In certain quarters it is being claimed in slightly strange English that:
The British Navy takes part in ICEX exercises that take place every two years and last for several weeks. Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant broke through the Arctic ice about seven days ago to join two US submarines for the exercise. At the same time, US submarines Hartford and Connecticut were stuck in the Arctic ice as they were training an attack on Russia. According to the legend of the exercises, the US submarines were supposed to surface and strike conditional targets in Russia, but the thick ice prevented them from fulfilling the scenario of the exercise.
Ice Camp Skate is a temporary ice camp that was established on a sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean, known as an ice floe. Skate will serve as a temporary command center for conducting submarine operations, including under-ice navigation and torpedo exercises. The camp consists of shelters, a command center, and infrastructure to safely house and support more than 50 personnel at any one time.
The camp gets its namesake from USS Skate, the first submarine to surface through open water surrounded by ice in 1958, and the first submarine to surface through the Arctic ice at the North Pole in March 1959. Since the success of Skate’s surfacing, Arctic operations have been a crucial part of the missions conducted by nuclear submarines.
For more than 70 years, submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic regions in support of interfleet transit, training, cooperative allied engagements and routine operations.
The U.S. submarine force has completed more than 27 Arctic exercises.
According to the latest edition of the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s “Arctic Sea Ice News”
On March 17, 2018, Arctic sea ice likely reached its maximum extent for the year, at 14.48 million square kilometers (5.59 million square miles), the second lowest in the 39-year satellite record, falling just behind 2017. This year’s maximum extent is 1.16 million square kilometers (448,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average maximum of 15.64 million square kilometers (6.04 million square miles).
The four lowest seasonal maxima have all occurred during the last four years. The 2018 maximum is 60,000 square kilometers (23,200 square miles) above the record low maximum that occurred on March 7, 2017.
Here’s a close up view of recent maxima via the NSIDC’s Charctic interactive sea ice graph:
Next let’s take a look at extent data from the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research, colloquially referred to as “JAXA extent”
In this case the maximum was 13.89 million square kilometers, also on March 17th.
Here too are the extent and area graphs based on Wipneus’ processing of the University of Hamburg’s AMSR2 based concentration data:
They highlight the surge in Arctic sea ice area in the middle of March due to the sudden “cold snap”:
Looking at the third Arctic dimension, here’s the latest SMOS thickness map from the University of Bremen:
and here’s the latest CryoSat-2 thickness map:
They reveal large areas of relatively thin sea ice in the Okhotsk and Barents Seas where the ice can now be expected to melt as quickly as it formed. There is also remarkably little sea ice in the Bering Sea for the time of year:
As already mentioned in our February Arctic overview, another storm is brewing. Here is this morning’s weather forecast for Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard:
Much like last month, temperatures are above zero and rain is forecast. That’s because once again the current synoptic chart from Weather Canada shows a warm wet flow from way down south over Svalbard and on into the Central Arctic:
Next here’s the current combined wave and swell height forecast for the Svalbard area:
and here’s the associated wave period forecast:
It’s still showing 10 meter waves with a 15 second period north of Svalbard tomorrow lunchtime. Somewhat unusually for the Arctic these aren’t merely giant wind waves. Zooming in on the Fram Strait and breaking out the underlying primary swell reveals:
A long distance swell of that magnitude is going to cause some damage.
Whilst the official PIOMAS volume figures for January have yet to be released Wipneus has worked his usual magic on the gridded thickness numbers to reveal:
not to mention the calculated volume:
and the volume anomaly:
As Wipneus puts it:
Estimated from the thickness data, the latest value is from 31st of January: 17.57 [1000 km3], which is the second lowest value for that day, 2017 is lowest by a rather large margin at 16.16 [1000 km3].
Here are the “measured” thickness maps from SMOS:
Here are the end of January Arctic wide high resolution AMSR2 graphs base on University of Hamburg data:
Here is the DMI >80N temperature plot for January:
Finally, for the moment at least, here is the current Fram Strait surf forecast:
Here’s the 6 hour wave forecast for the Fram Strait from 12:00 UTC this afternoon:
Look at the scales carefully then compare the wave height and period with previous similar events. Here’s the cause of those giant waves, two powerful cyclones off Greenland pumping heat and moisture northwards from a long way south:
Christmas is coming, and Santa’s secret summer swimming pool has frozen over once again. However the same can’t be said for the Chukchi Sea! More on that in due course, but first let’s take a look at the PIOMAS volume graph at the end of November, courtesy of the wondrous Wipneus on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:
2017 is currently third lowest, behind 2012 and 2016. Next let’s take a look at Wipneus’ PIOMAS Arctic sea ice thickness map:
followed by the University of Bremen’s SMOS Arctic sea ice thickness map:
Note the large area of pale blue open ocean still visible in the Chukchi Sea towards the top left of both maps.
For another perspective on Arctic sea ice thickness here’s the latest Cryosat-2 map, which currently is based on the month up to November 24th:
Finally, for the moment at least, here’s our very own Arctic Freezing Degree Days graph based on the DMI’s >80N data:
2017 is currently occupying the wide open space between the astonishingly low numbers last year and all previous years in DMI’s record. Here’s their graph for 2017 so far:
[Edit – December 10th]
Current Arctic sea ice area and extent derived from the University of Hamburg’s high resolution AMSR2 data:
Plus the latest update on the Chukchi Sea situation:
September has arrived once again, the month in which the assorted Arctic area and extent metrics (almost) always reach their respective annual minima. Now we can start to speculate about what the assorted minima will be, and on what date.
First of all let’s take a look at “Snow White’s” favourite high resolution AMSR2 metrics derived by “Wipneus” from University of Hamburg AMSR2 concentration data:
As you can see, today’s values are both higher than yesterday’s. Hence we already have potential minima to consider! In this case:
UH AMSR2 Area – 3.65 million km² on September 1st
UH AMSR2 Extent – 4.30 million km² on September 1st
Personally I don’t think those numbers will last long, and here’s one reason why. The “surf forecast” for the far North Atlantic for midday on September 6th:
Some significant swells are currently forecast to batter the ice edge on the Atlantic side of the Arctic over the next few days.