Arctic ice growing again. 8th lowest minimum this year.

After a record warm winter in the Arctic last year leading to the lowest ice maximum, the ice melted at the slowest rate recorded,  leading to the 8th lowest ice minimum.

On Greenland the situation was quite different. It snowed and snowed, leading to the largest yearly ice gain recorded, which was quite a change from years and years of ice loss.

This year the ice gain started even earlier

Are these changes only temporary, or are they an early harbinger of the ice age to come?

The great Arctic ice recovery of 2017.

It was very warm in the Arctic above the 80th latitude last winter. Late summer two hurricane strength storms broke up a lot of ice up and transported it south to areas where it was bound to melt. The ice area reached a new low, except for the year 2012, but the ice volume hit a new all time low on Sep 9 2016.

Since then the ice volume has recovered to equal the  previous all time winter low around April 20, 2017, but the ice area hit an all time low maximum as early as March 5.

What happened?

The unusually warm temperatures averaging 7 degrees C above normal with a spike as high as 20 degrees C above normal and no days below was not because of increased CO2, but because it snowed. Anyone that has shoveled snow knows that while it snows it is usually not that cold, especially if the winds are calm. Then, when the snowing stops it gets cold indeed. Nowhere is that shown better than what happened on Greenland this winter.  It snowed and snowed from one winter storm after another starting in the Philippines, raining and snowing over California, regaining strength from the Mexican Gulf and then racing up the Eastern Seaboard snowing out over Greenland.

Then on May 5 it all changed. From having been warmer than normal the Arctic became colder than normal, in fact there has been no day since then that temperatures has been above normal. Today, Aug 13 it even dipped below freezing for the first time since summer max, five days before normal.

The ice area will still decrease for another month or so since sea ice does not start forming until temperatures are -4 degree C, but the ice volume is near its minimum since snow season in the Arctic has already started, and new snow on ice stays, and fresh snow has a higher albedo than old, tired ice.

How much more ice? As of today the sea ice volume is 500 to 1000 km3 larger than last two years, not much, but enough to make a trend. In addition the ice on Greenland has increased by 150 km3, reversing many years of decline.

The prediction that the Arctic ice would be melted by 2016 was foolish extrapolation, but the chart looked good at the time.

This year’s minimum will be about 6,000 km3.

The moral of this story. Beware of extrapolations. Don’t trust models, go with observations.

And one more thing. In 2016 the sailboat Polar Ocean Challenge managed to sail through both the North East Passage and the North West Passage in the same season. In 2015 it would have been no problem The North East Passage choke point Cape Chelyuskin was ice free late July. In 2016 it was still ice covered Aug 5, but the first summer storm cleared out the ice plug. This year Cape Chelyuskin is still full of ice

This year they could not have made the journey. There is not enough time left until the North West Passage freezes over.


The Polar ice melting? Not so fast! A Limerick.

The Icecaps we see at the poles

are growing again, who controls?

With less cold it snows more

makes more ice than before.

Just one of the clouds many roles.

In the winter it is now warmer at the poles.  The temperature records indicate  a noticeable recent warming in the Arctic, with large spikes up and down, up to 3 degree Celsius difference from year to year, especially the Arctic. So, how much has the Arctic melted? Here is a chart of Arctic ice cover for the date of May 31 for the last 39 years.

If this trend continues, all ice may melt in 300 to 400 years, faster if there is further warming and nothing else is changing. Let’s take a look at the Arctic above the 80th latitude, an area of about 3,85 million square kilometers, less than 1% of the earth’s surface, but it is there where global warming is most pronounced. Here are two charts from the last 2 years, ending with Jul. 22,  2017.

Starting at summer 2016, the Arctic was melting quite normally, but something else happened, shown in the chart below:

Every 5 years or so, the Arctic suffer a large storm with full hurricane strength during the summer. In 2016 there was not one, but two such storms, and as they happened late in the season when the ice is rotten they resulted in a large ice loss, making the ice minimum the lowest on record, and the ice volume nearly 4,000 Gigatons (Gt) less than the 10 year average. Then the temperature from October thru April did run 7 degree Celsius warmer than normal with a spike as high as 20 degrees warmer. Yet today the deficit is down to less than 100 Gt. What happened? It snowed more than normal. In the Arctic, it did get warmer under clouds, warmer still when it snowed. Take a look at Greenland and what has happened this freezing season. It has snowed and snowed and Greenland has accumulated 150 Gt more ice than normal. The Arctic ice sheet is at this point in the season about 50 Gt below the ten year average (July 21), and this is with Arctic temperatures being seven degrees warmer than normal during the cold season. The counterintuitive conclusion is that it may very well be that warmer temperatures produces accumulation of snow and ice, colder temperatures with less snow accumulates less. (By the way, it snowed less than half as much on the ice caps during the last Ice Age as it does now.) What happens during the short Arctic summer? With more snow accumulated it takes longer to melt last years snow, so the temperature stays colder longer. This year, Arctic temperature has been running colder than normal every day since May 1 with no end in sight. If this melting period ends without melting all snow, more multi year ice will accumulate, and if it continues unabated, the next Ice Age will start.

A Climate Realist’s (not so) short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change. Question 6 (of 16) What’s the worst-case scenario?

NOV. 28, 2015 gave his answers to 16 questions in the N.Y. Times regarding Climate Change. This Climate realist added his answer.

 Answers to Question 1: How much is the planet heating up?

Answers to Question 2. How much trouble are we in?

Answers to Question 3. Is there anything I can do?

Answers to Question 4. What’s the optimistic scenario?

Answers to Question 5. Will reducing meat in my diet help the climate?

Justin Gillis answer to Question 6. What’s the worst-case scenario?

There are many.

That is actually hard to say, which is one reason scientists are urging that emissions be cut; they want to limit the possibility of any worst-case scenario coming to pass. Perhaps the greatest fear is a collapse of food production, accompanied by escalating prices and mass starvation. Even with runaway emissions growth, it is unclear how likely this would be, as farmers are able to adjust their crops and farming techniques, to a degree, to adapt to climatic changes. Another possibility would be a disintegration of the polar ice sheets, leading to fast-rising seas that would force people to abandon many of the world’s great cities and would lead to the loss of trillions of dollars worth of property and other assets. Scientists also worry about other wild-card scenarios like the predictable cycles of Asian monsoons’ becoming less reliable. Billions of people depend on monsoons to provide water for crops, so any disruptions could be catastrophic.

My answer to Question 6. What’s the worst-case scenario?

CO2 concentration is rising at an unprecedented rate, more than half a percent per year, an order of magnitude faster than the CO2 rise coming out of the ice age. The Arctic ice cap just showed a record low maximum, and the Antarctic ice cap was recently at a new low  since measurements began. So why am I not worried?

Well, I am, but not for the reason you think. What we are seeing is the rain-out after the last el-nino. But not only that, we are in a general cooling trend which the rain-out is masking. Let me explain.

This winter the Arctic was about 12 degrees F warmer than normal on average with a spike of 30 degrees F warmer than normal, well documented.                  What happened?  There came one storm after another all the way from the Philippines or China and caused record rain and snowfall in California.

So much for California’s “unending drought”.

Then the storms went over the West, picked up more moisture from the Mexican Gulf and went up the East Coast, rained in the North Atlantic and snowed out in the Arctic and Greenland. The picture on the right shows just much it has snowed this winter over Greenland, a record snow accumulation so far. And it is concentrated to  East Greenland while North and West Greenland had normal snowfalls. The storms went up through Iceland and it rained as far north as Svalbard, preventing the Barents Sea from freezing, but delivering so much snow to the rest of the Arctic that the ice accumulation was near normal in spite of the unusually warm winter.

Come spring Arctic temperatures will be lower than normal, as they have been the last two years snow melt will go slower than normal, and there will be more multi-year ice than the year before. Worldwide temperatures will no longer get the boost they got from the unusually warm winter, so the “18 year pause” will be back, now as a 19 year pause.

What worries me are a number of factors, all leading to a new ice age much faster than what can be expected even with our best efforts to increase the CO2 level.

The next solar cycle, cycle 25 will be weaker than predicted, surpassing even the Maunder minimum. The Maunder minimum coincided with the little ice age.

The earth’s magnetic field is starting to act erratically. The magnetic north pole is speeding up and is now way up in the Arctic, near the North pole. The chart on the right shows the observed north dip poles during 1831 – 2007 as yellow squares. Modeled pole locations from 1590 to 2020 are circles progressing from blue to yellow. In addition the magnetic field is getting substantially weaker, maybe a breakup is possible having two North Poles and two South Poles. If this occurs, the protection from the cosmic radiation from the Sun will be weakened, causing more clouds and maybe trigger the next ice age.

Then there is the double star KIC 9832227. They are only 1,800 light-years away, are an eclipsing binary pair, which means as they revolve around one another, each one briefly blots out the other from the perspective of a viewer on Earth. In 2021 or 2022 we will see them merge into one causing a red supernova. When this happens, because they are so near, we may even observe gravity waves. But from a climate standpoint there will be a burst of cosmic radiation, first the gamma rays clming at the speed of light, then with a slight delay the other cosmic radiation, coming at a time of the solar minimum and an unusually weak earth magnetic field.

This is new territory, and the best we can do is to increase CO2. It will not help much, but CO2 will help rather than hurt.

Then there is always the possibility of a supervolcanic explosion spewing ash way up into the stratosphere.

And for people who want to worry, don’t forget supersized meteorites!

All these worst case fears lead to a cooling earth.

On the other hand, the Sun is heating up at a rate of about 1% per 100 million years, not enough to worry about.