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Global Cooling? Satellite Data Confirms 10 Years of Arctic Ice Increase

Written by Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser

Arctic sea ice extent has increased over the last decade.  Satellite data confirms opposite of what global warming alarmists claim. us coastguard

Listening to the latest “climate doom” you’d think that the Arctic must just about be squeaky clean, not a drink-sized ice cube in sight anymore.  Well, I’ve some news that must be disconcerting to the warmists: The sea-ice extent is actually quite stable, perhaps even growing and the polar bears are just fine as well.

Sea-Ice in the Arctic

The sea-ice in the Arctic waxes and wanes in a regular fashion, sort of like the phases of the Moon.

At the height of the seasonal minimum (around mid-September) the Arctic sea-ice extent is in the order of 4-5 million square kilometers (SKM). That’s quite different from the maximum extent in the Arctic winter that is typically in the 14-15 million SKM range; in other words, its common seasonal range is approximately threefold or more.

Sea-Ice in the Arctic

The sea-ice in the Arctic waxes and wanes in a regular fashion, sort of like the phases of the Moon.

At the height of the seasonal minimum (around mid-September) the Arctic sea-ice extent is in the order of 4-5 million square kilometers (SKM). That’s quite different from the maximum extent in the Arctic winter that is typically in the 14-15 million SKM range; in other words, its common seasonal range is approximately threefold or more.

For example, the number of days with air temperature above freezing (0 C) at latitude 80 N and higher have been recorded for 55 years now.  These data are readily available from theDanish Meteorological Institute (DMI). On the basis of such observations, they have also calculated a 50-year mean of temperatures above freezing. It has not changed in that time and you can follow it daily as well as all daily records over the past, year by year. What’s important in these data is the number of days above freezing each year. Except for 2013, where that number was one half of the long-term mean of 90 days, it hardly changed from year to year. 

These data not only show a very stable climate up north, they also indicate that the claims of a “thinning” ice-cover must be false. You cannot possibly have the ice thinning and the air warming and the ice-cover being unaffected decade after decade. If the ice were getting thinner, it would melt earlier, the number of days above freezing would increase and the re-freezing would happen later in the season; none of which is happening. Now let’s look at the ice cover itself.

Minimum Sea-Ice Extent

What everyone is watching with beady eyes is the seasonal MINIMUM sea-ice extent. That occurs around mid-September and, obviously, varies more strongly as it’s influenced by a variety of natural and man-made effects than at the time of maximum extent when there isn’t much activity. For example, the brief Arctic summer is the time when submarines tend to surface near the Pole, when research vessels try to explore the Arctic, when commercial vessels may attempt to cross the Northwest or Northeast Passages, when companies are exploring for natural resources, whenbuccaneers try to reach the North Pole by foot, when cruise ships go on Arctic voyages, when you can go hot-air-ballooning there, and more.

Much of that brief seasonal activity still requires the accompaniment (and, frequently, rescue) by ice-breakers from the Arctic riparian countries. For example, Russia alone has about 50 of such vessels, including nuclear-powered Class-4 or higher ice-breakers. The U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy made it to the North Pole just earlier this month (see photo from Sep. 7, 2015).

Although that photo shows the North Pole covered with solid ice, there have been other times when open water was seen right there. For example, the USS Skate surfaced there in 1958 and had repeatedly observed open water in the high Arctic.

Maximum Sea-Ice Extent

To begin with, hardly a soul ever mentions the MAXIMUM seasonal sea-ice extent in the Arctic. In truth, it hasn’t changed much for many decades. The reasons are easy to understand. With most of the year (see Air Temperatures, above) being well below freezing, the annual ice build-up is affected more by wind and currents than anything else. Therefore, it reaches a maximum at around mid-March that barely varies between years. In that context, it should also be noted that, by most accounts, the “Arctic” sea-ice count extends south to latitude 45 N, or even further towards the equator. Still, the maximum ice extent barely changes, so, no need to mention it further. 

Also, there are few visitors to the high Arctic in winter. Not only is it dark for many days then, the temperatures aren’t exactly suited for frolicking either. At MINUS 40 C, even the (male) polar bears that are not hibernating are beginning to shiver.  In my humble opinion, it’s a pity that the many famous climate modellers from PIK and other institutions don’t want to visit then. The local government may even provide free accommodation then (with a minimum stay of four-weeks) in tents or igloos, visitors’ choice. What could be more relaxing than a few weeks in an igloo when a blizzard rages on the outside? If need be, they can bring along a portable windmill to charge their i-thing or laptop.

As you can imagine, any daily measurement of that is only possible with sophisticated instrumentation and associated software from a long distance away. Satellite recognisance is what is deployed for that purpose. 

There are the widely used daily satellite surveys of Arctic sea-ice published by the Nansen Environmental & Remote Sensing Center at Bergen, Norway. These satellite observations have changed repeatedly in terms of instrumentation and computer algorithms used. Therefore earlier measurement series (i.e. before 2000 or so) are not fully compatible with later ones.

Another widely used series of measurements is that of sea-ice in the northern hemisphere by theNational Snow & Ice Data Center at Boulder, CO.  In addition, the DMI also provides daily graphs on the Arctic sea-ice extent.

As the graphs produced by each institute have their own spatial resolution and/or definition of what constitutes “sea-ice” versus water, they give different absolute numbers; by and large though the graphs show similar trends.

There is one ice measurement that has yet to see widespread use, namely the annual sea-ice average as computed from all daily data (from one source). Such an analysis is available from theScience Matters website. It has just published that for the last ten years. That graph actually shows a slightly increasing trend of the Arctic ice extent in that period (see graph).

arctic ice extent

Arctic sea-ice extent as annual average from daily observations, 2006-2015 (provisional for 2015). Credit: Science Matters
In short, no matter what measurement you use to look at ice in the North, it shows no sign of going the way of the dodo bird, rather the opposite. The doomsayers’ claims about the ice disappearing are false—and you’ll still need your winter woollies!

Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser — Bio and Archives

 

Comments (4)

  • Avatar

    CodeTech

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    It’s difficult to take a dismissive comment seriously when it has that glaring spelling error.

  • Avatar

    Karagan

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    I’m sorry to say that any ‘learned’ article that I come across that makes a screw-up in it’s presentation ensures immediate disregard.

    • Avatar

      elkcub

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      [quote name=”Karagan”]I’m sorry to say that any ‘learned’ article that I come across that makes a screw-up in it’s presentation ensures immediate disregard.[/quote]

      Okay, I’ll bite. Where’s the “screw up”?

    • Avatar

      Rosco

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      The repeating of a few paragraphs is the fault of the people who format the website and not that author so don’t act like a smug know it all.

      Also the people who place the articles on the site have taken it upon themselves to change the text to create controversy or dramatic effect – although this does not happen as much now as it used to.

      Don’t be a stupid critic of the author based on something beyond the author’s control – this shows a childish lack of intelligence !!1

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