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Earth Science

Arctic Ice Extent Tops 2012's, But Is 6th Lowest In History 310

We mentioned recently the rebound in Arctic ice levels compared to those found at the end of last summer; now that the 2013 minimum has been reached, Forbes' Alex Knapp points out that 2013's figures still show the 6th lowest ice extent in recorded history. "This pattern is expected to continue as average global temperatures continue to rise, leading to further Arctic Ice melts. The volume of sea ice – that is, how thick the Arctic ice is, has also been steadily declining over the same period. And although the charts above only go back to the 80s, the loss of sea ice began several decades prior to that. In 2011, a paper published in Nature estimating Arctic ice extent for the past 1450 years shows a sharp decline in Arctic ice beginning in the mid-20th century."
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Arctic Ice Extent Tops 2012's, But Is 6th Lowest In History

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  • If you want to speculate in real estate, go north young man.
    • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      If you want to really speculate, go south, grab all the new land before it becomes clear of ice next century. But maybe you will get to the race too late, probably oil companies already bought them.
    • by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <> on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:06PM (#44926123)

      This would be funnier if it weren't completely retarded. Let me draw you a map. []

      I've explained enough times to want to make this short, but most of the ground up here is some variant on permanently frozen. At some point, all of that is likely to melt, and subside. We Alaskans know a lot about what that looks like, because if you build in the wrong way in the wrong place, you'll be filling out your cross-stitch with "Home Sweet Bog". Houses built on permafrost are built on stilts.

      Also, while the Arctic is warming at a significantly greater pace [] than the rest of the world (1.6 degrees C up from last century, compared with .8 degrees C globally), the winters are still going to be cold as fuck (<-40) for a long time to come.

      Plus, there's <1% of the land up in Alaska that's actually owned privately. The rest is owned either by the Feds, the State, or the Natives.

      This is really just the tip of the iceberg. Your suggestion, and its underlying premise, are so wrong-headed that it's turning my stomach. Perhaps you can go be a real estate agent in Shishmaref, [] or one of the other villages that we're having to relocate due to climate change. Hopefully at that point you might understand exactly what it is that is offensive about your comment.

  • So who said... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LeadSongDog ( 1120683 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @12:11AM (#44921481)
    ... that the trend of annual extent minima was supposed to be monotonic?
    • Hmm, let me think... Was it Miley Cyrus? It was possibly part of the lyrics of her latest song, although to be honest I watched her video with the sound muted.

    • I don't know about that, but at least one professor at Cambridge predicted the ice would be gone by 2015-2016 [].
      • by dave420 ( 699308 )
        If the warming trend continued as it was, but as it has wavered slightly, we're looking at at least 2020.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          That's pretty good, I remember back in the late 80's that they said that it would all be gone by 2000 or so.

          • That's pretty good, I remember back in the late 80's that they said that it would all be gone by 2000 or so.

            Ah, you remember that, do you?

            "they" said.

            Who was they? When in the late 80's. Where was this published? What does "2000 or so" mean?

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              This source is dated 1960.
              New Scientist.
              The year 2000.


        • It's funny how catastrophe is constantly being pushed to just over the horizon. Just far enough ahead, so that when the time comes and it doesn't happen, people wont remember the actual prediction. There's a guy with a beard and long hair in Times Square who's been doing the same thing for 20 years. The end is near!
      • by Anonymous Coward


        That means maybe 2013, maybe 2019. We haven't passed 2019.

        And, again, the claim wasn't that the ice would be gone, it would be a summer extent. We'd get ice back.

        Moreover, that's one guy.

        Now what about other predictions that AGW would be falsified by 2012 being about the 1956 average? Your statement merely shows one man was wrong. Big deal. Doesn't disprove the general science which has there being no sea ice by maybe 2040. But deniers you DO listen to are wrong in damn near (95%+) all cases. Yet y

  • history? (Score:5, Informative)

    by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @12:19AM (#44921497)

    Reliable monitoring with authoritative of sea ice extents began only with the Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) on the satellite Seasat launched June 28, 1978.

    Very spotty records before that time are not considered reliable.

    • Re:history? (Score:5, Informative)

      by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @12:21AM (#44921507)

      The Danes have excellent records going back to the '30s.
      And let's not forget that the volume is also dropping precipitously but that's much more difficult to measure.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jklovanc ( 1603149 )

        Even if it goes back to the '30s, 80 years is a millisecond in geologic terms. There is too much emphasis put on "recorded history" when is is such a short time period.

        • Re:history? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:32AM (#44921701)

          True, but you can make some deductions from biology. The existence of polar bears, not to mention their threatened status with receding ice, paints a picture of a lot of ice going way back: had there been no ice 100 years ago, there would be no polar bears. 100 years isn't time enough for them to evolve from brown bears.

          • Re:history? (Score:5, Informative)

            by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:17AM (#44921799)

            So where were they when it was warm enough that the Vikings had two separate colonies on the southern shores of Greenland? Or was Canada still frozen while Greenland was basking in warmth?

            • Some data (Score:5, Interesting)

              by amaurea ( 2900163 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @04:23AM (#44922097) Homepage

              There is some discussion on this here [].

              In particular, these two images from the same article are interesting: Temperature anomaly for the medieval warm period [] and temperature anomaly for the period 1999-2008 []. Both are anomalies relative to the same 1961-1990 average, so they should be directly comparable, though of course the medieval warm period is a reconstruction with significant uncertainties.

              So to answer your question. yes, you could say that "Canada was still frozen while Greenland was basking in warmth". Though temperatures slightly elevated in some parts of Canada, most of it was cold. And none of them were anywhere near as hot as they are now.

              • I looked at the article, and unfortunately its main point is based on work by Michael Mann. I wouldn't accept evidence from him of a cow farting. He did more to damage the reputation of "your side" than anyone else in these debates.

                So, thank you for your time, but I have nothing to add to a discussion that is based on Michael Mann.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Mashiki ( 184564 )

   might just want to stop trotting out the "threatened status with ice" bit. There's no shortage of the bloody things, if anything there are more every passing year and their range of liveable area keeps expanding. In fact, there have been more than a few clashes between brown and polar bears in the last few years. As a fun point, we have them here in Ontario, and not all that far outside of the "southern half" of the province. And they range south, even in the summer here. There have been war

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dave420 ( 699308 )
              You might want to ask yourself why there are more clashes between polar and brown bears... Maybe something along the lines of them losing their habitat and having to spread... No, that can't be it. They must be in cahoots with those damned liberal scientists. Hint: Measuring a populations' behaviour from outside the population isn't going to help anyone learn anything. Listen to the scientists who actually study this stuff and see what they say. Another hint: They disagree with you.
              • I did ask myself that very question. What could possibly cause increased contact between humans and polar bears? And it dawned on me that if their numbers were becoming smaller, contact between them and humans would be rarer and rarer even if they are pushed out of one ecosystem. You can not have contact with a species that basically does not exist. In that sense, the best bet is to indeed look to the experts and see what they say.

                I saw a wide variety of reports, but the latest research that I could

          • You are still thinking too short a time period. I am thinking 1,000, 10,000 and 100,000 years ago. What happened in the last 500 years is still to short a time to say that ice loss similar to what is happening now has not happened before and without the help of man.. Recorded history is a snap of the fingers in geologic time.

          • Re:history? (Score:4, Funny)

            by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @05:10AM (#44922243)

            100 years isn't time enough for them to evolve from brown bears.

            They didn't evolve from Brown Bears. They transformed from Cartesian Bears :)
            We may as well just laugh because the science deniers have even more of a problem with evolution than they do with the climate changing. Both argue against a perfect unchanging world since day 7 which Christianity-Lite likes to pretend is the state of things.

            • That's rich. You seem to be making a claim that global warming deniers like to use an argument that requires the earth to be a static system when the reality is that the earth is not and has never been static and nobody cared until one day some scientists declared that the climate was not supposed to be changing but it is changing so it must be the fault of humans. It seems that the climate change crowd is the one demanding "an unchanging world."

          • by jamesl ( 106902 )

            Healthy polar bear count confounds doomsayers
            The debate about climate change and its impact on polar bears has intensified with the release of a survey that shows the bear population in a key part of northern Canada is far larger than many scientists thought, and might be growing.

            The greatest threat to polar bears is hunters.

          • Of course the problem with using polar bears as the measure is the fact that current estimates of polar bear population are massively higher than estimates for polar bear population in the 1950s. So, polar bear populations have RISEN over the last 60 years, yet global warming is threatening them with extinction?
            • Exactly. Because there are so many more polar bears now that we don't hunt them as much people might be inclined to allow more hunting of them and then their numbers will decline at which point hunting will be limited and their numbers will rise. Once the decline begins, the AGW crowd will use that as proof of their correctness. Once the rise begins, they will use the fact that they predict it will decline as proof of their correctness.

        • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

          Geologic time scales aren't useful.

          They're useful to geologists, and often to other scientists, sometimes, but not in this context.

          Yes, pretty much no climate we could reach is really unprecedented on Earth. The ice ages are pretty cold. Other eras were quite hot and high in CO2. Hell, in still other eras, there was no oxygen in the atmosphere.

          What's relevant is the climate of the last few thousand years and, to a lesser extent, the modern geologic era, because it's what our civilization is dependent on. Su

          • What's relevant is the climate of the last few thousand years

            Considering the recorded history of ice coverage is only 40 years and using your "few thousand years" as a guide that is still only 1.3% of the relevant time period.

      • Re:history? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:20AM (#44921663) Journal
        There's some pretty good volume estimates based on declassified sonar maps from the cold war, volume is now roughly 1/5th of what it was when I was born in the late 50's.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by khallow ( 566160 )
      So it's the sixth lowest record in 35 or so such records. That's a bit underwhelming. And I find it interesting how the other replier goes on to say that ice volume is down significantly even though it is "hard to measure". It's interesting how much modern climatology relies on data that is hard to verify.
  • Looks like we may be safe from the impending ice age, at least for a while.
  • The idea that this year, following an extreme year, can be formally called regression toward the mean seems OK but it seem clearer to say something like a return to closer to the trend line. Anybody got a better description than that?
  • "The volume of sea ice – that is, how thick the Arctic ice is..."

    Er, no, "how thick the ice is" is called "thickness". Volume is thickness times area (or more precisely, thickness integrated over area).

    That said, two data points (last year's area and this year's area) do not a trend make. I can't believe how many people don't get that (or enjoy telling lies so much that they don't care that it contradicts reason).

    • Re:volume? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @10:03AM (#44923575)

      You have to remember for the libertarians (the Heartland Institute's branch anyway) it's not really about the science it's about defending their ideology from an existential challenge. They believe that government is always bad and capitalism always good. The very idea of capitalism causing a massive global problem that can only be resolved by government intervention is unthinkable and thus must be false. The facts be damned, because they know the "The Truth of Capitalist Libertarianism" they know that AGW can not true.

      Also, the Heartland Institute is funded by the true believers, so they will fight this to the last breath because both their identities and their jobs depend on it.

      • by gtall ( 79522 ) what you are saying is that libertarians are a fragile species which might be on the brink of extinction due to political climate change and evolution of ideas. This is grave. Maybe we could enact a new government program to protect them as a species. We'll need to tag them and track their movements and observe their lifestyles. I doubt we could do this without significant increase in funding for science. Damn, I guess I'll have to stop shooting them too.

  • by El Puerco Loco ( 31491 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:38AM (#44921859)

    Nothing resembling "the arctic" is ever mentioned in the Bible.

    • Oh, I don't know. All pure white and bright... To a bunch of desert dwellers wouldn't "the arctic" be pretty much the definition of heaven?

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        Maybe that's where preachers go to get inspired, "Ah can see the light!!!" Oh who am I kidding, they get their inspiration from the collection plate.

  • "Recorded History" on arctic ice extent is pretty damn short. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) used to list something they called the '1979-2001' average and then showed that, based on that, the current ice extent was pathetically low. Lately, they have switched [] to showing the '1981-2010' average because the early years of satellite measurements have been found to be wildly inaccurate. Better quality data has only been available since 2002 and, based on that [], 2013 is the 6th highest ice exte

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