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Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby Tanada » Sun 01 Jan 2017, 22:55:14

4. Will Arctic Sea ice continue to decline, opening up the fabled Northwest Passage once and for all?

In almost every summer since 2007, the southern route of the Northwest Passage, which connects the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has been nearly ice-free. In 2016, the luxury cruiseliner Crystal Serenity became the largest passenger vessel to ever travel through the route, which was considered nearly impassable just over a century ago.

As Mongabay staff writer John Cannon reported earlier this month, higher-than-normal water and air temperatures coupled with shifts in wind patterns led to record-low sea ice extents in both the Arctic and the Antarctic in November 2016. “It looks like a triple whammy – a warm ocean, a warm atmosphere, and a wind pattern all working against the ice in the Arctic,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Dropping temperatures in the months leading up to winter usually lead to increases in Arctic Sea ice, a process that typically starts in September and peaks in March. But at one point in mid-November, the extent of Arctic sea ice had actually shrunk by about 50,000 square kilometers (19,300 square miles). In some places, air temperatures were 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the November averages recorded between 1981 and 2010. As a result, Arctic Sea ice extent was just 9.08 million square kilometers (3.51 million square miles), 18 percent lower than the November average. That made November the seventh month of 2016 with record-low levels of Arctic Sea ice.

We won’t really begin to know what 2017 will bring for the Arctic until late March, when the melt season returns. But it doesn’t look good: For the second year in a row, scientists forecasted ice-melting December temperatures for some parts of the Arctic.


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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby dohboi » Sun 01 Jan 2017, 23:17:33

vt wrote:
Well there are sixty to ninety days more winter in the arctic to thicken and strengthen that ice. Alert Canada is at -30C today where the oldest ice spends the winter and Tiksi Russia is at -38C on the other side so it is not all slush by any means.


That may seem to make sense to you, but it's not what people who actually have gone up and looked at the ice are finding. What they are finding is 'rotten ice' that can easily be sailed through and that easily breaks when hit by waves.

Maybe you missed this video posted in last year's thread, but it's well worth a listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww0M_N43K10
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby careinke » Sun 01 Jan 2017, 23:45:26

Well time to make a prediction for the low this year. My predication is a low of zero this year. Hopefully it will wake us up.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby kiwichick » Mon 02 Jan 2017, 01:58:06

@ careinke......bit doomerish surely.....how about a September low of 1.8 - 2.2 million sq kms

very bad but not a complete wipe out
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby dohboi » Mon 02 Jan 2017, 17:21:54

Yeah, we're not likely to reach absolute zero, if nothing else because of calving from GIS and CAA glaciers.

But I think we could get down near 1 million. The thing is, as pointed out in the video above, that we are no longer really measuring the same stuff that we used to be measuring, so this is kind of false comparison.

If you have a broad bowl of water and put some ice cubes in it, they will only take up so much of the surface area. If you now take the same ice cubes and put them in the blender till they are the consistency of slushies, when you put the slush back in the bowl the slush will completely cover the surface of the water.

That is the kind of thing we are measuring now, and it actually doesn't make much sense to compare it to the measurement of area or extent of mostly solid ice ('ice cubes' in the comparison above) that we used to be measuring, imvho.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby jupiters_release » Mon 02 Jan 2017, 18:43:23

Is albedo between ice cubes and slushies significantly different though?
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby onlooker » Mon 02 Jan 2017, 19:27:41

I am not the expert, but I would think this type of ice slush is not only more vulnerable to melting but also to forced movement or transport from currents or wind
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby jupiters_release » Mon 02 Jan 2017, 23:48:50

onlooker wrote:I am not the expert, but I would think this type of ice slush is not only more vulnerable to melting but also to forced movement or transport from currents or wind


I'm not inquiring the stability and longevity of new slush vs old ice, but their present real time albedo difference and whether it's significant.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby kiwichick » Tue 03 Jan 2017, 00:36:36

@ jupiters release.....the albedo may not be significantly different at the start of the melt season.....but if the weak , thin ice starts breaking up then more energy will be absorbed as it breaks up .....even if the solid bits are still reflecting most of the incoming energy
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby Tanada » Tue 03 Jan 2017, 02:56:48

jupiters_release wrote:
onlooker wrote:I am not the expert, but I would think this type of ice slush is not only more vulnerable to melting but also to forced movement or transport from currents or wind


I'm not inquiring the stability and longevity of new slush vs old ice, but their present real time albedo difference and whether it's significant.


Thin ice has a significantly lower albedo than thick ice. Thick ice is white and highly reflective but below a certain optical limit it starts turning grey and the thinner it gets the darker it gets. Really thin ice say 10 cm/4 inches thick is practically black because it lets almost all of the ice through into the underlying water.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby kiwichick » Tue 03 Jan 2017, 04:35:38

@ t .....do you mean thin ice lets most of the light though to the water below?
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Tue 03 Jan 2017, 08:48:42

There is no albedo effect in the winter when the ice is forming as it is 24 hour night there. Got to wait for sun up for it to matter.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby Tanada » Tue 03 Jan 2017, 09:54:51

kiwichick wrote:@ t .....do you mean thin ice lets most of the light though to the water below?


Correct, unless there is a thick layer of fresh white snow atop the ice it is translucent and passes the light through into the water column. Anywhere on the world ocean at least outside the current Arctic you will find a 'thermohaline' layer. Sunlight that penetrates the surface is absorbed and expressed as heat, so the top 50 meters or so of tropical water is very warm. Below the boundary layer the water abruptly cools to around 15 C and the deeper you go the colder it gets very gradually down to around 10 C. Then if you encounter the cold bottom current it will be much colder, perhaps as low as 3 C. The phototropic zone, the range where sunlight can extend down into the water does not absorb just the visible and infra red heat of the sunlight, it absorbs the entire spectrum. The 90 percent of sunlight absorbed by deep water like that is all turned into solar heating of the body of water, but the majority takes place in that first 50 meters even at the equator.

Lately in the Arctic Ocean wind and other weather effects have reduced the bright white snow cover in spring so that the sunlight has a much easier time entering the water below the thin ice layer.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby Cid_Yama » Wed 04 Jan 2017, 09:33:35

With thicker ice, snow cover remained dry and white. Before the Great Melting, there was little snow. because of lack of precipitation.

Nowdays, the weight of the snow submerges the thin ice, allowing the snow to become saturated and gray.

There is more snow as the atmosphere in no longer as dry in the winter.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby dohboi » Wed 04 Jan 2017, 11:37:44

Again, good discussion here. Albedo was the one thing that I was thinking might not be so much affected by the phenomenon I discussed, but I see that was just me being my optimistic self (at least during the summer when it is relevant).
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby Subjectivist » Thu 05 Jan 2017, 11:13:12

dohboi wrote:Again, good discussion here. Albedo was the one thing that I was thinking might not be so much affected by the phenomenon I discussed, but I see that was just me being my optimistic self (at least during the summer when it is relevant).


The other factor difference between solid ice cover and slushy ice cover is waves. A perfectly calm body of water is very close to an ideal reflector because it is a smooth surface. As soon as you add just a small breeze you get ripples and waves, and as a wave goes through its cycle from trough to crest it cycles through the whole albedo range. When the sunlight is shaded or parallel to the surface the albedo is very high, but as the shape of the wave continues the angle changes up to a maximum where the wave surface is as close to 90 degrees as it gets. When the angle is steep much more sunlight penetrates the surface and gets refracted down into the water where it is absorbed.

Thin ice or slush already moves up and down in small waves, so even if it were pure white it would have a lower effective albedo. As the waves get bigger with open water the albedo falls further, but the changes happen well before that.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Thu 05 Jan 2017, 11:27:44

Subjectivist wrote:
dohboi wrote:Again, good discussion here. Albedo was the one thing that I was thinking might not be so much affected by the phenomenon I discussed, but I see that was just me being my optimistic self (at least during the summer when it is relevant).


The other factor difference between solid ice cover and slushy ice cover is waves. A perfectly calm body of water is very close to an ideal reflector because it is a smooth surface. As soon as you add just a small breeze you get ripples and waves, and as a wave goes through its cycle from trough to crest it cycles through the whole albedo range. When the sunlight is shaded or parallel to the surface the albedo is very high, but as the shape of the wave continues the angle changes up to a maximum where the wave surface is as close to 90 degrees as it gets. When the angle is steep much more sunlight penetrates the surface and gets refracted down into the water where it is absorbed.

Thin ice or slush already moves up and down in small waves, so even if it were pure white it would have a lower effective albedo. As the waves get bigger with open water the albedo falls further, but the changes happen well before that.

On the Canadian side at least there isn't much thin grey and grey white ice left as it has firmed up to the next stage. Also considering temps on the Russian side (-42C at Tiksi Russia) I doubt if there is much slushy ice on that side either.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby dohboi » Thu 05 Jan 2017, 17:15:55

Sub--Thanks. Nice point, and one I tend to overlook. Another great example of the high quality of posts this site inspires at its best! :)

vt--If it froze so quickly that a lot of salt was frozen into it, it doesn't matter how solid it looks. It will melt very quickly when melt season gets going.

As we know here in MN, where it is right now hovering around 0 F and will be near -10 by morning, when it gets too cold, salt no longer melts ice, especially with zero sun.

I assume that you have witnessed the same there in vt.

Also, as pointed up above, with all the extra water vapor in the Arctic region, there will be a lot more snow fall, over all, on the ice, which will help insulate it from freeze from above and keep it from getting thicker or stronger.
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby kiwichick » Thu 05 Jan 2017, 20:32:14

+1 sub....good point re albedo of waves ....and the inherent instability of slush
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Re: Arctic Sea Ice 2017 Pt. 1

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Fri 06 Jan 2017, 06:49:02

dohboi wrote:Sub--Thanks. Nice point, and one I tend to overlook. Another great example of the high quality of posts this site inspires at its best! :)

vt--If it froze so quickly that a lot of salt was frozen into it, it doesn't matter how solid it looks. It will melt very quickly when melt season gets going.

As we know here in MN, where it is right now hovering around 0 F and will be near -10 by morning, when it gets too cold, salt no longer melts ice, especially with zero sun.

I assume that you have witnessed the same there in vt.

Also, as pointed up above, with all the extra water vapor in the Arctic region, there will be a lot more snow fall, over all, on the ice, which will help insulate it from freeze from above and keep it from getting thicker or stronger.

The sea water had as much salt in it as it always has and it will work its way out of the ice at the same rate it always does. You really can't complain about it being too warm and then complain about things freezing too quickly on the same topic can you?
As to the snow cover at current temperatures (-20C above 80 deg N Lat. ) the snow will be quite dry and subject to being wind blown into drifts at pressure ridges leaving a lot of ice swept clean.
I think the real metrics of concern is the change (if any) in the temperate of ocean currents flowing into the basin and the accumulated freezing degree days for the season which are down by about one third so far this season.
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