The MOSAiC Expedition

According to the MOSAiC Expedition’s web site:

In September 2019, the German research icebreaker Polarstern will set sail from Tromsø, Norway, to spend a year drifting through the Arctic Ocean – trapped in ice. The goal of the MOSAiC expedition is to take the closest look ever at the Arctic as the epicenter of global warming and to gain fundamental insights that are key to better understand global climate change.

In essence Polarstern will be following in the illustrious footsteps of Tara and Fridtjof Nansen‘s Fram before her, but with vastly more scientists in attendance than previous transpolar drift expeditions.

Hundreds of researchers from 19 countries take part in this exceptional endeavour. The MOSAiC expedition will bring a modern research icebreaker close to the north pole for a full year including for the first time in polar winter. The data gathered will be used by scientists around the globe to take climate research to a completely new level.

The expedition also bears a lot of resemblance to the more recent Norwegian Young Sea ICE Expedition, during  which R/V Lance drifted embedded in winter sea ice, albeit nearer the North Atlantic.

The countdown to “the largest polar expedition in history” has begun:

Watch this space!

The 2019 Arctic Sea Ice Metric Minima

September is here once again, so the assorted minima of a variety of Arctic sea ice metrics will be reached soon, if they haven’t happened already!

In the latter category let’s first take a look at the NSIDC’s 5 day averaged SSMIS based Arctic sea ice extent:

It looks entirely feasible that the current minimum of  4.29 million square kilometres on September 7th will hold for the rest of the calendar year. The daily NSIDC number is currently 4.24 million km² on September 4th.

By way of contrast the JAXA/ViSHOP AMSR2 based extent hit a new low of  4.11 million  km² yesterday:

And what of our much beloved high resolution AMSR2 metrics derived by “Wipneus” from the University of Hamburg’s AMSR2 concentration data? Area certainly looks to be past the minimum for this year, whereas extent is still conceivably capable of another push lower:

The provisional minimum extent for 2019 is 3.80 million km² on September 3rd.

The minimum Arctic sea ice volume generally occurs slightly later than area or extent. The data certainly arrives later! Here’s the PIOMAS graph up to August 31st:

and here’s the associated thickness map:

Note that Arctic wide modelled volume is only slightly higher than in 2012 at the same time of year, but there is a noticeably greater percentage gap in extent. That implies that average ice thickness across the Arctic is lower in 2019 than in 2012.

Note also that the thickest ice is no longer located along the north coasts of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Here are the equivalent maps for previous years for comparison purposes:

Perhaps JAXA extent will head still lower over the next few days? Perhaps PIOMAS volume will sneak below 2012 before the peripheral refreeze begins?

[Edit – September 13th]

JAXA Arctic sea ice extent has reached a new minimum of 4.09 million km².

NSIDC daily extent is currently 4.28 million km², still just above the September 4th minimum.

[Edit – September 14th]

JAXA Arctic sea ice extent has reached a new minimum of 4.05 million km², which now puts it below the 2007 minimum that occurred somewhat later in September:

[Edit – September 14th PM]

NSIDC 5 day averaged extent has also (by a whisker!) reached a new minimum for the year of 4.285 million km²:

The daily number fell to 4.21 million km².

[Edit – September 15th]

I have somewhat belatedly discovered that in the build up to the forthcoming MOSAiC Expedition the Alfred Wegener Institute recently announced  that:

The sea-ice extent in the Arctic is nearing its annual minimum at the end of the melt season in September. Only circa 3.9 million square kilometres of the Arctic Ocean are covered by sea ice any more, according to researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the University of Bremen. This is only the second time that the annual minimum has dropped below four million square kilometres since satellite measurements began in 1979.

[Edit – September 16th]

JAXA/ViSHOP extent has dropped below the 2016 minimum, and now measures 4.01 million km²:

Only 2012 left to beat!

Wipneus’ high resolution AMSR2 extent has also posted a new low for the year, but still has a little way to go before passing 2016:

Area is also currently declining, but is still well away from a new minimum for 2019:

Watch this space!

Ship of Fools III Escapes Arctic Sea Ice

According to a comment on the Arctic Sea Ice Blog 2019 has been:

Another year with a climate change research ship stuck in the vanishing Arctic ice .The NWP barely open.

The reality? The MS Malmö isn’t a “climate change research ship” at all. According to the web site of  Arctic Wildlife Tours it is:

A homely ship of maritime historical dignity” which “has been listed as a traditional ship of cultural value since 2004:

MS Malmö

However according to our old friend Paul Homewood‘s web site:

Arctic tours ship MS MALMO with 16 passengers on board got stuck in ice on Sep 3 off Longyearbyen, Svalbard Archipelago, halfway between Norway and North Pole. The ship is on Arctic tour with Climate Change documentary film team, and tourists, concerned with Climate Change and melting Arctic ice. All 16 Climate Change warriors were evacuated by helicopter in challenging conditions, all are safe. 7 crew remains on board, waiting for Coast Guard ship assistance.

Something is very wrong with Arctic ice, instead of melting as ordered by UN/IPCC, it captured the ship with Climate Change Warriors.

Not a lot of people know that despite all that purple prose Malmö has somehow managed to emerge unscathed from the clutches of the sea ice on the other side of Svalbard from Longyearbyen:

It will come as no surprise to our regular readers that the web site of our even older friend Anthony Watts has also published the self same story, also without the happy ending.

Whilst it is reasonable to assume that Paul and Anthony are not fluent in Norwegian, it seems they are also unfamiliar with Google. If they had performed the merest modicum of due diligence and employed the services of Google translate before pressing the “publish” button they would have discovered the coverage of the “massive false information” about the Malmö’s story in the Svalbard Post, published on September 5th:

Trygve Monsen and expedition leader Tore Toppe were among the 16 who were evacuated when MS Malmö got stuck in the ice on Tuesday. They respond strongly to what they call misinformation on the right-wing website document.no

Those who were on board MS Malmö have a completely different version of events.

“First, we are not Swedish. We are a group of middle aged Norwegians following the route of the Ahlmann expedition of 1931“, says Trygve Monsen. He himself has worked for the Norwegian press for a long time, particularly Aftenposten, where he has been both digital manager and correspondent in Berlin.

Together with Expedition Chief Tore Topp, Monsen arrived at the Svalbard Post on Thursday. He had tried to contact document.no many times before that, to correct the false information. They also say that they are not climate activists.

“No way. But when you are in the Arctic, and have been here many times over several years, you can’t help but notice what is happening to the environment up here”, says Topp. This is the seventh expedition he has led in the Arctic.

The evacuation of MS Malmö on Tuesday took place without significant drama. The boat was surprised by harsh ice conditions and eventually got stuck. The captain decided to ask for evacuation, for safety. The Governor came by helicopter and after a few minutes all the passengers were evacuated. The crew on the boat remained on board, and later got help from KV “Andenes” to get out of the sea ice.

In other old news the southern route through the Northwest Passage opened on August 15th this year, although with the assistance of the icebreaker CCGS Terry Fox the MS Bremen made it through a few days earlier:

[Edit – September 11th]

MS Malmö is now back in the range of an AIS receiver, whilst apparently en route back to Norway:

[Edit – September 12th]

I ventured onto Twitter this morning, where I discovered Matt Ridley regurgitating the same nonsense about MS Malmö, plus this news from the Norwegian Coastguard:

Perhaps Paul, Anthony, Matt et al. would care to click @Jack’s helpfully provided “Translate Tweet” button?

I’ve also discovered that document.no eventually published a “correction” to their original story on September 9th. Perhaps Paul, Anthony, Matt et al. would care to follow suit?

[Edit – September 12th PM]

It seems another one of the usual suspects has been hard at work too. Here’s James Delingpole over at Breitbart UK:

Yet another greenie expedition to the Arctic to raise awareness of ‘global warming’ has been scuppered by unexpected large quantities of ice.

Furthermore James has brought my attention to the fact that my foolish numbering system is out of date. According to his reckoning MS Malmö is actually “Ship of Fools IV”. Mind you he’s also claiming that Northabout was “Ship of Fools II”, which is obviously another porkie pie of epic proportions.

James also repeats the “stuck in ice off Longyearbyen” nonsense. For Donald, James, Paul, Anthony, Matt et al. here’s the current view of all the sea ice off Longyearbyen, via Joss Stone on Twitter:

In actual fact there is of course currently less sea ice in the Arctic than in any previous year (in the satellite record) apart from 2012:

[Edit – September 13th]

Today on Twitter I’ve found myself in conversation about #MalmoGate with Ken. He doesn’t say an awful lot, but he appears to think that MS Malmö being “surprised by harsh ice conditions” is significant in some way:

One of the things that is actually significant about the 2019 melting season is quite the reverse of that. The Swedish icebreaker Oden spent a couple of weeks pootling around in the  Sherard Osborn Fjord in North Greenland without getting “stuck in the vanishing Arctic ice”:

[Edit – September 14th]

What Ken, Paul Joseph, Donald, James, Paul, Anthony, Matt et al. evidently fail to comprehend is that the sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean doesn’t merely expand and contract with the seasons. It also moves. Just in case any of them do get around to doing a modicum of due diligence, take a good long look at this animation of Arctic sea ice age from the September 2015 minimum to the end of August this year:

[Edit – September 15th]

It has just come to my attention that our very old friend Tony Heller (the artist formally known as Steve Goddard) has somewhat belatedly jumped on the MalmoGate bandwagon:

Facts About the Arctic in July 2019

The June PIOMAS Arctic sea ice gridded thickness numbers have been released. Here once again is Wipneus’ visualisation thereof:

The Arctic wide volume graph does not make a pretty sight:

The recent rapid rate of decline has continued through the second half of June and PIOMAS modelled volume is now lowest for the date in the Polar Science Center’s records.

The various methods of measuring Arctic sea ice thickness don’t produce meaningful results during the summer, so let’s move on to area and extent. Arctic wide high resolution AMSR2 area and extent remain “lowest for the date”, although it currently looks as though 2016 may regain that dubious honour in the near future:

Confining the view to the Arctic Basin there is no doubt that 2019’s position will not be in doubt for quite some time:

The apparent discrepancy is explained by taking a closer look at the Atlantic side of the Arctic:

Some of the thicker ice that has continued to be exported from the central Arctic in the direction of the North Atlantic is surviving there, for the moment at least.

Watch this space!

Facts About the Arctic in June 2019

In my humble opinion summer in the Arctic summer starts on June 1st, so let’s check the current sea ice situation in the once frozen North. For details of the preconditioning of the ice during the Arctic spring see “Melt Pond May“, where I concluded that:

Compared with 2016 at the same time of year I am compelled to say that with June 1st just around the corner the 2019 summer melting season is primed to progress more quickly.

Currently extent is significantly below 2012, albeit somewhat above 2016 at the same time of year. And what of melt ponds? In 2012 there was evidence of less snow cover over land and more surface water on the ice on the Siberian side of the Arctic. Other than that Arctic sea ice in 2019 looks to be in worse shape than in 2012.

And how have things progressed over the last few days? Take a look at this:

Our “Arctic Basin” metric encompasses the Central Arctic plus the Beaufort, Chukchi, East Siberian and Laptev Seas. It is currently headed into uncharted waters. The effect on overall Arctic sea ice extent is also readily visible:

This year both the CPOM version of CryoSat-2 thickness and the University of Bremen’s SMOS thickness maps are continuing to be published during the melting season:

Take them with a large pinch of salt at this time of year!

Finally, for the moment at least, liquid water is starting to seep out of the Lena Delta:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Lena Delta on June 3rd 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Lena Delta on June 3rd 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite

For comparison purposes please also take a look at the same date in 2016:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Lena Delta on June 3rd 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Lena Delta on June 3rd 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite

and the previous date in 2012:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Lena Delta on June 2nd 2012, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Lena Delta on June 2nd 2012, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite

[Edit – June 4th]

A significant area of the Laptev Sea ice is now turning a much darker shade of blue using the band 7-2-1 false colour combination:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev Sea on June 4th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev Sea on June 4th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

In addition the DMI >80N temperature metric has reached the zero Celsius line well ahead of schedule:

[Edit – June 5th]

The May PIOMAS numbers have been released! Here is the Wipneus generated state of play on May 31st:

and here is the all too familar multi-year graph:

[Edit – June 10th]

As reported in this year’s Northwest Passage article:

Any early bird traversing the Northwest Passage from west to east could now sail through open water around Point Barrow, along the Alaskan and Canadian coast and into the Amundsen Gulf:

Arctic Basin sea ice extent is still descending through uncharted territory:

and Basin area currently looks poised to follow suit:

[Edit – June 11th]

There’s a beautifully clear view of the Siberian coast today, with vast areas of melt ponds visible on VIIRS false colour:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev & East Siberian Seas on June 11th 2019, derived from the VIIRS sensor on the Suomi satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev & East Siberian Seas on June 11th 2019, derived from the VIIRS sensor on the Suomi satellite

The Arctic Basin area has indeed taken a nosedive into uncharted territory:

By way of comparison sea ice area on the Atlantic periphery is in amongst the recent pack, thanks to the almost continual drift in that direction over last winter:

[Edit – June 13th]

High resolution AMSR2 extent has been in a “statistical tie” with 2016 for a few days:

However the NSIDC’s 5 day average extent has reached a clear new low for the date, in the satellite record at least:

[Edit – June 14th]

Especially for AJBT, here’s the Slater Probabilistic Ice Extent prediction for August 3rd:

and here’s the current DMI >80N temperature graph:

Finally, for the moment at least, there is not very much fast ice left at Utqiaġvik:

[Edit – June 15th]

The sea ice in the Laptev Sea is starting to break up:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev Sea on June 15th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev Sea on June 15th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

As is the fast ice in the Beaufort Sea:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on June 14th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on June 14th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

Meanwhile the MSLP of the cyclone currently spinning over Severnaya Zemlya was down to 976 hPa at 06:00 UTC this morning:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Kara Sea on June 15th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Kara Sea on June 15th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

An early morning image from the Utqiaġvik webcam:

Especially for Mateo (see below) here’s the current high resolution Arctic Basin sea ice area:

and extent:

Note that the recent cyclones have caused a temporary jump in sea ice extent, but not in area.

[Edit – June 17th]

The Lincoln Sea has turned noticeably bluer on MODIS bands 7-2-1 false colour:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Lincoln Sea on June 17th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Lincoln Sea on June 17th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite

[Edit – June 19th]

The sea ice off the Lena Delta has started to collapse:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev Sea on June 19th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev Sea on June 19th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite

Meanwhile the clear water off Point Barrow is opening up further:

Finally, for the moment at least, here is the current view from the Utqiaġvik (Barrow as was) sea ice webcam:

P.S. The mid month PIOMAS numbers have been released, and Wipneus has worked his usual magic:

2019 sea ice volume is currently in a “statistical tie” with 2012, in 2nd place behind 2017:

[Edit – June 22nd]

The fast ice in the Vilkitsky Strait has started to break up:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Vilkitsky Strait on June 22nd 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Vilkitsky Strait on June 22nd 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

Sea Ice area along the Northern Sea Route is currently the lowest for the date in the AMSR2 ere:

In addition the June 2019 Sea Ice Prediction Network report has been released. Here’s the summary:

Again, as in previous years, the spread in the dynamical models are larger compared with statistical models. Overall, the heuristic method has the lowest projected September sea-ice extent value with a median at 4.09 million square kilometers, and the dynamical models have the highest number with the median at 4.56 million square kilometers.

[Edit – June 23rd]

Arctic wide sea ice area is now lowest for the date in the high resolution AMSR2 record, although extent has yet to follow suit:

If you exclude the peripheral seas, which are all largely ice free by mid September in this day and age, the picture is extremely stark:

A brief glimpse through the clouds reveals that the North Pole is now starting to feel the recent heat:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the North Pole on June 22nd 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the North Pole on June 22nd 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

[Edit – June 27th]

Arctic wide sea ice extent is now lowest for the date in the high resolution AMSR2 record:

Here’s Arctic wide sea ice area, which is still well below the rest of the pack:

[Edit – June 29th]

As the end of the month draws near let’s take a look at sea ice area along a couple of the famous sea routes above the Arctic Circle. First of all here’s the Northern Sea Route, comprising the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi Seas:

Next here’s the Northwest Passage, comprising the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas plus the channels of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Baffin Bay:

For completeness here too are the current Arctic wide area and extent numbers:

Watch this space!

An Inconvenient Truth About Polar Ice Melt

The celebrated web site of our old friend Anthony Watts published an article yesterday entitled “The polar ice melt myth“. As a self styled expert on that particular topic I popped over there expectantly, only to discover that it is an actual fact a cut ‘n’ paste of an April 30th article by Dr. Jay Lehr at CFACT. Part of that article reads as follows:

Al Gore predicted in 2007 that by 2013 the Arctic Ocean would be completely ice free. In the summer of 2012 ice levels did reach all time lows in the Arctic. Emboldened by this report Australian Professor Chris Turney launched an expedition in December of 2013 to prove that the Antarctic Sea Ice was also undergoing catastrophic melting only to have his ship trapped in sea ice such that it could not even be rescued by modern ice-breakers.

The Professor should have known that a more accurate estimate of sea ice can be had from satellite images taken every day at the Poles since 1981. These images show that between summer and winter, regardless of the degree of summer melting, the sea ice completely recovers to its original size the winter before for almost every year since the pictures were taken. The sea ice has been stubbornly resistant to Al Gore’s predictions. In fact the average annual coverage of sea ice has been essentially the same since satellite observations began in 1981. However that has not stopped global warming advocates and even government agencies from cherry picking the data to mislead the public.

I also like to think that I’m something of an expert on the way “skeptical” folks cherry pick the data to mislead the public. For example I once wrote a post about David Rose‘s Mail on Sunday article concerning  Al Gore’s interpretation of Prof. Wieslaw Maslowski’s research into Arctic sea ice decline. Hence I felt compelled to comment on this most recent of misleadling WUWT articles about polar ice!

As luck would have it Guy McPherson recently interviewed Wieslaw about events back in 2007 and his more recent research on Arctic sea ice melt. Here is a video recording of their conversation:

I endeavoured to bring this most relevant piece of information to the attention of Anthony’s loyal readership last night (UTC) as follows:

This morning my pertinent comment is still “awaiting moderation”.

Q.E.D?

Melt Pond May 2019

A couple of years ago I was asked to provide “a handful of things [you] will be keeping an eye on over the next few months to judge how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ the melt is going?”

My answer was, and remains:

5 fingers worth to start with? Not necessarily in order of time or importance!

1. How soon melt ponds and/or open water hang around in the Beaufort Sea this year. Things started very early [in 2016]:

http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2016/04/the-beaufort-gyre-goes-into-overdrive/

2. Ditto the Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea

3. Ditto the Laptev and East Siberian Seas

4. How many (and how deep, warm, wet) spring cyclones spin around the Arctic Ocean

5. How the snow melt progresses across Canada, Alaska and Siberia

Applying the same criteria this year, open water is already hanging around in the Beaufort Sea, as well as the Amundsen Gulf:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on May 21st 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on May 21st 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

What’s more a cyclone is currently spinning in the area too:

With those prerequisites in place, how about my other criteria? Here’s the current northern hemisphere snow cover graph:

That suggests snow cover over land is close to recent lows, which is confirmed by the Rutgers University snow cover anomaly graph for April:

This year is anomalously low, but not by as much as 2012 and 2016. For completeness, here also is the current US National Ice Center snow cover map:

Moving on to melt ponds, there are plenty to be seen on the fast ice around the Mackenzie river delta:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Mackenzie Delta on May 24th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Mackenzie Delta on May 24th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

There also seem to be signs of some at a higher latitude off Ostrov Kotelny in the New Siberian Islands:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev Sea on May 23rd 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Laptev Sea on May 23rd 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

This year there is also a lot of open water in the Chukchi Sea, and almost no sea ice left in the Bering Sea:

Compared with 2016 at the same time of year I am compelled to say that with June 1st just around the corner the 2019 summer melting season is primed to progress more quickly.

The next obvious comparison to make is with the (in)famous year of 2012, which resulted in the lowest ever minimum extent in the satellite record. Firstly let’s look at the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s graph of Arctic sea ice extent:

Currently extent is significantly below 2012, albeit somewhat above 2016 at the same time of year. And what of melt ponds? In 2012 there was evidence of less snow cover over land and more surface water on the ice on the Siberian side of the Arctic:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Eastern Arctic on May 25th 2012, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Eastern Arctic on May 25th 2012, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

Other than that Arctic sea ice in 2019 looks to be in worse shape than in 2012.

[Edit – May 27th]

We’ve established that the extent of Arctic sea ice at the end of May 2019 is less than in 2012, but something else to consider is whether that ice is currently thicker than in 2012, or not. Satellites can have a reasonable stab at measuring the area of sea ice, but the third dimension is much trickier. The European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite has been attempting to measure sea ice thickness since 2010, so let’s take at the conclusions it has reached:

Don’t forget to take a good long look at the associated uncertainties too:

Watch this space!

The Northwest Passage in 2019

It is perhaps rather early to start speculating about if, and when, the Northwest Passage will become navigable for the host of small vessels eager to traverse it this summer.

However one such vessel is already en route to the Arctic Circle, so why don’t we take a look at its live tracking map?

Moli (Mo for short) is being piloted singlehandedly by Randall Reeves, who has already circumnavigated Antarctica and is hell bent on circumnavigating America too!

http://figure8voyage.com/blog

According to Randall’s last but one update he’ll be stopping in St. Johns before heading for the Arctic Circle:

“Have you explained why your first stop is St John’s?” asked a friend recently, “Not New York, Boston, Camden, Lunenberg, Halifax, to name just, well, five?”

It is a good question, and the answer is simple: I never considered going anywhere else because a) St John’s is decidedly on the Figure 8 route and b) it has the required marine facilities and big grocery stores. And did I mention, it’s right on the route?

Actually, I did flirt briefly with the idea of Boston, thinking that goods there would be cheaper and marine facilities, more diverse. And though it does save some 500 miles of sailing on this inbound leg, Boston is so far west that it adds 1,000 miles to the leg up to the Arctic. So, I’ve decided to stick to the most logical stop.

St. John’s is less than a thousand miles north now. In any worthy wind, we’d be there before the end of the month. But when your average speed is 3.9 knots…you don’t do the when-do-we-make-port math.

Interestingly the background to Moli’s live tracking map is from Windy.com.

[Edit – June 10th]

It’s very early in the melting season to be reporting on this event, but any early bird traversing the Northwest Passage from west to east could now sail through open water around Point Barrow, along the Alaskan and Canadian coast and into the Amundsen Gulf. Here’s the latest sea ice concentration chart for Alaskan waters from the US National Weather Service:

Whilst we’re here why don’t we take a look at how Randall is getting along in Moli. According to his latest blog post he is now in Halifax scraping barnacles off Moli’s bottom!

On Friday, June 8, day 245 of the Figure 8 Voyage, I hauled Mo here at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. My expectations were that the bum would be nearly spotless. Instead, we had a new crop of hitchhikers coming in at the base of those older barnacles that remained.

Lessons Learned:
“There is no good bottom paint for aluminum boats,” says my friend, fellow cruiser, and aluminum boat builder, Gerd Marggraff. Prior to departure, I had applied three generous coats of a bottom paint known specifically to ward off hard growth, but barnacles are superior beings, able to penetrate even the best defenses.

An early jump. I might have had an easier time of it if I’d dived the hull before the first Cape Horn rounding, when the barnacles were young and few.

In hindsight, I think I could have dived the hull with some success, even when the barnacles had matured into a reef. I found here in the yard that the “hold fast” (the glue that holds the barnacle fast to the hull) was easier to remove with a sharpened spatula than I had thought. It would have been a big job, taking a full day or more–but not impossible.

[Edit – June 15th]

Delving deeper into the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the clouds have cleared over “Amundsen’s Route” through the Northwest Passage to reveal extensive melt ponding:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Northwest Passage on June 14th 2019, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

Bellot Strait appears to be largely free of sea ice already:

[Edit – August 16th]

After a tense wait Bellot Strait has recently become blocked by 9/10 concentration sea ice but the southern route through the Northwest Passage via Peel Sound is now open to any vessel willing to cope with 6/10 concentration or less:

Facts About the Arctic in April 2019

At the beginning of April 2019 all the assorted Arctic sea ice extent metrics are at their respective lowest levels for the date in the satellite record. Just for a change let’s start with the JAXA/ViSHOP graph for April 1st, based on AMSR2 data:

That shows extent apparently on an inexorable decline. However the higher resolution graphs derived by Wipneus from University of Hamburg AMSR2 concentration data reveal that Arctic sea ice extent has changed little over the last couple of days, and area has even increased somewhat:

Whilst we wait for Wipneus’ latest PIOMAS thickness and volume update, here’s the gridded merged CryoSat-2/SMOS thickness data from the Finnish Meteorological Institute:

Watch this space for some other extent graphs once they’ve updated to April 1st. In particular the DMI’s version of events will be of great interest, since by way of a little All Fools Day fun I passed on the latest Arctic sea ice news to Tony Heller and the denizens of his “Deplorable Climate Science Blog” yesterday. They were not amused! By way of example, Rah solemnly informed me that:

Tony consistently has used the DMI data as his primary source on the conditions in the Arctic, while you jump to whatever source you think justifies your bias. Get a life. Arctic air temps this year so far have been running below what they were at this time last year.

This is the graph that Steve/Tony used in an attempt to make his point:

Accompanied by his sage thoughts on the matter:

That has to be your lamest cherry-pick on record.

Here too is the latest graph of Rah and Tony’s beloved DMI “Arctic air temps”:

P.S. Here are the April 1st numbers from Steve/Tony’s current metric du jour:

and from the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

Plus the April 2nd DMI “Arctic temperature” graph:

 

[Edit – April 3rd]

Snow White asked Axel Schweiger nicely on Twitter, and as if by magic the PIOMAS numbers for March have been released, including gridded thickness. Wipneus has crunched them to reveal the following end of March sea ice thickness map:

plus a rather unusual volume graph:

Here’s a closeup view:

According to the PIOMAS model Arctic sea ice volume has been flatlining for the last couple of weeks, and may even have peaked already!

Meanwhile returning to 2 dimensions the decline in area has resumed:

 

[Edit – April 7th]

Wipneus’ UH high resolution extent fell another 129k yesterday:

Plus a close up look at the FMI merged Cryosat-2/SMOS thickness for both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Arctic:

Apart from the usual thick ice queueing for the Fram Strait exit there’s not a lot to prevent the comparatively swift early melt from continuing apace.

Facts About the Arctic in March 2019

Wipneus has recently updated the mid month PIOMAS gridded thickness map, which looks like this:

The accompanying PIOMAS volume graph currently shows 2019 in seventh place:

We now have a new thickness metric to peruse each month. Here’s the gridded merged CryoSat-2/SMOS thickness data from the Finnish Meteorological Institute:

Since the FMI make the gridded data available as well as that visualisation, here’s a closer look at the Bering/Chukchi area:

There’s an awful lot of thin ice in the region ripe for rapid melting now that the sun is shining down for a rapidly increasing number of hours per day. Over on the other side of the North Pole there’s also some significant swell forecast to hit the Atlantic edge of the Arctic ice pack. Here’s the current WaveWatch III forecast for 09:00 UTC tomorrow morning:

Finally, for the moment at least, here are the current Arctic wide high resolution AMSR2 sea ice area and extent graphs:

 

[Edit – March 22nd]

This Sentinel 1 SAR image of the Lincoln Sea from PolarView suggests that the northern arch of the Nares Strait is breaking up once again:

It is therefore conceivable that sea ice in the Lincoln Sea will continue to break up and flow south through the Nares Strait for the entire 2018/2019 winter.

 

[Edit – March 23rd]

Bering Sea ice area has “rebounded” over the last few days:

and taken the Arctic wide metrics with it:

Here’s the latest Sentinel 1 SAR image of the Lincoln Sea and northern Nares Strait:

 

[Edit – March 24th]

The “rebound” has reversed:

With temperatures above freezing point across the Bering and Chukchi Sea forecast for tomorrow morning expect the decline in Arctic sea ice extent to accelerate:

 

[Edit – March 25th]

There was a 162k decline in high resolution extent yesterday:

Here also is the current state of the thick sea ice exiting the Lincoln Sea via the Nares Strait:

 

[Edit – March 27th]

Here’s another week’s merged CryoSat-2/SMOS thickness data from the Finnish Meteorological Institute:

 

[Edit – March 30th]

We’re still waiting for Wipneus’ Raspberry Pi to crunch the high resolution AMSR2 numbers, but here’s the latest from JAXA:

2019 currently in 3rd place by a whisker.

P.S. The high resolution AMSR2 numbers are out:

Area is certainly lowest for the date in the AMSR2 era. Extent will almost certainly achieve that status tomorrow. Excluding the two most peripheral seas reveals perhaps an even more worrying picture?

 

[Edit – March 31th]

Arctic sea ice coverage is now firmly in the “lowest extent for the date in the satellite record” category, whichever metric you care to choose:

The NSIDC 5 day average is in a “statistical tie” for first place with 2017: