andygates: (polarbear)
David Barber, Manitoba Uni's big frosty boffin, went out looking for multiyear ice, and instead just found rotten, half-metre thick one-year stuff that an ice-capable ship can apparently crank through at thirteen knots.  This is navigable.  Forget the Northwest Passage, just ice-belt your boat and go for it, chew out a frasilicious sea-lane and make your millions.

1: Investment niche!  It's the coming growth area for shipping.  It'll take a while for ice-happy oil rigs to get ROI but shipping's faster. Go go gadget exploitation machine.  Ah well, it'll be good for Iceland.

2: This is another pile of scary to add to the pile of scary.  The exact pattern of melt each year is determined by weather - wind, for example, can pile ice up against land (slowing melt) or push it through straits into the open ocean (accelerating it).  In a melty year, though, the single-year ice goes away almost entirely.  In a non-warming Arctic some single-year ice persists and is built up; in the warming Arctic (3x global average, as both observed and modeled) it seems to have reached a critical tipping point.  This observation correlates well with Pen Haddow's hike'o'hell.  Massive Arctic summer melt now looks a lot like a dice-roll for weather each summer.

3: That single-year stuff is crap for polar bears.  I has a sad.

I wonder what Northern Hemisphere weather is going to do with all that extra dark absorbing surface and all that extra humidity?  Place bets now!
andygates: (polarbear)
Both NOAA and NASA rate September's global temperatures as the second-hottest on record, narrowly missing the 2005 peak (by well under a tenth of a degree).  Meanwhile, a first look at the data from Pen Hadow's arctic ice survey - the Catlin Ice Survey - show that ice is thinner than expected, bringing the ice-free Summer Arctic forward from around 2050-ish to around 2030-ish. 

You'll get to see it.

Thin ice means ice that has formed this year.  It's relatively flimsy and breaks up in heavy weather, and broken ice melts faster.  Hadow's team got the data by walking across the ice with an auger, drilling holes, and measuring how far down the water was.  Pretty hands-on stuff.  This was married up to the satellite data, allowing better calibration of ice-sensing kit (mostly radar, IIRC).  The spiffy radar sled they were supposed to be using broke down at the start, which is why they had to go oldschool.

I think even the dimmest bastard out there can grasp the technique here:  Drill a hole, plunge a stick into it, and say "holy fucking shit".  Repeat a couple thousand times. 

(Polar data is available for all, at the Polar Data Catalog)
andygates: (polarbear)
This year's seasonal Arctic melt is getting well underway.  The exact level is mostly guesswork unless you've been paying attention to the last year or so's weather up there - and even if you have, there's plenty of natural variability to season the pudding. 

To help choose your "extent o' doom" [tm] here's a pointer: so much ice melted last year that a lot of this year's ice is thin single-year stuff, more vulnerable to warm weather and storm breakup. 

To recover multi-year ice, we'll need the last couple of years to have been a blip and for a couple of years of better-than-the-scary-plunging-red-eyetrend.  If the coverage ends up below 4,000,000 sq km, the blip is strongly reinforced as a nose-dive trend.

andygates: (polarbear)
Good news: (because Sad Polar Bear Is Sad is getting stale even if it is always true): The EPA have changed stance on greenhouse gases, saying that they are a health risk.  They were basically prevented from doing this under the Bush administration by political pressure, so this is exactly the bounce back to reality from dogma that the scientific community has been hoping for.  By classing CO2 and its buddies thus, the EPA has powers over it.  Currently, they're holding fire while Obama pulls national-scale levers, but it's another step in the right direction.

Bad news: The current la Niña has ended and March 2009 ends up as the tenth warmest on record.  NCDC have the tale of the tape and it's the same sorry one we've been expecting: warming continues to fit the models, Arctic ice is still doomed.  Sad Polar Bear Is Still Sad.

Thin ice

Apr. 8th, 2009 06:30 pm
andygates: (polarbear)
More analysis of this years Arctic ice shows that it's now 90% one-year ice, only 10% 2+ year ice.  One-year ice is pretty thin compared to multi-year ice, and melts and breaks up more easily.  It's not a happy omen.  (Source: BBC)


This from the CC with Walt Meier NISDC and Ron Kwok NASA/JPL last Monday:

Current multiyear ice is 9.8%
That is a record low since 1981
That is 66% lower that the 1981-2000 average

andygates: (polarbear)
Arctic sea ice spreads in winter and retreats in summer.  The figures for this winter's maximum extent are out, and they show the fifth-lowest maximum in the satellite record. 

On February 28, Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent for the year, at 15.14 million square kilometers (5.85 million square miles). The maximum extent was 720,000 square kilometers (278,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average of 15.86 million square kilometers (6.12 million square miles), making it the fifth-lowest maximum extent in the satellite record. The six lowest maximum extents since 1979 have all occurred in the last six years (2004 to 2009). [emphasis mine]

Source: NSIDC, with more detail to follow (follow NSIDC_Arcticice on Twitter for updates). 
andygates: (polarbear)
The autumn freeze is under way in the Arctic and analysis of the summer melt is getting under way.  You'll recall that the ice area didn't beat 2007's startling minimum, coming a mere second-worst-since-humans-evolved.


It's not all roses though (if that qualifies as roses, and frankly, if that does qualify as roses then I want what you're taking).

This NSIDC map shows the ice age at the melt minimum.  Red is first-year ice, stuff that froze in the winter of 2007-8.  Orange is two-year ice, yellow is three years or older (white is where there isn't enough ice to tell - patchy, grobbly stuff the satellite can't get a bead on).

The North Pole is just about where the old ice that's shoved up against Greenland ends and the one-year ice in the middle of the 2008 picture begins.

New ice is thin, old ice is thick.  So while the area isn't less, the volume of ice in the Arctic is less: like the NSIDC boffins say, "no recovery at all" and it "strongly reinforces the downward trend".

andygates: (polarbear)
Well def Jeff (Masters, that is) has a really good summary on his current Weather Underground blog, so rather than just repeating it here, follow the shiny link.  Summary: It wasn't worse than the worst thing evar.  It was second-worst.  W00t. 
andygates: (polarbear)
So say the BBC - "open to ordinary shipping".  That's only twice in recorded history, 2007 and 2008 (Scientific American).  Time for the next stage in that particular dance: Canada has a moneyspinner if it can convince the world that the Passage is theirs; generally it's considered international waters but Canada's PM is having a go at establishing control over vessels.  This is just the beginning of the politics of the ice-free North: just wait until they launch the first oil rig.

The Passage has been navigated before, by a variety of vessels - notably the icebreaker supertanker Manhattan and shallow-draught boats.  When Amundsen did it, it was in a shallow-draft, ice-armoured motor sloop (Gjøa) and he was a Nordic ninja.  None of these are "ordinary shipping".  This is new.
andygates: (polarbear)
Doom!From the American National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC):
"Sea ice extent has fallen below the 2005 minimum, previously the second-lowest extent recorded since the dawn of the satellite era. Will 2008 also break the standing record low, set in 2007? We will know in the next several weeks, when the melt season comes to a close. The bottom line, however, is that the strong negative trend in summertime ice extent characterizing the past decade continues."  [full article]

NSIDC also have some nice Google Earth layers covering sea ice, permafrost and glacier coverage.
andygates: (Default)
Well, the Northwest Passage looks to be open in a couple of days time, so that's later than last year's historic 11th August.  Meanwhile estimates put the sea ice melt at about the same as last year, give or take, in a year which had a colder summer.  Can't wait for a warm one.  :(

Meanwhile Stephen Goddard, of The Reg's controversial articles, has recanted after being pointed at better source data, saying, "My apologies to Dr. Meiers and Dr. Serreze, and NSIDC. Their analysis, graphs and conclusions were all absolutely correct. Arctic ice is indeed melting nearly as fast as last year, and this is indeed troubling." (though I doubt the Reg's baffling denialist editorial stance will tout this much).  Yay for Goddard being man enough to re-analyse the data.

Hm, can I use "recant" without casting this as a holy war?  ;)
andygates: (Default)

(source)  The most optimistic spin you can put on that is a blip in an otherwise accelerating downward trend.  The worst spin?  A step phase change.  Aw, crap. 


Jul. 1st, 2008 08:08 pm
andygates: (Default)
Remember that North Pole webcam that I mentioned the other day?  Behind the cut is a shot of it sitting in a pool of its own meltwater.

Sure, surface melt is not uncommon in the Arctic, but it's a chilling sight, no?

Anyone got a sea kayak I can borrow?  My kayak-to-the-North-Pole plans are being brought forward by a few years.  :(
andygates: (Default)
2013 - that's the year that a climate model reported on the Beeb (usual caveats on Beeb science apply) predicts as the first year in which the Arctic ice melts completely in the summer.

Not "by the end of the century" or something distant and vague like that.  One year after the London Olympics. 

That's the polar bears buggered, then.  Arctic oil exploration and Cold War-style posturing.  Oh, and the North Pole?  Where Santa lives?  Someone re-write that for the kids, because he can't live there any more.

Five and a half years?



andygates: (Default)

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