ARCTIC SEA ICE–Hudson Bay melted ice unmelts

I noted that the NASA map Tony Heller uses showed a sizable drop in the sea-ice in Hudson Bay, which surprised me.

Heller ice loss July 1-8, 2016

When I rushed to Google explorer it sure looked like the tongue of ice (pink in above map) was still there on July 9, broken up but fairly dense, extending towards Coats and Mansel Islands in the north of Hudson Bay.  (Hopefully a close up will appear below.)

It always pays to go look for yourself. Here is a link to the Google Explorer view I use, that lets you zoom in and back off and slide about the Pole:

And here’s a map so you can see where those two islands are:

Hudson Bay Map hudsonbay

The Canadian Ice Service Map for July 10 also shows the tongue of ice hasn’t melted.


This just demonstrates you have to be on your toes, and take news of melted sea-ice with a grain of sea-salt.

The problem seems to lie in the fact the ice does get slushy and gray,  and may not be seen by sensors which seek whiteness.

Sea-ice gray ice clip_image002_thumb1

Also some sensors have difficulty differentiating between Open Water and Melt-water Pools on top of the ice.

Sea-ice meltwater pools clip_image004_thumb2

Having to differentiate in this manner does lead to honest mistakes, however we must also differentiate between the honest mistakes and the dishonest mistakes.  I myself tend to steer clear of accusing, as it stinks to have to accuse a fellow man of being devious.  Even when I do it I wait before sending or publishing my words, with a finger over the delete key, (especially if any beer is involved).  However after ten years of having to listen to a steady stream of balderdash it sometimes becomes obvious people are stating things they either know nothing about, or are intentionally getting wrong, for political reasons.

The simple fact of the matter is that the ice gets slushy at the Pole every summer. Even back in the early days of the Cold War in the 1950’s and 1960’s, when the Russians and Americans kept tabs on  each other by inhabiting “Ice Islands” at the Pole (which they tended to call “weather stations” and bat eyelashes innocently about), there are reports of scientists donning hip-waders, the slush grew so deep. The DMI graphs of air temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude, which began in 1956, show there has never been a summer without a thaw, and thaws of the past were actually warmer than the past four summers.

How then,  can something like this be written?

“Despite their beauty, these melt ponds are a harbinger of climate change in the Arctic, according to a new study by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.”

They do so by suggesting the melt-water pools are somehow different from melt-water pools of the past. The suggestion is that, because the pools form on newer and flatter ice, they  form more easily than they do on bumpier multi-year ice, and therefore are more numerous, and create more dark patches which create more areas to absorb more sunshine which causes more melting.

It sounds reasonable enough, but if you have been watching as I have been watching you have seen the ice is not smoother.  One arctic explorer, remarking about how much worse skiing over the sea-ice was, described the new ice as “crazy ice.”  This spring the Russians experienced difficulty finding an area smooth enough to build a blue-ice air strip for their Barneo base. An unprecedented three O-buoy cameras and three Mass Balance Buoys were lost even before the melt began, there was so much buckling of the ice.  Therefore there is reason to wonder if the statement that “the ice is flatter” is correct.

And you can go on  from there. Just using my  eyes I’d say there have been fewer melt-water pools,  and they have been refrozen and dusted by snow at times even in the middle of the summer, the past four years. So again I have reason to wonder about the statement “there are more pools.”

I’d like to see how the number of melt-water pools were measured, and how the amount of flat-compared-to-bumpy-ice was measured.  Instead I tend to read that statements are true because someone said so.  I am not impressed. I don’t want to hear scientist X at University Y said Z.  I want to see the actual studies, and this is especially true when I over and over have noticed things like I just noticed above:  A large amount of ice is said to be gone from Hudson Bay, but when I look I see it is still there.  If mistakes that big can be made, how am I to trust the measure of melt-water pools, or flat ice vs. bumpy ice?

Lastly, I have found I should always check the date of the news item I am referred to. The above quote turned out, when I looked, to be from an article written the winter after the record melt-season of 2012.  It referred to data gathered in 2011.  In other words, it did not include the past four colder summers.

Sigh.  This does not mean that the people using such information are making dishonest mistakes. They may merely have been misinformed. However the amount of misinformation being trundled out and bandied about as undeniable proof is absurd. Increasingly people suspect the misinformation has a source, pumping out poison like a bad-water well in an arid landscape where travelers know thirst.

Dr.Tim Ball is a grumpy old man like I am, but knows far more than I do about meteorology and the arctic.  He suggests that there are indeed misinformers, who intentionally  “get it wrong”, and claim things that are ordinary are extraordinary, for their own political purposes.

Alarmism: Claiming Normal as Abnormal Began on a Global Scale with Ozone

I am inclined to agree that some are making dishonest mistakes, and causing many others to make honest mistakes.  Naive and trusting people are being made to look like chumps and fools. However I don’t seem to have much effect when I call the dishonest dishonest.

The effect I have, and it is small, involves simply, and politely, pointing out, “You got it wrong.  You said the ice in the middle of Hudson Bay was gone, but look: It’s still there.”

Meanwhile the thaw continues, and the ice gets slushy, like it always does.

Obuoy 14 0709 webcam


8 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE–Hudson Bay melted ice unmelts

  1. It is deliberate disinformation, so we can weep for the polar bear when the bears are doing fine and also to continue the myth that Arctic sea ice melt is “much worse than we thought.”

    It is not science, but clearly using fear as a political tactic, to persuade sovereign countries to turn over that sovereignty (and our rights as Americans) over to a communistic one world government. A government that will greatly lower our standard of living and intrude on every aspect of our lives.

    That is why (among other reasons) I believe this upcoming election may be perhaps the most important in American History.

    • Because the ponds are basically ice-water even a slight cold snap can skim them with ice, and if a dust of snow should whiten them at that time, there can be quite a jump in the apparent extent.

      • Hi Caleb … do you remember about two years ago (and before) when there was an adjustment for the melt ponds that kicked in about June 20th but it seems that the various ice graphs have stopped that now and instead show melting = the melt ponds, that they know is bogus because it follows the “worse than we thought” nitwit narrative.

      • I remember there was always a jog in the graph.

        The nitwit narrative won’t stand up to the ruthless scrutiny of the web, and the web never forgets.

  2. The bias error in the reported area and extent that results from treating melt ponds as “the sea ice is gone from here” is easily seen in the treatment of fast ice throughout the archipelago and near the east Siberian coast during the spring and summer melt. Direct satellite images document the regions are covered with fast ice, i.e. 100% wall-to-wall coverage, while the various concentration estimates claim 30, 50 or 80% coverage because of clouds or a blue tinted wetted ice surface. A 6 inch deep melt pond on top of 6 to 8 feet of ice is treated as though no ice exists below the surface of the pond. The volume and area estimates are therefore always below the actual amount of ice present during this melting phase.

    This whole exercise makes the comparison of currently measured levels versus old methodology levels a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison.

    • I think you put it in a nutshell very nicely.

      It was very helpful to have cameras up there to double-check what the satellites were reporting. Last summer one of the O-buoys constantly could see ice all around, as the maps reported the area “ice free”.

      This year I have to rely a lot on the visual image from space. You can’t see the thicker pressure ridges very well (or at all) but you can see the swirling chips of ice in areas where the ice is likely crushed up to a sort of slush. It is interesting, for the swirls of ice makes formations to some degree like the geology of sand along the east coast of the USA, with long smooth stretches like beaches and bars, and lagoons of open water behind them. Then, further away from the “edge”, there are larger chunks of ice that haven’t been crunched up to bits.

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