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Surprise Late-Season Melt: Arctic Sea Ice Extent Falls Below 2008 Level

The melting of the Arctic sea ice literally crossed another line yesterday, as the area of Arctic sea ice fell below the level of two years ago:

Arctic Sea Ice Extent, September 12, 2010

The collapse of the Arctic sea this year is only surpassed by the calamity of 2007. The four lowest years of Arctic sea ice extent are the last four years. The extent of Arctic sea ice observed yesterday is about four standard deviations below the 1979-2000 mean for that calendar day: current ice conditions are only 0.01% likely to be observed as a random event, assuming that the classic climate pattern seen in the 1979-2000 average still holds. Nothing is certain in a probabilistic science like climatology, but the existence of a climate shift here is about as close to certain as you can get.

As of yesterday, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic is still falling.

4 thoughts on “Surprise Late-Season Melt: Arctic Sea Ice Extent Falls Below 2008 Level”

  1. Rowan says:

    I appreciate your comment about probabilistic science, given the context of my reading Stephen Hawking’s book, the Grand Design. People who can’t understand this aspect of statistics seem to have a faith-based need for absolute mechanical certainty.

  2. Tom says:

    And, true to form, everyone wants IN on all the RESOURCES there. Gimme, gimme, gimme; me first! No you get out of here, it’s MINE! MINE MINE MINE!

  3. deep thinker says:

    have a look at the situation in the southern hemisphere.

    1. Jim says:

      See here: Antarctic sea ice is not as clear-cut an indicator of climate because most of the ice in Antarctica is over land, and ice movement over Antarctica can have complicated effects on the amount of ice off Antarctica. A better indicator for Antarctica is the volume of ice over Antarctic land and sea, which as links here show is on a sharp decline.

      Volume, by the way, is also a reasonable measure for Arctic ice, and the trend in Arctic ice volume is disturbing.

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