NSIDC pulls the plug on Arctic Sea Ice Graphs

During the the last week, NSIDC graphs of arctic sea ice extent have been dropping so steeply that many have called them into question. Finally NSIDC ended the daily updates and have left the last “good” image of May 21st in place in the web folder, but have placed an “out of order” sign on the website:

Image currently on display for  NSIDC Arctic sea ice extent

Image currently on display for NSIDC Arctic sea ice extent

As we first pointed out to NSIDC back on 2/18/09 (even though it “wasn’t worth blogging about”) the sensor has been on the fritz for quite awhile, calling the whole arctic sea ice series into question. From their most recent announcement, it looks like that it is now “DOA”:

Last "good" arctic sea ice extent from NSIDC - click for larger image

Last "good" arctic sea ice extent from NSIDC - click for larger image

Here’s what they say now.From NSIDC’s web site:

Update: May 26 2009 The daily image update has been temporarily suspended because of large areas of missing data in the past week. NSIDC currently gets its data from the SSM/I sensor on the DMSP F13 satellite, which is nearing the end of its operational life and experiencing intermittent problems.

NSIDC has been working on a transition to a newer sensor on the F17 satellite for several months. At this time, we have more than a year of data from F17, which we are using to intercalibrate with F13 data. The F17 data are not yet available for near-real-time updates. We will resume posting daily updates as soon as possible, either from F13, if the present problem is resolved, or from F17, when the transition is complete.

It doesn’t look promising to get any usable data for the last 6 months or more, since it clearly has been corrupted by the sensor issues.

Meanwhile the AMSR-E on the Aqua satellite chugs right along on JAXA:

http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/AMSRE_Sea_Ice_Extent.png

From NANSEN, here is a map showing differences between AMSR and SSMI. There are some huge chunks missing.

artic_roos_amsr_minus_ssmi_20090524

AMSR minus SSMI Source: NANSEN

See the source image page here

(h/t to Fred Nieuwenhuis for the link)

Personally I think it was folly for NSIDC to try to use different channels on the DMSP F13 satellite to nurse the dataset along, as we’ve seen it is not just the single channel on SSM/I sensor that has had problems.

Transitioning to the DMSP F17 satellite “may” be a plan, but the AQUA satellite and teh AMSR-E package seems to be quite reliable and with a number of years of life ahead. It is also used by many other agencies to reliably gauge sea-ice.

IMHO, NSIDC is doing themselves no favors by sticking with the DMSP SSM/I satellite platform package. The science world has moved on with AQUA’s AMSR-E, and it is time for NSIDC to move on as well.

Otherwise, they are going to be “has beens” using older technology. Get with the program guys. You need good supporting data so incoming director Mark Serreze can give us his fabulous forecasts and media soundbites that don’t seem to come true.

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115 thoughts on “NSIDC pulls the plug on Arctic Sea Ice Graphs

  1. Regarding the AMSR-E data..what is the cause of that blip in the graph coming up in the next few days? It consistenly edges up almost every year at the exact same time.

  2. That’s the dude who will be heading up NSIDC? The ponytail and the “back in the old days” flowered shirt gives this guy away as a greeny who tells tall tales. He will destroy the scientific integrity of NSIDC by having drunk the coolaid of the need to tell alarming stories in order to decrease pollution through costly mandates and taxes, and to hell with science. Come to think of it, maybe “Science”, is the new political party.

  3. UH OH. Thought summat was oop again: although I was not the first to query it on this board.

    And by the way I think it is the Ar-C-tic not the artic: which in the UK is a type of lorry.

    Kindest Regards

  4. The NANSEN measurement of Arctic ice extent also does not match up with AMSR-E ice-extent. Do they also use the DMSP SSM/I satellite?

    Regards

  5. I’ve been noticing the big voids in the data for the last week or so and just was hoping they’d get it back up soon. Dang; I like having multiple data sources, even if one is a bit archaic.

    These voids were not there in previous years, so the 2007 & 2008 minimums are not in doubt. The agreement with the JAXA AMSR-E data validates this. (Did I mention that I like having multiple data sources?)

  6. I’m questioning if we’re not already above 2003. I’ve struggled to characterize what drives the AGW crowd. Now I think it’s a new (or old) pagan religion with Gaia as its deity.

  7. I have the same question as Don Rayburg… why is there a blip in the same few days each year? Is the sensor being degaussed or something?

  8. Ric, it appears that Cryosphere does not have recent images for comparative purposes. Notice that May 25th is for 2008, not 2009, in your link.

  9. Count me in too on the blip in the data around June 1. I’ve been watching to see what happens this year.

    Maybe whatever they want to happen will happen, after all, they’re here from the government and they’re here to help us.

  10. How fortuitous…well, never fear, I’m they’ll have everything right as rain in time for Copenhagen.

  11. Ric Werme (17:57:36)

    Well how does that compare with this from the same site?

    What’s falling apart, the Arctic or the sensors or the data management?

  12. Looks like the “sensor drift” aka: calibration
    problems have returned. Missing chunks the
    size of California might be missed again. Maybe
    they can review the uplinked calibration offsets
    and receiver biases to help them find out just
    where the failure in real data collection is.

  13. That comparison which shows the “ice breaking up” in May 2009, if you look closely shows the WINTER SNOW COVER THIS YEAR is far more extensive than last year’s snow cover. I figure the sea ice is a different sensor/parameter.

    I suspect the snow sensing is “intact”. So the real question is…Maunder Minimum Winters anyone?

  14. Ric, yeah that looks pretty awful. That perfectly round spot in the center of the image looks healthy though, so I’m a true believer. Nothing could possibly be wrong with this picture.

    And pay no attention to the text below the comparison. That was February. That was then, this is now, and they wouldn’t put these images on the internet unless it was true.

    Right?

  15. Well JAXA seems fine to me right now, though the Cryosphere comparison images should be pulled because the sensor quality is so bad.

    When it comes to ice and water and stuff, I remember the post where it said the PDO is going back to neutral, the latest SST map from NOAA however shows the horseshoe shaped cold anomaly staying together and somewhat re-solidifying itself.

  16. CPT. Charles (18:24:53) :

    How fortuitous…well, never fear, I’m they’ll have everything right as rain in time for Copenhagen.

    Looks like a job for SuperMANN –

    Data Interpolation faster than a speeding bullet…

    Computation more powerful than an uncommented Fortran Program…

    Able to create tall hockey sticks with a single press of the enter key…

    (Apologies…)

  17. That blip was explained before. It is a satellite adjustment for the time of year in it’s orbit, or something like that. Can’t remember exactly but it is a necessary adjustment and nothing unseemly.

  18. I would say that there should be no reason for delaying the new data. But there is one and that is that the new data shows what’s really going on and that is a lot more sea ice than normal. I bet they are trying to calibrate an output that jives with a lower extent. Why do I say this? First they got to tow the warming banner as far as they can. Second, its impossible to get the data right until you’ve had time enough to jack with the I/O, hence the delay.

    If these boys had any sense they would just go ahead and let the truth in the data be revealed. Then they could just say “the data shows dramatic sea ice recovery”. When they line themselves up with the truth they can all feel better about themselves. Obama’s not gonna fire any government employees. Why if they they were forceful enough they could single handedly take over the headlines on this whole AGW thing and turn it 180 degress on the “story of extended cooling”. They’d be heroes. We all know what the next few winters are going to be like (colder and colder).

    Sorry for rambling but it just seems so easy. When they report the truth they can all line up for the press themselves. Don’t let any one else do their talking. I say its about time to learn some new names at NSIDC

  19. fred (18:23:38) :
    Count me in too on the blip in the data around June 1. I’ve been watching to see what happens this year.

    Parameters used in the processing of the data are changed on June 1st and October 15th to account for the changes in the surface of the ice (i.e. wetting) which cause differences in the signature. This switch can result in the ‘blip’ you see.

  20. Pamela Gray (18:50:53) : “That blip was explained before. It is a satellite adjustment for the time of year in it’s orbit, or something like that. Can’t remember exactly but it is a necessary adjustment and nothing unseemly.”

    The blip in June is due to a change in the algorithm used to calculate summer ice vs. winter ice. the 2009 line will blip up next month also.

  21. Can someone please take the battery out of their annoyingly loud fire alarm mouths? Oh noes! 2009 will see the entire earth’s sea ice melt! We’re all going to be chugging salt water on the coast! For God sakes man! Run for the hills!

    ROTFL

  22. Now I remember. Water pools on top of still frozen ice can look like open water. Thanks for the reminder.

  23. Pamela Gray (18:14:58) :

    Ric, it appears that Cryosphere does not have recent images for comparative purposes. Notice that May 25th is for 2008, not 2009, in your link.

    I think you’re seeing my link clipped. If I break into two pieces:

    http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh

    ?fm=05&fd=25&fy=2008&sm=05&sd=25&sy=2009
    the fm, fd, and fy parameters refer to the left (first) image, and
    the sm, sd, and sy parameters refer to the right (second) image.

    Again, the year ago vs. today comparison is available at

    http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=05&fd=25&fy=2008&sm=05&sd=25&sy=2009

    Or, the today vs. a year ago comparison is at

    http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=05&fd=25&fy=2009&sm=05&sd=25&sy=2008

  24. Glenn, I would double check your site. It also looks contaminated. Ice doesn’t melt in square, triangle, or rectangle shapes. But thanks for the link. It has other information that I am interested in.

  25. This is from the NCEP site.
    “A satellite we use in constructing the sea ice analyses is overage and now providing poor data. This has corrupted the analysis. We are working on getting better data, but this may not be a speedy process. When we have confidence in a newer process, it will be announced here. In the mean time, though figures will continue to be produced, they cannot be relied upon as formerly. 25 February 2009″

  26. I hope they keep trying to use different sensors than everyone else is using. If there is data available from several sources, it’s better to have it all being interpreted. And we know that one sensor will fail before the other, but we won’t know which until it happens. (Yes, we know estimated lifetimes but it’s not history yet.)

  27. There may have been a gradual resistive increase prior to overt failure. So even earlier readings may have undererported, well prior to the steep drop off.

  28. I’m not a one for conspiracy theories or for believing in deliberate manipulation. Of course these things can happen but I presume against them until there is very clear proof.

    What I do believe is that every measuring device produces results within a margin of error. Sometimes the margin of error is wide, sometimes it is narrow, it all depends on the quality of the particular device and how efficiently it is working.

    With satellite measurements of surface temperature it is possible to assess how accurate the measurement is by comparing it to a different measurement taken at the same time and at the same place. But, even then, the measurement is only as accurate as the most accurate of the measurements taken. That might sound tautologous but it isn’t. A satellite system might be absolutely accurate while a ground measurement taken with a blob of mercury in a glass tube might be hopelessly wrong for any number of reasons. Which is being tested and which is the benchmark against which the other is tested? Equally, the satellite system might be flawed fundamentally yet coincide with a measurement taken on the ground because the ground measurement is equally inaccurate. Nonetheless, standards can be applied to physical measuring equipment to give us a reasonable degree of satisfaction that they provide the base measurement (plus or minus however much of a degree) against which the accuracy of satellite data can be assessed.

    Where is the physical control measure for sea ice? In order to have any chance of understanding these things, I have to look on satellite assessments of sea ice extent as photographs. One day the photograph shows a certain amount of what appears to be solid water and another day it shows a different amount. I can understand that. I can also understand that photographs taken from the same place a few days or weeks or even hours apart can appear to show different things even when nothing has changed.

    Faults with cameras can give misleading pictures long before anyone realises there is a fault. I suppose my question is (leaving aside conspiracy, fraud or any other jiggery-pokery): how accurate are the satellite measures when everything is working well and how can anyone know how accurate they are?

    I speak as a man who hasn’t taken a photograph since 2000.

  29. Mc: I hammered away at this for some time probably much to the annoyance of many. It was noticed (with one glaringly obvious exception) that ALL the ice adjustments were always “downwards”. This might have made some (in particular myself) a bit over paranoid so at least we can now have a record of the changes, to keep people on the toes as they say… There is a sort of record of changes at Mike Maralenas site here:

    http://mikelm.blogspot.com/2007/09/left-image-was-downloaded-from.html

    My understanding that at this a stage the only reliable one would seem to be DMI

    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php

    which seems to show current = 2005 extent
    I don’t know which satellite they are using

  30. Ric Werme: From those CT comparisons it looks like 2009 has a much GREATER extent ice and definitely snow than 2008

  31. Ric Werme (19:35:32) :

    The image is clearly inconsistent with other arctic sea ice images posted at NSIDC (before being taken down). The Hudson bay is almost all ice right now. Something is totally honked up with their map.

  32. Mr. Bigot,
    Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your comments. I always get a chuckle out of them, even the serious ones. Glad to see you hitting the boards more often.
    Mike

  33. >Pamela Gray (18:50:53) : “That blip was explained before. It is a satellite >adjustment for the time of year in it’s orbit, or something like that. Can’t >remember exactly but it is a necessary adjustment and nothing unseemly.”
    >
    >The blip in June is due to a change in the algorithm used to calculate summer >ice vs. winter ice. the 2009 line will blip up next month also.

    From someone who works in the GOES weather satellite operations…I have a few questions.
    1) if this is a ‘winter ice to summer ice’ adjustment, where is the corresponding down-blip at the ‘summer ice to winter ice’ adjustment?
    2) at this adjustment in June, which is the correct data – before the adjustment or after the adjustment?
    3) presuming the data is more ‘correct’ after the adjustemnt, at what point before the adjustment does the data go out of calibration?

    I don’t care if they have to adjust the instruments or not (we do spring/fall patch temp adjustments on the GOES imager but this only affects the dynamic range extremes and very little of the full image is affected). However, unless the graph is showing raw data, the graph should not show any ‘adjustment’ to the instrument. To me, this causes me to question the accuracy of the data that the instrument is providing. I would think it would be better to do a gradual adjustment over a few weeks to transition so to prevent data ‘blips’ which show no reality to what is actually happening.

    Just my thoughts…
    Jeff

  34. They are in transition to a much more AGW friendly management, so throwing out some misleading data for Internet Consumption should not hurt anyone now should it?

    At least the timing was not catastrophic, like Al Gore waving NSIDC extent numbers in Congressmen’s faces calling American business criminals, oops been there done that with Revkins opportunity drive by piece.

    For a world gone climate crazy nobody seems to be putting much effort into getting the observed data right. We are talking about a radical reshaping of civilization based on this but nobody seems to want to put the time and effort into actually provide unbiased data for comparison to the research to see if the theory is still valid.

    Scientists cannot advance the theory or withdraw it without accurate observations, right now it is a dog show of who can provide the worst data quality.

  35. JeffK (21:05:48) :
    From someone who works in the GOES weather satellite operations…I have a few questions.
    1) if this is a ‘winter ice to summer ice’ adjustment, where is the corresponding down-blip at the ’summer ice to winter ice’ adjustment?

    As I pointed out above when I explained the source of the ‘blip’, that occurs on Oct 15th.

    2) at this adjustment in June, which is the correct data – before the adjustment or after the adjustment?

    Both, sufficiently earlier when here is no surface water and later when it is mostly wet.

    3) presuming the data is more ‘correct’ after the adjustemnt, at what point before the adjustment does the data go out of calibration?

    It’s obviously not an instantaneous transition, the actual dates are a compromise to minimize the total error.

    I don’t care if they have to adjust the instruments or not (we do spring/fall patch temp adjustments on the GOES imager but this only affects the dynamic range extremes and very little of the full image is affected). However, unless the graph is showing raw data, the graph should not show any ‘adjustment’ to the instrument. To me, this causes me to question the accuracy of the data that the instrument is providing. I would think it would be better to do a gradual adjustment over a few weeks to transition so to prevent data ‘blips’ which show no reality to what is actually happening.

    That would require accurate knowledge of the state of the ice surface which could be difficult, however JAXA is working on a smoother transition which they hope to have in place this year.

  36. It was noticed (with one glaringly obvious exception) that ALL the ice adjustments were always “downwards”.

    Not to worry.

    Surface temperature adjustments are always “upwards”.

    So it all evens out in the end.

    {insert smiley face indicating mordant sarcasm}

  37. a jones (17:18:58) :
    And by the way I think it is the Ar-C-tic not the artic: which in the UK is a type of lorry.

    The NSIDC global warming juggernaut continues to roll downhill.

  38. According to the picture of Artic sea ice extend, the Catlin expedition should have been swimming when they were rescued.

  39. I have enough popcorn to last until mid September.

    Why isn’t the other said jumping on on some sort of convergence bandwagon right now? It don’t hear them….I think I hear Ben Stein…”Buehler…”

  40. It is always interesting to look at the satellite estimates of sea ice and compare the picture to the real world. In May 25 satellites estimate that there is significant amounts of sea ice left in the Baltic. I live some 20 km to the west of Helsinki in the archipelago and the last ice was gone in this area more than one month ago, satellites still show ice (50%?). What is the reason for these problems? Looking at earlier years it seems like ice is detected by satellites in the area still in July when the sea surface temperature may reach 20 deg C. In this case the ice extent is clearly over estimated. How large are the errors generally? I have a strong feeling that algae growth during the summer months could be a reason for these errors. Colored mats of algae could be interpreted as ice by satellites.

    http://www.smhi.se/cmp/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=9886&l=sv

  41. So……………it appears that NSIDC scientists prefer to use faulty instruments because it apparently gives them the data they want.

    How revealing!

    No engineer worth their salt would be happy with such a situation.

  42. Question, if this instrument is coming to the end of its working life, which they must have known about without doubt, with all that money & brainpower, didn’t somebody suggest planning a new instrument on a new satellite ready to take over if so when they launched the former, so that a relatively smooth changeover could be effected?

    If there has been a failure in the data collection because of a fault, or other in service issue, how do we/they know that a) it’s been giving correct data from the start, b) when it started going wrong, or was it because the data wasn’t what was wanted/expected? c) does this place a question mark over the accuracy of the previous data already published? d) how accurate & reliable are the other data sources if ice extent/area, etc? e) does this mean that Arctic sea-ice cannot be reliably measured in the meantime, posing questions about any claims made for either ice increase or decrease ready for the Copenhagen agenda? I am well aware as are most here that all institutions have their professional & personal pride & wouldn’t want to concede that their methods of measurement are suspect compared to others.

    Does this still mean WAGTD, well at least not just yet?

    BTW, here in south-western UK it’s raining! The MO got this bit right. Friday forecast to be hot & sunny – will keep y’all posted!

  43. Sept 21, 2025 – from my blog

    I have just been fined 20 carbon credits by the EPA for not painting my root white – they suggest I hold my breath for 2 weeks starting in November, eating only celery since they cost no carbon credits, or hold Fifo under water until he stops producing toxic output ( formerly known as c02 ).

  44. Been watching this comedy of errors unfold (again) for the past week or so.

    Here’s the latest graph from NANSEN:

    http://arctic-roos.org/observations/satellite-data/sea-ice/ice-area-and-extent-in-arctic

    Wonder how long it’ll be before they notice they have a problem – when their data shows the Arctic ice-free?

    “The science world has moved on with AQUA’s AMSR-E, and it is time for NSIDC to move on as well.”

    This commonsensical suggestion has been made before. In response, Dr. Walt Meier defended their continuing use of the current platform. Without repeating the full explanation, it came down to comparing apples and oranges. Well, to my way of thinking, when the apples are rotten, it’s time to switch your diet to oranges. Besides, what will NSIDC do if the DMSP-series satellites do their own upgrade?

    Then again, it may not be the quality of instrumentation that’s driving their decision, but the fact that the program has been in existence since the mid-60’s, with the start of the current F-series of satellites beginning in September 1976 (as a small sample, F13 launched Mar 95, F14 – Apr 97, F15 – Dec 99, F16 – Oct 03, & F17 – Nov 06). From the dates, I would surmise that a new satellite is about due (F18?), though I doubt they’d start using its data for a number of years. The quality of the instrumentation may be changing and improving with each launch and it may take them a year or two to intercalibrate satellites.

    Another factor that may be driving their decision might be that Aqua is a single satellite. What if it fails? Is that program set up to keep replacing the satellite every 10-20 years? Aqua is but one satellite in a series of Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites.

    http://aqua.nasa.gov/science/formation_flying.php

    So, for NSIDC, the choice is not so simple. Stick with the DMSP program which has a long history and will probably keep sending up satellites for the foreseeable future, or switch to the newer, higher quality EOS program and hope it too becomes a long-running program.

    Decisions, decisions…

  45. Whoops – I see NANSEN just cleaned up their act and scrubbed all that melt off their graphs. Should have done a screen shot for the humor(?) of their gross error on display.

  46. Hi, one Oxford University professor who designs satellites – his last blew up on the launch pad, a replacement should be launched this year – specifically to measure ice at the poles and sea temperature said in a recent interview that all satellite measurements should be taken with a pinch of salt because all are too remote from what they are supposed to be measuring.

    Me thinks that we are all being led up the garden path by having too much data that most likely doesnt really matter one way or the other, the planet will plod on with or without us.

    It so happens that according to the latest report by the British Antarctica Survey that Antarctica has been growing sea ice at the rate of 100,000 sqkms since 1970 and one bright spark has commented that whilst this maybe true we need to be aware that the southern ocean temperature has been rising faster than mose at 0.17c a decade or 100 years or whatever and gives a detailed account of why this is happening, my response is so what?

    According to God (Al Gore) the scare is that when sea levels rise because the ice caps melt we are all going to drown, well if warming causes the ice caps to grow in size then clearly AGW means we wont drown so what is all the fuss about?

    Extract from article based on the premise better do something that nothing”The problem is that the solutions being offered don’t provide any detectable relief from this so-called catastrophe. Congress is now discussing an 80% reduction in U.S. greenhouse emissions by 2050. That’s basically the equivalent of building 1,000 new nuclear power plants all operating by 2020. Now I’m all in favor of nuclear energy, but that would affect the global temperature by only seven-hundredths of a degree by 2050 and fifteen hundredths by 2100.” We wouldnt even notice it!!

    So basically we can spend as many billions as you like and it wont make any flippin difference so why not sit back take a few beers and what AGW cause the ice caps to grow just to spite Al Gore.

    What causes me most concern is the fact than when Al Gore pretended to be a politician no one took him seriously so how can it be that when he pretends to be a scientist they do?

    David Wells

  47. Correction to earlier submission “100,000 sqkms” per decade, and “watch” AGW cause the ice caps to grow!

    Sorry

  48. There has been info added to the sea ice page that explains the tick up and also that they are/will be trying a new algorithm to smooth the blip

    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

    ————-
    Please stop bringing the ice free bit up – It was never said, even in the headline.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13779-north-pole-could-be-ice-free-in-2008.html

    North Pole could be ice free in 2008

    “There is this thin first-year ice even at the North Pole at the moment,” says Serreze. “This raises the spectre – the possibility that you could become ice free at the North Pole this year.”
    Despite its news value in the media, the North Pole being ice free is not in itself significant. To scientists, Serreze points out, “this is just another point on the globe”. What is worrying, though, is the fact that multi-year ice – the stuff that doesn’t melt in the summer – is not piling up as fast as Arctic ice generally is melting.

    It is for example true to say “there is the spectre – the possibility that you could win the lottery this weekend. It does not mean you will!

  49. Ric Werme
    I see that you are entering the date data directly in the URL. I don’t think the web site is responding correctly. If you look at the date drop-downs above each image it compares 25 May 2008 (left) with 25 May 1979 (right). The drop downs do not give you the ability to select 2009 at all! (Caveat – that’s what appears on my PC using Firefox browser)

    Now this is all interesting stuff, but what point were you trying to make?

  50. How come on the AMSR-E graph it appears that every year in the data set has a slight jump at the same time right around June 1st?

  51. I’ve also been puzzled for quite some time about ice in the middle of the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. And not only this year but also as median. End of May?! No way! As it has such bizarre mistakes in the area I know so well and can observe with my own eyes, it really begs a question about the accuracy of the method in the areas I know nothing about…

  52. BTW, here are some past links to the sensor problem. You’d think that the NSIDC would be better prepared for the current state of affairs, they’ve had three months to get ready for it and now have five months of more questionable than usual data. I think Cryosphere Today is just two scientists and maybe some parttime student help, I’m not surprised they’re on a par with the NSIDC.

    NSIDC’s Walt Meier responds on the sensor issue 1 03 2009

    I assume that everyone has seen the post on our website discussing the changes that NSIDC has instituted to make our sea ice data available again. I don’t want to repeat that, but I thought I would respond to some of the more general issues that came up in Anthony’s posts and accompanying comments. I thank Anthony for giving me this opportunity. I write here from my personal viewpoint and not in an official capacity as a representative of NSIDC or the University of Colorado.

    I apologize for the error in our data and for the relative slowness in responding to it. I’m glad that so many people are interested in the data and I understand that seeing errors is frustrating and can undermine confidence in the data. Anthony is correct that many people do now pay close attention to our website and we do have a responsibility to attend to errors as fast as we can. We will try to do better in the future. There are two major points that I hope everyone can take away from this event

    Sea Ice Sensor Degradation Hits Cryosphere Today 20 02 2009

    You may recall that I posted about how the National Snow and Ice Data Center has an issue with the DMSP satellite sensor channel used to detect sea ice. Cryosphere Today is a few days behind in update compared to NSIDC, and here is what their imagery now looks like before and after

    NSIDC: satellite sea ice sensor has “catastrophic failure” – data faulty for the last 45 or more days 18 02 2009

    The DMSP satellite is still operating, but the SSM/I sensor is not

    Regular readers will recall that on Feb 16th I blogged about this graph of arctic sea ice posted on the National Snow and Ice Data Center sea ice news page. The downward jump in the blue line was abrupt and puzzling.

    Errors in publicly presented data – Worth blogging about? 16 02 2009

    In the prior thread I raised a question of why there was a large downward jump in sea ice extent on the graph presented by NSIDC’s Artic Sea Ice News page. The image below was the reason, dozens of people called my attention to it in emails and comments overnight because in the space of a weekend, a million-plus square kilometers of Arctic sea ice went missing.

    NSIDC makes a big sea ice extent jump – but why? 16 02 2009

    Something odd is going on at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    The image is directly from NSIDC’s Artic Sea Ice News page today. Of course there’s the large drop of about 1 million sqkm of sea ice in the last couple of days that is puzzling.

    If this were real, we’d also expect to see something also on Cryosphere today plots, and while that group does not do an extent graph, they do make an areal graph. It “should” show something that reflects the drop but instead goes up. WUWT?

  53. Please totally ignore my earlier comment – was having a senior moment and completely misinterpreted Ric’s comments. I’m getting too sensitive – I thought he was saying the actual state of the ice was awful rather than the representation of it.

  54. First the Catlin Survey Team and now this (the NSIDC demise).

    I filled my empty days clicking on these sites to assure myself that human folly and intrigue were readily at hand (or fingertip at any rate.)

    Ah well, there’s always C-Span.

  55. Alan the Brit (01:50:41) :
    Question, if this instrument is coming to the end of its working life, which they must have known about without doubt, with all that money & brainpower, didn’t somebody suggest planning a new instrument on a new satellite ready to take over if so when they launched the former, so that a relatively smooth changeover could be effected?

    That’s why certain organizations like using SSMI, because it’s launched on a series of satellites with overlap for consistency checking. When F13 started to deteriorate they switched to F15 unfortunately that developed a problem so they had to switch back to F13 while trying to get F17 on-stream and calibrated.

    “As of 02 June 2008, NSIDC has switched its SSM/I processing stream from the DMSP-F13 satellite to the DMSP-F15 satellite. This is due to a failing recorder on F13 which has been operational since 1995 and is expected to be decommissioned in the near future. For data continuity, F15 data has been acquired back to 01 January 2008. F13 products since 01 January 2008 remain and will continue to be produced until data quality degrades to an unusable level or the satellite is out of service.”

    “On 16 February 2009, NSIDC noticed significant problems with the NRT brightness temperature product. Upon investigation, the problem was found to be due to an issue with the DMSP F15 SSM/I 22 GHz frequency brightness temperature fields. The problem began around 1 January 2009 and gradually worsened until it became noticeable in the sea ice product (NRT DMSP SSM/I Daily Polar Gridded Sea Ice Concentrations). NSIDC is working to correct the issue and provide reliable NRT brightness temperature data. In the meantime, F15 data since 1 January 2009 should not be used.”

    ” NSIDC has been working on a transition to a newer sensor on the F17 satellite for several months. At this time, we have more than a year of data from F17, which we are using to intercalibrate with F13 data. The F17 data are not yet available for near-real-time updates. We will resume posting daily updates as soon as possible, either from F13, if the present problem is resolved, or from F17, when the transition is complete.”

    If there has been a failure in the data collection because of a fault, or other in service issue, how do we/they know that a) it’s been giving correct data from the start, b) when it started going wrong, or was it because the data wasn’t what was wanted/expected? c) does this place a question mark over the accuracy of the previous data already published? d) how accurate & reliable are the other data sources if ice extent/area, etc? e) does this mean that Arctic sea-ice cannot be reliably measured in the meantime, posing questions about any claims made for either ice increase or decrease ready for the Copenhagen agenda? I am well aware as are most here that all institutions have their professional & personal pride & wouldn’t want to concede that their methods of measurement are suspect compared to others.

    Cross checking between the different satellites (with different sensor designs as well) allows problems to be spotted, also real-time products are more susceptible whereas corrections for missing swathes can be corrected after the next path when working off-line.

  56. This is a request for commentary (RFC).
    I have kept close track of surface pressure patterns through the years as I have real interests in SW Florida. I use the tropical sat images at http://moe.met.fsu.edu/tcgengifs/, specifically, the GFS image loop just to maintain consistantcy.
    Here is the question. The Bermuda and Pacific Highs seem very disoganized this year. Can any of you Met. gurus out there verify this to be true. And, if so, what might account for it?
    This site is treasure Anthony. Many thanks.

  57. Sven (05:11:35) :
    I’ve also been puzzled for quite some time about ice in the middle of the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. And not only this year but also as median. End of May?! No way! As it has such bizarre mistakes in the area I know so well and can observe with my own eyes, it really begs a question about the accuracy of the method in the areas I know nothing about…

    I suggest you change the site you’re looking at, no such ice shows up on the JAXA, CT images, OSISAF or Polarview images.

  58. Peter Plail (05:03:50) :

    I see that you are entering the date data directly in the URL. I don’t think the web site is responding correctly. If you look at the date drop-downs above each image it compares 25 May 2008 (left) with 25 May 1979 (right). The drop downs do not give you the ability to select 2009 at all! (Caveat – that’s what appears on my PC using Firefox browser)

    Cryosphere’s response to the failing satellite data largely consisted of changing their form at their comparison page. All they did was to remove 2009 from the menu. All I did was to realize a week or two later (see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/02/20/sea-ice-sensor-degradation-hits-cryosphere-today/ ) I could select 2009 by hand and get the images that they continue to faithfully record, though it’s quite unclear if most of this month’s images have any new information from the satellite. Their display of 2009 images includes a bogus title, as you note, but the date stamp on the image and the image itself is definitely 2009 data, poor though it may be.

    At this point the data is so bad as to be completely uninformative, but the earlier months’ images are somewhat useful as long as you’re aware of the how the images are formed (think strips of Papier-mâché that pass near the pole) and how the sensor is failing. Good enough for the curious, not good enough for science.

  59. Lot’s of AGWers using more and more weasel words. “I didn’t say would, I said could,….”. Possibly, maybe, might, appears to, seems to, may. My favorite Stephen Wright line; ” What is another word for thesaurus?” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The satellite malfunction reminds me of all the movies where the hero pretends that the communications device is failing when his superior is trying to reign him in. ” Sorry chief, your breaking up, ….. can’t make out what you’re saying, ……………… The timing is just so convenient. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  60. From this date, the images are unchanging: May 7.

    I had been copying everyday and using the facility of windows to make a slide show, when I noticed that the same picture repeats all dates after May 7

  61. Does anyone have information on Russian arctic research. They seem to extensively research the arctic, setting up floating laboratories and such. What are their results on temperature and ice coverage trends.? Do they have their own Goresky?

  62. NC (08:33:50) :
    Does anyone have information on Russian arctic research. They seem to extensively research the arctic, setting up floating laboratories and such. What are their results on temperature and ice coverage trends.? Do they have their own Goresky?

    Here’s the website of their current floating lab, NP-36: http://www.aari.nw.ru/resources/d0014/np36/default.asp?lang=0

    And their Ice analysis site:

    http://www.aari.ru/odata/_d0015.php?lang=1&mod=0&yy=2009

  63. “”” Tom in Co (19:16:12) :

    Pamela Gray (18:50:53) : “That blip was explained before. It is a satellite adjustment for the time of year in it’s orbit, or something like that. Can’t remember exactly but it is a necessary adjustment and nothing unseemly.”

    The blip in June is due to a change in the algorithm used to calculate summer ice vs. winter ice. the 2009 line will blip up next month also. “””

    Norty norty ! I don’t see the corrections for daylight savings time, or for the Queen’s birthday .

    Lemme see now; Hansen machinates the original as measured temperature data from Anthony’s Owl boxes, until it is unrecognizable by even its own mother; but somehow NSIDC can’t out-take a blip of known origin so that their published ice data; or at least 15% of the ice data is at least as accurate as their measurement process allows. Nothing frustrates me more than seeing something supposedly scientific, or at least informative, and then to find out well that is all wrong and we know it is wrong and people who do this stuff know what it really is.

    Like the Mauna Loa CO2 data, and then the NOAA 3-D pole to pole version of that, which I find out from my Scripps CO2 buddy is; well just an artists impression, since they don’t really have the actual daqta to make such a plot.

    This stuff is slowly degenerating from real science into urban legend.

    George

  64. Frank Laszner and Leon Brozyna,

    that is from May 21 as seen on the lower right of each graph. It also shows a higher rate of melt, or is it sensor deterioration?? We should know in a few days.

  65. There is no ice in the Arctic, it’s all melted and CA is now under water……funds are needed to bail CA out.

  66. Phil,

    Thanks for taking all the time on this. I hope that when the transition to NOAA17 is made that the intrasat data is available so it can be examined.

    I read in a paper that the Jaxa AMSR-E sensor has higher resolution yet is more sensitive to weather noise. The paper claimed to make all the corrections for the increased weather involvement but do you know if it is it the opinion of the NSIDC sea ice team that the ASMR-E has superior accuracy for area measurement?

  67. MattN – thanks for amusing link..

    This is really a JOKE!!!!

    First we must all understand that the influence from dark buildings, dark roads, warm from houses and cars (Sums up to UHI) has hardly any effect around the growing cities.
    Then this genious believes that just taking the roofs and roads and make them white will not only affect the cities as anti-UHI, but ideed be able to battle heat on the entire earth!

    DAAAWK!!!

    http://green.yahoo.com/news/afp/20090526/sc_afp/climatewarmingusbritainchu.html

    “The Nobel laureate in physics called for a “new revolution” in energy generation to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    But he warned there was no silver bullet for tackling climate change, and said a range of measures should be introduced, including painting flat roofs white.

    Making roads and roofs a paler colour could have the equivalent effect of taking every car in the world off the road for 11 years, Chu said.

  68. Summertime is coming, and this summer is their last opportunity, before solar minimum deploys all its cold artillery, they will be fighting their last battle against unbelievers.
    You will be the “lucky ones” to see all his new slides on prime time TV nation wide!
    You’ll be the chosen to hear his message again!, from he who created internet, the master mind behind such a wonder called “the hockey stick”
    This time he will surely appear accompanied with his most devout disciples.

  69. Wouldn’t your know it. Just as everyone was being tantalized by the blue line zipping up over the black line, they bend it first slightly to parallel the black line and then, with it still subzero in many of the places where sudden melting is taking place, the drop it off precipitously. Can’t all these guys get together and maybe higher the Wegener Institute who measured thicker ice all over the arctic while the Catlin was supposed to be falling through thin ice. How much would it cost to fly a couple of dozen photographic and airborne geophysical surveys over the arctic during the melt season if it is so critical for the survival of the plantet? Also, if the satellite imagery is so darn good, why was the Wegener Institute surprised at the thickness of the ice.

    In the geological/mining sphere, this satellite imaging stuff is being sold holus bolus to mining exploration companies with all kinds of promises of finding their next hidden mineral deposit – but, because it matters, the mining exploration people still insist on spending most of their money putting people on the ground and also doing low-level geophysical surveys. This demonstrates the gap between theoretical scientists/aerospace engineers and the engineers who have to have people lay out cash for results.

    Another point. Even a refrigerator repairman knows something is amiss if ice cubes are melting like crazy when it is supposed to be freezing. I’m constantly amazed at the apparent discrepancies between reality climate science … cold is global warming, hot is global warming, nothing changing is global warming… and even the refrigerator repairman believes all this stuff.

  70. I just can’t stand it anymore! If the climate does not cooperate, make even more outlandish apocalyptic predictions. See below:

    New warning of rising sea levels in Northeast

    By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid, Ap Science Writer – Wed May 27, 12:04 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – Drip, drip, drip come the studies one after another, reinforcing the threat to the Northeast from rising sea levels along the U.S. and Canadian east coast.

    If Greenland’s ice melts at moderate to high rates, ocean circulation by 2100 could shift and cause sea levels off the Northeast coast of North America to rise by about 12 to 20 inches more than other coastal areas, researchers report Wednesday in Geophysical Research Letters.

    “Major northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest rise,” researcher Aixue Hu of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said.

    The report comes on the heels of two other studies with similar warnings.

    • Just over a week ago scientists at Britain’s University of Bristol reported that while collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would not raise global sea levels as much as had previously been feared, the maximum increase is expected along the East and West Coasts of the United States.

    • And in March, researchers at the University of Maryland warned that, however much the oceans rise by the end of the century, add an extra eight inches or so for New York, Boston and other spots along the coast from the mid-Atlantic to New England because of predicted changes in ocean currents.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 projected that sea levels worldwide could rise by an average of seven to 23 inches this century.

    “The oceans will not rise uniformly as the world warms,” NCAR scientist Gerald Meehl, a co-author of the new paper, said in a statement. “Ocean dynamics will push water in certain directions, so some locations will experience sea level rise that is larger than the global average.”

    In recent years, the melting of the Greenland ice cap has been increasing at a rate of about 7 percent per year. The researchers calculated the sea level impact if that were to continue and also if the increase declined to 3 percent or 1 percent annually.

    At the middle or 3 percent rate, the Northeast would see an extra foot of sea level rise because of ocean circulation changes, in addition to the global sea level increase, they reported.

    A drop to 1 percent would mean eight additional inches of water in the Northeast, and a continued 7 percent increase would result in an extra 20 inches, the new study said.

    The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

  71. Chuck L,

    Your post reminds me of Lake Wobegon, where “all of the children are above average.”

    …ocean circulation by 2100 could shift and cause sea levels off the Northeast coast of North America to rise by about 12 to 20 inches more than other coastal areas …Major northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest rise …add an extra eight inches or so for New York, Boston and other spots along the coast …“Ocean dynamics will push water in certain directions, so some locations will experience sea level rise that is larger than the global average” …the Northeast would see an extra foot of sea level rise …A drop to 1 percent would mean eight additional inches of water in the Northeast, and a continued 7 percent increase would result in an extra 20 inches, the new study said.

    So even though the predicted sea level rise per century is no more than the historical rise of past centuries, these folks claim that the average [and very moderate] sea level rise will be exceeded — almost everywhere!

    I wonder if they’d mind telling us where, exactly, the sea level will decline by 12 – 20 inches below average. Since they’re talking about averages and all.

    They might also try to explain how the ocean can pile up water to twenty inches (!!) due to global warming, when a 4″ anomaly is considered exceptional: click. [The anomalies noted are 0.1 meter; about 4 inches. They don’t get much larger than that.]

  72. Everyone has pointed out directly or indirectly that all the data gathering is by AGW organizations. Shouldn’t there be some expeditions mounted by the uncommitted to keep everybody honest? I liked the work by the Wegener Institute who flew those surveys all over the arctic and found the opposite results to the Catlin expedition in the same time frame (although I’m leery about the Wegener I. too simply because they come from one of the countries that’s the most devout about AGW). If there aren’t countervailing expeditions we are forced into the unsatisfactory position of begging in vain for their data or constantly criticizing their data. From a PR point of view, this is less effective than being in the data collection side of the battle. Harping about the data and interpretations done by the AGWers makes it easy to brand us deniers.

    Even Anthony’s mighty exposé of the inadequacy of the weather stations will get largely neutralized by the “corrections” the NOAA and others are “able to make”. Isn’t there enough at stake for funding and undertaking laying out of a network of new stations, even if it amounts to only a 20% sampling of national temperatures to ascertain bias and trends. See also my post above

    Gary Pearse (12:49:28) :

    regarding flying low level surveys of the arctic (and I should add the antarctic) as a check during the melting seasons particularly.

  73. I wonder if they’d mind telling us where, exactly, the sea level will decline by 12 – 20 inches below average.

    Last time someone looked, the sea level around the Maldives had declined by 2-3 times that much. There are global sea level anomaly maps someplace.

  74. I’d really like to hear Dr. Meier come on WUWT and say something like “Once we realized that satellite was dying we made a concerted effort to do a normalization of our legacy data with AMSR-E and we’re now much closer to moving to AMSR-E while maintaining the viability and usefulness of our historical data”.

    Yeah, I’m a dreamer. But they got the classic warning shot in February and it would be a real shame if they just stuck their head in the sand and hoped that the smoking volcano wasn’t going to blow after all.

  75. Re: MattN (17:49:35) :

    If the Administration’s Science Secy, Dr. Chu, is promoting using white paint on roofs, what do you bet that some of his cronies back at Berkeley have the franchise on getting Government money to promote or produce the product?

    These guys don’t flap their lips for free.

  76. Phil. (19:34:48) :

    Well, for a certain value of truth, both can be true, it all ends up on what one would believe.

    Rutgers or our lying eyes. We seem to be prejudiced towards our eyes.

  77. F13’s most recent problem is that it’s now down to its last functional on-board data recorder (there are four recorders when new). Because the recorder cannot playback stored data and record new data at the same time, there is a gap whenever the playback occurs. When there is more than one recorder available, recording starts on another recorder while the first is played back. Because the main downlink station is in Greenland, this frequently puts the gap over the Arctic.

    The recorder that just failed more than likely is gone for good, but there’s a small chance it could be restored to service.

    F13’s age is almost triple the design life, so it’s had a good run.

  78. Just a quick note to the moderator – please edit the article to remove the “TEH” which I have quoted below:

    Transitioning to the DMSP F17 satellite “may” be a plan, but the AQUA satellite and teh

  79. Ric, an entire ice cap simply does not shatter into a billion pieces like that….Either you altered the image to be funny or their satellite is screwed up worse than the one the NSIDC is using…

  80. This must be very difficult time for what I imagine are many conscientious and honorable NSIDC employees. Some of the comments about their agency in this and other blogs must make them cringe with either shame or indignation. I hope they recognize that the skepticism and distrust being widely expressed was of the agency’s own making when its grotesquely transparent “agenda” began to overide scientific integrity. All anyone has to do to become convinced my accusation is true is to read NSIDC press releases in which “colder” and “more ice” are transposed into such tortured terms as “fith hottest in….” and “third lowest ice extent in….”.

    Translating the current ASMR graph into “NSIDC speak”, I would judge we’re at about “the fifth lowest ice extent in five years”. Translation into straightforward English: The ice has built back up to where it was five years ago at this time.

  81. Sorry to bump an older thread, but this one is about ice. My question is about the AMSR-E extent chart linked on this blog. Nearly each year’s extent makes this little line-dance hippity-hop jump right at this time of year, and this year’s extent is proving to be no exception. Anyone besides me find this odd?

  82. Such a long thread of futile “see, it isn’t really getting warmer”, speculation from such a slender basis of fact. Grasping at straws and “agenda theories” and ultimately turning out to be much ado about nothing.

    [snip ad hom to many people on this thread]

    By the way, did you see the IEEE-USA 2009 policy advice announcements,

    http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/positions/energypolicy.pdf

    including:

    “IEEE-USA’s New National Energy Policy Recommends Ways United States Can Break Its Addiction to Oil, Mitigate Climate Change” ?

    Engineers deal with facts. Like all other scientific and technical professional bodies whose member’s expertise bears directly on the challenge of Climate Change, the 215,500 members of IEEE-USA have published their collective conclusion that Climate Change is real, due to human activity and that acting wisely now can limit how bad things get.

    The members of IEEE-USA had quite a varied and spirited response on both sides of the USA H1-B visa issue. There is no real opposition to the IEEE-USA Climate Change Policy Advice announcement.

    Engineers deal with facts. Human Caused Climate Change is a fact which isn’t going away, better get used to it.

    By the way, that bathtub ring around the Reservoir behind Hoover Dam is 120 ft tall now. Some people can’t catch a clue even when it is that obvious.

    http://www.arachnoid.com/NaturalResources/

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/06/06/state/n000030D16.DTL

    Breaking your addiction to oil can save money. According to ICBC most auto owners in my province spend Cdn $230 per month on fuel. It costs me either Cdn $35 or $70 to put gas in my Yaris each month, depending on whether I fill it up once or twice. Even at that low fuel consumption I have saved nearly a kilobuck a year since it replaced the mini-van we previously owned. The Yaris burns half as much fuel for the same distance and holds all 5 of us when we go somewhere as a family.

    I use transit to commute to work each day, like my 2 oldest children. My employer pays the entire cost of my “transportation” expense, saving money over subsidizing a parking spot by $105 per month.

    Many of the younger IT folks at work are quite serious about avoiding the use of personal autos. One asked me how long I had been commuting by transit. When I said since 1985/Feb he smiled and said that was almost as long as he had been alive.

    I also use my transit pass evenings and weekends, particularly for short trips to the 4 supermarkets and 3 malls within 15 minutes travel time by transit from my home. My wife often borrows the transit pass, leaving the Yaris at home.

    What is so difficult about driving less and saving money, while reducing carbon emissions?

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