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Nenana Ice Classic 2021

Filed under: — gavin @ 30 April 2021

And…. it’s that time again. The clock stopped on the Nenana ice classic this afternoon (April 30, 12:50pm AT). This is pretty much on trend and unsurprising given the relatively slightly cool winter in Alaska. The jackpot on offer this year was $233,591 but will likely be shared among several winners. This year’s ‘break up’ is a little odd, since the ice moved sufficiently to trigger the clock, but not enough to actually topple the tripod (which is still visible as this is being written (9pm ET) – Update 10:30pm ET: gone now though!). But, the rules are the rules…

Nenana Ice Classic break-up dates since 1917.

The trends in the break up date is about 8 days earlier per century (±4), estimated over the whole record, but substantially faster over the last 50 years (16 ± 12 days/century, 95% CI).

Other phenological records show similar trends, notably the longest cherry blossom record from Kyoto which dates back to 9th Century, and which had a record earliest peak bloom this year and a clear trend over the last few decades:

Kyoto Cherry Blossom trends (graph from Statista)

Feel free to link to your favorite such record in the comments…

8 Responses to “Nenana Ice Classic 2021”

  1. 1

    For ice-out dates, its better to get gather more statistics. Consider the ice-out dates for a large sample of Minnesota lakes organized according to latitude


    This year in MN ice-out was relatively early in comparison to the mean

  2. 2
    Russell says:

    No worries, Gavin- no climatologists were thrown to the Iditarod sled dogs this year, and there are plans afoot to feed them Beyond Burger next time.

  3. 3
    jacobl says:

    looks like the tripod sank
    ps do you have any error bars on the regression?
    thanks jacob l

    [Response: 7.8±3.8 days/century (95% CI) – gavin]

  4. 4
    J Doug Swallow says:

    Because I lived in Alaska for 24 years, 14 of which was above the Arctic Circle, a little warming would be appreciated. This that follows has to do with the Cherry trees blooming. We were in Fukushima, Japan on Monday, April 25, 2016 hoping to see the Hanamiyama Park fruit trees in full bloom, but it was too damn cold and they were not blooming when we were there during what should have been peak season.
    From past experience, I’m sure that Gavin A. Schmidt will allow this comment to be seen on HIS site because it has scientific research to back up what I’m saying.

    Kyoto, Japan

    Aono, Y. and Saito, S. 2010. Clarifying springtime temperature reconstructions of the medieval period by gap-filling the cherry blossom phenological data series at Kyoto, Japan. International Journal of Biometeorology 54: 211-219.
    The authors investigated documents and diaries from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries to supplement phenological data series pertaining to the flowering of Japanese cherry trees in Kyoto, Japan, “to improve and fill gaps in temperature estimates based on previously reported phenological data,” after which they “reconstructed a nearly continuous series of March mean temperatures based on 224 years of cherry flowering data, including 51 years of previously unused data, to clarify springtime climate changes.” In addition, they estimated still other cherry full-flowering dates “from phenological records of other deciduous species, adding further data for six years in the tenth and eleventh centuries by using the flowering phenology of Japanese wisteria.” The resulting temperature reconstruction “showed two warm temperature peaks of 7.6°C and 7.1°C, in the middle of the tenth century and at the beginning of the fourteenth century, respectively,” and they say that “the reconstructed tenth century temperatures are somewhat higher than present temperatures after subtracting urban warming effects.” Quantitatively, that difference during the 10th century was determined to be as high as 0.5°C.

  5. 5
    J Doug Swallow says:

    This is the link for the actual valid research about cherry trees blooming in Kyoto, Japan.

  6. 6
    Carbomontanus says:

    I wrote it before:
    My personal eye or bench-mark of eventual / possible climate change is http www Severnaya Zemlya.

    I have written it before, when shall you grasp it?

    It contains the very recent history of polar research, first mentioned as Czar Nicolai II land, and further mapped under Stalin as the last unknown larger arcipelago on earth.

    Nordenskjøld & Nansen went right through the Vilkitsky Strait noticing nothing, and Amundsen froze tight. Umberto Nobile in his Airship Italia found only fogs, but Graf Zeppelin was able to take a lot of pictures and measuremnents for Stalin.

    I have found and followed it, and in 2 recent years at least, the official ice maps both from the Danes and the Japanese show that one has been able to sail all around Severnaya Zemlya with good margin on open water in the season.

    Beat that!

    Those lands and waters are quite more dramatic than Alaska because, as far as I can judge from the mentioned maps, the northwestern passage rather tends to freeze and to clog in an ugly way.

    Putin (peace be with him) advocates and sells this ” northern sea route” as an alternative to Gibraltar, Suez, and the Malacca strait.

    Let us be neutral to that for scientific reasons. But it is the much easier and shorter way to China.

    Believe it or not, there is also a strait through Novaya Zemlya where there are fishing villages. That land is called Gåslandet – the goose- land in Norway and it has been known and inhabited for 1000 years at least. (MERCATOR has drawn it on his maps,)

    Those inhabitants were “evacuated” to the mainlands for the soviet atomic bomb tests. Recently there has been a large invasion of ice- bears disturbing people on Novaya Zemlya due to the lack of sea- ice.

    My very good advice is rather also to discuss the ices in the northeastern Canadian insular arctics.

  7. 7
    Carbomontanus says:

    Dr. R.Climate:

    Mentioning the Kyoto cherry- blossom in climatic context raises as many problems as it solves.

    I relate to, and I use according to tradition, a series of botanic signals and indicators of that kind in order to judge the season and especially springtime, and I enjoin it on people that if they do so, care only to use weeds flowers and trees, that are surerly wild and well adapted to your local and regional climate.

    Thus, avoid discussing weeds and trees that rather come from Mt. Ararat in Kurdistan and has been spread to worldwide and cared for by humans for most eager fanatic and religious reasons and purposes, and severely wishful thinking.

    Examples Vitis vinifera L and Hordeum vulgare L. (Proofs like: “But they grew wine in England and the vikings grew “corn” on eastern Grønland, in the warm mideival period…!”)

    To judge springtime for agriculture and beekeeping here in southern Norway, proper peasant and gardening and beekeepers wisdom says Hazel blossom, Salix caprea, Acer platanoides, blueberries, Betula pubescens having “mouse ears”, and Prunus padus flowering, for guaranteed frost- free nights until next autumn.

    Exotic and untraditional, highly artificial cultivars, even brought out of their habitat, must be avoided for judging climate.

    We can exel in examples of that also.

    Some people try Prunus persica in the sunny wall. That prunus flowers extreemly early, and get frost in the flowers most of the years even in Germany. Properly wild Prunus padus on the other hand flowers as the latest one of possible fruit trees, and never makes any errors. I can also dare to rely on surely wild Prunus avies. And on most traditional small “peasant plums”, Prunus damascus, norwiesco chlivovita. Called Dobson plums in England.

    This also has got to do with possible insect pollination.

    Oak and wild- apple are 2 most traditional climate- indicators for the Köppen climate system in Scandinavia. I live exactly at the official limit and got a wild oak tree in my garden north in the Taiga.. And set further on apples that came up wildly from seeds. And see that my apples flower a week or even 2 weeks later, rather together with the very sure and safe Prunus padus.
    Whereas neighbours and apple industries new and popular, imported inoculated cultivars flowering 1 to 2 weeks earlier, quite often get frost in the flowers

    And even learnt a bit about it at the agricultural highscool, institute of forest research. The rule for safe and sustainable profitable forestery is to set on local “provinienses”. Else, you get “Waldsterben”.

    That principle does not rule for any crop or weed or tree. But simply be aware that not any species and especially wild species has been “cultivated” and selected for thousands of years in order to tolerate any kind of environment, human stupidity, and torture.

    The same is obvious also when it comes to animals.

    Well then, let it be with the world fameous japanese Sakura and its 1000 years history in Kyoto. The Japaneese probably know gardening and what they are doing very well. But that example is obviously, highly artificial and cultivated and will hardly rule anywhere else.

    Reality tells us that, whereas the french are whining and complaining this spring that their wineyards are frozen, and the years before that it has become too hot because of global warming, eastern Europe north to Novgorod has been growing wine for the last 1000 years.

    It is a matter of suited cultivars and proper care and culture ever since Mt. Ararat in Kurdistan where it began.

    As if the French have forgotten that art in recent years.

  8. 8
    J Doug Swallow says:

    #6 2 May 2021 at 4:03 AM Carbomontanus says: Hr.Schmidt I wrote it before:
    My personal eye or bench-mark of eventual / possible climate change is http www Severnaya Zemlya.

    Carbomontanus should get some useful information about Arctic ice from what follows;
    Sea-Ice Distribution in the Bering and Chukchi Seas: Information from Historical Whaleships’ Logbooks and Journals

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