Old Arctic Ice Recovers

Click on image to enlarge.

Update November 5 at end of post

These charts come from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia. I downloaded the images from 2008 through 2017 without collusion from their publicly accessible website (here).

The brown blob in the middle is older ice surviving at least one summer’s melt, with the colors for first year and young ice shown in the enlarged legend above.

The 2007 chart is in a different format so appears separately.  The 2007 coverage is limited on the North American side, but it does show how much of the Central Arctic multi-year ice was gone in 2007. The subsequent charts show recovery with a decline in 2012 (Great Arctic Cyclone year), followed by increases, especially this year.

As discussed in previous posts, the technology for remotely sensing ice thickness is immature, so multi-year ice serves as a proxy.

Update: Background in response to Caleb’s query

Caleb asked about Russian satellite data sources possibly substituting for US ones going out of service.

I found a 2009 presentation in English which answers most of this. Russian Space Infrastructure applied in the Arctic: sea ice application within Roshydromet  by Vasily Smolyanitsky, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI). Excerpts and images below.  Read the full report to appreciate the scale of their efforts.

Data acquisition
Coastal weather polar stations of Roshydromet make daily visual and instrumental ice observations on sea ice concentration and stages of ice development, ice thickness, forms of ice, ice drift and other phenomena. Icebreakers and icebreaking vessels on the NSR routes routinely (commonly once a day) report the main ice parameters describing ice navigation. Before 1994 aircraft ice reconnaissance flights were conducted in the Arctic usually on a monthly basis from November to April and on a 10-day internal during the summer navigation period.

Since 1995 aircraft (mostly helicopter) ice reconnaissance flights are conducted only occasionally during tailored hydrometeorological support of applied and scientific activities in the Eurasian Arctic. The scope of ice information collected during air ice reconnaissance includes visual observations on a full scope of sea ice parameters essential for navigation and marine safety (egg-code, icebergs, openings, dynamics, surface features). Though being nowadays not the prime sources, the stated information (coastal, aircraft) is continuously used for validation of the sea ice analysis and prognostic products at the ice centers.

The AARI and Planet satellite reception stations provide operational optical imagery for the Arctic Ocean and North Pacific from a series of satellites (NOAA, EOS TERRA, Aqua, Suomi NPP, FY3, Meteor, Ocean). Information for other regions (e.g. Antarctic), from other satellites and ranges (Sentinel-1,2,3, Radarsat-2, TerraSar-X, etc.) is received via Internet from corresponding data portals directly or from commercial satellite data providers. All data are further processed within ice information systems and utilized for regional, pan-Arctic or pan-Antarctic sea-ice analysis. Sample satellite products are available via the AARI and Planet web pages.

Most of the mentioned satellites are accessed by others with the exception of Meteor, operated by Russia.  Yes, they have numerous meteorological satellites as shown in this image:

According to the presentation, their plans called for additional Electro and Meteor platforms, as well as a new satellite type called Arctica.   It is not clear to what extent the sensors on these birds replicate the microwave data.


  1. Hifast · November 3, 2017

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


  2. Caleb · November 5, 2017

    Nice work, Ron.

    Do you know if the Russians have their own satellites to use if ours break down?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. angech · November 5, 2017

    Too obscure. I do not understand . The pictures change too quickly. The dates differ slightly from year to year, late October to early November.
    They show first year ice due to their being some regrowth from September and a large chunk of multi year ice.
    All ice is multi year ice once the regrowth date is set.
    Is this variable?
    Has to be I guess.
    How much there is is really the September minimum so at this stage multi year ice is merely a pseudonym for the minimum.
    At the other end of the scale, next year, if we have a really good regrowth, people will complain of the low percentage of multiyear ice when it is a really good sign of regrowth, not a sign of decreasing ice.
    Does this make sense?
    Was lots of multi year ice percentage years ago really a result of the falling ice extent at that time.
    Are we looking at it as a measure the wrong way.


  4. Ron Clutz · November 6, 2017

    Angech, I can clear some of the obscurity. Those charts are produced weekly from a 3-day average shown in the legend. At the end of October begins the representation of ice by age rather than by concentration, so that is what I have shown. You are right that ice older than one year will be affected by the annual minimum, but there is also multi-year ice that survived more than one summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. angech · November 8, 2017



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