Arctic sea ice reaches summer minimum, 2nd lowest on record

September 15, 2011

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that the Arctic ice cover appears to have reached is summer minimum on September 9.  The total size of the ice cap at that point was 1.67  million square miles, the second lowest on record behind the 2007 minimum of  1.61 million square miles.  From the years 1979 to 2000, the average summer ice minim was 2.59 million square miles; for the last five years, the average has been 1.76 million square miles.

Summer 2011 Minimum Sea Ice Extent

The climate change skeptics at Watt’s Up With That argue that the failure of the ice to surpass the 2007 record for a fourth consecutive season indicates that the warming trend (whatever the cause) has stabilized and that the declining trend has arrested, if not reversed.

I am open to that argument and, indeed, it would present a best of both worlds condition.  A “new normal” of  ~1.75 million square mile minimum would keep the ice pack stable but also open the mineral rich waters of the Arctic to seasonal exploitation, as well as opening up the Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage transit routes to lucrative summertime commercial cargo – routes that both save shipping times and avoid transit through dangerous and unstable choke points around the southern rim of Asia.

Unfortunately, however, the data set is simply to small to declare this the “new normal.”  It is also, of course, too small to justify the catastrophist claims of the climate alarmists.   My guess is that neither is correct – that the ice sheet will continue a gradual decline perhaps for decades before stabilizing, but that the decline will never reach the point of disastrous collapse.


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