Hockey Stick in Reverse: Arctic Sea Ice Lowest in 1450 years.

November 24, 2011


The recent loss of sea ice in the Arctic is greater than any natural variation in the past 1½ millennia, a Canadian study shows

“The recent sea ice decline … appears to be unprecedented,” said Christian Zdanowicz, a glaciologist at Natural Resources Canada, who co-led the study and is a co-author of the paper published Wednesday online in Nature.

“We kind of have to conclude that there’s a strong chance that there’s a human influence embedded in that signal.”

In September, Germany’s University of Bremen reported that sea ice had hit a record low, based on data from a Japanese sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, using a different satellite data set, reported that the sea ice coverage in 2011 was the second-lowest on record, after the record set in 2007. 

Toronto Globe and Mail:

“If you take this reconstruction and you put it in parallel with a number of studies that have emerged, the indications are pretty strong that the warming of the Arctic is accelerating.”

He acknowledged that although he has been able to get more detail on ice fluctuations than ever before, the time span considered in the paper isn’t very long by geologic standards.

However, he points out he was involved with a previous paper that went back 10,000 years. That paper found sea ice was lower between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago — and also explained why.

“At the time, due to changes in the Earth’s orbit, the northern hemisphere was receiving more solar energy than it does now,” Zdanowicz said.

“That process cannot account for what we are observing now. In fact, we should be heading into a gradual cooling trend right now if our climate was strictly controlled by orbital factors.”


15 Responses to “Hockey Stick in Reverse: Arctic Sea Ice Lowest in 1450 years.”

  1. Martin_Lack Says:

    Before Dave Burton and Maurizio denounce this as mendacious and prejudiced by some supposed prior need to prove a warmist narrative, etc., etc., I would like to just say thank you for publicising something that, if one is willing to accept the concept of Occam’s Razor even for a moment, would mean that we should indeed “…conclude that there’s a strong chance that there’s a human influence embedded in that signal“.

    • Gorbin Wafflemunch Says:

      Just read a fitting article by Orac at Science Blogs – it’s a great read (though in true Oracian fashion it’s not brief).

      While it’s geared largely towards anti-vaccine/autism crankery – you can see the same mechanisms and rationalizing at play with the local trolls.

      In the interest of sharing:

      • daveburton Says:

        Gorbin, the article is interesting, and I thank you for the link, but you still get a thumbs-down because you apparently can’t tell the difference between rigorous science and pseudoscience w/r/t to climatology.

        • Gorbin Wafflemunch Says:

          Ah Dave! I knew you wouldn’t disappoint. 🙂

          I’ll do my best sleep at night, though that thumbs down will surely haunt me. I will strive to do better next time. Regarding the difference between pseudoscience and rigorous science, that you purport to know so much about, would you care to provide some evidence to support your accusation?

          Ya know, without cherry-picking, cherry coring, making straw man arguments, ad hominem or just taking things wildly out of context. The way rigorous science would be conducted.

          Demonstrate (contrary to the bulk of your arguments up to this point) that you actually know the difference yourself and I’ll be compelled to take you seriously.

          I await, what is sure to be a fantastic ride through wonderland.

  2. Especially fitting that it is from a Canadian study.

  3. daveburton Says:

    The only problem with this study is that it is nonsense: there is no actual, reliable data for sea ice extent prior to 1979.

    That graph shows “modern observations” beginning sometime in the mid-1800s, which is utterly absurd. Nobody had even been to the north pole until the 20th century. It wasn’t even known in the 19th century whether the north pole was land or sea. There were no surveys of ice extent.

    Sea ice leaves no fossils. It melts. There is nothing left of the Arctic ice which existed before satellite observations. Sea ice has no effect whatsoever on the snow which is distilled before it accumulates on ice sheets and ultimately becomes the ice which is extracted in ice cores. It has no effect on tree rings, either.

    This is junk science, and it is a shame that a once-prestigious journal like Nature publishes such tripe.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      so it’s not “accurate accurate”?

      the field is wide open for you, sport. Put together your case, submit, and wait for your Nobel.

    • Martin_Lack Says:

      To quote from Prof. Bickmore’s lecture, Dave, you are no Galileo… You so-called “sceptics” are not fighting the Establishment. You are , knowingly or otherwise, fighting for the Establishment: Today, however, the Establishment is not the highly-conservative and anti-intellectual Church of Rome. No sir. Today, the Establishment is the highly-conservative and anti-intellectual neo-conservative alliance with the fossil fuel lobby.

      Like I have said to you so many times, it seems, you need to wake-up and realise who it is that has been lying to you for so long. You have got this whole thing back-to-front, inside-out, and upside-down: There is no solid evidence for a left-wing conspiracy to tax and regulate people and make us all poorer. However, there is solid evidence for a right-wing conspiracy to tax and regulate business less; to make a minority even richer because we fail to question the wisdom of burning all fossil fuels (i.e. just because we can, does not mean that we should).

    • I must take issue here, Dave. Several huge assumptions and errors dominate your posts, the first being obvious in that the article has not yet been published and so neither you nor anyone else (save perhaps the peer review panel) can possibly make a judgement call on the validity of the science. Now clearly the peer review panel have judged it suitable for publication, which now means that the data is to be placed under the scrutiny of the rest of the world’s scientists (well, those that read Nature). It is at this point where Nature should be criticised for publishing ‘junk’ science and when it has, it is. These criticisms come in the form of letters, critiques or ‘Response[s] to…’ because (as you would know were you familiar with scientific principles) scientists learn to be skeptical of everything, to question everything. If there are any flaws in the data they will be exposed – you do realise that the actual skeptics (i.e. people who view the data with an open mind, yet remain unconvinced of it’s validity alone or in the wider context) read Nature as well. You need not fear that you must burst your halcyonic bubble just yet – science is on your side, it will take a good three to six months for all the reactions to this paper to be collated, peer reviewed , edited (if appropriate) and published. And then there may yet be ‘Response[s] to response to…’ and so on.

      You also claim that there was no reliable data on sea ice extent prior to 1979, but I beg to differ, observational extents were easily available from World War One onwards and likely from the fifteenth or sixteenth century, when the European powers were expanding their empires largely by sea. It would likely be disparate and need collating and need some tweaking to get it all to fit onto on several (or one) graph(s) in an acceptable (unbiased) way. I speculate here: Some thought in the sixteenth century that the North Pole sat in a sea and by the 19th century it was widely believed to be so. Such thought led to expeditions being sent in search of sea routes over the top to the Pacific Ocean. These started at the end of the fifteenth century (shortly after the discovery of the Americas) and ran through to the twentieth. So reports from these ships and those of regional fisheries reports, naval log books, personal accounts and diaries and so on, would be available as potential sources of summer and winter sea ice extent. Further, even earlier data could be drawn from possible Viking accounts of the navigation of the North Atlantic.
      Combine this data with perhaps modelling based upon the sendiment layers composed of glacial spoil to establish when the sediments were laid down. Average seasonal regional snowfall could also be a good indicator of climatic conditions and thus of sea ice extent. So you see, just on the spur of the moment, I was able to think of three possible ways in which fairly reliable data could be obtained for up to 1400 years or longer. However, there are already thousands of previous papers that have been published and it is from them (or a mean of all of them) that a reliable record could be established. As i said this was mere speculation, neither I nor you will know what data sets were used to calculate the historical data until the study is published.

  4. Martin_Lack Says:

    I accept that it was wrong of me to make an unqualified statement to the effect that “Dave is a fool” but, two things are now very clear:

    1. He does not respond to questions or statements that cannot be refuted by citing contrarian research (e.g. above and also this); and
    2. He is more than happy to feign ignorance or incomprehension, rather than deal with the criticism being made of his position (i.e. that he is guilty of willful cherry-picking of data and ignoring the plain fact that ice is melting faster than IPCC predicted 5 years ago, etc).

    As I have said repeatedly, arguing with him about whose science is more valid is a complete waste of time, and when you try to focus on history, logic, and/or evidence of actual conspiracyhe just ignores you….

    • greenman3610 Says:

      those all seem like defensible observations to me, Martin.

    • Gorbin Wafflemunch Says:

      Martin, I don’t think anyone can honestly say you didn’t give dave the benefit of the doubt and oppourtunities galore to make a fair rebuttal.

      You’re far more patient than I and for that sir, you earn a virtual hat tip.

    • Martin_Lack Says:

      Peter and Gorbin W – thank you both. Shall we see a response from Dave, though, that is the question? My guess is, “no“, because there is no legitimate defence for clinging to the contrarian position. However, I think we are all in danger of wasting our time because, as Ben Goldacre put it, “You cannot reason people out of positions they did not reason themselves into“. Nevertheless, personally-speaking, I do not want my children and grandchildren to be able to say I did not try…

  5. […] Hockey Stick in Reverse: Arctic Sea Ice Lowest in 1450 years. […]

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