2011-06-02 08:10:27Websites to monitor Arctic Sea Ice
michael sweet


Websites for Watching the Arctic Sea Ice Melt

The Arctic Sea Ice collapse is one of the most obvious changes caused by Global Warming.  Last winters minimum was the third lowest ever recorded.  The rapid melt of the sea ice has led to scientific predictions of an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer as early as 2013 (mainstream predictions range from 2030 to 2050). Every Northern summer some bloggers watch the ice melt and try to guess what will happen.  Others claim it is like watching paint dry.  I think the situation is similar to watching a season of sport.  The individual games are interesting to watch, and difficult to predict, but the final season record is what really matters.  This article will give some web sites to check if you want to be informed about what is happening this season, but do not want to follow the day to day action.  I posted a similar thread with links to more websites last year on Skeptical Science.

My favorite place to find out what is really happening in the Arctic is the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) web site.  This site has a sea ice extent graph that is updated daily.  

It compares the ice to 2007 (the record low year) and also to the average from 1979 through 2000.  The sea ice extent is defined as the area of ocean that is covered by at least 15% sea ice.  In addition they have a very nice FAQ section that answers many sea ice questions.  This FAQ section is a good place to find out the basics in one place that you can trust.  NSIDC has a monthly commentary on the sea ice conditions.  It is usually issued around the fifth of the month.  This commentary discusses current sea ice conditions, relevant weather and whatever else the scientists at NSIDC think fits the situation.  If you read only the NSIDC summary every month you will be well informed about the sea ice this summer.  NSIDC also issues reports when something special happens, like if a new record low is set.  These comments happen less often.  Hopefully they will expand their commentary this summer.

Cryosphere Today is a good site to look at data.  They offer no commentary on the data.  They have a daily graph of the sea ice (from the University of Bremen) to follow the daily action. 

 They have a graph of the sea ice area from the past two years that gives you an idea of what has been happening for the entire melt season. 

The sea ice area is defined as the total area of the ocean covered by ice.  They take the sea ice extent and subtract the open ocean portions.  There is a little more error in the sea ice area than the sea ice extent, that is why NSIDC and IJIS use the sea ice extent.  In general, it is best to compare one sites graphs with their own graphs.  Cryosphere Today has about 10 local area maps that are interesting. 

They also have a comparison app that allows you to compare any two days of ice in the satellite record. 


Notice above how much more ice there was in 1980.  The snow data is only present for the past few years.

Cryosphere Today also has data from the Antarctic.

IJIS has a good site to check on the sea ice extent on a daily basis.  Their graph is similar to the NSIDC graph, but they include all the years from 2002 to the present (they do not show the long term average).  You can quickly compare the current extent to previous years. 

AMSR-E Sea Ice Extent

Lately 2011 has been running near the record low.

If you check these sites occasionally and read Skeptical Science posts on sea ice during the summer you will be able to keep up with what is going on.  If you are interested in learning more about sea ice Nevin’s Arctic Sea Ice Blog is a good place to read.  Amateurs test their predictive powers against the ice.  Nevin has a very complete daily graphs page which includes much more data than I have described here.  If you want to watch the daily struggle of the ice against warming, this is the place to go.  Nevin has links to all of the arctic web sites that I visit.  Please attach links in the comments to other interesting sites. 

If you want to keep up with the skeptics WUWT and Steve Goddard have a lot of commentaries on sea ice.   They can look are a new record low and tell you the ice is recovering.

  Any discussion of skeptics and sea ice would be incomplete without this graph from Denial Depot:


This graph is a little dated, but great skeptic data can be reused forever.

Have a good time following the Arctic Ice this summer.

2011-06-02 08:16:58Please advise how to get my images to come up
michael sweet


I am a new poster.  I input my file and stored all the images on Skeptical Science.  When I uploaded the blog it does not open the images or convert the HTML into hyperlinks.  What do I need to do to get it correctly formatted?


thank you for your help,


2011-06-02 08:26:00Welcome to Skeptical Science
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Have you created it in blog post form?  If so, post the URL for it here and either Dana or I can fix them for you.


If not, I can fix the above links for you and then create it in blog post form.


Your choice which.

2011-06-02 08:43:57
michael sweet


I am not sure what you mean blog post form (I am ignorant about posting formats).  I typed the original in Word for Windows and dropped it into the Skeptical Science format.  Then I edited the hotlinks so that they looked complete for the normal posting on SS. 

I need to learn how to insert images.  I saved the images onto word files which I tranferred into the Skeptical Science server.  When I link to them they are on a white word page background.  What do I need to do to save the image properly? 

Thank you for your help,


2011-06-02 08:47:43
michael sweet


The hotlinks have been fixed.  Thanks DB.  For future reference what did I do wrong?

What do I need to do for the images? Once they convert into hyperlinks I do not know how to edit them if they do not open the image. I couple of the images have converted into empty boxes, I imagine they are the wrong size.

2011-06-02 12:47:11
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

The place to add a new blog is:



Click on the Add New Blog link, which brings you here:



Give it a title and a file name.  Don't forget to select your name as the author (if it gives you that option).

At that point you can develop your blog post text from scratch in the field like this one or paste one in from another text editor like Word.


1.  To make a header like that just above this, look for this Paragraph.  Click on the down arrow to change a hilited word or sentence (the word TIPS is in Heading3).

2.  To add an image or graphic, click on the Insert/edit image buttonInsert Picture.  Fill out the General Tab.  The important fields on the Appearance Tab are the Alignment field and the Dimensions field (if the picture or graphic is over 500 pixels wide downsize it to 500).

3.  To hyperlink text, first hilite it and then select the Insert/edit link button Insert Link.

4.  To indent, select the Indent button (looks like this  Indent).  This is a toggle tool.

5.  To embed media, select the Insert/edit embedded media button Media.




  1. You can't embed Document files or PDF's.
  2. Some images hosted on dynamic websites like temperature plots from GISS need to be hosted elsewhere.  Save them & then upload them to SkS (from the first link I gave you, select the Upload Image link, which brings you here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/admin_author.php?Action=UploadImageForm
  3. Remember to bookmark the URL of your blog post (makes it easier to find later).

I fixed what I could above.

Email me if I can help further:


2011-06-02 12:50:42
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Wayne Davidson's blog is very useful: http://www.eh2r.com/

As is Patrick Lockerby's: http://www.science20.com/chatter_box

2011-06-04 09:48:39


I know its only a draft at present but

Is it too pedantic to suggest that reference to “an ice free Arctic Ocean as early as 2013” be amended to “an Arctic Ocean ice free in summer as early as 2013”?

“They also have a that allows you…”  They also have a ??? that allows you …

Cryossphere To-day has a link which does not seem to work http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/websitescryospherebeufortsea.doc">.

2011-06-05 07:17:04Neven's site is very good.
Toby Joyce


I pay daily visits. Also an excellent page of graphs and charts.

2011-06-05 07:37:11
Rob Painting

Nice to have a summary of the sites where one can track this stuff down. PITA a few years back trying find out info on the ice, and the Denial Depot graph is a good way to finish, like the way it plays.

2011-06-05 11:56:11
michael sweet


I have added all the images that I want to have in this post.  I checked the hotlinks and they all seem to go where they are supposed to go.  I corrected the editing errors noted in the comments.  I plan to akd John to post this tomorrow unless someone has an objection. 

Thank you for your help, especially Dnaiel.  I am hoping to post several posts this summer and I think I know how to enter the data now.


Mike Sweet

2011-06-05 13:34:08schedule
Dana Nuccitelli
Are you in a hurry to get this posted? We've got two other posts scheduled for tomorrow. We can post yours mid-week, unless you have a reason for wanting to publish it sooner.
2011-06-06 01:25:42
michael sweet


Post this when you think is best.  I am not familiar with the schedule yet.

2011-06-06 03:25:18
Dana Nuccitelli

Okay, it's on the schedule for Wed. Aussie time, Tuesday morning US Pacific time.

2011-06-06 17:19:06


The obligatory minor typo:

If you want to keep up with the skeptics WUWT and Steve Goddard have a lot of commentaries on sea ice.   They can look are at a new record low and tell you the ice is recovering.

btw, I'm not sure I would have used the term 'commentaries': terms like 'blinkered bunkum' and hopeless hokum' spring more readily to mind. ;-)


I like to compare the IJIS graphs with the NSIDC graphs after every update.  That way I can compare the current ice extent trend with the average or with other years. My bookmark for IJIS is http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/ - the index page for different graphs and the csv data file.


Neven's blog is #1 on my list of Arctic-related blogs.  My own blogging is still a bit slow due to illness, but I have new Arctic-themed articles in progress.  Coming soon: weather wars - how the nazis attacked a small Arctic weather station with a fleet of warships.  True!  I would like to write every day, but have to be content if I can average 1 per week at the moment.


I check the MODIS site daily - not just the Arctic mosaic, but the near-real-time images.  However, most people would find the mosaic page easier to grasp.  It builds during the day, so is often seen as an incomplete mosaic. The 'prev' button takes you to the previous - usually complete - mosaic.  http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/subsets/?mosaic=Arctic


In June last year I wrote a 'howto' series for anyone who wants to get more out of the MODIS images:

MODIS Rapidfire For Citizen Scientists - #1