JPL: Missing ice in 2007 drained out the Nares strait – pushed south by wind where it melted far away from the Arctic

This fits right in to what I’ve been blogging about for two years. the 2007 record minimum ice extent was wind driven not melt driven. A significant portion of the ice did not melt in place. It was pushed south by the wind where it melted.

Here’s where the wind is a factor in pushing past the ice arches:

NASA Sees Arctic Ocean Circulation Do an About-Face

Arctic Sea ice loss – “it’s the wind” says NASA

Here’s where ice arches help: Update on Arctic sea ice melt – “Ice pockets choking Northern Passage”

Watch how ice flows in the Arctic: Arctic Sea Ice Time Lapse from 1978 to 2009 using NSIDC data

Today’s Press Release From JPL:

Missing ‘Ice Arches’ Contributed to 2007 Arctic Ice Loss

Large, thick floes of ice can be seen breaking off.

Large, thick floes of ice can be seen breaking off of the Arctic sea ice cover before entering the Nares Strait in this Dec. 23, 2007 radar image from the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite. Click for large image. Credit: European Space Agency

Animation: View animation (GIF 52 Mb) | View animation (GIF 13 Mb)

PASADENA, Calif. – In 2007, the Arctic lost a massive amount of thick, multiyear sea ice, contributing to that year’s record-low extent of Arctic sea ice. A new NASA-led study has found that the record loss that year was due in part to the absence of “ice arches,” naturally-forming, curved ice structures that span the openings between two land points. These arches block sea ice from being pushed by winds or currents through narrow passages and out of the Arctic basin.

Beginning each fall, sea ice spreads across the surface of the Arctic Ocean until it becomes confined by surrounding continents. Only a few passages — including the Fram Strait and Nares Strait — allow sea ice to escape.

“There are a couple of ways to lose Arctic ice: when it flows out and when it melts,” said lead study researcher Ron Kwok of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “We are trying to quantify how much we’re losing by outflow versus melt.”

Kwok and colleagues found that ice arches were missing in 2007 from the Nares Strait, a relatively narrow 30- to 40-kilometer-wide (19- to 25-mile-wide) passage west of Greenland. Without the arches, ice exited freely from the Arctic. The Fram Strait, east of Greenland, is about 400 kilometers (249 miles) wide and is the passage through which most sea ice usually exits the Arctic.

Despite Nares’ narrow width, the team reports that in 2007, ice loss through Nares equaled more than 10 percent of the amount emptied on average each year through the wider Fram Strait.

“Until recently, we didn’t think the small straits were important for ice loss,” Kwok said. The findings were published this month in Geophysical Research Letters.

“One of our most important goals is developing predictive models of Arctic sea ice cover,” said Tom Wagner, cryosphere program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Such models are important not only to understanding changes in the Arctic, but also changes in global and North American climate. Figuring out how ice is lost through the Fram and Nares straits is critical to developing those models.”

To find out more about the ice motion in Nares Strait, the scientists examined a 13-year record of high-resolution radar images from the Canadian RADARSAT and European Envisat satellites. They found that 2007 was a unique year – the only one on record when arches failed to form, allowing ice to flow unobstructed through winter and spring.

The arches usually form at southern and northern points within Nares Strait when big blocks of sea ice try to flow through the strait’s restricted confines, become stuck and are compressed by other ice. This grinds the flow of sea ice to a halt.

“We don’t completely understand the conditions conducive to the formation of these arches,” Kwok said. “We do know that they are temperature-dependent because they only form in winter. So there’s concern that if climate warms, the arches could stop forming.”

To quantify the impact of ice arches on Arctic Ocean ice cover, the team tracked ice motion evident in the 13-year span of satellite radar images. They calculated the area of ice passing through an imaginary line, or “gate,” at the entrance to Nares Strait. Then they incorporated ice thickness data from NASA’s ICESat to estimate the volume lost through Nares.

They found that in 2007, Nares Strait drained the Arctic Ocean of 88,060 square kilometers (34,000 square miles) of sea ice, or a volume of 60 cubic miles. The amount was more than twice the average amount lost through Nares each year between 1997 and 2009.

The ice lost through Nares Strait was some of the thickest and oldest in the Arctic Ocean.

“If indeed these arches are less likely to form in the future, we have to account for the annual ice loss through this narrow passage. Potentially, this could lead to an even more rapid decline in the summer ice extent of the Arctic Ocean,” Kwok said.

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov .

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h/t to Dr. Leif Svalgaard

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Steve Goddard

The Arctic is remarkably quiesced this year, with the deeply negative AO.
http://iabp.apl.washington.edu/maps_daily_track-map.html
And as a result, the concentration of ice is extremely high.
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/NEWIMAGES/arctic.seaice.color.000.png

gdn

I thought this was known by late spring/early summer 2007, before the hysteria even got into full swing. Ugh. Well, better late than never.

gdn

“Until recently, we didn’t think the small straits were important for ice loss,” Kwok said.

Not to blame him as he is one who DID look, but…untested assumptions.

Mike McMillan

Strait, not straight. 🙂

Gary Hladik

“If indeed these arches are less likely to form in the future, we have to account for the annual ice loss through this narrow passage. Potentially, this could lead to an even more rapid decline in the summer ice extent of the Arctic Ocean,” Kwok said.
Sorry, can’t resist: OMG it’s worse than we thought!

kim

Paging Dr. Mark Serreze, STAT.
==================

hotrod ( Larry L )

Finally, now there is a specific mechanism identified, and another direct refutation to the AGW assertion that ice is melting at an unusual rate due to warming.
I don’t suppose this will be announced and discussed on RC?
I wonder what the impact on SST in the north Atlantic would be attributable to 30 cubic miles of ice melting as it drifts south (difference between normal ice loss and 2007 ice loss)?
Larry

rbateman

If I take a whole tray of ice cubes out of my refrigerator and place them in a bucket of water, 2 things happen:
1.) The refrigerator has to work harder to replace the ice
2.) the bucket of water gets much colder as the ice melts.
Now, what do you suppose is the effect of all that ice going south to cool off those oceanic waters?

What?
Caltech’s JPL discovered that the wind must be considered too?
In another few decades JPL may even discover that changes in Earth’s climate are influenced by the Sun’s variability!
With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA PI for Apollo

Manfred

if a few arches are that important for the arctic ice, increased ice braker traffic may play a significant role as well, which is in large part caused by the explosion of he number of activists travelling to the far north.

Mike McMillan

Some time ago, someone on WUWT put together and posted a time lapse of the whole Arctic from Oct 07 thru March 08, and the “leak” around the west side of Greenland was very apparent. I don’t have the date, but I downloaded the whole 7 Meg .avi file of AMSR-E 89Ghz images.

kent

All tht ice moved into the north Atlantic and created a pool of cooler water in 2009 that possibly gave the Brits a cool summer.

Robert

This gives us a better idea of why the wind pushed a record amount of ice out to see — given that wind is not a new phenomenon:
“To find out more about the ice motion in Nares Strait, the scientists examined a 13-year record of high-resolution radar images from the Canadian RADARSAT and European Envisat satellites. They found that 2007 was a unique year – the only one on record when arches failed to form, allowing ice to flow unobstructed through winter and spring.”
No arches = lots of ice lost to wind. Why were there no arches?
“We don’t completely understand the conditions conducive to the formation of these arches,” Kwok said. “We do know that they are temperature-dependent because they only form in winter. So there’s concern that if climate warms, the arches could stop forming.”
One more time: “We do know that they are temperature-dependent because they only form in winter.”
There may be some other reason why the arches failed to form, but at first blush, this seems to imply that global warming set the stage for the wind to do its damage.

Richard M

The very first thing I read about the 2007 low extent was that it was wind driven. However, that seemed to disappear for a long time. I wonder why ….

a jones

If indeed……
If of course it is not so or only seldom there will be nothing tor report.
Kindest Regards

Dave Wendt

This flow wouldn’t seem to have contributed much to the summer minimum. The animation seems to commence near the minimum and extend through the winter refreeze. It’s a bit surprising since, as I recall, the rebound after the big low was substantial, apparently despite this additional outflow

Robert in Calgary

I love how, on the one hand, they admit how much they don’t know…….
“Until recently, we didn’t think the small straits were important for ice loss,” Kwok said.
But of course there needs to be a “scare” quote.
“Potentially, this could lead to an even more rapid decline in the summer ice extent of the Arctic Ocean,” Kwok said.

Tom P

“If indeed these arches are less likely to form in the future, we have to account for the annual ice loss through this narrow passage. Potentially, this could lead to an even more rapid decline in the summer ice extent of the Arctic Ocean,”
Tipping point?

PaulW

Sounds like they are trying to spin it.
Hmmmm, 34000 square miles of ice drained out of one strait… that’s not a small number. Begs the question, how much more ice than usual is draining from all straits due to winds? If added back in how would that affect the extent totals? They probably know but aren’t saying.
If the decline in extent is mostly caused by winds and not melt, then it’s not a concern. Increased winds could also bring in warmer air, causing a bit more melt… also not a concern. Kind of sounds like a change in the Arctic Oscillation… (shhh, don’t tell NASA, its a secret.)

It’s the wind…and then the spin:
“We do know that they are temperature-dependent because they only form in winter. So there’s concern that if climate warms, the arches could stop forming.”
But is it warmth (so no arches) and above normal wind or just warmth and normal winds? Alas, I found no clear statement that its above normal winds that done it.

GaryPearse

Heck, right here on wuwt,we learned that the ice was flushed out by the wind in2007. We saw a beautful movie of it made with nsidc’s own data while they were waxing strongly about a melting arctic and the extinction of ice caps in a few short yrs. Did jpl credit our poster for this discovery?

Richard M

Robert (17:40:07) :
There may be some other reason why the arches failed to form, but at first blush, this seems to imply that global warming set the stage for the wind to do its damage.
Watch the goal posts move before your eyes.
Isn’t it entertaining to see how warmists will grasp at any straw. I think it’s great psychological insight especially since these arches must not have melted in the same manner for the last two years. It really is hard for some people to admit that AGW has huge flaws and massive uncertainty.

Layne Blanchard

Robert (17:40:07) :
Well then Robert, why did it do an about face the following two years? Aren’t we just sizzling hotter and hotter each year? GISS says so!

kim

Robert, the globe is cooling. Arctic Ice seems to be making a comeback. Honest. Check it out.
======================================

onlyme

This newer report does not seem to have considered whether the conclusions of the earlier report on the circulation change might have something to do with the arch formation.

pat

skeptics linked with all sorts of wild conspiracy theories:
12 Feb: Newsweek: Know Your Conspiracies
NEWSWEEK’s guide to today’s trendiest, hippest, and least likely fringe beliefs
By David A. Graham Newsweek Web Exclusive
2. Anthropogenic global warming is a hoax…
Kernel of Truth? Deniers have long taken advantage of scientists’ cautious statements, and “Climategate” breathed new life into the movement, but the science stands: warming is real, and it’s caused by human actions.
http://www.newsweek.com/id/233518?GT1=43002
and the AGW alarmist Lean at the UK Tele:
19 Feb: UK Tele: Green activists are losing their fire
Today’s environmental pressure groups tend to be pusillanimous, policy-wonking and petrified, says Geoffrey Lean
It’s true that these may not have found much to laugh about in the climate rows of the past three months, but their almost complete silence speaks volumes about their lack of courage.
Greenpeace’s executive director, John Sauven, wrote a newspaper article this week calling for “fight” and “leadership” over climate, but his organisation has shown precious little of either. Indeed, two of his top aides have separately told me that the group is “keeping its head down” to avoid Right-wing US politicians capitalising on its involvement. This illustrates the problem precisely. Green groups got obsessed with policy and politicians, and complacent about public opinion, which they took for granted. They became part of the establishment, and let the sceptics take over their former role as insurgents. And they now cannot get their act together to respond.
Yet the gutlessness goes deeper. I have been told by a senior figure at Friends of the Earth that the group should only undertake campaigns where it already has public support. During the 2000 fuel price protests environmentalists ran for cover, losing the argument for green taxes in the process. Shamed, they swore they would never be so cowardly again; but just look at them now.
It’s all about the bottom line. Raising funds has become their most important cause; the planet comes a distant second…
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthcomment/geoffrey-lean/7273163/Green-activists-are-losing-their-fire.html

latitude

Robert
“There may be some other reason why the arches failed to form, but at first blush, this seems to imply that global warming set the stage for the wind to do its damage.”
Yes Robert, and in the years when there was no wind, no one noticed.
Point being, no one knows how many years the arches formed or didn’t form.
Warming or no warming.
But it was the wind this time………..

bryan

It looked like the free flow of Ice through that strait happened again in 09. Baffin Bay and the eastern straits emptied their ice in May 09 and Ice was flowing down the strait from the arctic waters for nearly 3 months

coaldust

Compared to average ice flow this may bring net cooling:
1. Ice melts further south => waters cooler further south
2. Earth albedo higher further south (in NH spring) => more reflection of incoming sunlight
3. Less ice in the arctic => more heat transfer from ocean to air to space in NH winter, but more energy absorbed during NH summer
Seems like a possible negative feedback effect.

007

I feel like the increased CO2 caused stronger winds.
Don’t you agree??

“We don’t completely understand the conditions conducive to the formation of these arches,” Kwok said. “We do know that they are temperature-dependent because they only form in winter. So there’s concern that if climate warms, the arches could stop forming.”
Without qualifying that statement by an inclusion of comparison of conditions in the atmospheric and Arctic Sea temperature conditions in 2007 vs all other years on record inclusive of presence or absence of the arches each year the above statement is nothing but a reflection of apparent required tenor and bias in relation to AGW.
They only form in winter? DUH !!!!
They should have taken this statement:
“We don’t completely understand the conditions conducive to the formation of these arches,”
Edited it to read:
“We don’t understand.”
And left it at that.

JonesII

“There are a couple of ways to lose Arctic ice: when it flows out and when it melts,”
There is also a third way: When it melts in the models…this is the most probable way.

u.k.(us)

“The ice lost through Nares Strait was some of the thickest and oldest in the Arctic Ocean.”
===========
How thick, and how old was it?
Thick enough to sink the Titanic, or was it just thick and “rotten” ice.
I want data. Not scary stories.
Also:
“They found that in 2007, Nares Strait drained the Arctic Ocean of 88,060 square kilometers (34,000 square miles) of sea ice, or a volume of 60 cubic miles. The amount was more than twice the average amount lost through Nares each year between 1997 and 2009.”
========
What did this do to the ocean heat content (Atlantic)?
This is used in the climate models, right?
(I won’t even comment on the last paragraph, which includes the terms: “if indeed”, “less likely”, “potentially” and “even more rapid”).
Why, always the doomsday prediction at the end 🙂

The Wind Theory has been mentioned for some time but largely ignored,
Winds, Ice Motion Root Cause Of Decline In Sea Ice, Not Warmer Temperatures (University Of Washington)
Variations in the age of Arctic sea-ice and summer sea-ice extent
(Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 31, Issue 9, May 2004)
– Ignatius G. Rigor, John M. Wallace

Andrew30

O/T
But this is the American way.
” legal action would seek to challenge the findings of climate scientists”
Prove the science in a court of law!
Let us see them try to keep this out of the media!
http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2258194/virginia-alabama-crank-legal
“While a number of the suits are expected to focus on the EPA’s legal right to regulate emissions and whether or not the Clean Air Act is an appropriate mechanism for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, Virginia attorney general Kenneth T Cuccinelli II indicated the state’s legal action would seek to challenge the findings of climate scientists.”

Spector

There is also this recent article from Science Daily:
“Bering Strait Influenced Ice Age Climate Patterns Worldwide”
“… a vivid example of how a small geographic feature can have far-reaching impacts on climate, new research shows that water levels in the Bering Strait helped drive global climate patterns during ice age episodes dating back more than 100,000 years.”
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100110151325.htm

GaryPearse

Building a steel “arch” or shorter abutments out from the narrows of the strait would therefore lead to thousand year old ice if that’s what our future depends on would be a heck of a lot cheaper course of action than trillion dollar schemes being proposed by the polical engineers.

rbateman

Yes, that rotten Global Warming ice.
What else could it be?
Gone with the Wind.
13,900,000 km^2 today, right about average.
Recovered faster than previously expected.
So, much energy did Earth expend blowing the ice out to sea?

rbateman

GaryPearse (18:44:27) :
Didn’t someone have an emergency plan that called for filling in the Bering Strait?

KTWO

My first thought was the timing: NASA suddenly notices something about the Arctic Ice that they don’t blame on warming?
They seem to be quickly adjusting to their increased funding to study climate change. Before NASA understood everything, now they will find many questions that must be answered.
I suspect that outflow was related to ice thickness. (NASA says they used the ICESat figures for thickness.)
It is my understanding that thickness varies a great deal over large areas of the Arctic basin. If that was unusually thin ice exiting though Nares it might explain why it didn’t plug the channel.

Dave Wendt

Poptech (18:35:29) :
The Wind Theory has been mentioned for some time but largely ignored,
Winds, Ice Motion Root Cause Of Decline In Sea Ice, Not Warmer Temperatures (University Of Washington)
Variations in the age of Arctic sea-ice and summer sea-ice extent
(Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 31, Issue 9, May 2004)
– Ignatius G. Rigor, John M. Wallace
The R&W paper is available free here
http://iabp.apl.washington.edu/research_seaiceageextent.html
I highly recommend watching the animation that accompanies it
http://iabp.apl.washington.edu/animations/Rigor&Wallace2004_AgeOfIce1979to2007.mpg
The combination of buoy drift paths and ice age clearly shows the “collapse”,one of the few times that oft used word seems truly applicable, of the old ice [up to a decade or more old] which occurred in ’89-’90 as a result of a dramatic shift of state of the Beaufort Gyre and the TransPolar Drift and how the persistence of that new pattern drove the continuing decline in ice age through 2007

Andrew30

GaryPearse (18:44:27) :
You are presenting a simple soluton to the ‘problem’. That is not what the warminsts are looking for.
If you think this a good ‘problem’ to fix; I would recommend that you think more along the lines of using shallow pools of water to create a thin layer of ice in dry, cool conditions (like in ancient Egypt) and then have people carry small coconut thermoses (made in South America) filled with the ice from Africa to the Arctic in many, many wind powered, small bamboo rafts (made in the Philippines). For sustenance they would need organic dried lentils and soybeans (from India) and fair trade tea (from Sri Lanka).
If you could make it a bit more unwieldy, involve even more under-developed countries, have it be more labour intensive, make it take longer and require international co-ordination (from the UN); that would be even better.

Robert

“Watch the goal posts move before your eyes. ”
I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but I know of no climate scientist who has claimed that all or even most ice loss is the result of melting in situ. It melts enough to break apart, then it drifts out to sea where it melts completely. Nobody thinks the Wilkins ice shelf melted away in place.
Much like the fantasy in which Al Gore claims it will never snow again, this is a distortion of the past in order to try and construct a “win.”

sagi

Any evidence that suggests that ice breaker activity should, by the precautionary principle, be prohibited in the sensitive area north of the Nares Strait?

tokyoboy

The Arctic ice extent (area of >30% coverage) is now making a record in these six years:
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php

jryan

THat was a good point.. maybe they should outlaw ice breakers in the straits. Slicing through all that strait ice can’t be good for bridge building.

RockyRoad

I sat there looking at Mann’s temperature graph, admiring the way humanity has kept the temperature trend level for hundreds and hundreds of years, solemnly pondering the sudden and unmistakable rise at the end that shoots up like… well… like the blade of a well-honed hockey stick and then it hit me like a ton of bricks:
THE TIPPING POINT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED!
The epiphany was unmistakable! Yup, folks, I’m SURE of it. That sudden temperature rise isn’t just a preparatory blip; it isn’t a mere perturbation suggesting some impending doom; nor is it some artifact caused by errant data entry or an inverted scale: Without a doubt THE TIPPING POINT HAS COME AND GONE!
We’re all doomed, folks! And there’s no way to put the genie back in the bottle. There’s absolutely no way to undo the Tipping Point. We are had; we’re finished!
We (and I’m speaking collectively for every man, woman, and child on the entire earth) could all hold our breaths for the next hour and a half (that should be sufficient) and even that horrendous self-sacrifice wouldn’t push the tipping point back. Not one bit; nada, nyet, never! We’ll never see a smooth, moderate temperature curve again–EVER!
We could turn off every automobile, truck, ship, train, motorcycle, snow thrower, and power saw and it wouldn’t be enough to reverse it!
We could extinguish every bonfire, barbecue, charcoal kiln and subterranean coal fire and that level of control would still not take us back to where we were!
We could throttle down every gas- and coal-fired power plant (and even those CO2-free nuclear plants for good measure) along with every hydroelectric and geothermal plant and STILL not reverse the Tipping Point!
We could plant every square foot of earth’s arable surface with the most efficient CO2-consuming plants known to mankind, throw away all the asphalt roads along with all that cement and our efforts would be completely futile!
Because folks, if you look at that graph, there’s no going back. There’s no way to undo the terrible injustice we’ve foisted upon ourselves, our kids, our grandkids, our great grandkids, and all our future generations until the sun extinguishes itself and becomes a black, smoldering dwarf star, illuminating the earth like the moon.
Oh, the agony not to have recognized it when it happened! Oh, the wasted time and money researching and discussing something we simply didn’t recognize even though it was so apparent! Oh, the mental anguish of having spent so many intellectual discussions on WUWT debating something that HAS ALREADY HAPPENED!
I’ll never forgive myself.
I should have skied as many glaciers as possible before they all disappeared.
I should have donned ice skates and traversed the North Pole on the last few inches of ice before ice was simply a thing of the past.
I should have pushed together the last remaining snowflakes, now so slushy with rotten heat that making snowmen or snowballs is an impractical, impossible task, just to relive the joy of smacking some unsuspecting, passing person.
I should have sat with my kids and soaked in the few remaining sunsets before the ocean’s mass inexorably took to the skies, rendering them far too dense with fog to ever see the bold splash of colors that used to emblazon the western horizon.
Yes, I should have. I know I should have. *Sob*

Robert Wykoff

Can someone explain to me why even if all ice is gone in the north pole during summer is catastrophic? I remember watching a nature show some time back on the discovery channel that showed there were over 20 events in the last few million years where there was no polar ice at all for thousands of years at a time, despite this, the earth still spins, and trees still grow.

But it’s a rotten floe…
I’ve always said that if you could run a chain between Svalbard and Greenland you could change the climate, but that’s a bit foolish.

kim

Robert @ 19:09:51 I can guarantee that this post didn’t come off your alarmist app. And apparently that app can’t rot your brain; it’s already past the stinking stage.
Son. Ice does melt in the Arctic Basin. Ask Al Gore.
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