The 2011 Big Story Prediction: Arctic Ice Coverage


With the strong El Nino a year ago the obvious big news story to get people worried about global warming was the story that 2010 would be a warm year thus proving that global warming was real.  Since El Nino has faded and been replaced by a strong La Nina there is no chance that warmists will be focusing on the global temperature.  Since the global temperature will be bad news for the warmists this year they will have to pick a new topic to show had badly global warming is damaging the Earth.

That is the real advantage that the warmists have created by saying that everything bad is caused by global warming.  They can pick and choose a topic every year (or day) and use that to show how much the world is changing as a result of global warming.  Since weather is always causing some variation it is safe to say that they will always be able to find something to latch onto.

So what will the news be this year.  The Arctic Ice looks to be a good candidate.   It has been low all winter and could easily be the lowest ice coverage recorded in the satellite era.  The previous record was the 2006-2007 winter and this graph shows the current winter in comparison.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Arctic Sea Ice

There is no question that it is lower than normal and low even by the last few years.  If a person only listens to the first headline, they will know that the winter of 2010-2011 had low Arctic Ice.  This type of “proof” is usually enough to stir people up into a frenzy about global warming.

The real story though is that the ice coverage is low for the same reason that Florida and Great Britain had brutally cold winters.  The ice in the area around Hudson Bay and then eastward to Greenland has been slow to develop because it has been warmer there than normal.  The cause of that is the high pressure system that diverted the cold weather south to central US and Europe throughout the winter.  The cold weather that should have been freezing the ice in the Arctic found its way south and caused record cold in other places.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center has commented about the Arctic Oscillation that has caused so much disruption in the weather this winter.  It says:

“Arctic sea ice extent for January 2011 was the lowest in the satellite record for that month. The Arctic oscillation persisted in its strong negative phase for most of the month, keeping ice extent low.

Overview of conditions

Arctic sea ice extent averaged over January 2011 was 13.55 million square kilometers (5.23 million square miles). This was the lowest January ice extent recorded since satellite records began in 1979. It was 50,000 square kilometers (19,300 square miles) below the record low of 13.60 million square kilometers (5.25 million square miles), set in 2006, and 1.27 million square kilometers (490,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average.

Ice extent in January 2011 remained unusually low in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait (between southern Baffin Island and Labrador), and Davis Strait (between Baffin Island and Greenland). Normally, these areas freeze over by late November, but this year Hudson Bay did not completely freeze over until mid-January. The Labrador Sea remains largely ice-free.”

So the same shift in weather this past winter that caused so much disruption in the Northern Hemisphere is also responsible for the low ice extent around Greenland.

The result will be many graphs that look like the following:

The Inconvenient Skeptic

This will be shown to display the trend in the Arctic Sea Ice.

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Here is a more comprehensive chart of the Arctic Sea Ice that you will not be shown by most sources.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Actual Arctic Sea Ice over the past 30+ years.

While I am not going to argue that the past 5 years have not been lower than they were 20 years ago, there is plenty of evidence that the 1940’s had comparable low Arctic Sea Ice Extent.  The Arctic Oscillation pretty much messed up all the trends for the current winter and using that impact to make predictions is foolish.  I expect that plenty of dire warnings will be made as a result of the current winter (and already have been), but the Earth’s cycles have always been variable.  This winter is a good example of how much a single event like the Arctic Oscillation can impact many aspects of weather around the Northern Hemisphere.

Posted in Cause and Effect and Fear and Misinformation and Politics and Global Warming by inconvenientskeptic on February 15th, 2011 at 6:50 am.

4 comments

This post has 4 comments

  1. Terence Stover Feb 15th 2011

    Living on the coast of Hudson Bay, in Churchill, Manitoba, I have experienced weather and ice fluctuations over twenty-five winters. I found the comments on this Post both enlightening and unarguably accurate.

    Thank You

  2. intrepid_wanders Feb 15th 2011

    What is fascinating to me is the yearly min/max range. 1980 ~5.5-14.75 (range 9.25) and 2010 3-13.75 (range 10.75). So, in the “hot years”, the recovery range is 14% higher than the “cold years”.

    I would find it more plausible that in a “warming climate”, the recovery range would diminish with the declining average trend. Without that process, it would indicate to me that there is another energy transport mechanism just “moving” things around and we are just waiting to capture all the phases of the Arctic environment.

  3. I recommend your readers check out a more thorough and referenced article on Arctic sea ice, such as this one written by an engineer who has notably good scientific methodology:

    http://www.science20.com/chatter_box/arctic_ice_october_2010

  4. John,

    As usual a very interesting article. Here is some evidence of lower Arctic ice thickness in the 1940s. The graph was taken from this paper. I’m currently trying to track down the original paper this data references to see if the 15 stations also have data on extent.

    Also, I wonder how many CAGW proponents are aware that in 1971 Arctic ice extent was 12% above the norm and stayed at that level until the mid 70s. (the paper is paywalled so I can only link to the abstract.) Doesn’t make the current decline look so scary when you know where it started.

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