Premature Reports of Ice Death

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Mark Twain

Lots of stories predicting (hoping) that Arctic ice will go lower than 2012 and resuscitate the  Arctic “death spiral”.  And we can surely predict that Peter Wadhams will predict a September Arctic minimum of 1M km2, as he does every year.

But there’s a long way to go before then, and some historical context is in order.

September Minimum Outlook
Historically, where will ice be remaining when Arctic melting stops? Over the last 10 years, on average MASIE shows the annual minimum occurring about day 260. Of course in a given year, the daily minimum varies slightly a few days +/- from that.

For comparison, here are sea ice extents reported from 2007, 2012, 2014 and 2015 for day 260:

Arctic Regions 2007 2012 2014 2015
Central Arctic Sea 2.67 2.64 2.98 2.93
BCE 0.50 0.31 1.38 0.89
Greenland & CAA 0.56 0.41 0.55 0.46
Bits & Pieces 0.32 0.04 0.22 0.15
NH Total 4.05 3.40 5.13 4.44

Notes: Extents are in M km2.  BCE region includes Beaufort, Chukchi and Eastern Siberian seas. Greenland Sea (not the ice sheet). Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA).  Locations of the Bits and Pieces vary.

As the table shows, low NH extents come mainly from ice losses in Central Arctic and BCE.  The great 2012 cyclone hit both in order to set the recent record. The recovery since 2012 shows in 2014, with some dropoff last year, mostly in BCE.


We are only beginning the melt season, and the resulting minimum will depend upon the vagaries of weather between now and September.  At the moment, 2016 was slightly higher than 2015 in March and is trending toward a similar April extent.  Also 2016 melt season is starting without the Blob, with a declining El Nino, and a cold blob in the North Atlantic.  It is too early to put Arctic Ice on life support. Meanwhile we can watch and appreciate the beauty of the changing ice conditions.


  1. bit chilly · April 22, 2016

    ron ,what do you make of this ?
    seems a bit blatant to me.


    • Ron Clutz · April 23, 2016

      I prefer to analyze MASIE ice extent data because they have no climate axe to grind.


  2. hunter · April 25, 2016

    The interesting question to me is this: For all of the hysteria the climate obsessed display regarding Arctic sea ice, what has it mattered?
    What dangerous or unique impacts has the reduction in Arctic sea ice caused?


    • Ron Clutz · April 25, 2016

      Yes, it is strange. It’s all symbolism: melting ice, drowning polar bears, New York flooding. None of it is or could be happening, with or without CO2. And yet, it’s the Arctic amplification, the Canary in the coal mine (the latter to be shuttered of course).


      • hunter · April 26, 2016

        And “Arctic Amplification”, like the “Arctic vortex”, is an emergent property of the Earth, as old as physics. But in the demented world of the climate obsessed mind, is a dark and dangerous event caused by man’s wicked CO2.


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