Sea ice, briefly

Via Quark Soup, a reminder to look at the sea ice data. IJIS have a nice pic which is better than the cryosphere today pix. I have a somewhat different take on it to DA: looking at that pic it is clear just how exceptional 2007 was. If you look at the integrated difference from the mean from Jul-Nov approx, it is in a a league of it’sown. 2008 is low in terms of the absolute min, but that is a poor statistical measure. I’m more than ever confident that 2009 will be nothing very exceptional, and that the “new paradigm” people are going to look silly. On top of that, the winter extent for 2009 is looking really quite healthy.

I had very few takers for “2009 will be a new record min” with me taking the no-record side at evens. Anyone interested at 2-1?

Can you say “Schroeder and Connolley, GRL”?

[Updates: Fred T offers $200,and Luna offers £50 -W]

27 thoughts on “Sea ice, briefly”

  1. I reckon that evens is a fair bet on the ice this year being less than last year, so if you are offering 2-1 that this year will not be a record I would be interested 🙂

    How much is it going to be? A pint of beer, two for me, after the September Royal Met Soc Wednesday Meeting, or will you risk £200 against my £100?

    Cheers, Alastair.

    [I’ll take your £100 against my £200, if you like -W]


  2. OK, deal done. If the IJIS min. this year is 4267656 sq km or more you win 😦

    What did you mean when you wrote

    Can you say “Schroeder and Connolley, GRL”?


    Cheers, Alastair.


  3. ? (Alastair)

    Schroeder, D., and W. M. Connolley (2007), Impact of instantaneous sea ice removal in a coupled general circulation model, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L14502, doi:10.1029/2007GL030253.

    [Thats the one. A good paper – needs more readers -W]


  4. Hi Phil,

    Well, they would say that; wouldn’t they?

    It proves nothing. Their experiment was done with CO2 at pre-industrial levels, and we know that there was an ice covered Arctic then. Of course the ice would reform.

    But even if the experiment was repeated (the model re-run) with CO2 at today’s level, say 380 ppm, the results would still not be reliable because we know that the models are not replicating the abrupt loss we are now witnessing.

    If you re-read W.’s quote by Stephan Rahmstorf after the Copenhagen conference, he points to that and to the other symptom in the models which show they are flawed, their failure to replicate abrupt climate change.

    Cheers, Alastair.


  5. As we were doing double or quits, does your 2-1 offer mean we’re back to evens?

    [I’m not sure I’m really keeping very close track. I rely on the other side to remember 🙂 -W]

    I wouldn’t be so sure that the winter numbers are good. CT shows we’re well past maximum and below last year. NSIDC shows a bounce away from 2007, but the line’s been off and on 2007 all winter. The maps all show less than 100% cover in persistent patches north of Alaska and between Svalbard and the pole.

    All we need is a warm month…

    [Maybe. The CT graphs a rea bit cr*p really – the IJIS ones are nicer -W]


  6. “A good paper – needs more readers”

    I agree. Your paper makes a fairly good case that in climates fairly close to pre-industrial (such as the current climate, being less than 1 C warmer) that Arctic sea ice isn’t bistable.

    However, middle Eocene conditions (about 4C warmer globally) suggest that somewhat warmer global climates don’t have any Arctic sea ice at all, with a winter snow line in the Arctic of roughly 1000 meters. It still seems likely to me that there is a tipping point in the Arctic. It also seems likely to me that the sea ice is an indicator and a secondary feedback rather than a primary feedback.

    Click to access Jahrenetal2009PPP.pdf



    2009-03-22 23:26:32 – VAN/VONA

    The eruption of Mt. Redoubt continues. The height of the eruption cloud is estimated to be 50,000 ft above sea level. Further reports will be issued as more information becomes available.

    High ash heading away from arctic sea ice and lower ash may not reach arctic ice so not significant ??? That is just my completely uneducated guess. After last eruption Dec 89, for 4 months sea, ice declined more rapidly than average for a couple of years but that could easily be unrelated.

    Does ash falling on sea ice lower melting point and absorb more heat?

    What is a more informed stab at any effects that could occur? Does it alter the odds?


  8. Chris, offhand I would suspect that the ash couldn’t make much difference overall unless it gets up into the Arctic Ocean. The sea ice south of the Bering Strait all melts early anyway.

    Switching subjects somewhat, Nature reports today on yet another sea ice model failure.


  9. If you recall, you had occasion to run scared for a few weeks last year due to this bet.

    The wobbles in the current NSIDC Arctic sea ice extent graph are indicative of every high with a decent temp anomaly that has hung over a large region for a few days — that is how fragile that ice is.

    The current state of the ice is just grim. All it needs is a slightly above-average-temp summer or a week or two of a high sitting over the right spot, and that record is toast.

    [Well, that is what your *words* say. My money says your words are wrong. What does your money say? It seems to be rather quiet -W]


  10. Hmmm. At 2:1 I’ll hazard a pittance if you’re still interested – say, 30 quid to your 60?

    I still think you’re likely to have the right of it, but it’s all weather anyway (TM) and it’s still possible imho that the changing climate will throw all your calculations off!

    Of course, this is hardly a ringing endorsement of the ‘major climate shift!!!!1!!1’ position, so even if you win it’ll be a cash reward not a moral one…:)

    I hope my credit’s still good, as it were.

    [Yup, your credit is still good; £30 to my £60 is OK by me. To all else out there: my pockets are deep 🙂 -W]


  11. So you are actually in this for the gold then?

    And your dictatorship of the climate wiki pages on climate has contributed to your deep pockets?

    I tend to the new pardigmist view on sea ice but am a little uncertain. I was surprised that 2008 was so close to 2007, despite the significantly cooler temperatures globally, and looking at cryosphere today ice shots it looked like 2007 decrease in area was much more to do with the winds bashing the ice into one concentrated lump, and 2008 it seemed the ice just melted in a much more slushy way with less compaction from wind. And at the end of 2008 there was way less multiyear ice than 2007. But way more first year ice, which I have no idea why….

    So I suspect 2008 was low because of we really are in a sharp downward slide, and unusually cool conditions could only put a temporary pause and not even significantly reverse this trend.

    But lately I’ve been thinking about the 2007 autumn being a very late refreeze, and the 2008 autumn being a rather early and fast refreeze. Maybe 2008 low summer ice had more to do with a very thin ice in 7/8 winter due to the very late refreeze. And perhaps now we have much thicker ice following a much earlier refreeze. Any good way to tell?


  12. Wish I had funds to make bets with. I only have my name and personal reputation. I am also addicted to the satellite images. Sure, I look at the graphs, but the visual differences from this year’s and last year’s satellite images are so dramatic (to use an over-used word) that I would be willing to bet that if this summer’s temps are just slightly above the average of the past 10 years, the ice will go down to a new low level. But I think it is going to depend on the temperature of the water beneath the ice.


  13. Steve, that wiki task idea is not a bad one seeing as how I am an expert whack a moler over at DE. (Dano was better, but he seems to have abandoned me to that unpleasant but necessary task.)


  14. William et al,
    What are your opinions on the GIS and sea levels for the rest of the century? I have a Dutch friend who is seriously concerned that his country won’t exist in 50 years, which he bases on the idea that the GIS will have melted by then. This sounds unlikely to me. (It seems that a quarter of my friends are septics and another quarter are catastrophists.)

    [There is no chance at all of the GIS melting completely in 50 years, and virtually no chance of it doing so in 500. I would not expect “substantial” SLR from the GIS in 50 years, subject to some random defn of substantial – 1m, perhaps -William]


  15. One or two meters of sea level rise would be an absolute disaster for Holland.

    When I lived there (1978-1986), the government was not investing enough money in the northern dykes. I expect that has already changed — but preparing for two meters — I dunno.

    Then, there is the infiltration of salt water into the sandy soil near the coast. The entire country is on sand.

    And what about the preparations being made in Belgium to the south and Germany to the northeast? They have to do likewise.

    And, what I don’t understand is how the Rhine would not get backed up and salty.

    Aside from that, the roofs are made of clay tiles, and in really stormy weather, the wind lifts them up and off the roofs and throws them down on the cars parked in the streets.

    Can’t we expect there to be stronger storms in the future?

    It’s gonna be a mess there. Too bad, too, cuz my daughter is half Dutch and has a Dutch passport — a lotta good that will do her when she reaches retirement age.


  16. Isn’t anyone going to comment on the amazing volatility in the curve of the NSIDC sea ice extent graph this year? Gee, could it be that there is so much 1st year ice and that it easily melts and refreezes?


  17. OK: Here is a comment on the amazingingness:

    Notice the difference in the volatility in these two graphs for around mid Feb 2008.

    [“You are not authorised to download this attachment.” – W]

    The message would seem to be make sure you are comparing like for like. Of course, maybe these are not the graphs you mean.

    If you averaged
    over a few more days I suspect the result would look like a smoother curve that the past few years shown.


  18. I can’t get into but thanks for trying to show me, anyway. I think that the numbers need to be run, but don’t know how to do it myself. Visually (never a good way to try to draw a conclusion) it appears that there is more volatility.


  19. Right, re. “Best are still on” as of the 14th — sorry, just been very busy — are they still on as of the 20th?

    I don’t have a lot of spare cash and won’t bet what I can’t afford to lose, but if you are still accepting bets at this late date I’ll put up £50 that summer ice minima will be <4267656 sq km.


  20. As the bet is still open, I bet 200 US$ ice will break the minimum (that’s 100 for me, and 100 for my other friends in this thread).

    Strange bet in fact… I’d be happy to loose !

    You have my mail address.


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