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MASIE Confirms Arctic Sea Ice Remaining Stable In February

February 19, 2016

By Paul Homewood


While we’re on the topic of DMI Arctic sea ice graphs, it is worthwhile recalling Ron Clutz’s post the other day on NSIDC’s MASIE data.

You may recall that Ron showed how MASIE, which is the new all singing and dancing sea ice product, was showing about 500K km2 more ice than the old version, still used as their official publication.

NSIDC say this about MASIE:


MASIE-NH stands for the Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent – Northern Hemisphere. It is similar to the Sea Ice Index (SII) product in that it is easy to use and gives a graphical view of ice extent in various formats. However, it relies more on visible imagery than on passive microwave data, so the ice edge position will generally be more accurate than that of the Sea Ice Index. The input is the daily 4-km sea ice component of the National Ice Center (NIC) Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS) product which is available separately at the NIC IMS Products Web page and IMS Daily Northern Hemisphere Snow and Ice Analysis at 4 km and 24 km Resolution data set at NSDIC. MASIE sea ice products are developed from NIC data with support from the U.S. Navy and from NOAA. MASIE is hosted by NOAA@NSIDC.


Note the words the ice edge position will generally be more accurate than that of the Sea Ice Index.


If we compare MASIE data for Day 48, ie 17th Feb, we find that this year is virtually bang on the mean, and well above 2006.





You would not have guessed this from the graph that NSIDC want you to see. Both are based on 15% concentration, yet the old version below only shows 14.131 million sq km, as against 14.877 million sq km for MASIE.



MASIE, of course, only goes back to 2006, whereas the sea ice index dates to 1979. It is, however, easy to see why NSIDC are keen to use the latter as a starting point!

In much of the Arctic, the 1970s and 80s were amongst the coldest decades of the whole 20thC. For instance, Tasiilaq in Greenland.




Or Stykkisholmur in Iceland.




And the same over in Alaska:



  1. February 19, 2016 4:32 pm

    Paul, a clarification regarding your second paragraph above. The 500k km2 difference is between MASIE and the NASA image, and about 600k km2 between MASIE and NSIDC index (produced by NOAA@NSIDC). Not a matter of old and new versions.

    • David Richardson permalink
      February 19, 2016 5:53 pm

      Yes I have just commented (when it appears) over on Bruce’s xmetman blog on the MASIE topic that he links to below. That 600k km2 difference was evident in Summer 2012 against the standard product, as the WUWT article I link to stated at the time.

  2. xmetman permalink
    February 19, 2016 4:59 pm


    I’ve been looking at the difference between the SII and MASIE as well, and as far as I can see on the latest available data (17 Feb), MASIE is reporting 14,877,388 sq km whilst the sea ice index says the extent is 14.129×10^6 sq km, which I make almost 750,000 sq km lower than MASIE. I’m new to this MASIE data so it could be that this kind of difference is not uncommon.

    Using the NSIDC data I make the sea ice extent the lowest for the 17th of February for any year since records started in 1978. Depending on what record you look at we could be possibly heading for the lowest maximum on record – not so stable!


    • David Richardson permalink
      February 19, 2016 5:55 pm

      Just left a relevant comment on your blog Bruce – not appeared yet? It has a couple of links, so perhaps that’s the problem


    • February 19, 2016 6:09 pm

      MASIE uses a 4 km resolution rather than 24, so it is more precise and shows higher extents. The difference between MASIE and NOAA is typically around 600-800k km2 at both maximum and minimum times in the year (microwave sensors are challenged to distinguish between melt water on to of ice and open water.)

      For the record, the NSIDC Background cites as support a study by Partington et al (2003). Reading that study, one finds that the authors preferred the MASIE data and said this:
      “This analysis has been based on ice chart data rather than the more commonly analyzed passive microwave derived ice concentrations. Differences between the NIC ice chart sea ice record and the passive microwave sea ice record are highly significant despite the fact that the NIC charts are semi-dependent on the passive microwave data, and it is worth noting these differences. . .In summer, the difference between the two sources of data rises to a maximum of 23% peaking in early August, equivalent to ice coverage the size of Greenland.” For clarity: the ice chart data show higher extents than passive microwave data.

  3. David Richardson permalink
    February 19, 2016 6:12 pm

    “It is, however, easy to see why NSIDC are keen to use the latter (1979) as a starting point!”

    Well this from Tony Heller over at Real Science –

    Alarmists should remember that the first two graphics are from the IPCC 1990 report.

    Although it is often stated that satellites started in 1979 – there is actually data from much earlier in the 70’s conveniently not shown.

    • February 21, 2016 9:57 am

      David – For some strange reason not a lot of people know that a graph of NSIDC data from much earlier in the 70’s is conveniently shown at:

      Certain “skeptics” seem to have forgotten all about that fact.

      • xmetman permalink
        February 21, 2016 1:46 pm

        Hi Jim

        Very interesting stuff. Do you have a link to the data behind the graph and who produced it?


      • February 21, 2016 1:58 pm

        Thank you for your kind words Bruce, which I have to say are very few and far between in these hallowed halls.

        Were you to click through my link above as far as the NSIDC web site you would discover that it states:

        For January 1953 through December 1979, data have been obtained from the UK Hadley Centre and are based on operational ice charts and other sources. For January 1979 through December 2012, data are derived from passive microwave (SMMR / SSM/I). Image by Walt Meier and Julienne Stroeve, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder.

      • Pethefin permalink
        February 21, 2016 2:08 pm

        Jim, your graph – which has there any information at the NSIDC – is yet another example of reinterpretation of climate data after the fact. Just compare that graph with graph 3.8. on p. 150 of the IPCC SAR 1995 WG I.

        Click to access ipcc_sar_wg_I_full_report.pdf

        In the IPCC report, the year 1995 is clearly above the level of 1974, whereas in the graph you have found everything has changed. Without any explanation being provided for the scientific validity of this reanalysis, it all seems conformity-as-usual with the AGW-dogma. The opposite of skeptical is gullible.

  4. A C Osborn permalink
    February 19, 2016 6:34 pm

    The big question is this, as we know that other data coming from NASA & NOAA have been heavily “Adjusted” to show what they want it to show, how believable is the NSIDC product?

  5. xmetman permalink
    February 20, 2016 11:02 am


    Here’s a graph comparing the latest daily MASIE and the SII values:


  6. February 21, 2016 1:44 am

    It looks like I need to repeat yet again the information that must currently be residing in Ron Clutz’s spam can. My apologies for yet another cut n paste job, but see if you can spot the expletive that must be deleted:

    • AndyG55 permalink
      February 21, 2016 1:51 am

      Seems Jimbo is a cry baby as well as a totally dishonesty con-man.

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