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    Arctic Ice March 2011 - Update #1
    By Patrick Lockerby | March 8th 2011 02:58 PM | 38 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 March 2011 - Update #1

    Edited March 11 2011 - content added below ice prediction chart to address points raised in readers' comments.

    The Arctic sea ice extent has grown a little recently. 
    Ice extent as of  March 10 2011 is  13749688 km2 (as reported by IJIS).  Ice extent commonly grows until the end of March.  But any ice which forms now will still be very young, thin, salty ice when the temperatures begin to rise - not forgetting that temperatures are already anomalously high over much of the Arctic.

    While ice extent grew at average rates for February, the overall extent remained anomalously low. Air temperatures over most of the Arctic Ocean were between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius (4 and 7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal. Over the East Greenland Sea and north towards the Pole, air temperatures were 5 to 7 degrees Celsius (9 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal. Colder conditions, 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) below average persisted over western Eurasia, east-central Eurasia and some of the Canadian Arctic.

    Arctic sea ice news March 2, 2011
    Looking at extent graphs and charts doesn't give the whole picture.  For example, this comparison of March 2011 with March 2007 shows little significant difference.


    Cryosphere Today images comparing 2007 and 2011.
    images source: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

    Taking volume into account paints a different picture.


    Monthly average Arctic Ice Volume for Sept 2010 was 4,000 km3, the lowest over the 1979-2010 period, 78% below the 1979 maximum and 9,400 km3 or 70% below its mean for the 1979-2009 period.
    Image and text source: http://psc.apl.washington.edu


    Images from NASA confirm a recent change in age distribution and volume.


    ICESat measurements of winter multi-year ice cover in the Arctic Ocean between 2004 and 2008, along with the corresponding downward trend in overall winter sea ice volume, and switch in dominant ice type from multi-year ice to first-year ice.Credit: Ron Kwok, NASA/JPL
    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/icesat-20090707.html


    Note that the age of ice is a good proxy for volume, and vice versa, only for as long as the ice is not subjected to substantial melting.  The usual patterns of circulation take young ice into the pack where it takes some years to escape again, meanwhile rejecting salt, growing and compacting.  Climate change means that we can no longer rely on former norms: rather, we should expect something other than former norms.  Instead of ice being trapped in the main pack it is being ejected from the main pack.  The older ice survives where it is ejected against the Canadian archipelago / Greenland coasts - but only while the many channels to Baffin Bay remain closed.  Once they open, displacement patterns such as the one shown below will promote rapid ejection of ice.


    PIPS2.0 Ice displacement forecast 03 March 2011
    image source:
    http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/pips2/

    Recent changes in the Arctic ice floe circulation have caused younger ice to be exported before it can become greater than about 5 years old.   As I have stated previously: the Arctic ocean is populated by floes of various ages.  As older ice gets exported it gets replaced by younger ice.  The net result is a younger ice cap.  It is now mostly 1st year ice, i.e. salty, weak, relatively thin ice.  The image below shows that the ice gets thicker on average towards the coasts mentioned.


    Ice thickness in meters
    image source: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/pips2/


    Nares Strait / Kane Basin

    Although an ice bridge formed in Nares Strait this winter, it is very weak structurally.  The Kane Basin is covered predominantly in 1st year ice.  When this melts the ice bridge will collapse.  Signs of melt are highlighted in the MODIS image below.


    Thin snow cover reveals thin ice in the Kane Basin ice
    image cropped, source: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/


    The Kane Basin as seen by ASAR
    image re-sized, source: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/images/MODIS/


    Some important observations


    The Arctic melt season begins with these anomalous parameters:

    Ice extent as of 
    March 10 2011: 13749688 (as reported by IJIS)
    low total ice volume;
    low older ice volume, mostly confined to a relatively small area;
    high temperatures generally;
    high mobility - i.e. loose pack;
    a majority of 1st year ice.

    Those anomalies need to be seen in the context of steep downward trends in minimum ice extent, volume and age - together with less steep downward trends in maximum extent, volume and age.  By way of example, The Cryosphere Today 'tale of the tape' shows that negative anomalies have, since 2003, not been offset by positive anomalies.  The trend is obviously and inexorably pointing downwards.


    The last significant positive anomaly was in 2003



    The anomaly so far this year is more negative than of recent years.




    Three years of 'recovery' since 2007 have failed to establish a recovery trend.

    From an original graphic 'tale of the tape' at Cryosphere Today -
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/


    Pacific sector

    The general area around the Bering Strait showed a late spurt in ice formation last April.  At the time of writing the sea ice in that area is thinner and more mobile than last year.  The snow cover on the land is slightly less, but the thick snow cover on the ice of March 2010 is almost entirely absent.  The melt season in that region begins with an albedo much lower than this time last year.

    The following image compares the Bering Strait area as of March 07 2011 with that of March 12 2010.  The later date for 2010 was selected for its minimal cloud cover.


    Bering Strait March 2011 and March 2010 compared

    images source: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/


    Prediction

    Last year's Arctic weather shifted in July and reduced the export of ice.  Had the 2010 trend continued through July and August, much more extent would have been lost.  However, despite the weather shift, extent, volume and age all continued to decline.

    If the 2010 April - June trends applied this year 2011 from April to August, the extent could drop to somewhere around 50% of 2007 extent.  I consider that, if the summer melt follows recent average trends, the September extent will almost certainly be below 4 million km2.  Below 3.5 is plausible.

    I have still to find the time and energy to produce some numbers.  Meanwhile, here is a chart showing my broad prediction for September 2011.  It is modified from the NSIDC ice chart for 2007 minimum extent which was 5.65 million square kilometers (2.18 million square miles).


    My prediction of September 2011 ice extent compared with 2007 minimum.

    Edit - added content:

    The chart is a polar projection onto which I have mapped ice by hand for purposes of illustration only.  It should not be taken as an exact plot.  The area in solid white is the area within which ice concentration will be at least 15%.  Put another way, the area will contain areas of open water up to 85%.

    Here are my most recent predictions:

    Unless the Arctic sees unusually low temperatures before April 2011 - an unlikely event - it is highly likely, I suggest,  that the central Arctic ocean will be virtually ice free by the end of Summer 2011.
    October 26th 2010
    Arctic Ice November 2010

    I expect the [Nares Strait] ice bridge to break up between 2 to 4 weeks from now - earlier if there are any strong gales coming down the Strait.
    ...
    If the general trend towards earlier melting continues this year, I expect the main NWP to be open as a passage for ice export by mid June to end of June.
    ...
    I expect that a great deal of ice will be lost via Fram Strait, Nares Strait and the Canadian archipelago.  By September the bulk of sea ice will remain only in the area along the coasts of the Canadian archipelago and Greenland, with an extent of substantially less than 4 million km2. - perhaps less than 3 million km2.

    By September there will be virtually no ice left in the Arctic ocean older than 2 years.

    The ice which remains will be almost entirely 1st year ice.
    March 02 2011
    Arctic Ice March 2011
    My term 'area along the coasts' implies that all passages between islands will contain advected ice.

    To clarify my forecasts:
    an extent below 4 million km2 is highly probable.
    an extent below 3 million km2 is entirely possible if Arctic weather continues to follow the overall trends of the last decade.


    End of edit.


    Many scientists are now examining the serious possibility of a seasonally ice-free Arctic sometime between 2013 and 2016.  Discussion is now moving away from 'will the Arctic lose all of its sea ice?' to 'what are the likely outcomes when the Arctic loses all of its sea ice?'.


    When all her robes are gone1


    I doubt that anyone will wax lyrical about an ice-free Arctic.  It will not be a thing of beauty.  Perhaps future poets may say of this generation - a generation fixated on fossil fuel consumption and blind to the dangers - 'thus hath the candle singed the moth'.

    We cannot tell precisely, region by region, what the climatic effects will be of an ice-free Arctic.  But we can make some intelligent and informed estimates of likely or possible scenarios.  I distinguish 'likely' from 'possible' because I want to separate the need for action from excuses for inaction.  But that is a matter for a later article.  Meanwhile, I welcome my reader's responses to the question: "What are the possible and/or likely climatic effects of an ice-free Arctic ocean?"


    Footnotes

    [1]  By an anonymous poet:
    MY Love in her attire doth show her wit,
      It doth so well become her:
    For every season she hath dressings fit,
      For Winter, Spring, and Summer.
    No beauty she doth miss
    When all her robes are on;
    But Beauty's self she is
    When all her robes are gone.

    [2] -
    William Shakespeare - Merchant of Venice, Act 2, scene 10.
    Thus hath the candle singed the moth.
    O, these deliberate fools! when they do choose,
    They have the wisdom by their wit to lose.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Further reading / related

    Arctic Ice 2011 - Sail, Steam And Satellites
    Arctic Ice March 2011
    The ChatterBox Arctic Index

    Arctic Sea Ice
    http://climateprogress.org/2010/09/08/arctic-sea-ice-history-paleoclimate-polar-amplification/

    Comments

    Your image doesn't seem consistent with the rest of your post - the extent in the image is well under half the 2007 extent: i.e. less than 2.5 million square km compared to your numerical prediction of less than 3.5 million. Moreover, the image is inconsistent with recent melts in leaving the NW passage closed - do you have a particular reason to suspect it won't melt out this summer? Given the huge anomalies over NE Canada this winter I'd expect early opening of the passage, if anything.

    Apologies, my browser failed to properly put my name to that comment.

    logicman
    Peter: thank you for pointing out the ambiguities.  I have edited the article to insert more information below the chart.  I hope that this addresses you concerns adequately.
    I'm guessing the large amount of ice within the Canadian archipelago is based on your previous prediction of increased export through that region... essentially you are predicting that alot of the thick older ice along the northern edge of the archipelago will break up and travel down into the channels within the archipelago itself. If that were to happen then this thick ice would not melt as quickly as the thin first year ice usually found in this region and thus the NW passage might be blocked.

    I don't think the breakup of the remaining 'solid' ice pack will come that quickly. The archipelago forms a barrier against strong currents and thus reduces ice mobility in the area. If the thick pack DOES break up and flow down into the archipelago then we are looking at the last year of there being ANY thick multi-year ice and Arctic sea ice melting away to virtually nothing (i.e. just large blocks recently broken off from land based ice) within a few years.

    I think it more likely that the ice pack along the north coast of the archipelago will hold out for several more years and thus we'll see less ice within the archipelago, but more to the north of it (extending almost to the pole). I'd also cut back the amount of ice to the east and west slightly. The thick ice pack used to extend that far west, but has largely melted away in the past few years. The export along the east coast of Greenland has historically produced the long tail shown, but in recent years waters have been warm enough in September that the ice melts before it gets that far south.

    logicman
    I'm guessing the large amount of ice within the Canadian archipelago is based on your previous prediction of increased export through that region... essentially you are predicting that alot of the thick older ice along the northern edge of the archipelago will break up and travel down into the channels within the archipelago itself. If that were to happen then this thick ice would not melt as quickly as the thin first year ice usually found in this region and thus the NW passage might be blocked.

    CBDunkerson: yes, that's about right.  I think we can safely assume that most of the remaining older ice will be advected into all the various channels and bays by summer's end - if they have melted out during summer so as to allow the advection.

    Please see the edit below my chart of projected ice cover.
    This is very like what we saw in 2010.

    While the channels to the north of the North West Passage (McClure Strait, Viscount Melville Sound etc) were choked with thick ice, the NWP was able to clear completely (not topped up by ice drifting in from the north). The break up gradually worked its way north through these channels during July and August. Because the northern ends of these channels were blocked, as the ice broke up it was gradually removed and not replaced and there was a lot of open water in the northern archipelago. Finally the break up got far enough north that the blockages cleared and late in the season (but before the freeze up), a LOT of ice was advected from the central basin into the archipelago. The Canadian Ice Service maps illustrate this: http://ice-glaces.ec.gc.ca/prods/WIS56SD/20110228180000_WIS56SD_00056537...

    There are three brown areas showing old ice of interest here:
    The furthest south, on the west coast of Victoria Island (marked F), drifted there from near Resolute.The core of this area is a single huge floe (bigger the Peterman Ice Island) that broke loose as part of the initial break up of the northern channels - it drifted into Viscount Melville Sound, headed eastward, then hit a counterflow just as it was about to break out of the NWP entirely, and drifted to its current position where it ran aground.
    The larger brown region in Viscount Melville Sound (Marked G) advected there out of the northern channels very late in the season when the northern ends of the channels opened, and ice started advecting from the central basin.
    Finally, the very large brown region covering the whole of the northern archipelago (again marked F, with two "eggs") . The southern part of that is what drifted down from the nothern ends of the channels, and the northern half was advected into the archipelago out of the central basin on the last month of the melt season.

    I read Patrick as suggesting this process will be repeated this year, but probably earlier and faster, as the thinner ice will break free earlier, and be advected more easily. And I totally agree.

    Personally, I think there will be more ice left in the central basin (2x ?), partly due to increasingly thin ice being spread over wider areas, but I do think this line of reasoning is correct (although I strictly fit into the "interested amateur" category).

    One thing I do disagree with: "I doubt that anyone will wax lyrical about an ice-free Arctic"- After a long argument a few weeks ago with a skeptic of the "climate-is-changing-but-its-not-us-so-do-nothing" pursasion, when I finally convinced him that Arctic ice was in its death spiral, he simply shrugged and said "Good, I look forward to cheaper priced due to lower shipping costs from Europe and America to Asia."

    ! facepalm...

    ReCaptcha says: CHAPTER Repub - "I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member."

    Neven
    The old thick ice was definitely transported through the channels of the Canadian Archipelago at the end of last year's melting season. I made an animation of it at the time (which was a hell of a lot of work).

    I also remember a scientist saying in one of NSIDC's monthly updates that this would mean the NWP would get blocked by older, thicker ice floes. We'll know soon enough if this will be the case this year.
    "What are the possible and/or likely climatic effects of an ice-free Arctic ocean?"

    Apologies for the length...

    Warning - I'm an amateur trying to bungle my way through a complex subject to understand what's happening.

    I presume you already know about Overland's hypothesis [1] that it's lead to the occurrence of the Warm Arctic / Cold Continents (WACC) pattern of this winter and last. As commented upon by RealClimate in "Cold winter in a world of warming?" [2] Petoukhov and Semilitov have done a modelling study that suggests (along the same lines as Overland) increased tendency to blocking high events in Europe when sea ice in Barents/Kara is reduced from 80% to 40% of extent.

    So there seems to be good reason to expect that for a period during the loss of summer Arctic sea-ice we'll see an increased tendency towards colder winters for Europe (and by implication a swathe of the US), note the hemispheric symmetry in blocking events [3]. How long that period lasts is dependent upon how long the sea-ice lasts (I'm conservative on that) and whether we can extend P & S's modelling study implications to the wider loss of Arctic sea-ice. In that I have some doubts.

    What Francis et al shows (see [1]) is that, particularly in the Atlantic sector, reduced sea-ice years correspond to a reduction of pressure thickness gradient. To grasp the implication of that we need to understand what that reduction is: Basically the Atlantic referred to in that study is between Iceland and the Azores and what causes the pressure thickness increase is an increase of atmospheric depth as one gets closer to the Arctic. As I understand it, this thickening of the atmsphere is what is happening in the Arctic region as a whole due to warming and particularly increased sensible and latent heat fluxes from the ocean, due to leads, polnyas or thin ice. According to Deser et al (see reference 3 under link [1]), the local baroclinic response to localised warming due to heat flux from the ocean evolves into a hemispheric barotropic response, so the conditions at sea-ice minima are able to have an atmospheric impact through the winter, the upshot of which is a deepening of the atmospheric column over the Arctic. From my (possibly flawed) understanding it seems reasonable for cold events and the occurrence of WACC to persist long into the attainment of a seasonally ice-free regime in the Arctic, contrary to what P&S may lead one to believe.

    I've gone on rather a lot, so regards the rest of the year more of the same as detailed in [4]. Given that the Arctic is at the centre of NH circulation: Increased sensible warming and latent heat fluxes into the Arctic atmosphere will cause more extreme and unusual summer weather.

    Happy to discuss further...

    [1] I've done a post here: http://www.sciencefile.org/SciFile/forum/Climate-Change/165076-Warm-Arct...
    [2] http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/12/cold-winter-in-a-w...
    [3] http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/blocking/seasonal_nh...
    [4] http://climateprogress.org/2010/12/23/the-year-of-living-dangerously-mas...
    [5] tinyurl.com/GWweather-StuOstro WARNING HUGE PDF (36.9Mb)
    Also further info re 5 in my post here: http://www.sciencefile.org/SciFile/forum/Climate-Change/165042-The-Arcti...

    MikeCrow
    The dates you list on [1] for past WACC events are all within a few years of spikes in record cold days for NE Ohio I produced.
    Never is a long time.
    Overland's list of WACC occurrences obviously does not entail all cold years. However notable cold years, such as the UK's record 1963 winter do coincide. Key to the idea of WACC is the pattern exampled in figure 2 of [1] i.e. it's a pattern over the whole NH. Individual areas may have anomalous cold without a WACC pattern.

    Not sure what you mean by "Never is a long time."

    MikeCrow
    It's my signature, and I think of it every time I hear someone say something will never happen.

    But I see why you asked, I need to fix that.
    Never is a long time.
    logicman
    ChrisR: many thanks for your comment and links.  That's a lot of reading to do before I respond in detail. 

    For now I will just say that I intend to address the WACC in a separate article.  Meanwhile, I strongly recommend my readers to read your excellent article:
    http://www.sciencefile.org/SciFile/forum/Climate-Change/165076-Warm-Arct...
    Thanks for the vote of confidence, I'll await your article with interest.

    One thing to point out for anyone reading it: I suggest that based upon the statistics of past early winter negative AO indeces a continuation was likely. In fact the most negative AO indeces were in December to mid-January, after which the AO went +ve. I suggest that this may be due to strong La Nina* which is little more than handwaving but is the best I can manage. *La Nina's tend to correlate with early onset NH winters and would have the power to disturb the NH atmosphere so as to disrupt the AO tendency.

    Mi Cro,
    I now get the format of messages here, thanks.

    Theres a relevant page from Stu Ostro about this winter's weather and the Arctic connection:
    http://www.weather.com/blog/weather/8_23986.html
    Which may be an easier way to get at his arguments than the enormous pdf I linked to above.

    Also very interesting is the reply by Mauri Pelto (A professional glaciologist) in the comments.

    logicman
    ChrisR: thanks for the extra info.  I'm busy trying to keep ahead of the garbage being published about the Japanese nuclear incident, so my #2 update will be a bit slow in appearing.

    Japan's Nuclear Emergency - The Straight Goods

    Also very interesting is the reply by Mauri Pelto (A professional glaciologist) in the comments.

    Yes, indeed.  btw, Mauri Pelto has kindly contributed comments to my blog and Neven's.  Not always in agreement, I hasten to add. ;-)
    No problem, I had read your Japan Nuclear posts and had anticipated as much. When you do get back to this issue feel free to email me if you can't find any peer reviewed papers (I assume you have access to my email as input here).

    I'm in disagreement with you about the timescale for a virtually ice-free Arctic, but have deferred any argument in favour of this issue of atmospheric impacts (which interests me more and is more imminent). I'm reconsidering at present due to notable warming since 2007 off the N coast of Greenland, but at present am standing by what I've said for the last few years - virtually ice free (no more than 1M km^2 off Greenland and Candian Arctic Archipelago) between 2020 and 2029.

    I also believe we are facing a completely different weather patterns in the Porridge Sea (previously known as the Arctic) above Northern Greenland, but results of that besides the disappearing ice in the region is hard to tell, but I expect colder winters were I live (Scandinavia).

    I have read the edit, but remain unconvinced about the amount of ice in archipelago and Baffin Bay, particularly the east of Baffin Bay. The width of NW passage and Nares strait are much narrower than Baffin Bay. So when the ice emerges does it spread out or continue following the currents? I would have thought continue following currents unless there are grounding obstructions. Perhaps some spreading out with eddies but not that much. Currents flow northward on eastern side of Baffin bay, don't they? I also doubt there is enough time for that much ice to make its way through archipelago (ie I expect more ice in central basis and less in archipelago and Baffin Bay) but this is all pure guesswork from complete amateur.

    logicman
    If we had an ice displacement pattern like the one below in July - August last year, we would have seen a much greater loss of ice.



    .
    PIPS2.0 Ice displacement forecast 03 March 2011
    image source: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/pips2/

    The exit path through Fram Strait is still partly chocked with large floes.  However, the ice there and along Greenland's coast is likely to disperse soon if offshore winds continue to blow as in the image below.


    image source: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/
    Just discovered your site...and what an excellent and thorough post on arctic sea ice!

    Certainly it appears that 2011's summer minimum arctic extent will give 2007 a run for the money...and depending on winds and the summer arctic weather patterns, could even shatter it handily. Of interest is the total heat flow into the Arctic at deeper levels which appear to have increased the past few years. As noted, Bering Strait already breaking up, and this could certainly still refreeze but with general arctic temps running higher than normal all winter, this seems unlikely. We've probably already hit our winter maximum extent, but a few weather fronts here or there could bump it up still, but doubtful we'll see over 14 Million sq. km., so at 13.7 or so, it's probably down from here to the summer minimum of September.

    Wonder how AGW skeptics will try and justify the continued decline in sea ice as many of them are expecting a return to the little ice age conditions because of the "quiet" sun, tame solar cycle 24, cool phase of the PDO, etc. They still don't see the power of a 40% rise in CO2 since the 1700's...

    Just to add to your comments, to me even north of Greenland Kap Morris Jessup and Station Nord looks like porridge, and far from solid ice.

    MikeCrow
    Wonder how AGW skeptics will try and justify the continued decline in sea ice as many of them are expecting a return to the little ice age conditions because of the "quiet" sun, tame solar cycle 24, cool phase of the PDO, etc.


    Easy, Oceans store heat, the ice melt is from warm waters flowing through the Arctic.
    Never is a long time.
    The oceans have been storing the majority of the extra CO2 generated since the 1700's and likely most of the extra heat as well. To say that the heat that is melting the Arctic sea ice is coming largely from the oceans (as we know the deeper water flowing into the Arctic has been warming) is not any consolation, and only confirms the heating going on by the 40% increase in CO2 since the 1700's.

    An ice free summer Arctic is somewhat likely by 2030 and extremely likely before 2100. This will alter the entire atmospheric circulation patterns of the N. Hemisphere, and indeed, the extra open water in the fall and early winter probably already are.

    MikeCrow
    The Oceans have the capacity to store ~4,000 times the entire Carbon Cycle.

    But the amount of heat they've stored is actually pretty limited, Heating the upper 300M of ocean water ~ .6C, would account for the entire rise in sea level for the last 30 years.

    But this year we've had a strong La Nina, and the Negative NAO, so who's to say that these weather patterns don't increase the amount of warm water routed through the arctic?
    Never is a long time.
    The same R.Gates that stands like Horatius on the bridge, defending science against Anthony's mindless minions? Where DO you find the patience?

    Respect!

    MikeCrow
    FrankD, I'm presuming your post is a response to mine.

    Please if you'd indulge me, explain what is wrong with my posts?
    Never is a long time.
    Hi Mi Cro, I didn't mean to convey that I was objectiong to anything you'd said.

    My post was in response to the recent arrival of R.Gates. There is an R.Gates who posts on a certain well known blog run by an ex-TV weatherman, setting the record straight with extraordinary dedication and patience in the face of endless tirades of abuse and nonsense from the residents of that echo chamber. I visit it rarely, but when I do, he seems to be a rare (and persistant) voice of reason.

    Assuming its the same R.Gates, I was just acknowledging his good work. Its a job I've failed at numerous times.

    MikeCrow
    Cool, Thanks for the clarification!
    Never is a long time.
    Thanks, but no respect due. Something can be learned from even those you disagree with, and I've been studying all this for far too long to get rattled by any of the common skeptical rhetoric. It will be interesting though to see the excuses they come up with as the Arctic Sea ice continues its steady year-to-year decline. Even when the inevitable August or September some time this century rolls around and we find the the Arctic totally ice free, there will be some old AGW skeptic with the words "natural variability" on their dying breath.

    logicman
    R. Gates: thank you for your complimentary remarks.

    Please do also check out our friend Neven's Arctic Sea Ice blog.  He has just posted his 'kick-start' article for this season.

    You may also wish to check out his resource page: Arctic sea ice graphs

    If you have a few weeks to spare there are lots more articles listed in my ChatterBox Arctic Index

    As to AGW skeptics - try http://www.skepticalscience.com/  for more rebuttals than you can shake a stick at.  :)
    Neven
    I have written a blog post with a few animations of the current situation in the Bering Sea: Animation Bering Sea.

    This year looks to be a bit exceptional in that part of the Arctic.
    logicman
    Excellent!

    Neven:  that article is so good that I'm going to cite you in my next update.  I, too, was making animations of that area - you beat me to it!  Way to go!

    I'm a bit slow to update on the cryosphere, having been focused on trying to get the facts about Japan's nuclear emergency - new post here:
    Japan's Nuclear Emergency - The Straight Goods - Update
    Wow excellent knowledge on arctic ice flows. I predict much more melting + CO2 in the near future. I'm waiting for more tsunamis and earthquakes too!

    What I can see from very limited sources at the moment, is the ice melting around Newfoundland and Labrador, South East of Greenland and Bering Strait, is heavy for this time of the year. Regards Espen

    Hi Patrick
    I can see from Nevens blog, I dont have access to, that you are mentioning a tsunami effect in the polar sea, it can easily be so, because the were waves seen in Norwegian Fjords after the quake, the waves seen in Sognefjord were about 30 - 40 cms .
    regards Espen

    logicman
    Hi Espen.

    That comment was merely a follow-up to others on the topic.  I think the consensus1 opinion is that the effect of the tsunami on the Arctic ice is entirely negligible.

    For the benefit of the usual suspects:

    [1] - a consensus opinion is an expression of what people think about a topic after they have discussed it, not an expression of what they will collectively think before the matter is discussed. ;-)
    To add to the tsunami waves in Norway:

    http://www.vgtv.no/#id=38567

    The Polar Science Center just updated the Arctic ice volume anomaly, PIOMAS, as of April 4, 2011.
    See it here: http://psc.apl.washington.edu/home.php
    The anomaly continues to drop and is now down to about -8.6 km^3. This information along with most everything else being discussed here gives a strong indication that new low ice volume, extent, and area records will be set this summer. The Cryosphere Today http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/ images show large areas of < 100% ice coverage where ice coverage should be 100%. I suppose the Arctic could have a very cold summer, but current trends indicate summer warmth will continue and there will be a larger than normal melt season...again.