Dust in the wind: Melt ponds in the Arctic hasten overall melting

I’ve often wondered if carbon soot plays a role in this. See our recent WUWT story about how black carbon’s role has been underestimated, and note that Arctic melting is listed as one of the effects. See also the tag I’ve added to the story at the bottom about what melt ponds start out as: Cryoconite holes, which form from “…particles of dust, soot or even small rocks deposited on glaciers or ice caps…”.

From the Alfred Wegener Institute (here) where they have trouble spelling the Arctic:

Melt ponds cause the Artic [sic] sea ice to melt more rapidly

Bremerhaven, 15 January 2013. The Arctic sea ice has not only declined over the past decade but has also become distinctly thinner and younger. Researchers are now observing mainly thin, first-year ice floes which are extensively covered with melt ponds in the summer months where once metre-thick, multi-year ice used to float. Sea ice physicists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have now measured the light transmission through the Arctic sea ice for the first time on a large scale, enabling them to quantify consequences of this change. They come to the conclusion that in places where melt water collects on the ice, far more sunlight and therefore energy is able to penetrate the ice than is the case for white ice without ponds. The consequence is that the ice is absorbing more solar heat, is melting faster, and more light is available for the ecosystems in and below the ice. The researchers have now published these new findings in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters

Melt ponds count among the favourite motifs for ice and landscape photographers in the Arctic. They are captured glistening in a seductive Caribbean sea blue or dark as a stormy sea on the ice floe. “Their colour depends entirely on how thick the remaining ice below the melt pond is and the extent to which the dark ocean beneath can be seen through this ice. Melt ponds on thicker ice tend to be turquoise and those on thin ice dark blue to black”, explains Dr. Marcel Nicolaus, sea ice physicist and melt pond expert at the Alfred Wegener Institute.

In recent years he and his team have observed a strikingly large number of melt ponds during summer expeditions to the central Arctic. Virtually half of the one-year ice was covered with melt ponds. Scientists attribute this observation to climate change. “The ice cover of the Arctic Ocean has been undergoing fundamental change for some years. Thick, multi-year ice is virtually nowhere to be found any more. Instead, more than 50 per cent of the ice cover now consists of thin one-year ice on which the melt water is particularly widespread. The decisive aspect here is the smoother surface of this young ice, permitting the melt water to spread over large areas and form a network of many individual melt ponds”, explains Marcel Nicolaus. By contrast, the older ice has a rougher surface which has been formed over the years by the constant motion of the floe and innumerable collisions. Far fewer and smaller ponds formed on this uneven surface which were, however, considerably deeper than the flat ponds on the younger ice.

The growing number of “windows to the ocean”, as melt ponds are also referred to, gave rise to a fundamental research question for Marcel Nicolaus: to what extent do the melt ponds and the thinning ice alter the amount of light beneath the sea ice? After all, the light in the sea – as on the land – constitutes the main energy source for photosynthesis. Without sunlight neither algae nor plants grow. Marcel Nicolaus: “We knew that an ice floe with a thick and fresh layer of snow reflects between 85 and 90 per cent of sunlight and permits only little light through to the ocean. In contrast, we could assume that in summer, when the snow on the ice has melted and the sea ice is covered with melt ponds, considerably more light penetrates through the ice.”

To find out the extent to which Arctic sea ice permits the penetration of the sun’s rays and how large the influence of the melt ponds is on this permeability, the AWI sea ice physicists equipped a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV “Alfred”) with radiation sensors and cameras. In the summer of 2011 during an Arctic expedition of the research ice breaker POLARSTERN, they sent this robot to several stations directly under the ice. During its underwater deployments, the device recorded how much solar energy penetrated the ice at a total of 6000 individual points all with different ice properties!

A unique data set was obtained in this way, the results of which are of great interest. Marcel Nicolaus explains: “The young thin ice with the many melt ponds does not just permit three times as much light to pass through than older ice. It also absorbs 50 per cent more solar radiation. This conversely means that this thin ice covered by melt ponds reflects considerably fewer sun rays than the thick ice. Its reflection rate is just 37 per cent. The young ice also absorbs more solar energy, which causes more melt. The ice melts from inside out to a certain extent,” says Marcel Nicolaus.

What might happen in the future considering these new findings? Marcel Nicolaus: “We assume that in future climate change will permit more sunlight to reach the Arctic Ocean – and particularly also that part of the ocean which is still covered by sea ice in summer. The reason: the greater the share of one-year ice in the sea ice cover, the more melt ponds will form and the larger they will be. This will also lead to a decreasing surface albedo (reflectivity)  and transmission into the ice and ocean will increase. The sea ice will become more porous, more sunlight will penetrate the ice floes, and more heat will be absorbed by the ice. This is a development which will further accelerate the melting of the entire sea ice area.” However, at the same time the organisms in and beneath the ice will have more light available to them in future. Whether and how they will cope with the new brightness is currently being investigated in cooperation with biologists.

Notes for Editors:

The original publication is entitled:

M. Nicolaus, C. Katlein, J. Maslanik, S. Hendricks: Changes in Arctic sea ice result in increasing light transmittance and absorption, Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 39, Issue 24, December 2012, Article first published online: 29 DEC 2012, DOI: 10.1029/2012GL053738 (Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012GL053738/abstract)

HD-capable film material is available on request. Please find printable images below and more images under this link: http://bit.ly/105eHDH

Further background information on the melt pond research project of the AWI sea ice physics working group is available at: http://www.awi.de/en/research/research_divisions/climate_science/sea_ice_physics/sea_ice_in_the_climate_system/sea_ice_properties/melt_ponds/


From Gavin Lear, at LearLab:

(12th February 2012) The Ecology of Antarctic Cryoconite Holes

Cryoconite holes form as particles of dust, soot or even small rocks deposited on glaciers or ice caps absorb solar radiation, melting the snow or ice beneath. Over time small ponds are created in the ice. As the cryoconite holes become deeper, a permanent layer of ice may form over the liquid water, remaining in place for many decades. Consequently, these communities, which may contain abundant microbial life have become cut off from the outside world. How does the lack of immigration into these communities alter the abundance and diversity of organisms within these isolated waterbodies? We’re using a combination of DNA-fingerprinting methodologies and next-generation DNA sequencing to investigate the ecology of these unique, and poorly studied waterbodies.

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January 18, 2013 7:57 pm

C’mon. No soot or dust needed. Arctic Ocean warming per Tisdale. AMO Gulf Stream sloshing around both sides of Greenland. Check out the 12000m animation. Nothing but hot anomaies in the upper troposphere probably stratosphere up there.

January 18, 2013 8:09 pm

Particulate matter in the atmosphere is a reasonable thing to look at. I am OK with controlling the particulate matter content of all human caused emissions. What I am not OK with is trying to control and naturally occurring non-polluting gas that helps plants to grow. The actual environment is of concern to me, not the political version of the environment.

January 18, 2013 8:57 pm

It will be interesting to see how a reduction of solar UV influences things. UV light penetrates deepest into ice and snow and carries considerable energy. But if a reduction of solar UV causes a reduction in ozone production, there might not be a net reduction of UV on the ground. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in a weak solar cycle.

Climate Ace
January 18, 2013 9:09 pm

This looks like a useful contribution to our knowledge of Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheet dynamics. The Lear add-on indicates that we cannot be overly complacent about the short airborne life of black carbon because Its effects in some ice contexts may clearly last for a long time.

john robertson
January 18, 2013 9:10 pm

Oh good, actual measurements of the light under the ice, seems the arctic biosphere is going to get a boost, more food.
This “carbon soot” meme, what other kinds of soot are in play?
It is just a nit pick, it like climate change, water wet? But given the looseness of terms in climatology, it looks like another stupid CAGW talking point.
I wonder what the ice surface was like in the other periods, of our short history, when mariners remarked on the vanishing arctic ice.

Allen B. Eltor
January 18, 2013 9:17 pm

Good they’ve got a little data from a rover with an allegation of six thousand different ice conditions. Wow that’s a lot of ice conditions. For having set the rover down in ‘several’ spots.
Now, they can conceptualize more clearly, how the submarines were able to pop up through the ice when it was just a few feet thick at the north pole in the sixties, and how ships sailed so far north in the early 1900s. The photos of the puddles on the ice look astonishingly like those taken by the Scorpion or whatever submarine that was in the ’50s or ’60s.
I think there were several of those subs able to surface without any danger of damaging the submarine; wasn’t the ice about a meter thick?
Here’s the immediate Googles in Images for ‘submarine at north pole’
It’s pretty much nothing at all for arctic ice to get way thinner than people tend to believe it gets. There are times when it crunches together from wind and makes really jumbled blocks of large ice chunks but I think there’s a lot of time when it’s not really all that thick at all.
An article here at WUWT : the SKATE at pole around ’58 : http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/26/ice-at-the-north-pole-in-1958-not-so-thick/

Allen B. Eltor
January 18, 2013 9:32 pm

The WUWT article’s really got a pretty good description of the pole conditions around the Arctic.
The ice spreads out and splits open, then re-freezes.
Dark objects floating on the water like bits of algae, get frozen into the ice. Anything but perfectly pure water makes a dark spot in the ice.
From that article,
…”the Skate found open water both in the summer and following winter. We surfaced near the North Pole in the winter through thin ice less than 2 feet thick.”
The Nautilus accompanied Skate to the pole and was it’s sister ship. The article’s good, well worth looking over.

January 18, 2013 9:37 pm

With one year old ice covering most of Arctic sea ice one cannot imagine that soot deposited would be more than a year old, thus not major accumulations.

Jim Owen
January 18, 2013 9:39 pm

Most of this is just basic physics that’s been obvious to some of us for at least 10 years. But it’s good to see it getting some attention.

January 18, 2013 9:44 pm

Yeah, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation is due to turn negative in 10 years or so;
Maybe they should start spreading coal dust on the Arctic ice now to see what effect it has. Since they were advocating it in the 1970’s and doubtless the same stupid idea will come around in 2040 or so.

January 18, 2013 9:51 pm

I don’t believe that there has been any anomalous melting of the arctic at all with or without soot etc. Knowing the “adjustments” that the AGW proponents constantly perform including CT, there is no doubt that the “borders” of each arctic region have been adjusted over time to give the desired result… but of course there is a limit to what they can do, and now extent is “lower”, but not changing (as with global temps).

Crispin in Waterloo
January 18, 2013 9:57 pm

I am not clear on why everyone seems to think it is dustier/dirtier now than in previous centuries. Very,very large grass and forest fires burned each year all over the globe. The idea that snow and ice are ‘extra dirty’ seems to me, misplaced.

January 18, 2013 9:58 pm

OT but surely this is the biggest story yet
1. NASA admits sun is major driver of Climate
2. NASA admits we are on the verge of a possible Maunder type Minimum, basically drastic cooling.
wonder if I will ever get a HT from this site

January 18, 2013 10:11 pm

I posted this to a different thread, but it is more relevant to this one about arctic ice:
Um, the assertion that a smaller polar ice cap is evidence of ‘warming’ is weak. It ignores that there is a “polar see-saw”. On a very long term basis, the relative warmth of the Arctic and Antarctic poles ‘swaps’. ( IMHO due to a long lunar cycle on tides as the moon moves above / below the midline of Earth in our orbit – so pulls water more north or more south.)
As this cycle is on the order of the length of data we have for both poles, we can’t know if the present melt is just like prior melts – offset by a larger accumulation of cold and snow at the other pole. At a minimum, the sum of the two must be taken to get the real trend minus that see-saw effect. (Though even there, due to one being land and the other sea, it may not be a linear offset).

We compare our record with ice-core analyses from Greenland, based on methane synchronization(4), and find clearly asynchronous temperature changes during the deglaciation. We also find distinct differences in Antarctic records, pointing to differences in the climate evolution of the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic sectors of Antarctica. In the Atlantic sector, we find that the rate of warming slowed between 16,000 and 14,500 years ago, parallel with the deceleration of the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and with a slight cooling over Greenland. In addition, our chronology supports the hypothesis that the cooling of the Antarctic Cold Reversal is synchronous with the Bolling-Allerod warming in the northern hemisphere 14,700 years ago(5).

So along with the evidence that CO2 and temperatures were moving all on their own 16,000 years ago, we also have that when one pole warms, the other tends to cool. All naturally.
So unless you have correct and complete polar data from both poles the “Global” average of what you do have doesn’t mean “jack”… and we don’t have correct and complete data from both poles for anywhere near long enough to say anything about trends.
Oh, and the ‘pace’ can be different in the two hemispheres. Same time, but different rate. That, too, would cause a ‘false trend’ in averaged thermometer data:

A clue comes from Antarctic temperature histories that show a roughly opposite pattern: when Europe warms abruptly, the south begins a gradual cooling2.
This trading of hot and cold between the hemispheres has been called the bipolar see-saw3, and it further implicates the Atlantic conveyor circulation because that circulation is known to orchestrate the redistribution of vast amounts of heat between the hemispheres.

Also, with a lag, CO2 rises…

The interplay of the bipolar see-saw and CO2 can provide a coherent explanation for these puzzles8,9. In this view, the abrupt onset of Antarctic warming 18,000 years ago can be attributed to the bipolar see-saw, due to a switch-off of the Atlantic circulation in response to the crossing of some threshold by the increasing injection of meltwater from the northern ice sheets. Hard on the heels of this warming, about 300 years later10, CO2 levels in the atmosphere started to rise as the deep ocean warmed and released CO2 owing to decreased stratification11 or decreased Antarctic sea ice12. This increase is in accord with observations of a simultaneous rise in the abundances of the associated krypton and xenon markers in the atmosphere13.

So, IMHO, you need to allow for the bipolar see-saw in any discussion of CO2 levels and warming of the Arctic.
As we have just come out of a long warming from the bottom of the LIA, it looks to me like we have all the makers of a natural cycle.

January 18, 2013 10:20 pm

The problem I have with the black carbon notion is that they are still trying to find something that accounts for the warming of the climate that happened for about 30 years in the 20th century. The problem is that there hasn’t been any historically unusual warming. Yes, there has been warming but there has often been the same amount of warming at the same rate in the past. They keep looking for “solutions” but have yet to show that there is a problem. We have no evidence that the current state of the Arctic ice cap is unusual, either. We simply haven’t been looking at it long enough to know.
How much “black carbon” is put into the air annual from coal seam fires around the world? I do know that they are responsible for a huge amount of CO2. Putting out the world’s coal seam fires would reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions estimated as equal to the removal of ALL automotive traffic from the US.

Goode 'nuff
January 18, 2013 10:36 pm

Cut me a check for travel and expenses and I’ll skinny dip in some of those ponds and get samples that you can have analysis done on, Anthony. We could even have some side bets on the composition. I’m too, too hot to handle, perfect for the job.

Rhys Jaggar
January 18, 2013 10:59 pm

The really interesting question here is whether this is a once in a geological time event or whether it’s actually something which happens in a cyclical manner. That might be every 500 years, it might be every 2000 years, I don’t know.
The implications, though are significant: if this is a cyclical event, then clearly the climate system has means to return to the former state without us humans getting stupendously worried about it.
If it truly is an event that has NEVER happened before, (I frankly doubt that, but data will answer that better than my gut), then perhaps we ought to give thought to other things.
First test will be to see what happens when the AMO goes negative – will the arctic ice in the Norwegian/Russian sector recover or not?

January 18, 2013 11:17 pm

So I imagine that the ice melt in the warm 30s and 40s was due to soot, and that soot and dust causes ice to grow at the south pole.

January 18, 2013 11:47 pm

@Rhys Jaggar:
Cyclic and natural. See the links above in the prior post about lunar et al and this one:
that details some of the fossil trees, coal seams, and other stuff, on many time scales, that show the Arctic has melted (some during the Holocene).
As soon as the Arctic FAILS to melt we enter the next glacial. That’s how the cycle works. We only get an interglacial when there is enough sun north of 65 to melt the Arctic ice cap. We are now below that level of sun, so as soon as the ice cap stays whole all summer, we enter a non-recoverable plunge into the next glacial.
The folks bleating about the lack of “multi year ice” are like the dog chasing a car. They WILL try to sink their teeth into that tire – and then really really regret it if they do…
The gulf stream looks to have a 1500 year (average) occurrence of a slowdown / halt that causes dramatic cold and wet in Europe and drought in the middle east. At that time the heat backs up in The Gulf of Mexico and Florida gets a bit warmer, the desert southwest a bit wetter, and the “midwest” had hot drought. (Rather like the present status, only more so…) When that happens, we can start building lots of Arctic ice. (As during the Little Ice Age).
Given that right now we have only barely got Arctic melt and we are at the absolute top of a lunar tidal driven hot turn, we are only barely staying out of the ice cycle. Yet every decade the sun up north becomes less. So next cycle, we won’t melt this much. That’s likely the unrecoverable entry to the glacial. (Or, another way to see it, the L.I.A. was almost the plunge into the glacial, but we barely pulled out of it. Next one, not so much…)
The 1/2 period Bond Event also shows cold cycles, so you could add 700 to 900 years to the start of the L.I.A. and that’s about when we “have issues”. As that was about 1250 – 1300, I get about 2000 to 2200. So this cycle, or the next 180 year out Grand Minimum. Either one.
Driven largely by orbital resonance driven synchronized lunar tidal shifts and solar changes.

John F. Hultquist
January 18, 2013 11:55 pm

If you have ever walked on the snout (or toe) of a melting glacier you have seen the darkened, almost asphalt-looking, surface. The melting can be experienced first hand, or better yet, if you are wearing rubber boots. This involves common physics.
Large area fires would be a source of soot. Also, many are in the Northern Hemisphere. For example here is a partial list of Canadian fires:
They missed this one:
An official report here:
Wind direction is a consideration. The Sept. 1950 fires filled the sky and made afternoon appear as night in western Pennsylvania. Although I don’t remember any soot on the ground, there must have been. There hasn’t been a glacier there since.

David Cage
January 19, 2013 12:30 am

The spell of cold weather has enabled me to confirm something I believe pictures of the ice melt has shown for some time. The pattern of the ice melt in most of the pictures shows that the ice has melted from heat provided from below the ice not from heat from above. What reminded me was when I was a child seeing a barge man borrow a compressor to pump air under the ice to release his barge. It produced precisely this sort of combination of cracking and melt patterning which even heat does not.
The patterns match a hot air gun output below finding weak spots to get a flow and melt round the released warmer gases rather than a patio heater above.
It seems to me that the so called scientists are all trying to find explanations to fit their theories rather than explanations to fit the facts and to do all the measurements and investigations needed to do real science once more.

David Cage
January 19, 2013 12:42 am

Even at minus two degrees a black disk more than ten cm below the surface ceases to have any melt effect. This is a home level experiment at the moment so I regard this theory as clear cut bovine excrement.
At the sort of temperatures in the Arctic there a cm or two would easily bury it without trace.

January 19, 2013 1:23 am

I think we all should be ready for the climate changing, it’s a part of the natural selection.

January 19, 2013 1:48 am

Those scientist are not rely the bright ones I think. If I was them I shut up and went home for a very long sabbatical.
They want to claim that human do something whit the earth so its warming. But as you look at the story you find hardly any point where human are to blame.
From science point of view there is no way that water or heat melt the ice. So there must be something different, so now its black carbon. But nobody seems to think about how it gets there in the first place. Black carbon are particles whits don’t flight that far so the source of the black carbon must be reasonable nearby Volcanoes can produce black carbon and small rocks witch could land there and do the trick. But even then there is no way that all that is a big source to melt all the ice.
And they say it there selfs the only thing that cane do so is the sun. And the graphic shows this well. When in march the sun comes up the ice starts to melt and in September when the sun comes down the ice grows again.
The scientist want to proof that humans are tho blame for warming thats not there. But howe stupid must you be to be leaf that?
ps sorry if the English is a bit off

Greg Goodman
January 19, 2013 2:26 am

Their second photo here seems to give the lie to the whole paper:
Now this is just visible light but it’s clear that the melt pool is reflecting considerably MORE of the low level incident light than the surrounding ice. Since the sun is always low in the sky here (when it is visible at all) this is not just early morning , it’s like this for all of the 6 month long “day”.
At low angles of incidence all wavelengths will experience much higher surface reflection. There seems to be a trivial and naive assumption that because snow/ice is white it is reflecting more light than “dark” water. What ice does is scatter light. Water reflects it like a mirror so unless you are in the right place you will not see it and water appear “dark”. As the photo shows when you are in the right place you find the water is brighter than the ice.
Marcel Nicolaus explains: “The young thin ice with the many melt ponds does not just permit three times as much light to pass through than older ice. It also absorbs 50 per cent more solar radiation. This conversely means that this thin ice covered by melt ponds reflects considerably fewer sun rays than the thick ice. Its reflection rate is just 37 per cent. The young ice also absorbs more solar energy, which causes more melt.
It is totally unclear how they reach the conclusion of “absorbs 50 per cent more” . They did not measure absorption and I see no mention of them measuring reflected light. All they measured was transmission. From that it is not possible to draw conclusions about absorption and reflection. They are giving figures like 62% and 37% which implies they have measured it with an accuracy of the order of 1% . However, I see noting presented here that shows they took ANY measurements of reflected radiation. [b]This appears to be total speculation.[/b]
Neither do they evaluate upward radiation. That which absorbs also emits. Water emits more IR than ice. What about evaporation? They talk of energy budget but clearly they have not made the slightest attempt to establish one. It is absolute speculation and assumption.
Now if we look at rate of change of ice extent/area in the Arctic, we see a different story:
The dramatic melting of 1997-2007 had ended and the prior pattern of oscillating between losing/gaining ice on a circa 5y scale seems to be re-establishing itself.
Now if the increased exposed area of sea water and water in the melt pools is absorbing more solar radiation this would constitute a positive feedback that would be accelerating the melting. It is abundantly and unquestionably clear that this is not happening.
We are told that the Arctic is warming faster than more temperate latitudes (which aren’t warming at all) , so it can’t colder air that has stopped the “runaway” melting.
It seems the inescapable conclusion is that open water provides a NEGATIVE FEEDBACK that has stabilised the Arctic to the new, warmer temperatures by an increased exposed sea area (and melt pools).
Now the study is valid and interesting from the biological point of view of how much light gets through and how this may affect sub ice lifeforms.
The rest is usual unfounded climate alarmist spin. OK, they’ve earned their grant money for next year.

January 19, 2013 3:40 am

So the german Alfred-Wegener-Institute finally took a step back from computer-model-induced alarmism and is doing real empirical science in loco again, instead?
How refreshing…
Professor Mojib Latif at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel, Germany, who is a climate alarmist par Excellence and is THE go-to-guy for german politicians regarding “Climate Change”, must be spinning in his comfy office chair, actually:

January 19, 2013 4:12 am

The natural salinity characteristics of first year sea ice versus multi year ice should not be ignored when considering the relative abundance of melt pools.

January 19, 2013 4:33 am

RE: Goode ’nuff says:
January 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm
We’ll just send you and ten thousand others up there with drills. Drill holes in the ice at the bottom of the melt-water pools, the water drains down, and the problem is solved. Not only do you get to save the world, but the unemployment rate is lowered.
We’ll start with ten thousand employees from the EPA. They want to protect the environment, don’t they?

Gail Combs
January 19, 2013 4:34 am

E.M.Smith says:
January 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm
I posted this to a different thread, but it is more relevant to this one about arctic ice….
Here is NOAA’s total global snow accumulation for the Holocene and the temperature too: graph Overall the snow accumulation IS INCREASING and the temperature DECREASING. The warmists alway forget to present the long view

January 19, 2013 4:42 am

But doesn’t the melting water flush the deposits away?

Doug Huffman
January 19, 2013 5:02 am

I remember what may be a related phenomena in sun-cups, that form in any disturbance to the smooth surface of snow. A footprint or a feather on the smooth surface melted a cup.
Crossing Sierra Nevada glaciers in the summer was strenuous exercise for the insubstantial rims between sun-cups collapsing under a hiker’s weight. Isolated footprints seemed to start a field of sun-cups.

Berényi Péter
January 19, 2013 5:04 am

“Cryoconite holes form as particles of dust […] deposited on glaciers or ice caps absorb solar radiation, melting the snow or ice beneath.”
Yeah, that’s why there’s several hundred times more Aeolian (air-borne) dust during ice ages than in interglacials. To make sure enough cryoconite holes are formed to cover entire continents with a mile thick layer. Sure as hell.
see Temperature and atmospheric dust – EPICA ice-core
/sarc cubed
Clueless clowns

Gail Combs
January 19, 2013 5:18 am

E.M.Smith says:
January 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm
….As soon as the Arctic FAILS to melt we enter the next glacial. That’s how the cycle works. We only get an interglacial when there is enough sun north of 65 to melt the Arctic ice cap…..
Length of Arctic Melt Season for last three years is shorter than normal for the last three decades. graph
This years growth of ice in Hudson Bay is faster than last four years. graph
The Northern Hemisphere Autumn Snowfall is on the rise too, compared to the lower levels prior to 1995. graph
Even the EPA’s chart of the global Sea Surface Temperature (SST) shows the rise in temperature stalled around 1998 graph
However the Sea Surface Temperature record is as munged up as the rest of the temperature records. Judith Curry has an excellent guest post On the adjustments to the HadSST3 data set Please note that the original data shows a 10-11 year variation that has been ‘adjusted out’ Since the Arctic melt is primarily due to ocean not air temperature and the sun has gone into a funk according to NASA graph as Eliza pointed out @ January 18, 2013 at 9:58 pm, I really wish the scientists would forget the politics and actually STUDY the darn climate. It is COLD that kills not warmth.

HadSST3 contains a series of adjustments. With the exception of the war-time glitch, they are not obvious from study of the record. Their existence is based on speculation and hypothesis. Calculation of the biases involves inverting a significant portion of written record’s meta-data for the period of the principal adjustment and ignoring detailed studies on the proportion and timing of changes in data sampling methods as well a speculation as to the magnitude of the various effects.
The principal effect of these adjustments is to selectively remove the majority of the long term variation from the earlier 2/3 of the data record and to disrupt circa 10-11y patterns clearly visible in the data. These changes are fundamentally altering the character of the original data….
A number of different analyses suggest that a simple correction to the war-time period (as was used before the creation of the Hadley Centre) provides a more coherent and credible result.
Comparison to studies of non SST data suggest that much of the variation in ICOADS is quite possibly due to real climate signals, not instrument bias. These variations require proper investigation, not a priori removal from the climate record.

Gail Combs
January 19, 2013 5:25 am

Speaking of Arctic Ice and Dust. Here is another dust/ice study. (Pay-walled)

Sun/dust correlations and volcanic interference
We examine the relationship between the GISP2 dust profile, a proxy for the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric dust load, and the Wolf sunspot number, a proxy for solar activity. The two records are positively correlated, but the phase of the relationship is disturbed by the effects of explosive volcanism. Similar correlation failures have already been noted for many other climatic indicators. Our work suggests that a large fraction of the correlation failures may be attributed to explosive volcanic activity.

Bruce Cobb
January 19, 2013 6:12 am

I see they have the usual positive feedback loop or Trenberth’s “Arctic sea ice death spiral” nonsense. Too bad they have to mix pseudoscience in with actual science.

Caz in BOS
January 19, 2013 6:55 am

Surely an analysis of correlation between seasonality (insolation), short-term weather and the rate (acceleration) of melting would reveal whether black carbon absorption of visible light is indeed a major culprit.
If so, then the rate of melting would peak in late June. I know that the extent of ice reaches a minimum in late September, but what about the rate of melting? When does it peak? Meanwhile, if the peak melting rate occurs later, correlated with the arrival of solstice-warmed gulf-stream water, then the black carbon contribution is lost in the noise.
Also, if black carbon absorption of visible rather than natural fluctuations of UV light was the culprit, then there ought to be daily changes in the melting rate in accordance with cloud cover. I do not know these data, but it seems a reasonable experiment.

Doug Huffman
January 19, 2013 7:40 am

I’m not certain what is meant by “rate (acceleration)[sic]”. A rate is in general a ratio. An acceleration is a change in that ratio, itself a ratio mathematically equivalent the next higher power of the denominator.

Billy Liar
January 19, 2013 8:01 am

I wonder how much of the ‘fragile’ Arctic environment was pounded to ice chips by the voyage of the Polarstern. This happens every year: more and more icebreakers smash up the ice in the Arctic all the way to the pole doing ‘research’ and they come home wondering what causes the change in the Arctic.
It’ll be OK. Stop ‘researching’ it for a while or at least measure your impact.

January 19, 2013 9:09 am

Doug Huffman says:
January 19, 2013 at 5:02 am
I remember what may be a related phenomena in sun-cups, that form in any disturbance to the smooth surface of snow. A footprint or a feather on the smooth surface melted a cup.
Crossing Sierra Nevada glaciers in the summer was strenuous exercise for the insubstantial rims between sun-cups collapsing under a hiker’s weight. Isolated footprints seemed to start a field of sun-cups.
Indeed. Mountaineers have more visceral names usually with an …ing ending for these holes. They are obviously formed around pebbles, even insects. They have discovered the way ice melts.
Fed scientists descend in helicopters straight from their offices and pronounce new names for the obvious. Let them spend a weeklong approach on skis and their powers of observation will improve.

Doug Huffman
January 19, 2013 9:49 am

Only faintly apropos, I walked the John Muir Trail south from the first of July and through the thaw, in perhaps the first party that year not equipped for winter mountaineering. We were kicking steps in rotten snow up a long forgotten pass when a flight of jets mistook our shaken fists for waves. They waggled their wings, and we listened to and felt the snow groaning for long minutes after their roar had disappeared.

January 19, 2013 10:36 am

Many scientists have an overblown idea of how much solar energy arrives in the Arctic. At it’s peak solar energy is at 17% due to the low angle and 17% of that due to having to travel through so much atmosphere. That renders solar energy at 3% of that at high noon elsewhere and ignores outright reflection.
There is no way the this meager input can do what they say. Instead, warm water pumped in from the south, as by the NAO, and warm air moving in from the south, during Spring and Summer, is much more effective at causing the annual melting. Water, in particular, is very effective as the warmer water would stay near the top of the water column and stay in contact with the underside of the ice. Spongy ice as it melts more likely is produced by melting from below.
Also, solar energy absorbed by open water would be very quickly dispelled by evaporative cooling. And it is important to realize that the low angle also results in significant reflection of solar energy back into space.

January 19, 2013 11:11 am

In the early ’70’s I stumbled across an MIT publication on climate modification that discussed, among other things, a Soviet proposal to sow soot on the polar ice to change the albedo and increase the rate of melting to make Siberia more hospitable – – Miami on the Arctic Sea maybe.

January 19, 2013 2:50 pm

Why is arctic research centres located in places like Bremerhaven and Colorado? Is it possible to get to know the ice properly by studying it from satellites and from an expedition now and then? Just asking.
German icebreaker Polarstern by the way, didn´t make it to the north pole this September 2012 They had an accident onboard and had to turn back for medical care. Chinese icebreaker Xuelong (Snow Dragon) from reasons unknown didn´t make it either.
Swedish Oden made it to the north pole for the 7:th time.
Interesting travelblog from two meteorologists with nice pictures here:
In swedish, but perhaps google can translate (gets weird sometimes).
In the blog they say turquoise ice is very thick multi-year ice which should be carefully avoided.

January 19, 2013 3:23 pm

Why are arctic research centres….

Philip Bradley
January 19, 2013 5:21 pm

Interesting, but doesn’t explain why the older Arctic sea ice is, the faster it is melting.
2012: Between mid-March and the third week of August, the total amount of multiyear ice within the Arctic Ocean declined by 33%, and the oldest ice, ice older than five years, declined by 51%.
Hint: Embedded black carbon and increased solar insolation from decreased clouds.

Ulric Lyons
January 19, 2013 7:17 pm

higley7 says:
January 19, 2013 at 10:36 am
“There is no way the this meager input can do what they say. Instead, warm water pumped in from the south, as by the NAO, and warm air moving in from the south, during Spring and Summer, is much more effective at causing the annual melting.”
UAH North Pole lower troposphere since from Dec 1978:
http://snag.gy/RwQte.jpg (point 251 is ~Jan 2000)
from: http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt
The NAO has become more negative since the late 1990’s:
and the summers with the greatest sea ice loss and have a stronger negative NAO, 1958 included, which had much melt ponds:
Negative NAO is really not a global warming signal.

Goode 'nuff
January 19, 2013 7:47 pm

Re: Caleb @ 4:33 am
Don’t know what brought that on, maybe because I was talking to Climate Ace. Apparently not any some hardly know what an Arkansas snipe hunt is all about. That’d be when you invite some annoying know it all out into the wilderness or onto some uninhabited island to catch snipe and then runnoft and leave them there, lost, all by their lonesome.
He sure didn’t get it.
About the soot on the ice and melting, volcanic activity increased in the region since 1995, especially Russia. So I suspect stratospheric dust loading and unloading has been responsible for climate disruption, call me old school. When the dust settles out of the stratosphere there is warming in the lower atmosphere and on the ice.
That’s why it’s nice to have samples and have analysis of them. 🙂

January 19, 2013 11:50 pm

@Gail Combs:
Oh you are just a bundle of good news and joy… /sarcoff>;
Seriously, to anyone with a brain that works the data are pretty darned clear. Look at the 10,000 year scale, we are marching inevitably toward the next glacial, we are well past the “tipping point” on insolation, and it’s just a matter of the next big cold ‘dip’. (That will arrive no mater what we do as it is driven by things who’s scale makes what we do entirely a big fat zero.)
There ARE ‘short term’ excursions (unfortunately, both hot and cold) where short term is about 60 years, and medium term of about 200 years. We’ve had a nice warm one on BOTH cycles for a while now, and it’s time for both of them to turn down at the same time ( i.e. the look to have come into sync). Using a 30 year average on that kind of fundamental data structure is beyond stupid and verging into either insanity or malice (depending on motivation – which can not be known).
The only “good” news out of any of this is that the Fat Lady is starting to sing. Even if it will take the better part of a decade to be heard.
Oh Well. At least I live in a naturally warm place 😉 Oh, and when the gulf stream has a slow down, which it regularly does, and Europe goes into the meat locker (which it will do) Florida and the US Desert Southwest improve. So might want to pick out that Florida condo oar “cactus ranch” now…

David vun Kannon
January 20, 2013 2:18 pm

@Gail Combs – Can you explain how your chart of the length of the Arctic melt season was created? Because it doesn’t look much like NASA’s
Over the shared period, NASA’s lowest years are ’87 and ’96, yours are ’85 and ’99. NASA’s chart is denominated in days, yours is what? Fraction of year?
Thank you.

Gail Combs
January 20, 2013 3:00 pm

David vun Kannon says:
January 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm
@Gail Combs – Can you explain how your chart of the length of the Arctic melt season was created? ….
Look at the legend at the bottom of http://i45.tinypic.com/27yr1wy.png
It says: ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/north/daily/data/
That is where the data is. Accessed from http://nsidc.org/data/docs/noaa/g02135_seaice_index/index.html
I got it from Greg Goodman @ Judith Curry comment

There seems to be a lot of hype and little scientific examination of the facts (ie typical of most things climate related).
I’m sure you are sincere in what you say an like most people you have been fed on annual arctic ice minimum jamboree.
It is interesting to look at ALL the available data rather than just one day per year, that is quite dependant on weather.
Here I have used a 13 day gaussian filter to remove the short term weather variations. This leaves a very smooth almost sinusoidal annual variation.
Then if we find the winter max and summer minimum each year we can look at the how the length of the melting season changes:

He continues from there.

January 21, 2013 1:01 am

I wonder what their conclusions would we were we entering rather than leaving behind a “little ice age”. This kind of change is what I expect when an ice age of any magnitude ends.

January 21, 2013 1:05 pm

@Gail Combs – Thanks for the explanation. So Greg Goodman smoothed the NASA data with a 13 day long filter, then made the graph. A 13 day filter on data that is only changing 6.4 days per decade according to NASA. Sorry, deliberately removing variation is not how you study variation.

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