By Steven Goddard
The quest for the Holy Grail.
I have been looking for a reliable early predictor of September area/extent based on June ice data, and have found it – almost. Previously I established that current extent is a useless predictor, prior to August. The reasons for this are :
- Extent tells you nothing about thickness
- Many areas currently covered with ice, will normally have almost none in September (Hudson Bay, Barents Sea, etc.)
I eliminated the second issue by reducing the region of interest to the area shown in white below. That area corresponds approximately to the maximum extent of September ice in the 30 year NSIDC record.
Then I tried three different metrics to compare June 6 ice parameters vs. September extent and area, for the decade 2000-2009.
The first parameter was June 6 ice area. As expected, this correlated very poorly with September extent and area. The rsq value of June 6 ice area rankings vs September extent rankings is 0.02. The rsq value of June 6 ice area rankings vs September area rankings is 0.07.
The next parameter for comparison was June 6 ice volume (calculated from PIPS) vs September extent. This correlated much better. The rsq value of June 6 ice volume rankings vs September extent rankings is 0.22. The rsq value of June 6 ice volume rankings vs September area rankings is 0.37.
The final parameter for comparison was June 6 average ice thickness (calculated from PIPS) vs September extent. This correlated the best. The rsq value of June 6 average ice thickness rankings vs September extent rankings is 0.28. The rsq value of June 6 average ice thickness rankings vs September area rankings is an excellent 0.65.
So it appears that we have found a reliable predictor of September extent based on June ice thickness, which makes sense from a physical point of view. But it isn’t perfect! The graph and table below show the problem.
Average thickness on June 6, 2010 is 2.55 metres. The table below shows the June 6 rankings for the last 11 years. 2010 is in 7th place, behind 2006 and ahead of 2007, 2003, 2009 and 2008. Average thickness is more than half a metre thicker than 2008.
Date Average Thickness 6/6/2004 2.95 6/6/2005 2.87 6/6/2001 2.86 6/6/2000 2.84 6/6/2002 2.76 6/6/2006 2.68 6/6/2010 2.55 6/6/2007 2.54 6/6/2003 2.5 6/6/2009 2.17 6/6/2008 1.96
Everything in that table makes sense, except for 2007. Ice thickness in the central Arctic on June 6, 2007 was nearly identical to 2010 and the top year – 2003.
Conclusion : Based on current ice thickness, we should expect September extent/area to come in near the top of the JAXA rankings (near 2003 and 2006.) However, unusual weather conditions like those from the summer of 2007 could dramatically change this. There is no guarantee, because weather is very variable.
No doubt some people are wondering how this can be true, given that extent is currently lowest in the record. The reason (again) is that June extent has almost no correlation with September extent. Imagine an ice cube floating in water. It occupies a much smaller area of water than a ground up ice cube. But which one melts faster? The ground up ice cube will of course melt faster. Having a wide extent in June is not necessarily a good thing, unless the ice is also thick.
Sea surface temperatures continue to run cold in the Northern Pacific. They also are cooling down some in Atlantic.
Arctic temperatures have been running cold for the last week or so.
There is no indication of melt in the ice off Barrow, with ongoing cold temperatures and the deepest snow of the winter.
Ice continues to look very concentrated in the Arctic Basin, as seen in this enhanced satellite photo.
The disparity between ice indices continues to widen.DMI has 2010 ahead of 2007 and 2008. Other indices have 2010 lower. Given the analysis above, these numbers are relativelymeaningless this early in the summer.
The modified NSIDC graph below shows a comparison of 2010 ice extent vs. 2007. Areas in green have more ice than 2007. Areas in red have less ice.
The modified NSIDC map below shows ice loss since April 5, in red.
The modified NSIDC map shows changes in Arctic ice over the last week, using the same colour scheme.
The modified NSIDC image below shows the current anomaly. Areas in red have less ice than the 30 year mean, and areas in green have more ice.