Global Sea Ice Overview, Walrus Gathering and Northern Regional Sea Ice Retrospective

Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group – Click the pic to view at source

Image Credit: Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group

By WUWT Regular Just The Facts

For those beating the “imminent Arctic ice death spiral” drum, 2013 has not been a good year. Per the graph above, Global Sea Ice Area has been stubbornly average in 2013, Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Area Anomaly had its smallest decline since 2006;

Cryosphere Today – Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois – Click the pic to view at source

and Arctic Sea Ice Extent has remained within the 30 year (1981 – 2010) “normal” range for the entirety of 2013:

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) – click to view at source

Conversely, Southern Sea Ice Area is within striking distance of a record high;

Cryosphere Today – Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois – Click the pic to view at source

and has remained above average for most of the last two years;

Cryosphere Today – Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois – Click the pic to view at source

while Antarctic Sea Ice Extent has remained above the “normal” range for much of the last two months:

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) – Click the pic to view at source

However, these facts haven’t dissuaded desperate “imminent Arctic ice death spiral” advocates from trying to promote their narrative. Apparently their new angle is Gathering Walruses, i.e.:

“An estimated 10,000 walrus have come ashore on Alaska’s northwest coast, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported, as the sea ice the animals normally rely on to rest continues to melt at alarming rates.” NY Daily News

National Geographic and CBS News add flavor to this gripping tale:

“An estimated ten thousand Pacific walruses have huddled together on a remote island in the Chukchi Sea (map), an unusual phenomenon that’s due to a lack of sea ice, experts say.

The giant marine mammal is known to “haul out”—literally haul its body onto ice or land to rest or warm up—on various places along the Arctic coast.

But with the Arctic warming up and melting much of its floating ice, there are limited areas for the walruses to gather. This forces them to cluster on land in huge aggregations rarely before seen.” National Geographic

“As temperatures warm in summer, the edge of the sea ice recedes north. Females and their young ride the edge of the sea ice into the Chukchi Sea. However, in recent years, sea ice has receded north beyond continental shelf waters and into the Arctic Ocean, where the water is 10,000 feet deep or more — too deep for the walruses to dive to the bottom to feed.

Walruses in large numbers were first spotted on the U.S. side of the Chukchi Sea in 2007. They returned in 2009, and in 2011, scientists estimated 30,000 walruses had come ashore along one kilometer of beach near Point Lay.” CBS News

However, it seems that the “experts” National Geographic cite didn’t have an opportunity to visit the WUWT Northern Regional Sea Ice page. If they had they would have noticed that this year the anomaly in Chukchi Sea Ice Area was the smallest since 2001;

Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group – Click the pic to view at source

and Chukchi Sea Ice Extent is currently more than 300,000 sq km greater than last year:

Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group – Click the pic to view at source

It would seem that, rather than “an unusual phenomenon that’s due to a lack of sea ice”, the Walrus Gathering might be due to the increase in Arctic Sea Ice Extent.

For reference, there were also similar increases in Sea Ice Extent in the East Siberian Sea,

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) – click to view at source

Laptev Sea;

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) – click to view at source

Kara Sea;

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) – click to view at source

Beaufort Sea;

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) – click to view at source

and Canadian Archipelago

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) – click to view at source

Also interesting is that, in addition to the Chukchi Sea, a several Northern Polar regions saw their smallest Sea Ice Area anomalies in the last decade including the East Siberian Sea;

Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group – Click the pic to view at source

Kara Sea;

Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group – Click the pic to view at source

and the Sea of Okhotsk:

Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group – Click the pic to view at source

Additionally, the Canadian Archipelago;

Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group – Click the pic to view at source

and Laptev Sea;

Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group – Click the pic to view at source

both had their smallest anomalies since 2004, and Arctic Basin Sea Ice saw its smallest anomaly since 2005:

Cryosphere Today – University of Illinois – Polar Research Group – Click the pic to view at source

If this is what an “imminent Arctic ice death spiral” looks like we might need to invest in more icebreakers to help keep shipping lanes and drilling rigs ice free, and to make the Arctic more hospitable to those Gathering Walruses…

To see more information on Sea Ice please visit the WUWT Sea Ice Page and WUWT Northern Regional Sea Ice Page.

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DanJ

Walruses do this annually before heading north. Apparently, this year they heard the news about the death spiral and decided to add their voices to the alarmist cacophony. They do fit the informative profile beautifully and may be the next generation postcritter for the doomsayers.

Susan Corwin

The Wall Street Journal had a similar “human interest” piece about how a village between Alaska and Russia had a poor walrus hunt and was going to starve
. It was in the third from the last paragraph, after a bunch of hype about “temperatures up 3.4 degrees…” that they finally note (in CYA mode) that it was due to a heavier than normal ice pack so they missed the migration!
      “Gambell usually sends its hunters out in small boats
   for a month when walruses float by
      each May and June.
      But this year, the hunt lasted only about a week. ” (due to ice)

dp

I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck (I’m retired so that’s not much of a gamble 🙂 ) that the walrus, being unaware of the ice extent and having to live hand to mouth for the most part are following the birds which are following the fish. They don’t get that big from being stupid.

MattN

This was all over Yahoo last week. People do absolutely zero fact chacking before buying this crap.

MojoMojo

Maybe they’re huddled together like penguins because its colder than normal.

Henry Clark

Cryosphere Today realized too many people would notice if they portrayed this year (2013) as much below average, when there are articles even in major media like “Arctic sea ice up 60 percent in 2013” complete with satellite pictures, such as http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/09/arctic-sea-ice-up-60-percent-in-2013/
But their type is opportunistic.
As a reminder, Cryosphere Today (the source of most of the plots in this article) is the same group which publishes a plot of 20th-century ice history in which the 1900-1950 period is untruthfully made about a flat line, hockey stick style. That plot is in direct, utter, and blatant contradiction to other sources and almost any real knowledge of climate history in general. Actual arctic history, shown about 3/4ths of the way down in http://img176.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=81829_expanded_overview_122_424lo.jpg with references, can be contrasted to the junk at http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seasonal.extent.1900-2007.jpg , which makes the probability that Cryosphere Today is dishonest not about 0% but 100%.
Taking partially real data and adjusting it by a moderate percentage, less during some years (when not as effective to do so without many noticing, depending on how well-publicized other data may be) and more during others, is the cornerstone and standard for subtle fudging.
People often have a naive assumption that a source like them should be assumed accurate, but that assumption is really implicitly based on (a) extrapolation from the honesty rates of a general populace, inapplicable as hardcore activists are not a random sample and/or (b) presuming there would be net governmental or academic penalty for fudging, when no historical examples of that ever happening in the case of CAGW-convenient subtle fudging are given, when many of corresponding enviropolitical alignments would jump up to aid them if it even started to happen; Mann, Hanson, and the IPCC were richly rewarded. Gleick got about the most token pretend, brief partial disapproval imaginable (before, of course, reinstatement at his position again and further awards once fewer people were paying attention) and that only because of being unusually careless.

Other_Andy

Well, it is that time of the year again.
In NoTricksZoneP, Gosselin wrote in 2010
“It’s September and so it’s the time of the year for ritual bed-wetting here in Europe among the alarmist media and environmental activists, all triggered by the annual arrival of the Arctic sea ice minima.
http://notrickszone.com/2010/09/17/walrus-desparatus-by-medius-doofus-the-latest-media-hoax/
They seem to rehash their stories on a 2 year basis.
From polar bears to walrus and back again, with the occasional penguin story thrown in.

jorgekafkazar

It’s Notional Geographic, now. Slick propaganda; negative scientific value.

“Thousands of walruses on Alaskan beaches was typical before ivory hunters drove them from the shores. Capt Bernard published 2 papers in the 1920s about how wise hunting regulations allowed the walrus to return to the shores of Siberia and lobbied to create preserves to encourage the return of the walrus to Alaskan shore. The sight of 10,000 walrus would make his heart leap with joy. That the return of large numbers has been hijacked as an example of climate catastrophe would mae the good captain turn in his grave, especially in a year when sea ice witnessed a 60% recovery. Read: Bernard (1923) Local Walrus Protection in Northeast Siberia, Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Nov., 1923), pp. 224-227”
Also read the 1982 publication by the US Fish and wildlife Service titled ECOLOGY AND BIOLOGY OF THE PACIFIC WALRUS, ODOBENUS ROSMARUS DIVERGENS ILLIGER by Francis H. Fay. Fay documents how hunting drove many walruses from traditional land haul outs. He reports how polar bears in the Laptev Sea dig pits and hide behind piles of driftwood waiting for the walruses to come ashore. A high percentage of the male walruses in the Bering Sea do not follow the receding ice northward but migrate southward to Bristol Bay and the Aleutians. Sea ice is not a critical factor. In fact before the 1980s Russian Biologist wrote that sea ice was detrimental because it prevented access to the shallow bottoms needed for foraging. I wrote a whole chapter on the history walrus hunting and their recovery. The larger the population the greater the numbers that come ashore. This is another example of climate change advocates hijacking a conservation success story to create climate fear.
In addition less Arctic ice has been a boom to the whole food web. Dr. Kevin Arrigo from Stanford University wrote “Annual primary production in the Arctic has increased yearly … Should these trends continue, additional loss of ice during Arctic spring could boost productivity >3-fold above 1998–2002 levels” http://landscapesandcycles.net/less-arctic-ice-can-be-beneficial.html
CO2 alarmist are trying to turn a good phenomenon into a climate horror story.

Greg

It’s interesting to note in the first graph : global ice that there is a clear 5 year ramp. This matches the pattern I identified here:
http://climategrog.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/on-identifying-inter-decadal-variation-in-nh-sea-ice/
There seems to be jump up then a slow decline over 5 years. This has happened twice and we’ve just jumped up again. Are we in for another 5 year slide?

Goldie

That’s modern day journalism for you – we’re too lazy to do any actual fact checking so we’ll just go with what’s in the press release.

I am a walrus. We’ve been doing this for ages. Good beach beats ice flippers down.

RoHa

So we are now going to be destroyed by giant walrus herds? We are doomed.

John Law

Somebody needs to explain climate science to these critters, especially “ice hockey sticks”

Paul Westhaver

Just wait… you’ll start hearing the global warming extremist aphorism:
“Yeah there is more ice but it is ROTTEN ice”
Oh yeah.. get ready for the rotten ice claim.

jeez

Completely ordinary Walrus behavior is now being spun as indicative of change, threat, and impending doom, instead of the most likely cause….A Population Increase!!!!! From:
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=walrusislands.main (my bold

Best known among the WISGS islands is Round Island, where each summer large numbers of male walruses haul out on exposed, rocky beaches. Round Island is one of four major terrestrial haulouts in Alaska; the others are Capes Peirce (Togiak NWR), Newenham (Togiak NWR), and Seniavin (near Port Moller). Male walrus return to these haulouts every spring as the ice pack recedes northward, remaining in Bristol Bay to feed they haul out at these beach sites for several days between each feeding foray. The number of walrus using the island fluctuates significantly from year to year. However, up to 14,000 walrus have been counted on Round Island in a single day.

Gerard

As the article says there certainly is a lot of ice especially on the pacific side of the pole. What is interesting too is that snow cover on the northern hemiphere is up too. Cryosphere today keeps track of snow cover since 2003 and it has never been as high as this year in this period. Winter is one or two weeks in front of other years with the year 2008 coming closest to this year:
http://tinyurl.com/ndbr9u7
On the Atlantic side of the pole it looks different as the incoming Atlantic water has been warmer then usual causing more melt then usual in the Kara sea and wide surroundings. This will repair in time though with the present low temperatures. It could be that snow cover says more about the temperature in the North then ice extend as extend is heavily influenced by oceanic currents.

son of mulder

So how did the walruses manage to adapt since the last ice Age?

wayne Job

Walrus like all wild animals follow the path of least resistance to the best food source, unlike humans that climb mountains because they are there. The green global warming cause are doing themselves no favours by their ignorance of the natural world.

Grumpy

Wasn’t there another story about how it was warming up in the frozen wastes of Canada, evidenced by the ‘fact’ that beavers were moving north now?
Might not the answer have been because beavers were recovering from mass slaughter to feed the European appetite for beaver fur and the market went t**s up and the Hudsons Bay Trading Company folded once they had killed most of them off and the little furry things are repossessing their territory as their populations have increased again?

Bill Illis

Check out the NSIDC’s chart on the Southern Hemisphere’s sea ice extent for September.
ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/Sep/S_09_plot.png
That has got to cause a lot of cognitive dissonance in the warmers.

Bill_W

Next thing you know they will see walruses swimming and eating shellfish.
But seriously, we will not have to worry about this. Soon, changes in air and sea currents (due to fossil fuels in some way or another, but probably CO2) will be causing too much ice and snow and then the poor polar bears and walruses will be starving and drowning and there will be too much ice and we will have to stop using coal immediately as the aerosols from coal burning plus the current changes due to CO2 en-changening are what is responsible.

Arctic sea ice is at its highest since 2006. http://climatechangedebates.com/arctic-sea-ice-stats.php?source=JAXA

Steve from Rockwood

dp says:
October 6, 2013 at 6:28 pm
… They [the walruses] don’t get that big from being stupid.
————————-
The IPCC did 😉

Phil.

However, it seems that the “experts” National Geographic cite didn’t have an opportunity to visit the WUWT Northern Regional Sea Ice page. If they had they would have noticed that this year the decline in Chukchi Sea Ice Area was the smallest since 2001;
Not true since this year it reached zero as it has for the last decade plus!
Also interesting is that, in addition to the Chukchi Sea, a several Northern Polar regions saw their smallest Sea Ice Area declines in the last decade including……. the Sea of Okhotsk:
Also not true since it also reached zero as it always does!
Additionally, the Canadian Archipelago; and Laptev Sea; both had their smallest decline since 2004, and Arctic Basin Sea Ice saw its smallest decline since 2005:
The CA is in a ~tie with 2009 and 2005, Laptev Sea reached zero again like it has for the last two years and the Arctic Basin was lower than 2009.
So you appear to be misreading those graphs.

beng

Walruses haul out on land? It’s a travesty….

Tom In Indy

Susan Corwin says:
October 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

“Gambell usually sends its hunters out in small boats
for a month when walruses float by
each May and June.
But this year, the hunt lasted only about a week. ” (due to ice)

That same article notes that this single “norhtern” village kills something like 800 walruses each year. Let’s see, hmmm…10 villages not killing 800 walruses each, because there was too much ice to maneuver walrus killer boats. If my stupid ‘denier math’ is correct, that would be 8000 walruses not killed this year. Perhaps the gathering is explained by the fact that village hunters killed several thousand fewer walruses this year because the thick ice prevented them from hunting.

Steve Keohane

It makes me nuts that they can’t get the label right (intentional?) on the Antarctic Sea Ice Extent, Here is a corrected version:
http://i41.tinypic.com/2vneuyw.jpg

beng

***
Alexander Feht says:
October 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm
I am a walrus.
***
I, too, am the walrus. Coo-coo cha-chew, coo-coo coo cha-chew.

Grumpy says: “…and the Hudsons Bay Trading Company folded once they had killed most of (the beavers) off”
FYI the Hudsons Bay Trading Company did not fold. In fact it is still a major brand. It is currently the oldest commercial corporation in North America. Not to mention that it just purchased Saks of 5th Avenue.

Graham

Anyone know whether the sudden reversal in sea ice gains evidenced by Norex graphs is real or more data massaging?

PeterB in Indianapolis

@Greg,
Another “5-year slide” is far less likely now that the PDO is negative.
Sometimes just because you find what looks like a pattern doesn’t mean that the pattern isn’t about to change.

Ken

Steve Keohane says:
October 7, 2013 at 7:25 am
It makes me nuts that they can’t get the label right (intentional?) on the Antarctic Sea Ice Extent, Here is a corrected version:
http://i41.tinypic.com/2vneuyw.jpg

THANK YOU! This is something that drives me nuts every time I look at the Sea Ice Page. I too am suspicious of it being intentional.

mwhite

This happens every year in late summer for the annual moult.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Walrus#p00dhn58
The video explains that the walruses allow blood to flow to outer layers making their skin turn pink. Take a close look at the picture in the NY Daily News link above.

Stephen Skinner

“But with the Arctic warming up and melting much of its floating ice, there are limited areas for the walruses to gather.”
?? Alaska? limited space?

It is unfortunate that there is no data for Antarctica since the gov shutdown. I had the impression that the sea ice extent was headed for one more uptick prior to the onset of spring.
At least JAXA has their own set of Arctic data to show the daily change. The Arctic is rebuilding it,s icepack rapidly.

TomR,Worc,MA

Perhaps they are searching for the ever elusive “Bukkit”.

Grumpy

Jeff in Calgary – oops, my apologies. Just stopped trading beaver skins.

MarkB

This is really semantics, in that by “decline” I was referring to the “anomaly” versus the “area”, which obviously cannot decline below zero. This does not change the point that the 2013 Chukchi Sea Ice Area Anomaly was the smallest in the last decade, and the observation that, “Walruses in large numbers were first spotted on the U.S. side of the Chukchi Sea in 2007. They returned in 2009, and in 2011″ indicates that Chukchi Sea Ice Area Anomaly was unlikely to be cause of the Walrus Gathering behavior. Regardless, for accuracy and clarity I’ve replaced the word “decline” with the word “anomaly” in the article above.
Semantics aside, one would think the walruses aren’t concerned with anomalies, they’re concerned with whether there is ice in that region and there has been an ice-free period since about 2002 excepting 2006 per your chart. Nor would one expect Chukchi Sea walruses to be particularly concerned with ice extent in the Antarctic, but perhaps I underestimate them.

Thanks for the facts, “Just The Facts.”
I think the arctic was the last refuge of Alarmists, and they were clinging to a hope this would be the year there was no ice at the Pole in September. A very good Alarmist post expressing this view, containing wonderful satellite shots of ice cracking in the Beaufort Sea last February, and also logic that proved to be faulty, was written last March and has not yet been deleted at http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/03/23/1766011/ice-breaking-news-2013-arctic-freezing-season-not-what-its-cracked-up-to-be-literally/
Well, they were wrong. Now they have to pay the piper. However they blew their budget in Bali.
Besides the facts you, (and Anthony’s supurb “Sea Ice Page,”) (It should be called the “Sea Ice Book,”) make so obvious, there are an increasing number of excellent cameras clicking pictures from various parts of the arctic. Even a layman like myself can see what is happening with ordinary eyes, and even before this year’s remarkable turn-around I could see much of what the media was portraying was balderdash.
The media hoopla made over a knee-deep melt-water puddle around the base of “North Pole Camera Two” was a typical example of exaggeration turning to embarrassment, as the puddle drained away in a matter of hours just before a somewhat amazing mid-summer cold-wave had the North Pole Camera producing bone-chilling views that utterly destroyed any illusions of an “ice free” Pole.
What can the Alarmists say? You cannot call the camera the “D Word.” And they would have to be completely desperate to de-fund the cameras, at this point.
Besides cameras, there are some decent people working very hard to increase our understanding of the arctic. On occasions I’ve fired off emails, and received polite and lengthy replies from various “climate sites,” replies that were “just the facts” and avoided the lunacy of politics. I found this hugely reassuring, for, to be frank, I half-expected replies that were political balderdash.
These hard-working scientists have come up with better cameras and some interesting gadgets that are likely to create new data for the Sea-Ice-Page. I can hardly wait for the data from a gadget that runs up and down a cable hanging beneath sea-ice, repetitively reporting data from various depths.
The fact of the matter is, the Arctic is a fascinating place. For example, everywhere else weather systems go around the earth, only occasionally looping grandly into cut-off systems that stall for a short while. The arctic has rules of its own, for it has run out of room to go around and around, and while there may be times when a vortex sits right atop the pole, quite often systems are going across the pole, making a mess of our more ordinary circular logic.
I look forward to a day when we can get back to just watching in awe as weather reveals Truth to us. Politics has been like sewerage in the clean water of science, and the sooner we are rid of such pollution the better. In the meantime it seems wise to stick to the facts. In the end it will be the facts that defeat Alarmists, more than our moaning and groaning over their balderdash.
Have you checked out the recent film produced by O-buoy #7? In ten days it went from open water to snow-covered pack-ice. (See picture towards bottom of my post at http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-diary-the-deepening-twilight/ ) In the end, a picture is worth a thousand newspapers, and facts speak louder than words.

My last comment may have been gobbled by the spam filter.

Phil.

justthefactswuwt says:
October 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm
MarkB says: October 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm
“Semantics aside, one would think the walruses aren’t concerned with anomalies, they’re concerned with whether there is ice in that region and there has been an ice-free period since about 2002 excepting 2006 per your chart. Nor would one expect Chukchi Sea walruses to be particularly concerned with ice extent in the Antarctic, but perhaps I underestimate them.”
Umm, no, there was clearly no ice-free period in Chukchi Sea this year and I am not sure where you drew the Antarctic Walrus connection, did you miss this graph in the article above?:

According to the Cryosphere today data that you displayed in the original post the Chukchi Sea was indeed ice free this summer, the small difference in anomaly you changed to just means that the ice receded about a week later this year! That still means that the existing ice was off shore over deep water where the walrus can’t feed (as described in the article), and they do care about that. Check out a bathymetry map of the Chukchi Sea.
The difference between ‘anomaly’ and the sea area is not just semantics, in the case of the regions where area drops to zero the change in anomaly is really a measure of the timing of the ice melt.

MarkB

Umm, no, there was clearly no ice-free period in Chukchi Sea this year and I am not sure where you drew the Antarctic Walrus connection, did you miss this graph in the article above?
I stand corrected, there was merely about a 99+% ice-free period in the Chukchi Sea this year as there has been for most of the past decade. The point being that they hypothesis that the walrus are beaching on land because there isn’t substantial near shore ice is consistent with the ice observations you’ve presented.

So now we have to worry about anecdotal evidence about disapperaing walruses??
Oh noes! Just like the polar bears!

MarkB

As a follow up, I was having a hard time reconciling the “Region 2 plot Chukchi Sea” (ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02186/plots/r02_Chukchi_Sea_ts.png) with the “Current Chukchi Sea Ice Area” (http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/region.all.anom.region.10.jpg) which appears to go to zero at the annual minimum. Clearly they are plotting two different things. Poking around a bit I found the former plot is the area bounded by (65.37,-156.65 ; 66.00,-180.00 ; 80.00,-180.00 ; 80.00,-156.48) and the latter apparently includes only the sea area bounded on the north by Wrangle Island at about 71 N latitude). Taking the two together suggests that whatever ice remains at minimum is generally in the Central Arctic Ocean rather than over the continental shelf which is confirmed by looking at sea ice extent maps.

Gary Pearse

Has the government shutdown also shut down NSIDC and U of Illinois’s Cryosphere Today. Why is it when momentous changes are afoot that are embarrassing to CAGW proponents, the graphs all stop and apparently decide some metric needs to be added to (sea level), temperature fudges as new versions, etc. We are just at an Antarctic satellite era record ice extent and a galloping recovery of the Arctic ice extent when they shut down. What are they going to do with these inconvenient data now?