Tag Archives: arctic sea ice

Have Things Changed Much From 1969?

Expert Says Arctic Ocean Will Soon Be an Open Sea; Catastrophic Shifts in Climate Feared if Change Occurs“. Yes, it’s 1969.

What else has changed?

Well, one thing is that at the time, Walter Sullivan of the New York Times could still afford to write “Other Specialists See No Thinning of Polar Ice Cap” in mid-size letters near the title. As for the rest:

  • Arctic sea ice cover is “vulnerable
  • An ice-free Arctic Ocean is presented as harbinger of European “deserts” with “great ice sheets…farther north
  • Focal point” in the research is “the use of giant computers to simulate the world’s weather patterns
  • Climatologists keep following the latest trends, wildly extrapolating them in the future. For example, there is a Soviet-American consensus among specialists around prediction of “continued cooling in step with an expected decline in sunspot activity through the nineteen-eighties“, after a “climate cooling during the last decade or two“. Likewise, “until recently there was a suspicion that the warming trend of the century preceding 1940 was a by-product of the industrial revolution” (yes, CO2 emissions)

However, there are other interesting details:

  • Sullivan presents as common knowledge ideas such as “progressive shrinkage of the Arctic pack ice over the last century
  • About one quarter of the Arctic pack melts each summer“…that would be very peculiar, since according to Cryosphere Today even in 1979 it was more like two thirds
  • Nortber Untersteiner is interviewed about a report of his in Naval Research Reviews showing that “the climatic trend in the Arctic has turned toward cooling
  • There is a mention of a 1893 Fridtjof Nansen report of “43 feet thick” Arctic pack, followed by others “indicating a steady thinning of the pack that, the data suggest, could vanish by 1970 or sooner“. These conclusions are not supported by “under-ice journeys of American nuclear submarines” (why don’t they use submarines nowadays, instead of clowning around for Catlin?)

Arctic Sea Ice On The Edge (literally!)

Continuing in my investigation of how “unfair” the situation is regarding Arctic sea ice and its forever-negative anomaly (forever-negative since it is calculated against a reference is pretty much the most sea ice the Arctic will ever going to see), some curious results about where the 1.1 million square kilometers are missing from.

The edges, that is.

As of Jan 16, Cryosphere Today reports 1.131M sq km of missing Northern Hemisphere sea ice area.

If you go into more details, the situation is:

  1. Bering sea, missing .1M sq km
  2. Sea of Okhotsk, missing .15
  3. Greenland sea, missing .1
  4. Baffin/Newfoundland area, missing .4
  5. Hudson Bay, missing .3

————

Total is 1.05M sq km already. If you then look at all the other areas, you will find them pretty much all

  • At around zero anomaly
  • Full of ice (i.e. there is no space for additional ice area)

In other words, there is no way that those places could contribute a positive anomaly that would balance out the negative ones listed abov. The only Arctic place that could contribute anything positive to the anomaly is actually the Barents Sea (where it is currently zero).

And where are all these non-full negative-anomaly areas placed? Why, they are all at the edges of the Arctic ocean.

This strongly indicates it’s not a generalized Arctic warming that is behind the “missing Arctic sea ice area”/negative anomaly, but something connected to sea currents.In fact, the Hudson Bay situation shows this nicely: it’s not the actual Bay that is missing most of the ice, it’s the Hudson Strait linking the Bay to the (negative-anomaly) Baffin/Newfoundland area.

Arctic Sea Ice? There Is Only So Much Space For Arctic Sea Ice…

Very quickly, a couple of notes on something that keeps bothering me…Arctic sea ice is the darling of AGW catastrophists, obviously not because its extension getting away from the 1979 maximum has been the most consistent “warming signal” (sorry, hurricanes!). But the geography of the Arctic makes it very difficult to beat the maximum.

For example looking at yesterday’s figures from Cryosphere Today (visual estimates) we have the Kara Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Basin and the Arctic Basin pretty much at 100% or slightly lower of maximum-ever sea ice. Only thing, there is no way they can get ABOVE that 100% line, simply because they are already 100% covered by sea ice.

Greenland sea ice runs at -0.05 million square kilometers (84% of its possible maximum, but it usually peaks later in the season). Similar the situation for the Chukchi Sea, the St Lawrence area and the Barents Sea.

So we’re down to where the sea ice actually is missing: Baffin (it’s half of what it should be, but what is should be is “completely covered by sea ice), Hudson Bay (almost the same), Okhotsk (there is 0.1 m sq km missing, despite the ongoing drama, and again the expected value seems to be “completely covered”).

—–

It is obviously very difficult for anybody to be above the zero-meter line if the zero-meter line is defined as the top of Mount Everest. Likewise, we should never expect news of a “healthy” Arctic sea ice extent unless it gets chocked-full of ice: in other words, we should never expect news of a “healthy” Arctic sea ice, really…

Therefore, the use of Arctic sea ice extent to investigate the effects of climate change, and in particular the use of the late-1970s as reference period, is bound to be limited.

 

Arctic Sea Ice: What Good The Climate Models?

Fanfare on The Guardian’s “Fact are sacred” DataBlog for the publication of a graph-cum-spreadsheet about Arctic sea ice: “Scientists are fighting back over climate change. Get the data behind the latest battle – and see how we visualised it“. (*)

A major Met Office review of more than 100 scientific studies tracking the observed changes in the Earth’s climate system finds that it is an “increasingly remote possibility” that human activity is not the main cause of climate change

Wow!

It’s just such a pity the figures provided don’t show much beyond scientists being vaguely able to devise models where Arctic sea ice decreases as it has been doing for a while (hardly the information you need to have a PhD to understand). Continue reading Arctic Sea Ice: What Good The Climate Models?

Arctic Sea Ice Extent: In October 2008, Fastest Ever Growth

As expected a few days ago: October 2008 has seen the fastest Arctic sea ice extent growth ever recorded. According to the data published by IARC-JAXA, the amount of growth has reached 3,481,575 square kilometers for the month, or 112,319 sq km per day on average.

The previous maximum was October 2007, with 3,330,937 sq km for the month and 107,450 sq km per day on average. Record shrinkage remains July 2007, with 2,913,593 sq km lost and 93,987 sq km per day on average.

Growth should be starting levelling off now. November values could be as high as 2,179,844 sq km (2002) or as low as 964,688 sq km (2006).

UPDATE NOV 6: I should have known it. OF COURSE the above is an indication that Climate Change is upon us. Read this comment by Georg Hoffman at Tamino’s:

So I would make the specific prevision that 1) a seasonal cycle will show up in sea ice data and 2) due to 1) the october/november increase and the may/june decrease of seaice will become bigger and faster. I might check that with CMIP model data but I am pretty sure that this is what the model show

Here’s a link for the “CMIP model“. It never ceases to amaze me how elastic AGW theory truly is.

Arctic Sea Ice: Animation of Thirty Years

Among the general boredom of reading about the latest awfully hollow “demonstration” that humans are at fault by way of exclusion (and in the process, finding the fingerprint of human-induced rise in temperature in places such as Antarctica where temperature has not risen…unless it’s the Peninsula they are referring to), here some animations of how arctic sea ice has appeared between 1979 and 2008, around October 28, according to Cryosphere Today (note: some years are missing, and for other years I had to take the nearest available image)

Animated Arctic Sea Ice - around Oct 28
Animated Arctic Sea Ice - around Oct 28

You may have to click on the images above to be able to properly see the animated GIFs.

One could be forgiven to think the following:

  • there isn’t much of a polar ice cover “shrinking trend”, but rather a lot of expansions and contractions, plus a freakish small configuration in 2007
  • the 2008 cover is very simiar to 2000’s, apart from an ice-free area East of Novaya Zemlja
  • one can almost sea the warm water flowing in through the Bering Strait, sometimes reaching East as far as Banks Island (1987, 1998)
  • the “losses” in sea ice in the Baltic and northwestern Siberia may or may not relate to a change in data processing between 2003 and 2005

Note how different the last 3 years look, as they include the snow cover exactly when, say, the ice in the White Sea suddenly goes.

October 2008 Possibly Set for Record Sea Ice Extent Increase Rate

UPDATE NOV 10: October 2008 did show the fastest ever growth in sea ice extent

What is the reason behind the fact that “[Arctic] sea ice area [is] approaching the edge of normal standard deviation“?

It’s because October 2008 is set to break all records in the daily rate of increase in sea ice extent in the Arctic, that’s why.

Just look at the graph below, extracted from the values available at the IARC-JAXA website.

Daily Change Rate (Sea Ice Extent) (sq km, by month)
Daily Change Rate (Sea Ice Extent) (sq km, by month)

(The Y values are the daily rates of change in sea ice extent in the Arctic, averaged across each month. Note that for October I have only computed and plotted the rates between the 1st and the 23rd day of the month).

Some considerations:

(a) The October 2008 average daily rate so far is the largest overall, both in actual value (around 122,400 sq km of increase per day, previous record 100,500 in 2005) and in absolute terms (the overall minimum is around 94,000 sq km of decrease per day, in July 2007)

(b) If confirmed in a week’s time, the above will become the fifth record set in 2008:

largest January daily increase rate (44,000, previous record 39.800 in 2003)
largest February daily increase rate (27.500, previous record 25,400 in 2005)
largest May daily decrease rate (47,100, previous record 46,000 in 2005)
largest August daily decrease rate (66,800, previous record in 62,600 in 2004)

(c) Compared to 2007, the current year 2008 has so far shown

larger daily rates of increase in January (44,000 vs 35,400), February (27,500 vs 12,100), September (8,800 vs -600) and October (122,400 vs 93,500)
larger daily rates of decrease in April (39,800 vs 27,100), May (47,100 vs 44,200) and August (66,800 vs 55,400)
smaller daily rates of decrease in March (11,900 vs 12,200), June (57,900 vs 63,000) and July (78,800 vs 94,000)

========

Let’s see what happens during the upcoming week.

Past values suggest that the final average daily rate of increase for October may be slightly less than today’s. Still, as the current rate is some 20% larger than the previous record in October 2005, it would surprise nobody if October 2008 will remain the month with the largest value ever recorded by JAXA.

ps Who knows what NASA will have to say?

Something Odd About Regional Arctic Sea Ice

There is something strange about the Arctic sea ice data posted at Cryosphere Today.

If I sum up each individual sea’s contribution (plots at the bottom of this post), the totals do no agree with the overall Northern Hemisphere values.

This is a list of anomaly and absolute values in millions sq km, region by region for Sep 10, 2007; March 01, 2008 and Sep 09, 2008:

(Approximated values obtained with Plot Digitizer. I have asked Chapman for the actual figures…if I get them, I’ll change the post accordingly)

Region,Anomaly Sep 07,Anomaly Mar 08,Anomaly Sep 08,Absolute Sep 07,Absolute Mar 08,Absolute Sep 08,Mean Sep 07,Mean Mar 08,Mean Sep 08
Arctic Basin,-0.97,0.07,-0.75,2.37,4.2,2.59,3.34,4.13,3.34
Hudson Bay,-0.02,-0.05,-0.02,0,1.22,0,0.02,1.27,0.02
St Lawrence,0,0,0,0,0.19,0,0,0.19,0
Baffin/Newfoundland,-0.03,0.16,-0.02,0,1.33,0.01,0.03,1.17,0.03
Greenland,0.06,-0.06,-0.04,0.17,0.52,0.07,0.11,0.58,0.11
Barents,-0.04,-0.24,-0.04,0,0.41,0,0.04,0.65,0.04
Kara,-0.1,0.02,-0.09,0.04,0.86,0.05,0.14,0.84,0.14
Laptev,-0.07,0.02,-0.04,0.1,0.7,0.13,0.17,0.68,0.17
East Siberian,-0.31,0.01,-0.31,0.01,0.9,0.01,0.32,0.89,0.32
Chukchi,-0.08,0.02,-0.08,0,0.59,0,0.08,0.57,0.08
Bering,0,0.16,0,0,0.7,0,0,0.54,0
Okhotsk,0,-0.3,0,0,0.7,0,0,1,0
Beaufort,-0.13,0.02,-0.17,0.04,0.52,0,0.17,0.5,0.17
Canadian Archipelago,-0.13,0,-0.1,0.11,0.6,0.14,0.24,0.6,0.24
Totals,-1.82,-0.17,-1.66,2.84,13.44,3,4.66,13.61,4.66

Northern Hemisphere,-2.05,-0.48,-1.92,2.94,13.85,3.17,4.99,14.33,5.09

difference,-0.23,-0.31,-0.26,0.1,0.41,0.17,0.33,0.72,0.43

(The “Mean” columns reconstruct the 1979-2000 mean by subtracting the anomaly from the absolute measured ice cover)

You can see that my digitization appears to consistently underestimate the anomalies, and overestimate the absolute measured ice cover. The result is that there is for example a huge 720,000sq km difference between the total of all 1979-2000 March means, and the value reported for the Northern Hemisphere on Cryosphere Today.

It would be nice to know if anybody else has attempted this, and/or has the actual values rather than the graphs.

NOTE ADDED 11 SEP: Unfortunately the graphs below do not use the same scale, so visual inspection can be misleading