It appears the “extent” graph has turned the corner and begun to increase, and we have passed our minimum extent for the summer.
The fact this year’s extent kept falling past the date the extent began rising last year was a bit depressing for Skeptics, and when it continued falling to just below 2017’s lowest extent Skeptics became even more gloomy. All summer 2022 had held a sort of “lead” in the daily totals, and it even seemed 2022 might have the highest total at the minimum of the past six years. This might not have made headlines, (especially in the lamestream media), but it would have provided ammunition for Skeptics when involved in snark-wars with Alarmists. For example, using August “extent” totals, it is possible to cherry-pick a new start date (2006), and create a new “trend line” which shows sea-ice is actually increasing.
I submit such arguments with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, remembering when much debate between Skeptics and Alarmists was done in a spirit of fun, even when each of the two sides deeply believed they stood for Truth, and that “the other side” was like a slow relative one needs to be patient with, when explaining things. However, we’ve been at this for two decades now, and certain claims have not withstood the test of time. For example, look at this headline from 2008:
Dr. Olav Ortheim is 79 now, and surely has changed his views. I think he likely was caught up in the excitement of 2007 being a low sea-ice extent year, when he wondered if it might mean that in mere months we’d see an ice-free arctic. We haven’t. But, in March 2008, who knew?
I was there, in the midst of all sorts of fascinating discussions in 2008, and while I never recall talking online with Olav, as I recall any scientist like Dr. Olav Ortheim was not smeared for his Alarmist opinions. Rather it was more likely likely Olav was swarmed by people full of curiosity and eager to ask questions, who respected all he had seen, and honored him as a man who had been through incredibly risky experiences investigating icebergs, especially in Antartica. However even back then, when “Climategate” was still a year in the future, one was starting to hear less-friendly things, such as a Skeptic called a “denier”, or an Alarmist called a “watermelon”.
Now it is 14 years later, and politics has poisoned everything. It is rather obvious that the sea-ice has yet again failed to melt away, but saying so can cause certain people to foam at the mouth. Saying so to some Alarmists is like insulting Mohammed to a Moslem or smearing Jesus to a Christian. Some Alarmists have such a faith in Global Warming that they are immune to reason.
Pity. For I’ve met religious people who do not foam at the mouth when you ask questions. In fact, they are glad you asked. Then they set about attempting to convert you. This can lead to wonderful talks, involving deep subjects we seldom discuss, and questions we seldom ask, and a sense of expansion and uplift. It is a discussion of Truth involving no foaming at the mouth, and no hate, but rather love.
In like manner science is also a study of Truth, albeit less esoteric and more grounded in physical reality. Also in like manner, science can involve wonderful talks. It seems so sad that some people go completely off the deep end when you point out what is an actual truth; IE: The sea-ice did not melt away last summer.
I can only suppose they go off the deep end because to question Global Warming at all threatens the very foundations of their faith. It is like removing a keystone of an arch. It is like tipping a single domino which knocks over a thousand others. If you question sea-ice, you are questioning the wisdom of their solar panels and electric car. You discombobulate their entire life.
Pity, because the fact of the matter is the sea-ice didn’t melt. I am very sorry if that discombobulates your entire life, but facts are facts.
I wish people could be aware that the gunfire of hostile cross examination doesn’t contain actual bullets. Hurt feelings don’t bleed actual blood. In debate one should be as courageous as C.S. Lewis. If you ever asked him, “Did it ever occur to you that Jesus might have been an especially gifted con-artist, skilled at sleight of hand like a magician who appears to pull rabbits from hats, while at the same time Jesus might have been an insane zealot willing to die for his homeland’s beliefs?” C.S. Lewis would not have foamed at the mouth because you attacked the keystone of his overarching beliefs, but instead would likely have answered, “Yes.”
C.S. Lewis not only had the courage to listen to the best arguments of others, but also to invent arguments I’d never think of. If people feared to debate him, he’d debate himself. He’d bring forward all doubts, unafraid.
How like mice others seem. They dare not face even the most minor fact, such as the fact the Arctic Ocean yet again failed to become ice-free, last summer. Does it really matter a hill of beans?
Yes, it matters, if you are so convinced Global Warming threatens us all that you will sacrifice the comfort, and perhaps the lives, of all. If we are all going to die if we use fossil fuels, it is better that most, but not all, of us die due to quitting fossil fuels. In such a mental state it is very, very wrong to perpetuate a world where 100% survive by continuing to use fossil fuels, and very, very right that 95% of us die due to quitting the habit.
Good Lord, save us from such Malthusian gloom! It is such a can’t-do attitude! As a sixteen-year-old in 1970 I read “The Population Bomb” and absorbed how the can’t-do Ehrlich went so far as to state the men of India and Pakistan should be castrated to prevent any further population growth. At the same time the can-do Borlaug, motivated by the way hunger had hurt people he worked with in the Great Depression, was finalizing 6,000 cross breeding experiments in Mexico, leading to a new strain of wheat that allowed the farmers of India and Pakistan not only to feed their own families, but to have their nations export wheat. (The “Green Revolution”).
To be honest, as a teenager I preferred the can’t-do attitude. I wanted to drink coffee and write poetry and needed a good reason to avoid getting a Real Job. Ehrlich supplied a scientific reason (the world was ending) and Borlaug did not.
However, if you drink coffee and write poetry long enough you can become so broke that you can get a hint of how hunger hurt people in the Great Depression. It is amazing how even the threat of no supper then stimulates a can-do attitude. Not that I would wish such stimulation on anyone besides myself, but, because fossil fuels run farm machinery and also goes into creating fertilizer, getting rid of fossil fuels may stimulate people in unexpected ways, when the food runs out.
All of this may seem far from the subject of sea-ice. That is because it is. Sea-ice doesn’t care a hoot about all the inanity of power politics. Power often resorts to cruelty, such as throwing virgins into volcanoes and then taking credit when the volcano doesn’t erupt, but if you want to understand volcanoes, don’t study cruelty. Study volcanoes.
The sea-ice has refused to melt, which is a proof sea-ice responds to something other than the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. In fact, there is evidence it responds to the PDO and AMO cycles, which in some ways may be responding to solar, sunspot cycles. In fact, even the CO2 levels in the atmosphere may be responding to such sunspot cycles, as well.
This collection of topics involves many variables. Because the variables make each other vary, (with the exception of the sun, though even the huge sun may be slightly affected by the tiny earth), it crosses your eyes to attempt any cohesive description of how they all work together. Instead, I’ll just name them and suggest work you must do, if you want cohesion.
First, the PDO has gone “cold” and we are midst a La Nina which is into it’s third year, with the third year abnormally strong and showing few signs of swinging back to an El Nino.
The persistence of this La Nina suggests a power we haven’t identified. The swings between La Nina and El Nino are in some ways like the pendulum of a clock, and when the pendulum of a clock keeps kicking back to one side, one is forced to wonder, “What the heck is going on?” However, in terms of sea-ice, it usually means more sea ice in the Bering Strait and East Siberian Sea, which is exactly what we’ve seen.
Meanwhile the AMO is stuck in its “warm” phase.
On his Weatherbell blog the veteran forecaster Joseph D’Aleo reminded me that the late meteorologist Dr. William Gray stated that we should be alert to the AMO cycle swinging towards “cold” starting in 2020. The onset of this past “warm” cycle was perhaps delayed by volcanos such as Pinatubo, and its end may be also delayed by the “Quiet Sun”.
When looking at the above graph it is important to recognize our sun’s cycle 24 was very “quiet” compared to the cycles that preceded it, and that in fact it has been a long time since past “noisy” suns bombarded us with…
Well, to be politically correct you can’t even say “more”. Why? Because that might suggest warming was caused by something other than CO2. But the fact remains “more” solar energy hit us in the last century than currently hits us. To be politically correct you should say ” a statistically insignificant amount more”, but even an itty-bitty bit more has its effect.
Besides temperature, solar energy fuels winds, which cause El Ninos and La Ninas, which affect temperatures and currents, which again affect winds. It gets complex. It’s beyond my capacity to figure it all out. However the Atlantic remains warm, and yet has a sort of ghost of a “cold” AMO starting to appear.
A “cold” AMO has a “signature”. It is like a backwards letter “C” in the Atlantic north of the equator. While no such cold water is currently visible, a suspicious backwards letter “C” of less-warm water is starting to persist.
The color scheme of such maps are such that if you so much as drop the sea surface temperatures a half degree, vibrant yellow shifts to pale blue. In the above map that would create blue from Cuba to Spain, and blotches of blue north past Ireland and back towards Greenland. In other words, a “cold” AMO.
And then? And then, judging from the past, we would expect an upwards jump in the amount of sea-ice, especially in Barents Sea. This might alarm alarmists, for reasons pertaining to their beliefs, but who cares about such beliefs at this late date? What really matters is that such an increase in sea-ice may lead to shorter growing seasons to the south of the frozen seas, and less food.
My point is this: If something besides CO2 influences climate, and we are on the verge of shifting from a “climate optimum” to a “Little Ice Age”, then it would behoove us to make ready. Rather than making it harder to grow food we should be growing food like crazy and storing it.
One alternative idea, concerning increases in levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, it that such increases, at least in part, may be due to the fact warm water is less able to absorb CO2 than cold water is. Actual CO2 measurements on Mauna Loa have only been kept since 1959, and the oceans have been responding to the “noisy” sun of the last century for much of that time, and SST (Sea Surface Temperatures) are measurably warmer. Assuming the current “quiet” sun will take time to slow this process and move things the other way, we will continue to see the oceans release CO2 simply because the water is warmer (up and until those waters are measurably colder). At that point we should see the CO2 levels either slow their rate of growth, or even dip. Is there any sign of this?
Not much, though last March I saw something I never saw before. Usually, CO2 levels fall for four months in the summer as northern plants use it all up, and then rise for eight months as plants become less active and/or go dormant during the winter, (and also as the populous Northern Hemisphere heats its homes with fossil fuels), but last March the CO2 levels dipped. Hmm.
Admitedly such a one-month-reversal of normalcy is a mere blip in the statistics, but because it was never seen before it should be a reason to pay attention. You should be allowed to ask politically incorrect questions, such as “Science expects CO2 levels to rise in March. How the heck could they fall?”
I myself can invent excuses, but what seems to happen instead is that rather than inventing excuses certain people foam at the mouth. Rather than intrigued, they don’t want to talk about it.
Another thing which is intriguing, but some don’t want to talk about, involves the “Ice-mass” on Greenland.
The idea is that if more ice melts than snows down upon Greenland, the sea levels will rise. In fact, this is true. Ice on Greenland has power sea-ice lacks. You could melt all the ice in the Arctic Sea and the waters will not raise an inch, which can be proved by filling a glass with water and ice and seeing if the glass overflows as the ice melts. The only way the glass can overflow is if all the ice melts, and the water is then warmed to a degree where the water expands. However, Greenland involves land-ice, which is not in the Arctic Sea, being added to the equation. Whether you add this ice as meltwater, or as enormous icebergs calved from glaciers, it could raise the levels of the ocean waters.
2012 was a very mild year in the arctic, and not only saw sea-ice “extent” decrease and set a record which stands to this day, but saw melting on Greenland set a record which stands to this day.
However even in the record-setting year of 2012, it was impossible to melt all the snow that fell on Greenland. Roughly 580 gigaton fell, and roughly 540 melted, leaving a residual of 40 gigaton.
What is a gigaton? Well hoist a pound of coffee. Then do it two trillion, plus two hundred billion times. That is a single gigaton. But the extreme melt of 2012 left not a single ton, but forty, atop Greenland. So how can one worry Greenland is melting?
The answer is that Greenland couldn’t just sit around and allow snow to build up and up, all the way to the troposphere, but had to devise a different way to get rid of all its snow. So, Greenland created glaciers, rivers in slow motion, bringing colossal amounts of snow to the sea.
In other words, besides subtracting the snow that melts and flows off Greenland’s icecap as water, you must measure the snow which flows off as glacial ice.
The amount of glacial ice flowing off Greenland is huge. One thing that boggles my mind is that when an iceberg breaks off a massive glacier on Greenland and plunges into the sea, the land it left behind, relieved of the weight, actually springs upward in isostatic rebound far faster than we usually envision, creating earthquakes as strong as 5.0 on the Reichter scale, which can be measured by seismographs on the far side of the planet. The problem then becomes getting that iceberg onto our laboratory scale so we can see how many gigatons it weighs.
Of course, I only say that with my tongue firmly in my cheek. Scientists must find different ways to weigh the ice-loss, which I think involve a couple of satellites measuring the tug of earth’s gravity. It is called “gravimetry” and I can’t claim to comprehend its intricacies. (Nor do I entirely trust it’s accuracy.) We use what we get.
Using gravimetry it is possible to watch the mass of snow increase during the winter and decrease during the summer. They have been doing this since 1981, and therefore can average out the years and produce a 1981-2010 mean (gray line in graph below). This gray line shows that on an average year subtracting the melt from the snowfall leaves a surplus of 37 gigatons. Those 37 gigatons must break off as massive icebergs, to keep things in balance. (The obvious question is, why doesn’t the calving of each iceberg show as a down tick, in gravimetry measurements? I don’t know.) In any case, if you accept the premise 37 gigatons break off every year, then you can see why a year like 2012 would be a delight to Alarmists, for 33 “extra” gigatons melted away. (Red line in graph below.)
However, the past summer did not demonstrate more ice melting than usual, but quite the opposite. (Blue line in above graph.) The Greenland icecap apparently wound up with roughly nine more gigatons than it usually winds up with. Nor is this an isolated incident. Four out of the past five summers have seen this phenomenon.
Last summer was made all the more interesting by the fact the ordinary period of melting was trundicated at both ends by storms that resulted in massive increases of snow at a time the snow ordinarily would melt. Here is a map of the massive melt-season-ending snow, showing that, while there was some melting on the west coast, it was overwhelmed by a more than seven gigaton growth on the east coast, in a single storm.
And here is a graph showing the increases of snow on both the spring-side and autumn side of last summer’s melt season
This is so different from 2012 that the narrative that Greenland’s-ice-is-melting-away-and-oceans-will-rise needs to be reexamined. We need to have fun discussions like we once had, regarding interesting topics such as: Does the flow of ice off Greenland increase when gravimetry is showing increasing amounts of snow fall as decreasing amounts melt? And: Would more icebergs result in colder oceans? And: Would colder oceans contract and lower sea levels? Would they absorb more CO2 and lower CO2 levels? Would they shorten growing seasons and result in hunger?
We need to be able to discuss changes in what we observe if science is to have any value. Science does not gain value because it supports our politics, but because it helps us in more mundane endeavors, such as whether we eat or not. To have evidence derived from careful observations demonstrate what we did not expect does not make us “wrong”. Rather it just makes us “surprised”. The vastness of creation contains too many variables for the limited human intellect to handle, and when we see what we did not expect our response should not be shame, but wonder.
How sad it seems that some people have become so political that to even say, “Greenland seems to be losing less ice than expected”, causes foaming at the mouth. Have pity on such people. They have lost their senses, and we should pray they come back to their senses.