Filling in the sparse Arctic weather data

Radiosonde observations from RV Mirai over the ice-free Arctic Ocean. CREDIT Jun Inoue

Radiosonde observations from RV Mirai over the ice-free Arctic Ocean. CREDIT Jun Inoue


Optimized arctic observations for improving weather forecast in the northern sea route

The current reduction in Arctic sea-ice extent causes unpredictable weather phenomena in the Arctic Ocean (strong winds, high waves, and rapid sea-ice movement associated with cyclones) also over the mid-latitudes (heat waves, severe winters, etc.). With such changing background conditions, more accurate weather forecasts are needed to safely navigate along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and to understand the climatic linkage between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. However, this is difficult because of the sparse number of atmospheric observations across the Arctic Ocean. As it is highly difficult to make additional observations in Arctic regions because of limited logistical support, a cost-benefit optimized Arctic observing network is required for improving polar predictions.

In September 2013, Dr. Jun Inoue from the National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), Japan, and his international research team conducted joint Arctic atmospheric observations using radiosondes (instruments carried into the atmosphere by weather balloons, which measure various atmospheric parameters:Figure 1) on the research vessel Mirai and at meteorological stations surrounding the Arctic Ocean (Ny-Alesund, Alert, and Eureka)(Figure 2). The team launched radiosondes eight times a day from RV Mirai (operated by NIPR and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)), six times a day from Ny-Alesund (operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute), and four times a day from Alert and Eureka (operated by Environment Canada). Their high daily observing frequency improved the accuracy of atmospheric data used to estimate the state of the climate and weather forecasts because much of the observed data were incorporated into the initial conditions of the weather simulations in real time.

To investigate the impact of these special observations on the weather forecasts over the Arctic, the research team focused on a high-pressure system along the NSR on September 20, 2013 that caused strong coastal winds and rapid wind-driven sea-ice drift over the NSR. They incorporated multiple observations into the initial conditions of the weather simulations, including these special data and conducted ensemble forecasting experiments with an atmospheric general circulation model. The influence of the special observational data on the predictability of the high-pressure system was then tested using the different initial fields by excluding these special data from each station separately. It was found that the uncertainty in the modeled wind fields associated with the high-pressure system was reduced when all the radiosonde data was included. In particular, the data from Ny-Alesund and RV Mirai were very important for predicting this event, partly because of the flow-dependent characteristics in the upper atmosphere. Based on several sets of sensitivity tests, they also determined that four launches per day, once every six hours, is the most cost-effective observing frequency.

Predicted surface wind fields are usually used in sea-ice forecast models as forcing data; therefore, the growth of errors in sea-ice forecasts heavily depends on the accuracy of the predicted wind fields. The research team ran an ice-ocean-coupled model to understand the impact of the accuracy of the predicted wind fields on sea-ice forecasts. It was found that sea-ice forecasts initialized by wind fields that included the special observations adequately predicted the rapid wind-driven sea-ice advection along the NSR.

The research team concluded that additional atmospheric observations would effectively predict not only severe weather phenomena over the Arctic Ocean but also sea-ice distribution influenced by atmospheric forcing. During the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP), from mid-2017 to mid-2019, proposed by the World Weather Research Programme — Polar Prediction Project (WWRP — PPP), these types of observations and modeling activities will be accelerated within the international framework and could contribute to establishing a sustainable Arctic observing network.

55 thoughts on “Filling in the sparse Arctic weather data

  1. Not sure how good the DMI data is on Arctic Ice, but here is their latest plot that shows 2015 summer ice extent somewhere in the middle of the past 10 years (2005 to 2015), but present winter ice extent is the highest in the past 10 years. See;

    Until we have good data spanning 100 years or more, we will not know or understand the natural cycles.

  2. “It was found that the uncertainty in the modeled wind fields associated with the high-pressure system was reduced when all the radiosonde data was included.”

    Uncertainty in a model can be reduced by including measurements and data from the real world. Who would have thought?

    • But …. but …. does this mean that the science isn’t settled?

      But kudos to whoever managed to get funding for more actual measurements. I just hope that no-one finds a reason to “adjust” the data.

  3. My father was a weather technician on duty at Resolute Bay in 1951.

    THAT was/is remote! No supermarkets for 1000s of miles! He launched weather balloons routinely at -50C, shot polar bears, ate seal, lived in an igloo.

    There is no history of temperatures where people aren’t.

  4. “there is a wonderful painting in the art collection of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia which depicts the historic meeting of the HBC schooner Aklavik with the RMS Nascopie at Fort Ross, Northwest Territories. In 1937 the Nascopie sailed from the Eastern Arctic to Prince Regent Inlet and into the Bellot Strait to allow the Hudson’s Bay Company to establish Fort Ross. While there she was met by the HBC schooner Aklavik which had sailed into Bellot Strait from the Western Arctic.”

    . “Former HBC Chief Factor Jack Wood told me that interest in the use of the Northwest Passage ‘evaporated’ for commercial purposes fell out of favour and internal company politics trumped the publicizing of the event. Apparently the Beament painting itself became an embarrassment to the HBC management of the day (the reason is unclear) and it was relegated to storage behind an office door where it remained for some years”

  5. I am very surprised that “scientists” really want more real world measurements and data. The real world (Mother Nature) has been busy disproving the CAGW delusion for a couple of decades. Now they want to get more data? Will wonders never cease?

    But even with honest data from accurate measurements (if that is possible), we still have the problem of lack of any historical data to speak of. How the Hades do we know the long term average ice extent? How the Hades do we know the maximums and minimums in the past? How do we know the natural cycles and timing of those cycles?

    Are we going to see the “scientists” use whatever data is recorded to claim anthropogenic change? And change is always bad they claim.

    By the way, if you Google “anthropogenic” the top one, by google itself, says:

    adjective: anthropogenic

    (chiefly of environmental pollution and pollutants) originating in human activity.
    “anthropogenic emissions of sulfur dioxide”

    So the word “anthropogenic” has been redefined to mean “evil human activity”? Jesus, Joseph, and Mary!

      • seaice 1:
        Anthropogenic simply means product of humankind. The ‘pollution’ of the meaning to narrowly define it as negative effects on nature of human activities is an egregious activist crime. Doing this to your dictionary, which should be free of partisan garbage, is soshulist anthropogenic political propaganda activity. It is obscene. Wikipedia stands as the worst example of activist twisting of meanings and revisions of history – even biographies have been altered to discredit or marginalize those who go against the lefty grain and to enhance those whom they find acceptable. Wik is okay if you are looking for the periodic table or the melting point of gallium and the like – but stay away from it for controversial subjects because the thinking dissidents are a small minority in the mass of consumers of popular ‘knowledge bytes’.

        I’ve often thought that 97% may be close to the correct figure for the percentage of ‘designer brains’ [DBs] (h/t to Abby Hoffman) in the climate klatch. In the USSR, dissidents probably were not as many as 3%, although a larger portion of defenseless humanity had to simply keep quiet. BTW, restoring a habitat for wildlife is also anthropogenic activity, but we ‘betters’ wouldn’t want to confuse DBs by using such an odious adjective on such a sterling activity. If your brain isn’t bulletproof, you probably see what we mean.

      • Google has completely sold out to the CAGW scam. I usually skip directly to the second page when using Google Scholar these days. The 1st page typically contains the “special” papers, i.e. Marcott et al. 2005, even if they don’t best fit the search criteria.

    • Perhaps it is a sign that they are more able to correct Mother Nature’s errors where she refuses to understand it is all settled.

  6. Is ‘The Year of Polar Prediction’ really from 2017 to 2019 or is there a typo in one of those two dates?

  7. Can you provide weblinks to articles, either here or elsewhere, which discuss the linkages between reduced sea ice and ‘extreme weather’ in the ‘mid latitudes’?

    • Well in modern climate “science” we start with the result we want due to our politics and bias and then force the “data” to agree. Unadjusted measurement is against the constitution or something.

      • “Unadjusted measurement is against the constitution or something.”

        Against the Constitution? Who follows that old outdated document anyway?

    • Satellite data doesn’t go all the way to the poles either.
      They are also interested in more than just the temperature.

    • Satellite “data” for temperature is Heavily adjusted. There is more uncertainty due to adjustment in satellite data than there is in surface data.

      And yes Satellites are “calibrated” to radiosonds. They too are more heavily adjusted than the surface

  8. Excellent….. more present and future data means more opportunity to cool the past.
    Just wait for it, the new data will somehow show that we have underestimated global warming.

  9. ‘With such changing background conditions, more accurate weather forecasts are needed to safely navigate along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and to understand the climatic linkage between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes.’

    So, the Northern Sea Route cannot be safely navigated now? More accurate weather forecasts are needed to understand the climatic linkage between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes? This is nonsense.

  10. There should be no problem with good quality satellite photographic evidence capturing the areal extent of ice cover at the poles. We have had satellites taking pictures of the poles, at least as far back as the early 1970s, but one rarely gets to see these photos since they show that the ice extent back in the early 1970s was greater than today, and they show the rapid increase in ice extent towards the end of that decade which growth was forming the basis of the ice age scare.

    Climate Science presents the data as from 1979, although earlier data exists, and that appears to have been a peak. It is this presentation that is the reason why it appears that Arctic Ice has (dramatically) declined these past 30 or so years (although there appears to be some evidence that it is now staging a recovery, but for how long and to what extent this recovery will take, who knows; predicting the future is a mugs game)..

    • “predicting the future is a mugs game”

      To quote the Irish: the future is not what it used to be …

  11. I don’t get it. “Surrounding the Arctic Ocean” is Ny-Alesund, Eureka, and Alert? What happened to the rest of the existing Arctic stations, such as Barrow, Inuvik, and all those along the Russian coast?

  12. actually using real world data ! well those people cannot look forward to much of a career. Do they simply not know that ‘models’ are all you need, as they can certainly give you ‘that which you want’

  13. I like the idea of on-the-ground, up-close-and-personal measuring equipment in the hands of properly trained personnel.

  14. I hope that Timo does not mind, but he has posted a relevant observation on another thread. He Timo Kuusela January 8, 2016 at 10:46 am) states:

    While the usual mantra is:”The Arctic has warmed more than the rest of the Globe”, at least Finland has not.The Finnish Meteorological Institute’s data shows that Finland is not warmer than 80 years ago.Actually our Sodankylä-station shows slight cooling, and that station can truly be considered “arctic”.So, exactly where the Arctic has warmed?Northern Russia has not,and only couple of stations in Siberia outside local cities show any warming, and those are south-east ones.While our FMI is also infested by warmists, there still are couple of honest scientists that keep those Finnish-language net pages true.Those same pages in English are already different…,

    • I would not be surprised if all the high arctic warming is to be found in Environment Canada’s numbers.
      Hopelessly corrupt since 1990, but “Good Enough For Government”.
      The Canadian Bureaucracy seems heavily implicated in the creation, promotion and protection of the CAGW meme.
      There is something really rotten in our kleptocracy.
      Check out the CAGW at their official Environment Canada website; “Environment Canada’s Science…”

  15. Measurements?
    They want to measure?
    These are CAGW Heretics.
    Don’t they know that actual measurements in the Arctic will drastically reduce the areas where Global Warming is to be found.
    I have noticed it is always “warming like never before” in areas where there are no instruments to record this warming.

    One of the glaring ironies of Climatology is the acknowledged need for better measuring systems, nothing is ever done and the certainty of a trend, from those who once acknowledged the uncertainty of the measurements,grows with each Team IPCC ™ report.

  16. Let’s see if I understand this. Data in the Arctic is so sparse that a mere four extra sites make a material difference. (Not quantified in the excerpt at the top.) Presumably that affects hindcasting as much as forecasting, so that models tuned to fit Arctic data may have been mistuned. Can someone explain the mechanism by which reduced Arctic sea ice makes mid-latitude winters worse?

  17. “The research team concluded that additional atmospheric observations would effectively predict…”
    When I “effectively” predict the winner of the Kentucky Derby, it means I get paid no matter the outcome, right ?
    What’s not to like ?

    I know they are trying hard, but lets fess up the uncertainties, and maybe just stop making predictions.

    • Luke,
      Re: the ‘your evidence?’ comment on the assertion that NSDIC data is fudged:
      You only need to look at the MASIE data on the same site to find data that is in much better agreement with other sites (including DMI). NSIDC admits that the low resolution approach they take on their namesake graph misses some ice, and that is very obvious at this point. They routine run nearly 1M square km below MASIE and DMI on the same metric (15% sea ice). They say they only show it for historical comparison purposes, but most in the warmest community treat it as gospel. Hope this addresses your (hopefully sincere) question.

  18. From DMI “where areas with ice concentration higher than 30% are classified as ice……. The shown sea ice extent values are therefore recommended be used qualitatively in relation to ice extent values from other years shown in the figure.”
    My interpretation is that the 30% graph is more accurate and shows a large increase over 2015.
    Whereas the 15% graph shows a lesser amount of ice as compared to other years,but its not accurate for comparison to other years. But its good enough for climate science to prove a melting Arctic.

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