Icy Arctic Mid February

Update below February 22, 2016

Needless to say, “Ice Free” never happened.  It is true that in the last ten years, August and September monthly extents declined slightly, but the other ten months have increased more than twice as much.  So the over all trend has been slightly upward.

Here is the current image from NASA:

Figure 2: Color-coded map of the daily sea ice concentration in the Northern Hemisphere for the indicated recent date along with the contours of the 15% edge during the years with the least extent of ice (in red) and the greatest extent of ice (in yellow) during the period from November 1978 to the present. The extents in km2 for the current and for the years of minimum and maximum extents are provided below the image. The different shades of gray over land indicate the land elevation with the lightest gray being the highest elevation. Source: NASA


For comparison, here is the ice chart from MASIE:



The comparable MASIE image is showing about 500k km2 more ice than the NASA image. Through mid February, 2016 is following the average winter ice growth over the last ten years, and is greater than 2015 which had a maximum below average. The NSIDC Ice Index is running behind MASIE by about 600k km2.

masie 2016 jan and feb to 48It remains to be seen in March how this year’s maximum will compare to other years.

Update February 22, 2016

Some additional information on the MASIE ice product:

MASIE: Human analysis of all available input imagery, including visible/infrared, SAR, scatterometer and passive microwave, yields a daily map of sea-ice extent at a 4 km gridded resolution, with a 40% concentration threshold for the presence of sea ice. In other words, if a gridcell is judged by an analyst to have >40% of its area covered with ice, it is classified as ice; if a cell has <40% ice, it is classified as open water.

The passive microwave sea-ice algorithms are capable of distinguishing three surface types (one water and two ice), and the standard algorithms are calibrated for thick first-year and multi-year ice (Cavalieri, 1994). When thin ice is present, the algorithms underestimate the concentration of new and thin ice, and when such ice is present in lower concentrations they may detect only open water. The underestimation of concentration and extent of thin-ice regions has been noted in several evaluation studies

Melt is another well-known cause of underestimation of sea ice by passive microwave sensors.

Meier et al. How do sea-ice concentrations from operational data compare with passive microwave estimates? Implications for improved model evaluations and forecasting

Click to access a69a694.pdf







  1. Pingback: Arctic Ice Update | NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
  2. Climatism · February 19, 2016

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Upward trend continues ((despite rising CO2)) …


  3. Hifast · February 19, 2016

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


  4. E.Martin · February 20, 2016

    How about posting a picture of ice overage from 1974? pl see http://realclimatescience.com/2016/02/giving-credit-where-credit-is-due/


  5. Caleb · February 23, 2016

    Thanks for another informative post.

    What is interesting about the NASA map is that the orange lines show how much of the sea-ice “loss” is in the Barents Sea (and on the Pacific coast of Russia and the Baltic), and not in the center of the Pole. Partly I want to dismiss the “loss” as a fringe effect, but another part of me is fascinated in what the lack of ice must mean, in terms of the “engineering” of the Atlantic. It must make a huge difference to have that vast area ice-free during one phase of the AMO, and ice-covered during the other. I bounced some ideas concerning this around in a post a couple of years ago, which actually appeared on WUWT.


    What is really cool is that we are the first people able to study this change with Satellites. If we are talking a sixty-year-cycle, then the last time what-is-about-to-happen happened, there were no satellites. We are like pioneers on a frontier.

    By the way, I think you ought submit some of your posts to WUWT. I’ll bet they would be published.


    • Ron Clutz · February 23, 2016

      Thanks Caleb. I know you are a seasoned Arctic watcher, including the cams on buoys.
      There are some posts here regarding the role of Barents Sea for the whole Arctic, and the exciting new tech measuring the water flow from North Atlantic.
      I agree the science is fascinating when not blinded by CO2 obsession.


      • Caleb · February 23, 2016

        You can bet I’ll be looking through “old issues” of Science Matters, to see what I missed, regarding Barents Sea.

        Thanks again for posting so much interesting stuff.


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