NSIDC Confirms WUWT Ice Forecast

by Steven Goddard and Anthony Watts

In late 2009, Anthony forecast that Arctic sea ice would continue to recover in 2010. Last month Steve Goddard did an analysis explaining why that was likely to happen and yesterday NSIDC confirmed the analysis.

The pattern of winds associated with a strongly negative AO tends to reduce export of ice out of the Arctic through the Fram Strait. This helps keep more of the older, thicker ice within the Arctic. While little old ice remains, sequestering what is left may help keep the September extent from dropping as low as it did in the last few years.

The wording of NSIDC press releases usually highlight the negative (this one being no exception) but the message is clear.  This summer is likely to continue the trend since 2007 of increasing summer minimums.

So how is Arctic sea ice looking at this point, near the winter maximum?  NSIDC shows ice extent within 1 million km2 of normal and increasing.



The Baltic and Bering Sea have slightly above normal ice. Eastern Canada and The Sea of Okhotsk have slightly below normal ice.



DMI shows sea ice extent at nearly the highest in their six year record.

Sea ice extent for the past 5 years (in million km2) for the northern hemisphere, as a function of date.


NORSEX shows ice area just outside one standard deviation (i.e. almost normal.)



There’s also some interesting comparisons to be made at Cryosphere Today. When you compare the current images in recent days with the same period in years past, you notice how “solid” the ice has become. For example compare March 3rd 2010 to March 3rd 2008, when we saw the first year of recovery:

suggestion - click for a larger image to see detail

Note that there’s no “fuzziness” in the signal return that creates this image on the right. A fuzzy return would indicate less than solid ice, such as we see on the left. The CT image from March 3rd is “deep purple” through and through.  The edges of the ice are very sharp also, particularly near Greenland and also in the Bering sea. These two visual cues imply a solid, and perhaps thicker ice pack, rather than one that has been described by Dr. Barber as “rotten ice”.

I wish I could compare to March 3 2009, but the CT images were offline last spring then while both they and NSIDC dealt with issues of SSMI sensor dropout that was originally brought to their attention by WUWT, but was deemed “not worth blogging about“.

According to JAXA,  2003 was a good year for Arctic sea ice. Note the blue line.

So how does that year on March 3rd compare to our current year using CT’s imagery?

suggestion - click for a larger image to see detail

Compared to the best year for Arctic sea ice in the past decade, March 3rd this year looks quite solid. The setup for 2010 having more ice looks good.

You can do your own side by side comparisons here with CT’s interactive Arctic sea ice comparator.

The Arctic continues to recover, and one of the last CAGW talking points continues to look weaker and weaker.  It wasn’t very long ago when experts were forecasting the demise of Arctic ice somewhere between 2008 and 2013.  And it is not the first time that experts have done this – they were claiming the same nonsense in 1969, right before the ice age scare.

Feb 20th, 1969 New York Times - click for full article

Note the column at the right. Even back then, skeptics got the short shrift on headlines because as we know: “all is well, don’t panic” doesn’t sell newspapers.

UPDATE: And then there’s this:

AROUND 50 ships, including large ferries reportedly carrying thousands, were stuck in the ice in the Baltic Sea today and many were not likely to be freed for hours, Swedish maritime authorities said.


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You might be interested in my study of Arctic sea ice extent. I put most of it together some time back when it made a guest post on Air Vent. I finally managed to revisit it adding some of the things that should have been there first time around. The data sources have not been updated since I wrote it originally.
It now contains calculations of difference between the satellites. Whilst the difference trend is a little on the high side, probably due to the apparent more rapid decline in the overlapping time frame, it does suggest that all the apparent Arctic sea ice extent decline might be accounted for by measurement drift.

Scott B.

I don’t understand how the talk about the polar ice cap melting away to nothing continues to have traction. The AMSR-E Sea Ice Extent chart on the right makes it clear that nothing really unusual is happening at the north pole with regards to ice.
How can the claim that all the ice will dissappear continue to be made with a straight face? The “rotten ice” gambit?


Rumor has it that Pen Hadow thinks it’s all bunkum. After all, he’s been there and measured the ice and ‘it’s worse than we thought!’ ;o)
Aside: will Catlin Insurance ever again associate their name with such an expedition? I’m guessing they won’t.

CRS, Dr.P.H.

Thanks, Anthony! Being somewhat obsessive-compulsive, I’ve checked that website every day for the past year or so, to see what is transpiring in the Arctic Ocean.
I agree with your analysis, the loss of ice in 2007 seems more likely related to wind and current patterns than anything to do with global temperature.
Well, then again, there is the issue of all that “rotten, honey-combed” ice that has been reported….LOL!
Meanwhile, I notice that Mr. Sun is still struggling to awaken from a rather deep minimum. The brief sunspot activity observed over the past few months has decreased rather dramatically. I’m expecting the sun to slip back into a very quiet minimum, we’ll see.


It was that record short melting season as we saw in the DMI last summer.
Might be that the feeble warming up there was just enough to consolidate the ice (fill in the air gaps/bubbles), so it’s not quite as ‘rotten’.
So the concern is not with the Arctic Ice, which is doing quite well, but with the cold air that is blowing, and continues to blow, down upon the temperate areas of the N. Hemsiphere.


Thanks to both of you for pulling together these images (and adding cogent commentary) for those of us deeply interested, but less skilled.


I would question the word “normal”
As the article from 1969 shows (and similar alarmism in the late thirties) thin ice is not unusual. The peak ice extent probably occurred in the 70s and early 80s when we had all the scares about a coming ice age. So it is extremely unlikely that the reference period of 1976 to 2000 is representative of the long term norm. I would suggest that the period of 1976 to 2006 would make a much better norm given that the PDO/AMO seems to work on this sort of timescale. Using a half cycle period would be perfect. How would today’s extent compare with that norm?

fred wisse

Personally I am thinking this story is at least 15 days too early , before the northern hemiphere icecap is reaching its maximum size . Having this winter a fairly low jetstream , more near to the equator , a lot of the cold air was transported from the arctic into more moderate temperatured areas . This is most likely going to change by the end of next week , when the jetstream is expected to return to a more normal pattern higher in the northern hemisphere and the cold arctic will stay more insulated . As a result more arctic ice is likely to appear on the satellite images and the small minus of this winters calculations may change into a robust plus . Although the science is set mother nature is always good for a pleasant surprise.


CRS, Dr.P.H. (09:55:21) :
The sunspot cycle ramp seems to have developed a slipping clutch when it comes to the size and contrast of the spots.
I’ll bet Leif has his eye on that, and Bill Livingston is continuing to see the progress of it in his measurements.


Sorry I should have suggested 1979 to 2009 given that we did not have satelite data until ’79.


In addition, I think we can expect a later maximum this year, due to the extensive snow cover throughout the northern hemisphere, keeping heat reflection high in the surrounding areas. So there might still be room for further growth.
By the way: Al Gore is in town (Oslo) today, selling his new book. The main point of his speech was that it is still not too late to act, and that fortunately – politicians are a renewable resource, meaning of course that politicians who don’t ACT are replaceable. A cleverly concealed threat to the Norwegian political establishment. But the threat was wasted. They all love Gore anyway. They were the ones who gave him a Nobel.
Coincidentally there was a climate debate (!) at our parliament at the same time, where a left-wing radical complained that he actually had to be at parliament debating such settled issues while he instead could be listening to Al Gore!
At the same time, our foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre (who co-presented the infamous report “Melting snow and ice” at Copenhagen) said that there now is a organized, coordinated attack on science, orchestrated by “strong and well funded interests”.
Hm. Sounds almost like CRU!
Støre also managed to state: “The way Al Gore operates, which is very thorough and well-documented, is an important contribution to open eyes to the fact that we have to do something about it and take it seriously”.
Well documented?
I am looking forward to the last chapters of this saga. It could be both bloody and Gory.

A C Osborn

Of course Man made Arctic Ice Breakup as per Anthony’s previous Thread may also prevent the Ice returning as quickly as it would if they stopped driving their ships through it. LOL

Cassandra King

The UK met office/BBC/ HMG gov & oppostion parties/chief scientific adviser should have a look at the above graphs. The anthropogenic global warming as promised by governments around the world has turned out to be as false and contrived as the Y2K scare but on a vastly bigger scale.
It seems that mother nature has not read the AAM script and is going on her own multi billion year journey regardless of the antics of our woeful political leaders.
The question of tipping point armageddon and carbon dioxide invoked doom has been answered and now all that remains is where is all the money, who has the vast amounts of money so far squandered on a fools errand?
Those that have peddled the ultimate Brooklyn Bridge scam should be shown the evidence so they can no longer deny the reality.


Icebreakers in the Baltic:


04Mar2010 18:20 AFP reporting 50 ships stuck in serious ice in the Baltic Sea
Ho hum

On the second figure (the graphic which shows sea ice extent on 03/03/2010) is the orange line really the median?
Around Newfoundland the median line is very far out from the shore. Did sea ice extend twice that distance into the Atlantic?

Ahhh, the fine art of the cherry-pick.
From the same site you link above (“Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis“):
Even though the extent of Arctic sea ice has not returned to the record low of 2007, the data show that it is not recovering. To recover would mean returning to within its previous, long-term range. Arctic sea ice in September 2008 remained 34 percent below the average extent from 1979 to 2000, and in September 2009, it was 24 percent below the long term average. In addition, sea ice remains much thinner than in the past, and so is more vulnerable to further decline. The data suggest that the ice reached a record low volume in 2008, and has thinned even more in 2009. Sea ice extent normally varies from year to year, much like the weather changes from day to day. But just as one warm day in October does not negate a cooling trend toward winter, a slight annual gain in sea ice extent over a record low does not negate the long-term decline.
In addition, ice extent is only one measure of sea ice. Satellite measurements from NASA show that in 2008, Arctic sea ice was thinner than 2007, and likely reached a record low volume.
So, what would scientists call a recovery in sea ice? First, a true recovery would continue over a longer time period than two years. Second, scientists would expect to see a series of minimum sea ice extents that not only exceed the previous year, but also return to within the range of natural variation. In a recovery, scientists would also expect to see a return to an Arctic sea ice cover dominated by thicker, multiyear ice.
Returning to a question I’ve posted here a few times before: on what scientific basis are individual reports that confirm your preconceptions touted while numerous studies that contradict it are discarded.


Slightly OT but Catlin is at it again!
REPLY: I note they have no “live” biotelemetry this time. – A


Talking about ICE; THOUSANDS of passengers, 50 VESSELS is
fozen in, in the Baltic Sea!!
And this happens while Al Gore is in Noway spreading the AGW Carbon Cult Gospel !! LOL !!




At http://climaterealists.com/http://www.trevoole.co.uk/Questioning_Climate/userfiles/How_Fast_is_Arctic_Sea_Ice_Declining_v2.pdf
there are several charts showing how “Satellite” observations show a very significant decline from previous “Climatic & Observational” & “Hemispheric Observations. These charts show the above C&O and HO observations cease at the moment Satellite observations are available. Is more recent C&O and HO information available for comparison? Or, is it, “It doesn’t match our model again”.

rbateman (10:04:35) :
It was that record short melting season as we saw in the DMI last summer.
Might be that the feeble warming up there was just enough to consolidate the ice (fill in the air gaps/bubbles), so it’s not quite as ‘rotten’.

A C Osborn (10:15:21) :
Of course Man made Arctic Ice Breakup as per Anthony’s previous Thread may also prevent the Ice returning as quickly as it would if they stopped driving their ships through it. LOL
“[ZOMG look behind us… behind the ice breaker… it’s GLOBAL WARMING!!!!!!]”

Jeezze that’s three beers I owe the mods – sorry! One of these days I’ll figure out how to bookend my bold formatting, I swear it!


Yes, but the referenced NSIDC site also reports monthly February ice extent for 1979 to 2010 shows a decline of 2.9% per decade(see Figure 3).


OT but released just yesterday regarding cyclone predictions (fiction) by the IPCC:


The lack of sea ice in the Arctic has been widely reported, see here :
Admittedly the reports date from 1922, 1937, 1954 and 1958, but that’s not the point.
Errm, actually, yes it is!

The Arctic ice “death spiral” propaganda is experiencing its own robust and rigorous death spiral.

Steve Goddard

I have a friend who was a sailor out of Riga, Latvia from 1950-1990. He says he never remembers The Gulf of Riga being impassable as it apparently is this year.

Gary Hladik

From the 1969 NYT article linked by Anthony: “About one quarter of the Arctic pack melts each summer, although the percentage varies widely.”
Varies widely, eh? Looks like we still have something to learn from our pre-iPod ancestors.

R. Gates

The NSIDC’s so-called “negative” assessment of the ice, is actually looking at the facts over a longer term persepctive than what some would like to look at. The sea ice anomaly is still negative, and has not been positive since 2004, (and then only barely) and a quick look at the LONG TERM trend is quite clear:
Yes, currently sea ice is growing, as it always does in the winter, and yes, because of the negative AO, etc. more older ice stayed in the arctic, but the long term trend line is quite clear, and if it continues (and there is no data to say that it won’t), the arctic will be ice free in the summer in a few decades at most. It is most critical to note, that the extreme ice melt of 2007 only continued the trend going back many many years. Yes, we may not see a record low sea ice this summer, but I am fairly certain (again, unless we have a Mt. Pinatubo type volcanic event) that we will see record low summer sea ice in 2011, and probably 2012 and 2013 as well.

R. Gates

Mike D., you are so incredibly wrong. One look at this long term trend map:
Shows there is no end of the “death spiral” for arctic sea ice. Steve’s selective hype, as usual, doesn’t look at the long term facts.

Thanks for all of this analysis. I’m eagerly awaiting this year’s peak, and its later trough.
Sometimes I smell cherry-pickings on both sides of the aisle… If the ice ever did hit 0 one summer I’m sure skeptics would find some explanation involving winds or currents or whatever just like they did for 2007’s record low.
But I think the most telling aspect of all of this is how the alarmists keep moving the ice-free goalposts. What’s different now is that we have the Internet to remind them of their old goalposts, many of which we have already passed or will be soon be passing!

I’ve been looking for an Anthony Watts prediction to add to the list http://expertclimatepredictions.com/home.htm … guess this is a good one to start with

Gary Hladik

Paul Daniel Ash (10:29:55) : “From the same site you link above (‘Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis’):
Even though the extent of Arctic sea ice has not returned to the record low of 2007, the data show that it is not recovering. To recover would mean returning to within its previous, long-term range.”
Well yes, because it’s a 12-step recovery program.
The first step is admitting there’s no problem. 🙂


2010 Arctic sea ice is looking like a repeat of 2009, although the currently colder NH may delay the onset of melting. Interesting times!


Icebreakers in the Baltic:
JonFrum (10:25:38) :
I just found that myself, via Drudge. I took a look for the locations of the ferries’ destinations and it puts that ice far south of limits of ice on the IARC-Jaxa Arctic Sea Ice Monitor map. I wonder if the photo in your link (which is different than the one I saw) is an actual photo of the conditions. If so, then I have had a much different impression of what the Jaxa map depicts as extent of sea ice. Or is there another explanation for the apparent difference?

A C Osborn

Paul Daniel Ash (10:29:55) :
I like the way that you point to the commentary from an obviously biased site which is promoting Man Made Global Warming, they actually say so on the right hand side.
The CAGW predictions were Continued Reduction leading to No Ice at the Pole in a few Years.
It is proved WRONG.


What about the jet stream being displaced to the south so increasing temperatures over the artic and Canada and lowering US temperatures?
Is north pole going after Al-Baby’s residence really stalking him, in a kind of Gaia’s revenge?


I wonder if other years previous to 2008 didn’t have solid purple color covering the Arctic. Perhaps it is a valid statement to say the ice is thicker…or may be the instruments measuring the ice weren’t calibrated correctly for all the years with spotty < 100% thickness.


kwik (10:35:10) :
And this happens while Al Gore is in Noway spreading the AGW Carbon Cult Gospel !! LOL !!
Was/Is Gore really in Norway yesterday/today?

Layne Blanchard

Somehow, oil must be responsible for this horrific, uncontrolled expansion of ice. Because oil is found deep in the earth, which we all know is “millions of degrees”, evil oil companies must be cooling the oil by stealing water from the oceans. This is causing the inner earth to cool, and now we will all freeze to death. Please send 10B, and I will study this further.

Roger Knights

Paul Daniel Ash (10:29:55) :
Even though the extent of Arctic sea ice has not returned to the record low of 2007, the data show that it is not recovering. To recover would mean returning to within its previous, long-term range.

If a patient has a fever of 103 degrees and the fever breaks down to 101 degrees, it’s OK to say he’s recovering. That’s all Anthony said. Your strawman that he said “recovery” is a strawman.

Ryan C

Paul Daniel Ash: Who are you to tell us that the 1979-2000 mean is “normal”?
Talk about cherry picking.
That is 21 years and the planet is 5.5 billion years old.
(21/5500000000) * 100 = 0.000000038%
So you are telling me that the average sea ice extent over a 0.000000038% of the earths history is “normal”?
Your entire post is one big balloon of hypocracy.

Thomas J. Arnold.

Does anyone ask the Polar bears?
Another ‘pillar’ of the AGW scare is buried under millions of tons of ice.
I’ve a keen interest in Arctic Ocean Sea Ice, ever since they said “it would disappear” not in my lifetime it bl***y well won’t.
If the upward trend continues, in the near future the 14m sq km will be met and not far off from 14.5million sq km (maybe a long shot now) at the peak of the freeze – glory be for that, if for nothing else then to shut some people up – somebody should tell Prince Charlie and all at the Guardian and Independent not forgetting the WWF.
Oh oh! – back to Kilimanjaro is it?

Gil Dewart

If we are concerned about Arctic sea ice because of its role in reflecting solar radiation, note that the equinoxes (March and September) are of little consequence becaue the solar angle then is very low. It is at the solstice (June 21), when the solar angle is at its maximum, the atmospheric path is minimal, and the albedo difference between water and ice is maximal, that the ice albedo is most effective in reducing the absorption of radiation by the ocean surface. Both graphs, especially the one indicating ice area, show little change between the average and the last full year (2009) for the crucial midsummer insolation window.


anticlimactic (10:46:27) :
This is how the article you linked to finish;
“The proposed New Orleans flood barrier, which would have stopped the Katrina flooding, was itself stopped by federal court order after environmentalists filed a lawsuit. Federal government interference has cost us dearly in New Orleans. It has cost more than 1,000 human lives, including a friend of mine.”
Good grief! I didnt know that. Can it really be true? If so, it really shows how perverted their reality are. Instead of doing positive things to the community, they spend money on religious beliefs.
“The age of Delusion.” instead of The Age of Reason.

Paul Daniel Ash
I don’t wish to hijack this interesting piece by Anthony and Steve, but we must look at a much broader sweep of history than from the inception of satellite readings in 1979 to understand what is going on here;
The start of Satellite measuring in 1979 coincided with peak ice, which is why they always speak of subsequent decline; History suggests you should look at a much longer time scale than thirty years.
Link 1
Ice extent maximum- Depends if you are talking winter or summer but ‘decline’ starts around 1979 from a high point.
Link 2 This also shows the same;
Link 3
The IPCC report confirms this p351/2 figures 4.8 4.9 4.10
Link 4
The concerns over global cooling in the 70’s did have some basis in fact. There were a series of low temperatures in many arctic areas during the 70’s which ice would have corresponded to by growing.
As the IPCC show, the start of the satellite period therefore roughly coincided with a period of peak ice-so it is not at all surprising that as part of its natural cycle it should subsequently decline.
Link 5
The IPCC are not very good at their historic reconstructions and generally view actual observations as ‘anecdotal.’ They seem to believe that history did not start before 1979. This article examines the arctic melting in the period 1810-1860 -see notes at bottom of article with additional references.
Link 6
These are two good studies showing the arctic melting from the 1920’s to 1940’s posted from elsewhere, which show (a) a warm period during the 1930s and 1940s with temperatures as high as those of today and (b) reduced sea ice extent during this period, which only later returned to the high levels measured at the start of the latest retreating cycle in 1979 (when satellite measurements started), i.e. your point.
Link 7 The melting in the period 1920-1940 is very well documented. I have posted various articles on it here including newspaper stories.
Expeditions to the arctic to view the melting ice became the equivalent of todays celebrity jaunts to the area. The most famous were those mounted by Bob Bartlett on the Morrissey. I have carried extracts from his diary before-remember the observation of the mile wide face of a glacier falling in to the sea?
There are Pathe news reels of his voyages which your parents may have watched in their youth, as well as books on the subject. Here is a bibliography of material relating to him.
Link 8
Bernaerts, A. (2007). Can the “Big Warming” at Spitsbergen from 1918 to 1940 be explained? PACON 2007 Proceedings 325-337.
Link 9
This shows a variety of arctic warming events over the last 150 years
Link 10
We have got this far citing instances of warming and not even mentioned the Vikings 1000 years ago…instead let’s finish with another Arctic culture that thrived 1000 years before the Vikings;
From the Eskimo Times Monday, Mar. 17, 1941
“The corner of Alaska nearest Siberia was probably man’s first threshold to the Western Hemisphere. So for years archeologists have dug there for a clue to America’s prehistoric past. Until last year, all the finds were obviously Eskimo. Then Anthropologists Froelich G. Rainey of the University of Alaska and two collaborators struck the remains of a town, of inciedible size and mysterious culture. Last week in Natural History Professor Rainey, still somewhat amazed, described this lost Arctic city.
It lies at Ipiutak on Point Hope, a bleak sandspit in the Arctic Ocean, where no trees and little grass survive endless gales at 30° below zero. But where houses lay more than 2,000 years ago, underlying refuse makes grass and moss grow greener. The scientists could easily discern traces of long avenues and hundreds of dwelling sites. A mile long, a quarter-mile wide, this ruined city was perhaps as big as any in Alaska today (biggest: Juneau, pop. 5,700).
On the Arctic coast today an Eskimo village of even 250 folk can catch scarcely enough seals, whales, caribou to live on. What these ancient Alaskans ate is all the more puzzling because they seem to have lacked such Arctic weapons as the Eskimo harpoon.
Yet they had enough leisure to make many purely artistic objects, some of no recognizable use. Their carvings are vaguely akin to Eskimo work but so sophisticated and elaborate as to indicate a relation with some centre of advanced culture — perhaps Japan or southern Siberia —certainly older than the Aztec or Mayan.
This link leads to the Academy of science report of the same year regarding the Ipiutak culture described above
Certain of us seem reluctant to learn the lessons of history-in this case that there are periods of melting and refreeze that appear to follow a roughly 60/70 year cycle. We may or may not be at the low point in the cycle-that will become clearer over the next five years.
Whatever the alarmists may believe, at present our modern era is not displaying any climate characteristics that have not been experienced in past ages of humanity.


kwik (10:35:10) :
Talking about ICE; THOUSANDS of passengers, 50 VESSELS [are]
f[r]ozen in, in the Baltic Sea!!
Kwik: I had to check your claim: indeed, you are right: the Gore Effect strikes again!
Headline: “Al Gore and Norwegian Foreign Minister present ice melting report”


Study Says Undersea Release of Methane Is Under Way
Climate scientists have long warned that global warming could unlock vast stores of the greenhouse gas methane that are frozen into the Arctic permafrost, setting off potentially significantly increases in global warming.
Now researchers at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and elsewhere say this change is under way in a little-studied area under the sea, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf east of the Bering Strait.
Natalia Shakhova, a scientist at the university and a leader of the study, said it was too soon to say whether the findings suggest that a dangerous release of methane looms. In a telephone news conference, she said researchers are only beginning to track the movement of this methane into the atmosphere as the undersea permafrost that traps it degrades.
But climate experts familiar with the new research, reported in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, said that even though it does not suggest imminent climate catastrophe, it is important because of methane’s role as a greenhouse gas. Although carbon dioxide is a far more abundant and persistent in the atmosphere, ton for ton atmospheric methane traps at least 25 times as much heat.

Dr A Burns

Funny how NORSEX uses one standard deviation instead of the more usual 3, to show the “normal” band.