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The 60-Year Oscillation Of Arctic Sea Ice Extent

February 21, 2016

By Paul Homewood  


At least there are some scientists out there, who are not CO2 obsessed. 


From the Journal of Geography, Environment and Earth Science International last year:


Is there a Quasi-60 years’ Oscillation of the Arctic Sea Ice Extent?

A. Parker1* and C. D. Ollier2
1School of Engineering and Physical Science, James Cook University, Townsville 4811 QLD, Australia.
2School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia, Crawley 6009 WA, Australia.




A better understanding of the future climate pattern developments in the Arctic may only follow a better reconstruction of the past patterns of natural oscillations and the determination of the forcing and the resulting oscillations occurred in the climate parameters over different time scales. The proposed information for the past demonstrates the Walsh & Chapman reconstruction [1] claiming a flat sea ice 1870 to 1950 is too simple. The Arctic sea ice experienced a drastic reduction that was phased with warming temperatures 1923 to 1940. This reduction was followed by a sharp cooling and sea ice recovery. This permits us to also conclude that very likely the Arctic sea ice extent also has a quasi-60 years’ oscillation. The recognition of a quasi-60 year’s oscillation in the sea ice extent of the Arctic similar to the oscillation of the temperatures and the other climate indices may permit us to separate the natural from the anthropogenic forcing of the Arctic sea ice. The heliosphere and the Earth’s magnetosphere may have much stronger influence on the climate patterns on Earth including the Arctic sea ices than has been thought.

  1. February 21, 2016 4:37 pm

    An important independent confirmation comes from this source:

    Observed sea ice extent in the Russian Arctic, 1933–2006 Andrew R. Mahoney et al (2008)

    Click to access Mahoney_2008_JGR_20thC_RSI.pdf

    Figure 8. Mean seasonal sea ice extent for the whole Russian Arctic calculated from three sources. The black points with error bars and the blue regions are the same as in the Russian Arctic plots of Figure 6. The red and green points show sea ice extent calculated from passive microwave data and the HadISST data set, respectively. The red and green lines are the 10-year running means of the corresponding data points.

    Mahoney et al say this about Arctic Ice oscillations:

    We can therefore broadly divide the ice chart record into three periods. Period A, extending from the beginning of the record until the mid-1950s, was a period of declining summer sea ice extent over the whole Russian Arctic, though not consistently in every individual sea. . . Period B extended from the mid-1950s to the mid- 1980s and was a period of generally increasing or stable summer sea ice extent. For the Russian Arctic as a whole, this constituted a partial recovery of the sea ice lost during period A, though this is not the case in all seas. . . Period C began in the mid-1980s and continued to the end of the record (2006). It is characterized by a decrease in total and MY sea ice extent in all seas and seasons.

    More on the dynamics here:

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      February 26, 2016 4:44 pm

      As a follower (but total amateur regarding the content) of your blog on the arctic, it seems that the graphs show that long-term average winter ice is 5 +/- 0.1, spring 4.9 +/-.2, but summer and autumn look much more variable and may be showing reducing trends. As I am looking at these graphs without mechanistic understanding they would seem to show predictable winter and spring extents, but less predictable and probably cyclical summer and autumn extents.

      • February 26, 2016 10:47 pm

        Your point is not far off. Ice extent is driven by changes in the water structure, which operates all year and espcially in the winter. When the sun is shining, April-November, ice melts and solar variability (cloudiness as well as reflective surface albedo) causes volatility in extents, along with storms. BTW those charts are the Russian Arctic, not the whole thing which ranges 14-16 M km2 at maximum.

  2. February 21, 2016 5:10 pm

    There is additional qualitative confirmation of this quasi oscillation in DMI summer ice maps, In Russian summer ice and shipping records (some of which is available in English), and in the timing of the first Northwest Passage transits. Discussed with illustrations and references in essay Northwest Passage. All evidence points to 2007 as the nadir of the present cycle, with recovery toward an apex sometime in the late 2030’s. That sayellite ice extent began in 1979 near the previous apex is a coincidence that will strike a heavy blow to warmunists. Arctic ice recovery, the pause, and lack of SLR acceleration are IMO the big three observational facts that will eventually slay the CAGW dragon.

  3. Pethefin permalink
    February 21, 2016 5:18 pm

    There are loads of maps to be analyzed from 1553 onwards, prepared on the basis of ship logbooks, studied by the late Torgny Vinje and his research team during a 15-year study that was explained here:
    The results of the extensive study are available here:
    unfortunately the results still need a lot work before they are easily accessible. These maps might give us a lot better understanding of the natural variability within the Arctic Region. Vinje’s map that was subject of another thread:
    only touched upon parts of this material.

  4. February 21, 2016 7:36 pm

    This is the full paper.

    Click to access parker-arctic-ice.pdf

    From the Conclusion section:
    ‘As the Arctic temperature oscillates with a quasi-
    60 years’ periodicity, then the Arctic sea ice
    should do the same, and as the Arctic sea ice
    has declined strongly in the recent past but it has
    also strongly recovered, some recovery will
    surely occur again in the future.’

    Maybe that future has already started.

  5. The_Iceman_Cometh permalink
    February 21, 2016 7:56 pm

    There was a Danish study of travel to Iceland and Greenland dating back to the 1500’s (I have mislaid the reference, but I recall it vividly). For about 50 years they could travel north of the Faroes, then for about 50 years they were forced south. I don’t think it was the study referenced by Pethefin, because it was not maps, but records of actual voyages.

  6. tom0mason permalink
    February 21, 2016 11:01 pm

    Surely it would be remarkable that the Arctic regions did not show any variation, and logically a 60-ish year oscillation should be the most expected.

  7. tom0mason permalink
    February 22, 2016 12:26 am



    [Under data of October 10, 1922, the American consul at Bergen, Norway, submitted the following report to the State Department, Washington, D.C ]

    The Arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas about Spitzbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s

    In August, 1922, the Norwegian Departnient of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitzbergen and Bear Island under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, lecturer on geology at the University of Christiania. Its purpose was to survey and chart the lands adjacent to the Norwegian mines on those islands, take soundings of the adjacent waters, and make other oceanographic investigations.
    Dr. Hoel, who has just returned, reports the location of hitherto unknown coal deposits on the eastern shores of Advent Bay — deposits of vast extent and superior quality. This is regarded as of first importance, as so far most of the coal mined by the Norwegian companies on those islands has not been of the best quality.

    The oceanographic observations have, however, been even more interesting. Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition all but established a record, sailing as far north 80°29′ in ice-free water. This is the farthest
    north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus.
    The character of the waters of the great polar basin has heretofore been practically unknown. Dr. Hoel reports that he made a section of the Gulf Stream at 81° north latitude and took soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters. These show the Gulf Stream very warm, and it
    could be traced as a surface current till beyond the 81st parallel. The warmth of the waters makes it probable that the favorable ice conditions will continue for some time.

    Later a section was taken of the Gulf Stream off Bear Island and off the Isfjord, as well as a section of the cold current that comes down along the west coast of Spitzbergen off the south cape.
    In connection with Dr Hoel’s report, it is of interest to note the unusually warm summer in Arctic Norway and the observations of Capt. Martin Ingebrigtsen, who has sailed the eastern Arctic for 54 years past. He says that he first noted wanner conditions in 1918, that since
    that time it has steadily gotten warmer, and that to-day the Arctic of that region is not recognizable as the same region of 1865 to 1917.

    Many old landmarks are so changed as to be unrecognizable. Where formerly great masses of ice were found there are now often moraines, accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where
    glaciers formerly extended far into the sea they have entirely disappeared.

    The change in temperature, says Captain Ingebrigtsen, has also brought about great change in the flora and fauna of the Arctic. This summer he sought for white fish in Spitzbergen waters. Formerly great shoals of them were found there. This year he saw none , although he visited all the old fishing grounds.

    There were few seal in Spitzbergen water this year, the catch being far under the average. This, however, did not surprise the captain. He pointed out that formerly the waters aout Spitzbergen held an even summer temperature of about 3° Celsius; this year recorded temperatures up to 15°, and last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast of Spitzbergen.

    With the disappearance of white fish and seal has come other life in these waters. This year herring in great shoals were found along the west coast of Spitzbergen, all the way from the fry to the veritable great herring. Shoals of smelt were also met with.

    Please note:
    This copy may have errors and omissions as it was recovered from the scanned (pdf) image.

  8. Don B permalink
    February 22, 2016 12:56 am

    From the Marcia Wyatt, Judith Curry Stadium-Wave hypothesis:

    “The stadium wave forecasts that sea ice will recover from its recent minimum, first in the West Eurasian Arctic, followed by recovery in the Siberian Arctic,” Wyatt said. “Hence, the sea ice minimum observed in 2012, followed by an increase of sea ice in 2013, is suggestive of consistency with the timing of evolution of the stadium-wave signal.”

  9. ralfellis permalink
    February 22, 2016 4:16 pm

    A similar cycle to the PDO and AMO. And although these two oceanic cycles are not exactly in synch, I am sure their combined effects will be felt and reproduced by the Arctic ice extent.

  10. February 23, 2016 4:58 am

    I’m glad that you brought this subject into discussion and that you even do that in many articles. I think that Polar area was and still is a…. hot subject, since there are so many opinions on that. Here’s a site dedicated completely to this subject, whit clear analysis over the years: I hope that at least some of you may find it interesting.

  11. February 26, 2016 5:18 am

    Indeed, Indeed, Indeed. “We probably know even less about the very deep seas and oceans than we know about the moon,” (reference to the link WUWT). What fascinates me is the “Early Arctic Warming”, which started very pronounced in winter 1918/19, after 4 years of naval war around Great Britain. The entire sea structure was turned up-side-down, and all ended up along the path of the Spitsbergen Current, presumably as efficient as volcanic activities. Read this and you may find it interesting, surprising, and a very serious subject to study and understand!

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