Sea-ice Development in the Arctic Remains at a Historically Low Level

30 October 2020
This year, the new ice formation is progressing much more slowly due to the marked temperature anomaly over the coastal waters of the Siberian Arctic Ocean, which was not present in the past four decades. Since 14 October, there has been less ice in the Arctic than on any comparable day in October in the last forty-two years. The reason for this significantly delayed process was a marked high-pressure system over Siberia, combined with a low-pressure system over Svalbard. Read more here...

Bert and Pipa – the new social media mascots on meereisportal.de

9 October 2020
In 2016 we began a collaboration with the degree programme in Media and Communication Studies at the FU Berlin. One example selected for the collaboration: the information and data platform meereisportal.de. Ever since, students have worked on the social media channels of meereisportal.de in connection with courses at the FU Berlin. Another idea that soon emerged: using a polar bear and penguin as representatives of the two polar regions. The two mascots’ look was iteratively refined by the students, and adapted for their future use online. Read on...

 

Arctic sea-ice extent on an extremely low course

17 September 2020
After the summer months June and July 2020 had yielded minimum values in the 42-year time series of sea-ice extent, the trend continued in September, underscoring the importance of Arctic warming as an early-warning system for global climate change. The all-time lowest mean September extent, at 3.49 million km², was reached in 2012, followed by the years 2019 and 2007. The mean value in August was 5.03 million km², making it the third-lowest extent (after 2012 and 2019) since 1979. he Pan-Arctic August Outlook median forecast value for September 2020 sea-ice extent is 4.30 million square kilometers, with quartile values of 4.1 and 4.5 million square kilometers. Read more here…

 

Sea-ice extents recalculated, starting from 2018!

12 September 2020
Once the errors in our processing routine for calculating the sea-ice extent had been identified and corrected, all time series since 1 May 2018 were recalculated, double-checked and then posted on the website again, from 11 September. Older time series are unaffected by the correction. Comparing the results of different algorithms and questioning the accuracy of their results is part of the scientific process, and of quality control. This news informs you, how satellite algorithms work, why they have to be updated from time to time and why we have to update our data in the last few days. The updated data and graphs are now online. Read more here…

 


       

Major decline in sea-ice concentration has begun to slow

14 August 2020
The rapid rate of ice loss observed in early July continued in the third week of the month, before dropping again rapidly. The mean sea-ice extent in July 2020 was 6.85 million km2 – the lowest extent for the month of July ever recorded by satellite. Higher-than-average air temperatures and the extensive formation of meltwater pools contributed to the sea-ice extent remaining at a record low for the month of July. The unusually early sea-ice retreat on the Siberian side of the Arctic meant that, in the second half of the month, the Northeast Passage was ice-free; this is the earliest time in the year that it has ever been ice-free. Read more here…

 


       

Sea-ice extent in the Arctic at a historical low

27 July 2020

In June, warmer temperatures also intensified sea-ice retreat in the Laptev Sea, a phenomenon that spread to the East Siberian Sea in early July. By mid-July the ice cover had retreated to such an extent that, for the first time, the Northeast Passage was completely open. If we take a closer look at the sea-ice extent in the sector from 30° to 180° East, i.e., the Russian Arctic, we can see a historically low level for this region and time of year. “In this sector of the Arctic we’re currently seeing 1 million km² less ice than the average for the past seven years. If you bear in mind that the summertime minimum sea-ice extent can drop below 4 million km², then a quarter of that area is already gone. But of course this alone isn’t enough to make a prediction for the September minimum,” explains Dr Gunnar Spreen from the Institute of Environmental Physics at the University of Bremen. Read more here...



 

Sea-ice prediction for the September minimum and the MOSAiC expedition

17 July 2020
Every June, the international Sea Ice Prediction Network (SIPN) begins accepting predictions for the summertime Arctic sea-ice minimum extent in September. In the months of June, July and August, predictions can be submitted on the September sea-ice extent for the Arctic as a whole, or for specific regions. The AWI has taken part for the past several years; based on numerical modelling, its forecast calls for a sea-ice extent of 4.27 ± 0.38 million km² in September 2020, similar to the actually observed extent in the years 2007 and 2019. Furthermore, this prediction system also offers the possibility to develop a special forecast for the region of the MOSAiC expedition regarding ice thickness and ice concentration. Read more here ...

 

Arctic sea-ice extent continues to show significant decline

15 July 2020
At the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and with it, of midsummer north of the Arctic Circle, the Arctic sea-ice extent remains quite low. For the majority of June and at the beginning of July, the extent was below the level for the same month in the record-breaking year 2019. Particularly in the Russian Arctic, extensive sections of the coastal region were ice-free, especially in the Kara and Laptev Seas. In late June and early July, a broad coastal polynya formed in the East Siberian Sea, which had never before happened at this time of year. Read more here…

The Arctic melting season has begun!

23 June 2020
In the Arctic, the melting season is now well underway. The sea-ice extent is currently below two standard deviations from the long-term average and below the trend in 2019. The air temperature at 925 hPa was unusually high over nearly all of the Arctic Ocean, with variations of up to 7 °C over the central Arctic Ocean and western Russia. In some parts of Siberia, the temperatures were 10 °C above the long-term average. In the Antarctic, the trend reversal seen in the past few months continues. After unusually low sea-ice extents in May 2017, 2018 and 2019, this year a more average ice concentration in comparison to the long-term average has established itself. Read more here…

Four-and-a-half months braving the Arctic ice – a leg of the expedition full of major challenges!

17 June 2020
Professor Torsten Kanzow, an oceanographer at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, departed from Tromsø, Norway, on board the Kapitan Dranitsyn, on 27 January, to assume his duties as leader for the third leg of the MOSAiC expedition. Due to the adverse ice conditions, he and his team reached the MOSAiC floe five weeks later than planned. They left the floe on 16 May and reached the sea-ice edge on Tuesday, 2 June. Now Torsten Kanzow is on board the research vessel Maria S. Merian, heading back to Bremerhaven from Svalbard. Read more here...

 

Breaking through the Arctic pack-ice belt: a difficult and, even in the present day, unpredictable undertaking

10 June 2020
The RV Polarstern is now making her way back to the MOSAiC floe. Just how long this will take depends on more than just how thick the ice is. In the following interview with meereisportal.de, Captain Thomas Wunderlich and Cargo Officer Felix Kentges talk about their experiences with icebreaking and explain why open leads in the ice, as well as the snow on the floes, are important aspects. Read more here…

Seasonal low sea-ice cover in the Arctic

25 May 2020
In the Antarctic, the trend observed in the previous month continued, and the sea-ice extent developed in keeping with the long-term average. At the end of April the sea-ice extent was 8.26 million km²: just below the average value for the years 1981 – 2010 and well within the limit of two standard deviations from the mean for the reference period. In the Arctic after following the lowest-ever sea-ice extent for the month of April in 2019, this year the extent is only 204,000 km² larger, putting it in second place on the list of monthly mean values since 1979. Read more here...

 

Alarming projections for the Arctic: before 2050, the Arctic Ocean will likely be ice-free in summer!

20 May 2020
An international team of researchers from 21 institutes and led by Prof Dirk Notz from Universität Hamburg has caused analysed the outcomes of 40 different climate models, which will also be used in the upcoming sixth Assessment Report from the IPCC. One surprising finding presented in the study: even with ambitious climate protection measures, before 2050 the Arctic sea ice could largely melt in some summers, to the extent that the Arctic could be considered ice-free. meereisportal.de talked with Dirk Notz about the outcomes of the study and asked for his opinion on future developments. Read more here…

 

Rapid sea-ice drift during MOSAiC in 2020

15 May 2020
A team of scientists at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and Norwegian Polar Institute used satellite-derived sea-ice motion information to track the MOSAiC floe. They wanted to check if MOSAiC really drifted faster than it would have in recent years. The analysis described here concerns the MOSAiC expedition in the last four months. Read more here…

Making sea ice a hot topic – meereisportal.de collaborates with the FU Berlin when it comes to Social Media

30 April 2020
Since 2013 meereisportal.de has offered carefully prepared data and information on all aspects of sea ice, and gathered first-hand scientific findings (in German), so as to provide interested users with direct access to the topic. Accordingly, conveying complex interrelations and processes in an informative and straightforward way has always been a major priority for the portal, one of the most central knowledge transfer projects for the climate initiative REKLIM and the Alfred Wegener Institute. Seaiceportal.de is now exploring the advantages of modern communication channels like Social Media. It goes without saying that today, it’s not just the quality of information that counts, but also its reach and clarity. In this regard, meereisportal.de has seized the initiative and actively sought a dialogue with budding media experts. Read more…

Arctic spring begins with moderate ice conditions

20 April 2020
On 4 March 2020, the Arctic sea-ice extent reached its winter maximum at 14.98 million km² and has been steadily declining ever since. The value is now hovering near the bot-tom limit of two standard deviations and is slightly above the values from 2019. The mean value for March was 14.51 million km² (see Figure 2), which is only ca. 200,000 km² above the value for last year. Since reaching this year’s minimum (2.68 million km² on 19 February 2020), the Antarctic sea-ice extent has recovered rapidly, and is now showing a very similar development curve to the long-term average. Read more ...

 

meereisportal.de goes backt to school

17 April 2020
From 28 to 31 January 2020, the secondary school Beisenkamp Gymnasium in Hamm (Westphalia) hosted the 3rd project days; this year’s motto was “Beisenkamp for Future”. Seaiceportal.de was part of this event with the theme sea ice. In the course of the three days, 23 children from classes 5 through 11 intensively explored the topic of sea ice in different groups. Important results of the children:  We won’t forget the three days, which were full of work and new information, and we will tell others how important it is to protect the Arctic and Antarctic. Read more ...

 

Winter 2019/2020: Low sea-ice volume in the Arctic

3 April 2020
Combining satellite observations of sea-ice area and thickness allows us to compute the total amount of sea ice in the Arctic. In recent years, changes in sea-ice volume have typically ranged from 5,000 cubic kilometres for the minimum extent in October, to 20,000 for the maximum extent in April. The sea-ice volume computed from the CryoSat-2/SMOS observations for January 2020 shows the second-lowest volume since the beginning of the time series. Read more ...

Moderate Ice Conditions in the Arctic and Antarctic

10 March 2020
February / March and September are the months of the year in which Arctic and Antarctic sea ice reaches its minimum and maximum extent, respectively. While the summer minimum was reached in the Antarctic on 19 February 2020 (at 2.68 million km²), in the Arctic the extent has been growing steadily since the end of February, and hasn’t yet reached its winter maximum. Read more…

The 2019 tundra wildfires – the atmosphere hasn’t forgotten

6 March 2020
Though the devastating wildfires that raged in Canada, Alaska and Russia in the summer of 2019 have long-since become old news, in the Arctic stratosphere their impacts can still be clearly seen. The stratosphere is the part of our atmosphere beginning at an altitude of ca. 10 km. : “It’s too soon to quantify the effects of this unusual stratospheric aerosol concentration on the sea-ice formation this winter. But this is an area of research that is being investigated – by the ATMOSPHERE team on the MOSAiC expedition, and in the form of extensive measurements and probe work done both on the MOSAiC floe and at land-based stations like AWIPEV – so that it can be more accurately reflected in future climate models. Read more…

DriftStories from the 2019/2020 MOSAiC expedition through the Central Arctic

28 February 2020
With the DriftStories, once a month we’ll introduce a member of the ICE Team and share insights into the background of their research area. Together with the weekly Sea Ice Ticker, these stories will present the sea-ice-related work being done on site in more detail, and help readers understand the role of sea-ice research within the context of the MOSAiC expedition as a whole. We hope you enjoy reading them! Read more here…

 

A Stone’s Throw Away from the North Pole

24.02.2020
Four months into the MOSAiC drift campaign, the North Pole is less than 160 kilometres away. Current predictions by international forecast centres and researchers, collected and evaluated by the Sea Ice Drift Forecast Experiment (SIDFEx), suggest that there is a chance that the drift will take the expedition even further North. However, the tight grip of the westward Transpolar Driftstream makes it unlikely that the ship will pass the North Pole in the direction of North America. There is other good news: The probability to get pushed into the open ocean before October 2020 is still not more than 10-15%. Read more here...

 

Sea-ice extent in the Arctic and Antarctic at an average level

14 February 2020
In January the ice cover in the Arctic showed a comparable development to that seen in the past several years. Since the sea-ice extent in the Arctic is naturally limited by the coastlines of adjacent landmasses, the ice can only expand in the Atlantic sector, in the Barents, Bering and Greenland Seas, in the Sea of Okhotsk, and in the Davis Strait to the west of Greenland. The air temperature over the Arctic Ocean at 925 hPa was 1 to 3 °C higher than the long-term average. Further, major expanses of Siberia were much warmer than usual for this time of year. Read more here...

 

AWI’s Antarctic fast-ice monitoring programme in Atka Bay celebrates 10-year anniversary

31 January 2020
For more than ten years now, regular measurements have been taken of the fast ice, which normally breaks up during the southern summer, before drifting out of the bay into the Weddell Sea. These routine readings in Atka Bay are taken by the overwintering team at the Neumayer III station, starting as soon as the sea ice is safe to walk on (usually June), and ending when the ice starts breaking up in January or February. The team chiefly measures the thickness of the snow, fast ice and platelet ice along a 24-km-long west-to-east transect that spans Atka Bay. Read more here...

 

Climatology of atmospheric and oceanic forcing data: Essential information for understanding sea-ice formation processes

07th February 2020

The atmosphere is an important component in the climate system and is crucial to sea-ice formation. The air temperature, humidity, pressure and wind fields determine the circulation, and with it, the inflow of warm air masses from the temperate latitudes. In addition, the ocean temperature is the most important factor in determining whether sea ice grows or melts. “These new map products at meereisportal.de are an important resource for sea-ice research, but also provide valuable information for other academic and societal actors (e.g. those in the fishing industry, shipping, etc.) with an interest (ecological or economic) in climatic developments in the polar regions,” adds Dr Renate Treffeisen. Read more…

 

After two-and-a-half years, the adopt-a-buoy project draws to a close

13 January 2020
The ‘last survivor’ from the adopt-a-buoy project was the ice mass balance buoy (2018M11), which continued transmitting until 27 November 2019, when it, too, was lost in the marginal ice zone. In the course of 1 year, 9 months and 9 days, the buoy had traversed the Weddell Sea and covered a distance of more than 8200 km. To give the children a better idea of what this distance means, in the buoy biographies the sea-ice physicist described it as “the distance from Berlin to the North Pole – and back!”. Read more here...