Facts About the Arctic in February 2023

A new month has arrived, and during January several Arctic sea ice metrics have been drifting towards the bottom of their respective decadal ranges. To begin with here is AWI’s high resolution AMSR2 extent graph, which is currently very close to being lowest for the date in the AMSR2 record:

However that is less the case for area:

Taylor is keen to see the PIOMAS volume data for January, but whilst we wait for the latest Polar Science Center update here is the CryoSat-2/SMOS volume graph, which now includes a couple of month’s worth of reanalysed results as well as more recent near real time numbers:

Here too is the start of month CS2/SMOS thickness map:

There is still plenty of thicker ice queuing up for the Fram Strait exit from the Central Arctic.

Finally, for the moment at least, Northern Hemisphere snow cover is also very close to the bottom of its recent range at the moment:

[Edit – February 6th]

The latest edition of the NSIDC’s Arctic Sea Ice News has just been published:

The January 2023 average Arctic sea ice extent was 13.35 million square kilometers (5.15 million square miles), the third lowest January in the satellite record:

The sea level pressure pattern for January featured high pressure over the Pacific sector of the Arctic Ocean. This feature is known as the Beaufort High and is common in winter and spring:

By contrast, over on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, low pressure dominated in the Barents Sea region. As a result, relatively warm air from the south moved into the Barents Sea region, leading to air temperatures at the 925 millibar level (approximately 2,500 feet above the surface) more than 6 degrees Celsius above average near Svalbard:

Here too is an animation of sea ice motion on the Atlantic periphery for the winter of 2022/23 so far:

See in particular the waxing and waning of the area of open water north of Svalbard. Note also that the current GFS forecast includes a 944 hPa MSLP cyclone hovering over the Fram Strait tomorrow morning UTC:

Watch this space!

Facts About the Arctic in January 2023

At the beginning of the New Year all the central regions of the Arctic are now refrozen apart from a small area of the Kara Sea:

Most Arctic sea ice metrics are near the middle of their respective ranges over the last decade. By way of example, here is a graph of Arctic Freezing Degree Days based on the Danish Meteorological Institute’s temperature data for the area north of 80 degrees latitude:

Rutgers Snow Lab’s northern hemisphere snow cover anomaly for December 2022 is slightly negative:


Here too are the high resolution AWI AMSR2 area and extent graphs:

The latest AWI CryoSat-2/SMOS volume graph tells a similar story:

Although overall volume is in the middle of the pack, the associated thickness map:

and the thickness anomaly map from the Finnish Meteorological Institute reveal an unusual distribution of thicker ice:

A considerable volume of ice currently situated between Svalbard and North East Greenland seems destined to exit the Central Arctic Basin via the Fram Strait over the coming months.

[Edit – January 24th]

In a somewhat belated mid month update, here’s the PIOMAS daily Arctic sea ice volume graph:

together with the PIOMAS thickness map on January 15th:

For comparison purposes here’s the AWI CryoSat-2/SMOS thickness map using the same scale:

Note the change of scale from the beginning of the month CS2/SMOS map at the top.

Here too is Lars Kaleschke’s animation of recent Arctic sea ice concentration, with the width of leads exaggerated to reveal ice motion:

Click to animate (10 Mb!)

Evidently sea ice export from the so called “last ice area” is continuing via the Nares Strait and in particular via the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard.

Although not on the same scale as the cyclone at around the same time last year, surface pressure of a storm near Svalbard bottomed out at 965 hPa yesterday:

It will be interesting to see what effect the storm has on the ice on the Atlantic periphery over the next few days.

Further news is now available on the February 2023 open thread.

Facts About the Arctic in December 2022

A new month is upon us and Christmas is coming! Here’s another look at Lars Kaleschke’s high resolution AMSR2 area and extent graphs for the Arctic as a whole:

Extent increase stalled for the last few days of November, and as a result extent is now in a “statistical tie” with 2017 for 4th lowest extent for the date in the AMSR2 record.

Continue reading Facts About the Arctic in December 2022

Facts About the Arctic in November 2022

A change is allegedly as good as a rest, so here’s an alternative view of high resolution AMSR2 area and extent created using the experimental tools provided by the AWI’s Lars Kaleschke at: https://sites.google.com/view/sea-ice/

After a brief pause mid-month the refreeze has accelerated again. Both metrics are in the upper half of the decadal range, with extent this year just above 2021 and area just below last year.

Next let’s take a look at sea ice concentration at the end of October:

Continue reading Facts About the Arctic in November 2022

The Primacy of Doubt

Recently Judith Curry published a series of articles on the topic of blackouts. Since attempting to prevent such things is my “professional” speciality I’ve spent a bit of time over at “Climate Etc.” recently. Hence I couldn’t help but notice Judith’s article on Tim Palmer‘s new book, entitled “The Primacy of Doubt”. According to Judith:

This book is a physics-intellectual feast.  Must read.

Hence I immediately rushed online and bought a copy from amazon.co.uk, which arrived today. A more detailed overview will follow once I’ve had a chance to read the whole book, but leafing through it this evening I couldn’t help but notice this quotation from Richard Feynman at the very start:

Our freedom to doubt was born of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle. Permit us to question — to doubt, that’s all — not to be sure.

My gaze also alighted on the final paragraph of chapter 10 – “Decisions! Decisions!”:

Just as with weather prediction, a cost-loss analysis can help you make a decision about whether to take anticipatory action regarding climate change…

Based on the way we value our own existence in other areas of life, there does indeed seem to be a strong argument that we should act now, uncertainties about future climate change notwithstanding.

But this is ultimately a decision which each of us must make, e.g. in deciding which politicians to vote for.

Of course being a citizen of the once Great British banana republic I don’t get to vote on our next Prime Minister!

I think I’ll go and pass this news on to Judith and her denizens forthwith. Meanwhile here’s a quotation from the back cover. According to Suki Manabe, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics:

The Primacy of Doubt is an important book by one of the pioneers of dynamical weather prediction, indispensable for daily life, describing how the approach can be used for prediction in other areas, such as climate, health, economy, and conflict.

[Edit – October 22nd]

I’m still rather busy trying to help keep the UK’s lights on, so I have yet to even begin reading “The Primacy of Doubt” from cover to cover. However here is another brief extract, from the chapter on “Climate Change”:

We understand these [water vapour, albedo] feedback processes reasonably well. However, there is another feedback process associated with water that we understand rather poorly. This is the cloud feedback process.

[Edit – October 25th]

Here’s another extract from chapter 6 (page 115):

The question of whether clouds act as a positive or negative feedback on climate change can’t at present be answered unambiguously: indeed, I would say it is the biggest unsolved problem in physical climate-change science.

Watch this space!

Rewriting The Arctic

Peter, a welcome new denizen here at the Great White Con Ivory Towers, appears to have parachuted into our far north summer hideaway on the shores of Santa’s Secret Summer Swimming Pool straight from Tony Heller‘s Unreal Climate Science blog.

Prompted by Peter I wandered over to Tony’s place where I found to my surprise that he has recently been busy warming up an old chestnut of his that has been debunked numerous times over the past decade. Allegedly:

Between 1990 and 2001, the IPCC rewrote the Arctic sea ice satellite record, and changed a trend of ice increasing to ice decreasing.

Here’s a previous chestnut rewarming event preserved for posterity:

Sadly Tony’s side of the “debate” has been deleted by the powers that be at Twitter, so here are the two graphs in question, combined by Mr. Heller into one illuminating animation:

I posted this comment on Tony’s blog last night (UTC), but he hasn’t got back to me yet:

Neither has anybody else. That’s probably because this morning my words of wisdom are still only visible to Tony and I?

[Edit – October 5th]

Progress at long last! Vegieman directs the attention of Tony’s band of merry (mostly) men to:

However for some strange reason he neglects to mention that Tony’s link labelled “2001 IPCC Report” doesn’t lead to that graph!

[Edit – October 9th]

Not a lot of people know that since things have gone quiet at Tony’s place I popped into Paul Homewood’s echo chamber, where rewriting the Arctic continues apace:

Needless to say my helpful comment is currently invisible.

Watch this space!

Facts About the Arctic in October 2022

The 2022/23 freezing season has begun, so to begin with here are Arctic sea ice area and extent during its early stages:

Both metrics are currently tracking 2021 quite closely.

Here too is an AMSR2 animation of the transition from melting to freezing in the Central Arctic. Click to animate, and be warned that the file size is almost 10 Mb:

[Edit – October 4th]

Another big storm is heading for the Chukchi Sea. The GFS forecast currently shows a sub 960 hPa low developing on Thursday:

Continue reading Facts About the Arctic in October 2022

Facts About the Arctic in September 2022

As in previous years there is already a thread devoted to this year’s minimum extent. By way of a summary here are the end of August numbers for our favourite “high resolution” AMSR2 area and extent metrics:

Extent is currently near the top of the range of the last 10 years.

We have now reached the stage of the “melting season” when “refreezing” has started in the Central Arctic but melting at the periphery is outpacing it. However the Canadian Ice Service stage of development charts now show the arrival of new ice in the high latitudes of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago:

Continue reading Facts About the Arctic in September 2022

The 2022 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Extent

September has arrived and it’s time to start speculating about when and at what level this summer’s minimum Arctic sea ice extent will occur. Here’s a helpful summary of previous years’ JAXA AMSR2/AMSR-E extent minima courtesy of Zack Labe:

Here too is JAXA’s current graph of extent, including a selection of previous years:

JAXA extent on August 31st was 4.96 million km2, marginally below last year’s value of 4.99 million km2 on the same date.

Continue reading The 2022 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Extent

The Nagalaqa Expedition

Extremely belatedly I’ve just discovered that many weeks ago Sébastien Roubinet set out on another expedition to cross the Arctic Ocean in an ice skating catamaran, now christened Babouch-ty. Seb has already led several similar expeditions in the high Arctic, and on this occasion he is accompanied by Eric André and Jimmy Hery. They set sail from Sachs Harbour on Banks Island at the end of June, and have seen many sights since then! Here are a few of them:

https://twitter.com/nagalaqa/status/1554374910151213061

Here too is a more recent image of Babouch-ty and Ellesmere Island:

The Nagalaqa tracking map shows that Babouch-ty looks set to round Cape Columbia, the northernmost point on Ellesmere Island, round about now:

The original aim of the expedition was to reach Svalbard via Cap Morris Jesup, but given the length of time it has taken the team to get this far they have sensibly decided to take an early exit from the Central Arctic via the Nares Strait:

[Edit – September 26th]

Seb has decided to terminate the Nagalaqa Expedition in the Nares Strait, north of the Kane Basin:

Winds of more than 30 knots are forecast. The weather window didn’t really open. Luckily we’re not on the water, with our wobbly little boat, it would have been catastrophic… Here and now, the winds, the cold, the snow, the darkness remind us that winter is back. The Arctic requires patience, perseverance, but also a large dose of humility. We are waiting for better weather conditions so that a helicopter can take off and pick us up. In a few days, we will leave Babouch-ty, dismasted, coiled in a fold of ground and moored to bags of stones… This expedition ends here for this year.

Watch this space!