The Ice Was All Between

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I do my best to maintain my sense of awe regarding the things I study. I’ve had the good fortune in my life to be a commercial fisherman on the Bering Sea, and to voyage and fish on the edges of the Arctic ice. To me, sea ice, whether fixed to the shore or free-floating, is an awesome sight. As the poet said almost two hundred years ago,

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—
The ice was all between.

As I sift through the layers of dusty numbers and I work to understand the intricacies of the weather, I strive to maintain that sense of wonder at the scope and scale and beauty of what I am studying … but I digress.

As the song has it, I often “go to the corner, and I end up in Spain”. This time, I started out to examine what happens to the upwelling radiation when the ocean freezes over. To do this, I planned to use the Reynolds_v2_ice_cover dataset from KNMI  (NetCDF is available at the bottom of the page). My idea was to compare the ice coverage data to the CERES satellite radiation dataset.

But when I had downloaded the ice cover data, here’s what I found out about the ice cover:

percentage of ocean that has sea ice coverFigure 1. Sea ice coverage (total of northern and southern sea ice) as a percentage of total ocean area. Top panel shows the raw data. Middle panel shows the average seasonal cycle. The bottom panel shows the residual, which is the raw data minus the seasonal component.

This shows a curious evolution over time. Over the first decade plus of this record, the ice coverage gradually decreased by about half of a percent. Then from 2004 to 2010, the coverage rapidly increased by a full percent, and has stayed there for the last five years.

Now, I knew that the global sea ice has lately been on the increase. But I was unaware that the change was either that fast or that large. It increased by about one part in eight, about 12%, in a short six years. Among other things, this should be a cautionary tale about the unreliability of short ice datasets like this one …

Anyhow, I plan to follow this up by comparing the ice data to the CERES data. I just wanted to highlight this frozen oddity.

Regards to all,

w.

My Usual Request: If you disagree with me or anyone, please quote the exact words you disagree with. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend someone else’s interpretation of some unidentified words of mine.

My Other Request: If you think that e.g. I’m using the wrong method on the wrong dataset, please educate me and others by demonstrating the proper use of the right method on the right dataset. Simply claiming I’m wrong doesn’t advance the discussion.

128 thoughts on “The Ice Was All Between

    • Ron.
      Oldseadog was right this research is a real gem.

      It’s sad that such good research is coming out of Russia. While twisted deceitful research has become the eminent domain of the west — Anything for a buck.

      • Yes, AARI has been at this for a long time, and really know and respect the archives of observations available to them. I also think they are (surprising to say) more free than US scientists to follow the data regardless of environmental preconceptions.

  1. Willis,
    As an aside (somewhat – really referring back to you “Warmer Icier” post), the apparent correlation between Pleistocene temperatures and ice accumulation, as well as the reversal of that correlation at the beginning of the Holocene is visible in the Greenland ice core data employed by Alley (2004) as well. The actuall timing of the reversal (end of Pleistocene or early Holocene) depends on just how you define the beginning of the Holocene.

    See:
    #Greenland temperatures estimated via stable isotope data
    #GISP2 Ice Core Temperature and Accumulation Data
    #———————————————————————
    # NOAA Paleoclimatology Program
    # and
    # World Data Center for Paleoclimatology, Boulder
    #———————————————————————
    #NOTE: PLEASE CITE ORIGINAL REFERENCE WHEN USING THIS DATA!!!!!
    #
    #
    #NAME OF DATA SET: GISP2 Ice Core Temperature and Accumulation Data
    #LAST UPDATE: 3/2004 (Original Receipt by WDC Paleo)
    #
    #
    #CONTRIBUTOR: Richard Alley, Pennsylvania State University.
    #IGBP PAGES/WDCA CONTRIBUTION SERIES NUMBER: 2004-013

  2. Gee! How could this be happening given we just had “the warmest February on record”?

    • and during this “warmest February on record” the global sea ice area as reported by Cryosphere Today reached a record minimum of 14.365 million km2. Compared with the level at the start around 1979 of ~16 million km2 that’s a significant drop.

      • Yes, there is less ice today there compared to 1979 which is back when we were all fretting about another Ice Age.

      • Arctic ice is a bit thicker now than a few years ago. This does not show up in 15% sea ice extent data. So, it’s a tad better than some believe. At least a tad. Maybe a dollop or even a supra-eentsy bit.

      • Richard M March 3, 2016 at 5:39 am
        That’s one reason it was so warm. I suspect you have the cause and effect backwards.

        Since I nowhere mentioned ’cause and effect’ I suspect you are overreaching.

      • But not a drop from previous years in the ’70s and ’60s, even chilly as they were, let alone the warm ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. It’s a shame, at best, that 1979 was one of or the highest ice extent years of the past century. The continuous, specialized satellite record began at the worst possible time.

    • >>How could this be happening given we just
      >>had “the warmest February on record”?

      Well, that just makes it -40ºc in the Arctic, instead of -55ºc. Still going to freeze…

      To me this greatly increased Arctic temperature simply means there has been a massive radiation of excess heat out into space this winter – unloading the El Nino warmth. A terrestrial burp. Which surely means that 2016-2017 will be much cooler.

      Arctic temperature graph:
      http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

  3. No wonder polar bear populations are exploding, they haven’t been drowning! They’ll soon be walking to Antarctica.

  4. Sure. At a time of record loss of land ice from Antarctica and Greenland, all that meltwater makes for good conditions for widespread, thin, sea ice. Go look at any dataset you like for the trend in either global ice mass, or even sea ice mass, and you’ll see it’s running the other way. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but total mass is a far more meaningful measure than extent. Even a melting ice cream covers a growing area as it melts.

    Sea ice extent tells you very little about how much ice is on the planet. We measure that directly, so it’s much better to look at those direct measures than try to reason about ice volume from a fairly inaccurate proxy measure like sea ice extent. The extent data could be interesting if you’re trying to get a handle on reflectivity, as you seem to be, but the rise in extent is also going to be latched onto by the “no warming, nyah, nyah, nyah” crowd who don’t realise that warming can indeed drive a short term increase in sea ice as land ice melts, thus lowering local sea temperatures near the icepack.

    • “At a time of record loss of land ice from Antarctica and Greenland, all that meltwater makes for good conditions for widespread, thin, sea ice”.

      Well, given that CAGW theory predicts more and more record loss of land ice from Antarctica and Greenland, following your reasoning I guess the conditions will become better and better for “widespread, thin, sea ice”, so we will never run out of sea surface covered with ice it seems, it will rather increase. I sometimes find it hard to keep up with the different, opposite predictions of CAGW.

      • I sometimes find it hard to keep up with the different, opposite predictions of CAGW.

        This is the understatement of the year.

        The major problem with AGW predictions is, that they predict retrospectively, or, if even worse, do low-profile and wide spectrum of predictions, which are not all then found to be ‘inconsistent with’ observations, which have already been of course adjusted to match expectations.

        Now just tell me when Greenland is gonna melt? How much the GIA actually was? How come the sea levels accelerate where there is none but satellite to watch, but where it is watched at coast, no acceleration happens?

        Or, OTOH, tell me when was WAIS first predicted to collapse? Was it before, during, or after the ice age scare of 1970’s?

        So how much predictive value AGW framework has?

        To come back to thin ice, I’m sure someone is bound to find out that widespread thin ice prevents heat from escaping and thus causes a positive feedback. So if temperatures drop at Ellesmere, it is the old good global warming cooling.

    • JP “how much ice is on the planet. We measure that directly,” Can you say how we measure this directly? I thought sea ice extent was pretty close to a “measurement”, but amount of ice was based on models.

    • I fail to understand your Ice cream analogy. Sure ice cream covers a greater extent as it melts. Providing that is that it is sitting on a solid surface as it changes state. Sea Ice goes from solid to liquid and becomes water. The ice does not extend as it melts, it’s the water changing state to solid at the leading edges of the sea ice which creates the greater extent. So please explain to me the ice cream thing again. In simple terms for I am a simple man.

    • i think your knowledge on ice mass may well be just a bit out of date regarding the mass balance of both greenland and antarctica . as for the notion it is measured to any degree of significance, that is complete and utter nonsense.

    • Lol JP. We are told all the time that sea ice extent matters by the “nyah nyah nyah, the world is warming” crowd when sea ice extent drops. It seems to only be a meaningless metric when it isn’t decreasing.

  5. This is an excellent idea, Willis!

    The question I’d like to answer is whether sea ice is a positive or negative feedback mechanism. I was thinking about it from the other direction. I’d wondered if there exist water temperature profiles beneath ice and open water under otherwise similar circumstances. If so, they could help to answer that question.

    One feedback mechanism is ice/albedo. The climate alarmists all know about this one. They suppose that warmer climate causes decreased ice cover, which decreases albedo, causing more sunlight to be absorbed, causing warmer climate: a positive (amplifying) feedback mechanism.

    But there are several things they ignore:

    1. Albedo positive feedback only works in the daytime. When the sun is near or below the horizon, there’s very little light to be absorbed.

    (Note, you might think that increased albedo would prevent surface cooling at night, but that’s not correct, because ice is “dark” rather than “light” in the microwave region, which is what is emitted from the cold water or ice.)

    2. Decreased sea ice cover increases water surface evaporation, cooling the ocean by evaporative heat loss: a negative (attenuating/stabilizing) feedback mechanism.

    3 .The additional evaporation due to more open water also apparently causes additional cloud cover, increasing albedo at altitude, and probably cooling the surface: another negative feedback.

    4. The additional evaporation also increases “lake-effect/ocean-effect” snowfall downwind. Some of that snow falls on the ice-sheets, increasing ice accumulation, and offsetting meltwater losses. Other snow falls on land, increasing albedo and snowpack, decreasing land temperatures, and prolonging winter: another negative feedback.

    5. Decreased polar ice cover also increases water turbulence, “stirring” the water, so that surface heat loss cools the water to greater depths.

    The question is: which feedbacks are largest?

    At night, that question is easy to answer. The only positive feedback (albedo) doesn’t happen, so the negative feedbacks obviously dominate.

    But what about daytime, and what about overall day+night net/average? Is the effect of ice/albedo positive daytime feedback greater than the sum of all the negative feedbacks, or vice versa?

    If we had water temperature profiles beneath ice and open water under otherwise similar circumstances, we could start to answer those questions. If the average water temperature beneath the ice is higher than the average water temperature beneath open water, under otherwise similar circumstances, then it means the negative feedbacks dominate.

    • Cloud cover doesn’t ‘cool down’ northern climates, it is more like a blanket. Our coldest weather coincides with no clouds in winter.

      • The effects of cloud cover depend on the time of day – it shades the sun during the day and blanket the surface at night. This is most easily demonstrated by comparing the difference between high and low temperatures on clear versus cloudy days. Like nicotine – it moderates mood swings.

      • Depends on time(s) of day and cloud elevation as well. If you’re going to try to argue that sunny winter weather is colder than cloudy ones with all other things being equal, you’re in a heap of trouble.

      • This may not be entirely a radiative issue, ie., not necessarily because of additional DWLWIR from the clouds themselves, or their presence restricting UPLWIR passage to space.

        Normally when it is cloudless, there is relatively little humidity and hence there is less energy in the atmosphere such that when the sun goes down, it takes less time to cool simply because the atmosphere contains less energy to give up. Just like deserts.

        Second, clouds restrict convention and hence restrict convective cooling.

        So clouds at night might give the impression that they reduce the rate of cooling not necessarily because of additional DWLWIR from the underside of clouds or impeding UPLWIR, but because of restriction on convective cooling, and when for comparison purposes it is cloudless, the atmosphere may contain less energy and hence cools more quickly.

        These points are often overlooked

      • sunny winter weather is colder than cloudy ones

        I’d say bright moony polar night is almost without exception colder than a cloudy night. We don’t have sunny polar nights.

  6. Is Al there somewhere? He brings the cold with him, doesn’t he? That aside, maybe this is why those wanting to keep the meme going are beginning to panic now. Maybe this is why they are scrambling to find something else to point at as indicative of humanity’s “sins”. It’ll be acid oceans, I’ll bet. Anything anywhere to get public attention away from falling temps and the failure of their predictions (yes, I said it – predictions – so sue me).

  7. According to SunshineHours (a blog where the owner doesn’t agree with AGW), the world has just seen the lowest annual sea ice extent ever.
    https://sunshinehours.wordpress.com/

    Both the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic have just seen extremely low ice levels for this date. Antarctic sea ice is well below average, and Arctic saw some record low numbers.

    This makes sense, as UAH and RSS are both showing record high temperatures. It’s getting harder to dispute the reality of AGW.

    We are beyond any recorded “natural” limits for the time humans have existed on the Earth. Something’s causing that. It isn’t just natural cycles.

    • dcpetterson March 2, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      We are beyond any recorded “natural” limits for the time humans have existed on the Earth. Something’s causing that. It isn’t just natural cycles.

      dc, that’s simply not true. Whether you look at temperature or rainfall or CO2 levels or storminess or just about any variable, we are not beyond any natural limits—all of those have been both higher and lower in the past than they are today.

      w.

      • Willis:

        So to be clear, you dispute those graphs at sunshinehours linked to by dcpetterson?

      • Willis, correctomundo. There is nothing either unprecedented or unusual happening with global temperature, or other variables. They have all been exceeded in the past, and by a greater degree.

        @Toneb, read what Willis wrote. Your assumptions are noted.

      • Toneb March 3, 2016 at 1:26 am Edit

        Willis:

        So to be clear, you dispute those graphs at sunshinehours linked to by dcpetterson?

        Regards, Tone. What I dispute is dc’s claim that those graphs show that “the world has just seen the lowest annual sea ice extent ever.”

        Well, unless by “ever” you mean “all the way back to the prehistoric year of 1961” …

        w.

      • “Regards, Tone. What I dispute is dc’s claim that those graphs show that “the world has just seen the lowest annual sea ice extent ever.”

        Well, unless by “ever” you mean “all the way back to the prehistoric year of 1961”

        OK – so if the word “ever” is omitted from dcpetterson’s post and the words “during the satellite period” he would be correct?

        Taking that question as rhetorical, then that is all we can say isn’t it?

        That in the time when the world has been watching with sophiistication, then the world,s ice extent is at near historic lows.

      • That in the time when the world has been watching with sophiistication, then the world,s ice extent is at near historic lows.
        ===========================
        people tend to forget that what is truly changing is the length of the observation, which has very big effects on the statistics of any trend.

        pick anything in nature and start observing. pretty soon you will find there is a trend that will lead to a “tipping point” if it doesn’t reverse. So the question becomes, why hasn’t the thing you are observing already destroyed itself before you started watching.

        and then you might realize that nature doesn’t travel in straight lines, it travels in cycles.

      • “all of those have been both higher and lower in the past than they are today.”

        It clearly says “for the time humans have existed on the Earth.” CO2 has not been higher for more than 800,000 years, which covers it.

      • @seaice1

        It clearly says “for the time humans have existed on the Earth.” CO2 has not been higher for more than 800,000 years, which covers it

        “Lucy” and her kin go back 3 million years or so. Where are you drawing the line, and why?

      • DJHawkins. from climatecentral: “A 2011 study in the journal Paleoceanography found that atmospheric CO2 levels may have been comparable to today’s as recently as sometime between 2 and 4.6 million years ago, during the Pliocene epoch, which saw the arrival of Homo habilis, a possible ancestor of modern homo sapiens,”

        The last time CO2 was this high, humans as defined by Homo sapiens did not exist. I think 8000,000 years covers human time oin the earth, but 2 million years certainly does.

      • @seaice1: Modern humans (i.e. Homo sapiens) has only been around for about 70,000 years – tops. That is hundreds of times longer than any instrumentation. Our ancestral humans (i.e. genus Homo) have been around for a few million years – long enough to have survived high and low CO2, ice ages, and an ice-free planet. And, of course, we are descended from life forms that have survived everything the planet could throw at them – from erupting supervolcanoes to Ice Ages to fracturing supercontinents to the Deccan Trap eruptions to dinosaur-eradicating asteroid impacts. ALL of our ancestors survived, and bred, and evolved, until we came along.

      • Anatomically modern humans have been around for about 200,000 years.

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fossil-reanalysis-pushes/

        Our genus Homo, thus humans, has existed since the Pleistocene, 2.6 Ma. The division between the genera Australopithecus and Homo is pretty arbitrary, so if australopithecines be considered human, then we’ve been here for more than 4.5 million years. The tribe Hominini (obligate bipedal African great apes) dates back before 5.4 Ma.

      • seaice1 March 3, 2016 at 4:45 am Edit

        “all of those have been both higher and lower in the past than they are today.”

        It clearly says “for the time humans have existed on the Earth.” CO2 has not been higher for more than 800,000 years, which covers it.

        Thanks, seaice, but your desire to prove me wrong has overcome your reading ability. First off, he said nothing about CO2 in his comment. Instead it started out with his main claim, which was:

        … the world has just seen the lowest annual sea ice extent ever.

        This was the nonsense that I objected to.

        Perhaps to you, or perhaps even to him, “ever” means only 800,000 years, or only back to 1961, or only for the time humans have existed on earth. Call me crazy, but me, I figure that “ever” means “ever”.

        Finally, he says that the graphs he linked are his evidence to show clearly that this is the “lowest annual sea ice extent ever”, and they only go back to 1961 or so. How do you explain that, seaice?

        w.

      • Thanks, seaice, but your desire to prove me wrong has overcome your reading ability.
        You are welcome, Willis, but before disparaging my reading ability I think you should check what you wrote. To quote your words directly (as you request):

        “dc, that’s simply not true. Whether you look at temperature or rainfall or CO2 levels or storminess or just about any variable, we are not beyond any natural limits…” (emphasis mine)

        To which I pointed out that dc’s comment was not about natural limits, but only since humans have been on the Earth.

        There seems to be general agreement that CO2 has not been higher since humans (Homo sapiens) were on the Earth.

        Therefore your response was wrong in regard to the levels of CO2

        if you want to argue that it was correct in other regards, that is a different argument to which my comment was not directed.

    • I have to agree with Willis. Unless you can provide these records and show that we are indeed “beyond” them?

      • If you look at old Log Books from fishing, whaling, sealing and naval vessels over the last couple of hundred years there have been several periods when ice cover was less than it is now.
        Go to Greenwich Maritime museum if you want to look at some.

    • “the world has just seen the lowest annual sea ice extent ever.”

      http://www.biogeosciences.net/9/5391/2012/bg-9-5391-2012.pdf
      Sea surface temperature [Arctic Ocean] between ∼ AD 1885–1935 are warmer by up to 3°C with respect to the average modern temperature at the coring site. For the period ∼ AD 1887–1945, reconstructed sea ice cover values are on average 8.3 months per year which is 1.1 months per year lower than the modern values.

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033589401922525
      Antarctic surface waters were warm and ice free between 10,000 and 5000 cal yr B.P., as judged from ice-rafted debris and microfossils in a piston core at 53°S in the South Atlantic.

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379110003185
      The combined sea ice data suggest that the seasonal Arctic sea ice cover was strongly reduced during most of the early Holocene and there appear to have been periods of ice free summers in the central Arctic Ocean.

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379114001000
      Several studies suggest that the Early Holocene (∼6000–10,000 years BP) experienced less summer-sea ice than at present. …. [S]ea ice during the Early Holocene potentially could have moved over to a seasonal regime with sea ice-free summers due to the insolation maxima the Earth experienced at that time.

      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6043/747.full
      Arctic Sea Ice extent during the Holocene Thermal Maximum 8,000 years ago was less than half of the record low 2007 level. … Multiyear sea ice reached a minimum between ~8500 and 6000 years ago, when the limit of year-round sea ice at the coast of Greenland was located ~1000 kilometers to the north of its present position.

      http://hol.sagepub.com/content/14/4/607.abstract
      Driftwood entry to northern Greenland was rare until 7400 cal. years BP, indicating more severe summer sea-ice conditions than at present. More open water than at present probably characterized the period between 6800 and 5500 cal. years BP, during which time driftwood stranded on the beaches of Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden that is now covered by a floating glacier. … [I]n northwest Greenland studies of dinoflagellate cysts in a marine core indicate warmer surface waters, and hence less sea ice than at present from 7300 to 3700 cal. years BP.

      • “We are beyond any recorded ‘natural’ limits for the time humans have existed on the Earth. Something’s causing that. It isn’t just natural cycles.”

        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379115301682
        Solar forcing as an important trigger for West Greenland sea-ice variability over the last millennium
        Here, we use diatom assemblages from a marine sediment core collected from the West Greenland shelf to reconstruct changes in sea-ice cover over the last millennium. The proxy-based reconstruction demonstrates a generally strong link between changes in sea-ice cover and solar variability during the last millennium. Weaker (or stronger) solar forcing may result in the increase (or decrease) in sea-ice cover west of Greenland. In addition, model simulations show that variations in solar activity not only affect local sea-ice formation, but also control the sea-ice transport from the Arctic Ocean through a sea-ice–ocean–atmosphere feedback mechanism.

        http://sciencedomain.org/abstract/8837
        A better understanding of the future climate pattern developments in the Arctic may only follow a better reconstruction of the past patterns of natural oscillations and the determination of the forcing and the resulting oscillations occurred in the climate parameters over different time scales. The proposed information for the past demonstrates the Walsh & Chapman reconstruction claiming a flat sea ice 1870 to 1950 is too simple. The Arctic sea ice experienced a drastic reduction that was phased with warming temperatures 1923 to 1940. This reduction was followed by a sharp cooling and sea ice recovery. This permits us to also conclude that very likely the Arctic sea ice extent also has a quasi-60 years’ oscillation. The recognition of a quasi-60 year’s oscillation in the sea ice extent of the Arctic similar to the oscillation of the temperatures and the other climate indices may permit us to separate the natural from the anthropogenic forcing of the Arctic sea ice. The heliosphere and the Earth’s magnetosphere may have much stronger influence on the climate patterns on Earth including the Arctic sea ices than has been thought.

    • Wasn’t the Arctic ice free in the summer during the early Holocene? Must have been a lot of Turneys sailing around the Antarctic at the time.

    • “Both the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic have just seen extremely low ice levels for this date …” etc.
      ============================
      On his Climate + History page Prof Ole Humlum @ climate4you refers to a number of Arctic Ocean passages in open waters around 1940 for instance ‘Operation Wunderland’ in mid-August 1942, a route that would not have be possible in August in the past ten or so years except perhaps 2011:

      Don’t have an attack of the vapours dcpetterson, calm down and visit climate4you, you might learn a lot.

      • And note that, oddly enough, Admiral Scheer did not have a icebreaking bow and had completely unprotected propellers, so it had to avoid even broken ice.
        Also note that this same autumn, 1942, two russian destroyers Razyaryonny and Razumny belonging to the notoriously structurally frail Type 7 class successfully traversed the Northeast Passage from the Pacific fleet to the Northern fleet.

      • Chris Hanley March 2, 2016 at 11:26 pm
        On his Climate + History page Prof Ole Humlum @ climate4you refers to a number of Arctic Ocean passages in open waters around 1940 for instance ‘Operation Wunderland’ in mid-August 1942, a route that would not have be possible in August in the past ten or so years except perhaps 2011:

        On the contrary that route has been easily accessible every year of the last ten.
        E.g.: http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=08&fd=16&fy=2006&sm=08&sd=15&sy=2009

        “Operation Wunderland was only moderately successful. Owing to bad weather conditions and the abundance of ice floes, the vessels taking part in Operation Wunderland did not venture beyond the Vilkitsky Strait. Therefore, the Kriegsmarine campaign only affected the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea. By mid-September, it had to be stopped because of the freezing of the sea surface with thick pack-ice, especially in the Kara Sea, which freezes much earlier because it is not affected by the warmer Atlantic currents.”

        Comment on your map:
        The turn to the sw off Yedlineniya was due to the Scheer by a solid wall of ice.
        The maneuvering near the sinking of the Sibiriakov was caused by the Scheer being trapped in the ice, the convoy they were trying to find was also trapped in ice further east.

      • The climate *record* is but a miniscule percentage of the time humans have been around, so the ‘record’ is not a representative sample. The ‘natural limits’ are still completely unknown.
        As a scientist one of my constant challenges involves disciplining my peers in engineering and other statistically naïve groups against hasty generalizations wrought by long-range extrapolations.

    • @ petterson:

      in the same idea of seeing an arctic low record i was out of curousity comparing them at cryosphere with other years.

      what did strike me is when i did compare february 28 2016 with february 28 2006:

      – sea of Ochotsk a net large difference in favor of 2016 clearly visible, no doubt possible 2016 has a ways larger ice cover..
      – Bering sea 2006 saw a larger ice cover but ways too less to cover the very visible sea of ochotsk ice especially seen the fact that in 2016 the soviet side saw visibly more coastal ice in the bering sea
      – Baffin/newfoundland sea: Also a very visible larger ice extent in 2016 then was visible in 2006 very clearly visible behind any doubt.

      other area’s: The most of the loss is in the Greenland, Kara and Barents seas. Also sint Lawrence area is very weakly covered.

      before i continue: Please note that i am aware that a small pixel size difference for this complete outline can represent a lot of km² (see the coastal masking algorithem change at the DMI that did increase it with 1.4 million km² and all the fuzz it gave.)

      in that context 2006 does look very similar to 2016 in these other area’s. There is no clear visible difference except for the soviet coastal ice in the Barents sea that is visible larger but in no way that visible as the newfoundland area or Ochotsk area.

      the differences are so big that i even would dare to take the time for 2 high resolution maps and try to puzzle the differences of both years. I am sure i will have pieces of 2016 that will be “left over” especially if you would scale it down to ice density (in 2006 a lot of the arctic had 80-90% cover while now a lot is in the 95-100% range)

      here you find the comparison chart i am studying.

      cryosphere icechart comparison

      now with this curiosity cranked up: is there a way to find higher resolution charts or more in depth research about this?

      i sure it would be debunked easily

    • According to SunshineHours (a blog where the owner doesn’t agree with AGW), the world has just seen the lowest annual sea ice extent ever.

      That’s only true if “ever” merely means “since 1978”. So there’s no need to dispute the graphics of sunshinehours to disagree with your sentence that “We are beyond any recorded natural limits for the time humans have existed on the Earth”. Humans already existed several millennia before 1978. Surprise!

    • dc

      You’re presenting data in a format were it is very difficult to ascertain trends. That said what we can say is that anomalies occur particularly during El Nino years (such as this) – you have proved 2016 is an anomaly. And you certainly cannot (at least not readily) ascertain cycles from accrued annual data plotted on a monthly basis but you refer to them in your comment.

      • Yes, sometimes NOAA has problems as can be seen in the supposed change in ice coverage shown over the span of one day (December 1 to December 2, 2014) in these two figures:

    • “Something’s causing that. It isn’t just natural cycles.”
      Even if it was just natural cycles, something is still causing it. It is the job of the scientist to find out what is caausing it.

      • Here, here. One wonders if Douglas Adams’ fictional computer program – Reason – is actually real.
        i.e. If anthropogenic CO2 emissions are the cause of of Climate Change, what steps would need to be
        reverse engineered to prove that hypothesis.

        Personally, I prefer my science to be conducted the other way round.

  8. Increase in ice…easy, they just forgot to “adjust” it. But now that you have pointed that out…..

    • Not needed. Reduction in sea ice – global warming. Increase in sea ice -global warming too. There is nothing global warming isn’t to blame for.

  9. Strange that we never see the real-world Bering Sea crab fishing boats on “Deadliest Catch” poring over sea ice extent graphs before they drop their pots.
    In this real world, they often lose strings of pots because the ice growth and extent happens quite quickly (24 hrs).
    As Willis observes, nature is awesome and powerful, and so needs to be closely observed on the spot, rather than by playing computer games masquerading as science.

  10. dcpetterson, have you even had a look at the “Sea Ice” page on this blog? Even the mostly rather short datasets there show lower readings in the recent past (not more than a decade or so ago) than currently. “Disagreeing with AGW” may well be a sensible frame of mind, but it’s one that _doesn’t_ make ignoring the data and peddling falsehoods more forgivable…

  11. dcpetterson @ 7:36: Why isn’t it natural? The satellite ice record only goes back to 1979. That was a time of high ice coverage–certainly in the arctic when the AMO and PDO were both in their cold cycles.

  12. Finally someone who treats “Polar” as consisting of Arctic AND Antarctic. Warmists simply equate Polar with Arctic as it suits their fears.

    In the name of Science the big difference in melting between the two should be cleared up soon.

  13. That cursed “pause” keeps popping up in all the data sets. Recently, Precipitable Water also mirrored the “pause” and other unrelated sets I have forgotten did so, too. It looks Karlization and Hadcrut and GISS aping versions will soon also be diverging from sea ice, and other datasets.

  14. Dear Wills,

    Here is something which puzzles me.
    The Earth orbit is elliptical. The Earth is nearest the Sun in January and furthest away in July. The changing distance should result in a variation of about 90W/m2 between perigee and apogee. That seems like a large amount, yet the signal is not easy to see in the satellite global temperature records and the surface estimates.

    Since you often analyses these records, can you tell me if this annual variation can be identified in the temperature records?

    • Yes, and the signal is easy to see, and the opposite of what you may expect. The atmosphere cools.

      True, the earth in the SH summer, receives about 7 percent more insolation, (a massive increase in input) yet the atmosphere cooled, Is the earth gaining or losing energy in the SH summer? We have solar insolation in both hemispheres, with reduced residence time in the NH, due to increased albedo, and vastly increased residence time in the SH, due to ocean penetration. In either case it is a change in residence time of similar TSI, although stronger TSI due to being closer to the sun. However in the SH summer the atmosphere cools, because more sunlight is penetrating far greater ocean surface in the SH, and in the NH it is reflecting and leaving more quickly, due to higher snow and ice albedo via increased land mass in the NH during its winter. I estimate that the earth is gaining energy, despite the cooler atmosphere.

      The solar residence time under the ocean surface varies tremendously, but is many magnitudes greater then the residence time in the atmosphere, even if as LWIR it encounters a GHG molecule and bounces around for a bit. Thus any increase in water vapor steals energy from entering the oceans.

      • —…The solar residence time under the ocean surface varies tremendously, but is many magnitudes greater then the residence time in the atmosphere, even if as LWIR it encounters a GHG molecule and bounces around for a bit. Thus any increase in water vapor steals energy from entering the oceans.—

        Most water vapor is in lower troposphere. I don’t think much of the sunlight absorbed by water vapor [H20 gas] is radiated back into space [thereby stealing much energy from the ocean]. Though increased water vapor can result in more clouds, and it seems clouds in the tropics can prevent a significant amount of sunlight from reaching the ocean.

        Anyways, more area of earth covered by oceans, SH has 90% area being oceans. Oceans per square meter [or square km] absorb more of the energy of sunlight as compared land, and one has a larger percentage of ocean.
        Or it seems the SH ocean should absorbing more of the energy, but since ocean has large thermal mass
        it would be difficult to measure such difference, and so doesn’t result in higher measurable air temperature.

    • Peter C:

      In addition to the posts from David A and gbaikie, I commend you to read this because it explains why as David A says, “the signal is easy to see, and the opposite of what you may expect. The atmosphere cools”.

      Simply, oceans are better heat sinks than land and there is less land in the Southern Hemisphere than the Northern Hemisphere.

      Richard

      • Correct. Plus, the Southern Hemisphere has a continent right at the pole whereas the Northern Hemisphere has water!

      • Well it just shows the climate nonsense going on when we can’t see 90 W/m2 difference, yet suppose to see 3.7 W/m2 at the TOA with doubling of CO2 or 10^16 J/K that more accurately reflects human CO2 now.

    • Peter C March 2, 2016 at 8:47 pm
      Dear Wills,

      Here is something which puzzles me.
      The Earth orbit is elliptical. The Earth is nearest the Sun in January and furthest away in July. The changing distance should result in a variation of about 90W/m2 between perigee and apogee.

      There’s one other aspect of the orbit which you haven’t mentioned (perhaps you’re unaware of it).
      As the Earth gets closer to the Sun its orbital speed increases which compensates for the change in distance. As a result in spring the day is as much as ~14 minutes shorter than the average, in fall the day is correspondingly longer than average.

  15. Darn, a friend of mine who is all about green energy thinks he’s going sailing in the ice-free Arctic this summer!

  16. Hi from Oz. Willis said ‘The Earth is nearest the Sun in January and furthest away in July.”. No wonder Brisbane is hotter than London!

      • Mike, isn’t that simply co2 tracking temperature over the winter/summer cycle and outgassing naturally follows sea temperature? Once it’s frozen over then that relationship of course comes to a full stop.

    • Interesting. A 7 ppm variation, for the cooling of a few upper meters of the ocean.

      But why is atmospheric Co2 so low in that graph.

  17. “I’ve had the good fortune in my life to be a commercial fisherman on the Bering Sea, and to voyage and fish on the edges of the Arctic ice.”
    Thanks Willis, a question to the expert. To what extent do storms break sea ice in the Arctica?

    • Paul Berberich March 3, 2016 at 12:36 am

      Thanks Willis, a question to the expert. To what extent do storms break sea ice in the Arctic?

      Good question, Paul, although I’m hardly an expert. That question really has no answer because the Arctic ice pack is constant breaking and reforming. People think that the Arctic ice pack is some kind of solid ice layer. In fact, it’s a jillion chunks of ice of sizes ranging from cars and houses to to many hectares all jammed together … and all of them constantly moving and grinding and shifting against each, aggregating and freezing into larger blocks and then breaking up again into smaller blocks, forming pressure ridges here and open areas there, creaking and groaning all the while.

      All of it is under the control of two things—the winds and the currents. So it is not one single chunk of “sea ice” that can be broken up. Instead, it is constantly shattering into fragments over here and freezing together over there, eldlessly shifting and changing.

      Finally, the ice edge is generally not really an “edge”. Instead there just is gradually more and more water in between the ice as you move into warmer areas. So it can get moved freely by the wind, and can expand and contract quite rapidly (and eat your crab pots in the bargain).

      w.

    • Gareth, you really need to state what this is an anomaly of. Is ice area or ice extent. This graph is quite different from Willis’ three panel plot which does not say what kind of ice measurement it refers to either.

      Ice extent is generally a sum off area of all grid boxes with at least 15% ice cover. Ice AREA seems to have various definitions but attempts to measure total ice area not just sea with ‘some’ ice in it.

      Ice area is a lot more stable than ice extent.

      • Both measures have difficulties. Ice area must be ‘adjusted’ quite heavily in summer since satellites cannot distinguish between melt water pools on top of the ice and open water.
        Ice extent is as you say unstable, since winds that disperse or concentrate ice can cause large areas of ice to disappear or appear overnight.
        Results are also strongly affected by the “cutoff percentage” used, usually 10-15%, but sometimes higher. The 10-15% is “traditional”, since this is the amount of ice where it is usually possible for ships without icebreaking ability to move freely through the ice, so it is functionally open water for shipping. However even 10% is quite a lot of ice, and this “cutoff” is the explanation that radio-tagged polar bears are frequently stationary for long periods in areas far offshore that are supposedly open water.
        Since ice has very different IR emissivity from water I suspect that the Reynolds OI v2 dataset which is basically a SST dataset defines any cell where any ice is detected as “ice”, i. e. it uses a lower cutoff percentage than traditional sea-ice datasets. If so the results are interesting, since it implies that sea-ice has become more dispersed in recent years rather than having decreased in area.

    • The Cryosphere data set is extremely fishy. Go back to the 80’s and 90’s and you will find that it then regularly recorded ice in the middle of the summer in e. g. the Northern Baltic and the White Sea, e. g.

      http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=07&fd=05&fy=1989&sm=07&sd=08&sy=1987

      There is positively never ice in these areas in summer, the Baltic is in fact bathable in July (I know, I live there).
      Either there was something seriously wrong with the satellite sensors, or they were using an extremely bad land mask. In either case they were definitely over-recording ice area.

      • Never, ever ? Not even in the most northerly corners?

        Where you in the very north of the Baltic in Sept 1987 ? Eye witness accounts are interesting but please don’t generalise your recollections of one area you know to a reliable record of the whole of Baltic Sea.

      • Also note that those concentration maps show everything with 30% or greater ice cover. The bits of the Balitc seem to be showing 30-40% ice cover. Not totally frozen over.

      • “Never, ever ? Not even in the most northerly corners?”

        Yes, no never ever even in the most northerly corners. The last ice remnants in Norrbotten archipelago normally melt the last days in May or the first days in June. I can’t swear whether I was actually there in September 1987, but I frequently visited Luleå in my job in those years, and I can assure that there is definitely never any ice in summer. As a matter of fact this northeastern part of Sweden has warmer and sunnier summers than many other parts of the country. The closest analog in average temperatures to Luleå I could find in North America is Sept Iles, Quebec.
        1867 was the coldest year recorded in historical times in Sweden and Finland, and the last famine year. That year the ice in the Bay of Bothnia did not melt until Midsummer, but that is the latest that has ever been recorded.

      • The northern parts of the Bay of Bothnia have so many streams running into it from the mountains that fresh water fish can live in that part of the Baltic Sea. The influx of water from these streams, warmed by the midnight sun, warms those waters. Then, when winter comes, the water having so little salt in it allows it to freeze quickly.

        This is also true for parts of the Siberian coast, and where the Mackenzie River enters the Arctic Sea in Northern Canada. The Lena River rises 60 feet and floods the Laptev Sea each August, creating a freshwater “lens”. Even the Yellow Sea off China can get far less salty after a typhoon, due to the (Yellow?) River, and an arctic blast at that time can freeze the waters far more easily, because it is less salty.

        The more I poke about, studying the subject of sea-ice, the more variables I find. It is a fascinating field, and well worth the research, but anyone who pretends they have it all figured out is talking through their hat.

      • Yes, one can actually drink the water in the Bay of Bothnia, it holds less than 0,5 % salt. And this may well explain the faulty ice distribution data, since the algorithms that are used to distinguish ice from water based om micowave emissivitry can apparently be fooled by fresh water.

    • Being a bit of an amateur glaciologist myself, I’ve visited quite a few glaciers on five continents, and I have noticed a marked shortage of females, whether glaciologists or not, on them. As a matter of fact, except for a few “tourist glaciers”, I have noticed a severe shortage of persons of any gender.

      I must admit though that I have never even considered “sexual interactions with glaciers” (op. cit. p. 17). Sounds interesting, but I think wouldn’t care to try it myself, so this is a field I will have to leave to feminist glaciologists to develop further.

    • Bloke,
      This appears to have been written by someone with a serious problem of ‘ice stalactite envy.’

  18. Looks like the analysis approach is to generate some sort of invariant seasonal component, subtract that and look at anomalies. I am not sure I agree with this.

    First, are we so sure the seasonal component is identical every month, every year? I would think it is affected by a number of factors that are not identical each year.

    Second, the peak and minimums can vary in time each year by a month or more. This leads to for example, a very high anomaly in 2010 that does not exist in the original data.

    Third, it reduces the total information available, masking the differences between max value trends and min value trends. While the max value does appear to have declined slightly until 2003, the min value is more constant.

    Is there some other way to look at this that might be more useful?

  19. Willis
    Any correlation/causation between that change in sea ice and the “pause” since 2000?
    Increased ice – increased albedo – lower warming?
    Or too many other parameters like ENSO.

  20. Hi Willis,

    Sorry to be off-topic, but I have tried some times to get this under your attention.
    It’s about the correlation between Length of Day and Temperature: -LOD predicts dT 6 years ahead.

    “Climate Change and Long-Term Fluctuations of Commercial Catches – The Possibility of Forecasting”

    Source: http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y2787e/y2787e00.htm

    Would you maybe take a look at it? It’s very intriguing imho.

    Best regards,
    Scarface

    2.1 SUMMARY

    A phenomenon of close correlation between the main climatic index dT and geophysical index (-LOD) still remains an intricate puzzle of geophysics. Another challenging puzzle is the observable 6-year lag between the detrended run of dT and -LOD. Taking into account this lag, the LOD observations can be used as a predictor of the future climatic trends. Even without a mechanism for a causal relationship between the detrended climatic (dT) and geophysical (LOD) indices, the phenomenon of their close similarity for the last 140 years makes LOD a convenient tool to predict the global temperature anomaly (dT) for at least 6 years ahead.

  21. The plot using the KNMI interface does not show your increasing sea ice to that extent. My guess is you aren’t area weighting the values. There’s been a drop in sea ice cover in the northern hemisphere and an increase in the southern which would skew your plot if you didn’t take area into account.

  22. The CERES instruments fly at about 700 km and seem to scan and average energies over the entire LW spectrum. It is easy to see how they measure the TOA radiance, but they do so “where the TOA net flux has been energy balanced.” Hmmm…why not just give me the radiance? Spent maybe half an hour looking for an explanation of this balancing, their “fill” procedure, and exactly how they distinguish between surface and TOA radiance when their instrument must look down through the entire atmosphere.

    No luck except for an algorithm reference that wanted to zoom me away…

  23. Something funky definitely has been happening in and around Antarctica for the past several years.

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