Roger A. Pielke, Sr.:
In terms of sea ice, if you look at Antarctic sea ice, it actually has been well above average, although in the last couple days it's close to average, but for about a year or longer, it's been well above average, and the Arctic sea ice is not as low as it was last year. So in the global context, the sea ice has been fairly close to average. It doesn't mean it can't happen because we are altering the climate system. But whenever I look at the data, I see a much more complicated picture than what you typically hear about.
It's usually the case that if you look at the data yourself, the picture is more complicated than 'what you typically hear about'. (It also making some difference where you usually listen.) So that's a noncomment.
It's shocking, however, to hear someone who says he is looking at the data arrive at the conclusion that 'sea ice has been fairly close to average'. A brief visit to Cryosphere Today, a site well worth a long visit and run by a fellow (William Chapman) who is a scientist who studies sea ice (which isn't Pielke's area), quickly takes you to the anomaly graphs for the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere. The northern hemisphere is far (about a million square km) below the climatology, and has been below that average continually since early 2003. The trend in this curve became apparent years ago (compare the scatter in the first 21 years to the difference between 0 anomaly and where the northern hemisphere has been the last 5 years). The southern hemisphere trend, which is there and positive (towards more ice) only recently emerged from background noise. Compare the current value (eyeball of about +0.3 million km^2 as I write on the 30th of October) to the scatter (eyeball value of about 0.5 million km^2) for the Antarctic and you see why it's taken so long for a trend to emerge from noise).
So on one hand, we have the Arctic ice, which is well (a couple of standard deviations, by eye) below normal, and has been below normal continually for over 5 years. On the other hand, we have the Antarctic, which shows a statistically weak trend and has been bouncing back and forth across normal every year of the record.
However one may describe this for the global net effect, 'fairly close to average' isn't an option.
I'm emailing this to Dr. Pielke once I find an address for him. I'm hoping that he simply was quoted exceedingly badly.