We all look for comfort where we can find it

At this time of the year we can see how the Arctic sea ice extent has behaved and see what this signals for the future, as far as climate change is concerned.

This year average sea ice extent in August averaged 6.22 square kilometres, significantly higher than the 4.71 million square kilometres of 2012 but notwithstanding this improvement, August 2014 was the seventh lowest recorded extent of sea ice.

At the southern end of the planet Antarctic sea ice extent is growing marginally, but the land is shrinking. Antarctic sea ice does less to regulate our climate than Arctic sea ice, because of the Arctic’s proximity to land masses, which prevent sea ice from floating and melting away. This means that a large volume of Arctic sea ice is thicker than that at the Southern part of the planet and therefore reflects more light away from the atmosphere, thereby keeping it cooler.

This year the North West Passage is not clear from ice: the passage has been clear in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011.

These statistics are simply part of a complex picture of what is happening to the climate. Those that do not accept anthropogenic climate change will seize on the statistics that suit their belief and those who accept anthropogenic climate change will do likewise. Often even after figures are selected they are misrepresented, such as Forbes’

“real-world scientific facts show Antarctic ice extent is undergoing a long-term expansion”

which is inaccurate; Antarctic sea ice extent is expanding but Antarctic land ice extent is shrinking.

I suppose we all look for comfort where we can find it.

In a matter as complex as the climate there will always be statistical anomalies translated into graphs which show increases in decreases in figures over the short term, which is why it is better to look at long term trends. Climate change is, after all, a long term threat, not a threat in the next few months or next few years.

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