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Ice Breaking News: This Is Your 2013 Arctic Freezing Season On Crack

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"Ice Breaking News: This Is Your 2013 Arctic Freezing Season On Crack"

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Will Shattered Ice Cap Shatter Ice Melt Record This Year?

Image of massive Arctic sea ice cracks showing temperature of the ice and the cracks between floes. Via Arctic Sea Ice blog.

By Neven Acropolis

The sea ice cap on top of the Arctic Ocean is often imagined to be a monolithic, continuous sheet of ice floating on water. A closer look quickly shows it is rather a collection of larger and smaller pieces of sea ice. Of course, we have all seen the images of ice floes separated by open water during summer, but even during winter the ice pack gets fractured, leading to leads that quickly freeze over again.

This explains how from the 1950′s onwards submarines were able to emerge at the North Pole (the image on top is showing the USS Connecticut as it surfaces in the Arctic Circle on March 19th 2011; copyright: Kevin S. O’Brien, U.S. Navy). The subs couldn’t break through the thick ice and had to look for a lead where the ice was thinner.

Strangely enough those who deny the reality and potential consequences of AGW still like to abuse this event and claim it somehow proves that nothing unusual is happening up North. It doesn’t prove or disprove anything, as cracks and leads have always been a normal feature of the Arctic sea ice pack. But ‘normal’ is a word that has become less and less applicable to the Arctic in recent times. The 2012 melting season was the latest climax in a series of record years, that showed conclusively that the ice is thinner than it has been for a very long time.

We don’t even have to await the coming melting season to see this re-confirmed. We can see it right now, at the end of the freezing season. Like I just said, cracks are a regular feature of the Arctic, but this video below, made by NOAA’s Visualization Lab, shows a cracking event that is very rare, if not unique:

Ice, however thin, doesn’t fracture by itself. It needs wind to pull the ice pack apart. This wind was provided by a big, intense and stubborn high pressure area that started about a month ago and kicked the Beaufort Gyre into action, which is an ocean circulation pattern that transports the ice in a clockwise fashion from the North American coast towards Siberia.

This short animation of ASCAT radar images shows the movement in 10 day intervals from January 1st onwards, compared to the previous three winters. The black dot represents the North Pole, the white mass below it is the northern part of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the brighter colours represent thicker multi-year ice that survived last year’s melting season:

Aside from the red circle showing the start of the cracking event, there is clearly another big difference with previous years (blue rectangles). At the end of the previous three freezing seasons some of the multi-year ice in that disappearing safe haven north of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago was transported into the Beaufort Sea. This buffer zone of thicker, older ice actually prevented an ice massacre in the 2010 and 2011 melting seasons, but unexpectedly didn’t stand a chance in 2012. That means that this melting season there is no buffer zone on the Pacific side of the Arctic.

On top of that there is this cracking event, the effects of which are difficult to predict. Even though sea ice extent and area have reached their annual peak and temperatures aren’t as low as they used to be, it is still quite cold in the Arctic. The labyrinth of leads that stretches all the way to Greenland due to another intense high pressure area, is freezing over again with a thin layer of ice (see yesterday’s satellite image). A possible outcome could be that when the Sun starts to beat down on this part of the Arctic from May onwards, the thin ice will quickly disappear leaving behind stretches of open water well inside the ice pack. Under the right circumstances this could significantly accelerate melting. Never mind the fact that the ice pack has started to break up in ever smaller parts so early in the year, making it much easier to move the ice around.

What about those big high pressure areas causing all that thin ice to crack and get caught up in the Beaufort Gyre? Not only have they been spurring on the spectacular cracking event of recent weeks, they are also helping winter to keep parts of the US and Europe in its icy grip. The highs are tied to a sudden stratospheric warming event (SSW) that has effectively made the Polar Vortex collapse relatively early, after it was already considerably weakened by a SSW in January. The Polar Vortex normally keeps cold air from spilling out all over the Northern Hemisphere. As Andrew Freedman wrote on Climate Central a couple of days ago:

The weather map across the Northern Hemisphere features a sprawling and unusually strong area of High pressure over Greenland that is serving as an atmospheric stop sign, slowing weather systems as they move from west to east, and allowing storms to deepen off the eastern seaboard and tap into more cold air than they otherwise might have.

That is not your typical fair weather area of High pressure, either. Some computer models have been projecting that, sometime during the next couple of days, the Greenland High could come close to setting the mark for the highest atmospheric pressure ever recorded.

The blocking pattern has helped direct cold air into the lower 48 states as well as parts of Europe, while the Arctic has been experiencing dramatically warmer-than-average conditions, particularly along the west coast of Greenland and in northeastern Canada. Blocking patterns are often associated with extreme weather events, from heat waves like the one that occurred last March, to historic cold air outbreaks and blizzards.

Another atmospheric blocking event on a large scale. What a coincidence. Below there’s a composite image of the two recent high pressure areas, the extremely negative Arctic Oscillation Index and temperature anomalies for the Arctic since January 1st (click for a larger version):

As can be seen on the image in the lower right corner, temperatures in the past three months have been anomalously high over Greenland and Baffin Bay, where sea ice area has already started to drop. This doesn’t bode well with last year’s events in mind, when almost all of the Greenland Ice Sheet was melting at one point (something which allegedly only occured once since the Holocene Climatic Optimum) and wild streams washed away bridges and heavy machinery, culminating in a record yearly amount of 570 Gt of melted volume.

So is there any good news with regards to the Arctic? Well, more and more oil companies are deciding that Arctic drilling is too difficult and therefore not worth the investment. But when it comes to sea ice I can only offer one thin sliver of hope. According to the PIOMAS sea ice volume model, our best tool for estimating the volume and average thickness of the ice pack, there is approximately as much ice as there was last year. Even though average thickness figures (calculated by dividing the volume by total area) suggest that the volume increase occured on the outer edges of the ice pack where ice will melt out anyway, it is still mildly comforting, as volume numbers were quite a bit below those of previous years so far:

Although the melting season has now officially started and sea ice area/extent has started to decrease, the ice will thicken some more until the Sun takes over the entire Arctic Circle. Perhaps weather conditions will be mild, gigantic cyclones leave the ice alone, and the ice turns out to be sturdier after all. But given the current status a new record is a very definite possibility. It’s not for nothing that we are entering the period that according to [early versions of] Wieslaw Maslowski’s model could see an ice-free Arctic (sea ice area below 1 million km2) for the first time in a very long time. This will probably have consequences, if they aren’t already upon us.

We’ll have to wait and see…

– by Neven Acropolis, who oversees the Arctic Sea Ice blog.

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61 Responses to Ice Breaking News: This Is Your 2013 Arctic Freezing Season On Crack

  1. Jim Speiser says:

    Tomorrow’s headline at WUWT:
    ARCTIC CONTAINS AS MUCH ICE AS LAST YEAR

  2. prokaryotes says:

    I thought what if we get from this a year (or years) without regular seasons?

  3. prokaryotes says:

    “… the next couple of days, the Greenland High could come close to setting the mark for the highest atmospheric pressure ever recorded.
    The blocking pattern has helped direct cold air into the lower 48 states as well as parts of Europe, while the Arctic has been experiencing dramatically warmer-than-average conditions”

    Have to reblog this all…

    • Colorado Bob says:

      prok -
      I am reminded of the string of ever lower pressures being recorded .
      Sandy was the lowest pressure ever recorded North of Cape Hatteras.
      The intense low 2 winters ago in the upper midwest.

      The muscles of the pressure systems are growing bigger.

  4. Jack Burton says:

    Ice prediction is complicated business, but I admire the efforts made to predict what is coming. The long and the short of this is that the arctic sea ice is in a death spiral. Sure, the natural cycles could produce a few years of cold and a recovery of ice could happen. I will not deny that. But in the long run, unless climate science is really missing something, we are on track for a record decrease in surface area ice this summer.
    Imagine it is August, and we are back here discussing how the death spiral has spun out of control decades before it was supposed to.
    What would that mean? We all know the arctic sea is a giant reflector of solar radiation. Spewing the heat back to space. We all know this giant ice cube in the arctic is a massive climate stabilizer, it’s cold temp producing a stable air mass that keep the jet streams within limits.
    Now with that ice in decline, the feedback kicks in full blast, mush more heat absorbed. The lack of the cold air mass produced by the ice, now replaced with heat, turns the jet stream wild. We have already seen this.
    I long to read what the global warming deniers will come up with next summer. It will be brilliant, and it will be all lies. Hold your breath, the PR think tanks have seen this information. They are planning their fossil fuel response. Look for creative denial flooding the media come this summer. Bank on truly creative lies.

    • Mike Roddy says:

      The media will barely mention it, in a so-what note at the end of the broadcast, or on page 18. There will be little or no talk of feedbacks, attribution, or thermohaline consequences.

      We will die from ignorance, deliberately produced by the fossil fuel companies and banks. While the Arctic is melting, the Keystone Pipeline approval will be in effect.

      Climate blogs are unfortunately about like spiritual gatherings around the Sea of Galilee a couple of thousand years ago. The Romans controlled the towns through the military and bloody entertainment, and the people just kept cruising.

      • Colorado Bob says:

        MR -
        Take heart, nothing in the history of the planet has done this. We need every scrap of information we can get.
        No matter the grim story we are observing. We owe the future.
        Think of it as a 1902 barrel going over the falls.

        We are our own life killing astroid .

        An uncontrolled experiment on the 3rd rock from the Sun.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          It’s not really ‘we’ doing it. We, here, and at similar places, aren’t doing it. The great mass of ‘us’, the ‘working stiffs’ or ‘great unwashed’ or the ‘labouring masses’, we don’t really get a choice. If ‘we’ had the power, I’m certain that ‘It’ wouldn’t happen. No, it’s ‘Them’, the ruthless kleptos who are driving humanity over the cliff, because they control all the power, as they are really salivating to show us. But remember, ‘we are many and they are few’, (if you forget their armies, police forces and legions of private goons).

  5. Excellent assessment, Neven! I had wondered what you were cooking up as you’d been mostly silent this week. Now I see a perfect round-up of the extraordinary and rather disturbing events going on in the Arctic.

    My view is that we have high risk for no sea ice between now and 2017. Still put the risk for zero sea ice at end summer 2013 at 10%. But the fact that this is in the models and meta-analysis is a historic event in and of itself.

    • Colorado Bob says:

      RM -
      Neven’s threads are the best on the net. As a brain pool , it;s what we dreamed the net could be.
      I read it , and wonder .

      • Susan Anderson says:

        Agree, it’s the best. Amazing stuff, but what the group is working on is startling, just about terrifying.

  6. Lou Grinzo says:

    As others here and elsewhere have said, we are certainly on track for a Blue Arctic moment within the next few years. I am amazed by the number of experts still talking about this not happening for another 30 years. What do they know that the PIOMAS and death spiral charts don’t?

    I recently saw an estimate of how much extra energy is absorbed by the Arctic because of ice loss, and I THINK is was something like 26 times the annual energy consumption of the US. Can anyone here find it? I’ve googled it several times and come up empty.

    And as for the deniers’ response to this looming event, I agree completely that they’ll exhibit new and stunning levels of creative interpretation of reality. What choice do they have? They passed the point of acting rationally several years ago and have continued to double their bet time and time again. When the evidence is vastly more obvious than it is already, those who can disappear from public view (like many of the online regulars we all know and love) will, while others, like the big-money talkers (e.g. Limbaugh) will simply blame scientists for “not making a sufficiently compelling case”, and their followers will believe every word of it and echo it endlessly.

  7. Daniel Coffey says:

    What I find fascinating is the apparent complexity of flows associated with the “The Polar Vortex [which] normally keeps cold air from spilling out all over the Northern Hemisphere.”

    In a contained gas mass, if one part is energized (heated) then it will move toward the cold areas as a matter of basic thermodynamics, which will displace cold air elsewhere, in this case southward.

    I wish that the obvious would be explained in a more straightforward fashion so that people – ordinary folks like me – would be able to follow the real physics and physical realities of the situation. Talking about pressures is all well and good, but it does not really aid in explaining one of the more fundamental rules and consequences of fluid mechanics, which is what we are experiencing.

    • prokaryotes says:

      Video: Arctic Sea Ice Decline

      Observations, especially since the 1950′s, explain how the “Arctic Amplification” leads to rapid sea ice changes during the summer month. Much more ridging in North America during the winter. And this affects weather patterns, because a higher amplitude Jet Stream builds. More ridging through the Northern Hemisphere, stucky-persistence weather patterns emerge in Mid Latitudes. A record negative Northern Atlantic Oscillation – drives sea ice into the Atlantic – rapidly out of the arctic. Almost all old (+5 years) arctic ice gone, within years.
      Arctic Amplification and anthropogenic climate change – high latitudes warming more than mid-latitudes, especially in fall and winter, but also during summer over land -> poleward thickness gradient weackening. This creates weaker upper-level, zonal mean flow, reduced phase speed. Peaks of upper-level ridges elongate northward, wave amplitude increases.

      And Rossby waves (North to south winds) progress more slowly. Weather conditions become more persistent. Increased probability of extremes: cold spells, heat waves, flooding, prolonged snowfall, and drought.
      http://climatestate.com/pure-climate-science/item/lesson-arctic-sea-ice-decline.html?category_id=22

    • Neven says:

      Daniel Coffey wrote:

      I wish that the obvious would be explained in a more straightforward fashion so that people – ordinary folks like me – would be able to follow the real physics and physical realities of the situation.

      I agree and sorry about that. I’m also ordinary folks and don’t understand the meteorological mechanisms well enough (yet) to explain them in simple terms.

  8. tallbloke says:

    A recent paleo modelling paper concluded the temperature of the upper arctic ocean was about 2C warmer than present near the last glacial maximum. Presumably this would be because the ice cap prevented the heat being lost to space.

    So less summer ice will mean more heat loss to space from the Arctic ocean. This seems like a natural negative feedback to me. The increased ocean heat content of the last 80 years has to find a way out of the system. It does that by melting Arctic ice and gaining direct access to radiate into the troposphere. Once the ocean has cooled down, the Arctic ice will increase again.

    The world ocean started cooling around 2007, and given the momentum of the circulation systems, I would expect the Arctic ocean to lag by a decade or so. I predict signs of Arctic ice recovery starting around 2015, and becoming stronger around 2017-2019.

    Plenty of time for hollering and hooting meanwhile.

    • Joe Romm says:

      Care to make a wager on that? I say it’ll be obvious in the 2015 to 2019 time frame the ice is in the last throes of the death spiral.

      BTW, the world ocean hasn’t started cooling at all. And all that heat doesn’t end up in space. A lot of it ends up driving the extreme weather we’ve been seeing.

      • Per Balmaseda, Trenberth, and Källén (2013):

        “Aside from the volcanic cooling episodes, there is an additional cooling episode following the huge 1997–98 El Niño event after 1998, which mainly affects the upper 700 m. The event led to a global warming of the atmosphere and made 1998 the warmest year on record to that point as heat came out of the ocean, largely through evaporative cooling [Trenberth et al., 2002]. After 1998, there was a rapid exchange of heat between the regions above and below 700 m (Figure S01 in suplementary material). The heat exchange between the layers above and below 700 m during 1998 is consistent with a recent study based on Argo data for more recent events [Roemmich and Gilson, 2011]. Then after 1999 the warming starts again dramatically, this time also involving all depth ranges. This signals the beginning of the most sustained warming trend in this record of OHC. Indeed, recent warming rates of the waters below 700 m appear to be unprecedented.”

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50382/abstract
        http://www.skepticalscience.com//pics/BTK13Fig1.jpg

        Note, too, that including the Argo data increases the global energy imbalance:

        “The magnitude of the warming trend is consistent with observational estimates, being equivalent to an average 0.47 ± 0.03 W m-2 for the period 1975–2009. There is large decadal variability in the heat uptake, the latest decade being significantly higher (1.19 ± 0.11 W m-2) than the preceding record. Globally this corresponds to 0.84 W m-2, consistent with earlier estimates [Trenberth et al., 2009]. In an observing system experiment where Argo is withdrawn, the ocean heating for the last decade is reduced (0.82 ± 0.10 W m-2), but is still significantly higher than in previous decades.”

        Meaning less short term warming at the surface…but at the expense of a greater earlier long-term warming, and faster sea level rise.

        So the warming of the oceans is actually accelerating (Dana has a forthcoming post which examines this in detail). But Tallbloke’s understanding of climate science is decreasing, so at least he has that…

      • metro70 says:

        Joe Romm…

        With the concern about the melting of the Arctic ice—and your claim that

        ‘ the ice is in the last throes of the death spiral.’,

        …why are you, with the clout you have, not calling for more to be done on the mitigation of the black carbon [ soot] that has been found by research by Drew Shindell of NASA amongst many other scientists, who have testified before Congress on it—to be responsible for up to half of the Arctic melt and that of glaciers and the permafrost?

        Almost all of the black carbon comes from the burning of biomass, the use of wood stoves , and the burning of forests to plant crops in China, India, Indonesia and other Asian countries and Brazil—and some of it from diesel vehicles.

        The mitigation of black carbon is relatively easy , compared to that of CO2 [ which can still be done concurrently]—-and with fairly fast effect on the melt—so why if the situation is dire, as you describe, is this black carbon mitigation never even mentioned in CAGW articles.

        Surely, if all the burning of biomass continues, and the feared catastrophic feedback cycle causes yet more warming, some responsibility will lie with those who sought to alarm people , yet ignored the black carbon issue, in order to focus most heavily on CO2.

        • Joe Romm says:

          This blog has called on that and more for a long time. And no, mitigation of BC isn’t easy in an absolute sense if one doesn’t care about warming. And no responsibility won’t fall to those who warned about the risks for years.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Pretty aggressive concern trollery, this. The tactics will grow more desperate and belligerent-that’s the Right’s preferred modus operandi. The pseuo-science will let the Dunning-Krugerites pose as ‘smarty-pants’, too-feeding their insatiable egotism.

    • prokaryotes says:

      “So less summer ice will mean more heat loss to space from the Arctic ocean.”

      Check the wikipedia entry on albedo effect. All the sunlight from the pole got reflected so far, now with less and no ice at all it will warm the dark ocean waters. This will change the entire northern hemisphere weather system setup.

    • Ah, a fine example of creative denial. As others have pointed out, there will be a lot of this going on in the next few years.

      • Jack Burton says:

        Yes, that was creative and quite brilliant as a new denial tactic. I bet that this post is part of the professional Public Relations denial effort. In this case a poster assumes a name, any name, and then posts his talking points as provided and updated by the Fossil fuel PR firms that monitor every word written and posted here.
        To any who believe these denial posts come from concerned citizens who see the flaws in current global warming science, I tell you “wake up”!
        That post is a perfect example of professional PR firms ,with hired help from scientifically literate individuals on the payroll, tracking and responding to articles and posts on any and all blogs.
        It is 2013, unemployment is high, and many would gladly work to spread lies for a big PR firm. Fossil fuel industry have hired the very best Public Relations firms who know how to hire staff to get denial all over the media and blog scene.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Astro-turfing from the Right has been highly professional and organised for some time. The Internet has proved more useful in spreading bulldust than the facts, by some margin, because bulldust has the money power on its side.

    • Susan Anderson says:

      I’m with Joe Romm. Would love to make some money.

    • Neven says:

      tallbloke wrote:

      I predict signs of Arctic ice recovery starting around 2015, and becoming stronger around 2017-2019.

      Please quantify. What will those signs look like? A return to what level? What will happen to the sea ice before that? How about the ice albedo feedback?

      What if there’s no recovery? What will the consequences for that be? Are you willing to take responsibility for those consequences? Or will you continue to assert that the risks of AGW are zero and therefore nothing should be done to change business-as-usual?

    • Spike says:

      “The world ocean started cooling around 2007″

      I think you are posting that sort of comment on the wrong site.

      • Jack Burton says:

        See, this professional PR liar has already gotten what he intended. We are talking about his lies, instead of the real situation in the arctic.
        I confess, I am guilty in this case too. But SEE the tactics here. Spread a lie and watch the original article fade into the background as we all respond to a professional PR lie that was funded by the fossil fuel industry who hires the big PR firms.
        I run into these clowns everywhere on the internet. Any online newspaper, news site or blog. Just let ONE article that even hints at weather or climate and their search engines pick it up and alert the professional staff to get their workers to that site to begin to post. This tactic is a FACT, and we need to be aware of it.

      • Mark E says:

        Must be why the deepest Antarctic water is *warming* too.

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403153850.htm

  9. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    Anyone know what the strongest reading for the arctic oscillation index is? Dr. Masters posted that this week saw the second lowest reading for march, -5.2, the record being in march 1070, at -6.3.

  10. Brooks Bridges says:

    I don’t know where I saw it but there was a plot of PIOMAS data of ice volume in Sept over the years including extrapolations to future years with error bounds. I’ve yet to see it repeated.

    It showed zero ice in Sept 2015 with 1,2, and 3 sigma bounds around that date.

    It’s such a punch in the gut graph I’m surprised it isn’t every where.

    • john c. wilson says:

      You are referring to these graphs: https://sites.google.com/site/arctischepinguin/home/piomas

      Especially in light of some of the other comments on this thread take note of the trend lines for October, August, November, July and June. And these of course are all lines that merely continue the current trends and do not include the effects of amplifying feedbacks, except as those feedbacks are already embedded in past data.

      Wipneus is quick to point out that the error bars are large and that uncertainty expands enormously as the timeline extends. Those who seem to possess certain knowledge that the melt will proceed at a slower pace than the trend need to show what are the negative feedbacks that will put the brakes on the melt.

      None of us know the future and it is entirely possible there will be some sort of long tail. It is also possible that feedbacks will make the process even faster than shown by the punch in the gut graph.

      • Brooks Bridges says:

        Thanks John,

        Arctic sea Ice yearly minimum volume, the third row, second column of graphs.

        That red line curve fit seems such a good fit it’s hard to believe it won’t happen in 2015.

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    The first time I became aware of the real meaning of politics, was when the monks in SouthEast Asia began to set them selves on fire.
    The news was 15 min. long, once a day , and they showed everybody what a burning monk looked like.
    It was 1964, and people were laying their lives on the line, everywhere.

    • Colorado Bob says:

      A new paper about the Earth , nothing in the rocks records what we gave done in 263 years , except for one thing . A giant rock landing on a limestone sea floor.
      Our carbon foot print is the most amazing event in 520 Million years.

    • Paul Klinkman says:

      These were sad events at the time.

      When people choose to end their own lives, it tends to dishearten the people around them who are left behind on earth. We really don’t need climate suicides.

      We’re a nation of people full of neurotoxic chemicals, the stuff in our food and in our indoor air. We have whole classrooms full of less than functional kids these days. We’re also a highly stressed nation with ultra-violent entertainment. So, if we did have a few nutty suicides and homicides (unabomber), reputedly in the name of “ecology”, as good an expropriable cause as any, I’d understand. But these grandstanding loners would in no way be representing me.

  12. David B. Benson says:

    Via a back-of-the-envelope calculation, I predict that the arctic will be essentially ice free at the end of summer, 2020 CE.

    • Calamity Jean says:

      I’ve been saying that for about a year and a half now.

      I keep hoping that an ice-free Arctic Ocean will frighten the “global warming isn’t happening” idjits into shutting up.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Calamity, nothing, absolutely nothing, will shut the deniers up. Money is involved, as is power and, most importantly, huge investments of egotism by those with no capacity for insight, remorse, introspection or intellectual or moral growth.

    • Susan Anderson says:

      David, you’re an optimist. Maybe not this year, but 3 likely and 6 outside, unless something really unusual happens.

      Going slightly OT, however, I’ve just read this. The title is a misleading – it seems carbon absorption is variable, but not necessarily more. Less in Arctic, more in warmer regions. Interesting:
      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=oceans-may-absorb-more-carbon-dioxide

  13. Steve in Miami says:

    Joe, I’m surprised you let tailbloke’s comment get through your moderation. One of the things that I have always loved about this blog is that it is generally free of denier nonsense. His post would absolutely qualify as “denier nonsense.”

    Reading that kind of nonsense just makes my blood boil.

    It seems no matter how bad things get, these people will just find ever more creative ways of warping reality to fit their world view.

  14. Mark Belgium says:

    This is what the Greenland high pressure is causing in the UK en parts of W-Europe:
    http://www.itv.com/news/2013-03-23/man-dies-in-deep-snow-as-uks-cold-snap-continues/
    Last year we had 23°C,… this is climate chaos real time.

    • Spike says:

      Yes – I’m in the UK where we have the heaviest snow in March for quite a few years, but googling record snow shows a fair bit of the northern hemisphere experiencing similar.

      http://tinyurl.com/ceuoclm

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      We have destabilised the climate, whose relative stability, over the last dozen or so millennia, allowed the growth of our civilization, which will now collapse, barring a miracle of salvation.

      • wili says:

        “Our results support the mechanism suggested by Cohen
        in which sea ice loss promotes additional surface
        evaporation, which results in earlier snowfall on high-latitude
        land .The earlier snow cover insulates the
        soil and allows the surface to cool more rapidly, shifting the
        region of strongest poleward temperature gradient southward
        and consequently, a southward shift of the thermally induced
        wind flow. Positive pressure anomalies result further enhance
        negative temperature anomalies and the likelihood of cold
        spells and blocking highs, particularly over the mid-latitudes
        of North America and central Asia, along with anomalously
        cold winters in southern Europe and East Asia”

        from: “Cold winter extremes in northern continents linked to Arctic sea ice loss”

        Qiuhong Tang1, Xuejun Zhang1,2, Xiaohua Yang2 and Jennifer A Francis3

        2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 014036
        (http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/014036)

  15. Nancy says:

    If you are near Boston, there is an all-day conference at Tufts this Tuesday about the melting Arctic, with Dr. Jennifer Francis as the keynote speaker. Organized by the Fletcher School at Tufts, free admission, but you must register at their site.

  16. wili says:

    First, Neven is a god.

    Second, I don’t get the sense from the comments that people are fully groking what these developments mean for our collective not-too-distant future.

    An essentially ice free Arctic Ocean means that all the massive amount of energy that went in to melting 18,000 square kilometers of ice is now available to melt other things like:

    –the Greenland Ice Sheet,
    –terrestrial permafrost,
    –seabed permafrost,
    –seabed clathrates…

    Need I remind people what the consequences of these melting would be?

    The albedo flip will also super-heat the Arctic Ocean, causing who-knows-what kind of distortions of circulation in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Even less certain, but ominous, are the changes in ocean current circulation.

    There has also been speculation that, for a variety of reasons, a seasonal ice-free Arctic will rather quickly (a few years to a couple decades) transition to a year-round ice-free Arctic–a radical departure from how the top of the globe has looked for many millions of years.

    But the most devastating near term consequences are likely to be radical deepening, exacerbation, and prolonging of the kinds of devastating patterns we’ve already seen (and that Joe has so ably documented here):

    –flash droughts that settle into permanent drying out (US West and elsewhere)
    –rain systems that stall for months causing floods and devastating crops (UK and elsewhere)
    –ever-more-super-canes that take unexpected paths (Sandy…)
    –and, ironically, for a while, very intense winters as the increase in evaporation leads to heavier snow fall in parts of the interior of North America and Eurasia.

    I’m sure there are other consequences (besides the idiotic shipping and resource extraction bonanza) that others know of or can speculate on.

    I expect we will start seeing more and more really wild phenomena that we will less and less be able to explain as the earth systems start to unwind with ever greater ferocity.

  17. Vine says:

    How many extreme weather events do we need to witness before we act on climate change? In Australia we are debating whether we should pay a carbon tax and failing to identify global pollution is destroying our planet. Everyone is concerned about petty issues and failing to see we are dealing with the biggest humanitarian threat we can ever witness.

    • kermit says:

      The financial elites in power will not be swayed by appeals to deal with the “greatest humanitarian threat”. They couldn’t care less about Les Miserables.

      Tell them that they face the end of civilization. The ones and zeros under their name in their bank’s data base will mean nothing when the power goes out and stays out. Their private security force will become a source of danger to them, rather than safety, after they haven’t been paid for a few months.

  18. Chris says:

    I find it disturbing that the error bar for the 2013 ice volume extends below zero. I don’t think we’ll be ice free this year, but definitely in a few years.

  19. mplo says:

    Ouch! I shudder to think what’s going to happen to our overall weather patterns if nothing is done to bring the situation under control soon!