There’s an old saying …

I’m thinking of this one.

There are those that do,

There are those that don’t,

There are those who wondered what happened!

So what prompted me bringing out that old saw?

Simply the ever-increasing rate of the loss of our Arctic sea ice.

Patrice Ayme commented recently on my post, The connection between man and climate.  This is part of what he wrote,

Arctic ice depletion can be tracked at:  It is now lower than the preceding lowest on July 5…

 Over on the Carbon Brief blog, we find a recent post (June 29th) that opens up thus,

The Guardian jumps the gun on record June sea ice melt

29 Jun 2012, 11:15 – Verity Payne

The Guardian this week reports that recent rapid melting of Arctic sea ice has seen levels reach a “record low for June”. But it’s premature to be heralding June 2012 as having record low Arctic sea ice extent before the month is even over, particularly as sea ice extent is not currently tracking at record low levels.

The Guardian article says Arctic sea ice “has melted faster this year than ever recorded before”, under the online headline “Arctic sea-ice levels at record low for June”.

This headline could be read in two ways. The first interpretation is that Arctic sea ice extent for the month of June is at a record low. But can we know that before the month is out? The second is that at some point in June Arctic sea ice was at a record low. But does highlighting a few days of sea ice behaviour best illustrate what’s happening to the sea ice?

The piece also appeared in the print version of the Guardian yesterday with the headline “Arctic sea ice has melted faster than ever, say scientists”.

Melt season

The Arctic sea ice is in long-term decline due to man made climate change, but it’s not a uniform decline – sea ice cover changes with the seasons, and the weather in the region affects how far the sea ice extends, particularly as it melts towards the ice minimum in late September.

During melt season, Arctic sea ice seems to get a lot of media attention, often with rather confusing results. This Guardian article was prompted by analysis from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), who provide daily updates and regular analysis of Arctic sea ice conditions.

The mention of that Guardian Newspaper article is worth clicking through to, if only to enjoy the fabulous photograph, as below:

Scientists say Arctic sea ice has plummeted to its lowest levels ever this year. Photgraph: Steven J Kazlowski/Alamy

Back to that embedded link in the Carbon Brief posting to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center.  It reveals a wealth of important information.  Try this …

Rapid sea ice retreat in June

Arctic sea ice extent declined quickly in June, setting record daily lows for a brief period in the middle of the month. Strong ice loss in the Kara, Bering, and Beaufort seas, and Hudson and Baffin bays, led the overall retreat. Northern Hemisphere snow extent was unusually low in May and June, continuing a pattern of rapid spring snow melt seen in the past six years.

Overview of conditions

Arctic sea ice extent for June 2012 averaged 10.97 million square kilometers (4.24 million square miles). This was 1.18 million square kilometers (456,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average extent. The last three Junes (2010-2012) are the three lowest in the satellite record. June 2012 ice extent was 140,000 square kilometers (54,000 square miles) above the 2010 record low. Ice losses were notable in the Kara Sea, and in the Beaufort Sea, where a large polynya has formed. Retreat of ice in the Hudson and Baffin bays also contributed to the low June 2012 extent. The only area of the Arctic where sea ice extent is currently above average is along the eastern Greenland coast.

 Get your mind around this image that comes from the latest NSIDC report.

Arctic sea ice extent for June 2012 was 10.97 million square kilometers (4.24 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

That old saying that I opened with, the one about There are those that do, etc.

No question in my mind that firmly in the camp of those that do is Mother Nature!  Anyone prepared?

18 thoughts on “There’s an old saying …

  1. There is another old saying, which is that: “There are two certainties in life; death and taxes!” However, in my recent experience, I have discovered a third certainty, which is that: If you want to keep up-to-date with atmospheric CO2 data or polar climate data, make sure WordPress is notifying you daily of posts on Weatherdem’s blog. His most recent post includes pole-centred geostationary satellite photos and graphs of ice extent; and graphs of ice volume. I think the final graph is the most telling as it demonstrates that each of the last few years has been more abnormal than the one before it.


      1. I wondered about the URL. When I went to your blogsite, it warned me that it as an ‘https’ address. Strange? But have amended it on my comment.


  2. I have the greatest hopes for the lowest of the lows in Arctis sea ice, this year. It’s tracking as it should for that.

    Let’s notice the influence of politicians in forging the public mind. Here is a copy of a comment on my site, on the latest essay:

    Australians used to be for a carbon tax. Of the G20 countries, Australia has the highest CO2 emission, per capita. So it has the motivation. I also think it’s the richest, per capita. So it has the means.

    Then came a new conservative leader, an uneducated crocodile. He made a brazen campaign against the carbon tax, and is not letting go. That brainless, avid, hungry saurian was able, all by its little reptilian brain, to change Australian public opinion! Of course, this is not exactly the first time such a thing happen. Germany turned fascist, over two generations, while being the world’s most literate country. Even Bismarck, who pretty much surfed and instigated much of the process, was dismayed…

    An essential part of historical, and philosophical education, ought to be to teach people that they are easily seduced by demagogy. Also civilizationally most advanced country should perhaps be equipped of a TRUTH COUNCIL. Constitutional courts are not enough. (And a fortiori,Supreme Courts!)

    PM Gillard in Australia nevertheless passed courageously a carbon tax. So now she trails the conservative crocodile by 16 points in the polls! Elections are in a year… And the crocs are singing over all rooftops, that they will remove the carbon tax…


      1. No, I meant what I said. There are times when my frustration, nay anger, of these times gets me very tongue-tied. Not every time but today was certainly one of those times. Mind you, being awake at 5am in Payson, AZ., and now writing this some 500 miles away in Santa Clarita, CA., is a good excuse for having one’s tongue so tied!

        Then I read your latest, this one and, once again, see the power of beautifully crafted and compelling truths.


    1. As an Citizen (i.e. born to Australian parents in the UK I have Dual nationality), the fate of Australia troubles me greatly. Although I do not like the way Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd and got the job of PM in a bloodless coup, I am even more concerned about the way in which the anti-science-and-anti-carbon-tax Franchise has managed to engineer a State-by-State revolution; and install new anti-environment-pro-business governments. For example, in Queensland the new Liberal-National government is accelerating coal mining and building lots of new deepwater ports in the lagoon between the shore and the Great Barrier Reef – adding to the damage mankind is already doing to this fragile ecosystem.


      1. The Gillard-Rudd story is one thing, backstabbing politics as usual, and I must confess a bias towards the (childless) Gillard, because she is a woman (a bit of reverse sexism sometimes good).

        Gillard seems an excellent PM to me, considering the prevailing mood in Australia.
        As I hinted, Australians are perhaps the most favored People on Earth. They are the only nation with a continent as their private property. They also massacred the original inhabitants (compare with French controlled New Caledonia, next door, where the Kanacs, the original inhabitants, make half of the population). So they have this big, mostly white place to themselves, full of riches, with the defense of the continent mostly farmed out to the usual suspects: USA, UK, France.

        And what do Australians do? Highest CO2 emissions in the world (but for a few fascist Middle Age theocracies bathing in oil…)
        Conclusion: Australian MOOD has to be seriously changed: move away from the barbie slowly, go below a shady tree, and start thinking…


      2. Thanks Patrice. I seem to have upset one of my earliest antipodean blogosphere acquaiem>Dogs of Doubt fame) by refusing to allow him to use my blog as a dumping ground for his more esoteric ideas regarding thermodynamics… but I have now struck up friendships with at least two other Australian bloggers uknowispeaksense and scienceornot?… However, they seem to have more than their fair share of everything including totally rabid climate denialists…


  3. The minimum extent of sea ice still varies from one year to another, influenced by natural variations in regional wind patterns. Indeed, the NCAR study, published in the journal Nature in early August, suggests that even within a long term warming trend, the loss of sea ice in the summer could stall, or even reverse itself for periods of up to a decade – at least through mid-century.


    1. Hola Sugel. Gracias por tu comentario (al que Paul me ha pedido que responda)

      Your blog looks very interesting – and I would like to know more about the interface between art and physics. However, I am an Earth Scientist that has decided to get involved in Environmental Politics. My immediate reaction to your comment was that it will be interesting to see what NCAR say in Nature next month. Whereas my more-considered response is that if melting was to halt, even for a decade, this would not invalidate our long-term concern for a habitable planet any more than cherry-picking temperature data in order to claim (as many still do) that global warming stopped in 1998.

      Con mis mejores deseos para la vida en la ciudad de Panamá, Martin.


    2. Hello Las Artes!
      This seems highly unlikely, using first order observations! The ice is waning quickly, to be replace by dark seas. The related cooling in Europe is somewhat happening, as expected.

      It looks more likely that sea ice will basically disappear within 5 years, and that ships may be able to go straight through the pole!

      BTW my spouse worked at NCAR a few years back, and I am very familiar with the trails in the mountains above. Professionals there had made a huge mistake on some computer sun spot studies, and all the data came out flawed my most significant other, a computer scientist, discovered, and corrected…


  4. Thanks to all, new and old regulars, for commenting. Jean and I are settled in to a motel in Grants Pass, Oregon and first impressions of the place are most favourable.


    1. Glad to hear that, Paul. Having typed Payson AZ to Grants Pass OR into Google Maps, I am afraid I then spent at least an hour using Google Streetview to drive down the South Beeline Highway towards Payson and to drive along the Cascade Wonderland Highway near Mt Shasta: “That’s awesome, man!”


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