The doomsayers’ claims about the ice disappearing are false — and you’ll still need your winter woollies!
The Arctic Sea-Ice is Disapp…—Actually Increasing
By Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser
September 30, 2015
Listening to the latest “climate doom” you’d think that the Arctic must just about be squeaky clean, not a drink-sized ice cube in sight anymore. Well, I’ve some news that must be disconcerting to the warmists: The sea-ice extent is actually quite stable, perhaps even growing and the polar bears are just fine as well.
Sea-Ice in the Arctic
The sea-ice in the Arctic waxes and wanes in a regular fashion, sort of like the phases of the Moon.
At the height of the seasonal minimum (around mid-September) the Arctic sea-ice extent is in the order of 4-5 million square kilometers (SKM). That’s quite different from the maximum extent in the Arctic winter that is typically in the 14-15 million SKM range; in other words, its common seasonal range is approximately threefold or more.
With such a large seasonal variation, some doom-and-gloom artists have been quite vociferous in predicting an “ice-free Arctic” (in summer) for years now. For example, Prof. S. Rahmstorf at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), one of Germany’s most outspoken climate modellers, repeatedly warned the world of that coming (or already triggered) “tipping point” calamity, in 2008 and again in 2012. Not to be left out (from the “warming Arctic” spiel), many others were keen on embracing that scenario in recent years as well, like the New Scientist. So, what are the facts?
Air Temperatures in the Arctic very stable
For example, the number of days with air temperature above freezing (0 C) at latitude 80 N and higher have been recorded for 55 years now. These data are readily available from the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). On the basis of such observations, they have also calculated a 50-year mean of temperatures above freezing. It has not changed in that time and you can follow it daily as well as all daily records over the past, year by year. What’s important in these data is the number of days above freezing each year. Except for 2013, where that number was one half of the long-term mean of 90 days, it hardly changed from year to year.
These data not only show a very stable climate up north, they also indicate that the claims of a “thinning” ice-cover must be false. You cannot possibly have the ice thinning and the air warming and the ice-cover being unaffected decade after decade. If the ice were getting thinner, it would melt earlier, the number of days above freezing would increase and the re-freezing would happen later in the season; none of which is happening. Now let’s look at the ice cover itself.
Minimum Sea-Ice Extent
What everyone is watching with beady eyes is the seasonal MINIMUM sea-ice extent. That occurs around mid-September and, obviously, varies more strongly as it’s influenced by a variety of natural and man-made effects than at the time of maximum extent when there isn’t much activity. For example, the brief Arctic summer is the time when submarines tend to surface near the Pole, when research vessels try to explore the Arctic, when commercial vessels may attempt to cross the Northwest or Northeast Passages, when companies are exploring for natural resources, when buccaneers try to reach the North Pole by foot, when cruise ships go on Arctic voyages, when you can go hot-air-ballooning there, and more.
Much of that brief seasonal activity still requires the accompaniment (and, frequently, rescue) by ice-breakers from the Arctic riparian countries. For example, Russia alone has about 50 of such vessels, including nuclear-powered Class-4 or higher ice-breakers. The U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy made it to the North Pole just earlier this month, as shown in the picture below from Sep. 7, 2015.
Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard, photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall
Although that photo shows the North Pole covered with solid ice, there have been other times when open water was seen right there. For example, the USS Skate surfaced there in 1958 and had repeatedly observed open water in the high Arctic.
Maximum Sea-Ice Extent barely changes
To begin with, hardly a soul ever mentions the MAXIMUM seasonal sea-ice extent in the Arctic. In truth, it hasn’t changed much for many decades. The reasons are easy to understand. With most of the year (see Air Temperatures, above) being well below freezing, the annual ice build-up is affected more by wind and currents than anything else. Therefore, it reaches a maximum at around mid-March that barely varies between years. In that context, it should also be noted that, by most accounts, the “Arctic” sea-ice count extends south to latitude 45 N, or even further towards the equator. Still, the maximum ice extent barely changes, so, no need to mention it further.
Also, there are few visitors to the high Arctic in winter. Not only is it dark for many days then, the temperatures aren’t exactly suited for frolicking either. At MINUS 40 C, even the (male) polar bears that are not hibernating are beginning to shiver. In my humble opinion, it’s a pity that the many famous climate modellers from PIK and other institutions don’t want to visit then. The local government may even provide free accommodation then (with a minimum stay of four-weeks) in tents or igloos, visitors’ choice. What could be more relaxing than a few weeks in an igloo when a blizzard rages on the outside? If need be, they can bring along a portable windmill to charge their i-thing or laptop.
Overall Arctic Sea-Ice Extent
As you can imagine, any daily measurement of that is only possible with sophisticated instrumentation and associated software from a long distance away. Satellite recognisance is what is deployed for that purpose.
There are the widely used daily satellite surveys of Arctic sea-ice published by the Nansen Environmental & Remote Sensing Center at Bergen, Norway. These satellite observations have changed repeatedly in terms of instrumentation and computer algorithms used. Therefore earlier measurement series (i.e. before 2000 or so) are not fully compatible with later ones.
Another widely used series of measurements is that of sea-ice in the northern hemisphere by the National Snow & Ice Data Center at Boulder, CO. In addition, the DMI also provides daily graphs on the Arctic sea-ice extent.
As the graphs produced by each institute have their own spatial resolution and/or definition of what constitutes “sea-ice” versus water, they give different absolute numbers; by and large though the graphs show similar trends.
Slight increase of Arctic ice during past 10 years
There is one ice measurement that has yet to see widespread use, namely the annual sea-ice average as computed from all daily data (from one source). Such an analysis is available from the Science Matters website. It has just published that for the last ten years. That graph actually shows a slightly increasing trend of the Arctic ice extent in that period, as shown below.
Arctic sea-ice extent as annual average from daily observations, 2006-2015 (provisional for 2015). Credit: Science Matters.
In short, no matter what measurement you use to look at ice in the North, it shows no sign of going the way of the dodo bird, rather the opposite. The doomsayers’ claims about the ice disappearing are false—and you’ll still need your winter woollies!
Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts.
Dr. Kaiser, scientist and author, has been conducting research for more than four decades.
After receiving his doctorate in chemistry from the Technical University Munich, he joined Environment Canada’s National Water Research Institute where he served as research scientist and project manager for several research groups. He represented the institute at a variety of national and international committees, gave numerous presentations at scientific conferences, was editorial board member and peer reviewer for several journals, adjunct professor and external reviewer of university theses, and was the Editor-in- Chief of the the Water Quality Research Journal of Canada for nearly ten years.
Dr. Kaiser is an author of nearly 300 publications in scientific journals, government and national and international agency reports, books, trade magazines, and newspapers. He has been president of the Intl. Association for Great Lakes Research, and is a recipient of the Intl. QSAR Award. He is currently Director of Research of TerraBase Inc., and is a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada.
Dr. Kaiser is widely recognized for his expertise in environmental chemistry and his “no-nonsense” approach to issues.
Dr. Kaiser can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org