Sea Ice Story Breaking Up?

If you read into the guts of the periodic voluminous IPCC reports on climate change (and who can actually do this, since they always run several thousand pages), you pick up here and there subtle signs of the scientific community slowly dialing back the catastrophic climate scenarios. The most recent UN report, for example, lowers the probability of the already remote extreme scenario of future emissions (the RCP8.5 forecast, for people who know the technical jargon).

The politicians, activists, and media always ignore these changes, and repeat the usual cliches of “running out of time,” etc.

So it is interesting to read through the Nature magazine story this week about the latest data on Antarctic sea ice:

Cue the gloom and doom? Not so fast this time. Here’s how the story reports it:

Antarctic sea ice shrank to below 2 million square kilometres this year, the lowest minimum extent since satellite records began 43 years ago. . .

The record low was partly due to strong winds pushing ice out of the Ross Sea, a bay off the coast of Antarctica, to areas farther north, where it is warmer. There, the ice broke up and melted, says Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at NSIDC, who is based at the University of Colorado Boulder. “I think much, if not all, of the event can be ascribed to natural variability,” says Meier.

Natural variability you say? Actually you aren’t supposed to say this in the lockstep climate world. Maybe the ice is starting to break in the deep freeze of climatology.

Here’s the chart of the long term trend—or lack of one perhaps:

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