Satellite Imagery Shows Arctic Ice Still Unmelted

There has been a great deal of speculation about the possibility that the arctic sea ice could, at the worst case, melt entirely, or more realistic, possibly break the record sea ice melt set last year.

Judge for yourself. This photo with 1 kilometer/pixel resolution was taken yesterday July 12th at 17:05 UTC:

Click for full size image – link to original source image is here

Note that the image above has been rotated, and the annotation for date/time added to make it easier to present here. There is some cloud cover, but if you look carefully, you can determine what is cloud cover and what is sea ice.

Here is the area covered by the AQUA/MODIS satellite on this photo:

The North Pole is visible in the satellite image, and I’ve marked it on the image with a “N” and crosshair.

Now compare to a similar photo from ten days ago:

Image rotated- click for source image.

I’d say we have a ways to go yet before the sea ice melts completely.


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“I’d say we have a ways to go yet before the sea ice melts completely.”
You are hereby awarded the degree of M.U. (Master of Understatement), honoris causa.

Captain Obviousness

The Alarmists love to make dire predictions (e.g. the NW passage will open for the first time ever this year) because they know it will get a good run in the news. If they end up being right, they can bask in the glory of their predictive abilities. If they end up being wrong, nobody notices and there aren’t any news stories like “This Just In: ice didn’t melt much this year, NW passage didn’t open. Film of frozen water at 11.” Dire predictions are a win-win game for them.


I recommend that NASA immediately knock Aqua out of the sky with an ASAT and claim they had to because its serious malfunctioning was posing a “grave threat” to humanity.

Larry Sheldon

Link to original doesn’t work for me.

[…] Up has the story “Satellite Imagery Shows Arctic Ice Still Unmelted” (and thanks, Anthony, for your hard work). Arctic Ice Hanging In Through Melting […]

Well, in fairness, the image doesn’t indicate the thickness of the ice, does it?
I also have no experience interpreting this sort of image – to me it looks like there is practically no open sea visible. That makes me wonder where the photos I saw in the paper were taken. I don’t trust my interpretation.
Capt. Obviousness makes an excellent point that is true of the entire Warming controversy.
I also recall discussing this ice question in a class on remote sensing in my MA program in about 1992. The professor was a image interpretation specialist from the UN. He had the same conclusion – imagery didn’t support the notion of excessive melting.


A simple but honest question. Have the gloom and doomer greenies every gotten an apocalyptic prediction right. Whether it was exploding population, resources running out, silent spring, arctic ice melting, species extinction, number of hurricanes, etc. etc. Could someone make a list for me of when they’ve gotten it correct?


North Pole looks cloudy and cold. Not likely to result in a lot of melting today.


If I’m selling something, and that something fails to perform as advertised, then customers can take me to court. I’d be in trouble from the Trade Practices Commission (aus), the Department of Fair Tading (nsw, aus) and guilty of offences under the Trade Practices Act (aus) at the very least.
If I go on TV and totally defame someone, I’m guilty of numerous offences.
If I’m in a shopping center and yell “Fire!” and cause a mass panic, I would be in quite a deal of trouble.
In short, if I go around lying, misrepresenting the truth or causing mass panics, I’m probably going to be doing jail time.
Why is it, then, that a person can yell “The ice caps are melting” or “temperatures are rising” or “sea levels are rising”, and when it doesn’t happen there is a collective shrug and no one is charges with (at least) causing a public mischief?

Terry S

Theres an article here from the BBC which, if you didn’t know any better would, make you think the arctic melt this year was ahead of last year.
Here’s a quote which I thought was particularly good:

This evacuation comes as Canadian researchers report that the melting of the Arctic ice this year started at least four weeks ahead of the long-term average.

It manages to imply this years melt is already ahead of last years and invoke an emergency at the same time. Perfect.


Captain Obviousness, actually it’s worse than that. The media blurs the distinction between prediction and reality. So the prediction becomes the reality for most people. I bet if you surveyed people, most would think Arctic ice is already at a record low due to the stories about the predictions that it will and written to look like fact by the media.
Thank G— for the internet.


Oops, you must have posted the raw satellite images. I’m sure you can find some adjusted ones at GISS that will show open water at the pole.


Reading the details in the scientists interviewed in the “Arctic Ice Will Melt This Year” articles, I noticed that those interviewed said the odds were 50-50. A cute way to set yourself up for a win whichever way it happens. But the layperson reading only remembers something about the Arctic ice is melting. Clever.


Climate audit had a fascinating post last week pointing out that the key melts in past years normally occur right now in the cycle. If there’s not a ton of melting now, no way we match last year.

Steve Moore

It will all be gone by August 15.
Or September 23.
Or as soon as NASA gets one of their crack Imaging Teams to “adjust” the raw data from AQUA.

Michael Hauber

The most aggressive prediction of an ice free Arctic I know of is in 2012. I think a more common prediction is about 2030?

Bill Marsh

The problem with the failure of predictions is that the failure is never acknowledged. Instead it is explained away as resulting from some heretofore unknown ‘human influenced process’ that caused the prediction to fail. The underlying theory is proclaimed ‘correct’ even though prediction after prediction fails. Or, in some cases, mind boggling statistical procedures (some unique and never before seen) that ‘prove’ the actual observed result is actually within acceptable distributional limits.


So the non-deniers now deny the undeniable…..

Tom in Florida

The lowest amount of arctic sea ice almost always occurs around mid September so we’ve got a ways to go yet. It is obvious that the western Arctic sea melts more than the eastern due to warmer currents coming through the Bering Staits and since we have not yet reached the annual high temps for that water, more melting is sure to come. More melting from ocean currents that is, not air temperature.

Leon Brozyna

You can check on the progress of the melt at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. On the home page is a graph you can click on to get a nice large graph which is updated daily. Currently shows that this year’s melt is much slower than last year’s and even seems to be moving closer to the 21-year average than to last year’s melt. Not a bad showing for all this “fragile” new ice.


Terry S (15:17:44) :
Theres an article here from the BBC which, if you didn’t know any better would, make you think the arctic melt this year was ahead of last year.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard several ‘experts’ on the radio news proclaiming the impending doom. As a regular oberver of this site (Thanks, Anthony for your work, and hope you and yours are safe), I either laugh or shout back at the radio (headphones on, observers think the mailman’s whacked).


Steve Moore (15:43:58) :
It will all be gone by August 15.
Or September 23.
Or as soon as NASA gets one of their crack Imaging Teams to “adjust” the raw data from AQUA.
I believe they call the progran that can do this “Adobe Photoshop”

I guess we’ll have to wait to September. June is the arctic ice at it’s peak, after all.


Reasonably facile, thoroughly hypocritical pretense at science.
Like most know-nothing systems of propaganda, semantics overrules peer-reviewed science. Whether addressing 4 guys paid to show up as cheerleaders or a single sat image which pretends to forecast September open water, you cover your buns well – with words.
I’ll drop by in September to see what you have the integrity to post. Or the following September. Babbling about climate in weekly increments is only “legitimate” for politicians.


Well, in fairness, the image doesn’t indicate the thickness of the ice, does it?
Ice thickness is not irrelevant. but it is secondary. What really matters is area because that is what affects albedo.


wow – eidard thinks he can impress people by mixing pretension, sanctimony, and faux superiority. Nice. Who needs logical arguments when they’re so good at showing off their holier-than-thou attitude?
No one is allowed to say anything at all about this until September, or maybe the next September. Maybe. The great and powerful Eidard has spoken!!! Wonder if HE’LL have the “integrity” to show up in September. Somehow I doubt it.


Let’s try and avoid a who’s pretentious/who’s honest battle please. I’ll admit eideard probably stepped over the line, but I’m moderating with a light touch here.

Bill Illis

The Terra and Aqua MODIS satellites are great, mainly because they deliver actual pictures (ie. they are not software-generated from radar with the software written by some global warming advocate.)
The downside to real pictures is that clouds can get in the way and they can’t be taken at night (ie. there are no MODIS sat pictures of Antarctica right now which is in 24 hour darkness – I wonder if that makes it cold at the Poles in the winter?)
The more we have these other instruments like MODIS and the lower troposphere satellite temps, the less likely the global warming advocates will try to get away with adjusting the CURRENT data.
But they will try to adjust the historical data, like this adjustment to the historical sea ice data undertaken by the NSIDC in January 2007. Shocking adjustment for which no explanation was ever given.

Sean Wise

As bad as the characterizaton of the north pole is in the media, its nothing compared to what’s going on at the south pole. The sea ice at the south pole is running a million square kilometers above average and one side of the antartic peninsula is melting more than normal and its the press is all about an ice shelf crumbling. Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

Tom in Florida

Link to comparative ice coverings for Jul 10 2007 and Jul 10 2008 ( I how this link works)


Do drop by and see what happens in September or whatever. The ice status was bloged in an objective manner despite your implications. If you read more, you’ll see that the site’s creator IS skeptical of AGW hype but not ideologically married to an outcome. Nature is exciting and may confound all who read here yet. Stay tuned.


I’m sure you guys are already familiar with the crysophere site. Here is the comparison to last year.
Funny thing .. I’ve been following this site for the last year .. pretty much daily. Seems the ice melt isn’t going as planned, so the webmasters of the site have decided to monkey with it. But .. they didn’t monkey with the NH ice graph anomoly … which still shows that the NH ice is growing .. not melting. Click on the “tale of the tape” graph, and compare what is happening this year compared to last year.


Another excellent entry Anthony. I look forward to the experts eating crow (although I know they won’t). So far, according to Steve McIntyre, there’s more ice right now on this date in the Arctic than any year since 2004.


B.D.: “Raw satellite images”. I like it!

Mark Pilon

As you are well aware Anthony and perhaps many people who visit this site – but just a heads up: One has to be careful when looking at visible satellite imagery – it can be easy to confuse ice with cloud, particularly low cloud cover due to very similar albedos and in this picture it looks like there may be considerable cloud cover. Tom in Florida gave a very nice link. Also Environment Canada’s ice centre site gives a limited picture of sea ice coverage and departures from normal:

Aaron Wells

June is the arctic ice at it’s peak, after all.
Let me put this as respectfully as possible…..WHAT?????? Where in the world did you get your information? June is always well into the seasonal arctic melt. The arctic peak occurs around March 1st.


I think he was confusing anomalies with extent.

Retired Engineer

Radar imagery should take care of any cloud coverage question.
Maybe Al’s AIT styrofoam is melting ?

[…] hypothesis and burying other scientists views, as well as other journalistic foibles?  Well, Watts chimes in with photos of the Arctic and claims the melting better start soon if the fears of a watery grave for Santa Claus are to come […]

Early July is a bit early to see much change from winter.
Also, the two images are not comparable. The semi-circular object near the upper right of the top image is the strait between Ellesmere Island and Axel H. Island. In the bottom image, it is located just above the center of the and rotated 90 degrees clockwise. When you mentally rotate the top image, you can visualize the extent of overlap, which is what we need to compare the two images. And when we do, there is little change in the extent of sea ice, which is what you would expect for such a short time gap. We know nothing about the thickness of the ice from these images.
We really need to wait until the end of August to compare this year with last year. But even then we will learn little about climate change from comparing sea ice for the two years. Change over a few years do not count as climate change. (Change over 30 years might amount to a wiggle or a jiggle, but does not necessarily mean secular change.)
My understanding is that the total sea ice at the two poles has not changed much: as sea ice has declined in the Arctic, it has increased in the Antarctic.
It’s fun looking at the satellite images, but it’s not going to answer any of the big questions one way or the other.

Leon Brozyna

Here’s the graph from the National Snow and Ice Data Center showing the time of the peak ice four months ago {March 10}:
From that first image at the top of this post it looks to me like there’s large coverage of high albedo clouds, sure to lessen ice melt while present. Should be interesting to see how the melt proceeds to its average max in two months {Sep}.

Michael Hauber (16:07:35) :
The most aggressive prediction of an ice free Arctic I know of is in 2012. I think a more common prediction is about 2030?
I wanted to speak about the suggestion that no one has predicted an ice-free Arctic before 2012 and that 2030 is the more popular dire forecast. Leaving aside the overwhelming likelihood that we’re entering at least a moderate solar minimum for the next quarter century, with likely serious cooling effects via cosmic rays, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is flipping to its cool phase! Ice-free arctic by 2030? Try growing glaciers worldwide and no more than a few thimblefuls of open water in the summertime Arctic in 2030. If the solar minimum is meaningful, as I believe it will be, Antarctic sea ice should diminish, as low-level clouds have an anomolous warming effect down there.

Looks like a lot of ice to me. But not I’m not a former vice president, so what do I know?


Sure, Fred…but don’t miss the point that MANY AGWers and others were expecting this year to come close or even surpass last year in terms of Arctic ice loss. And of course, they saw this as a symptom of global warming and perhaps a “tipping point”. Those fears and predictions are not being realized.

Tom Klein

Fred Colbourne,
I agree that the satellite image of polar ice means relatively little in providing evidence of climatic change. But does mean a lot to counter misinformation as recently appeared in the press, like so-and-so thinks that there is a 50% percent probability that the ice will disappear over the North Pole this year. It is like a meteorologist saying that there is a 50% probability of rain over the next 24 hours. What it means that he has absolutely no idea whether it is going to rain or not.

Ray Reynolds

Years ago I read the results of a poll asking the state of the environment where those who were polled lived versus what the state of the environment elsewhere in the world….Generally they answered, great and improving “here” but truly horrid and worsening everywhere else.
That is unfortunately is the skewed perception MSM offers. I prefer an ice covered picture to their thousand words.
And its been a damned nice summer, a little cool but nice!

But what about the children penguins??!?
…and in other news, still no sunspots…


Evan Jones writes:
Ice thickness is not irrelevant. but it is secondary. What really matters is area because that is what affects albedo.

Isn’t the temperature of the ice also important?
Wouldn’t a colder winter cause not only more ice but colder ice?
It seems to me that colder ice would at least delay the initial melt.
Is the power transfer due to albedo so different that other factors are secondary?
Not an expert, just wondering…


There is about 4 more weeks of melt left and the daily melt rate should decline later this week as sun angle begins to decline at an increasing rate. Ice cover hits minimum around August 15th, stays at about that low for about a month or so and then starts to increase about the middle of September.
We have probably already passed maximum daily melt rates for this year. The arctic seems a lot more cloudy than it was last year.

Wyatt A

Leon, Here’s a more recent sea ice extent comparison:
Arctic Sea Ice Comparison