PIOMASS Data Analysis: “UNPARALLELED” 3-SIGMA LOW JULY ICE MELT…Lowest On Satellite Record!

Germans Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt and Frank Bosse took a look at the July 2014 Arctic sea ice data. They found astonishing results. What follows is the Arctic sea ice part of the story I reported on here.

The Sun In July 2014 And Arctic Sea Ice In Mid Summer
By Frank Bosse and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(Translated/edited by P Gosselin)

Every summer over the past years Arctic sea ice has been the subject of much public interest. Especially after 2006 there have been years (recall 2007 and 2012) when a large part of the Arctic ice cap melted away and all the talk was about the “Arctic death spiral“.

Since 1979 we have been collecting really good, validated and homogenized data from satellite observations that look at two important magnitudes: 1) the sea ice cover area in square kilometers, and 2) the so-called ice extent in square kilometers², i.e. that is at least 15% ice covered. The linear trend of this is indeed downward since observations began:

Figure 4: July sea ice extent since 1979.

The excitement at the start of the melt season in May/June is always big. How many millions of square kilometers will still be left in September? Estimating this value is no easy task because upward deviations from the trend line have occurred time and again (like in the 1990s and early 2000s), and downward deviations (2007, 2011, 2012).

But last year and the year before the Arctic sea ice ended up close to the trend line. Every year the Sea Ice Prediction Network conducts a survey of educated guesses of sea ice extent expected by mid-September. This is what it looks like this year:

Figure 5: Forecast for September 2014 sea ice extent, from various sources and methods. Source: arcus.com.

For comparison, last year’s (2013) figure of 5.4 million km² is added in the chart. The mean value of this year’s estimates made in June is 4.8 million km², i.e. far above 2012’s record low value of 3.6 million km².

Also a co-author of this article participated; his forecast made in early July was 5.0 million km². He used the heat content of the Arctic basin and the existing ice volume at the end of the winter. There are many decisive factors that are impossible to know so early on, e.g. the weather (foremost the currents from warmer land and wind), and other natural factors.

We already know that every prediction is difficult, especially those dealing with the future. Having observed the development so far until the end of July, it is highly probable that we will see a repeat of 2013, which would mean that the mean of all those submitting a forecast will be approx. 0.6 million km² too low.

Only 5100 km³ melted in July 2014

The sea ice could turn out to be more robust than previously assumed. That has to do with a magnitude that is not visible in satellite images: the thickness of the ice – or its volume. Here we are left to rely on models. One that is often used is PIOMAS. It provides daily data on ice volume and the latest July value yields the following chart over the years:

Figure 6: Ice volume (1979 = 100%) as to PIOMAS for July 31 of each year, eight-year smoothed non-linear trend.

July is a very important month during the melt season: In the Arctic the sun shines 24 hours per day, irradiance there exceeds that of the tropics as a result. The sun is also high above the horizon and so only about 15% of the sun’s radiation in the water is reflected. The open water absorbs large quantities of energy, which can melt the ice from the side and from underneath. And this year something completely unusual happened: while since 1979 approx. 6500 km³ melted in July, this year only 5100 km³ melted.

Figure 7: July ice volume loss plot since 1979. Shown are also the limits depicting 2 standard deviations (bold black lines). Source: psc.apl.washington.edu/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/data/.

The very low melt in 2014 is a 3-sigma event!

A negative record – since 1979 – that is unparalleled. The relatively steady decline shown in Figures 4 and 6 is deceptive – the ice of the current year is decisively determined by the previous year. To a great extent the series is auto-correlated. One sees the true development much better with the Figure 7 loss diagram.

Baffled experts

Something seems to have happened during the peak of summer to lead to a stopping of the downward trend. It was internal natural variability within our climate – it certainly was not the weather. All experts are currently baffled. This year the weather resembles more that of the year 2012, and back then there was a low point in ice volume development.

Over the last years natural variability has been increasingly used in climate science to explain away over-hasty predictions of greenhouse effects. Also the observations of the Arctic ice are adding to the scramble for explanations. If you are interested how the Arctic sea ice will finish in September – then stay tuned!

16 responses to “PIOMASS Data Analysis: “UNPARALLELED” 3-SIGMA LOW JULY ICE MELT…Lowest On Satellite Record!”

  1. AlecM

    The explanation is that old ice causes clouds to have lower albedo and encourages phytoplankton blooms.

    When most of the old ice has melted, the Arctic recovers its ice. This is why the cycle is 50 – 70 years; there is near zero CO2-AGW.

  2. DirkH

    PIOMAS is a model that gets fixed regularly to make sure its hindcast is correct. It is not known whether any of its versions over time showed any predictive skill.

  3. ES

    “Sea ice data, as determined by satellite images, clearly have some issues if 20% of polar bears being tracked with satellite radio collars are indicating bears on the ice when sea ice charts show no ice available. In summer, when the image analysis software can’t tell the difference between melt-water on top of the ice and open-water, it simply declares the area to be open-water”


    “Sea ice experts make astonishing admissions to polar bear specialists.

    Was no one concerned with the admission that ice models could not give a prediction more accurate than plus/minus 20 years?
    Was no one concerned that the sea ice experts could not reproduce the historical sea ice record but were absolutely confident that the changes seen between 1979 and 2013 could not be explained by natural variation?”


  4. mwhite

    TAL R


    “A man of few words and a jukebox of unforgettable quotes. A major figure in the Greenlandic mujahedin task force.”

    1. DirkH

      Government scientist stand-ins call themselves “People Doing Jihad” now?
      (definition here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mujahedin )

      This might describe warmist science better than the Islamisation-loving Politically Correct Danish director anticipated.

  5. Stephen Richards

    They over estimate warming and under estimate cooling. USELESS

  6. DirkH

    Some harmless money-burning fun: environment minister Hendricks, SPD, (photo (you have been warned)), visits pilot project where “scientists” feed cows various mixtures to find the one that leads to the smallest Methane content in farts and burps. What a wonderful idea to neutralize that woman with her notoriously bad impulse control by giving her this idiot job! Best of all, the “scientists” have already achieved a stunning 10% reduction in Methane emissions! I have an idea, don’t feed the cows at all and you achieve 100%!

  7. DirkH

    German Greens open telephone hotline for victims of Green pedophilia.
    (At least in the 80ies the party demanded an abolition of age limits and had a strong pedophile undercurrent)

  8. crosspatch

    I have been watching the drift map here:


    What it showed during July was that there was NO ice leaving the Arctic via the Fram Strait. In fact, the drift was northward back into the Arctic Ocean. There was almost zero drift of Arctic ice into the Atlantic and the same was true on the Pacific side. The wind was blowing the ice back into the Arctic ocean. While this did compact the ice extent, I would expect it to also have effectively compressed the ice making it thicker. This would be basically the polar opposite (pun included for entertainment purposes) of the situation that we saw in 2007.

    During July we saw very little ice being blown into warmer waters.

  9. sunsettommy

    Satellite data goes back to about 1973.1979 was the high point of the ice cover in those days.

  10. John F. Hultquist

    When Polar Bears claim it looks like ice, is hard like ice, and is cold like ice I’ll take their word for it. They are much more honest critters than anyone in the climocleptomaniac crowd.

  11. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?
  12. Doug Danhoff

    I believe that it is time to more seriously examine the possibilities that polar ice is not the result of climate fluctuations , but the cause. With the large albedo change and concurrent heat absorption difference between ice and open water, the Earth may be self-regulating the climate. Alex Pope explains this hypothesis quite well,and it’s major points seem to agree with the concepts explained by WeatherBell.
    I’m sorry that since I am traveling I can post an E-dress to his (Pope’s)site, but a Google inquiry should bring it up

  13. Doug Danhoff

    The site for Alex Pope’s view of climate is. http://www.popesclimatetheory.com. I has some questions about it, but his ideas do add to the building evidence toward a natural climate cycle and it’s evolution.

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