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Fast recovery of thick Arctic ice

Fast recovery of thick Arctic ice16-01-2011 13:00
Frank Lansner
A significant thick ice recovery is taking place now.

Fig 1 Arctic sea ice area (Winter, 31 dec) with colors indicating ice thickness. Data from PIPS2, US NAVY online for all to use:

Fig 1 shows a fascinating inferno of trends moving up and down showing many underlying patterns. Its no wonder that PIPS2 data is not promoted by IPCC or other institutions known to promote AGW, though.

Not much of a trend in total area for these winter (31 dec) data 1998-2010. However I will start out focusing on the event around 2007. These data illustrates how the ice in 2007 was squeezed together and then how the recovery of thicker ice after 2007 has occurred in an impressing speed. With data like this, the idea that the lower 2007 Arctic sea ice level was close to a "death spiral" appears wrong. What we see is an Arctic sea ice playing with its mucles, showing that it is no way near fading away. The 2007 dip appears like an oscllation that the Arctic at any time can quickly recover from.

The area of ice thicker than 2,5 meters has almost doubled from approx 1800 km2 to 3300 km2 in just 2 years 2008-2010 as reported by Steven Goddard:

Here are how the original PIPS2 maps for 31 dec appears 1998-2010:

Fig2 The trends from fig 1 are rather easily recognized. To convert into a graph as in fig 1 I have used software that reads pixel colors (around 40-50.000 pixels used per PIPS-graphic) with only 0 - 5 pixels not able to be defined per map. I then converted data into area and volume units.
As many will be aware, this is not entirely precise due to the round shape of the earth making more southern areas count slightly more than areas closest to the north pole. However, when comparing the same date of the years, the areas occupied are rather similar from year to year and thus it is fair to compare years. So in this article, its more the trends than the absolute values you should focos on.

However, when focussing on thicker ice (nearer the North pole) the "round-Earth-problem" is reduced and allows more quantitative studies.

Here are the Ice thickness for 1 april 1999 - 2010:

The 2007-8 dip impresses indeed but the recovery 2008-2010 is also spectacular - again revealed when focussing on the thicker ice.
Sea ice 1 april has almost doubled for ice thicker than 2,5 m.
- And more: This graphic has last point over 9 months old – cant wait to insert the 2011 apr 1 point. Should the trend 2008-2010 continue just one more year, to 2011 apr 1, then we have the highest level of thick ice measured in data since 1998.

Then the minimum ice extends around 1 October:

Fig4. For the ice minimum, the well known general dive in ice extend 1998-2007 is much more visible.
The huge peak around 2004 of thicker ice again demonstrates how stunningly fast thick ice can grow from year to year in the Arctic. Extend of thicker ice > 2,5 m doubles in just one year 2003 – 2004. This again demonstrates Arctic ice as very dynamic, where larger changes appear normal, not really alarming. If thick Arctic ice can double in one year, how should we be near a "death spiral" for Arctic ice?

Ice volume.

Fig 5
A rough volume calculation where done by multiplying area with ice thickness. In general, the years 2007-2010 are rather similar to 1998-2000.

Then the areas closer to the North pole, the ice volume trends from sea ice thicker than 2,5 m:

Fig 6. The volume of ice from sea ice thicker than 2,5 m has exploded several times, but most significant is the huge rise in sea ice volume from thick sea ice we are witnessing right now. Both the apr 1 and 31 dec volumes have almost doubled 2008-2010. The minimum extend thick-ice volume has risen "only" around 50% 2008-2010.

Above I have illustrated trends in sea ice from PIPS2 data with a focus on the strong rise 2008-2010. There are many opinions on what data is most reliable for ice thickness, PIPS2 or PIOMAS and it reaches beyond this article to fully analyse this. I believe, however, that PIPS2 from the US navy is a product developed over 30 years to be still more useful. If US NAVY uses these data for their submarines etc. (?) certainly the PIPS2 data has to have a certain degree of reliability. (To know more I have mailed the PIPS2 team some questions regarding how often they can verify their day-to-day data with actual measurements. )

I have seen some critics of PIPS2 say that the long term compares are questionable. Well, most of the graphics above shows hardly any ice decrease 1998 – 2010, so this critic is not surprising. Non the less I have thus just focussed on the thick ice 2008-2010 trend.

When all this is said, take a look at the supposed ice thickness dive 1998-2010 according to PIOMAS:

Fig 7 If PIOMAS is correct, then the 30 years of developing PIPS2 US NAVY product has been wasted. But is this likely?

One of the prominent names behind PIOMAS is the scientist Zhang from Washington University. Zhang has also made a stunning re-analysis showing that Antarctic sea surface air temperatures has risen significantly in recent decades. Below is a compare of Zhangs vs hadcrut:

Fig 8, Zhang vs Hadcrut around Antarctica. (Yes, Hadcrut is SST, Zhangs speaks of surfacce air, but these parameters should still show a more common trend over 25 years?) Zhang is not really confirmed by hadcrut, nor by TLT trends in Antarctic temperatures which are cooling, nor by a steady growing amount of sea ice around Antarctica – but Zhang and PIOMAS should be preferred when we talk ice volume in the Arctic?

A non-sceptic discussion of PIPS2 US NAVY vs. Zhangs PIOMAS:

Readers are welcome to mail me for info on software to get precise pixelcounts of colors - a useful tool to retrieve data.

Other Articles by Frank Lansner:
16-02-2011 03:07
Excellent post. Thanks, Frank
11-05-2011 20:51
Curious, but kind of missing the point. If you check the PIPS2 website it says;

"PIPS 2.0 forecasts conditions in all sea ice covered areas in the northern hemisphere (down to 30°N in latitude). The horizontal grid resolution of the model is 0.28 degrees and uses 15 vertical levels. PIPS 2.0 produces forecast fields of ice displacement, ice thickness, ice concentration (ice edge) and the growth/decay of ice based on both dynamic and thermodynamic effects. PIPS 2.0 is driven by atmospheric forcing from the Navy Operational Global Atmospheric System (NOGAPS) (Hogan et al., 1991)."

Its a computer model likely using a much older climate model.

It contains no real data. You cannot conclude that the arctic ice is recovering. You can only conclude that the PIPS2 model is busted, and that the broken computer model shows ice recovery.

I suspect that the navy just uses it to get an idea about worst case conditions for arctic ice should they decide to go there. Nothing more.
RE: Fast recovery of thick ice???18-09-2012 13:34
We had two major event , prior to this year, that should have convinced you that the ice loss is a single direction event (with small weather alterations). The validation that the PIOMAS calcs received from both ICEBridge and Cryosat2 this year were merely the icing on the cake as far as the use of the model was concerned.It highlights well the continued decline in the amount of ice ,year on year, in the basin since the 80's with both 07' and 2010 showing a 'step change' is speed of losses.

This summers losses where always going to occur with such thin ice and low extent (within the basin( this spring. We had seen 2011's 'average' melt season destroy any gains folk thought we had made in ice age/thickness and those losses continued throughout the winter.

The question begs' how are your increases today Frank'?

The only way to start to 'recover' is to see back to back years with a summer ice cover similar to those of the 70's allowing the halocline to re-establish across the basin and provide the environment to allow ice to grow that can survive the 'perfect storm' type summers that occurred in 07' (and do so every 10 to 20 years). Any pack unable to do so is doomed , just like Franks 'recovery of thick ice' was.

We had better prepare ourselves for the seasonal pack arriving this decade and the changes that this will bring with it to the planet as a whole.
29-04-2013 21:41
Well , melt season here again and heavy losses ongoing to the 'drift ice' that the 'crackopalypse event' shoved over Barentsz.

With even more FY ice than ever how do folk think the increases in 3rd and 4th year ice will do this summer (considering the bulk has now drifted into Beaufort which has ended ice free the past few years no matter what ice was present in spring...including the last of the paleocryistic in 2011.

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