Sea ice growth after the summer minimum begins in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

From Polar Bear Science

The Arctic sea ice minimum was declared to have been reached on 16 September this year (4.72 mkm2), breaking no records.

Ice extent can only go up from this point forward but at this time of year, it happens slowly and isn’t noticeable in the Arctic Basin as much as it is in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. As I wrote about last year, new ice development in the fall next to shore creates upwelling conditions that attract fish and seals, and therefore provides feeding opportunities for polar bears.

The same process likely happens when new ice forms next to old ice. These few weeks of developing sea ice, wherever they occur, are the last chance polar bears have to replace weight lost over the summer before the cold and darkness of winter reduces hunting opportunities to virtually nil.

Sea ice in Canada

The beginnings of new ice growth in the Western Canadian Arctic shows as light and dark purple on this ‘stage of development’ chart (below) from the Canadian Ice Service for the week of 27 September 2021:

Below is the same chart for Eastern Canada:

Expansion of Arctic Basin pack ice

We need detailed daily ice charts to see the pack ice expanding at this time of year and one of the places this is possible is in the Barents Sea, courtesy the Norwegian Ice Service:

In particular, the ice around the Svalbard Archipelago north of Norway has been increasing over the last couple days as shown in this NIS Sea Ice Index graph:

This is what the ice extent looked like on the 24 September chart, around its low point:

But on the 29th, you can see Arctic Basin pack ice re-advancing towards the islands from the north and a bit of coastal ice forming:

These conditions will change rapidly over the next few months, of course, but it’s interesting to see this essential Arctic transition in the early stages. Polar bears depend on it.

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John Tillman
September 30, 2021 6:04 pm

Uptrend since 2012 intact.

Natural ~30 year cycle ditto.

During WWII the Northern Sea Route along Siberia was open as now, but presently the NW Passage through the Canadian arctic remains closed.

Global winter is coming.

Reply to  John Tillman
October 1, 2021 5:35 am

“Global winter is coming”……?

Abolition Man
Reply to  Anti-griff
October 1, 2021 6:21 am

Judging by recent events, the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead are already loose in Westeros! Now I’m really glad for my arrowhead collection!

Reply to  Abolition Man
October 1, 2021 12:54 pm

Take up arrowhead and spearhead knapping. Lots of people are doing it. Material is rock/stone. You’ll have a new skill to apply, should things go sour.

Reply to  Sara
October 2, 2021 8:45 pm

Collected arrowheads are too dull. Especially if someone recently knapped it and then made it ‘safe’.
Of course, a person who knaps can touch up the arrowheads back to perfect sharpness.

General rock or stone knap poorly.

The basis in knapping sharp objects utilizes the conchoidal fracture feature in quartz and most quartz varieties, e.g., flint, jasper, agate, and chalcedony.

Amorphous glass like material, e.g., obsidian and opal are highly prized candidates for arrowheads.
Included in that amorphous category is a very abundant modern material, common glass.

Tools for knapping would be useful.

Antler and bone are ideal tools for knapping obsidian into sharp things. Tough to get good antler or bone if one has no sharp arrowheads or spear points.
A classic which came first chicken-egg scenario.

Arrowheads require arrow shafts, preferably straight. Also needed is a supply of tendon for tying feathers and arrowheads on arrow shafts. Plus for making the bow string.

Tom Halla
September 30, 2021 6:20 pm

The records on ice cover that are commonly available do not go back far enough to tell if there is a cycle on multidecadal periods. There is good evidence for cycles in both the Atlantic and Pacific, so those should influence the Arctic.
Warm or colder currents might have rather much more effect on Arctic ice o cover than global warming.

Robert of Texas
September 30, 2021 6:57 pm

If the polar bears are happy (and not trying to eat me), then I am happy. The seals not so much. I do wonder how long it will be before we have to cull some herds to keep them healthy as their populations keep growing.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Robert of Texas
October 1, 2021 1:00 am

I read a while back now, that forestry managers have to occasionally have to fell what appears to be a relatively strong, healthy tree, as it draws far more nutrients from the soil than the not so strong trees. The same has to be done with heard animals, etc.

Reply to  Alan the Brit
October 1, 2021 8:06 am

Interesting concept. What they talk about here in the PNW is sustainable logging. In that practice you cut out the sick and weak trees so the healthy ones can grow bigger. The other reason is so diseased trees don’t spread their problems since we can’t make them wear masks.

Reply to  Darrin
October 1, 2021 11:09 am

since we can’t make them wear masks.’
Ummm – not even by Executive Order??


Reply to  Darrin
October 1, 2021 12:55 pm

Making them wear masks will anger the Ents and their Treeherds.

September 30, 2021 7:07 pm

Strange … I can’t see replies in chromium-browser that I saw in firefox. So, this is a reply to a couple of those.

The question of arctic cycles could be sort of indicated by successful transits of the Northwest Passage. There was Amunsden around 1900, the St. Roch around 1940 and the Manhattan around 1969. IIRC, there was a tourist boat more recently. Of course a successful transit requires that someone must be trying to do so. In that light, it’s not going to be a particularly good proxy. 😉

When we’re asking about whether the Northwest Passage is open, we have to be clear about what we mean by ‘open’. In spite of the hyped up global warming, the Northwest Passage isn’t a practical shipping route. It seems to me that folks have given up on that ever being the case.

John Tillman
Reply to  commieBob
September 30, 2021 7:10 pm

True. “Open” with icebreakers isn’t really open.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  John Tillman
October 1, 2021 7:40 am

There are always nuclear submarines for shipping.

Reply to  Carlo, Monte
October 1, 2021 4:48 pm

“nuclear submarines for shipping.”
I believe it was a joke, but maybe it’s possible.
Normally subs don’t increase their air pressure to the water pressure, but
with cargo, why not?
The basic reason why not, is one has low cost for shipping. You have cheap and fast air freight, and ocean freight which take the long way and be cheap.
It seems the only way is modify existing ocean freighters.
Of course don’t have any nuclear freighters
Do have large nuclear submarines.
How about making large nuclear submarine, The Typhoon class.
“With a submerged displacement of 48,000 tonnes, ” and run it with high
air pressure and so doesn’t as much a metal hull. Make new ones using less
metal. But that by itself, with not much cargo space.
To add more cargo space, build cargo containers which it can push or pull.
And Russia is a main character which gains the most, seems like as much of national security issue than having the Typhoon class for launch nuclear weapons- but could do both.

September 30, 2021 7:21 pm

Damn! And I had hopes of becoming the first bestest, most successful post-CAGW-Arctic beach-front real-estate mogul in known history. 😎

Reply to  Philip
September 30, 2021 8:12 pm

Don’t give up, just change your tactics.

I did a web search for arctic tourism and got many hits. Apparently it’s a thing.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  commieBob
October 1, 2021 1:51 am

There are cruise ships that go to Antarctica.

Reply to  Philip
October 1, 2021 6:04 am

just try selling to Griff

Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 1, 2021 1:57 am

This would be a good time for some ardent Greens to attempt a passage in a Clorox-bottle sailboat. They can round up some of Greta’s disciples and set off on an educational cruise to prove to the world that the Arctic is warming dangerously and all the poly bears are going to die of heat exhaustion…what could possibly go wrong?

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 1, 2021 5:26 am

In my early career, I used to go to the arctic for a few months every year. Communications were by short wave. That meant that the arctic was like a giant party line where everybody could hear what everybody else was saying. Plus, our base camp was rather large and was a gathering place for personnel from all over the Canadian Arctic. The result was that everyone knew what was going on.

Every year there were adventurers trying to get to the geographic North Pole. (The magnetic north pole is nowhere near that and is relatively accessible, so it doesn’t count.) If you were lucky and you were listening to the right frequency at the right time, you could hear them arranging to be rescued.

We’ve already had folks trying to sail to the North Pole so they could demonstrate that global warming is melting the ice at an unprecedented rate. As far as I can tell they’ve all failed so far. example

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 1, 2021 12:57 pm

What could possible go wrong? Well, the poly bears might be hungry and mistake those people for seals….

Reply to  Sara
October 2, 2021 7:22 pm

I was going to suggest essentially the same thing.

October 1, 2021 4:39 am

That damned ice! Didn’t it get the memo!

October 1, 2021 5:59 am

The Danish site, Polar Portal, shows the graphs of ice extent and volume at a glance….that’s all the detail I need.

R Taylor
October 1, 2021 6:18 am

I expect there is political pressure on the gatherers and custodians of polar data to show it the right way, but I don’t recall seeing any revisions, etc., that would suggest scientific compromise.

The reference period of 1981-2010, however, remains prominent. Is there a reason that 1991-2020 wouldn’t be the standard now?

October 1, 2021 11:57 am

I hope I don’t sound like Griff, but I don’t see great news here.
The sea ice minimum didn’t break any records which is a good thing. However, according to the Svalbard ice extent graph, sea ice extent in September dipped more than one standard deviation below the 1991-2020 average. And it looks like it’s currently 1 1/2 standard deviations below that average.
If the sea ice extent gets and stays one standard deviation above the 30 year mean, I’ll be very happy.

Reply to  iflyjetzzz
October 1, 2021 1:08 pm

Let us not forget 2 important points about what you just typed. 1. Svalbard is a region of the Arctic and is not representative of the entire Arctic. 2. The graphs all start at 1979 at the end of period that is indisputably a very cold period vs. the decades pre and post. Its the classic problem of defining a trend by starting at a high or low point in the number series.

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