When things were rotten: Arctic sees record sea ice shrinkage, headed toward record low volume

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"When things were rotten: Arctic sees record sea ice shrinkage, headed toward record low volume"

On a streetcar named denial, Watts and Goddard assert: “Arctic Basin ice generally looks healthier than 20 years ago.”

Must-see video here for ice junkies, background here:  “Arctic Ocean is full of rotten ice.”

Piomas 6-10

“Anomalies for each day are calculated relative to the average over the 1979 -2009 period for that day to remove the annual cycle.”  [And yes, "anomaly" is a poor word choice for a long-term trend driven by human emissions.]

Back in mid-May, I argued the Arctic is poised to see record low sea ice volume this year.  Since then, volume has plummeted some 3000 km3 (relative to its recent historical average) to “19,000 km3, the lowest May volume over the 1979-2010 period, 42% below the 1979 maximum and 32% below the 1979-2009 May average,” according to the Polar Science Center, which has the best Arctic ice volume model around.

If I’m reading their historical average right, we’re probably below 10,000 km3 now.  The September minimum record was set 9 months ago, at 5,800 km3.

Most attention gets focused on the more visible but less important metric of sea ice extent, which collapsed last month faster than any May in the satellite record.  As a result, at least one group in the highly touted suite of forecasts is looking to sharply lower their September sea ice extent estimate.

Here is where we are now on extent, via the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

NSIDC 6-26-10 small

NSIDC notes:  “In May, Arctic air temperatures remained above average, and sea ice extent declined at a rapid pace. At the end of the month, extent fell near the level recorded in 2006, the lowest in the satellite record for the end of May.”

And here’s the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA, click to enlarge):

AMSR-E Sea Ice Extent

So will we hit a record low extent, which is what the media will focus on?

I asked NSIDC‘s Julienne Stroeve, and she emailed me:

The thing to look for right now is persistence of the Arctic Dipole we’ve seen this June.  If that continues all summer like it did in 2007 then I think we’ll be close to 2007 values by September.  There are strong meridional winds pushing ice away from the coast of Siberia at the moment (like what happened in 2007).  Also Nares Strait is open like it was in 2007 which can help to remove more of the old ice in that location.

It seems clear that the band of old ice that was advected into the Beaufort/Chukchi seas this winter will be key to what we see in September.  If that old ice survives the melt season then I don’t think we’ll see a new record low, but if that ice melts out given it’s southerly location, then I do think we’ll be close to 2007.

The NSIDC says of ice volume and the PSC’s PIOMAS model:

Ice extent measurements provide a long-term view of the state of Arctic sea ice, but they only show the ice surface. Total ice volume is critical to the complete picture of sea ice decline. Numerous studies indicate that sea ice thickness and volume have declined along with ice extent; unfortunately, there are no continuous, Arctic-wide measurements of sea ice volume. To fill that gap, scientists at the University of Washington have developed regularly updated estimates of ice volume, using a model called the Pan Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS)….

PIOMAS blends satellite-observed sea ice concentrations into model calculations to estimate sea ice thickness and volume. Comparison with submarine, mooring, and satellite observations help increase the confidence of the model results. More information on the validation methods and results is available on the PIOMAS ice volume Web site.

If PIOMAS is right, then we are almost certainly headed toward record low ice volume this September.

The ice is simply getting thinner and more rotten.  Climate Central has a nice figure:

Arctic Sea Ice Thinning: Fall

As Andrew Freedman wrote recently:

A NASA study published last year found that Arctic sea ice thinned about 0.17 meters (seven inches) per year between 2004 and 2008, for a total of 0.68 meters (2.2 feet) over four winters. Also, the total area covered by thicker “multi-year” ice shrank by 42 percent. Other studies have documented longer-term declines in sea ice thickness, due to warming temperatures as well as winds and ocean currents that have transported thicker ice out of the Arctic and into the North Atlantic.

As I discussed May 24 — As Arctic sea ice shrinks faster than 2007, NSIDC director Serreze says, “I think it’s quite possible” we could “break another record this year” –  “one of Canada’s top sea-ice experts suggests things might even be worse than Dr. Serreze thinks” (see The Arctic Ocean is full of rotten ice: New study by Barber et al. supports finding that “the amount of [multi-year] sea ice in the northern hemisphere was the lowest on record in 2009″³).

“What we think is thick multiyear ice late in the summer is in fact not,” he said. “It’s heavily decayed first-year ice. When that stuff starts to reform in the fall, we think it’s multiyear ice, but it’s not.”

… He pointed out the Arctic continued to lose multiyear ice even in 2008 and 2009, when total ice coverage rebounded somewhat.

Barber gave a plenary talk at the International Polar Year Oslo Science Conference, that is a must-see for ice junkies (video here, summary here).  He said

“What really matters is the condition and thickness of the multiyear ice.”

“Last summer we studied sea ice recovery in the Southern Beaufort Sea aboard the research vessel Amundsen. We expected to be stopped at some point by thick multiyear ice, but the Amundsen, only ice classed to break ice 1.2 metres thick, was able to continue at full speed. We realised that the ice was rotten.”

Dr Barber and his team saw swells penetrating far into the Beaufort Gyre and breaking up huge ice sheets. Normally, the ice should be too strong for this to happen.

“We also observed that melt pond formation on the multiyear ice had continued all the way through the ice, leaving separate chunks of multiyear ice. When the freeze started, a thin layer – only about 5 cm – of first-year ice formed across the surface, and the combination was mistaken by the radar for multiyear ice.” This means that some of the data on the extent of multiyear ice are misleading.

On a streetcar named denial, aka WattsUpWithThat, two people scour the world for databases that they can misinterpret and mislead their readers with (see Arctic death spiral: Naval Postgrad School’s Maslowski “projects ice-free* fall by 2016 (+/- 3 yrs)”).  In the last month they’ve written:

“The death spiral continues, with Arctic ice extent and thickness nearly identical to what it was 10 years ago.” (5/31)

“Over the last three years, Arctic Ice has gained significantly in thickness….  Conclusion : Should we expect a nice recovery this summer due to the thicker ice? You bet ya.” (6/2)

“Arctic Basin ice generally looks healthier than 20 years ago.” (6/23)

Arctic Basin ice generally looks healthier than 20 years ago the same way that my hair generally looks healthier than 20 years ago, what’s left of it, that is.

To paraphrase Tennessee Williams, WattsUpWithThat has always relied on the blindness of strangers.

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56 Responses to When things were rotten: Arctic sees record sea ice shrinkage, headed toward record low volume

  1. Dear Joe,

    To get to your website, I had to save an issue of The Populist that someone sent me, wonder if it was on-line, go their website, flounder around there, seeing that it’s only a teaser, finally clicking on your article.

    But clearly, I’m the exception: you have important followers. You’re doing indispensable work on a key topic.

    I like to think my efforts to see the big picture are important too. I cannot understand how people can talk about the details of an election – or even a war – when we’re fiighting for a lifestyle we need to change NOW.

    With your permission, I would like to use your graphs in a future blog. Reading the terms and conditions, I did not see whether this is possible or not.

    If you have time to visit my website, which includes my bio, books, and photos from my historical document on Cuba, 1964, please let me know whether you think it would be fruitful for me to sign on to CAPAF. I currently cross-blog at dKOS but find the level of readership rather low.

    Best wishes,
    Deena Stryker

  2. Peter Bellin says:

    I have been suspecting we would see a large decline in sea ice this year, based on the ice extent in May. Thank you for this review.

    One question: The ice volume anomalies are calculated from the 1979 – 2009 average. Wouldn’t this change the shape of the curve, given the downward trend in ice volume? Will the comparison for next year be extended to include 2010 (calculate anomalies based on 1979 – 2010 instead of 2009)? Why not use the ice volume from 1979 – 2000 as the standard?

    [JR: I'll ask Zhang that.]

  3. M says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Polyak et al. study: Abstract concludes: “The current reduction in Arctic ice cover started in the late 19th century, consistent with the rapidly warming climate, and became very pronounced over the last three decades. This ice loss appears to be unmatched over at least the last few thousand years and unexplainable by any of the known natural variabilities.”

    (though they are not quite as pessimistic as you about the date at which the Arctic will become seasonally ice free… 2040 instead of 2016… still decades earlier than the IPCC AR4, of course)

    (Quaternary Science Reviews Volume 29, Issues 15-16, July 2010, Pages 1757-1778 Special Theme: Arctic Palaeoclimate Synthesis (PP. 1674-1790))

    -M

    [JR: I was intending that as another post.]

  4. M says:

    Peter Bellin: In the spherical cow case that ice volume decreases evenly all year round, then the particular anomaly date would NOT change the shape of the curve, it would merely move it up or down.

    (on the other hand, if the volume changes are occurring more in one season than the others, then extending the baseline period would change the curve a bit, because the season with the most change will get shifted up more than the season with the least change…)

    -M

  5. pete best says:

    Is it likely to thin more in a la nino year and maybe recover a little in the intervening time before the next one ?

  6. mike roddy says:

    Thanks for the link to the Barber talk about his icebreaker trip to the Arctic. I watched it a while back, and it’s fascinating. Barber describes plowing through the North Pole ice as like sloshing through snow cones, which is unprecedented.

    As for Watts, he’s so far up in the ozone that he may never come down. History is going to very unkind to his blog, and soon.

  7. Lore says:

    “As for Watts, he’s so far up in the ozone that he may never come down. History is going to very unkind to his blog, and soon.”

    I’m all for being unkind to his blog now so we can avoid the possible future.

  8. Paulm says:

    Looking at the volume graph one is more likely to conclude that the sea ice is very likely toast by around 2012!

  9. Tony Sidaway says:

    The ice volume calculations should be treated with caution, but even if one ignored them altogether the message from ice thickness estimates based on satellite-based laser altimeter and aerial reconnaissance is of quite savage reductions.

  10. dhogaza says:

    Arctic sea ice junkies ought to follow this blog.

    Along with regular updates as to what’s happening, there’s a page that links to all of the major satellite extent and area graphics, and similar stuff.

  11. Doug Bostrom says:

    WUWT:

    You bet ya.

    Nice dog-whistle. Woof!

  12. From Peru says:

    WUWT uses the “Polar Ice Prediction System”(PIPS 2.0) of the US Navy:
    http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/pips2/index.html

    as source to claim that ice thickness has “recovered” from the revord low of 2008.

    Which source is better, PIPS or PIOMAS?

    Why?

  13. Wit's End says:

    I just can’t wait for the June average temps to be calculated, it has been in the 90′s day after day in N this month.

    Everything (heating, melting, flooding) happening faster than predicted is the new mantra of climate science.

    This would include ecosystem collapse, faster than even I predicted!

    http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2010/06/dead-lawn-close-to-home.html

  14. Prokaryote says:

    “Everything (heating, melting, flooding) happening faster than predicted is the new mantra of climate science.”

    Exactly. And beside a few chats on reducing emissions till 2050 there is almost nothing significant happening.

  15. MapleLeaf says:

    From Peru @12,

    By their own admission the Navy says that PIPS is not reliable, especially for thickness. PIOMAS is a more reliable product and has been validated against observations.

    WUWT uses PIPS it b/c it is more optimistic than PIOMAS.

  16. dhogaza says:

    WUWT uses PIPS it b/c it is more optimistic than PIOMAS.

    Actually Goddard’s abused it, as he calculates volume as average thickness per pixel, not taking into account concentration. So a pixel that’s encoded as containing 50% ice 1 meter thick is considered by Goddard to have the same volume as a pixel that’s encoded as containing 100% ice 1 meter thick.

    A couple of different people have made the proper calculation using concentration and their numbers match PIOMAZS very closely.

    As usual, if it’s Goddard, it’s wrong.

  17. dhogaza says:

    WUWT:

    You bet ya.

    Nice dog-whistle. Woof!

    A bit off-topic but slightly related, over at Keith Kloor’s blog, when Judith Curry was called out for having repeated the “Myth of the Persecuted State Climatologists”, she channeled her inner Palin and said that she wasn’t going to play the “gotcha” game …

    Joe: Judith Curry is owed a serious takedown here. She’s slowly moving down the path pioneered by the likes of Bishop Hill and Tom Fuller, using her status as sometime climate scientist to claim legitimacy.

  18. Steve Bloom says:

    Joe, compare the Bremen sea ice concentrations maps for 2010 and 2007. The difference is striking, with the 2010 map showing extensive areas in the 50-85% range. Looking through prior years, I don’t see anything like the broken-up pack we have now. It would be interesting to get a comment from Julienne about this. Looking at recent days for 2010, it appears that what was the largest remaining area of intact pact is being shoved into the Fram Strait. In effect these are maps of ice mobility rather than melt, but when the ice is that mobile over the whole basin it’s hard to not draw strong conclusions.

    Anyway, I think the compare/contrast on these two maps is worth a post or update. Other years can be found here.

  19. David says:

    Steve #16,

    I found that site yesterday. Goddard keeps using the low-res image from UIUC to show that concentration is higher this year, but it’s obvious those images are inaccurate. They are completely different than the hi-res images, NSIDC maps, and the University of Bremen images – all three of which, by and large, agree with one another. And as you pointed out the University of Bremen has archived maps, which clearly show that concentration is actually lower at this point than in 2007. Coupled with the record low extent, there is some support for the PIOMAS model depiction of volume.

    I’m beginning to think we might eclipse 2007′s record this summer. Weather conditions seem to be similar to those that were in place that year.

  20. Neven says:

    Along with regular updates as to what’s happening, there’s a page that links to all of the major satellite extent and area graphics, and similar stuff.

    Thanks for mentioning the Arctic Sea Ice blog, dhog.

    Here’s a link to a web page I recently made that collects all major graphs and maps to daily monitor the Arctic sea ice: http://sites.google.com/site/arcticseaicegraphs/
    The live images from webcams on the North Pole (on the bottom of the page) are interesting to watch at the moment.

  21. Leif says:

    Thanks for the web links, Neven, @20.

  22. Neven says:

    Joe, compare the Bremen sea ice concentrations maps for 2010 and 2007.

    Steve, coincidentally I have just put up a blog post with an animation doing just that: 2010 vs 2007 Uni Bremen Comparison.

  23. Charles says:

    Thanks for this post, Joe. Has anyone responded to, or seen a response to, the work of Christian Haas (U of Alberta) et al. on artic ice thickness (published in GRL)? On the basis of their wide-scale survey of thickness, they remain optimistic about arctic ice, suggesting that both extent and volume are within natural bounds of variance.

  24. caerbannog says:

    A bit off-topic, but hopefully not too far off…

    This article just went up on the LA Times web-site: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/sc-dc-global-finance-20100628,0,3267702.story

    Excerpts:

    G-20 climate pact erases word ‘voluntary’ from efforts to cut oil-firm subsidies
    International negotiators, under pressure from the Obama administration, agree to omit the term when describing efforts to cut production and consumption incentives. Summit also focuses on arriving at a consensus on the global economic crisis.

    …………

    Earlier this week, negotiators were hammering out an agreement among the top 20 industrialized and emerging nations that called for each to take “voluntary” measures to cut production and consumption incentives.

    But privately under pressure from the Obama administration over the last two days, the group now is preparing to sign an agreement that omits the word “voluntary.”

    ………….

  25. villabolo says:

    Lore says:
    June 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    As for Watts, he’s so far up in the ozone that he may never come down. History is going to very unkind to his blog, and soon”

    Never underestimate the power of the F(a)rce. In one of WUWT’s threads, The Trend (June 25, 2010), I’ve noticed that there seems to be a transition amongst posters in their view of the Arctic situation. They are hardly emphasizing ice extent and instead are beginning to emphasize “ice free” Arctic conditions in the past and stating that these are a normal and harmless occurrence.

    Pardon the pun but I think that this will be the new “Ice Trend” amongst our friends. I’m sure it’s been responded to in AGW sites before but we may start getting ready for a full blown paradigm change.

  26. Neven says:

    It’s been a busy night on the Arctic Sea Ice blog so far with lots of interesting changes.

    The sea ice area in the Arctic Basin has been dropping like a rock according to Cryosphere Today. And part of the ice bridge that is blocking the direct route of the Northwest Passage has disintegrated: animation.

  27. Prokaryote says:

    President of Russia: The environment matters. We will set an example and introduce a special law before the State Duma to protect our oceans from oil spills.
    http://twitter.com/KremlinRussia_E/status/17203801091

  28. Neven says:

    Charles, you can read their paper online. From the Conclusion:

    We conclude that older sea ice in much of the Arctic Ocean was of similar or even slightly larger thickness in April 2009 relative to conditions in 2007, but within the expected range of interannual variability. However, the volume of older ice may have been less overall due to a lower areal coverage, and because our surveys were still spatially limited. It seems that consequences of strong melt and ice export during and after the summer record minimum 2007 may have been compensated for by weather patterns in 2008 that were not conducive to high melt and ice dispersal in summer and may have fostered enhanced thermodynamic ice growth during a colder winter 2008/09 with less snow accumulation, as suggested by anecdotal in-situ observations in spring 2009.

    It is 2010 now and if things continue at this pace, all bets are off.

    Too bad they didn’t make any flights this year, because we would’ve known more about the state of the ice in the Arctic Basin. Good thing is that they will survey the Arctic sea ice again in 2011 and 2012 and use the results to validate Cryosat-2.

  29. mike roddy says:

    Caerbannog, that’s good news, I hope it adds to Joe’s birthday celebration. I wondered what had been happening to the fossil fuel subsidy removal issue, since talk of it’s been a little quiet lately. I made the rounds in DC in 1998 over timber industry subsidies, and can tell you that getting rid of any of them is a huge deal. Thanks to President Obama and his G20 negotiators! This shows quiet, but very important leadership.

    Dhogaza, you’re right about Judith Curry, she’s a goner, and shares convention stages with McIntyre. Revkin has featured her on Dot Earth as some sort of Pielkeish honest broker- I hope Andy’s wised up to her by now.

  30. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    The sea ice is getting very interesting. Somewhat more interesting than the raw data suggests.

  31. ozajh says:

    David #19,

    If by “low-res” you mean the low-colour option on the UIUC site, then to my (ignorant) layman’s eye even that view shows the entire Beaufort gyre perimeter to be melting . . .

    Looks to me like the McClure Strait will be navigable again this year, as well.

  32. wili says:

    Neven (at #20), you left off one of my favorite charts on your blog–”tale of the tape” long term anomaly from over at Cryosphere Today. It’s the best I’ve seen at giving a feel for the overall shape of what’s going down within a longish historical perspective. Yeah, you have to do some measuring on the screen to see exactly where we are relative to other years for a particular date. But recently, the differences are so dramatic, I just look at it with draw firmly dropped.

  33. wili says:

    Holly crap. Did anyone else notice what happened to sea ice today. Suddenly there is no extensive area of solid purple anywhere except the area just north of Greenland.

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/CT/animate.arctic.color.0.html

  34. MapleLeaf says:

    Dhogaza,

    Well perhaps it is both. That is abuse by WUWT and the PIPS data not being great. H/T to Micahel Sweet at SkepticalScience:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/September-2010-Artic-Ice-Extent-Handicapping-Via-ARCUS.html#17110

    In which he relays a message form NCIDC about PIPS and PIOMAS:

    “Thank you for contacting NSIDC. Walt Meier, one of our sea ice scientists provided some thoughts which I will sum up along with a few other points from talking with other scientists here at NSIDC:
    Unfortunately, there are no continuous, Arctic-wide measurements of sea ice volume/thickness which is why models are used to estimate volume/thickness. Sea ice extent on the other hand is derived from remotely sensed data from satellites.

    The PIPS model is an operational model, and is designed to forecast the ice a few days into the future (for navy submarine use, etc). It is not proper to use it to study year to year changes. PIPS, is known to be not terribly useful for sea ice other than perhaps motion; definitely not thickness.

    Our assessment at ( http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/) is based on (1) the ice age fields we get from data from our colleagues, Charles Fowler and James Maslanik, Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research, University of Colorado Boulder, (2) models better suited to tracking thickness year to year, such as the University of Washington, PIOMAS model we’ve discussed in the past couple articles, and (3) consultation with operational ice centers that have very high quality data and human expertise at assessing the state of the sea ice. The PIOMAS model is looking back in time and estimating what the volume was in order to monitor trends. It has the benefit of “hindsight” and can incorporate actual recorded measurements (weather, satellite data etc.) that by nature are not available to make a forecasts. The most recent update of the PIOMAS model looks to be May 30th.

    Let me know if you have any more questions or need more information.

    Regards,
    Kara Gergely
    NSIDC User Services”

    here is the original blog post
    http://www.climat-evolution.com/article-banquise-arctique-pips-piomas-52419993.html

  35. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #33: Lots of people have been noticing it. I’m no expert, but that much mobility in the main basin seems likely to be a harbinger of record melt if weather conditions hold.

  36. Prokaryote says:

    On Arctic Research Voyage, Scientists Have Many Words for Ice
    Sea ice decline “one of the most profound climactic impacts” changing in our lifetime, researcher says
    http://solveclimate.com/blog/20100627/arctic-research-voyage-scientists-have-many-words-ice

  37. Esop says:

    Sea surface temps are now tracking the 09 temps. The interesting bit is that 09 temps were influenced by the El Nino, while conditions are now ENSO neutral/La Nina.

    Now that the deniers’ global cooling/arctic gaining ice predictions have failed, we’ll see them go back to the old “yeah, it is warming/melting, but it is natural” routine.
    It is crucial to remind them and the public of the failure of their predictions.

  38. fj2 says:

    Not unlike learning of a large fleet of enemy craft heading towards Hawaii and seeing the planes in the air and on their way on radar during World War II, the publicly disclosed information from the Naval Postgraduate School for 2016 +/- 3 years can be quite damning if it proves to be true and the beginning of large scale feedback effects rapidly accelerating runaway climate change and much more dangerous and frequent weather events.

    No way will the president be able to say that he did not know and was not informed of the potential consequences.

  39. Esop says:

    #39: excellent analogy. Interesting to note what happened to those who chose to support the enemy during war time. In the not too distant future, we might see Nuremberg style trials where those who knew better, but still decided to cloud the subject for financial gain are being dragged to court, kicking and screaming. Unless an angry public/mob hasn’t made such a legal process unnecessary, that is.

  40. wili says:

    To steve bloom at #36, WHERE have “Lots of people…been noticing it?”

    I would love to connect with more people looking at this thing. The ignorance of the significance of this in the MSM is stunning, depressing, isolating, and a bit crazy making.

  41. fj2 says:

    If this urgent situation is corroborated, it must be brought before Congress and the American people along with expert testimony.

    It is quite possible that the compounding 24% emissions increase per quarter-year in China have not been considered in this prediction and even the massive Gulf catastrophe which can potentially effect deep water convection systems not understood below 500 feet, sea surface temperatures which is a major energy source for tropical cyclones, wave action, effective specific heat of local waters, etc.

    . . . And, other stuff typical in the line-up of known unknowns and unknown unknowns . . .

  42. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #41: The usual suspects, I’m afraid, not the MSM. To be fair, the MSM are following the lead of the sea ice scientists, who hesitate to make predictions about things they can’t model. Under these circumstances, they’ll probably wait to comment until the trend becomes so obvious that the press calls them. IMHO we can’t reasonably expect anything else. If that seems overly conservative, bear in mind how the 2007 minimum was handled and how public perceptions of its significance changed when 2008/9 failed to continue the trend in an obvious way.

  43. fj2 says:

    43. Steve Bloom, “. . . the lead of sea ice scientists, who hesitate to make predictions about things they can’t model. . . . significance changed when 2008/9 failed to continue the trend . . .”

    Still, serious risk-assessment and fact-finding must be done considering the stakes.

  44. fj2 says:

    44. fj2, (continued),

    . . . especially, since it seems that the military has expressed considerable need for specifics.

  45. Steve Bloom says:

    Well, it’s also a pretty easy decision to just wait the few weeks needed to see what’s really happening this summer. If we do get a sharply lower minimum, I don’t think scientists will be hesitant to discuss the implications.

  46. Lee says:

    This is a comment by someone called Lord Soth on http://www.scientificblogging.com/chatter_box/arctic_ice_june_2010 that would be funny if it were not likely to be true.

    “I can still see the WUWT headlines in 10 years however ‘Summer ice minimum holds steady at 0 sq km for five years in a row, an indication that recovery is on its way’ :)”

  47. John McCormick says:

    RE # 42

    fi2, you said,

    If this urgent situation is corroborated, it must be brought before Congress and the American people along with expert testimony.

    I sent, on June 1, the following email to Dr. Wilbanks,chair of the Adaptation Committee of the recent NAS study:

    Dr. Wilbanks,

    Chairman Markey’s Special Committee should hold a hearing on lower latitude impacts of Arctic ice melt back. I am asking you and others to help achieve that.

    Your presentation at the NAS “America’s Climate Choices” began:

    “For those climate changes we cannot avoid and for those we do not avoid, how can we adapt to the impacts in ways that reduce disruption and pain to the human and natural systems we care about.”

    In the Q&A, I said we do not know the climate impacts of Arctic ice melt back on the world’s grain basket. We agreed higher temperatures and diminished precipitation in that region would put greater demands on the diminishing Ogallala aquifer.

    Arctic melt back appears to be altering large-scale wind patterns over the Northern Hemisphere and the prospect of a summer, ice-free Arctic is becoming evident. What is not as evident is the teleconnections impact on Northern mid-latitudes and South Asia.

    Your question remains: how to prepare for disruption to vital agricultural regions around the globe as the Arctic albedo shifts to a black ocean. The answers can only come with more aggressive and comprehensive research of melt back impacts and that will require more funding and personnel…the opinion you expressed to me.

    The FY 2011 budget process could include appropriations to expedite their efforts. Rep. Markey should convene a panel of experts to share what they know and what they need.

    I have cc’d this note to scientists active in the teleconnections research and numerous influential voices in the US climate change research arena with the hope this will prompt, as well, their contacting the Chairman with a request for a hearing. In June, I will talk with the Chairman to inform him of this effort and hopefully express your support.

    I would appreciate a response and support from any of the recipients of this note.

    John McCormick

    And, I received a single response from the 15 scientists I CC’d on that email:

    Dr. Trenbreth replied with the following:

    Hello John
    For some reason you cc’d me on this topic. Arctic sea ice melt is very important both as an indicator of climate change and because of subsequent effects. There have been several studies of the effects which reveal a tendency for reduced sea ice to promote a negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation, that in turn favors more sea ice. So the processes are complex. However, Arctic sea ice is but one of many things going on, and snow cover and vegetation changes, permafrost thaw, and all sorts of other things are just as important and can only be dealt with in a complete Earth System framework, both from an observational and modeling perspective.
    Kevin Trenberth

    So, I pass on the challenge to someone more influential than I:

    If anyone has any clout with the meteorological and atmospheric science community, you might want to make the same plea and direct it to a Congressional Committee with jurisdiction over agriculture and or climate change.

    We can watch Arctic ice melt back records fall year after year and not know the implications for the world’s agricultural grain basket in the Midwest of North America until we spend time and money to find out.

    If you are interested, the following are the emails I directed my note towards.

    Wilbankstj@ornl.gov, tkilleen@nsf.gov, James.E.Overland@noaa.gov, jwalsh@iarc.uaf.edu, mmaccrac@comcast.net, Nicholas.Sundt@WWFUS.org, piltz@comcast.net, jhurrell@ucar.edu, mann@psu.edu, wigley@cgd.ucar.edu, santer1@llnl.gov, serreze@kryos.colorado.edu, gschmidt@giss.nasa.gov, gstakle@iastate.edu, Muyin.wang@noaa.gov, francis@imcs.rutgers.edu

    John McCormick

  48. P. G. Dudda says:

    in re: Cryosphere Today’s “Tale of the Tape” — if you click on the image, you can zoom in and see that it shows we’re already very near or at the 2009 minimum, with an extremely sharp dropoff in progress.

    Not exactly encouraging…

  49. Steve Bloom says:

    P.G., please be sure to be clear on the anomaly (departure from a specifed normal, for a given date in this case) vs. the absolute amount. What’s going on right now in the Artic is very striking, but as of today the ice extent is still about double the 2009 minimum.

  50. P. G. Dudda says:

    @50: Thank you for pointing that out, I’d missed that detail. Makes a big difference!

  51. Esop says:

    Most interesting talk by Dr. Barber at the Oslo conference (video linked above). As Joe mentions, it is definitely a must-see.

  52. toby says:

    It is extraordinary that the mainstream media is not paying much attention to this. If it was a comet crashing into the Moon or Mars, there would be stories every other week. What is wroing with those science journalists?

  53. John McCormick says:

    RE # 53,

    Toby, blame the science journalists, if that makes you feel better.

    What is wrong with us?

    We Americans have built a mightly republic of abundant greed and it is suffocating us. We have become complacent passengers on a ship of fools.

    Lets watch the ice melt records and heat wave records fall, one by one, year by year.

    It is not the journalists at fault.

    We have lost the passion for anything that needs us to act against our comfort level. Politicians know us very well and they do not fear us.

    John McCormick

  54. As much as I don’t like mixing the notion of nationality with a person, we the OTHER people (excluding usanians) would be forgiven for saying: ” … it was them obese bastards did it !” – after the feedback loops will start to kick in for real and the freshly melted permafrost will have reminded us of cooler comfortable times. Your only hope is that we’ll remember Buckminster-Fuller when the resource wars break out in the decades to come. How’s that for a threat to your national security?
    Sereously, though your lobbing is no better then our bribes, which are at least marginally penalised. Do you sereously think that you congress will ever listen?

  55. wili says:

    John M.,
    Thanks for you efforts to contact authorities. It might be worthwhile trying to contact major papers. I have mostly been trying to bring it up on any blogs where it seems relevant. a