UPDATE: 3/5 8:30PM PST There’s a hilarious backstory on the sockpuppetry that went on yesterday from the founder of The Arctic Institute – read my comment on it here
It is that time again where attention turns to Arctic Sea Ice because it is approaching maximum extent. There’s really only two periods each year that garner intense interest, and that is the times of maximum and minimum extent. We are fast approaching maximum.
First, let’s start off with a tiff that has developed between Cleveland’s NewsNet5 meteorologist Mark Johnson and an outfit I’ve never heard of called the “Arctic Institute” which called him out a couple of days ago over his report “Ice, ice, baby: Arctic sea ice on the rebound“. They opined on his report:
Only two problems, when I queried him, Johnson stated he was referencing NORSEX SSM/I from the WUWT Sea Ice page, not NSIDC. And, since the Arctic Institute apparently doesn’t know how NSIDC graphs work, they’ve pwned themselves in the process of making their put-down counter claims. Have a look:
The NSIDC 3/3/12 chart looks well within ±2STD and pretty close to the ±1STD boundary to me. Source: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png
NORSEX SSM/I extent for 3/4/12 is in fact within ±1STD:
Mark Johnson was right. You’d think an outfit that bills themselves as…
The Arctic Institute seeks to establish itself as an authoritative, interdisciplinary, and independent source for information and in-depth analysis about the developments in the High North. The Institute was founded in 2011 and currently aims to bring together scholars and researchers to build a growing stock of knowledge and expertise on the Arctic region. In contrast to existing platforms for Arctic affairs, The Arctic Institute is not affiliated with or sponsored by any of the Arctic states.
…would know that NSDIC graphs are on a five day average (and thus don’t reflect recent updates right away), and that daily graphs such as the NORSEX SSMI showed that there had been a dramatic surge in the last couple of days. I guess we know now that “authoritative” is just really their own self serving world view, and not based in actual evidence.
By itself, this peak doesn’t mean all that much. We saw a similar jump near the max in 2009 and 2010, and in 2010 the extent hugged the normal center line for several weeks. In the end though, most people are interested in the minimum in September, and since that event is so dependent on the short term vagaries of wind and weather, having a normal extent at maximum doesn’t guarantee a higher or even normal minimum in September.
One other thing I noted about the Arctic Institute is that they really didn’t show the current extent mapped out, so here it is:
I note that folks like the Arctic Institute just don’t like showing picture of reality, especially at maximum, since their entire existence is predicated on the Serreze “arctic death spiral” mentality and picture like this tend to make people wonder why there’s still ice in the Arctic when they have been told repeatedly it is disappearing at “unprecedented rates”.
So as to prevent the on cue wailing and gnashing of teeth from folks of that ilk, here is their favored presentation:
It sure would be nice if University of Illinois could learn to time stamp their images like I finally convinced NSIDC to do. That would be the scientific thing to do.
The offset right now is minus 726,000 square kilometers, an area slightly bigger than the state of Texas (695,621 sqkm). Most of that missing ice extent is in the Barentz and Greenland seas, as noted in this image from NSIDC I have annotated below:
And according the the Naval Research Lab, the extent loss in those areas appears to be entirely the result of wind patterns compacting the ice northward. There are strong northward drift vectors in the Barentz:
And the air temperature in the Arctic is well below freezing, so air temperature induced melt is likely not a factor…
…but wind driven warmer sea water incursions into the Barentz sea from more southern latitudes seems to be happening in that area and may be contributing to some edge melt:
In other news.
The Antarctic continues along happy as a clam, above normal, with a positive 30+ year trend.
I await the usual condemnations from the excitable folks that are terrified that the world will lose the ice caps soon.
UPDATE: Now the Arctic Institute has added a caveat:
*** [edit: Even the latest available ice extent chart from the NSIDC released on March 3, 2012, one day after Mr. Johnson’s article was published, shows ice extent well outside the one standard deviation area.]
I wonder what they will say tomorrow when NSIDC updates again?