I initially read about this earlier this week in a post by a University of Ottawa professor. The title of his blog post, The Great Arctic Flush, was enough to cause concern. Reading his post only served to deepen that concern. There is potential that we could see major loss in sea ice over the next week...
Here is what he said then:
Within 2 weeks the Arctic Ocean will be completely transformed. The cyclone that appears 6 days out on both the US and European ten day forecasts will massacre the sea ice in what I call "The Great Arctic flush".Now it appears the cyclone has begun and, as usual, is barely being covered by the media. I found one source discussing it today, Scientists watch Arctic cyclone chew up sea ice, and while this cyclone isn't as strong as the one that caused so much damage last year, the ice is much weaker than it was last year. So we could be in for a fairly major arctic event in the coming days.
Some choice quotes from the today's article linked above (bolding mine):
Arctic cyclones are driven by low-pressure systems in which winds of up to 100 km/h blow counter-clockwise in spiral more than 1,000 kilometres across. They occur in both winter and summer, but are usually stronger in winter.
Cyclones are not unusual in the Arctic, but seem to be changing in recent years, said David Barber, one of Canada's top sea-ice experts.
"These cyclones are not getting more frequent, but they are getting deeper — which means stronger," he said.
And they're getting harder on sea ice, which they break up through wave action associated with high winds and through rainfall, which darkens the ice and makes it absorb more solar energy. The storms also bring up water from the depths, which is actually warmer than surface water.
Cyclones can destroy large amounts of ice very quickly.
"We have a whole new class of sea ice in the Arctic, which we're calling 'decayed ice,'" he said.Troubling indeed...
"We started seeing it in 2009. It's extremely weak."
Barber said the research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen can do 13.5 knots in open water. Through decayed ice, it can do 13 knots.