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“Arctic sea ice extent at its lowest for at least 1500 years”–Debunked By Three Scientific Papers

February 21, 2018

By Paul Homewood


h/t Andyg55



Further to NOAA’s claim that Arctic sea ice extent is at its lowest for at least 1500 years, Kenneth Richard highlighted three studies last year that show the claim to be bunkum.

Re-posted from No Tricks Zone:

Earlier this year, Stein et al., 2017 published a reconstruction of Arctic sea ice variations throughout the Holocene that appeared to establish that there is more Arctic sea ice now than for nearly all of the last 10,000 years.

The study region, the Chukchi Sea, was deemed representative of most of the Arctic, as the authors asserted that “the increase in sea ice extent during the late Holocene seems to be a circum-Arctic phenomenon as PIP25-based sea ice records from the Fram Strait, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea and Chukchi Sea  display a generally quite similar evolution, all coinciding with the decrease in solar radiation.”

The proxy data used to reconstruct Arctic-wide sea ice variations over the Holocene (PIP25) clearly show that modern sea ice extent has only modestly retreated relative to the heights reached during the Little Ice Age (the 17th and 18th centuries),  and that the from about 1400 A.D.on through the rest of the 10,000-year-long Holocene, Arctic sea ice extent was much lower than it is today.

In 2014, Dr. Qinghua Ding and colleagues published a consequential paper in the journal Nature contending that much of the warming trend in the Arctic since 1979 can be traced to “unforced natural variability” rather than anthropogenic forcing.

A substantial portion of recent warming in the northeastern Canada and Greenland sector of the Arctic arises from unforced natural variability.”

Then, a few months ago, Dr. Ding and co-authors published another Nature paper (Ding et al., 2017) that extended  a natural attribution to trends in Arctic sea ice variability, concluding that as much as half of the decline in Arctic sea ice since 1979 is due to internal (natural) factors, further undermining the position that anthropogenic forcing dominates Arctic sea ice changes.

Internal variability dominates the Arctic summer circulation trend and may be responsible for about 30–50% of the overall decline in September sea ice since 1979.”


Within the last month, two more papers have been published that further affirm the conclusion that modern Arctic sea ice extent has not changed significantly relative to even the last few centuries, nor has it fallen outside the range of natural variability.


1. Like Stein et al. (2017), Yamamoto et al., 2017 largely attribute Holocene sea ice concentration variations to solar forcing, and they assemble a reconstruction of sea ice trends for the region that once again clearly shows sea ice coverage is greater now than it has been for almost all of the Holocene.

“Millennial to multi-centennial variability in the quartz / feldspar ratio (the BG [Beaufort Gyre] circulation) is consistent with fluctuations in solar irradiance, suggesting that solar activity affected the BG [Beaufort Gyre] strength on these timescales. … The intensified BSI [Bering Strait in-flow] was associated with decrease in sea-ice concentrations and increase in marine production, as indicated by biomarker concentrations, suggesting a major influence of the BSI on sea-ice and biological conditions in the Chukchi Sea. Multi-century to millennial fluctuations, presumably controlled by solar activity, were also identified in a proxy-based BSI record characterized by the highest age resolution. … Proxy records consistent with solar forcing were reported from a number of paleoclimatic archives, such as Chinese stalagmites (Hu et al., 2008), Yukon lake sediments (Anderson et al., 2005), and ice cores (Fisher et al., 2008), as well as marine sediments in the northwestern Pacific (Sagawa et al., 2014) and the Chukchi Sea (Stein et al., 2017).”


2. In another new paper, Moffa-Sánchez and Hall, 2017 analyze subpolar temperature changes, glacier advances and declines, and sea ice variations in the Labrador Sea, North Atlantic, North Iceland, Alaska, Swedish Lapland, and Northwestern Europe region.

“Paleoceanographic reconstructions from a more northward location of the polar front on the North Iceland margin show centennial-scale cold events and marked increases in sea ice with similar timing to the cold events recorded in the eastern Labrador Sea.  … The records from the northernmost sites show a linear cooling trend perhaps driven by the Neoglacial decrease in summer insolation in the northern high latitudes and its effects on Arctic sea ice production. “
“Periods of increased influence of polar waters in the eastern Labrador Sea, reduced LSW  [Labrador Sea Water] formation and weaker subpolar gyre largely coincide with well-established cold periods recorded in glacier advances, tree-ring and pollen records in the circum-North Atlantic and northwest Europe [Dark Ages Cold Period, Little Ice Age]. … Conversely, periods of reduced influence of polar waters in the eastern Labrador Sea, stronger subpolar gyre and increase LSW [Labrador Sea Water] formation largely coincide with mild/warm periods in Europe namely the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Climatic Anomaly.”

The authors find that while Arctic sea ice coverage was more advanced during the Little Ice Age, sea ice concentrations in the waters north of Iceland were far lower than now from about 500 years ago onward, especially during the centuries encompassing the Medieval Warm Period (or Medieval Climate Anomaly) and Roman Warm Period.


Read the full post here.


HH Lamb gives us more detail about changes during the 20thC in the Arctic:





HH Lamb – Climate, History and The Modern World


Across large parts of the Arctic, temperatures plummeted during the 1960s and 70s, accompanied by large increases in sea ice extent. It is this extreme cold period that we are now measuring sea ice trends from.



The opening graph comes from a paper, Paleoceanographic Perspectives on Arctic Ocean Change, by Osborne, Cronin and Farmer.

Osborne works with NOAA’s Arctic Research Program

But more importantly the specific claim from that paper is highlighted in NOAA’s Arctic Report Card Executive Summary:

Arctic paleo-reconstructions, which extend back millions of years, indicate that the magnitude and pace of the 21st century sea-ice decline and surface ocean warming is unprecedented in at least the last 1,500 years and likely much longer.

  1. Tom Anderson permalink
    February 21, 2018 7:34 pm

    This kind of record falsification seems to be worldwide. We can’t do much for the overseas fiddling, but in the United States it is a crime, in fact a federal felony. Title 18 of the United States Code is the federal criminal law. Section 2071 prohibits the crime of manipulating or falsifying government records

    18 U.S. Code § 2071 – Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally

    (a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

    (b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.

    My letters to the appropriate senate and congressional committees and to the US Attorney General’s office have had no result. Most people don’t know what NOAA and GISS are doing is criminal. That in itself is like a crime.

    It would help if this were publicized for what it is, and the perpetrators prosecuted, where cause exists !

    • James in Perth permalink
      February 21, 2018 9:43 pm

      Interesting observation, Tom. The only term however that would apply is “falsifies.” If that is the case, then you are going to get into a battle of the experts on which expert has correctly adjusted the temperatures. And few judges, I expect, are going to apply criminal penalties to scientific judgment. In fact, it seems quite over the top.

      That said, I agree that the temperature record has been abused. Those records need to be audited and some guidelines on adjustments to past and present temperatures need to be enforced.

      Btw, the Supreme Court interpreted this statute a few years ago in a case involving a commercial fisherman who allegedly caught too many fish below weight.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        February 22, 2018 10:14 am

        Where perhaps the Alarmists have a weakness is that they ignore the non-climate science evidence. As Lamb discusses,there are clear and unambiguous records of grain growing, and the LIA has clear evidence in farming records, history, literature and art.

        It always amuses/horrifies me when the BBC publish stories about Viking settlements in Greenland being uncovered by retreating ice as evdience that the world is now hotter than ever…

  2. February 21, 2018 10:30 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

    • dave permalink
      February 22, 2018 11:08 am

      “…Viking settlements … being uncovered… by retreating ice… ”

      Vikings loved to sail a thousand miles, dig holes in the ice, and write home, “Worst time-share ever!”

      • mikewaite permalink
        February 22, 2018 1:41 pm

        There is an interesting discussion of the various reasons for the demise of the Norse settlements, intended for the general reader , by Slack at , appropriately, the Univ of York

        Click to access Greenland.pdf

  3. February 22, 2018 5:03 pm

    Little Ice Age? What Little Ice Age? Did not Michael Mann remove it from the historical and scientific record? And should you disagree with him, why he will sue you.

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