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

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

Look at this image:

nsidc_extent_timeseries_021509

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?

cryosphere_0216091

While ice extent and area are not exactly the same, they are closely related. So one would expect to see at least some correlation. But we have zero. I suppose there could be a wind issue that is compacting sea ice, but surely there would be something in the area graph.

Something seems not right, and NSIDC owes the public an explanation as they did for a previous drop in extent change from January 15 to 26 which is currently in their Feb 3rd news release.

h/t to Joe D’Aleo and many WUWT commenters.

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168 thoughts on “NSIDC makes a big sea ice extent jump – but why?

  1. Don’t forget that Cryosphere Today has a 4/5 days delay with respect to NSIDC. Actually, the slight increase in CT is seen a few days ago in NSIDC (beginning of February).

    Nevertheless, the NSIDC data re still inconsistent with the JAXA data available from this site, for example, which show the ice is increasing again.

  2. Here’s their satellite map –
    It has been all over the place the past two weeks with lots of triangular blank areas.

    If you look closely there are three main areas that have changed OVERNIGHT.
    1. The Gulf of St. Lawrence has had a major ice breakup?
    2. The entire SW quadrant of Hudson Bay has had an ice breakup?
    3. The Chukchi Sea in eastern Siberia has had a major ice breakup?

    I have contacted Environment Canada in Manitoba and left a message.
    I wish confirmation whether or no such a breakup has taken place on Hudson Bay since it would be a major news event. If not, then it is another “October Surprise” for agencies that are entrusted to provide accurate data.

    Just FYI –

    For the past three days the temps at Churchill, MB have been steady in the 0 degrees F range dropping to the minus teens yesterdays. Winds have been generally moderate.

  3. While I agree that a huge spike down in ice extent at this time of year is unusual and warrants an explaination, comparing it to ice area is apples and oranges.

  4. I have been head scratching over this one all weekend.

    if you look at the latest daily image I think you will see a couple rather unique features, like straight line swathes of missing ice ( or data ) around Chukotsky. Both on the Bering side and the Chukotsky Sea side.

    Plus Hudson’s Bay seems to have a large crack running through it. Are we perhaps seeing athe result of satellite repositioning in response to the latest “incident”?

    Anyone have a better thought?

    I would expect some sort of comment if this data is validated as the NSIDC is keenly aware of the interest in this data.

  5. I’ve found the NSIDC to be exceptionally open with their data and methods. I’ll download the gridded near real time data tonight and take a look at what’s happening.

  6. absolutely crazy! how can that much ice disappear in a day (response to the cryosphere data) it takes weeks to melt a large snowman !!

  7. Funny data? Or funny data readers? The Arctic will be ice free by March.

    Two points:
    It is possible the frigid massive Arctic cold front winds are pushing and stacking the ice up.

    Is the raw, unprocessed satellite data available anywhere? Or a competing data reduction group?

  8. If temps are lower than average, why would the ice extent fall so abruptly?

    Granted, this is just one data site, but Point Barrow has been running below average most of January and February (so far). The February average hi-lo is -23°C and -30°C and is the coldest month of the year. Tomorrow’s forecast is -26° and -34° as it’s been much of the month and we’re half way through.

  9. Unless there’s a major eruptive event happening,I would bet there is a data problem.This time of year it’s nearly impossibel to have that kind of breakup…

  10. OT but still icy hot: First Carbon-Free Polar Station Opens In Antarctica

    Read the BS (Bad Science) Arguments and never trust any data coming from this station.

    “Thomas Leysen, chairman of Belgium’s Umicore, a leading manufacturer of catalysts for cars who attended the ceremony, said it made good business sense for companies to help protect the environment.

    “The global credit crisis is a result of unsustainable behaviour. We can’t deal in an unsustainable way with our planet otherwise we will also face a crisis which will be even bigger than the credit crisis,” he said”.

    Scientists monitoring global warming predict higher temperatures could hasten melting at Antarctica, the world’s largest repository of fresh water, raising sea levels and altering shorelines. If Antarctica ever melted, world sea levels would rise by about 57 metres.

    This will have affect some 146 million people living in low-lying coastal regions less than one metre above current sea levels, researchers said.

    Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said failure to reduce emissions by 50 to 85 percent by the middle of this century could be catastrophic.

    “Globally we will be in a temperature increase zone that the earth has not known for the past two to three million years,” he said.
    http://planetark.org/wen/51629

  11. I don’t disagree with any of the speculation, but why do we have to speculate? With that big a change there should be a post to explain what could be causing this at NSIDC! Or are they just blind?

  12. If you have been following the Cryosphere maps it’s obvious that there are serious data problems. The ice in the St Lawrence area, off Labrador and in the southern Hudson Bay has been popping in and out of existence repeatedly the last few weeks, though the Bering Sea is a new problem area.
    There are other smaller scale anomalies. For example the Bothnian Gulf is shown as ice-free, while it is actually completely frozen.

    For a reality check it is a good idea to use national ice sites which are for the use of sailors and fishermen, not politicians:

    http://retro.met.no/kyst_og_hav/iskart.html

    http://www.dmi.dk/dmi/index/gronland/iskort.htm#ugekort

  13. Orwellian or what!
    I’ve been looking at the sea ice maps every day, and haven’t noticed anything unusual happening.
    Looks like Mann’s or Hansen’s fingerprints on this.

    REPLY: Way off base there Pierre, they have nothing to do with this. Don’t ascribe motives where none are warranted. – Anthony

  14. Perhaps this has been noted already. However this site also doesn’t show any dramatic ice loss.

    http://www.natice.noaa.gov/ims/

    As other has observered the images seem odd with straight lines missing. It is a similar problem seen sometimes on Cryosphere todays regional images. There are vertical “blips” here and there.

    In my simple opinion it is either “lost” data or some corruption. This should be corrected in the next few days.

  15. It appears that Cryosphere Today posts data to their coverage vs. time plots about a week after the fact, that is why it is likely not showing on the plots on their site yet.

    Also, in Cryosphere Today, my feeling is that there are frequent graphical or satellite errors. Sometimes they are corrected for, sometimes they are not. I do not follow the NSIDC data as much, so I do not know their patterns.

    Is an agenda at play? I don’t know.

  16. “Are we perhaps seeing athe result of satellite repositioning in response to the latest “incident”?”

    For the benefit of future readers: I suspect he’s referring to the collision of an Iridium and russian satellite last week.

  17. Make sure someone downloads their data.
    LOL! Maybe Obama and Holdren are getting ready for stage 2 of their Power Grab.

  18. ***Breaking News*** CHINA: RICE BAG FALLEN OVER! SITUATION UNCLEAR!… it is daily data… if there is an error, the error will be corrected. Your minds have to be extremely twisted to see an agenda.

    BTW: no UAH temperature blog entry in this month at Watts Up? An agenda?

    REPLY: RSS was posted, I just haven’t gotten around to posting up UAH yet. I have a life outside of this blog. Which is why it has now been all day since I have been able to comment. – Anthony

  19. Peter Hearnden
    It gets down to credibility. What would happen if the Commerce Dept managed their data that way?
    These climate departments screw up the data more often then they get it right. It’s a bleeping circus!

  20. Sad though it is to admit, I follow the NSIDC ona daily basis! Some may now understand why I have been drawing attention to NSIDC on other recent topics asking if anyone knew what was going on. I have tried to contact NSIDC regarding the sudden re-alignment of the up spike shown last week which was very quickly smoothed down the way. No response to date.

    This sudden ice loss shown today though is a complete joke! Just yesterday all was well in the Arctic (albeit the line looked suspiciously close to the 06/07 line). But today another (this time) major re-alignment down the way. Has anyone noticed how during the freeze season, the re-alignments are always down and during the summer melt season the down spikes are never re-aligned up the way? I personally find this very odd – a simple law of averages would suggest there’s something a bit fishy about that alone!

    I have also checked archive temperatures on “Wettercentral Top Karten” for the affected areas for the past week. There is no way that temperatures have been anywhere near the values required to melt that volume of sea ice.

    I smell a rat!

    Ben

  21. Valentine’s Day & President’s Day together give gov’t & university workers a three-day weekend. Is anyone minding the store? Or maybe NSIDC is too busy gearing up for a visit by Pres Obama tomorrow; he’s to be in Denver; maybe hoping for a little show-and-tell?

    Do all entities share data from a single satellite or do they all have their own satellites providing imagery/data? For example, do JAXA & NSIDC each have their own satellites or does a single satellite send each the same data?

    Whatever the case, NSIDC has got a problem. They’re showing the sudden appearance of large swaths of open water (noted quite accurately in several previous comments).

  22. Climate satellites colliding – LOL!
    Can’t say I’d blame them for trying. Those bloody satellites haven’t quite been delivering the data they want to see.

  23. OT but Sky & Telescope magazine, March 2009 has an interesting article “Should we blame the SUN for Global Warming?”, also the main front page story.

    On page 32, one can read: “The Little Ice Age can be explained in the models through a combination of the fairly intense volcanic activity and the relatively low solar output”, says climatologist Michael Mann (Penn State University). “When you decrease solar output by the amount we think took place during the Maunder Minimum, the models predict that has enough influence on the North Atlantic jet stream to cool parts of Europe a couple of degrees Celsius, even though the that same change in solar output cooled global temperatures by only a tenth as much”.

    Interesting, I thought the Little Ice Age didn’t happen according to Mann and his hockey stick?

  24. The graph on the NSIDC website has just changed in the last few minutes, it is now 19:30 GMT and I last checked half an hour ago. Most of the drop has been removed and it almost looks as if they are now using the plot of a couple of days ago. No comment on the site yet though.

    Kindest Regards

  25. just me (11:11:42) :

    ***Breaking News*** CHINA: RICE BAG FALLEN OVER! SITUATION UNCLEAR!… it is daily data… if there is an error, the error will be corrected. Your minds have to be extremely twisted to see an agenda.

    BTW: no UAH temperature blog entry in this month at Watts Up? An agenda?

    That’s just the point! It is NOT daily data when it constantly being “re-aligned”. Now, I know I am unable to prove this to you because NSIDC doesn’t allow access to yesterday’s record. I can assure you though, that yesterday the graph showed almost an exact tracking of the 2006/07 line and the satellite image did NOT show the massive areas of melting ice shown today. Last week a similar (albeit less extreme) situation occurred. There was an upspike (not nearly as impressive as the current down spike) with relative ice growth shown particularly in the Barents Sea. That up spike was quickly adjusted down the way a few days later so that it no longer appeared on the image. I might understand it if the up spike appeared to be followed by a down spike but no, just a complete wiping off the record. Let’s see what happens with this down spike. Will it stay or will it go? All things being equal, it should go and it should also be wiped from the record because it is clear (see my previous post) that all this sea ice can not have melted since yesterday!

    Ben

  26. Anthony,

    We’re looking into it. For the moment, we’ve removed the data from the timeseries plot.

    You need to remember that this is near real-time data and there can be data dropouts and bad data due to satellite issues. While the processing is automatic, the QC is partly manual. Thus errors do happen from time to time and one shouldn’t draw any dramatic conclusions from recent data.

    I’m not sure why you think things like this are worth blogging about. Data is not perfect, especially near real-time data. That’s not news.

    Walt Meier
    Research Scientist
    NSIDC

    ps – FYI, the JAXA data is from a different sensor, so it is not consistent with our data, but it provides a good independent check. If the JAXA data does not show a dramatic change while the NSIDC data does (or vice versa), then it’s likely an issue of missing data or bad data.

  27. Pierre — If it was so easy for us to figure out they screwed up, why wasn’t it easy for them? And if they knew, why didn’t they put up a simple message that they screwed up and will have to get back when fixed.

    Surly they could see the curves didn’t add up from a simple deduction standpoint.

    It’s odd the data consumers are the ones finding the screw ups.

  28. One thing I noticed watching the AMSR-E ice chart that Mr. Watts has a link to, is that every single time the current trend line is about to cross the “high” 2003 line, the slope instantly drops to zero, or negative. I’m sure its a coincidence, but just watching the curve while it was increasing last week approaching the magical “blue line”, I predicted a sudden drop in ice, and lo and behold it occured.

  29. I still stand by my prediction posted in another thread. Extent will grow to normal levels and thickness around the edges will be resistant to summer melt, especially if the wind continues to compact.

  30. Anthony:

    This is OT but I have a question. George Will wrote a piece recently attacking climate hysteria. Will’s piece was itself attacked on Nate Silver’s site 538.com. I know it is a political site, but that is where I saw the claims made. Silver showed a series of graphs showing constant, steep global warming occurring for about 100 years. What is the problem, as you see it, with those graphs???

    Jim

    REPLY: You are right it is OT, I don’t have enough time in my life to keep up with all manners of external opinon, nor do I care what Will thinks about 538.com. – Anthony

  31. I’m curious if there were other times when there was an error in calculating ice areas and if so, did the areas incorrectly decrease or increase?

  32. I’m glad to see it wasn’t one of Hansen’s “Coal Trains of Death” spilling its evil cargo onto the ice.

    LOL

  33. Well Walt,

    I’m sorry but I don’t buy the latest trends toward 07 either.

    It’s not hard to be skeptical and even paranoid when the cold and ice is one thing and the “charts show another”.
    Especially when other sources more accruatley reflect obsevations.

    And what about the Antarctica as mentioned by

    Sven (09:38:50) :

    By the way, I just discovered that NSIDC’s Antarctic sea ice extent is doing exactly the same?!

  34. Given that right now is the brutal depths of winter in the Arctic it seems unlikely that there is ice coverage losses going on. Based on my experience living in the eastern Arctic, it just doesn’t happen in Mid February.

  35. It’s fixed now.

    I guess that Anthony was a bit worried that the death trains finally began to quickly liquidate the remaining millions of squared kilometers of ice, before they would swallow all the humans. :-)

  36. One more before heading out.

    It appears to have been data dropouts and bad data due to satellite issues since mid January.

    Can we expect a broader correction soon?

  37. Climate scientists blow hot and cold

    Antarctic warming isn’t evidence of climate change – despite what scientists would have us believe

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/feb/06/antarctic-warming-climate-change

    The reaction to this study by Steig and his co-authors is more enlightening than its results. When Antarctica was cooling, some climate scientists said that was consistent with computer models for global warming. When a new study, such as Steig’s, says it’s warming, well that’s just fine with the models, too. That’s right: people glibly relate both warming and cooling of the frigid continent to human-induced climate change.

    Perhaps the most prominent place to see how climatologists mix their science with their opinions is a blog called RealClimate.org, primarily run by Gavin Schmidt, one of the computer jockeys for Nasa’s James Hansen, the world’s loudest climate alarmist.

    When studies were published showing a net cooling in recent decades, RealClimate had no problem. A 12 February 2008 post noted: “We often hear people remarking that parts of Antarctica are getting colder, and indeed the ice pack in the southern ocean around Antarctica has actually been getting bigger. Doesn’t this contradict the calculations that greenhouse gases are warming the globe? Not at all, because a cold Antarctica is just what calculations predict … and have predicted for the past quarter century.”

    So, Antarctic cooling and warming are both now consistent with computer models of dreaded global warming caused by humans.
    ———————————————————
    De Omnibus Dubitandum est

  38. Walt Meier (12:06:13) :

    Anthony,

    We’re looking into it. For the moment, we’ve removed the data from the timeseries plot.

    You need to remember that this is near real-time data and there can be data dropouts and bad data due to satellite issues. While the processing is automatic, the QC is partly manual. Thus errors do happen from time to time and one shouldn’t draw any dramatic conclusions from recent data.

    Thank you for your prompt response in clearing this issue for us.

    I’m not sure why you think things like this are worth blogging about. Data is not perfect, especially near real-time data. That’s not news.

    You would be right, if climate had not become newsworthy. Would you look at it and remove it as fast if you just got an e-mail from an interested outsider? Maybe yes, but my experience is that the random individual is sort of ignored by whoever sits behind the the “communication” link in all these data web pages.

    Walt Meier
    Research Scientist
    NSIDC

    ps – FYI, the JAXA data is from a different sensor, so it is not consistent with our data, but it provides a good independent check. If the JAXA data does not show a dramatic change while the NSIDC data does (or vice versa), then it’s likely an issue of missing data or bad data.

    This is good to know.

  39. Everyone on both sides of the environmental debate love jumping to sides on ice in the polar regions season to season. While study of this is good, and ongoing I do not see enough evidence from the existing data sources to determine anything other than ice melts, and water freezes.

    Wind patterns, Ocean cycles, Lunar and Solar cycles, shifts in the poles exact position, under sea and under ice volcanic activity, and other factors play a roll, and without taking that into account you can not make a determination as to why year x is more than year y.

    I also fine it Ironic that people Pro and Against AGW use select years to demonstrate an increase or decrease in polar ice. That is fairly selective. From a graph standpoint it appears to be reducing very very slowly, but nothing to be worried about. Still without all the data, everyone can guess but nothing more.

  40. The blog Mr. Meier is an important reassurance that there are plenty of watchdogs on this climate front. Like having independent reporters on-scene. The benefit to the public is a prompt and reassuring correction of error as witnessed today.

  41. MartinGAtkins (12:17:09) :

    Looks like it was an error. It’s all fixed now.

    That is a good thing. If Al Gore and James Hansen saw it they would be preaching that all of the Arctic was going to melt before the end of the month. The biggest problem being that it would spread through the media like wildfire and the ‘real’ situation would never get mentioned.

  42. just me (11:11:42) :

    ***Breaking News*** CHINA: RICE BAG FALLEN OVER! SITUATION UNCLEAR!… it is daily data… if there is an error, the error will be corrected. Your minds have to be extremely twisted to see an agenda.

    BTW: no UAH temperature blog entry in this month at Watts Up? An agenda?

    No twisted minds but it does seem very, very odd! If you watched the progress of these records as closely as I do, you would also find it odd!

    No UAH temp blog? No agenda there either. As it happens, temps on the dip and quickly beginning to converge with 2008 again. Remember that temps have a long way to go in order to recover to 2001 -2007 levels let alone show significant warming as predicted. So while January will show an up spike, it hasn’t yet been significant enough to conclude the recovery is under way. In fact the graph will likely show a levelling off for early Feb.

    Having said that of course, temps do have equally as long a way to go down just to get to average as they have to go up in order to compete with upper 21st century values.

    Ben

    Ben

  43. Shouldn’t the title of this blog be “NSIDC makes a big sea ice extent drop” instead of “NSIDC makes a big sea ice extent jump”?

    I’m surprised that no one has pointed this out yet

  44. “Walt Meier (12:06:13) :

    I’m not sure why you think things like this are worth blogging about. Data is not perfect, especially near real-time data. That’s not news.”

    Oh no – it’s just a graph used for world politics, reallocation of billions of tax dollars/euros, closure of power plants etc. – who cares if you mess up data some times.

  45. @ Ben Kellett

    it is constantly smoothed and error corrected… . But: there is an important thing: it is about climate monitoring, not about Titanic controlling. If errors will be corrected next month or in two or three month or in the end of the year, it does not matter. Furthermore, think about this sentence from their Web site: Monthly averages are considered more accurate indicators of overall trends.

    And think about this: http://www.nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/derivation.html#daily

    so, of course, the daily data should show good values, but it is not that important that they do it immediately. And therefore, I do not understand the “agenda” rubbish and the post at all.

  46. Errors occur. They probably saw it as soon as anyone else but before changing it, wanted to check and double check the data. Had they changed it more than once, what would the commentors here have said? Let’s not slap ourselves so hard on the back that we knock the air out of our lungs.

  47. I will await NSIDC’s explanation. I am very suspicious of a coordinated campaign of hysteria leading up to Copenhagen, which could possibly result in much adjusting of data.

    As I said, I withold judgement.

  48. Walt Meier (12:06:13)

    I’m not sure why you think things like this are worth blogging about. Data is not perfect, especially near real-time data. That’s not news.

    Thanks for the update Walt, but I think you must know perfectly well why things like this are worth blogging about. The health of our northern ice pack has attracted alot of attention in recent years, so there are alot of people taking a real keen interest in both how it forms during winter and how it recedes during the summer. Furthermore, as others have pointed out, why could someone from NSIDC not have discovered the problem with the data before Joe public?

    While you’re there I would like to pose a couple of questions regarding your “News and Analysis”. Why are all the bulletins negative? While I understand the need show possibly disturbing trends, surely you might have made a headline for example out of the speedy recovery observed last Autumn? Also, on the subject of manual adjustments, I have noticed that during the winter, sudden gains are often adjusted down the way where as during the summer, sudden losses are NEVER smoothed back up the way. If the sudden spikes are indeed due to “bad data” and manual adjustments are required, why do those adjustments always pull down the way and not up? Surely there have been some intances were the bad data has represented (for example during the summer melt), too much loss or (during the winter), not enough gain?

  49. During the month of February, the Ice Extent MONTHLY trend charts for Antarctica began swinging wildly.

    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/index.html

    I did an overlay of a previous chart from December to compare year by year values only to find that the % change from their 1979-2000 “mean” were not the same at all. I emailed to them a few times complaining that, first of all, using 1979-2000 as the average (“mean”) basically throws out about 30% of the available data (what is wrong with calculating the mean with ALL data from 1979-2008?). Somehow, they think 1979-2000 was somehow “normal”? They basically said no to using all the years for calculating the mean.

    Then, when I told them the trend graph overlays from month to month showed different departures from the average (mean) on any particular year…they countered with:

    —–Original Message—–
    From: nsidc@nsidc.org [mailto:nsidc@nsidc.org]
    Sent: Monday, February 9, 2009 03:01 PM
    Subject: {nsidc-178955} Re: Antarctic Ice Extent Trend Graph Is Messed Up

    Dear Mr. Strong, Thank you for contacting NSIDC. It appears that you are trying to overlay December with February. The points in the December graph are specific to data in December, and points in the January graph are specific to data in January. Overlaying these graphs is not recommended. You may see some differences in time with the graphs because the passive microwave satellite data we use became operational in October 1978. So Oct, Nov, and Dec graphs may show 1978, whereas the other months start in 1979. The scales are not equal between months because they are scaled dynamically to fit the data being plotted. January has higher values, so the scale now goes from -20 to 40. If you wish to do intercomparison of differnet months, we recommend you the extent values in the .txt files we make available at ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135. Let me know if you have any further questions. Best regards, Donna Scott NSIDC

    But I sent them the overlay I did, they must have never looked at it. I used Photoshop to stretch and perfectly match the scales on each. i.e., I matched the values on both the X and Y to the correct values: each year lined up and well as the Y-scale for % change from the mean. The chart overlay was wildly different for each successive year for each plot date.

    Now, if you look at the February Antarctic trend plots today, they have swings as much as 30% from “normal” .

    I also took a look at their data sets. They are missing averages in some years: i.e. 1987 data is immediately followed by 1989 data with an entire month missing. This happens 3 times Nov, Dec 1987 and Feb 1988

    Someone is being sloppy over there ad the NSIDC.

  50. In industry we would put guard bands to signal a sudden shift like this to draw attention to a possibly false reading.
    If the system we are measuring has a normal distribution we may apply SPC rules to further improve detection of a problem.

  51. They changed it back, it looks more ‘normal’ today. I suspect human error and we will not hear about it from them.

  52. Walt Meier (12:06:13) :

    “The QC is partly manual.”

    Walt, you need to get a new person to do the manual part of the QC if the current person cannot spot an error that big. Surely someone with a bit of intelligence actually looks at the graph before it gets posted.

  53. I’ve watched time-sequence sea ice videos on igloo, and there is a lot of gap flicker, with occasional huge triangular… underlaps? Aside from that, ice extent isn’t a straightforward measurement. I’m not greatly surprised there are some over-shoot/under-shoot issues. Thanks to Walt Meier for the response. Yes, the overall reaction here was a bit over the top. It could be worse, Walt; close scrutiny is better than being ignored. People here care about your output. Thanks.

  54. With the Poles getting colder and ocean currents speeding up, I would expect the Arctic ice to have trouble expanding into areas where heat is being released from the North Pacific and Atlantic oceans. An increase in ocean current velocity should also melt ice more quickly when Summer arrives at the Pole which seems to be occurring in the Antarctic http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/S_timeseries.png. I would expect the Antarctic to replace ice quickly next month and exceed last years area in the coming Southern Hemisphere winter. If NSIDC and others try to manipulate the data they pass on to the public, I think that shortly the reality of a cooling earth will be impossible for anyone to hide.

  55. Carsten Arnholm, Norway @ 11:37:54

    Interesting. Read it carefully, he’s sying that the Little Ice Age was a local European event, and not global in extent. I think that is the standard fall-back position of AGWers when preented with reality.

    But, I’m out to buy a copy of S&T.

  56. The presence or absence of a little annual ice in the Sea of Okhotsk in February doesn’t have any meaningful impact on the summer minimum of perennial Arctic Basin ice in September. The Arctic Basin has been saturated with ice for months, so I am not clear why NSIDC keeps highlighting the minor deviations in Northern extent in their monthly sea ice press releases.

    Drift is much more important, because it does affect the summer minimum.
    http://iabp.apl.washington.edu/maps_daily_track-map.html

  57. Lee Kington (12:53:34)

    That is a good thing. If Al Gore and James Hansen saw it they would be preaching that all of the Arctic was going to melt before the end of the month. The biggest problem being that it would spread through the media like wildfire and the ‘real’ situation would never get mentioned.

    We should have alerted the BBC of another catastrophic climate event.

  58. On the one hand, some of us fret that certain agencies “manage” the data before releasing it to outside scrutiny. On the other hand we howl when they release bad data that would eventually require some “managing”. I don’t think we can have it both ways.

    I personally prefer the “see it now and manage it later” approach NISIDC apparently took in this particular instance.

  59. I am not a scientists, so I may be way off base, but could the decrease in NSIDC Arctic Sea Ice have anything to do with the Sudden Stratospheric Warming in January and the split in the Polar Highs.

  60. It will be interesting to see if any true believers or mainstream media pick up on the NISIDC erroneous ice extent data and provide more AGW gloom and doom polemics. I can’t wait for tomorrow at WUTW.com

  61. DanD (12:30:25) : Data ARE, Walt. Data ARE.

    No Walt data is; data is an English word. English includes many words originally press-ganged from Latin, which have changed their grammatical type.

    As has been pointed out far more eloquently than I can:

    “The majority of writers who would dutifully pluralise `data’ in writing naturally and consistently use it as a mass noun in conversation: they ask how much data an instrument produces, not how many; they talk of how data is archived, not how they are archived; they talk of less data rather than fewer; and they talk of data with units, saying they have a megabyte of data, or 10 CDs, or three nights, and never saying `I have 1000 data’ and expecting to be understood.

    If challenged, they will respond that `data is a Latin plural’. Agree to this, for the sake of professional harmony, and carry on the conversation, making sure to mention that `the telescope has data many odd images tonight’ (it’s a past participle after all), suggest looking at the data raw images (…or an adjective) and that you both examine the datorum variance (surely they recall the genitive plural); suggest they give you the datis (…the dative), so that you can redo the analysis with their datis (…and the ablative). If they object ask them to explain their sentimental attachment to the nominative plural, that they would use that in all cases, in brute defiance of good Latin grammar.

    Isn’t it lucky English is now genderless, making `data’ neuter, else we’d have to memorise masculine dati (dati dati datos datorum datis datis) and feminine datae, too? Isn’t it simpler just to speak and write English?”

    It’s as bad as affecting “an historical” and pronouncing the ‘h’.

  62. Walt Meier

    I’m not sure why you think things like this are worth blogging about. Data is not perfect, especially near real-time data. That’s not news.

    Thank for you prompt response. It is worth blogging about because many of us crunch multiple data sets. If there appears to be an error it is prudent to sound out and see if what may be a error is indeed that. It was an error and nothing more. No harm was done and your feed back has put the matter to rest.

  63. I was always told to simply substitute the word ‘figures’ for ‘data’ if you wanted to explain the word. Not sure if that’s correct or if it helps. Let us not forget though that English is one of very few languages that actually doesn’t have rules set down. People forget that, but it’s a fact. You may see ‘how to say/pronounce/write’ etc. in a book on grammar, but it’s just the author’s guide – it isn’t law. English came about on the very fact that it adapts and changes. Only two decades ago people wrote “developement”, which has changed to “development”. And it’s perfectly okay to split an infinitive! I’ll take anyone outside who says it isn’t.

  64. PeterW,

    nominative singular: datum
    genitive singular: dati
    dative singular: dato
    accusative singular: datum
    ablative singular: dato

    nominative plural: data
    genitive plural: datorum
    dative plural: datis
    accusative plural: data
    ablative plural: datis

    …Catholic school made me do it!

  65. Smokey-

    Looks like you were forced to wear an ablative habit and neuter some nouns with a dull rhetorical knife.

  66. Maybe someone brought this up in one of the nearly 100 comments but have a look at this on cryosphere.

    Look at the Sea of Okhotsk. It looks like the ice disappeared there overnight in the graphics.

  67. Jørgen F. (13:04:06) :
    “Walt Meier (12:06:13) :

    I’m not sure why you think things like this are worth blogging about. Data is not perfect, especially near real-time data. That’s not news.”

    Oh no – it’s just a graph used for world politics, reallocation of billions of tax dollars/euros, closure of power plants etc. – who cares if you mess up data some times.

    Don’t exaggerate, as they point out on the site the monthly data are checked and QC’d whereas the daily data are subject to errors. The NSIDC data are the only ones that I follow that use the SSM/I sensor rather than the ASMR-E (the CT comparison data do too, which often gets some all agitated on here). Missing swathes occur on both which is why having the two systems is a good crosscheck.

  68. “I’m not sure why you think things like this are worth blogging about. Data is not perfect, especially near real-time data. That’s not news.”
    Maybe it’s not news but could it fit in one of these other categories?
    “…puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, (or)technology…”

    I think a QC problem at NSIDC fits quite well in all of those, includings news for that matter.

    This is a blog. Anything whatsoever that the writer of the blog wants to post is perfectly alright.

    How much more gracious would it have been to say, “Thanks, Anthony, for bringing this to our attention. It will be fixed shortly.”?

    Now Dr. Meiers curt answer is likely to be the subject of a blog out there somewhere.

  69. Why is it that the mistakes always seem to under-estimate ice extent (or over-estimate temperature)?

    Would it be that results from mistakes in the opposite direction are minutely scrutinised and corrected prior to publication; whereas the error-stricken results picked up on this site, by Climate Audit and others, have received no such scrutiny in the unseemly haste to make them public?

  70. Moderator, is this one-liner to far off-topic?
    “If we can recall bad peanut butter, why can’t we also recall a Nobel Prize?”

  71. I contacted Ron Goodson at Environment Canada, Edmonton office. He assured me that there has been no break-up what-so-ever of Hudson Bay ice. He looked at the 2-16-2009 image posted as NSIDC and suggested that there algorithm for translation of satellite image date to ice coverage may be at fault. There has been some low cloud coverage in the Hudson region.

  72. gelus, gelatus, frigidus, congelatus…Aeternum sit

    Domine, ignosce eis, quod enim faciunt, nesciunt
    Nihil evenit fortuito

    Fraternitas Praedatorum Cervisiae ….( many brahmas)

    Sorry for my bad latin

  73. Well, it seems weird that the Arctic ice would retreat when US temps for the past year are below normal. If this is true, then is cold Arctic air replaced with warmer air as it dives southward into the CONUS?

    If true, I guess this will be “adjusted” away soon as well…

  74. Smokey-

    Makes about as much sense as “now you see it, now you don’t” ice packs. Perhaps the data monks will reveal all as to how they, their graph lines, and their verbage go on a bender.

  75. just me (13:08:57

    “it is constantly smoothed and error corrected… . But: there is an important thing: it is about climate monitoring, not about Titanic controlling.”

    I do understand that there is constant smoothing and error correction but I do NOT understand why the correction is virtually always down! Neither do I understand why the News Releases always focus on the most negative slant possible. For example, Autumn ice recovery was actually at a record breaking rate. Surely balanced reporting would have made a head line out of this? But far from this being the case, the stunning ice growth was side lined and barely mentioned in the passing. OK, so more exposed water meant more water to freeze, but this process continued to accelerate even after it had exceeded the mean values of recent years. There was a focus instead on the relatively high temperatures despite rapid ice recovery. Clearly this was due to the fact relatively warm water was being frozen due initially to very cold temperatures with the resultant latent heat of fusion then being released back into the atmosphere. It stands to reason that it would not have been possible for the unusually warm waters in the Arctic (which NSIDC identified) to freeze without abnormally sustained cold temperatures. But we all know that the heat has to go somewhere hence the warmer atmospheric temps. But the headline of course was… “Expected Paradox: Autumn warmth & ice growth”. No real mention of the fantastic rate of ice recovery or where the Autumn warmth had come from.

    So, my question here is, if indeed there is absolutely no agenda, then why is both the smoothing of the data and the reporting so one sided? If you watch carefully all the adjustments that are made over time you will see what I mean. Also look at all the News Releases and you will get the same picture. OK, maybe it is for the most part a gloomy picture, but you would think that in the interest of balanced reporting, the occasional bit of positive spin on something like the example I have given would be in order. I personally have no agenda, I’m just really obsessed with snow & ice – that’s why I watch charts such as those produced by NSIDC so closely!!

    Ben

    Ben

    Ben

  76. Mike Bryant (15:37:45) :

    “How much more gracious would it have been to say, “Thanks, Anthony, for bringing this to our attention. It will be fixed shortly.”?

    Now Dr. Meiers curt answer is likely to be the subject of a blog out there somewhere.”

    I am somewhat surprised by his apparent curt response. Why did he have the data removed, and why is he “looking into it”?
    One email from Anthony causes this responsible scientist to pull data that had been publicized, yet expressed an awareness that their “near real-time data” is susceptible to data dropouts, bad data due to satellite issues, errors that have a “good independent” check from an independent resource and are passed by some measure of manual quality control.

    Being only a layman, I’d expect that under those circumstances that they would know enough not to release data until they were sure about it to the point that it wouldn’t be pulled and looked at as a result of one persons query. And if this reporting of near realtime data is subject to such potential for error, it would not be released until being “looked into” first.

  77. “Look at the Sea of Okhotsk. It looks like the ice disappeared there overnight in the graphics.”

    That happened once before on Jan 21/22 2009. Look for the lower leftmost ice. around Labrador

    http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=01&fd=21&fy=2008&sm=01&sd=22&sy=2009

    I never heard any explanation. Just how can that much ice dissappear in 24 hours?

    I don’t think I’m being paranoid when I say there are a lot of people with reputations and livelyhoods on the line. They may feel desperate enough to “correct the trend”.

    Remember the biologist whose white rats had rectangles of black fur, proving a new anti-rejection drug? Somebody pointed out a few white hairs and he whipped out a magic marker to touch ’em up.

    Keep your eyes pealed!

  78. Maybe we should give Dr. Meier the benefit of the doubt and ascribe his short temper to something else… like a fight with his wife or a bad headache… Still, the QC really needs to be improved.

  79. Mike Bryant (16:37:02) :

    Maybe we should give Dr. Meier the benefit of the doubt and ascribe his short temper to something else… like a fight with his wife or a bad headache… Still, the QC really needs to be improved.

    Or being beat up in blogs, facing rampant speculation about motives.

    However, if such problems with the data can occur that easily, perhaps slowing down the process a bit might help avoid such rampant speculation. An extra QC step, perhaps. I think delaying the data for a day wouldn’t be a problem.

  80. For another view see
    http://iabp.apl.washington.edu/maps_daily_ncepice.html
    Yesterday this map showed a big chunk of ice completely missing from SE Greenland coast.

    Anyone care to figure out just what this means?

    http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/seaice/support/land.html

    “Since we can’t have sea ice on land, it is a requirement for sea ice products that land be represented reasonably. This turns out to be a nontrivial process. Over the years that NCEP sea ice products have been constructed, different versions of land have been used in response to interests and concerns of users. This has resulted in improved products for daily usage, but has introduced artefacts into the record for those users who are interested in long-term effects.

    The potential effects of different land definition policies are not trivial. Approximately 1.6 million km^2 can be moved into or out of the ‘land’ category, depending on how ‘land’ is defined. Much of this occurs in areas with complex coastlines, such as the Baltic Sea or the Canadian Archipelago. Since both can include an ice cover, this represents a significant fraction of the total Arctic ice pack (which reaches a maximum extent of approximately 14 million km^2).

    In order to stabilize time series which may be derived from the NCEP ice products, we have recomputed the land masks all at the same time, and then recomputed the products. The hemispheric products have not included (in their data files) land, but the global fields do include land as part of the processing. Since it is also the global products which are most used for time-series purposes, this does require revisitation by those users.”

  81. Mike Bryant said:

    “How much more gracious would it have been to say, “Thanks, Anthony, for bringing this to our attention. It will be fixed shortly.”?”

    Grace is in short supply in the AGW war – and is likely to remain so. Desgraciadamente.

  82. I’m waiting now for the headlines to appear worldwide covering the record-setting catastrophic melt of Antarctic sea ice, based on the high quality data released by NSIDC showing barely 2 million km² and the melt season’s not yet ended:

    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/daily.html

    Speaking of funky data, I seem to recall an instance a while back (within the past month or so?) when Arctic sea ice extent imagery showed large areas of grey instead of white. Perhaps an indication that the NSIDC buggy is breaking down?

  83. I think Walt Meiers prompt response is enough.

    This a nationalised industry remember and they are notoriously inefficient. Personally I am impressed and merely hope that their QC is tightened up with better automatic alarms.

    DaveE.

  84. Just a follow-up to a couple comments.

    First, we appreciate being informed of any errors, but generally we will catch obvious errors, of which the above is a clear example. Because this is near real-time data obtained from an operational satellite, it shouldn’t be considered in any way “final” for at least several days. For further discussion of errors, see here:

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/faq.html#quality_control

    We do some automated QC, but when an unusual error occurs, it can slip by, as it did today. We will correct it as soon as we get a chance. We may consider doing a full manual QC before publishing any data, but that could slow things down. Scientists are well-aware of issues using near real-time data and no final conclusions are drawn from such data.

    In general, it would be more productive for Anthony to email us directly rather than posting it on his blog without giving us a chance to respond. I apologize for my snide comment regarding this, but posting this to a widely-read blog only increases the number of people we have to respond to and takes away from what we primarily do here at NSIDC, which is science and data management.

    Finally, thanks for the “data are” correction. As one who uses the word “data” a lot, I’m quite sensitive to that and it annoys me too when I see it incorrect, but in my haste I can make the occasional grammar error. :)

    walt

  85. Paul Friesen (18:24:11) :

    A look here shows almost the entire sea of okhotsk is minus 2c but very little ice. http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst.html

    I’m assuming that is satellite data and as I recall, they quoted an uncertainty of 2 – 3ºC

    Not saying it’s wrong of course and no, I’m not a believer.

    DaveE.

  86. Walt Meier (18:35:27) :

    Sir I believe you are being a little disingenuous to Anthony. The following from the original blog article…

    “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?”

    I think makes it clear that whilst the error has been noted, it is noted as an error.

    The whole point of the article is that the discontinuity had been noted by several people and Anthony has defused it as an error that has somehow slipped by QC.

    DaveE.

  87. Walt Meier (12:06:13) :

    “I’m not sure why you think things like this are worth blogging about.”

    Mr Meier,

    Besides trillion dollar taxes being proposed to deal with “manmade global warming” there is also a prediction made by Al Gore recently that North Pole ice could be gone “in five years”.

    Last year Mark Serreze, of the NSIDC (you may know him), said North Pole ice could be gone in the summer of 2008. He said then “The set-up for this summer is disturbing”. This, of course, was broadcast in all news outlets around the world. Everyone on both sides of the global warming debate was watching Arctic ice totals last summer to see what would really happen. You may have noticed hits on the NSIDC web site were high last summer.

    Now Mark Surreze is saying North Pole ice is in a “death spiral”.

    You can be certain that Arctic ice data will be scrutinized because of Al Gore and Mark Surreze. A line has been drawn by both. Both have placed it clearly on the radar screen. This is why NSIDC data is worth blogging about–especially since Mark Surreze is employed at the NSIDC.

    If someone is neutral in the manmade global warming issue they would not have sensed this line drawn. But, there are 1000’s of people all over the world, on both sides of this issue, that will be scrutinizing every movement of Arctic ice. And this will be happening for years.

    There is no way for the NSIDC to get out of this scrutiny.

    I’d like to offer some advice :

    Firstly, don’t make any data public until you are certain there are no problems such as happened today.

    Secondly, post some sort of disclaimer on the “Daily image update” page of the NSIDC web site, that is easily visible to the casual eye, that small errors could occur in NSIDC data from time to time and that the NSIDC is always working to amend such errors as quickly as can be reasonably expected. Also you could state that the NSIDC knows there will be scrutiny of it’s data, and that you understand the reasons for, and welcome, that scrutiny.

    It may not seem like it but being under this microscope of scrutiny will be good for the NSIDC. It will be held to a higher level of accountability. This will produce a higher level of excellence in it’s work, though it may not feel good to be held to this higher standard.

    I hope my comment has struck a friendly tone. I intended it to.

    References :

    Al Gore 5 year prediction :

    (link has poor video quality)

    Mark Surreze 2008 North Pole ice free :

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Story?id=4728737&page=1

    and

    Mark Surreze North Pole ice in “death spiral” :

    and

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/08282008/news/worldnews/arctic_ice_in_death_spiral_126443.htm

  88. Walt Meier (18:35:27) :

    My previous comment took a while to type and then check over before posting it. I didn’t see your latest comment until after I clicked “enter”. I would have changed it’s wording if I had known how your latest comment read.

    My apologies,

    Gene

  89. “In general, it would be more productive for Anthony to email us directly rather than posting it on his blog without giving us a chance to respond. I apologize for my snide comment regarding this, but posting this to a widely-read blog only increases the number of people we have to respond to and takes away from what we primarily do here at NSIDC, which is science and data management.”

    Personally, I could care less whether data “is” or data “are” –
    What I do care about is that those agencies with a responsibility to provide that data act in a scientifically rigorous and unbiased manner in presenting it. Today, I spotted the NSIDC irregularities BEFORE I clicked onto Watts Up; however, websites such as this have allowed pajamas bloggers to add more eyes and minds to looking for errors. Todays snafu – of a half-million square km of ice – should have been obvious to even a cursory glance by NSIDC people before it was posted. Obviously, it was not.

    I have little sympathy for you, Dr. Meier, especially in your regret in having to deal with the hoi polloi – many of whom are as educated and intelligent as you.

  90. Again, Walt Meier, thanks very much for your response and concern.

    My suggestion would be, if it doesn’t absolutely have to be posted immediately, I’d delay all data postings a couple/few days, to avoid situations like this, if nothing else. If you’re going to check the data over the following days anyway, why not just wait until that check is done and then post it? I know people tend to enjoy instant gratification these days, but haste does make waste ;)

  91. At least Myers responded which adds tons of credibility to heir data. I don’t agree that it should not have been posted here it is actually VIP that it be posted here and is a recognition of “best science blog” Im sure RC would have never posted this?

  92. I don’t know Walt, you’re just not selling it. Here’s what I hear you saying.

    “Tsk tsk Anthony. Publicly revealing errors. Mustn’t do that. Did you not learn your lesson by revealing the error which would have been more conveniently ignored concerning the warmest October ever. The proper procedure with errors is to contact the proper bureaucracy where they can be dealt with the same crackerjack efficiency these continual errors in surface station measurements you’ve been reporting on for the last how many years have been.

    When you, or your compatriots reveal errors such as “the trouble with Harry”, it allows the great unwashed to leap to the conclusion we the scientific elite actually make them. This is a thing we prefer to keep on QT.”

    Now me, if errors are being made, I want to know about them. It leads to striking revelations like how there is no quality control concerning data gathering at GISS.

    So keep up the good work Anthony, and thanks to the posters in this thread for all the links to all the other sites allowing updated viewing of Arctic ice.

  93. “Scientists are well-aware of issues using near real-time data and no final conclusions are drawn from such data.”

    No I am not employed as a scientist, but I also realize that no final conclusions should be drawn from this preliminary data. I am however a user of your site and, as a taxpayer, I am a contributor as well. Please do not think that your site is for the exclusive use of scientists. The occasional error is to be expected, but know when they happen that they will be posted on the internet, if not by Mr. Watts, then by someone else.
    Thanks for your response.
    Mike Bryant

  94. Walt, you must admit that your sea ice site and its explanations are decidedly biased towards CO2. A case in point, the very page that explains climate forcings and sea ice completely fails to recognize the very strong influence of ocean decadal oscillations as major (if not THE major) contributors to sea ice change over longer periods of time under the answer to the question: “How do we know human activities cause climate change?” You would look a lot more balanced if you were to include the major contributors to sea ice behavior in your examples of forcings. Certainly you will have to admit that the highly variable Arctic Oscillation and contributing Atlantic Oscillation have a readily verifiable influence on sea ice behavior and by extension, sea ice area and extent. Since you include the questionable affects of TSI in your answer to the question, you are, in my opinion, scientifically bound to include a much more direct and easily demonstrated influence on longer sea ice trends, no?

  95. BTW Walt that wasn’t an overnight error. I’d been watching it for at least a week, comparing it with the graph at AMSRE, and going “What the…”

  96. Just want truth… (18:48:28) :
    Secondly, post some sort of disclaimer on the “Daily image update” page of the NSIDC web site, that is easily visible to the casual eye, that small errors could occur in NSIDC data from time to time and that the NSIDC is always working to amend such errors as quickly as can be reasonably expected. Also you could state that the NSIDC knows there will be scrutiny of it’s data, and that you understand the reasons for, and welcome, that scrutiny.

    You mean like the ones that’ve always been there in a link immediately below the graph entitled: ‘Learn about update delays’ and ‘Read about the data’

    “The daily image update is produced from near-real-time operational satellite data, with a data lag of approximately one day. However, visitors may notice that the date on the image is occasionally more than one day behind. Occasional short-term delays and data outages do occur and are usually resolved in a few days.”

    “The daily and monthly images that we show in Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis are near-real-time data. Near-real-time data do not receive the rigorous quality control that final sea ice products enjoy, but it allows us to monitor ice conditions as they develop.
    Several possible sources of error can affect near-real-time images. Areas near land may show some ice coverage where there isn’t any because a land filter has not yet been applied and the sensor has a coarse resolution. Sometimes, the data we receive have geolocation errors, which could affect where ice appears. We correct these problems in the final sea ice products, which replace the near-real-time data in about six months to a year.
    Despite its areas of inaccuracy, near-real-time data are still useful for assessing changes in sea ice coverage, particularly when averaged over an entire month. The monthly average image is more accurate than the daily images because weather anomalies and other errors are less likely to affect it. Because of the limitations of near-real-time data, they should be used with caution when seeking to extend a sea ice time series, and should not be used for operational purposes such as navigation.
    To look at monthly images that have been through quality control, click on “Archived Data and Images” on the Sea Ice Index.”

    “Please note that our daily sea ice images, derived from microwave measurements, may show spurious pixels in areas where sea ice may not be present. These artifacts are generally caused by coastline effects, or less commonly by severe weather. Scientists use masks to minimize the number of “noise” pixels, based on long-term extent patterns. Noise is largely eliminated in the process of generating monthly averages, our standard measurement for analyzing interannual trends.”

    Perhaps if instead of rushing off to be the first guy on the block to slam the data provider of the critics should take the trouble to read the readily available background to the data.

  97. Some manual quality control? Goog grief, Walt. You guys wait 2 -3 days to update that graph. Before that is uploaded to the website, all one guy has to do is look at the thing to see if it sticks out like a half milliion km2 sore thumb. That should take maybe one man hour a month. Seems that had the NSIDC done so you would not have had to remove and “look at” the “error” because Anthony brought it to your attention. Perhaps you should pay Anthony to keep a QC eye on the graph!

    Is it too much to ask or unfair to expect data that comes out of your agency to have at least more control than that which will be withdrawn and looked at because of one outsider’s comment?

    This incident may be spun like much todo about nothing, but my opinion is that it is an important issue which speaks to the credibility of all your data analysis and representation. Much the worse if it turns out the NSIDC claims this not to be an error.

  98. Glimmer of hope for consensus climate honesty is short-lived

    http://www.paulmacrae.com/?p=86

    Finally! I thought. The consensus climate scientists who believe, passionately but with almost no scientific evidence beyond computer models, that the planet is warming, that it’s all humanity’s fault, and that we’re heading for oblivion, are willing to admit they’ve been wildly exaggerating the threat of warming to places like the Arctic.

    Pope even seemed to agree, noting: Recent headlines have proclaimed that Arctic summer sea ice has decreased so much in the past few years that it has reached a tipping point and will disappear very quickly. The truth is that there is little evidence to support this. Indeed, the record-breaking losses in the past couple of years could easily be due to natural fluctuations in the weather, with summer sea ice increasing again over the next few years.

    No, Pope’s target isn’t the anthropogenic global warming believers. Her target is, of course, those evil skeptics, makers of mischief who, perversely, play the same game as Gelbspan and Dotto and Gore.

    Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, after all. For warming believers, when it’s warming that’s climate, when it’s cooling that’s weather. Another version of this: If it’s warming, that’s human-caused; if it’s cooling, that’s natural variation. Why can’t skeptics play the same game in reverse?

    However, there’s no danger of Pope admitting that the AGW hypothesis might be flawed even though, according to the hypothesis, the current cooling should not be happening. Or, at least, none of the consensus climate models predicted this cooling, which is why, to avoid looking completely ridiculous, AGW believers now refer to “climate change” rather than “global warming.” Ironically, though, the consensus models do predict cooling if human influence is removed

    Now it appears to be cooling again — something that shouldn’t happen if the consensus climate models are to be believed, but something that might happen if the earth’s climate warms and cools regardless of what humans do.

    At the very least, the decade’s non-warming (or cooling) should make consensus climate scientists question their theories, as real scientists do when the empirical evidence doesn’t support those theories.

    In truth, the scientific evidence is anything but overwhelming, if the past decade of non-warming is any indication, and anthropogenic warming is still an hypothesis, not a proven scientific fact as Pope would like us to believe. But, then, no consensus climate scientist wants to admit even the teeniest, tiniest possibility that he/she could be wrong. Do that and, even worse than global warming, the research funding and jobs might dry up.

    To review: At first sight, Pope’s article appears to be a refreshing call for intellectual honesty from the consensus climate-science camp: “Hey, why don’t we try telling the public the truth, for a change, instead of all this exaggerated alarmism?” After all, as anyone who studies the climate issue with an open mind knows, the Arctic example is only one of hundreds of perfectly natural phenomena that consensus climate science blames on human-caused global warming.

  99. How can we know if “data dropouts and bad data due to satellite issues” have or have not resulted in bad plotting since mid January when the trend line started erratically bobbling back to 07?

  100. Phil. (20:05:05) :

    Thanks for pointing out the link ‘Learn about update delays’. It in fact led to the following drivel about the “causes of global climate change”…

    “Causes of global climate change
    How do we know human activities cause climate change?

    Fossil fuel burning is responsible for climate change because of the way in which an increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere alters the planet’s energy budget and makes the surface warmer.

    The most fundamental measure of Earth’s climate state is the globally averaged surface air temperature. We define climate change as an extended trend in this temperature. Such a change cannot happen unless something forces the change. Various natural climate forcings exist. For example, periodic changes in the Earth’s orbit about the sun alter the seasonal and latitudinal distribution of solar radiation at the planet’s surface; such variations can be linked to Earth’s ice ages over the past two million years. Changes in solar output influence how much of the sun’s energy the Earth’s surface receives as a whole; more or less solar energy means warmer or cooler global climate. Explosive volcanic eruptions inject sulfur dioxide and dust high into the stratosphere, blocking some of the sun’s energy from reaching the surface and causing it to cool. These are climate forcings because they alter the planet’s radiation or energy budget.

    An increase in the atmosphere’s concentration of carbon dioxide is also a climate forcing: it leads to a situation in which the planet absorbs more solar radiation than it emits to space as longwave radiation. This means the system gains energy. The globally averaged temperature will increase as a result. This is in accord with a fundamental principle of physics: conservation of energy. As humans burn fossil fuels, adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, globally average temperature rises as a result.”

  101. The problem is, Walt, that bad or incorrect data is constantly used by AGW scientists to further the agenda. We’ve seen it more often than we can count. Forgive us if we are a little jaded when we see numbers that seem askew. If you hadn’t corrected the problem, “Decreasing Winter Sea Ice Spells Doom” would have been the headline in tomorrow’s NYT.

  102. Dr. Meier,
    Were you aware that Cryosphere Today has a product that purportedly compares images from your data for any two days in the satellite era? This product is very misleading and I believe it should be corrected or removed. Please see this overlay along with Steve Keohane’s explanation:

    “Regarding another popular depiction of NH ice, I spent a little time on Cryosphere the other day and noticed something odd in comparing 12/20/80 to 12/22/08 NH ice extent. Hudson Bay and the outlet of Ob river in Russia, the boot-shaped inlet next to the arctic, appeared larger in the 1980 plat. I took the landmass/shoreline from 1980 and overlaid it on the 2008 plat, and got this: http://i44.tinypic.com/330u63t.jpg
    Please note that I retained the star background in all images, and used their pixels for image registration. At full size, I see no perturbation of those pixels from one image to the other, and therefore assume they are correctly registered.There was no rescaling of any image, no change was made to the pixels, with the exception of tinting Greenland and a few islands blue so they would have contrast when overlaid.”

    Here is the Comparison Product:

    http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=12&fd=20&fy=1980&sm=12&sd=22&sy=2008

    I am sure that you want your images to be used properly so that they convey a proper comparison. I have already E-mailed Dr. Chapman:

    Dr William Chapman,Can you please explain a couple of things on the Cryosphere Today “Compare side-by-side images of Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent” product, please? Why does the snow in the more recent dates cover areas that were previously sea inlets, fjords, coastal sea areas, islands and rivers? (Water areas, most easily discernible in the River Ob inlet. Why does the sea ice in the older images cover land areas? (Land areas, most easily discernible in River Ob inlet)See this overlay: http://i44.tinypic.com/330u63t.jpg Looking forward to your answer,
    Mike Bryant

    I have received no response.

    I am sure that you do not condone the use of your images and data in this way. I am looking forward to your response.

    Thank You,
    Mike Bryant

  103. “Phil. (20:05:05) : ”

    You must have my comment mixed up with some other comment. You did post a quote from my comment but did not answer what I said. Please look more carefully :

    I said :

    “that is easily visible to the casual eye, that small errors could occur in NSIDC data from time to time and that the NSIDC is always working to amend such errors as quickly as can be reasonably expected.”

    You said :

    “‘Learn about update delays’ and ‘Read about the data’”

    This does not address what I said. I don’t see “that small errors could occur”. If NSIDC is concerned about not having a reputation for making mistakes then they should act like they are.

    I said :

    “Firstly, don’t make any data public until you are certain there are no problems such as happened today.”

    You say I should have seen this :

    “‘Learn about update delays’”

    Apparently these delays are from things other than making sure data is correct.

    You say :

    “Perhaps if instead of rushing off to be the first guy on the block to slam the data provider”

    But I had said :

    “I hope my comment has struck a friendly tone. I intended it to.”
    and in the following comment :
    “My previous comment took a while to type and then check over before posting it.” And the long comment I made was the 123rd comment posted in this thread.

    So, as you can see I wasn’t trying to slam anyone. I was trying to be friendly. I wasn’t rushing to be the first guy on the block to comment. Actually it took about 45 minutes to make that comment since I had to re-look up the references for what i said.

  104. Speaking of data sets, why is http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/weekly/RecentIndices.txt still showing January 3rd update? Although it’s called “weekly” it’s actually monthly data. Given that New year’s day was Thursday, and the January update was done the following Saturday, why hasn’t the February update been done as of Feb 17th? Or has that been put off to June 12th as well?

    Another data set is now updating. The 1..70 millibar level data at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/temperature/ is now up to DOY:46 (Feb 15th). It had been sitting at DOY:41 (Feb 10) for a few days. Rather annoying to those of us trying to follow the SSW event.

  105. If the data are presented as a moving average, the last few data points will be much more senstive to sampling errors. As more data are filled in, the curve smooths out. This is just a property of moving averages. There may be other explanations, but this one is largely mathematical, will involve later smoothing and does not require an effort to mislead.

  106. People, just chill a bit.

    There are at least two things at work here – error correction/QC, and data smoothing/averaging.

    First, I see NO delay (not ‘two or three days’) in the posting of data – what we see on the charts is RAW data… why? I assume, because people want the true data right from the sensors, as untouched as possible. Would you prefer they sit on the data for two or three days, adjust as necessary, then post it? Even if you do, there will be just as many people who will point to that and say “AH HAH! You are HIDING something!”

    So, either way they’re gonna get bricks thrown at them. I would think their solution is clearly the most scientifically optimal method possible – show the raw data just as THEY see it, but give the proviso that there may be errors until QC checks it, and then refer to those ‘finished’ products.

    Yes, some people will ignore the disclaimers and use it to fit their agenda – do you really think that justifies not making the raw data available as soon as possible? Don’t abuse the data yourselves, that makes you just as bad as the ‘other side’.

    Second, is the ‘data smoothing’. As I understand it, the previous day’s change may be adjusted away almost entirely, with the last 5 days or so subject to some lesser smoothing.

    I watch NSIDC almost every day also… I noticed that over the past two weeks, excluding the last 2 days, that the data has consistently come out a bit below the 2006-2007 line just about EVERY day, but then as it recedes into the few days past, it is also consistently adjusted UPWARDS, so that the end result is that the average is almost exactly the same as 2006-2007. If I really thought there was a conspiracy here, to me it would look like there is somebody that doesn’t want 2008-2009 to look like it is below 2006-2007.

    Why either way would be considered an ‘advantage’ to anyone, I have no bluddy idea… unless there is wholesale corruption of the data, the truth will out in a few weeks or month, and then there would be hell to pay (we would make sure of that, yes?) And if wholesale corruption of the data does exist, it has remained hidden for years and none of these comments matter in the slightest.

    Finally, the sarcasm is so thick here, it almost seems like entertainment. Does that really make anyone feel better even slightly? Amused? Gratified in some way? There’s enough data here that I find it worth reading, and some may end up providing a truly valuable public service (the climate station audit, for example). But all the snarky comments just make it look like the poster is primarily interested in how the information fits their agenda, rather than truly taking an unbiased look, and following where the data leads.

    A final note, in summary:

    Be careful what you wish for.

  107. One more thing.

    To the person discussing the comparison of February’s or January’s trend charts to December’s, you may be misunderstanding a very important point… A ‘January Chart’ compares ONLY the January averages of past years… i.e., the data sequence is “Jan06, Jan07, Jan08, Jan09”, not “Oct08, Nov08, Dec08, Jan09”. This is obviously done to somewhat remove seasonal variability.

    If you already know this but have spotted some other inconsistency, show the charts and let’s all have a look.

  108. Phil. (20:05:05) :

    Just want truth… (18:48:28) :
    Secondly, post some sort of disclaimer on the “Daily image update” page of the NSIDC web site, that is easily visible to the casual eye, that small errors could occur in NSIDC data from time to time and that the NSIDC is always working to amend such errors as quickly as can be reasonably expected. Also you could state that the NSIDC knows there will be scrutiny of it’s data, and that you understand the reasons for, and welcome, that scrutiny.

    You mean like the ones that’ve always been there in a link immediately below the graph entitled: ‘Learn about update delays’ and ‘Read about the data’

    “The daily image update is produced from near-real-time operational satellite data, with a data lag of approximately one day. However, visitors may notice that the date on the image is occasionally more than one day behind. Occasional short-term delays and data outages do occur and are usually resolved in a few days.”

    “The daily and monthly images that we show in Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis are near-real-time data. Near-real-time data do not receive the rigorous quality control that final sea ice products enjoy, but it allows us to monitor ice conditions as they develop.
    Several possible sources of error can affect near-real-time images. Areas near land may show some ice coverage where there isn’t any because a land filter has not yet been applied and the sensor has a coarse resolution. Sometimes, the data we receive have geolocation errors, which could affect where ice appears. We correct these problems in the final sea ice products, which replace the near-real-time data in about six months to a year.

    ****************************
    Very interesting, Phil. So we shouldn’t rely too much on this data till it goes through “rigorous QC”, which lags the error ridden (as we have seen and Walt has cautioned us about) “near real-time” data by 6 months to a year! I wonder whether NSIDC newsworthy status reports take this into account…

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    “As is typical during mid-winter, sea ice extent increased overall in January; maximum monthly extent is expected in March. However, January ice extent remained well below normal compared to the long-term record. Ice extent averaged for January 2009 is the sixth lowest January in the satellite record. Also of note is that from January 15 to 26, ice extent saw essentially no increase; an unusual wind pattern appears to have been the cause.
    Arctic ice extent averaged for the month of January was 14.08 million square kilometers (5.43 million square miles). ”

    Not 14.07 or 14.09. Not newsworthy? Oops. “Several possible sources of error can affect near-real-time images.”… “We correct these problems in the final sea ice products, which replace the near-real-time data in about six months to a year.”

  109. “I see NO delay (not ‘two or three days’) in the posting of data – what we see on the charts is RAW data…”

    Wrong on both accounts.

    “The daily image update is produced from near-real-time operational satellite data, with a data lag of approximately one day.”

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/faq.html#update_not_current

    “The daily image update is produced from near-real-time operational satellite data, with a data lag of approximately one day. However, visitors may notice that the date on the image is occasionally more than one day behind. Occasional short-term delays and data outages do occur and are usually resolved in a few days.”

    Often the chart will not be updated for 2 or 3 days. This is evident in today’s update and subsequent removal. And the data is not “raw” but the result of running raw data through program algorithms (“produced from” above).

  110. Just curious- since the discussion here has been one concerning the graphed data, can anyone shed light on the apparent massive breakup of ice in the image data corresponding to this? See:

    [NOTE: for future reference, this link is to a continually updated image- the image referred to will shortly no longer be available on this link, and if representing a corrupted data set, as I think, will likely no longer be available anywhere.]

    The areas in question are around the Bering Strait, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Hudson’s Bay, and other sea areas to the North of Canada, as well as an apparent smattering across the whole of the western Arctic.

    See the Dec. 2008 image for comparison:

    I suspect that the image captures the data failure very well, as it seems impossible that this is an accurate representation of reality. If the graphed data corresponds in some at least semi-automated fashion to what is represented by the image, as one must assume, then the image appears unequivocally to show a significant data failure. Or can Hudson’s Bay really be suddenly in the advanced stages of breakup, halfway through a particularly cold February?

  111. Now NSIDC have changed their graph so it does not look strange at all….!

    As I can see from the downloaded numbers on the IJIS web site, it is five years since the sea ice extent in the Arctic has been so high in this time of the year (16th February).
    Compared with the mean numbers from 2003 – 2008 the ice extent is nearly 125 000 square kilometer higher. It is also nearly 150 000 square kilometer higher than last year.
    But more interesting – if you look closely on the numbers from the the last week you can see that it has been a standstill in the ice extent since the 9th of february (14,076 mill. square km). Yesterday it was 14, 043 mill. square km.
    Last year it was a similar situation where the ice extent had a nine day standstill or even went back as much as 250 000 square km from the 12th to the 20th of february
    On this date three years ago the ice extent was just 13, 507 square km.
    It will be very interesting to monitoring the numbers the next rwo weeks.
    In the end of february we can have a complete new situation.

  112. This is actualy ridiculous. When you look at these graphs look, at the average from 1970’s-2000’s compared to how much ice there has been for the line in the past two years. OMG REALLY it went down? Oh man scarry. Wait soo doesnt that also mean HIGHER average tempuratures? You know less ice is usualy due to higher tempuratures, or is that just me trying to conform to the modern theory? This isnt about how much ice there is on a daily basis, its just showing you how on avergae there is LESS ice recently then there has been up untill now…. probably due to global warming. Also global warming doesnt say that every day of every year is going to be nessasarily warmer then that of the previous year, all it states is that there has been a increase in AVERAGE tempurature over the past 20 years or soo, and that is has been caused by greenhouse gasses AND its has cause a drop in the average ice covering in the artic? get it? omg makes sense now eh?

  113. For longer I’ve been looking at ratios of Extent v Area as an indirect indicator of sea ice quality. The greater the difference the poorer the state of the sea ice thckness/volume. 2 million less SIE and last summer the ratio dropping to 61%, worse than any year. For the June-October period it’s been worst in last few years than.

    As for that chart screenshotted. It was only limited hours like that. I understand the US had a long weekend when this showed. Same occurred for the Antarctic plot a number of months ago. Any ltd IQ tested would comprehend this, but this supposed “most popular” science blog is really just a science gossip tabloid to with object to ridicule… hence the enormous antipathy towards the likes of McIntear and A.Watts.

    The guy from JAXA send me an email it required manual intervention and algorithm changing to keep the plot on course, hence why you see these odd repetitive blips and dips, which did not get corrected until first time last fall.

  114. matt (08:25:22) :

    Probably due to NATURAL OMG causes. Not CO2 OMG doing some convoluted waltz.

    What happened prior to the satellite era? The Northwest Passage is called that for a very good reason. Ask the Russians. When you see quoted “The Northwest Passage was first navigated by Roald Amundsen in 1903–1906” you must add the pinch of salt – first time we know of.

    “omg makes sense now eh?”

    Sekerob (09:19:07) :

    “…..it required manual intervention and algorithm changing to keep the plot on course…”

    This is why we must question.

  115. Phil and Walt,

    while you are explaining how the data is handled, I am hoping you can take the time to explain another issue I ran across looking at historical data.

    On the Cryosphere side-by-side displays, many areas of low density ice adjoining land turns to land from June 29 to July 1, 2004. Was this a change in how the data was interpreted? How was this handled in the monthly and annual outputs?? Did it affect anything or just a visual??

    http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=06&fd=29&fy=2004&sm=07&sd=01&sy=2004

    Thank you for any info you can provide.

  116. Sekerob,

    would you explain why, as was mentioned on this blog, more moderate chunks of ice disappear and reappear from the Cryosphere data?? Their “pictures” still show these. Go back day by day for a couple of months and see what you find.

    Either the instruments have problems or those AlGorythms need a LOT more work. If they need more work, what does that say about the historical data set?
    Are these data sets to be like surface temperature where they are monthly recomputing what seems to be random site data??

    How many studies are redone after each of these changes in algorithms?? How transparent is the process in determining the needed changes??

    What Anthony and others are pointing out is that the science AND the Politics are affected by the data and there are plenty of problems with the data AND the statistical tools misused by some of the big names in the Climate Community!!

  117. Well, it seems since yesterday that the Western Central area of Hudson’s Bay has refrozen, but an area to the North of James Bay (South East Hudson) has melted overnight. An area the size of the UK. Meanwhile, all of the gaps North of Canada have refrozen, and vast areas North of Russia have melted instead… In short, serious technical glitches, one must suppose.

  118. OptiSkeptic (22:46:56) :

    “I watch NSIDC almost every day also… I noticed that over the past two weeks, excluding the last 2 days, that the data has consistently come out a bit below the 2006-2007 line just about EVERY day, but then as it recedes into the few days past, it is also consistently adjusted UPWARDS, so that the end result is that the average is almost exactly the same as 2006-2007.”

    Sorry, but I don’t think you’re correct in this assessment! You obviously missed the very definate up spike last week around about 11th & 12th which subsequently disappeared. There have been numerous other examples of this, while the corrections up the way to which you refer are very few and far between as well as marginal.

    I don’t actually believe there is a conspiracy either, but I do believe that even the most ethical of scientists is capable of allowing his/her data analysis to be swayed by stongly held hypothesies, projections & resulting expectations.

    Ben

  119. Cryosphere Today for Feb 17 has the western half of Hudson Bay empty of ice, where NSIDC for Feb 17 has the eastern half of the Hudson empty of ice. Bremen shows no loss of ice in the Hudson. And curiously this (and other glaring inconsistencies) seemed to happen sometime since yesterday.

    Damaged satellites? Weather messing with radar? Babies playing with razorblades (or algorethms)? Expressing some frustration here, taxpayers support this stuff and salaries with billions of dollars.

    http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=02&fd=16&fy=2009&sm=02&sd=17&sy=2009

    http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr/amsre.html

  120. matt (08:25:22)

    Actually, as most AGW pronouncements, you are empty of facts. NASA announced around 2000 that changes in currents and wind were causing increased ice loss. Early last year they announced another change in current and wind to a pattern similar to the 70’s when ice levels were higher.

    So tell me, why is ice increasing again even though the temps are HIGHER THAN NORMAL??

    Answer, 10c higher than normal makes little difference when normal is -30 to -40c. Ice being pushed into warmer water and air temps OUT OF THE ARCTIC WILL MELT IT!!! Ice staying home tends to stick around longer!!

  121. At the rate with which the Arctic sea ice is melting, according to the sea ice extent imagery, the Arctic will be ice free in a week to ten days. Today’s image has more open water than yesterday’s.

  122. Glenn (15:35:16) :
    Cryosphere Today for Feb 17 has the western half of Hudson Bay empty of ice, where NSIDC for Feb 17 has the eastern half of the Hudson empty of ice. Bremen shows no loss of ice in the Hudson. And curiously this (and other glaring inconsistencies) seemed to happen sometime since yesterday.

    Damaged satellites? Weather messing with radar? Babies playing with razorblades (or algorethms)? Expressing some frustration here, taxpayers support this stuff and salaries with billions of dollars.

    As I’ve explained before different imagers are used by different organizations. Cryosphere Today uses both: the ASMR-E for their high res images and SSM/I for their comparative images and archives. Arctic ROOS, JAXA and U Bremen also use ASMR-E but NSIDC uses SSM/I. The current SSM/I imager is apparently on the fritz hence the problems with CT archives (but not their main image) and NSIDC. Problems occur from time to time with satellites, e.g. drifting of NOAA-16 (MSU).

  123. NSIDC has just committed a whole webpage to this latest error:
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Something curious here. Notice the greyed out areas over ice areas in the
    Bremen AMSR-E, off Labrador, the eastern Hudson Bay and Chukchi Sea by Alaska:

    Those areas pretty match the same problem areas on:

  124. Apparently someone at NSIDC did “look at” the data results before Anthony reported this discrepancy, although their “arcticseaicenews” (notice the word “news”) page no longer contains today what was reported on that page for several days since before yesterday:

    “Also of note is that from January 15 to 26, ice extent saw essentially no increase; an unusual wind pattern appears to have been the cause.”

    “News”? Does “look at” mean just that, with a little “guess” mixed in?

    Today there is a different story:

    “we discovered that starting around early January, an error known as sensor drift caused a slowly growing underestimation of Arctic sea ice extent. The underestimation reached approximately 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February.”

    Stranger still, looking at the comparison graph of SSM/I vs AMSR-E, January SSM/I shows a gain of over a millioin km2! Personally I wouldn’t call that “essentially no increase”.

    AMSR-E shows an increase of around 1 1/2 million km2 over the time period. Wow, if that “unusual wind pattern” hadn’t been in play, the Arctic might have increased by a couple million km2 in a little over a month?

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

  125. Anyone have an idea how to verify the NSIDC “partly volunteer” website claim
    that there has been a channel malfunction on the SSM/I? A tech bulletin from an official source, like the DOD, maybe, but might be security sensitive info.
    NDISC is a major source of scientific information to the US. And this whole issue is beginning to look similar to the land temperature “adjustments” fiasco. Instead of there being a satellite sensor malfunction that wasn’t automatically caught, I think someone up in Boulder been dinkin with the code circa early January to more “accurately” reflect ice extent, and got bit by the beta bug.

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