reverse the direction of the annual ice mass “loss of around 200 Gt/year over the last decade” reported by DMI?

          3. Jim, given the melt season, do you think it somewhat likely, likely, or highly likely that ablation and calving increased to make up the melting “shortfall”? I don’t know, but I would think the overall melt season and calving (at least) are somewhat correlated. Also, the 350 Gt per year increase in the SMB you cite is the average from 1981 to 2010. Statistics aren’t easily found — if they are available — but it would seem reasonable that there has been a smaller annual increase in the SMB in recent years — even DMI seems to point that out. Therefore a recent average increase in the SMB would be lower than 350 Gt. But, let’s take the 200Gt overall loss as more or less accurate (keeping in mind Shepherd et al., from 2012, who argued that the “best” estimate of Greenland ice sheet oss from 1992 to 2011 was 142 plus or minus 49 Gt per year). So, if the recent average SMB change is anything less than 300 Gt (a safe bet?) and the average net loss is as high as 200 Gt, a 500 Gt increase this year would not have been offset and the ice sheet would have grown. Potentially by a lot, if Shepherd’s conclusions are accurate. More accessible annual data on this would be good. Whoever is gathering it seems to think it isn’t worthwhile making easily available. Keep an open mind, Jim, life is more interesting that way.

      2. So, why isn’t that the equivalent of saying there actually is no problem(to play devils advocate for 1 second here)?

        1. Are you referring to what Walt Meier said about MASIE, which the NSIDC just reiterated to Michele?

          If so the problem is that lots of “skeptical” types insist on using that data for purposes which the data provider has explicitly deprecated.

    2. Michele/angech – You may find this illuminating? I expect Phil is familiar with the way the game works.

      The “Watts Up With That” blog has just published an article extolling the virtues of MASIE data, under the title:

      Arctic melt season changes and the Arctic regime shift

      I just commented on it as follows:

      Would you care to hazard a guess concerning when my comment will become visible to the vast flock of WUWT watchers?

      1. A new day has dawned, but my helpful hint to the WUWTers remains invisible. However during my vain search I did stumble across this little gem from Valaker:

        We Norwegians have been doing a lot of stuff in the Arctic for several hundred years and any story that the Artic sea ice was the highest in 1979 for the past century is simply laughable. It was a bit higher in the mid seventies. But the big picture is a all over decline with the usual up and downs. I guess Your story is plausible when told in Huntsville Alabama, tell the same story to an old sealhunter in Tromsø, Norway, and You will experience what a Hakapik is.

      2. Never?
        None the less 7 other people have been allowed to comment more or less along the lines that you have iterated.
        I feel Walt is wrong to assert it should not be used and you are not being fair in considering its use

          1. “If 7 other people have been permitted to post a similar comment then why not yours truly?”

            It is a mystery in some ways.
            I feel I will leave it up to your and the moderator to sort out, the only good word I could put in is that all blogs are helped by adversarial opinion [different to comments unfortunately].

            I understand the value Walt’s opinion gives your viewpoint. It does not make the matter fair no matter how vast his experience. If only the importance of the issue was not so great for you then different weightings might be able to be discussed.

            Thanks for putting up the post, It takes a great deal of effort which is appreciated even from the other side of the fence.

          2. Thank you for your kind words angech, but it’s not Walt’s “opinion”, expert or otherwise. It’s a fact that:

            This multisensor data set is produced with a number of satellite resources which are non-stationary throughout the product lifetime.

            Anthony and the WUWT mods have firmly blocked all the usual channels of communication. What is a poor girl to do in such circumstances?

  4. No “rebound” yet following the passage of the recent storm. Here’s today’s one day AMSR2 concentration delta map:

    Note also the pink areas indicating reducing sea ice concentration around the North Pole.

  5. I think OBuoy #14 is actually surrounded by newish ice — IIRC it was floating in very open water last year until M’Clure strait refroze.

  6. Anyone genuinely interested in getting a quick overview of the history of Arctic sea ice should avail themselves of the plethora of information freely accessible on this site hosted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution…

    http://www.whoi.edu/website/beaufortgyre/home

    The “History” tab should be of particular interest to those making claims about cycles and “High Benchmarks of the late 70’s”.

    Similarly, those interested in learning about the background to AGW in general could, in addition to the links already provided by Jim, do far worse than perusing the seminal work of Spencer Weart. This is freely available on the following site, which is hosted by the American Institute of Physics…

    https://history.aip.org/climate/index.htm

    As for the claim about “flat/decreased Sea Levels the past few years”, it is worth looking at the data available on the NASA “Vital Signs” site in order to see how this claim represents cherry picking at its most egregious …

    https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/

    On the other hand, those with a closed mind might prefer to stick to those sites which pamper to their own beliefs, and reinforce their own misconceptions.

    [Graphs embedded – Mod]

    1. Hi Bill,

      Thanks very much for your always valuable input. Spencer Weart is worth reading from cover to cover for anybody genuinely interested in assessing the “climate change” evidence.

      I was also wondering if you had any (publishable!) thoughts you might wish to share about the recent firestorm over at Neven’s place?

    1. Not really, no. Utqiaġvik (AKA Barrow) is one, not necessarily typical, point in a very large Arctic.

      In addition that’s a cumulative anomaly plot so it’s not at all clear to me that it shows what you appear to think it shows.

      1. Rather than you being a clairvoyant about what I think it shows, let’s quote the explanation by NSIDC:

        ” It is instructive to look at the cumulative temperature departure from average for Barrow, Alaska (Figure 4c). From 1921 until about 1989, conditions at Barrow actually got progressively cooler. However, since that time, temperatures have markedly increased.”

        Do you have a problem with their interpretation?

        1. Trying to read other people’s minds is fraught with difficulty!

          I don’t have a problem with the NSIDC’s interpretation. What do you think the relevance is to Arctic wide sea ice “coverage”?

          Here’s the rest of the paragraph you quoted from the NSIDC’s June 2017 Arctic Sea Ice News:

          Part of the explanation for earlier open water formation in the Chukchi Sea is the unusually high air temperatures in that region during the previous winter.

          and this is the graph in question:

  7. Those interested in the progression of temperatures across the Arctic region as a whole, rather than from a single station, might care to look at the 2016 Arctic Report Card complied for NOAA’s Arctic Program.

    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/Report-Card/Report-Card-2016

    The tab marked “Surface Air Temperature” has graph which outlines overall trends in surface temperatures from 1900 onward for land stations located north of 60N.

    It was postulated above that “Its not a stretch to think sea ice would follow a similar trend – yes?” [i.e. similar to the temperature trend]

    That being the case, which would the response of the sea ice be more likely to follow: overall Arctic temperature trends, or the trend from a single location?

    [Embedded the image – Mod]

    1. “Surface Air Temperature” has graph which outlines overall trends in surface temperatures from 1900 onward for land stations located north of 60N.

      That is not exactly 80N now , is it.
      Does London fit in there?

  8. It appears that some here are perhaps less than fully familiar with the geography of the various bodies of water which, taken together, comprise the total area in which Arctic sea ice exists.

    The 60N parallel cuts through the following seasonally ice covered areas…

    Sea of Okhotsk
    Bering Sea
    Hudson Bay
    Labrador Sea
    Greenland Sea

    I have no idea what relevance there is in the latitude of London – which happens to be about 51 degrees 30 minutes North – but those with any knowledge about Arctic sea ice will undoubtedly be aware that ice in the region of Newfoundland Island, Nova Scotia and the St Lawrence reaches down as far as the mid-40’s.

    In other words, one gets Arctic sea ice at latitudes roughly akin to those of the south of France or the north of Spain.

  9. Nice to see you commenting here, Bill.
    I am definitely less familiar with the geography than yourself.
    The relevance there is in the latitude of London was to do with Jim putting up a 60 latitude and North figure of warmth which was a felt a little below the belt for a true Arctic discussion.
    80 N is an often quoted temperature region and I was surprised to see something 20 degrees lower.
    In my naivety I imagined that that might be as low as London.
    Obviously wrong.
    Land stations have little to no practical relevance to Arctic ice volume and extent discussion in my opinion, which can be wrong.

    1. Was it this conclusion you wanted to highlight?

      Our reconstructions agree with previous studies that have noted a general decrease in Arctic sea ice extent (for all four seasons) since the start of the satellite era (1979).

      1. Conservatively speaking Jim, if I were allowed to play devils advocate for a second, looking at the sattelite side of that graphic and taking into account the error values one could be forgiven for saying that the denialist camp is certainly not going away anytime soon as they have a case for questioning the relevance of the numbers.

        That is to say if that graphic was the only one making the case, of course.(!??!)

        May I ask where that graphic comes from?

        1. (..I take it that graphic only reflected maximum values for sea ice in the Arctic?!!?)

          ((… thus the trend toward sea ice extinction in the Arctic is less convincing!!))

          1. However, if we also consider the full envelope of the associated confidence intervals, we cannot rule out the possibility that similarly low sea ice extents occurred during the 20th century. That is, the upper bounds of the estimates for all years since 2004 are still greater than the lower bounds for several years in the early 20th century.
            <<

            Ok, yeh a sceptic paper: I wasn't reading the context of your response: thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *