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Arctic Sea Ice Update: Less Ice Than 2008, Far Below 1979-2000 Average

Don’t fear the data.

The latest data on sea ice extent — updated on Thursday October 29, 2009 to reflect the most recently available data, up through Tuesday October 27, 2009 — in the arctic from the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

National Snow and Ice Data Center Show Sea Ice Extent as of October 27, 2009: Very Low

This updated data shows that as of October 27 2009, there’s less Arctic sea ice than there was in 2008, nearly as little as there was in 2007, and an amount that is far, far, many standard deviations below the 1979-2000 average.

Yearly data on the lowest sea ice extent each year (which happens each September):

September Sea Ice Extent, 1979-2009, from National Snow and Ice Data Center

27 thoughts on “Arctic Sea Ice Update: Less Ice Than 2008, Far Below 1979-2000 Average”

  1. Mark says:

    If some people need any more information to convince that global warming is real, they should know that commercial shipping is now using the Northwest passage from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific. A small number of ships transited the passage in 2007, and over 60 used the route in 2008. The numbers this year will be significantly higher. Shippers expect to dramatically increase their routing of ships through the Arctic Ocean over the next few years.

  2. Mark says:

    Even more important than decreasing sea ice cover, is the decrease in ice thickness and volume. NOAA satellite data show that sea ice thickness and volume are decreasing annually.

    1. Mark says:

      Oops, those were NASA satellites, not NOAA.

  3. qs says:

    Can’t post any comments in the “Ten Thousand at their Back, DC Journalists Film One-Man Counterdemonstration” thread for some reason.

    1. Jacob says:

      Its because Herbie isnt much of a king, even when he has only one site to control… the name field has gone haywire again as well. 🙂

      1. F.G. Fitzer says:

        No, Herbie controls everything. Herbie the Cosmic Iguana made everything. Herbie made God last Wednesday, and then killed him for the leather. He is your lord and savior, even if you deny it. Do you have proof it’s not so?

      2. Jim says:

        You call it “haywire,” but have you considered that your limited mind simply cannot comprehend the Grand Plan of Herbie the Cosmic Iguana? Sure, you consider it to be a “bug.” But Herbians insist that it is a miracle. Why does it make sense? It is beyond your limited mind to understand, and only confirms the greatness of the mind of Herbie the Cosmic Iguana, to have designed the universe and this website in such a grand fashion that you cannot possibly understand.

        Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith!

        1. Jacob says:

          The voice of Herbie denied Herbie? Jim, you should be ashamed. You even made a page to help resolve the errors with names so ReMarker would stop talking conspiracy theorys and now you say it is part of the plan. Maybe you will be liked by a billion pugs…

          1. Jim says:

            I’m not the “voice of Herbie,” and your efforts at google sleuthing have also come up short.

          2. qs says:

            Ahh.. you’re blocking comments on that subject matter on purpose.

          3. Jim says:


          4. Jim says:

            I’ve just demonstrated that comments can be made over at that thread and on other threads, too.

            QS, your comments are getting filtered out as Spam by a software program called Akismet. The program is pretty darned accurate (above 99%), and the reason your comments are getting identified by Akismet as spam is that your comments are mostly links. That’s a format preferred by spammers.

            I can try to catch your individual posts out of the thousands of spam comments we get filtered every day, and I have for your cases today. If you want that, just say “hey, I think my comment got caught in the spam filter” and that way I’ll notice and fish it out.

            But more generally, it would be help if you commented with more of your own thoughts and less of the linkage. That way, your comments will be less likely to be identifed as spam.

          5. qs says:

            Hmmm so it’s not a giant left wing conspiracy. It’s the askimet.

          6. Jim says:

            I’d rather it were Kismet. But yes.

  4. Danzo says:

    Does anyone know what a capacitor is? It is a device that stores and releases energy based on the input signals. If the rate of addition increases the discharge rate, then stored energy increases and vice versa. The ocean, like all matter, stores thermal energy. A predictive model for very large capacitors based on linear ordinary diff eq’s shows discharge of the device to have a significant delay behind the input signal. The top two contributors of thermal energy to the ocean are 1st the sun and 2nd geothermal. Dissapation primarily occurs thru radiant heat and loss to the atmosphere. During the long solar minimum, that we are still experiencing, thermal energy has been added at a slower rate; therefore, the ocean, as thermal capacitor is still dissapating heat. The sea ice will recover. If we follow the trend for four more years, we will see it reach levels higher than ever recorded. Be patient.

    Mark, commercial shipping has not been using the northwest passage. It has been using the Russian arctic route. And has been off and on since the 30’s as sea ice permits.

    I would like for just one true believer in global warming to explain how the norse settlements in Greenland were able to be occupied for centuries with self-sufficient communities.

  5. Jim says:

    Because there was possibly a Medieval warming period in the Northern Atlantic around 1000. That’s one possible answer. Other possible answers include shifting oceanic currents which would have affected local climate. It’s interesting to consider what the causes of that period might be, and I don’t know the ultimate answer.

    This source and this source and this source of temperature reconstruction data indicate that the warming period around 1000 may have been a weak rather than strong one if it did occur, at least compared to recent much stronger warming trends.

    Is that not “true believery” enough for you?

    1. danzo says:

      Well, this pretty much puts the “Mid-Evil Warming was a local event” theory to rest. Anyone get a look at the sea-ice lately?

  6. MadMike says:

    Hmm, just posted on a very similar article, but hey … Danzo, I know what a capacitor is. The Ocean is not a capacitor. Capacitors charge and discharge according to rules given by the differential equations of electromagnetism. The Ocean “charges” and “discharges” according to the rules of thermodynamics. There are similarities, but it does not operate by the same rules.

    I am no expert on solar output cycles, but I do know that the solar sunspot cycle, which is relatively short term (11 years), causes larger variation in solar output (short term) than any other behaviour. If warming was solely due to solar output, we would experience a major warming and cooling every 11 years or so. Which doesn’t happen.

    Also, whilst not an expert on historic climates either, I do know that the medieval warm period was a localised climatic abberation as opposed to a global phenomenon, and there where many other causes for nordic greenland civilization (see almost anything by jared diamond – really not my field so I’ll source this one.)

    And finally, I am not a “Believer” in anything, I am aware that “Global Warming” may not be happening precisely as we understand, however I study physics, and know how to read evidence.

    My apologies to everyone else for the length and patronising tone of this email.

    1. danzo says:

      Watching patiently as the sea ice slowly recovers toward it’s local max sometime in March. However, there is still some ground to be made up as compared to 1979-2000 average. We certainly live in very interesting times. Even our concept of what constitutes climate change seems to be changing.

      1. Jim says:

        So much ground that the current ice extent lies more than 2 standard deviations below that 1979-2000 average.

        1. danzo says:

          I agree it will take some time. I also agree the thickness is still an issue.

  7. danzo says:

    For those new to the climate debate, why don’t you arm yourself with some concepts on climate change fundamentals.

    From NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center:

    Other sources: as a great primer. a treasure trove once you understand the basics.

    And this is just funny!

  8. danzo says:

    Earlier in this thread, when two thoughtful and well-intentioned thinkers had been duped by the ‘settled’ science guru’s:

    Mark says: 10/14/2009 at 10:48 am
    “If some people need any more information to convince that global warming is real…”


    Jim says: 10/29/2009 at 9:44 pm
    “Because there was possibly a Medieval warming period in the Northern Atlantic around 1000.”

    Not finding many posts by these guys anymore, but as a scientifically trained engineer, I have learned we should always encourage people to check out the data for themselves and form their own conclusions rather than rely on “guru’s” like our friends at the CRU, Penn State and IPCC.

    1. Jim says:

      Quite right. Below average, but within two standard deviations for the first time in some time. Right now the Arctic sea ice is still essentially at its seasonal peak, past the time when it would usually have begun to recede.

      1. deep thinker says:

        Very interesting…Now essentially normal(at mean). Age/Thickness of ice is an issue of course.

        1. Jim says:

          Essentially, although it hasn’t hit the mean, and in that sense the ice thickness hasn’t been “normal.” In a normal distribution you’d have values clustering about the mean and declining from the mean in either direction. This hasn’t happened here. I was struck by the continued rise last week. Since then, the ice has begun its annual decline. We’ll have to see whether this is the start of a new pattern or a temporary deviation from the pattern of big shrinkage.

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