Guardian Needlessly Alarmed By Late Freeze

By Paul Homewood


The Guardian is working itself up into a lather over the Arctic again!




For the first time since records began, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing in late October.

The delayed annual freeze in the Laptev Sea has been caused by freakishly protracted warmth in northern Russia and the intrusion of Atlantic waters, say climate scientists who warn of possible knock-on effects across the polar region.

Ocean temperatures in the area recently climbed to more than 5C above average, following a record breaking heatwave and the unusually early decline of last winter’s sea ice.

The trapped heat takes a long time to dissipate into the atmosphere, even at this time of the year when the sun creeps above the horizon for little more than an hour or two each day.

Graphs of sea-ice extent in the Laptev Sea, which usually show a healthy seasonal pulse, appear to have flat-lined. As a result, there is a record amount of open sea in the Arctic.

“The lack of freeze-up so far this fall is unprecedented in the Siberian Arctic region,” said Zachary Labe, a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University. He says this is in line with the expected impact of human-driven climate change.

“2020 is another year that is consistent with a rapidly changing Arctic. Without a systematic reduction in greenhouse gases, the likelihood of our first ‘ice-free’ summer will continue to increase by the mid-21st century,’ he wrote in an email to the Guardian.

The warmer air temperature is not the only factor slowing the formation of ice. Climate change is also pushing more balmy Atlantic currents into the Arctic and breaking up the usual stratification between warm deep waters and the cool surface. This also makes it difficult for ice to form.

“This continues a streak of very low extents. The last 14 years, 2007 to 2020, are the lowest 14 years in the satellite record starting in 1979,” said Walt Meier, senior research scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center. He said much of the old ice in the Arctic is now disappearing, leaving thinner seasonal ice. Overall the average thickness is half what it was in the 1980s.

The downward trend is likely to continue until the Arctic has its first ice-free summer, said Meier. The data and models suggest this will occur between 2030 and 2050. “It’s a matter of when, not if,” he added.


Let’s deal with a couple of points first:

1) As Walt Meier notes, all of these so-called “records” only date back to 1979, in the middle of the period when the Arctic was undergoing substantial cooling and a massive increase in sea ice extent, as HH Lamb observed:



HH Lamb: Climate, History & The Modern World

The idea that the 1970s and 80s represent some kind of norm, either in the short or long term, is unscientific and absurd.

2) The article also notes:

The warmer air temperature is not the only factor slowing the formation of ice. Climate change is also pushing more balmy Atlantic currents into the Arctic and breaking up the usual stratification between warm deep waters and the cool surface.

In fact, the influx of warmer Atlantic waters is key to the recent warming of the Arctic, just as it was in a similar period of Arctic warming between the 1920s and 50s,

It is that factor which is increasing air temperatures, and there is no evidence that this influx has been caused by global warming.


3) Once again, we see the nonsense about “ice free Arctics”, which keep getting put back another decade or two. Previous scares have not materialised, and these latest one won’t either for a very good reason. The Arctic is a very cold place from autumn through to spring when the sun goes down, and as a consequence there is always far too much sea ice around by June for it to melt away in the short Arctic summer.

Now to the current situation.

Ice growth has just begun in the Laptev, about a week later than last year:





However, if we compare the whole of the Arctic basin with the same date last year, we find that sea ice is much more extensive this year on the western side, off the Canadian coast,. Also ice is much thicker in the central Arctic currently than it was last year.

As a result, sea ice volume is actually up on last year:



In other words, swings and roundabouts.


One final consideration. At this time of year, virtually no heat from the sun enters the Laptev Sea. Instead, open seas mean that a lot of the heat escapes into the atmosphere, and thence lost to space.

Low ice extent in the Arctic actually cools the earth, not the opposite. It is one of the ways in which the earth’s climate regulates itself.


October 27, 2020 at 07:27AM

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