Minimum Ice Extent


So, I was lurking at WUWT and saw that I almost missed the annual minimum sea ice extent prediction.  I saw Smokey chatting with a person that stated, “Remember the predictions, on this site, made just a couple years ago, that we were going to return to 1979 ice extent levels and recuperate ice thickness in a few years(!)?”

So, me being me, full of beer and wondering what the heck, what’s wrong with the sea ice?  We all know 4 years ago the bottom just about dropped out, but since then, in spite of the reality denying lunatic fringe, its been recovering just fine.  Then I remembered my recent excursions to sodahead and realized that us skeptics are probably about the only group of people on earth that actually look for information when dire and extreme claims are made.

So, here’s my offering of reality.  This graph is made from the data available here.  Seeing that the minimum occurs in September, I simply graphed from the 1st of Sept. to the end of Sept. for each year starting in 2007 and added the linear trend line.  While the dates aren’t listed, (formatting or beer issue, I haven’t decided what I’m going to blame this on, yet) the dates are easily discerned by looking at the point to point.  For the novice, this represents the lowest part of this spaghetti graph.

The numbers going vertical are km^2.



Yes, the ice cube at the top of the world is still there and doing fine.  The poley bears can rest easy……..seals, not so much.

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29 Responses to Minimum Ice Extent

  1. Scott says:

    To be fair, I do think that only a few years is still too noisy to tell for sure. However, the proper response to the CAGW believer’s quote would be to acknowledge it and then compare it to quotes for highly respected scientists in the field. They were throwing out the serious option (50/50) that the ice would be entirely gone by 2008! So lets see…a slight rebound from 2007, though maybe only 1/3 of the predicted magnitude of an interested spectator….fail. Or, a prediction of 100% ice extent loss by an “expert” vs. the reality of ~20% extent gain…super ridiculously epic fail. Yes, maybe I should post that at WUWT, but I’ve almost given up over there.


    • suyts says:

      Yeh, there are “believers” on both sides. And you’re right, this is too small of a time frame to make any conclusions about it. It’s just that when I hear people blathering about recent ice melt, I’m wondering what they’re looking at. It certainly isn’t the data. It’s just like when they speak of recent global warming. They entirely ignore the last decade, other than to say it was the hottest evuh.

      It should be interesting to see what happens this year, but only from a purely academic perspective. I honestly don’t believe the ice cap matters very much.

  2. Scott says:

    By the way, I suggest that a better way to do your above analysis is to use the average September extent for each year, so you’ll only be working with 4 data points in the regression. That avoids any biases that can arise from different dates of the month. For instance, if you plotted June like you did above, it would be biased to show a decrease because June 1 is always higher than June 30.


    • suyts says:

      Thanks Scott, point taken. I probably should have endeavored to find the average date of the minimum, but from looking at the graph, (peak to peak and trough to trough) it shows pretty much what I expected. Besides, it would be an awful boring graph to have only 4 data points. 🙂 I know, …… on the edge!

  3. mrsircharles says:

    Can you tell me what the horizontal numbers in your graph should be?

    Melting ice caps do very much matter. Less ice means less reflection of sun rays. More dark ocean surface means more absorption of heat. It is known as positive feedback.

    Why not just using the original graph of AMSR-E? It shows clearly a decline over the years.



    But we should be more concerned about the thickness. The sea ice volume has dramatically decreased over the last decades.



    => Wikileaks reveals Arctic could be the new cold war

    • suyts says:


      Thanks for stopping by. The horizontal numbers represent days. As I explained in the post, when I made the graph, the arctic minimum always occurs in September, so instead of a very muddled spaghetti graph, or having to bother with all the other values, I simply graphed the last 4 Septembers. (2007-2010) (1-31 = Sept 2007, 32-63 = Sept 2008, etc….)

      The reason why I didn’t address the other years, is that I wasn’t looking for a longer term trend. We can all easily discern the decline in the ice cap longer term. What I was getting at, as are several of my posts here, is that the terminology and verbiage employed by alarmists is often in present tense. In the same fashion as the discussion speaks of current warming, when none exists, the conversation about the ever shrinking ice cap quit shrinking 4 years ago.

      Now, I’m not saying that warming won’t pick up again, or that the icecap won’t start shrinking again, I’m simply contexting the conversation to more closely reflect reality. Before I started digging into various issue of our climate, I had always held that our climate was cyclic, (more like several cycles operating some dependently, some independently of each other. Much in the same way the moon, Earth and Sun interact, only with many more cycling objects. So, it would hold that if something warms, it will cool again. It may be, the more recent event are heralding a decline of an arc or two.

      A couple of thoughts before I close. First, thanks for the links, but, I’d refrain from using Wikileaks if you want to be taken seriously. Wikipedia is fine, but one must take care when using it, in that there have been several battles as to what include and exclude by the wiki people themselves, so much of the information presented can be viewed as biased and tainted.

      Lastly, if you read my other comments, you’d know I’m not concerned with the arctic ice as to whether it melts or doesn’t. I don’t believe it has that much of an impact, on either our climate or poley bears. I once expressed that in a semi-coherent manner, perhaps I’ll dust it off and present it in a more elegant fashion. I only posted this as a way to frame the discussion.

      I hope I cleared some things up for you as to why I presented this in this manner, I’m sure you’ll have more questions, feel free. Now that you’re approve, your comments will no longer have to wait in moderation.

    • Scott says:

      Keep in mind that there is no satellite monitoring of thickness, and therefore no reliable volume sources. All volume numbers you see are extrapolated from a model…typically PIOMAS. The PIPS model paints a very different picture than the PIOMAS model. Yes, the Arctic ice has declined dramatically in the last 10 years. No, that drop (at least in extent/area) has not been over the last 4 years.


    • Jimbo says:

      If Arctic ice extent and volume is indeed cyclical then the graphs you show are at the end of the cycle. I am prepared to wait and see as I know that the Arctic has varied in extent during the 18th and 19th century.

      We have been told about a feedback look of warming Arctic. Since 2007 this has not so far been observed.

  4. Jimbo says:

    “It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated.

    (This) affords ample proof that new sources of warmth have been opened and give us leave to hope that the Arctic Seas may at this time be more accessible than they have been for centuries past, and that discoveries may now be made in them not only interesting to the advancement of science but also to the future intercourse of mankind and the commerce of distant nations.”
    President of the Royal Society, London, to the Admiralty, 20th November, 1817

  5. AndyW says:

    You’re taking 3 years only and the last year ice level is decreasing again so the “recovery” only lasted for 2 years maximum and in those 3 years only managed to reach the 30 year average once.

    Strangely I am not impressed it is proof of a recovery, unsurpisingly.

    This is a better graph

    • suyts says:

      Andy, it wasn’t meant as a “proof” of recovery. It was meant to context the present tense with the past tense. Do you or I know what’s going to happen this year or next? Nope. I think by now we both should believe that the ice will come somewhere in between 2007 and 2009…..but who knows? The point is, the arctic ice isn’t in the decline, it hasn’t been for 4 years.

      Will the arctic ice completely go away? I don’t think so. But it might. Does it matter? ……An entirely different discussion which I will address sometime in the future, but no, it doesn’t. But, that’s for a later date.

  6. AndyW says:

    PS Rename your blog Space Suyts … that would be cool ! 😀

    • suyts says:

      lol, very nice Andy. 🙂 In many places and times, I have been a sarcastic person. In fact, I love sarcasm, it is a beautiful form of humor and humor rocks! I just keep waiting for someone to bring it here……do you know anyone that can?

  7. AndyW says:

    Not sure if you have seen this,

    Hopefully they will have a website where it is updated regularily.


  8. mrsircharles says:

    >a href=””>June 8, 2010, Arctic sea ice extent declines rapidly in May

    See what the trend is.

    • suyts says:

      Way to early in the game to making assumptions about how this year will pan out. In fact, you can see that this time of year has little or no bearing on how the minimum will pan out.

      But, its getting closer to the time.

  9. Latitude says:

    Ok, I just realized that I said something really stupid over on Steve’s blog…..

    “can’t have it both ways”

      • Latitude says:

        I’m going to put this here, because I’ve been pondering it…..
        …so I’ll let you ponder it too!

        If it’s getting colder sooner, that should make thicker ice each year…
        It get’s an earlier start on the intense cold

      • Mike Davis says:

        So much in the Arctic region depends on the wind conditions. With more cold more ice should form. There are actually Ice factories in the Arctic region where ice is formed and blown to other regions.
        I am not talking about real buildings but where natural processes tend to generate lots of ice. Many of those locations are relatively ice free them selves as the ice is transported out as it forms. Once Ice has formed in a location and become fast it acts as insulation and restricts further ice forming there. It may increase in area and thickness but that slows due to warm currents flowing under the ice. Well relatively warm as compared to the temperature of the ice.
        The other problem with your theory is shifting weather conditions, when cold air is transported out of the Arctic region warm air replaces it and that would slow the ice growth as it did last Winter. Weather in the Arctic region is a lot more extreme than most other regions on the globe. The only region with worse weather would be Antarctica or at the top of high mountains.

      • Mike Davis says:

        Explanation for the bad weather conditions is a lack of moisture in the atmosphere to dampen the extremes.
        An increase in the Greenhouse effect would dampen extreme weather rather than increase it! Latitude can probably see that!

      • Latitude says:

        I’m with you….I’m just pondering and thinking out loud

      • Mike Davis says:

        That is my problem as well. I type what I am thinking rather than attempt t form some rational reply.

  10. Pingback: An update to the minimum ice extent | suyts space

  11. Pingback: The top 10 posts for the year (by views) | suyts space

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