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Gripping video of Arctic sea ice melting away before your eyes

Posted on 24 July 2011 by Daniel Bailey

Every now and then I'm reminded of both the beauty of our natural world and the amazing ability of technology to bring that beauty into sharper focus.  As a species we have achieved wondrous things with our constructs, like sending researchers safely to the depths of the Marianas Trench and to the surface of the Moon (and back), and space probes to the other planets in our solar system and indeed to its very limits.

So it should come as no surprise to learn of the OBuoy Project, where real-time telemetry is used to bring both data and video from a buoy (UBuoy 2) moored in the Barents Sea north of Alaska to anyone with a web connection.  Scientists have even spliced images from the buoy into a spectacular movie for all to see:

Prospects for continued documention of the sea ice melt around the buoy seem to have dimmed somewhat lately, as video transmission has ceased and the temperature of its battery has spiked (suggesting that the buoy may have been swamped by ice).

H/T to Neven's Sea Ice blog contributor R. Gates, who alerted folks there as to the UBuoy Program and to another contributor at Neven's, Rob Dekker, who found the video and the evidence of the buoy's perhaps premature end.

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Comments 1 to 21:

  1. From which region of the Artic Ocean was this footage taken?
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    [DB] The buoy is approximately in the location of the crosshair placed on the map below:


  2. For those who missed the link in the earlier post, there are some webcams located much closer to the North Pole, which can be seen here. Note that Webcam2 seems to have fallen over at a steep angle yesterday as it's supporting ice melts. This image from a couple of days ago shows plenty of meltwater & open seawater.
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  3. This technology is really impressive. However, arctic sea ice melting in the summer is hardly news.
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    [DB] "arctic sea ice melting in the summer is hardly news"

    In your busy waving of straw you conveniently neglect that no one on this post has claimed that it was.

  4. DB @ 3 When one reads the title "Gripping video of Arctic sea ice melting away before your eyes", it is designed to play on emotions and imply something other than a natural cycle that occurs annually. Note: I am not saying that annual Arctic sea ice extent has not declined.
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    [DB] The title clearly and succinctly tells a story, the story of what the OP is about.  It is an example of "Not burying the lead".

    When one reads things into that beyond what is actually said, as you do, that is an example of Confirmation Bias/Cognitive Bias.  Your intransigence on adhering to a narrative (the "natural cycles" meme) being displayed here is a textbook example of what denialists do: rushing in to defend any perceived real or imaginary attack on anything that endangers their world of rose-coloured skies and green firetrucks.

    Well-done, sir.  As the Great One said, "It's 5-O'clock Somewhere".

  5. apriatelooksat50, the video is gripping, if you're interested in this kind of stuff. And it does simply show ice melting in the Beaufort Sea. Nothing wrong with that title, unless you're having a hard time thinking things through.
    Arctic sea ice melting in the summer is hardly news. I am not saying that annual Arctic sea ice extent has not declined.
    Indeed, Arctic sea ice has declined in summer. So fast even that it is very big news. Unless you don't want it to be news, of course.
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  6. Seeing apirate wants to play silly-buggers, I think it's appropriate to look at the mean sea ice extent for September as shown here (pink line): The interesting thing is that the location of the buoy from which the video was made is well inside that pink line. So in late July of 2011, it is already melting back beyond the mean September sea ice extent for 1979 to 2011. This can be confirmed in the picture below of sea ice extent on July 17th Apirate may want to attribute the fact that the summer melt has already reached a stage it normally takes two more months to achieve simply to an annual cycle. Others may suspect, at least a little bit, that if the annual cycle was the sole factor involved than this current melt extent would be the July mean rather than near the September mean.
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  7. pirate#4: "it is designed to play on emotions ... " Odd. An emotional response to the title of an article? Rather than what is described in that article? "... and imply something other than a natural cycle that occurs annually. " That 'natural cycles' gambit is more of a dead-ender now than the past few times you've trotted it out. It is on you to substantiate those 'cycles'. For example, how does the July 14 Icelights fit into a natural cycle? So far this summer, Arctic sea ice has been melting at a record pace. ... ice extent is currently lower than it was at the same time in 2007, the year that went on to shatter all previous records for low ice extent in September There's something about living more than 2 standard deviations below the mean that just ain't natural. But no doubt you can rationalize that away. And the subtitle to Icelights, 'Your Burning Questions About Ice & Climate,' was surely designed to play on your emotions.
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  8. This is a great article... maybe sKs can do some more like it.. Not on topic (cant see where to post NOT posts)
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  9. Kudos to Tom Curtis for driving home the message of the video. The position of the bouy vs annual ice limits and expected timing is why the video is dramatic..although anything with time lapse in it has its own inherent drama...
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  10. I must admit I found the title a bit misleading too although it is technically accurate, and I'm certainly not in the denier category either--I do guest lectures on climate change at the local university for students and tie it in to my field (ecology and biology). Instead, I thought this post might be showing something similar to that fantastic time-lapse video I saw on TED where enormous ice-sheets are melting back over a three-year period, even during the winter. Or new time-lapse video from space showing melting over a decade or more. Those were gripping! Scary too. I didn't expect to see seasonal melting, which in my perhaps northern Canadian-inured opinion, doesn't merit a "gripping", so for me, and maybe me alone, I found the title misleading. Not that you need to change it--if the deniers want, they'll take anything you write, say, do and twist it to suit their narrative anyway (e.g. the whole Jones and no warming thing).
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  11. Daniel @10, This is not "ordinary" melt. Look at the northernmost extent of the September ice minimum. Now compare that with the loss of ice at the location of the web cam. The ice margin is now (in late July) much further north than it is during the northernmost extent of the ice margin typically observed at the September minimum. Tom already made this point back @6, but apparently it needs repeating. The title is not misleading at all.
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  12. The melting of the ice shelves on Ellesmere Island show that the Arctic ice is at the lowest level in at least the last 5,000 years. Since 2011 is currently lower than any other year measured, that means 2011 is the lowest for July 24 in at least 5,000 years. A Pirate: can you suggest a 5,000 year cycle that is peaking that would account for this collapse of the ice? If no such cycle can be proposed that indicates that the extraordinary melt this year is not due to natural cycles but instead to human influence. Please provide references to data to support your "natural cycles". It is not enough to suggest "natural cycles". You also have to provide data to suggest they exist. Without data you are just waving your hands.
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  13. What timeframe do the spliced images cover? I think that would be helpful information.
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  14. eldorado2768, a time and date stamp for each frame is in the top left corner. The data also shows the location (latitude and longitude and pitch), but not the internal temperature which I know to be recorded :(. Anyway, the time interval is from early March 22nd to July 22nd, 2011.
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  15. What the video doesn't show is described in Melting Arctic ice releasing banned toxins, warn scientists an article posted (July 24) on The negative consequences that melting Artctic sea ice is having, and will continue to have, on the ecology of the Earth are many, and they are severe.
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  16. A slightly cheerier thing I got from that: a real sense of sitting on top of a spinning planet as the sun whizzed past.
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  17. Dan Olner @16, personally I enjoyed seeing the sun "bounce" without going below the horizon.
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  18. Badgersouth#15: "The negative consequences that melting Artctic sea ice is having, and will continue to have, on the ecology of the Earth are many" And this can't be good. A single-celled alga that went extinct in the North Atlantic Ocean about 800,000 years ago has returned after drifting from the Pacific through the Arctic thanks to melting polar ice. And while its appearance marks the first trans-Arctic migration in modern times, scientists say it signals something potentially bigger.
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  19. It’s a great piece of video and technology. Wattsupwiththat also posted it a couple of weeks ago, though puzzlingly without any contention by posters, just a sense of wonder. Some of the bouys however have stopped working and some give a good view of a workshop. Hopefully they will be up and running again soon. I wonder if they float the right way up?
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  20. TC @ 6 Sea ice melting and refreezing is a normal cycle. If Buoy #2 is in an area that is melting sooner or faster than normal, then that is most likely a sign of climate change.
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  21. Pirate#20: "in an area that is melting sooner or faster than normal, then that is most likely a sign of climate change. " Agreed at last! That was the point of comment 6: So in late July of 2011, it is already melting back beyond the mean September sea ice extent for 1979 to 2011.
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