Nonsense On Ice

What follows is quoted from an article:
'Climate Cools But Arctic Ice Scares Continue'
by Dr. Tim Ball  Monday, January 18, 2010:

My badge of honor is an attack by Phil Jones, disgraced and displaced Director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) whose leaked emails showed how they falsified climate science. On May 22, 2009 Jones wrote to Mann, “Our web server has found this piece of garbage - so wrong it is unbelievable that Tim Ball wrote a decent paper in Climate Since AD 1500.

Now, leaving aside the lack of supporting data or argument for the bold assertion: 'Climate Cools', I propose merely to list the points raised in the article by Dr. Tim Ball, with my observations.

Modern data defines “normal” when the drift ice spreading from Greenland is 90 to 150 kilometers from the northwest coast, “mild” when it is 200 to 240 kms. Severe is closer than 90 kms.
People, not data, define terms.  Dr. Ball does not cite a reference for these terms, and I can find nothing in web searches other than posts by Dr. Ball.

This year the edge of the ice is very close to Iceland and may connect with Greenland. Arctic ice formation began earlier than average for the period since 1980. On January 14 it covered 12,944,844 square kilometers with a peak anticipated at the end of March of 15 million square kilometers. (Figure 1)
Firstly, the map provided by Tim Ball - his figure 1 - clearly shows the ice already attached to Iceland and Greenland.  However, the use of the image is somewhat dubious as regards 'proof' of ice extent.  The source website states clearly: "experimental results!".

The NSIDC has different data for a close date match, January 5, 2010:
Arctic sea ice extent averaged over December 2009 was 12.48 million square kilometers (4.82 million square miles). December 2009 had the fourth-lowest average ice extent for the month since the beginning of satellite records, falling just above the extent for 2007. The linear rate of decline for December is now 3.3% per decade.

Further analysis of the 2009 season is available at:

Open water at the pole?

Not for the first time, a major newspaper hypes a story.

We’ve heard many claims of Arctic ice collapse. In August 2000, the New York Times reported ships at the North Pole in open water and claimed it was the first open ice in 50 million years. A picture of a submarine in open water at the Pole in March of 1959 quickly proved it wrong. (Figure 2)

Tim Ball's figure 2 is of the USS Skate is from, is not authenticated and may be from anywhere in the Arctic.  It may, of course, be at the pole.  However, minor foredeck variations show in photographs from which one may conclude that extant photos of USS Skate were not taken contemporaneously.  Please compare the above photo to others of USS Skate.

USS Skate surfacing at the North Pole, March 17, 1959. Wilkins 35-5-1.

Crew of the USS Skate during the memorial ceremony for Wilkins on March 17, 1959 -
Wilkins 35-5-4.

In order for a submarine to break safely through ice, the ice must be less than about 3 feet thick.  Fortunately the Arctic ice is constantly in motion, piling up in pressure ridges and opening up polynyas - small areas of open water.  The polynyas tend to freeze over fairly rapidly in normal conditions, forming young ice.

When a submarine surfaces through ice it can make an artificial polynya.  I suggest that it is this form of 'open water' that is seen in the photos.  The verifiable fact that the Skate's crew scattered the ashes of George_Hubert_Wilkins in a ceremony on the ice shows that the USS Skate most definitely did not surface in open water as many have claimed.

What do submarine studies show?

In the 1990s, the scare was ice thinning based on comparison of data obtained by under ice submarine measures. Trouble is they were done with different equipment in different months, one in a cool decade the other warm. A more complete study published in Geophysical Research Letters 2001, found, “Combining the present results with those of an earlier study, I conclude that the mean ice thickness has remained on a near-constant level around the North Pole from 1986 to 1997.”
The paper by P. Winsor: Arctic Sea Ice Remained Constant During The 1990s used only data from six submarine voyages in 1991 to 1997. 

By contrast, a paper by Rothrock et al. 1999, compared data from submarine voyages 1958 - 1976 with data from 1993 - 1997 and concluded that preliminary evidence showed thinning in some regions.

The Knut A. Lisaeter paper
 based on submarine data and satellite observations supports the idea of a downward trend in ice cover.

Pen Hadow
In 2009 there was the publicity stunt by Pen Hadlow, a British Explorer trekking to the pole. He claimed Arctic summer ice would be all gone by 2020. He was forced to quit by the extreme cold that also caused ice measuring equipment to fail in the first few days.
'Forced to quit' implies mission failure.  In fact, Pen Hadow and his team were forced to quit only after they had made a large number of scientifically useful observations:
During the 73 day trek he took 1,500 readings, often during pitch blackness and with windchill factors down to -70 degree C. The team also took thousands of visual observations to give an impression of how the shape of the ice sheet is changing.

Professor Peter Wadhams, of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, said scientists rely on readings from submarines or satellite for data sea ice.

However the new data from the survey confirmed the wider evidence that the Arctic will be completely ice free within twenty years, with most of the ice gone within a decade.

A patently counterfactual statement:

Arctic climate models are useless because models are built on data and there is none for the Ocean area and most of the surrounding land. (Figure 3)

Figure 3: The lack of weather stations is apparent.
Source: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. (ACIA)

Please note the date ranges in Dr. Ball's figure 3: 1900-2003, 1900-1945, 1946-1965 and 1966-2003.  Please note also that the article in question was published by Dr. Ball on Monday, January 18, 2010.

Perhaps Dr. Ball is completely unaware of the existence of the International Arctic Buoy Program:
A network of automatic data buoys to monitor synoptic-scale fields of sea level pressure, surface air temperature, and ice motion throughout the Arctic Ocean was recommended by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1974. Based on the Academy's recommendation, the Arctic Ocean Buoy Program was established by the Polar Science Center (PSC), Applied Physics Laboratory-University of Washington, in 1978 to support the Global Weather Experiment. Operations began in early 1979, and the program continued through 1990 under funding from various agencies. In 1991, the International Arctic Buoy Programme (IABP) succeeded the Arctic Ocean Buoy Program


Has Dr. Tim Ball been Cherry Picking At The Tree Of Knowledge?