Thursday, October 02, 2008


NSIDC Report Questions

The National Snow and Ice Data Center has announced today that the Arctic sea ice melted this Summer more than ever before (well, except for last year). In fact, the sea ice area recovered by 9% from the record low last year, but for one scientist, Mark Serreze, that's "no recovery at all." Some scientist; I hope his wife handles the finances in his household.

I have a question. The big news is that in volume, they suspect the amount of ice, as opposed to the area covered, is the lowest ever (even including last year). But if the ice stops melting mid September (and then starts to spread) and it increases for the next 6 months and only begins to melt again in March next year, why wouldn't 100% of the ice that survives the Summer melting be at least second year ice by the time it starts to melt the next year or at least on the second anniversary of its formation? Not so, according to the NSIDC. For example, a huge area of second year ice (in orange--about halfway between the lables for Russia and Greenland) in 2007, didn't melt back then but is now called first year ice and not third year ice as one might expect. I can't imagine an explanation other than Winter melting but, again, according to the chart provided, only some of the third year ice that remained in September 2007 is still third year ice now in early Fall, 2008. It don't add up. Perhaps they are just judging thickness, but why not say so then?

I caution against running around with figurative heads cut off in panic about the 'disappearing' ice. We have only had a comprehensive idea of the ice extent at the poles since 1979, a mere eye blink in time. We have no idea of the extent of the Arctic sea ice in, say, 1150, during the Medieval Warm Period, nor in 220 BC. Was it more or less? No one knows. Further, the cooling we have seen in the past 8 years, which cooling has been predicted by many scientists to continue for another decade or two, might bring things back to more normal at least as compared to the period 1979 to 2000.

But the most dismaying to us skeptics is the instant blaming of human generated CO2 as the cause of the melting. Who says there's no room for religion in science?

Finally, the NSIDC has the sea ice today at just over 5 million square kilometers while the University of Illinois site, The Cryosphere Today, has it at just over 3.5 million square kilometers yesterday. That's a huge difference. What's up with that?


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