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North Pole notes

I always find it interesting as to why some stories get traction in the mainstream media and why some don’t. In online science discussions, the fate of this years summer sea ice has been the focus of a significant betting pool, a test of expert prediction skills, and a week-by-week (almost) running commentary. However, none of these efforts made it on to the Today program. Instead, a rather casual article in the Independent showed the latest thickness data and that quoted Mark Serreze as saying that the area around the North Pole had 50/50 odds of being completely ice free this summer, has taken off across the media.

The headline on the piece “Exclusive: no ice at the North Pole” got the implied tense wrong, and I’m not sure that you can talk about a forecast as evidence (second heading), but still, the basis of the story is sound (Update: the headline was subsequently changed to the more accurate “Scientists warn that there may be no ice at North Pole this summer”). The key issue is that since last year’s dramatic summer ice anomaly, the winter ice that formed in that newly opened water is relatively thin (around 1 meter), compared to multi-year ice (3 meters or so). This new ice formed quite close to the Pole, and with the prevailing winds and currents (which push ice from Siberia towards Greenland) is now over the Pole itself. Given that only 30% of first year ice survives the summer, the chances that there will be significant open water at the pole itself is high.

The actuality will depend on the winds and the vagaries of Arctic weather – but it certainly bears watching. Ironically, you will be able to see what happens only if it doesn’t happen (from these web cams near the North Pole station).

This is very different from the notoriously over-excited story in the New York Times back in August 2000. In that case, the report was of the presence of some open water at the pole – which as the correction stated, is not that uncommon as ice floes and leads interact. What is being discussed here is large expanses of almost completely ice-free water. That would indeed be unprecedented since we’ve been tracking it.

So why do stories about an geographically special, but climatically unimportant, single point traditionally associated with a christianized pagan gift-giving festival garner more attention than long term statistics concerning ill-defined regions of the planet where very few people live?

I don’t really need to answer that, do I?

827 Responses to “North Pole notes”

  1. 651
    Hank Roberts says:

    Er, Rod, you’re wrong. No one except that one nitwit newspaper writer has conflated climate denial (the “stooges” as Lindzen names them) with those crap artists involved in denying history. You’re echoing the concern troll line, the ‘oh you called me this you must mean that’ whining used to derail conversation about the science. Please stop.

  2. 652
    SecularAnimist says:

    For what it’s worth, I think the term “global warming denier”, used with a moral import similar to that of “Holocaust denier”, is entirely appropriate.

    The Holocaust already happened. Millions of people died horrible and unjust deaths. Though we may feel repugnance towards Holocaust deniers, the fact that some bigot or crank denies that reality is not going to change what already happened. It isn’t going to kill anyone.

    In the case of anthropogenic global warming, however, there are millions of lives — probably hundreds of millions or billions of lives — at risk if we do not act promptly and aggressively. Indeed, the entire fabric of life on Earth, the viability of the rich, diverse biosphere of the Holocene, is at risk. Global warming denial delays action, and thus directly increases the likelihood of misery and death for millions and catastrophic damage to all life on Earth in the not-too-distant future. It is, if anything, more morally objectionable than Holocaust denial.

    So, speaking for myself, let me be clear: when I use the term “denier” or “denialist”, I most certainly do intend it to carry an overtone of moral condemnation.

  3. 653
    Arch Stanton says:

    Let’s stop analyzing the ad homs okay? We all know propaganda when we see it and we all learned about sticks and stones back on the playground (even though it was not exactly true).

  4. 654
    dhogaza says:

    Yeah. And I suppose the cherub AGWers jumped all over her, rejected the ad hominem vociferously, and gave it no quarter in their own use… Jeesz.

    I know I didn’t jump all over her.

    Mea culpa.

    Then again, I don’t read Ellen Goodman’s column more than a couple times a year, max, and I doubt I’m alone in that.

    ignores the essential true thrust of my accusation, which is that a minority group of folks that align themselves with AGW

    Well, the essential true thrust of your accusation didn’t include the word “minority”.

    Backpedaling one step at a time, good for you.

    I’ve never heard of the accusation, frankly. My guess is that the association is much more firmly in the minds of a few AGW denialists seeking unwarranted respect than those of us who accept science.

  5. 655
    Mark says:

    Rod B #650

    True, who was the first was irrelevant. It was SO irrelevant, that wasn’t what #647 said.

    I really wonder if you thought anyone didn’t notice.

  6. 656
    Dan says:

    re: 650. Goodness no. Again, Ellen Goodman wrote it. Now you are making things up as you go along. No one else said it or glommed onto it (the Holocaust-implied meaning of “denier”). It is not that difficult to comprehend. The only references to Goodman’s op-ed are on denialist web sites who try to make it sound that it was some sort of perverted consensus position. See Google for examples.

  7. 657
    Rod B says:

    Hank (647) strongly avers it ain’t true, followed immediately by SecularAnimist explaining that it’s not only true, it’s totally justified. You guys need to check signals ;-) .

    re dhogaza’s nicely stated assertion that I’m now back peddling because I introduced the word minority flies blatantly in the face of fact. In just this thread I think I first used the word “many”; then when directly on point I used “a few”, followed with “some radical..”, later “some”, then followed with my “probably small minority”, and that as a clarifying reminder, and finally “a minority”. You really have to stretch to find back peddling in there. I assiduously, sometimes tediously, try not to pigeon-hole or stereotype any group with my accusations.

    Mark, so E.G. was the only one,… but not the first? hmmmm.

    Dan and everybody, it seems “denialist” and “denialism” , which, btw, were not even dictionary words until first in the context of the Holocaust, are always used as a pejorative used by one group to denigrate another, and never used as a badge of honor by, say, us AGW skeptics. [Though I agree with Anne, et al that otherwise they could be perfectly good terms.] Tell you what: if I quit whining about “denialist” (even though I could not accept it) and pointing to the emperor’s nakedness, can I assume you all will quit crying over “alarmist”? (Even if not an even trade…)

  8. 658
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod writes — 19 July 2008 at 18:05:
    > Hank (647)

    Nope, sorry. Wrong number.

    Numbering changes when delayed posts get belatedly released; they then appear in chronological order, bumping up subsequent numbers.

    Best to cite (or copy the timestamp link), and use quotation marks rather than paraphrasing. Elen Goodman’s meme appears contagious as well as toxic. Sorry to see that.

    “Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.”

  9. 659
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Rod #657:

    Hank (647) strongly avers it ain’t true, followed immediately by SecularAnimist explaining that it’s not only true, it’s totally justified. You guys need to check signals ;-) .

    Welcome to the difference between fact and opinion Rod :-) Facts don’t need any signals to be self-cosistent.

    I take it that Hank’s opinion is on the tactical unwisdom of throwing the simile around, as more people may be offended, mistaking it for hyperbole, than convinced. As for the facts, I am with SecularAnimist and his reasons. Sometimes reality is offensive.

    Think about it: anno 1939, warnings that an old civilization in the heart of Europe was about to engage in the industrial extermination of a whole people, were often dismissed as rhetorical excess. You just don’t want to believe it.

    Using the denialism label is appropriate only for those fully at home with the science, and still denying it. Psychologically it produces a tension (“in your heart you know it’s true”). Keeping the untruths consistent requires further effort. The wise pay heed.

    You’re not at that point yet, Rod, but well positioned… flatly denying the words of your own vice president spoken on air less than a decade ago was a useful exercise (sorry, couldn’t resist) ;-)

  10. 660
    dhogaza says:

    Here’s a decent definition of denialism …

    “the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one’s viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.

    Seems like an accurate description of most of the anti-AGW crap (and anti-biology crap) one sees.

    Rod, you really want to argue that denialism in the AGW debate doesn’t exist?

  11. 661
    Hank Roberts says:

    Martin’s got it right: “… the tactical unwisdom of throwing the simile around, as more people may be offended, mistaking it for hyperbole, than convinced.”

    Making business choices that result in short term profit with large external costs is execrable. It’s not the same as rounding people up and murdering them wholesale — an activity much in vogue for the whole history of humanity.

    There’s a difference between convicting people for what they did in the past, and convicting people for the future consequences. The pollution laws, the Geneva Conventions, the nuclear controls, the building codes, all try to preclude consequences of known bad choices.

    Precautions aren’t generally popular with people who get their answers by “talking to the invisible hand” (Jon Stewart’s phrase)

    These are different than proving murder and war crimes happened. That’s why it trivializes real death to compare real murderers to the stupid, shortsighted, profit-blinded, wilfully ignorant industrialists.

    Rod, you know what Lindzen means by “industry stooges” — don’t you? I’m sure I’ve reminded you of it repeatedly.

    Those are the people who are responsible for the lack of understanding. Yes, there are industries paying stooges to lie to and confuse the public about the consequences of short term profit and long term externalized costs. This is a business tactic.

    Read about the work of the stooges, it’s well documented.

    The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism
    PJ Jacques – Environmental Politics, 2008 –
    “… conservative think tank associations … in the
    US have helped diffuse [sic] environmental scepticism internationally. …”

    Remember, the courts have ruled it is acceptable for a newspaper to print lies decided by their owners, they are selling you to the advertisers, not selling the news to you.
    Doubt and verify what you read.

    This goes way off topic repeatedly, because people keep coming into threads proclaiming what they believe to be true on faith.

    You can look it up. You can look most things up.
    Don’t rely on online sources. Get to know a reference librarian.
    They’re the most likely people in the world to help you find facts.

  12. 662
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Rod, I have to wonder what you hope to gain here. You have an impossibly high standard of evidence; there seems to be no observation or theory that will change your mind.

    How can you believe that humans can dump hundreds of gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere without changing the climate?

    How can you look at the horrifying evidence of widespread ocean anoxia, acidification, and ecosystem destruction without concern?

    How can you watch the unprecedented loss of Arctic sea ice and shrug?

    It boggles my mind that in the face of overwhelming empirical evidence, you choose to look the other way. The human destruction of the biosphere and climate is a moral issue. Deal with it.

  13. 663
    Rod B says:

    dhogaza, you might have included a couple of other phrases from your quoted definition that don’t make it sound entirely sanguine, like, “…when they seek to influence….by illegitimate means…”, or, “used pejoratively, …denies established scientific or historical truths by dishonest means.” In any case I probably wouldn’t have a problem with “denialism, denialist” (or, from the other side, “alarmist” for that matter) ala Anne’s post, e.g., if it were understood in the pure sense — some skeptics do go to the length of denying (refuting?) virtually all of AGW science and politics (crap I guess you call it). But, it actually and unfortunately remains an egregious pejorative most/some of the time.

    Some think I et al have an obligation to accept this name calling because (in their mind) I really am a low-life and use illegitimate and/or dishonest means. Or that they claim they really don’t mean it in a bad way… But that’s just not going to fly. I really don’t see the nature of the expression changing. I’d go with something else that, at least so far, has not been co-opted like repudiator, or something — I don’t know, but there ought to be a term to distinguish between part skeptic and entire skeptic. My hopes are not high though; there’s way too much self-satisfaction that stems from uttering “denialist!”

    I think we’re getting close to a blocking point…?

  14. 664
    Rod B says:

    Mark (648), I agreed here on RC some time back that I should do more study and research to actively expound my areas of skepticism, as opposed to exploring and questioning. [I also check some of the peripheral hyperbole that crops up now and then from some AGWer’s exuberant enthusiasm. :-) ] But, roughly and for the record, my primary area of concern is in the area of marginal increases in CO2 vs. the degree and timing of marginal forcing increases. I also have some raised eyebrows over the accuracy and reliability of global temperature measurements and global CO2 concentrations, though this is secondary. And another area or two.

    btw, I do not believe that I’m obligated to fully develop my own science to make my case. It just need a little enhancement (and it might fail). I can assure you I have no intention of writing my own GCM to try to prove a point as some have implied I’m obligated to do.

  15. 665
    Dan says:

    re: 662. Unfortunately I think what is quite telling is the past belittling and mocking of peer-review. When denialists and/or skeptics can not debate or understand the science involved, the scientific method/process is often attacked.

  16. 666
    Ray Ladbury says:

    So, we’re back to the definition of “denialist”. Since we are talking science here, and science is about evidence, I would contend that a denialist is one who denies or refuses to examine the evidence. Rod does not fit into this category–rather, he is a bit like Ernst Mach refusing to accept the existence of atoms despite Brownian motion and a dozen other indications. One wonders whether Mach would have even accepted them now that they have been imaged.

    Rod, I keep saying that the better you understand the science, the less you’ll be able to reject the conclusion that we are changing the climate.

  17. 667
    Paul Melanson says:

    Don’t like “denialist?” Count your blessings, if this was a less-charged or less-political subject, people who threw out such comments would be called “crackpots.” I know that’s not flattering, but it’s the truth. Please realize that the people here are showing you more respect than most would if you attacked their area of expertise in this manner.

  18. 668
    Nigel Williams says:

    Mmm North Pole Notes seems to have well and truly gone south!

    I take if from this that there is nothing at all happening in Santa’s cave thats worthy of note? No vyersts of open leads? No square parsecs of mush? Cubic furlongs of frost? No Babbling bubbles of GHGs? No Polar Bears treading water?

    Or are we simply fiddling, while Rome (and the Artic) burns – waiting until the October minimum so we can say to those who will not hear – “I told you so!”?


  19. 669
    Leonard Herchen says:

    In 7 you say that “Global values are not particularly useful since they conflate the two disparate and out of phase seasonal cycles.”

    A couple of questions arise from this:
    1. Isn’t “global” ice relevant in a discussion of “global” warming. It is just a bigger average.
    2. defines “disparate” as “distinct in kind, essentially different”. How is northern sea ice different?
    3. If the seasonal cycles are out of phase, can’t you simply shift one by 6 months to put them in phase? Have you don this? What do you get?
    4. In principle, wouldn’t “global” warming make all sea ice, fall?

    Thanks for your answers.

  20. 670
    Timothy Chase says:

    Nigel Williams wrote:

    I take if from this that there is nothing at all happening in Santa’s cave thats worthy of note?

    Well, if it continues to follow the same trend it has been taking so far, we are probably talking about something slightly above 2005 in terms of sea ice extent. Obviously there is a great deal less volume than back then, but… at the same time, the winter was largely snow-free. Snow insulates — which means that it prevents the ocean from cooling as much as it would otherwise. So we actually got back a little thickness. Chance.

    They say that records aren’t usually consecutive in things like this — but I wasn’t sure. I wondered if last year might have — in terms of the underlying physical principles — set up this year for another record due to positive feedbacks between the atmosphere and ocean almost as a matter of some sort of physical necessity. Apparently not.

    It would appear that even when you reach a tipping point, to have that kind of positive feedback set in requires passing beyond near-term tipping point each year. But it is difficult to say. Still — I expect us to reach the ice-free summer state sooner rather than later — and I will go with 2013 for the time being.

  21. 671
    Timothy says:

    [669] – I can have a go at a few of these questions. They’re not all there, but I’ve kept your numbers.

    (2) The Arctic and Antarctic are different principally because their geography is different. The Arctic is an ocean surrounded by land, whereas the Antarctic is a continent surrounded by ocean. This has an effect on the atmospheric circulation and the location of the sea ice for starters.

    Therefore, there is a reasonable expectation that they might react differently.

    (3) I wouldn’t really want to shift things out of phase, since the phase is important for the sea-ice albedo effect. If you want to track the change in the global amount of sea-ice you would be better off combining the annual means, rather than trying to track the total day-by-day or month-by-month through the year.

    As far as I remember, if you were to do this you would have a small decreasing trend at present.

    (4) Well, “global” warming is an average warming, so some areas can warm less, or not at all, whilst the globe still warms as a whole. Ultimately, once the level of global warming is sufficiently high, you would expect this average warming to overcome any regional difference, but clearly we haven’t reached that stage yet.

    As to why the Antarctic is behaving differently – I don’t know. It certainly makes the Antarctic climate an interesting and active area of research, but it does little to alter our view of global warming as a whole.

    One thing that might be important to find out is whether the difference in reaction is permanent or temporary, since the amount of sea ice, and the local warming, would have an impact on the rate at which the Antarctic ice sheet melts at the edges – contributing to sea level rise.

  22. 672
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Indeed, Paul, maybe we can sidestep Rod’s objections to “denialist” by calling them “cranks” instead.

  23. 673
    Mark says:

    Leon #669.

    Point 4:. In principle, wouldn’t “global” warming make all sea ice, fall?

    Well, did you know that one of the driest places on earth is in the middle of Antartica?

    Why’s that? Because REALLY cold air can’t hold moisture. The colder it is, the less it holds. It’s why clouds form: wet air rises, cools, condenses the water out.

    So let’s say the centre of antartica is -50C. Let’s say global warming is raising it by a massive 20C. It’s still well below freezing. So any precipitation will be snow. But since it is a lot hotter, it can hold more water. So you’d get more snow.

    So even though the antartic has gotten 20 degrees warmer, it is now snowing MORE.

    Which sounds to us in temperate areas like it’s getting colder, doesn’t it? Well your grandad may have told you in the past winters “it’s too cold for snow”. HE knew.

  24. 674
    Leonard Herchen says:

    The issue is sea ice, not ice at the middle of Antarctica. For the record, The antarctic continent has see no significant changes in temperature anomaly in the last several decades.

  25. 675
    Ringo says:

    Yes, Mark, your hypothesis makes sense…but as Leonard pointed out, Antarctica has not been warming at really, so there would not be that reason for increased snow/ice.

  26. 676
    Gareth says:

    Jim Galasyn said:

    Indeed, Paul, maybe we can sidestep Rod’s objections to “denialist” by calling them “cranks” instead.

    As I’ve been doing for more than a year…

  27. 677
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Gareth: Nice!

  28. 678
    dhogaza says:

    On the other hand, coastal station at antarctica mostly show a warming trend.

    And the moisture for snow would come from air blowing from the ocean onto the continent …

    And there is evidence that the rate of snow accumulation has accelerated since 1960..

  29. 679
    Mark says:

    Ringo #657

    I’d made the difference massive to show how it would happen.

    Now, the air near the south pole (say, for example, over the ocean nearby) is getting warmer. It will hold more moisture. And some of that wet air will go inland. Snowing.

    The same thing can happen near the mountains elsewhere.

    Hence “wouldn’t global warming make all ice fall” isn’t true. At least not if you take spot values to prove snow is growing and hence it isn’t warming.

  30. 680
    John McCormick says:

    RE #663

    Rod, you asked:

    [I don’t know, but there ought to be a term to distinguish between part skeptic and entire skeptic]

    In your particular case, I offer this term that might be worthy of your and others’ consideration.

    How about ‘attention seeker’.

    I and many of the diligent contributors to this thread have continued to engage your ideas, theories, beliefs in ways that weigh more heavily in their favor than yours. Yet, you come back with innanne comments such as your not having any responsibility to construct you GCM to ‘prove’ your point. How selfish of you.

    It is my thought that what you are really engaged in is logging ‘stage minutes’. The longer you dodge critiques of your opinions, the longer you can stretch your vibility on this and other threads.

    Joe Romm’s Climate Progress blog has its share of attention seekers who contribute no new ideas or discussions…only resentment that they will not pick up and go home.

    John McCormick

  31. 681
    Rod B says:

    John, no, that won’t fit. I care not a twit if I get your attention

  32. 682
    SecularAnimist says:

    John McCormick wrote: “How about ‘attention seeker’.”

    The traditional term, dating from the USENET era, is “troll”. The term “troll” comes from a technique of that name used in fishing, where a fisherman drags a moving, baited hook through the water, in the hope that the movement will lure fish into biting. (Contrary to popular belief it does not refer to the mythical “trolls” of fairy tales — malevolent monsters who often lived under bridges and harassed or killed travelers crossing over their bridge.)

    Internet “trolls” are people who post comments or inquiries, sometimes but not always deliberately annoying or inflammatory in nature, and sometimes repetitions of questions that have long ago been answered, for the sole purpose of “luring” other participants into responding. In some cases their motivation seems to be simply to attract attention to themselves; in other cases they appear to be deliberately and maliciously seeking to waste other people’s time, or upset them, just for the “fun” of it. In a few cases, they may have a somewhat more complicated purpose, such as seeking to create the impression among new visitors to a forum that questions that have actually been long since laid to rest are still the subject of legitimate dispute.

  33. 683
    Mark says:

    Rod, #681

    You care enough to post about it, though.

    And Secular Analyst, #682, you’re correct. Being from a fishing port, I thought everyone knew trolling was a fishing term, but when I left, I found out how little some knowledge travels.

    I think part of the problem is that anyone with a desire to correct in a minor point of arcane knowledge is considered “a smartarse” and so the little things get killed off.

  34. 684
  35. 685
    Hank Roberts says:

    Wow. Remember when “watching ice melt” was a metaphor for slow and boring? That changed around the beginning of July:

  36. 686
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS, don’t assume the July melt is unique; check the comparable animation sequences for earlier years, e.g.

  37. 687
    LG Norton says:

    One thing that I haven’t seem mention is the role of storms in breaking up first year ice.

    Generally later in the summer season, fall storms with high winds can really do an excellent job breaking up sea ice. As sea ice gets broken in smaller bits, it has more surface area which quickens the melting process.

    On a side note, does url’s need to be in displayed in HTML markup, as I had a few messages that failed to get posted, and the moderator should have no problem with the content (compared to some of the messages I have seen on this board).

  38. 688
    Leonard Herchen says:

    Looks like no one wants to answer the tougher questions.
    Oh well.

  39. 689
    CobblyWorlds says:

    #686 Hank Roberts,
    Exactly why I haven’t been commenting much recently.

    Considering the changed state of a substantial area of the ice, the “action” from Beaufort towards the Pole, the the substantially reduced perennial in that area… The fat lady is still singing, she could still beat her performance of last year.

    #688 Leonard Herchen,
    You haven’t asked any tough questions here. I noticed what you said and didn’t consider it worthy of my time.

  40. 690
    dhogaza says:

    Herchen, your questions aren’t difficult, and were mostly answered in 671 above.

    Here’s one back atcha;

    Why would you expect global warming to act equivalently at the two poles, given that one sits in the middle of an ocean surrounded by continents, while the other sits in the middle of a continent surrounded by the sea?

    Or at the edges of the southern continent vs. the edges of that northernmost ocean?

    Acting surprised that there are differences is like acting surprised that the Oregon Coast is much warmer in winter than central Montana. Geography matters.

  41. 691
    Leonard Herchen says:

    Doghaza et all.
    Thanks for pointing out 671’s answers. What is interesting here, is that it seems a bit selective. If there is a fall in sea ice at a pole, its global warming, but if there isn’t a fall in sea ice at the opposite pole, its natural variations and differences in geography. On the face of it, it all seems like reasonable explanations, but, it basically boils down to some observation that suggests “global warming” are interpreted as such, while if some observation isn’t consistent, its natural variation or geography. Basically, any observation possible will fit the anthropogenic global warming theory either as evidence for it, or natural variation, never evidence against.

    If we have only 30 years of ice history for the north pole, the current changes can easily be described as natural variation as well. How do we know that the current north pole ice variation, isn’t also simply natural variation?

    From an objective point of view, neither skeptical nor supportive of the theory, the lack of warming in certain very large portions of the world is an observation that puts the idea of “global” warming in doubt. This fact, as well as the fact that temperatures haven’t moved up in 10 years, are probably the amongst the biggest observational weaknesses in AGW theory.

    Lets try this question then: Lets assume, for sake of argument, that 2007 is a minimum in Arctic ice for several years and 2008 and the next few years are up from 2007. For how long and how much ice would it have to continue to be inconsistent with AGW theory?

    [Response: You are not getting the point here. 2007 was way below the expected trend – defined either by the model projections or by simple linear extrapolation. The trend is what is expected – not what one single year has – and that trend will still exist even with another 5 years (maybe more) of higher-than-2007 amounts. Conversely, if 2008 is lower than 2007, it doesn’t prove anything either. You just can’t look at individual years for ‘proof’. The scientific interest in 2008 ice amounts is focussed on whether the September minimum is a predictable a few months in advance, how the Arctic acts in low summer-ice conditions etc. – gavin]

  42. 692
    LG Norton says:

    The melt for 2008 has really picked up over the past week with 95,000 to 110,000 sq km of sea ice loss per day. In the next few days we will surpass the 2005 and 2006 sea ice loss on a given date (which had already slowed down in those years.

    It appears now that the ice is in such poor shape, some serious melting is taking place.

    Sea ice extent chart 2002-2008

    In addition Environment Canada now estimates the the northern route of the North West Passwage will be clear enough for navigation by mid August.

    When looking at the 2008 ice lost, if a record is not broken, one must remember that last winter was rather harsh, and we started with an addtional milion sq km. of ice.

    Some places in the Canadian arctic was the coldest in 27 years. But despite this, if we don’t break the record for lowest ice extent, we will propablily break the record for the amount of ice melt in one season.

    Imagine what will happen if we get another warm winter, like in 2006/2007

  43. 693

    Leonard Herchen writes:

    This fact, as well as the fact that temperatures haven’t moved up in 10 years, are probably the amongst the biggest observational weaknesses in AGW theory.

    The temperature trend is up:

    Tim Ball’s errors

    Tilo Reber’s errors

  44. 694
    dhogaza says:

    On the face of it, it all seems like reasonable explanations, but, it basically boils down to some observation that suggests “global warming” are interpreted as such, while if some observation isn’t consistent, its natural variation or geography.

    You never did answer my question … why would you (or scientists) *expect* regional changes due to global warming to be the same in the arctic and antarctic?

    Given there’s no reason to expect regional changes to be the same, how does the fact that they’re not (and very importantly that the differences in response have largely been *predicted* – as *in advance*) in any way correspond to your statement that it’s inconsistent with global warming?

    We know that regional and local climate are greatly affected by geography (why do you think intereriors of continents tend to get less precipitation than those areas near the coast?). This has nothing to do with global warming. The impact of geography on climate isn’t going to magically disappear as increasing CO2 causes the planet to warm. Why on earth do you seem to think that it should?

    Likewise natural variability. We know climate is variable, that over the short term we experience *weather*. Before we started inserting large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, we had drought years, wet years, warm years, and cold years. Weather. Variablity. Why would you expect this to stop? Why do you claim that appeals to variability are simply “convenient”?

    None of this is, as you claim, “inconsistent with global warming”. That’s the false premise you’re arguing from.

  45. 695
    LG Norton says:

    Remeber the guy that went for a 1km swim at the North Pole last year, in an open lead.

    This year he is going to try kayaking to the north pole starting at one of Svalbard islands on August 29.

    I wonder if he knows how dangerous this is. Anyways it should be some good entertainment, and should provide some overtime for Search and Rescue Crews.

    Kayaking to the North Pole

  46. 696
    CobblyWorlds says:

    #692 LG Norton,


    Out of interest, in the image you link to “Sea ice extent chart 2002-2008” have you noticed the blip in all years at around 1st June? (It’ll be a processing artefact)

    Cryosphere Today show that there’s not much in it, given that it’s only just before the start of August. The total area difference between current date this year and last is reducing, now down to 0.6 million sqkm, here. The difference between this year and last is mainly due to East Siberian and Laptev Seas.

    Cryosphere Today’s animated loop of the last 30 days shows how rapidly things are moving. It also shows the lead along the Canadian Archipelago opening again. That happens when the AO index drops negative due to wind forcing. The AO has just gone negative (NOAA). The lead is visible in this image from Terra.

    Lewis Gordon Pugh may well find enough open water amongst the ice in late August to complete his kayak trip.

  47. 697
    Dan C. says:

    What I am curious about is the frequency of tourist and research ships cruising through (which therefore fractures) polar ice.

    What effect does this have on what we are currently seeing? None?

    If we took 3 glasses, one with 1/2″ layer of ice on it, another with a same volume of ice but is broken into large chunks and the third with an equal volume of ice but the ice is crushed: Will these melt at different rates? I know this is grossly oversimplifying a complex system, but is there a link?

    Is the way we are studying it actually messes with the polar ice, agitating it in such a way to assist in it’s melting?

    Thanks for anyone who can answer.

  48. 698
    Hank Roberts says:

    Total 50 heavy-duty icebreakers (“capable of steaming steadily through ice 4 to 8 feet thick”):

  49. 699
    Phil. Felton says:

    Re #696

    Cobblywoods, I’ve been watching that lead on the univ bremen site over the last week or so, it runs all the way along to Ellesmere.

    Re #697

    The melting of the ice is greatly facilitated by the breakup of the ice however the breakup by icebreakers is insignificant compared with the wind.

  50. 700
    Mark says:

    Dan C, #697, How many boats do you think are up there? A boat can break up ice into largish chunks about 30m across. How many km must they patrol to break up a single square km of ice?

    Now how much ice is there up there?

    Multiply the two.

    Now divide by the optimistic 10kph speed of an ice breaker.

    How many hours is that? Your numbers may be better represented in aeons…