The “Last Ice Area” in the Arctic.

A recent paper by Kent Moore et al. has caused something of a stir in the mainstream media recently, as well as in cryospheric circles and amongst the cryodenialista:

First Observations of a Transient Polynya in the Last Ice Area North of Ellesmere Island

The area to the north of Ellesmere Island and Greenland contains the Arctic’s thickest ice and it is predicted to be the last to lose its perennial ice, thus providing an important refuge for ice-dependent species. There is however evidence that this Last Ice Area is, like the entire Arctic, undergoing rapid changes that may reduce its suitability as a refuge. During May 2020, a polynya developed to the north of Ellesmere Island in a region where there are no reports of a previous development. We use a variety of remotely sensed data as well as an atmospheric reanalysis to document the evolution and the dynamics responsible for the polynya. In particular, we argue that anomalously strong divergent winds associated with an intense and long-lived Arctic anti-cyclone contributed to the development of the polynya as well as similar previously unreported events in May 1988 and 2004.

Curiously the paper neglects to mention a polynya in the same region that we reported on, albeit in passing, in August 2018. Here’s an updated video of that event, with the addition at the start of a yellow arrow to highlight the part of the Arctic’s “Last Ice Area” investigated by Moore et al. and a pale blue arrow to highlight Kap Morris Jesup, the most northerly point in Greenland:

Next here’s another animation, covering the time period discussed in the paper and continuing throughout the summer of 2020:

Comparing the two animations it is obvious that the August 2018 polynya is much larger than the one in May 2020, confirmed by a quick area computation using NASA WorldView:

The introduction to the paper states that:

Flaw leads, elongated regions of open water that develop along the interface between land fast and pack ice (Barber & Massom, 2007) are common in the region. Indeed Peary’s 1909 sledding expedition to the North Pole was delayed as a result of a large flaw lead that developed north of Ellesmere Island (Peary, 1910). However, the development of a polynya in this region has not been reported previously.

To my eye the image above reveals something far too wide to be described as a “flaw lead”, but let’s delve deeper into the paper:

A perspective on the unique nature of the May 2020 event is provided by the monthly mean area of open water in the area of interest during May for the entire period of the ASI data set, 2003–2021 (Figure 2h). Typically the area of open water during May in the region is less than 160 km2. May 2020 is the only year in which the area of open water exceeds 2 standard deviations above the mean.

Perhaps the polynya in question is indeed “unique in the month of May”, in which case it would no doubt have been helpful if the abstract and/or the introduction to the paper had mentioned this subtlety. Then the plethora of erroneous statements in the media like the one recently referenced by Mark Lynas on Twitter might have been avoided?

The polynya is the first one that has been identified in this part of the Last Ice Area, according to a new study detailing the findings in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Since Mark, amongst others, seem to be suffering from the misapprehension that “The Arctic’s ‘Last Ice Area’ is cracking, just in time for COP26” here is what’s been happening in the “Last Ice Area” this year, in the run up to next month’s conference in Glasgow:

Finally, for the moment at least, are MODIS images of the May 20th 2020 polynya:

and the one on May 12th 2004:

Neither Aqua or Terra had been launched in 1988 of course, and Landsat 5 didn’t cover the north of Ellesmere Island. This is the SSM/I & SSMIS visualisation of all three May polynyas from the supplement to Moore’s paper:

David Rose on the New Arctic

With apologies to Lewis Carroll:

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

It has been brought to my attention (slightly belatedly) that in the run up to COP26 David Rose is once again pontificating about Arctic sea ice on Twitter. I have been in discussion about the “recently discovered” polynya in the so called “Last Ice Area” north of Ellesmere Island for a few days. Then this morning I discovered via a heads up from “ClimateVariability” that Mark Lynas has been tweeting about it too:

My Arctic alter ego and I were of course “blocked” by David Rose on Twitter many moons ago, and he has been quite quiet about the Arctic of late. However what with one thing and another he has now resumed his controversial commentary on the High North by commenting on Mark’s missive as follows:

I wonder if anybody will bring my thus far muted response to his attention?

The Dark Edge of Baffin Bay

We’ve been following the voyage of the Canadian icebreaker CCGS Amundsen as he circumnavigated Banks Island. Now Amundsen is about to set off on the final leg of his 2021 Arctic campaign to conduct the “DarkEdge” study in northern Baffin Bay. According to the Amundsen Science web site:

7 October to 3 November – Cambridge Bay to Quebec City

During the final Leg of the 2021 Expedition, an integrated study (DarkEdge) will take place at the ice edge to study the key processes taking place during the fall-winter transition in northern Baffin Bay. The Sentinel North program will deploy an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and contribute to the Dark Edge campaign. The CCGS Amundsen will sail to Quebec City for the end of the annual expedition on November 3rd.

and according to Christian Katlein from the Alfred Wegener Institute:

Christian is also going to be posting a video log during the voyage. Here is the first episode:

Here is a picture of a HUGIN AUV via Christian on the Amundsen:

and here are moving pictures of one in action:

The Canadian Ice Service daily charts don’t currently cover the north of Baffin Bay, so here’s the most recent weekly which provides some idea of what Amundsen will be facing over the next few weeks:

As Amundsen prepares to begin his voyage to the DarkEdge, here’s a watery sun setting over Cambridge Bay last night:

[Edit – October 11th]

Here’s the eighth video in Christian’s Sea Ice Stories series and the first from Amundsen itself, whilst moored in Cambridge Bay:

[Edit – October 12th]

Amundsen has finally located a smidgen of sea ice in Baffin Bay, at approximately 76.10 N, 77.10 W. Click to enlarge:

[Edit – October 13th]

Amundsen has managed to find some more significant sea ice, this time located at around 76.30 N, 78.70 W:

Watch this space!

Lies, Damned Lies And Tony Heller Videos

Yesterday Tony Heller proudly proclaimed on Twitter that:

I’m going to make a video today discussing the systemic lies, data hiding and deception about the Arctic from government agencies and the press.

Early today (UTC) that video was published on YouTube. At 0:19 Tony asserts that:

And of course the graph starts in 1979 because they say that’s the start of the satellite record!

On no “they” don’t! This morning (UTC):

Tony seems have gone very quiet on Twitter, so here’s another couple of episodes from the ongoing soap opera:

Here’s the reference in question, from page 236 in the IPCC’s First Assessment Report in 1990:

The Under-Ice Thickness Distribution of the Arctic Basin as Recorded in 1958 and 1970

Surely a sufficiently unambiguous title for someone of Tony Heller’s intellectual capacity to comprehend?

[Edit – October 11th]

Tony is still very quiet about Arctic matters on Twitter, so here’s a few more episodes of my ongoing critique:

[Edit – October 13th]

Shock News! Tony Heller has accidentally made a testable prediction on Twitter!!

Let’s bookmark it for posterity shall we?

Needless to say Tony has yet to answer my final question.

[Edit – October 16th]

Needless to say Tony Heller has yet to answer any of my recent questions. What’s more despite the exhortations of one of his band of merry (mostly) men he has declined to engage in a public debate with me:

Watch this space!

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics

Here’s this morning’s announcement of The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm in full:

The associated press release puts it this way:

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2021

“for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems”

with one half jointly to Syukuro Manabe, Princeton University, USA and Klaus Hasselmann, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

“for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”

and the other half to Giorgio Parisi, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

“for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales”

The press release explains:

Continue reading The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics

What’s Up With That Arctic Sea Ice Disinformation

A few days ago we posted an article about the recent surge in the amount of disinformation being published about Arctic sea ice. Eventually one of our long list of usual suspects, Anthony Watts, published a copy of an erroneous Arctic article by Paul Homewood.

Now the Watts Up With That Arctic porky pie production line is going into overdrive, so here’s an already long list of its output in the run up to the COP26 conference in Glasgow in a month or so. First up is the aforementioned clone from NALOPKT. Allegedly:

It is very easy to show that Arctic sea ice has stabilised. As their graph itself shows, there have only been three years since 2007 with lower ice extent than that year, and eleven have had higher extents. Also the average of the last ten years is higher than 2007’s extent.

In itself, this is too short a period to make any meaningful judgements. But that is no excuse for the Met Office to publish such a manifest falsehood.

This comment of mine on that article remains invisible at WUWT:

This morning (UTC) I added another comment to Anthony’s moderation queue:

Continue reading What’s Up With That Arctic Sea Ice Disinformation

Facts About the Arctic in October 2021

By way of a change we start this month’s look at all things Arctic with some sea ice statistical analysis. Anthony Watts’ Arctic porky pie production line has been speeding up recently, and I am not the only one who has noticed. As part of his takedown of the latest “skeptical” allegations against the United Kingdom Met Office Tamino has been looking at trends in Arctic sea ice extent over at his “Open Mind” blog:

First and foremost, the yearly minimum is only one day out of the year. We have sea ice extent data throughout the year, and what happens during the rest of the year counts. Instead of using the annual minimum, let’s use the annual average. To avoid losing the most recent data, I’ll compute the yearly average for October through the following September rather than the usual (but arbitrary) January through December. I’ll also omit October 1978 through September 1979 because that year is incomplete. I get this:

The annual averages show much less fluctuation than the annual minima, so we can estimate things like rates of change with greater precision. I find that there is statistical evidence that the rate changed over time. One model of such changes uses three straight-line segments with their changes chosen to best-fit the data, like this:

Continue reading Facts About the Arctic in October 2021

ICESat-2 2021 Sea Ice Thickness

We reported on the first ICESat-2 sea ice thickness data to be released back in May. We are now very pleased to be able to reveal that the data up to April 2021 is now available for download from the NSIDC web site. Here’s a visualisation of April’s data:

For comparison purposes here’s the CryoSat-2/SMOS equivalent:

ICESat-2 looks to have captured the arm of thicker ice extending across the Beaufort Sea suggested by sea ice age data better than CryoSat-2:

However thickness data is totally absent where leads are absent, in land-fast ice for example. It seems that near real time ICESat-2 processing isn’t available as yet, but we await the release of the data for October with barely bated breath!

Watch this space!

The Great White Con 2021 “New Einstein” Award

During the 4 years of the Donald Trump presidency the cryodenialosphere has been relatively quiet. However now that Joe Biden is in charge of the land of the free that happy state of affairs is changing.

First of all it is my solemn, if belated, duty to award the 2020 grand prize of the loan of another polar bear suit kindly donated by the Daily Telegraph plus a battered big board from Cotty‘s quiver to Tommy Barlow, occasional visitor to the Arctic Sea Ice Forum, with the following bon mots:

Fuck off, clique hobbit, shit-for-brains.

Getting back to 2021, several candidates have thrown their hat into the ring over the past few days. In order of appearance:

1) Sami Ilvonen on Twitter with the (partially now deleted):

Mia Mottley at the United Nations

With the COP26 conference starting in Glasgow in just over a month, and fresh from watching Boris Johnson invoking the spirit of Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Christmas Carol, it was an unanticipated pleasure to watch this speech by Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, to the United Nations’ General Assembly:

I highly recommend that you watch the entire speech. Whilst making numerous compelling points, especially regarding climate change, Mia also invoked the spirit of one Robert Nesta Marley:

Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don’t give up the fight!