Recovery! In 2013 Global Sea Ice Extent Was Above Average For First Time In 9 Years – Now Similar To 1986!

Global sea ice is supposed to be melting away. We are often led to believe that it is at or near record lows. It’s global warming after all, and everyone knows that warmth melts ice. But if ice is growing, maybe it’s a sign that things are cooling down.

From the chart that follows we do see that global sea ice did take a small hit in the 2000s, especially the Arctic. However the trend for the last three years is definitely a strong upward one.

Global sea ice 1979 - 2013


Moreover, mean global sea ice over the 2013 year was above average, and that for the first time in 9 years (since 2004). If we look closely we also see that global sea ice is little different than it was in 1986, i.e. 27 years ago, which was just a few years after satellite measurements began.

Ice thickness is also increasing in the Arctic:

Arctic Thickness

Hat/tip: Chris Beal


9 responses to “Recovery! In 2013 Global Sea Ice Extent Was Above Average For First Time In 9 Years – Now Similar To 1986!”

  1. Loodt Pretorius

    Hi Pierre,

    Typo in first sentence, meting instead of Melting?

  2. John F. Hultquist

    Noting your reference to 1986 and also the lower blue line in the Global ice area chart, I wonder if there is a near 10 year time difference between how N.H. ice and S.H. ice responds to events in the tropical Pacific? Consider, there was a significant El Niño in 1998 that released the water of the Western Pacific Warm Pool but the action is not instantaneous – the follow-on is a multi-year process. An analogy is the difference between turning on a light in a dark house and turning on the furnace in a cold one. The energy in that mass of warm water influenced the world for nearly a decade, if not still. The El Niño warming can be seen in the chart at Roy Spenser’s site and Bob Tisdale has provided multiple posts on how ENSO events show in sea surface temperatures.
    Charts of Arctic Ocean sea ice show a series of generally lower total coverage in this recent period, as if there was a “reset” to a lower mean, especially for the yearly minimum. See here: [Note the average is for 1979-2006.]

    We can continue to watch these numbers but likely won’t learn much until the tropical Pacific waters do something. They are not doing much:

    1. Ed Caryl

      There was a very visible step in 1997-98, the most visible manifestation of that was the El Niño. But it originated deep in the Southern Hemisphere in 1995. Since 1995, the Southern Hemisphere south of 60 degrees has been cooling. The 1998 El Niño propagated some warming into the Northern Hemisphere for about three years. There was a rebound cooling in the tropics for a year or so, the whole cycle taking about three years. There was another small El Niño in 2009-2010 that propagated warming into the northern Hemisphere into 2012, and slow tropical cooling since then. Most of the Arctic ice melt was due to wind and Asian soot. The soot is slowly being abated by Russia and China, and the 1998 step warming is now slowly cooling, especially over the North Pacific, Asia and North America. The earth is now settling into a slow general cooling. If the El Niño of 2010 had not happened, there would be no argument now about AGW.

  3. Buddy

    Whewwwwwww! I am SO releaved that the ice sheet has recovered. And it’s only been since September of 2012. THAT….was quick:)

    Wait a minute…..what was that I saw on one of those socialist/liberal/treehugger sites. It showed that the ice extent in the Arctic is at almost record lows for mid January.

    Hmmmmmmm. That seems odd. If the ice sheet has “recovered”….then I would expect to see ice extent at much higher levels….not the low levels of record or near record levels we have now. Well….guess I’ll just have to look at facts again. I’ll take a look at the chart from the National Snow and Ice Data Center below by clicking on the chart “Arctic sea ice extent”.

  4. Jimbo

    Of all the areas of climate change that Warmists are most worried about is a turnaround in global surface temps and the Arctic sea ice extent and volume. Antarctica is a denier so they like to mostly ignore it except for any warm BITS which sometimes leads to being frozen in your own experiment.

    The jig will soon be over I hope.

  5. Edward.

    Interesting stuff PG,

    I do not really have to reiterate – evidently polar ice caps do influence hemispherical WEATHER and vice versa and that sea ice extent in the Arctic is dependent upon many factors. A major influence in the Arctic basin, are the oceanic currents of which we understand very little. It should be noted that, the least influential factor – is the atmospheric concentration of man made CO2.

    Having said that, unlike those groupies, clowns of the alarmist green faction, we must remain level headed and objective; greater or lesser sea ice – either or, is no real pointer to global CLIMATE temperature prognostication.

    What we can say though, is presently the global climate temperature is in stasis but the physical evidence [particularly the solar influence] potentially indicates to the world entering a cooling phase – let’s hope it doesn’t get too darn cold because then we’d [the world] really be in trouble.

  6. Cory

    I spent about 40 days at McMurdo Station in 03′ working LC-130s out on the Ice airfield that is the frozen McMurdo Bay mid-October to December. Warmest day around +23, coldest -17 and I think the average was about +5. I also made a day trip to to the South Pole and that day it was a balmy spring -41. That year the sea ice was so thick that we could’ve operated indefinitely off of it except that we had to move to the permanent ice pack so the I breaker could cut shipping lanes. But before that could start the ice pack had to be blasted. Oh the horror the for the tree huggers down their and they protested. Global Warming my Butt!!!!

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