Major refresh to WUWT's Sea Ice Reference page

One of WUWT’s most read reference pages has been the Sea Ice reference page. For over a year, it could be described with one word, dreadful.

The many problems included:

  • WordPress broke handling of non-SSL references to images to display. They seem to be downloading them into their own cache directory, but never update it. Many images in the Sea Ice page are updated every day. I, and I’m sure Anthony, expected that WP would realized that this is, shall we say, sub-optimal and that they would fix it soon. They didn’t.

    Yesterday I figured out that my web host vendor does have a SSL certificate customers can use if we use a URL that references their server’s hostname and I’ve set up a shell script to download the pertinent URLs and upload them to my web site. The Sea Ice page is now displaying my copies.

  • One important source of information,, no longer has a non-SSL http server so I figured it had moved elsewhere. I found that it merely changed to a SSL-based server, and all I needed to do was change several https to httpses. The SSL certificate has some problems, so don’t be surprised if you need to add an exception to your access controls.
  • We were displaying a couple images accessed via ftp. The server no longer supports anonymous FTP, and accesses to the page resulted in two requests for login information. I found non-FTP paths for the images.
  • A major source of good information in the past was The Cryosphere Today. I think the staff consists of two researchers and occasional undergrad work-study programmers. Their site says:

    Special Sensor Microwave Imager and Sounder (SSMIS) on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F-17 satellite that provides passive microwave brightness temperatures (and derived Arctic and Antarctic sea ice products) has been providing spurious data since beginning of April. Working on resolving problem or replacing this data source.

    It should say April 2016. Worse, their scripts keep running taking the same stale data and creating new images for every day since then. All I could do is delete every image reference there, some which I had already been copying to my web site so I could use a URL without a timestamp. I guess I can stop that daily script!

While there’s a fair amount of work to do, e.g. look for replacements for some of the Cryosphere pages and reviewing all links to other sites, I declare the Sea Ice page back in service. Check it out, let me know what I’ve missed.

One thing I’d like to do before Arctic Ice Minimum is add a section or maybe a new reference page on the Canadian NorthWest Passage. That is extremely well covered at, but [Huh!? a tsunami hit Greenland? When? Oh today, no wonder I heard about first by checking that blog] I’d like to add a link to that blog and maybe include some ice cover images for the Canadian Archipelago.

Excuse me while go check out that tsunami. I wonder if it reached New Hampshire.

70 thoughts on “Major refresh to WUWT's Sea Ice Reference page

  1. If NASA, if that is the supplier, is being weird, do the Russians or EU have similar imagery?

  2. I noticed as I tracked sea ice the past six months or so that typically showed greater sea ice extent that NSIDC sources, and others. Was I comparing apples to apples?

    • I don’t know. Among the nuances measuring ice extent, which is generally defined as the area that has at least 15% ice cover are the size of the cells compared, what to do with cells include both land and sea, and distinguishing water on ice from open water.
      I’m not much of a sea ice expert, but I can recognize a web page that needs help.

      • Hi Ric,
        Nice job! Posting this here so you see it.
        Related to the Navy images which aren’t imaging.
        Consider using an automated screen capture app with a scheduler and save the captures to the cloud or a secure ftp. Then link the image from that location to the Sea Ice page. Load times to browsers will be faster because a single server isn’t serving the pages and the images. The .mil site will only see a single page request once a day which they’re likely to appreciate.
        [Please go back and read my first point. I’m already copying various http: pages to my web site to access with https. I wouldn’t call it a cloud, but I’ve always disliked that term even though I work for a cloud vendor. If the Navy site is to onerous to use I’ll either include wgetting their pages (I assume wget won’t stumble over the certificate issue much) or talk to their web master.
        As for the load on the Navy site, do not assume that WordPress behaves as you would expect. WUWT has some 100,000 page views daily. Every one of those displays the ENSO meter
        Every display of the Sea Ice page displays multiple images I created or copied from Cryosphere. Yet my web host only reports a couple thousand fetches from them every day. (This goes back to pre-WP https infatuation days.) So apparently WP caches more stuff that Anthony or I expected, as we were both concerned about the load we might have caused. I doubt the Navy has ever noticed the load we generate. -Ric

      • HI again Ric,
        – if you’re going to spearhead reference page development
        – given Anthony’s need for a worry free vacation (implies – don’t mock about with added WordPress plugins or linked code which could break the site…)
        Consider a post related to a new more refined approach all Reference pages.
        Aren’t the reference pages, when considered as a whole, an algorithm to the climate system?
        If yes, a redesign with a master page seems logical?
        Food for thought and some community muse : )

      • Hi Ric,
        Thanks for the mod reply.
        The WordPress cache issue is their way of managing all sites on their servers. They can’t allow cache plugins which eat too much server overhead. It would drag down all served sites and their service.
        I’ve designed sites since the late 90s. The obvious opportunity from then to now is to use multiple servers to serve data, images, and archives. By segmenting the content, the browser retrieves the various elements faster without server overhead issues.
        Seriously consider a post for ref pages redesign. We can help.

      • With Sincere Respect Ric,
        Do you “see” the state of the reference pages climate in a single view? I’ve never found a single site feed – have you?
        “What if”…
        [I’m not sure what you’re asking wrt “reference pages climate”. When I edit a reference page or a comment (like now), WP displays an edit window with options for editing raw text or some attempt at a WYSIWYG edit. The ItsAllText plugin lets me edit the raw text in emacs, good for big pages.
        WP doesn’t make it clear what their server architecture is like. Given that updates to pages are immediately available its probably not too distributed. It works well enough so I don’t think anyone has dug into it. WP must have access to a lot of bandwidth, I’m sure they’ve been the target of many DoS attacks against WUWT and other blogs.
        We would like to know why sometimes a comment simply disappears without a trace. -Ric

      • FWIW, the images I copied from http: sources to my https: site increased my “unknown” class of references from the typical 2000-5000 fetches to 35964. My web host,, is a pretty small outfit but quite reliable.
        A very small sample:
        00:24:52 werme/wuwt-images/BPIOMASIceVolumeAnomalyCurrentV2.1.png
        00:24:52 werme/wuwt-images/cmdlfullsize.jpg
        00:25:13 werme/wuwt-images/sieMon.gif
        00:25:13 werme/wuwt-images/NSIDC-GlobalArcticAntarctic-SeaIceArea.gif
        00:25:13 werme/wuwt-images/icecover_current_new.png

      • Hi Ric,
        Sorry for the delayed reply, just saw your comment yesterday.
        Looks like a couple of your links have been hijacked. is located in China.
        Bizland has a total of two data centres which they state are both located in the Boston area. Try setting image folder restrictions to kill undesired requests.
        Comments randomly disappear. This sounds like a database issue, faulty wp core fix, or the need to update plugins after a wp core update. Core updates are typically set to auto-update. Saw a couple of posts on wordpress’s support forum about this issue but nothing related to a fix.
        Saw this on Github:

    • It’s good to know we are not all doomed!
      I’m sure if it was bigger/going to hit populated areas we would be being told it was somehow linked to CAGW.
      James Bull

      • The false conclusion of the tsunami news was

        The world’s largest island situated between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, Greenland, population 55,000, has an ice sheet particularly vulnerable to climate change. – AFP

        I’m pretty certain these people would like some help instead of carbon dioxide emission reductions.
        Taxing their oil does not help them.

  3. Bravo Ric! Keep up the good work!
    I have one issue. When I access the Sea Ice page now, I get a security message that says
    “Cannot guarantee authenticity of the domain to which encrypted connection is established”.
    Application: Firefox
    Reason: The certificate chain is not complete.

    • That’s what I warned about in the main post. On my Linux/Firefox system, it offered to set up an exception for them, then tried to talk me out of it. No problems after insisting I understood the risks and convincing it to create the exception.

  4. Thank — you — RIC WERME! That was a lot of work and many tedious hours….
    By promoting observation-based-science, you are promoting freedom!
    Freedom = life.

    Q: What does [Ric] get in return….
    A: He saves lives.
    If AGW is exposed for the sc@m it is:
    birds by the score won’t die an agonizing incineration death by solar “farm” panels;
    beautiful raptors won’t be hacked to death by wind “farm” blades; and
    people won’t die in CO2-emission-preventing-cladded towers.

  5. Thank you for the time and effort. The changes are much appreciated by all.
    I too wonder what resources will replace the Cryosphere. They were among the few that listed sea ice areas for both Arctic and Antarctic. Their data before March 2016 was useable. But nothing since then.
    Am looking for Sea of Okhotsk, Bering Sea, and Hudson Bay sea ice daily average area values, if anyone has the numeric values for several years, or for the “established average” used by the labs to establish the daily sea ice anomalies for those three areas. These three areas are much further south (averaging 60 degrees north latitude or so) – much, much different solar exposure and yearly trend lines than the rest of the Arctic sea ice up between 79 north latitude and the pole.

    • I would have expected the USGS to have it, but maybe there just aren’t many seismographs around there. It not a real hotbed of EQ activity, after all.
      I see that says:
      We may not rapidly locate earthquakes smaller than 5.0 outside the US unless they have caused significant damage or are widely felt. Earthquakes this small rarely cause significant damage. At times, some other agency may report an earthquake with a larger magnitude than what we compute from our data, especially for non-US events near magnitude 5.0. If our magnitude for the event is less than magnitude 5.0, we may not issue a rapid report for it.
      Earthquakes occurring outside the US and smaller than about magnitude 4.5 can be difficult for the USGS to locate if there are not enough data. The USGS continues to receive data from observatories throughout the world for several months after the events occur. Using those data, we add new events and revise existing events in later publications.

      • A 4.0+ should be easily detectable anywhere on Earth, though not very accurately pinpointed if it is remote. Considering that this supposed quake triggered a tsunami and killed people, you’d think they’d have it analyzed by now.
        And as I typed this, they posted it, though they only posted it as a landslide with no EQ.

  6. I have been checking the sea ice extent and north of 80 temperatures every week. It’s so nice to see everything neat and clean and not broken. Thank you very much.

  7. THANK YOU!!! from an almost daily observer of the SEA PAGE. You don’t know how much brighter this makes the darkness. You have lit one big candle!!!

  8. Excellent work Anthony. the ftp logins in particular were annoying.
    Cryosphere Today are total alarmists and do not seem motivated to substitute another satellite now that the ice area is not in a “death spiral” any more. They may also be sulking about funding cuts and refusing to do anything about it.
    I thought you had left it up to point out lame they were. Many people seem to regard this site highly. Showing how broken and unmaintained it was seemed like a good idea.

  9. I don’t understand the color around 90 degrees on the Arctic Sea Ice Thickness chart provided by the University of Bremen. Can someone explain why it is colored the same as land areas?

    • The satellites involved in observing the Earth from polar orbit aren’t quite in a true polar orbit. I haven’t refreshed my recollection, so some of this may be a bit wrong.
      The images are compiled from a day’s worth of passes over the polar area, each pass images a stripe of the Earth’s surface (or clouds on IR and visible bands). The satellites are not tilted exactly 90°, they’re tilted 98°, which means they’re going the wrong way a bit. However, in that orbit, the orbital plane precesses a bit each day and stays lined up with the Sun. So each pass always sees the noontime (or midnight) view. It’s a very cool piece of rocket science.
      The downside is that the imager misses both the north and south poles, so there’s a polygonal patch that we don’t see and various sources have various ways of showing that missing spot.
      Mike G – that’s another source of discrepancy in data sources. Some assume the North Pole is covered with ice, especially in the winter, others don’t count it and report lower coverage.
      And, of course, this may (or may not) explain why Santa Claus, Superman’s lair, and the hollow Earth portal are all located at the North Pole.

  10. Another great post. Ric, and thank you Janice for the Thai Video. ( I am assuming that he was not an employee of the Thai equivalent of our HSS??…. The redistribution of other people’s money, engenders entitlement not gratitude and ultimately leads to resentment.. or worse!)
    Mike Macray

    • You’re welcome, Mike. If he were an employee of an “HSS” he would not have given one penny. He would have considered himself to have “given at the office” (not all, but, many in high income tax/socialist countries have this attitude — and understandably so…. in a commune you are “doing good deeds” all the time, that is why they are so deadly to the soul….).

    • Thanks, I’ll add that to the links section for NSIDC near the bottom of the page.
      All: Feel free to post other favorite links, even interactive ones (like this) that won’t work on the reference page.

      • Didn’t the NSIDC have an Arctic Sea Ice extents map to go along with their graph? Have they stopped doing that?

  11. That is a most excellent upgrade. It is like driving a Cadillac after a WWII Jeep now. Thanks men.

  12. Ric, a few more sites I would strongly recommend including:
    Norwegian Ice Service:
    best and most detailed ice maps for the Atlantic sector
    Russian sea-ice map
    Only updated weekly (it is apparently based on manual interpretation of satellite data), but it is the only site that distinguishes first- and multi-year ice (though only during winter season, an example):
    Cryosat-2 ice thickness data (the only thickness data based on actual measurements, not modelling):
    Though this site is only operational from October through May. In summer thickness cannot be measured since it isn’t possible to distinguish open sea from melt pools on top of the ice.It also only updates monthly, since it takes about that long for the satellite to cover the entire Arctic Ocean, however it is real data.

    • Couple of great links to ongoing Arctic Research, data, and related papers.
      Please contact Rebecca Woodgate ( for use of any of this material.
      The 2007 Bering Strait Oceanic Heat Flux and anomalous Arctic Sea-ice Retreat
      1990-2015 Measurements (research slides and talking points)
      BERING STRAIT: Pacific Gateway to the Arctic (research papers and data)
      Observational-based Studies of Physical Processes in Ice-covered Waters, especially the Arctic (research projects, papers, data, etc)

      • Fresh Water influxes and salinity are worth a nod.
        Freshwater Sources Storage and Export in the Arctic Ocean
        The total average annual river runoff is about 4270 km3; however, uncertainty and variability are taken to be high, because the discharge of Arctic rivers exhibits an extremely large seasonal variation, and also interannual and decadal scale variability.
        Freshwater and its role in the Arctic Marine System: Sources,
        disposition, storage, export, and physical and biogeochemical
        consequences in the Arctic and global oceans
        Page 28
        6.1 “One cannot quantify change without solid monitoring, and one cannot monitor what has not been adequately mapped. In this case, our fundamental knowledge of Arctic Ocean hydrography, both spatially and temporally, remains rudimentary. Of all components of the AMS, the Nordic, Barents, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas are the best mapped, while large portions of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Siberian Shelves are deficient, albeit the latter gap is in part due to insufficient attention to the Russian literature. The deep basin domains have decent coverage, with the exception to the Makarov Basin and the Amerasian Basin north of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, where major holes in our understanding of boundary current pathways exist. The inner coastal domain inside the 10–20 m isobaths, where FW is initially discharged, where river plumes initially spread, where unique ecosystems exist and where many important biogeochemical transformations take place, is a near tabula rasa (but see http://nsidc/dataggd629). Discharges from hundreds of smaller rivers remain ungauged, and their collective effects of the biogeochemistry and their FW system are ignored. Despite ongoing efforts, potential discharges to the ocean from groundwater and thawing permafrost remain poorly quantified owing to the scale and complexity of the problem and lack a firm basis for defining a benchmark for future comparisons.”

  13. The sea ice page was always one of my go-to pages here, but I gave up on it. Nice to see it get the attention it deserves. Thanks for the effort. The page looks great again, as it should.
    What’s the trick to get the images from to display properly?

    • I had no trouble after I set up the SSL exception to permit my Firefox to display files from that site. What have you tried and what won’t you do with what software and operating systems that is different from other comments above?

      • I use chrome. The first time I displayed the page, the links appeared to be broken. I clicked them anyway and chrome displayed a warning. I just closed the page and re-opened it and now it seems to be working. Strange. I’ll follow-up if it changes. Thanks again.

  14. It’s great that you’ve done this, thanks, now I can get back to nitpicking the NOAA maps again and point out the impossibilities of their BS product.
    Like their temperature anomaly map, showing places like the Hudson Bay Surface to be several degrees warmer than average right now despite the fact that there is still sea ice covering most of the bay.
    The NOAA product perpetually contains impossibilities, like their anomalously warm sea ice pockets within the Arctic Circle, even right now as the average temperature above the Arctic Circle has been below average for months.

  15. The tsunami might have affected Arctic sea ice extent, which was still however not at a record low for June 19.
    2010: 10.559 million square kilometers
    2011: 10.625
    2012: 10.419
    2013: 11.382
    2014: 11.045
    2015: 10.806
    2016: 10.385
    2017: 10.612
    2013: 11.382 million square kilometers
    2014: 11.045
    2015: 10.806
    2011: 10.625
    2017: 10.612
    2010: 10.559
    2012: 10.419
    2016: 10.385
    So, of the past eight years, 2017 yesterday was about tied with 2011, with three years higher and three lower. As all here might know, 2012 ended up as the record low year, with 2016 and 2007 about tied for second lowest, thanks to August cyclones.
    This year is bracketed by 2010 and 2011, which ended up as lower than average at September minimum sea ice, but not records, due to more tranquil Augusts. Should 2017 finish in their range, then it will be quite a comeback from the super El Nino years of 2015-16.

  16. More updates yesterday and today to use copies of the Navy’s NRL images (they’re the ones with the bogus SSL certificate), several stale or suboptimal text links to offsite page, and the links to new pages suggested above.

Comments are closed.