As Mark Twain told us, there are three types of lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics. Unfortunately, Agence France-Press (AFP) reporter Marlow Hood remind us of Twain’s truth in his April 29th article entitled “Sea ice loss major cause of Arctic warming/a>.” Mr. Hood uses the typical statistic-manipulator tactic of cherry-picking data points and wording descriptions in a way likely to mislead the average reader.
In fact, as can be seen in the IJIS Arctic Sea Ice Extent chart (which is update daily HERE) the amount of Arctic sea ice is now, and has been during the whole time Mr. Hood was writing his article, at its highest level for at least a decade. (See red line in chart below.) Even before the last month or so of unusual ice growth, ice levels had moved back to well within the average range of recent years. Furthermore, most of 2009 showed a greater ice cap extent than most of 2008, so choosing 2008 represents cherry-picking of the worst sort.
Mr. Hood also implies that the effect shown by the “study” is a dominating effect, i.e. that a “positive feedback loop” from sunlight hitting dark water instead of white ice has greater impact on climate than other atmospheric effects including cloud cover or major deep-sea currents. If that were true, the climate would have seen much more substantial warming in recent years than we’ve seen. The recent record-low temperatures in northern Europe and Asia argue strongly against Mr. Hood and the study’s proposition that there is a self-reinforcing pattern of warming “on a regional scale.” If he means a region that is so small that it has no impact on the rest of the planet, perhaps he has a point – but then who would care?