Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Below Average Extent For February Arctic Sea Ice A Mixed Signal For Global Warming Alarmists and Deniers

Arctic Sea Ice Extent - February
Arctic sea ice extent for February 2013 was 
14.66 million square kilometers 
(5.66 million square miles). The magenta line shows 
the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. 

In the ongoing battle between global warming alarmists and deniers to make their case, the non linear nature of weather makes it challenging for either side to win the hearts and minds of the undecided. An unusually hot season which seemingly provides evidence of global warming is often followed by a season of fairly normal weather. On net though, the failure of global and regional temperatures to move in a linear pattern from season to season and/or year to year is a factor that provides ammunition for the climate change deniers.

The recent publication of the measured extent of arctic ice extent this winter is yet another example of the non-linear nature of weather making it confusing for the undecided to make heads or tails of the global warming debate. The February Arctic sea ice extent is the seventh lowest in the satellite record since 1979 according to the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Given that the arctic sea ice extent was the lowest ever recorded this summer, it would help make the case of  global warming alarmists if the new record lows had been recorded again this winter. However, being the 7th lowest February arctic ice extent is a real glass half full/half empty result. Both sides in the global warming debate can use it to help make their case. 

If the global warming alarmists are going to be able to make a case that tilts opinion toward their arguments, the shrinking arctic sea ice extent may be their smoking gun. Since the weather is so variable, and CO2 emissions are not visible to the eye, proof of carbon emissions causing global warming that the masses can believe in may come from the melting of arctic sea ice  And although the plight of polar bears due to shrinking arctic sea ice is probably being wildly overstated, photos of starving polar bears might be an effective way to engage the masses in the cause of reducing carbon emissions. 

So here's a big question, will the arctic sea ice melt during the summer 2013 set new records, or will the non-linear nature of weather win out again and result in a sea ice extent that is below average but nowhere near as low as last summer? The only thing that seems certain is that regardless of the loss in arctic sea ice this summer, neither the global warming alarmists nor the deniers will admit that it proves they might be wrong.


  1. In global climate terms one data point for any one region at any one time or even any decade, for Arctic sea ice or weather for any one region, is pretty meaningless so you cannot really say its a "mixed signal" for anybody.

    For climate science the trend over decades is important, not whether 2013 has the lowest ice extent. What is of concern is the fact that the trend appears to be toward non-linear, exponential loss rather than the slow linear loss that was predicted: potentially indicating increased rates and final levels of global warming due to the rapid albedo loss and the melting of permafrosts and release of clathrate methane.

    I worry to about the use of the term 'alarmist'. I have only engaged and read through climate science papers and watched lectures over the past two years. It is clear that climate scientists are alarmed by their findings.

    An alarmist is one who induces worry needlessly. As Dave Roberts has written: if you are not alarmed about global warming you're not paying attention. The term is incorrect. Your blog's goal is to sound the alarm but I am fairly sure you would not call yourself an alarmist.

    Hope you don't mind the critique. From my reading of the science I see no evidence to support denial so I wonder why one would even bother reporting it. I worry that if by reporting your blog posts with this false balance you are thereby giving credence to nonsense.

    Cheers, Paul

    1. Paul - Your critique is valid. Use of "alarmists" and "deniers" is in part an attempt to use keywords that will generate search engine traffic. Also, I try to be somewhat balanced because I am trying to reach out to skeptics and contrarians. However, I judge the overall tone of my posts gives away the fact that my view is not very balanced.