Disappearing Arctic Ice Is Latest Climate Falsehood

In May, 2008, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) predicted that the North Pole could be ice free during last years melt season. The disappearing northern sea ice has been pointed to by global warming alarmists as visible proof that the Earth was doing a melt down. Today, however, the NSIDC announced that they have been the victims of “sensor drift” that caused them to underestimate the Arctic ice extent by as much as 500,000 square kilometers. It turns out that the demise of the arctic ice was greatly exaggerated.

As with the NASA Russian temperature debacle last year and the forced recalculation of US surface temperatures for the last century in 2007, the latest problem was discovered after NSIDC received emails from puzzled readers, asking why obviously sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as ice free open ocean. A statement on the NSIDC web site, published February 18, 2009, explains the current faux pas this way:

As some of our readers have already noticed, there was a significant problem with the daily sea ice data images on February 16. The problem arose from a malfunction of the satellite sensor we use for our daily sea ice products. Upon further investigation, we discovered that starting around early January, an error known as sensor drift caused a slowly growing underestimation of Arctic sea ice extent. The underestimation reached approximately 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February. Sensor drift, although infrequent, does occasionally occur and it is one of the things that we account for during quality control measures prior to archiving the data.

The problem stemmed from a failure of the sea ice algorithm caused by degradation of one of the sensor channels on the DMSP F15 satellite. Upon further investigation, it was found that data quality had begun to degrade over the month preceding the catastrophic sensor failure. The NSIDC relies on an older, less-reliable method of tracking sea ice extent called SSM/I that does not agree with a newer method called AMSR-E. A comparison of the sensor drift can be seen in the accompanying chart.

This error does not signal a change in the overall trend of sea ice reduction over the past several decades. Rather, it speaks to an all too common occurrence in the climate change debate—scientists getting caught basing dire predictions on bad data. This highlights the danger in accepting at face value the often heard dismissal of anti-global warming arguments because the authors are not “real climate scientists.” Given the frequency of this type of data problem, we are forced to conclude that many climate scientists are really poor scientists, rushing to publish results that reinforce their own bias without ensuring the integrity of those results.

Once again we have misleading climate change pronouncements being based on data errors, data errors detected by non-UN, non-IPCC, non-peer-reviewed external observers. Sometimes it is the scientists themselves who discover the errors, as with the non-disappearing ice sheets of Greenland. More often than not, it is outside observers uncovering the errors, casting doubt on the trustworthiness of all science. This is exactly what happens when you base your arguments on “consensus science” and not scientific fact. What is happening to the Arctic ice this year? So far, the sea ice extent is tracking ahead of 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, so the predictions of an ice-free north pole might be a bit premature.

Was looking at

Was looking at http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/ via your link in this post. Why do you emphasis errors spanning several months in 2009, when longer term trends (like those in the link above) are more significant for change in Earth's climate system? You didn't say who found this data mismatch & learned about the failed sensor - did you do this work? Was it someone outside the projects tasked to process the incoming satellite data?

You write with a "holier-than-thou" tone, but consistently leave out important information. Moreover the headline you attach to this post in blatantly misleading. I don't trust you - I suspect you write to mislead not to inform.

data mismatch

If you read the post and followed the links you would know that NASA's GISS (i.e. James Hansen et al.) did the revisions, perhaps with a bit of prompting by Climate Audit's Steve McIntyre. The dates were the ones revised. Whether you trust me or not is immaterial, the evidence is the evidence.


What bearing does a couple of months' worth of inaccurate data have on the REAL, FACTUAL long-term disappearance of the Arctic sea ice? Answer the question, please. Charts showing the drastic decrease in summertime Arctic ice coverage over the last 40 years abound on the web, and they aren't being prepared by some guy named Gus in his garage. Are they all nonsense? International bodies made up of nations bordering the Arctic are already planning maritime routes based on an ice-free Arctic by some time between 2020 and 2050. Have they all been hoodwinked?
Or are you advancing an argument based on denial of realities present in the physical world...and isn't that the definition of insanity?

Oh, the righteous indignation!

The topic here isn't that the climate is changing, it is always changing, nor that the world has been warming for the past couple of centuries, it has. The question is whether humanity is the proximate cause of that warming. Many of my posts are aimed at pointing out questionable science, faulty methodologies and bogus data. You mention melting arctic ice, well guess what? During the Holocene Climate Optimum, around 6,000 years ago, temperatures in the Arctic were 4°C higher than today and the Arctic Ocean may have been totally ice free during the summer. That this happened before makes the melting of the Arctic sea ice not a particularly bothersome thing, even the “endangered” polar bears managed to live through this balmy period in the high Arctic. If these conditions occurred before human industry and the dreaded SUV why must we be the primary cause of this “unnatural” trend today? It is like climate science wandered onto a beach during low tide and, noticing that the water level was slowly rising, conclude the world is flooding and man must be to blame. You have the odor of a true believer about you, indignantly spouting bogus ideas that you do not understand. Go read some of my past posts, like why I am a global warming skeptic, and then, if you can maintain a civil tone, you are welcome to participate in the discussion.

Your Website

Thank you for your awesome website. It is like a beacon out there that shines through the bull and self righteous climate change, and global warming believers. Why does everyone have to start from a particular belief rather than looking at the facts and actually coming to a conclusion. Most of the people who respond here already have a belief and are not open to discussion but preaching. That cracks me up.