The gold medal goes to Steven Goddard of The Register. On Friday, Aug. 15, he published a scathing article, “Arctic ice refuses to melt as ordered: There’s something rotten north of Denmark” attacking the National Snow and Ice Data Center plot of Arctic Sea Ice Extent (below) that I and pretty much everyone else on the planet use.

nsidc-8-25j.jpg

Based on some (mis)analysis too obscure for mortal men and women to follow, he concluded “The problem is that this graph does not appear to be correct”:

The Arctic did not experience the meltdowns forecast by NSIDC and the Norwegian Polar Year Secretariat. It didn’t even come close. Additionally, some current graphs and press releases from NSIDC seem less than conservative. There appears to be a consistent pattern of overstatement related to Arctic ice loss …

Unless you are a denier, you may not be surprised to learn the amateur denier was wrong and the country’s leading cryosphere scientists were right. But you might be surprised that Goddard issued an unequivocal retraction within days at the site of the original article:

Steven Goddard writes: “Dr. Walt Meier at NSIDC has convinced me this week that their ice extent numbers are solid … It is clear that the NSIDC graph is correct, and that 2008 Arctic ice is barely 10% above last year — just as NSIDC had stated.”

In the words of Rosanne Rosanna Danna, “Never Mind.”

Kudos to Walt Meier of NSIDC for the rapidity with which NSIDC handled this. As he posted on Real Climate last Friday:

NSIDC has worked with Mr. Goddard to get to the bottom of the issue … and as has been mentioned in the comments above, he has posted a correction. I thank Mr. Goddard for his cooperation in this matter.

Unfortunately, this disinformation has raced around the world, with more than 70 blog reactions as of today according to Technorati, including headlines and comments such as:

  • Arctic Ice Grows 30 Per Cent In a Year
  • The Global Warming Theory takes a hit
  • Fishy Data From the Government
  • Here’s another installment about the silliness of “global warming” as posited by politicians and “environmentalists”.
  • Cooking the Books to Cook the Ice
  • Global Warming is about global government and depopulation

Oh well. Live by the blogosphere, die by the blogosphere.

In any case, if you look at the graph, you’ll see the Arctic ice extent is shrinking perilously close to last year’s record. It should be an exciting few weeks to see whether the record gets beat. But again, what’s important isn’t the year-by-year fluctuation, but the astonishingly fast decline in Arctic ice in the last few decades driven in large part by global warming, which may have catastrophic implications for the planet.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.