Is arctic sea ice “recovering”?


The Daily Mail headlines, “And now it’s global COOLING! Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year,” while the Telegraph reports “A cold Arctic summer has led to a record increase in the ice cap, leading experts to predict a period of global cooling.”

Sounds like good news for the polar bears, right? I guess those pessimistic eco-scientists were wrong after all.

Or maybe not.

Turns out that 2012 was a banner year for sea ice loss, so no one expected that this season would reach those lows. We find that the sea ice fluctuates with weather, some years there’s more, some years there’s less. But the overall trend is downward.

Here’s a graph that puts it in perspective:

Notice that even though this year’s sea ice extent is substantially above last year’s, we’re still well below the average from last decade, which is below the average from the prior decade, and so on. You can get an even better sense of the annual variability and the trend by looking at this graph of the extent over the past decade.

Dana Nuccitelli at The Guardian does a good job of explaining just how wrong these denialist claims are. And he includes some great animated graphs, which I’m placing below the fold, since I wouldn’t want them to get lost.

As far as warming goes, the fluctuations in the annual temperatures mean that denialists can say “Warming has stopped. There hasn’t been any warming in X years!” more years than not.

They’ll have to hold their tongues for one or two years as things fluctuate upwards (or they’ll say, “It’s just the weather; not climate change.”), but then they go right back to the No-Warming mantra.

And applying this same strategy to sea ice, we get a “recovery” every year or two:

It would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic.

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