New on the Endangered Species List: Perennial Arctic Ice

Thu, 2008-06-26 09:14Todd Carmichael
Todd Carmichael's picture

New on the Endangered Species List: Perennial Arctic Ice

The bad news dropped very hard on us today at Desmog: The North Pole could be free of sea ice for the first time in recorded history this summer, according to National Geographic News.

And that would have the effect of speeding global warming, as highly reflective ice gives way to heat absorbing water in the high Arctic.

As NatGeo reports, scientists were shocked last year when the high Arctic lost 65 per cent of its ice cover in one year, an unprecedented loss over a time scale they previously thought was impossible. And, perversely, that generates more of the Deniers' favorite commodity: doubt.

We can all now doubt that things were as bad as we might have feared. As it turns out: they're worse.


Because we have been losing “depth” of Arctic sea ice roughly as fast as area, it means that the total volume (or mass) loss is dire. E.g. if we lose 50% of the area AND 50% of the thickness, it means we lose closer to 75% of the mass (or volume). This represents a loss of an enormous heat sink. So it’s not just the albedo issue, whereby open oceans will absorb more solar heat. It’s also that the surrounding waters have less ability to dump their heat any more.

And of course this same loss of heat sink/increased albedo will inevitably feedback into accelerated deterioration of nearby permafrost regions… The general drumbeat of “worse than expected” data points that we keep getting is ominous. Google “climate change” & “worse than expected”… Not good…

Sea ice continues to get lots of attention. I previously discussed March 2008 results here. June 2008 results should be available soon, but in the mean time, I’ve updated my own graphics showing a tripartite image of global, SH and NH, instead of only showing NH sea ice, as done in other recent comments e.g. Phil here, the UK Independent and Michael Tobis here.

First, I’ve uploaded a script that collates the SIDADS information into coherent time series (see and can be a tool for people wishing to carry out their own analyses.

Here is a tripartite plot of global, SH and NH sea ice, expressed here as monthly anomalies (in million sq km). On a global basis, sea ice anomalies in May 2008 continue to be above the long-term average during the 1979-2008 satellite period - the 10th highest on record. SH sea ice is off a bit (in anomaly terms) from record levels earlier in 2008, but remains at near record levels (3rd highest May anomaly). In fairness to last year’s commenters on Arctic sea ice, 2007 sea ice levels really do stick out relative to other values during the satellite period; May 2008 NH sea ice are not as extreme as last year’s (10th lowest.)

Wilbert is a troll, not a scientist. View his claims with scepticism.

VJ is a troll, not a scientist. View his claims with scepticism. How many scientists on this site again?

“I decided I just had to call because you’ve printed a picture of the Earth upside down” - Al Gore, Washington Times, 1998

What about the recent study from NASA that indicated most of the recent Arctic ice reduction was due to wind/currents, not global warming?

… and what caused the change in wind currents?

Fern Mackenzie

“… and what caused the change in wind currents?”

Why, it’s obvious!

The same thing which causes all changes in wind and currents, and controls the tides: shameful Western decadence and the secret Haliburton weather machine hidden in the basement of the White House, controlled by Dick Cheney and his Zionist masters.

If you disagree with this, you are obviously a denieralist, and will be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

Please remember to recycle. Thank you for your cooperation.

Rob, why don’t you stop writing on this blog. You add nothing to the discussion.

I wonder if one of the active volcanoes that are under there are contributing in any way to the increased loss.

= The bad news dropped very hard on us today at Desmog: The North Pole could be free of sea ice for the first time in recorded history this summer, according to National Geographic News. =

The North Pole has been ice free in the past. Where is the news story here?

= As NatGeo reports, scientists were shocked last year when the high Arctic lost 65 per cent of its ice cover in one year, an unprecedented loss over a time scale they previously thought was impossible.=

Everyone was shocked. And of course, scientists most of all as not one of their myriad of models predicted the big melt.

Also, because none of the models predicted the ice retreat, scientists can not attribute last years melt to AGW unless they seriously revise their theories. Finally, it is possible that last years shift was mostly the result of natural variation.

= And, perversely, that generates more of the Deniers’ favorite commodity: doubt.=

Healthy skepticism is a good thing when it comes to assessing climate science and especially the over-alarmist claims of too many of its supporters.

= We can all now doubt that things were as bad as we might have feared. As it turns out: they’re worse. =

It’s always worse in an alarmist’s world. It’s worse every week, every month, every year.

Meanwhile, ice cover in the Arctic is 600,000 square kilometers more then it was last year (so much for thin ice melting faster).

When you see a word or words with a colored underline, that means those words link to another article on the internet. If you click on the link, your web browser will take you to that other article. And when you read that other article (in this case at least), you’ll discover that your tenses are wrong and your point is invalid. Hope this helps.

Guess what, Paul S/G is completely WRONG again.

The Arctic ice extent is only slightly behind last year. It even surpassed last year’s low for a brief time and now has moved slightly ahead.

What lying denying site did you find “ice cover in the Arctic is 600,000 square kilometers more then it was last year”? Or did you just make it up?

See this site (you do know how to cut and paste?):

You are so stupid, how on earth do you find your way home at night?

Ian Forrester

Oh My GOD! what a scary Graph Ian got there it shows Ice start to decline in Spring and the melting increase during the summer!! Run for the hills! Summer is coming now only once a years and is fast becoming extinct at an Unprecedented rate….
Can’t wait for the response ..Oh wait we already know the response .. it is.. You are an Idiot ! Go back to school ! you are Ignorant! you are a denier! your a liar ! You are wrong ! I am Left..I mean right! You work for Exxon!

I even found a video of Ian Reading a Denier’s Post.

I point out that Paul S/G is WRONG (as usual), give some reference to where people can see how WRONG he is and you make an asinine comment.

You have a lot more problems that the ones you listed (You are an Idiot ! Go back to school ! you are Ignorant! you are a denier! your a liar ! You are wrong ! I am Left..I mean right! You work for Exxon!) Seriously, I think you need professional help (only if you are older than 10, otherwise your problems are normal for the under 10 age group).

Why do you deniers have so much of a problem accepting scientific facts? I am curious to know why you reject science in this way.

Ian Forrester

Well since you have all the information at hand Show me the science! How hard can it be? ..I guess it is hard without a Computer model.. But explain how it works again?… CO2 cause temperature to rise.

answer coming… “You are an Idiot ! Go back to school ! you are Ignorant! you are a denier! your a liar ! You are wrong ! I am Left..I mean right! You work for Exxon!” let me add “you need professional help”. to the already colorful descriptions.

“I am curious to know why you reject science in this way.”

Science? What science?

If you really want to read up on the science there are two good places.

Firstly, read the IPCC Reports.

Secondly there is an online text on climate science.

It can be found here:

Read these then come back and discuss things in a rational manner. Otherwise you will be treated as as stupid troll.

Ian Forrester

Rational manner? like yours? ..I will pass if that is the case.
I have read the IPCC AR4 and even read the Summary before the report was out and know about how the report had to fit the summary.
You have never given me the credit and the courtesy to have knowledge or the intelligence to debate you . Instead you use insults and degrading comments at every opportunity.
Do not use words like “Rational manner” if you do not intend to practise what you preach. I am not sorry to ask questions when someone tells me there are 4ea 90 degree corners in a circle.

RB is being a typical denier, all bluster when they are spouting their nonsense. However, when challenged to discuss the real science they make excuses and refuse to debate.

What a sorrowful person you are.

And if you have actually read the various IPCC reports, what exactly do you disagree on? I bet you will remain in hiding.

Ian Forrester

I’m still waiting. Since you claim to have read the IPCC reports but do not accept the science behind AGW just what aspects of the science do you not accept or think are wrong?

If you can not come up with reasons then you are just a typical denier, denying the science because it does not fit in with your political views and selfish attitude.

Ian Forrester

Wilbert, it’s clear that you don’t like Ian. But I don’t see why you chose the above comments to demonstrate it. Paul has a habit of writing unsubstantiated things. Ian called him on it where Paul was demonstrably propagating a falsehood. Ian kindly provided the “demonstrably” part with a url. For some reason you got upset that he provided substantiation for his claim. If you have a good point to make then please state it; if you simply don’t like how Ian gets too easily baited into name-calling then don’t pretend that you have a relevant point to make regarding AGW.

You are a complete idiot if you can’t (or won’t) work things out for yourself.
what you find will prove that you are nothing but an arrogant, stupid fool .
why do AGW deniers have such a hard time writing in intelligible English?.
You just show how stupid you are.
Why do you keep making a fool of your self with your inane comments?
You are just a joke in your efforts to smear the names of well respected climate scientists.
Have you graduated from Kindergarten yet? Why not complete your schooling before you make a further fool of yourself. Education broadens the mind.
Go and get an education then you can come and comment here, otherwise stay in the sand box in your kindergarten class.
You are so stupid
Ian Forrester.

Should I keep on Going? ..I guess I can add TROLL to the list?

Everything I have posted about you and the other trolls can be verified. Why did you not put in the context for my remarks?

You people come on this blog and smear and ridicule world renowned scientists with your filthy lies and you get upset when you are called on it.

If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.

Ian Forrester

” smear and ridicule world renowned scientists”
Like who ?
I am not a scientist as I said many times just a tax payer.
Like I said earlier if some scientist try to tell me “there are four 90 degree corners in a circle”.
You showed a Graph and to me it is a graph showing Ice melting in summer. as far as I am Concerned I cannot see anything there to make me run for the Hills.
Since you always answer with a Sarcastic and Insulting tone… I returned the favor.
The graph below show Arctic sea ice. Is that not different then the one you showed?


You shouldn’t encourage Ian (aka Knuckledragger). His tiresome but nevertheless hateful spew would have resulted in banning months ago if Desmog was a respectable blog.

Yes Zog you are right I should not have… Maybe Ian as a history of some encounter with an alien and an Anal probe?

Rex Murphy June 27. CBC

Truth may enter the world by many doors, but she is never escorted by force. I thought that was a lesson learned long ago, and learned by none more tellingly than scientists. Real scientists, actually, have learned it. A new amalgam has emerged however, the scientist-activist, and for that specimen it’s a lesson passed by.

In the dawn of the Enlightenment, it was scientists who were hauled before tribunals and inquisitions. Galileo is the arch example, the pioneer empiricist who rejected the ancient Earth-centric model of the (then known) universe, and for his pains earned the attention and wrath of the distinctly unscientific Inquisition.

I am drawn to these thoughts, and to the long-decayed example of the Inquisition, by a most curious outburst this week by James Hansen, the principal voice of NASA on the subject of global warming, a man who played – as it were – John the Baptist to Al Gore’s messianic teachings on the subject. Dr. Hansen is largely credited with “sounding the alarm” on man-made global warming, and he has been a persistent, high-profile and very aggressive proponent of the cause for over two decades now. Dr. Hansen doesn’t take kindly to those who dispute his apocalyptic scenarios. I choose the term, apocalyptic, deliberately. According to Dr. Hansen, mankind may have reached the tipping point with global warming. Should that be the case, wide-scale calamity and catastrophe are inevitable. And should we not have reached the point of absolute crisis, should there be a minuscule interval for the human species to act and avert the very worst, according to Dr. Hansen, what yet remains to be faced is still horrible enough indeed.

Not all the world shares Dr. Hansen’s vision of imminent ecological Armageddon. Serious minds, seriously disinterested in the subject, throw up caveats all the time. They question the models of climatological speculation; they question the peculiar mix of man-made and other likely sources of climate dynamics; they question some of the data gathering and some of its interpretation; and they question the very maturity of the highly complex, and experimentally deficient science of global warming itself.

They seriously question, too, the massive policy prescriptions that are being insisted upon as necessary in response to the scientific determinations of man-made global warming. There is lots of room for different, honest opinion on questions so large and complex, questions at the terribly complicated intersection of science, politics and economics.

But, to Dr. Hansen’s agitated mind, those who raise such questions, who inject skepticism into the global warming debate, are “deniers.” The word here is becoming commonplace, but it remains a singular slur. A clutch of the global warming believers like to cast all who would argue with them into the polemical pit, the pit being that dissent from orthodox opinion on global warming as the equivalent of Holocaust denial. It is a shameless and vicious tactic, and hardly accords with the nobility that is suppose to drive the conscience of those out to save the planet. Dr. Hansen is overfond of the specious and chilling analogy: He has written of the “crashing glaciers serv(ing) as a Krystal Nacht” and, although he later repented of the metaphor, compared coal trains to “death trains – no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species.” This week, Dr. Hansen went a step even more noxiously forward.

He called for a tribunal, or as I prefer to call it, an Inquisition, to put on trial for crimes against nature and humanity, the CEOs of the big oil companies who, according to Dr. Hansen’s frantic view of things, feed the public “misinformation” about the climate crisis. Again the implicit model is to Nuremberg, as the man attempts to put concern for a future – let us call it a probability – on a moral and factual par with the unquestioned, historical, shattering enormity of the Nazi Holocaust.

Is this a scientist speaking? If so, it is more than curious that in the 21st century it is the scientist calling for the secular equivalent of an Inquisition. More to the point, are these the words of a man really certain of his truth, or one who – with the anxiety of the fanatic – is trying to shield it from all rigour of skepticism and inquiry? In either case, I do not question at all the assertion that it is the voice of a man who is neither a friend to reason or science. This is the voice of the scientist-activist consumed with his own virtue and fearful of all dispute.

Science has no need of tribunals or trials, no need of Nuremberg justice, or analogies with the Holocaust. James Hansen’s words this week were an offence, an offence against inquiry, against science, against moral seriousness. They were a piece of insolence against the idea of debate itself.

If you’re going to recycle something it would be nice if it wasn’t still crap when it comes out the other end.

It is clear from your posts that you have been groomed in the Swift Boat approach to attacking world renowned climate scientists. You made scurrilous remarks about Dr. Hansen in one of your very first posts to this blog.

You show complete ignorance towards science and arrogantly announce that you know more than the climate scientists.

You do not understand the difference between a graph, which I produced, and a photo which tells you what happened on a particular time but tells you nothing of how that time compares to other times and to a calculated average.

A graph is full of data (note data is plural and refers to many pieces of information). Your photo is a datum, one piece in a tiny puzzle which tells you nothing by itself.

The fact that you do not understand this difference just shows your arrogance when you say that we are wrong to call you stupid. You reconfirm our assessment of your stupidity with every post. If you want more examples and context for your stupidity in regards to science and climate science then I will be only too willing to expose more of your stupidity. Showing how stupid you are means that less people will read your posts and shows the denier trolls for what they really are, stupid, ignorant slime balls who would rather besmirch the names and reputations of scientists than discuss any aspects of the science that they do not understand.

So keep it up, the more you rant and rave the more ridiculous you show your ideas to be.

Ian Forrester

Is this a reply to my comment? Does this have anything to do with the url to which you took offense?

This story isn’t exactly a bombshell. I’m wondering what influence the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is having and when will they be evacuating Vancouver?

Not only is the PDO shifting into a cool phase, the newly-discovered Pierce Pacific Oscillation is shifting into a really cool phase. Check these data from the Quatsino WS for the Sept Equinox Interval (Sept 16-26). NB: A small sample interval is used so that there is a minimal change in sunlight (ca a decrease of about 30 min) during the interval. Also at this time of the year any effects of the ENSO are small.

Interval…….Tmax K…..Delta T K.

1900-1939: 282.2—– -.-.

1940-1979: 290.4—– +1.2.

1980-2005: 290.3—– -0.1.

2006-2006: 289.1—– -1.2.

2007-2007: 288.5—– -0.6.

Note the temperature increase of +1.2 K for the 1940-1979 interval. This is opposite that of the PDO which went into a cool phase in 1940. More importantly note that Tmax was constant from 1940 to 2005 then dropped quite abruptly at 2006 by -1.2 K and an additional -0.6 K in 2007. Thus no effect of increasing GHG concentration on regional climate, which is the vast North Pacific Ocean.

The above is preliminary emprical evidence for a long-term oscillation with a period of at least 60 yrs and hereinafter shall be known as the Pierce Pacific Oscillation.

Since the PDO has also shifted into a cool phase, we can expect some pretty chilly temps for the next 30 years until the PDO shifts into a warm phase.

I posted these data over at Gavin’s Garage, but the Grinch stole it and put it into his closet or maybe his freezer.

More data is needed to confirm the existence of the Pierce Pacific Oscillation. Unfortunately, it quite difficult to find on the west coast permenantly-sited weather stations that have unbroken station records that start before 1900.

I have said this before at this site: Go out and face to the north. There is a chill breeze in air that is very much different than that of the recent past.

When I face north I see a bare cut on Grouse and a bare Lions. And when I check the two week forecast for Vancouver I see


You started out sounding all scientific and everything at the beginning of your post and then it all went downhill in the last sentence. What happened man?

I’ve stood on the mud and rock slopes of Kilimanjaro where years before I clung to ice. I’ve trekked across desserts where the shifting sands claim mile after mile of fertile soil, year after year. I’ve trudged though mud and swamps on plateaus where a decade before I dug holes in permafrost to store perishables. I walk across the Artic ice, and see it is thinning and receding year to year. I also walk Antarctic ice and I see troubling signs.

It is in the marginal landscapes of our planet that men like me wander, and it is in these places one sees and feels what is in fact true and what is not.

“It is in the marginal landscapes of our planet that men like me wander, and it is in these places one sees and feels what is in fact true and what is not.”

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

I propose that from now on, we make it an article of policy that we defer all judgement of truth to Richard Branson wannabe wealthy self-aggrandising yuppies who take exotic vacations, so they have something to brag about at trendy wine and cheese parties.

Sorry, what was that you were saying about Mount Kilimajaro?

Be sure to pack your satellite phone on your next faux-Ernest Shackleton expedition, so you can call in a rescue plane and you can tell us what you “feel” is true or not about that.

How obnoxious

Is that any more obnoxious than an effete, preening peddlar of gourmet coffee from Phil-eye-delphia, arrogantly declaring he’s got an exclusive franchise on The Truth every time he takes a camping vacation, because he gets some mud on his spats?

Maybe he’d actually make it to the South Pole, if he didn’t have to lug around that camcorder so he can take pictures of himself?

At first I couldn’t figure out were I’d heard Todd Carmicheal’s little melodramatic rap before, ie.,
“I’ve stood on the mud and rock slopes of Kilimanjaro …”

At first I thought he’d been reading too much Somerset Maugham, or something. Then it hit me – he copped his spiel from Rutger Hauer’s death soliloquy in the movie, Blade Runner!

Check it out:

ATTN: Ian!

When the Arctic ice melts, the sunlight goes into the exposed ocean waters and can be used by alga. Since the water is still fairly cold, there is lots of CO2 available for them to use for photosynthesis. As the alga grow the CO2 concentration drops but it is replenished by CO2 from the air. More exposed ocean, the more CO2 sucked out of the air.

The alga are the base of the food chain and are eaten by zooplankton and other samll animals such as baby fish. Thus, if the ice melts away early, more food will eventually become available for the entire ecosystem

The seals will be happy because there is more fish to eat. The polar bears will quite happy for there are more seals to eat. The Inuit hunters will happiest of all because there are more seals and polar bears.

For sure the Arctic will freese over when winter comes. So why is everbody worrying about the ice melting?

Ever seen photos under the ice? There are lots of algae growing quite happily there. The arctic oceans are two of the most productive areas from a biological production perspective.

Why do you think whales prefer the arctic areas to the tropics?

The changing albedo introduced by Arctic ice melting is far more of a worry than any supposed increase in algal production.

Did the pine beetles burrow into your brain some time ago?

Ian Forrester

Harold, you should make up your mind what kind of AGW-denier you are. It starts with denying warming, then admitting it’s warming but denying it’s anthropogenic, then admitting anthropogenic global warming but denying it’s deleterious, and finally accepting deleterious AGW but denying that we have time/resources to do anything about it. If you focus I bet you can write more intelligent stuff than you’re writing here.

Steve, Harold is just going through the five step program of denial. He’s only halfway cured.

Deniers only care about creating doubt on this issue - the consistency or factual basis of their arguments is irrelevant (to them).

This is really scary

It is all about tipping points.

An ice free Arctic means open ocean currents flowing across the pole between the Pacific and Atlantic.
Arctic sea water of lower salinity water flows into N Atlantic and N Pacific and dilutes thermohaline mechanism.

Tipping points may be fairly predictable, the outcome less so. We do not know what this means because we have never seen it happen.

Conjecture: Permafrost melting and CO2 release COULD accelerate. Europe and NorthEastern America COULD cool down substantially. Greenland ice melt COULD accelerate, sea levels rise, etc

E. Swanson has an excellent post on RealClimate

The most disturbing point he makes is that the IPCC climate models did not take this into consideration. And these models are not getting updated - that I know of - anyone know of modeling updatings?


Another aspect is that the heat (enthalpy) of fusion, that is, the amount of heat required to melt ice into water, is fairly high, 80 calories per gram. That means that if a similar amount of heat needs to be absorbed by the oceans over the next decade, they will now start to increase in temperature even more rapidly.

Imagine putting an ice cube in a pan of lukewarm water and turning on the stove. The water will stay cooler until the ice melts, then watch out, the temperature will really start to rise.

I’m glad both candidates this time accept the fact that global warming is occurring. It still seems wiser to vote for the one whose candidacy is not financed by the big oil companies.


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