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It’s time to worry (again) about disappearing arctic ice

8 June 2010

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.

Contents

  1. Graphical evidence about sea ice, from different perspectives
  2. Does this short-term trend tell us anything useful?
  3. Research about other causes of sea ice loss (links to both news media and peer-reviewed literature)
  4. 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:

Some of the research about wind’s effect on the arctic, including the 2 studies described above:

(3b)  Soot, a major long-term factor melting polar ice:

For non-technical explanations:

Some of the large research literature about the effect on climate of soot (black carbon) deposits:

(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:

(4b)  Afterword

  • For more about this website, see the About the FM website page.
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