Why Arctic Ice Extent Is Up Over 60% In The Last Two Years

The Danish Meteorological Institute shows a 63% increase in Arctic sea ice extent since the same date in 2012, and an increase of 76% since the 2012 summer minimum. Current extent is 4.4 million km², up from 2.7 million km² on August 28, 2012.

ScreenHunter_2380 Aug. 29 06.04

Sea ice extent in recent years (in million km2) for the northern hemisphere, as a  function of date.

COI | Centre for Ocean and Ice | Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut

My methodology is similar numerically to DMI’s, I used maps from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to generate the map below. Green shows ice gain since the same date in 2012, and red shows ice loss. My calculation shows a 64% increase in ice, almost identical to the calculations from DMI.

ScreenHunter_2359 Aug. 27 19.30

A favorite comment from alarmists is “the increase in ice extent is meaningless, because the ice is getting thinner

They have it exactly backwards. The reason why ice extent is up, is because the ice is thicker. The animation below, based on maps from NSIDC, shows the movement of older, thicker ice into the western Arctic over the past two years. The color scale represents the age of the ice – i.e. five year old ice is red. You can see how older, thicker ice is moving towards Alaska, and accumulating. The amount of five year old ice has more than doubled over the past two years.


Starting in 1988, winter winds began pushing older, thicker ice out into the North Atlantic. This went on until a few years ago, and caused the lower summer minimums seen over the past 15 years. Younger, thinner ice melts out more easily in the summer.

But since 2011, the winter winds have reversed. Ice is now getting pushed away from the Atlantic side, and is accumulating on the Pacific side – where it is preserved. If this wind pattern continues for a few more years, summer ice extent will soon return to the levels seen in the 1980’s.

A few years ago, experts claimed that all of the older thicker ice had disappeared. As usual, they had absolutely no clue what they were talking about.

(Reuters) – The multiyear ice covering the Arctic Ocean has effectively vanished, a startling development that will make it easier to open up polar shipping routes, an Arctic expert said on Thursday.

Vast sheets of impenetrable multiyear ice, which can reach up to 80 meters (260 feet) thick, have for centuries blocked the path of ships seeking a quick short cut through the fabled Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They also ruled out the idea of sailing across the top of the world.

But David Barber, Canada’s Research Chair in Arctic System Science at the University of Manitoba, said the ice was melting at an extraordinarily fast rate.

“We are almost out of multiyear sea ice in the northern hemisphere,” he said in a presentation in Parliament. The little that remains is jammed up against Canada’s Arctic archipelago, far from potential shipping routes.

Scientists link higher Arctic temperatures and melting sea ice to the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Multiyear Arctic ice is effectively gone: expert | Reuters

The ice loss was caused by winter winds pushing the thicker ice out into the North Atlantic. Unless “scientists” can link “greenhouse gas emissions” to the direction of Arctic winter winds, they probably shouldn’t lie about the state of their knowledge.

About Tony Heller

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71 Responses to Why Arctic Ice Extent Is Up Over 60% In The Last Two Years

  1. Jim Hunt says:

    At the risk of repeating myself:


    Where’s your evidence that “the ice is thicker”? Thus far such evidence is conspicuous only by its absence in these hallowed halls.

    • catweazle666 says:

      Where’s your evidence that it isn’t?

      • Jim Hunt says:

        At the risk of repeating myself repeating myself:


        Mind you I’m not the one proudly proclaiming “ice extent is up, because the ice is thicker.”. Steve/Tony is, but for some strange reason he provides visualisations of extent and age but not thickness!

        • Les Johnson says:

          You seem confused. Perhaps your browser does not show the NSIDC animation of ice thickness.

        • Anything is possible says:

          At the risk of repeating myself, here is a link to the model that Mr. Hunt insists on using :


          “Real-time experiment with the 1/12° Global HYCOM+CICE NCODA 3dvar (daily mean as background), NAVGEM forcing, ISOP”

          Disclaimer: This 1/12° Global HYCOM+CICE system and web page are a demonstration and are not an operational product. NRL is providing the INFORMATION on an “as is” basis. NRL does not warrant or represent this INFORMATION is fit for any particular purpose, and NRL does not guarantee availability, service, or timely delivery of data.

        • Jim Hunt says:

          Les – I fear you are the one who is confused. The animation above shows ice AGE, not thickness.

          Anything – I don’t “insist on using” anything in particular. When asked by Catweazle I presented some evidence about sea ice thickness, unlike our host. It seems that even old hands like Les get confused by Steve/Tony’s use of “thickness” in his text, but “age” in his animations!

        • Ernest Bush says:

          Just another Warmist cult member spewing crap disguised as science. Like they say in Yellowstone Park, don’t feed the bears. Models, schmodels. If you must feed him, do it at his website.

        • Jim Hunt says:

          To be frank, Ernest, I think you’ll find that any “crap disguised as science” is in fact to be found at the top of this page.

          Especially for you, although Snow White’s got a bit of catching up to do now!


        • Les Johnson says:

          Perhaps the NSIDC is confused, as they call it “older, THICKER ice.

          Are they mistaken, Jim?

        • Jim Hunt says:

          Les – I note that Steve/Tony refers to “older, thicker ice” several times in his original post. Perhaps we can at least agree that multi-year ice is likely to be thicker than first year ice? However a link to where the NSIDC discuss the issue is also conspicuous only by its absence here.

          Perhaps you can assist by providing one? Make sure that it’s recent though.

        • Les Johnson says:

          Lots of references at NSIDC about older, thicker ice. 124, to be exact.

          http://nsidc.org/search-results.html?q=older thicker&cref=http://nsidc.org/google-search.xml&cof=FORID:11

        • Scott says:

          At the risk of repeating myself, where is the 2012 equivalent of that model output?

          Oh, and your image is cropped/incomplete, it’s probably not a good idea to post incomplete graphics like that.


        • rw says:

          I look at the animation, and I see more red+green+yellow at the end (2014) than at the beginning (2012). That means there’s more thick ice. Doesn’t it? (I guess it depends on what your definition of “more” is …)

          If the ice is thicker, then it’s liable to last longer other things being equal. Or do you think that the massive increase in minimum ice extent between 2012 and 2014 is due to the ice being thinner this year? I.e. that thinner ice doesn’t melt as fast? I’d really like to hear your explanation for that.

        • Jim Hunt says:

          Les – Which (if any) of all those NSIDC references mentions sea ice thickness in 2014?

        • Les Johnson says:

          now you are being obtuse.

          All 124 references say that older ice is thicker. Observations show there is more old ice in the basins, ergo, there is thicker ice.

        • Les Johnson says:

          Lets put it another way. Age of the ice is a proxy for ice thickness. But, if you don’t believe in proxies, just tell us.

        • Jim Hunt says:

          Les – If you believe in proxies then PIOMAS Arctic sea ice volume for April 2014 was less than April 2012.

          If instead you prefer the evidence of your own eyes then perhaps you can explain where all that red stuff in the Beaufort Sea in Steve/Tony’s animation has gone?


          If “older, thicker ice is moving towards Alaska” then it looks like it’s melting there, not “accumulating”..

        • Scott says:

          Ooh, PIOMAS.

          What does it say about ice thickness in the most up-to-date data (not April)?


        • Jim Hunt says:

          Scott – Les introduced proxies into the discussion, not me. Since he seems to have gone rather quiet, perhaps you can explain where all the red stuff in the Beaufort has got to?

        • Scott says:


          You introduced PIOMAS, not me. And you’re the one who seems upset that SG is saying the Arctic ice is thicker than in 2012. So what does PIOMAS have to say on the topic?


        • Jim Hunt says:

          Scott – Where did all the red stuff go? In the real world, not in a model.

        • Scott says:


          Where did I say that the red stuff didn’t go anywhere? Quote please.

          And please show me where 2014 is not thicker than 2012. Your metric of choice–model or observation.


    • Les Johnson says:

      You are both correct, though your post is misleading.

      Steve said ice was up 64% from two years agao

      You say ice is down 1.6% from last year.

      As for ice is thicker? The NCIDC GIF shows that thick ice has increased over the time of the animation. If you want to parse it, capture 2012, 2013 and 2014 for the same day, and pixel compare.

    • Brad says:

      Keep pushing that rock Sisyphus.

    • nielszoo says:

      Please explain how it gets thinner with a shorter, cooler melt season. Does the 15ppm of Mann-made CO2 in the atmosphere increase the sublimation rate of water ice?

  2. philjourdan says:

    Amazing the questions real science can answer.

  3. James Strom says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Steve. Nice to see exactly how wind drives ice accumulation or loss.

  4. norilsk says:

    How many times must a man look for ice? The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind.

  5. Sophie says:

    @Jim Hunt. Are you saying that you believe the ice is thinner? If you do, may I ask how you know that? 🙂

  6. Edmonton Al says:

    Thanks for that Steven.
    I sent it to a few Ministers and MPs in Canada including Canada’s Environment Minister who comes from the Cdn Arctic, Leona Aglukkaq

  7. darrylb says:

    As best as I can determine, sea ice quantities in the northern and southern hemispheres have been continually oscillating, but out of phase with each other. The earths total amount of sea remains quite the same.
    Therefore, it would seem that we should look at systems of the entire globe rather than as Mark Serreze (spelling?) does, looking at it as a separate entity. Currently the Atlantic has been in a warm phase and the Pacific a cool phase. Incidentally that should favor more Atlantic cyclones/hurricanes–which has not happened. Phases and ocean currents which change periodically can influence amounts of sea ice simply by weather patterns, amounts of salinity in water and more.
    Scientists often are so entrenched in a global warming meme, that they simply do not look at all possibilities.

  8. mjc says:

    In the past, when the ice was rapidly melting and its demise was immenent, we had it hammered into our heads that old, multiyear ice was thick ice and when it all melted the game was up. Now, we have ice that is more than five years old. This means some of it survived those troubled times of 2007 and 2012. And the amount of old ice is expanding.

    So, since it has been so, in the past, that old ice meant thick ice, I think we can logically conclude that definition still stands and since old ice is increasing, thick ice is also increasing…

    Even my five year old son can see that.

    • Brad says:

      What is obvious is that what is obvious to a five year old is not obvious to Mr. Hunt.

      • stewart pid says:

        Brad it is obvious to Jim too … he just has an axe to grind and is sniping around the edges. Jim is intelligent enough to see what is going on but is reluctant to acknowledge that he may have backed the wrong horse ,… we will see … the fat lady hasn’t sung yet but all of us think we know the tune she will belt out 😉

      • philjourdan says:

        He has not reached that level of maturity yet.

  9. Ben Vorlich says:

    There are some images at the following locations which show the Ice extent during the time of the Arctic convoys from the UK to Russia. These convoys ran mostly in winter as 24 hour daylight laid the ships open to 24 air attacks.




    • rah says:

      The unsung heroes of WWII. The US and British Merchant Marine. Not recognized even in their own time for the danger and hardships of their occupation and the sacrifices they made. They fought the longest battle of WW II. To my mind the actual turning point of WW II in Europe was May 1943 when it became evident that Adm. Karl Donitz’s U-boats could not win the Battle of the Atlantic. The very fact that Howard Hughes and Henry Kaiser teamed up to try and build the Spruce Goose should give one an idea of just how tough and important that battle was. Only once the logistics were secured could the war be won because with the exception of certain aircraft and the people they could carry all the US production and manpower could not get to where it could do any good without transiting the oceans. Chance of survival for a crewman of a sunken ship on an Arctic convoy was of course rather poor in those icy waters.

      • Gail Combs says:

        The unsung heroes of WWII. The US and British Merchant Marine….
        My father-in-law, a Merchant Marine Captain, missed a torpedo when he noticed the German subs were picking off every third ship and he was next. He left ‘formation’ and avoided the torpedo but got his A$$ chewed for it. He was caring French/Arab troops from Africa.

        The US government finally did acknowledge US WWII Merchant Marines as war vets but by the time they did most were dead of old age.

        • cdquarles says:

          My great-uncle Allie was in the Merchant Marine during WW2. Unsung heroes, they were.

          After the war, he used his savings to buy a plot of land in Venice CA 1 mile in from the beach. When he died in the 80s, his 900 sq ft plot with an 800 sq ft house was valued at roughly a quarter million. I am not sure how much he paid for that plot of land and if he bought a built house or built the bungalow himself; but that was quite the capital gain in nominal currency.

  10. Scott says:

    Here’s a quick summary for people who aren’t following.

    SG makes a post comparing 2012 and 2014. Jim argues with SG’s claim of thicker ice by comparing 2013 extent to 2014. When that gets called out, he shows the same silly 2014 plot that has no 2012 plot to compare to…still no valid comparison. After some back-and-forths and tangents, he brings up PIOMAS. When asked to compare thickness in PIOMAS 2012/2014, he avoids the question (twice).

    Is there a single metric out there showing 2014 to be worse than 2012?


    • Jim Hunt says:

      Here’s a quick summary for you Scott:


      Where’s all the “older, thicker ice in the western Arctic” that SG keeps referring to hiding?

      • mjc says:

        Funny how a large chunk of that map is showing the EASTERN Arctic…something between 1/4 and 1/3 of that map is past the 180W mark.

        • Jim Hunt says:

          Can you see Alaska, or the Beaufort Sea? Can you see all the “older, thicker ice accumulating on the Pacific side – where it is preserved”

      • Scott says:

        Nice image, Jim. You have chosen a metric. So that’s half the story. Where’s the 2012 equivalent of that image so we can see if SG is wrong about 2014 vs 2012?


        • Jim Hunt says:

          Thank you for your kind words Scott.

          I haven’t “chosen a metric”. I have nonetheless already shown you one comparison with 2013, using TH’s very own “metric”. To complete the story, and at the risk of repeating myself once again, perhaps you can explain where all the “older, thicker ice accumulating on the Pacific side” that TH keeps referring to is hiding?

        • Scott says:

          Jim, compare the western ice to 2012…is there more in 2014? Piece of cake to make the comparison. Again, any metric you want.


        • Jim Hunt says:

          Scott – We’ve already had the “debate” you apparently wish to engage in on a previous thread. If you scroll to the top of this one you will no doubt notice that it is entitled “Why Arctic Ice Extent Is Up Over 60% In The Last Two Years”, perhaps with an implied exclamation mark.

          Please answer the question, which I will paraphrase yet again for you:

          “Why is Arctic [Sea] Ice Extent Down 1.6% In The Last Year? (using “Dr. Goddard’s” proprietary methodology)”

          I’ve already provided you with lots of clues. Do you still require some more?

        • Scott says:


          Wow, I’m surprised you remember the previous thread. I had figured you’d forgotten, because on that thread, I pointed out how you kept showing 2014 information without a 2012 equivalent. Now you’ve done it again. At the time, I asked if you were ignorant of the lack of a 2012 equivalent, making a mistake, or being intentionally deceitful. You’ve shown that it wasn’t ignorance, so did you make the a mistake (again), or are you intentionally misleading here?

          On the previous thread, you complained about people changing the subject. Again, the subject is 2012 vs 2014, but you only seem to talk about 2014 and 2013 while avoiding 2012. However, I’ll entertain your question about 2013 and 2014, though I’m confused as to why you think SG is a doctor. I would love to hear your explanation for the comparisons between the two. Here is my take:

          The winter of 2012/2013 had very favorable conditions for ice growth/retention, followed by the summer of 2013, which had favorable conditions for ice retention. That combination allowed for a massive recovery, I mean rebound, from the observed record low from 2012. However, CAGWers cried “weather”, and potentially rightfully so. After a poor 2013/2014 winter for ice conditions, the CAGWers sure thought that 2014 wouldn’t follow 2013’s path. However, the amount and location of the MYI was much improved over previous years, so despite the poor winter and the so-so (I’d say average) summer conditions for retaining ice, we find ourselves near 2013 in extent and area, with a possible increase in thickness/volume. While some of that MYI was lost to melt, it protected (buffered) other MYI and some FYI, so we’ll likely end up with a comparable amount of MYI as last year at the end of this melt season. Note that this is actually far better than expected, as I was expecting extent/area/volume to be near 2010 values, and at this point it looks like, of the three, only extent could go that low.

          So I’ve entertained your change of subject…what’s your take on 2013 vs 2014? Then maybe you can get back to the original topic of 2012 vs 2014 and show some metrics that disagree with the OP.


        • Jim Hunt says:

          Scott – You’ve wasted several paragraphs of typing evading the question yet again. Let me rephrase it for you again. At the risk of repeating myself repeating myself, take a good look at:


          Where are the green bits, and where are the red bits?

        • Scott says:


          The Beaufort has a bit less extent in it than last year, we know. We realize the Pacific side had a decent amount ice in it at the end of 2013. How do you think a lot of the MYI was present there at the start of 2014? No one is disputing that 2013 had comparable ice to this year, but is that surprising given how unfavorable 2013’s summer was for melting? And do you disagree that MYI in the Beaufort acts as a buffer for melting in that area…potentially being sacrificed but protecting other ice?

          But here’s the kicker Jim, the topic is 2012 vs 2014. Why do you keep “evading” that? You’ve wasted several comments and subthreads “evading” it at that. Two years ago, it was all the rage to compare 2012 to other years. So why are you avoiding 2012 comparisons to this year? Again, you can choose whatever metric you like, just try to stay on topic.


        • Jim Hunt says:

          Scott – The topic is “Why ice extent is up over the last two years”, not “Whether ice extent is up”. Please try to stick to it!

      • bit chilly says:

        jim,surely you understand the death spiral meme is over. we can argue metrics ,interpretations of ice etc etc ad infinitum ,the simple fact is everyone,from those living and working in the arctic,to those living in the southwest of england to everyone inbetween,is guessing on volume . no one is physically measuring the ice for age or thickness in every location in the arctic ,every day of the year.

        the best guess estimate of extent from satellite imagery is the only metric people can judge the arctic on in terms of recent melting history . even then as nature disagrees with the forecast we have the dmi switching from 30% to 15% concentration,the 30% chart certainly makes interesting viewing this year,but you wont see that mentioned on the arctic sea ice forum ,btw ,how is the forum traffic going as the melt trend reverses,should be getting lots of sceptics viewing for a laugh but not commenting 🙂 .

        people there actually prefer a homebrewed method as it gives a lower number than all the other metrics,note you picked ct area for the bet , which i knew you would do,because like all warmists you are now reduced to shouting louder as the natural world ignores the manns, the schmidts,the connelleys,the cooks,the nuticellis and all the other deluded fruitcakes proclaiming thermageddon and none of you actually have the courage of your conviction ,you all look for get outs everywhere, no straight talking, airy fairy predictions with even less well defined time scales .

        every weather event that takes place is a result of global warming according to your crowd,rain,drought,snow,heat ,cold,increasing ice,decreasing ice .well guess what,people do not buy it any more. the majority of critical thinking people now believe catastrophic global warming is bullshit ,all that remains is for the slow change in political outlook to start stripping the grant money back, the colder the winters in the northern hemisphere ,the faster that will happen. virtually every single msm blog or comment article is full of comments deriding warmists,you are a dying breed ,soon consigned to the corner with the flat earthers,and for me,it will not happen a minute too soon.

        • Jim Hunt says:

          Chilly – Now you’ve wasted several paragraphs of typing evading the question too!

          Where are the green bits and where are the red bits in my 2013/2014 comparison of AMSR2 satellite data, using “Dr. Goddard’s” very own methodology? Does your answer confirm or refute his theory that “Ice is now getting pushed away from the Atlantic side, and is accumulating on the Pacific side – where it is preserved”?

    • geran says:

      Yeah, we’re following, and enjoying it immensely! The ice did not melt for Jim, and his desperation is showing. And, it gets worse as the re-freeze starts in a few days!

    • philjourdan says:

      Now you see why I just skip his posts. He has been caught in more lies than Obama’s golf game.

  11. Gail Combs says:

    Jim Hunt says:
    August 29, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Anything/Gail/Sophie – Do you have any idea what this is?
    Yes It shows the Sea Ice (Arctic) is recovering.

    PIOMAS Arctic Sea Ice Volume Reanalysis AKA as in rewriting the data or FUDGING.

    Sea Ice Volume is calculated using the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS, Zhang and Rothrock, 2003)

    Polar Science Center . Applied Physics Laboratory . University of Washington

  12. gregole says:


    The animation is very cool. I like how it ends with what looks like a sort of foot, or wedge in extreme northwest Greenland that extends all across the NW passage.

    With the growth of thick ice it even seems plausible that next year we will see similar or even greater Arctic ice minimums.

    But I might add I firmly believe it is a fool’s game to make long-range predictions of Arctic ice given the completely unpredictable winds and ocean currents. And note, in the past it didn’t stop a whole pack of fools from doing just that.

    Death Spiral anyone?

    • duke1959 says:

      Actually, I was thinking that the animation looked kind of…..shall we say….sexual in nature. But then again, I like that flower scene in Pink Floyds “the Wall”!!!

  13. daveandrews723 says:

    Warmists talk through their hats with alarming phrases like “death spiral” (gotta keep those research grants coming in). Now they are faced with clear evidence that runs against their argument and they want to get all technical. I feel sorry for them, however, because they have to support fools and scammers like Al Gore (“we’ll be sailing to the North Pole soon”) just so they can stay on the right side of all the money people and hold onto their jobs. Yes, it is a sad, dark period for science we are observing. When did scientists become cultists?

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