Arctic Sea Ice Underestimated Due to Sensor Glitch
Climate change alarmists are quick to point to diminishing Arctic sea ice as an indicator of global warming. But a faulty sensor led scientists to underestimate the extent of the ice — by an area larger than California.
The error began in early January and persisted until mid-February, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, which releases estimates of Arctic sea ice.
The problem was caused by the malfunction of a satellite sensor used for daily updates on the extent of Arctic sea ice.
The NSIDC explained on its Web site: “On February 16, 2009, as e-mails came in from puzzled readers, it became clear that there was a significant problem — sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as open ocean . . .
“Upon further investigation, we found that data quality had begun to degrade over the month preceding the catastrophic failure.
“As a result, our processes underestimated total sea ice extent for the affected period. Based on comparisons with sea ice extent derived from the NASA Earth Observing System Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer sensor, this underestimation grew from a negligible amount in early January to about 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February.”
The area of California is about 163,700 square miles.
The NSIDC uses Department of Defense satellites to obtain its Arctic sea ice data, rather than more accurate National Aeronautics and Space Administration equipment, Bloomberg.com reported.
The Arctic ice cap retreated to its smallest extent on record in 2007, then posted its second-lowest annual minimum at the end of last year’s melt season, and the NSIDC said the recent error does not change its view that the ice is retreating.
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