In the Bleak Mid-Winter: Arctic Ice Crashing

December 26, 2016

Quartz – Dec. 24, 2016:

Since Dec. 20, the Arctic has lost 238,000 sq km (91,900 sq mi) of ice, according to preliminary data published by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. That’s an area about equal to that of the UK.

Temperatures on a scientific buoy in the Arctic showed the area around the North Pole was at the freezing point on Dec. 22, an unseasonably warm anomaly attributed to a storm east of Greenland pushing warmer air towards the Pole.

There has only been one other occasion since 1958 where temperatures have risen this sharply in the Arctic, according to the Washington Post. It was last month.

Since the National Snow and Ice Data Center started publishing data in October 1978, there have been only six other three-day periods during the winter months where the Arctic ice is supposed to grow that have seen a more rapid of a decline in ice. The last was in January, 2012.

The 174,000 sq km (about half the size of Germany) one-day drop recorded yesterday is the largest one-day drop during ice-expanding months since October 2007 and the seventh largest on record.

30 Responses to “In the Bleak Mid-Winter: Arctic Ice Crashing”

  1. redskylite Says:

    This really is a surrealist strange winter season for the Arctic, and a hint of tipping points reached. Even without knowledge of the temperature charts just a glance at the NSIDC daily image update tells the winter tale. Just as it seems the ice is returning to somewhere near normality it suddenly veers off in decline again. The trouble is the old thick mature ice is no more, just thin one year old ice and rotten old ice in many places. What is amazing is the speed of the decline.

    Prof David Archer explains a lot in plain scientific language in a two and a half minute video, people entrusted with our votes should listen to the realist. It’s not complicated.

    Technologically we can do it, the hard part is making the decision to do it.

  2. Earl Mardle Says:

    How long before someone who klnows what they are doing (ie, not me) calls “hockey stick? Just asking.

    • Been following Wipneus graphs on the PIOMAS values for years now and those have been on a steady trajectory for practically ice free conditions by the summer of 2020. Will certainly be intersting to see how summer 2017 pans out with the rather poor condition of the current ice in the Arctic.

      • Tom Bates Says:

        Per this years studies from NASA, the arctic was ice free in 8500-6500 BP so an ice free arctic is not the end of the world nor the flooding of the world nor the end of the polar bears. Lets just ignore the warming from the little ice age low for the last 400 years and the increased food supply from that CO2 in the air. 415 million people alive who would otherwise have died of starvation is just bad news for AGW.

        • 8500-6500 years ago? That is called the Holocene Thermal Optimum, or alternatively, the Holocene Climatic Optimum. Predictable variations in the Earth’s tilt and orbit lead to increased sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere during the summer. This is part of the Milankovitch cycles that govern the progression and recession of the ice ages. We are currently about as warm as we were back then. However, the problem is that while, given natural long-term forcings, the temperatures should be decreasing they are rapidly warming. Furthermore, some literature suggests that climate sensitivity is non-linear and actually increases at higher temperatures. In fact, under business as usual one recent article in Science suggests that by end of century 6C while unlikely isn’t entirely out of the question. That would roughly equivalent to the Permian Triassic Extinction, but it would likely be somewhat lower. Yet there is a degree of consensus in the scientific community that 4C is incompatible with globally organized society.

          Higher temperatures will imply that droughts are more common, in no small part due to increased soil moisture evaporation. Drier soil will also mean that land cools less as the result of relatively efficient moist air convection and more as the result of less efficient thermal radiation. This will be a positive feedback. Furthermore, what precipitation does fall will tend to fall more along the coastlines or even out at sea. Ocean warms less rapidly than land (i.e., is ocean has higher thermal inertia, and will be warmer than land during the winter but cooler than land during the summer), so while absolute humidity will increase, relative humidity remains essentially the same over ocean, but in continental interiors temperatures rise more, resulting in a lower relative humidity and less precipitation. Higher atmospheric moisture will result in infrequent extreme precipitation events that lead to severe but temporary flooding, and this will tend not to soak in or result in a dependable, relatively constant supply of water that is conducive to growing crops.

        • Do you ever get tired of repeating the same long-debunked lies or are you getting paid for your time?

      • Tom Bates Says:

        If you bothered to look at the grafts you would notice they start in 1979 and ignore the world before that. A trend line of a few decades is not a trend line of much use. We do know one thing, a colder world is not good for humanity.

        • Oh yes Tom. We’re hiding the pre 1979 “graft” from you. It’s a conspiracy!

        • lesliegraham1 Says:

          That’s right Tom every single scientist in the world ignores all the masses of sea ice data that goes back at least 14 million years. They especially ignore all the Danish governments detailed records that date back to the 19th century – of course they do – they are making billions of dollars off the Chinese hokes.
          Amazing that it’s only deniers and the fossil fuel lobby that know about this.

          These 18 scientists are just some of the thousands that don’t know they are ignoring the graft.

          “History of sea ice in the Arctic”

          “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…”

          And this was BEFORE the massive declines since 2006.

          • Interesting article. Shows how involved some of this research can be. There’s a lot to know. And I guess that’s why we rely on people who are experts in their field to interpret it all. (Aside of course from a couple of obvious exceptions that lurk in here)

            There is an obvious typo in fig 2b that I’m surprised didn’t get picked up in proof reading though.

          • Earl Mardle Says:

            Its the “graft” alright, as in corruption, backhanders, under the table, all that stuff. And the evidence for master bates getting his share is worth pursuing.

  3. Tom Bates Says:

    It has also snowed in the Sahara, first time in decades. Warmer world, snow in the Sahara. Never would have believed in AGW until this.

    • miffedmax Says:

      Increased precipitation is an effect of global warming, you half-wit.

      Or more accurately, eighth-wit.

    • lesliegraham1 Says:

      You’re spot on again Tom – snow in the Sahara is indisputable proof that the Earth’s global average temperature is falling rapidly.
      As if any further proof were needed after Sen. Inhofe found snow in Washington – IN WINTER no less.
      Case closed. Definitely a Chinese Hoax.
      I’m so relieved that we don’t have to worry about Sea level rise, heat waves, drought, the current and ongpooing extinction level event, ocean acidification, resource wars, economic collapse, crop failures, refugees, and so on – all proved to be a hoax because our hero Master Bates has pointed out that there was yet another extreme weather event – this time snow in the Sahara.
      Thank you on behalf of a grateful world our saviour.

    • To let you in on a little secret: Deserts undergo large temperature swings over the course of the day.

      And to cover the details being left out due to your usual dishonesty:

      The snow fell on the edge of the Sahara, where it is bordered my mountains. This is a relatively high altitude location that normally sees winter temperature _highs_ just a little above freezing. In fact, the reason that town doesn’t see snow on a regular basis is lack of precipitation, _not_ lack of cold weather.

      Wait a second: Warmer global temperatures mean more water in the air and thus more precipitation. So if you have a place that only doesn’t see snow because there simply isn’t that much water falling from the sky, global warming is going to, wait for it….


  4. Tom Bates Says:

    If you google arctic ice it is currently a little below the 2012/2013 number after being a lot higher in September, The current conditions are unusual wind patterns shifting arctic air south, hence snow in the Sahara while replacing it with slightly warmer air which is still below freezing. This pattern has occurred in the past, 37 years ago was the last one.

  5. Lionel Smith Says:

    Ignoring the silliness from the Bater-in-chief, I would think many of us had sensed that the Arctic ice was reducing at rates faster than openly anticipated just a decade ago. Scientists have been working in increasingly uncharted waters in many senses.

    Thanks for the video from the cathedral in my city of origin and schooling, the camera had its back to that cathedral’s most outstanding feature its Great East Window. I too have sung in there as a schoolboy so many years ago.

    • Tell us. How does ice reduce in subfreezing conditions? What does the latest data today show for Arctic temps?

      • It depends. Sea ice typically won’t form until it is at least -3°C. It is the salt content that lowers the freezing point of water. When you speak of surface temperature you are speaking of the temperature of the water as measured slightly below the surface. Air temperature may still be warmer, and higher temperatures are measuring the air that has blown in. Also, winds will make the water more choppy. This will tend to break up the ice, and not simply at the edges.

        Finally, if the areas that are sufficiently cold to freeze ice are already frozen (whether in terms of sea ice extent at 15% or 30% concentration, or sea ice area at 100%) then you won’t see growth in those regions. What you will see is a decrease in sea ice where ice had previously formed because it had been cold enough but sea ice is melting because some of those areas haven’t simply warmed enough to bring sea ice growth to a standstill but have warmed enough to melt ice.

        However, in reality what you are likely to see is sea ice growth in some regions, sea ice melt in others, and it is the balance that measures net sea ice growth or melt – by definition.

      • redskylite Says:

        You have presented a daily surface temperature of the top of the North Hemisphere and expected us to be impressed at your wit and evidence. Why you might just as well have shown us a photo of a snowball. Do you think we are all incredibly dumb and want to insult our intelligence. ? We are talking about sea ice. The daily NSIDC chart clearly shows how the 2016 ice is not building in a normal winter manner. Ocean temperature does not mirror surface temperature. (Repeat sea-ice is in the water, not floating in mid- air).

        Maybe you should catch up on a few lectures or please just keep silent.

        Moses Koonoo in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, was out hunting for seal and fishing for char this week. He says the sea ice was so thin he had to stay near the coast with his snowmobile, being careful not to break through.

        “The sea ice condition was not too great because in some places it was wet.”

        He says the ice was about 8 cm thick when this time of year it’s normally closer to 30 cm.

        “The air seems to be cold, but the sea water must be warmer temperature,” he said.

        “It’s causing it to delay the forming of the ice.”

        • Luv you guys. I really do. Various reports all across the media, insinuate that warmer temperatures in the Arctic = less than normal ice buildup (for those of you living in Rio Linda and Port St Lucie: “HARI SREENIVASAN: Just days before Christmas, it’s nearly warm enough at the North Pole to melt ice, thanks to a surge of warm air”). But when I point to a chart showing there is NOT the warmth in the Arctic that’s being reported , you-all suddenly move the goal posts and say the temperature is not related to the ice. Some magical warmth in the water is responsible for it. So why ever bring up surface temps at the Arctic at all, then? Meanwhile, staring you straight in the face at NSIDC’s daily ice extent graph is the ‘growing larger than 2012-13 extent’ back at the summer low through to mid October (when there should have been plenty more sun out to heat up the water and prevent that from happening), and the mid-Dec and current extent, which looks every bit like the ice is …. well, “building in a normal winter manner.” Also during a point in the season which, no doubt all will agree, that the sun packs practically no punch at that latitude when it comes to heat. I’m guessing the next conspiracy theory you’ll concoct is that the sun-warmed ocean heat way farther south below where ice forms is sent up to the Arctic in conveyor-belt style.

          Meanwhile, notice how the Nov 24 CBC news bit citing oceanographer / climate scientist Moses Koonoo shows a view of ice floes in Baffin Bay from 2008, as though that was some kind of indicator of how far behind the ice is lately. But when was that photo actually taken? July 10, 2008 ( ). And 2008, when you separate out all the other lines, looks pretty much just like what the last available year here ( ), 2015, looked like.

          Spin this any way you want, the Arctic ain’t melting on cue like you believe it is. You guys remind me of the creation science folks, doing all you can to get things to line up to match your pre-conceived conclusions.

          • ubrew12 Says:

            The ice extent is a verdict on the previous SEASON of freezing/non-freezing conditions. If you fill an ice tray with water and put it in the freezer and come back a minute later and say “The temperature says its freezing, but the ice tray says its not! Therefore, the ice tray is lying” I think I could reasonably begin to question your sanity. Ice doesn’t freeze the moment the proper conditions are met. It freezes when a lot of heat is taken out of it, and that takes time.

          • redskylite Says:

            That’s an excellent analogy – water has different properties to air, different specific heat capacity. While it is not compulsory to know all the physics and science to do with oceans & water including the movement of heat through ocean currents, if one is contributing science articles to media outlets (such as Breitbart), I would expect the author to keep himself informed (by listening to lectures etc.) and at least align himself with reality. Previously I remember Mr Cook was advocating distributing fossil fuel generated cooking facilities for the poor (instead of solar energy powered devices), he does not even realize the 1.2 billion people are not connected to a grid at all. How can he put himself forward as an expert & write enlightened articles when he lives in a shell.

      • lesliegraham1 Says:

        “How does ice reduce in subfreezing conditions?”

        When it’s sea ice.

        Maybe you just keep quiet until you’ve mastered schoolboy level physics.

      • Lionel Smith Says:

        Tell us. How does ice reduce in subfreezing conditions?

        Maybe its a case of for us to know and you to find out, after all you managed to find your way to the NOAA site. Now it takes a strange kind of ideological perversion to have visited there and not taken away an understanding of the system mechanisms that build and destroy sea ice.

        The difference from one warm year to another is reported on here, note the mention of other layers of the system in the Arctic.

        This article from a year ago covers some of the bases on sea ice developments. Look up also ‘The Great White Con’ blog and Neven’s ‘Arctic Sea Ice’ blog.

        No excuse for ignorance these days Russell.

  6. That it should be much colder…

    And today just happens to be one of the colder recent days (although still 10 degrees above average for the time of year)

    And the ocean surface is around 5 degrees C according to climate reanalyser…

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