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Cryosphere Today: Watching The Pea Under The Cup

December 27, 2011

People react to colours. That is why most of the data you see on sites like NASA GISS show any small positive anomaly as glowing, burning, searing red. It’s a simple trick to make things seem worse than they are to “Joe Public”.

Well now Cryosphere Today appears to be at it.  Compare these two images, showing Arctic sea ice cover:

Can you spot the subtle difference?

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From → The Climate War

One Comment
  1. R. Craigen permalink

    Hi. Interesting enough, but I pay attention to their graphs, and often note discrepancies from actual data. Or internal inconsistencies. I send them a polite email and, to their credit, they often fix things and backdate their fixes. I say “to their credit” even though in journalism one would expect a published apology — but note this is not a case of journalism but of public information, and the main objective is to get that information correct. See my comment here on the southern sea ice data for Dec. 2011:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/tips-notes-2/#comment-852539

    I suspect there is a subtle attempt at editorializing through graphical manipulation (as you point out) or site design. In an earlier correspondence I asked them why the Southern Sea Ice Data was asymmetrically presented, so one has to go looking for it, whereas the Northern Data is up front and center, and overrepresented in the graphics. Of course, the Southern Data is not as easy to use to support the alarmist narrative. In fact, it contradicts that narrative. I received a polite reply thanking me for my suggestions at site redesign, a claim (which I accept, as I use it myself) that he is an academic doing this on his own time and often can’t devote time to fixing things, so they get put off. And, the key point he made was that the design reflects the needs of the community that uses the site, which is those advocating for policy pertaining to climate change. (In other words, why would they want easy access to southern data since it can’t be used for this end?) I have also taken issue with the fact that many of the data displayed are actually very far out of date. Many aspects of the northern data seem to stop in 2007, when the sea ice reached its lowest point. The last thing the alarmists want is to show an uptick at the end of a long slide. My expectation for TCT has been that they will update such things after the uptick turns the other way and shows an overall downward trend. So far I have seen nothing to contradict this conjecture. Subtle manipulation … but not TOO subtle.

    Remarkably, this marginally maintained site seems to be the most commonly referenced repository of sea ice data; folks on both sides of the issue use it.

    This time I have not received a response to my email, but I notice that they have backdated a bit of the Dec 2012 data so that the Southern Sea Ice graph now shows a sudden uptick precisely on the year-end line, though it is somewhat less than the actual positive anomaly in the data sets at that point, and there is as yet no revision of the huge positive anomaly in mid-december. This is reflected in a global sea ice discrepancy that goes positive exactly on the year-change line.

    Why is this particular problem worth pursuing? I have observed that the world sea ice data has shown a positive anomaly EVERY year since records have been kept. That is, at some point in every year, it has gone positive, even in years where the majority of time it has been negative. I think this is significant and suggests something of a corrective mechanism in the global thermostatic system. While locally we see much variation there is some systemic damping going on that prevents things from swinging too wildly all at once, barring cataclysmic changes.

    So it is my impression that someone really wanted a full calendar year with no positive anomaly. Since most of 2011 remained negative, I figure they got concerned at the sudden change at the end as the global anomaly began to swing toward 0. Surely only a LITTLE tweak at the end would suffice to keep it negative for the whole year, and who would notice?

    That’s where I come in. I notice. Once again, a calendar year has passed with both positive and negative anomalies, and the world sea ice continues to swing back and forth over the arbitrarily defined “norm” determined by the 1979-2008 mean value.

    It would be nice, however, if they fix the December values to reflect the significant positive anomaly that took place well before the end of the year. Because the uptick they’ve permitted is exactly on the new year line, people looking at this graph will still regard this as an entire year with negative anomaly, attributing the positive value to 2012.

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