Long way around the sea

With the northern hemisphere summer fading into autumn, time for a quick overview of Arctic events. The sea ice is nearing its annual low point, and appears to be heading for a minimum somewhere between 2009 and 2008 — 2007’s record minimum appears to be beyond reach. The latest batch of forecasts for the SEARCH exercise mostly agree, but it’s still a bit early to make a final call — reductions in extent can continue right up to the end of the month. This graph of sea ice extent (from the University of Bremen) puts the current situation in context (click to see a large, updated version):


Now let’s see what that data looks like on a map…


White areas have high concentrations of ice, fading through grey, black (about 50% ice, 50% open water) and then dark blue to no ice at all (click the image to see the latest updated version with key). It looks to me as though there are very large areas of low concentration ice — some very near the Pole, something confirmed by looking at the MODIS Arctic Mosaic daily satellite images. Some of that low concentration ice will probably melt out before the autumn freeze-up begins, but how much is a very open question. It’s possible that the 2008 minimum could be beaten, particularly if wind compacts regions of ice that are currently well scattered.

The best place to monitor the melt season denouement, the final furlong, or as Neven prefers to call it, the fat lady’s closing chorus, is at his Arctic Sea Ice blog. He’s devoting a great deal of time and energy to covering the melt, and his commentariat are contributing a lot of interesting perspectives.

Meanwhile, there’s something of a race developing between the plucky Norwegian team in their catamaran Northern Passage and the Russian boat Peter 1 (aka Peter the Great) who are both aiming to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean via both NE and NW Passages in a single season. At the time of writing, the Norwegians were at 69Ëš41 N, 170Ëš50’ W, in the middle of the Chukchi Sea halfway between Siberia and Alaska. Here’s an extract from their latest blog post:

It is obvious that the conditions met by the early explorers such as Vitus Bering, Fridtjof Nansen, Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld and Roald Amundsen no longer exists. We passed through in a few weeks, while our predecessors were forced to overwinter once or even twice. Still, it is not an easy passage for any kind of boat or vessel.

The Russians, meanwhile, have crossed the 180º meridian — not too far behind, though the last time I checked, their Spot Adventures page was still showing them at their last port of call. The yachts face an interesting choice of routes through the NW Passage because both the southern route used by Amundsen (and most recent small boats), and the wider, deeper northern passage through the Parry Channel are both open, as the NSIDC noted last month. The southern route is probably safer, but the northern faster. What ever happens to the minimum, the progress of the boats is going to be interesting to watch. As a matter of interest, the first circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean in a sailing vessel was made by the French boat Vagabond in 2002-3. It took them two summer seasons. Things are certainly changing…


35 thoughts on “Long way around the sea”

  1. “2007′s record minimum appears to be beyond reach”

    … have I misunderstood you, or do you see a record sea ice minimum as something to aspire to?

    Normally, when someone says something is “beyond reach”, they are referring to something they want.

  2. Charles, I’m afraid I’ve been following Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice blog and it’s a kind of creepy addiction. Like rubbernecking at a super slo-mo train wreck. And I too have occasionally found myself “barracking” for the current year as the graphs veer closer to another year’s graphs.

    It’s now absolutely obvious that the minimum is going to be one of the worst ever. So having resigned ourselves to that, it really is extremely interesting tracking through all the university and official sites with various representations of what is happening where.

    It’s awful, but it’s awfully fascinating too.

    1. Thanks, silence. We had a rather brusque wake up call this morning, but up at the farm everything is fine. Christchurch has come off a lot worse – significant damage in many places, but very few injuries thankfully. There’s going to have to be a significant infrastructure rebuilding effort.

  3. Adelady

    Your comments have a shallow ring to them.

    The rubbernecker’s equivalent of Gareth’s comment that a record low sea ice this year is “out of reach” would be

    “unfortunately, more fatalities were not forthcoming”.

    I can only think you and Gareth % Co want global warming. Not sure why, though.

  4. Charles, put yourself in the warmist/alarmist’s shoes.

    The warmist/alarmist wants people to wake up to the notion that there might be a very big problem, in this case AGW. But people don’t like to wake up, they’re conservative and like their habits. For people to wake up something has to happen that is so visible, so clearly not in the natural order of things, that no amount of sponsored and free-of-charge denialism can create and fuel doubt on this point.

    The Arctic might be this ‘something’. So although an ice-free Arctic is a dangerous , it could also serve as a (part of the larger) wake-up call. And the sooner this wake-up call comes, the better it is, right?

    So, actually, warmists/alarmists like me and Gareth are hoping for the least amount of future fatalities as possible. We mean well (I hope it’s okay if I speak for Gareth on this one).

    Again, I’m not saying AGW theory is gospel truth. That is not the point. The point is that you have to put yourself in our shoes. Then you will see that your accusations are superfluous. No harm done.

  5. Neven

    Some people welcomed 9/11 because it “woke us up” to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Bill Clinton said he wished he had been president at the time.

    “Beyond reach” has an undeniable connotation of desire, regardless of how many people “vote” to hide my view, and how “offensive” Gareth finds it.

    I also find his “wanting” ice melt offensive.

    1. What am I now, a neocon? 😀

      Again, put yourself in my shoes. I believe AGW is a very big problem. I want other people to realize this, to see what I see. How can I not desire a wake-up call? Because if there isn’t a wake-up call beforehand, the thing that happens then will inevitably be much worse than the wake-up call.

      Besides, we are not asking for an ice-free Arctic and all climate patterns in the NH and beyond going haywire. Just not a ‘recovery’ that the pseudo-skeptics can spin and use to delay for another year or two.

      If I put myself in your shoes, Charles, I think your problem is that the non-recovery of the Arctic sea ice is making it increasingly difficult for you to deny that the climate is changing fast because there’s something inherently wrong with our way of life and the unsustainable basis of our society. And what comes after the psychological stage of denial? Anger.

      That’s why you’re offended at Gareth and me wanting some more of that ice to melt. You’re angry, not because we want it, but because we are getting what we want. The wake-up call is here, but you don’t want to wake up.

  6. What I find really offensive, Charlie, is your trying to twist people’s words into a meaning that they are not.
    Your first comment was a question: “….have I misunderstood you, or do you see a record sea ice minimum something to aspire to?”
    You did “misunderstand” and were told as much, but next you come up with: ” I can only think you and Gareth % Co want global warming. Not sure why, though.”
    You were told that comment was offensive. In other words, wrong.
    But then you jump in with both feet: ” I also find his “wanting” ice melt offensive.”
    You were off base twice and yet you still come to this bizarre conclusion.
    Playing a game Charlie?
    I am of the opinion that you are up to no good by trying to portray those here as some sort of doomdayers.
    Your indignation is just as phoney as you are and that is why you are getting thumbs down..

  7. Tommy, can you read?

    Neven says “That’s why you’re offended at Gareth and me wanting some more of that ice to melt.”

    So I am not the only one who sees Gareth’s “beyond reach” comment as having such a connotation. In short, I didn’t believe Gareth’s subsequent “terrible fascination” disclaimer, and I continue to believe, as does Neven, that he wants to see ice melt.

    Have you given the thumbs down to Neven also, who after having read the comments came to the same conclusion as I? Or do you warmists stick together come what may?

    Gareth got caught with his pants down, wasn’t paying enough attention to the words he used, and showed himself up for the disaster-monger that he is.


    1. Whereas you impose your own interpretation of my words, despite assurances otherwise, and accuse me of being a disaster-monger. Doesn’t amount to a reasonable conversation, does it?

      PS: My trousers are equipped with excellent suspensory facilities. A belt, but I eschew braces.

  8. Charles, you know you can’t argue against the observed fact of declining Arctic sea ice cover, so off you go on a gratuitous and meaningless tangent to try to distract attention from an uncomfortable truth.

    IMHO, that is dishonest, peurile and gutless. What a loser.

  9. yeah, well I guess you can make comments like that as long as you agree with your high priest. When I say something HE finds offensive, he snips my comments so that others get no opportunity to assess them for merit. Yours I note are left to stand.

    Blab on to each other, your gravy train is off the rails bro and name calling wont get it back on.

  10. And all the petulance in the world won’t change the reality of AGW, which is a set of observations and consequential problems for most species on this planet. You should lift your sights.

  11. Charles, I’ve been thinking some more about your problem and your misguided attribution of motive to alarmists when they want some more ice to melt.

    I’ll make it up to you soon by praying for the ice to stop decreasing as precipitously, as soon as all the denialist PR spin about recovery has been completely discredited. Is that okay?

    Let’s work together and strive for a truly sustainable society. Wealth is worth nothing if it cannot be sustained.

  12. Neven

    Are you for real?

    First you honourably admit to wanting global warming. That bit I’ve got – had it figured all along, I mean it’s fairly obvious, even without Gareth using revealing words like the record melt being “beyond reach”.

    But now you think you can stop the ice melting by praying?

    Why should god give your prayers for ice not to melt priority over Gareth’s prayers for it to melt?

    1. Why should god give your prayers for ice not to melt priority over Gareth’s prayers for it to melt?

      Easy, because I’m the bigger alarmist.

      Now off you go, back to your own church.

  13. My church?

    Neven, I dont have a church. It was you, silly, who brought up the ability to alter climate through prayer. Don’t you remember?

    I’m getting the impression you are a bit dim

    1. Oh yes, you do have a church. You’re in the church of people who think they don’t have a church, also known as the Dunning-Kruger Church, one of the biggest religions in the world.

      Know thine own confirmation bias…

    1. Indeed, but I’m aware of it. You don’t have the slightest clue as to who you are. You only know the image you have of yourself. Otherwise you’d know you’re as big a nutter as I am. But you’re not a nutter, right?

  14. What intrigues me is that I get heavily voted down, and my comments hidden, when I question Neven’s self-acknowledged desire to see Arctic ice melt, and her claim that she can influence the melting by praying.

    What’s up with that?

    I can only conclude that this site must be infested by nutters.

Leave a Reply