Guest post by Steve Goddard
Yesterday, Dr. Walt Meier from NSIDC again graciously updated us about the NSIDC sensor problem, and also about his current thinking with respect to polar ice trends. The key concepts being that Arctic ice continues to decline, and that Arctic and Antarctic ice are separate entities – so the current near normal global sea ice area “has no meaning in terms of climate change.” This article examines both of those concepts.
NSIDC is still having sensor problems on their satellite, as seen below on 2/28/09. Note the speckled white areas, and the large dark gray sliver in the Sea of Okhotsk near the top.
Fortunately there is another ice extent data source, AMSR-E which has not suffered sensor problems and their data is unaffected. NSIDC also explains on their web site that “AMSR-E has a lower absolute error” than the NSIDC sensors, even when functioning properly. AMSR-E (below) has been recording sea ice since 2002. The maximum ice extent for 2009 (red) and 2008 (orange) are both in the top three on the AMSR-E record, at more than 14M km2. The only year which had greater ice extent than the last two years was 2003. So clearly we are on a recent trend of higher Arctic ice maximums, which is a fact that is rarely if ever reported by the main stream media. Also note in the NSIDC map above, all of the ice basins are close to the 1979-2000 normal.
If there is a dramatic downwards trend in maximum Arctic extent, it certainly isn’t visible in either the map or the graph.
The NSIDC graph below also shows Arctic ice extent nearly back to the 1979-2000 mean.
Turning our attention to Antarctica. Dr, Hansen predicted in 1980 that ice loss in Antarctica would be symmetrical to the Arctic. But the current thinking, as expressed by Dr. Meier, indicates that view is no longer valid. In fact, NSIDC data shows that Antarctic ice extent has actually increased substantially, as seen below.
It was reported last week that the IPY (International Polar Year) released a study claiming that both polar ice caps are melting “faster than expected.” Given that NSIDC shows Antarctica gaining ice at a rapid pace, I find myself surprised that IPY would release a study saying exactly the opposite. But then again, an IPY official reportedly forecast that last summer (2008) might have an “ice free Arctic.”
Columnist George Will reported that overall global sea ice area is normal, and was correct. Dr. Meier confirmed that on January 1 global sea ice levels were normal.
Walt Meier (16:04:59)
1. He (George Will) was factually incorrect on the date that he reported his “daily
global ice” number. However, he was merely out-of-date with his facts
(it was true on Jan 1, but wasn’t 6 weeks later).
The UIUC graph shows global ice levels well within one standard deviation of the 1979-2000 mean. Dr. Hansen was correct that according to global warming theory, both poles should be losing ice – though we know now it theoretically should be happening more slowly in the Antarctic. Yet 20 years later we actually see the Antarctic gaining ice, which is contrary to Dr. Hansen’s theory, contrary to IPY claims, and probably contrary to Steig’s questionable temperature analysis .
The main trend I see in polar ice is an increasing disconnect between hype and reality. Given that the AO (Arctic Oscillation) has been neutral this winter and polar drift has been less than last year, I forecast that the summer Arctic ice minimum in 2009 will show more ice than either of the last two years. What do you think?