What's Really Going On With Arctic Sea Ice?

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Sept. 20 2013 2:23 PM

What's Really Going On With Arctic Sea Ice?

Arctic sea ice extent for Aug 2013
Plot of the Arctic sea ice in August 2013. The orange line is the median amount measured from 1981-2010, and you can see we're way below that.

Graphic by the National Snow and Ice Data Center

As I've been writing about all week, a lot of baloney misinformation is being spread about the ice at the north pole. Yes, the amount of area covered by ice this year is more than last year at this time, but the critical things to know are that a) last year was a record low, with the minimum extent blowing way down below the previous record, so comparing this year to just last year is grossly misleading, and 2) this year's minimum is way below average, so far from being in recovery, the Arctic sea ice is anemic indeed.

Together with the good folks at Climate Desk, I did a video explaining this, showing just how perfidious the climate change deniers are with spreading what can kindly be called misinformation, but what would be more accurately described as utter bunk.

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The bottom line: the ice is not recovering, the trend is down, down, down, global warming is the reason, and we're the ones causing it.

loss of sea ice
Arctic sea ice is declining every year, dropping by about 10% per decade.

Graph by the National Snow and Ice Data Center

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies! Follow him on Twitter.