back to article NASA data shows 'dramatically' thinned Arctic ice

Nearly half of the Arctic's thick sea ice diminished between the winters of 2004 and 2008, replaced by thinner ice more likely to melt in summer months, NASA's ice-sheet monitoring satellite has shown. With what they call the most comprehensive survey to date, boffins from NASA and the University of Washington say that thin …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. AndrewG

    And the warmup for Copenhagen begins

    A nice non-announcement from NASA...

    Question...if the arctic ice retreated to its smallest coverage last year, how much multiyear ice were they expecting to see this year?

    This is just another bit of scary noise like those numbnuts earlier in the year who tried to walk to the North pole dragging a ground radar and wern't expecting it to be so cold.

    I notice they don't really say a lot about the current ice extent being larger than last year its all "ooo we found a datapoint thats scary and will get us lots of money"


  2. Anonymous Coward

    Hands up....

    Ok, I admit it - it was me.

    I needed several chunks of Titanic sinker in every drink I had during both the days of summer we had this year.

    Beer, because only a philistine would put ice in proper beer.....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What's the Antarctic like?

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that when the Arctic shrinks, the Antarctic grows, and vice versa. Any data on that?

  4. Jim 62

    Why would u measure this from orbit?

    Why are we measuring the thickness of ice from orbit? Its like trying to study a cell with a telescope from across a room.

  5. Doug Bostrom

    Paging Steven Goddard

    Where's Steven Goddard when we need him?

    Also, why was this:

    "The Greenland and Antartic ice sheets being watched by ICESat contain 77 per cent of the Earth's fresh water. If their collective stored water volume were to be released into the ocean, the global sea level would rise about 80m (260ft), according to NASA. Even a small change in the average thickness of 0.1 per cent (2.4m) would cause the global sea level to rise 8.3cm."

    stuck in the middle of the article? Nothing to do w/the Arctic sea ice and it'll just bring the fossil fuel industry chumps out of the woodwork, braying about floating ice cubes, etc.

  6. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Three decades will be stretched out

    Irrespective of how this data will be interpreted by the flat-Earth, no-growth society or the gas guzzling, spew-pollutant conglomerate, the bottom line is we are still not to the point at which we understand to any degree what is happening in our climate on our planet. We have a singular causal assumption which is slowly being swerved in the direction of being the result rather than the cause, and at the same time continue to uncover yet more data which yield new, never-before-considered variables.

    First there was the scare of the coming Ice Age in the late 70s and early 80s. Now we are heading towards being an Easy Bake oven. 20 years from now we will be slapping our heads about how the climate did not really change, it just shifted, and "scientists" wanting to seem important will claim they knew it all along due to some research they were conduction, but wanted to wait to make sure they got it right.

    Kind of like trying to bet on a horse after it wins. Or saying you knew all along that the 'Ducks would win in the end.

    Someone will play God or Mother Nature, and get it horribly wrong. The end result will be at the cost of lives, but that is okay, as at least one person heading the movement has stated publicly the Earth would be better without us, and we are just hoping for the right virus to come along.

    Paris, if you got the money, honey, she got your disease...

  7. joe 14

    Oh my Gore!

    Now what about the Antarctic?

  8. Geoff Johnson

    ICESat should help slow the melt.

    Ice melts much faster when it's broken up to expose more of it's surface to the elements. Therefore we can slow the arctic melt by stopping Icebreakers full of scientists from cruising around the place measuring things.

  9. Doug Bird
    Dead Vulture

    what's the point of the vague statement at the end

    trying to marginalize the compounding set of scientific findings regarding the nature of sea ice shrinkage? remote sensing collection and analysis might be new, but the ice being destroyed is not. this is a big deal and its unprecedented.

  10. james 68


    "*Scientists have only been studying the arctic ice for about three decades, so it's a relatively small set of data if you're trying to work out long-term global events."

    however datable core samples go back much, MUCH further than that - little bit of research goes a long way (even if it does make your anti-climate change rhetoric a little broken)

  11. Fractured Cell


    *laughs like a maniac, and runs around with no clothes on*

    BTW, its all the fault of the aliens, they're all really robotic freemasons anyway!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    We're royally, ROYALLY boned.

    We're all doomed to a real-life version of waterworld. As if 120mins of it wasn't bad enough.

    Grenade, because it's the easy way out.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Tom Paine

    Hang on a mo...

    I thought we all agreed that the so-called "science" of so-called "climatology" is all a hoax by a bunch of activist "scientists" in an unholy alliance with unwashed, yoghurt-knitting tree-huggers, with the intention of driving our standard of living in the west back to the dark ages and forcing everyone to listen to acoustic sets by Radiohead about how miserable everyone's got all of a sudden? Quick, someone call Orlowski to save the day!!

  15. g e

    I thank my vigilant overlords

    For reminding me to be scared. I have recently found myself feeling relaxed and becoming complacent.

    This latest fear topup has thankfully reverted me to my compliant, cowed, subservient self, rendering me appropriately malleable to my ruling elite.

  16. ChrisC Silver badge

    @Jim 62

    Better to measure it from orbit than to nuke it from orbit... More seriously, whilst taking measurements from such a distance may impair the ability to resolve small differences in thickness, it also provides the big advantage of being able to measure the whole area quite rapidly.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I read somewhere that melting sea ice isn't much of an issue for water sea levels as it already displaces its volume, therefore no net impact when it melts.

    I have not idea where I read it of if its even true. Sounds good to me (i.e. the challenged in physics). Anybody else know more on that?

  18. Chris Gray 1

    @ Displacement

    Water expands as it freezes to ice. That's why ice floats (its lighter than water). But, there is a lot (most of it) of ice that is above sea level. When it melts, the water runs down into the sea, thus raising the sea level.

  19. Klaus

    Commenters make me sad

    It really does make me fear for the human race reading so many comments which are so vehement in their denials of global warming. I'm a scientist and I know how our theories change as we get more data. Part of being a scientist is being able to change a theory if the data doesn't support it. Currently, the data does support global warming (to exactly what extent I don't think anybody knows). Putting your fingers in your ears and shouting loudly that it's just not true makes you sound like an ignorant, uneducated buffoon.

  20. James Pickett

    Still cold though

    Sadly, NASA/GISS seems to be on a mission (as does the BBC) to prove that the Ice is Melting, and having been thwarted by the cold spring and ice extent, they are now trying the harder-to-disprove idea that it's all getting thinner. There still seems to be some left however, even at the North Pole...

  21. Anonymous Coward


    >" I notice they don't really say a lot about the current ice extent being larger than last year "

    In case you haven't heard, there are THREE dimensions. It was even mentioned in the article that you appear to have read without understanding:

    >""Even in years when the overall extent of sea ice remains stable or grows slightly, the thickness and volume of the ice cover is continuing to decline, making the ice more vulnerable to continued shrinkage,""

    Get it? A bit more surface area but a lot less depth = less volume overall. Here, have your FAIL icon back for not understanding basic everyday facts about the relationship between the shape and size of an object.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    @Paging Steven Goddard

    >" Where's Steven Goddard when we need him? "

    Presumably still busily squinting at pixels on a tiny 245x245 perspective-distorted jpg image and drawing bogus conclusions from them. Massive methodological FAIL there, again resulting from the unfortunate belief that we all live in Flatland.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Carbontard Buffoonery

    There is no doubt that humans have affected the Earth's climate (so did chlorophyll containing microorganisms). The question is whether the deviations are important enough to expend vast amounts of resources, and if so, who is going to pay the bill. Particularly, who is going to pay the bill.

    And any time vast amounts of resources are mentioned, all sorts of vermin squirm out of the woodwork looking for a dinner, and forming large expensive bureaucratic empires resistant to change. Every sort of buffoon queues up at the table with a grant request...

    The worst of it is now, that laws are being written using carbon (actually, CO2) as a proxy for 'global warming'. The laws ought at least to permit any scheme that reduces the thermal setpoint (for those that believe Something Should Be Done).

    I for one am looking to make a killing on the speculative Carbotard Carbon Credit market, and retire to a non-productive life of spewing carbon in my leisure pursuits of horses, H1s, and McMansions!

  24. Matthew 17

    We're still in an ice age

    For the majority of this planets existence there hasn't been any ice at the poles. Regardless of what Humans do it's a safe bet that at some point there won't be any again. However it'll happen at a speed comparable to continental-drift that it's unlikely it'll cause anyone or anything problems.

  25. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    @Roger Pearse

    Aye, mate!

    "You know, I'm not sayin' nuttin', but just that bad things happen to good climates all the time. And if you don't pay your due, I can't guarantee that your climate won't fry you to a crisp. Just sayin'."

    Paris, just sayin'.

  26. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    The one thing missing from this item...

    Is the explanation of what the Catlin expedition was doing. If we can measure Arctic Ice thickness from orbit, and from low-flying aircraft, WTF was the Catlin expedition ever about?

    Penguins, in support of the VIZ cartoon showing British explorers braving the cold to get pictures of Penguins attacking Polar Bears. Which might have been one of the aims of Catlin....

  27. Maty

    Selective ...

    Wasn't it this time last year that they were predicting an ice-free north pole this summer? And I missed the bit where it said that the Greenland glaciers were due to melt any time soon.

    As an aside, can someone stop all this rot about 'saving the planet'? The planet has survived much worse, and will undoubtedly continue to survive even it we alter it to the point where humans can't survive.It's saving ourselves from ourselves that's the problem.

  28. Doug Bostrom

    Re "One thing missing"

    "If we can measure Arctic Ice thickness from orbit, and from low-flying aircraft, WTF was the Catlin expedition ever about?"

    A little bit about producing a wavering, incomplete line of data points but mostly posing for photos in brightly colored expedition wear, producing a TV special, complaining about how hard it was while failing to mention it was an all-volunteer army. The usual reasons for a jumped-up "expedition" to the Arctic. See "Top Gear" and their special for an archetype.

  29. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton


    Many of us do not decry "global warming," or "climate change," as it is cunningly called now to hedge all bets. What we decry is the assertion of human influence to the degree it is forecast.

    It is pure human arrogance to assume that we have influences on the environment to the degree which "scientists," many of whom -- and I do not know you so I cannot place you in this catergory -- are policy makers with no real scientific backgrounds, or people who stand to profit (that evil word that the same people hold in such disdain) from the proliferation of the "science" (*ahem* Gore.)

    The Earth has its own ways to deal with our "abuses," short of nuclear fallout, which it can still handle over the course of a few hundred years. This planet and its ecosystem has survived numerous mass extinctions and ours will be no different. We may pollute ourselves off of this planet, but we will certainly not destroy environment to any point which it cannot overcome.

    That is in no way meant to excuse our excess. There exists a good portion of our 6.6 billion people who are wasteful, either with malice or ignorance. The ignorant ones we can reach through education and information. The malicious ones will simply continue to pay more for what they use, to the point that either they stop overuse or we decide that forcing them to stop is bad for their self-esteem and find some way to subsidize them.

    But the rest of us are conservationalists. We understand clearly what it means to conserve and we avoid waste as much as possible, some at all costs. Unlike those who hypocritically preach this "science" without themselves practicing what they, well, preach, telling us we all need to sacrifice and go without while they do not.

    Another part of this human arrogance is the assumption that we can do anything to control large-scale changes in our environment. We have influence over local environments, such as a large parking lot increasing localized temperatures, but time and time again (I have read them but have no citations readily available; you probably have better and easier access to them, anyway,) studies have shown that these effects are localized only, and have negligible effect on the entire system as a whole. The butterfly-hurricane effect requires more butterflies than we have on the planet.

    And worse, the goals of 80% reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions is unrealistic. First off, it assumes the amount of carbon-dioxide introduced into the atmosphere is 80% excess. The 80% mark returns us to pre-industrial levels when not only did we have less industry, but fewer people. This "goal" sets an arbitrary and artificial limit on what we as a country can produce, and exceeding that limit costs more, which further removes incentives to excel at production. In turn, the needs of society are not met, that is supply cannot meet the demand, and prices necessarily increase. Secondly, it assumes that carbon dioxide, being the fifth most abundant component of the greenhouse gases, is primarily causal to climate change, completely ignoring the effects that the more abundant water vapor has.

    Even worse is the current G8 plan is to force already industrialized countries to self-regulate to this 80% reduction, while developing countries are not required to enforce any limitations. This would allow undeveloped countries to essentially do exactly what developed countries are considered evil for doing. Developing countries are allowed to "catch up" to developed nations without being held to efficiency standards enforced on their developmental superiors who had an "unfair" head start on them.

    Developed industries, not countries, should instead be encouraged to reduce waste, to allow them an opportunity to find the way on their own without being forced into immediate failure. Developing industries will be stronger and more competitive in the long run if they are held to conservationalist standard from the get-go. If a foreign industry is more attractive in terms of environmental responsibility, and can at the same time produce a quality product, that industry will have a competitive advantage against domestic industry, and domestic industry will be forced to play catch-up themselves.

    Given the economic effects involved with arbitrary and artificial limits on production, the end result is to set a limit, or eliminate altogether, the creation of wealth in developed countries, instead shifting wealth to developing nations. This is welfare on a global scale, and undesirable to any society which wishes to see itself succeed and prosper.

    And that is not greedy. Look at what this greedy, capitalist country has done over the years. Billions of dollars in foreign aid and charity, disaster aid, peace-time recovery, foreign national security, elimination of tyranny abroad. As a society we provide support and shelter for those who have none through private and religious organizations, and even individual support.

    And, yes, our government has made some stupid mistakes in the past -- no government has not done so and I will not entertain and invalid argument which nullifies our position due to past poor judgment. Our capitalist standards allow for independent corporations to involve themselves and invest in developing countries in terms of technology, medical advances, and so on. Our governmental structure as introduced by our founders does not preclude our component industries from involving themselves with anyone in the world, except those who wish to destroy us.

    And in terms of governments making mistakes, we must consider the immediate example of the representatives of the people who are blatantly ignoring the wishes of the people represented, even the constituent members of their own political party. The actions will in turn be the downfall of the very country they purport to serve.

    Paris, because she needs a break, too.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like