Cache of historical Arctic sea ice maps discovered

Arctic Sea ice data collected by DMI 1893-1961

Guest post by Frank Lansner

I came across a number of maps showing Arctic ice extend from 1893 to 1961 collected by DMI in “Nautisk Meteorologisk Aarbog”. Each year DMI have collected information on sea ice extend so that normally each of the months April, May, June, July and August ice extend was published.

There is much more to be said about these, but this is my summary for now.

Fig 1. 1901-1910 Arctic sea ice data collected by DMI. Click to enlarge!

Sadly, just for a few years we also have March or September available, and thus we normally can’t read the Arctic ice minimum (medio September) from these maps. The August trends will have the main focus in this writing.

First of all I would like to thank “Brunnur” in Iceland for making these maps available on the net beautifully scanned. This is a gold mine and I’m sure you know this, Brunnur.

Fig 2. August 1902.

The August data in the beginning of the century normally resembles December ice area for recent years. Year after year in the period 1901-1920 we see pretty much same picture. The sea east of the Russian island Novaja Zemlja is often frozen over even in August, and there is still sea ice between Baffin Island and Greenland.

Fig 3. 1911-1920. Click to enlarge!

Fig 4. August, 1916. The December-like August ice area continues to be observed year after year, and in 1916 most of the ocean between Baffin Island and Greenland is ice filled (- even in August!).

Fig 5. 1921-30

Fig 6.

Finally in 1923 something new happens: The ice east of Svalbard and east of Novaja Zemlja is on retreat.

Fig 7.

In 1930, the retreat has gone even further: Svalbard Is ice free, and ice free waters have been observed far east of Novaja Zemlja. In addition, the Baffin bay is now almost ice free. Puzzling is, that the ice extends on the pacific side of the Arctic remains rather constant in all these years.

Fig 8.

In 1932 we see in August open ice almost all along the Russian shore. So even though we do not see the September ice minimum here, we almost have an open NE passage.

Fig 9.

After a rather icy 1934, then 1935 again in August shows an almost open NE passage and in 1935 open waters are observed not that far from the North pole.

Fig 10.

In 1937, more open waters are observed in the Pacific and East Siberian areas.

Fig 11.

1938: Unprecedented areas of open waters.

(And again, this is not the ice minimum but just the August ice area)

Fig 12. 1931-1946

Already the year after, 1939, the ice extend resembles the pre 1923 extend.

We see that a decline in Arctic ice area from around 1921 ends possibly in 1938.

Fig 13. 1947-1956

Sadly we don’t have the Arctic warm years 1940-45, but just the colder years 1946-56.

Fig 14.

In 1952, The August sea ice area once again appears like the 1900-1920 extend. If Arctic ice areas reflects temperature well, then years around 1946-54 should be as cold as before 1923. It appears that the ice cover from 1938 to 1946 has recovered quickly.

Fig 15.

Here is an August–September comparison for 1901. For most of the Siberian shores in September we see open waters as far back as  1901.

Fig 16.

Some warm Arctic years in the 1930´ies from DMI compared to recent Cryosphere Today August graphics.

It seems that ice area for 1935 and 1996 were roughly similar (and it seems that ice area for 1938 and 2000 were roughly similar etc.):

Fig 17.

However, Cryosphere Today do not show 1935 ice area similar to 1996. Instead Cryosphere has added roughly 1,9 mio km2 to the ice area 1935 compared to 1996 (- The size of Greenland is 2,1 mio km2… ).

Fig 18a. We can also illustrate the missing Cryosphere ice decline after 1921 in another way.

The Cryosphere Arctic ice area data actually suggests a little more ice in 1937 than 1921 – but as shown above DMI, suggests a strong decline after 1921.

Fig 18b – and here the ice decline 1921-38 in four stages.

Fig 19. Also in another context it appears that the ice area data on Cryosphere has added area to older data:

If we compare the Cryosphere annual sea ice extend with the IPCC SAR 1996 data, we can see that the dive in 1996 data before 1979 is not represented in Cryosphere data. The divergence is perhaps 0,9 mio km2 over just the period 1973-1979.

Fig. 20, NW Passage in DMI data.

In September 1901 we are not far from having open NW passage and in September 1907 we do have an open NW Passage. We don’t have September images later thse to have an open NW passage.

What have we learned according to DMI´s international compilation of sea ice data?

– That sea ice data has declined strongly even in the recent past before human CO2 outlet.

– That Sea ice from a level not far from the 2006 level has recovered very fast 1938-1946.

– That the Sea ice decline documented year after year in DMI maps after 1921 apparently is not shown in Cryosphere data for some reason.

We do not have the WW2 data, but the maps of 1957-61 ice areas EXIST!

These are the years where we had a strong Solar max and photos of US Navy submarine on a slushy North pole.

If ANYONE have these maps, I would be grateful to see them!

Further, this series of maps as I understand it was also published by DMI for the years 1962-72 in a series called “Oceanografiske Observationer”. Do anyone have these?

Link to Brunnurs scans of DMI maps:

http://brunnur.vedur.is/pub/trausti/Iskort/Jpg/1935/1935_08.jpg

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

What a wonderful find, a real treasure trove!

What beautiful maps…I’ve sent them already to my Warmist friends, yes I do have Warmist friendsm. (Just because you’re a Warmist, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person)
Besides, I think they know that Warmism is on pretty thin ice right now!

Given the massive scale of funding for the alarmists, it is very difficult to explain how they were not aware of this.

cuibono1969

It’s like discovering treasure maps! Congrats to all who found them and recognised their importance. I’m sure Tonyb, amongst others, will be esctatic.
Glean what we can from them before NDSC and GISS digitise and ‘adjust’ them over time so that eventually they have sea ice extending down to the Equator pre-war!

gnomish

awesome! smoking cannons!

And the hits just keep on comin’ — Arctic ice historical records that can’t be “adjusted.”
Somewhere (probably centered around Progressive Climate Central), warmie heads are exploding…

It’s understandable that the work of the DMI would be disrupted by WWII and Nazi occupation, but from 1941 onwards Britain was sending supply convoys around the top of occupied Norway to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel. Surely the military would have been carefully monitoring and recording the sea ice extent in this area at least ?
Somewhere there must be records, fully declassified by now ? Does anyone know where to start looking ?

Wow! Score one for the pile of boxes in the attic!
I note in passing that the period of similar ice extent has a 60 year offset. Rather like the PDO cycle… Could it be that we have a simple, and natural, 60 year arctic ice cycle…

tonyb

Frank
This is really excellent stuff, well done. I hope you find the additional maps and write it up into a bigger article.
You may remember my article covering the period of melt prior to the one in the 1920’s/30’s which dealt with 1818-1860?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/20/historic-variation-in-arctic-ice/
I think the melt area was probably around the same as the 1920’s/30’s but possibly a little more extensive. I am currently writing a follow up to that going back to the early Holocene and it is clear there are around seven major periods of melt and a number of additional short term melts.
You might find it interesting to read Arnd Bernaerts book on the period you write about ‘The Arctic heats up’ which might add some background.
Due to the length of time I am covering with my next article I deal with the period you refer to fairly briefly, but my research has thrown up a few things which you might find interesting should you decide to expand your article at some point.
The first item may or may not give clues about ice cover, but it concerns British Pathe news reel that highlights the 1952 US air base in Thule Greenland from which it was intended to bomb Russia
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/u-s-arctic-air-base-aka-thule-air-base/query/Greenland
I have managed to tie together two intriguing pieces concerning the Arctic warming from 1918-1939. The first is again British Pathe news reel which is unfortunately silent but has the intriguing title;
“To Prevent Repetition Titanic Disaster – Ice “Patrol” now finds & warns all vessels of location of Icebergs brought down by abnormal heat from Greenland Coast.” From 1922
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/ice-patrol-aka-to-prevent-repetition-titanic-disas
This relates directly to the newspaper reports of that same year of which this is a good example.
“The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway.
Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm.
Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.”
Note; The source report of the Washington Post article on changes in the arctic has been found in the Monthly Weather Review for November 1922.
It was originally carried here
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/changing-artic_monthly_wx_review.png
Use the above link-goes direct but may need to enlarge.
All in all yours was a great find and I hope you will continue your research as the more of us trying to fill in the pieces of the jigsaw the better. Once again. well done!
All the best
Tonyb

Jimbo

Hi Frank,
Here are lots of newspaper references on historical Arctic ice retreat and warming observations. It would go nicely with the graphs.
http://www.real-science.com/arctic-meltdown

Espen

Great find! I’m not surprised that the thirties weren’t that different from current times, long lasting temperature series show the same. I’m open to the idea that the CWP is a bit warmer (and the melt a bit stronger) in the Arctic than the warm period in the thirties – but not different enough to “prove CAGW”.
I got black listed from commenting on a certain Closed Mind’s blog because I questioned the unlikeliness of current Arctic condition by referring to the thirties. I then wrote “Sea Ice conditions 60-70 years ago may not have been similar to the conditions of the last 5-10 years, but temperature conditions were indeed very similar, and that was my point.” – it would be great to go back to that thread and add a reference to this thread, but since I’m black listed, I’ll have to do it here instead 🙂

P. Solar

On the C.T. being different: they do not show any uncertainty estimate on that graph. Probably records that far back are a bit sketchy to say the least and there may be a fair amount of guestimating going on.
If they showed uncertainty it would very likely be more than enough to allow for the two records to agree with in the margins of uncertainty.
Since most climate science now seems to have a strong element of we “know” what’s happening , so let’s correct the data, some of the infilling maybe a bit one sided.

Jimbo

Hi Frank,
Here are another well researched page with references historic Arctic ice.
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/historic-variation-in-arctic-ice-tony-b/

Jimbo

Ahhhh.
“Here IS another well…”

CCIS

Frank as well as fellow commenters,
There is a concept called volume. If you are a skiier, would you consider a mountain with 3″ of snow to be just as suitable for skiing as one with 43″? Of course not! Take 2 ice cubes of equal dimensions, put one on a warm surface, the other on a cold surface. While the surface areas of the 2 (as viewed from above) may not be much different after, say, an hour, one cube will have considerably less volume than the other. Because the surface temperature of the ocean in the arctic is warming, ice begins forming later in the fall, and thus does not form as thickly. Likewise, the volume of the permanent ice is declining over time. For a summary, see: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/335040/title/Science_%2B_the_Public__Really_bad_year_for_Arctic_sea_ice

It’s no secret that the European side of the arctic had a sharp decline of sea ice in the 1920’s, though probably less than what we experience today. This letter from 1928 illustrates how the long, warm spell after the cold 1910’s surprised scientists of those days: http://voksenlia.net/met/lyr/green_harbour.pdf
A quick translation:
“I’m sending you a report of the monthly means in Green Harbour and an explanation by meteorologist Birkeland, where he states his opinion that there must have been a change in the thermometer setup, since the climate seems to have become milder during the recent years.”
“While not denying that there can be temperature fluctuation in the arctic regions lasting such a long time as this, I’d still like to ask you whether you’re aware of any change in the thermometer setup, or in anything else that could influence the temperatures that are recorded.”
Green Harbour is in Svalbard, near today’s town of Barentsburg.

CCIS, The Chryosphere graph i compare with is not volumen.
Besides, There are also different opinions on the volume-story, (PIPS2 vs. PIOMAS) but this article is about how ice area apparently has not been portraited well by Chryosphere.
Last time I analysed PIPS2 volumes it looked like this, see fig 3:
http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/climate-trends-ultimo-feb-2011-221.php
Im not saying that PIPS2 is perfect at all, just saying that there is more to the volume-story than what you might think, just as there is more to the area-story as shown in this article.
The man behind Piomas has made extremely questionable “results” for Antarctica, so hold your horses on his work.

Tonyb, my hero!!
Again and again i see your impressing work, yes one could combine many of your findings with the DMI results, correct!
K.,R. Frank

Bloke down the pub

Do they measure extent as 15% or more as is the usual way today or did was it solid ice, more like the value for ice area. By the way, just a small nit-pick, in this context the word is extent not extend. Good article, it should stir up a lot of interest.

Jimbo

CCIS
Do we have references for the volume between 1893-1961?

orson2

Frank notes the unchanging ice in the maps around the Bering Strait. My conjecture is that DMI observation around Scandanavia (into Russian shelf waters) and Greenland areas (into Canadian shelf waters) is quite good. But the furthest extent away, (ie, the Bering Strait) where (I presume) Nordic vessels seldom travelled, is likely deficient because of poor observations.
This is just a conjecture – one worth checking against field reporting practices from which (I assume) these maps have been made.

johanna

O/T, but what a joy it is to look at old maps – an art form as well as a record.

Otter

I hate to be a downer, but I already see one chart which shows ice declining from 1905 onwards, with a huge spike down in recent years. While we know that the Earth has warmed since the depths of the Little Ice Age, warmists WILL ignore that little fact, and focus on the decline, in relation to human output of CO2. For them there can be no other explanation. The fact that sea ice in the 30s is charted as having fallen to similar level, will be meaningless to them.

Philip Bradley

CCIS,
Take 2 ice cubes, spray one with black paint, put both outside on a sunny, but well below freezing day.
After 1 hour, you will have one unchanged ice cube and a puddle of frozen water around the black paint.
This illustrates the process that has occurred in recent years in the Arctic.

And CCIS, when we see photos of US navy submarine surfacing near the north pole around 1960, does that really suggest extremely thick ice back then?
And when you see ice retreat until around 1940, why would such an ice retreat be accompanied by thicker ice than seen in ice retreat with similar area like year 2000-2006 ?
But as I said, the volume topic does not explain howcome Chryosphere Today can end up not showing the decline in ice area 1921-38.
Yet another “hidethedecline” as we say on http://www.hidethedecline.eu 😉

richard verney

CCIS says:
May 2, 2012 at 1:38 am
//////////////////////////////////////
The point you make about volume and the speed of ice melt is well accepted and this is why there was no prospect that the Himalayan Glaciers could melt in 30 years; heck given the altitude, the prevailing temperatures, these glaciers could not fully melt in 1000 years and any scientist would immediately be struck about the poor quality of the science in the IPCC report in relation to the claim that they could melt within a period of about 30 years. This point alone shows that the report is not subject to scientific scrutiny because if it was, that claim would never have gone into print.
However, the remainder of your comments is pure speculation. What was the volume of ice in 1850 and where is the source of the data? What was the volume of ice in 1851 and where is the source of the data? The same apples for each and every year to present.
The fact is that we do not have data or knowledge on the volume of Artic ice on a historically basis going back to pre-industrial times. We have all but no idea as to the volume of ice say in the 1920s,1930s 1940s, 1950s etc and therefore we do not know how present volumes compare with earlier periods and in particular to periods prior to the significant increase in manmade emissions of CO2.
This recent find of maps dealing with the area extent is extremely useful in opening a window into the past and to see whether conditions today appear to be out of the ordinary or not. This find warrants a most thorough review and detailed presentation of what it reveals.

orson2 says:

May 2, 2012 at 2:10 am
Frank notes the unchanging ice in the maps around the Bering Strait. My conjecture is that DMI observation around Scandanavia (into Russian shelf waters) and Greenland areas (into Canadian shelf waters) is quite good. But the furthest extent away, (ie, the Bering Strait) where (I presume) Nordic vessels seldom travelled, is likely deficient because of poor observations.

I agree 100%. I think some of these bering strait results and even West-Canadian early illustrations are not that well covered. They show almost “max” extend all the time, so if anything is wrong, they show too much ice over there.
K.R. Frank

@Steinar Midtskogen
On the subject of thermometers,I recently made a collection ot data from those thermometeres that are most in direct contact with the sea ice around the Arctic. This way one would get an indication of the ice-extend from thermometers, and these results are in compliance with the above DMI maps:
“Estimating Arctic sea ice area 1920-78 using temperature stations” :
http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/estimating-arctic-sea-ice-area-1920-1978-using-temperature-stations-234.php
K.R. Frank

davidmhoffer

CCIS says:
May 2, 2012 at 1:38 am
Frank as well as fellow commenters,
There is a concept called volume.
>>>>>>
Why yes there is. Now, if we are talking sea ice, is the volume of the ice significant as a measure of warming and cooling. Consider that:
1. For ice to form in sea water, the entire water column must first cool to the freezing point. This is opposite to what happens in fresh water where the water below the ice is warmer than freezing. Salt changes both the freezing point and the maximum density of water such that when some of it does freeze, it expels salt into the water below, and that water becomes more dense, sincking to the bottom and forcing warmer water up. This process must continue until ALL the water from surface to bottom is at the freezing point. Only then can the ice thicken.
2. As a consequence of the abovem changes in sea ice extent are representative of changes in the volume of water from surface to bottom. For water at the freezing point, ice thickening represents no change in temperature per se, but a change energy level due to transition from liquid state to solid (and vice versa).
3. Compared to the amount of energy required to warm or cool the entire water column by just a degree or two, the energy change due to state change of water to ice is miniscule. Before anyone starts harping about the fact that heat of transition for ice/water is relatively large, keep in mind the point that CCIS made about volume. The volume of water makes even very thick sea ice look like a sliver on top of the ocean. It is the volume of water and the energy required to change itz temperature that is significant.
The logical conclusion CCIS, is that changes in ice thickness are not as signicant as you are trying to suggest.

CCIS says:
May 2, 2012 at 1:38 am
…the volume of the permanent ice is declining over time.
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/335040/title/Science_%2B_the_Public__Really_bad_year_for_Arctic_sea_ice

The volume must obviously increase over time, too — it’s cyclical.
To say that it’s *not* cyclical, you have to posit that the ice couldn’t possibly have been thin enough for submarines to pop up at the Pole during the ’60s to give their crews bragging rights.

richardscourtney

CCIS:
Congratulations on your post May 2, 2012 at 1:38 am.
It is an excellent ad hoc excuse for why the data does not conform to what you expected. Of course, your excuse is pure conjecture which has no supporting evidence of any kind.
However, it is normal practice for ‘climate science’ to offer conjectures as ad hoc excuses which “explain” why empirical data must be suspect when it does not conform to what ‘climate science’ expects. So, your post is in accord with the practice of ‘climate science’.
Indeed, your post is an example of ‘climate science’ at its best. Well done!
And I hope you will forgive those of us who conduct science when we do not reject the evidence provided by the discovered maps but, instead, we
(a) assess the reliability, accuracy and precision of the information provided by the maps
and
(b) consider the indications, the limitations and the implications of that information.
Richard

J Bowers

“And CCIS, when we see photos of US navy submarine surfacing near the north pole around 1960, does that really suggest extremely thick ice back then?”
Or more likely surfaced at Ice Station Alpha. Closer to Barrow, Alaska, than the North Pole.

Urederra

CCIS says:
May 2, 2012 at 1:38 am
Frank as well as fellow commenters,
There is a concept called volume. …

… and there is another concept called empirical data.
Now we have 2 sets of data proving that sea ice declined from 1900 to the 30’s and then it recovered in the 50’s. These maps and Amundsen’s polar circumnavigation.
Can you prove that ice volume in the Arctic has been declining since 1900 with no recovery whatsoever? No, you cannot.
Can you prove that the surface temperature of the ocean in the Arctic has been warming since 1900? No, you cannot.
The ice volume hypothesis is not valid if you cannot back it up with data. Real data, no computer modeled data.
Stop hiding the decline, and the subsequent recovery.

Oliver Cromwell

So assuming the same cycle is at play today, we could well be literally within a couple of years now of a’ sharp’ recovery in Arctic sea ice (sometime around 2015 by way of a rough guess). It should be fun to watch them explain the increase in ice on C02 increasing.

Oliver Cromwell

I’ll add that Chryosphere Today need to respond to this data and explain themselves.

Thanks, Frank.

anon2nz

A search on Brunnur turned up this pdf which lists a variety of sources going back to the 1750s.
http://nsidc.org/noaa/iicwg/presentations/IICWG_2011/Fetterer_Back_to_1870_Plans_for_a_Gridded_Sea_Ice_Product.pdf

anon2nz

There are also partial maps on the Brunnur site for the 1890s

Ken Hall

richard verney says:
May 2, 2012 at 2:26 am …
I agree with what you wrote and would only add, that how come Alarmists feel that the lack of comparable ice thickness data means that they feel that it is somehow scientifically OK to ASSUME that the ice was thicker back then, without ANY empirical evidence whatsoever to back up that assumption?

Alan the Brit

An excellent post. I just love old maps, they tell you so much in pretty pictures, nice & simple just ow I like them! Well done.
Scottish Sceptic says:
May 2, 2012 at 12:43 am
Given the massive scale of funding for the alarmists, it is very difficult to explain how they were not aware of this.
Easy, peasy, they just ignore it because it doesn’t fit the mantra. Or they would say something like, “they didn’t have the right equipment to measure accurately enough” etc, despite historical evidence that many map makers throughout history were indeed very accurate considering the technology available at the time!
@ richardbriscoe
From my knowledge of WW2 history, the arctic convoys to supply Russia were amongst the most dangerous of all, with ships facing the extreme elements of cold, ice formation by the hour, mountainous seas, severe frost bite, as well as raiding U-Boats, & air attacks from long-range bombers based in Norway! Gun crews having to chip the ice off their gun & warming it up & making sure the lubricants hadn’t frozen, before loading & firing, everything taking twice as long to do due to the extreme cold. I suspect the Royal Navy was a little preoccupied with other things at the time, like survival! 😉

Kasuha

I’d like to put it into context with Dr. Spencer’s recent article:
http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/03/could-arctic-sea-ice-decline-be-caused-by-the-arctic-oscillation/
Note that the graph doesn’t show temperatures, rather Arctic Oscillation index which is related to jet stream characteristics rather than temperature. However its value change between 1936 and 1946 which coincides with reglaciation ends up in values only slightly higher than today’s.

Henry Clark

What have we learned according to DMI´s international compilation of sea ice data?
– That sea ice data has declined strongly even in the recent past before human CO2 outlet.
– That Sea ice from a level not far from the 2006 level has recovered very fast 1938-1946.
– That the Sea ice decline documented year after year in DMI maps after 1921 apparently is not shown in Chryosphere data for some reason.

Additional data like this is a good find indeed, especially the maps which have not been *adjusted* like the Cryosphere graphs.
Based on http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/ArcticIce/Images/arctic_temp_trends_rt.gif temperatures in the Arctic were as high in part of the 1930s as in the late 20th century. Such as the warming over the 1920s in the graph matches “the Sea ice decline documented year after year in DMI maps after 1921.” Both support each other in context.
Of course, local temperature is not the sole influence on ice, like any variation in wind or current patterns on how much is blown away matters too, but there certainly appears a lot of relationship.

tokyoboy

C’est vraiment magnifique….. Wunderbar!

michael hart

Many thanks Brunnur and Frank. [Minor criticism: In the commentary on WUWT it is not always obvious to me which diagram is being referred to.]
One question: Is the authenticity of these rediscovered maps effectively complete? Being a sceptic, I have to ask.

michaelozanne

“It’s understandable that the work of the DMI would be disrupted by WWII and Nazi occupation, but from 1941 onwards Britain was sending supply convoys around the top of occupied Norway to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel. Surely the military would have been carefully monitoring and recording the sea ice extent in this area at least ?”
The Arctic Convoys were opposed crossings, people’s minds were concentrated on spotting U-Boats and the Luftwaffe. The ships were sailing zig-zag patterns at constantly varying speeds. Not the ideal environment for scientific measurement.

WOW !
The “Dead Sea Scrolls” of arctic ice .

Gilbert K. Arnold

Someone please download all the maps and archive them before the Warmists get their hands on them and begin “adjusting”the data.

John Bills
Hoser

The post is just too confusing for the general public. Since all data are digital now, this sort of thing will never happen again. It is just too much for the ordinary mind to bear, especially after that other confusing picture of people with umbrellas waiting for the bus with the proper information stating, “We are in drought”. Perhaps these maps were measuring the wrong kind of ice in supposedly ice-free areas. Or perhaps they were just the wrong kind of maps to begin with. Indeed, let’s just ignore them. Nothing to see here.

CCIS says:
May 2, 2012 at 1:38 am

There is a concept called volume. If you are a skiier, would you consider a mountain with 3″ of snow to be just as suitable for skiing as one with 43″? Of course not!

There is also the concept of albedo – shallow snow and deep snow reflect about the same amount of sunlight. In the spring, shallow snow should melt sooner, so while it may have some predictive value, snow remains the more important indicator of high albedo.

Because the surface temperature of the ocean in the arctic is warming, ice begins forming later in the fall, and thus does not form as thickly. Likewise, the volume of the permanent ice is declining over time. For a summary, see: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/335040/title/Science_%2B_the_Public__Really_bad_year_for_Arctic_sea_ice

Please be very careful about Janet Raloff’s blog at Science News. I frequently post the other side of the story there. While she’s somewhat gracious about it (especially after I referred to a story about copper and fructose I remembered from about 1990), She’s active in The Society of Environmental Journalists, which was staunchly supportive of attempts to warn the public about CAGW. They may have moderated a bit over the last few years, but their stand and list of resources is still badly tilted, see http://www.sej.org/initiatives/climate-change/overview .
In the article you cite, the theme is that last year was worse than what the NSIDC said. I don’t see any reference there to the ocean surface warming. There is:

The good news, Nicolaus says: “We didn’t have — which some of us might have expected — a further thinning of sea ice [beyond the 2007 minimum].”

Perhaps you can contact some of the scientists mentioned in that article and ask them for comments on the current ice extent (and depth, but emphasize the albedo) of Arctic ice. Do ask them why the thin ice is hanging in so well this year. And ask about the ice around Svaalbard (sp), I’d like to know what gives with those conflicting observations.
BTW, while it isn’t Raloff’s, and it’s really more reporting than editorializing, we seem to have missed the April 23–24 event at the University of Wisconsin titled “Science Writing in the Age of Denial.” http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/340239/title/On_the_Scene__Science_denial_in_the_21st_century . While it covered more than climate issues, both Naomi Oreskes and the 97% of climate scientists reference were there. Overall, it sounds like a very biased meeting.