Sea Ice News Volume 3 Number 4: NSIDC Arctic sea ice extent touches the normal line

There was a lot of controversy leading up to this moment, as we covered previously on WUWT where NSIDC put a new trailing average algorithm online with no notice, and bungled the climatology in the process, needing a fix. As has been the case before when NSIDC data goes wonky it was those bloggers of “breathtaking ignorance” who spotted the issue before NSIDC did and brought it to their attention.

Here’s today’s graph: (NSIDC publishes a day behind)

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_timeseries.png

Now, it should be pointed out that it hasn’t crossed the normal line, and it only touches it because of the line width, it is still ever so slightly below normal according to Cryosphere Today.

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.arctic.png

I noted yesterday that the difference was -0.070, so it has nudged away from the normal line a bit. This is supported by the NORSEX data, enlarged here:

http://arctic-roos.org/observations/satellite-data/sea-ice/observation_images/ssmi1_ice_ext.png

Clearly though, by the NORSEX data, Artic Sea Ice was briefly above the 1979-2006 monthly average, but is now headed back down. NSIDC’s trailing average will filter out this short above normal excursion, and I predict that it will turn slightly away from the normal line tomorrow or the next day.

Overall though, we have a pretty full north polar ice cap, especially in the Bering Sea, which has seen record high extents this year. This is encouraging:

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_bm_extent_hires.png

All of this bears watching at the WUWT Sea Ice Reference Page but we’ll soon be into the ho-hum period when all of the years data converge on the way to the minimum sometime in September. While we have near normal extent now, that doesn’t always translate into near normal minimums.

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Jeremy

But it’s rotten ice, it’s not pure ice like we had before SUV’s. It’s tainted by industrial progress so it doesn’t matter.

My usual gripe about this: the ice extent for yesterday shows ice cover in the sea around the Danish islands. There is no ice there now: http://www.itameriportaali.fi/html/icef/icemap_c.pdf

Dave

No after work drinks for the folks at the NSIDC today. They’re probably pretty glum about this new revelation…
I feel thirsty!

Willem De Rode

Well…isn’t it a dramatic sign that it is news to put on the WUWT blog that the Nordic sea ice approaches normal ? Who is talking about normal ?

GoodCheer

Ice covers slightly less than (or maybe just over) the recorded average. It is interesting that the fraction of new, 1st year ice has increased dramatically, while ice over 4 years old (which was about 20% of ice area through the 80’s) is now almost non-existent (about 2%).

Heggs

I read that link about the breathtaking ignorant bloggers, can I have my black helicopter ride now?

the fritz

What about the three week shift from fébruary to march for the maximum ice extent?

bubbagyro

Leif:
This standard cited is for 15% ice cover. That is less than 1/4 of an ice cube in a glass. You are saying that there is zero floating ice in the area at all? As far as one can see? I think a satellite may have a better viewing perspective than a land-bound person.

Paul Westhaver

I want to know what is sacrosanct about the 1979 to 2000 average?
I have images of US subs sailing around the north pole in the 1950’s and 1960’s. and so does WUWT
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/26/ice-at-the-north-pole-in-1958-not-so-thick/

kbray in california

Jeremy says:
April 26, 2012 at 8:37 am
Yes Jeremy, we need to stop all carbon use and emissions to correct this.
A woman in Switzerland tried “zero carbon use”.
Check out her end results:
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/swiss-women-dies-giving-water-food-thought-live-sunlight-article-1.1067359
Carbon is the basis of Organic Chemistry, and life on this planet.
Condemn it and you condemn yourself.

Steve H

Goodcheer, yes, and next year the 4 year old ice will be a higher percentage because the effect of the 2007 record low will have moved on. In a few years time 3,4 and 5 year plus old ice will be hitting much higher levels.

Frank K.

Who can forget this blast from the past:
Arctic ice ‘could be gone in five years’
The Telegraph
5:01PM GMT 12 Dec 2007
The hot Northern Hemisphere summer sharply increased the rate at which Arctic ice is melting and scientists now believe summer ice could be gone completely within five years.
New Nasa satellite images reveal so much ice has disappeared that an irreversible tipping point has already been reached because of global warming.
The volume of Arctic sea ice at the end of last summer was half what it was four years ago and that the Greenland ice sheet lost almost 19bn tonnes of its volume – more than ever before.
“The Arctic is screaming,” said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the US government’s Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.
And Nasa climate scientist Jay Zwally said: “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.”

John West

Classic death spiral profile. /sarc
2008: The ice is in a “death spiral” and may disappear in the summers within a couple of decades, according to Mark Serreze
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/09/080917-sea-ice.html
2010: “I stand by my previous statements that the Arctic summer sea ice cover is in a death spiral. It’s not going to recover,” — Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the U.S. city of Boulder, Colorado. http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52896
Sea Ice in Its “Death Spiral”
by Matthew McDermott
http://biophile.co.za/the-biofiles/sea-ice-in-its-%E2%80%9Cdeath-spiral%E2%80%9D
Arctic Death Spiral: Sea Ice Passes De Facto Tipping Point Thanks to Deniers, Media Blow The Story, Again
By Joe Romm on Aug 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/08/09/291788/arctic-death-spiral-sea-ice-tipping-point/
Arctic ice in ‘death spiral’ means civil resistance is our best hope
Saturday, October 30, 2010
By Simon Butler
http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/45871
According to Prof Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, the ice that forms over the Arctic sea is shrinking so rapidly that it may vanish altogether in four years’ time, destroying the natural habitat of animals like polar bears. …[] …Dr Maslowski’s model, along with his claim that the Arctic sea ice is in a “death spiral”, were controversial but Prof Wadhams, a leading authority on the polar regions, said the calculations had him “pretty much persuaded.”
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-11-09/news/30377863_1_arctic-sea-million-square-kilometres-ipcc
There’s so many but I think I’ve tortured the Mods enough so I’ll just stop here.
[Sorry, Mods ]

kbray in california

“Now, it should be pointed out that it hasn’t crossed the normal line, and it only touches it because of the line width, it is still ever so slightly below normal according to Cryosphere Today.”
As it is said…. “Close enough for government work.”
I’ll give it another week for a true 100% or an ongoing “glancing blow”.
There’s a dip in the average coming up…

Myron Mesecke

“All of this bears watching at the WUWT Sea Ice Reference Page…”
I first read this as, “All of the bears…”
Polar Bears would be interested, right?”

Resourceguy

The will be a lot more silence in the press as the AMO turns down and sea ice extent goes up. It puts a new twist on the phrase silent spring.

Myron Mesecke

All of this bears watching at the WUWT Sea Ice Reference Page
I first read this as, “All of the bears…”
Polar Bears would be interested, right?

pat

But the headline in June will read “Fastest Decline In Sea Ice In 15 Years. Arctic Dissolving Equal To 3 Manhattan Islands Per Day”.

David Schofield

Last night on main BBC TV channel they showed a documentary about the ‘old Pulteney Row to the pole’ from last year called ‘Rowing the Arctic’. To be fair, the guys seemed nice and the commentary stated explicitly they were rowing to the 1996 magnetic north pole, but it was full of comments how it could never have been done previously and it will get easier in years to come etc etc. thanks to climate change. Highlight for me was then hauling the boat over the ice – not quite rowing was it?

I followed the “breathtaking ignorance” link to the willfully ignorant Joe Romm who completely misses the point about polar amplification. Yes, melting polar ice has a significant albedo feedback effect, causing incoming solar to be absorbed by the ocean instead of reflected back into space, but Romm fails to note that this albedo feedback effect is much stronger in the cooling direction, as snow and ice descend to latitudes that cover much more of the planet’s surface. This is how the planet drops into a glacial period, which is why I don’t like to see Anthony call this recovery from recent ice losses “encouraging.”
It is encouraging in a couple of ways. It makes the remote possibility of serious methane hydrate feedbacks even more remote, and it helps in our political battle against the eco-left, but on balance, given that the real danger has always been global cooling, I would describe growing sea ice extent as significantly worrisome.

Steve C

“The Arctic is screaming” (Frank K’s comment) – Yes indeed. It’s screaming “Look on my works, ye warmists, and despair!” 🙂

If NSIDC hadn’t changed the algorithm when they did, the line would have crossed yesterday. Imagine the comments if they’d changed it *after* that happened?
On a side note, Gavin Schmidt and Joe Romm deserve a joint “Lifetime Award” nomination for the Duranty…

Only one more year to go. NASA says we are “getting at” tipping point. Arctic “COULD” be mostly ice free by 2013.

“very likely”, “possibility”, “models”, “predict”,
don’t worry, we have the best minds working on this right now…

goodcheer, you write “Ice covers slightly less than (or maybe just over) the recorded average. It is interesting that the fraction of new, 1st year ice has increased dramatically, while ice over 4 years old (which was about 20% of ice area through the 80′s) is now almost non-existent (about 2%).”
Absolutely true. But you need to understand the why. Ice extent has been decreasing ever since satellite records began in 1979. in 2007, a most unusual wind event occurred, which blew huge quantities of old ice, out of the Arctic Ocean, into the Atlantic Ocean, where it melted. How unusual this wind event was, we have no idea; our records dont go back far enough to know.
What we do know is that since then there has been a little recovery from the low levels in 2007. It takes time to make old ice, and not enough time has elapsed to overcome what happened in 2007. What we may be seeing this year, is an acceleration of this recovery process. But it is far too early to know what is happening.

John West says:
April 26, 2012 at 9:07 am
Arctic ice in ‘death spiral’ means civil resistance is our best hope
Saturday, October 30, 2010
By Simon Butler

What are the odds that Simon Butler is related to Steve Zwick?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/19/climate-craziness-of-the-week-forbes-steve-zwick-loses-it/
Inquiring minds and all that, y’know?

wfrumkin

So it is true! President Obama has stiopped the seas from rising, restored the ice to the poles and prevented the global catastrope. Another Nobel prize is in order, no?

Jon

bubbagyro … Leif is correct … there are often errors in the ice charts as shown. For example the ice shown to the south of Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence does not exist … see here: http://ice-glaces.ec.gc.ca/prods/WIS28/20120425180000_WIS28_0006413677.gif

bubbagyro says:
April 26, 2012 at 8:50 am
This standard cited is for 15% ice cover. That is less than 1/4 of an ice cube in a glass. You are saying that there is zero floating ice in the area at all? As far as one can see? I think a satellite may have a better viewing perspective than a land-bound person.
People there have boats too. I used to live there. There is no ice there now.

bubbagyro says:
April 26, 2012 at 8:50 am
This standard cited is for 15% ice cover.
The green areas here are for 10-40% ice cover:
http://www.itameriportaali.fi/html/icef/icemap_c.pdf
there is no ice there now.

And this one is even more telling:
http://arctic-roos.org/observations/satellite-data/sea-ice/observation_images/ssmi1_ice_area.png
Arctic ice is actually above the average since 1979…..

John from CA

The “Normal” line? No one actually knows what the mean represents within extended Natural cycles so saying its “Normal” is a bit over the top for me.

Bob B.

dcb283 – The Polar Bears are defiantly interested. They may soon resume their hockey season.

Richard M

The wind has been moving ice to the extent boundaries recently. I suspect this has something to do with the current situation. If that’s true, then that means more ice will be vulnerable to melting as we get into the warmer months.
I had thought the winds were helping to thicken the ice most of the winter. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Ben Kellett

On the odd occasion that the current sea ice extent touches the normal line, everyone starts crowing that everything is normal. This is madness! The current sea ice needs to trend as much over the line as it does below it, over the course of a full year, for a true recovery to be declared. While this is encouraging, it’s still far from normal! In the meantime, this “glancing blow” is most probably just that. It is also sad state indeed, when the best we can expect in terms of sea ice extent, is a brief flirtation with normal conditions.

kim

Go, Baby Ice, Go. But don’t go too far, now; please stick to the ocean.
==============

John from CA

J. Philip Peterson says:
April 26, 2012 at 10:11 am
And this one is even more telling:
==================
This is my favorite, note its 30% and interactive (can select any year(s) to view and points within each year — complete satellite record):
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/arctic.sea.ice.interactive.html

Ben Kellett,
Arguing with the planet is a fool’s errand.

Joseph Bastardi

2 things
I believe our ice is running 9 day mean while norsex may be the daily. Not sure, please clarify.
As far as the normal. The only reason that there is hoopla about it is BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE SAYING IT WOULD BE GONE THIS SUMMER, and given the cold pdo and soon to be cold ( 10years amo) there is no death spiral. If your team is forecasted to win 0 games in a football season and you find they win half the games, it may be no big deal as far as the playoffs but the people saying they would win none are plainly wrong
And those of us that said the dropping would level off and the “death spiral” and no recovery were nonsense are plainly right.. up to now. Remember while the left wing hit pieces came after
me for being underdone on ice melt last year but my forecast was for a return to 1978 levels in 2030, and that is simply based on the reality of the cold pdo and amo returning. It is a lot closer to my way of thinking than a death spiral from which there is no escape.
I said in 07 it was absurd to think we would lose the icecap in 12 or 13, as did most rationale clear thinking humans, and the hoopla is over the fact that touching normal at the end of April is no where near the end of the ice.
And guess what, next year it will be higher, even as s hem icecap has been mainly above normal
heh, I heard Joe Biden today say Obama can run on a mantra, Bin Ladens Dead, GM is alive. why not add, and so is the ice cap.

steveta_uk

Leif, we saw the same earlier in the year with NSIDC showing sea ice round the southern UK – where it simply never happens, and I don’t count a bit of slush on the beaches.

tadchem

“…it hasn’t crossed the normal line, and it only touches it because of the line width, it is still ever so slightly below normal .”
Considering the stochastic variability of the measurements involved, I would say this reading is *indistinguishable* from the “normal.”

I dislike the word “Normal” when it comes to anything regarding climatology, temperature readings, and any function of the planet we live on. Because we’re not talking about “Normals” we’re talking about “Averages” from the time we started keeping track of what’s happening on our planet as a whole. The word “Normal” is a deceptive thing and can make the gullible think that science knows what is “Normal” for our planet. And in fact there truly isn’t a “Normal” for this planet, unless you want to say a Glaciated state is normal, since it’s in that state now longer than it’s in an inter-Glaciated state.

Ferd

Is it just me or do others have a problem with the term “Normal” that is used for the 1976 to 2006 average?

Phil.

Joseph Bastardi says:
April 26, 2012 at 10:33 am
As far as the normal. The only reason that there is hoopla about it is BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE SAYING IT WOULD BE GONE THIS SUMMER,

Actually they were saying ‘Could’ and ‘mostly/nearly ice-free’, and most of them around 2013-2016.
and given the cold pdo
Which means warmer water in the Bering and southerly wind stress.
http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/
And those of us that said the dropping would level off and the “death spiral” and no recovery were nonsense are plainly right.. up to now.
Premature, not much sign of a ‘plain’ recovery in the minimum in September.
Remember while the left wing hit pieces came after
me for being underdone on ice melt last year but my forecast was for a return to 1978 levels in 2030, and that is simply based on the reality of the cold pdo and amo returning.

Your guess that they would return, not the ‘reality’.
It is a lot closer to my way of thinking than a death spiral from which there is no escape.
I said in 07 it was absurd to think we would lose the icecap in 12 or 13, as did most rationale clear thinking humans, and the hoopla is over the fact that touching normal at the end of April is no where near the end of the ice.
And guess what, next year it will be higher, even as s hem icecap has been mainly above normal

We’ll see.

A lot of weather reports report above normal or below normal when they really mean above or below average. Average should include the period of time that was used to compute the average of whatever they are reporting on. (and you wonder how accurate that average number is now with all the revisionist shenanigans going on).

John Peter

“bubbagyro says:
April 26, 2012 at 8:50 am
Leif:
This standard cited is for 15% ice cover. That is less than 1/4 of an ice cube in a glass. You are saying that there is zero floating ice in the area at all? As far as one can see? I think a satellite may have a better viewing perspective than a land-bound person.”
Bubbagyro
As another Dane (like Leif Svalgaard) I can guarantee you that there is at present absolutely no sea ice around the Danish Islands of Fyn and Sealand etc. End of story.

Espen

This is interesting! Note that the sun is much higher in the Arctic sky at this time of year – only 9 weeks before summer solstice – than at the time of sea ice minimum in September. So the ice cover in the next 9 weeks (and at the other side of the solstice, i.e. until mid-August) is much more important for the albedo feedback than the time of the minimum! And in September and later, the open sea cooling faster than if it had been covered with ice, constitutes a negative feedback…

mwhite

J. Philip Peterson says:
April 26, 2012 at 11:03 am
I agree, it’s the 1979-2000 Average line (On the NSIDC graph)

Kelvin Vaughan

Resourceguy says:
April 26, 2012 at 9:26 am
The will be a lot more silence in the press as the AMO turns down and sea ice extent goes up. It puts a new twist on the phrase silent spring.
Nah they will say that global warming causes the pole to freeze!

John from CA

Ferd says:
April 26, 2012 at 11:00 am
Is it just me or do others have a problem with the term “Normal” that is used for the 1976 to 2006 average?
===========
I do, the term is inappropriate and unscientific at best. Its a dysfunctional interpretation of the observations and completely out of context yet speaks to the fundamental disconnect in the debate.

Silver Ralph

>>>kbray in california says: April 26, 2012 at 8:54 am
Regards the Swiss woman ‘living on sunlight’. From e newspaper article:
Quote:
The Zurich newspaper reported Wednesday that the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian faker and charlatan, who claims to have lived this way for 70 years.
There, fixed that for you…….. (and for – hopefully – for all theother liberal nutters that believe everything that nutty religious cults preach).
.