Arctic Ice August 2010 - Update #3
    By Patrick Lockerby | August 17th 2010 03:50 PM | 90 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Retired engineer, 60+ years young. Computer builder and programmer. Linguist specialising in language acquisition and computational linguistics....

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    Arctic Ice August 2010 - Update #3

    The NSIDC has just issued an update report for August -

    August 17, 2010
    North by Northwest

    The end of summer is approaching in the Arctic; temperatures are dropping and melt is ending in the high latitudes. Yet summer is not quite over in the lower latitudes of the Arctic Ocean, where sea ice extent continues to decline. Sea ice has melted out extensively in the northern route of the Northwest Passage, but the passage is not completely open.

    Meanwhile, in the Antarctic, sea ice extent continues to be well above normal, largely because of atmospheric circulation patterns set up by a high Antarctic Oscillation mode.

    The anti-science brigade has been howling over the 'cover up' of the 'nice recovery' in the Antarctic.  It's good to see the NSIDC give Antarctic sea ice extent a passing nod so that the unscientists have one less spurious argument to hype up.

    Antarctic sea ice is growing despite a strongly warming Southern Ocean.

    The NSIDC August 17 2010 report states:

    Overview of conditions

    As of August 16, 2010, Arctic ice extent was 5.95 million square kilometers (2.30 million square miles),1.68 million square kilometers (649,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average.
    Conditions in context

    As of August 16, only 2007 and 2008 had lower extent. Approximately one month remains in the melt season.

    High pressure has moved in over the central Arctic Ocean, replacing stormier, lower-pressure conditions that persisted during July. Paired with lower pressure on the Siberian side, this pattern generates winds that push the ice northward and reduce the total ice extent, especially since much of the ice pack is spread out.
    If the ice extent is X% on average, then ideal conditions could press it into a smaller sea area which is only X% of the prior sea area.  For each square kilometer of ice at X% you get only X% of a square kilometer of compacted ice cover.  If floes over-ride each other, as in strong winds then you get even less cover.  If the very winds that are causing compaction cause ice to stream into warmer waters via Nares Strait and other open channels then the measure of ice extent will drop more.

    Currently, ice is streaming through Nares Strait from Lincoln Sea, as shown in this image of part of Nares Strait.

    cropped and rotated from -

    The main pack is now so highly fragmented and has so much open water that - I suggest - the area of the Arctic now covered with ice to 15% concentration or more could compact under such conditions to about 3 million square kilometers as this years annual minimum.

    However, I stand by my previous forecasts of between 3.5 and 3.8 million km2.

    The NSIDC graph compares current ice extent with previous years:

    resized image - source:

    The next image is from the August 16 2010 terra Arctic mosaic.  It shows the region near the NWP, the entrance to which is bottom left.  My point about how spread out the ice is - and how small an area it might cover if it becomes compacted - should be clear.

    Ice spread out near NWP.
    image source:
    Note: most of the remaining ice is less obviously spread out.  Please check the source.
    Early clearing in the Northwest Passage

    Stephen Howell, Tom Agnew, and Trudy Wohlleben from Environment Canada report that sea ice conditions in the Northwest Passage are very light. Ice is still present at the mouth of the M’Clure Strait, in central Viscount-Melville Sound, and in Larsen Sound, as of early August. As a result, neither the northern route (Western Parry Channel) nor the southern route (Amundsen’s Passage) through the Northwest Passage are completely clear of ice. Sea ice area within the northern route is currently well below the 1968 to 2000 average and almost a month ahead of the clearing that was observed in 2007, according to ice chart data from the Canadian Ice Service. In the southern route, there is still a substantial amount of ice.

    This year’s early clearing of sea ice probably resulted from record warm temperatures this past spring over the Western Canadian Arctic, as well as the decline in older, multiyear ice in the channel over recent years. Spring 2010 was the warmest in the region since 1948: some regions of the Western Canadian Arctic were more than 6°C (11°F) above normal. These warm conditions helped break the ice up early in the northern route. If winds push sea ice away from the entrance to M’Clure Strait, the northern route of the Northwest Passage could open completely this year. However, even scattered sea ice remains a significant threat to navigation.

    Reduced size image - source

    The graph speaks for itself.

    History of the Northwest Passage

    Conditions in the Northwest Passage are quite variable and do not necessarily reflect overall conditions in the Arctic. However, today’s conditions in the Northwest Passage would likely astonish 19th century explorers such as McClure, Franklin, and Amundsen. In upcoming decades, the passage will be increasingly likely to open during summer.

    Last month, Canadian investigators located the wreckage of the HMS Investigator, which sank on an expedition led by Captain Robert McClure in the 1850s. The McClure expedition had set out to rescue the Franklin Expedition, which had gone missing after leaving Baffin Bay for the Northwest Passage in 1845. McClure attempted to enter the passage from the west through what is now called M’Clure Strait, but quickly became trapped in the ice. They remained trapped through two winters before being rescued by another ship. The Franklin Expedition was not so fortunate: all 128 men perished. It was another fifty years before Norwegian Roald Amundsen and a small crew successfully navigated the passage. Their trek, by the southern route, took over two years.
    Regular readers may remember my various articles on this topic, such as
    Arctic Heroes #3 - Robert McClure and, in response to a slur on the reputation of Robert McClure:
    Spitting On Graves.

    For the full report and full size images, please go to the NSIDC site:

    Other news:

    Northern Passage 2010 Expedition

    Thorleif Thorleifsson and Børge Ousland in their trimaran 'Northern Passage' are making their way through the ice in the Laptev Sea region.  This was the area most likely to give them trouble.  Once through the relatively small region of extensive ice they have waters ahead that should afford them a relatively easy passage.

    From an earlier part of their journey, this photo captures the ground-level view of some interesting floes.

    © Børge Ouland, Northern Passage 2010 Expedition
    Image reproduced by kind permission of the Northern Passage 2010 Expedition -
    reduced size.  Please see  for larger original.

    Note the ice pressed under the water by the weight of other floes.  This swamped ice is known as negative freeboard ice.  When covered in fresh ice to make a sort of 'ice sandwich', this can appear to satellites as thick ice.

    The trimaran appears to be passing through thin ice.  Between the camera and trimaran the sea appears to be covered in ice of varying kinds.  Judging by the 'flat' ripples I would say that what looks at first sight to be open water near the camera is covered in frazil ice.

    Petermann Ice Island (2010)

    The latest available clear image shows that the ice island is grinding its way forward between the fjord walls.  Currently it is clear of the stream of floes from Lincoln Sea.  If it is subjected to impacts it will fragment.  If it remains whole until the sea starts to freeze it will form a substantial anchor for local sea ice.

    Petermann Ice Island (2010)
    cropped and rotated from -

    Note the bergs from the ice island and from the new calving front.

    I hope to keep pace with any new developments in the Arctic and post further updates.

    Thank you for visiting.


    Colorado Bob

    Researchers Race to Catch Up With Melting, Shifting Polar Realities

    When the Petermann Glacier calved an ice island four times the size of
    Manhattan earlier this month, GPS sensors embedded in the ice and
    time-lapse cameras sitting on nearby rock were watching.
    But scientists who put them there were caught off guard. Traveling to
    northwestern Greenland to retrieve the data that equipment recorded will
    cost them roughly $93,000, money they currently don't have.
    Colorado Bob: thanks for the hot tip!

    "The observations are showing really dramatic changes. There is an element of surprise. The fact that there is so much change in northern Greenland is not something the community is aware of yet."

    Community?  Which community?

    Here at the Chatter Box we have been observing and discussing changes in northern Greenland - indeed the whole Arctic - for quite some time now.  The same goes for Neven's blog since he started it.

    But who would want to read an obscure web site tucked away in the darkest corner of the web with only half a dozen readers, all in the US?  No, wait a minute - that's WUWT!  :-)
    "temperatures are dropping and melt is ending in the high latitudes."

    I'd say there's a bit more to see yet, even in the far north. A few areas of interest:
    After another violent change of direction, Petermann Ice Island continues to advance down the fjord. It moved about 1-1.5 kms forwar today (Day 229), while swinging in a clockwise direction. The right rear is dragging on the fjord wall, but it appears to have regained freedom of movement. I'll change my mind again and say it will make it into Nares Strait before the freeze up. But then what....?

    Land fast ice on the NE coast of Greenland appears to be fragmenting some more. Its conceivable that the nose of 79N and Zachariae (sp?) could be free before the melt ends, which makes some calving more likely, I presume.

    Check out the north coast of Ellesmere Island - some big leads opening there as the most "solid" part of the pack starts to fragment. There is a massive crack in the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf (has been there since 2008), and with the pressure differences between old ice pushing into it in some places and open water in others, I wouldn't be surprised if the eastern third (about 100 sq km) broke away. The extreme western end is also looking a bit shaky, but not as bad.

    Frank and others, I have updated the Lockerby Ice Island animation with yesterday's MODIS image:

    Lockerby Ice Island seems to have moved forward a bit again.
    Yes Frank I think you are right about something could easily happen in the North East, the land fast ice will probably more less be pushed out into sea, there are already big cracks in the remaining ice, and there seems to be some pressure or tensions from 79 and Zachariae, and if that happens will it not the first time in recent history that both the entire East and West coast of Greenland will be ice free except from glacier outputs?
    Is there any major calving from these 2 glaciers in recent time?

    Regards Espen

    WRT the landfast ice of the NE coast of Greenland: I've made a short animation that compares today's image (day 229) to one from 2009 around the same date (day 235) and an image from last year when the melt season was more or less over (day 259).

    Neven: thanks for posting those animations.  I'd be grateful if you could find time to follow these up here.  I am unwell at the moment which is slowing me down quite a bit.

    Zacharia and 79N are in basins below sea level.  The sea ice around them tends to be multi-year and melts late.  Next year it will be mostly first-year ice.  The two glaciers will begin calving early.
    I'd be grateful if you could find time to follow these up here.  I am unwell at the moment which is slowing me down quite a bit.

    Sure thing, Patrick. Take it easy and be well. The ice isn't going anywhere. ;-)
    Patrick, hope you are feeling more energetic,
    It appears that the increase in Antarctic ice you mentioned it this report is due mostly to 2 factors:
    1. Ocean salinity near Antarctica due to a change in the hydrological cycle: and
    2. The ozone hole:
    I have also noticed a 3rd possibility highly likely connected to my point #1 that I started noticing on Weather Underground's temperature maps of Antarctica. Occasionally, it appears that the Antarctic becomes bi-polar as far as airflow is concerned with 2 poles of the coldest air with a region of comparatively warmer air in between. Because Antarctica is so cold this would likely also push the coldest air farther out over the ocean causing more freeze up, similar to what happens in the Arctic. However, because the Arctic is so much warmer, this condition causes melting in the Arctic.
    Point #1 and #3 are both brought on by a warming climate cause by an increase in greenhouse gasses, i.e. directly related to human activity.
    Point #2, the ozone hole is directly related to human activity as well. Ozone is a very potent greenhouse gas: Even a slight reduction in ozone in the upper troposphere and/or stratosphere causes cooling in those locations. This further changes air circulation patterns.
    According to these articles and others I have read, a warming world will soon overwhelm the increase in Antarctic Sea Ice. It is important to note that Antarctic land ice is already decreasing...see above articles, as well, which connect to other sources.

    Vaughn A. - thanks for your good wishes.

    Briefly - my view of sea ice growth and loss can be summed up as 'easy come - easy go'.

    The final winter extent of Antarctic ice is almost irrelevant - the summer minimum is the one to watch.  Recently, Antarctic sea ice summer minimum has been exceedingly low.

    Already the fringes of the Antarctic sea ice are melting.  Since 2010 ice growth was rapid, I expect the 2010 / 2011 ice melt to be rapid.

    I suspect that NSIDC mentioned Antarctic sea ice in passing to answer the anti-science propagandists who keep asserting that warmists focus too much on Arctic sea ice loss and deliberately avoid mention of the 'recovery' of Antarctica.

    In the grand scheme of things, Antarctic winter sea ice extent is not big news unless it begins to intrude into Tierra del Fuego.   ;-)
    Hullo science persons,
    ["The release to the atmosphere of only one percent of the methane assumed to be stored in shallow hydrate deposits might alter the current atmospheric burden of methane up to 3 to 4 times," Shakhova said. "The climatic consequences of this are hard to predict."]
    Does Canada have methane permafrost and are measurements being done there as in Russia?

    John: apologies for being slow to respond.
    Does Canada have methane permafrost and are measurements being done
    there as in Russia?
    Yes. There is also methane trapped in ice under the sea in various locations.
    Thanks for your excellent coverage of the Petermann Glacier loss, I had been waiting for two years for this event. Not surprised it took that long. Just returned from glacier to work to find you have been quite busy on this front, nice work.

    Mauri Pelto: thank you for the great compliment.

    I had been reading many of your papers and contributions to glaciology, so I had a lot of help from you even if you didn't know it.  Credit where credit is due!

    I ran out of steam a bit - due to illness - after publishing on August 5th.  If only I had beaten Steve Goddard to publication1 I might have got more hits than Anthony Watts' site. ;-)

    [1] - according to the Julian date inversion theorem first used by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Steve Goddard's publication date of 6th August precedes my 5th August publication on the grounds of
    invincible ignorance , allowing him to claim that What's Up With Tripe2 was the first science news outlet to publish the story.
    A Letter To Anthony Watts

    [2] - tripe - UK slang, with reference to any statement known or believed to be false:
    rubbish, garbage, balderdash, bilge, tosh, BS.

    Hi Patrick,
    Do you anything about an ice keel which should be situated in the Jøkel Bay / North wind Shoal , that's of the coast of Zachariae and 79N?

    Regards Espen

    Hi Espen.  I have been watching Greenland's glaciers closely, and NE Greenland in particular.

    I expect that when glaciologists publish their figures, Humboldt glacier will be seen to have calved much more this year than is usual.

    Over in NE Greenland, the sea ice appears to be melting more extensively this year than the average for recent decades.  I have mentioned before that I think Flade Isblink is losing mass.  I would not be surprised to see ice slip off the flanks this year or next.  It is very difficult to predict such things as to timing without a ouija board. ;-)

    79N and Zachariae are commonly subjected to back pressure from sea ice.  Each glacier's main stream is forced to turn through about 90 degrees in its journey.  There must be some huge pressures building.  Definitely ones to watch for significant calving soon.

    I am still studying the area.  I may yet go for 'spectacular' rather than 'significant' soon.

    An ice keel is the downward-projecting part of a berg or floe, contrasting with the 'sail' of the top part.  I take it that your reference is to an ice island or tabular berg.

    The NE region has many grounded bergs in normal times.  These act as anchors for sea ice.  In the past, a small region might see melting of sea ice while another is hardly affected.  This year the whole region is losing sea ice rapidly, as can be seen readily in the MODIS images.

    Within the sheets of shorefast ice will be bergs which are not grounded but which add to the thermal mass of the ice sheet.  Any mechanism which retains fewer or smaller bergs in the sheet year by year will lead to a trend of ever lower thermal mass.  There will be a tipping point where the sheet will melt at the beginning of summer.  We may have reached that tipping point for NE Greenland's remaining ice sheets.

    As glacier tongues thin they calve thinner tabular bergs.  The maximum depth contour within which such bergs can ground and serve as points of anchorage for sea ice moves inshore.  In turn, the coastal shore-bound ice sheets may be expected to shrink year by year with Arctic warming. 

    Less thermal mass due to less ice volume and less ice area would be yet another positive feedback mechanism for Arctic warming.

    I have an article on East Greenland's former 'impenetrable ice barrier' in progress.
    Hi Patrick,

    Thanks for informative way of distributing your knowledge, I really appreciate the way you explain the Arctic Sea, in particular, and also what I "see" as the person behind behind the screen.

    Regards Espen

    Espen: you are very welcome indeed.  It's good to know that my attempts at science outreach are appreciated.  It helps give me the energy to continue painting a small corner of the big picture.
    I've made another animation (with the help of Artful Dodger) showing the recent ice transport towards Fram Strait:

    More analysis in the blog post Race to Fram Strait.
    I have added the latest two images to the Lockerby Ice Island animation. Fascinating stuff. I wonder if and when it will round the corner and go off to explore the big wide world.

    Neven: I'm very grateful to you and Artful Dodger.  I will be a bit slow for a few days.  It turns out I had very high blood pressure, so I have to take it easy.  It would be a great help if you could post links to your articles here.

    Also, do feel free to post images, animations etc.

    Mi blog es su blog!

    The most recently available cryosphere today image pairs for 2007 and 2010 are very interesting.
    At first glance it seems that 2010 shows less ice loss than 2007.  But when you check the MODIS images you can see how the satellites are reading the scene.

    In 2007 there wasn't a huge 'hole in the pole' - an area close to the pole of highly fragmented ice with a lot of interstitial water.  If you look at how the ice is moving and how thin it is, you get to see a whole different picture.

    image source:

    I thought I'd take the opportunity to get into the good books of the WUWT crowd by doing a little secretarial work for a former member of the Number 10 press team, in the hopes that he might deign to honor my blog with his noble presence and correct my scientific errors for me in the interests of accuracy and in the time-honored traditions of noblesse_oblige.

    Patrick, whenever I have something interesting I'll copy and post it here.

    You take it easy, don't wind yourself up with what the pseudo-skeptics do. They are irrelevant for now. If people choose to believe their half-truths and lies, there is not much we can do, except try to show reality as we see it in a transparent and honest way as possible.

    Keep pounding the facts: There is no recovery this year. Weather conditions didn't match those of 2007 in the most important phase of the melting season. In fact, they were the opposite. But nevertheless we might still have a minimum below 5 million square km. This in itself is amazing, besides all the satellite images of calving glaciers and breaking up of landfast ice all around the Arctic, the 'holes' in the central ice pack, etc.

    If 2010 weather conditions had resembled those of 2007 we would now be discussing how far below 4 million square km the minimum extent would fall. Anyone who has eyes to see is aware of this.
    Neven:  I will  keep pounding the facts.  Trust me, I'm a greenie-warmist-alarmist tree-hugger!  ;-)

    Coming soon:  Greenland's Great Ice Barrier.  Apparently it's recovering nicely, thanks to natural variation.  ;-)

    I have been following the discussions on economics in your blog, although I haven't had the energy to join in just yet.

    I have just created a new blog -
    The Chatter Box Friend's Forum - A Discussion Of Economics.

    This is intended as an open forum for you, Neven, to kick-start a discussion here on economics and related topics, should you wish to do so. 

    When I have more energy I will pop by and contribute my share of ignoratio elenchi, ad hominem. and non-sequiteur comments. ;-)

    May I have your permission to reprint your 'poem' which you posted in response to my article
    Weird World Weather ?
    Note change in Ellesmere Island Ice Shelves over last 30 days.

    (Includes Lockerby Ice Island at bottom of frame)

    Will: thanks for the links.

    Check out how small the floes are in Nares Strait from Lincoln Sea.

    Smaller floes make for less likelihood of jams.  If ice loss through Nares Strait 2010 isn't double what it was in 2007 I'll eat my hat.  This is a perfectly safe bet since I don't own a hat.  ;-)
    Don't you think those two weeks of buoys being blown back to the Lincoln Sea make a difference?
    I saw you were interested in Flade Isblink and the gap on the southern end.

    A geologic map can be found at:
    with Flade at:

    The legend for the geographic maps for greenland and additional maps are at:

    Thanks for the link to Alaskan methane. As a speculation, Greenland's warming may reveal methane but the system lags behind Russi's warming.

    Hi Patrick
    Thank you for a very interesting site.
    I was wondering if you or someone else can explain why the ice-map in the side-by-side comparion on CT looks so different than the daily image ?
    Off course the WUWT sea ice page change their image from the daily image to the one from the comparison as soon as the side-by-side comparison was online again ;-)

    The USCG Healey has now passed 76N - at the moment i ICE-free water...

    Torbenwb:  Cryosphere today updates single images almost daily.  The images used for comparison tend to lag by about 3 days and are, I understand, slightly different from the daily images posted on the main page.

    Colorado Bob
    John Welch -

    Science stunner: Vast East Siberian Arctic Shelf methane stores destabilizing and venting

    NSF issues world a wake-up call: "Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.”

    March 4, 2010
    It appears that no-one has actually done measurements of Canadian or Greenland emissions of methane. Could it be a great unknown threat for the future?


    The reason the CT images look so different from the daily picture is because they use different colour coding.
    (hope the formatting works...)
    Colour.........Daily %.......Archived %
    Dk Blue......50%.................n/a
    Lt Blue....... <40%.............<30%

    Colorado Bob
    By mid-August, the extreme monsoon floods that had overwhelmed northwestern Pakistan had traveled downstream into southern Pakistan. The top image, acquired by the Landsat 5 satellite on August 12, 2010, shows flooding near Kashmor, Pakistan, just before the second wave of the flood hit. The lower image, provided for context, shows the region on August 9, 2009.
    Colorado Bob: thanks for the link - image below.

    All along the Indus there are dams, barrages, embankments and canals which were designed to cope individually with the sort of floodwaters which would be expected based on historical records going back to before the British Raj.

    These unprecedented floods have spilled over the dams and barrages in a cascade or domino effect.

    Rebuilding needs to be done on a national scale with rapid communication of rising waters and control of their levels all along the Indus.

    Hi Patrick,

    A big piece of your island (Locerby Island) has broken of during the last 12 hours.


    And it looks like Lockerby Ice Island is stuck as well.

    Definitely not stuck.

    If you compare these two images from the Danish Centre for Ocean and Ice from 23 and 25 August, you can see a good deal of forward movement. Its jerky progress suggests it might be dragging its keel, but its still headed for the open ocean...

    Hi Patrick,

    Hope you are doing well!
    I will report just report less than 150 km land fast shore ice left in North East Greenland, which also means all of the east coast.

    Best regards Espen

    Hi Neven, Espen!

    It looks like 'Lockerby' is in a bit of a jam, which is not at all unusual. 
    semper in stercus sed quod altitudinus variat
    Always in the s**t, but the height varies.


    I think that the area between the ice island and the new calving front will freeze over with the first drop in air temperatures.  That will keep the ice island from wriggling and will help keep it in place.

    Espen: keep watching that shorefast ice in NE Greenland.  The east coast of Greenland was formerly unapproachable by ship up to about 1950, with very rare small openings.  Most of that coast was first explored on foot.  Something like a dozen sealing ships were lost in that ice in the 1950s, with substantial loss of life.

    The last vestiges of Greenland's east coast 'Great Ice Barrier' are now melting.

    Meanwhile, the last vestiges of the former Ellesmere Island ice shelf continue to vanish.

    Watch the last ice melt.

    Blink and you'll miss it.

    There is a plug of ice - an ice bridge - in process of disintegrating in Nansen Sound.

    Ice bridge in Nansen sound - part of

    If the ice bridge breaks up soon - as I think it will - at least 100km2 of sea ice will be free to drift into the warm waters of Nansen Sound driven by any favorable winds and currents.  This will reduce back-pressure in the pack and so reduce consolidation of whatever ice remains in the main Arctic pack when melting ceases about mid September.

    The Arctic has never been so ice free in the entirety of human history.

    The late 'spurt' in Arctic sea ice extent in April had some people writing about 'recovery'.
    Whether Arctic or Antarctic, maximum extent is no predictor of forthcoming melt, except that fast growth is, in my opinion, an indicator of forthcoming rapid melting.

    The indicator of annual trend is minimum extent.  This year, 2010, already has a guaranteed place in the top 5 years of minimum extent.

    eppur si diffluere

    Anybody who speaks of Arctic  'recovery' or 'natural cycles' knows far more about propaganda than they do about climate science.
    Hi Patrick,

    Here at the end of "the season" things are still progressing, at moderate rate, but what is actually the last remaining and historic land fast shore-ice in North East Greenland, will probably break into pieces shortly, we got something like 140 km left, so the moment of the loss of the remaining ice will become another milestone in the disappearance of late summer ice in the arctic sea. Big cracks are now visible in the remaining pack of ice outside Zachariae and 79N, clearly seen on these images:

    Best regards

    Thanks again, Espen.

    Here's a section of Arctic mosaic showing an area to watch.  There's the shorefast ice you mention and the ice flow through Fram Strait. 

    detail from Arctic.2010234.aqua.2km.jpg

    If the shorefast ice north of Flade Isblink lasts into the winter, it will be the oldest ice on Greenland's shores: a mix of old bergs, and ice up to about 5 years old.  That sheet normally extends past Flade Isblink and projects a 'nose' into Fram Strait.
    Yes Patrick,

    It is very interesting to watch the flow of ice from "the top" tru Fram, Nares and the Canadian Archipelago, as you have mentioned before the floes are small in size, due to the heavy fragmention,which makes this season so special, of ice in Arctic Sea above. A headline in a newspaper could be : "The biggest soft ice plant in the world"!
    I did not mention climate changes!

    Regards Espen

    Yes Patrick,

    The ice just around the corner (to the north) of Flade Isblink seems to be the only remarkable piece of ice in the north as well. Regards Espen

    Here is a ratio of Greenland : Antarctica methane:.
    "Jemma Wadham, a geochemist at the University of Bristol in England, described the little-known role of methane-making microbes, called methanogens, below ice sheets on March 15 at an American Geophysical Union conference on Antarctic lakes.

    Her team took samples from one site in Antarctica, the Lower Wright glacier, and one in Greenland, the Russell glacier. Trapped within the ice were high concentrations of methane, Wadham said, as well as methanogens themselves — up to 10 million cells per gram in the Antarctic sample and 100,000 cells per gram in Greenland. That’s comparable to the concentration of methanogens found in deep-ocean sediments, she said. The species of microbes were also similar to those found in other polar environments, such as Arctic peat or tundra.

    The team then put scrapings from both sites into bottles and incubated them with water to see which microbes might grow. For the Antarctic samples, Wadham said, “nothing happens for 250 days and then bam! You get tons of methane.” The Greenland samples haven’t been growing for as long and so far don’t show much signs of giving off methane — but perhaps they just need more time,"

    Read More

    John: thank you for a very interesting link.  I say 'interesting', but the alarmist in me wants to say 'frightening'.

    Please do continue to contribute, I appreciate it greatly.
    Some sea ice breaking up due meltwater from Zacharie,9&lvl=4&...,9&lvl=4&...
    I don't know if this is an yearly event, anyway pretty impressive, now one may sail to see Zachariae terminus..

    jyyh: thanks for the links - that's an interesting comparison.

    the Arctic mosaics are probably more intuitive to use for many people than the MODIS pages.  However, the MODIS pages give you the most up-to-date images.  The Arctic mosaic can be seen even while it is being compiled:

    The images from which the mosaic components are selected are the most up-to-date available to us ordinary mortals.  You have to be an astronaut with a camera to do better. ;-)

    The near real-time images should be used with caution: they contain many artifacts due to not being fully processed.

    On either page, just use the 'prev' and 'next' buttons or edit the Julian day number to see other image sets.  e.g. /2010234/  > /2009234/
    Good grief. Does it really show rocks on the bottom of the sea? Is that because the water is melt, not saline?

    I've decided to make an animation of Greenland's east coast after all:

    Hi Neven and Patrick,

    Zachariae and 79 N

    I hope you are ok Patrick? But I can report the last remaining shore-fast ice in front of Zachariae and 79N has broken into pieces and we talking 1000s of km2, that we will be the last big action for this season I believe, but what a season?

    Best regards Espen

    79N glacier major calving august 26 2010

    To add to my report on the cracks in the remaining shore fast ice in North East Greenland, I report of a major calving from 79N.

    Regards Espen

    I'm not sure. Aren't clouds distorting the view?
    You're right, Espen. The king's face is falling apart. Unfortunately the image is too cloudy to update my animation. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
    Hi Neven,

    Yes it sure is disintegrating up there, hopefully the dramatic scenes will take a seasonal break soon, because I am heading for Nepal late next week, what do you foresee coming in the end of this season.

    Regards Espen

    What I foresee?

    - Minimum extent around 5 million square km
    - NWP and NSR open
    - Norwegians and Russians circumnavigating the Pole in one season
    - Lockerby Ice Island clogging Nares Strait
    - A big multi-year ice pack in the East Siberian Sea detached from the main one in the Arctic Basin
    - Lots of late ice transport through Fram
    - Perhaps a last big surprise somewhere
    Hi Neven,

    - A big multi-year ice pack in the East Siberian Sea detached from the main one in the Arctic Basin

    Can you be more specific about this?

    And the around the pole race is amazing, although both teams are behind schedules, I will bet on Northern Passage if they dont have any accidents, they are very light in those waters but fast (and Norwegians)!

    Regards Espen

    I discussed it a few weeks ago in a blog post called Breaking Away from the Pack. And then when I look at today's Cryosphere Today's sea ice concentration map I'm thinking it isn't so impossible. If some more of that ice between the packs melts out...

    Hi Neven,

    I see what you mean, but I think you will see the whole polar sea ice being more and more fragmented and thinner, and then total collapse of sea ice, maybe 1 or 2 seasons from. Have you heard form Patrick, is he ok?

    Regards Espen

    Espen, in my blog post on the disintegration of the landfast ice on the NE coast of Greenland, I have put up some images from 2007 and 2008 to compare to the current situation.

    August 21st 2007:

    September 9th 2008:

    I've made some more animations of the ice transport through the islands of the Canadian Archipelago. Here's a map for orientation.

    Peary and Sverdrup Channel:

    Prince Gustaf Adolf Sea and Ballantyne Strait:

    It has snowed north of the area in northeast greenland of the area in Nevis's post. I could not find the name of the cigar shaped island, but it appears to be near Nord in the Danmark fjord. (See the bottom right corner of the links.)

    Even with the snow, the sea ice is still crumbling.


    Post snow

    The cigar shaped island is Princess Thyra Island

    You'll be excited to know that after a difficult birth, and 23 days in labour, Mrs Greenland has given birth to a 65 billion ton baby iceberg named Petermann Ice Island, but known as "Lockerby" to friends. Congratulations Mrs G!

    Seriously - the Petermann Ice Island today squeezed through the narrowest part of the fjord and is now into Nares Strait. If I read it right, the currents there are just swinging from the north run up the coast of Greenland around to the south down Ellesmere Island. I think it will probably continue to nose forward for a little while longer into relatively slack water before swinging left under the influence of the currents through Nares Strait. If it doesn't run aground, its heading for warmer climes...

    Precocious little island, no hanging about for a few years in the cold water for him! It'll end in tears, I think.

    Thanks to all for keeping this thread going!

    I am so low on energy that it has taken me 3 days to write an article that would normally take just 1 day - and it's still not finished.

    FrankD: August 24th was a full moon - a spring tide.  That would have got baby crawling along nicely.  :-)

    Petermann Ice Island (2010)
    cropped from

    Keep watching that next chunk - about 100km2.  It seems ready to calve.  I already suggested that it will either calve by August 31 or it will stay put until next summer.

    Air temperatures are dropping as winter approaches, but water temperatures take longer to fall.
    Low sea ice volume = low sea ice thermal capacity.  There is still plenty of heat hanging around the Arctic, available to melt ice.

    The fat lady isn't singing just yet.  She probably fell through that thin sea ice.  ;-)
    Hi Patrick,

    The Nansen sound plug has caved in, and there is a free flow of ice from above!

    Regards Espen

    Thanks, Espen.  The famous explorers of earlier eras would be astounded to see so much open water and free-flowing ice amongst those islands.
    Hi Patrick,

    But ironic enough, this flow will only add to the the so called measured area (extend)!

    Hi Patrick:

    Any chance you could include some information on the Devon Ice Cap in your September post?

    I know you are busy, so I am including some items below that could be used in such a post.

    Modis image offers a clear view of the Devon Ice Cap yesterday showing considerable melt action.

    At this point in 2009 there was considerable snow cover on the Devon Ice Cap:

    I checked and 20 days earlier in 2009 (before the snow) it looked like this:

    There is also some information from September 2009 and a satellite view (not sure of date) of Devon Ice Cap at:

    which has a full link tot he 2007 paper "Mass balance of Devon Ice Cap, Canadian Arctic"

    and mentions a 2004 paper "Form and flow of the Devon Island Ice Cap, Canadian Arctic" which is extracted at:

    Science Daily (link below) posted an article in April of 2010 titled "Massive Arctic Ice Cap Is Shrinking, Study Shows; Rate Accelerating Since 1985" about the Devon Ice Cap

    An abstract of the study that the article is based on titled " Forty-seven Years of Research on the Devon Island Ice Cap, Arctic Canada" is at:

    There are some 1999 and 2000 Landsat 7 images of the Devon Ice Cap at:

    There is a 2004 study titled "Recent Changes in Areal Extent of the Devon Ice Cap, Nunavut, Canada" - see abstract at:

    which includes several images, including a 1960 satellite image of the Devon Ice Cap that can be accessed at the link below:

    Hope this helps.

    Ooops, make that 1960 margin of ice cap superimposed on 1999 satellite image.

    Colorado Bob
    The Northwest and Northeast Passages are open

    The Northwest Passage--the
    legendary shipping route through ice-choked Canadian waters at the top
    of the world--melted free of ice last week, and is now open for
    navigation, according to satellite mosaics available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and The University of Illinois Cryosphere Today.
    This summer marks the fourth consecutive year--and fourth time in
    recorded history--that the fabled passage has opened for navigation.
    Over the past four days, warm temperatures and southerly winds over
    Siberia have also led to intermittent opening of the Northeast Passage,
    the shipping route along the north coast of Russia through the Arctic
    Ocean. It is now possible to completely circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean
    in ice-free waters, and this will probably be the case for at least a
    month. This year marks the third consecutive year--and the third time in
    recorded history--that both the Northwest Passage and Northeast Passage have melted free, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
    The Northeast Passage opened for the first time in recorded history in
    2005, and the Northwest Passage in 2007. It now appears that the opening
    of one or both of these northern passages is the new norm, and business
    interests are taking note--commercial shipping in the Arctic is on the
    increase, and there is increasing interest in oil drilling. The great
    polar explorers of past centuries would be astounded at how the Arctic
    has changed in the 21st century.

    Colorado Bob: strangely enough I was just reading that blog.

    Diminishing the importance of Arctic sea ice loss by calling attention to Antarctic sea ice gain is like telling someone to ignore the fire smoldering in their attic, and instead go appreciate the coolness of the basement, because there is no fire there. Planet Earth's attic is on fire. This fire is almost certain to grow much worse.
    There appears to be human driven causes for Antarctic Sea Ice to be temporarily on the increase. I think it is important to put this information in front of deniers and and people "on the fence," so to speak, so they can develop a better understanding about human caused events in Antarctica. I posted these links earlier so I hope my redundancy is not too annoying:

    Colorado Bob,
    My question is this: What will be the price tag for the rest of the world when the Arctic Ice is gone(or nearly gone as it is now) because of changed weather, climate, glaciation, ocean acidity, and sea level, etc., etc.?

    Patrick: I hope you are feeling more energetic!

    Vaughn A: thanks for your good wishes.  I'm improving daily, but you may guess how frustrating it is for a guy who used to write up to 3 articles daily to be reduced to nearly writing a third of one a day - and that full of errors which need lots of proof-reading.  :-)

    Meanwhile, the Antarctic mosaic shows the sea ice at the start of the melt season looking just like the Arctic sea ice did in late April: lots of breaking-up and violent motion.  There is hardly a place where the ice is attached to the shore or ice shelves.

    A forecast:  when the Antarctic sea ice has retreated back to shore again, the propagandists will give forth with great praise and jollity over the self-evident rapid growth of Arctic sea ice.

    I really hate propaganda.  It causes wars and promotes sales of ghastly 'straight-to-DVD' movies. ;-)
    Colorado Bob
    Colorado Bob: strangely enough I was just reading that blog.

    Great minds amigo.

    Speaking of minds I saw this one today .................. " The difference between genius and stupidity ....... genius knows it's limits "

    Colorado Bob,
    sounds like I'll be fishing for Humbolt squid; I live about 20 miles north of Portland Oregon. My understanding is that they are voracious eaters. I am also thinking that they are one factor in the decline of the salmon runs(I have seen no data...attempting to ask a question.) in this area although there are numerous other factors. The effect could be like nailing a few extra nails in the coffin so to speak if in fact Humbolt squid eat salmon..

    Vaughn A: if you like squid, you will enjoy any article by Danna Staaf such as:

    Squid Refuse To Be Outdone By Octopuses, Film Themselves.
    Colorado Bob

    Another Ice Island Breaks Off Arctic Glacier

    Sometime earlier this month, a Bermuda-sized ice island broke free from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf along the northern coast of Canada's Ellesmere Island.

    The breakup on this ice shelf continued a years-long pattern of retreat on the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, and a decades-long pattern of retreat of the ice shelves along the Ellesmere coast in the high Arctic.

    NASA's Aqua satellite detected fractures on the shelf on Aug. 18. Compared to images of the ice shelf from eight years earlier, the fractures show the dramatic change to the coast.

    Colorado Bob: thanks for the links.  For some interesting background info, see Mauri Pelto's guest blog at RealClimate:
    a question: as the volume of melt water is so high, there could be a greater outflow southwards through Bering Strait than before. This may speed up the Atlantic current, raising salinity and lowering melting point. Is this likely?

    answer : no (bangs head on desk)

    Colorado Bob
    John -
    Melt water , that's a real wild card , if you look great animations Neven has been making , it's clear that Lockerby Island was being pushed with a great deal of force.  I'm certain that all across Greenland today where no ears can hear , because no ears are there , the sound of water roaring must be deafening.
    John: I see where you are coming from.  I shall be covering the topic of fresh water in my next Arctic ice article - in progress.  Meanwhile, I'm happy to share my desk with you, having got it not quite right myself as regards Petermann Glacier:

    Colorado Bob: Petermann Fjord is very long.  Cold air can roll down from the icy peaks all the way to Nares Strait, gaining strength as it goes.  Katabatic_wind can be pretty fearsome.
    Colorado Bob
    Another good gif - Photobucket
    Colorado Bob
    John, Colorado Bob,
    I am wondering about all this meltwater myself. Based on the way ice dams form on relatively steep terrain I am speculating that much of the meltwater is dammed up under the ice and will flow out in small-large-massive surges. Question: How much meltwater builds up under the ice and when and where will these ice dams fail?
    The Missoula floods occurred as a result of ice dam collapses releasing upwards of 500 cubic miles of water/ice/debris at a time. Are you expecting floods of this order?

    Patrick and Colorado Bob:

    The two links in the post above that I left on the 19th shows the break-up of the small piece of Ward Hunt ice shelf that occurred to the east of Ward Hunt Island . from July 19th to August 18th.