Saturday, 27 August 2016

"President" - Russian, primetime documentary on Putin.

Excellent 2015 Russian Primetime TV Documentary About Putin - Now on Youtube
"... profoundly successful in rebutting the frankly preposterous mudslinging that has become so commonplace in Western media."

26 August, 2016
This remarkable documentary is now available for the first time in full length on Youtube.  
Previously it could only be found on other video platforms.   You can find it on the Russia Insider Youtube channel, along with other top quality Russian primetime TV documentaries in HD, like the excellent 'Crimea - The Way Home' ,'Sodom' - an expose of the global LGBT lobby, and "The Browder Effect", an expose of the famous Russian hedge fund manager which makes the case that Browder is a CIA agent.

Although it came out in April of 2015, 'President' it is still a fascinating watch today, and we recommend it highly.
The following is a reprint of what we wrote when it first appeared:

We really can't recommend this documentary enough.  It is made by Russian state TV, and so presents a favorable view of Putin, - and is profoundly successful in rebutting the frankly preposterous mudslinging that has become so commonplace in Western media.
In the US, PBS recently ran a documentary depicting Putin as beyond evil - a thieving, murdering, democracy-smashing jerk who then invaded Ukraine.  German state TV ran one with an almost identical story line just a few weeks ago.
We keep telling  people - those western versions of Putin are simply not true, and amount to the crudest form of character assassination.  So now here is the antidote.  We would advise everyone to watch both versions and draw their own conclusions.  Once you dig into the facts, it becomes pretty obvious who is BSing, and who isn't.
We think, and we keep telling everyone this, that Putin has done a remarkably good job running his country, and seems to be a very admirable man.  It's hard to disagree with this after watching this movie.
The folks of Vox Populi Evo have pulled through again, providing an English translation and subtitles for Rossiya-1's latest documentary, PRESIDENT, hosted by Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov and which first aired in Russia on April 26, 2015.
VPE had previously made Crimea: The Way Back Home available for English viewers, and we recommend that readers check that one out too.
The film contains never-seen-before footage from some of the biggest highlights of Putin's career, and of Russia's history for the last decade and a half: the war in Chechnya, the battle with the oligarchs, the Kursk submarine tragedy, Beslan, the 2008 crisis.
Among the revelations Putin makes in his interview sections is the admission of direct involvement of Western intelligence agencies in supporting Islamic terrorism in Chechnya. While it's no surprise to the alternative media, it's the first time Putin has officially confirmed such involvement.
Nothing has changed since the CIA created the mujaheddin to battle the Soviets in Afghanistan. 

Power confrontation in NE Syria

World War could begin in north-east Syria
Alexander Mercouris

26 August, 2016
The Turkish incursion into Syria to capture the ISIS held town of Jarablus is the product of the growth of Kurdish and ISIS influence in north east Syria. It is also the result of US backing for the Kurds, which by encouraging them to seize territory is uniting the Turkish and Syrian government against them.
All this comes shortly after the capture by Kurdish militia (calling themselves the “Syrian Democratic Forces”) of the previously ISIS controlled town of Manbij
That town was captured following heavy US air strikes, which caused severe losses to the local population, and are of a sort which when allegedly carried out by the Syrian air force in Aleppo can be relied upon to provoke a media stormin the West and the harsh condemnation of the US and the UN.

What lies behind this sudden deterioration of the situation in north east Syria?
Though there were doubtless various factors behind the outbreak of clashes between the Syrian army and the Kurdish militia in Al-Hasakah, the underlying cause appears to be the desire of the Kurdish militia to carve out an autonomous region for itself in north east Syria. 

It seems that following the capture of Manbij the Kurdish militia has felt emboldened to try to take control of the whole of this territory, and has moved to oust the Syrian government troops who were still present in the area.  This has led directly to the clashes in Al-Hasakah, which in turn provoked the Syrian air strikes, which led in turn to the warning from the US.

The major complicating factor is the role of the US.  The US warning which has attracted so much attention is not in fact a departure from standard US policy, which is to protect its troops wherever they are.  However it does show how complicated and dangerous because of US involvement the situation in north east Syria has become. 

Having committed itself simultaneously to the overthrow of the Syrian government and the defeat of ISIS, and having also branded the other major player in the Syrian war – Al-Qaeda’s local franchise Jabhat Al-Nusra – a terrorist organisation, the US is short of effective allies on the ground in Syria. 

Accordingly it has embraced the Kurds, who do possess an effective militia, but whose interests are ultimately focused on securing autonomy for their own region rather than gaining power in Damascus.

This is very much in the style of US “third force” strategies, pursued by the US in various conflicts during and since the Cold War, which the US still from time to time ventures into despite their almost invariable record of failure.

The result is that though the Kurdish militia and the Syrian army were sometime uneasy allies in the Syrian war, they are now in conflict with each other, with the Russians however trying to broker a ceasefire between them.

US policy meanwhile has alarmed Turkey, for whom Kurdish separatism is an existential issue.  Coming on top of the Kurdish advances in Manbij and Al-Hasakah, and following the recent ISIS terror attack in Gaziantep, this has provoked the Turkish incursion into Syria to capture Jarablus from ISIS, presumably before the Kurds do.

The main focus of the war in Syria is not in the north east.  It is further west in Aleppo. 

What is happening in the north east of Syria is in military terms a sideshow, though one which has had an impact on the fighting in Aleppo with reports of clashes between Syrian troops and Kurdish militia who were previously cooperating with each in the city. 

The very latest reports however suggest that Russian mediation has managed to end these clashes.

Whilst it is in Aleppo and further west in Idlib (held by Jabhat Al-Nusra) that the outcome of the war in Syria will be decided, that does not mean that the fighting in north east Syria is without consequences.

It is difficult to avoid the feeling that the US has been deliberately building up the Kurdish militia and encouraging it to seize territory, not just or even principally in order to fight ISIS, but in order to use the Kurds to gain influence in Syria. 

The strategy seems to be similar to the one the US eventually followed in the 1990s in Iraq, where the US helped the Kurds carve out an autonomous zone in the north of the country, allowing the US to maintain a presence on the ground in Iraq even after the 1991 war had ended. 

The effect of this policy is however to escalate the violence, feed the alarm of the US’s erstwhile Turkish ally – provoking the Turkish advance on Jarablus which is now underway – and paradoxically giving the Turkish and Syrian governments a shared interest with each other.

This follows the pattern of other conflicts where the US has followed “third force” strategies.  US sponsorship of “third forces” has never decided the outcome of any conflict in the US’s favour.  What it invariably does is complicate and exacerbate the conflict, escalating the violence and making a lasting solution more difficult.

If the Syrian government is able to recapture eastern Aleppo and ultimately Idlib, and if it also manages to relieve the desert city of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria (currently besieged by ISIS) then it will have won the war. 

ISIS will be confined to a pocket of north east Syria around Raqqa, fighting the Kurds in the same area, and with both the Kurds and ISIS in conflict with neighbouring Turkey, which will have a vested interest in achieving the defeat of both. 

It is not difficult to see how at that point the Turkish and Syrian governments might finally come together, with Turkey supporting the restoration of the Syrian government’s authority in north east Syria.  From Turkey’s point of view that would be a far preferable outcome to having either ISIS or the Kurds in continued control of areas of north east Syria adjoining Turkey.

The recent signals of possible Turkish plans for a rapprochement with the government of Syria that have attracted so much attention do not seem to signal any weakening of Turkish support for the Syrian rebels fighting the Syrian government in Aleppo and Idlib. 

Rather they look to be a case of Turkey positioning itself for a scenario of a Syrian army victory in Aleppo and Idlib, paving the way for Turkey in that case to support the Syrian government as it seeks to regain control in north east Syria from ISIS and the Kurds.

In the meantime the Iranian news agency Fars reports that the deputy head of Turkish military intelligence – the same organisation that saved Erdogan’s government during the recent coup attempt, and which was tipped off by the Russians about the coup – is visiting Damascus for apparently not so secret talks with the Syrian government.

If these reports are true then it is likely that it was the situation in north east Syria that was discussed, with the Turks possibly informing the Syrians of their intended advance on Jarablus, and with the Syrians conceivably even giving the green light for it.

The Turkish encriachment into Syria

Russia and Turkey: An end to the rapprochement?
Alexander Mercouris

26 August, 2016
The Turkish incursion into Syria does not wreck the recent Russian - Turkish rapprochement because it is only a limited rapprochement not a realignment. In the meantime Russia is working hard to reconcile the Syrian government with the Kurds.
The Turkish incursion into Syria and the Turkish capture of Jarablus have been construed by some to mean that the Turkish – Russian rapprochement is a sham.
According to this view Erdogan, having secured concessions from Putin at the summit in St. Petersburg, has wasted no time dropping the mask, once again betraying his Russian “friend” by invading Syria.
In my opinion this is the product of the over high expectations many had of the Turkish – Russian rapprochement. As I have said on many occasions, this is a rapprochement not a realignment. Turkey may be angry with the US about the coup, a fact made clear by Erdogan’s decision to send only the deputy mayor of Ankara to welcome US Vice President Biden on his recent arrival in Ankara. It has not ceased to be a US or NATO ally
Nor is there any reason to think the Russians feel the Turkish incursion into Syria has “betrayed” them. For a “betrayal” to have happened Erdogan would have had to mislead the Russians as to his intentions in Syria. On the contrary Erdogan has never at any time said that his policies or intentions in Syria have changed. Instead he has always said, and continued right up to the eve of the summit in St. Petersburg to say, that his policies in Syria are unchanged. He still demands that President Assad must go and he still says he wants regime change in Syria. He has even said that he does not consider Jabhat Al-Nusra – Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate – to be a terrorist organisation. See my detailed discussion of all this here
To repeat: what happened in St. Petersburg was a patching up of relations between Russia and Turkey, bringing them roughly back to where they were before the shooting down of the SU24 in November last year. A number of economic deals were agreed in outline, but there were no geostrategic shifts, none were promised or demanded or (by the Russians) expected, and it was unreasonable to expect them.
As it happens the Turks say they informed the Russians in advance of their intention to move on Jarablus, and that the Russians gave the green light for i
That is completely plausible. The Russians understand that for Turkey the setting up of an autonomous YPG controlled Kurdish autonomous zone along Turkey’s border with Syria is unacceptable, and that the Turks will act decisively to prevent it. Short of going to war with Turkey Russia cannot prevent Turkey from acting in this way, and it has no reason to offend the Turks by trying to do so.
The key point to understand about the Turkish incursion is that no part of it involves areas of Syria and under the Syrian government’s actual control. All this area is controlled either by the YPG or by ISIS.
Nor is this area critical to the Syrian government’s survival. That depends on the Syrian government retaining its hold on Damascus and Aleppo, the central towns of Hama and Homs, the key region of Latakia, and ultimately by recapturing the town and province of Idlib. If the Syrian government achieves all this, then it will have secured its existence, which is the objective the Russians set themselves when they intervened in Syria last year
In the meantime the Russians no doubt calculate – as do the Syrians – that the north east of Syria can be left to look after itself, and that what the Turks get up to there – far away from the key battlefields in Damascus and Aleppo provinces and in Idlib province – in the end in military and strategic terms simply does not matter. Whilst that may sound ruthless, it is the sort of ruthless calculation that sometimes has to be made in war.
That does not mean that the Russians are completely uninterested in what is going on in northeastern Syria. However the focus of their concern will not be the Turkish incursion. Rather it is the recent breakdown in relations between the Syrian government and the Kurdish militia the YPG.
Whilst the YPG does not play a decisive role in the fighting in western Syria, it has been a useful ally of the Syrian army in the fighting in Aleppo and further east in the battle against ISIS.
The already severely overstretched Syrian army hardly needs more enemies in Syria, and the Russians will want to prevent the present tensions between the Syrian army and the YPG escalating into full-fledged fighting at all costs.
That this is for the Russians the key issue in north east Syria at the moment has just been confirmed at the latest Russian Foreign Ministry briefing by Maria Zakharova, Russia’s impressive Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
As far as the situation in Syria’s Hasakeh is concerned, we are extremely worried over the sharp armed escalation in that city in the northwest of Syria between government troops and Kurdish militias. Russia has been taking proactive steps along different channels with the aim of preventing fratricidal clashes. We are urging the parties to display restraint. We are urging the parties to display restraint, wisdom and political conscience and responsibility and to develop the awareness all patriots have only one common enemy – terrorists. It is obvious that terrorism is a common threat to all Syrians, who share one goal, that of saving Syria, in which all of its citizens irrespective of their ethnicity or religion should feel comfortable.”
The Russians have acted on these pleas by (as Zakharova says) taking positive action on the ground by seeking to broker truces between the Syrian government and the YPG in both Al-Hasakeh and in Aleppo, so far it must be said with only mixed results.
The Russians do possess leverage over both parties. The Syrian government is now completely dependent on Russia for its survival, whilst Russia is the only remaining power that continues to show some sympathy for the demands for autonomy made by the YPG. As recently as April – at a time when relations between Russia and Turkey were still very bad – the Russians were demanding that the Kurds be separately represented at the Geneva peace talks. The Russians have not retreated from this position. They will doubtless be reminding the YPG that if they want a role in the negotiations – and thus a role in determining the future of Syria – then in a hostile region they will need continued Russian support.
In such a fraught situation it is not beyond reason that the Russians might quietly welcome a Turkish incursion that would (as they might see it) concentrate minds on the part of the YPG – showing to the YPG who their true friends and their true enemies are, and why the US cannot be relied upon as a long term ally.
My colleague Alex Christoforou has recently pointed out how in this region it is the Russians who are increasingly the peacemakers, even as the US constantly acts to spread war there.

Russian mediation between the Syrian government and the YPG – regardless of whether or not in the end it is successful – coming immediately after US incitement of the YPG to take up arms against the Syrian government, is just one more example of this.

Global warming has been happening since the start of the industrial era

Human-caused climate change has been happening for a lot longer than we thought, scientists say

Coral coring at Rowley Shoals, west of Broome in Western Australia, November 2009. Analyzing coral cores is one way scientists can look back  into the oceans’ climate history. (Credit: Eric Matson, Australian Institute of Marine Science) FOR USE WITH STORY ON ABRAM ET AL. 8/24/16

24 August, 2016
A new paper is challenging our understanding of how long human-caused climate change has been at work on Earth. And the authors say their findings may question existing ideas about how sensitive the planet is to greenhouse gas emissions — with potentially big implications for our global climate policy.
The new study, just out on Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggests human-caused, or anthropogenic,  climate change has been going on for decades longer than existing temperature records indicate. Using paleoclimate records from the past 500 years, the researchers show that sustained warming began to occur in both the tropical oceans and the Northern Hemisphere land masses as far back as the 1830s — and they’re saying industrial-era greenhouse gas emissions were the cause, even back then.  
I don’t think it changes what we know about how the climate has warmed during the 20th century, but it definitely adds to the story,” said Nerilie Abram, an expert in paleoclimatology at Australian National University and the new study’s lead author.  
People first started keeping organized, global temperature records starting around the 1880s, and these are the records that many scientists reference when looking back on how the climate has changed over the last century. And it’s clear that it’s been warming — and that human activities are the primary cause. But just looking at records from the 1880s on doesn’t tell the whole story, according to Abram.  
We can see that by only looking from the 1880s on, we don’t have the full picture of how we’ve been changing the climate,” she said.   
The new research involved 25 scientists from around the world, including more than a dozen researchers from the PAGES 2k (or Past Global Change 2000 year) Consortium, a group supporting research into Earth’s past in order to gain a better understanding of its climate future. The PAGES team has been involved with creating paleoclimate reconstructions of temperatures over both land and sea. These reconstructions have relied on special analyses of coral, tree rings and ice cores, all of which contain chemical fingerprints that can give scientists insights into what the climate was like hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
The research team used these paleoclimate records to look back at the progression of industrial-era warming across the Earth over the past few hundred years. The industrial era is a period of time loosely beginning around the mid-18th century, when industrial growth around the world led to a sharp increase in the burning of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases, which contributed to the onset of anthropogenic climate change on Earth.  
The reconstructions suggest that the current pattern of sustained, long-term warming on Earth began much earlier than existing temperature records might lead us to believe. The findings are “further evidence that the climate has already changed significantly since the pre-industrial period,” said Ed Hawkins, a climate researcher at the University of Reading who was not involved with the new study, in an emailed comment.
The researchers also examined climate models to find out whether climate simulations would match up with their reconstructions, as well as to gain some insight into what exactly was causing the warming effect. They found the models generally agree with their reconstructions for the Northern Hemisphere, although they don’t quite capture the delayed warming effect in the Southern Hemisphere for reasons that remain unclear.
And importantly, the researchers say, the simulations suggest that the influence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the cause behind the early onset of warming. 
The researchers suggest that this early, human-influenced onset of warming may mean the climate is more sensitive to the effects of greenhouse gas emissions than scientists previously thought.
The researchers do note that “naturally forced climate cooling may have helped to set the stage for the widespread onset of industrial-era warming in the tropical oceans and over Northern Hemisphere landmasses during the mid-nineteenth century.” In 1815, powerful volcanic eruptions in Indonesia were responsible for a strong cooling effect on Earth, which reversed when the sustained warming pattern began to emerge.
But some experts are saying that the research team should be ascribing more importance to this early 19th-century cooling effect in the context of the warming that came after it. Michael Mann,distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University said he is “troubled” by the researchers’ suggestion that the planet may be more sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought.  
Mann said a lot of the warming observed in the early 1800s was actually just the climate naturally recovering from this unusual cooling effect, and not primarily caused by the influence of greenhouse gas emissions, which would not become a primary driver of warming until decades later.
There was certainly some anthropogenic warming prior to the late 19th century,” he worte in an email, pointing to some recent researchhe co-authored that supported this effect. “But the authors overstate how much, and how early, by incorrectly conflating early 1800s warming caused by the recovery from these eruptions with early greenhouse warming.”  
But the researchers stand by their interpretation of the reconstructions.  
Our initial reaction to detecting this early onset of warming was the same – that what we were seeing was the climate rebounding from the big eruptions in the early 1800s and that later the effect of greenhouse gases kicked in,” Abram noted in a follow-up email to The Post. “But as we continued to test the data and our methods it became clear that you don’t need these big eruptions in the early 1800s to explain the early warming.”
According to Abram, the findings could have important implications for the ongoing global discussions about the range of temperature increases that should be considered safe for the planet. At last year’s UN climate conference in Paris, participating nations agreed to a goal of keeping global warming within 2 degrees Celsius of their pre-industrial levels at most — and within 1.5 degrees if possible — in order to avoid triggering more dangerous climate consequences.
According to Abram, the study’s results suggest that “we have already warmed the planet more than what we would think we have if we’re basing our assessments just on the period since the 1880s.” And this means we may actually be closer to the kind of dangerous climate consequences many experts have predicted the planet could see if we blow past the 2-degree threshold, she suggested. For instance, some natural ecosystems — coral reefs, for instance, which are already known to be suffering from the effects of global warming — may have experienced much greater climate changes in the past few hundred years, far beyond the conditions they originally evolved to tolerate, than scientists previously thought. These are points that policymakers could take into consideration when considering how much climate warming we should be willing to accept in the future. 
In any case, the researchers feel that the climate reconstructions can provide important insights into the Earth’s sensitivity to human activities, which can help inform our understanding of how future climate change might progress. And they point to the importance of creating reconstructions in the first place for making these insights possible.
Actually finding that humans had a measureable impact on the climate in the mid 19th century was somewhat of a surprise,” Abram said. “It’s a finding that, no matter which way we tested, we kept coming up with that same answer.”

Abruptly Shifting Sands of Climate Change

Paul Beckwith
As I trudged across the massive sand dunes in Jockey's Ridge Park in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, just south of famous Kitty Hawk (location of the first flight) at Kill Devils Hill I thought that I may as well rant on abrupt climate change.

If my verbal tirade is somewhat disjointed and incoherent,then please forgive me. Perhaps it can be attributed to overexposure to sun, wind, heat and sandblasting?

Storms over the Arctic

Storms Over Arctic Ocean

Created by Sam Carana with forecasts from August 25, 2016 1800 UTC to September 2, 2016 0300 UTC, for post at

Neven's Sea Ice Blog - update = 08/26/2016

To summarise, this is what I take from the following:

  • Conditions have been cooler and cloudier which means less melting from on top
  • As a reult of the circulation of warmer waters there has been a lot of melting from-below 
  • Anything could happen,one of it good but this year looks like coming up short of 2012.
  • There are large storms to come to break up ice and transport into the northern Atlantic. 

"Although temperatures are now going down and the sun is too low to provide enough energy to melt the ice from the top, massive winds will keep moving the ice around and promote bottom melt. But more importantly, these atmospheric conditions are going to heavily compact the highly dispersed ice pack, and cause some extra transport of ice towards the North Atlantic that is running hotter than ever."

ASI 2016 update 6: hell and high pressure

26 August, 2016
During the melting season I'm writing (bi-)weekly updates on the current situation with regards to Arctic sea ice (ASI). Because of issues with data based on the SSMIS sensor aboard DMSP satellites, I mainly focus on higher-resolution AMSR2 data from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), as reported on the Arctic Data archive System websiteI also look at other things like regional sea ice area, compactness, temperature and weather forecasts, anything of particular interest.
The animation below consists of NSIDC
sea ice concentration maps, one for each ASI update.
Check out the Arctic Sea Ice Graphs website (ASIG)
for daily updated graphs, maps, live webcam images, and
the Arctic Sea Ice Forum (ASIF) for detailed discussions.

August 26th 2016
A spectacular start to the melting season is being matched by a spectacular ending. And that's probably putting it mildly.
In the past 10 days we've witnessed a storm that comes close to equalling the Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012 (see the three updates I've written: 12 and 3) and even though cyclonic activity has now lessened, it is still there. Worse still, it is going to be joined by massive high pressure on the American side of the Arctic.
That means - you've guessed it - that the final stage of the melting season will be dominated by a so-called Dipole set-up, where the pressure gradient between the high over the Beaufort Sea and the low over the Siberian Seas is going to have a major impact on the final shape of the ice pack. Just when you thought you had seen it all, the Arctic throws another curve ball.
Although temperatures are now going down and the sun is too low to provide enough energy to melt the ice from the top, massive winds will keep moving the ice around and promote bottom melt. But more importantly, these atmospheric conditions are going to heavily compact the highly dispersed ice pack, and cause some extra transport of ice towards the North Atlantic that is running hotter than ever. It's like putting a plate of biscuits in front of the Cookie Monster (om nom nom).
Here's an animation of Uni Bremen sea ice concentration maps from the past week to show you the current state of Arctic sea ice:
UB SIC Siberian 20160819-25

Two questions pop up immediately: How much of the Wrangel Arm is going to survive this final onslaught? And how far will that wedge of open water, or 'bite' as we've called it during previous melting seasons, be pushed towards the pole? Further than the 86N we saw in 2014?
The rest of the update will be about what's in store and what this will probably mean for the minimum.

Sea ice extent and area (SIE & SIA)
Unfortunately JAXA data hasn't been updated for two days. I read that Japan is dealing with the consequences of a series of typhoons, so maybe that has something to do with it. Or maybe there's a planned electrical outage again, like there was in June. Either way, let's hope data service is resumed soon. This is the worst possible time for having no JAXA data. :-(
Here's how the graph looks like with data up to August 23rd:
The effects of the storm haven't been as pronounced as in 2012 (this year's storm hit later and the ice is probably somewhat more resilient due to a lack of preconditioning), but the 2016 trend line is still in 3rd place, and given the current weather forecasts it could seriously threaten the 2007 minimum. It will have to drop more than 750K for that, though, as 2007 kept going lower up until the last week of September.
However, it's an entirely different story for Cryosphere Today sea ice area (as calculated by Wipneus over on the Forum):
Due to a massive drop of 170K, followed by a 109K drop reported today, CT SIA is currently lower than all minimums on record, except for 2012, which means that a final second position is now already secured. Dropping to 2012 levels will require something that surpasses the dictionary word of unprecedented, but the weather forecast is pretty insane (see further below), so who knows. Currently, the difference with the 2012 minimum is 575K. Last year 484K was lost from today's date until the minimum on September 8th.
With no JAXA data reported I can't post an actual CAJAX graph. It would probably be lowest for the date given those huge drops for CT SIA. In this respect something interesting is happening with regards to the CAMAS graph, as MASIE does seem to match CT SIA's massive drops. Actually, MASIE is currently lower than 2012, the only dataset so far:
And so CAMAS compactness isn't shooting down:
CAMAS 20160825
CÁMAS compactness is still quite low, but you'd expect it to be lower, as the ice pack is quite dispersed after the re-intensifying GAC of the past two weeks. Huge CT SIA losses are to be expected because of the flashing effect where large swathes of ice can disappear from the sensor's view, which in principle shouldn't happen with MASIE because operational analysts (ie humans) check various data sources to determine the ice edge.
Moreover, when GAC-2012 happened, IMS (the operational analysis product that MASIE is based on) was slow to catch on to the big losses, or rather the passive microwave products immediately reacted to the chaos below and then slowed down somewhat when some of the vanished ice re-appeared. In fact, a paperwas written by Walt Meier afterwards that showed how much passive microwave data products and MASIE diverged for a while during and immediately after the storm:
In early August 2012, an even more extreme example occurred when a large region of ice disappeared from passive microwave data over the course of just a few days, while MASIE continued to show the region as ice-covered. In this case, ship and aircraft observations in the region contributing to analyses by the Alaska National Weather Service Ice Desk confirmed the presence of substantial ice, validating that MASIE was correct and passive microwave was vastly underestimating the ice extent in the region.
So, there's a bit of a mystery there. It may have to do with cloudiness, which limits the resources operational analysts have at their disposal. Or perhaps something changed in their procedures. Or perhaps the situation right now isdifferent from 2012, when ice was much more preconditioned, and this time around it's simply the disappearance of the Wrangel Arm ice (see Wipneus' latest NSIDC delta map here). Either way, MASIE is the most accurate data set out there, in principle, but it probably isn't consistent enough for interannual comparisons (as explained here).
One last graph to show how much CAMAS compactness is out of sync with other compactness measurements, here's Wipneus' compactness graph that uses SIE and SIA data from the same source, NSIDC (25 km resolution), JAXA (10 km resolution) and Uni Hamburg (3.125 km resolution):Amsr2-compact-compare
Lowest compactness on all three graphs, lowest on record for NSIDC and Uni Hamburg.
For a more thorough explanation on compactness read the Melting momentum part 2 blog post.
And sorry for the long text. It's now time for the most interesting part of this update.
Weather conditions
Here's the animation of Danish Meteorological Institute SLP images showing the distribution of atmospheric pressure during the past two weeks:
DMISLP2016-6You can clearly see the GAC (or almost) come into existence and then re-intensify twice. But as if this wasn't spectacular enough, the animation's final frame shows a glimpse of what's to come: massive high on the American side, massive low on the Siberian side.
Here's what the ECMWF weather forecast model has in store for the coming 6 days (click for a larger version, and go to the ASIG Forecasts page for daily forecasts):
Look at that pressure gradient! Look at those isobars! I can't remember ever having seen such a potent Dipole before. Tropical Tidbits is showing a 972 hPa central pressure for tomorrow and 1041 hPa on the other side four days from now. This is insane, truly insane...
These winds are going to cause massive compaction and transport, and who knows where that Bite may end up. The only moment where this would've been even worse, would've been during June or July as it would have caused a massive surge in temperatures and huge amounts of solar radiation, preconditioning the ice for an August onslaught à la 2012.
The Dipole is also bringing relatively warm air from lower latitudes with it, but cold temps are slowly spreading over the Arctic nonetheless. Mind you, much less than in the past, and not enough yet to offset losses from bottom melt, compaction and export. Here's the animation showing the GFS weather model temperature forecast maps for the coming week, as provided by  Climate Reanalyzer:
CCI temp-6
As for sea surface temperature anomalies, here's another comparison with 2012 (left) for August 25th. By now 2012 was really running warm in the Beaufort Sea, but this year isn't much behind, and there's much warmer water on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, just waiting for some more ice being pushed into it. Om nom nom.
DMI SSTA August 25 2012 vs 2016
The fact that a melting season can end this way, gives me shivers. As did the start, when after an extremely mild winter and a record low maximum, persistent high pressure opened up much of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas amazingly early, causing 2016 to lead on practically all extent and area graphs out there, for weeks and months on end.
That much of the ice still manages to hold on, is entirely due to the weak preconditioning phase during May, June and July (see this year's Melting momentum posts). If melt ponding had been anything close to 2010 or 2012, the record would have been completely smashed this year, just as the 2007 record was smashed in 2012.
Yes, you read right: A melting season that saw cloudy conditions dominate during the period when solar radiation matters most, is going to come in second, and we don't even know yet how close it can still get to the 2012 record. We also don't know what the consequences will be for Northern Hemisphere weather or for melting seasons to come. Will this season be followed by a rebound? Or is this just the aperitif for destruction?
We have two exciting weeks ahead of us. And a bit frightening.