This year's sea ice considered unexciting

Well, you may call me a wild-eyed jumper-in-too-early but I'm going to call this year's sea ice as "unexciting".


There's maybe a month left, but there's no way its going to fall off the scale in that time [*]. Indeed, its looking pretty middle of the road: about the same as 2010 or 2008. Its important to realise, of course, that this isn't desperately surprising, unless you're a "death spiraller". If you're an "IPCC is roughly right"-er then that level of decline is quite bad enough to fit in with all the std type projections. If you are a death spiraller, then you're a looney, but I've said that already I think. FWIW, PIOMAS is also showing an uptick for 2013.

[*] If you disagree with this, please be prepared to put up money to support your view in a bet. Otherwise I'll just laugh at you.


* 2012/06 - "How’s my seaiceing?"
* 2013/03 - "When will the Summer Arctic be Nearly Sea Ice Free?" and Girding my loins: sea ice
* 2012/11 - "Sea ice betting report"


More like this

And when you add the negative Arctic ice area anomoly to the positive Antarctic one, you find total sea ice is about bang on the 30 year average.
As you say "unexciting".

[Nooo, I wouldn't say that was a good idea -W]

By Kon Deeler (not verified) on 12 Aug 2013 #permalink

#1 : an early involuntary disclosure of the September 2013 meme in the usual echo chambers ?

Not that my opinion is worth a cracker when it comes to sea ice. I'm just an observer. However I tend to agree that it's unlikely to set a new minimum.

I wouldn't describe sitting between 2008 and 2010 as middle of the road, though. Or not without also saying that the road has shifted a great deal in recent years :(

@bratisla: That's been a standard denialist talking point for at least a few years now. Never mind that having ocean surrounded by continents (as in the north) is a vastly different situation in terms of how ice coverage changes than having a continent surrounded by ocean (as in the south).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 12 Aug 2013 #permalink

One melting season down, two left to go.

BTW, it's PIOMAS with 1 S.

[Thanks; fixed. Yes - 2 to go... -W]

The homework assignment is due today(12-aug) for August outlook if you want to make the bar chart. UK Met was at 3.4 +/- 1.5 june and july (I don't know how/why their target would have an symmetric +/- given that 0 is going to be harder to approach than the corresponding upside)

After the 2007 record, it took five years to hit a new record. Even if that rate were to roughly hold, a "death spiral" could take until something like 2030 to reach an ice-free summer. More interesting would be a reversion to IPCC mean with ice-free summers only after 2070 or later, which would then need an explanation in terms of natural variability for what has happened recently.

Only trust the statistics you faked yourself.... Not meaning that this is fake but I am always cautious when looking at graphs.

[That's an odd thing to say. I can't see any reason why you'd be suspicious of this -W]

My own prediction was 4.5mkm^2, made as part of the Arctic Sea Ice blog, which ended up far lower.

Now, realistically, it may touch 5mkm^2 or even get slightly below. Very like 2008 and 2009, years which were "recovery" years also.

Ice has been so low in recent years, it is forgotten that 2007 was the first year minimum extent dipped below 5mkm^2 - a new regime that 2013 is obviously part of.

A "average" year, but a reminder that the Arctic is full of surprises and seldom does the expected. Many are as taken aback by this years slow melt (with 3 cyclones) as they were by last year's fast one (cyclone and all).

Craig - I said "ice area", you point to "ice mass"- comparing apples with oranges is a standard alarmist ploy.
As is quoting misleading or simply erroneous papers.
In fact Antarctic ice mass is increasing.Gravitational data from the GRACE satellites show that the vast majority of Antarctica is gaining, not losing, mass. Trend plots from the GRACE data browser (, using all available online data, show that Antarctica has continued to gain mass since the beginning of the mission in 2001:

By Kon Deeler (not verified) on 13 Aug 2013 #permalink
"For Antarctica, we report changes of −83 ± 49 and −147 ± 80 Gt/yr for two GIA models, with an acceleration of −12 ± 9 Gt/yr2 and a dominance from the southeast pacific sector of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula."
"The new correction increases the solved-for ice mass imbalance of Antarctica to -57 ± 34 Gt/yr."

Both use the GRACE data. The key abbreviation is "GIA".

Insofar as there has been anything interesting (in the Chinese sense) this year, it has been how the ice has vanished from the coast of Greenland except for the very northernmost tip. When that goes, just turn out the lights.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 13 Aug 2013 #permalink

“Man-Made BTUs play a large role in Global Warming”

[You're wrong, because you've failed to do the maths and instead written a large pile of words. See for example… -W]

Over the years I have been listening to the pros-and-cons and rhetoric about Global Warming and Climate Change. I refer to it as Climate Destabilization. However, there is one major missing aspect that is always overlooked in these ongoing discussions. There is one overall contributing factor for warming our planet that is never mentioned, discussed, or even realized by the bickering scientific community. This one thermo-dynamic fact is significant enough to change the minds of many non-believers.

This factoid is something I learned back in high school science class: the average-to-maximum efficiencies for most all thermal-cycle engines, (i.e. burns a fuel of any type) is between 25% and 30%. The rest of the fuel energy is lost as Heat. This specifically means that only about 27% of each gallon of gasoline goes into moving the vehicle. This also means about 73% of every gallon of gasoline is exhausted as Heat.
REPEAT: Roughly 3/4 of every gallon of gas used worldwide is wasted as HEAT.

Chevron’s statisticians have estimated that Americans have used about 35 trillion barrels of oil over the last 100 years; the same black gold that we’ve mostly burnt up by now. For every 42 gallons to a barrel, 19 gallons are refined for gasoline, 10 gallons for diesel, and 4 gallons for jet fuels. This accounts for about 80% of each barrel of oil that is used for transportation in the US, and 3/4 of that is burnt up as pure Heat. This means that 60% of all fuel oil used so far has been heating our planet’s atmosphere directly; that’s 21 trillion barrels of oil cooked off in the U.S. alone as only Heat. Over 4 million trillion BTU’s have been released underneath a global atmospheric blanket of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which have also been caused by burning the same 35 trillion barrels of crude oil.

This double accumulation of both the blanketing effects of CO2 and massive amounts of wasted engine heat expended underneath the same has combined into an exponential effect, far more than just the extra CO2 and sunshine alone. This “human-created” waste Heat must be included in all atmospheric calculations and projections.

Humankind’s impact on global warming is not so much in producing too much CO2, as much as Humankind is directly producing all of the Heat itself. Americans alone are directly responsible for burning 21 trillions barrels of oil as Heat being dispersed directly into our atmosphere over the last 100 years simply by driving cars. This global-wide heating is a direct consequence of burning these many fossil fuels for this long, while depleting just as much oxygen at the same time; -no science is needed here, only common sense.

It is imperative that we as Humanity should take our last chance collective efforts to build comprehensive, sustainable, non-polluting, non-nuclear, non-combustion, non-heating energy systems and platforms worldwide. More importantly, we need to finish this worldwide renewable energy effort before we all run out of oil and don’t have enough energy, fresh water, or breathable atmosphere left to build the last few remaining renewable energy infrastructures we would need to barely survive.
To be certain, we’ll never make it to Mars after that….

Excerpts from the Apogee Chronicles

I will have to defer to Kon's expertise of "ploys", but it is apparent - as Marco quotes from a published work of science - that Kon's expertise in analysing data is absent: Antarctica has not gained mass, it is losing it.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 14 Aug 2013 #permalink

I still think there's a chance that it'll do something interesting. I like because it shows all the years on it. Based on that sea ice metric, we're basically guaranteed a sea ice minimum below any pre-2007 minimum: I'll give that a 99% chance of top-7 (ok, not so exciting). We're also ahead of 2009, and I would be very surprised if we didn't stay ahead (95% chance of top-6). Now, the disadvantage of cryosphere is that the next 4 are tightly clustered, so I can't make fine distinctions. Looking at 2010, which is next up, 2013 is only slightly behind it... if our only data was current ranking, I would say that would mean at best a 40% chance of beating 2010. But... we know two things: 1) that the ice has been getting thinner and easier to disperse every year, and 2) the weird "pause" which brought 2013 back from top 4 to top 7 over a 10 day period. As a strong believer in reversion to mean in general, and in sea ice in specific (often, "pauses" mean spreading out and thinning), I think that means 2013 is poised for a strong decline.

So, I'm going to give a 60% chance that 2013 will beat 2010, and a 40% chance that it will beat out every year except 2012. (obviously, other sea ice metrics like IJIS and NSIDC would be slightly different probabilities, but they do tend to correlate)

And a 5% chance that the 2012 record will fall. Because with sea ice, you never know...


ps. Regarding Eli's comment: looking at the density map, that remaining ice on the northern coast of Greenland is pretty much the densest stuff out there. Not going away any time soon...

"but I’m going to call this year’s sea ice as “unexciting”.

So if it was disappearing you would find that "exciting".

You lefty greeny middle class loons have no shame.

You thrive on doom , gloom and anything that proves western capitalism is evil.

You make me sick.

IMO, "middle of the road" should be used more along the lines of "average of the last 30ish years". If it is to be used as "similar to the one of the previous five then almost every year (even with a strong trend) could be called motr.

Lawrence: "You lefty greeny middle class loons have no shame."

First time here, then?

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 20 Aug 2013 #permalink

The classic measures of ice are not very exciting but the actual condition of the ice is.

The extent/area fixation reminds me of the surface temperature obsession. "It's the sixth warmest year on record" per NOAA means either that we're looking at the wrong metric or global warming somehow is a halting process. We know the right answer...

By Doug Bostrom (not verified) on 28 Aug 2013 #permalink

as it happens,the mean temp. above 80 degrees north has been below normal since april/maythis year, so maybe that is the reason for the slow start to the summer ice melt,and the subsequent recovery of artic ice extent(and possibly volume).

By phil wright (not verified) on 01 Sep 2013 #permalink

CRYOSAT checks in:…
"The volume of sea ice in the Arctic hit a new low this past winter, according to observations from the European Space Agency's (Esa) Cryosat mission.

During March/April - the time of year when marine floes are at their thickest - the radar spacecraft recorded just under 15,000 cu km of ice.

In its three years of full operations, Cryosat has witnessed a continuing shrinkage of winter ice volume. "

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 11 Sep 2013 #permalink

Whelp, I must admit to having been mistaken. "We’re also ahead of 2009, and I would be very surprised if we didn’t stay ahead (95% chance of top-6)". While obviously I could hide behind the "5%" possibility we wouldn't beat 2009, I don't think that the Arctic conditions were 1 in 20 worthy... 1 in 5, maybe. So a better estimate would have been for an 80% chance of a top-6...