April 2017 – Polar sea ice figures

Figure 1 – Courtesy of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

There’s a lot of fear and apprehension going about on the Internet about the current state of the polar sea ice extent. I’ve always kept a close eye on how it’s performing both in the Arctic and Antarctic over the past 5 years with the help of the NSIDC, certainly in the Antarctic sea ice has fluctuated wildly in the past few years, but in the Arctic it’s been more or less just down. The latest data for the 14th of April is at a record low for this time of the year (fig 2), but it’s only slightly worse than at the same time in 2007. Perhaps the quality of the ice cap in the Arctic is thinner that it has been in the past, and maybe once it reached a critical ‘thinness’, then the extent will just crash one of these summers.

Figure 2

I’ve added a curve fitting series to both graphs, rather than just my usual linear trend which doesn’t lend itself to the Antarctic data at all well. The Antarctic curve is showing signs of taking a nose dive at the moment, because of the massive decline in the sea ice extent in the last few seasons (fig 3).

Figure 3

This graph of the Arctic sea ice volume anomaly (fig 4) does lend itself to a linear trend. Perhaps PIOMAS is a better way of looking at sea ice extent than the SII is, I don’t really know.

Figure 4 – Courtesy of the Polar Science Center

And just to give the full perspective on my earlier graph of the Arctic sea ice extent.

About xmetman

An ex-metman passionate about all things to do with weather, climate and clouds
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7 Responses to April 2017 – Polar sea ice figures

  1. 1saveenergy says:

    Maybe inquisitive people are a dying breed ?
    Education doesn’t seem to foster inquiry or Knowledge.

    Went to a meeting of the local science café a few months ago & the conversation turned to photosynthesis, more than 50% of the university students wanted to have all CO2 removed from the atmosphere (because it was “the major pollutant” [yet most of them admitted to smoking] ) & didn’t know CO2 was a plant food.

  2. xmetman says:

    Thanks John – Why can’t I find more subscribers who contribute as many interesting comments as you do!

  3. 1saveenergy says:

    Thanks for the full scale graph; complete data really does put things into perspective. (even for us enthusiasts, let alone the more casual reader).

    I think we must have a lot in common, as over the years I’ve also managed to upset both ‘gangs’ as well. (So many to upset…so little time !! )

    You say “Surely, you can see that there’s something seriously wrong in the Arctic and how it’s warmed in recent years?”

    I can see changes in the Arctic but is it ‘seriously wrong’ ? or just natural variation ?
    Arctic air temperature anomalies 1920 – 2017

    “There would be no one more delighted than me to see the Arctic ice return to out it was, and come to that for the planet to start cooling, and for some cold and snowy Winters.”

    So, what do you think is the optimum Arctic ice?
    Permanent sea ice from Siberia to Canada as in the Dalton & Maunder minimums
    (Short growing seasons & long winters giving – pestilence & starvation)

    Almost no Arctic ice but trees & shrubs growing on Siberian & Canadian coasts http://www.livescience.com/39819-ancient-forest-thaws.html
    as in Minoan, Roman, Medieval warm periods of the Holocene Optimum (abundant harvests, wealth, health, advancement of knowledge )

    1958 when nuclear powered submarine Skate surfaced in clear water at N Pole (couldn’t have done that in the last few years).

    The Bronze Age when farmers cultivated the land on Dartmoor 150m higher than is possible today?

    This is quite a good overview of climate & its effect on human history (that I’ve only recently come across)

    & much more detail in the superb- “Climate, History and the Modern World” H. H. Lamb

    During the last 100 to 150 years there has been a dramatic rise in anthropogenic CO2 emissions and atmospheric CO2 concentrations…but no accompanying dramatic rise in temperatures or sea level, just a steady increase (with blips up & down), but it appears we are still cooler than ~8,000 years ago.
    Thus, the theory (that modern human activity or CO2 concentration changes are the primary drivers of temperature changes and sea level rise) does not seem to be supported by the geological evidence.


  4. xmetman says:


    It’s only misleading to someone who can’t be bothered to read the graph, or those as you say, who just remember the shapes, I can see the psychology. I don’t spend my retirement generating graphs for people like that, they have to use a modicum of discernment, and the clue is in the Y axis marked ‘Area 10^6 sq km’ down each side of the graph. But to appease you I’ve added a graph to the end of that article with the full perspective in case anyone gets the wrong idea.

    Surely, you can see that there’s something seriously wrong in the Arctic and how it’s warmed in recent years?

    There would be no one more delighted than me to see the Arctic ice return to out it was, and come to that for the planet to start cooling, and for some cold and snowy Winters. But what we got, as you probably did too was:

  5. Mortgage rates at 20% after Black Wednesday.
  6. When you finally do get rid of your mortgage see permanently low interest rates.
  7. A load of endowments that never paid up.
  8. 0.25% interest rates when you finally did have some savings
  9. Wait till 65 to get you bus pass
  10. Wait an extra year to get your pension
  11. A pay freeze for the last 5 years of your working life
  12. Local libraries closed
  13. Pay when you go to the local tip
  14. Pay to get your garden waste taken away
  15. Fix your own potholes
  16. Lose all your savings and your house if one of you goes into care
  17. See both Conservatives and Labor intent on spending a £100 billion on Trident to keep us safe from Kim Jong-un
  18. As you can see I have a LOT of issues. Personally I don’t want to get bogged down with what’s causing the decline in sea ice or the rise in global temperatures, or who’s to blame, I just look at stats, that’s all I do. I don’t like gangs and never did as a child, because that’s what this AGW debate has reduced us to, a couple of ‘gangs’, us and them. I don’t have any agenda, but over the years have managed to upset both ‘gangs’. I try to plough my own furrow, and if that’s not good enough so be it, anyway that’s enough of stringing a load of cliches together for one comment!