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Arctic Ice Cap Rebounds From 2012 — But Does That Matter? 400

Posted by timothy
from the ask-me-in-a-few-decades dept.
bricko writes "There has been a 60 per cent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice compared to this time last year, the equivalent of almost a million square miles. In a rebound from 2012's record low an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia's northern shores, days before the annual re-freeze is even set to begin. The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year, forcing some ships to change their routes. A leaked report to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) seen by the Mail on Sunday, has led some scientists to claim that the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century." "Some scientsts" in this case do not include Dana Nuccitelli, who blogs cogently in reaction at The Guardian that the 60 percent increase observed in Arctic ice is "technically true, [but] also largely irrelevant." He has no kind words for the analysis in the Daily Mail (and similar report in The Telegraph), and writes "In short, this year's higher sea ice extent is merely due to the fact that last year's minimum extent was record-shattering, and the weather was not as optimal for sea ice loss this summer. However, the long-term trend is one of rapid Arctic sea ice decline, and research has shown this is mostly due to human-caused global warming." If you want to keep track of the ice yourself, Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis offers frequent updates.
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Arctic Ice Cap Rebounds From 2012 — But Does That Matter?

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  • One data point? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 09, 2013 @03:02AM (#44794947)

    Looking at a single year doesn't tell us much about the trend. Here is some real data.

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/2000/09/Figure31.png

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday September 09, 2013 @03:06AM (#44794961)

    And makes this year look good in comparison but the overall trend is still downwards.

  • Re:One data point? (Score:4, Informative)

    by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Monday September 09, 2013 @03:50AM (#44795173) Homepage

    Yes, you're right. Here's a load of data points showing that the Antarctic Sea Ice Area is well above the long term average and has been growing slowly for at least 15 years.

    http://sunshinehours.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/antarctic_sea_ice_extent_zoomed_2013_day_45_1981-2010.png [wordpress.com]
    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/image1.png [wordpress.com]

    Perhaps sea ice extent oscillates between the North and South Poles

  • by nadaou (535365) on Monday September 09, 2013 @04:00AM (#44795203) Homepage

    no, it really is largely irrelevant. here are the numbers up to and including last week:

    http://iwantsomeproof.com/extimg/siv_annual_polar_graph.png [iwantsomeproof.com]

  • by amaurea (2900163) on Monday September 09, 2013 @05:38AM (#44795539) Homepage

    80% of climate scientists who were asked last year expected more ice this year than 2013. So this is hardly an unforseen event. The blog link mentioned in the summary [theguardian.com] explains why, but I'll repeat it since you didn't read it.

    Arctic ice volume has a falling long-term trends, but on top of that there are short-term year-by-year changes. You effectively have a long-term signal with short-term noise on it. As you can see from this figure [nsidc.org], the trend is about -0.065 million square kilometers per year, while the year-to-year variations are 0.5-1 million square kilometers. Hence, on a short timescale you can basically only see the yearly random variations. If you suddenly see a large jump, it is much more likely to be a short-term change than a long term one, and several years of observations are needed to see if the long-term behavior has changed or not.

    The point now is that if you happen to get a particularly low value of the random yearly variations one year, you are likely to get a larger value the next year. Much like if you roll a die and get a 1, you are likely to get a larger value the next time you roll, simply because there are more values (2,3,4,5,6) that are larger than 1 than those that aren't (1). In general, extreme values are unlikely, and the chance of getting several of them in a row is much lower than getting one of them followed by less extreme values. This is called regression toward the mean [wikipedia.org].

    So to summarize, this was expected, and predicted, and no models will have to be changed based on this observation.

  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Monday September 09, 2013 @05:46AM (#44795565) Homepage Journal

    You're an idiot. The human-made factor in the current climate change is a measurable, empirical fact. The only to explain it away is to come up with a different mechanism, and explain why it would overwhelm the effect of human-contributed CO2 concentration increases.

    For those who are interested, this is the chain of causality:

    1. CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas by trapping infrared radiation.
    2. CO2 can even do this in small concentrations. The minimum concentration is way below the current concentration in the atmosphere.
    3. The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is increasing.
    4. A large part of the CO2 concentration increase comes from burning fossil fuels, as proven by the C13/C14 ratio in atmospheric carbon.
    5. The observed mean temperature over the entire Earth is observed to rise.

    That's the basics of AGW theory. There are lots of interesting things to study around the basics, and a lot of them are not well understood yet, but the CO2 hypothesis is over a century old, and all the opponents have produced against it is think-tank sponsored media smears.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday September 09, 2013 @06:02AM (#44795619) Journal

    Perhaps sea ice extent oscillates between the North and South Poles

    Yes, it's also been noted that the frequency of that (rough) oscillation seems to be synchronised with the seasons, weird huh?

    Seriously, the ice at the two poles behaves in totally different ways. Just pause for a second and think about the geography, Antarctica is a land surrounded by deep oceans and a strong circumpolar ocean current, the Artic is a (relatively) shallow sea surrounded by land. Melting at the south pole INCREASES* the extent of the Antarctic sea ice.

    This is because in Antarctica the majority of the sea ice comes from glacial outflows, this ice breaks up with the mechanical action of the waves and floats away as icebergs. Whatever bergs (or ships) that are still close to the coast in autumn become part of that years sea ice. The mouths of these glaciers are enormous and create permanent ice shelves that are several hundred feet thick.

    These ice shelves are the best indicators that the warming trend is impacting Antarctica [wikipedia.org], we are seeing Antarctic ice shelves that have existed for at least 4kys breaking up disappearing at the rate of roughly one a year for over a decade now.

    OTOH Greenland and the Antarctic peninsula have a lot in common and are both effected by something called Polar Amplification [wikipedia.org], a phenomena predicted by the much maligned climate models BEFORE it was observed in the data. There are a whole bunch of such phenomena that were predicted by models and subsequently observed in the real world, "stratospheric cooling" is another well known example.

    In other words sea ice extent is basically meaningless without some context, What you really want to know for the Artic is sea ice volume. I've been following the subject for over 30yrs and the best estimates of volume that I have seen use data gleaned from cold war sonar maps that were declassified sometime in the last decade. According to those figures Artic sea ice volume is now less than 1/5th of what it was when I was born (1959).

    Some (perhaps unwelcome) advise, forget about climate science for now and spend a year or two working on your technical research skills, the best way I know of doing that is to skip church (or some other overrated social club), and spend the time browsing WP and "double checking" the theories and assumptions you hold most dearly. Science is intelligently designed to evolve towards the ideal of "truth" (google "the relativity of wrong" and read it, I can't be bothered to link it). Not only that but for the last couple of centuries the rate of these changes has been increasing over time, Meaning that the older you get the faster it changes, and the more neural archives you will need to update (a personal "theory" that I use to explain my "senior" moments).
    I jumped on the quote above because I first heard it in the mid-90's, I'll concede that on the surface it sounds plausible as it did to me when I first heard it. However as with most of the anti-science "talking points" pushed by a minority group within the FF industry via extremely effective (but surprisingly cheap) professional lobbyists, the theorised "oscillation" soon melts under a skeptical eye. This is why "deniers" don't normally give an alternative explanation. let alone one that stands up to rigor of broader peer-review process. I strongly suggest you use a reputable source [skepticalscience.com] to check out the next climate meme before you infect others with it. As stated in the title your particular meme is #113.

  • by gatzke (2977) on Monday September 09, 2013 @06:31AM (#44795715) Homepage Journal

    Arctic is shrinking and Antarctic is growing. Global mean appears flat to me.

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg/ [uiuc.edu]

    I thought we were going to all be killed by global warming hurricanes? Or is that off topic?

  • by Rob Y. (110975) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:33AM (#44797219)

    It's kind of silly to lay cap and trade on Al Gore's doorstep. Cap and Trade is the 'business-friendly' version of carbon regulation - i.e. the only kind of regulation that stands a chance of passing in today's lobbyist-owned government. I'm sure Gore would tell you a carbon tax would be a more efficient way to reduce consumption - even a revenue neutral one (that distributes the proceeds back to the public). But try proposing a tax as a solution to anything (and calling it a tax). Recipe for gridlock. Anyway, we have gridlock regardless, and cap and trade isn't gonna happen - so why are you railing on about it?

  • by Aonghus142000 (908581) <durin1.mindspring@com> on Monday September 09, 2013 @11:30AM (#44797891) Journal

    Don't know if anyone else noticed this, but here in the Eastern United States, every time Al gives a major speech on global warming, sorry, climate change, sorry, climate chaos, we're in for extremely cold weather.

  • Re:One data point? (Score:4, Informative)

    by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Monday September 09, 2013 @12:58PM (#44799177) Journal

    Random graphs from random blogs proves your point how?

    More data with sources from Government labs and such [wattsupwiththat.com]. Arctic ice levels are within historical 30 year norms, and antarctic ice is above historical 30 year norms.

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