National Snow and Ice Data Center

Tue, 2012-08-07 14:17Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Ice Decline Much Worse Than Expected

As the extent of Arctic sea ice declines to levels unrecorded since satellite monitoring began, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has released a new analysis that shows the situation to be worse by far than even the most pessimistic models predicted.

It's a perverse endorsement of one of the most popular denier memes - that you can't rely on climate models because the world is too complicated to be reduced to a compilation of computer data. But, thanks to the expertise (and conservative nature) of the scientists behind this work, the models have shown the direction with perfect accuracy: it's the terrifying extent that they have failed to anticipate.

In addition to the catastrophic conditions currently prevailing in the Arctic, the NSIDC has also drawn attention to the dramatic melting occurring this year in Greenland. And all this is supported and reinforced by the Polar Science Center's ongoing calculation of Arctic ice volume.

The trends are all down. Or as James Hansen put it in the Washington Post last week, “Climate change is here - and it's worse than we thought.”

Tue, 2011-02-08 09:42Richard Littlemore
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"ArticGate" - NSIDC Confirms Schmitt, Heartland Misrepresented Data

Two scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center have written to the Santa Fe New Mexican to confirm that the wanna-be head of the New Mexico Department of Energy Minerals and Natural Resources was pontedly inaccurate when he claimed in a NASA white paper that “Artic [sic] sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.”

Walt Meier and Mark Serreze, who help manage and update the daily satellite measurements of Arctic ice, point out (with patience that Schmitt hardly deserves) that there was, indeed, a moment in 2009 when sea ice extent was greater than it had been - in the same week - in 1989, but that this was in no way a fair, accurate or helpful reflection of the state of ice in the Arctic, then or since. ( The graph at left shows the fully-year comparison of 2009 and 1989 and if you click on the NSIDC graphic for yesterday, you will see that extent continues to be at its lowest level in recorded history.)

Unlike the former astronaut and New Mexican Senator Schmitt, Meier and Serreze are in no way political players in this game. You would be hard-pressed to find their names on anything other than the dozens of excellent scientific papers emanating from the NSIDC. So their measured correction is itself extraordinary.

The bottom line is that Schmitt offered advice to NASA on the basis of an unrepresentative high point in ice extent. And he either picked that high point accidentally - in which case he has clearly lost any semblance of scientific rigour and should be denied any position that demands scientific expertise - or he picked it on purpose - in which case he should be denounced as a scoundrel and dismissed from candidacy for any public position.

Mon, 2011-02-07 08:24Richard Littlemore
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"ArticGate" - Heartland Backs Schmitt in Climate Misinformation

Incompetent or Dishonest - Either Way They’re Wrong

The former astronaut and proud climate change denier Harrison Schmitt is not alone in making the false claim that “Artic [sic] sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.” He has been bolstered  by the smokey hacks at the Heartland Institute, and especially by the brittle letter writer and Heartland head honcho, Joseph Bast.

If Schmitt’s false statement had stood on its own (or if he had moved to correct it when it was pointed out), you could reasonably have dismissed it as an error made in good faith.  But when Bast stooped to the flagrant manipulation necessary to argue that Schmitt’s assertion could have some basis in fact, well, you have to wonder - especially when there is already an established relationship between Schmitt and Heartland (check the name on the podium in the Schmitt denier video).

It’s awkward always to trace climate denial back to the money trail. Some people - maybe even Schmitt - deny climate science out of ideological blindness, not greedy self-interest. But it’s interesting that Heartland’s two favourite projects are denying the science of climate change and arguing that tobacco is really not all that bad for you. It’s relevant, too, that before they started hiding their funding sources, Heartland used to acknowledge the generous support of the tobacco and oil industries in propping up the “think” tank’s operations.

Wed, 2010-11-03 10:16Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Sea Ice Trends: Down, Down Down

Two graphs, inluding the brand new one to the left, show two (mutually affirming) analyses of the trajectory of Arctic sea ice over the last 30 years.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center graph (left) shows Average Monthly Sea Ice Extent. The figure below shows a Polar Science Center model-generated calculation of Sea Ice Volume. Notwithstanding that NSIDC reports Arctic temperatures in October were 4 to 6 degrees Celsius (7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal, there is something chilling in the similarity of the two graphs. 

PIOMAS Ice Volume Anomaly

Tue, 2010-04-06 10:15Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Sea Ice: Brace Yourself for the Spin

The extent of Arctic sea ice peaked on March 31, 2010, the latest date for the maximum Arctic sea ice extent since the start of the satellite record in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Co. The ice also reached an extent that was 670,000 square kilometers (260,000 square miles) above the record low for the month, which occurred in March 2006.

From these two factoids, you may expect a round of stories in the DenierSphere trumpeting a return to global cooling - an end to the worrying decline of Arctic ice that hit a low point in 2006. Just as they have done with the unusually warm year in 1998, the campaigners for inaction will grasp onto the historic low as a new starting point for their graph - which will then show an actual increase in ice: hallelujah.

Of course, if you look at the graph to the left, you’ll see the trend. If someone tries to take your attention away from that declining line, ask them to explain why.

Wed, 2008-12-17 16:04Page van der Linden
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Has Arctic sea ice loss become irreversible?

The party’s over, we had us a time..
We burned all the kindling…
Watched the last coals dwindling
And the ice melting down…

Eliza Gilkyson

Is the party over?

According to a new study by scientists at the NSICD (National Snow and Ice Data Centre), there’s a good chance that Arctic sea ice has melted beyond the point of no return.

Joseph Romm points us to a story in today’s edition of the UK’s Independent.  The news is not good:

Scientists have found the first unequivocal evidence that the Arctic region is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the world at least a decade before it was predicted to happen.

Climate-change researchers have found that air temperatures in the region are higher than would be normally expected during the autumn because the increased melting of the summer Arctic sea ice is accumulating heat in the ocean. The phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, was not expected to be seen for at least another 10 or 15 years and the findings will further raise concerns that the Arctic has already passed the climatic tipping-point towards ice-free summers, beyond which it may not recover.

Tue, 2008-09-02 07:44Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Melt Now Second Worst

Sea ice extent has fallen below the 2005 minimum, previously the second-lowest extent recorded since the dawn of the satellite era, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center reported last week.

Mon, 2007-08-13 11:11Bill Miller
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Arctic sea ice retreats to record low by end of summer with ominious consequences for global warming

Measurements by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center showed the extent of sea ice on August 8 was almost 30% below the long-term average. Researchers have forecast ice-free summers in the Arctic by 2040.

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