Breaking News (Literally): NOAA Video Confirms Early Breakup

March 23, 2013

Compare to our recent discussion of these developments in the Beaufort Sea.

NOAA Visualizations:

Published on Mar 22, 2013

A series of intense storms in the Arctic has caused fracturing of the sea ice around the Beaufort Sea along the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada. High-resolution imagery from the Suomi NPP satellite shows the evolution of the cracks forming in the ice, called leads, from February 17 — March 18 2013. The general circulation of the area is seen moving the ice westward along the Alaskan coast

“Intense storms” are not an unheard of thing in the arctic. What’s new is that the ice is so fragile that normal storm activity is breaking it up much earlier than has  been seen in the past.

Arctic Sea Ice Blog:

To recapitulate: It is normal for the ice to crack and for leads to occur. However, this is very extensive cracking and there are some very big leads, and all of it seems to come earlier than expected. Given last year’s melting mayhem and the low amount of multi-year ice, it makes one wonder whether this early cracking will have any effect in the melting season to come.

There are still several weeks to go before this part of the Arctic is going to start melting, up till then the ice will actually thicken some more, even when the Sun’s rays start to reach the ice. But the ice is already getting broken up in smaller pieces, which means that 1) the pack becomes more mobile (like we saw last year), and 2) the thin ice that now grows to fill up the leads, will go first when the melting starts, potentially leading to more open water between floes to absorb solar energy and convert it to heat.

But maybe not. Maybe this will have zero influence. We don’t know. That’s why we watch.

21 Responses to “Breaking News (Literally): NOAA Video Confirms Early Breakup”

  1. rayduray Says:

    Possible impacts of climate change on the Gulf Stream (Thermohaline Circulation) are discussed here:

    http://econnexus.org/the-day-after-tomorrow-coming-soon/


  2. […] Compare to our recent discussion of these developments in the Beaufort Sea. NOAA Visualizations: Published on Mar 22, 2013 A series of intense storms in the Arctic has caused fracturing of the sea …  […]


  3. […] Compare to our recent discussion of these developments in the Beaufort Sea. NOAA Visualizations: Published on Mar 22, 2013 A series of intense storms in the Arctic has caused fracturing of the sea …  […]

  4. Martin Lack Says:

    “Maybe this will have zero influence. We don’t know.” – On the contrary, I think that is one possibility we can exclude.

    • jpgreenword Says:

      Well said.

      Could it be that 2013 will be a new record low for Arctic sea ice extent? That would make two in a row.

      • rayduray Says:

        Re: “Could it be that 2013 will be a new record low for Arctic sea ice extent? That would make two in a row.”

        If you’d like to wager on the prospect, Neven’s Sea Ice Blog is a good place to kibbitz and place your bet.

        My own inner djinni is telling me that 2013 could very well be the year that boats sail directly over the North Pole and that not only sea ice extent but also the area of the ice and the volume of the ice break all historical precedents on minimums.

        Welcome to the future.


  5. “Suffering” very rare at this time of the year, appearing extreme cold (even below – 20 ° C – t minimum) I wonder if I can – my global warming – will lead to a new LIA?
    By the way, if anyone foresaw in climate models so strong feedback to the warming?
    “The Neverending Story” of climate sensitivity estimation…

    As for THC – the new LIA:
    Professor Seager R. (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/gs/):
    “A few times a year the British media of all stripes goes into a tizzy of panic when one climate scientist or another states that there is a possibility that the North Atlantic ocean circulation, of which the Gulf Stream is a major part, will slow down in coming years or even stop.”

    “And so the circus continues year after year. […]”

    The reasons for the current melting of sea ice:
    – one of a number of THC is exchanged: Rahmstorf (2006, http://pik-potsdam.de/~stefan/Publications/Book_chapters/rahmstorf_eqs_2006.pdf): Thermohaline Ocean Circulation, BTW also draws attention:
    “It has been shown that in the long-term equilibrium the strength of the thermohaline circulation in models depends on the turbulent mixing coefficient [7], and that the energy required for this turbulent mixing comes to a large extent from the moon via tidal currents ([8]).”

    Only “long-term”?

    H. Yndestad (http://icesjms.oxfordjournals.org/content/63/3/401.full):
    “The phase relation between the identified cycles indicates a possible chain of events from lunar nodal gravity cycles, to long-term tides, polar motions, Arctic ice extent, the NAO winter index, weather, and climate.

    What can cause by warming – Recent changes of the thermohaline circulation in the subpolar North Atlantic?, Bersch (2007):
    “In the upper layer of the Labrador Sea, the advection of warm and saline water dominated over the heat loss to the atmosphere and the freshwater gain from melting ice and precipitation in the NAO-low period, so that no accumulation of freshwater […which shows small effect global warming] but an increase of the heat and salt contents were observed, as in the whole eastern part of the subpolar gyre. Within 1 to 2 years after the drop of the NAO in the winter of 1995/1996, the Subarctic (Subpolar) Front shifted northward and westward north of about 50°N, favored by the retreat of the low-salinity tongue extending eastward from the southern Labrador Sea, and it shifted southward and eastward in the Newfoundland Basin. Therefore, the enhanced northward advection of subtropical waters in the northeastern North Atlantic is balanced by the enhanced southward advection of subarctic waters, including Lower LSW in the Newfoundland Basin, indicating a strong response of the gyre component of the THC.”


  6. Melting Sea Ice in the Arctic.
    By AGU


  7. […] 2013/03/23: PSinclair: NOAA Video Confirms Early Breakup […]


  8. […] watching several videos of the breakup of Beaufort sea Ice during the dead of winter, I decided to contact a leading ice expert, Walt Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, […]


  9. […] News (Literally). NOAA Confirms Early Break-Up. Here’s a video and excerpt of a story at Climate Denial Crock of the Week: “…A series of intense storms in the Arctic has caused fracturing of the sea ice around […]


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