Shortest Arctic Melt Season On Record?

The winter storm which hit the Arctic this week broke up the ice in the Chukchi Sea, and it brought below freezing temperatures and snow. These two factors may well lead to 2012 being the shortest melt season on record (date of minimum minus date of maximum.)

With cold temperatures over the ice, it is likely that the minimum will be reached relatively early.

COI | Centre for Ocean and Ice | Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut

You can see the fresh snow on top of the large slabs of multi-year ice.


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106 Responses to Shortest Arctic Melt Season On Record?

  1. Frank Garrett says:

    If this is the end of the melt season, it could be the beginning of an ice age maybe?

  2. Brian D says:

    Barring strong southerly winds for a time, with all the ice in this region (albeit mixed concentration levels) it will not take long for a refreeze to start. I personally don’t think the southerlies are going to emerge for any length of time. Lower pressure will continue to circle around. I do believe the earliest minimum date is the last day of Aug. I could be mistaken but I was looking through datasets a long while back, and I thought I seen that to be the case.

  3. Tony Duncan says:

    So you are saying you would be a fool not to take the $1000 bet I just offered you for a minimum of no more than 4.9 mil Km 2 this season? I hadn’t even considered that particular straw grasp – that the melt will stop by the end of august. Even MORE evidence in your favor.
    YUP we ALL know that once there is any snow anywhere in the arctic the ice melt magically stops!

  4. Tony Duncan says:

    YOU give me a one word answer to my proposal. But you can;t get yourself to actually respond to my proposal because you will lose face among your followers. I understand. the fanatic cannot allow any perception of weakness or mistake. We have been over this before and I understand, so I don’t really think badly of you for it.
    But in answer to your question. No as of today i will not bet $1,000, because there is a re possibility it will NOT go below 4.25 mil KM. I admit I now think it more likely than not, but I only bet on things I am extremely confident about, and I am only somehat confident about a new record. As you already know. my latest prediction was 4.4 million revised down from 4.9.
    Again. I don;t understand why you keep taunting someone who has never maintained that the record would be broken this year.
    tell you what if you leave the offer open until 9/5 I will consider it.

    • I don’t read your comments past about the fourth word, because they are complete a waste of time. $1000 for a JAXA record minimum?

    • Tony you sound like a rambling fool, but maybe that is just me. (BTW, I am not a “follower” of Steven. I’m a sceptic. Which means I’m critical of everything he posts here and don’t always agree on his interpretation. However, having said all that, his short and mid-term climate/weather predictions have been fairly accurate since I’ve been paying attention to them. Perhaps you used the word ‘follower’ because you yourself are a follower of different group of believers. 😉 )

      • Tony Duncan says:

        I guess you have not read Steve’s arctic posts this year. Since March there has not been ONE post that gave any indication that we would even come close to a new record minimum. He is not stupid enough make an actual prediction (the last time he did so the result was pretty disastrous), unlike myself, who is much less knowledgable about these issue. As of today were are a little over a million KM2 from a new record minimum. Compare today’s extent that to ANY year for which we have records.
        As for his short term weather predictions. I must have missed the one where he warned that unprecedented summer storm would lopped off 400,000 km2 of ice in four days.
        Look at the numbers here from the record that Steve says he will make his bet from
        I have no idea whether you are a follower of Steve or not. I myself am a sceptic, as evidenced by the fact that I admit I was overly conservative in picking a minimum ice extent this year.
        You do not see the humor in a situation where Steve, who for years has been saying the arctic is recovering from a fluke event in 2007, is now reduced to insisting that anything OTHER than a record low supports that position? it reminds me of Japan’s propaganda about the war in the pacific after 1943. The next battle was always the one they were going to win! Only losing half as many ships in a battle meant the tide was turning.
        So now the fall back position is that the melt season will end earlier than there is any record of it doing based so on the fact that last year it ended a week or two earlier than expected. Are you at ALL sceptical of that claim?

      • miked1947 says:

        The storm did not remove any ice, it just compacted it for a while. Now the ice is spreading back out. This thirty percent equals one hundred will get you every time. I wish my creditors believed that, I would pay them thirty cents on the dollar any day.

      • Tony Duncan says:

        Ah Mike,
        So you are saying that the ice extent number is going to add 400,00 Km2 in the next couple of days? I will gladly put a $1,000 bet on that. Just have to decide where to spend that unexpected largesse.

        And Steve. the old tried and true don’t be specific about anything. But I am sorry if I have not read any of your blogs stating that we might get near an arctic record minimum this year. Would you mind sending me the links to those posts so I can re assess my view of your position?
        I really had forgotten how much fun this was.

  5. Eric Webb says:

    Yeah, the ice looks like it has more than likely hit bottom, will be very interesting to see how much ice we gain over the fall and winter, perhaps we can get back above average again like we did earlier this year.

    • Peter Ellis says:

      I’m quite happy to bet that the ice has not yet reached minimum for this year. How much?

      • Eric Webb says:

        Hmm….this is a tough one, however, looking at all of those years, you really don’t see a quick jump in ice like we’re seeing now, so perhaps this year is an exception. I can do $15, because honestly I’m broke.

      • Peter Ellis says:

        In the interests of fairness, I do strongly recommend you take a look at some other data sources before deciding whether to bet. For instance:
        Cryosphere today: still falling
        IJIS/JAXA: still falling
        NSIDC: still falling
        University of Bremen: still falling
        Nansen: still falling
        MASIE: still falling

        DMI took a brief sharp dive (likely from cloud contamination due to the recent storm), then bounced back a bit as the clouds parted, but once again resumed its fall this morning.

        If, having reviewed the above, you still want to bet, then let’s be specific about terms. The bet is $15 that one (pick any) of these data sources will have its annual minimum on August 11th 2012.

      • Eric Webb says:

        I was about to say the same thing, the DMI ice site does seem to have these occasional sudden drops in sea ice from time to time, and the rise we’ve seen is probably due to the storm in the arctic as you had said. When I did look at the other ice sites like JAXA, sea ice was still dropping pretty fast, but we should see the rate of ice loss slow, as it usually does around this time of the year. However, I have some doubt as far to say that we’ll beat 2007, still lots of uncertainty with that and I’m honestly not sure how this year will play out. Thanks for the links though, I personally don’t prefer to use the University of Bremen, because if I’m correct, didn’t they claim last summer, that we were lower than 2007?

      • Are you having reading comprehension difficulties?

      • Peter Ellis says:

        Not sure who you’re talking to there Steve, nor do I see how it relates to a conversation between Eric and I over whether this year has already hit bottom.

  6. “With cold temperatures over the ice, it is likely that the minimum will be reached relatively early.”

    At five days, this storm was amazingly long-lived, but it is more or less over. Yet there’s still a month to go in the normal melt season. Plus, temps ‘over the ice’–if by this one means 2-meter temps–are pretty much always ‘clamped’ to near-zero during the summer. On DMI’s re-analysis graph they look pretty unremarkable as of this morning:

    So I find it–odd?–to think that this event will, by itself, bring a premature end to melt season.

    I also question whether this post even has the ‘sign’ of that effect correct. If, as some are speculating, the main effect of this storm has been to mix the ocean, bringing deeper, saltier waters to the surface, then “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, baby,” as far as ice melt goes–especially since the end of the season is dominated by bottom melt anyway.

    We will see.

  7. donald penman says:

    IMS says that we are level with 2011 and above 2007.

  8. donald penman says:
    It is hard to tell but I think the temp is now 0 deg.

  9. Brian D says:

    At this point, extent will be ruled much more by wind than any melting.

  10. tckev says:

    2012 being the shortest Arctic melt season on record can’t possibly be.
    All that extra CO2 in the atmosphere REQUIRES that the planet keeps warming up. The models say so, all the theories says, there is no alternative. The consensus politics dictates it.

    By consensus the Arctic is deemed to have melted!

    /sarc off

  11. MFKBoulder says:


    you stated:
    “These two factors may well lead to 2012 being the shortest melt season on record (date of minimum minus date of maximum.)”

    ##### #####
    Why not put another 100$ that 2012 will not be the shortest melt season (JAXA Data?)?

  12. F. Guimaraes says:

    Steve, I believe it depends on how solar radiation will go from now on. If another spike like the end of 2011 happens we will have to wait another year to see the Arctic ice rebound in a more consistent way. The oscillations are expected due to the melting prior to 2007, the ice formed after that is still too thin and the oscillations are expected. The fact that the ice rebounding is clear, as we see in the maxima in the winters after 2008, inclusive.

  13. F. Guimaraes says:

    ps.: IMO there will be no spikes of solar radiation anymore in cycle-24 and the Arctic ice will start to rebound more consistently from now on.

  14. I note that the ice extent and area have continued to plummet since the storm. For example, IJIS extent is now sub-5 million kilometers:

    While we could still see an early end to the melt season, certainly, there seems no reason to think that this storm has brought one about. Any comments?

    • Apparently you can see into the future for three weeks. Nice.

    • Eric Webb says:

      I have to agree with Kevin on this one, JAXA, NORSEX, and DMI are still dropping fairly quickly. Looking at the mean temperatures above the 80th parallel, they have risen slightly back to freezing. If the mean temperature is about freezing (273.15K), then there are areas ABOVE and BELOW freezing, indicating that melting is still occurring. I am really starting to think we may beat 2007, but there is still some uncertainty.

      • Can you tell me what will be happening 2-3 weeks from now?

      • Eric Webb says:

        Steve, I honestly can’t tell you, but I’d say the odds are about 50-50, we may indeed get lower than 2007 if the arctic ice melt doesn’t slow down, it is still melting relatively fast according to JAXA, DMI, and NORSEX, all of which currently have us below 2007 in sea ice extent.

      • Eric Webb says:

        The ice is melting, the MEAN temperature north of the 80th parallel is at freezing, that means there are areas above and below freezing, thus melting is still occurring. Plus, the warm AMO is attacking from underneath, a good reason, why you’ll notice that the largest decrease in sea ice is on the atlantic side, and the pacific side of the arctic towards Alaska and Russia is near normal again thanks to the cold PDO. Dramatic increases in ice probably won’t occur again until both the AMO and PDO are cold.

      • Eric Webb says:

        It is coincidence that sea ice began to decline in the late 90s in response to a warm AMO which came on in 1995. Sea ice from 1979, at the start of the warm PDO was in only slight decline because the PDO was warm but the AMO was warm. Once the AMO and PDO were warm, the sea ice began to significantly decline around 19997, which fits with a warmer atlantic and also is coincidentally the last year, according to DMI that the mean arctic temperature was able to crash below 235 Kelvin in the winter. Through 2007, we saw a large decline in sea ice due to the warm PDO and AMO. However, since then, the PDO cooled, and sea ice has leveled off, and will probably start to rise again like it did in the 60s and 70s, when the AMO was cold. Until then, summer sea ice in the northern hemisphere will probably be limited.

      • Eric Webb says:

        I know ice is close to the theoretical minimum border near 80n, but ALL major ice sites have shown a significant drop in sea ice the last few days including but not limited to JAXA, NORSEX, and DMI. This coincides with a very slight rise in mean temperatures north of the 80th parallel back to freezing.

      • Eric Webb says:

        I am aware that most of the MYI ice did blow out of the arctic during that to but was able to recover. When MYI was blown out in the late 90s and 2000s, recovery was slow due to a warm PDO and AMO combination. Once both enter their cold state within 10 years, MYI ice that blows out shouldn’t be as much of an issue.

      • Eric Webb says:

        However, this very slight rise in mean temperature over the arctic has coincided with a drop in sea ice.

      • Eric Webb says:

        No, it is because the AMO is in its warm cycle, so any ice that is blown towards the atlantic, like what happened in 2007 is melted much easier than it would if the atlantic was in its cold state.

    • To clarify: I thought the original post here said that this storm would bring about the end of the melt season, making it, as the title says, “The Shortest Arctic Melt Season On Record.” The stated reasons were that air temps had been lowered and lots of snow had fallen, and that this would inhibit melt. Some (including me) stated that at this point in the season the melt tended to be dominated more by bottom melt driven by warmer water underlying the ice, and that this might not be very susceptible to modification by the storm event.

      I said in my earlier comment today that “we could still see an early end to the melt season, certainly,” which I think should indicate that I don’t claim any extravagant powers of prophecy. If that’s not clear enough, then let me say it straight: I don’t claim to know what will happen to the ice in any detail over the next three weeks.

      However, it doesn’t appear to me that the particular storm we’ve been discussing has had any inhibitory effect on the melt of the ice so far. In fact, as some have argued elsewhere, the dispersive effects of the storm may have contributed to ice loss considerably by increasing the mixing of ice and (relatively) warm sea water. The numbers we’ve been seeing over the last five days appear to support that point of view.

      Do I take it, then, that the expectation of the ‘house’ here is that we are still going to see an early end to the melt season–perhaps because the atmosphere just hasn’t been able to sink all that oceanic heat yet, but it surely will, and soon?

      • We will know in 2-3 weeks. There are winds pushing the ice edge back right now.

      • Julienne Stroeve says:

        About last week’s storm
        -Storm area 1 million square kilometers
        -Wave height of 2 to 3 meters broke apart ice into smaller chunks, increasing surface area and thus melting
        -Storm mixed fresh water at surface (from melted ice) with deeper warmer saltier water from below increasing melting rate
        -Storm agitated water to depths of 500 meters (where water is much warmer) bringing it to surface increasing melt rate
        -Low pressure of storm center sucked up water level by 0.3 meters, causing warm water to flow into Arctic Ocean from Pacific Ocean via Bering Strait and from Atlantic Ocean, increasing melting
        -Storm rotation (counterclockwise) spread out ice over larger area and pushed ice towards open ocean (on Atlantic Ocean side)

      • In other words, “We’ll see.”

        Seems you’ve come round to my way of thinking…

      • Well, I’ll go out on a limb and say that I see no reason to expect that the melt season will be particularly short. And given current rates of decline, I think that we are quite likely to approach or exceed the record low extent of 2007.

        It may happen, it may not–you’re right, sea ice is hard to predict on short time scales. It does depend on weather (not just wind.) But if that’s what you are going to hang your hat on, why write a post suggesting an early end to the season, four weeks early? You are confusing me here.

    • sunsettommy says:

      Have you considered that the storm was breaking up the thinner ice and that wind is compacting them?

  15. Julienne Stroeve says:

    NSIDC’s extent for today is 4.68, in 2007 it was 5.25.

    • The storm last week broke up the Chukchi Sea ice more quickly than in 2007, but I’m guessing that ice won’t disappear from the accounting again. ;^)

      • Julienne Stroeve says:

        another cyclone is on its way. Will be interesting to see if that one also causes a significant drop in the extent or with the colder temperatures, just spreads the ice pack out.

      • Eric Webb says:

        Don’t expect any dramatic recovery in summer sea ice until the AMO cools down towards the end of the decade, until then we got several more years of low sea ice in the arctic. On the other hand, the Antarctic is doing very good, and they will probably continue to see an upward trend in sea ice for the foreseeable future. AGW causing this? No, not a chance, what we are seeing is natural, and anyone who says the melting ice is causing accelerating sea level rise is nuts, because they have not looked at what is actually happening. Sea level rise has been linear, and the decrease in sea ice over the northern hemisphere is countered by the increasing ice in the southern ice cap, and on Antarctica and Greenland.

      • Eric Webb says:

        Let me rephrase that, AGW caused by increasing CO2 doesn’t exist, period.

      • Me says:

        Was it not you that lost a bet with Steven about this before?

    • Eric Webb says:

      NSIDC ice extent isn’t very reliable, they have been caught on numerous occasions trying to change their “average” line, most recently, last winter when sea ice extent neared their “normal” line.

  16. Julienne Stroeve says:

    Eric, you do understand that sea ice is not impacting sea level (at least not directly)? Sea level rise is a result of increased mass loss from the ice sheets and glaciers and thermal expansion of the ocean.

  17. Eric Webb says:

    What ice sheets are losing ice? Antarctica, which has over 90% of the world’s ice isn’t melting, and neither is Greenland. By the way that 97% melting claim on Greenland by AGW nutcases is false, and they fail to look at the entire year as a whole, and when you look at the year as a whole, the ice cap on Greenland is growing and has been growing for several centuries since the MWP. Thermal expansion of the oceans? If you are trying to refer to the “missing heat” in that statement, it doesn’t exist.

  18. Julienne Stroeve says:

    Eric, can you please point me to a publication/data that shows Greenland is not losing mass? Everything that I have seen at scientific conferences over the last couple of decades shows that the overall mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet is negative.

    • Julienne

      What period are you talking about for this melt?

      Do you agree that the Greenland ice cover was unusually high at the end of the LIA, and has been much smaller than now for most of the recent past prior to that?

    • Eric Webb says:

      Julienne, what areas of melt are you talking about, because the 97% melting NASA claimed is bogus, because they cherry picked a few hours out of the day where the temperature barely rose above freezing and then tried to create mass alarm and said it was melting. Any melting that occurred had a very little effect on the icepack itself, and only melted the top few centimeters, if that, and then the next night, temperatures plunged and any ice that melted was frozen over. Even NASA said it was actually “right on time.” Where’s your proof to show us that the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet is “negative.” If any of that comes from NASA, NOAA, or any of the related agencies it is likely false and they are just trying to push the pro AGW agenda. It really shows how desperate they truly are when they manipulate (adjust) temperatures, cherry-pick data, and make false claims in order to create alarm of a non-exsitant problem.

  19. Julienne Stroeve says:

    Also, Eric, if you can point to some publication/data that shows that as oceans warm they do not also expand that would be great too. thanks

    • Eric Webb says:

      Yes, the oceans do warm as they expand, but here’s a better question for you, are they actually warming? No, the largest ocean, the pacific is in its cold cycle, and the atlantic is in its warm cycle. The oceans warmed up in the 90s, and 2000s, but now will commence a cooling phase, and will be back to similar temperatures to the 1960s in 10 years because of the natural AMO and PDO cycles. This ocean cooling will continue to drive down global temperatures, which have been falling (courtesy of NCEP & the University of Alabama-Huntsville) since 2008. No coincidence there because the pacific entered the cold PDO in 2008.

  20. You are no longer welcome to lie about me on my blog

  21. Well, here we are, 20 days later. We haven’t seen the minimum yet, though we are starting to see some slowing of the decline in some of the metrics.

    Of course, the big story has been that the records for lowest minimum have all been thoroughly smashed already. On the 17th I said (above) “given current rates of decline, I think that we are quite likely to approach or exceed the record low extent of 2007.”

    Clearly, I was right–but too timid in my phrasing.

    • NIC shows 2012 above the 2007 minimum.

      • OK. Make it “All the normal, usual records that have been commonly referred to in discussions of the sea ice over the last few years have been smashed.”

        From NIC: “The primary mission of the NIC is to provide strategic, tactical, and operational ice products and services to meet requirements of U.S. national interests and U. S. government agencies.”

        Its mission is not to provide consistent, climatically-relevant data–which is why most people don’t try to use it for that purpose.

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