Arctic ice cap near 2007 record minimum: Russia

Aug 04, 2011
View of the Arctic ice pack in 2006
View of the Arctic ice pack in 2006. The polar ice cap in the Arctic has melted to near its 2007 record minimum level and in some areas is 50 percent smaller than average, Russia's environmental monitoring agency said Thursday.

The polar ice cap in the Arctic has melted to near its 2007 record minimum level and in some areas is 50 percent smaller than average, Russia's environmental monitoring agency said Thursday.

"According to the results of observations, the Arctic ice sheet is currently near the minimum that was observed in 2007 in the polar region," the Roshydromet agency said in a statement.

It said the ice sheet covered an area of 6.8 billion square kilometres (2.6 billion square miles) and was much smaller than normal in Russia's Arctic seas.

"The ice cap is smaller than the norm in all the Russian seas: by 56 percent in the southwest of the Kara Sea, by 20 percent in the northeast of the Kara Sea, by 40 percent in the Laptev Sea, by 14 percent in the East Sea and by 35 percent in Sea of Chukotka," it said.

"In September we can expect very easy navigation conditions in the Northern sea route," it said.

Russia has made the development of its a strategic priority and is hoping to turn the Northern Sea Route into a major commercial transit route.

The melting of the ice sheet -- which is due to according to many experts -- has left the route along Russia's Arctic coast increasingly accessible.

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User comments : 26

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Doc_aymz
1.6 / 5 (14) Aug 04, 2011
So what you are actually saying is that there was less ice in 2007. Well this is a great contribution.
entropyrules
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 04, 2011
That's just the Russian area, total ice extent is above that of 2007.
rollingeyes
4 / 5 (8) Aug 04, 2011
"the ice sheet covered an area of 6.8 billion square kilometres"

Very impressive. That's many times the surface area of the planet.
KillerKopy
3 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2011
That's true rollingeyes... nothing like staring off the equation with the wrong numbers.
Bob_Wallace
4.2 / 5 (11) Aug 04, 2011
The current ice extent is slight more than it was at this time in 2007. There is less ice now than in 2007 if one considers area and volume.

Extent can be a misleading measurement. Slushy ice spread out over a large area can lead to a higher number than meters thick ice crunched tightly together.

We almost certainly will see a new all time volume record low in 2011, probably will see a new all time area record in 2011, and may possibly see a new all time extent record in 2011.

If we get normal melting for the next 40 days and some winds push the remaining ice together in a more compact form, an extent record is the likely outcome.

The bit picture? Arctic sea ice is melting and we may be only a few years from a complete late summer melt-out.
rollingeyes
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 04, 2011
Bob Wallace,
JAXA shows higher ice area now than in 2007. We have no current volume data.
jamesrm
5 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2011
You don't use Math you just look it up
http://en.wikiped...ki/Earth
Surface area 510,072,000 km^2
fmfbrestel
2.7 / 5 (12) Aug 04, 2011
Global warming is debatable. Climate change is not debatable. Deserts are expanding, ice and permafrost is shrinking. The cause is irrelevant, we must respond to the effects in any case because the effects are objectively true.

It does not matter why our climate changes, the only thing that matters are the choices we make when it does. IMHO, it is cowardly to chose a course of attack against a irrelevant cause instead of accepting objective reality.

The expanding deserts and the contracting of frozen lands are not irrelevant causes that are safely ignored.
jamesrm
3 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2011
"It does not matter why our climate changes, the only thing that matters are the choices we make when it does"

So without knowing the cause we are blind and cannot make an informed decision, head in the sand much?
fmfbrestel
4 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2011
It does not matter that we are blind. Doing nothing is still not an option.
fmfbrestel
4.5 / 5 (8) Aug 04, 2011
A head in the sand implies ignoring reality which is the exact opposite of my prior statement. While you are the one who stuck your head in the sand by ignoring the actual substance of the statement -- just like those who ignore the reality of our present climate.
Bob_Wallace
4.4 / 5 (13) Aug 04, 2011
rolling, Crytosphere Today (which I was watching) shows 2011 a bit less than 2007, JAXA and NORSEX show a bit more. Perhaps "currently tied" would be the best synopsis for today.

We have current volume models which are calibrated using physical measurements when they come available.

If you go to this page, put August 2, 2007 in the left date boxes and August 2, 2011 in the right date boxes you can see that while the extent is roughly the same there is something very different about the quality of the ice shown for the two years. 2007 shows a lot of 'purple'/concentrated ice, 2011 shows a lot of 'red'/lower concentrated.

The green and yellow stuff will likely totally melt, the red will melt some, the purple - not so much.

It's going to be an interesting late season in ice-land. Many days of warm water melt-out left in the year.
fmfbrestel
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 04, 2011
I'm not trying to tell anyone to quit burning coal. But we need to deal with diminishing fresh, potable water.

Don't tell people to open their eyes while wearing blinders. It's unbecoming.
Skepticus_Rex
1.2 / 5 (15) Aug 05, 2011
As to water, import it from Antarctica. Less glaciers to fall into the sea and potentially raise sea levels, and plenty of fresh water to drink. Kills two birds with one stone. :)
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Aug 05, 2011
Funny how all the news sites reprint the '6.5 billion square miles' glitch.

I just checked an earlier paper (from 2010) by Roshydromet researchers).

http://www.igsoc....j199.pdf

According to this in 2007 the minimum arctic cover was about 3 million km squared.

As for the variations here's an exerpt from the introduction:
"Every September since 1996 the sea ice
extent has been below the 1979-99 mean. Ice extent for
September 2010 was the third lowest in the satellite record
for the month, behind 2007 (lowest) and 2008 (second
lowest) (US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)).
For the last 4 years, September ice extent has been below
two standard deviations below the long-term climatic mean."

(they also state that the ice is thinning, so the coverage isn't the only indicator relevant)
Dug
2.1 / 5 (7) Aug 05, 2011
Recent research has shown that current climate change models are using aerosol levels (based on faulty satellite readings) with an error of 3 to 6 times the actual level. According to those researchers this means 35% error in global heat modeling - to the high side. Neither related errors mean that climate change or anthropogenic climate affects are not real, however they do show how "soft" these new sciences actually are and should give caution to those wanting to be taken more seriously regarding climate change modeling. I have also noted that ocean acidification experts are tending to ignore the on going precipitation of CaCO3 in the warm waters of the world - because it doesn't fit with their models for ocean acidification which are built around very limited and spotty global data samples.

While we are worrying about a 3mm/year rise in global sea level, we are running out(30-100 yrs) of peak petro and phosphates fertilizers (NPK) used to produce 95% of human food. Priorities?
lengould100
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2011
Dug. Regardless your criticisms of the details of the models, which I'm sure you think are significant, still, the present models are I believe able to quite reliably reproduce the history of present climate over the last few decades. You know, things like reductions in artic ice cover, losses of ice on Greenland etc..
Skepticus_Rex
1 / 5 (5) Aug 08, 2011
The models still have room for improvement. Even IPCC AR4 admits that.

There are other models which have need to be scrapped, like the one that predicted an ice-free Arctic for 2008 (didn't happen, by the way). Another extreme model predicts an ice-free Arctic by 2013. We'll see...
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2011
Here's a bit about the 2013 prediction. It's not actually a 2013 prediction, it's a 2016 /- 3 years. And it's not a complex model, just a curve fitted to the available data.

http://peakenergy...ues.html

Looking at how the data is spilling out, Maslowski may be warning us of some very bad news coming soon to our world.

Just consider the things which could speed the downward drop. The melting season is getting longer. Less year-to-year volume means less heat is needed to melt the same percentage of existing ice. More open water earlier in the year means more heat absorption which leads to more melting, especially in the late melt season.

Even an increase in permafrost fires is bad news. More soot on the ice means more heat absorption.

What could turn this around? Perhaps the invisible Heat Dragon might quit breathing invisible flames, or whatever "natural" force is driving global warming.

Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2011
I noticed that my link wasn't included in my Aug 04 comment. Let me try it again with Aug 06 2007 and 2011 dates.

http://igloo.atmo...;sy=2011

Lots of that bright red ice-area is likely to melt out. It's spread over a wide range with lots of leads where the remaining sun can sneak in and it's subjected to underneath up-welling warmer water.

All that stuff now sliding down the east coast of Greenland is almost certainly water in the making. It's heading to where ice goes to die.
Skepticus_Rex
1 / 5 (4) Aug 08, 2011
No, that one actually is slightly different. It looks to me like he added a few years to his prediction. The actual presentation by the scientist who made the prediction was specific to the year 2013. When he was interviewed by the media he said the same thing about the specific year to them as he did during the presentation.

Unfortunately, the presentation ceased to be available--unless you know where another copy of the original presentation might reside on the Net. I would like to obtain a copy of that original presentation to put it with my other copies of model-based predictions like this one.
Bob_Wallace
1 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2011
Sorry, I've never seen anyone (with scientific credentials) make a specific 2013 prediction. This plot is the most extreme "prediction" I've seen and I view this not so much as a model but a fairly simple data plotting with a curve fitted to the data and that curve projected forward.

None of the causal factors are being used to predict melt-out, it's just where the data is taking us, assuming things progress as they have been playing out.

As for this particular plotting, the curved line was recently computed to better fit the observed data and the total melt-out dates fell sooner in time, if I remember correctly. Based on only data from earlier years it would take longer to reach zero, but melting seems to be accelerating.

Clearly, with the spring melt starting earlier and less very thick ice to melt it would take some unique change in the climate to make the ice recover. As far as I know no one has put forth any sort of event which could reverse what is happening.
Bob_Wallace
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2011
(Ran out of characters...)

As far as I know no one has put forth any sort of event which could reverse what is happening. (Except for some suddenly appearing well-placed volcano which could slow the melting, possibly increase ice volume for a year or two. A setback, not really a reversal. I suppose the Ice Queen could emerge from her long sleep and wave her magic wand....)

Bob_Wallace
2 / 5 (4) Aug 08, 2011
BTW, it looks like we're going to have a few days of optimal melt weather this week. And multi-year ice is getting pushed through the Fram Straight. 2011 is still in the running for all-time extent record. And quite likely to set area and volume record lows.

Things are not looking good for Santa....
Ethelred
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 09, 2011
Things are not looking good for Santa....


I don't care about Santa as he doesn't care about me.

BUT the Fortresses of Solitude are IMPORTANT. Both of them. Please tell us that Superman and Doc Savage will still have their quiet place. If the Man of Bronze and the Man of Steel do not get their rest this could be bad for all of us.

Ethelred
Skepticus_Rex
1 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2011
Sometimes I wonder how much of this ice loss can be attributed to ice breakers. Its hard to have multi-year ice form properly when the icebreakers keep crashing through it. Anyone know of any studies?