News outlets are reporting the Arctic is getting very warm and the surrounding sea ice is taking a hit. Temperatures are 15 degrees higher than normal, glaciers are retreating, and the north shore of Svalbard has no visible ice. There’s only one problem: that was in 1922, not 2016. So it’s surprising to read breathless accounts today of the Arctic experiencing the same issues as nearly a hundred years ago. Tony Heller, who writes regularly on the Arctic and runs the popular climate site Real Science, calls this cherry picking your data.
According to Mark Serreze, director for the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), there has never been such a “warm, crazy winter in the Arctic.” He also adds the heat has been relentless and that global warming is to blame. That’s true, Heller writes, if you consider -20 degrees Celsius ‘hot’ or overlook the historical record that goes back to when “fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers” sailed the Arctic seas (see PDF).
Sea ice extent is when the Arctic normally reaches its highest coverage, and so far it’s on track with previous years. With one exception being the Barents Sea, which is slightly under the mean average for 1979 to the present (when satellite tracking began). But as Heller correctly observes, the 1990 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report included “satellite ice records back to the early 1970s – when ice extent was low.”
In 2007, Serreze also said: “The Arctic is screaming,” and worried that global warming had passed an “ominous tipping point.” Headlines blared that all Arctic ice could be gone by 2012. Other scientists chimed in as well, speculating back then summer sea ice would be gone by 2040. NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally also told the Associated Press in 2007 that after reviewing the data, “The Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012.”
Zwally also said at the time that the Arctic was the canary in the coal mine, and the “canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines.” Nine years later, and Arctic sea ice has been well within the mean average of the satellite era, and higher than the observational area as indicated above. And contrary to the alarmist narrative, a new comprehensive study shows that polar bears are not undergoing a “climate crisis” from so-called melting sea ice.
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