HMS Trenchant Surfaces at Ice Camp Skate for ICEX 2018

In certain quarters it is being claimed in slightly strange English that:

The British Navy takes part in ICEX exercises that take place every two years and last for several weeks. Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant broke through the Arctic ice about seven days ago to join two US submarines for the exercise. At the same time, US submarines Hartford and Connecticut were stuck in the Arctic ice as they were training an attack on Russia. According to the legend of the exercises, the US submarines were supposed to surface and strike conditional targets in Russia, but the thick ice prevented them from fulfilling the scenario of the exercise.

However according to Her Majesty’s Royal Navy web site:

Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant has broken through the metre-thick ice of the Arctic Ocean to join two US boats on major exercise.

Ice Exercise 18 (ICEX) is a series of demanding trials in the frigid climate of the Arctic Circle, designed to test submariners’ skills in operating under the Arctic ice cap.

HMS Trenchant joins US submarines USS Connecticut and USS Hartford for the drills, co-ordinated by the US Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory.

This combined team of military staff and scientists run the testing schedule from an ice camp established on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean, north of Alaska.

Here is a video recording of HMS Trenchant getting “stuck in the Arctic ice”:

Here are some US Navy videos that reveal exactly how USS Connecticut and USS Hartford also became “stuck in the Arctic ice”:

According to a United States’ Department of Defense article on Ice Camp Skate:

Ice Camp Skate is a temporary ice camp that was established on a sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean, known as an ice floe. Skate will serve as a temporary command center for conducting submarine operations, including under-ice navigation and torpedo exercises. The camp consists of shelters, a command center, and infrastructure to safely house and support more than 50 personnel at any one time.

The camp gets its namesake from USS Skate, the first submarine to surface through open water surrounded by ice in 1958, and the first submarine to surface through the Arctic ice at the North Pole in March 1959. Since the success of Skate’s surfacing, Arctic operations have been a crucial part of the missions conducted by nuclear submarines.

For more than 70 years, submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic regions in support of interfleet transit, training, cooperative allied engagements and routine operations.

The U.S. submarine force has completed more than 27 Arctic exercises.

 

[Edit – April 10th]

NASA’s Operation IceBridge have released some images of the now abandoned ICEX 2018 site on their Facebook page. They include a damaged and apparently abandoned Twin Otter aircraft:

IceBridge-20180408-Plane

IceBridge-20180408-ICEX

IceBridge-20180408-Lead

The 2018 Maximum Arctic Sea Ice Extent

According to the latest edition of the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s “Arctic Sea Ice News”

On March 17, 2018, Arctic sea ice likely reached its maximum extent for the year, at 14.48 million square kilometers (5.59 million square miles), the second lowest in the 39-year satellite record, falling just behind 2017. This year’s maximum extent is 1.16 million square kilometers (448,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average maximum of 15.64 million square kilometers (6.04 million square miles).

The four lowest seasonal maxima have all occurred during the last four years. The 2018 maximum is 60,000 square kilometers (23,200 square miles) above the record low maximum that occurred on March 7, 2017.

Here’s a close up view of recent maxima via the NSIDC’s Charctic interactive sea ice graph:

Charctic-20180323

Next let’s take a look at extent data from the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research, colloquially referred to as “JAXA extent”

VISHOP_Extent-20180323

In this case the maximum was 13.89 million square kilometers, also on March 17th.

Here too are the extent and area graphs based on Wipneus’ processing of the University of Hamburg’s AMSR2 based concentration data:

UH-Arctic-Extent-2018-03-23

UH-Arctic-Area-2018-03-23

They highlight the surge in Arctic sea ice area in the middle of March due to the sudden “cold snap”:

meanT_2018-03-24
Looking at the third Arctic dimension, here’s the latest SMOS thickness map from the University of Bremen:

SMOS-20180323

and here’s the latest CryoSat-2 thickness map:

CS2-thk_28-2018-03-21

They reveal large areas of relatively thin sea ice in the Okhotsk and Barents Seas where the ice can now be expected to melt as quickly as it formed. There is also remarkably little sea ice in the Bering Sea for the time of year:

UH-Bering-Extent-2018-03-23

The February 2018 Fram Strait Cyclones

As already mentioned in our February Arctic overview, another storm is brewing. Here is this morning’s weather forecast for Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard:

svalbard_forecast_20180204

Much like last month, temperatures are above zero and rain is forecast. That’s because once again the current synoptic chart from Environment Canada shows a warm wet flow from way down south over Svalbard and on into the Central Arctic:

Synopsis-20180204-06Z-Crop

Next here’s the current combined wave and swell height forecast for the Svalbard area:

Significant_height_of_combined_w in multi_1.glo_15mext.20180204_00037

and here’s the associated wave period forecast:

Mean_period_of_wind_waves_surfac in multi_1.glo_15mext.20180204_00037

It’s still showing 10 meter waves with a 15 second period north of Svalbard tomorrow lunchtime. Somewhat unusually for the Arctic these aren’t merely giant wind waves. Zooming in on the Fram Strait and breaking out the underlying primary swell reveals:

Significant_height_of_swell_wave in multi_1.glo_15mext.20180204_00041

Mean_period_of_swell_waves_order in multi_1.glo_15mext.20180204_00041

A long distance swell of that magnitude is going to cause some damage.

 

[Edit – February 5th]

The current ECMWF forecast for a split polar vortex, courtesy of Ice Shieldz on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:

Polar View Wind Speed 10 hPa 20180204

This is suggestive of more cyclones to come, but sticking with the current one for now, here is the MSLP chart at 00:00 UTC this morning showing the cyclone’s central pressure has dropped to 952 hPa:

Synopsis-20180205-00Z-Crop

Here too is the current WaveWatch III forecast for 15:00 UTC today:

Significant_height_of_combined_w in multi_1.glo_15mext.20180205_00016

Mean_period_of_wind_waves_surfac in multi_1.glo_15mext.20180205_00016

The peak of the swell north of Svalbard is now slightly later than originally forecast, but it’s still enormous!

Here’s a single Sentinel 1B synthetic aperture radar image that captures the position of the ice edge north of Svalbard yesterday quite nicely:

S1B_Svalbard_20180204T0654

 

[Edit – February 7th]

A brief overview of the effect of the recent cyclone on the sea ice in the Arctic via AMSR2:

UH-Arctic-Area-2018-02-06

UH-Arctic-Extent-2018-02-06

atlantic-201802-1280

Click the image to animate it.

 

[Edit – February 8th]

An Arctic wide take via Thomas Lavergne on Twitter:

plus the latest AMSR2 concentration map:

Arc_20180207_res3.125_LARGE

 

[Edit – February 9th]

An interesting insight into CryoSat-2 sea ice thickness measurements from Stefan Hendricks on Twitter:

Plus Judah Cohen on the split polar vortex:

Facts About the Arctic in February 2018

Whilst the official PIOMAS volume figures for January have yet to be released Wipneus has worked his usual magic on the gridded thickness numbers to reveal:

PIOMAS-thkness-20180131

not to mention the calculated volume:

PIOMAS-volume-20180131

and the volume anomaly:

PIOMAS-anomaly-20180131

As Wipneus puts it:

Estimated from the thickness data, the latest value is from 31st of January: 17.57 [1000 km3], which is the second lowest value for that day, 2017 is lowest by a rather large margin at 16.16 [1000 km3].

Here are the “measured” thickness maps from SMOS:

SMOS-20180131

and CryoSat-2:

CS2-thk_28-2018-01-29

Here are the end of January Arctic wide high resolution AMSR2 graphs based on University of Hamburg data:

UH-Arctic-Area-2018-01-31

UH-Arctic-Extent-2018-01-31

In addition, since it’s that time of year, here too is Wipneus’ NSIDC global sea ice extent:

nsidc_global_extent_20180202

The minimum thus far is very slightly above last year’s value, but perhaps like last year there will be a “double dip”?

Getting back to the Arctic, here is the DMI >80N temperature plot for January:

DMI-meanT_20180201

together with the associated freezing degree days graph:

2018-02-01-DMI-FDD

Here’s a video showing the effect of the mid January cyclones on the sea ice in the Fram Strait and north of Svalbard:

Finally, for the moment at least, here is the current Fram Strait surf forecast for 12:00 UTC on February 5th:

Significant_height_of_combined_w in multi_1.glo_30mext.20180203_00021

Mean_period_of_wind_waves_surfac in multi_1.glo_30mext.20180203_00021

Those maps shows 10 meter high, 15 second period waves heading straight for the ice edge north of Svalbard.

 

[Edit – February 7th]

The latest edition of Arctic Sea Ice News has been published. As the NSIDC put it:

January of 2018 began and ended with satellite-era record lows in Arctic sea ice extent, resulting in a new record low for the month. Combined with low ice extent in the Antarctic, global sea ice extent is also at a record low.

monthly_ice_01_NH_v3.0

Air temperatures at the 925 hPa level (about 2,500 feet above sea level) remained unusually high over the Arctic Ocean. Nearly all of the region was at least 3 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) or more above average. The largest departures from average of more than 9 degrees Celsius (16 degrees Fahrenheit) were over the Kara and Barents Seas, centered near Svalbard. On the Pacific side, air temperatures were about 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. By contrast, 925 hPa temperatures over Siberia were up to 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) below average. The warmth over the Arctic Ocean appears to result partly from a pattern of atmospheric circulation bringing in southerly air, and partly from the release of heat into the atmosphere from open water areas.

airtemp-201801

 

[Edit – February 10th]

The University of Hamburg’s high resolution AMSR2 derived area is bouncing back after the recent cyclone, but extent is currently still declining:

UH-Arctic-Area-2018-02-09

UH-Arctic-Extent-2018-02-09

The recent drop in Arctic sea ice extent has pushed the NSIDC global extent to a new all time (satellite era!) low:

nsidc_global_extent_20180209

The January 2018 Fram Strait Cyclones

We’ve covered similar events in the recent past, but this one looks like it will take the proverbial biscuit.

Here’s the 6 hour wave forecast for the Fram Strait from 12:00 UTC this afternoon:

Significant_height_of_combined_w in multi_1.glo_30mext-20180113-12z+6

Mean_period_of_wind_waves_surfac in multi_1.glo_30mext-20180113-12z+6

Look at the scales carefully then compare the wave height and period with previous similar events. Here’s the cause of those giant waves, two powerful cyclones off Greenland pumping heat and moisture northwards from a long way south:

Synopsis-20180113-18Z-Crop

Also bear in mind the current sea ice area around Svalbard:

osisaf_svalbard_plot_20180112

and the current weather forecast for the capital Longyearbyen:

svalbard_forecast_20180113

Note in particular the anomalously high temperatures and the severe weather warnings for both rain and avalanches. In the middle of January.

Finally, for the moment at least, here’s a Sentinel 1B image of the sea ice in the Fram Strait earlier this morning:

S1B_Fram_20180113T063817

 

[Edit – January 14th]

The temperature in Longyearbyen is forecast to drop below freezing point early on Tuesday and then remain there, which I guess counts as good news?

svalbard_forecast_20180114

However the southernmost of the two cyclones off Greenland is now down to a central MSLP of 942 hPa:

Synopsis-20180114-12Z-Crop

 

[Edit – January 15th]

The cyclone now centred near Iceland looks as though it bottomed out at a MLSP of 939 hPa earlier today:

Synopsis-20180115-00Z-Crop

Watch this space!

The 2017/18 Festive Season in the Arctic

Christmas is coming, and Santa’s secret summer swimming pool has frozen over once again. However the same can’t be said for the Chukchi Sea! More on that in due course, but first let’s take a look at the PIOMAS volume graph at the end of November, courtesy of the wondrous Wipneus on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:

piomas-trnd4-2017-11

2017 is currently third lowest, behind 2012 and 2016. Next let’s take a look at Wipneus’ PIOMAS Arctic sea ice thickness map:

PIOMAS-thk-20171130

followed by the University of Bremen’s SMOS Arctic sea ice thickness map:

20171205_hvnorth__l1c

Note the large area of pale blue open ocean still visible in the Chukchi Sea towards the top left of both maps.

For another perspective on Arctic sea ice thickness here’s the latest Cryosat-2 map, which currently is based on the month up to November 24th:

CS2-thk_28-2017-11-24

Finally, for the moment at least, here’s our very own Arctic Freezing Degree Days graph based on the DMI’s >80N data:

DMI-FDD-2017-12-06

2017 is currently occupying the wide open space between the astonishingly low numbers last year and all previous years in DMI’s record. Here’s their graph for 2017 so far:

DMI-meanT_2017-12-06

 

[Edit – December 10th]

Current Arctic sea ice area and extent derived from the University of Hamburg’s high resolution AMSR2 data:

UH-Arctic-Area-2017-12-09

UH-Arctic-Extent-2017-12-09

Plus the latest update on the Chukchi Sea situation:

UH-Chukchi-Area-2017-12-09

 

[Edit – December 20th]

Wipneus has released his mid month PIOMAS update for December:

piomas-trnd4-2017-12-15

PIOMAS-thk-dec152017

The Chukchi Sea is now mostly covered in sea ice, as is the Kara Sea. Volume is still 3rd lowest behind 2016 and 2012.

Whilst on the subject of sea ice thickness a related subject is sea ice age. Here’s a new paper on that topic:

A new tracking algorithm for sea ice age distribution estimation

Note that these assorted sea ice age maps are all for January 1st 2016!

Figure-6-Comparison-of-SIA-for-the-1-Jan-2016-calculated-with-the-following-combinations

Watch this space!

Pine Island Glacier Calves Again

An image captured earlier this morning by the Sentinel 1A satellite’s synthetic aperture radar reveals that another huge chunk of the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica has broken loose:

S1A_PIG_20170923T035511

P.S. Here’s an animation of the calving courtesy of Wipneus:

Pine_Island_Glacier_Sentinel_1A_20170911-20170923

Via Stef Lhermitte on Twitter:

 

[Edit – September 24th]

The latest image from Sentinel 1A:

S1A_IPIG_20170924T043546

Click it for a much closer look.

 

[Edit – October 16th]

Another animation from Wipneus, showing the recently calved section of the Pine Island Glacier coming apart at the seams:

Pine_Island_Glacier_Sentinel_Calving_Crumbles_1A_20171003-20171015

 

[Edit – December 11th]

Another revealing image from Wipneus via the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:

Pine-Island-Glacier-SW-crack-Landsat8-nat-30m-20171210

New cracks are opening on the Pine Island Ice Shelf.

 

[Edit – December 22nd]

Via Susan Anderson at the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:

Pine Island Iceberg Under the Midnight Sun
Pine Island Iceberg Under the Midnight Sun

In September 2017, a new iceberg calved from Pine Island Glacier—one of the main outlets where the West Antarctic Ice Sheet flows into the ocean. Just weeks later, the berg named B-44 shattered into more than 20 fragments.

On December 15, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this natural-color image of the broken berg. An area of relatively warm water, known as a polyna, has kept the water ice free between the iceberg chunks and the glacier front. NASA glaciologist Chris Shuman thinks the polynya’s warm water could have caused the rapid breakup of B-44.

The image was acquired near midnight local time. Based on parameters including the azimuth of the Sun and its elevation above the horizon, as well as the length of the shadows, Shuman has estimated that the iceberg rises about 49 meters above the water line. That would put the total thickness of the berg—above and below the water surface—at about 315 meters.

 

[Edit – December 23rd]

Another graphic Landsat PIG GIF from Wipneus on the ASIF:

Pine-Island-Glacier_SW-crack_growing_landsat-8_20171219

The 2017 Arctic Sea Ice Metric Minima

September has arrived once again, the month in which the assorted Arctic area and extent metrics (almost) always reach their respective annual minima. Now we can start to speculate about what the assorted minima will be, and on what date.

First of all let’s take a look at “Snow White’s” favourite high resolution AMSR2 metrics derived by “Wipneus” from University of Hamburg AMSR2 concentration data:

UH-Arctic-Area-2017-09-02

UH-Arctic-Extent-2017-09-02

As you can see, today’s values are both higher than yesterday’s. Hence we already have potential minima to consider! In this case:

UH AMSR2 Area – 3.65 million km² on September 1st
UH AMSR2 Extent – 4.30 million km² on September 1st

Personally I don’t think those numbers will last long, and here’s one reason why. The “surf forecast” for the far North Atlantic for midday on September 6th:

Significant_height_of_combined_w in multi_1.glo_30mext.20170903_00029

Mean_period_of_swell_waves_order in multi_1.glo_30mext.20170903_00029

Some significant swells are currently forecast to batter the ice edge on the Atlantic side of the Arctic over the next few days.

 

[Edit – September 3rd PM]

Shock news! Tony Heller has made a prediction about this year’s minimum!! Unlike last year, this year the NSIDC 5 day average extent seems to be his Arctic metric of choice:

Charctic-20170902

Tony tells his faithful flock:

The Arctic sea ice minimum this year is very likely going to be be larger than 2016, 2015, 2012, 2011 and 2007.

It is also likely that the minimum extent will be higher than 2010 and 2008.

Instead of reporting the huge gain in ice and massive failure of their forecasts, climate alarmists will report that extent was “8th lowest on record.”

All those years are on the graph above. We shall see.

 

[Edit – September 15th]

Our normal Arctic sea ice extent 2017 minimum service will be restored as soon as possible. Meanwhile here is the test card:

That comes to you via the Daily Express of all places!

On the way the cruise’s resident naturalist and Smithsonian lecturer, Michael Scott, risked the wrath of Trump supporters by pointing to some of the changes Greenland is undergoing.

A Nasa map based on data between 2004 and 2014 revealed that the ice is melting across most of Greenland – an area nine times the size of the UK.

Pulling together several papers, Michael said Greenland’s summer melt season now lasts 70 days longer than in the early 1970s.

This melting is unfreezing the fringes of the permafrost, which may explain why Nasa satellites are picking up fires raging where the ice has retreated.

 

[Edit – September 16th]

It is of course still to early to be 100% certain about this. However:

UH-Arctic-Extent-2017-09-15

It certainly looks as though the bottom is in for the University of Hamburg AMSR2 extent: 4.25 million km² on September 11th.

It’s much the same story for JAXA extent:

VISHOP_Extent-20170915

4.47 million km² on September 9th and 10th.

 

[Edit – September 19th]

The NSIDC have followed in Snow White’s glass slippered footsteps and tentatively called the minimum:

On September 13, Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its seasonal minimum extent of 4.64 million square kilometers (1.79 million square miles), the eighth lowest in the 38-year satellite record. The overall rate of ice loss this summer was slowed by a persistent pattern of low sea level pressure focused over the central Arctic Ocean.

Please note that this is a preliminary announcement. Changing winds or late-season melt could still reduce the Arctic ice extent, as happened in 2005 and 2010. NSIDC scientists will release a full analysis of the Arctic melt season, and discuss the Antarctic winter sea ice growth, in early October.

The ever industrious Wipneus has also called the PIOMAS minimum volume for 2017:

Minimum volume was reached at 11th September: 4.542 103km3, which is fourth lowest after 2012, 2011 and 2016 (resp 3.673, 4.302, 4.402) and just below 2010 (4.582).

piomas_gridded_thickness_20170911

 

[Edit – September 23rd]

Here’s the 2017 edition of our annual NSIDC daily max/min extent graph:

NSIDC-NH-MaxMin-2017

The maximum extent was the lowest in the satellite record, and the minimum was just fractionally above the trend line. For those that concern themselves with “statistical significance”, the PIOMAS minimum volume was a “statistical tie” for second place:

PIOMAS-20170915

Watch this space!

Reductio Ad Absurdum

A somewhat surreal modern Arctic art installation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crystal Serenity Sails the Northwest Passage in 2017

After a voyage through the Northwest Passage untroubled by sea ice in 2016, the cruise liner Crystal Serenity has set sail for the Bering Strait and beyond once again. The SailWX tracking map shows her passing the Aleutian Islands:

Serenity-20170818

and although there is of course no sea ice to be seen yet her forward facing webcam reveals Dutch Harbor as her next port of call:

cybridge-20170817-2214

Much like last year, it looks as though the British icebreaker Ernest Shackleton is on its way to assist her:

Shackleton-20170818

Having an icebreaker in attendance might well prove to be essential this year, since, according to the Canadian Ice Service, Larsen Sound is currently still full of sea ice:

Maud-SoD-20170817

 

[Edit – August 21th]

Heading westwards to meet Crystal Serenity, this is what met the RRS Ernest Shackleton in Franklin Strait:

Shackleton_20170820_1003

Meanwhile Crystal Serenity is about to pass through the (ice free!) Bering Strait:

Serenity-20170821

 

[Edit – August 29th]

Crystal Serenity is now heading through Queen Maud Gulf:

Serenity-20170829

but there is as yet no sign of any sea ice:

SerenityVictoriaStrait

Shackleton_20170829_0303

However some should come into view later today. Here are the latest Canadian Ice Service sea ice charts of the area:

Maud-Conc-20170828

Maud-SoD-20170828

 

[Edit – August 29th 11:30]

Crystal Serenity has spotted some sea ice!

SerenityStarboard-20170829-0404

 

[Edit – August 29th 17:30]

Crystal Serenity and Ernest Shackleton are well in amongst the ice now, as are the former’s passengers:

SerenityStarboard-20170829-1114

 

[Edit – August 30th]

Crystal Serenity is now entering the Franklin Strait in the wake of TWO icebreakers:

Serenity-20170830-2000

SerenityBridge-20170830-1519

eswebcam_20170830_190303_02_m

Watch this space!