The Dirty Little Negative Feedback

Low Arctic ice extent in September is a negative feedback, not a positive one.

There is very little sunlight and the sun is at a low angle, so low September ice area has little impact on the SW radiative balance. But open water below with dry polar air above, allows lots of LW radiation to escape into space – cooling the planet.

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13 Responses to The Dirty Little Negative Feedback

  1. squid2112 says:

    Not to mention that the low incidence angle to water acts as an almost perfect mirror … snow and ice would actually absorb more.

  2. nomoregore says:

    Last summer was hardly an example of an ice free arctic. Record low temps and higher minimum followed by rapid freezing. So someone explain to me where the “heat” came from that fuels the freezing polar vortex. Leave it to Libstains to fail to comprehend that cold is actually absence of heat.

    • Gail Combs says:

      “So someone explain to me where the “heat” came from that fuels the freezing polar vortex. “

      It comes from the tropics. SEE THE BREWER-DOBSON CIRCULATION

    • X says:

      The PDO- was relatively weak (anomalies close to zero) last year, especially at the beginning of the year and after July,

      and the AMO was still very warm (as it has been since the 1990’s, but this could be changing now),

      OTOH the SH oceans were very cold (relatively speaking) basically the entire year, pushing a negative (not very strong) ENSO anomaly in 2013, despite the fact that 2012 and (at least part of) 2013 were expected to be an El Nino period.
      It didn’t happen, IMO, due to the record ice in Antarctica.
      I believe that part of the relative warmth of the oceans of the NH is due to the abnormal cold anomalies of the SH oceans, pushing the warm waters northward. You can actually see these waves from the SP, for example, in the UNISYS daily analysis.
      This could be part of the explanation for the relatively warm NP of the recent months, after the quite cold winter of 2013.

  3. Lance says:

    At Eureka (nunavut), 80th parallel, the sun set Oct 26th(for the winter) when i was up there, so in Sept….it was very low and didn’t stay around long….ice breakers arrived in late Aug to drop off supplies, and in early Sept, the fjord froze over…

  4. Password protected says:

    Seems like all the warm air flowing off the pacific north over Alaska during this winter would ultimately shed much atmospheric heat into space as well.

  5. John B., M.D. says:

    Steve – Spoken like a true engineer who understands feedback and control systems. I like it.

    • Gail Combs says:

      RACookPE1978 WUWT Comment @ February 18, 2014 at 8:40 am and another @ February 18, 2014 at 6:30 pm are quite good.

      He also has a very good comment here

      As an engineer he is solidly based in reality.

      RACookPE1978 says:
      February 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      …. although the sun’s rays do heat the open water slightly during those daylight hours, the open water about 78-82 north loses MORE HEAT to the sky over the entire period of the 24 hour day through increased long-wave radiation, increased evaporation, increased convection, and increased conduction than does sea ice!

      Rather than an “arctic sea ice amplification” the numbers show that – during the late melting season under today’s conditions, every square meter of open ocean north of 76-82 north LOSES more heat on a daily basis than does sea-ice-covered arctic waters under the same air conditions!

      The exact opposite, unfortunate, is also true down south:
      Under today’s conditions at Antarctic sea ice extents between 60 south and 70 south latitudes, EVERY square kilometer of increased Antarctic sea ice at ANY time of year reflects more energy into space away from the planet, INCREASES total planet cooling!

      In other words we have a cooling not a warming planet. But then we already know that.

      • X says:

        Meanwhile, the NP seems to be (at last) cooling back to average,

      • Brian H says:

        There is no condition in which the poles absorb more heat/incident radiation than they shed. Low Albedo is overwhelmed by direct OLR; High Albedo reflects away what little incident radiation there is. They are heat sinks from the POV of the tropics and planet at all times. The only question is whether tropical and other net inputs exceed those sinks’ capacity for a while. That varies between periods ramping into Ice Box and Hot House conditions.
        Theory can’t determine which, if either, pertains at any given time — only measurement.

  6. Chewer says:

    The current white blanket around the NH is a nice contributor to that feedback, as well 😉
    It’s time to start a betting routine on where the Great Lakes will be on March 8th. The cover has receded from 85% earlier this week, but is due to run right up to 92% before its over…

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