The Arctic Sea Ice is Melting – no matter how bad George Will doesn't want it to

The Arctic Sea Ice is Melting – no matter how bad George Will doesn't want it to
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There remains a lot of messaging and spin running rampant online over Washington Post colmunist George Will’s misguided and baseless claims that sea ice coverage is similar to 1979.

DeSmog writer Mitchell Anderson has been covering this baffling story for us and doing a great job, but I wanted to provide a few of the sources that have done a particularly good job at highlighting just how much sea ice we have lost since the 1970’s when we first started recording such things. 

These source easily and compellingly explain away George Will’s incorrect claim that sea ice coverage is the same today as it was in 1979.


1. You can watch the extent of Arctic Ice melt decreasing over time. Here’s a great satellite image time series video done by NASA that shows the year-to-year melting of sea ice in the Arctic. I don’t know how anyone could argue that sea ice in the Arctic is the same as it was in 1979 after watching this video:


2. Old ice versus new ice. It’s a simple argument used by people looking for any reason to deny the realities of climate change to talk about sea ice “extent” as opposed to sea ice mass. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the issue is not as much the change in the “extent” but the change in the thickness of the ice over time – there’s a lot more thin ice that quickly melts in the Spring as opposed to older thick ice:

“there seems to have been a transition to younger, thinner ice beginning in the late 1970s. This reflects not only trends towards more summer melt and less winter ice growth, but changing winds that have transported fairly thick ice out of the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic, and decreased the length of time that ice is “sequestered” in the Arctic Ocean where it might have a chance to grow thicker.”

So the extent of the ice – the actual surface area of the ice covering the Arctic sea – may appear large from time to time, but the amount of thick, old ice has been going down since the 1970’s when scientists first began monitoring such things.

Here’s a great time series of the decrease in old ice in the Arctic. The colors indicate the age of the sea ice in years; light blue is open water (OW). Areas in red are locations where the ice is five years or older, whereas the dark blue areas are first-year ice.

So all the dark blue areas are first year ice and the bright red is 5 years or older:


3. If you still think Arctic Sea Ice is the same as it was in 1979, then here’s a satellite image of the Arctic sea taken in August, 2007. The purple line is where the sea ice usually was between 1979 and 2000.

This image and the animated one above were produced by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. In fact, the NSIDC has just today released a new report finding:

“Arctic sea ice extent averaged for the month of February was 14.84 million square kilometers (5.73 million square miles). February extent was 800,000 square kilometers (309,000 square miles) less than the 1979 to 2000 average, and 140,000 square kilometers (54,000 square miles) less than for February 2008.”

800,000 square kilometers is a lot of ice to go missing and with all this data so easily obtained (took me about an hour), you would think it would pretty difficult for a news outlet like the Washington Post and a seasoned journalist like George Will to ignore.


This month we’re giving away FREE copies Keith Farnish’s new book Times Up: an uncivilzed solution to a global crisis.

Go here to find out more details about DeSmogBlog’s monthly book give-away.

 

The Arctic Sea Ice is Melting – no matter how bad George Will doesn't want it to

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog.

He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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