Today's Arctic Sea Ice Area Anomaly
In early 2017, the Arctic, Antarctic and Global Sea Ice Area Extent were each at the lowest level in the data set.
Context: the average year-round Arctic sea-ice area is about 8.919 million sq. km. In the Spring of 2016, when the satellite responsible for sea ice measurements degraded and interrupted the data series, the Arctic ice area was down about 11% (about 1/8.919) million sq. km) below the 1978-2008 average for the date. The Special Sensor Microwave Imager and Sounder (SSMIS) on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F-17 satellite that provides passive microwave brightness temperatures (and derived Arctic and Antarctic sea ice products) has been providing spurious data since the beginning of April, 2016. The data show a steadily rising ice amount over the 1979 to April 2016 period. (Source: Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois.)
You can also see what the satellite is seeing and Today's Ice versus other recent years from the International Arctic Research Center, showing that this year's ice is well below the average for the warm months.
Analysis: The Arctic sea-ice extent cannot be used alone as an indicator of warming or cooling, because it must be viewed in concert with Antarctica. Also, data only go back to 1979, when satellite sensors and analytical programs could get a handle on measuring sea ice. Even today it has problems, such as dealing with water on ice, as happens after a warm spell. The sensor sees water, not ice, but this does not mean the underlying ice is gone. If the Arctic loses ice, but the global balance is about the same, there is no GLOBAL warming.
More importantly, we must wonder
what the satellites would have observed when Roald Amundsen explored
and sailed through the Arctic
The National Snow and Ice Data Center shows a map-based view. "In October2016, Arctic sea ice extent averaged 6.40 million square kilometers (2.5 million square miles), the lowest October in thesatellite record. This is 400,000 square kilometers (154,400 square miles) lower than October 2007, the secondlowest October extent, and 690,000 square kilometers (266,400 square miles) lower than October 2012, the third lowest. The average extent was 2.55 million square kilometers (980,000 square miles) below the October 1981 to 2010 long-term average."
Analysis: Conventional wisdom (and the IPCC) states that the poles will warm first. Clearly there is no or little change in the Antarctic, but there is apparent reduction in the Arctic. 2012 was the lowest year and 2016 is similar, making a new record low in the fall of 2016. What does this tell us? The Arctic alone cannot be used as an indicator of warming or cooling, because it must be viewed in concert with the Antarctic. Also, data only goes back to 1979, when satellite sensors and analytical programs could get a handle on measuring sea ice. Even today the technology has problems, such as dealing with water on ice, as happens after a warm spell. The sensor sees water, not ice, but this does not mean the underlying ice is gone. If the Arctic gains or loses ice, but the global balance is about the same, there is no global cooling or warming. Arguments attributing various rationales for global sea ice being relatively unchanged are not convincing.
It is possible the 2007 reduction in Arctic ice is not an indicator of warming, since it was balanced by record high Antarctic ice levels. The return of Arctic sea ice in 2008 to more normal levels and Antarctica remaining generally above the average has received little attention. In November 2016, The Cryosphere journal published a peer-reviewed study by Dr. Jonathan Day showing that Antarctic sea ice extent is unchanged from 100 years ago, as recorded by early explorers. Thus, when the Arctic NW passage was open as it is nearly today, the Antarctic was also as it is today. Since the models cannot explain how this is possible, this points to there being some fundamental flaw in the hypothesis.
This page updated or reviewed in Novemebr 2016