Record Late Ice Break Up At Nenana, Alaska

From the department of global warming ain't happenin' comes news of the ice break up on the Tanana River at Nenana, Alaska.  This year it occurred yesterday, May 20, at 3:43 PM Alaska daylight time.  That set a new record for lateness of the break up.  I guess that doesn't fit the official global warming narrative.

In 1917 engineers working on construction of the Alaska Railroad started a pool betting on the date and time of break up of the ice at Nenana.  The betting has continued every year since, and these days the organizers amass a pool of over $300,000 to distribute to whoever guesses the time of break up time most closely.  In the 97 years of the records, the earliest break up has been on April 20 (1940, 1998), and the latest May 20 (1964), with the majority clustered from about April 29 to May 8.   Here is the log of all break up times from 1917 to 2011.

In the 2000s many global warming promoters got the idea that the Nenana ice break up records could serve as an indicator of ongoing climate change.    In 2001 two authors from Stanford, Raphael Sagarin and Fiorenza Micheli, analyzed the Nenana data and declared that recent records indicated that the break up was then occurring 5.5 days sooner than it did back in 1917.  That study got play, for example, in the New York Times.  Although before this year no records for early or late break up had been set post 2000, recent data have tended somewhat to the earlier portion of the range, leading plenty of global warming promoters to use these data to hype their cause.  For example, here is a post from the Daily Kos in 2007, pointing out that break up times for the years 2003 - 2007 were all (a little) earlier than the median.  The book Understanding Global Warming by Rebecca Johnson, published in 2009, declared "For scientists the Nenana Ice Classic, as this contest is called, is a source of data about climate change.  Based on event records, spring arrives ten days earlier around Nenana than it did in 1960."

Well, with this year's record late break up the trend seems to have turned in the other direction.  And by the way, not just by a little.  Not only is May 20 the latest break up day ever, but there has only been one prior break up after May 16, and three after May 14.  It was a really, really cold spring in interior Alaska.  Funny that I can't find any mention of that in places like the New York Times, Washington Post, or big web sites like Daily Kos or Huffington Post, or climate alarmist web sites like realclimate.  However, there is plenty of coverage at climate skeptic web sites like and  Remember, it's only news if it fits the narrative.