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Singularity

Arctic Sea Ice - The Melting Season 2019

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With the Arctic sea ice extent by some measures reaching close to or event setting record lows today and area doing the same, it feels like it's about time the melt season thread got underway for 2019.

CSIC_figure1.pngextent_n_running_mean_amsr2_previous.png

There's been a phenomenal crash in the past week with the extent moving from 9th to 1st lowest position.

In the GEFS mean 850 hPa and 500 hPA GPH anomaly plots for the next 5 days averaged, we can still see a large and strong footprint from the events that brought this crash about:

gfs-ens_T850aMean_nhem_1.png gfs-ens_z500aMean_nhem_1.png

There's essentially a 'warm Arctic, cold continents' (WACC) event going on. The impact on ice from this has been mostly via the unusual wind patterns moving unusually thin, fragile ice around, as opposed to melting it directly. It's still too cold near and at the surface for the most part even with such large anomalies aloft.

gfs-ens_T850aMean_nhem_6.png gfs-ens_z500aMean_nhem_6.png

The pattern shows strong persistence during the next 10 days or so. Ice declines may continue at above normal rates during this time, which could take 2019 well below any previously observed years, depending on the surface wind patterns and how much more ice is still in a position from which it may be driven into a melting environment.

 

The pattern also served to decelerate the mid-latitude westerlies faster than usual. Once the displaced from Arctic cold air disperses or warms out, it's possible that this will facilitate an unusually rapid warm-up in regions without snow cover. Meanwhile, late snow gains across the likes of Scandinavia and E. Canada may manage to restrain the rate of advance of heat onto the Arctic, depending on how much the weather patterns de-amplify as the WAAC event subsides. I'm concerned that they may not do so very much given the El Nino event currently underway.

 

That aside, this big loss of sea ice cover opens the door to the open water feedbacks that, before this event came into view, I had been wondering if would be negated for this melting season. Will anomalous atmospheric moisture content yet again (as was particularly evident each season 2016-2018) bring about more cloud and LP formation than usual to diminish the solar-driven melt April through July?

Science really is built on questions!

 

p.s. If for whatever reason this new topic is to be deleted, may I please request that this leading post is placed into the topic being used instead, TIA.

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Interesting post.

But, its what you don't talk about that is the real concern and, I'd submit, the underlying cause of the changes?

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The extraordinary drops continuing, with ADS extent now lowest on record for the 30th by over 130k and well over 1 million km2 below the 2012 value.

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Yup! Just spotted today's BiG losses over on the JAXA platform.

Folk need be aware that pre 2010 there was plenty of peripheral ice in the south to fund such big losses but looking at both ocean entrances at Max shows us that this is not the case any more and early ice losses are from further North.

Open water this early in the year means a big harvest of solar to mess with the atmosphere come autumn/early winter.

It also gives room for further collapse and spread in the main pack leading to a degradation of the ice there ( smaller , faster moving floes) via mechanical means as floe bumps floe and chips ice into the eater below ( no need for solar driven melt)

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6 hours ago, BornFromTheVoid said:

The extraordinary drops continuing, with ADS extent now lowest on record for the 30th by over 130k and well over 1 million km2 below the 2012 value.

The downward spiral continues!  Not good at all. 😢

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, Gray-Wolf said:

Folk need be aware that pre 2010 there was plenty of peripheral ice in the south to fund such big losses but looking at both ocean entrances at Max shows us that this is not the case any more and early ice losses are from further North.

Open water this early in the year means a big harvest of solar to mess with the atmosphere come autumn/early winter.

It also gives room for further collapse and spread in the main pack leading to a degradation of the ice there ( smaller , faster moving floes) via mechanical means as floe bumps floe and chips ice into the eater below ( no need for solar driven melt)

Yes, another winter likely to be b*ggered up!  Ok, if you like mild winters?  Far more to it than just that, though.

Edited by Don
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20 hours ago, Devonian said:

Interesting post.

But, its what you don't talk about that is the real concern and, I'd submit, the underlying cause of the changes?

Thanks. I think I know what you're referring to but please, feel free to elaborate 🙂.


We seem to be seeing the best representation possible of how fragile an unusually large amount of the ice making up the extent and area figures has been this Jan-Mar.

This being the consequence of increasing energy within the climate system, particularly the Arctic Ocean waters, limiting what even months with mean surface (or near-surface) temperatures below the long-term average can achieve.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Singularity said:

Thanks. I think I know what you're referring to but please, feel free to elaborate 🙂.


We seem to be seeing the best representation possible of how fragile an unusually large amount of the ice making up the extent and area figures has been this Jan-Mar.

This being the consequence of increasing energy within the climate system, particularly the Arctic Ocean waters, limiting what even months with mean surface (or near-surface) temperatures below the long-term average can achieve.

Well, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions mainly, plus various other human driven things like land use changes, deforestation - all of which (it seems to me) are having an ever more marked effect on the the climate system.

I don't like the look of this year for the Arctic, though I think antho climate change effect will balance out to be on trend (or a little above) over the years. Any child now who wants to study Arctic sea needs to get a move on though.

We have, directly or indirectly, control of this planet but my god we're making an truly awful mess of it 😥

Edited by Devonian
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Posted (edited)

Agreed @Devonian, and well put.

Sadly for all the increasing awareness and desire, modern life demands so much from us that it proves difficult to sustain the required level of change, and while there are plenty of individuals who consider that to be very much worth the sacrifice, it's harder to get money-minded business directors and such to see it that way. It can also be very tricky going if you're a youngster trying to gain a sustainable (irony alert!) foothold in the current economic climate, depending on your skill set.

I believe some large scale changes are needed to make it easier to make an ecologically / climatologically sustainable living.

Right, I'll stop there - I don't want to turn this into a climate thread except for Arctic-specific matters.

Edited by Singularity
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Not a very pretty picture, is it? I guess the only consolation might be that no-one has claimed a 'recovery'...yet?

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31 minutes ago, Singularity said:

Agreed @Devonian, and well put.

Sadly for all the increasing awareness and desire, modern life demands so much from us that it proves difficult to sustain the required level of change, and while there are plenty of individuals who consider that to be very much worth the sacrifice, it's harder to get money-minded business directors and such to see it that way. It can also be very tricky going if you're a youngster trying to gain a sustainable (irony alert!) foothold in the current economic climate, depending on your skill set.

I believe some large scale changes are needed to make it easier to make an ecologically / climatologically sustainable living.

Right, I'll stop there - I don't want to turn this into a climate thread except for Arctic-specific matters.

Yes, and yes this is about the Arctic,  I think it fair enough to be able to discuss why things happen there (though, this season is not there yet).

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An alarming amount of relative warmth in the arctic forecast over the next week also...

image.thumb.png.9b2311250584ce43d0f42667f6ca6e60.png

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Whilst the current extent drops do look alarming, alot of it is weather and wind related and im not surprised too see the extent line falling although i did not expect too see it at record lows all ready.

What 2019 is making me really interested so far is just how disperse the ice is with compactness also at record lows by some distance it seems. Going to be interesting how this will develop as we head into the summer months and what effect this will have on the ice.

As ever there are always concerns about the Arctic but after 2017 major volyme scare then despite the extent numbers, then i dont think there should be too majoe cause for concern. As ever the March volume figures will be interesting.

As far as the weather patterns goes, then too me it looks an improving picture with the high perhaps migrating nearer to the pole but more importantly low pressure systems are weakening so less isobars and more of slacker set up potentially. Also it looks like colder winds may return to the bering stright and perhaps the kara sea so any open water may refreeze again? Still quite a few days before that happens though.

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I feel that the most important takeaway from the record-breaking (relative to the past two decades, before which much larger actual extents make comparisons ineffective) March reductions is that the ice is in a state capable of being moved around so very much... back when it was metres thicker, it was a lot more resistant to mechanical compaction and losses in some areas tended to be offset by gains in others as the whole pack shifted about.

A close second to this is that there's a lot of priming for high-end heat intrusions (i.e. 95th+ percentile events), recently across W. Canada (but thankfully with some mitigating colder conditions now following) and Alaska (still going on... and could become a really big issue given the Nino-type PNA patterns likely to dominate the coming months) and now across a vast swathe of the Asian tundra regions.

Even where snow cover survives, it will be warmer at its core and thus take less energy from the atmosphere to melt as and when further seasonal warm 'waves' cross en route to the Arctic Ocean.

 

Some have even called this a 'perfect storm' of melt season priming... but I'm not sure we can go that far this soon in the year. It remains to be seen how conditions will evolve with respect to melt pond formation. The more fragile, fragmenting ice state could be a negative feedback on this, as there are more gaps through which melt water can drain, but the limited studies I've seen haven't been very conclusive on this. 

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2019 pushes further into record low territory on the ADS extent measure, now more than 200k below the next lowest year (2016) and more than 1.2 million km2 below 2012

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Getting very interesting now with volume for March growing at a below average rate(although some of that could be down to the sharp downwards in extent) and compactness being record lows which means there is lots and lots of holes and leads/cracks in the ice pack. What impacts that will have will be revealed this summer.

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Posted (edited)

The PIOMASS March update (can't seem to get the links to work?) shows a serious shortfall of volume across much of the East Siberian Sea and some additions relative to recent years on the Atlantic side.

The ESS is usually a sort of 'anchor' that the sea ice can use to help resist mechanical degradation, so the thin ice there is of concern. Meanwhile, those Atlantic gains are in locations that usually see export from the Arctic Ocean.

So not a great volume distribution either. In fact, an unusually poor one, you could argue.


It's going to be a big deal how the ice responds to the extensive blocking highs modelled to be across the Arctic in the coming fortnight or so. I'm not sure exactly how far into the season clear skies become melt-favourable? As I currently understand it, even with a lot of anomalous warmth being driven into the circulation aloft by LPs on the periphery, the inversion tends to keep it freezing at the surface (often with slightly elevated fog i.e. 50-100 metres above the ice) until mid-late April - is that right? TIA for responses.

Also, is it correct that anticyclonic circulations encourage spread of the ice - in which case we may see extent recover a bit? Probably a struggle for it to achieve much thickening though... we'd possibly see another period of 'faux health' in the extent figures followed by sharp declines driven by wind or melt.

Edited by Singularity
Only Human
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A death spiral looking likely this year?  In which case, odds on for a record breaking minimum?

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7 hours ago, Singularity said:

The PIOMASS March update (can't seem to get the links to work?) shows a serious shortfall of volume across much of the East Siberian Sea and some additions relative to recent years on the Atlantic side.

The ESS is usually a sort of 'anchor' that the sea ice can use to help resist mechanical degradation, so the thin ice there is of concern. Meanwhile, those Atlantic gains are in locations that usually see export from the Arctic Ocean.

So not a great volume distribution either. In fact, an unusually poor one, you could argue.


It's going to be a big deal how the ice responds to the extensive blocking highs modelled to be across the Arctic in the coming fortnight or so. I'm not sure exactly how far into the season clear skies become melt-favourable? As I currently understand it, even with a lot of anomalous warmth being driven into the circulation aloft by LPs on the periphery, the inversion tends to keep it freezing at the surface (often with slightly elevated fog i.e. 50-100 metres above the ice) until mid-late April - is that right? TIA for responses.

Also, is it correct that anticyclonic circulations encourage spread of the ice - in which case we may see extent recover a bit? Probably a struggle for it to achieve much thickening though... we'd possibly see another period of 'faux health' in the extent figures followed by sharp declines driven by wind or melt.

I dont think we can read too much into the volume figures in one region especially as the ESS always tends to get fast ice in anycase and this year is no different in that respect. I dont expect the fast ice to be as resilliant as last year because there has been less compaction in this region compared to last year.

The beaufort does look like it has somewhat thicker ice to last year and there is the 'babies arm'(as GW likes too call it) of ice stretching from the Beaufort to the Chuckchi region which may give the CAB some protection.

The fact the Atlantic side of the Arctic seemingly has thicker ice may mean Atlanticfication may not be as extreme this year, the fact more ice has clinged onto Svalbard this year may help with that.

As concerning as current extent looks, i do think we would of seen 2018 have a similar amount if the Kara sea is in the state it is now. Im more interested in the current lack of compactness the ice has at the moment, saw it through February also how there was more reds and even yellow pixels appearing on the breman charts which is quite unprecedented it would seem so be interesting how it will all look when the true warm air arrives.

High pressure in April and even the first half of May is not a bad thing as usually the air remains cold enough to not allow melt ponds to form. High pressure ridges which come in from lower latitudes via low pressure systems is a different story especially during May. Mid May 2011 was an extreme example of this as a big bulge of warm air entered the basin via a high pressure cell and it bought widespread melt ponds to the Beaufort. The weather did switch at the end of the month to much colder conditions near the end of the month but we certainly dont want too see that type of set up occuring such early doors this year.

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Arctic sea ice extent appears to have reached its maximum extent on March 13, marking the beginning of the sea ice melt season. Since the maximum, sea ice extent has been tracking at record low levels. In the Bering Sea, extent increased through the middle of March after setting record lows—only to drop sharply again.

https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2019/04/spring-arrives-in-the-arctic/

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On 01/04/2019 at 01:20, Don said:

Yes, another winter likely to be b*ggered up!  Ok, if you like mild winters?  Far more to it than just that, though.

I try to catch up when I can but I thought the opposite was the case? Low ice extent across the Arctic is more likely to produce frigid winters in Europe.

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On ‎03‎/‎04‎/‎2019 at 13:33, Don said:

A death spiral looking likely this year?  In which case, odds on for a record breaking minimum?

Is this years death spiral going to be different to previous years death spirals?

How many death spirals can you have, it strikes me that you can only have 1 true 'death' spiral?

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Posted (edited)

 

Edited by knocker
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27 minutes ago, knocker said:

 

It's getting ever more worrying, knocker...Sooner or later, a warm Arctic summer is going to demolish all the 'recovery-ice' in no time at all...? That's the problem with 'recovery-ice' IMO -- it's almost as thin as a layer of clingfilm...?

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