Much concern arises among Arctic sea ice bloggers as the sea ice extent has dropped lower than it was in November of 2012, and air temperatures in the Arctic hover around 20°C above normal. This video explains the role of cyclones in the refreeze pauses.

Edit: The embed code stopped working. Try this link instead.

Every time refreeze pauses this season, cyclones are pulling warm air north and causing large waves that break up ice.

Basically, as the Gulf Stream keeps pushing heated water toward Norway the warm water warms air above it. Warm air rises, so it makes a low pressure center, the same thing as as cyclone due to Earth's rotation. These cyclones pull more warm air northward, so colder air from the Arctic, the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland is pulled south.

This process is expected to continue, with the thawing ocean north of Svalbard expanding along the Siberian coast until it connects to the thawed portion in the Chukchi Sea.

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The Gulf Stream might stop - but everything I can think of is scary.

The AMOC isn't expected to actually shut down for decades, just slow a bit. We'll certainly get an ice free Arctic Ocean before the Gulf Stream stops. In any case, that would be really bad.

Not good news! No way to stop the elements, Mother Nature cleans house when occupants don't think in long terms. When civilizations fall, I wonder if the people know beforehand? 

I'll have to dig out my book, 

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition Kindle Edition

I agree, in part, that we choose to fail. But we're embedded in dysfunctional social/economic systems, of our own creation, that facilitate individual self-destructive choices. That, of course, goes back to your point about failure to think long term.

Update on the Arctic Sea Ice refreeze pause, it's been melting for 3 days:

Image source They say it'll start refreezing again soon. I apologize for the video removal. Too bad.

Arctic Sea Ice is now refreezing.

image source

Right now the jet stream is going directly across the Arctic Ocean, bringing in warm air. Refreezing has slowed a lot, and we might even get another melt event. Image from earth nullschool.

Arctic Air Temperatures are Set to Hit 35 to 55 F Above Average by ...

“It looks like a triple whammy – a warm ocean, a warm atmosphere, and a wind pattern all working against the ice in the Arctic.”NSIDC director Mark Serreze.

Major Warming Over Siberia, Chukchi and East Siberian Seas

By early Thursday, the leading edge of this warm air outburst from the Pacific side will have crossed the Pole and led to a flushing of Central Arctic air out into the Barents Sea and North Atlantic (you can view an animation of the predicted warm air pulse here).

“First results from the Norwegian Young Sea ICE Expedition”

Arctic Sea Ice News from AGU

Initial results suggest that the thinner and younger ice is altogether different from older multiyear ice. It moves faster, breaks up easier, melts faster, and is more vulnerable to storms. This has important consequences for the Arctic as a whole, as our current knowledge is largely based on information from the “old Arctic.”

The Atmosphere

• For the first time, N-ICE2015 researchers directly observed large winter storms over sea ice and saw that they have significant effects on the young, thinner ice. The high winds create a lot of stress on the sea ice by pushing it around and breaking it up.
• One winter storm raised the air temperature from -40 F to +32 F in less than 48 hours, while the moisture in the air increased 10 times. All of these factors significantly warm the surface of the snow, even in mid-winter, and slow the growth of ice.

screen cap from video

Refreezing has made the Arctic Sea ice go from 4 standard deviations below normal to 3 standard deviations below normal.

Recent freezing progress as shown on the NSIDC arctic chart (http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/) has been above average. From a mid-November deviation from average of about 4 standard deviations, it appears to be now around 3 SDs.

In response to this question

"... the entire polar portion of the northern hemisphere is dominated by numerous lows while being circled by highs in the mid-latitudes. Is this a normal condition?"

werther posted a helpful reply at the Sea Ice Forum,

No season is an exact copy of earlier years nor of the climo mean. But this freezing season is quite anomalous:

I've introduced red arrows to show anomalous wind directions.

 Robert Scribbler explains why we now have "a raging SW to NE storm track running across the North Atlantic". Meridional means north/south.

  • So the Atlantic Ocean is warming up relative to the Continent in winter. Warmth at the Pole drives cold air out and into North American. This cold air, then encounters the warmer air over the Ocean. This warmer air is more heavily laden with moisture due to global warming. The result is that a strong storm track develops over the North Atlantic where it did not develop before. This storm track is meridional in that it runs from southwest, originating off the U.S. East Coast, to northeast. It often runs over the British Isles and then tracks north into the Barents and Greenland seas. This same meridional storm track is also what is responsible for delivering these warm air outbursts to the pole.

The current North Pacific storm is actually helping sea ice in the Bering and Chuckchi Seas reform.

Darvince at Arctic Sea Ice Forum

The storm south of the Bering Sea is not melting anything. It is allowing new ice to grow in the Bering Sea. The wind direction on the northern side of the cyclone is towards the west, or coming from Alaska. The strong winds are blowing away from the ice. This means that wave action is not affecting the ice. The ice will grow and expand in the Bering Sea, being pushed away from land with rapid ice formation at the coastline.

However, Arctic Sea ice volume is still low.

 

image source

The Arctic lost 72% of Summer sea ice from 1980 to 2016.

image source

But the current refreeze continues.

image source

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