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Nenana Ice Classic 2017

Filed under: — gavin @ 2 May 2017 - (Español)

As I’ve done for a few years, here is the updated graph for the Nenana Ice Classic competition, which tracks the break up of ice on the Tanana River near Nenana in Alaska. It is now a 101-year time series tracking the winter/spring conditions in that part of Alaska, and shows clearly the long term trend towards earlier break up, and overall warming.

2017 was almost exactly on trend – roughly one week earlier than the average break up date a century ago. There was a short NPR piece on the significance again this week, but most of the commentary from last year and earlier is of course still valid.

My shadow bet on whether any climate contrarian site will mention this dataset remains in play (none have since 2013 which was an record late year).

65 Responses to “Nenana Ice Classic 2017”

  1. 51
    tegiri nenashi says:

    MA Rodger @46

    Plenty of test-of-time awards out there:
    Admittedly, this idea gravitates to Computer Science disciplines. They are less mature and, therefore, feel that they need to establish good reputation.

  2. 52
    Titus says:

    Ric Merritt @45 says: “the peanut gallery made a big deal of a single year with a late breakup”

    You mean like the peanuts who made a big deal of a single year (2016 El Nino) as hottest ever?

    What a lot of peanuts we have in this game!!

  3. 53
    Dan H. says:

    Yes, we certainly have plenty of peanuts. Whenever we have a particularly hot or cold year, wet or dry, high or low sea ice, etc., the appropriate peanuts make exceptional claims, based on short term (1 year) data. They then retreat into their shells until the next event occurs.

  4. 54
    MA Rodger says:

    Titus @52 & Dan H @53.
    Sorry to interupt your nonsense but it has to be said.
    The last full calendar 2016 was the warmest year on record for the HadCRUT, NOAA, NASA and BEST global temperature records. And the last five calendar years were the warmest 5-year periods on these temperature records. And the last ten years. And the last fifteen years. And the last twenty years.
    Need I go on?
    As for your use of the term “peanut,” the “peanut gallery” heckles the show. What is this ‘show’ you feel is being heckled? Does it actually exist? You may have some deluded view of the science that tells you your scepticism of AGW is justified but that particular ‘show’ only exists in fantasy.

  5. 55

    Yes, when remarkable extremes happen, people do remark on them. Are those extremes omens, exemplars, or something else?

    The question isn’t who remarks on the remarkable. The question is, who pays attention to the overall picture? Who analyzes it properly and objectively?

    Who, by contrast, calls names, gives incomplete information in a misleading fashion, scatters a few scornful implications and then calls it a refutation (or worse, a “scientific case”)?

  6. 56

    And, quite fortuitously, this:

    Note last paragraph in the context of the many graphs of multidecadal trend.

  7. 57
    Ric Merritt says:

    Titus (currently #52) says: [blah blah waah waah] of which the tl;dr is a false equivalence between warmists and skeptics, or whatever you wanna call ’em.

    Not buying the false equivalence. If some peanut on the internet points to slow ice breakup one year, and another points to high global temps one year, which datum is part of a decades-to-centuries long trend that is part of a climate change big enough to challenge industrial civilization?

    Feel free to continue trolling and have the “last word”. The adults already see where you’re coming from.

  8. 58
    Jim Eager says:

    As usual, Titus and Dan are just trying to distract the gallery from looking at the trend.

  9. 59
    Dan H. says:

    Exactly. It matters not weather one year was the hottest, regardless of the temperature data employed, or ice break up was the latest. The overall picture is important. Yes, the Nenana ice break-up date is earlier than a century ago, but the trend towards earlier break-up largely occurred decades ago. A similar trend was observed in the satellite temperature data. Other data sets that MA Rodgers mentioned show a resumption of the increase, following a decades long pause (or whatever you wish to call it). Name calling and misleading information has no place in scientific circles. Instead, it tends to imply that the perpetrator has a weak case, and must resort to these questionable tactics.

  10. 60
    Thomas says:

    “Name calling and misleading information has no place in scientific circles. Instead, it tends to imply that the perpetrator has a weak case, and must resort to these questionable tactics.” True, though maybe not as intended. :)

  11. 61
    Mr. Know It All says:

    It was a cold, snowy, winter here in the great PNW USA. Spring has been wet and cool. I think as of around May 1st Portland had only hit 70 degrees on about 2 days. It is finally warming up now, but still lots of days in the 60s, and some in the 50s.

    1:12 pm pacific

  12. 62

    #59, Dan–“Yes, the Nenana ice break-up date is earlier than a century ago, but the trend towards earlier break-up largely occurred decades ago.”

    Really? It looks to me like it’s more or less linear (though with wide variability, obviously). Of course, Mark ! eyeball is not the criterion, as we know. But that is also in line with on the comments way upthread, which appeared to have some analytical underpinning at least.

    So what basis are you using when you make that statement?

  13. 63
    Dan H. says:

    Simply that the residuals are less. Yes, the breakup date has wide variability. Hence, neither a straight linear regression, nor any other analytics will meet the 95% confidence level.

    A good analytical assessment is the cluster of the data points; namely do they fall evenly above and below the trend line. Over the past 30 years, 10 dates were above the trend line, while 20 were below. The cluster was exactly opposite for the previous 30 years. While this averaged out over the long term (60 years), it indicates that two separate trends may have occurred.

  14. 64
    Elizabeth Dobbins says:

    There was a lot of speculation about the character of the Tanana River earlier in this thread, so I thought I’d add some observations since I live in Fairbanks and ski on the Tanana in the winter. The Tanana is a braided river – shallow and twisty with channels that are constantly evolving. If that 60 mile length is measured on the map, it is severely underestimated, because winds back and forth – sometimes in great loops. You could canoe from Fairbanks to Nenana in a day, but most people take two. There is not a river like it Outside.

    The idea that power plant discharges in Fairbanks could affect water temperatures in Nenana is ludicrous. You think of Fairbanks as a city, but it is more like an island. There are nothing but homesteads and wilderness between Fairbanks and Nenana, and that river is winding and shallow the entire way. And by the way, Alaska is currently in recession so there is no local industrial growth happening.

    The Chena River, on the other hand, is affected by the power plant discharges (only 1 of the 3 plants mentioned discharges to the river). Ice doesn’t form in downtown Fairbanks because of that discharge. But even this has changed. The area of open water has been expanding, and there are now ducks that spend the entire winter on the open water. The starting line for the Yukon Quest dog sled race used to be upriver of the power plant, but it has been moved a couple of times recently due to rotten ice. When they moved the Iditarod start here a couple years ago, the ice was rotten where they thought it would be strong, so they had to move it downstream. Where I used to walk on the river, ice is now thin enough I wouldn’t dare. We used to have an ice bridge where you could drive across, but that’s unsafe now too.

    You guys are arguing over a few points on the graph like if you find a flaw you are going to change reality. Reality is that we in Alaska can see the climate change continually and it is affecting our lives.

  15. 65
    Hank Roberts says:

    Nice to get ground truth from someone who’s there. Thank you Elizabeth Dobbins.