Showing posts with label ice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ice. Show all posts

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Has maximum sea ice extent already been reached this year?

An earlier post wondered whether maximum extent for this year had already been reached, i.e. on February 9, 2016, when sea ice extent was 14.214 million km2.

As illustrated by the image below, extent since has been lower, including on the two most recent days on the image, i.e. on February 16 and 17, 2016, when extent was respectively 14.208 and 14.203 million km2.



Last year (2015), maximum sea ice extent was reached on February 25. That's close to the most recent date on the image of February 17, so with El Nino still going strong, it may well be that the maximum in 2016 will be reached early.

On the other hand, strong winds could spread out the sea ice and speed up its drift out of the Arctic Ocean, which may result in a larger extent, but which won't do much to strengthen the sea ice.

UPDATES: On February 18, 2016 (arrow), Arctic sea ice extent was 14.186 million square km, i.e. less than it was on February 9. In fact, sea ice extent hasn't been higher on any day since February 9, 2016. So, the question is, has this year's maximum extent already passed us by (i.e. on February 9)?

The image below shows the heat is having a huge impact on the sea ice, with some areas (black) showing sea surface temperature anomalies above 8°C (or above 14.4°F).


Ominously, sea surface off the North American east coast was as much as 11.8°C or 21.3°F warmer on February 19, 2016, than it was in 1981-2011 (at the location marked by the green circle in the image below).


Temperatures over the Arctic Ocean are forecast to remain extremely high for the next five days, with anomalies in a large part of the Arctic Ocean at the top end of the scale, i.e. 20°C or 36°F.


As the image below shows, Arctic sea ice area was at a record low for the time of year on February 18, 2016.



The image below shows that Arctic sea ice extent on February 20, 2016, was only 14.166
million km2 (arrow), adding to fears that this year's maximum was already reached on February 9.



Meanwhile, very high methane levels, as high as 3096 parts per billion, were recorded on February 20, 2016, as shown by the image below.


Further analysis indicates that these high levels likely originated from destabilizing methane hydrates in sediments, from a location about latitude 85°North and longitude +105° (East), on the Gakkel Ridge, just outside the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, at the location of the red marker on the map below.

Below is a comparison map, from grida.no
for large-size image, go to grida.no
Below is a map with sea surface temperature anomalies on February 20, 2016. The green circle marks the likely location of sediment destabilization and subsequent methane plume, at about latitude 85°North and longitude +105° (East), on the Gakkel Ridge, just outside the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.

zoom in and out at nullschool.net
If you like, you can discuss this further at the Arctic News group or below.


On February 18, 2016 (arrow), Arctic sea ice extent was 14.186 million square km, i.e. less than it was on February 9....
Posted by Sam Carana on Friday, February 19, 2016

Monday, 15 February 2016

Arctic sea ice remains at a record low for time of year

For the time of year, Arctic sea ice remains at a record low since satellite records started in 1979, both for area and extent. The image below shows Arctic sea ice area up to February 12, 2016, when area was 12.49061 million square km.


The image below shows Arctic sea ice extent up to February 12, 2016, when extent was 14.186 million square km.


The reason for the record low sea ice is that there is more ocean heat than there used to be. The image below shows that on February 12, 2016, the Arctic Ocean sea surface temperature was as warm as 11.3°C (52.4°F) at a location near Svalbard marked by the green circle, a 10.4°C (18.7°F) anomaly.


The reason for this is that the water off the east coast of North America is much warmer than it used to be.

The Gulf Stream is pushing heat all the way into the Arctic Ocean.

The image below shows that on February 14, 2016, sea surface temperature anomalies (compared to 1981-2011) off the east coast of North America were was as high as 10.1°C or 18.1°F (at the location marked by the green circle).

While sea surface looks cooler (compared to 1981-2011) over a large part of the North Atlantic, an increasing amount of ocean heat appears to be traveling underneath the sea surface all the way into the Arctic Ocean, as discussed at this earlier post.

This spells bad news for the sea ice in 2016, since El NiƱo is still going strong. Temperatures in January 2016 over the Arctic Ocean were 7.3°C (13.1°F) higher than in 1951-1980, according to NASA data, as illustrated by the graph on the right.

See the Controversy page for discussion
A polynomial trend added to the January land temperature anomaly on the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 shows that a 10°C (18°F) rise could eventuate by the year 2044, as illustrated by the graph on the right. Over the Arctic Ocean, the rise can be expected to be even more dramatic.

As the NASA map below illustrates, the global January 2016 land-ocean temperature anomaly from 1951-1980 was 1.13°C (or over 2°F) and the heat did hit the Arctic Ocean stronger than elsewhere.

In January 2016, it was 1.92°C (3.46°F) warmer on land than in January 1890-1910. Before 1900, temperature had already risen by ~0.3°C (0.54°F), which makes it a joint 2.22°C (4°F) rise. On the Northern Hemisphere, the rise on land was the most profound, with over 10°C (18°F) warming occurring at the highest latitudes.


Meanwhile, methane levels as high as 2539 parts per billion (ppb) were recorded on February 13, 2016, as illustrated by the image below.


The danger is that, as the Arctic Ocean keeps warming, huge amounts of methane will erupt abruptly from its seafloor.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as described at the Climate Plan.

Update: Arctic sea ice extent keeps falling. Last year (2015), maximum sea ice extent was reached on February 25. Could it be that maximum extent for this year was already reached on February 9, 2016? The image below illustrates this question. discussed further at the Arctic News group.

discuss this further at the Arctic News group



Arctic sea ice extent keeps falling. Last year (2015), maximum sea ice extent was reached on February 25. Could it be...
Posted by Sam Carana on Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday, 23 November 2015

Arctic Ocean Shows New Record Low Sea Ice

by Albert Kallio


Both the sea ice thickness and sea ice area have fallen to new record lows for this time of the year (22.11.2015), even surpassing all of the worst previous years.

From Naval Research Laboratory image - view animation
Immense thrust of fast moving sea ice is pushing through at the full width of the Fram Strait between Norway and Greenland. This amounts to huge transport of latent coldness out of the Arctic Ocean to North Atlantic, while the constantly forming new sea ice (as temperatures are below 0°C) is generating heat to keep the surface air temperatures higher across the Arctic Ocean. Thus, heat is constantly being added to the Arctic Ocean while heat is taken away from the North Atlantic Ocean.


The normal sea ice area for this time of year is 9,625,000 km2, whereas the sea ice covers currently just 8,415,890 km2,, which makes that 1,209,120 km2 sea ice is missing from the normal (22.11) sea ice area.



The combination image below shows the jet stream (November 23, 2015, left panel) and surface wind (November 24, 2015, right panel).


Jet stream is wavy and strong, showing speeds as high as 219 mph or 352 km/h (at location marked by the green circle). Right panel shows cyclonic winds between Norway and Greenland speeding up movement of sea ice into the North Atlantic.

Forecasts indicate that conditions could continue. The 5-day forecast on the right shows strong winds in the North Atlantic. Note also the cyclonic winds outside the Bering Strait.

Temperatures over the Arctic are forecast to remain much higher than they used to be, with anomalies at the far end of the scale over a large part of the Arctic Ocean showing up on the 5-day temperature anomaly forecast below.




[ further updates will follow ]

Friday, 30 October 2015

Methane Vent Hole In Arctic Sea Ice?

Methane vent hole in the ice?

In October 2015, an area appeared in the Arctic sea ice where the temperature of the ice was a few degrees Celsius higher and where ice concentration and salinity levels were substantially lower than the surrounding ice. The image below pictures the situation on October 11, 2015.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Could this have been an iceberg? If so, ice concentration should have been higher, rather than lower. More likely is that this is a vent hole with methane rising through cracks in the sea ice.

Malcolm Light comments: "The whole of the Arctic seabed is covered with methane hydrates and NASA satellites should have long ago defined where the major plumes were coming out. It is clearly a surface methane vent hole in the ocean ice analogous to the large methane vent holes that appeared all over northern Siberia this year. It means we have overheated the Arctic seafloor to the extent where the methane hydrates are now unstable and we could have further major releases at any time. We have already lit the fuse on a giant methane subsea permafrost bomb in the Arctic which can go off at any moment."

Roger Caldwell responds: "I think it's upwelling warm water. There is a ridge right below the spot. I can see warm spots through the ice on the nullschool program. The warm water comes through the Bering Strait and sinks to the mid levels. When it gets to the ridge it flows upward, making a temporary polynya."

The image below shows warm water entering the Arctic Ocean from the Pacific Ocean (through the Bering Strait) and the Atlantic Ocean, with the dark-red color of many areas in the Arctic Ocean indicating warm waters, including an area close to the North Pole marked by the red circle. So, the spot could indeed be a polynya caused by upwelling of warm water. Alternatively to the Pacific Ocean, the warm water could have originated from the Atlantic Ocean. In the Fram Strait, near Svalbard, sea surface temperatures as high as 11.9°C or 53.5°F were recorded on October 28, 2015, i.e. 9.6°C or 17.2°F warmer than 1981-2011 (at the location marked by the green circle).

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Of course, with water this warm reaching the center of the Arctic Ocean, the threat that this will cause (further) destabilization of methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean is equally ominous. The more recent image below shows warm waters in the Arctic Ocean in a different way, partly because the anomaly is calculated from the period 1961 to 1990.


The image below shows that sea surface temperatures as high as 12°C or 53.5°F were recorded near Svalbard on October 31, 2015, i.e. 9.7°C or 17.4°F warmer than 1981-2011 (at the location marked by the green circle).

[ click on image to enlarge ]
On the image below, Malcolm Light added the Gakkel Ridge, i.e. the fault line that extends on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean from the northern tip of Greenland to Siberia (red line), and the location of explosive volcanoes (lilac spot), with content from Sohn et al., 2008.

A zone of increased heat near the North Pole which may be related to large quantities of gas released from a group of extremely pyroclastic carbon dioxide-rich volcanoes located at the Gakkel Ridge 
The table below shows the height that emerging carbon dioxide plumes can be expected to reach for a given carbon dioxide volume fraction in the foam at the top of a magma chamber.

Malcolm Light adds:
"Sohn et al. (2007) outlined how the sequence of extreme pyroclastic eruptions occur along the Gakkel Ridge (85°E volcanoes) at an ultra-slow plate spreading rate (<15-20 mm/year). These volcanoes formed from the explosive eruption of gas-rich magmatic foams. Long intervals between eruptions with slow spreading caused huge gas (volatile) build up high storage pressures, deep in the crust. 

Extension of the 85°E seismic swarm occurred over 3 months but later earthquakes were caused by large implosions from the explosive discharge of pressurized magmatic foam from a deep-lying magma chamber through the fractured chamber roof which rapidly accelerated vertically, expanded and decompressed. There were many periods of widespread explosive gas discharge from 1999 over two years detected by small-magnitude sound signals from seismic networks on the ice. 

Pyroclastic rocks contain bubble wall fragments and were widely distributed over an area of more than 10 square km. Deep fragmentation was caused by the accumulation of a gas (volatile) foam within the magma chamber which then fractured, formed a pyroclastic fountain 1-2 km high in the Arctic Ocean and spread the pyroclastic material over a region whose size was proportional to the depth of the magma chamber (see above table). A volatile carbon dioxide content of 14% (Wt./Wt. - volume fraction 75%) is necessary at 4 km depth in the Arctic Ocean to fragment the erupting magma." 

As said, with water this warm reaching the center of the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the threat is that added heat from volcanic activity or pressure shocks from underwater earthquakes or landslides will trigger (further) destabilization of methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.

Below follows some more background.

Animations

Naval Research Laboratory 30-day animations are added below for temperature, concentration, salinity and thickness of the sea ice. Click on each of them to view full versions.

Temperature
Concentration

Salinity

Thickness

[ click on animations to enlarge ]

Background on tectonic plates and faults

A major fault line crosses the Arctic Ocean, forming the boundary between two tectonic plates, the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate. These plates slowly diverge, creating seismic tension along the fault line. From where the Mid-Atlantic ridge enters the Arctic Ocean, it is called the Gakkel Ridge. The fault continues as the Laptev Sea Rift, on to a transitional deformation zone in the Chersky Range in Siberia, then the Ulakhan Fault between the North American Plate and the Okhotsk Plate, and then continues as the Aleutian Trench to the end of the Queen Charlotte Fault system.



The situation in October 2013

High methane readings were recorded for a period of just over one day, October 19 - 20, 2013, as shown in the images below. Indicated in yellow are all methane readings of 1950 ppb and over.


To pointpoint more closely where methane is venting along the Laptev Sea Rift, the image below gives readings for October 20, 2013, pm, at just three altitudes (607 - 650 mb).


Satellite measurements recorded methane readings of up to 2411 ppb on October 20, 2013.

Methane venting in the Laptev Sea in 2005 and 2007

For further reference, large amounts of methane have been venting in the Laptev Sea area in previous years. Added below is an edited part of a previous post, Unfolding Climate Catastrophe.

In September 2005, extremely high concentrations of methane (over 8000 ppb, see image on the right) were measured in the atmospheric layer above the sea surface of the East Siberian Shelf, along with anomalously high concentrations of dissolved methane in the water column (up to 560 nM, or 12000% of super saturation).

The authors conclude: "Since the area of geological disjunctives (fault zones, tectonically and seismically active areas) within the Siberian Arctic shelf composes not less than 1-2% of the total area and area of open taliks (area of melt through permafrost), acting as a pathway for methane escape within the Siberian Arctic shelf reaches up to 5-10% of the total area, we consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time".

In 2007, concentrations of dissolved methane in the water column reached a level of over 5141 nM at a location in the Laptev Sea. For more background, see the previous post, Unfolding Climate Catastrophe.

Methane levels in October 2015

The image below shows high methane concentrations over the Arctic Ocean on October 11, 2015, pm, at 840 mb, i.e. relatively close to sea level.


The image below shows high levels of methane over the Arctic Ocean at higher altitude (469 mb) on October 28, 2015, pm, when methane levels were as high as 2345 ppb. 


Note that the above two images have different scales. The data are from different satellites. The video below shows images from the MetOp-2 satellite, October 31, 2015, p.m., at altitudes from 3,483 to 34,759 ft or about 1 to 11 km (241 - 892 mb).


Peak methane levels were as high as 2450 ppb on November 1, 2015.

Update: Warm Water in Arctic Ocean

On November 5, 2015, sea surface temperatures as high as 8.5°C or 47.3°F showed up in the Bering Strait, an anomaly of 6.6°C or 11.9°F, while sea surface temperatures as high as 14.4°C or 57.9°F showed up near Svalbard on November 5, 2015, a 12.2°C or 22°F anomaly. The situation is illustrated by the image below.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
These high temperatures indicate that the sea can be a lot warmer below the surface than at the surface, and it appears that very warm waters are continuing to enter the Arctic Ocean from both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. As discussed in previous posts such as this one, the danger is that ever warmer waters will (further) destabilize methane hydrates at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, resulting in abrupt methane eruptions that could dwarf the impact of existing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Climate Plan

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan.


Links

- Explosive volcanism on the ultraslow-spreading Gakkel ridge, Arctic Ocean, Sohn et al. (2007, published 2008)
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v453/n7199/full/nature07075.html

- Unfolding Methane Catastrophe
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/10/unfolding-methane-catastrophe.html

- Further Confirmation of a Probable Arctic Sea Ice Loss by Late 2015, by Malcolm P.R. Light (Sep. 1, 2012)
http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2012/09/further-confirmation-of-a-probable-arctic-sea-ice-loss-by-late-2015-loss.html

In October 2015, an area appeared in the Arctic sea ice where the temperature of the ice was a few degrees Celsius...
Posted by Sam Carana on Friday, October 30, 2015

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Arctic Sea Ice 2015 - update 11

Arctic sea ice extent has been growing rapidly recently. The image below shows extent up to October 9, 2015 (marked by red dot).


Below is a comparison of sea ice thickness as on October 6, for the years (from left to right) 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The comparison shows that decline has been strongest where sea ice used to be the thickest, i.e. over 3 meters thick.


One of the reasons why the thickest Arctic sea ice has declined so dramatically over the years is the rising ocean heat that is melting the sea ice from underneath. The image below illustrates the situation on October 5, 2015, when sea surface temperature anomalies were as high as 6.4°C, 7.4°C and 7.3°C (11.5°F 13.2°F and 13.1°F) off the North American coast, and as high as 9.4°C (16.8°F) near Svalbard.


Water temperatures are very high in the Arctic, as further illustrated by the image below showing Arctic sea surface temperature anomalies as at October 9, 2015.



Rising ocean heat is further illustrated by the graph below, showing August sea surface temperature anomalies on the Northern Hemisphere over the years.
The situation is very dangerous, due to feedbacks and their interaction. The thicker sea ice used to act as a buffer, consuming ocean heat in the melting process. Without thicker sea ice, ocean heat threatens to melt the sea ice from below right up to the surface, causing the entire sea ice to collapse. As the sea ice declines, more open water will give rise to stronger winds and waves.

Furthermore, sunlight that was previously reflected back into space will instead be absorbed by the water, causing rapid rise of the temperature of the water. In places such as the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, the water is on a average only 50 m deep, so warmer water is able to reach the seafloor more easily there. As ocean heat keeps rising, there's a growing risk that heat will reach the Arctic Ocean seafloor and destabilize methane hydrates in sediments at the Arctic Ocean seafloor.

The image below shows a non-linear trend that is contained in the temperature data that NASA has gathered over the years, as described in an earlier post. A polynomial trendline points at global temperature anomalies of over 4°C by 2060. Even worse, a polynomial trend for the Arctic shows temperature anomalies of over 4°C by 2020, 6°C by 2030 and 15°C by 2050, threatening to cause major feedbacks to kick in, including albedo changes and methane releases that will trigger runaway global warming that looks set to eventually catch up with accelerated warming in the Arctic and result in global temperature anomalies of 16°C by 2052.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan.

Comparison of sea ice thickness on October 6, for the years (from left to right) 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, shows that...

Posted by Sam Carana on Saturday, October 10, 2015