I rather not give too much attention to fake skeptics, or climate risk deniers as I like to call them, but lately they are somehow finding it in themselves to come up with stuff that they think disproves Arctic sea ice loss. I've already posted about MASIE annual average nonsense (about which the last word hasn't been said), but in the past couple of days an even more spectacular and desperate attempt at downplaying Arctic sea ice loss has sprung up. I'm posting it as a reference, because I'm sure this will become a (short-lived) meme.
It all started with a blog post on fake skeptic blogger Paul Homewood's blog Not a Lot of People Know That (NALOPKT) about how the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) got rid of an old sea ice extent graph "simply because it gives the 'wrong' results". I decided to partake in the discussion because I knew what it was about and the reason the DMI removed that graph was because it had been replaced by another graph months ago, accompanied by the announcement that it at one point would be removed. The graph had clearly been neglected as it diverged more and more from other SIE graphs.
It was a nice exercise for me to drive my points home, but I had no interest in posting about it here, as it was a typical mountain-molehill type of misinformation, sprinkled with some suggestive conspiracy ideation, on the fringe of the fake skeptic echo chamber.
However, for some reason Anthony Watts elevated it to WUWT status:
The word 'inconvenient' you see there is spelled incorrectly and should read 'incorrect'. Let me explain in detail what this is about, and how pathetically these climate risk deniers are grasping at straws. It's all about these two DMI sea ice extent graphs, on the left the old SIE graph with a 30% threshold, and on the right the new one with a 15%threshold (as used by most organisations around the world):
Many months ago the old graph was replaced by the newer one. There was still a link to the old graph below the new graph, accompanied by a text saying it could continued to be be viewed "for a while" (see the image in this Great White Con blog post). It's quite clear from visual inspection alone that something was increasingly wrong with the old graph, and the logical explanation was that no one at DMI was correcting it because it had been replaced by the newer graph.
In fact, this was my first argument in the discussion on the NALOPKT blog, but this didn't convince the fake skeptics who rather believed that the DMI removed the plot because, and I quote (lest you think my imagination came up with it):
It's not easy to see, but 2016 has dipped below the 2006 record minimum of 14.391 km2, and currently stands at 14.365 million km2, which is 25K km2 lower. It will probably go up a bit in coming days, but the final 2016 minimum might go even lower after that.
Edit: Here's a graph from the Great White Con website showing the long-term trend for Global sea ice area minimums:
Remember, as I said, this measure doesn't tell us all that much about the health of either Arctic or Antarctic regions, if only because the seasons move in opposite directions (nevertheless, the Global sea ice trend is down). It's just an interesting statistical factoid.
However, climate risk deniers often use the Global sea ice metric as an argument that nothing is wrong and AGW is a hoax. In other words, the recent growth in Antarctic sea ice offsets the loss of Arctic sea ice (it doesn't), even though the poles are literally worlds apart and are pretty much incomparable (except for the sea ice bit).
Using this logic, it would seem that this new record minimum means there is something wrong with sea ice and AGW isn't a hoax. I wonder how they will spin this one. If they report it to their loyal readers, that is.
Now we move our eyes to the Arctic and keep an eye out for the upcoming maximum. Plenty interesting too, and not just for statistical reasons.
This post is about global sea ice area, the simple addition of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice area. As a statistic it's somewhat interesting, but it doesn't convey all that much information about the individual health of both polar regions, let alone their sub-regions.
Despite this fact, or probably because of it, it's often being touted by climate risk deniers as proof that global warming is a scam and all is well, because Arctic sea ice loss is compensated by a growth in Antarctic sea ice. Even if this were true - it isn't, as this Skeptical Science article explains - it's like saying there is no hunger in the world because there are so many obese people.
But anyway, we're approaching that time of year when global sea ice area as calculated by and presented at Cryosphere Today is going to hit its minimum, or lowest amount of sea ice cover. And currently the number is quite low, as can be seen on this graph from Piotr Djaków's Pogoda i Klimat website:
According to the data 2016 is already 4th lowest at 14.73 million km2, just behind 2007's minimum, and almost 350K behind 2011 and record holder 2006 (14.39 million km2, the grey trend line just below the 2011 green trend line). Below I'll discuss the factors that will determine whether a new record is in the books.
An absolute prerequisite for a new record is for Antarctic sea ice area to go low. Whereas it's freezing in the Arctic right now, it's summer in the Southern Hemisphere and so the Antarctic melting season is slowly moving towards its apogee. If we look at the NSIDC sea ice extent graph for March, for instance, we can see some fairly large swings, with record years 2006 and 2011 standing out with their distinct dips:
I totally forgot to keep an eye on this, but apparently videos have been put up of last month's Sea Ice Prediction Network workshop that was held at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
As announced at the time I did a short presentation on Arctic sea ice, public perception and citizen science. It will probably not tell regular commenters here anything they didn't know, but I'm posting it anyway. Also watch out for my spectacular graphic card crash (well, it was spectacular for me :-) ) that interrupted the presentation by a couple of minutes:
And be sure to check out all the other videos. I know I will, as I didn't have time to watch/listen to all the other presentations. Predicting melting season outcomes is a fascinating science, and it's awesome that the Sea Ice Prediction Network (SIPN) has been set up.
Here's a question I received some time ago from a reader of this blog who is in the process of writing a novel. I thought it'd be a nice way to pass our time while we wait for the latest PIOMAS update. My answer is basically the either/or image on the right, but maybe you come up with other ideas.
I am working on my first novel and want to check on the scientific validity of an idea: If an object were left on the ice near the North Pole how long could it conceivably remain frozen in the ice?
I know that the ice at the North Pole is different than land based ice. Whereas land based ice can reach thicknesses/depths of thousands of feet and exist for tens or hundreds of thousands of years, the ice at the North Pole is only two to three meters thick. I’m sure there is some melt or erosion on the bottom of the ice, and ocean currents keep the cap in constant motion moving ice from the center of the cap to the edge of the cap where it presumable melts or breaks off in the spring and summer. Both of these factors, and more I’m sure, affect the age of the ice at the North Pole.
So although my object could remain frozen in Greenland or Antarctica virtually forever there is a plausible time frame that it could remain frozen at the North Pole. My object would have been left on the ice circa 1800.
Santa Claus was worried that his home would soon disappear (it won't, it's safe in Walmart for the time being) and decided to look for information on Arctic sea ice. After all, the best thing you can do when fearing something, is try to understand it.
Santa read and thought and read some more for a couple of days, and concluded that one of the best sources of information on the current and near future state of Arctic sea ice was provided by a computer model named PIOMAS that was developed and continuously improved by the good people of the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington.
But this was not all. Santa also saw that many amateurs, or citizen scientists, took PIOMAS data and did all kinds of things with it to visualise the sea ice loss or come up with theories to explain and predict sea ice behaviour. Opening PIOMAS' box led Santa to all kinds of goodies and wonderful presents.
Take for instance blogger Chris Reynolds. Chris is using PIOMAS gridded data that he breaks down into regions (like the ones Cryosphere Today uses, see image on the right) to get an idea of how sea ice thickness has progressed in all parts of the Arctic, not just as a whole.
To quote from one his latest blog posts on Dosbat:
So within the Arctic the transition to a seasonally sea ice free state has already occurred in the peripheral seas. This means that the peripheral seas of the Arctic Ocean are now behaving more like the peripheral seas of the PIOMAS domain (first three graphics) than in previous decades. However as this year shows, and possibly as result of the volume pulse of this year, also next year, this seasonally sea ice free state is not yet wholly entrenched. But what of the Central Arctic region? In order for the whole Arctic Ocean to transition to a seasonally sea ice free state the central Arctic must show similar behaviour to the peripheral seas.
Skeptical Science's John Mason has written a wonderful article, debunking some of the nonsense that is being spouted by fake skeptics to trivialize the stunning 2012 melting season (Tamino also re-whacks one of those moles):
Record Arctic Sea-ice minimum 2012 declared - it's the Silly Season!
Posted on 22 September 2012 by John Mason
The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is. Winston Churchill, 1916.
has long been known in media circles as the Silly Season, when any old
story, embellished a bit here and a bit there, is trundled out to fill
column space normally occupied by the graver matters of politics and
In the world
of climate science, late summer is of course rather more important,
marking the peak of the annual sea-ice melting season of the Northern
Hemisphere, and this year has been extraordinary, with the canary in the
coal mine tweeting louder than ever that something is seriously amiss
with the climate.
With Arctic sea-ice having reached a record low extent, area and
volume, several weeks ahead of the usual end-of-melt date, the
Blogosphere has been ablaze with lengthy discussions of this event and
its potential and worrisome ramifications. There have also been
mass-outbreaks of denial accompanied by varying degrees of silliness, as
one might expect when faced with an event like a record Arctic
melt-out. Many commentators could see the meltdown approaching, both in
the Arctic and around parts of the Blogosphere, with Gareth Renowden
over at Hot Topic speculating in early August as follows: