This year’s sea ice

Time for another look at sea ice. Here is the familiar IARC-JAXA plot:


And we see: well, it is looking low, and has been consistently all winter. Not record-breakingly, like it was last December, but even so. Interesting.

This year, I’m not planning to run a book, unless anyone offers to make a worthwhile bet. I’ll put up my “prediction”, which is the same as ever: the mean prediction is for the trend amount, i.e. the same as last year minus a little bit (5.235, as I recall), and the “bet range” is that plus or minus interannual variation, which as I recall is around 0.5 units. If you happen to believe that this year’s ice will be stonkingly low (or, indeed, high), then perhaps we have something to bet about.

C points out that Intrade is offering prices on 2011 being greater than 2007:

Price for Minimum Arctic ice extent for 2011 to be greater than 2007 at

and hopefully that chart will make sense for a while. I think I should probably be buying at that price (42.5) since I think 2011 will be greater than 2007. And so, I did.

But the other seaice-y thing I was supposed to do was go back and rip to shreds Gareth’s prediction of an ice-free Arctic by 2016 (I know, he didn’t quite say that, but never mind, I’m eggagerating for effect). Tell yer what, I’ll quote him:

if the relationship between ice volume and extent evident in the NSIDC and PIOMAS data over the last 21 years continues in the near future, then the Arctic will be effectively ice-free in late summer sometime between 2015 and 2020

Now there area couple of problems with what Gareth has done. The first is (on taking a second look) rather striking: he hasn’t done the projection properly. He has taken the trend-line over the last, say, decade; but he has anchored that trend on the last value. Which is lower than the trend line. So he hasn’t projected the trend line itself forward, though he has (I assume) used the right slope. For volume, that makes a difference of about 2 units (by eye) which is worth about 5 years (on the 2001-2020 version). Similarly, the thickness will be strongly affected. However, I disagree by more than that.

Fundamentally, I think his projection of volume and thickness trends forwards, and using them to derive extent, is non-physical. Or perhaps, not using the best quantities. I think the extent (or, equivalently, the area) is more fundamental.

This is driven by my view of the sea ice as part of the energy balance of the Arctic. Ice free ocean (in winter) is going to freeze and make metre-thick ice. And if it survives the summer, it will thicken over time, until advected away and melted, or melted in place. And there is a certain “natural” area of winter ice. So unless something unusual and exciting happens during the spring and summer (as it did in 2007) the ice will follow its usual patterns. I’m not explaining myself very well, I can tell. Let me try just a little bit more: in winter, there is “excess cold” available: the ice freezes up, till it is ~1m thick, and then it doesn’t grow much more, because of the insulating effect (waves hands for effect). But in summer, melt is ~linear on the warmth available. So there is a sort of stabilising effect.

Of course, I may be wrong; this isn’t my field any more. And its not as if I’m betting the farm on this. But it is what I’m basing my “predictions” on, and why I still expect there to be summer ice n 2050.

I still need to fold this pic I drew last year:


into my analysis. That suggests that I am over predicting ice by ~0.4 units.

ps: via the Baron, I see that Curry is still pulling numbers out of her hat instead of doing science. But that is blog science for you: you can just make stuff up and no-one cares. When did Curry change from being a serious scientist into a comic turn?

pps: I’m finding Early Warning interesting reading nowadays. Lots of graphical analysis of oil prices,


* 2010 result

Who was that masked man?


Scenes from a ski-ing holiday to Les Deux alpes a few years back. This is La Roche de la Muzelle, which I think is gorgeous. Maybe I’ll get to climb it one day. Summitpost says it is PD / II (though not in winter) and the route to it goes over that beautiful roman bridge.

dscn4258-self dscn4264-our-hero

These are the reasons I was digging around in old pix: at the after rowing curry Andy said he could find a pic of me with pony tail on my wiki page, but it has gone. And I said, aha, but I have far better than that. Note that the beret is a Pyrennean one.

dscn4297-path dscn4300-small-purple-flowers dscn4301-grey-trees

And in a token bit of climate don’t miss The good Baron taking the piss out of… well, can you guess who? Other stuff: Boundary run half marathon and Norwich head.

And also: M pointed this out before christmas, and I’ve kept it in a tab ever since, but I think it is time to confess that it isn’t getting its own post: some guy called Claes Johnson wondering rather plaintively Why are Skeptics Skeptical to Other Skeptics? Well, old fruit, there are two rather obvious answers: (a) they are all chasing the same pot of fame and moment-in-the-limelight, so they need to tread on each others heads to climb upwards – it isn’t as if they are actually building a scientific edifice; and (b) somewhat related to that last point, the only thing the septics agree on is that they hate Al Gore and climate science; that whether the earth is warming, or not, a little, or a lot, whether it might be good, or bad, they all agree that we should do nothing about it; and that is the only thing they agree on.

E+E libel: Gavin strikes again

The story so far: “Energy and Environment” threatens to sue RealClimate, and RC tells them they are a bunch of bozos.

But now the Grauniad picks up the story. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen attempts to fight back by asserting that Every paper that is submitted to the journal is vetted by a number of experts but noticeably does *not* use the magic phrase “peer review”. So it looks like E+E are going to concede by default, which leaves their reputation in tatters: as Gavin says:

You would need a new editor, new board of advisors, and a scrupulous adherence to real peer review, perhaps … using an open review process… But this is very unlikely to happen since their entire raison d’être is political, not scientific.

But if you’d rather have a quote from SB-C, how about

being published in E&E is for debate, not evidence of ‘truth’


* Peer Review At E&E: A Case Study – the Iron Sun! What more could we need?
* Zero tolerance for pseudo-science?
* RP Jr

Zero tolerance for pseudo-science?

Hat tip to JB, who points me at John Beddington saying:

“We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of racism. We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of people who [are] anti-homosexuality…We are not–and I genuinely think we should think about how we do this–grossly intolerant of pseudo-science, the building up of what purports to be science by the cherry-picking of the facts and the failure to use scientific evidence and the failure to use scientific method,”

It gets better: Beddington also had harsh words for journalists who treat the opinions of non-scientist commentators as being equivalent to the opinions of what he called “properly trained, properly assessed” scientists. “The media see the discussions about really important scientific events as if it’s a bloody football match. It is ridiculous.”

So, all good stuff, and would indeed be nice to see, but about as likely to actually happen as a Christian government obeying the Ten Commandments (no, not the one about Adultery, its the one about Not Killing People that is the obvious problem. Although they tend to find Not Bearing False Witness tricky too). What would happen to the mighty War on Drugs if it were subjected to rational analysis? Or indeed the War on Terror (aka the campaign to spread fear). Beddington has wound up fools like Delingpole, which is fun I suppose, though it doesn’t look like winding him up is much of a challenge.

[Update: and perhaps speaking of which, I note Fooled again (Tamino) commenting no How easy it is to get fooled (RC), which is about the Legras et al. 2010 (A critical look at solar-climate relationships from long temperature series (Climate of the Past, 6, 745-758, doi:10.5194/cp-6-745-2010) critique / demolition of Le Mouël et al. (2010, A solar pattern in the longest temperature series from three stations in Europe, J. Atmos. Solar-Terr. Phys., 72, 62-76, doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2009.10.009)]


* Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science (Robert L. Park, Ph.D) ht JB.
* Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Video) – strictly irrelevant, but wonderful.
* Ethics of science communication on the web Maxine Clarke, (Nature) Ethics Sci Environ Polit: Preprint, 2008.
* Fooled Yet Again – Open Mind.
* E&E threatens a libel suit
* Deltoid “The Bureau of Meteorology fights back” ripping up Plimer.

In memory of Andy Hurst, 1981-2011


Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

m1-from-andy-h Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!

He was killed hang gliding in Australia. Dangerous place, Oz. He is the one in the sweat cap in both pix. I only knew him a bit: he came down for some of the bumps, and was a strong part of our blades in 2008, and not responsible for 2009. He was a good chap and quiet. The service was packed out. As well as rowing and hangliding he also worked, on ptychography I think.


* Amy also posts.
* Wreath from the club.
Continue reading “In memory of Andy Hurst, 1981-2011”

Just a teensy tiny bit more Curry. But not much.

curry Via Baron von Monckhofen an interesting video, though I think it has been doing the rounds for a while now.

[Update: While I’m on the silly people, there is a nice takedown of the Jonny Ball nonsense by Deltoid. Which features the familiar elements: ridiculous claims which fall apart under the flimsiest examination, but which are nonetheless repeated by the std.septics.

And for something more sensible: Bart goes where I tend not to and discusses biodiversity.

Oh dear. But my blog-reading has now got as far as Tamino, who provides a wonderful example of US political stupidity (see-also the Phytophactor). mt’s example isn’t much better.

Oh dear. And Tim Worstall has an all-too-plausible pice about the possible Triumph of insanity of “gender neutrality” in insurance / pensions. As far as I can tell, anytime you ask a court to rule on issues like this they f*ck it up because lawyers can’t understand maths or science. Or possibly because they have a perverse incentive to make ridiculous judgements in order to foment more business.]

[More update: JB points me (oh thanks) to more nonsense from Curry which is really just FUD. But don’t miss her witty replies to Gavin in the comments, where he makes substantive points and Curry’s only answer is “I’ll take lazy and prejudiced over dishonest, if you insist”. Which is indeed lazy and dishonest of her.]