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Update: The developing Arctic cyclone is now a little bit stronger than forecast.

An intense storm is developing on the Siberian side of the Arctic ocean (in the center of the map). NOAA's GFS model predicts this storm to deepen then continue, in various "incarnations", for 384 hours. Moreover the area of high pressure north of Alaska is predicted to stay strong, creating a powerful wind field from Siberia to Canada across the pole. This wind field will rapidly increase the amount of open water on the Siberian side of the Arctic ocean.

Arctic sea ice cover has been apparently making a strong comeback this summer as cool stormy weather in June spread the ice out, increasing the albedo over the pole. Because ice is much more reflective than open water, even thin ice can keep heat from building up in the Arctic ocean waters. Clouds can both reflect light and trap heat. The high albedo of the spread out of sea ice was probably the key factor in this summer's recovery, to date. Warm settled weather with steady winds in the first 2 weeks of July melted the ice at a record pace, but then a storm on the Canadian side of the Arctic ocean spread out the thick ice built up on the shores of the Canadian archipelago, halting the melting. Both the area and extent of sea ice have made a huge comeback compared to this date last year.

Arctic sea ice area has made an astonishing recovery in the early summer of 2013 compared to 2012.

However, there is one thing holding back a sustained recovery. The ice is spread very thin. Last summer's record melt left very little thick multi-year ice. Last winter's thin first year ice has been spread, like a layer of slush, across much of the Arctic ocean And now a strong storm is brewing that the GFS model predicts will stir the slushy waters for the next two weeks. Moreover, there is a large area of much warmer than normal water on the Atlantic side of the Arctic ocean. That warm salty water will be driven into the Arctic by the southerly winds blowing up along the coast of Norway.

The European ECMWF model predicts a deep low near the pole late today.
The U.S. Navy's Hycom model predicts that sea ice will be blown rapidly towards Canada from the central Arctic ocean basin. Waves and ocean mixing will melt a large volume of ice from below.

All the major weather models are in general agreement about the persistence of storminess near the pole for the next ten days. The European model, the GFS, the Canadian GEM and the Navy Gem show exceptional concordance on the persistence of the polar cyclone.

The Canadian GEM model predicts an intense low near the north pole 7 days out. Persistent warm winds will drive ice through the channels in the Canadian archipelago, destroying some of the thickest ice in the Arctic.

Perhaps the most important effect of this storm could be the increased intrusion of warm and salty Atlantic ocean water into the Arctic ocean. The warmer saltier water may be increasing Arctic ocean convection which may be the factor which climate models have failed to account for when predicting sea ice persistence. Climate models failed to forecast the rapid decline of sea ice over the past decade. Increased intrusion of warm summer water from the Atlantic and the Bering strait is one of the most likely causes of the failed climate model forecasts.

An extraordinary heat wave over northwestern Siberia and the Barents sea has produced a large mass of very warm water that may be blown into the central Arctic by the persistent storm.

Profound changes in the oceanic circulation may be beginning in the Arctic. PDF of full Arctic oceanography article.

The temperature of the deep water of the Eurasian Basin has increased in the last 10 yr rather more than expected from geothermal heating. That geothermal heating does influence the deep water column was obvious from 2007 Polarstern observations made close to a hydrothermal vent in the Gakkel Ridge, where the temperature minimum usually found above the 600–800 m thick homogenous bottom layer was absent.
However, heat entrained from the Atlantic water into descending, saline boundary plumes may also contribute to the warming of the deeper layers.
Changes in the deep Arctic ocean circulation will affect the global heat balance and the global climate.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 09:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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