Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Serreze on Arctic Ice

The NSIDC's Mark Serreze responded to my question about the recent data on Arctic sea ice extent, using their own data:
We are quite certain that the almost complete lack of increase in ice extent since about December 10 is real. We cross checked using data from the AMSR (advanced microwave sounding radiometer) instrument and we see the same pattern. This gives us independent confirmation. Past 10 days has also seen a very unusual atmospheric pattern. It has been very warm over the Arctic Ocean, and wind patterns have favored a compact ice cover. While the lack of increase in ice extent is certainly quite unusual, I would not read too much into it right now at is appears to be weather related versus climate related. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next week.
This is, after all, a weather fluctuation, so you can't put too much into it. But then, the slight gain in sea ice this past summer could well have been a weather fluctuation too. You can only really trust the long-term data, which is, of course, bad.

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