Ice Ice Baby

800px-Arct0318_-_Flickr_-_NOAA_Photo_Library

Arctic sea ice is shown in this NOAA image.

Exactly how much ice is there in the Arctic Ocean?

This may seem to be a fairly straightforward question, but it is amazing how complicated something can become once the media and politicians get involved.  Take, for example, the recent announcement by the National Snow and Ice Data Center that the amount of sea ice in the Arctic (that’s the one at the North Pole) was 30% greater in August 2013 than it was in August 2012.

Normally, this would be considered a rather mundane fact, kind of like statistics on the amount of annual rainfall in Reno, NV. (No offense, Reno!) It may be interesting for some meteorologists – whose sole purpose in life is to tell us whether or not it is going to rain and to look good on T.V. – but not for the general populace. (No offense, meteorologists!) Continue reading