Arctic sea ice doing better than expected

To say that the Summer sea ice in the Arctic is in a terminal condition according to many scientists, and will soon be no more by this time in August in the years to come, it’s still doing remarkably well, if the latest figures for the 22nd of August from the NSIDC are to be believed. The sea ice extent on that day is only the fifth lowest, in a series that started in 1978, which is pretty remarkable, because if you remember the 2016/17 season ended up on the 5th of March as the all time lowest maximum year.

The red line (2017) series in the graph (fig 1) has gone higher than last years trace (black) and as stayed that way for a week. If you remember, it was about this time last year that sea ice values crashed very quickly. There is little chance that 2016 is going to produce a lowest maximum to add to its lowest minimum record, and is still almost 900,000 square kilometres higher than at the same time in summer 2012.

At the NSIDC there is a now very useful new comparison web tool that allows you to compare any two years. Here is a comparison between 2017 and 2016 for the 22nd of August (fig 2).

Figure 2 – Courtesy of NSIDC

And here’s a comparison for 2017 and the record minimum year of 2012 (fig 3).

Figure 3 – Courtesy of NSIDC

What happens at 85° north?

It’s day 19, and the ‘Arctic Mission’ team have now reached latitude 76° north, and although there is little sign of any sea ice, the air temperature is now down to -2°C, so no skinny dipping and time to break out the thermals. I still wonder what the web team in charge of the ‘follow the mission’ website will do if they ever reach 85° north, perhaps they’ll call it a day because the Google map projection they’re using to plot the course with doesn’t extend any further north than that.

Russian LNG tanker navigates Arctic sea route in record 6.5 days

A little off topic, but it seems that it’s not only Pen Hadow that want’s to sail around the North Pole at the moment.

Pen Hadow heads out into the Chukchi Sea

Figure 1 – Courtesy of Arctic Mission and Google Maps

That brave chap Pen Hadow and his Arctic Mission team have now entered the Arctic Ocean proper, in fact they have now entered the Chukchi Sea on their journey north. You can follow the expedition by means of the Arctic Mission website. It’s a shame that they don’t seem to have an observer on board who can send out a SYNOP observation every six hours, although they reported that the air temperature at 10 UTC this morning was +3°C and they were around 67° north, so they still have a long way to go before they meet the ice edge at around 80° north.

BBC News: Pen Hadow sets sail for North Pole

I spotted this BBC news item thanks to Paul Homewood, but I couldn’t resist the idiocy of what Pen Hadow is planning to do, i.e. sail to the North Pole. In fairness the video explains what he’s really doing is going as far as the sea ice conditions will allow him at this time of the year, why can’t he be content with looking at the latest sea ice charts on the Internet like the rest of us?

I’m not clear what a stunt like this will do. It certainly will set the focus of the media on the state of the Arctic Sea Ice. If it doesn’t get very far will that please the AGW deniers? Or will the smile of the AGW fraternity widen the further north that he gets? Surely they must know that he won’t get much further north than the edge of the sea ice at the moment?

What if he and his yacht, his dog and his ten companions get locked in the sea ice? I think he’ll be much too careful to let this happen, but who knows?

Just how far north is he likely to get?

Judging by the latest sea ice edge chart for the Arctic from the NMI (fig 2), and if he’s setting out from the Alaskan coast, he should easily get to 80° north. Depending on just how adventuress he is, he could then navigate the open ice and he might make it to 82° north, but that would be still be a long way short of his goal of the North Pole, but by that time I suppose he will have accomplished what he set out to do. It will be interesting to see just how far north Pen Hadow gets, and how this story pans out in the coming weeks.

Figure 2

BBC News: ‘Unusual’ Greenland wildfires linked to peat

Courtesy of the BBC

I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

‘Unusual’ Greenland wildfires linked to peat –

Polarstern at 79° north

Figure 1 – Image courtesy of the AWI

The German research icebreaker the  RV Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research [AWI] is currently at around 79° just to the west of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of

As far as I can see, the Polarstern is reporting the coldest air temperature in the northern hemisphere, either on land or sea at the moment. The air temperatures at 15 UTC this afternoon was around -2°C, and the sea temperature a very balmy +1.5°C.

Figure 3

I think the reason for the sub-zero temperatures must be the cold air flowing off the drift ice just to their west and north, in the light northwesterly breeze (fig 4). I don’t think they’re going to try to go any further north, as they have done in previous years, but I can’t see anything about their plans for this summer expedition to the Arctic on their blog, so who knows.

Figure 4 – Courtesy of the NMI

The Guardian – Why cutting soot emissions is ‘fastest solution’ to slowing Arctic ice melt

Courtesy of the Guardian

The BBC article about algae reducing the albedo of snow, reminded me about an article about a similar thing happening that was caused by soot particles, particularly from coal power stations and flare stacks at gas terminals. The Guardian article ran an article about it in December 2016 which said:-

World leaders should redouble efforts to cut soot emissions because it is the cheapest and fastest way to combat climate change, climate scientists and advocates have told the Guardian.

Deposits of soot – unburned carbon particles – have stained parts of the Arctic black, changing the ice from a reflector of sunlight to an absorber of heat, and accelerating the melting of ice and snow, which itself is starting to alter global weather patterns.

BBC – Sea level fears as Greenland darkens

Image courtesy of the BBC

A BBC news article says that Scientists are “very worried” that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected. They say warmer conditions are encouraging algae to grow and darken the surface. Dark ice absorbs more solar radiation than clean white ice so warms up and melts more rapidly. Read more here.

June’s Arctic sea ice extent

Figure 1 – Images courtesy of the NSIDC

On the 22nd of July, 2017 had the third lowest sea ice extent on record for that day in the Arctic (fig 2). 2017 has now dropped 2016 for the first time, and it’s neck and neck at the top (or should that be the bottom) of the table at the moment, I shouldn’t wonder that people bet on what the outcome of this well end up in September at William Hill’s.

Figure 2