It’s time to worry (again) about disappearing arctic ice
Summary: For global warming propagandists weather is not climate, unless it proves global warming. So again we’re playing watch the arctic ice melt (e.g., Mark Serreze of the NSIDC, Berkeley economist Brad DeLong). Sea ice extent was near the 1979-2000 average in early April. Now, two months later it’s over 2 standard deviations below the average. More proof of co2 causing global warming! Let’s look more closely at the data and research. Over the short-term wind has had a larger impact than co2 on arctic ice. Over long-periods soot (pollution) probably has had a large impact on arctic ice. Accurate diagnosis must precede treatment, true for climate scientists as well as doctors.
- Graphical evidence about sea ice, from different perspectives
- Does this short-term trend tell us anything useful?
- Research about other causes of sea ice loss (links to both news media and peer-reviewed literature)
- For more information on the FM website, and an Afterword
(1) Graphical evidence
Here is the graph Delong cites. Sea ice extent was near the 1979-2000 average in early April. Now, two months later it’s over 2 standard deviations below the average (per the National Sea Ice Data Center).
Cryosphere Today (Arctic Climate Research at U Illinois) gives a another perspective on the terrifying trend, a death spiral — or so we’re told. This view shows the actual cylical history of ice area, undistorted by the time of the annual maximums and minimums (which varies each year):
For another perspective see this from IARC-JAXA Information System (of the International Arctic Research Center and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency):
Earth has two poles. How is the total sea ice area changing? Cryosphere Today shows the area is aprox at the 1979-2010 average:
(2) Does this short-term trend tell us anything useful?
Do the summer values for arctic ice extent and area tell us anything about the seasonal minimum, or do they just reflect the rate of melting and dispersion by wind? No. It’s just weather, per Steve Goddard in Sea Ice Graphs Have Limited Predictive Value, WUWT, 15 May 2010 — Excerpt:
Prior to August 1, the graphs tell us just about nothing about how the summer minimum is likely to turn out. The fact that April, 2010 had the highest extent in the DMI record tells us little or nothing about the summer minimum. There are too many dependencies on ice thickness and summer weather to make a meaningful prediction based solely on the extent graphs. NSIDC has used other methods of prediction, and done poorly – such as this forecast of a record low made in May, 2008.
In a follow-up article he explained the problem:
- Extent tells you nothing about thickness.
- Many areas currently covered with ice, will normally have almost none in September (Hudson Bay, Barents Sea, etc.)
(3) Research about other causes of sea ice loss
(3a) Wind strength and patterns cause much of the annual variation in the minimum area/extent of the arctic ice.
For non-technical explanations:
- “NASA Examines Arctic Sea Ice Changes Leading to Record Low in 2007“, NASA, 1 October 2007 — “Nghiem said the rapid decline in winter perennial ice the past two years was caused by unusual winds..”
- “Wind contributing to Arctic sea ice loss, study finds“, The Guardian, 22 March 2010 — “New research does not question climate change is also melting ice in the Arctic, but finds wind patterns explain steep decline.”
Some of the research about wind’s effect on the arctic, including the 2 studies described above:
- “Rapid reduction of Arctic perennial sea ice“, S. V. Nghiem, Geophysical Research Letters, 4 October 2007 — Free copy here.
- “Summer retreat of Arctic sea ice: Role of summer winds“, Masayo Ogi, Geophysical Research Letters, 18 December 2008 — Free copy here.
- “Influence of winter and summer surface wind anomalies on summer Arctic sea ice extent“, Masayo Ogi et al, Geophysical Research Letters, 2 April 2010 — Free copy here.
(3b) Soot, a major long-term factor melting polar ice:
For non-technical explanations:
- “Soot’s Dirty Hand in Global Warming“, Scientific American, 8 February 2001
- “Soot More Culpable in Climate Warming Than Expected“, Scientific American, 23 December 2003
- “Impure as the Driven Snow“, Scientific American, 8 June 2007 — “Soot is a bigger problem than greenhouse gases in polar meltdown.”
Some of the large research literature about the effect on climate of soot (black carbon) deposits:
- “Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos“, James Hansen and Larissa Nazarenko, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 January 2004
- “Climate response of direct radiative forcing of anthropogenic black carbon“, Serena H. Chung and John H. Seinfeld, Journal of Geophysical Research, 1 June 2005 — Free copy here.
- “Aerosol organic carbon to black carbon ratios: Analysis of published data and implications for climate forcing“, T. Novakov, Journal of Geophysical Research, 8 November 2005 — Free copy here.
- Present-day climate forcing and response from black carbon in snow“, Mark G. Flanner at al, Journal of Geophysical Research, June 2007 — Free copy here.
- “Global and regional climate changes due to black carbon“, V. Ramanathan and G. Carmichae, Nature Geoscience, April 2008 — Free copy here.
- “Black soot and the survival of Tibetan glaciers“, Baiqing Xu et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 29 December 2009
- List of articles, with links, about black carbon deposits’ effect on climate, AGW Observer
(4a) For more information on the FM site
Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar. Of special relevance to this topic are:
- About Climate wars – my articles
- About Climate wars – general media articles
- About Climate wars – the history of climate fears
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