Rate of Arctic Ice Melt Each Day Now Equals the Size of West Virginia

by Dr. Tim Ball on June 8, 2011

in Arctic,Atmosphere,History,Oceans,Theory

Arctic ice pack is melting at approximately 54,000 square kilometers a day as the world warms. It’s an area almost equal to the State of West Virginia and that is in just one day.

Why haven’t we seen this headline? Possibly because when journalists check, it’s the average rate of summer melt as the ice decreases from winter maximum of 14 million square km2 in April toward a minimum of 4.5 million km2 in September. Few people know this much ice melts every summer, but they don’t know a similar amount of ice forms every winter.

Accurate measures of Arctic ice began in 1978 with the launch of NASA’s Nimbus-7 satellite. It took a couple of years to sort out the data so the data set properly begins in 1980. Over that time the winter extent has not varied much, but until the last few years the summer extent was declining. It reached a minimum in September 2005.

This triggered scary headlines. BBC correspondent Richard Black said Arctic ice ‘disappearing quickly’. Black had a history of perpetuating the alarmism promoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its major authors at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). He was the gang’s contact, as a 12 October 2009 email from Michael Mann notes. It is part of the discussion about Kevin Trenberth’s infamous comment “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” They were upset about an article by BBC employee Paul Hudson wondering why cold temperatures were occurring globally. Mann wrote,

…extremely disappointing to see something like this appear on BBC. its particularly odd, since climate is usually Richard Black’s beat at BBC (and he does a great job). From what I can tell, this guy (Paul Hudson) was formerly a weather person at the Met Office. We may do something about this on RealClimate, but meanwhile it might be appropriate for the Met Office to have a say about this, I might ask Richard Black what’s up here?

Hudson received the first set of leaked emails, but sat on them for five weeks. Apparently frustrated with Copenhagen looming, the whistleblower sent them to a Russian IPO in November of 2009.

Many people recognized actions and behaviors outside the normal; few understood the extent of deception and manipulation. Mann’s comments may be inferred to indicate there’s the initial deception built in to the entire process of climate science practiced by the IPCC and CRU. Then there were deliberate counterattacks with more deception and misleading information, orchestrated through RealClimate.

Compliant media amplified and distorted, government departments were complicit, as were the multitude of researchers receiving government funding to prove the hypothesis. Most were ignorant of the facts or the historical context of melting ice, sea level rise or most other natural phenomena.

Results of ice extent in 2005 created more sensational speculations. Champion alarmist Seth Borenstein headlined in 2007, Arctic Sea Ice Gone in Summer Within Five Years. Borenstein adds credibility by quoting NASA scientist Jay Zwally:

At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.

James Hansen, identified as “the lone-wolf researcher often called the godfather of global warming” says we have hit a “tipping point”. The story is without balance. Not a single dissenting opinion is provided.

Borenstein’s sensationalism was matched by BBC reporter Jonathan Amos under his headline Arctic summers ice-free by 2013. He quotes Naval Postgraduate School Professor, Wieslaw Maslowski:

Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007, so given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.

Maybe Borenstein and Amos should ask the scientists about their predictions. How and why were they so wrong?

Claims that an area the size of West Virginia melted today is accurate but out of historical context. Similarly, they took the trend from 1980 out of context. They assumed the decrease in summer ice extent would continue. Maslowski acknowledged they took the maximum decrease they could determine. It is terrible science and completely indefensible. What was the ice extent in the 1930s when it was warmer than today? What happened during the Medieval Warm Period? Average rate of daily summer melt is an area the size of West Virginia. The world is warming because it is summer. The headline is only sensational if you don’t know the facts or the context – and that, combined with natural fears, is what they exploit.