Ice ice baby

CTarctic4808.jpg The fat lady’s not yet in the building, but her limo’s outside the theatre. There’s another five or six weeks of melting to go, but there’s more than just sea ice melting in the Arctic, and more than my few meagre wagers riding on how summer turns out ‘oop North. Here’s a compendium of interesting recent stuff…

A national park in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut has been closed to the public because a heat wave has brought dramatic melting – wiping out many of the park’s walking trails. The Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island (the name means The Land that Never Melts – that’s irony, folks) covers an area of over 19,000sq km. According to The Province, 21 hikers had to be evacuated. The BBC reports:

Pauline Scott, a spokeswoman for Parks Canada, told the BBC News website that after two weeks of record-breaking hot weather in June the ice had “melted at a phenomenal rate – we’ve never seen this kind of phenomenon in almost 40 years since the park was first opened”. Speaking from Iqaluit, the capital of the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut, Ms Scott said that due to the massive amount of melting ice “huge portions of what was formerly a 60km trail in the park have completely gone”.

A little further to the North, another chunk of the Ward Hunt ice shelf has broken off. Over on Greenland a rather excitable Time journalist has been visiting the site (one, two) of the NEEM project – the North Greenland Eemian ice coring project. The new drill site hopes to uncover something none of the other Greenland cores have been able to deliver – a good record of the atmospheric and precipitation changes over Greenland at the the end of the last interglacial, 115,000 years ago. Heineken, Hendrix and ice. Sounds good to me. In the Northwest Passage, the Sydney Morning Herald’s environment editor got herself a trip on a Canadian ice breaker and dug up this quote from the NSIDC’s Mark Serreze:

“We might see an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2030 – within some of our lifetimes. […] There are some scientists out there who think that even might be optimistic.”

Pretty much what I said in Hot Topic, but I wrote that particular passage in early 2007.

National Radio’s been providing some good coverage of ice at both ends of the planet. Last night Bryan Crump interviewed Mark Serreze about the Arctic, and had really done his research well (stream, podcast), while Insight’s Sue Ingram did a very creditable job pf pulling together most of NZ and the world’s leading Antarctic experts to discuss the state of affairs down there. My only complaint? She felt obliged to go to the NZ C”S”C’s Willem de Lange for a dissenting opinion, and then referred to everyone else as “IPCC aligned”, which gets the IPCC process precisely the wrong way round. Very worthwhile, if only to hear Richard Alley wax lyrical about flying buttresses (stream, podcast).

Other interesting news: a new paper by Christian Haas (et al) of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, reports that the ice at the North Pole at the end of the melt season last year was only 1.3m. In 2004, it was 2.6m. High resolution lake deposits at the Meerfelder Maar in Germany show that the European climate dramatically cooled in the space of a single year, 12,679 years ago [Planet Ark, DeSmogBlog]. Detailed examination of microfossils (foraminifera) from rocks 40 million years old at Hampden Beach near Moeraki shows that when the Antarctica was last ice free, and NZ was 1,000km closer to the pole, sea surface temperatures were 23-25C. No wet suits required. A little more recently, only 14 million years ago, a sudden cooling in Antarctica (8c in 200,000 years) preserved a lake ecosystem in the Dry Valleys region – the first such fossils to have been found since Scott’s first expedition discovered the valleys in 1902-3.

And the fat lady? NSIDC’s latest summary (Aug 1st) reckons that a new record is becoming less likely. On the other hand their daily update has begun to dip towards last year a little. I suspect that if the melt season is a bit longer than “normal”, we could still see a record – or close to it. Is it going to be Montserrat Caballé or Freddy Mercury, or both?

58 thoughts on “Ice ice baby”

  1. Rather than spam you with the full text, here’s my take posted at RealClimate.

    Bear in mind that I only use extent in terms of comparison with the pre-satellite record, I prefer area because I think it better represents the situation for a very fragmented ice cap, as I’d expect with thinner ice.

    In short:

    1) My (rather late) prediction: This year will not be as low as last year, but it will be a new second lowest.

    2) It’s possible that a persistent seasonally ice-free state is not possible at present.

    3) 2007 could turn out to be an outlier followed by a recovery of the sort the models show (as pointed out by Bitz and others).

    As a poossibly related aside:
    Here in the UK we’re having weather very similar to last year, the Jet Stream is still hitting us with low pressure systems. In a British summer it’s more typical for the Azores High to push the Jet and it’s attendant low pressure systems up north to the North of Scotland and thence to Scandinavia.

    This is the same pattern that gave us last year’s noteably wet summer, both this year and last people have blamed La Nina. Klaus Wolter’s MEI currently shows a neutral ENSO state.

    La Nina creates a +ve (high) pressure anomaly in the North Pacific. In Bhatt 2007 “The Atmospheric Response to Realistic Reduced Summer Arctic Sea Ice Anomalies” they find that modelled atmospheric response to the record minmimum ice of 1995 produced a +ve (high) pressure anomaly in the North Pacific, also a -ve (low) pressure anomaly in the Atlantic over the UK. I wonder if we’re seeing the start of an atmospheric response to what’s happening in the Arctic. But I stress; I am not sure.

  2. Cobblyworlds. Mmmm, I remember what you said over on the science forums, “Whether it’ll go this year is definitely still a wait and see matter, but I do think it’s realistic. If it doesn’t crash substantially more than last year, then my understanding of thick ice as a damper will be flawed.”

    Yes, quite! Would you like to tell me the state of your knowledge now? To which I replied, “A bold or foolish man makes predictions based on such an incomplete and chaotic science.”

    Then you said, “I think it very likely that it’ll drop to below 3million km2.”

    Well I think it very likely that you’ll wish you had worried about something else, and not made such bold or foolish predictions. You also rather bizarrely said, “at present we have ongoing global warming” when you must have known that we simply do not! When I pointed out that all this Arctic melting worry had happened in 1922, you flounced off!

  3. I must say it’s been fascinating watching it all. Our bet has certainly given me another hobby for the last few months Gareth. At this stage, I think the anomaly is about 5th lowest equal (cryosphere today). My expectation is still it won’t go much below this, and that 2007 was an outlier. But as you say, she ain’t singing yet.

    But If I’m wrong, and we get another big melt, that will certainly be suggestive of step-change in arctic climate, even if it doesn’t reach last year’s minimum.

    2009 will also be really interesting. Will it swing back up, or carry on the downwards trend? The global temperature anomaly is well down this year, so I wonder whether that will be reflected in ice-building. And if so, whether that is a temporary effect.

  4. Bryan,

    I appreciate the frustration of having to plough through Harry’s posts, but unless he’s so rude as to be libellous I’d prefer to leave him alone. I will edit, but I won’t censor. You may see why, in a forthcoming post… 😉

  5. CW & Malcolm,

    I think I pretty much agree with CW’s first two points, but not his third. In my (untutored, but not ill-informed) view the chances of a substantial recovery of multi-year ice are slim. This year the positive terms in the Arctic heat budget are at best in balance with the negative ones – and the long term trend is clear (see the report on the Haas paper). There has to come a point where the cover is so thin that it breaks up and floats slushily around the ocean – and that’s where we are now (or soon will be). This is in accord with Wayne Davidson’s view at RC that the winds are very important in determining the area/extent metric.

    My take on Bitz’s dig into the modelling was that you get a multi-year crash, followed by a long, slow tail away to zero. The tail doesn’t look as though it will be long, and the ice probably won’t look much like the summer ice of old.

    Malcolm, you may will win this year’s bet, but I don’t think it will be by as wide a margin as you predict. You are absolutely correct, however, that 2009 is going to be hugely interesting. The global temp metric is largely irrelevant to the Arctic, and with ENSO neutral for the near future at least, and the possibility of an El Nino (though weak, if the IPO phase is taken into account), then this winter might not be as cool as last.

    Meanwhile, CW articulates something that has struck me about this European summer. Remarkably like last year. It’ll be interesting to see how autumn plays out. Will Finland have a winter this year? And that’s another reason why I don’t see much (if any) long term recovery in the sea ice.

  6. Actually, I’m not abusive at all – I only respond to those who dish it out first. Check back and see. And sometimes I don’t even respond with the same. However, I’ll not stay when my position on climate change is not considered. What would be the point? I’ll therefore pass on. But just remember, when this cooling continues on and on, when there’s still no stratospheric cooling, when there’s still no hot spot in the troposphere, that there was someone trying desperately to get you to see it. Farewell. Good luck with your farm, Gareth.

  7. “Will Finland have a winter this year?”

    Is a ducks arse water tight?

    Question to ponder though, will the UK have a summer this year or for the second year in a row will they have winter, spring, followed by autumn.

    Will be interested to see if GISTEMP shows a similar cooling trend for July.

  8. Of course Finland will have a winter, but there’s winter and there’s winter…

    According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, this winter’s mean temperature in most parts of Finland was the highest ever measured. Temperatures have been measured in Finland for over a century. The high temperatures resulted from mild southern and southwestern air currents that continued all winter, and from climate change.

    In many parts of the country, this winter’s new mean temperature record is almost one degree higher than the previous one. According to the statistics kept by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the mildest winter so far had been the winter of 1924-1925.

    The mean temperature for December-February was as much as 4 to 6.5 degrees higher than the average for the period 1971-2000.

    I should be clear, I don’t mean a long slow tail as in ’till 2070. I mean a tail until 2030ish, I agree with people like Serreze on that. I suspect that as the thick ice seems to be a damper we’ll see a lot more variability in the years to come.

    Maslowski and others in the abrupt camp could still be right, I hope not. We need a lot more time for the scientists to get their collective heads around this process and give what advice can be given regards impacts. The slower the impacts the more chance to adapt.

    My hopes are for Nghiem’s March 2009 perennial figure to have gone up from last year, and for a more typical British summer next year.

    I accept that I am perhaps exhibiting some PollyAnna-esque bias here. I’m also feeling happier that the demand destruction that’s lead to oil stabilising at ~$120 may spare us pain on that score too. If things have to change, make it slow and gradual – it’s less dangerous.

  9. Re: Finland. I though it would be obvious that I was talking about a “normal” winter. But Peter proves me wrong. Ah well…

    As it happens, I know someone trying to grow truffles in Finland (not quite as far-fetched as it might seem, Burgundy truffles grow very well on Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic), and the lack of “normal” winter weather is a big help.

    Another unusual & mild winter up there (it would be the third in a row for Sweden) would be a strong indicator that rapid climate change was taking place.

    Arctic sea ice: CT’s anomaly dropped sharply today, and the NSIDC extent continues to narrow the gap with last year. IJIS still shows this year slightly behind 2005, but not by much…

  10. HarrytheHat’s departure kind of proves that there is not much room for debate on this forum, just abuse if you disagree. Tough crowd. There is plenty of evidence the globe is cooling. The Pacific is dropping, Antarctica is thickening so much in the middle that icebergs are calving off at the edge, glaciers are advancing and the whole southern hemisphere has been dropping in temperatures since 1996. Funny, NOAA calls it “negative warming”

  11. Easy to cherrypick with the NOAA, NIWA, CSIRO and other State-run global warming agencies. Just hunt around a bit and you’ll find evidence of southern hemisphere cooling. Examples
    There is room for views about reality that run counter to the global warming religion. Attacking on the grounds of overactive imagination is religious fundamentalism and not science.

  12. It shows that you don’t understand Ken.

    The first link is flawed, because it refers to weather, not climate. The graph of the link clearly shows a warming trend.

    While the second link is 32 years old.

    What are you on, you crazy fella?!?!

  13. Ken. This isn’t a forum for debating climate change, it’s a place to come for swallowists of global warming to re-cement their views. Think of Hot Topic as a Creationist web site. If you’ve ever read any of that stuff then you’ll know what I mean. No one wants to listen that they may be wrong, the thought won’t enter their tiny heads. They’ve believed in the religious stuff for so long that they are brain-washed. And Creationists are nearly as bad! I just popped back to read what’s been going on, so I don’t know if you’ve been commenting. If so, then by now Gareth would have told you to go off and read a book (usually quoted above somewhere), then the abuse will start. When you put a point that is genuinely scientific and counters their view, they will not engage in debate – because they know they cannot; the point has them stumped. It’s quite amusing to watch. Take heart in the fact that global temperatures will continue to fall, and all these people will finally shut up. The web sites will disappear, and some scientists will rightfully lose their jobs. Only thing is, a cooler world will be a hell of a lot less pleasant than a warming one. Right now, I’m far more concerned about Russia bombing the underground Georgia oil pipeline, and Israel attacking Iran in Nov-Dec.

    Steve Berry
    aka HarryTheHat

  14. Gareth. I wasn’t leaping to his defence at all, actually advising him not to bother trying to have a climate discussion here. A little word of advice, Gareth – assuming you want to have a climate discussion blog: Don’t abuse your contributors, and don’t tell them to go off and read a book that you quote. It’s condescending, if nothing else. However, I guess you don’t actually want contrarians here, and that’s fair enough, it’s your blog. Tell you what, I hope you’re right and I’m wrong on climate change. From what I’ve been reading lately (if we are about to enter a cool phase) it’s going to be damned unpleasant – with a growing population and high oil prices. Wars and misery are heading our way based on nothing more than cooling temperatures. I actually think that the 30 year warming phase is over, and it didn’t amount to much even then.

    All the best,

  15. Steve
    Yes, you’re right. But Gareth is doing me a favour in setting up Ringworld and his other anti-me websites, because it drives more traffic to my site. That’s what happens when you publicly kick someone.

  16. Those you have set up and link to, to attack me rather than my ideas. I have never pleaded with you to remove anything. Unlike you I believe this is a free country, where people are allowed to have points of disagreement and not be jackbooted for it. It matters not to me what you do, as I say, it works in my favour. People have discovered my website through your efforts to drive them away.

  17. Ken said (Aug 10, 3-34 pm)

    There you go again, linking to your Ken-kicking website. Please take it off the net. It is a shameful act of bullying and says more about you and your attitudes about attacking personally than your desire to debate.

    Ken said (August 15, 3-07am):

    I have never pleaded with you to remove anything.

    Apart from being unable to predict the weather, you are also apparently possessed of a very poor memory.

  18. I think your ideas are being attacked, as they are stupid, vis a vis I guess, why you feel attacked. The comments made on this blog are about the ideas you represent. Can’t anyone dispute your ideas, or is this not a free country? However, no one said that you can’t express you ideas, not matter how foolish!

  19. The act of constructing a website calling someone a fraud, a charlatan, a fool, taking money under false pretenses etc is character assassination and is not a welcoming debating site. Calling it Ringworld is an afront. Imagine if it were done to you. There is a free and respectful way to go about fair discussion with right of reply. If you cannot comprehend that you are as intolerant as he is. I repeat, I am not pleading to have it removed. I requested nicely, not in any desperation. The plus for me is that people visit me to see what the fuss is about, follow by emailing and using my services, and I establish support and clientele where before there was none.

  20. So what about a person’s freedom to call you a fool? You might not find it welcoming, but it is called freedom of expression. It seems that you keep proving that you are a fool everytime you write something down.

  21. Ringworld is a record of my “audit” of your forecasts for 2006. You construe it as a personal attack – but it isn’t, it’s a review of the effectiveness of your forecasts. You don’t like the results. Too bad.

    You make outrageous claims for the accuracy of your forecasts. Those claims are unsubstantiated. You basically mislead people into buying a book of forecasts that doesn’t work. That’s what I object to.

    You have the freedom – and the right – to believe whatever you want to believe. But you have no right to mislead the public in order to make a living.

  22. “I can take criticism, but not from someone who is not a scientist but an author making money out of spreading alarmist nonsense for which there is no evidence.” – Ken Ring


  23. I challenge anyone to say that I did NOT predict correctly, in the almanac 2008,
    -the Turangi flood tragedy on p126
    -the weather bomb last week in July on p195
    -the snow times for the mountains p358 fol
    -the lakelevels would avoid crisis p44
    -the correct timing of this winter’s southerly systems
    -this week’s weather on p230
    -today’s weather and weather map on p231

    I also challenge anyone to show me where ANY of the above events is similarly written by any other meteorologist from two years away.
    So where’s the misleading information? Only from those who claim that this predicting method has no useful value.
    Ken Ring

  24. I’m not going to go out and buy your useless almanac just to prove something I already know. But if anyone else wants to, I should perhaps suggest you read this post (and this one) at Ringworld, which describes the contortions Ken’s willing to perform to claim a successful prediction for his book.

  25. Good grief, and what job are you in to make money?? Is anyone you disagree with supposed to work for free?
    But answer my challenge. I predicted all the above accurately, so where’s the problem?
    NZ almanac 2008 lists
    -the Turangi flood tragedy on p126
    -the weather bomb last week in July on p195
    -the snow times for the mountains p358 fol
    -the lakelevels would avoid crisis p44
    -the correct timing of this winter’s southerly systems
    -this week’s weather on p230
    -today’s weather and weather map on p231

  26. Hey Ken, It’s a nice sunny day here in Wellington, according to your website, Predict Weather, it should be ‘overcast’ with ‘heavy rain’. Guess you are wrong here.

    However, it seems the Metservice has got it right.

    Max: 12°C Min: 6°C
    (Day) (Overnight)
    Fine. Strong northwesterlies easing.

  27. A list of correct predictions is of no worth without a list of the incorrect ones. Without the context provided by the latter the former could be just random chance.

    And bear in mind that momentous events like floods/droughts/storms are mere weather. It is only in the human context that they take on special meaning, that human context is irrelevant. So the full set of predictions should presented, not just the subset of notable events.

    For what it’s worth, my predictive skill with regards the Arctic ice cap this year has been nil. Where I have got things right it’s been for the wrong reasons (which is an incorrect prediction). So to add another point; transparency of method is also crucial.

  28. Oh I don’t believe adults talk like this. I have told you the pages in my almanac. They are rain tables pages listing heavy falls and snow in regions, also isobaric maps. If anyone wants to seriously challenge my claims, don’t just say I don’t believe you so there, go into a bookshop and LOOK IT UP!! THEN come back and discuss it.

  29. No, let’s get this straight. I have told you what I have written and even referenced the pages. You say I am incorrect. Yet you haven’t checked it. If you make the statement about me the onus is on you to prove where I am incorrect. It is the same with your idea of global warming. You think it is enough to make ongoing emotionally based claims with no evidence. But I am perfectly willing to send anyone scans of my pages on request, any of those I have mentioned above. My email is
    I’ll be waiting.

  30. No, Ken, the onus of proof is on you – you’re the one making the claims.

    And you can chunter all you like about a lack of evidence for global warming. You are simply ignoring the evidence that exists. Try reading Hot Topic, or if you don’t want to do that, the IPPC fourth report is an excellent, and detailed overview of the state of our knowledge.

  31. Cobblyworld
    Perfectly willing to discuss the Metservice, whose wages you help pay for. Is this the same Metservice that said winter cold would be over 10 July(NZ Herald 7 July front page)? Hmmm..
    Show me where the Metservice predicted for today from two years ago, so we can compare me to them. Love to see that link.
    As for Saturday, my almanac p231 says for Wellington, Saturday: cloudy, heavy rain.
    The Metservice on their website said
    Short forecast for all New Zealand to midnight Saturday 16-Aug-2008
    Wairarapa and Wellington
    Showers, some heavy and thundery..
    So I fail to see the difference, unless you live in Wellington, Alabama or India.
    So you’re incorrect, surely?

  32. Until you produce the evidence (all of it), your claims are unsubstantiated. On the other hand, I undertook a year-long assessment of your forecasts and found them to be useless. That’s a matter of public record.

  33. Gareth
    Well of course you did, you are biased enough to launch a “Ringworld” website and let your global warming religion colour your judgement against anyone with an opposing view. There has been no public record of my track record, and just because you, a nonscientist, decides to do one is insignificant. On the other hand there has been a lot of disappointment with Metservice’s lack of warnings even on the same day, such as the Turangi tragedy. A digipoll conducted by the NZ Herald showed only 37% of the public have faith in what Metservice say. NIWA is even worse, as outlined by the late Augie Auer and several MPs.

    Wellington Weather
    Well then, the Metservice were massively incorrect, even predicting on the SAME DAY!! Why don’t you write to them about that? Obviously they said rain, and they were seeing what I saw, the potential for it, and it probably fell somewhere within the 100km margin of error, just not on your house or street.

  34. Sorry Ken, you are lying. As I posted above, the Metservice said the day would be fine. I think you should stop; you seem to be wrong every time.

  35. No Ken, the Metservice said

    Max: 12°C Min: 6°C
    (Day) (Overnight)
    Fine. Strong northwesterlies easing.

    That was cut and pasted from their website. This was correct, you are wrong. No matter what, you’re so called accurate method was wrong. The link you posted is for today’s weather. I don’t need to show you in a bad light.

  36. Well, no sense dealing with liars. The link I posted was what comes on for each day. If you click on it any day you’ll get that day and what it says for a few days ahead. Unfortunately I can’t post a pdf of the page in question here. But I can to your email address, listing Saturday’s weather as cloud and rain. You can do the same with your so-called page. A pdf can’t lie. Are you up to that challenge? I very much doubt it.

  37. Ken, I know what I read. I really don’t care what your PDF says, which of course, you can doctorate.

    Btw, your website says that it will be overcast and periodic showers in Wellington today. Can you please tell that to the sun? There are no clouds over Wellington today.

    The Metservice has got it right; they say it will be fine with light winds.

    Seems like you can’t get it right. You should stop this, it is embarrassing.

  38. I did an informal analysis of Ken’s forecasts a few years ago and quickly concluded I was wasting my time. It was so obvious he was no better than guessing. Not even worth writing a report or paper about. Many others have reached the same conclusion. The limit on predictability of weather systems is about 2 weeks. That’s been well established for over 40 years now. He may be sincere, but he is wrong!
    Another thing, when the NZ climate coalition first started up a few years ago, they had a web page which had a link to Ken Rings website. This was quickly removed (probably at Augie Auer’s behest) because they wanted to retain a veneer of credibility.

  39. Well, I called your bluff on Saturday’s weather. My email is, no request arrived. I can’t doctor a metservice page, wouldn’t know how, let alone a pdf.
    As to today,
    “Short forecast for all New Zealand to midnight Wednesday 20-Aug-2008
    Issued by MetService at 11:29pm 19-Aug-2008
    Northland and Auckland
    Occasional showers.
    Waikato to Taranaki
    Cloudy periods, with a few showers developing this morning.
    Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Wellington
    Mostly fine. A few showers near the east coast south of Napier and snow showers about the summit of the Rimutaka Hill road, clearing this morning.

    And from my Almanac 2008 p233
    Cloudy, showers
    Cloudy, showers, calm to light winds

    You said yourself a cloud is coming up. Bear in mind the 24-hr error for all forecasting that is Metservice’s stipulation, plus the 100km geographical error.
    What’s the problem? You’ll no doubt find one. Any other phoney claims of my inaccuracy? Want to discuss the Metservice’s prediction that the winter cold would be over by 10 July? (See NZ Herald 7 July, front page for article)

  40. No Ken, the Metservice said the weather for Wellington would be fine with light winds, which it was. I don’t care about the met service; the fact is you get it wrong. You are not looking at the web page for Wellington; you are looking at a generic page for the entire North Island.

    In Wellington, the weather is fine, with few clouds in the sky. You claim it is overcast with heavy rains. This is about you and the fact you have been wrong all week, foolish man.

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