So just how bad is the Arctic ice melt this year? Listening to the alarmists you’d think the world’s ice supply was rapidly dwindling.
When dealing with such phenomena, you have got to pull your eyeballs back a little and take a look at the entire picture to put things in their proper perspective.
The headlines are that Arctic ice melt will reach a record low since satellite measurements have been taken (all the way back to the 1970s, i.e. roughly a whole half an AMO cycle – sarc off).
So how much more Arctic sea ice has melted (been dispersed) this year? Let’s say the Arctic sea ice retreats to 3.5 million km2 by mid September. That would mean 800,000 sq. km less than 2007. That sounds frightening. But how much ice is that? Answer: 800,000 km2 x 0.002 km thick = 1600 cubic km. Holy moly!
Now, how much is that in relation the world’s total ice volume? This is important to know. If it’s 2 or 3%, then we will need to worry.
Using the numbers from Wikipeda we can calculate a rough inventory:
1. Antarctica continent:
Area = 13,700,000 km2 covered with ice
Mean ice thickness: 1.6 km
Ice volume: 21,920,000 km3
2. Antarctica sea ice (Aug):
Area 15,000,000 km2
Mean sea ice thinkness: 0.002 km (rough conservative estimate)
Antarctica sea ice volume = 30,000 km3
Ice volume (Wikipedia) = 2,850,000 km3
4. Arctic sea ice
Area, September 2007: 4.3 million km2
Average ice thickness: 0.002 km
Total September Arctic sea ice volume = 8600 km3
Adding them up, it yields a total ice volume of: 24,808,600 cubic km stockpiled on the planet (neglecting the glaciers on mountains, which are puny in comparison).
This year in the Arctic, I estimate (see above) that a “whopping” 1600 km3 more Arctic sea ice will have melted by mid September. Yes, 1600 km3 from the total of almost 25 million we have stocked on Earth!
How much is that in percent? (1600 / 24,808,600) x 100 =
0.006% more of the world’s ice melted this year. At this rate it’ll take 166 years to see a 1% reduction. This is like taking a glass of ice from a frozen swimming pool. The number is so small that it is outside the statistical margins of certainty. Scientists are not even sure how thick the ice is at many locations. As one reader points out: we are talking about parts per million here! 🙂
This is why it’s just plain stupid to hysterically focus on a thin film of ice at one pole. It’s utter nonsense. Ice-free Arctics happened in the past and are nothing new.
So with the wave of hysteria about to be unleashed by the merchants and prophets of doom in the days and weeks ahead, it will do everyone some good and keep it all in perspective.
Not only should the focus expand beyond the Arctic, but it also has to expand back beyond the cool days of Ronald Reagan. If you want a clear picture of the Arctic, go back and look at the entire Holocene.
Yes, the climate is a little warmer than 30 years ago, and so a little more ice (0.006%) is going to melt. How astonishing.