Global Sea Ice Makes A Strong Comeback

By Paul Dorian, Vencore Weather


El Nino strengthened significantly during 2015 and peaked in December as one of the strongest such episodes in the past fifty years.  Even though El Nino is a phenomenon characterized by unusually warm water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, it can have ramifications around the world.  In fact, global temperatures spiked during the last half of 2015 as a result of the strong El Nino and were still at very high levels relative-to-normal as recently as last month.  In addition, global sea ice appeared to be impacted by El Nino as it took a steep dive during much of 2015 and remained at well below-normal levels going into this year.  In the past couple of months, however, El Nino has begun to collapse and will likely flip to a moderate or strong La Nina (colder-than-normal water) by later this year.  In rather quick fashion, global temperatures have seemingly responded to the unfolding collapse of El Nino and global sea ice has actually rebounded in recent weeks to near normal levels.

Global temperature anomalies (black) since 2014, tropics temperature anomalies (red); courtesy Dr. Ryan Maue, Weather Bell Analytics

Global temperatures and global sea ice

The plot above shows global temperature anomalies from the latter part of 2014 through April 11, 2016 using NOAA’s Climate Data Assimilation System (CDAS).  As El Nino began to strengthen dramatically during 2015, global temperature anomalies (black line) climbed significantly and that climb lasted right into early 2016.  In recent weeks, however, as the collapse of El Nino has begun, global temperature anomalies have apparently responded by dropping rather sharply (indicated on plot above with arrow).

Daily global sea ice anomalies versus 1979-2008 mean; data courtesy University of Illinois “cryosphere”

Meanwhile, global sea ice which had hovered relatively close-to-normal from 2013 into 2015, dropped sharply during the second half of last year to well below-normal levels as El Nino strengthened and global temperatures spiked (as indicated by left arrow on above plot). The plot of daily global sea ice anomalies (red) shows that in recent weeks global sea ice has surged back to near normal as the collapse of El Nino has unfolded [right arrow on above plot].

Full story, here:

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April 13, 2016 7:23 am

…That’s ….unprecedented !! LOL

Donald Kasper
Reply to  Marcus
April 13, 2016 12:44 pm

The dramatic, never seen before, rise in global sea ice is man-induced, obviously. To stop world catastrophe of earth covered in ice, we must increase CO2 immediately to 1000 ppm. In other news, NOAA reports with drill cores re-analysis that past Ice Ages never actually existed, and that “glacial moraines” are due to weathering. They are now renaming them to “weathering moraines.”

Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 15, 2016 12:08 am

Can’t understand how my PhD in geology has left me so much out of the loop. Glacial moraines were always weathered. Now I have to call them weathering moraines that MAY HAVE BEEN glaciated. I am lost.

Ron Clutz
Reply to  Marcus
April 13, 2016 1:08 pm

You can’t base anything on satellite ice reporting at this time: it’s out of order.

Reply to  Ron Clutz
April 14, 2016 12:00 pm

“No, you’re out of order! You’re out of order! This whole trial is out of order! The whole stinkin’ world’s out of order!”

Mike Lewis
April 13, 2016 7:23 am

Is it truly a rebound or is the increase related to faulty monitoring?

Reply to  Mike Lewis
April 13, 2016 8:24 am

Mike Lewis,
Anything showing a rebound is an Error, if you catch my drift. 😉

Mike Lewis
Reply to  Bad Andrew
April 13, 2016 12:00 pm

True that.. I have mixed feelings about it though. I don’t want another ice age for at least another 1000 years, warmer is nice. But I want the warmists who believe the sky is falling to realize that natural variability is what’s driving the climate, not the paltry excess CO2 mankind is adding to the atmosphere.

Reply to  Mike Lewis
April 13, 2016 9:40 am

No mystery here. Warmer temperatures mean more precipitation and more snow. As an avid back country skier, I’ve been observing alpine glaciers and snowfields for decades and their ebb and flow is almost completely dependent on how much snow fell during the winter. This is also highly evident in the Antarctic and Greenland ice cores, where the thickness of ice per year is far larger during interglacial periods than during ice ages.
Sea ice, which is what is being measured here, is also affected by melt from below and if more warm water is concentrated at the equator, the water under sea ice is necessarily colder since energy must be conserved and there’s only so much solar energy available. Unlike what the warmists believe, energy can not be created out of thin air as the presumed massive positive feedback supporting their position requires.
The polar land masses always get more snow in the winter than melts in the summer and this was true even during the last interglacial whose average temperature was a couple of degrees warmer than this one. What differs between ice ages and interglacial periods is that the isotherm of 0C average yearly temperature drops in latitude and more of the surface is subject to more snow in winter than melt in summer.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
April 13, 2016 12:21 pm

l think the key difference between the ice age and the current warm period is the degree of variation in the weather. During the warm period there is such a high degree of variation in the weather that it spreads the heat around the globe. So giving most of the globe at least some warmth. But as we enter a ice age this variation begins to shut down and so leading to more static weather patterns.When the patterns become more static then the weather becomes block. So the same type of weather is turning up more often. This is what put North America and northern europe into the ice house during the ice age.
The key events during in the NH during the ice age was blocking over the mid Pacific west of the Hawaii lslands, which lead to kinks forming in the jet stream. This went on to lead to high pressure ridging over NW America and sending cold air down across NE North America. But a other key factor to why North America got hit so hard during the ice age. Was due to Huge blocking highs forming over the northern Atlantic and Greenland. Which caused the areas of low pressure to stall over NE America and dumping the large amounts of snow needed to form the ice sheets While over in northern europe this blocking shut off much the warm air from the mid Atlantic, and instead pushed down cold air from the north or across from the east. Again due to this blocking areas of low pressure stalled over or around europe leading to the heavy snowfall to form the ice sheets with.
This is the basic set up for the extreme cold in these areas during formation of the ice age.

Donald Kasper
Reply to  Mike Lewis
April 13, 2016 12:47 pm

All data prior to current corrections, was in error. The rebound is the correct trend. An international summit on catastrophic sea ice advance is being convened in Paris next month. However, Greenpeace is suggesting the summit be moved to the tropics as Al Gore has predicted Paris may be covered permanently in ice by next year.

April 13, 2016 7:25 am

It was 4 degrees F above zero on my mountain just a few days ago. This is insanely cold for this time of year and at no time has it been even slightly ‘spring-like’ for nearly a month and here, midday in the middle of April, it finally got to 40 degrees F outside with full sunlight since dawn. I can’t believe how cold it has been this spring.

Patrick Hrushowy
Reply to  emsnews
April 13, 2016 8:38 am

Where is here for you?

Reply to  Patrick Hrushowy
April 13, 2016 10:29 am

Upstate NY near border of Vermont.

Reply to  Patrick Hrushowy
April 13, 2016 7:23 pm

Was in Manhatten Sunday and Monday evenings for Gilmour concerts.
Flew into Philly Saturday evening into heavy snow. Temp in Philly was several tens of degrees colder than it had been a week or two before. Snow on grassy surfaces and in the trees Sunday morning outside Philly, temp well below freezing but clear and sunny, no wind.
By Monday afternoon was 65 in Joisey Turnpike and in midtown Manhattan.
All in all, not too unusual for April in mid-Atlantic…topsy-turvy was a common pattern since I can remember this time of year. On my B-day in early April, I can recall many times it being in mid-80’s and Summer-like, and several heavy wet snows that broke limbs and snarled city traffic.
Also not unusual…every time we have such extremes, the bulk of people cannot recall any such thing ever occurring before!
What is for sure is that it is mid-May before warm air moves in to stay on a reliable basis, and first week of June is more often than not sunny and hot-ish to just plain roasting.
Sorry for your frigid month EMS…apparently the most frigid air was confined to north of the big cities for the most part.

Anything is possible
April 13, 2016 7:29 am

Sigh. The satellites are currently experiencing major problems with one of their sensors, and until that is resolved it is probably not wise to jump to wild conclusions based on what is likely to be faulty data. Let’s leave that to the alarmists.

Michael Spurrier
Reply to  Anything is possible
April 13, 2016 7:49 am

Are the sensors having problems or the censors – if you understand what I mean…..
Is it possible that difficulties relate to try to keep things adjusted……

Data Soong
Reply to  Anything is possible
April 13, 2016 2:24 pm

You are correct, ma’am/sir. Visual inspection of the ice cover data also makes it obvious that there is an error. See here:

Reply to  Data Soong
April 13, 2016 9:35 pm

That trace doesn’t appear to be out-of-the-ordinary until April 10, 2016.

April 13, 2016 7:34 am

So the cruise through the Arctic NW Passage, scheduled for August at a “bargain” of £20k a ticket, is likely to turn into “A Ship of Fools Debacle” 2? Risking lives of the rescuers and costs to the taxpayers of the unfortunate country that is nearest to them as their ship gets crushed by the moving ice.

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Andrew Harding
April 13, 2016 7:58 am

That would be Canada, where AGW issues are next to “supporting the film industry through location subsidies” as a political priority. If the ship does get crushed by moving ice, highly likely since this is not a ship that should be in these waters, despite the fact that it’s being accompanied by an ice-breaking tug, then I’m sure that someone will blame the “dramatic shift in sea ice” on global warming.
To be perfectly honest I have no sympathy for the dilettantes that will be on that boat, and if I were the member of any search and rescue party I would faithfully observe the first rule of search and rescue … “insure your own safety first.”

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2016 8:13 am


So take out an insurance policy? Or did you mean ensure? 🙂

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2016 8:39 am

Jerome, the words are are Interchangeable, they both come from a Latin root that means “to make something safe.”

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2016 8:50 am

There is a story that the word “tip” (gratuity) comes from a sign saying “to insure promptness”. Alas, like so many such strries it is probably not true.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2016 9:25 am

There has been a very strong shift in recent years to discern between ensure and insure, with the latter reserved exclusively for risk-sharing enterprise.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2016 11:27 am

Or perhaps he meant ‘assure’.

Don K
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2016 11:52 am

Too damn big a boat for those waters with or without ice. Can you imagine trying to evacuate 1700 folks by helicopter when the nearest town of any size — Yellowknife — is 400 km or more distant? It’d probably take weeks.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2016 12:31 pm

You’d have to do it in stages. With half the helicopters involved doing nothing but shuttling fuel for the other helicopters.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2016 7:29 pm

“It’d probably take weeks.”
And I solemnly promise not to lose a single moment of sleep during the entire time.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 14, 2016 6:50 am

When this story was originally on WUWT, I commented that the price of the tickets was probably this high to cover costs of insurance for the crew and vessel, I would imagine the passengers would have to sign a disclaimer to the company who own the ship, that the cruise was at their own risk if the trip does go belly up.It also proves that even stupid people can have money.

Richard G
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 15, 2016 11:56 pm

I have been assured the galley will be stocked with Ensure, but I paid to insure it was so. I have also been assured I will need to tip to insure it will be delivered to me promptly when needed.

April 13, 2016 7:37 am

If you read his post, he says the anomaly is near zero, but then further on shows (from Cryosphere today) northern hemisphere ice at -971,000 sq km and southern at +321,000 sq km. It was written the day NSIDC posted that their data was faulty (starting as of the 3rd of April) and he was probably unaware of that fact. This should never have been posted on WUWT, knowing it was in error.

Reply to  Cam
April 13, 2016 9:22 am

Cryosphere Today today shows the global anomaly at +0.545 million square kilometers.

Tom Halla
April 13, 2016 7:40 am

The question I still have is what influences/causes El Niño cycles. It is clearly influential, but what is the cause? The horrid thought I have is that the cause is some chaotic epiphenomena.

Tom Halla
Reply to  John
April 13, 2016 8:35 am

There was a post last week on attributing The Blob off Oregon to geothermal effects. The summarize, the conclusion of the comments was that the energy needed was inadeqate by an order of magnitude.

April 13, 2016 7:41 am

Most of the recent floating ice growth seems to be in (around) the Antarctic; an expected rebound as we enter an “Inter-Niño/a” phase.
But keep your eyes on the Arctic! While floating ice area is much smaller than Antarctica, a icedrift gyre halfway between Spitzbergen and the North Pole is bringing in warm(er) water over the Bear Island passage, leading to an earlier opening of the Russian West Arctic, which has already happened. If trends continue (& thats what trends do), there will likely be open water leads near the North Pole in late summer, and expect NY Times & other media to make some noise about it.

Reply to  tomwys1
April 13, 2016 7:34 pm

“If trends continue (& thats what trends do)…”
Or not.
Because reversing is also “what trends do”.

Susan V.
Reply to  Menicholas
April 14, 2016 1:53 pm

The data do not show any sign of “trend” reversal, Menicholas. Look at the graph. If you think this trend is starting to reverse, then you need to revisit high school math.

Richard G
Reply to  Menicholas
April 16, 2016 12:05 am

I’ve also seen trends pause, until their adjusted away.

April 13, 2016 7:56 am

The author should have read yesterday’s post about the satellite failure!
The rise he’s talking about is entirely spurious.
Prior to the problem at the end of next week the CT global anomaly was about -650,000 sq km and the data from the unaffected satellites indicates that it’s still about the same.

Reply to  Phil.
April 13, 2016 12:58 pm

Or maybe ot was the previous fall in sea ice anomaly that was anomalous?

John M. Ware
April 13, 2016 7:58 am

There is no such thing as “normal” for weather or climate, and I object to this article’s use of the term. There are averages, and temperature and precipitation can be at, above, or below average. But average is not the same thing as normal. Let us say that the average amount of savings held by an American family is $10,000 (not a true figure, of course). Is $10,000 therefore normal? Let us posit the average driving speed on an interstate highway as 80 mph–is that normal? Some things actually are normal, and you can tell by whether a substantial departure from normal would be injurious: human body temperature is normally 98.6 dF; go ten degrees up or down, and most likely you have a dead human.

Reply to  John M. Ware
April 13, 2016 7:36 pm

True dat!

April 13, 2016 8:11 am

If you read his post, he says the anomaly is near zero, but then further on shows (from Cryosphere today) northern hemisphere ice at -971,000 sq km and southern at +321,000 sq km. It was written the day NSIDC posted that their data was faulty (starting as of the 3rd of April) and he was probably unaware of that fact. This should never have been posted on WUWT, knowing it was in error.

As shown in this graphic, it is not the “global sea ice” but the “Antarctic sea ice” that has jumped so substatially: Antarctic sea ice has been hovering near zero anomaly since 1 September 2015, bouncing a little bit above and below the 0.0 line the whole time. Two days ago, it was near 0.5 Mkm^2, then dropped slightly to 0.34 Mkm^2. Now, it jumped significantly up towards 1.4 Mkm^2.
In contrast, Arctic sea ice has seen little difference. If it were a sensor problem, the sensor should usually be more accurate, not less, at the higher satelllite elevations (better line of sight) over the Antarctic than over the Arctic. But, right now, both hemispheres are at the nearly the same latitude: Arctic at its maximum, Antarctic just getting larger than its annual minimum in late February.
Now, any single square meter of Antarctic sea ice over the year reflects (or allows to be absorbed) 1.7 MORE solar energy than any square meter of Arctic sea ice, but I would discount today’s sudden jump in the total.
And, in any case, there are only two days a years when “global sea ice” can actually be used as a metric of solar energy reflected and absorbed. Every other day, the two hemispheres are behaving very differently, and receiving very different levels of solar radiation, and different amounts of solar radiation being absorbed in the atmosphere at different solar elevation angles. .

son of mulder
April 13, 2016 8:39 am

So has the wind changed direction again?

April 13, 2016 8:40 am

Arctic sea ice extent data derived from JAXA’s AMSR2, a sensor similar to the F-17 SSMIS (the source of the spurious data upon which the above post is based), is available here:
The extent is currently at its lowest point for this time of year in the satellite record.

Reply to  Slipstick
April 13, 2016 2:03 pm

The Arctic is, but the Antarctic is above the averages, well above 1980’s average.

April 13, 2016 8:44 am

There is a little discussed problem beyond the faulty sensor. 15% sea ice extent means a sensor pixel is deemed ice when 85% of the area is water. So winter maximum is greatly affected by how compact the sea ice edges are. That is influenced by wind, waves and currents. There is no reason to think these things are reasonably constant in net effect year to year. Same as the summer Arctic cyclone the caused the 2012 summer low anomally by compacting ice extent against lee shores (Russia).
The warmunist narrative is summer minimum, which while also determine the fate of the NWP cruise. With the blob gone, La Nina coming, and the North Atlantic cooling, it is likely that Arctic summer sea ice will continue its cyclic recovery in both extent and multiyear ice (thickness). And the NWP cruise will likely become a Ship of Fools replay, on a much grander scale. Sort of like the NWP travails of the 2014 transit season detailed in essay Northwest Passage.

Reply to  ristvan
April 13, 2016 7:43 pm

Although I usually consider it wrong and in bad taste to mock the unfortunate, I will be hard pressed not to abandon this self-imposed restriction in the case of these knuckleheads, should they become icebound and in need of emergency rescue.

April 13, 2016 8:50 am

I forgot to include the IUP above:

Mike Maguire
April 13, 2016 8:57 am

Still much too early to make such statements.
Doing an objective analysis based on just technical/chart formation patterns of the Arctic ice, shows the long term down trend still intact. The current short term bounce higher(from 2012 lows) is a triangle/flag formation, which normally is a continuation pattern, confirmed with a downside break out below the previous lows(or upside break out of highs when the long term trend is up).
It is sometimes a bottoming formation………with lower probability because “the trend is your friend” expression is based on the fact that a trend is much more likely to continue than to change course.
In this case, we may have natural cycles at play, being superimposed on top of modest (mostly beneficial) greenhouse gas warming……..or at least that’s the way it appears to me.
Regardless, we shouldn’t try to project very far out here. The need to do so, often comes from cognitive biases that distort our perception and interpretation of the data…………which results in us weighting information that favors out bias greater.
Many here see the Arctic ice low in 2012 as THE bottom……..and now we are recovering, which will establish a new trend(even if it’s steady). Others disagree and see it as just a short term bottom, eventually to be broken and followed by lower ice coverage than 2012.
We must at least respect the long term trend(that is still intact) and if you believe that CO2 is a greenhouse gas contributing to some warming, dial that in and don’t jump to premature conclusions that favor your bias……until the data actually supports it
Scientists should be skeptical. However, sometimes, this backfires as human nature/emotions can often lead us to take the polar opposite position of the things that we question or are skeptical of.
As a result, we can become just as biased towards the opposite extreme, unable to see the solution that lies somewhere in the middle.

Reply to  Mike Maguire
April 13, 2016 8:10 pm

Such technical analysis as applied to stock charts are often predictive, but the reason for this is almost entirely based on human psychology, because stock prices are not random but based on the expectations and resultant bets placed by investors and traders.
But as applied to a natural systems with a strong possibility of a sixty year trend, expecting that “the trend is your friend”, and therefore likely to continue intact being the most likely scenario is likely to be incorrect after 30 (mol) years of heading in one particular direction.
I would not conflate stock market technical analysis with trends of a natural system. The stock market is not such a system.
As a part time trader, with several family members who are market makers and full time traders, I can tell you I have read expensively on the supposed reasons for believing technical analysis is anything more than tea leaf reading by another name. If many people believe in such technical analysis, it becomes more likely to become a self fulfilling prophesy.
Just sayin’.

Reply to  Menicholas
April 13, 2016 8:11 pm

Expensively…and extensively too.
Damn that Freud guy.
And that fraud guy!

Mike Maguire
Reply to  Menicholas
April 14, 2016 1:39 am

Agree on this being chart analysis that can sometimes be predictive for stocks. Actually, I trade commodities for a living…..using the effects of weather on prices to take on positions. Yes on there being a human psychology component in what technical analysis tells us is going on with stocks and commodities.
However, one can also graph trends for physical processes and other realms to provide meaningful interpretations of data. The pause or slowdown in warming is a perfect example.

Richard G
Reply to  Menicholas
April 16, 2016 12:13 am

Trading can be expensive without extensive knowledge.

Reply to  AJB
April 13, 2016 9:08 am

Not showing up in-line for some reason but links appear to work, just click on them.

Reply to  AJB
April 13, 2016 9:36 am

..Seems to be a big difference between the first graph and the second ??

Reply to  Marcus
April 13, 2016 3:42 pm

The first is extent, the second is rate of change (check the axes units). Either way, there’s not a lot to write home about within the 2003-2015 timeseries 2σ variation. What exactly are you complaining about?

Adam from Kansas
April 13, 2016 9:58 am

Speaking of sea ice, has anyone gotten around to fixing the information page regarding Sea Ice yet (it stopped updating about a week ago)?
The ENSO/SST page is the same way, they give a lot of useful weather information and one of the reasons I keep coming back to this site.

April 13, 2016 10:16 am

Anyone notice that the Arctic temperatures have stayed virtually constant for about 100 days and now has reached the “normal” for this time of year.
I assume that is not associated with the satellite problem, correct?

Richard M
Reply to  Catcracking
April 13, 2016 1:55 pm

Correct. The warm winter temperatures are caused by the reduced sea ice during the winter. I think it averaged about 1.3 million square km this year. During the winter that area would normally be far below zero but with the open water it hovers near freezing. When that is averaged in with the rest of the Arctic it looks like it is getting warmer.
Now that Spring as arrived that area is now close to what it would normally be and so the overall average also gets close to what it would be. What we really have with the reduced ice is a cooling of the oceans leading to a temporary warming of the atmosphere. Overall however, it is a sign of planetary cooling.

Reply to  Richard M
April 13, 2016 3:37 pm

Thanks, this seemed strange me and very unlikely to end at the same temp for so long 23 degrees below freezing.
It has been hovering around 250 K for circa 100 days bouncing up and down.
This is the temperature above 80 N.

April 13, 2016 10:50 am

“What difference at this point does it make?”
The extent of sea ice is esoterica.

April 13, 2016 11:06 am

Off topic but I gave trying to get into Tips and Notes. But there has been a Bill Board advertising complaint made against Friends of Science. Announced of course on that just a little bit biased CBC, the news of truth!

Reply to  nc
April 13, 2016 11:43 am

Great billboard & worthy of duplication!!!

April 13, 2016 11:17 am

I dont know. Both arctic and antarctic show big “rebound” at the exact same time and of this magnitude? This is the point where healthy skepticism should beware the “data”.

James Fosser
April 13, 2016 1:00 pm

I fail to understand why people continue to use terms such as”Warmer temperatures, colder temperatures . hotter temperatures”. Do they also experience ”Wet water. dry water, cold fire, hot fire”? I expect this confused language down at my local shooting-up gallery but not here on WUWT!

Chris Schoneveld
Reply to  James Fosser
April 13, 2016 2:15 pm

Indeed. Higher and lower temperatures is what they mean. I have been complaining about this for yesrs, but have never found support. They even use it with the verb warming, like “the temperatures are warming” as if temperature is a physical entity.

Gary Pearse
April 13, 2016 1:01 pm

Note that the Antarctic ice was relatively low this year, but still in the average range. This is the beginning of the next of the peculiar 5yr bounces upward that the ice has taken historically. Look for very extensive Antarctic sea ice this coming season:

Reply to  Gary Pearse
April 14, 2016 4:29 am

I agree Gary and I’ll draw your attention to the anomaly of the Subtropical Ridge stuck in the Bight as a possible cause of the record breaking sea ice in the SH over recent years.

April 14, 2016 5:15 pm

@ Gary Pearse April 13, 2016 at 1:01 pm
try the source data

Reply to  sergeiMK
April 14, 2016 5:24 pm

odd picture is different if above image clicked – shows:

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