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Arctic Sea Ice Extent Stable Since 2007

September 2, 2017

By Paul Homewood


Contrary to popular myth, summer sea ice extent in the Arctic is not in a death spiral.

As the above DMI graph shows, August extent has been remarkably stable since 2007.

Back in March, the “experts” were telling us that the record low extent last winter would inevitably lead to lower summer extent.

For instance, Rick Thoman the climate science manager for the National Weather Service’s Alaska region told us:

If we are starting out very low that gives a jump on the melt season. For the last few years, we have had extremely low ice cover in the summer. That means a lot more solar energy absorbed by the darker open water. That heat tends to carry over from year to year.”

NSIDC’s Ted Scambos said:

“Thin ice and beset by warm weather – not a good way to begin the melt season,”

Prof Julienne Stroeve, at University College London added:

“Such thin ice going into the melt season sets us up for the possibility of record low sea-ice conditions this September.”


In fact the opposite was true. Reduced ice cover in the winter does not lead to more solar energy absorbed by the darker open water, as there is virtually no sun at that time of year. Instead the open water quickly loses heat to the atmosphere, and eventually into space.

We saw the effect of that in action when ice extent quickly returned to the level of the last few years during spring.

With only a couple of weeks to go till likely minimum, ice extent is still running above that of the last two years, and barring a major storm will stay that way.


  1. Malcolm Bell permalink
    September 2, 2017 1:27 pm

    Lets be honest (I am not a climate scientist so I am allowed honesty in my science) while this certainly looks marginally inside the last two years it is not a definitive reversal of the trend. Especially given the not very exact tools we have to measure it. Two more years like this and maybe, just matbe, things may have changed.

    I desperately hope so if only to wioe out the loud mouths spreading anxiety and error. On the other hand I hope the CO2 stays high to keep driving the crop yields. Paul, was the man standing in fir Victoria Derbyshire right on Friday that tge sub-continent food yields are collapsing and down a major percentage?

    • September 2, 2017 5:22 pm

      Do you know roughly how far into the programme, Malcolm?

      [It’s OK, I’ve found it!]

      • AZ1971 permalink
        September 2, 2017 7:13 pm

        Could you share the link you’re referring to with Malcolm? I come from an agricultural state with a vested interest in crop yields so anything to do with regional, national, or continental crop declines piques my interest. Thanks!

  2. September 2, 2017 1:31 pm

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    The pause within the pause.

    CO2 🤔

  3. RAH permalink
    September 2, 2017 2:54 pm

    AMO shifting and low solar activity. Seems we might be in for a colder and stormier period.

  4. tom0mason permalink
    September 2, 2017 7:14 pm

    And of course nobody on the news feed would mention Greenland.
    Over at there’s a long range weather forecast promising maybe more cold up North to come.

  5. Bloke down the pub permalink
    September 2, 2017 9:32 pm

    Reduced ice cover in the winter does not lead to more solar energy absorbed by the darker open water, as there is virtually no sun at that time of year. Instead the open water quickly loses heat to the atmosphere, and eventually into space.

    Besides which, at low angles, water reflects as much light as fresh snow does.

  6. donald penman permalink
    September 3, 2017 3:46 pm

    The arctic sea ice extent was reduced last winter because the sea surface temperatures were warm because of the “big el Niño” how did the warm oceans suddenly become cold and why did it happen just when the summer sun was rising in the arctic if it was because of oceans cooling you would expect that to happen smoothly throughout last winter in the arctic. We are looking at less solar radiation heating the ocean when the sun is low in the sky but it is relative to previous years and how warm the oceans were then.

  7. Aztecbill permalink
    September 6, 2017 3:57 am

    1979 was a relative high in sea ice 1974 was significantly lower (1990 IPCC Report)

  8. jason permalink
    September 6, 2017 11:39 am

    i see the continuation of a downward trend

    • September 6, 2017 2:06 pm

      I think you need glasses!

    • Sunsettommy permalink
      September 6, 2017 5:47 pm


      2007 is currently LOWER than 2017.

      Here is the TEN year Mean chart:

      The decline has STOPPED!

  9. September 6, 2017 7:28 pm

    Agreed Paul: a bit of wobble but no further drastic decline since 2007.

    It’s more or less varying around the sort of lower summer minimum that in 2005, sea ice experts said wouldn’t happen until 2050.

    Not only were they wrong about their prediction, the polar bear specialists who believed them used those models to predict a loss of 2/3s of the world’s polar bears by 2050 and got the bears listed as ‘threatened’ with extinction.

    However, polar bear numbers have not only failed to come anywhere close to a 67% decline, numbers have increased.

    Here is my published paper that lays out the details and none of my colleagues in the field have offered any kind of critique/rebuttal.

    “Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 results in a greater than 30% decline in population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus)” (Susan J. Crockford, 2017)


    The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) was the first species to be classified as threatened with extinction based on predictions of future conditions rather than current status. These predictions were made using expert-opinion forecasts of population declines linked to modeled habitat loss – first by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List in 2006, and then by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 2008 under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), based on data collected to 2005 and 2006, respectively. Both assessments predicted significant population declines of polar bears would result by mid-century as a consequence of summer sea ice extent rapidly reaching 3-5 mkm2 on a regular basis: the IUCN predicted a >30% decline in total population, while the USFWS predicted the global population would decline by 67% (including total extirpation of ten subpopulations within two vulnerable ecoregions). Biologists involved in these conservation assessments had to make several critical assumptions about how polar bears might be affected by future habitat loss, since sea ice conditions predicted to occur by 2050 had not occurred prior to 2006. However, summer sea ice declines have been much faster than expected: low ice levels not expected until mid-century (about 3-5 mkm2) have occurred regularly since 2007. Realization of predicted sea ice levels allows the ‘rapid sea ice decline = population decline’ assumption for polar bears to be treated as a testable hypothesis. Data collected between 2007 and 2015 reveal that polar bear numbers have not declined as predicted and no subpopulation has been extirpated. Several subpopulations expected to be at high risk of decline remained stable and five showed increases in population size. Another at-risk subpopulation was not counted but showed marked improvement in reproductive parameters and body condition with less summer ice. As a consequence, the hypothesis that repeated summer sea ice levels of below 5 mkm2 will cause significant population declines in polar bears is rejected, a result that indicates the ESA and IUCN judgments to list polar bears as threatened based on future risks of habitat loss were scientifically unfounded and that similar predictions for Arctic seals and walrus may be likewise flawed. The lack of a demonstrable ‘rapid sea ice decline = population decline’ relationship for polar bears also potentially invalidates updated survival model outputs that predict catastrophic population declines should the Arctic become ice-free in summer.

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