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The Mystery Of The Disappearing Graph

September 4, 2012

By Paul Homewood


Last week the website “Ice Age Now” posted the above graph in their article “Arctic Ice Hits Record Low!” shout global warming activists”

The graph was from the UK Met Office website and tracks monthly anomalies in NH sea ice, which clearly show ice extent recovering from the 2007 minimum.


Intrigued, I asked the Met Office for their comments and received the following reply from John Kennedy, a Research Scientist :-

There are problems with the sea-ice data (starting early 2009 – see so we removed the links to the sea-ice extent diagrams from the web site. The diagrams should have been removed too, but apparently not. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. There are better sources for monitoring sea-ice extent, such as that produced by NSIDC.

The diagram shows monthly sea-ice extent for the northern hemisphere, plotted as anomalies relative to the long-term mean (1979-2011) for each month.”


A look at the Met Office web page, that John mentions, explains :-

03/DECEMBER/2010. The SSM/I satellite that was used to provide the data for the sea ice analysis in HadISST suffered a significant degradation in performance through January and February 2009. The problem affected HadISST fields from January 2009 and probably causes an underestimate of ice extent and concentration. It also affected sea surface temperatures in sea ice areas because the SSTs are estimated from the sea ice concentration (see Rayner et al. 2003). As of 3rd December 2010 we have reprocessed the data from January 2009 to the present using a different sea ice data source. This is an improvement on the previous situation, but users should still note that the switch of data source at the start of 2009 might introduce a discontinuity into the record. “


So regardless of the original problems, the data has been reprocessed to compensate. This may not be ideal, but nobody seriously suggests that these sort of satellite measurements are accurate anyway. It is also true that there is a step up during 2009 and 2010, that might be related to the discontinuity.

Nevertheless, it is clear that, based on the new data source, sea ice extent has continued to recover during the last two years. (The graph runs up to June 2012).

Furthermore, the claim that the links were removed because of the problems in 2009 simply does not hold water, as the graph has continued to be maintained right up till two months ago.

One wonders if NSIDC would withdraw all their graphs and datasets every time there was a satellite problem and start all over again? Of course not.

And, since my contact with John Kennedy, the graph has completely disappeared, as well as the links. What are the Met trying to hide?

Is the real reason the fact that the graph does not agree with NSIDC’s version of events?

  1. tango permalink
    September 5, 2012 1:53 am

    In australia it is the same with our BOM, when they forcast a weather warning in nsw or vic in the past if a warning of a cold change is coming, in the past they would say snow down to 800mts or 900 mts no snow mentioned anymore just cold air this dos’e not help farmers with lambs. I sent them a email twice why they do not tell us this infomation anymore guess what no reply .

  2. jack permalink
    September 5, 2012 11:00 am

    The graph is clearly wrong. Nsidc, jaxa, cryosperetoday, etc etc all disagree with it. You can’t be seriously entertaining it surely.

    • September 5, 2012 5:24 pm

      Not all agree with Jaxa though. There are others detailed over at WUWT which are more in line with the Met’s.

      Wrong or not, it should be opened up for discussion, rather than covered up.

  3. Matt permalink
    September 5, 2012 1:20 pm

    oh dear, more denialist crap, what are you going to write when the minimum reaches zero? can’t wait!

  4. Tommi permalink
    September 5, 2012 7:41 pm

    You’re trying to spin a recovery based on a missing known to be faulty graph? And you’re doing it NOW?
    Haven’t you seen what’s going on right now?

    Spoiler: It’s not really recovering…

    • September 5, 2012 7:56 pm

      There is a known discrepancy around the start of 2009. There is no mention of any problems since then.

  5. September 5, 2012 8:26 pm

    You actually wrote a post claiming that the sea ice extent is recovering and posted it as sea ice extent, area and volume drop off well below their previous record lows. That’s brazen denial. Why aren’t you a featured columnist at WUWT?

  6. September 5, 2012 9:33 pm

    Unsurprisingly there have been a few reactions to this post. To that extent, the post has had the desired effect, because I wanted to open the topic out for discussion.

    I would, though, like to make a few comments.

    1) I have never claimed that the Met data proves other datasets wrong.

    2) Please bear in mind that the Met graph goes up to June 2012. Whatever has happened to the ice since then is another matter.

    3) The graph represents many years work by the Met Office. I therefore find it astonishing that they have, to all intents and purposes, destroyed the evidence of this work.

    4) Whether their data is right or wrong, it seems to be that there are questions that need to be both asked and answered.

    5) I suppose at the end of the day, what it all boils down to is this – don’t we have the right to see the results of the Met Office work, particularly when they are taxpayer funded?

  7. F. Guimaraes permalink
    September 5, 2012 10:46 pm

    This graph used to be here also,
    together with the NCEP/NOAA counterpart and since the first time I saw them I was impressed with the differences.
    The analyzes are quite similar up to about 2002 and after that NOAA starts to show a more pronounced decline of the sea-ice extent, but the graphs are still similar.
    The important difference starts after 2008, inclusive. There is where the Met Office graph shows a marked rebound of the sea-ice (with strong oscillations, but the trend is quite clear) while NOAA shows no rebound (the strong oscillations are present there too).
    In my opinion the Met Office graph that you’re presenting here is the one that makes sense for the sea-ice extent because it shows a clear prompt response of the ice extent to variations in solar radiation (negative response) which, of course, can be seen also in the NOAA graph too, although not so well defined and only up to 2007. After that the two graphs start to completely diverge.
    This prompt response seems to have been noticed also (for the “ice winter severity index in the Baltic Sea”) in the following paper
    (that I found in this WUWT thread:
    where they’ve found that
    “… the ice winter severity index is strongly modulated by solar activity at the decadal periodicity … ”
    which is complete not present in the NOAA graph after 2007.
    Now, according to the following excerpt of the message from the Met Office web page,
    “… The problem affected HadISST fields from January 2009 and probably causes an underestimate of ice extent and concentration … ”
    one could naturally conclude that the rebound indicated in the Met Office graph is probably even greater than what the graph shows and that would make the difference with NOAA even more pronounced.
    Having in sight the past history of falsifying data and political bias in the information about climate recently, specially in connection with IPCC, I’d not be surprised at all that something similar is happening with the Arctic sea-ice extent.
    This is a story that has not ending here, but with the help of the low solar radiation of the present cycle C24 the truth may come out sooner than the official deceivers expect.

  8. Mark Tough permalink
    September 6, 2012 3:27 am

    This isn’t a mystery, it’s not a conspiracy and certainly the Met is not doing anything other than admitting a data error. Should that error be kept as a published document is a moot point, perhaps with a disclaimer or water-mark, yes but only for the record and not to be used to deflect attention from the reality of the Arctic Ice mega-melt occurring right now.

    There are numerous valid data sets and graphs for you to publish – NSIDC for sure but many more. At the end of this melt season we are looking at records on every front with volume likely to be below 75% of where it was in 1979. You don’t have to cherry pick the data though, all trends are extreme and point to effectively ice free Summer’s in a very, very few short years.

    That it’s due to our love of carbon and our continuous pumping of it into the atmosphere at levels that have become polluting, is without doubt and with no need of caveats anymore. Those who deny this are clinging to those last shreds of ice flow by a proverbial polar bear claw. In reality though a chapter has closed this year, the debate has moved on – to where we choose to take this is a new open question and one to which we all have a right to consider.

    Personally, I’m a natural sceptic. And we need sceptics to critique the naturally conservative, slow paced, evidence dependant Climate Scientists out there. Yes 97% agree with AGW but they still need to be prodded, probed, questioned and called to account. The vast majority of modelling has been wrong, we know that now – there has been a huge underestimate of melt rates and the time in which they would occur.

    We need enquiring minds, like yourself, to question this – why is it so and how can we make better predictions. Will other Climate Change kick in much quicker than expected, the ice will be gone – what’s next? If you and others could use your talents to this end it would be more than appreciated. Please consider how we can get the models right and how we can use this 2012, atmospherically average at best, melt season with all its jaw dropping records in an appropriate, non-chain-dragging, realistic way. It’s not linear it’s closer to exponential – how do we look at the data?

    • September 6, 2012 9:42 am

      While I don’t see things in such a black & white way as you, Mark, I am quite happy to accept that CO2 may be leading to a certain amount of warming.

      As you rightly say, we need enquiring minds to predict the likely extent and effects. Much of the information currently put out simply does not stand up under this sort of scrutiny.

      I would go further. Many of the extreme forecasts and statements about current climate, that are being made, simply serve to discredit the whole science.



      • Brian H permalink
        September 7, 2012 2:31 am

        What is your happiness in admitting CO2 leads to some warming based on? Do you have some secret method of showing increments beyond the base warming trend since the LIA? If so, please tell!

      • September 7, 2012 10:02 am

        Not being a physicist, I cannot argue for or against the theory of GHG, although I recognise that some physicists do disagree.

        Instead I look at what’s happening in the real world and see no evidence that anything unremarkable, unprecedented or catastrophic is occurring.

      • September 7, 2012 5:59 pm

        I’m curious as to which physicist in particular claims that the CO2 absorption band band doesn’t cause it to act as a greenhouse gas. What papers has said physicist published that support this claim? Any? One? Is there even one paper published in a legitimate journal that would refute the fact that CO2 warms the atmosphere.

      • September 7, 2012 7:03 pm

        Joe Postma is one who does not go along with the usual theory.

      • September 7, 2012 11:24 pm

        Postma is debunked here:

        What he wrote was published in a bogus “journal” established for the sole purpose of providing fake-science venues for global warming deniers. Joe Postma will never speak at any conference of real physicists ever again. His work is garbage.

        Nothing in Nature? Nothing in Science? A complete reversal of greenhouse gas theory would be pretty momentous.

      • September 8, 2012 9:34 am

        There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding that sceptics “deny” basic physics. Most do no such thing.

        I do not know if this is just ignorance or a deliberate attempt to denigrate sceptics.

        Dr David Evans gives a concise picture of where the real debate lies.

      • Brian H permalink
        September 17, 2012 10:22 am

        CO2 may simply expedite the removal of thermal energy from the atmosphere, and hence to keep it cool:

        Click to access JCao_N2O2GreenGases_Blog.pdf

    • September 13, 2012 7:03 pm

      It’s amusing to find a self-styled “natural skeptic” casually tossing out that 97% figure without qualification. You ought to check out where it comes from. And here’s another homework question: if “97% agree with AGW” as you say, why did Stephen Schneider make a point of publishing a list of over 400 skeptics in the PNAS that he tried to belittle? Isn’t there a slight contradiction here? Or are you guys trying to have it both ways?

      • Brian H permalink
        September 17, 2012 10:25 am

        Indeed. A sure indicator that the writer is a fool is any reference to the 97% meme. Anyone with a smidgeon of intellectual integrity would be embarrassed to be associated with that study.

  9. Tez permalink
    September 9, 2012 10:01 pm

    I can’t see too much wrong with the Met Office data. The Arctic was hit by severe weather in August 2012 which broke up vast sections of sea ice. Before then the ice was well above 2007 levels.

    If the ice dosent grow back over the next two then the alarmist predictions will be correct. If it does grow back then alarmists will need to change their theory.

    • September 14, 2012 6:37 pm

      What is wrong with the MO graph was that it was actually showing a very clear rebound of the sea-ice after 2007 and an obvious correlation with solar radiation (as opposed to CO2 forcing) and, of course, this is very politically incorrect and goes against the “official data” and explanations of NOAA, NORSEX, JAXA, etc.
      You know, not everything that is correct is politically acceptable.

  10. September 10, 2012 9:35 am

    The David Evans piece is garbage with too many errors to mention. Once I read this: “The global warming scare was started by James Hansen in his presentation to the US Congress in 1988,” there was no point in continuing since it’s simply flat wrong. The concern about humans burning enough fossil fuels to change the climate goes back to Arrhenius in 1896.

    Since this author obviously has no peer reviewed journal papers either we can assume his figures and charts are as inaccurate as his statements.

    • September 10, 2012 9:45 am

      It is all about climate sensitivity, not Arrhenius. But, as you did not read the piece, you would not know that.

      And if it is so full of holes, I am sure climate scientists would have been lining up to debate with him as he has offered.

    • September 13, 2012 6:57 pm

      How many peer-reviewed papers do YOU have? I love it when people toss off these ludicrous comments. (And how do you even know that “this author obviously has no peer reviewed journal papers”?) Evans was good enough to be a consultant on global warming for a major government agency. What are your credentials? When’s the last time you were enlisted to give advice on the subject?

  11. P. Solar permalink
    September 26, 2012 11:36 am

    Well the same thing can be seen elsewhere if the Met. Office don’t want us to see it. The “anomaly” plots show greater annual swing since 2007:

    Now if we take the NOAA daily ice extent data from

    and apply a low pass gaussian filter to remove the seasonal variations we see something similar to what the M.O. are now hiding , though a lot les dramatic.

  12. grumpydenier permalink
    September 28, 2012 3:28 pm

    Bearing in mind that back-radiation is the core belief that drives all this nonsense, maybe those who accept the consensus could discuss the following article.

    Click to access IR-absorption.pdf

    I would also appreciate a link to an authoritative source that there is anything other than an observational link between CO2 and temperature. By that I mean proper physics that shows, definitively, that the human element in the natural carbon cycle can possibly create the temperature increases since the LIA.

    I’ll need to see how that relates to this image and the attached article.



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