David Rose’s Great Covid-19 Con?

Recent readers may well have arrived here because I have started commenting on the Great Covid-19 crisis? Regular readers may recall my previous Arctic sea ice altercations with David Rose? He “writes for the Mail on Sunday” according to his byline in Andrew Neil’s Spectator magazine. One or two people of a certain age may even recall the initial raison d’être of my Arctic alter ego’s blog?

David has now also turned his attention to Covid-19 in an article in the aforementioned journal, entitled “Revealed: Extinction Rebellion’s plan to exploit the Covid crisis. The group sees ‘silver linings’ in the pandemic”. Perhaps given our long familiarity with David’s “skeptical” oeuvre we might be able to reveal Andrew Neil’s “plan to exploit the Covid crisis”? That being the case, let’s dive into David’s “silver linings playbook” shall we?

As we contemplate the havoc being wrought by coronavirus, most of us see mainly sickness, death and economic ruin. Dr Rupert Read, spokesman for the climate protest group Extinction Rebellion — plus sometime Green party candidate, and associate professor of philosophy at the University of East Anglia — has rather a different view. In this pandemic, he writes, ‘there is a huge opportunity for XR… It is essential that we do not let this crisis go to waste.’

Read’s thoughts are set out in a paper entitled ‘Some strategic scenario-scoping of the coronavirus-XR nexus.’ The paper is not meant to be widely read. ‘NB, this is a confidential document for internal XR use, NOT for publication!’ he writes at the head.

Now this is of course the point in the ClimateBall™ playbook where one always poses the question “Gotta link to evidence justifying your assertions David?”

David doesn’t provide one so perhaps one might enquire instead:

[Edit – April 11th]

Perhaps you won’t be surprised to discover that neither Andrew Neil or David Rose have provided me with a link as yet? In which case perhaps one should try another tack?

Facts About the Arctic in April 2020

This comes to you a couple of days early, but the clocks have just changed to British Summer Time in the once United Kingdom and there is news to impart.

JAXA Arctic sea ice extent has fallen to the lowest level for the date in their satellite era records going back to 1979. This graph shows every year since 2000:

The high resolution AMSR2 regional graphs make clear that the precipitous drop on the Pacific periphery has continued:

The current combined SMOS/SMAP Arctic sea ice “thinness” map makes clear that there is plenty more thin ice ready for melting in the Sea of Okhotsk and Baffin Bay:

There is also a large area of thin ice in the Laptev Sea, which will be interesting to watch once the 2020 melting season gets underway in earnest.

[Edit – April 1st]

Today is All Fools’ Day, but this is no joke. Thanks to the consistent polar vortex over the Northern Hemisphere winter there is currently an anomalous “ozone hole” over the North Pole. As recently described in Nature:

A vast ozone hole — probably the biggest on record in the north — has opened in the skies above the Arctic. It rivals the better-known Antarctic ozone hole that forms in the southern hemisphere each year.

Record-low ozone levels currently stretch across much of the central Arctic, covering an area about three times the size of Greenland. The hole doesn’t threaten people’s health, and will probably break apart in the coming weeks. But it is an extraordinary atmospheric phenomenon that will go down in the record books.

“From my point of view, this is the first time you can speak about a real ozone hole in the Arctic,” says Martin Dameris, an atmospheric scientist at the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen.

Here are the latest graphics from the “Arctic Ozone Watch” section of the NASA web site:

Observations made during the still ongoing MOSAiC expedition, have confirmed the satellite derived measurements:

This year, powerful westerly winds flowed around the North Pole and trapped cold air within a ‘polar vortex’. There was more cold air above the Arctic than in any winter recorded since 1979, says Markus Rex, an atmospheric scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany. In the chilly temperatures, the high-altitude clouds formed, and the ozone-destroying reactions began.

Researchers measure ozone levels by releasing weather balloons from observing stations around the Arctic (including the Polarstern icebreaker, which is frozen in sea ice for a year-long expedition). By late March, these balloons measured a 90% drop in ozone at an altitude of 18 kilometres, which is right in the heart of the ozone layer. Where the balloons would normally measure around 3.5 parts per million of ozone, they recorded only around 0.3 parts per million, says Rex. “That beats any ozone loss we have seen in the past,” he notes.

I’ve previously conjectured about the potential effect of the strong polar vortex on Northern Hemisphere snow cover this Spring, and here’s NOAA’s current snow extent graph:

JAXA extent’s precipitous recent decline has abated, and it’s now 5th lowest for the date in the satellite era:

[Edit – April 4th]

Here’s the March 31st PIOMAS Arctic sea ice gridded thickness map:

together with the traditional volume graph:

Wipneus comments on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum that:

Ice is thickening impressively against the Canadian Archipelago and North Greenland.

That is indeed the case with the PIOMAS “modelled” numbers, but is much less obvious in the latest CryoSat-2/SMOS “measured” thickness map where ice over 4 metres thick is still conspicuous by its absence North of Greenland:

Plus a bonus graph for “Turbulent Eddie”, who suggests that:

[There’s] not much thick ice on the East Coast of Greenland, indicating the increase was from reduced loss through the Fram Strait?

together with the latest AARI ice age map:

[Edit – April 6th]

Here’s the latest update of our novel NRT volume metric:

I’ve applied a crude correction to the still problematic NRT data so that it at least coincides with the reanalysed data on March 14th. Whilst we await the reanalysed numbers for the rest of March and early April it looks as though Arctic sea ice volume reached at least a temporary peak on March 20th 2020.

[Edit – April 19th]

Here’s another update of our novel NRT volume metric, still incorporating my “fudge factor”:

Note also this handy hint from Stefan Hendricks on Twitter:

[Edit – April 21st]

Wipneus has crunched the mid month PIOMAS gridded thickness numbers. Here’s the result:

The discrepancy between the PIOMAS model and the CryoSat-2 “reality” is still very evident.

[Edit – April 25th]

With another week’s worth of reanalysed data now processed, it now seems certain that the CS2/SMOS Arctic sea ice volume maximum was 18469 km³ on April 6th:

[Edit – April 28th]

The high resolution AMSR2 area and extent metrics are now both “lowest for the date” in the AMSR2 record:

JAXA/ViSHOP AMSR2 extent isn’t quite there yet:

The 2020 Maximum Arctic Sea Ice Extent

As Zack Labe has recently pointed out, in 2015 the Arctic sea ice maximum extent based on the JAXA numbers had already occurred on February 15th:

Perhaps it’s time we started paying attention this year! However the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported a significantly later date in 2015:

On February 25, 2015, Arctic sea ice extent appeared to have reached its annual maximum extent, marking the beginning of the sea ice melt season. This year’s maximum extent not only occurred early; it is also the lowest in the satellite record. However, a late season surge in ice growth is still possible.

Each year we keep track of the assorted Arctic sea ice metrics over the next month or so, and they rarely agree on the date of maximum extent, and never agree on the sea ice extent on that date! The reason for that is explained in a 2017 paper entitled “Variability and trends in the Arctic Sea ice cover: Results from different techniques“:

Reports on the sea ice cover have been provided by different institutions using basically the same set of satellite data but different techniques for estimating key parameters such as ice concentration, ice extent, and ice area. In this study, a comparison of results from four different techniques that are frequently used shows significant disagreements in the characterization of the distribution of the sea ice cover primarily in areas that have a large fraction of new ice cover or significant amount of surface melt.

In due course we’ll look at the metrics from a variety of different institutions, but let’s start with JAXA, comparing 2020 with 2015 and the 2010s average:

Extent is clearly increasing just at the moment! Will the next peak prove to be the maximum for the year or will we have to wait another month or more to find out that value, as suggested by the average?

Compare and contrast JAXA extent with Wipneus’ high resolution AMSR2 extent and area:

Perhaps the 2020 maximum area has already been reached?

[Edit – February 25th]

Or perhaps not! We’re playing mix and match this morning, since Wipneus’s new numbers haven’t been released yet. Here UH AMSR2 high resolution Arctic sea ice area from February 23rd:

Plus JAXA extent for the 24th:

[Edit – February 27th]

Tony Heller’s latest sea ice themed article claims “Normal Sea Ice Extent At Both Poles”. Hence today’s JAXA extent graph includes the averages for previous decades:

Extent is evidently increasing once again, and is even more evidently well below what passed for “normal” in the twentieth century!

Let’s also compare the Pacific periphery:

with the Atlantic side of the Arctic Ocean:

The Bering and Okhotsk Seas will be sea ice free by the time September 2020 arrives. How about the Kara, Barents and particularly Greenland Seas though?

[Edit – February 29th]

Arctic sea ice maximum volume usually occurs in April, but nonetheless let’s keep an eye on the metric that most nearly measure the “amount” of sea ice left in the Arctic in 2020. Here’s our “measured” CryoSat-2/SMOS volume metric, using reanalysed data up to February 12th:

PIOMAS “modelled” volume for February should be released soon, but getting back to extent the JAXA flavour has been setting new highs over recent days:

whereas the NSIDC’s Charctic 5 day averaged extent has not!

[Edit – March 6th]

Here’s the February PIOMAS gridded Arctic sea ice thickness map, courtesy of Wipneus on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:

plus the traditional modelled volume graph:

As angech has pointed out elsewhere, according to the PIOMAS team:

CryoSat-2 data show total volume for February 2020 substantially lower than PIOMAS with 2020 Febuary near record low levels over the 2011-2020 period

[Edit – March 19th]

The March mid month PIOMAS numbers have been crunched by Wipneus. Here’s how things look at the moment:

For comparison purposes here’s the current CryoSat-2/SMOS Arctic sea ice thickness map:

[Edit – March 20th]

After flatlining for a long time JAXA extent has posted significant declines for two days running. There’s been no official announcement from the NSIDC as yet, but it now seems safe to conclude that there won’t be a late surge in extent similar to 2010. Here’s the current JAXA graph:

plus NSIDC’s 5 day averaged extent:

Hence the (still provisional!) maximum numbers for 2020 are:

JAXA/VISHOP AMSR2 – 14.45 million square kilometres on March 3rd
NSIDC 5 day SSMIS – 15.05 million square kilometres on March 5th

The University of Hamburg’s JAXA AMSR2 concentration data seems to have suffered an outage over the crucial period. Hopefully the gaps will be filled in due course. However more recent regional graphs  reveal the following:

The recent declines in overall extent are evidently driven by declines on the Pacific periphery.

The Great White Con 2020 “New Einstein” Award

Our regular reader(s) have grown to love the amazing prizes awarded to the winner of our annual Great White Con “New Einstein” Award . The jury has now finished its deliberations on the 2019 award in the traditional smoke filled igloo just outside the Great White Con Ivory Towers, not far from Santa’s secret summer swimming pool. I am pleased to be able to announce that the first prize of the loan of a polar bear suit kindly donated by the Daily Telegraph plus a battered big board from Cotty’s quiver has been awarded to the ever spiteful Spike55 at Tony Heller’s unReal Climate Science blog, with:

You’re an idiot. A LIAR. A child-minded troll. And a slimebag con-man.

Here for your viewing pleasure is the very first “New Einstein” contestant of 2020, astonishingly early since we’re still in the midst of the 2019/20 Arctic sea ice freezing season!

1) Michael Liebreich on Twitter, with:

2) Thomas Barlow, in a “Personal Message” following the introduction of a new moderation regime on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum with:

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

Jim Thomson Waves in Ice Webinar

I only found out about this webinar after it had already started. My Arctic alter ego somewhat cheekily suggested to the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS for short) that our research into waves in the Arctic was ahead of theirs, and was rather surprised when they agreed with “her”!

Fortunately the “Ocean Waves in the New Arctic” webinar was recorded, and here it is in its entirety:

See if you can spot the question “Snow White” asked?

Amongst other things, Jim mentioned in his talk coastal erosion due to increased wave action.  That included a flooding event at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) in 2017. Here’s what happened during a similar event there in 2015:

Photograph by Brittni Driver via Alaska Dispatch News
Photograph by Brittni Driver via Alaska Dispatch News

Barrow Battered By Big Waves

Jim also mentioned the erosion of the permafrost bluff at Drew Point, exacerbated by increasing wave action. According to a recent article on that topic:

Eroding permafrost coasts are likely indicators and integrators of changes in the Arctic System as they are susceptible to the combined effects of declining sea ice extent, increases in open water duration, more frequent and impactful storms, sea-level rise, and warming permafrost.

Our results show that mean annual erosion for the 2007–2016 decade was 17.2 m yr−1, which is 2.5 times faster than historic rates, indicating that bluff erosion at this site is likely responding to changes in the Arctic System.

Here’s a video of permafrost disappearing into the Beaufort Sea in 2008:

[Edit – March 1st]

A slightly less technical video from the University of Washington featuring Jim Thomson and some big waves in the New Arctic:

Where’s the Thickest Arctic Sea Ice Gone?

In the absence of the usual mid month PIOMAS Arctic sea ice volume update I’m being moaned at by “angech” over on Judith Curry’s “Climate Etc.” blog:

Any ideas on why PIOMAS mid month update not out, other than not wanting to show a big recovery?

Unlike any of Judy’s denizens I checked out the comparatively new merged CryoSat-2 plus SMOS thickness maps from the Alfred Wegener Institute. “Measured” rather than “modelled” data must be a good thing surely?

Just in case there’s some significant difference between the “reanalysis” and “operational” versions of that product, here is the AWI’s most recent reanalysed Arctic sea ice thickness map, for the week ending January 11th:

together with the same date from the previous two years:

Make sure to take a close look at the white areas north of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago showing sea ice over 4 metres thick.

Over the winter of 2018/19 ASCAT revealed that there was a relentless movement of multi-year ice towards both the North Atlantic and the Beaufort Sea.

Not unexpectedly that meant that ice in the northern Barents Sea was slow to melt out in the summer of 2019:

whilst after a fast start the melt in the Beaufort Sea also suffered a “brief hiatus” in June before ultimately melting out almost completely as well:

Perhaps a significant amount of the multi-year ice that survived the winter of 2018/19 has now simply melted away in warm water, to be replaced by much less robust first year ice in the area between the North Pole and the Siberian coast? It will be very interesting to see what the next PIOMAS update in early February reveals.

[Edit – February 4th]

The next PIOMAS update referred to above has now arrived. Here’s the Polar Science Center’s graph:

Over on Climate Etc. angech is already exclaiming:

Strange it did go up a fair bit the old PIOMAS.
No publicity at the usual going down sites.

Actually it’s not at all strange, because thus far this winter the polar vortex has been remarkably well behaved. By and large cold air air has stayed in the Arctic. There hasn’t been much in the way of cold air intrusions into mid latitudes or warm air intrusions into the Arctic.

Hence it’s not at all surprising that the thickness of sea ice in the Arctic has been increasing slightly more quickly this winter than in other recent years. By way of some longer term context, here are the official Polar Science Center min/max trends:

[Edit – February 4th PM]

Wipneus has just released the January PIOMAS gridded thickness map. Here it is:

[Edit – February 5th]

As is all too frequently the case, AdR and other commenters below get very excited about trivial increases in sea ice extent without considering snow extent. One side effect of the lack of cold air outbreaks into mid latitudes so far this winter currently looks like this:

[Edit – February 6th]

The AWI and PIOMAS sea ice thickness maps above look somewhat different at first glance. That being the case, I’ve written a program to crunch the AWI numbers. Here’s the result:

The source code plus raw and processed data can be accessed via the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:

CryoSat-2/SMOS Arctic Sea Ice Volume

[Edit – February 10th]

Further support for my “polar vortex” theory, from Judah Cohen no less!

[Edit – February 16th]

Here’s the latest update of our novel NRT volume metric:

Please note that there is a known problem with the NRT data from January 31st onwards.

Here too are Wipneus’ latest high resolution AMSR2 area and extent graphs:

[Edit – February 18th]

Wipneus has released his usual mid month PIOMAS update on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:

I am forced to ponder once again why the CryoSat-2/SMOS thickness “measured” numbers just above seem to be more at variance with PIOMAS in 2020 than in previous years:

[Edit – February 22nd]

Here’s another weekly NRT volume update:

This time I’ve left off the NRT data from February 6th onwards, since the “issue” referred to above obviously hasn’t been solved yet. As an added bonus here’s a graph showing the trends (or lack thereof) on 3 dates during the October to April freezing season:

Watts Up With Arctic Sea Ice Thickness?

Regular readers will no doubt recall that I have previously been “banned” on trumped up charges at the “Watts Up With That” blog. It thus came as a pleasant surprise when I recently popped back there and tried to pass comment on a “reprint” of an article by Professor Byron Sharp in Medium entitled “How I changed my mind… about global warming“:

Most, if not all, people would consider themselves to be open-minded. Yet, if you ask someone to name an important belief that they have changed their mind about, in response to evidence and/or logic, most struggle to give even one example.

This is the first in a series of blogs where I describe how and why I changed my mind about something. I hope to encourage myself to change my mind more often. And to encourage others.

Short summary: I now worry less about global warming than I did, the scientific evidence is that it’s not going to be catastrophic. PS Our best course of action is to adapt to the effects and to invest in R&D to develop new low carbon energy.

My initial comments survived the onerous WUWT moderation process and several of them were published without undue delay. The gist of my argument was quite simple:

I even managed to comment when somebody introduced the word “thickness” into the discussion:

Needless to say my good fortune couldn’t last forever, and eventually Anthony himself was on my case:

My request for an explanation has thus far been ignored:

How “unfortunate” it is then, that a couple of days after my “banning” on yet more trumped up charges WUWT published an article by David Middleton entitled “Back to the Anthropocene! Arctic Sea Ice Edition”, telling a familiar tale:

Two key takeaways:

  1. Maximum Holocene sea ice extent occurred within the past 500-1,000 years at every location.
  2. The current sea ice extent is higher at all of the locations than over 50% to 85% of the Holocene.

A significant reduction in Arctic summer sea ice relative to today, would be returning to Early Holocene conditions. If we currently have an “Anthropocene in the Arctic,” it’s actually icier than most of the Holocene’s “Goldilocks conditions.”

David’s article once again neglected to mention Arctic sea ice thickness and/or volume. My plaintive cries were made in vain:

Amongst other things my recent “banning” from Watts Up With That means I am unable to ask David the same question my Arctic alter ego “Snow White” recently put to Down Under’s favourite skeptical senator, Malcolm Roberts:

Malcolm hasn’t bothered to answer as yet.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum?

Facts About the Arctic in October 2019

Whilst we await the PIOMAS volume numbers which generally arrive around the 5th of each month, and before we look at graphs of extent, with the refreeze well under way some “measured” thickness maps are coming back! Here’s the first SMOS map this autumn:

Then of course there’s our usual Arctic wide high resolution AMSR2 area and extent graphs:

They reveal both metrics currently still second lowest (in the brief AMSR2 record) after 2012. It looks as though that may well change soon, particularly area.

The MOSAiC Expedition has started in earnest, with Polarstern and Akademik Fedorov in amongst the sea ice at long last:


[Edit – October 3rd]

The near real time NSIDC monthly extent for September is 4.32 million km². Here’s the graph:

We’re eagerly awaiting the first ice mass balance buoy “near real time” data, but for now the 2019 PIOMAS minimum volume is expected to be revealed real soon now, so:

[Edit – October 5th]

As previously perfectly predicted, the PIOMAS numbers have arrived over at the ASIF. Here’s the thickness map for the end of September:

and the volume graph:

Since I’m involved is a heated “debate” about Arctic sea ice trends over at ex Prof. Judy’s, here’s an added bonus this month. The September volume trend:

[Edit – October 6th]

A marginally off topic excursion down under. The NSIDC 5 day average Antarctic sea extent looks to have peaked at 18.40 million km² on September 30th:

[Edit – October 7th]

The first of the MOSAiC Expedition’s Ice Mass Balance buoys has been installed, presumably on the ice floe Polarstern is moored to. It reveals sea ice that is currently just over 1 meter thick with a sprinkling of snow on top:

P.S MOSAiC IMB buoy #3 has gone live today too:

There’s currently only 0.5 meters of ice under this one.

[Edit – October 9th]

Here’s the latest annual PIOMAS “ice cube” animation from Andy Lee Robinson:

[Edit – October 10th]

Here’s the latest DMI “high Arctic” temperature graph:

Needless to say that means the DMI Freezing Degrees Days graph is tracking the lowest readings in the DMI’s records:

[Edit – October 11th]

MOSAiC IMB buoy #2 has now been installed and is beaming back data:

The sea ice at this location is decidedly on the thin side at present. A mere 20 cm or thereabouts!

[Edit – October 12th]

The JAXA ViSHOP web site is down at the moment, so by way of a change here is the University of Bremen’s AMSR2 based extent graph instead:

2019 Arctic sea ice is extent is now once again “lowest for the date” (since AMSRx satellite records began).

[Edit – October 14th]

The JAXA/ADS/ViSHOP web site is back online after being down over the weekend, presumably due to the effects of Typhoon Hagibis:

Sure enough the Japanese flavour of AMSR2 based extent is also now “lowest for the date”.

Plus a stunning image from Mike Horn and Borge Ousland as they attempt to “walk” to the North Pole then on towards Svalbard:

Mike and Borge’s current position was reported yesterday as: 89°35′51″N 140°30′32″E

[Edit – October 15th]

The latest SMOS Arctic sea ice “thinness” map shows sea ice starting to form on the shores of the Laptev Sea:

[Edit – October 16th]

The Centre for Polar Observation and Monitoring (CPOM) have just published the first CryoSat-2 Arctic sea ice thickness map of the 2019/20 freezing season:

Note in particular the dark blue area north of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

[Edit – October 20th]

Wipneus has just crunched the October mid month PIOMAS numbers. Here are the results. Not only the modelled Arctic sea ice thickness map:

but also the Arctic sea ice volume graph:

[Edit – October 21st]

Over on Twitter Judah Cohen suggests that:

Here’s the evidence:

I have been trying to bring the implications of this to the attention of the denizens of Judith Curry’s “Climate Etc.” blog, thus far with remarkably little success! This is the gist of my argument:


Warming of the interior Arctic Ocean linked to sea ice losses at the basin margins” Mary-Louise Timmermans, John Toole, Richard Krishfield (2018)

“Summer solar heat absorption by the surface waters has increased fivefold over the same time period, chiefly because of reduced sea ice coverage.”

“The effects of an efficient local ice-albedo feedback are thus not confined to the surface ocean/sea ice heat budget but, in addition, lead to increased heat accumulation in the ocean interior that has consequences far beyond the summer season.”

“In the coming years, however, excess Beaufort Gyre halocline heat will give rise to enhanced upward heat fluxes year-round, creating compound effects on the system by slowing winter sea ice growth.”

Watch this space!

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:

Here’s an infographic to help explain what happens next:

[Edit – September 20th]

The moment has arrived. The countdown is complete and the MOSAiC expedition begins today. According to the expedition web site:

After a decade of preparations, it’s finally time: this evening at 8:30 p.m. the German icebreaker Polarstern will depart from the Norwegian port of Tromsø. Escorted by the Russian icebreaker Akademik Fedorov, she will set sail for the Central Arctic. On board researchers will investigate a region that is virtually inaccessible in winter, and which is crucial for the global climate. They will gather urgently needed data on the interactions between the atmosphere, ocean and sea ice, as well as on the ecosystem. Thanks to the collaboration between international experts, the one-year-long ice drift past the North Pole will take climate research to a completely new level.

At the launch of MOSAiC Markus Rex, Head of the expedition from the Alfred Wegener Institute said that:

This mission is ground breaking. Never before has there been such a complex Arctic expedition.  For the first time we will be able to measure the climate processes in the Central Arctic in winter. And so for the first time we will be able to understand this region and correctly represent it in climate models. The Arctic is the epicentre of global warming and has already undergone dramatic changes. And it is the weather kitchen for our weather in Europe. Extreme weather conditions like outbreaks of cold Arctic air here in winter, or heat waves in summer are linked to the changes in the Arctic. At the same time, the uncertainties in our climate models are nowhere bigger than in the Arctic. There aren’t any reliable prognoses of how the Arctic climate will develop further or what that will mean for our weather. Our mission is to change that.

Here’s the Alfred Wegener Institute’s 3 hour plus recording of the send off for Polarstern and Akademik Federov from Tromsø:

Here too are some alternative sources of information about the expedition:

BBC – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49760460

Guardian –  https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/sep/20/climate-scientists-prepare-largest-ever-arctic-expedition

New York Times – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/19/climate/mosaic-expedition-arctic.html

[Edit – September 29th]

Polarstern is now within the initial target area, and is looking for a suitable ice floe to  which she can attach herself:

[Edit – October 2nd]

Polarstern and Akademik Fedorov are still searching for a suitable sea ice floe:

[Edit – October 4th]

According to an article by Janek Uin  from Brookhaven National Laboratory on the United States’ Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement web site:

We finally found the piece of ice that will be the home for Polarstern for the next year. It’s a floe a few kilometers in diameter and with thickness ranging from half a meter to a few meters. Several ice floes were surveyed via helicopters from both icebreakers and by teams of scientists taking measurements on ice before a decision to pick this one was made. Now the two icebreakers are tied together as equipment, fuel, and people are transferred between the ships in preparation for deployment. While it’s exciting to see many new faces on Polarstern, we also had to say goodbye to some of the friends we had made on our way here.

There was also a lot of excitement today as two polar bears—a mom with her cub—wandered very close to Polarstern. Everybody who could rushed to the deck to try to capture photos of them in the diminishing daylight.

[Edit – October 7th]

Via the MOSAiC Expedition Twitter feed:

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:

[Edit – September 19th]

After some more modest declines JAXA/ViSHOP extent has just increased marginally from the previous day, and now measures 3.98 million km²:

That puts the (very!) tentative minimum for 2019 at 3.96 million km² on September 17th.

[Edit – September 20th]

The mid month PIOMAS gridded thickness and volume numbers have been released:

As anticipated given recent extent values, the volume difference from 2012 has increased somewhat over the last two weeks.

[Edit – September 23rd]

The National Snow and Ice Data Center have called the 2019 minimum in their latest edition of Arctic Sea Ice News:

On September 18, 2019, sea ice extent dropped to 4.15 million square kilometers (1.60 million square miles), effectively tied for the second lowest minimum in the satellite record along with 2007 and 2016. This appears to be the lowest extent of the year. In response to the setting sun and falling temperatures, ice extent will begin increasing through autumn and winter. However, a shift in wind patterns or a period of late season melt could still push the ice extent lower.

[Edit – September 24th]

To summarise the assorted minimum extent metrics for 2019:

University of Bremen – 3.77 million km² on September 18th, 2nd lowest behind 2012.
JAXA/ViSHOP – 3.96 million km² on September 17th, “Statistical tie” with 2016 for 2nd lowest.
NSIDC 1 day – 4.10 million km² on September 17th, “Statistical tie” with 2016 for 2nd lowest.
NSIDC 5 day – 4.15 million km² on September 18th, 2nd lowest behind 2012.

[Edit – October 1st]

Two sides of the same coin? Sea ice area on the Pacific side of the Arctic has been at historic lows for most of the melting season:

whereas on the Atlantic side:

[Edit – October 7th]
The September monthly numbers have arrived from the NSIDC, together with some intriguing annotations by Walt Meier:

Watch this space. Just in case!