Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Arctic Ice Recovery Lie

I read an article providing eye-witness accounts of the thinning Arctic sea ice and it inspired me to write another in a series of posts I've written recently.

I have made a series of posts in recent weeks addressing denier lies. One on Tom Harris, claims the world is actually cooling, one discussing how Andrew Watts and Christopher Monckton doctored their data to get no warming, and another on the 'no warming pause.' Since the denier claims are all deliberate attempts to deceive using known falsehoods, they are lies. In the spirit of discussing these lies, I thought I'd address another one - the lie that claims Arctic sea ice is recovering (see the article here for one example). This was such a common claim in submissions to the Global Warming Skeptic Challenge I made a response to address all of them. You can read it here.

What the deniers do is to cherry pick the data. They want to take a specific, selected data set and use it to try and show the ice is recovering. We've seen this tactic before. In fact, it is one of the most common tactics deniers use. And, it is a false one every time and they know it, hence it is a lie.

The fact is, Arctic sea ice is declining. Take a look at the data and decide for yourself. Unlike the deniers, I'm not afraid to show you ALL the data. Here is the plot of March ice since before 1980:

Source: NSIDC
The downward trend is very clear. This is a very disturbing plot because it comes at the end of winter when the ice is at its maximum extent. Global warming is not going to get rid of long, cold, winter nights - especially at the poles. Temperatures will still get into the large negative degrees (average temperatures of -40 C and colder). The Arctic Ocean is going to freeze over.

But, we are seeing less and less ice extent at the end of winter every year. Why? Because, the amount of ice at the end of summer is getting less every year and that is allowing the Arctic Ocean to store an increasing amount of heat. Instead of being reflected by ice, sunlight is now being absorbed by the dark water. This means it will be increasingly difficult to freeze the water in the winter and it will be thinner when it does freeze, meaning it will melt more easily the following summer.

Here is a plot of the ice extent in September when it is at its minimum:

Source: NSIDC
Clearly, the minimum ice extent is getting smaller every year. And, this year is not looking good. In fact, 2015 had the smallest and earliest maximum extent ever recorded. Now, the ice extent is the lowest ever recorded for this date. Here is a plot of the springtime Arctic sea ice extent for 2004-2015:

Source: NSIDC
The ice extent for this year is the unfinished medium-blue line towards the bottom right-side of the plots. You can clearly see it is less than anything ever recorded (nothing prior to 2004 comes anywhere close - see for yourself at the source link).

Clearly, there is no recovery. But, don't take my word for it. In the National Geographic article I referenced above (read it here), the author addresses the question, 'has the last human trekked to the North Pole?' The thinning ice is making it tougher, and more dangerous, every year. Two Arctic scientists recently died on the thin ice. Air support is getting to be too difficult to obtain. Human treks are being canceled as a result.

Citing the thinning ice, polar explorer Eric Larsen stated,
Thinning ice has a multitude of consequences. "Historically, you would have ice that was five, six feet thick and that's relatively stable," says Larsen. "Now, the ice is thinner [and] breaks up more often and much more irregularly. As a result, you have a more rough surface area, which is more difficult to cross."
Another polar explorer, Richard Weber, stated,
"If you don't have multiyear ice to camp on, you're camping on thin ice and to me that's dangerous. It's thin, and it moves in the middle of the night. Nothing's going to stop it from cracking under your tent."
The article comments on the open water,
Also, there's more open water now. Weber didn't start bringing dry suits on his expeditions until 2000.
Addressing the issue of drifting ice, the article states,

Furthermore, the melting of multiyear ice has affected the Arctic drift—the general direction that the ice floats in the Arctic Ocean. Ice tends to move southward toward Canada. But because the ice is thinner and more broken up now, it's more affected by the wind, which means a floating field of ice on which an explorer is traveling can drift miles in any direction, throwing him off course, adding significant distance to an already difficult journey that is constrained by time.

There has always been drift, but now it is now more irregular and dramatic. Says Ron Kwok, a senior research scientist from NASA, "Ice is moving faster compared to 20, 30 years ago. Because it's thinner, it's moving faster and it's more responsive to the wind."

During a 2007 expedition, Weber walked for 10 to 12 hours a day, but because the ice he was on was drifting south, he stayed in virtually the same spot. That's "way worse" than it was in previous years, he says.

It also states the weather window is getting shorter every year. Explorers have between the end of winter and the onset of the heaviest part of the melt season. That period of time is getting smaller every year.

So, the people who have been up there, trekked across it and have witnessed it for decades tell of how the ice is thinning. Real world data and real world eye witnesses. Deniers simply ignore this reality because that is what deniers do. They don't want to be bothered by real science, even though they know better.

And, that is what makes them liars.

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