Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean

Jul 29, 2014
The sea ice in July 2014 as it begins to retreat from the Alaskan coast. Credit: University of Washington

As the climate warms and sea ice retreats, the North is changing. An ice-covered expanse now has a season of increasingly open water which is predicted to extend across the whole Arctic Ocean before the middle of this century. Storms thus have the potential to create Arctic swell – huge waves that could add a new and unpredictable element to the region. A University of Washington researcher made the first study of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, and detected house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. The results were recently published in Geophysical Research Letters.

"As the Arctic is melting, it's a pretty simple prediction that the additional open water should make ," said lead author Jim Thomson, an oceanographer with the UW Applied Physics Laboratory.

His data show that winds in mid-September 2012 created waves of 5 meters (16 feet) high during the peak of the storm. The research also traces the sources of those big waves: high winds, which have always howled through the Arctic, combined with the new reality of open water in summer.

Arctic ice used to retreat less than 100 miles from the shore. In 2012, it retreated more than 1,000 miles. Wind blowing across an expanse of water for a long time creates whitecaps, then small waves, which then slowly consolidate into big swells that carry huge amounts of energy in a single punch.

The size of the waves increases with the fetch, or travel distance over open water. So more open water means bigger waves. As waves grow bigger they also catch more wind, driving them faster and with more energy.

Shipping and oil companies have been eyeing the opportunity of an ice-free season in the Arctic Ocean. The emergence of big waves in the Arctic could be bad news for operating in newly ice-free Northern waters.

"Almost all of the casualties and losses at sea are because of stormy conditions, and breaking waves are often the culprit," Thomson said. It also could be a new feedback loop leading to more open water as bigger waves break up the remaining summer ice floes.

"The melting has been going on for decades. What we're talking about with the waves is potentially a new process, a mechanical process, in which the waves can push and pull and crash to break up the ice," Thomson said.

Waves breaking on the shore could also affect the coastlines, where melting permafrost is already making shores more vulnerable to erosion.

The observations were made as part of a bigger project by a sensor anchored to the seafloor and sitting 50 meters (more than 150 feet) below the surface in the middle of the Beaufort Sea, about 350 miles off Alaska's north slope and at the middle of the ice-free summer water. It measured wave height from mid-August until late October 2012.

Satellites can give a rough estimate of wave heights, but they don't give precise numbers for storm events. They also don't do well for the sloppy, partially ice-covered waters that are common in the Arctic in summer.

Warming temperatures and bigger waves could act together on summer ice floes, Thomson said: "At this point, we don't really know relative importance of these processes in future scenarios."

Establishing that relationship could help to predict what will happen to the sea ice in the future and help forecast how long the ice-free channel will remain open each year.

The recent paper recorded waves at just one place. This summer Thomson is part of an international group led by the UW that is putting dozens of sensors in the Arctic Ocean to better understand the physics of the sea-ice retreat.

"There are several competing theories for what happens when the waves approach and get in to the ice," Thomson said. "A big part of what we're doing with this program is evaluating those models."

He will be out on Alaska's northern coast from late July until mid-August deploying sensors to track waves. He hopes to learn how wave heights are affected by the weather, ice conditions and amount of .

"It's going to be a quantum leap in terms of the number of observations, the level of detail and the level of precision" for measuring Arctic Ocean waves, Thomson said.

Explore further: Tracking the breakup of Arctic summer sea ice

More information: Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 3136–3140, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL059983

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TegiriNenashi
1.7 / 5 (24) Jul 29, 2014
"...in which the waves can push and pull and crash to break up the ice..."

So storms create waves which are such a big problem for sea ice stability... Then, consider Southern Hemisphere where sea ice is growing at record pace despite ferocious winter Southern Ocean storms. And some even claim these winds has been increased recently?
thermodynamics
4.3 / 5 (23) Jul 29, 2014
"...in which the waves can push and pull and crash to break up the ice..."

So storms create waves which are such a big problem for sea ice stability... Then, consider Southern Hemisphere where sea ice is growing at record pace despite ferocious winter Southern Ocean storms. And some even claim these winds has been increased recently?


Gheeze Tegeri. Do you not understand that Antarctica is a continent with marginal sea ice and the Arctic is an ice covered land-surrounded ocean?

The arctic has been covered by ice and is now opening up to winds it has not seen in hundreds of thousands of years. Things are changing.

The Antarctic has had sea ice exposed to the waves for millions of years. Not much change.

What part of "the Arctic is different from the Antarctic" don't you understand?
Egleton
4.4 / 5 (20) Jul 29, 2014
The sea ice in the in the South is growing because land ice is slipping into the water.
The land ice is slipping into the water faster because the water beneath the snouts of the glaciers is warmer.
We have done this thing to death.
https://www.youtu..._wv7DHv4
I do not anticipate any improvement in comprehension.
You are either a victim of your ego or you are paid not to comprehend.
wiyosaya
3.8 / 5 (5) Jul 29, 2014
To me, it also sounds like it is only a matter of time before "rogue waves" are increasingly measured in the area as it would seem that the conditions for them to develop are becoming more prevalent.

http://en.wikiped...gue_wave
http://science.ho...wave.htm
RichardBlumenthal
1.8 / 5 (11) Jul 29, 2014
Egl -You're probably referring to floating ice, not land ice. Also, that happens in the warmer months, not during the maximum. Does not explain. I'm not paid enough to write more.
supamark23
3.8 / 5 (15) Jul 29, 2014
"...in which the waves can push and pull and crash to break up the ice..."

So storms create waves which are such a big problem for sea ice stability... Then, consider Southern Hemisphere where sea ice is growing at record pace despite ferocious winter Southern Ocean storms. And some even claim these winds has been increased recently?


Dumbass, there's actual land beneath the ice at the south pole, north pole is land free. If you're too stupid to understand that, maybe you shouldn't be commenting, eh?
discouragedinMI
Jul 29, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MR166
2.2 / 5 (17) Jul 29, 2014
Arctic Sea ice is withing one standard deviation of normal. How can that be considered as unusual. The hyperbole in this paper is beyond belief. And people wonder why some are skeptical of climate science. Let's try not exaggerating and telling half truths. Perhaps the opposition will cool down.
verkle
1.6 / 5 (14) Jul 29, 2014
Is this the first time they are measuring waves?

The Arctic sea ice coverage is within 2 deviations of the 30 year average. The Antarctic sea ice coverage is more than 2 deviations higher than the 30 year average. Why don't we see many articles dealing with this?

Data at:

nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews

3432682
1 / 5 (9) Jul 29, 2014
More sea ice is slipping off the land in the Antarctic because the amount of land ice at the South Pole is growing. Calving ice is sometimes due to warming, as in the summers; and sometimes due to increasing cold which causes growing ice and flowing glaciers.
antigoracle
1.5 / 5 (16) Jul 29, 2014
The arctic has been covered by ice and is now opening up to winds it has not seen in hundreds of thousands of years. Things are changing.
--thermotard
Yep, thermotard is that turd that's been floating in the arctic for hundreds of thousands of years, so he knows.
runrig
4.6 / 5 (11) Jul 30, 2014
Arctic Sea ice is withing one standard deviation of normal. How can that be considered as unusual. The hyperbole in this paper is beyond belief. And people wonder why some are skeptical of climate science. Let's try not exaggerating and telling half truths. Perhaps the opposition will cool down.


"Let's try not exaggerating and telling half truths"
Exactly then you go on to do just that ( actually a full untruth).

Right the Trolls are at work on here behind my back I see (re) spreading their paid for lies....
Do you get paid piece rate - Oh, say $10 per dozen? FFS

No, Arctic sea is is closer to 2 SD's off normal which means that by (normal) probability there should only be a ~5% chance of this years melt being this great....

nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

And this is a graph of recent annual melts .....

http://psc.apl.wa...ntV2.png

Shows that '10,'11,'12 were ~3 SD's below normal (0.3% chance of occuring).

And for the Statistically challenged ... err .... the SD's are on TOP of a falling trend
runrig
4.6 / 5 (10) Jul 30, 2014
"...in which the waves can push and pull and crash to break up the ice..."

So storms create waves which are such a big problem for sea ice stability... Then, consider Southern Hemisphere where sea ice is growing at record pace despite ferocious winter Southern Ocean storms. And some even claim these winds has been increased recently?

Was it you I explained this to on a concurrent thread, or some other Troll?

First: storms in winter are DIFFERENT in their effect on sea-ice than summer storms. Winter storms contain frigid air swept off the Antarctic continent. Have you not seen pics of trawlers' rigging and superstructure encased in frozen spray after enduring a winter storm?
Err summer storms don't do that.
SO you have the frigid winds blowing on ice forming closer the coast that little bit harder than in decades gone by. AND the odd few tenth's warmer that that air is (on average) than in those times is MORE than compensated for by the extra few knots of wind (on average).
MR166
2 / 5 (8) Jul 30, 2014
http://ocean.dmi....r.uk.php

"No, Arctic sea is is closer to 2 SD's off normal which means that by (normal) probability there should only be a ~5% chance of this years melt being this great...."

Run where do you see 2 standard deviations from that chart? Am I reading it incorrectly?
runrig
4.6 / 5 (10) Jul 30, 2014
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php

"No, Arctic sea is is closer to 2 SD's off normal which means that by (normal) probability there should only be a ~5% chance of this years melt being this great...."

Run where do you see 2 standard deviations from that chart? Am I reading it incorrectly?

Your are but it must be incorrect .... look at these 2 graphs....

http://neven1.typ...6970c-pi

http://nsidc.org/...e-graph/

The hatched area is for +/- 2SD's. Odd for a reputable organisation but finger trouble maybe and 1SD labeled by mistake.

It seems you were led astray - so you have mitigation there.
MR166
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 30, 2014
http://www.breitb...y-Report

The left seems to have spent a lot of money in order to control environmental politics. This is a pretty damming report.
supamark23
4.6 / 5 (9) Jul 30, 2014
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/07/30/Shock-US-Senate-Minority-Report

The left seems to have spent a lot of money in order to control environmental politics. This is a pretty damming report.


Nothing on Breitbart is actually true, so how can it be damning? Also, glad A. Breitbart died, he was a POS, too bad it couldn't have happened sooner.
MR166
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 30, 2014
It was is a minority report from the US Senate. The Breitbart site just posted it.
Dr_toad
Jul 30, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MR166
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 30, 2014
Dr. Toad I am sorry if the link upset you. I know that is is very hard for liberals to deal with opinions that are opposed to their own.

I will write a letter to the US Senate and ask them not to upset people so much.
TegiriNenashi
1.4 / 5 (10) Jul 30, 2014
Do you not understand that Antarctica is a continent with marginal sea ice and the Arctic is an ice covered land-surrounded ocean?

The arctic has been covered by ice and is now opening up to winds it has not seen in hundreds of thousands of years. Things are changing.

The Antarctic has had sea ice exposed to the waves for millions of years. Not much change.

What part of "the Arctic is different from the Antarctic" don't you understand?


I hear this truism that Arctic is different from Antarctic over and over. Let me explain why this excuse is not impressive at all.

30 or so years ago the stubborn Antarctic refusal to obey polar amplification was not evident at all. Some people even went as far as predicting significant Antarctic warming in relatively short period -- peoples lifetime. So, you claim they [Mercer] failed their geography class?
supamark23
4.6 / 5 (9) Jul 30, 2014
It was is a minority report from the US Senate. The Breitbart site just posted it.


lol, as if the GOP in the senate started believing in science or something. Getting science info from politicians is no better than getting it from breitbart, MSNBC, or FoxNews and only a moron would think otherwise.
thermodynamics
4.6 / 5 (10) Jul 30, 2014
Mr. 166 said:
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/07/30/Shock-US-Senate-Minority-Report

The left seems to have spent a lot of money in order to control environmental politics. This is a pretty damming report.


It is actually pretty heartening to see environmentalists getting donations to counter the Heartland and Kochs. Thank you for posting the good news. It took a while to read through the Britebart leaning insanity and find the buried lead, but it is an optimistic article to see the truth about AGW getting support.
thermodynamics
4.6 / 5 (10) Jul 30, 2014
Tegeri said:
I hear this truism that Arctic is different from Antarctic over and over. Let me explain why this excuse is not impressive at all.


So, please tell me how the Arctic and Antarctic are not alike in your mind.

Do you have to go all the way back to a 30 year old theory? How does a misunderstanding 30 years ago translate to the Arctic and Antarctic not being different?
TegiriNenashi
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 30, 2014
I don't think we are gong anywhere with your question. Let's try to expand the inquiry.

The increased sea ice cover would increase albedo in Southern Hemisphere. Do you think this issue worth attention or can be ignored?

Some researchers suggested clever methods to average Antarctic temperature data to demonstrate that the continent did in fact warm in the last 50 year (Steig, Nature 2009). Do you believe his claim?
MR166
2 / 5 (8) Jul 30, 2014
".......... but it is an optimistic article to see the truth about AGW getting support."

Good, I just got tired of hearing how climate science gets so little funding and how only the other side gets billionaire funding.
MR166
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 31, 2014
I love it when Hollywood add credibility to climate science.

"Also live-tweeting the first film was comedian/actor Judah Friedlander, who lobbied for a cameo role in the sequel. And if we are to believe his comments this past April during a press conference as part of an NBC Universal Press Day at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif., Sharknado 2 may be a film of great scientific importance.

Asked by a reporter whether chatter about climate change lends credibility to the two films' monster storms, Friedlander replied, "I have said it from the beginning ... I actually approached the director to be in this film. And this, to me, is the most important film ever made about climate change. There is no film, TV thing, special anything, more important than this film.""
MR166
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 01, 2014
Here is a nice little synopsis of past climate predictions.

If one thing changes more than the weather it is climate predictions.

http://toryaardva...0-years/

runrig
4 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2014
Here is a nice little synopsis of past climate predictions.

If one thing changes more than the weather it is climate predictions.

http://toryaardva...0-years/


MR:
I can dig out any number of incorrect predictions from individuals/organisations, who's raison d'etre is to "predict".
So you would expect all and every prediction to be correct?
Now that would be clairvoyance, wouldn't it?

You may have a hot-line to your imaginary friend but climate scientists, meteorologists, the IPCC, etc - do not.

This crops up time and again from the denialatti.
If it's been wrong once then it's wrong full stop. Not worth listening to. Worthless.
You may think you are infallible and that all in life should conform or be dismissed - but people with common sense realise that is impossible.

FFS

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