Climate For All

An All Around Science Blog

Is the Arctic Sea Ice in Retreat ?

Is the Arctic Sea Ice in Retreat?

UPDATE :   Its been a year now since I posted this article and felt it was time update a little bit. Here is the latest graph from IARC-JAXA:

April 29th 2011

Back in January of this year, it was very noticeable that many writers chose to no longer wait till minimum ice extent data in September, and chose to inundate many readers about how Arctic Sea Ice was at its lowest for December. That was very poor commentary, even for the ‘hot-heads’.

The measurement of annual Arctic Sea Ice , for good or bad, has always come at minimum ice extent in September. It is upon many predictions, that Co2 will create ice-free summers in the Arctic in the not so distant future.

When sea ice extent didn’t reach the milestone year of 2007, the hot-heads have had to alarm the media in other ways. Stories about thinning multi-year ice, increased concentrations of Co2, methane, and cherry-picking data has become the norm.

The alarmist suggests, that though the Arctic Ice hasn’t fallen below 2007, that it is just a matter of time. The alarmist will emphatically tell you that man-made Co2 will eventually create enough heat to end all of the debate over CAGW( Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming).

The mantra in the media is hype every weather occurrence  as man-made.

Be it glaciers, the Arctic, floods, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, whatever. It’s pathetic to see such desperation, from so many people, to convince themselves and others, that YOU are to blame, for EVERYTHING.

The facts no longer matter. Its your belief that matters now.

The alarmist wants us all to just believe. The alarmist wants us to disregard any theory.

Because any theory or fact that sheds doubt over our blame, is untrue, unproven, political incorrect, and conspiratorial.

The alarmist want to shame you into belief. The alarmist wants to control what you think.

The media inundates us with news on, ‘How to talk to a skeptic’, ‘Its worse than expected’, ‘We’ve gone beyond the tipping point’, It’s our children that will suffer’, ‘The fossil fuel industry is only protecting it’s interests’. So on and so forth.


The only thing in retreat is common sense from those that would have you believe YOU caused all this.

Anyways, come check back by here in September, and lets see if there is anything worth feeling alarmed about.

It has been, with some interest, that I have been following the science news

on Arctic sea ice. I first heard about the possibility that the Arctic being

completely free of ice  back in the summer of ’08. Since that time, and many

times thereafter,  I’ve kept watch on most of the news surrounding it.

Rather than attempt to give a summary of what I’ve learned, I think I would

rather display a couple graphs as to what we know about Arctic sea ice.

In the above graph, the data compiled here is from IARC-JAXA, a Japanese Aerospace Company based in Alaska. This is a daily updated graphic image of Arctic sea ice extent. The data has been updated daily since June of 2002.

In this graph, the data you see here is presented by the NSIDC and supported by NASA. It also is a daily updated graphic image of the Arctic sea ice extent. This data has been updated daily since 1979.

What can we learn about  Arctic sea ice from these two examples ? Or more importantly, what can we learn about the companies themselves and how they want to represent the data they have in their possession? I think we can learn plenty.

In the graph from IARC, we have a running annual anomaly since 2002. We can clearly see each years rise and fall of arctic sea ice. In the graph from NSIDC, we have a graph that is displaying daily updates with misleading averages as a backdrop to view the anomaly.

You will notice that NSIDC only displays the months Dec-Apr, and only shows averages for ’79-’00, ’06-’07, and ’09-’10. NSIDC has omitted 7 years of data from their graph.

Looking at the NSIDC graph, one could surmise that this years arctic sea ice is somewhat below the norm of ’79-’00 and somewhat above the ’07 sea ice extent. Just based on a cursory view of this presented data, one  can say that this years arctic sea ice is below normal and could suggest lower than normal sea ice extent for the rest of the year. If they had included the data for the omitted 7 years, it would more than likely make this graph worthless. The addition of more data from the omitted years would have lowered the ’79-’00 average considerably. Something else that bothers me about this graph is that it only presents  5 months of averages. It will be interesting to see how NASA presents their data for the upcoming summer months.

But this much I get. NSIDC apparently wants us to believe that this years sea ice extent is below normal and will continue to do so. That is their agenda. Why else omit other annual data that could possibly alter the state of the graph. I don’t like to be misled, and I get the impression that NASA knows no other tactic than the misdirection of data.

IARC on the other hand only presents the data as a whole. No compiled averages of preceding years. No omitted years from their graph. Just simply a running tally of each years progression of the sea ice as data. Nothing misleading with their graph. Just the facts. I like facts.

The graph from IARC, though only covering a period of 9 years, shows no average anomalies, just a running tally. But if one was to surmise anything from their graph, this years sea ice extent shows no abnormality and seems to be on average or even slightly above average for this time of year.

So, is the Arctic sea ice in retreat? I suppose it depends on where you go to get your information.

If you like cherry-picked data, omitted data, misleading data, head on over to your nearest NASA affiliate. They will gladly share with you what they want you to know.

Or go visit a site that shows all the data, without any flesh pedaling and glad handling , that will provide you the information to help make an educated decision  as to the state of sea ice extent.

That is all.

D. Alan


3 responses to “Is the Arctic Sea Ice in Retreat ?

  1. Tim Channon March 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I did a lot of work on sea ice and reached the following conclusions.

    Ice area and extent data is the same, where apart form noise it overlays for both Arctic and Antarctic. Lesson: ignore area.

    There are two daily datasets, one from NASA from 1978 and the other IJIS. The NASA data ceases end 2007 and when I asked about updates I had a bad response.

    I’d already done some work on combining the longer monthly data with the daily IJIS, can be done nicely.

    The two daily datasets are different… apparently there are two different ice extents… yeah right. They must be different projections of the same thing.

    Some more work and I was able to compensate using the dataset overlap period as the optimisation driver. Roughly 2003 through 2007.

    The result is a daily Arctic extent from 1978 through current. (in fact the earliest data is every other day) I hope obviously that like the satellite temperature data it is a bit dodgy because of the mongrel collection of different satellites. That said, a blind man would approve.

    As a further stage I remove the annual cycle leaving a deviation from normal.

    That matches the same thing based on the monthly data, nice match.

    I have also found that inverted polar UAH tlt data matches the ice extent pretty well for both Arctic and Antarctic.

    A few other things turned up which I won’t go into, surprises.

    I did produce a DIY spreadsheet where adding the new IJIS data can be done and it automatically creates the change data. (reduces to a lookup table)

    According to that when I last looked a few weeks ago the ice has been low all year, exceptionally so. Currently it will be close to mean for the zero on that dataset.

    If you look at the polar satellite map this is perhaps no surprise. There are abnormal conditions with a, exceptional ring of cold around the Arctic but warm up there. The jetstream is way south of normal.

    I don’t give any links because that would be pushing and bad manners for a private blog.
    Email me if you want to see.

    I’ve moved on from taking much interest in the ice. Been there, found probably all I can.

    Is much going on? Doubt it.

    [Reply]- Thanks for your input. Look forward to having you comment on future posts. D. Alan-

  2. jeff brown May 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    D. Alan, you seem to not understand several important points. NSIDC tends to only show the current extent relative to the long-term mean, as well as the year with the minimum extent (which happens to be 2007). That is what they do for their sea ice news and analysis web site because readers of the blog find too many lines distracting. You can easily download the data from NSIDC yourself and make your own plots. THey are not hiding anything but writing summaries for the average reader to understand. Comparing to the long-term mean and the last minimum makes sense to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: