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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Lately the Arctic Sea Ice extent is sightly increasing, but experts aren't reassured. Melt has progressed in the area north of Svalbard, past Franz Joseph Land (islands) from storms and warm Atlantic water.

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One clue is salinity increases, due to deeper warmer Atlantic water mixing with the surface instead of sinking down as it used to do, where it didn't directly impact surface ice.

image source

Franz Joseph Land is the collection of grey islands in the bottom center, and Svalbard is bottom left. The orange intrusion at top right is saltier surface water.

Normally water freezes when it gets further north, and the salt that falls out creates a salty layer [Arctic Halocline in the diagram below] that separates the colder fresher icy surface water from the two degree C water  at the bottom that traveled from the Atlantic. The three layer structure insulates the surface ice from deep water that might melt it. 

This is a screen cap from a lecture by Dr Michael Tsamados

The Arctic Sea Ice forum discussion is about possible decrease of Arctic Ocean stratification, and the increased sea ice mobility, lots of ice export from Fram Strait, increased wave action and height from loss of sea ice, and the "cannon of storms" coming up out of the Atlantic into the Arctic. 

Shared Humanity says:

So, we have one low pressure system after another spinning out of the Atlantic/Barents and into the Arctic. These storms serve to keep a large area of the Arctic Ocean north of Svalbard and FJI [Franz Joseph Islands] relatively ice free by driving it towards the pole while the waves over these open waters serve to mix the warmer, saltier waters that would normally dive deep into the ocean with the less salty cold waters on the surface.

A-Team says:

My sense is that, in addition to all the other interconnected things going down in the Arctic, the weather pattern ... that brings up frequent extra-tropical warmth and moisture in fall and winter is the new normal, a synoptic change in planetary heat re-distribution at least for the Atlantic Basin,...

jdallen says:

Frankly, I'm betting on a "runaway" to a new state.  What I think we are seeing now is that new state breaking out of hysteresis.  As you suggest, the monstrous change we are about to see in the Arctic/World-wide energy budget due to decreased Arctic summer albedo will accelerate this and lock the new state in place. [emphasis mine]

Another North Atlantic storm aims to heat the Arctic.

Fierce North Atlantic storm to send temperatures soaring at North P...

An extraordinarily powerful storm system is spinning across the North Atlantic Ocean, just southeast of Greenland. Together with long-term climate change and other transitory weather systems, it is setting the stage for a dramatic and unusual warmup at the North Pole this week.  

For the third time this winter, such a storm is likely to vault unusually warm air toward the pole, potentially bringing temperatures across the sunless Arctic to near the melting point for a brief period late this week. 

... such a low pressure reading is more typically seen in Category 3 or 4 hurricanes, although this particular tempest is not tropical in origin, and therefore was not given a name by the National Hurricane Center.

See the animation of this storm's projected Arctic impact

from The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Arctic winter is about to get worse

It’s just the latest signal that the Arctic is in the middle of a profound change. ...the Arctic is in crisis.

The actual impact was greater than the prediction. 0° C buoy measurement at the North Pole, and it wasn't just a warm tendril  reaching up.

image source




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