Monday, May 16, 2016

Further Confirmation Of Arctic Sea Ice Dramatic Fall

Since early April, 2016, there have been problems with the sensor on the F-17 satellite that provided the data for many Arctic sea ice images. On April 12, NSIDC issued a notice that it had suspended the provision of sea ice updates. On May 6, NSIDC announced that it had completed the shift to another satellite. The red dotted line in the image below shows data from the F-18 satellite from April 1 to May 15, 2016.

The JAXA site also provides sea ice extent images, obtaining data from a Japanese satellite. They show that Arctic sea ice extent on May 15, 2016 was 11,262,361 square km, 1.11 million square km less than it was on May 15, 2012.

The Cryosphere Today is still using data from the F17 satellite, showing some weird spikes. Albert Kallio has taken a recent image and removed faulty spikes, resulting in the image below showing sea ice area up to May 3, 2016.

[ yellow line is 2016, red line is 2015 ]
Importantly, above image confirms that Arctic sea ice in 2016 has indeed been very low, if not at its lowest for the time of the year. Especially since April 2016, sea ice has fallen far below anything we've seen in earlier years. Below, Albert elaborates on comparing data.

by Albert Kallio


A corrected Special Sensor Microwave Imager and Sounder (SSMIS) data set on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F-17 satellite that provides passive microwave brightness temperatures (and derived Arctic and Antarctic sea ice products) has been corrected here for the system instrumentation error. This agrees with the Japanese JAXA curve, and has been accomplished by removal of the uncharacteristic upward 'ice growth' spikes by linear intrapolation of the corrupt data points. This reinforces the JAXA data that shows the Northern Hemisphere sea ice area is seasonally at new record low which has continued in May 2016.

Smoothened F-17 curve agrees with the Japanese JAXA satellite curve. The reconciliation of the two has been accomplished by removal of the uncharacteristic upward spikes by linear intrapolation of the corrupt days' data points which incorrectly showed immense sea ice area growth in the middle of spring melt season. This reinforces the JAXA data that shows the sea ice area is seasonally at record lows. Therefore, media who are citing recent F-17 satellite sea ice area figures are intentionally distorting the facts with their claims of the Northern Hemisphere having a record sea ice area for this time of season - whereas in reality - the exact opposite has been happening.

Arctic sea ice is in a bad shape and looks set to deteriorate even further, for a number of reasons.

The year 2016 is an El Niño year, as illustrated by the 51.1°C (124.1 °F) forecast for May 22, 2016, over the Indus Valley in Pakistan (see image right).

Insolation during the months June and July is higher in the Arctic than anywhere else on Earth. Greenhouse gases are at record high levels: CO2 was 408.2 ppm on May 12, 2016, and methane levels are high and rising, especially over the Arctic.

Ocean heat is also very high and rising. The image below shows that oceans on the Northern Hemisphere were 0.93°C (or 1.7°F) warmer in the most recent 12-months period (May 2015 through April 2016) than the 20th century average.

The situation is further illustrated by the image below, using the NOAA data with a trendline added that points at a rise of 3°C (5.4°F) before the year 2040.

Chances are that Arctic sea ice will be largely gone by September 2016. As the ice declines, ever more sunlight gets absorbed by the Arctic Ocean. This is one out of numerous feedbacks that are hitting the Arctic. The danger is that, as these feedbacks start to kick in more, heat will reach the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and trigger methane to be released in huge quantities from the Arctic Ocean seabed.

Recently, an abrupt methane release from the Arctic Ocean seafloor did enter the atmosphere over the East Siberian Sea, showing up with levels as high as 2578 ppb (at 586 mb on May 15, 2016, pm, see image below). Such abrupt releases are indications that methane hydrates are destabilizing and are warnings that climate catastrophe is waiting to happen.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.


  1. Earth is in midst of a quantum change of state and as a response mankind is not willing to make quantum change of pecuniary value to counter heat.
    Therefore the progress quantum change will take Earth and mankind w snap. It would be kind and brave to jump the shark of entropy rise by Open System so the value of work aligned to value Earth Real, her Sea.

  2. Is the "Climate Plan" still feasible at this point?

  3. I have to honest sam I see almost no hope of a plan being 2018-2020 it'll be too far gone likely

    1. Is there a better alternative? If not, then we should keep advocating action as described in the Climate Plan.

  4. I agree sam... Never give up. It's unbelievable that anyone is a denier of how bad it's getting. But. Truly I think we have very very limited window now to stop or st least slow down the possible mass interruption of life in the next 10 years

    1. I share your view Scott. It seems hopeless but what have to have a go at turning this around.

  5. Matthew I agree as sam said we have to at least try. I think once the most of the north ice is gone the acceleration will get significant. Probably a little different than sam I think it'll take a couple of years before we see a near zero ice event....but certainly before 2022