Sea Ice 2012, 27th September, 84° North

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.


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Please tell Shell

"Oil on Greenland would be a disaster," Total CEO Chrisophe de Margerie said. "A leak would do too much damage to the image of the company."

Although he is not completely opposed to Arctic exploitation as gas leaks "were easier to shut down and clean". But what are the chances considering Shell reportedly invested already $4.5 billion and Cairn Energy at least $1 billion?

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British Parliament Audit: Arctic Ice free within a Decade

Tldr; between 2003 and 2011 the Arctic sea ice volume decreased by 50% or 900km³ per year. Latest PIOMAS volume reads 3,400 km³.

With a tremendous effort and more importantly in a public way the Environmental Audit Committee invited and interviewed experts and scientists to collect all evidence about the conditions in the Arctic.

Topics cover everything from methane, permafrost, black carbon over sea ice to polar bears and more. The report went online earlier this day and is the most extensive and actual reader available now.

Here is the paragraph concerning volume and the conclusion:

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Are you ready for the real Weather Report?

Acting by Pippa Mackie and Kai Nagata, written by Heather Libby and filmed at Strut Studios in Vancouver. More:

'The only Planet known to be capable of sustaining Human Life'

The AMS Council recently adopted a new statement on Climate Change (pdf). Here are the final remarks, don't miss the last sentence:

There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities.

This scientific finding is based on a large and persuasive body of research. The observed warming will be irreversible for many years into the future, and even larger temperature increases will occur as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.

Avoiding this future warming will require a large and rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. The ongoing warming will increase risks and stresses to human societies, economies, ecosystems, and wildlife through the 21st century and beyond, making it imperative that society respond to a changing climate.

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New Bathymetry with better Resolution

The new grid is on a 500 meter spacing, revealing much greater details of the Arctic seafloor than IBCAO Version 1.0 (2.5 km) and Version 2.0 (2.0 km). The area covered by multibeam surveys has increased from ~6 % in Version 2.0 to ~11% in Version 3.0. The compilation of IBCAO Version 3.0 is described in a Geophysical Research Letter article available for download.

Most interesting feature is the Lomonosov Ridge which splits the Arctic basin in half. Denmark and Russia are trying to find evidence showing the ridge is a extension of their ...

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The most Ambitious Arctic Route this Year

17 Provideniya, Russia
17 - 18 Nome, Alaska
19 - 31 Northwest Passage  Expedition

01 - 11 Northwest Passage  Expedition
12 - 15 Greenland
16 - 17 At Sea
18 St. Anthony, Canada [1]

The world is different aboard ‘The Word’. It is the largest privately owned residential yacht on earth. It might look like a cruise ship from the exterior, but that’s where the similarity ends. This exclusive community offers the ultimate combination of luxury travel with world-class dining, custom tours and enriching cultural events. It is the embodiment of a distinctive lifestyle experience.

Being among the 1% includes privileges. The list includes improving your handicap at the Lofoten Golf Links, handshakes with Putin in Provideniya and this year sailing in the Canadian Archipelago - mostly ice free.

The course advertised on the web site and shown above looks like an adventure - it includes breaking the thickest ice available and after that straight through Nares Strait direction Baffin Bay. But this will not happen - not this year. As an alternative M' Clure Strait is still packed with ice. Only Prince of Wales Strait is left as last resort. However, on this 'safe' route the tourists will hardly see any ice and finally depend on Captain’s Choice.

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Updates: Sea Surface Anomaly and Daily Splitzoom

The double zoom has been renamed and relaunched. New zooms are added each day approximately 06:00am GMT. The permalink includes the dates, which I believe is more convenient. Screenshot above links to currently the fastest melting region. The archive includes besides all of August some older zooms indicated with bold letters in the calendar widget. Did you missed first snow in the Arctic - split zoom reveals even tiny changes.

The Danish DMI makes an excellent job in preparing daily Arctic Ocean surface temperatures. The satellite view now includes the actual temperature, anomalies and daily changes. More info on the ...

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Shell Continues to Delay

"Progress related to the final construction of the Arctic Challenger containment barge remains steady," Shell spokesman Curtis Smith told Petroleum News in an Aug. 15 email. "We continue to work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to outline a schedule for final inspections and an on-water deployment that would lead to certification. There's no set timeline for the completion of this important process." Shell continues to delay drilling, waiting for containment barge Shell's oil spill-containment barge for Arctic operations was once for the birds

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Last Sighting of the Ice Bird

The first sighting of the ice bird was in March, 13 this year. He kept hidden until the day before yesterday. Looks fallen now, whether the approaching ice fairy brings him back to life - future will tell. The Arctic vanishes in all her unique beauty, both images were archived to capture the fleetingness of a fragile environment.

My Problem with Sea Ice Extent

Since 1979 there is a sea ice extent record for the Arctic with mostly daily measurements. The trend is clear and down, so what is the problem?

Imagine a single idealized ice floe: 1 kilometer long and 1 kilometer wide with a thickness of 2 meter drifting in the Arctic Ocean - a pretty flat cuboid. Roughly 20 centimeter are visible above sea surface as freeboard. NASA’s Arctic Mosaic at highest resolution would represent the floe with 16 white pixels arranged as square.

Let’s further assume bottom- and top melting are equal and and there is enough energy available to melt 1 meter of ice from each of the six sides within a month (30 days). How much ice is left after this period? Exactly, zero.

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New CryoSat Data: 3,000km³ loss between latest Winters

Good timing: Between a storm that took one million km² within one week from extent and the next record low the UCL finally releases long awaited concrete numbers from the CryoSat 2 Mission. The take away message is the trend strongly indicates an ice free Arctic around 2020. That fits nicely to the PIOMAS trend in this chart. The broader picture is within one generation (30y) we will have removed more than 6 million km² from Earth's reflecting September ice shield.

Here's an interesting BBC Radio interview with Seymour Laxon of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling:

And here an excerpt from the Guardian:

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NSIDC Extent Sees 2012 Five Days ahead of 2007

	2007	2011	2012
 8.4	6,19	6,49	6,06
 8.5	6,04	6,37	5,87
 8.6	5,90	6,24	5,81 
 8.7	5,88	6,14	5,67
 8.8	5,81	6,05	5,47
 8.9	5,73	5,97	
8.10	5,59	5,90	
8.11	5,57	5,88	
8.12	5,51	5,80	
8.13	5,45	5,66	

Latest loss is close to 200,000km². And - completely unrelated - Reuters reports from a different planet having his own weather: "July was the hottest month in the continental United States on record".

Satellite View disrupted due to Arctic Cyclone

Just a short notice, that the tremendous amount of visitors interested in the aftermath of this year's major Arctic cyclone has led to bandwidth problems at the backend. The good news is NASA's full Arctic Mosaic dated 2012-08-07 has been converted into a megapixel zoom in time. So click the image above and see what's left over in the Arctic Ocean.

Estimated time for service recovery is 2012-08-09 9am UTC

Update: In case the servers got overloaded again, here the alternative link to the full Arctic Mosaic for 2012-08-07:;0.5;0.5/2012-08-07
If you like to compare against Tuesday go here.

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First Double Zoom Features Phytoplankton Bloom

Comparing day to day changes using Arctic satellite images is quite a complicated task. The files are huge, two displays are indispensable and synchronization of zoom level, latitude and longitude a pain. So here at the - eventually - first synchronized double-zoom viewer was launched today.

Basically it appears as two zoom windows side by side. There are even two mouse pointers: The white one is yours and the red one points automatically to the same location within the other zoom window. All usual functions are still working. Try out right click to save images, mouse wheel to zoom out or in and click to focus.

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Just out of Curiosity

credit: NASA

No, this is not the future ice free Arctic. This stitched image has been taken by a little rover just three days after it survived a seven minutes terror landing on a remote planet with nearly no atmosphere, where carbon dioxide remains frozen at the poles.

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The Devil's Symphony

Creepy sounds from an intact ice pack uploaded by NOAAPMEL.

Subtext: These sounds of the movement Arctic sea ice pack have been called "The Devil's Symphony" by early Arctic explorers. The sounds you hear were captured by hydrophones on moorings deployed in Bering Strait during winter of 2011-2012, and are the same as those so vividly described by early Arctic explorers. See &

ERMA releases Arctic Reponse Planning Tool

credit: ERMA

One consequence of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is the insight to have all available geo information available in one place is not only good thing, but also a measure to avoid left hand not knowing what right hand doing.

So, just in time and days before the Shell armada starts drilling in the Chukchi Sea the federal mapping tool that aided first responders in Gulf spill expanded to the Arctic. (press release)

NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said: “The addition of Arctic ERMA will be a tremendous benefit to responders in this rapidly developing region. This scientific tool could provide essential information in responding to potential oil spills and pollution releases in the Arctic.”

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Current Speedlimits in Greenland

Rignot, E. and J. Mouginot (2012), Ice flow in Greenland for the International Polar Year 2008–2009, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L11501, doi:10.1029/2012GL051634.

Abstract: The ice motion map reveals various flow regimes, ranging from patterned enhanced flow into a few large glaciers in the cold, low precipitation areas of north Greenland; to diffuse, enhanced flow into numerous, narrow, fast-moving glaciers in the warmer, high precipitation sectors of northwest and southeast Greenland. We find that the 100 fastest glaciers (v > 800 m/yr) drain 66% of the ice sheet in area, marine-terminating ...

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Live Blog: Last 30 Days of Surface Melting in Greenland

Despite the international press failed in some cases to publish correct headlines the surface melting in Greenland was an exceptional event. Using instruments from different satellites NASA calculated up to 97% of the top millimeters of the complete ice shield showed the signature of water instead of ice.

Usually the ice stays frozen year round and thawing events are clearly visible in ice cores. Examining the last 10,000 years this kind of comprehensive surface melting can be found roughly every 150 years, that makes it a once in lifetime event.

Note this year's melting is nothing special in this context, but it resets the clock. If you read same headlines over and over again in the next years, something really precarious is going on.

The images below are taken in realtime from the Arctic mosaic and show the history of the last 30 days. If latest image appears white or blank this region will be captured later by the satellite. The infrared spectrum is sensible to surface water and the darker the red color the more water is detected. The melting of July 2012 has been archived in this screenshot.

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