Arctic Sea Ice: Turning Points

Perhaps the most obvious “turning point” in Arctic sea ice is the stunning decline at the summer minimum of 2007. The annual minimum extent for every year since then has been less than for every year before then. To many, it marks a new era for the ice pack covering the Arctic ocean. The post-2007 era has been makedly different from what happened before.


But if you look at the annual minimum of Arctic sea ice volume rather than extent, the decline has been more consistent. There was indeed a large decrease in 2007 with no year post-2007 as high as any year pre-2007 — but there was also a dramatic decline in 2010 with no year post-2010 reaching pre-2010 levels.

Was there a qualitative change in the ice pack in 2010, one which might rival the qualitative change in 2007?

An interesting quantity to study is the ratio of the volume of Arctic sea ice to its area (volume data from PIOMAS, area data from Cryosphere Today). In a sense this is a measure of average thickness, but it doesn’t include areas of open sea so it’s the average thickness only for areas which have at least some ice. Still, it shows a consistent decline over the years.

We can use windowed Fourier analysis to study many quantities, including the annual-mean ratio of volume to area. This too shows the decline, revealing just how dramatic it has been. It also shows that the change in 2010 was greater than in previous years, so when it comes to thinning of the ice pack 2010 seems to be the “turning point” year.

We can also look at the timing of the seasonal cycle of volume/area ratio. One way is to examine the phase (time of year) of the maximum point of the fundamental Fourier component of the seasonal cycle. Although there’s a steady decline prior to 2010, with the peak coming earlier in the season, it isn’t until 2010 that we see a truly dramatic change.

It’s not just the timing of the seasonal cycle which has changed, its very shape has been transformed. And, the change during 2010 was stunning, with no year post-2010 matching any year pre-2010.

The Arctic is changing dramatically, right before our eyes. Not only did the extent and area “fall through the floor” in 2007, the volume did so in both 2007 and 2010. And the very shape of the seasons has changed, in ways that may not be reversed for a very long time, if ever. In those terms, 2010 far exceeds 2007 in its stunning impact.

And then there’s 2012.

Click the graph!

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126 responses to “Arctic Sea Ice: Turning Points

  1. I’m thinking about learning from the behaviour of sea ice volume and the relationship with extent and what has happened in the summer then using that to try and understand what the behaviour might be in future winters.

    Is this possible, is there anything to learn from the behaviour of summer sea to projecting what might happen for winter sea ice? If so then I think the relationship between volume and extent might be critical.

  2. Informative and thought provoking as always.

    Two questions: First, in the graph with the vertical axis labeled Mean Volume/Area, the second and third observation (1981 and 1982?) look similar to 2010 and 2011. Is there any insight to be gained from that similarity? Second, I’ve recently seen volume, area, or extent data displayed in a graph that I think of as polar coordinates (how appropriate) with the lines radiating from the center as months, the distance along those lines as volume, area, or extent, and the years grouped and averaged into roughly six groups so that the polygons created by connecting the dots clearly show the ice decrease over time. Can somebody give me a URL for graphs like that?

    • Bruce A.
      The answer to your second question lies here where Jim Pettit has 3 of his “Spires of Deeeath!!” – one for Extent, Area & Volume. My own opinion of them is mixed. It’s an interesting way of presenting the year-on-year data without having to cut the year at some point but sadly it does introduce the linear/areal mismatch that radial graphing is always cursed with.

      As to your first question, the first 4 years of PIOMAS output (usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’) features a dramatic dip in volume, a dip not featured on Area/Extent measures.
      Perhaps we can lay the blame at the door of Arctic Sea-Surface Temperature. However, the problem with this assertion is that the SST graph only goes back to 1981 and, annoyingly, continues to rise two years after the PIOMAS output shows a recovery/levelling-off! So best downgrade this SST causation to little more than a guess.
      Others may have more to go on.

  3. A very nice analysis. I have been watching the changes in Arctic ice parameters for over a decade now (as an interested scientist not directly in the field) using the on-line visual data (mostly). The time-series anomalies at Cryosphere Today always struck me as one of the most visually instructive graphs – by scanning it back and forth one can see fundamental changes in the shape of the graph, the timing of certain anomaly features, and the dramatic changes in shape starting in 2007. It has always seemed to me that something fundamental changed about that time, just frm the shape of the graphs. Perhaps there was a change is state of the system at that time (it wanted to change), but when noise is added the change could not manifest itself clearly for several cycles. I really like your use of the phase of the FFT, I always got a sense the cycle phase was changing from the anomaly graphs, but your simple analysis clinches it from my perspective. I look forward to hearing about proposed physical explanations (from the science community), what models result from those explanations, and what new predictions are in order.

  4. 1) The Arctic sea ice volume visualization is really good, and I think the delay before recycle is well-timed.

    2) Related to visualization, people might find Solomon Hsiang’s ideas interesting, worth encouraging. There has been discussion at Andrew Gelman’s, here or earlier.

    The fundamental issue is exploring better ways to show uncertainty. I’ve long disliked the usual CI bars (with horizontal endpoints). Solomon’s (and Felix’s) later attempts seem to be going in the right direction. People interested in visual displays of statistical information might take a look and encourage this.

  5. That stunning volume/area graph certainly helps to explain the weirdly hysterical nature of the max/min ice area/extent in recent years.

  6. For what it’s worth, I said this almost a year ago but no one noticed :(

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/arctic-sea-ice-2011-2012/#comment-54733

    “… It’s also interesting to look at the progression of annual cycle of ice thickness in a manner similar to the JAXA plot or tamino’s last PIOMAS plot. For the first 30 years there was a regular annual ice thickness pattern that has broken down almost completely in the last 3 years or so. I’m not sure what this means for the future of ice in the arctic but it’s rather striking.”

    • I plotted out PIOMAS maximum, minimum, and amount of melt since 1979.

      PIOMAS Ann Max Min Melt 1979 2012

      It looks to me as if decline in maximum ice has fallen in a fairly straight line over the years. In the last three years the amount of melting has started to rise. (The last data points (2012) are not EOY but only the late August PIOMAS data release. The final data will be more extreme.)

      This year we have already melted away more than 80% of the BOY ice. Until about 1998 the percent melt hovered around 50%. The last three years melt has exceeded 75%.

  7. The changed shape of the thickness profile is due to loss of the multi-year ice. Previously the thin ice on the fringes melted first and this increased the relative weight of thick ice in the center in the average. Now there is too little thick ice. But one should note that in the last graph it is year 2009 which is the first example of the new regime – maximum early in the season, not in the September.

  8. The volume/area plot is downright scary. It looks like it’s in the middle of a non-linear response, busted out of its old equilibrium by AGW and steadily moving downward as it searches for a new equilibrium where the significantly thinned ice can be stably supported by some smaller area in the summer (which, of course, could go straight to zero ice in the next few decades, but it could bottom out somewhere in between).

  9. Do we have more direct measurements of ice thickness than dividing volume by area?

    I’d expect them to say exactly the same thing of course.

    • Average thickness is exactly the same thing as volume divided by area. There is no more direct way of measuring it.

      • Volume is derived from the thickness and area, rather than the other way around. If you have perfect information, it’s all just arithmetic — but we obviously have error bars. PIOMAS seems to publish their ice thickness plots as well, might as well cut out the middleman.

        I thought we had continuous observation, but I had missed the memo about the demise of IceSat.

      • Here’s the PIOMAS ice thickness plots. Of course they show roughly the same behaviour.

  10. > pattern that has broken down almost completely in the last 3 years or so.
    Eli mentioned that a while back too, and said it looked like it was due to the emergence of a strong annual cycle — due to complete loss of each year’s new first year ice the following spring, if I recall correctly. That’s the ‘double dip’ pattern too, isn’t it? The first year ice goes fast, and after that there’s the stuff that’s piled up layer on layer left behind.

  11. Hn, just my luck… you have to be quick around here!

    Last night I downloaded the most recent area and extent records to do this very same comparison with volume. The idea arose when I commented yesterday over at Neven’s about sigmoid curves, and mentioned that I used Gompertz (amongst others) for my PhD work. This got me to thinking about the various morphometric analyses I’ve done, and one very important one from a biological point of view is a condition index: mass in proportion to some permutation of a linear dimension. I thought “hey, why not investigate the condition indices of the ice”. I hesitated for a while because thickness is an obvious index for condition, but I fiddled anyway and halfway through it all I found that Tamino has beaten me to the punch.

    Well, there’s still volume/extent, so I might go back and drop that into the spreadsheet in place of area.

  12. Its a whole new world, and it doesn’t look like there is any going back to the old one. Just what it means to the climate in the northern hemisphere is the important thing, at least in the short term.

  13. A simple bar chart of minimum volume by year (and just through Aug 25 this year) gives a surprisingly dramatic effect.

  14. There was an interesting discussion of the 2010 volume losses at Chris Reynold’s dosbat blog. http://dosbat.blogspot.com/2012/03/piomas-porch-and-roof.html

  15. Ernst K, Tamino,

    I’m glad someone else has seen this, it’s been bugging me all year. I’ve been on the verge of posting what I’ve found out about the 2010 volume loss and Tamino’s post has spurred me into action. So here’s 2 posts:

    Why the 2010 volume loss was important.

    http://dosbat.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/why-2010-piomas-volume-loss-was.html

    What caused the volume loss in 2010.

    http://dosbat.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/what-caused-volume-loss-in-2010.html

    Hopefully now that someone with the reputation of Tamino has seen this people will start taking notice of the 2010 volume loss event.

  16. I used to ask this a lot back in 2006/7 when things were really starting to go very wrong. We had a lot of analysis which stated that ice thicknesses had dropped by 50%-66%. So I asked the question: What happens when you lose 50% of your area and 60% of your thickness. What’s left?

    Nobody wanted to answer. But now we know. It seems I was an “alarmist”…….

  17. What is great about this is that, one way or the other, we now have a crucial experiment. Everyone agrees that if this continues, its global warming, and if it doesn’t, its the end of the party.

    Looking forward finally to getting a decision.

    [Response: It's already a decision. It's global warming.

    And no, everyone doesn't agree. There are those who will continue to deny, whatever happens.]

    • “Moving the Poleposts”
      — by Horatio Algeranon

      An arctic free of summer ice
      As proof of warming won’t suffice.
      A winter free is what we need
      To really truly prove the deed.

      • At which point proof of “Global Warming” will be the least of our problems…It might not be hell on earth, but it will be close. Damn close.

    • Michel,
      I’m curious: what “party” is this, and why do you think this experiment is crucial? Are you saying there are no other “experiments” that matter?

  18. Has anyone figured out how much this giant melting ice cube is keeping the arctic cooler. Is the latent heat (or cooleth) comparable to the effects of albedo change or not? just curious…

    • The annual reduction in Arctic Ice volume (averaging about 900 cu km pa at present) requires 0.3 zj to melt. (The annual cycle of freeze/melt represents 5.0 z j.) The actual albedo-reduction from an ice-free Arctic Ocean will depend on stuff like cloudiness but a recent study came up with a figure for the impact of an ice-free summer as 0.3 Wm^-2 forcing which can be compared by saying theoretically it would give a warming of 4.8 zj pa until the climate warms (by a ballpark 0.25 deg C) & the global energy balance is restored.

  19. I’m curious about the 1981 volume loss, as it’s greater than any other year. I guess the data are less certain earlier in the record, but if we take it as read, the ice was much thicker in general back then, which would have buttressed against losing so much compared to recent times, so I wonder what mighty forces were at work to cause such a precipitious drop in volume.

  20. For those who would like to see how thick the ice is and where it is located, let me recommend this page.

    Open the June 1 image and the latest image in separate tabs then flip back and forth – just for a thrill….

    https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4realseaice2012/home/sea-ice-concentration-and-thickness-comparison

  21. Ah, didn’t read the comments to see that others had considered this already.

  22. Watts gets much attacked here, but actually if you go to his sea ice pages you find loads of stuff from the authoritative sources showing exactly the things pointed out here. The decline and rate of decline and context are clearly shown.

    [Response: And if you read his posts you'll see constant denial of what's happening to Arctic sea ice, like blaming it all on the storm, calling it a "natural cycle," repeated claims that it was just like this in the 1930s, changing the subject to Antarctica or to 8,000 years ago, etc. Perhaps the worst, which shows his blatant and immovable denial, is the idiotic refusal to believe Walt Meier about MASIE/IMS not being appropriate for trend/year-to-year comparisons -- for no other reason than that he didn't want to face the fact that the record was smashed this year and we didn't even have to wait for September for that to happen. The guy is doing everything he can to deny the truth -- and that is why he gets "much attacked here."]

    Its the most convenient source for the most information all in one place. No comments whatever. Antarctic is at the very bottom of his page and much less well represented, but its moving much less and getting less attention so maybe understandable.

    • Antarctica is also at the very top of the page where pride of place is given to some ridiculous ‘global ice’ maps, ridiculous in their design & their subject.
      As for convenience & information, for things Arctic Neven’s Daily Graphs pages are the place to go.

    • Michel,

      There’s one reason I don’t attack Watts – he’s irrelevant.

      Spend your time reading his thoughts on Arctic sea ice and the more you read the further from a genuine understanding of the process you’ll get.

      Still it’s your time. Waste it how you want to.

    • “WattsUp Malignman” *
      — Horatio’ Algeranon’s perversion of Witchita Lineman (Written by Jimmy Webb
      Performed by Glen Campbell)

      I am malignman for the country.
      And I blog the mainroad.
      Searchin’ in the sun for another BS load.
      I see you slinging on the wire.

      I can’t hear you thru the whine.
      And the WattsUp malignman,
      is still on malign.

      I know I need a small vacation.
      But it don’t look like frost.
      And if it’s hot, that arctic ice
      In summer, will be lost.
      And I need to more than want to.

      And I want to for all time.
      And the WattsUp malignman,
      is still on malign.

      I am malignman for the country.
      And I blog the mainroad.
      Searchin’ in the sun for another BS load.
      I see you slinging on the wire.

      And I want to for all time.
      And the WattsUp malignman,
      is still on the line.

      *See, for example, “SURFACE TEMPERATURE RECORDS: POLICY DRIVEN DECEPTION?” SPPI, Jan 29, 2010 (Anthony Watts and Joseph D’Aleo)

    • Michel: Actually, the concept of Watt’s news just proves, how dramatic how dramatic changes in Arctic sea ice cover are. I mean, if news are on “returning to normal” – there should be no news about that if situation would be normal. And admiting that new record is just nothing special – so it is new normal here. So as much as he want to twist the truth – he cannot do so. Here is new normal. And Watts is, unwillingly somehow admiting it, though his intent is the other way around.

      • Watt’s fusing real news with his interpretations is a way of confusing his followers in believing he understands weather and climate like no other. But the proof in skill is with his batting record, next to .0001 I would say,
        while Hansen, Tamino, and many others next to .900 upwards, because their batting stance is solid, they rely on science not politics, they hit prediction home runs all the time,
        while Watts Huffs and puffs and can’t even bunt a forecast not out of bounds. Can’t make it on first base, but makes you believe he hit a home run before he even swung at the prediction ball.

      • @Wayne: I agree with you about Watts. What I wanted to put in perspective is that if return to normal deserves more coverage than hitting the record value, this is (beside obvious twisting the truth) sign that something really goes on. If situation would be normal, than being normal should be no news at all except for very boring monthly update. On the other hand, the record breaking events always do get more attention – they are unusual and thus more interesting. To write more about normal situation than about record breaking event is a clear sign, at least to me, that something is going on.

      • Well, he’s not playing baseball even metaphorically, is he? More like fantasy baseball…

  23. Lewis Cleverdon

    It appears that we’re liable to see an ice-free arctic ocean in summer before we see a model capable of reflecting its largely iterative symphony of causes. The random nature of some of those causal events’ strength, timing, and location –
    such as an increasingly convoluted jet stream holding a blocking high over permafrost terrain, with resulting raised surface water and albedo loss plus raised volume and temperature of river outflows plus higher regional CO2 & CH4 concentrations –
    may imply that no usefully predictive multi-decade model is feasible.

    Given the heavy loss of albedo that summer sea-ice loss will impose, what confidence should we have then in the models of related ice-mass loss, such as the NSIDC study projecting permafrost melt taking till 2100 to emit 100GtsC and to reach 1.8GtsC/yr of output, and of only 2.7% being emitted as methane ?

    Aren’t such models’ hubris actually doing more harm than good by buttressing official complacency that the bipartisan US policy of a ‘brinkmanship of inaction’ with China can be safely pursued to its conclusion?

    • I’m not a scientist, but I’m sure we don’t have models with the ability to predict tipping points. Isn’t that what we are looking at here? The best we can do is pick up with new data after the ice cover has collapsed. We don’t have the data to model the shape of the collapse.

  24. With regards my earlier comment with links to blog posts about the importance and cause of the volume loss of 2010: The spreadsheet used for much of the underlying work is here.

    http://www.arctic-charts.net/volume-charts/Spreadsheets/Thickness%20Categories.xlsx

    It’s a breakdown of PIOMAS volume by bands of thickness from 1978 to 2011, the source data only runs to 2011.

  25. Nice analysis, particularly the graph of volume/area by month, because it indicates there is a fundamental change in the annual cycle of ice. I would be interested in seeing where 2007 is on that graph.

    • Pay attention to the annual maximum volume. The amount of ice with which we start each year has been dropping. The rate of drop is accelerating.

      In 2007 the volume melted accelerated, but the starting amounts for the year had already been accelerating downward. We’re watching two line speeding toward each other at increasing speeds. The increasing drop in winter freeze is equally important and is pointing us toward a time of a year round ice free Arctic Ocean.

  26. Another record has been broken today. For the first time, the CT Arctic Sea Ice Area Anomaly was larger, than the Sea Ice Area itself.

    Meaning, that currently there is less than 50% of the long term average (1979-2008) area covered with ice. So, we lost more than half of the ice area.

    And another thing: I don’t think we ever had open water so far north since the satellite record started. Currently there is a substantial patch of open water at about 86-87° North. A merely 3-4° or 400km away from the north pole. That just shows how thin the ice has become. If the ice continues to thin at the same speed as in the past few years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an ice area of less than 1 Mio km² (=a virtually ice free arctic ocean) within this decade.

    • “For the first time, the CT Arctic Sea Ice Area Anomaly was larger, than the Sea Ice Area itself.”

      That’s … insane. Who could’ve imagined this happening this quickly say, even a decade ago?

  27. The curves unfortunately begin at the decline and look like the downward part of a sinusoidal curve. Have you graphs that show what was going on since, say, 1900? Then we could be confident with our skeptic buddies when we say that the post-1980 trend has no pre-80, pre-CO2-dominant predecessor.

    [Response: Look here:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/arctic-sea-ice-death-spiral/

    ]

  28. Well… Today Anthony has a post on the arctic curve bottoming out. I was wondering how long it would take for some idiot to suggest that it meant the start of a new Maunder Minimum. I didn’t have to search far:

    Comment No.1 – “This would be a record refreeze wouldn’t it?”

    And the hits keep on comin.

    • Philippe Chantreau

      Thing is, it does not look ready to bottom just yet. The extent graph’ slope is still way steeper than normal for this time and somewhat steeper than 2007.

      I wonder if Burt Rutan is going to continue claiming that Arctic sea ice has “stabilized”, which I understand was based on the fact that no recent year had been lower than 2007.

    • I saw a denialist comment recently claiming that the record Arctic ice loss was being caused by climate research vessels breaking up the ice and polluting its surface with diesel smoke – “it’s all the climate scientists fault!”

      Watch your backs as the excrement begins to hit global circulation.

    • I think he was refering to Nansens exent graph – here is the picture from yesterday: http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/ssmi1_ice_area1.png
      Unfortunately for him, next days daily image is showing downtick.

  29. Its kind of the real thing, unbelievably eery , those Coca Cola neon billboards from all of the big cities of the world had this on display years ago, they were very prophetic.

  30. Tamino,

    Yesterday I added a comment including a link to a graph but this has not appeared. What did I do wrong?

    [Response: It may have been flagged as spam -- and these days I get so much spam I don't always have time to search for wheat among the chaff.]

  31. Over on WUWT, today’s too-funny-to-parody sea ice post (“has Arctic sea ice started to turn the corner?”) features the spectacle of moderator David B. Stealey (dbs) talking in two voices: as moderator with power to delay and censor unwanted posts,
    “[Snip. Policy. ~ dbs, mod.]”
    and as his sock puppet “Smokey,” flinging insults at Julienne Stroeve and whoever else he wants.

    In this excitement Smokey/David Stealey apparently disappeared two of my own posts, the first relatively innocuous and on topic, then a ruder one after he called me crazy for not agreeing that “Natural cycles fully explain all current observations.”

  32. OT here–but you can find 800 (hopefully well-chosen) words on the RNC and its ironies here:

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/Republican-National-Convention-Ironies-2012

    (Cross-posted.)

  33. “Natural cycles fully explain all current observations.”

    Gneiss , I would never comment on that website, they believe in cycles
    without knowledge on how they work, they believe we are ignorant as they are, and therefore we cant predict anything as they can’t.

    Therefore the entire subject is immersed in ignorance as they are ignorant. Except we are not them.

    • Well, I agree it’s often hopeless to break through with science, but sometimes people try.

      What struck me on this occasion was the duet sung by David Stealey as moderator and his sock puppet Smokey, where Smokey could spew insults while Stealey could censor replies.

      I don’t think most of the regulars are aware of this puppetry, and perhaps they wouldn’t care if they did know because Smokey supports their politics. His name-calling and clueless declarations about “null hypothesis” and “the scientific method” certainly help prolong threads for “The world’s most-viewed site.”

      • Gneiss

        Nothing they write makes sense but designed to convince a sizeable portion of people that the science which created this internet is greatly flawed. It is far better to try to grasp geophysics then to take pot shots at its greatest mentors. They are like E students in a class room destroying the lecture given by the teacher. Chatting with them distracts further the greater atmosphere of learning, but it leaves them feeling as important as the teacher. When Judith Curry claims that its time well wasted when contrarians might give 10 to 1% of something useful, she dismisses great scientists who perform 90 to 99% accurately.

        Its very good to know who these guys are, what value they may give to the discussion is related to how correct their skepticism may be.
        I wont write to them but If they come along our path, it is good to know what real contribution to physics they have achieved, and also how far off track they have become.

      • Gneiss,

        Do you know for sure that Stealey is ‘Smokey’? I’ve always considered Smokey to be a nasty piece of work, but didn’t suspect such shameless dishonesty.

      • TrueSceptic:

        go here:

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/04/weekend-open-thread-2/#comment-1052188

        and click on the “smokey” link which heads the post.

        looks like he spent 30 years as a technician calibrating scientific instruments.

      • Just in case ‘Smokey’ edits out the link to his gravatar:

        http://www.webcitation.org/6AW1RKUjq

    • TrueSceptic:
      “Do you know for sure that Stealey is ‘Smokey’? I’ve always considered Smokey to be a nasty piece of work, but didn’t suspect such shameless dishonesty.”

      Rob Dekker pointed out the David Stealey (dbs) / Smokey connection in an earlier Open Mind thread, where he wrote:
      “There is little doubt that “smokey” (who posted 16,000 comments on WUWT according to his own account) is really David Stealey, WUWT moderator “dbs”.

      The problem with egos like Stealey is that they can’t resist revealing who they are in several posts, for example this one :

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/04/weekend-open-thread-2/#comment-1052188

      which points right back through his “gravatar” :

      http://en.gravatar.com/dbstealey

      Retired from a 30 year career working in a metrology [science of measurement using physical standards traceable to N.I.S.T.] lab, calibrating temp, humidity, datalogger and similar instruments.” http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/the-small-picture/

      Other posters on that thread note that Smokey has been actively protected by moderators at WUWT as he pseudonymously attacks other people; Kevin MacDonald recounts an instance where Smokey’s attack on him inadvertently revealed that he knew Kevin’s IP address.

      I already guessed that Smokey was an insider because he’s been able to reply to my posts before they had been published online, so his response (time-stamped earlier) and my post would appear publicly at the same instant.

      What clinched the ID for me was the “calibrating” job mentioned in Stealey’s bio note above. Once when I pointed out that Smokey reads no science, Anthony replied for him:
      “Careful, or the man will calibrate you. – A”

      I didn’t get Anthony’s in-joke at the time, but with Rob’s post it suddenly made sense.

      BTW, after David Stealey / Smokey called me “crazy” in the recent sea ice thread, I confronted him about his dishonesty: being so free to insult people as a puppet, then censor their replies as a moderator. Of course, that reply got censored.

      • Thank you dhogaza, Bernard, and Gneiss. I’m convinced, and my opinion of ‘Smokey’ is now lowered even further.

      • Heh, I don’t think that my opinion of ‘Smokey’ could have sunk any lower, but my opinion of the way that WWWT is run/moderated has, amazingly, ratcheted down another notch.

        It’s no more than a vested-interest propaganda machine that’s killing the biosphere. A pox on all their houses, before they bring down the rest of the world.

      • I sometimes post on WUWT – the fact remains that it’s more widely read than many other climate blogs, and I have this (rather forlorn) hope that words of sense might make it to some of the readers, if not to the regular posters (full of conspiracy theories, 2nd law issues, regressions with omitted variable biases, and basic need to rant).

        However, the revelation that one of the moderators is sock-puppeting as one of the worst of the deniers, with ad hominems, internal contradictions in his statements, and going so far as to deliberately muck up graphs of the data to deceive readers (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/07/the-folly-of-blaming-the-eastern-u-s-heat-wave-on-global-warming/#comment-1026852) – that’s just sad.

        The idiots aren’t just running the ship over there – they’re actively mugging the passengers.

      • Bernard J writes,
        “Heh, I don’t think that my opinion of ‘Smokey’ could have sunk any lower, but my opinion of the way that WWWT is run/moderated has, amazingly, ratcheted down another notch.”

        I can’t picture the management at any of the science-oriented blogs such as Realclimate or Skeptical Science (or Tamino or Eli or Stoat) allowing such deception, let alone encouraging it. And if it was revealed that somehow they had, many of their readers (me included) would express dismay.

        Although the Stealey / Smokey thing seems to be partly secret from readers, I expect most WUWT fans will shrug it off or approve if they learn. Ethically it’s no worse than Anthony using email and IP addresses to “out” and harass posters who don’t agree with him, and the fan base there thinks that’s fine.

        You have to wonder, do all moderators at WUWT operate sock puppets? Some more than one?

      • Gneiss said

        And if it was revealed that somehow they had, many of their readers (me included) would express dismay.

        “Express dismay”? We would be disgusted and make it very clear that this is totally unacceptable and beneath contempt.

      • Wow. Always had Smokey pegged as a vindictive, nasty piece of work. But a WUWT moderator sock-puppeting in the comments?! You can’t get any lower than that, Anthony Watts. If a science-based site did that (as if they would), Watts would be screaming for heads to roll. Gneiss, you made my day… in a sad, losing faith in humanity kind of way.

        And the surest thing is, due to projection, the WUWT crowd won’t see anything wrong with this.

      • Ah! So that’s why replies to Smokey’s arguments would often never appear. It seemed odd the moderators wanted to make it seem like Smokey always won and had the last word but I honestly never considered the possibility he was one of the moderators.

        I’ve always been very amused at fans of WUWT trumpeting how free and open the blog is versus those nasty “warmists” that censor. They should try posting comments that disagree with the articles and then see how free and open it is.

        I have no problem with a blog implementing whatever policy. Claiming you don’t censor while even engaging sock puppetry is just more of the amazing double think “skeptics” produce every single day.

      • FWIW Smokey was a long-time commenter before he became a moderator, although I suppose he could have been moderating anonymously before that. If memory serves, there was a time when Smokey didn’t get the same preferential treatment as now. Given the metrology background, I would venture to speculate that DBS was/is also a major volunteer on the surface stations project.

      • “FWIW Smokey was a long-time commenter before he became a moderator”

        Wow. That’s even worse, if you think about the quality of ‘smokey’s comments before being annpointed by Watts. He’s the best arguement for single-digit IQ levels of extreme deniers I’ve ever seen.

      • “Trolls, flame-bait, personal attacks, thread-jacking, sockpuppetry, name-calling such as “denialist,” “denier,” and other detritus that add nothing to further the discussion may get deleted; also posts repeatedly linking to a particular blog, or attempting to dominate a thread by excessive postings may get deleted. Take that personally if you wish, but all deletions/snips are final. Grousing about it won’t help since deleted posts can’t be recovered. Rather than trying to edit, bulk moderation may be employed to save time.
        I have several projects I work on plus a business to run, if moderation takes too much time and becomes redundant, I may opt to remove posts and/or shut down a thread.
        Internet phantoms who have cryptic handles, no name, and no real email address get no respect here. If you think your opinion or idea is important, elevate your status by being open and honest. People that use their real name get more respect than phantoms with handles. I encourage open discussion.
        Anonymity is not guaranteed on this blog. Posters that use a government or publicly funded ip address that assume false identities for the purpose of hiding their source of opinion while on the taxpayers dime get preferential treatment for full disclosure.”

        and, as Watts sees fit to use the real names of Tamino, Eli Rabett and others in public, I see no reason to respect Smokey’s anonymity. ….

      • Stealey would appear to be breaching at least two of the WUWT site policies

        “Trolls, flame-bait, personal attacks, thread-jacking, sockpuppetry, name-calling such as “denialist,” “denier,” and other detritus that add nothing to further the discussion may get deleted; also posts repeatedly linking to a particular blog, or attempting to dominate a thread by excessive postings may get deleted. Take that personally if you wish, but all deletions/snips are final. Grousing about it won’t help since deleted posts can’t be recovered. Rather than trying to edit, bulk moderation may be employed to save time.
        I have several projects I work on plus a business to run, if moderation takes too much time and becomes redundant, I may opt to remove posts and/or shut down a thread.
        Internet phantoms who have cryptic handles, no name, and no real email address get no respect here. If you think your opinion or idea is important, elevate your status by being open and honest. People that use their real name get more respect than phantoms with handles. I encourage open discussion.
        Anonymity is not guaranteed on this blog. Posters that use a government or publicly funded ip address that assume false identities for the purpose of hiding their source of opinion while on the taxpayers dime get preferential treatment for full disclosure.”

        and, as Watts sees fit to use the real names of Tamino, Eli Rabett and others in public, I see no reason to respect Smokey’s anonymity. ….

      • That sea-ice-turned-the-corner (volume 3, number 12) thread at WUWT now has more than 400 posts, driven largely by arguments with Stealey’s belligerent puppet “Smokey.”

        “And I take pride in the weak and baseless criticism coming from someone with her snout firmly planted in the public trough.”

        Meanwhile Stealey has been heavily involved as moderator dbs, having made a dozen or so visible interventions (and an unknown number of invisible ones; 3 of my own posts disappeared so I guess I’m banned there). Frequently dbs aims his interventions against the same people “Smokey” is arguing against.

        Stealey works both his “dbs” and “Smokey” screen names hard in this thread, which makes his ominous remark (to a poster trying to argue about science) priceless:

        [Reply: The Policy page makes clear that multiple screen names are forbidden. Second request: Please explain the name "Rob W". Thank you. ~dbs, mod.]

      • I’m starting to think that if we didn’t have smokey/dbs we’d have to invent him …

      • Thank you Gneiss. This makes my day.

  34. Jeff Masters Blog has a great summary and discussion of the Arctic Sea Ice Loss at http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/show.html It’s definitely worth a look. (cross posted)

  35. Jeff Masters Blog has a great summary and discussion of the Arctic Sea Ice Loss at http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/show.html It’s definitely worth a look

  36. you really can’t win by commenting at WUWT, its policy for them to give the impression that a lot of people think global warming is not happening, whereas in reality its a few regulars that work in the fossil fuel industry with lot of aliases and a heck of a lot of moderation

    • “The Wattsrealites”

      — Horatio Algeranon’s perversification of Desmond Dekker and the Aces

      Get up in the morning, blogging from bed, sir,
      So that every myth can be fed
      Poor me, the Wattsrealite

      Get up in the morning, bloggin from bed, sir,
      So that every myth can be fed
      Poor me, the Wattsrealite

      My logic and my facts, have been packed up and a-leave-me
      “Darling,” they said, “We were yours to receive”
      Poor me, the Wattsrealite

      Maths them a-screw up, good-sense has flied
      I don’t want to end up like Jekyl and Hyde
      Poor me, the Wattsrealite

      After a melt there must be a freeze
      They catch me in a fib, they put on the squeeze
      Poor me, the Wattsrealite
      I wonder who I’m working for
      Poor me, the Wattsrealite

    • Surely there can’t be too many who still believe that the ‘sceptic’ blogs are running an honest operation. Their entire purpose and reason for existence is to rubbish real climate scientists and real climate science at every opportunity and promote their diametrically opposed facile nonsense. It’s what they’re for.

      • More than you might think, I’m afraid. Still, I see–or think I do–some signs that the erosion of their credibility has fairly begun. Ultimately, they are in the position of poor old King Canute. The question is, how many are foolish enough to keep listening, and for how long? It’s not easy to tell.

  37. Horatio Algeranon

    “Sea Ice Recovery Spiral”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    Arctic sea ice
    Is turning the coroner
    In watterecovery
    A Holey re-Bjorner

    Before you know it
    It will be back
    With better cover
    Than Stevie Mac

  38. Some good news, for once.

    NOAA has revised Dai et al’s PDSI figures, and extended them to 2010 (the reliable range is 1948 and later). Applying my analysis, drought won’t reach critical (civilization-destroying) levels until the 22nd century. So we may have more time than I thought–unless their figures are wrong, my use of them is wrong, or something else in my analysis is wrong.

    • That sounds like good news. For me though, it sounds like a bit of a cracked bell.

      Considering how far out of whack our current reality is with sea ice, glaciers and extreme weather not behaving as expected, I’d want to be thoroughly, seriously convinced that continuing and worsening of floods and droughts in grain producing countries won’t cause mayhem within a few decades.

      We don’t need worldwide failure of all crops to have a catastrophic famine. All we need is a couple of consecutive years where 2 or more major producers of wheat (or rice or corn) are unable to export much or at all. The fact that one country’s (or year’s) crops were ruined by too much water and another’s by lack of it makes no difference to the grain silos.

  39. Why does so much climate disinfo come out of Australia?

    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=14089

    Sorry to be off-topic, but don’t know how to email Tamino.

    • They have a lot of coal for sale?

      • Egalitarianism and sympathy for the underdog are ingrained Australian cultural traits that have morphed into contempt for and distrust of expertise in intellectual realms. So many of us were predisposed to distrust scientists and climate science.

    • Tad, SkepScience had a go at one of Cliff O’s rants back in April…

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/Cliff-Ollier-Swimming-In-A-Sea-of-Misinformation.html

      And they’ll probably have a go at this one too, though his points are so tired and poorly sourced Dana may expire from ennui before he finishes typing. Ollier’s only strength seems to be in ice, but his arguments there are all of the straw man variety.

    • We’ve always been proud of punching above our weight in the past in sports competitions. Now that others are overtaking us in this sphere, we need new ways to stand out. Preferably easy ways.

      Tinfoil-hattery is one such activity.

      • I’ll take your Pilmer and raise you a Monkton.

      • If punching above your weight fails, there’s always punching below the belt

        “The Blogger”
        — by Horatio Algeranon (with a lot of help from Simon and Garfunkel, “The Boxer”)

        I am just a water boy
        Though my story’s seldom told
        I have squandered my credibility
        For a blog that’s full of mumbles and preposterousness
        All lies and jests
        Still a man hears what he wants to hear
        And disregards the BEST

        When I left my sense and my faculties
        I was much less than a Roy
        In the company of skeptics
        In the quiet of a surface station running scared
        Laying low, seeking out the grills and blacktop
        Where the NOAA people go
        Looking for the bias only they would know

        Lie la lie …
        Asking only blogger’s wages
        I come looking for a job
        But I get no offers,
        Just a come-on from Al Gore up on Sixth Avenue
        I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
        I took some comfort there

        Lie la lie …

        Then I’m laying out my winter posts
        And wishing I was gone
        Going home
        Where the Arctic Sea ice summers aren’t bleeding me
        Bleeding me, going home

        On the internet stands a blogger
        And denier by his trade
        And he carries the reminders
        Of ev’ry graph that laid him down
        Or cut him till he cried out
        In his anger, with no shame
        “I am leaving, I am leaving”
        But the blogger still remains

        Lie la lie …

      • Click here to hear a crude (or is it rude?) rendition of “The Blogger”

      • Very fine Horatio.

      • Take my Plimer… please!

      • Please don’t raise any more Moncktons…

        We have enough already.

      • Horatio Algeranon

        For some reason, the image of Monckton as a young child being “raised” (by wolves?) is humorous.

        Can’t you just picture him reprimanding his mother?

        “Now, Mummy, I told you never to address me as ‘Christopher’ or ‘Chris’. I insist that you address me as ‘Lord’ … or ‘Christ’, if you prefer”

    • I’d like to know what it is with Geologists? Instead of punching above their weight they seem to prefer to punch below the belt. A dreadful generalisation on my part I know. I harboured aspirations as a high school student in this area. The vocal Australian ones at least seem to be hell bent on towing a line that ignores every other scientific discipline reated to climate science. Maybe Stephan L could do a paper on this?

      • Aurgh…watch what you say about geologists. Unfortunately though, there is an element of truth to your comment. I think geologists tend to take the long view on climate: well, the climate has always changed through geologic history, yada, yada, yada, without thinking through what’s really going on. 1) Yes, the climate has changed throughout geologic history, but it changes in response to specific forcings (see Richard Alley’s excellent 2009 AGU presentation) and 2) yes, the climate has changed through geologic history, but we don’t live in the geologic past, we live here and now and this is the only climate we’ve got. The fundamental scientific information from a variety of disciplines documents a dramatically changing climate and that information documents that this time, we are the forcing. Couple this distorted “long” view with the fact that many geologists work in industries where climate science either given little weight or simply dismissed and I think that’s how some geologists end up in this non-fact based reality.

      • OK. While there are indeed several dumb-ass geologists, I would point out that there are dumb-ass engineers, physicists, statisticians, economists, journalists…

        In fact, any of us can become dumb asses if we stray too far outside our own narrow expertise without putting in a whole helluvalot of study on the subject. There is also the fact that many geologists work in extractive industries, where concern for the environment is, shall we say, suspect.

        I also think that in disciplines that offer an illusion of tremendous explanatory power, there is a tendency among some practitioners who don’t think deeply to assume their expertise knows no bounds. This is a certain recipe for serving up a tasty stew of dumb ass.

  40. This guy should have the answers.

  41. I’d be very interested to see that analysis, Barton.

  42. Steve-san,

    I’m writing it up as an article. I’ll send you a copy of the ms as soon as I complete it.

  43. There’s a good paper here!

  44. Meanwhile, the temperature trajectory north of 80N is starting to look interesting…

    http://www.webcitation.org/6AcdkWPai

    • Yeah. I’ve been watching that the last few days.

      Given how things have gone, I wouldn’t even **try** to guess what that might signify for this year’s refreeze or for anything else. I suspect that we’re all in unknown territory with the Arctic for the next couple of decades.

      • Its relatively simple, its cloudy in the Arctic (recent temperatures), it has been cloudy (peak temperatures close to average). And there was great Cyclone incursions over the past winter (very warm temperatures). Where there is no clouds its cooling (NE Siberia)

  45. So with the Arctic warming 6x as fast as the mid-latitudes (or whatever the number is) — has anyone projected how long til it catches up? When does Santa drown, in other words? A betting pool would be a bad pun there.

  46. “…has anyone projected how long til it catches up?”

    Sometimes it seems like EVERYBODY has done a projection of when the sea ice runs out for the first time. Dr. Serreze, last I heard was still saying “20-30 years,” which would jibe with Dr. Stroeve’s 2020-2030.

    To me–and this should get no particular credence; it’s pure WAG–it seems like this year’s melt represents a real seismic shift (metaphorically of course). The annual melt process is not behaving as in the past. Therefore, I’m guessing that Maslowski/Wadhams are more likely to be correct, and the fatal date is maybe 3-4 years off.

    We’ll see. Clearly, we aren’t likely to stop it now; mitigation will save other things (if we ever manage it in a meaningful degree), but not the summer Arctic sea ice.

  47. Has anyone seen Pat Michael’s SLR post on WUWT yet? At first glance I’d say it matches the accuracy of his “1930’s had a similar melt” claim.

  48. Pat “The Satanic Gases” Michaels has no shame.

  49. Here is a close up look. Not good.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/sep/13/less-arctic-sea-ice-satellites

    “Here, possibly only 50% of the sea is covered in ice. Yet the data is telling the scientists that there is continuous ice cover at this latitude.

    That’s why Julienne Stroeve, ice expert from NSIDC the folk expected to flag the record minimum ice extent record in a few days’ time – has been filming the ice conditions every few hours.”

  50. Just looking a the Cryosphere Today ice area graph over at Jim’s:

    It’s not looking to have bottomed out yet.