Seeing the Arctic Melt without Warmist Glasses

In my Arctic Ice Watch reports I have been tracking progress toward September minimum with graphs like these (data from MASIE):

masie day 230

Doing this after a 3-week break, I was struck by the chart looking a lot like the scoring summary of a tight basketball game, only upside down.

Then AndyG55 commented on my recent summary by linking to this chart from Ed Hoskins:

As the above diagram shows, the temperature balance was pretty close for 7000 years, until the cooling accelerated over the last 3000 years.

My light bulb was in seeing that the summer melt is actually the enormous effort by the ocean to recover water trapped as sea ice in the Arctic. The ice extent varies greatly over the centuries and we know from artifacts that it has been both greater and smaller than presently.  In this time of global warming alarmism, some of us watching the melt season find ourselves hoping for the ice to gain extent, simply to take away that basis for claiming the end is nigh.

Let’s be clear. In this contest between the ice and ocean, we humans should be rooting for the ocean, and so would plants and animals if they knew what was going on. None of us want another ice age, so it is a good thing that the ocean has been gaining on the sea ice extent in the last 150 years.

Once again warmists have got it backwards. The Arctic is a canary all right: The more ice there is in September, the closer we are to the next ice age. Open water in the Arctic is a good thing for the ocean and for the planet.

So taking off the warmist glasses, we should be cheering as the water extent grows and the ice retreats. We don’t wish for a record low because that would drive the alarmists into a frenzy.  Anything around 5M km2 for September would signify nothing unusual is happening, so scary things must be found elsewhere.

Maybe the chart should look like this to emphasize the positives of more water, less ice.

Arctic Water Recovery day 230

I am not so naive to think that this perspective has much chance against the warmist PR juggernaut. Already the lessening of Antarctic sea ice this year is trumpeted as proof of CO2 warming, and not a celebration of fresh water added to the ocean.

The largest ice cap in the Eurasian Arctic – Austfonna in Svalbard – is 150 miles long with a thousand waterfalls in the summer.

But as Erasmus (1466-1536) said:
In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

And this one also applies:

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.
Charles Mackay. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841)


  1. NevenA · August 20, 2015

    That temperature graph, is that the one Don Easterbrook also uses, which actually ends in 1950?


    • Ron Clutz · August 20, 2015

      Neven, thanks for the question. I don’t know about Easterbrook, this chart comes from Ed Hoskins and you can go to his website
      AFAIK ice cores are only used for long term temperature measures, on the order of millennia, certainly not down to decades or 50 years.


  2. NevenA · August 21, 2015

    Still, it says 2000 AD at the right side of the graph, and I don’t think that’s correct. Either way, Ed Hoskins doesn’t reference the graph, but that doesn’t matter. It’s all clear, like those two quotes say at the end.


    • Ron Clutz · August 21, 2015

      Never, you’re picking at a nit. The temperature proxy in ice cores is derived from the proportion of oxygen isotopes. That variability is not discernible below the centennial scale. So at best you can compare one century to the next, as the blue histogram in the chart shows. And of course, the core can’t tell you anything later than when it was extracted.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Clutz · August 21, 2015

        Sorry, I meant Neven but iPad overwrote on me.


  3. NevenA · August 21, 2015

    No problem, Ron. I’ve looked it up. Here’s an article explaining why that graph is ‘hiding the incline’, so to say:

    Easterbrook plots the temperature data from the GISP2 core, as archived here. Easterbrook defines “present” as the year 2000. However, the GISP2 “present” follows a common paleoclimate convention and is actually 1950. The first data point in the file is at 95 years BP. This would make 95 years BP 1855 — a full 155 years ago, long before any other global temperature record shows any modern warming. In order to make absolutely sure of my dates, I emailed Richard Alley, and he confirmed that the GISP2 “present” is 1950, and that the most recent temperature in the GISP2 series is therefore 1855.

    Followed by:

    And so to an interesting question. What has happened to temperatures at the top of Greenland ice sheet since 1855? Jason Box is one of the most prominent scientists working on Greenland and he has a recent paper reconstructing Greenland temperatures for the period 1840-2007 (Box, Jason E., Lei Yang, David H. Bromwich, Le-Sheng Bai, 2009: Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007. J. Climate, 22, 4029–4049. doi: 10.1175/2009JCLI2816.1). He was kind enough to supply me with a temperature reconstruction for the GRIP drilling site — 28 km from GISP2. This is what the annual average temperature record looks like (click for bigger version):

    In case the graph doesn’t display, here’s a link. Mind you, this graph ends in 2007, but Greenland has seen warmer years since then (especially 2012). I can try and look for a more recent one, if you like.


    • Ron Clutz · August 21, 2015

      Neven, here is how I see it. The graph followed the paleoclimate convention of showing 2000 as the end point, but as Dr. Alley says ice cores don’t tell you about the 20th century, so technically that stops at 1900.
      Jason Box is a serious scientific dude and a flagbearer for Arctic alarm. His study used weather station records and a climate model to reconstruct air temperatures over Greenland, a different and much higher frequency estimate of temperatures.
      So, in the last 3000 years, we have 30 datapoints, being the temperature averages for each century. The 20th century should be higher than the last one depicted in the graph, and the trend line less steeply cooling.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Caleb · August 21, 2015

    I agree entirely that warmer is better. Also wetter. The Sahara supported a pastoral civilization during the Minoan Optima, and it was when those people became drought-refugees that there was a lot of cheap labor at the Nile and pyramids could be built.

    I recognize my own bias towards warmer-in-the-past, but I fear some people don’t. They tease the heck out of data to see what they want. A cartoon could be drawn involving teased hair, with two hairdressers working on one head, an Alarmist hairdresser and a Skeptic. What a mess!

    When it comes to Greenland, I skip the data. I just say, “Grow me some barley.” Only then will I accept that it is as warm now as during the Medieval Warm Period. The funny thing is most don’t take me up on that challenge, and instead try to invent a convoluted jet stream that only warmed Greenland, 1000 years ago.

    That is a great picture of the Svalbard waterfalls. As far as I know, such waterfalls don’t pour off the Antarctic shelves.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Seeing the Arctic Melt without Warmist Glasses | Science Matters | NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
  6. Hifast · September 1, 2015

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


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