Summer 2016 Surface Melt Takes Off

June has arrived, and according to the Great White Con Arctic sea ice calendar that means the summer surface melting season has started. Once July arrives bottom melt should have started in earnest too, but for now let’s stick to the surface. Here’s the Climate Reanalyzer map of Arctic surface air temperatures at 06:00 UTC this morning:


Green areas are above 0 degrees Celsius, and bear in mind that the melting point of sea ice is at around -1.8 degrees Celsius. The red areas near the East Siberian Sea coast are 25-30 degrees Celsius. Given those sort of temperatures you might well think that some snow and/or ice in that area would be melting, and you would be correct! Here is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s current map of Arctic surface melting:


The assorted shades of blue/grey show the areas where surface melting is already underway. Whilst this melting is taking place you may possibly read in some quarters of the cryodenialosphere that “There is almost no melting going on in the Arctic“. The authors of such nonsense evidently don’t know their proverbial Arctic arse from their elbow.

Here’s how today’s surface melting in the East Siberian Sea looks from space:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the East Siberian Sea on June 4th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the East Siberian Sea on June 4th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

Meanwhile over on the other side of the Arctic, here’s yesterday’s surface melting on “Amundsen’s Route” through the Northwest Passage:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Northwest Passage on June 3rd 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Northwest Passage on June 3rd 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite

By way of further illustration of the fact that Arctic sea ice is and has been melting, here is a graph of the current area of sea ice in the all important central area of the Arctic Basin, courtesy of “Wipneus” at Arctische Pinguin:


The areas included are the Central Arctic Basin, plus the Beaufort, Chukchi, East Siberian and Laptev Seas. The above zero temperatures are forecast to spread across the Central Arctic Basin early next week, whereupon it will be very interesting to discover what happens to the snow around the single ice mass balance buoy currently transmitting near real time data. Here is the current temperature profile for the sea ice underneath IMB buoy 2015F:


The current conditions there are summarised this morning as:

Pos: 82.00 N, 147.45 W
Air Temp: -3.74 C
Air Pres: 1007.42 mb
Snow depth: 21 cm
Ice thickness: 202 cm

Normally by now there would also be a number of webcams beaming back pictures from across the sea ice in the Arctic Basin. However according to NOAA:

Due to funding constraints, it was not possible to deploy new Web Cams in Spring 2016, but deployments in Spring 2017 are planned.

Three of the camera carrying O-Buoys also seem to have failed over the winter, which leaves us with only O-Buoy 14 to reveal the forthcoming melt to us:

O-Buoy 14 image from June 2nd 2016
O-Buoy 14 image from June 2nd 2016

O-Buoy 14 is currently colocated with Ice Tethered Profiler 89, the yellow object in the foreground, at 77.49° N, 153.92° W, to the north of the Beaufort Sea. ITP 89 measures the temperature and salinity of the water beneath the sea ice and revealed this the last time it managed to take a measurement, a month or so ago:


If you examine the extreme right hand edge of the charts carefully you will no doubt note that the water underneath the ice has recently become both warmer and saltier.

Watch this space!

[Edit – June 5th 2016]

The latest JAXA/ADS map shows that the area of sea ice undergoing surface melting has increased since yesterday, particularly over the Chukchi Sea:


The recent clouds over the Beaufort Sea cleared yesterday. Here’s a close up view of the open water between the big floes from the Suomi satellite:


For a more distant perspective see our Summer 2016 image archive.

It’s not simply the surface that’s melting either. Here’s the latest “high resolution” AMSR2 sea ice area graph for the Pacific side of the Arctic:


Arctic Fraud Continues Unabated

The opening sentence of Tony Heller’s latest Arctic update is astonishingly accurate. Just for once we agree with him when he states:

DMI continues to show rapid melting of Arctic sea ice.


However after that the Arctic fraud continues unabated. Tony assures his loyal readership that:

Their maps show the exact opposite. Arctic sea ice coverage is hardly changing at all.


Equally as troubling is that they show a lot less ice than last year, when in fact there is more ice than last year.

providing this map as justification:


As unReal Science commenter Peter Ellis put it:

You’re getting caught out by the change in the land mask.

When Caleb quibbled yours truly felt compelled to elucidate:

What have you and Tony been smoking Caleb?

Here’s a satellite image of the Beaufort Sea this year, which is red on Tony’s low resolution 2015/16 comparison map:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on May 20th 2016
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on May 20th 2016

Here’s a satellite image of the the northern edge of the CAA last year, which is green on Tony’s map:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on May 20th 2015, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on May 20th 2015

Would you care to play “spot the difference” with Peter and I?


[Edit – May 28th 2016]

Tony is doubling down on his Arctic fraud. His Arctic monkey business continues. Despite the lucid explanation of his glaring error provided by Peter Ellis the unReal Science Gish gallop continues. We are now (un)reliably informed that:

The Arctic is very cold, and is not melting.

The amount of ice in the Arctic is almost exactly the same as this date last year.


Yours truly has asked all and sundry at unReal Science this question 9 times, phrased in a variety of different ways:

Here’s a satellite image of the the northern edge of the CAA last year. Take a good look at it and then show me the areas of open water corresponding to the green areas on Tony’s final map above.

I have yet to receive an answer.


[Edit – May 29th 2016]

Tony’s doubled down again. His Arctic BS continues for another day:

DMI shows ice rapidly melting and extent far below last year. But their maps show about 1% more ice this year than last.


How long will this scam continue?

I tried using a more colourful image of the CAA today. This one’s from May 27th 2015:


Once again “No answer!” was the stern reply to my plaintive questions.


[Edit – May 30th 2016]

The “Jousting with Malice in Blunderland” continues, but the oppostion are remarkably quiet today. I’ve had my knuckles rapped about this previously, but cutting and pasting is so quick ‘n easy I simply cannot resist:



Evidently Tony Heller believes that when it comes to melting sea ice air temperatures are all that matters and that “somewhat warmer ocean water” is irrelevant. see above:

He also evidently believes that in May 2015 large areas of the oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic had already melted away to nothing. Perhaps you can point out all the polynyas around the coast of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago this time last year to him, since nobody else has yet managed to do so?




gees, Jimbo has change to a luminous blue.
Very pretty Jim..
Now how about you show one that shows th near ZERO Arctic sea ice from the first 3/4 of the Holocene..
Or are you still going to DENY/ IGNORE the FACT that there is nothing untoward happening with the Arctic Sea Ice, and all you are arguing about is the INSIGNIFICANT TRIVIA that rules your meaningless life.



For psychedelic Arctic surface air temperature fans every where:

What do you suppose happens to sea ice when you combine “somewhat warmer ocean water” with “somewhat above freezing point air”?

N.B. Such conditions do not currently exist off the north coast of the CAA. They didn’t in May 2015 either.




You on psycho drugs yet again, Jimbo

Which of your Exeter buddies is feeding them too you ?



Evidently you and Tony are the ones who have been smoking stuff Andy.

In the fantasy wonderland portrayed in several of Tony’s recent “articles” polynyas are depicted in the oldest, thickest sea ice in the Arctic in May 2015. Here is what the real life polynyas in the “oldest, thickest sea ice” in the actual Arctic of May 2016 look like from above (through cyan tinted spectacles):



[Edit – June 1st 2016]

The Gish gallop continues. In yet another post on the self same topic Tony Heller makes the self same mistake and opines:

DMI still shows a lot less ice than last year, but their maps show about 1% more ice than last year.


I will continue to track this, because I don’t trust any government agency anymore.



Visual comparison isn’t Tony’s strong suit Sondre, whereas painting hallucinatory green pixels is.

Where are all the holes in the sea ice in the CAA that were there in 2015 but not in 2016 then Andy?;2015-05-30/6-N79.25236-W95.51613



weather related changes…

you KNOW that, Jimbo the attention seeking prat.

You have NOTHING, and never have.



Shut up about the Holocene, it’s not relevant to modern Arctic sea ice extent trends.
It’t like talking about sun spot trends and then someone comes along and says “Well, this is nothing compared to when the sun becomes a red giant”. Which is true, but not relevant at all.



Have you noticed that the world’s leading expert on satellite imagery of the Arctic during the first 3/4 of the Holocene epoch has compared MODIS imagery of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago from May 2015 with May 2016 and confirmed that there is no noticeable difference in sea ice extent between the two?



We’ll keep you posted!


Wind Waves in the Beaufort Sea in April 2016

As regular readers will be aware we have been following the progress of the Great Arctic Anticyclone of 2016 for the last 3 weeks or so and the generation of increasingly large waves in the Beaufort Sea in August and September for the last 3 years or so. Today we combine the two to bring you news of anomalously large waves in the Beaufort Sea earlier this week. In actual fact any sort of waves in the Beaufort Sea at this time of year would be anomalous, since normally the Beaufort is still covered in sea ice in April!

Firstly a bit of background information. In the continuing absence of the DMSP F-17 satellite data used by the NSIDC for their Arctic sea ice metrics, here’s a close up look at Arctische Pinguin’s current Beaufort Sea ice area data:


Now here’s NOAA’s WaveWatch III “hindcast” of the winds over the Beaufort Sea on April 26th 2016:

WaveWatch III wind hindcast for the Beaufort Sea on April 26th 2016
WaveWatch III wind hindcast for the Beaufort Sea on April 26th 2016

Notice the continuing easterly winds from the persistent high pressure system centred to the north of the Beaufort Sea. Next here’s the resultant wind wave height:

WaveWatch III wave height hindcast for the Beaufort Sea on April 26th 2016
WaveWatch III wave height hindcast for the Beaufort Sea on April 26th 2016

and the associated wind wave period:

WaveWatch III wave period hindcast for the Beaufort Sea on April 26th 2016
WaveWatch III wave period hindcast for the Beaufort Sea on April 26th 2016

Wind waves with a height of around 1.5 meters and a period of 6 seconds wouldn’t tempt me to go out on a surfing expedition, but they would certainly be enough to interfere with the sea ice formation process, as you can see from this “pseudo-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on April 26th from the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on April 26th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

Unfortunately the Jason 2 and recently launched Jason 3 satellites don’t measure wave heights in bodies of water as far north as the Beaufort Sea, so we’ll have to content ourselves with the modelled data from WaveWatch III. However here’s a brief video explaining how Jason 3 measurements are now used to assist WaveWatch forecasts further south:

Whilst Jason 3 won’t be watching waves in the Arctic Ocean it looks as though the European Space Agency’s Sentinel 3A satellite will be providing wave height data for the Beaufort Sea in the not too distant future:


It also looks as though CryoSat-2 is already potentially providing such data, but as far as I can ascertain it’s not available in handy gridded format in the same way that the CS2 near real time ice thickness data is.

“Steve Goddard” Busted

Our headline today is inspired by Tony Heller, probably still better known by his nom de guerre “Steven Goddard”, who excitedly tells the world:

NSIDC Busted!

Reader Chris71 has discovered the smoking gun on the NSIDC web site. Read on.

A few weeks ago, NSIDC put out this press release, claiming that 5+ year old ice is at its smallest level on record.

The press release included the map below. This is a new style map which they just started in week 39 2015. The map below is for week 41 2015. All of their previous 1984-2015 maps have been deleted from their archive.


The good news is that Chris found one of their old style maps which had not been scrubbed from their website. NSIDC has deleted the original graphs, but seem to have forgotten to get rid of the copy.


For some strange reason “Steve” neglects to mention this text that accompanied the “old style map” he so proudly displays:

Here are some graphs from the Arctic – automatically saved here, and some of them archived Enjoy! Fred aka DungeonMaster on

Have I got news for Chris and “Steve”? Indeed I have! If one were to bother to go to the relevant section of the NSIDC web site instead of inventing bizzare fairy tales one would be able to read this:

EASE-Grid Sea Ice Age, Version 3

This data set provides weekly estimates of sea ice age for the Arctic Ocean from remotely sensed sea ice motion and sea ice extent.

The input ice motion data used for this data set is now derived from NSIDC-0116 Version 3 data.

Checking out the detailed information provided about the NSIDC-0116 Polar Pathfinder Daily 25 km EASE-Grid Sea Ice Motion Vectors, Version 3 would also reveal:

Version 3 – February 2016.

  • Eliminated unrealistic AVHRR and IABP buoy velocities

  • Extended buoy ice motion estimates to the present

  • Improved browse images

  • Reprocessed SSMI fields using GDAL map transformations on the DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS

  • Daily Polar Gridded Brightness Temperatures Data Set, NSIDC-0001.

  • Used Ice concentration estimates greater than 15 percent from the Sea Ice Concentrations from Nimbus-7 SMMR and DMSP SSM/I-SSMIS Passive Microwave Data Set, NSIDC-0051, to indicate where ice extent is present.

Checking out the detailed information provided about the NSIDC-0611 EASE-Grid Sea Ice Age, Version 3 would further reveal:

The sea ice age data in these files are derived using data from satellite passive microwave instruments, drifting buoys, and a weather model. With these data sources, the formation, movement, and disappearance of sea ice can be observed; and these observations can, in turn, be used to estimate ice age (Maslanik et al. 2007). The ice age data are derived from a number of passive microwave imagers: the Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR), the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I), and the Special Sensor Microwave Imager Sounder (SSMIS). Visible and infrared data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) were also utilized through 2004. In addition, International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP) drifting-buoy vectors and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Reanalysis Project (CDAS) are used to augment the satellite data (Tschudi 2010).

Version 3 – April 2016.

So there you have it “Steve”. Thanks to the sterling (albeit uncredited!) efforts of the all volunteer members of the Arctic Sea Ice Forum and the (presumably still paid?) scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center you can now explain the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of the matter to your own loyal readers.

A few weeks ago the NSIDC upgraded their sea ice age product from version 2 to version 3. Here’s what the latest version of 1984 week 41 looks like:


Can you spot the difference Tony?

[Edit – May 1st 2016]

In partial answer to a question posed below, here’s an animation of Arctic sea ice age from September 2010 to May 2015. Can you see what has happened to the old ice Tony?

Original Arctic sea ice age images from: Tschudi, M., C. Fowler, J. Maslanik, J. S. Stewart, and W. Meier. 2016. EASE-Grid Sea Ice Age, Boulder, Colorado USA: NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center.

[Edit – May 30th 2016]

Here’s a “Storified” summary of my Twitter “debate” with Tony Heller and Patrick Moore:

The Beaufort Gyre Goes Into Overdrive

According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Beaufort Gyre is:

A clockwise circulation (looking from above the North Pole) in the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska. This circulation results from an average high-pressure system that spawns winds over the region.


Such a high pressure system has been in place over the Arctic Ocean for a few days now, and the effect of the clockwise circulation on the sea ice in the Beaufort Sea is already evident in these recent satellite images:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on April 9th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on April 9th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on April 12th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Beaufort Sea on April 12th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

as well as in this animation of sea ice movement since February:

The high pressure is forecast to continue for several more days. Here’s the GFS forecast for April 20th, courtesy of MeteoCiel:

Northern Hemisphere surface pressure forecast for April 20th 2016
Northern Hemisphere surface pressure forecast for April 20th 2016

which shows a large system with a central pressure of 1040 hPa still sitting over the Northern Beaufort Sea. Next here’s an animation from the US Navy which forecasts ice thickness until April 19th:

April 13th 2016 ACNFS Beaufort Sea thickness forecast until April 19th
April 13th 2016 ACNFS Beaufort Sea thickness forecast until April 19th

Note in particular the large area of open water forecast to be produced in the Chukchi sea off Barrow, Alaska by the end of the period. The continuing clockwise winds have already started reducing the area of sea ice in the Beaufort Sea at an unusually early date:


Amongst other things we’ll be keeping a close eye on the ice area in the Chukchi Sea over the next few days. The sun is already starting to bathe that area of our planet with its rays, and open ocean soaks up that heat much more readily than bright white ice.

[Edit – 16/04/2016]

Here’s an animation of the effect on sea ice of the Beaufort Gyre in overdrive from Neven at the Arctic Sea Ice Blog:


Notice how towards the end of the animation another huge part of the ice pack, north of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is pulled into the Gyre. This is mostly multi-year ice.

Here also is a MODIS image of the Beaufort Sea processed by A-Team at the Arctic Sea Ice Forum to highlight the areas of new ice:


Global Sea Ice “Comeback” Conspiracy

Our Twitter feed has suddenly been inundated with messages to the effect that:

Global sea ice makes a strong comeback as El Nino fades.

First up was Professor Judith Curry on April 12th, with:

You will note that we were not the only ones to swiftly conclude that Judy’s assertion was lacking both veracity and verisimilitude! Then this morning came our old friends at the Global Warming Policy Forum with:

You will note that the GWPF adorned their “Tweet” with a graph purporting to show “Global sea ice anomalies”. We can only assume that Benny Peiser hadn’t read this April 11th article of ours, which pointed out that:

NSIDC has suspended daily sea ice extent updates until further notice, due to issues with the satellite data used to produce these images. The problem was initially seen in data for April 5 and all data since then are unreliable, so we have chosen to remove all of April from NSIDC’s archive.

To remedy that (no doubt?) inadvertent oversight on Benny’s part here is a graph we prepared earlier of absolute global sea ice area using reliable data from the AMSR2 instrument on the Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency’s SHIZUKU satellite:


The GWPF were followed this afternoon by Anthony Watts with:

Both Prof. Curry and non Prof. Watts adorned their “Tweets” with a graph allegedly comparing “global temperature” with “tropical temperature”, but provided no graph of “polar temperature”. To remedy that (no doubt?) inadvertent oversight here is one we prepared earlier:


All members of this team of synchronised “Tweeters” provided links to an April 11th article by a certain Paul Dorian entitled, believe it or not:

Global Sea Ice Makes A Strong Comeback

Note in particular the part of Paul’s article that states:

In an interesting twist, the recent analysis found that the global ice area remained stable throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, while temperatures climbed suggesting “the global sea ice area is not particularly a function of the global average surface temperature.” [Source: Willis Eschenbach/”Watts Up With That” web site]

We can only assume that Paul Dorian hadn’t read this April 10th article of ours, which pointed out amongst other things that:

One feels compelled to ask why Willis’s global average temperature graph neglects to mention 2015 when he implies that it does?

Here’s an up to date version of one of those that Bill The Frog prepared for us earlier:


We must further assume that Paul hadn’t read this April 11th article by Mr. Watts either. It stated that:

A few years ago in 2009, I was the first to notice and write about a failure of the instrumentation for one of the satellites used by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) to show Arctic Sea Ice extent. Today, we have what appears to be a similar problem with satellite sea ice measurement.

It seems that Paul Dorian has finally read at least one out of all these informative articles, because the latest revision of his own piece of imaginative fiction now starts:

The source of global sea ice information cited in this posting was NOAA’s National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). They are now reporting issues with the satellite data used to produce these images and this information was not known at the time of the writing of this article.

Do you suppose we can now expect a similarly “fulsome apology” from the other players in this tragi-comic farce, together with all their rebloggers, retweeters, plagiarisers and other assorted acolytes?

Greenland 2016 Melt Starts A Month Early

According to the Danish Arctic research institutions’ Polar Portal this year there’s been an “Unusually Early Greenland Melt“. The article by Ruth Mottram points out that:

An early melt event over the Greenland ice sheet occurred this week, smashing by a month the previous records of more than 10% of the ice sheet melting.


Based on observation-initialized weather model runs by DMI, almost 12% of the Greenland ice sheet had more than 1mm of melt on Monday 11th April, following an early start to melting the previous day. Scientists at DMI were at first incredulous due to the early date. “We had to check that our models were still working properly” said Peter Langen, a climate scientist at DMI. “Fortunately we could see from the stations on the ice sheet that it had been well above melting, even above 10 °C. This helped to explain the results”. The former top 3 earliest dates for a melt area larger than 10% were previously all in May (5th May 2010, 8th May 1990, 8th May 2006).

Just in case you think the DMI’s models really aren’t working properly, take a look at this satellite image of South West Greenland today:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of South West Greenland on April 12th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of South West Greenland on April 12th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

Then head over to NASA Worldview and flip back to last year using the controls at the bottom left:


Can you spot the difference? According to the Polar Portal once again:

Around the coast of Greenland where DMI has climate records dating back to 1873, Greenland came close to setting a record temperature for the whole of Greenland in April. Kangerlussuaq measured a daily maximum of 17.8°C, the previous record is 18.0°C and the DMI observation station at the Summit of Greenland set a new “warm” April record of -6.6°C. “Everything is melting” observed Nuuk resident Aqqaluk Petersen.

The melt was driven by warm air advected from the SW bringing rain along the coast, similar to an extreme melt event in 2012 when 95% of the surface of the ice sheet had melt, a situation that has been reported in detail by GEUS and DMI scientists (Fausto et al., 2016).

[Edit – April 15th 2016]

It has been brought to my attention that the cloud cover in the first image above makes it difficult to see the melting ice sheet. By way of explanation, at this time of year you can use images derived from the MODIS instrument on the Aqua and Terra satellites and the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi satellite to watch the snow cover retreat across Alaska, Canada, Siberia and indeed Greenland.

There is less snow on the ground in SW Greenland than “normal” this year, and hence lower albedo. This implies there will also be less snow on the ice sheet itself, which is hence more vulnerable to “early melt”. In order to get visual confirmation of melt ponds on the ice clear blue skies are needed. You can see hints of “blue ice” through the gaps in the cloud on my first image above. To bring out the “blue ice” try following the link above to NASA Worldview and then experiment with the controls on the left. If you select “Corrected Reflectance (Bands 7-2-1) you should be able to produce an image that looks like this:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of South West Greenland on April 12th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of South West Greenland on April 12th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

For a closer look between the clouds here’s a “natural colour” image from Landsat 8:

A “natural color” image of South West Greenland on April 12th 2016, from the Landsat 8  satellite
A “natural color” image of South West Greenland on April 12th 2016, from the Landsat 8 satellite

Satellite Problems With Arctic Sea Ice Measurement

Skeptical sorts across the cryoblogosphere are in meltdown mode at the moment. They seem to be unaware that satellites don’t last forever in the harsh environment of space, and the individual scientific instruments carries by a satellite don’t either. Some failures are more spectacular than others however. By way of illustration here’s one recent report from

The February [2015] explosion of an American military satellite may cause some problems for orbiting spacecraft after all, a new study reports.

The U.S. Air Force’s 20-year-old Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13 (DMSP-F13) craft blew apart on Feb. 3 after experiencing a power-system faillure. Analyses by the European Space Agency and other organizations found that the cloud of space junk generated by the explosion shouldn’t pose much of a threat to their missions, but the new research suggests that not all spacecraft are in the clear.

Another DMSP satellite started pushing up the metaphorical daisies earlier this year. Last month Space Flight Now reported that:

The U.S. Air Force has been unable to send commands to the service’s newest weather satellite for nearly a month, and engineers are trying to determine if the spacecraft can be salvaged, officials said last week.

The polar-orbiting Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 19, or DMSP F19, spacecraft stopped responding to orders from the ground Feb. 11, the Air Force said in a March 3 press release.

“At this time, it is not known what caused the anomaly or if the satellite will be recovered, and the anomaly is under investigation,” the Air Force said. “There are no other known issues with the satellite.”

Designed for a five-year service life, DMSP F19 launched April 3, 2014, from California atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. It is the newest in the Air Force’s series of DMSP weather observatories designed to help forecasters predict storms, clouds, fog and dust storms that could inhibit global military operations.

The data provided by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS) instrument carried aboard several of the DMSP series of satellites is used by the National Snow and Ice Data Center to calculate their Sea Ice Index metric of Arctic sea ice extent. However suddenly Boulder has a problem. As we reported earlier this week the SSMIS sensor carried by DMSP F17 appears to be malfunctioning. This can be seen in this visualisation of the data from the European Ocean and Sea Ice Satellite Application Facility(OSI-SAF):


Look closely at the top centre of the image too see a large patch of spurious “sea ice”. Here’s the resulting SII extent graph from the NSIDC:


Anthony Watts reported this news in typically fanciful fashion:

There is this small notice on the NSIDC page:

“The daily sea ice extent images are currently displaying erroneous data. NSIDC is investigating.”

It looks to be a problem with the DMSP F17 satellite.

Makes you wonder how long this has been going on and if the anomalously low readings we’ve seen for awhile are due to a slow sensor degradation.

Time will tell.

For a more realistic interpretation of the facts we suggest that instead of reading the propaganda perpetrated at WUWT you instead examine this graph derived using data from the AMSR2 sensor on board the Japanese SHIZUKU satellite:


Mr. Watts evidently takes a very US centric view of these matters, since he neglected to report this timely news bulletin from the OSI-SAF:

Due to the previously reported problems with one of the channels on SSMIS onboard DMSP F17, OSI SAF is now working on replacing DMSP F17 with DMSP F18 in our sea ice products.

Currently, the switch to F18 has been implemented for the ice concentration product (OSI-401). The product dated 20160410 has been reprocessed and is available on our FTP server, and

The ice edge and type products (OSI-402 and OSI-403) will be updated to use F18 tomorrow, 2016-04-12.

It seems Willis Eschenbach, the current Watts Up With That resident sea ice expert, is already beavering away endeavouring to prove Anthony’s case for him:

We have no way to know if this has been a gradual decrease followed by a failure, so yes, it’s certainly possible that the previous data is bad. Doesn’t mean it is, but we’d be fools not to check.

We suggested a simple check:

Why not compare the NSIDC’s SSMIS data from F-17 with JAXA’s AMSR2 data from Shizuku? Wouldn’t that do the trick?

Willis replied:

I meant that just from the bad reading alone, we don’t know if the previous data is bad. Yes, we can check it in the way you suggest and other ways … which is why I said we’d be fools not to check.

We think that if he does his due diligence he will find that he is in actual fact engaged on a fool’s errand, but time will indeed tell. Let’s wait and see what Willis n Willard can come up with, shall we? Meanwhile we also cannot help but wonder what the dynamic duo might make of our own due diligence replicating the results of another collaboration of theirs:

“The Awful Terrible Horrible Arctic Sea Ice Crisis”

The Awful Terrible Horrible Arctic Sea Ice Crisis

As our regular reader(s) will be aware, Anthony Watts has been plagiarising our content and republishing it on his “Watts Up With That” blog. In a perplexing perversity he has also been refusing to publish content that we have happily contributed to the self same blog. Hence we have taken the liberty of basing our title for today on a recent WUWT guest post by Willis Eschenbach entitled:

The Awful Terrible Horrible Global Sea Ice Crisis

Here’s what Willis had to say at the end of his article:

My Usual Request: Misunderstandings are the curse of the internet. If you disagree with me or anyone, please quote the exact words you disagree with, so we can all understand the exact nature of your objections. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend someone else’s interpretation of some unidentified words of mine.

My Other Request: If you believe that e.g. I’m using a method wrong or using the wrong dataset, please educate me and others by demonstrating the proper use of the method or the right dataset. Simply claiming I’m wrong about methods doesn’t advance the discussion unless you can point us to the right way to do it.

Data: The Hadley HadISST ice (and sea surface temperature) data is available here. I used the NetCDF file (~15Mb) at the bottom of the page.

and here’s a copy of our still invisible comment:


Epitomising the indomitable spirit of scientific skepticism we set out to duplicate the results obtained by Mr. Eschenbach and answer our own question as well as his. Here is what we’ve discovered. Firstly global sea ice area since 1974:


and then Arctic sea ice area since 1974:


Now as our very own learned guest poster Bill The Frog all too briefly pointed out to Willis Eschenbach on April 7th:


Ignoring Bill’s helpful hint Willis concluded that:

We’re pretty sure that the global average surface temperature increased from the mid-1970s to about 1998. However, we see no sign of this in the global sea ice area data. Instead, ice area remained stable throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, while temperatures climbed:


Next, we’re also pretty sure that there was no significant change in the global average temperature from about 1998 to 2015, the end of the ice data. Despite that, starting in 2000 the ice area first dipped to a low in about 2007, and since then has been climbing rapidly.

This supports a curious conclusion, which is that in modern times at least, the global sea ice area is not particularly a function of the global average surface temperature. Go figure…

Now that we’re in possession of all this newly revealed data about historical sea ice area and censorship in the cryospheric blogosphere what should we “go figure”? Firstly one feels compelled to ask why Willis’s global average temperature graph neglects to mention 2015 when he implies that it does?

Should you figure anything else please free to answer our query on a virtual postcard, in the space provided for that purpose below. You may additionally like to vent your feelings concerning this controversial cover-up of our changing climate over on Twitter using the #SnipGate hashtag.

The Northwest Passage in 2016

Our coverage of the Northwest Passage is starting somewhat earlier then usual in 2016. That’s because an educational comment of mine seems to have gone permanently missing over at Andrew Montford’s blog. Over there commenter “Golf Charlie” suggested that:

Perhaps based on rumours, or folk stories, the possibility of a North West Passage, was the answer to many peoples dreams of wealth, fame and fortune. The Franklin Expedition set off, with all confidence, knowing that there had been an unprecedented retreat in Arctic sea ice extent. They never came home. The ships then sent to rescue them, never came home either, but some survivors did.

In July 2010, due to unprecedented ice loss, a team set out to find HMS Investigator, (one of the rescue ships) and found her within 15 minutes, exactly where she was trapped and abandoned. How had she got there?

This may be just a load of boring and irrelevant history to you, but as an ice expert keen to lecture others, it just seems strange that you don’t acknowledge the fact that before man made CO2 emissions could possibly had any remote chance of shrinking sea ice, it had all happened before.

It is likely that whatever caused the ice to retreat in the 1830s/40s, may have caused the current retreat. As no attempt has been made to explain this historical retreat, it seems premature to jump to conclusions about the present. What stories and folklore convinced Franklin there was a NWP? Had it opened before? Did the Vikings circumnavigate the North Pole? No one knows for sure.

Here’s the beginnings of my by now expanded reply:

I am already very familiar with the sorry tale of Franklin’s ill fated expedition. By way of some more recent Northwest Passage history, were you previously aware that Charles Hedrich completed his own multi-year voyage through the NWP last summer? His vessel was much smaller than Franklin’s:

“He is now, the first man to have rowed solo the North-West Passage.”


It’s not terribly clear, but apparently Charlie thinks his “unprecedented ice loss” in the Summer of 2010 had a precedent in the 1840s and/or 50s. Perhaps he will pop in and elucidate? Whilst we wait to see what transpires in that regard, here’s an animation of sea ice concentration across the Northwest Passage last summer:

You will note that the “southern route” taken by Roald Amundsen in Gjøa opens first, ultimately followed by the “main route” via the McLure Strait.

My missing comment also referenced (by way of example!) a 2015 academic journal paper entitled “Ice thickness in the Northwest Passage“. Amongst its other conclusions can be found this:

Global climate models with their coarse resolution likely have difficulty capturing intricate sea ice dynamic processes within the narrow channels of the CAA. Specifically, the import, survival, and thickness of MYI are difficult to predict and may in fact increase during the transition to a sea ice-free Arctic with more mobile ice conditions in the Queen Elizabeth Islands which are located between the Arctic Ocean and NWP. Presumably, MYI from the Arctic Ocean will be more heavily ridged and thicker than locally formed MYI, posing greater danger to transiting ships than locally grown MYI.

Whilst we look forward to the prospects of the “transition to a sea ice-free Arctic”, what about the prospects for the Northwest Passage in the summer of 2016. As you can see from the video there wasn’t much in the way of multi-year sea ice left there by the Autumn of 2015, and there doesn’t seem to have been much transport of ice into the Canadian Arctic Archipelago over the winter either.


On top of the ice there will of course be some snow by now. Here’s how the Topaz 4 snow cover map of the area looks at the moment:


All in all it looks to me at this early stage of the 2016 Arctic sea ice melting season as though one or more of the assorted routes through the Northwest Passage will be open again this coming summer. Do you suppose that will look like yet another “unprecedented retreat” to “Golf Charlie’s” eyes?

It seems as though a large commercial organisation sees things that way too. Crystal Cruises have concluded that in 2016 the Northwest Passage offers:

The ultimate expedition for the true explorer!

Anchorage to New York on Crystal Serenity
DATES : August 16 – September 17, 2016 (32 Days) CRUISE-ONLY FARES FROM : $21,855 Per Person

More than 18 months of careful planning and analysis has already gone into this project from January 2013 to July 2014, and will continue up to, and through, departure.


There will not be shore-based cell phone signals along the transit, except in the communities and towns we will be visiting. However, guests are requested to not use this signal when in port, as it will overwhelm the local system and disrupt the communication within the community.

While communication channels may be temporarily limited or unavailable to guests, the ship’s Captain and crew will always have operational and emergency communication throughout the entire voyage.