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« Celebrating Hurst | Main | Climate elevations - Josh 304 »

The ice holds up

Perhaps it's because it's the season of goodwill. Or perhaps because Greenpeace's vandalism of the Nazca lines has put Corporation noses out of joint. Whatever the reason, the BBC's decision to highlight the recovery in Arctic sea ice levels in the last few years represents a rare excursion out of its "OMG we're all about to fry" comfort zone.

Yes, the sea ice is going to disappear, we are told, but on much longer timescales than previously advised.

While global warming seems to have set the polar north on a path to floe-free summers, the latest data from Europe's Cryosat mission suggests it may take a while yet to reach those conditions.

The spacecraft observed 7,500 cu km of ice cover in October when the Arctic traditionally starts its post-summer freeze-up.

This was only slightly down on 2013 when 8,800 cu km were recorded.

Two cool summers in a row have now allowed the pack to increase and then hold on to a good deal of its volume.

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Reader Comments (59)

Doubtless there will howls of protest from the usual suspects even though the Beeb has been careful not to throw any real doubt on the "disappearing for ever" meme.

Dec 15, 2014 at 8:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Well, I suppose it goes a tiny way towards making up for their highly unscientific inability to distinguish between 'hottest on record' and 'hottest ever'.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

This will be interpreted as more proof of climate change.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Just waiting now for the interview with the BBC environmental correspondent of the day to confirm the good news......

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I guess that the BBC forgot to mention that Antarctic ice is at a 30 year record high, and that global ice (both Arctic and Antarctic) are also at record highs, but even with that oversight, it is welcome to note that the BBC dared to air this info about Arctic ice.

Lets see what the winter brings for the UK, and whether we have another cold and snowy winter, which may again force the BBC to venture outside its comfort zone.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Rachel Tilling from the UK's Nerc Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at University College London (UCL):

"So, what may be occurring here is a decline that looks a bit like a sawtooth, where we can lose volume but then recover some of it if there happens to be a shorter melt season one year," she told BBC News."

Such startling scientific insight! Only to be expected from UCL, now Climate Activist Central it would seem.The decline in sea ice volume, area and extent has, since 1979, ALWAYS proceeded in such a sawtooth-like fashion as evidenced from this graph:

Where do they get these 'researchers' from?

The point, my dear, is that NH sea-ice extent, volume and area is at about the same level now as it was in 2006 and the rather more pronounced sawtooth like pattern in between looks suspiciously like a 'bottoming out'.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterJaime Jessop

The last paragraph:-

"Indeed, Cryosat's five-year October average now shows pretty stable volume - even modest growth (2014 is 12% above the five year-average)."

Can you IMAGINE!!!!! - what the headlines would be if the results showed a "modest" 12% below the five year average?

That would be proof positive that the world is off to hell in a handcart!

But a 12% growth is dismissed as "modest" (which is still akin to "nothing to see here of any significance - move along please..........")

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug UK

"However, the Cryosat team cautions against extrapolating limited observations to predict future trends in Arctic sea ice."
(Read: we were wrong but we are not going to admit it)

"Far more data is required, over a much longer period of time."
(Read: Send us a lot more money so that we can play this game until our pensions arrive.)

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Since I worked on an Earth Explorer mission and that GOCE was delayed for a bit after the Rockot malfunction that affected Cryosat 1, I kept a look out for the mission results when it was finally launched. Plus I like listening to ESA conferences.

This is from a few years back and is on YouTube - Cryosat first results

What is worth noting is something Duncan Wingham says around 33 minutes where he talks about how "ice extent is NOT ice volume" and then makes a nice quote about how the ice may be being blown up against Canada. It turns out that this is exactly what they see. So the picture is a bit more complicated and nuanced.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

It'll soon melt again, after Aunty's flown back its Lima contingent.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

IMO it has got coverage because the work is being discussed at AGU in an attempt to garner follow on project support:
That is why Tilling and colleagues are using AGU to start a conversation about a follow-on mission.

The obvious solution would be for the European Commission to pick up the new satellite as part of its Copernicus programme.

This is a fleet of Esa-developed Earth-observing spacecraft known as the Sentinels, which are being rolled out over the next few years.

But to be included in this group, Cryosat would have to demonstrate its utility in delivering operational services - not just climate data. And that is what scientists now aim to do over the course of the next few months by delivering products such as ice maps for ship navigation.

"It's estimated that economic growth in the Arctic region will be worth $100bn over the next two decades," said CPOM director Prof Andy Shepherd from Leeds University and UCL.

"Now that Cryosat can deliver near real-time observations of sea-ice thickness that agree to within 1% of the climate-quality measurements, which are not rapid enough for operational purposes, Arctic nations will be able to make sure that any future maritime activities are done with safety and care."
The article does not question the notion of a warming driven ice free North Pole being an inevitable consequence of "global warming". It uses 1980 as its reference point and bemoans the lack of long term data yet from my quick reading it makes no reference to the many historical records showing periodic increase and decrease in polar ice cover.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

They admit it themselves: the Esa mission will run out of funding by 2017. They even throw in a realistically ominous sounding 'hardware failure' possibility. Almost as if they know it was going to happen.

These types of 'news' are nothing more than extended grant applications.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:26 AM | Registered Commentershub

He he, beat by nby. :)

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:27 AM | Registered Commentershub

Shub :-)

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

What we need is for the BBC (and other CAGW agitators) to admit that at present neither RSS nor UAH show any record global temperatures. The pause is still going strong. Tide gauges show less than 2mm sea level rise a year. Sea ice is at record level. No shortage of polar bears. No evidence of Trenberth's "missing heat" having gone into the ocean and hiding there to "strike" us at a later date. So no acceleration in any of the key metrics. No need to panic. Delay next IPCC junkie for five years to monitor how the climate evolves from the current standstill and stop subsidies to wind and solar power as well until we have a clearer picture of what is really happening.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

Each year that passes Green Alarmism looks more and more like 'Will this wind be so mighty...?'

No evidence can falsify it.

The end of the world is definitely next Wednesday. Or the Wednesday after that. Or maybe next year.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record


I'm going for a Monday personally..

I don't like Mondays....

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

BBC 7 years ago:

Professor Maslowski, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. - "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."

Former US Vice President Al Gore cited Professor Maslowski's analysis on Monday in his acceptance speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat


'This must be Thursday. I could never get the hang of Thursdays'

A. Dent. H2G2

Dec 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM | Registered CommenterLatimer Alder

Just because the very biased BBC has had finally to admit the Arctic meltdown is not imminent, this will not stop them in the future from further alarmism.

Dec 15, 2014 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

...the BBC's decision to highlight the recovery in Arctic sea ice levels in the last few years represents a rare excursion out of its "OMG we're all about to fry" comfort zone....

It's BAD news for them. And with bad news, you have to get in first and spin it your way. Then you can quietly (and rapidly) forget about it....

Dec 15, 2014 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterdodgy geezer

Apparently someone is doing a review of BBC "balance" at the moment.

Would explain this story nicely.

Dec 15, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustAnotherPoster

I wonder if Prof Wadhams would like one more stab at the ice-free date?

Dec 15, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

A conspiracy theorist would say that this is just a rallying cry for the troops, there is still much to do but our efforts are beginning to bear fruit, our selfless planet saving efforts are working to slow down temperature rises, keep up the struggle comrades, victory is in sight.

Dec 15, 2014 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

What a shame that the BBC couldn't bring themselves to remind listeners that it was mainly failed models that said we'd have an ice-free Arctic (it would also help if they took the trouble to define what that means) in the first place, whereas now we have real observations that show that is not the case.

And then I woke up.

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield


Surely this report is an attempt to shore up Professor Wadhams and his fatuous claim that the Artic will be "ice free" in 2016 or as he has now said by 2020

see Moving the goalposts – has Professor Wadhams Explained His Now Changed ‘ice-free’ Arctic Prediction? in wattsupwith that.

I think the Greenblob are preparing his paarachute.

regards GG

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Granddad

If you end the World on a Wednesday it ruins both weekends.

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

"However, the Cryosat team cautions against extrapolating limited observations to predict future trends in Arctic sea ice."

Actually Ivor I was reading it as don't listen to the BBC with their journalistic doom, gloom and politicised prediction:-

Long term that looks bad for the Arctic because average temperatures are climbing.

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn


Well spotted. Hyping up the flu and 'saving' us from it didn't do Liam Donadson's career any harm.

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

"However, the Cryosat team cautions against extrapolating limited observations to predict future trends in Arctic sea ice."

"Far more data is required, over a much longer period of time."

If it had gone the other way, i.e. less ice I doubt very much we'd have seen the cautionary statements above. It would have been "evidence" that the world is warming.

I am not a scientist and have only the layman's grasp of the theory of CAGW, but there are one or two questions I'd like addressed if anyone knows the answer. Firstly the sea ice volume is going up, which can only occur if the summer ice doesn't melt. I'm assured that the Arctic (and Antarctic, but we don't talk about that as it's an embarrassment) gets warmer as the world's average temperature goes up because polar amplification. Last year the worthies at the Met Office informed us was the "warmest on record" (by a whopping 0.01C - see Paul Homewood blog). Ok can someone explain to me that while we were enjoying the warmest year on record the summer ice didn't melt in the Arctic?

My second point is that sea ice is at a record level globally why is the temperature going up when the Albedo must surely have increased because of the rise in area of the sea ice?

Climate science is the most baffling science there is, except for one issue - it is always getting warmer - even when it isn't - and there are always upcoming disasters to avoid. And do you know what? No matter how late it is, it is never too late to take immediate action. Funny that.

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

So now we believe the scientists...I'm getting confused.

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterBob

> So now we believe the scientists...I'm getting confused.

Belief is what you do with a religion. With science you assess.

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Bish -

If the BBC people are preparing to shift their ground a little, now might be a good moment for you, with your knowledgeable contributors, to help them by re-editing their standard supporting piece "Q&A: Climate Change" . It purports to summarise the best up-to-date scientific understanding but of course does nothing of the kind. A re-edit, applying what a true scientist would say in each case (as noted by Matt Ridley recently with ref to the 'Warmest Year Eva!!' nonsense) would be a service to the public, to politicians and to the BBC, saving them all the head-scratching as they try to work out what true science really is.

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim

This is the way the world ends...
Not with a bang, but a whimper

TS Eliot

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Possibly slightly off topic but I've just been reading Richard Feynman's biography....I wonder what he would make of climate science?

He once told his students 'Science is a way to teach how something gets to be known, what is not known, to what extent things are known (for nothing is known absolutely), how to handle doubt and uncertainty, what the rules of evidence are, how to make things so that judgements can be made, how to distinguish truth from fraud, and from show.'

Wise words indeed!

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike P

Greenpeace, in need of funds, having flown half way round the world, to do damage limitation following the vandalism in Peru carried out by their jetsetting environmentalists have two new options:

1 Fundraising for thermal underwear for polar bears, they won't survive the cold otherwise

2 Fundraising for seal sized microwaves, without them, the polar bears will not be able to eat their ready frozen meals

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

How can it have been both a cool summer and the hottest year on record?

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaceF

"So now we believe the scientists...I'm getting confused."

Don't know why your'e getting confused. It's quite simple ,we don't believe scientists can foretell the future. Beyond that we take everything they say on face value until the scientific evidence is in.

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

The scum are still holding to the même hence "Hold Up", Not "increasing"

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

The world as we know it ends with the singularity
The second coming of ..intelligence..

The singularity will quickly dispel and dispatch the chaff amongst us
This reminds me : Mann is going to give a presentation on morals..All hands on deck !

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

I sent my usual Christmas list to Santa this year.

On the bottom I wrote. 'Santa, do you think the North Pole will completely melt.' He wrote back. 'Would I live here if I thought it was going to to melt' ? No I f* wouldn't. Straight from the reindeer's mouth.

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff
Dec 15, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

And slightly more on topic and slightly tongue in cheek. I've been wondering what happens if the "sink hole" for thermohaline circulation keeps moving N, biting ever deeper into the Arctic ice until it reaches the Bearing Straights where it meets the upwelling cold leg? Could The Gulf Stream disappear up its own ass?

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:51 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Bob

'So now we believe the scientists...I'm getting confused.'

Not at all. Real world data is being compared to model output. That is part of the scientific method. The next bit, disregarding the theories/models that are contradicted by the real world (the control if you like), is the bit climate scientists seem unable to implement.

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

So the alarmists were wrong, again. And the skeptics are right, again.

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Stephen Richards:

A meme is not the same thing as la même chose:

Dec 15, 2014 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Dec 15, 2014 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo
My second point is that sea ice is at a record level globally why is the temperature going up when the Albedo must surely have increased because of the rise in area of the sea ice?

The extent of polar ice has relatively little impact on albedo due to the high latitude such that solar energy is weak (even in the height of summer) and with low grazing angle much of the solar is reflected off the (ice free) ocean.

What impacts more upon albedo is the extend of snow cover, particularly mid to high latitude lingering snow cover.

The main impact of less ice is that it takes the lid off the ocean thereby allowing the oceans to cool even more thereby acting in part as a self regulator.

Dec 15, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Geronimo, Ice extent is affected by many things, and air temperature appears to be a secondary, rather than primary factor. Some references:

"Researchers have found that the high amounts of cloud in the early summer lead to low concentrations of sea ice in the late summer. This relationship between cloud cover and sea ice is so strong that it can explain up to 80 per cent of the variation in sea ice over as much as 60 per cent of the the sea ice area."

"Regional Arctic sea ice variations result from atmospheric circulation changes and in particular from ENSO and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) events. Patterns of Arctic surface air temperature changes and trends are consistent with regional changes in sea ice extent. A dominant mode of Arctic variability is the Arctic Oscillation (AO), and its strong positive phase during the 1990s may account for much of the recent decrease in Arctic ice extent. The AO explains more than half of the surface air temperature trends over much of the Arctic."

"The variation in the ice extent caused by a 1C change in the ocean temperature since 1860 compares with about 90% of the concurrent total ice extent variation observed in the eastern area. The net effect of atmospheric
temperatures seems accordingly to be relatively small over the same period of time. This concurs with the large difference in the individual heat capacity."

Dec 15, 2014 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon C.

Ron C Are these reports that you refer to effectively saying, that all previous scientific predictions, about the dwindling polar ice, were not based on sound science, and this explains why they were all so laughly wrong?

Dec 15, 2014 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Sea ice

"death spiral", "holds up", "recovers".

For crying out loud, it's just ice. The use of such emotive words to describe such a functionally useless object says more about the person than the ice. Do scudding clouds or leaden skies ever "hold up"?

Digging myself a deeper hole, there are few things as enjoyable as demolishing huge icicles with your ice axe in remote Scottish mountain gullies in winter. And I can tell you that if you are in a party of several people you may well find one who tut-tuts at such behavior. Even though the icicles would be gone in perhaps days, would return next month/year, and the site was probably not even visited by humans once a decade, max. People are weird.

Dec 15, 2014 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

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