In the late summer and early fall of 2007, there were a number of alarming media reports about the arctic sea ice melting. Additionally, there were predictions that it would not recover to its previous levels.
But, we have this graph charting the rise and fall of arctic sea ice for the last 365 days, notice that the arctic sea ice is right back where it started at in February 2007.
And here is the satellite sounder derived image showing sea ice extent as of Saturday, Feb 2nd 2008 (right) compared to Feb 2nd, 1980 (left). The color key shows the concentration of sea ice, with deep purple being the most solid ice and reds, yellows. blues showing areas of thinning ice or seawater/ice mix:
Click for a full sized image. Note that the 1980 photo does not show snow cover (in white) as the technology then wasn’t able to resolve it as it does today.
While there has been a slight reduction in sea ice, NASA indicates in a press release in October 2007 that the main component of change is wind driven flow patterns, not air temperature changes.
I’m wondering; are the polar bears out having fun on the new 2008 ice?
And while we are on the subject of melting sea ice, polar bears, and pictures, I’d like to point out that our Nobelic hero, Al Gore, has been caught not only propagandizing, but also using a copyrighted work without permission.
Astute readers may recall seeing a photo flashed around the world earlier this year of polar bears “stranded” on an ice cube at sea. I won’t show it here but rather please follow this link to the original photographer. See the bottom right photo.
A Canadian blogger, Carole Williams, tells the story behind this picture, which was taken in 2004 just off Alaska by a marine biologist on a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute project, Amanda Byrd. As the marine biologist (Byrd) points out, the bears were in no danger so close to the coast (they can swim 30 miles).
She just wanted a photograph more of the “wind-sculpted ice” than of the bears. Byrd writes:
“[You] have to keep in mind that the bears aren’t in danger at all. It was, if you will, their playground for 15 minutes. You know what I mean? This is a perfect picture for climate change, in a way, because you have the impression they are in the middle of the ocean and they are going to die with a coke in their hands. But they were not that far from the coast, and it was possible for them to swim.”
The image was copied from the ships computer (where Byrd had downloaded the camera flash memory stick to) by another member of the shipboard research crew and passed on to Environment Canada. Then it was eagerly adopted by many as an example of the fate that awaits the polar bears – including Al Gore, who used the picture as huge projected backdrop in one of his highly lucrative lectures.
“Their habitat is melting,” “beautiful animals, literally being forced off the planet.”
Yes, it melts every summer.
In the meantime, there’s a big push in the US to “save the polar bears”. The LA Times writes today:
“The Bush administration is nearing a decision that would officially acknowledge the environmental damage of global warming, and name its first potential victim: the polar bear.”
Sure I want to protect wildlife just as much as the next person, but this is just getting to be all about spin and little about facts. Write your congressman and senator and let them know the true story. Let’s give the folks in Alaska (who should know) some credit for injecting some reason into the issue.
UPDATE – The “spike” has a well written story about the Polar Bear issue, along with some statistics.