No Change In Arctic Sea Ice Over The Past 40 Years

According to the the 1990 IPCC report, the Arctic sea ice anomaly in 1974 was almost -1.0 million km². Essentially identical to 2014. There has been no change in Arctic ice coverage over the past 40 years.

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About Tony Heller

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54 Responses to No Change In Arctic Sea Ice Over The Past 40 Years

  1. EW3 says:

    The upper graph shows why the AGW crowd likes to start sea ice graphs in 1979 !

    • Shazaam says:

      And yet the “settled science” crowd also loves to accuse others of “cherry picking” data.

      And then the “settled science” crowd sneaks off and changes their measurement methods to make the adjusted data look scarey.

  2. Tom In Indy says:

    But…but…but.. what about the giant waves? Oh the humanity!

    “So the fact that researchers have now measured swells of more than 16 feet in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea, just north of Alaska, is a bit of a stunner. Swells of that size, researchers say, have the potential to break up Arctic ice even faster than than the melt underway there for decades thanks to rapid global warming. “

  3. Kent Clizbe says:

    Clearly you haters are not using the EPA’s “climate thermostat control knob” to slow climate change.

    Ginny McCarthy let slip that she has such a knob–and it not only “slow(s) climate change,” but also “insulate(s) against blackouts”:

    “I’m tired of people pointing to the polar vortex as a reason not to act on climate,” she said. “Efficiency upgrades that slow climate change actually help cities insulate against blackouts.”

    So just shut up about the Arctic ice extent, pony up for expensive wind power, put on a sweater, and genuflect to your masters at the EPA!

    \sarc off

  4. philjourdan says:

    Thanks! Just what I was looking for!

  5. J.j. Erler says:

    Not an AGW person, but I don’t see how this shows no change… in 1975 the drop was -1 million… starting in 2005 extent dropped to -1 to -2 million range and 2012 was -3 million (according to graphs above) — how is -1 million the same as -3 million??? In 1975 -1 million was an an anomaly… since 2005 -1 million has been the NORM/baseline. The graphs above (if accurate) clearly show a change since 2005 compared to previous 40 years.

    • It was -1 in 1974. It is -1 in 2014. Math is hard.

    • Shanna M says:

      Unfortunately, we don’t have the data for the full range of that melting phase. We just have the end of it when it went into a cooling phase in the late 70s. There were several dips before 1979 that approached -1 million, and if we had the full set of data there very well could have been dips approaching -2/-3 as well. What information tells me is:
      1) Picking 1979 as the starting point when we have older data is misleading
      2) The Arctic has not been melting at an alarming pace for the last 40 years, rather it goes through cold/warm cycles
      3) We don’t have enough information to make any comparisons of this melting phase vs past “all natural” melting phases.

    • aztecbill says:

      What makes you think 1975 was a relative low point? In the 1972 CIA report on climate change (cooling) said that the Arctic sea ice increased 15%. That worried folks and led to the coming ice age scare. There is a lot of reports from sea captains about very unusually low sea ice in the 1930s.

    • Scott Scarborough says:

      CO2 in the atmosphere is higher now than in 2012 and a lot higher than in 1974. Arctic sea ice is higher too. How did that happen?

  6. J.j. Erler says:

    Yes, it was the same 40 years ago EXACTLY but that ignores the multi year trend. Nothing in the previous years records explain the -2 – -3 ice extent range, so how is that to be explained? are we just going to ignore the opposing evidence the same way the AGW crowd does???

    • My ice cube has been melting down for 40 years, but happens to be the same size it was 40 years ago. Makes sense if you are a turnip.

      • emsnews says:

        🙂 But veggies are good for you! Especially turnips.

      • stewart pid says:

        Ha Ha … you gotta love it when someone can say “yes it was the same but what about the trend” … think of the children 😉

        • J.j. Erler says:

          It’s only the same on this date/year. If you looked at 2012 and said ‘what was the ice like 40 years ago’, you’d say it was a disaster. In my book there is no difference between what you’re doing saying there’s no difference because 40 years ago the same and what they’re doing if in 2012 they say ‘look at 40 years ago what a huge change there has been’. Someone said that 70s data is as comprehensive as the current data and that is a MUCH better answer to the question than ‘it’s the same as exactly 40 years ago’ and disregarding the big dips of the last several years. Those dips may be completely unrelated to any warming and just cyclical, but if you’re ignoring them I’m saying you’re no better than when the warmists ignore inconvenient data. 2005 – 2012 is a big difference from past cycles *IF* the past data is accurate… 2014 may be only a temporary uptick before it goes back to before. I was really hoping based on your science posts you’d come back with some kind of actual science to explain the dip in the 2005 – 2012 years rather than just insulting comebacks to anyone who questions what you post. Seriously I am starting to think this site is absolutely no better than a site run by the climategate scientists… can’t respond professionally and can’t or won’t post a real explanation for inconvenient data.

        • Ryan says:

          Wow, I’m with you J.j. Erler. I have really enjoyed this site as a means to cut through a lot of the hysterical global warming BS out there, but the responses to your very reasoned question have me reconsidering the validity and impartiality of this site (not to mention the professionalism).

      • aztecbill says:

        Why not? My father walked 5 miles to school – uphill both ways 😉

    • EW3 says:

      If we have the same ice on this date as 40 years ago the trend (rate of change) is zero.
      All that happened in the in between years is just data.
      You may be thinking of average ice. Then the data takes on meaning.

      • aztecbill says:

        And everyone is think 1975 was a relative high. in 1972 global cooling was a real concern partly because of the increase of Arctic sea ice. 1975 was not a relative low. Before that sea ice was much lower.

    • Aphan says:

      Just like temperatures, yearly/short term measurements are pretty much “noise”. It’s the long term trends and cycles that differentiate “climate” from “weather”. So yes, the chart DOES show short term “change”, and maybe Tony could attempt to translate better since his blog is most likely gaining new readers who aren’t fluent in science terms, but there has been no change in the 40 year trend.

    • @J.j. Erler

      The older sat data doesn’t tend to get used any more as it’s not considered as reliable as the later data. Of course trying to make a point by focusing on two particular start/end points is kind of stupid, which is one of the reasons other skeptics shake their heads at the Goddard site at times. However, in the interests of balance it’s worth reminding “non climate people” that temperatures around the north polar region are highly cyclical over decadal time scales. There is nothing necessarily unusual about the current trend, although scientists who are strong advocates of some flavour of cAGW would argue that the current cycle has a substantial anthropogenic component. No one can know this for sure of course. It’s a form of collective wishful thinking.

  7. Aphan says:

    Tony, I forgot to pass this along. Apparently NOAA’s been hacked. They sent out the hushed report last Friday during the Friday Flush no one ever sees. Above are links to both the official report, and the newsstory where I read about it first.

    Have fun with this one baby!

    • Gail Combs says:

      The comments are priceless.

    • Shazaam says:

      I was wondering how NOAA and NASA would wriggle out of the temperature “adjustment” debacle.

      Shades of Lois “the dog ate my hard driver” Lerner.

      I expect we’ll see a statement from NOAA to something like this:

      Those nasty, smelly hackers adjusted our data. Honest, it wasn’t us! We just never noticed because those sneaks made the data match our computer-generated climate models!

    • philjourdan says:

      Why would they NOT make satellite data available? That seems more like a farce than a real hack. I guess information is no longer freely available.

  8. Jason Calley says:

    Cherry picking start and stop dates? Maybe a little… but when we observe that Arctic sea ice today is about the same as Arctic sea ice 40 years ago, it tells us something. It tells us that if there really is a long term decline in ice, the down trend is so small that even after four decades the change is still not any greater than natural variation. (Otherwise today’s figures would of necessity be unprecedented — and they are not.)

    • “Maybe a little…”

      No, you either use the scientific method or you don’t. Goddard uses the scientific method when it’s convenient to him and ignores it when he wants to make a silly rhetorical point. What he is doing here is completely unnecessary. If he cited the papers in the field that have identified the cyclical nature of warming and cooling in the North polar regions, he could make the same point, and do so scientifically.

      • mjc says:

        And the point would be continued to be ignored and relegated to the ‘background noise’.

        Arguing from ‘science’ only works when dealing with reasonable, logical people.

      • Jason Calley says:

        ““Maybe a little…” No, you either use the scientific method or you don’t.”

        Hey Will! Thanks for the input, but I disagree. Every specific example in support of a theory is, to greater or lesser degree, a bit of a cherry pick. That does not make it either invalid or unscientific. Here is an example; Newton used the orbital characteristics of the Moon to illustrate his theory of gravitation. “It’s distance is x, it’s orbital period is y, the Earth’s gravitational attraction should be blah blah blah…” Was he cherry picking because he used a specific example? Maybe a little… but it was still true, and it was still a scientific approach. What would be unscientific cherry picking is if Newton had used a specific example that supported his theory but denied other examples that did not support him.

        Regardless of whether you think this example of Arctic sea ice is a cherry pick, it still illustrates that natural variability is greater than long term trends over a forty year period. If you can cite other examples that refute that, please do so.

    • mjc says:

      I thought that’s what Anthony W was for :).

      Seriously, though…I think both approaches are needed.

  9. Morgan says:

    In Jan. 1780 Washington marched his troops with full cannon across the ice on the Hudson River from New Jersey to Staten Island. That never freezes anymore. This can only be explained by CO2 produced by capitalism and can only be cured by killing off all human beings, starting with the unborn.

  10. Neil Hampshire says:

    If I try to look at ice extent data on all the “recognized” sites it only goes back to 1979
    I thought satellite data was only available from 1979
    Steven, where can you see the source data back to 1974 for your excellent graph?

  11. Jack Dale says:


    You conveniently forgot to tell the folks that the definition of sea ice extent in 1990 was 10% and the current definition is 15%. Data with different parameters cannot be compared directly.

    • Gail Combs says:

      So even when the ClimAstrologists redefine ‘sea ice extent’ to include a lesser area, we still have record breaking sea ice extent in the Antarctic and a recovering sea ice in the Arctic. CHECK

    • Gail Combs says:

      If you want to get picky.

      The sea ice extent in 1974 was -1 using a 10% density . It is again -1 in 2014 but a 15% density is used. Therefore the sea ice extent in 2014 is equal to or greater than the sea ice extent forty years ago. Any net change in the sea ice extent over the time period is towards greater sea ice.

      Steve Goddard does not write like that since he is targeting the low information types and he would lose them after the first sentence.

      • Jack Dale says:

        You have that backwards.

        Abstract: Passive microwave satellite data reveal that, since 1979, winter Arctic ice extent has decreased about 4.2 percent per decade (Meier et al. 2006). Antarctic ice extent is increasing (Cavalieri et al. 2003), but the trend is small.

        Satellite data from the SMMR and SSM/I instruments have been combined with earlier observations from ice charts and other sources to yield a time series of Arctic ice extent from the early 1900s onward. While the pre-satellite records are not as reliable, their trends are in good general agreement with the satellite record and indicate that Arctic sea ice extent has been declining since at least the early 1950s.

        Sea ice extent departures from monthly means for the Northern Hemisphere. For January 1953 through December 1979, data have been obtained from the UK Hadley Centre and are based on operational ice charts and other sources. For January 1979 through September 2008, data are derived from passive microwave (SMMR / SSM/I).

        Big trend down.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Jack Dale says:
          “…You have that backwards.
          Abstract: Passive microwave satellite data reveal that, since 1979,…”


          And you can not read.

          The entire point of this post is the fact that ClimAstrologists Cherry Picked 1979 because it gave them a high point and not because it was the start of the data.

          Steve is comparing 2014 to 1974 that is a FOUR and not a NINE and that makes all the difference in the world.

        • philjourdan says:

          Where is that like button???
          +1 (or 10^3)

        • Chewster says:

          1950 is irrelevant, but certainly the past 11.5 thousand years is!
          Is this particular period we find ourselves in, the everlasting inter-glacial?
          “We are in an interglacial period—the holocene—of the ice age that began 2.6 million years ago at the start of the Pleistocene epoch.

          You’re following a distorted “Working Hypothesis” funded by you and I, yet the receivers of such funds have not grasped the cyclical parameters, conditions or stimuli that cause these changes…
          There is plenty of aid for neurotic conditions and I can see many need to seek it out.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Chewster says: “… Is this particular period we find ourselves in, the everlasting inter-glacial?…”
          See my comment (It is one of many)

        • AZ1971 says:

          “For January 1953 through December 1979, data have been obtained from the UK Hadley Centre and are based on operational ice charts and other sources.”

          PIOMAS was supposed to solve these computational problems, but when you still rely on proxies and estimates for your input data, you still end up with questionable output because of the unreliability of the data being input. Let’s just agree that without direct observational data (read: pre-1979) we don’t really know for sure what the Arctic conditions and extent was like.

      • Jack Dale says:

        The 1990 plot uses a 10% parameter for ice extent, currently NSIDC and others use 15%.

        The 2008 plot standardizes the data so that it can be compared.

        Using standardized data with identical parameters the 12 month running averages are:

        1974 = +0.3 SD

        2008 = -2.2 SD

        Using the current daily NSDIC data (in mid winter) = -0.8 SD

        No matter how you look at with standardized data 1974 and 2014 are not even close.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Jack Dale says: @ January 3, 2015 at 6:24 pm

          You conveniently forgot to tell the folks that the definition of sea ice extent in 1990 was 10% and the current definition is 15%.
          OK lets go back to the actual definition:

          Method for calculating sea-ice extent
          The sea-ice extent is calculated as the areal sum of sea ice covering the ocean where sea-ice concentration (SIC) exceeds a threshold (15% for AMSR-E).

          Therefore a Sea Ice extent exceeding a threshold 10% sea-ice concentration will be LARGER than a Sea Ice extent exceeding a threshold 15% sea-ice concentration.

          This is because it will contain the entire extent of 100% down to 15% sea-ice concentration PLUS the additional area covered by 15% down to 10% sea-ice concentration.

          My Comment at January 3, 2015 at 8:46 pm still stands.

          Steve uses the 1990 IPCC report — the Arctic sea ice anomaly in 1974 was almost -1.0 million km² measured using 10% sea-ice concentration. If you SUBTRACT an amount X =the area covered by 15% down to 10% sea-ice concentration to get the equivalent of sea ice extent as measured by todays 15% sea-ice concentration.
          You have
          Minus X plus Minus 1 which gives a negative greater that one or 1974 had even less ices, as measured by 15% sea-ice concentration than 2014.

          Someone cannot add negative numbers.

          Of course you then get into the problem of what was the ‘average’ the anomaly was derived from. Game playing by changing that ‘average’ in the temperature data has also been found by Steve Goddard so at this point I figure we are arguing over “how many angels dance on the head of a pin” and not anything to do with actual real life data.

        • Your claim of 10% vs. 15% works against your position. That would make the 1990 extents too high

        • Chewster says:

          They’re spot on when comparing 1919 and 2014!

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