Sea Ice Open Thread

It looks like we’ll see the 2009 Arctic sea ice melt season bottom out in a few days and it won’t be a record setter. Even NSIDC admits this. Here is a magnified graph of the IARC-JAXA AMSRE sea ice extent plot that is linked in the sidebar of WUWT.


Click for the source image

Here is the full sized image:

For reference here are some other sea ice graphs:

I made a prediction a few threads back that we’ll see a turn on September 9th. Many others made predictions then. Since JAXA is not on holiday tomorrow like we are in the USA, I expect we’ll see an update for Sept 7th in the next 12-18 hours. We have an update for Sept 6th data now and it is shown above.

In the meantime feel free to discuss the issue in this open thread.


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Ron de Haan

Do I see the effects of perfectly natural cycles here?


Seems Arctic sea ice area will be around 15-18% up on the 2007 minimum then. Looks like the scare stories of Mark Serreze are past their panic by date to me.


All I have to say is: the extent is already lower than the linear projection and lower than what the most pessimistic long-term models predicted.
REPLY: Then we’ll hear nothing more from you on the subject, since that’s “all you have to say”. – A

I have made bet on 26th August on 5,000,001 km2 based on JAXA.


It would be interesting to see how it lines up against the 1979 – 2008 average.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent is recovering and Antarctic Sea Ice Extent is trending above average:
The canaries seem to be telling us that it’s getting colder…


Odd. I don’t see anything “unprecedented” or “worse than we thought” about any of these graphs. My only comfort is to be sure that this is exactly what the models predicted, and that any and all claims to the contrary are bizarre, specious, and most certainly not robust.


Flanagan (13:36:28) :
Did the models predict the change in ocean currents which are the driver behind the reduced ice extents?

a jones

As I think I have commented before do wake me up when something interesting happens in the Arctic, like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow by the North pole.
Otherwise the arctic ice is recovering, just as it always does. Nothing to see here people. Keep moving along please, unless you are Secretary General of the UN of course.
Kindest Regards.


Just the facts:
Since the subject now changed to Antarctica… Let’s compare the “growth” in the South
where the “trend” is actually smaller than the error with its Arctic counterpart
Just the facts… any comment?
REPLY: Yes true to form, you can’t stop even when you say you have “all I have to say” – A


Hey Flanagan, how about these scary scenarios?
And of course, you can read about all the predictions that were made at Realcliimate:
Pretty scary stuff, huh? Why don’t we ever hear about those predictions that never come close?


Here is a comparison (reality check)


I predicted 5,100,000 here somewhere and 10th sept (maybe slightly off there).
IJIS havent updated their data since 3rd Sept. I wonder why. Doesnt seem to be much less since that date – visually

Bill Illis

Here’s one look at the 1979-2009 trends.
2009 is well-below average, with the 3rd lowest extent; 1999 had some big melt days in the next few days and 2005 had a longer melt season than normal so 2009 could end up in fourth or fifth place but probably 3rd.

If the rate of ice growth seen since 2007 continues, it is a mathematical certainty that North America will be covered with ice by the end of this century. 🙂

Alan S. Blue

Is this the largest Arctic percentwise two-year ice growth at the summer minimum on record?
It certainly seems to be for AMSR-E, but is the information from the earlier satellite methods sufficient to answer this?

John Egan

Not only will it not be a record-setter – –
But extent is likely to be above almost all projections.
This underscores a fundamental issue with AGW science –
To what degree do researchers allow their expectations to influence their science?
One of the chief complaints I have had all year is all the talk about thin first-year ice.
2007 does appear to have been a record low year –
at least for the past 30 years of records – probably more.
But thin, first-year ice is a logical necessity for any recovery.
i.e. if a scenario involves a recovery of ice extent,
then by definition, there must be significant amounts of first-year ice.
Such appears to be the case during the summer of 2009.
The first-year ice did not “behave” as almost all scientists predicted.
Why? I suggest that these scientists failed to consider the possibility
that sea ice extent might recover – even if they did not think it possible.
Any good scientist should have explored the possibility.
They did not.

Frederick Michael

Flanagan (13:36:28) :
All I have to say is: the extent is already lower than the linear projection and lower than what the most pessimistic long-term models predicted.


There is a probability that the end result would have been more as predicted, as to worse melt than 2007, had the solar cycle restarted on schedule (last year) and had been more normal in intensity.

Frederick Michael

By the way, what’s up with JAXA? They normally estimate “today’s” sea ice extent about 11pm Eastern time (which is “tomorrow” morning in Japan). This number is finalized some time much later (like the next afternoon eastern time).
I’ve never seen this late or missed until this weekend. The last update was on Friday (Eastern time) — finalizing Thursday 9/3/09’s number. Is there some huge holiday this weekend in Japan?


Given the way the re-freeze last winter in the Arctic was so dramatic, it is in my view, entirely within reason to expect a similar refreeze this year, given all the below average summer temperatures in the northern states, and various early freeze stories etc.
That is assuming that this winter will be similar to last winter. One of the other consequences of lots of open water following a melt off, is that there is lots of surface area of the ocean unprotected by an ice layer to lose heat when the freeze starts it is much faster than it would be in a largely ice covered area.
Since our “historical data” on ice extent is an eye blink in earth climate history we really have no clue how recent years stack up with the long term average. The general assumption of the AGW proponents is that the higher ice extent in the recent past was the normal and the drop in ice cover was a drop below that normal.
What if that earlier ice cover extent was above normal and the recent drops in ice extent were a return to the long term average.
Historical records of periodic openings or near openings of the northwest passage would incline me to believe, the recent melt off over the last few years is a completely normal part of the natural cycle.
If you only started recording tide measurements last week at some location and had no understanding of the long term cycle of tide levels due to the moons position you would have no way of knowing if your recent measurements recorded perfectly normal tide levels or perhaps you started measurements during what was historically high or low tide conditions.
Ice extent measurements are so new in a historical sense we are very much like the fellow trying to guess next weeks tide from a week old record of daily tide measurements.


Roy Spencer (14:24:13) :
“If the rate of ice growth seen since 2007 continues, it is a mathematical certainty that North America will be covered with ice by the end of this century. :)”
Reply: Don’t even joke about it. If the ongoing quiet sun continues for a few more decades then this could be a possibility!!!
From the direction of the winds seen during this melt season, I think the sea ice could turn out to be much thicker than expected – time will tell.


I’ll go with a minimum on Sept 14. But because I think the bend at the bottom of the curve is already visible, we have a lot more information than a few days ago. The extent isn’t going to set a record unless there’s both an earthquake and windstorm.
And should this headline actually be “Sea ice open lead”? 🙂

Polar Bears and BBQ Sauce

Heee Heee Heee…. here ya go Flanagan: (Nice and scarey),9171,944914,00.html
Or maybe this one… I’m terrified just copying it…

John M

bryan (14:37:48) :

There is a probability that the end result would have been more as predicted, as to worse melt than 2007, had the solar cycle restarted on schedule (last year) and had been more normal in intensity.

Hard to argue with that.

Roy Spencer (14:24:13) :
If the rate of ice growth seen since 2007 continues, it is a mathematical certainty that North America will be covered with ice by the end of this century. 🙂

LOL…. terrific observation.


Go Toddler Ice, Go.
John Egan 14:28:39
That’s a nice subtle point about ice volume trailing the sea ice extent recovery. I’ve been trying to explain that point to a warmista without a lot of success. I tell him that he is grasping at a desperate straw to hope that the ice volume argument can buy him some time. If the Arctic is freezing back up, volume will inevitably follow along.


Just looking at the ice melt patterns a thought occurred to me. Since the warmers seem to be so phobic about warmth, a good way to bring on cooling, and another ice age, would be to block the Berring straights with a few atomic explosions/ dams? No warm water entering there would mean no melting – and you will have another ice age double quick.
Cheaper than taxing us and closing down electricity production

Flanagan (14:07:06) :
“any comment?”
You haven’t refuted my statement in any way. Antarctic Sea Ice Extent is currently about 1 million sq km above the average and trending higher. Arctic Sea Ice Extent has increased by more than a million sq km in the last two years and is trending higher. Global Sea Ice Extent is currently about 1 million sq km below average and well within the normal range:
There is no indication of catastrophic global warming from the sea ice data and yet people like yourself continue to propagate the lie of rapidly melting ice. Why?

Dr A Burns

You might wish to examine sea ice extent for the full year in both Arctic and Antarctic, rather than just picking one month that fits your story.
The Antarctic sea ice for March for example, shows a 4.7 % pa growth in sea ice over the past 30 years of recording:
The Arctic for the same month shows a rate of decrease of about half the rate of Antarctic increase.
It is interesting how NSIDC makes finding these archives so difficult and why the Arctic is promoted on their front page, while the Antarctic is so well buried.

John F. Hultquist

Roy is right. Quick, buy a condo in Belize.
Has anyone been following the conquest of the NW Passage? I mean those who went to see the ice free passages.

Dave Wendt

Flanagan (14:20:24) :
Here is a comparison (reality check)
I note that all the model projections in the graph you offered show relatively stabile ice extent from 1900 to 1950 and beyond. Given recent reports, which support previously available information, that the Arctic was subjected to rapid and dramatic temperature rise in the early years of the century and was probably as warm or warmer in the 30s and 40s as it is at present, wouldn’t that seem to indicate that temp is not a primary driver of sea ice loss, or alternatively, that the models are seriously deficient in their portrait of the Arctic climate?

Stephen Skinner

A lot is made of the Arctic melting but often with very little care in pointing out that it is a Summer event only and as far as the both poles providing cooling for the planet the global sea ice extent seems to hang persistently around the 20m sq/km
The ice extent for each oscillates between min. and max. accordingly:
Arctic (approx) 10m
Antarctic (approx) 13m
Both (approx) 7m
Maybe everybody knows this but I think it’s interesting that the ice is going to refreeze once the sun goes below the horizon for the winter, and the Arctic summer melt may have no effect on more southern countries as the they have started to cool before the Arctic has finished its summer melt.

Graeme Rodaughan

The fact that there is more arctic ice this year, than 2008 and 2008 had more than 2007 is completely lost on Ban Ki Moon (UN Head) as reported by the Australian National Broadcaster (who obviously, and sadly, don’t check their facts…).
(Thanks to Simon at
Also noticed by Christopher Booker as reported by Simon at
The ongoing disconnect between the main stream media and the actual data/facts is IMHO reaching well into Bizzaro territory.
The disconnect between alarmism and the facts looks like a rubber band stretched too breaking point that is about to snap with a bang – rather than slowly ease off with a sigh.

Michael Hauber

Looking through Cryosphere Today chart from 1980 there are plenty of times between 1980 and 2007 where sea ice increased for a few years in a row, before larger decreases happened the next year.

Graeme Rodaughan

It’s a good idea not to confuse computer model projections with hard data.
Go to the facts. The arctic is not in a “death spiral” as is evidenced by the ongoing recovery of ice extent.


“There is a probability that the end result would have been more as predicted, as to worse melt than 2007, had the solar cycle restarted on schedule (last year) and had been more normal in intensity.”
Perhaps you are right, of course that’s assuming there is a consistent SCHEDULE in how the sun behaves, we’re not exactly talking about what time you catch the morning bus to work.
There is also a probability that a volcano or two could have thrown a wrench in the works, among other things.
All of which points to forces beyond our control being in charge of the “big picture”, and frankly I don’t mind humanity being a bit player on this stage, we’re not smart enough to get the toaster back together yet.

Stephen Skinner

OT – The Observer newspaper – 06/09/09 Page 20
Melting ice will trigger wave of natural disasters
Scientists at a London conference next week will warn of earthquakes, avalanches and volcanic eruptions as the atmosphere heats up and geology is altered.
With article two pictures are shown, one of Sumatran refugees after the tsunami of 2004 and one of Iceland’s Kirkjufell volcano erupting in 1973. (caption) Researchers warn climate change could trigger disasters like these worldwide.


What is inherently magic about the 1979-2000 average? For all we know, these numbers may well be “above” the norm (if such a thing as “norm” exists). But this seems to be the typical tact taken these days: select some arbitrary boundary of years, then measure your “problem-of-choice” against this arbitrary boundary and start running around like a chicken-with-its-head-cut-off because the present day exceeds (or doesn’t measure up to) the arbitrary measurement. It is completely insane.
Neil Boortz, a conservative talk show host in the Atlanta area brought up an interesting question about the question of man-made global warming:
“What is the ideal temperature of the earth”?
No one can answer of course. What is termed “ideal” depends on what the measurement is. For plant life, possibly warmer temperatures are best. For insects? I have no idea. For humans? I have no idea. But, for all we know, a few additional degrees might be a good thing. What the AGW-paranoid seem to see as the problem is any deviation from what has occurred during their short lifetime.


Flanagan (14:20:24) :
Here is a comparison (reality check)
So all of the models are wrong.
They’re wrong about Arctic ice extent. They’re wrong about Antarctica ice extent. They’re wrong about the current 10-year global hiatus in warming. They’re even wrong in their hindcasts, as per Dave Wendt’s comments above.
Reality check indeed. Let’s not bet the farm just yet, hmm?

slow to follow

Flanagan (14:20:24)
Reality check?
Doesn’t your graphic show that the models are wrong as they do not accurately show ice extent from 1975 on?
Doesn’t this suggest poor algorithms and/or calibration?
What were the observations prior to 1950 – do they match todays model runs?


September 14th is my prediction for the minimum.


At least you get to put your views on WUWT which is very far from what happens on tamino’s open mind ( a total misnomer) and on RealClimate where if you disagrree you are not published. The attitude on those blogs is one of smug self satisfaction that AGW is the only possible reason for climate change.

Douglas DC

500 quatloos on the 15th of September.2009 finishes well above 2008…

James Mayo

I mentioned in the Tips section a couple days ago after reading the Ban Ki Moon drivel that we should offer to help him return there to witness the “rapid melting” firsthand right before the Copenhagen assembly. With any luck he can experience the true arctic conditions instead of cherry picking the height of the summer melt for his photo op. I would just love to watch the spin for Copenhagen if the Norwegian Coast Guard had to rescue the esteemed secretary general from the rapid anti-melting delaying his opening remarks in Denmark.

Richard M

Flanagan (13:36:28) :
“All I have to say is: the extent is already lower than the linear projection and lower than what the most pessimistic long-term models predicted.”
NASA stated winds caused the low 2007 levels. Do you agree or disagree with this fact? And, if you agree, your statement makes no logical sense.
Of course, the models missed the 2007 low. That’s why models aren’t very useful at short term predictions. As I’ve stated many times. The OHC will determine the average level of the sea ice over time. We’re experiencing regression to the mean this year. The ice extent will increase again next year given the current trend for OHC unless unusual weather events change what happens next.

Pamela Gray

I believe those models do not take into account weather/wind variations and trends. They are based on greenhouse gas warming the air (certainly not the water since greenhouse gas warming of water cannot be justified as a viable mechanism scientifically). Warm air is not what melts ice in place. The Sun’s rays melt stationary ice. The rest of the ice that melts is pushed out of the Arctic where of course it melts. Their models are wrong if based on in-situ melting. This is probably why they don’t hindcast very well.


Good time to remember the quote John L Daly used, to begin his discussion about whether the north pole was melting:
“It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated.
(This) affords ample proof that new sources of warmth have been opened and give us leave to hope that the Arctic Seas may at this time be more accessible than they have been for centuries past, and that discoveries may now be made in them not only interesting to the advancement of science but also to the future intercourse of mankind and the commerce of distant nations.”
President of the Royal Society, London, to the Admiralty, 20th November, 1817″
It is interesting to note that Franklin’s first expedition, to map the northwest passage, happened only two years later, in 1819. Ten men died of cold as they marched back south from the arctic shores. (Franklin should have learned his lesson.)
The more things change the more they stay the same. We had a mild spell 2007, and now, two years later, we can check the blogs of gutsy sailors trying to get through the “ice free” passage on a daily basis. It really makes for interesting reading, and we see it isn’t as “ice-free” as some expected.
I don’t expect the arctic ice to fully recover until the current warm phase of the AMO ends. However I see no signs that the permafrost in the Viking graveyards is melting, or that they are planting crops up there in the Viking fields of Greenland, so I have grave doubts the current mild spell is anywhere near being as mild as the MWP was.
Therefore I can only conclude that much of the hype about “unpresidented” warming at the poles is sheer bunkum, motivated by politics.

Frederick Michael

JAXA is doing some work currently.


So, 15 establishment predictions just three months ago, and instead of bracketing the right answer they’ll all be low. No, no evidence of warmist bias there. . .