Fear Of Ice Death Was Greatly Exaggerated

Back in September 2007 when the Arctic sea ice reached the minimum extent recorded since 1979, it generated quite a bit of news coverage.  Many so-called experts went on to predict that the Arctic Ocean would be ice free during the summer in the upcoming years with some predicting the Arctic could be ice free by the summer of 2012.

Arctic sea ice is currently running either at or above average depending on which source you use (there are several countries and agencies that keep track of ice conditions around the world which differ slightly from each other).   With sea ice currently running near or above the long-term average, plus, with the melt season in the Arctic starting a few weeks later than usual this year, the odds that the Arctic will come anywhere near ice free this summer are virtually zero.

Instant communications and a 24 hour news cycle can often make the normal seem abnormal, yet, we all need to remember that sea ice has fluctuated greatly on decadal time scales since the last ice age and there is no reason to think that is going to change.

3 Responses

  1. Chris Biscan

    I do agree the ice will not melt out this year. However even with an incredibly favorable pattern that help create a huge anomaly in the Bering Sea. Which has been crippled in 5.

    Masie(NSIDC) and DMI(30% concentration) have picked up a -400K extent swing in 3 days.

    Winds remain favorable for ice loss in the Barents and Kara Seas. winds will be howling from the SW over the water area that looks like a dry slot where warmer ocean water from the south is pulled North into the ice pack. SSTs in the Western and Central Barents are running 2-3C above normal. These will continue for the next 48 hours before shifting more Southerly. So two more days like this animation:


    In the last 3 days that ice gets smoked. We can expect more of this the next 2-3 days at least before the pattern possible turns evil really fast.

    But also there is that big area of ice East of Svalbard. That ice is pancake like floes that are very thin, mostly half a meter, some maybe .75-1 meter closer to the main pack. This ice is sitting for the most part outside of the deeper water. To much heat gets over it and under it. This pattern will not just tare it up. It is very consolidated since it’s been under fire. that helps it a bit, more cracks = more solar radiation meeting water.

    Today’s still image of the Kara shows the Barents being deep blue sea with a large are exposed to full sunshine.

    That area spend 13 hours with the sun above 15 degrees. So there will be some heat exchange to the water. These little things are crucial to track.

    The Bering and Southern Baffin are being pounded by Sun. Both will experience wind shifts in two days, the Bering will see warm West winds turn SW, then south before North wind take over about day 5. The Baffin in two days sees Southerly winds, not that strong, but warm. A large 1035-1040HP over Greenland will bring downsloping warm winds. So that area will see more large reductions as well.

    Then day 5 or so the pattern switches, lots of HPS and sunny skies for one. But also a Dipole like pattern emerges where a large 1030-1035HP moves into the Central arctic from the Laptev and ESAS. The HP will bring sunny skies to Siberia where cracks will allow radiation to sneak in and the snow will sublimate and melt but still reflect a good portion of solar power.

    However the HP moves towards the Beaufort on day 6 and 7 when a deep SLP comes to the Kara. the Laptev takes a beating with days on end of 30kt+ day winds over a thousand miles. Ice will be ripped off the shoreline. And Pollyannas will form. There is an area of the Laptev by Tiksi, RU where the water reaches 72N, in 10 days will have the sun above 30 degrees for 6 hours and 20 degrees for over 10 hours. So there will be solar radiation to hit the open water. A 5-7 day regime of that kind of 20-35Kt winds would open up a lot of water. Even if nilas formed they would be weak and fragile replacing the thicker ice that is sent further North while MYI gets eaten by the North Atlantic warmth. I think the mirage is about up.


    Great paper to read and see why this is not natural and isn’t going to get better.

  2. CBDunkerson

    Sorry, but this is fiction.

    First, the ‘near average’ values cited are for the ice EXTENT. That is, the area of ocean surface at least 15% covered by ice. Basically, how ‘spread out’ the ice is. Current ice volume (~20000 km^3), the actual AMOUNT of ice, is nowhere near the long term average for this time of year (~27000 km^3), and hasn’t been for decades.

    Second, your claim that “many” experts said the Arctic would be “ice free” by 2012 is simply false. ONE person, Jay Zwally, said, “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012”. This was not a ‘prediction’. It was an extrapolation of what would happen if the unusually high rate of decrease seen in 2007 continued for five more years. I doubt Zwally intended to indicate he expected that to happen, but in any case this is one person and he said “nearly ice free” rather than totally so.

    The fact that you ‘make your case’ by misrepresenting both the data and what has been said demonstrates just how weak your position is.

  3. Daryl Ritchison

    #1. More than just Jay Swally said that 2012 could be ice free, although, no one of his stature. And I readily admit it was a could.
    #2. Volume is higher than you state from many other sources, plus your “in decades” is grossly exaggerated. Our current average is only based on~ 30 years of satellite data (since 1979)
    #3. I make no prediction or misrepresentations in the blog, just stating information. Although with the Pacific at cold phase and the Atlantic soon to change to cold phase, I would state what I said in 2007 that that Arctic sea ice will continue to slowly go back to what it was in the 1970s in the future and I see no reason to change those thoughts. We will find out in 10-15 years if my hunch is correct.
    #4. People can take from it what they want
    #5. I Appreciate your comments and I’m glad you took the time to state your opinion, I like others chiming in.


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