Mark Serreze On The 2013 Ice Free Arctic

Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’

Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss….”In the end, it will just melt away quite suddenly.

“I think Wieslaw is probably a little aggressive in his projections, simply because the luck of the draw means natural variability can kick in to give you a few years in which the ice loss is a little less than you’ve had in previous years. But Wieslaw is a smart guy and it would not surprise me if his projections came out.”

– Mark Serreze

Only luck can save us from an ice-free Arctic in three years.

Former US Vice President Al Gore cited Professor Maslowski’s analysis on Monday in his acceptance speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.

Last September 21, as the Northern Hemisphere tilted away from the sun, scientists reported with unprecedented distress that the North Polar ice cap is “falling off a cliff.” One study estimated that it could be completely gone during summer in less than 22 years. Another new study, to be presented by U.S. Navy researchers later this week, warns it could happen in as little as 7 years.

Al Gore, Oslo 2007

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44 Responses to Mark Serreze On The 2013 Ice Free Arctic

  1. Brendon says:

    I’d say Maslowski is on the fringe given that other groups modelling forecast various figure between 2040 and 2100.

    But go ahead and cherry pick his forecast if casting doubt is all your are trying to do.

    A more balanced approach would be to consider the efforts of the various teams.

    • Serreze said “it would not surprise me if his projections came out”

      • Brendon says:

        So what? Good to keep an open mind about things isn’t it?

        You still seem to be avoiding the question of making a prediction.

        You only like highlighting a cherry picked value from a limited dataset and pretend that everythings ok.

        Grow some kahoonas and make a prediction Steve. If the experts are so wrong (although you only to be highlighting those that are giving extreme predictions), how about sitting up and telling us how it’s going to look this time next year?

      • You obviously haven’t been reading my writing for very long if you think that I don’t make predictions.

        Here is one I made two days ago.

      • Brendon says:

        “Perhaps 2010 will have a record gain in both extent and multi-year ice area this autumn.”

        Perhaps? Not very sure of yourself are you? Why not Steve?

        How about for next year, rather than for the current short term period which already is recovering in extent?

      • Weather forecasts are good for 72 hours. Any forecasts based on weather longer than that face uncertainty.

      • Brendon says:

        And yet here you are criticising others, without even being able to make a longer term prediction yourself.

        Are you not a climate scientist?

    • ChrisD says:

      But go ahead and cherry pick his forecast if casting doubt is all your are trying to do.

      This is one of the “skeptics'” go-to game plans:

      1. Highlight a forecast that’s all the way out at the end of the curve.
      2. Act like it’s mainstream.
      3. Crow when it doesn’t pan out.

  2. R. de Haan says:

    Those guy’s are pushing their alarmist agenda’s for decades, have been proven wrong many times and WE (skeptics) have a Game Plan ChrisD?

    • ChrisD says:

      Sorry, but I do distinguish between “science” and “alarmist agenda,” even if you don’t.

      As far as “proven wrong many times” goes, errors have been found and corrected. More errors will be found and corrected. That’s how science works.

      But if you think that the basic concepts of anthropogenic climate change have been proven wrong, or that the Earth is not gradually warming, or that our activities are not a major contributor to that warming, I’m afraid that you are very much mistaken.

  3. PJB says:

    Seems to me that only prophets, zealots and advocates make predictions.

    Serreze went on about his “forecasts” which may include a “death-spiral” but baiting those with contrary opinions is hardly constructive or even desirable. Being short-sighted is contextual and a question of perspective. Is 30 years of satellite data sufficient to understand and prognosticate future longevity of the arctic ice? It is definitely of interest to our human viewpoint in terms of timeliness even though it may by futile relative to the impact of our ability to intervene.

    • Dikran Marsupial says:

      No, making falsifiable predictions is a core component of scientific method and has been for a long time. See for example the work of Karl Popper.

      • PJB says:

        Indeed, as a scientist, I am familiar with using one’s work to estimate the result of similar effects. That generally only extends to the “bite-size” of the extent of the experiment. Going beyond the range of your variables is questionable science at best and foolhardy or even dangerous, at worst.

      • Dikran Marsupial says:

        Nonsense, for example Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational lensing, which was far from “bite size”.

        Unless you are a climatologists, how can you know if the predictions are going “beyond the range of your variables”? As skeptics frequently point out we have paleoclimate data for situations both warmer and colder than current conditions and with both higher and lower levels of CO2.

        The only way to disprove a theory regarding the real world is by falsification of predictions – you can’t prove anything by observation, only disprove. That is why scientific method requires scientists to make predictions explaining the consequences of their theory.

      • PJB says:

        There may be no sense in interpreting without asking for specification.

        Predictions in the sense of interpolation for previously untested portions of the range of variables (factors). The “bite-size” for Einstein’s EQUATIONS were without limit cosmologically so he had a pretty large area of endeavor.

        Extrapolations beyond the ken of the empirical experimentation becomes theoretical in nature and are subject to verification when and if the proposed conditions arise.

        As for climatologists, they study the past, even if it is right up to the minute, and any explanation they may give for provenance or performance needs to be confirmed by analysis. The extension of the same method into future times with additional variables is speculation and therefore subject to error. The size and import of the variation depends on the nature of the speculation.

      • Dikran Marsupial says:

        Of course pedictions are subject to errors, which is why scientsists give error bars on predictions to show how inaccurate they need to be for the theory to be falsified.

        Of course all predictions are speculations, they are necessarily so becuase the scientist has no way of ever knowing whether a theory regarding the real world is correct, simply because you can’t prove a theory by observation only disprove. That is just as true for theories explaining the past as the future.

  4. NS says:

    So the falsifiable prediction is Ice free Arctic summer by 2013? 2017? Or any year between 2040 & 2100 ? After 2100 ?
    You back the theory. You make the prediction. You know like anomolous sea-level rise, or hurricane activity or tropospheric warming or snow free winters……………………..

    • PJB says:

      Exactly. As I mention above, this is speculation and is subject to validation through empirical observation. Mostly just hysterics and ill-founded advocacy.

      • Dikran Marsupial says:

        Wrong, if the arctic isn’t ice free in the summer of 2013 then Maslowski’s theory will have been conclusively falsified.

        If someone else predicts an ice free summer by 2040 then thier theory is not falsified by sea-ice still being there in 2013. Why not? Because their theory would be based on a different set of assumptions thatn Maslowski’s, and it is possible for them to be right and Maslowski to be wrong.

        It isn’t rocket science.

      • PJB says:

        Sadly, attitude is part of the problem. Being adversarial does not necessitate being impolite.

        His prediction (supposition) will be invalidated because it will be proven to be inaccurate. As far as a theory goes, they are just that and can be adjusted as new information becomes available, unless they too are always “right”. There is no wrong, just degrees of accuracy.

      • Peter Ellis says:

        Wrong, if the arctic isn’t ice free in the summer of 2013 then Maslowski’s theory will have been conclusively falsified

        A couple of points:

        1) Maslowski’s prediction was for 2016 +/- 3 years, thus it’s not falsified until the summer of 2019. Strange how the skeptics always focus on the lower bound.

        2) The prediction is about volume rather than extent. Specifically, he says there will be >80% drop in summer ice volume from the 1979-2000 summer volume baseline of ~20,000 km³. That leaves 400 km³, which could still cover over a million square kilometres of area if it was thin ice. Extent could be another 30-40% higher depending on ice concentration.

        If Steven’s willing to bet on it, I’ll happily put a few quid of my own money on the line that Maslowski will be correct. I doubt Steven and I will agree on an ice volume measurement though – I’d be happy with either Cryosat measurement or PIOMAS estimates, with the former trumping the latter if they disagree.

        If he wants a bet couched in terms of extent, I’d be willing (based on the Maslowski prediction) to bet that extent will go below 1.5 million square kilometres by the end of 2019. Steven can pick whether to use the IJIS or NSIDC data set.

    • Dikran Marsupial says:

      And dismissing scientific predictions as “Mostly just hysterics and ill-founded advocacy.” is not impolite?

      As I have pointed out already, theories can never be validated by observation, this has been known since Hume demonstrated that pure empiricism was a dead end in the 18th century. Observations can corroborate a theory, but that falls short of validation. It is sensible to consider some theories more plausible than others based on their corroboration from the data, but that doesn’t mean they are correct, and thus remain speculations.

      • PJB says:

        Taken from the article:
        “…..the disappearance of Arctic sea ice.
        Their latest modelling studies indicate…”

        So sorry to have used another term to describe modelling studies.

      • Dikran Marsupial says:

        I see, so the “Being adversarial does not necessitate being impolite. ” doesn’t apply equally to you as it does to those who appear to take an opposing stance? Glad we have go that straight! ;o)

  5. PJB says:

    Glad that since you started it, that you could end it so succinctly.

  6. etudiant says:

    Hi Peter,

    As a clueless observer, your proposal for a small wager has great appeal.
    I would offer to take the bet on Maslowski being in error.
    In order for the wager to have a stable betting value, large enough to be material yet small enough to be affordable, I’d propose an ounce of gold, payable by the end of summer of 2019 if NSID ice extent is less than 1.5mm square km during any arctic summer between then and now.
    If the Maslowski projection has validity, we will have Arctic melting unprecedented since the Maunder minimum. That would surely at least raise the possibility that the AGW proponents have some basis for their concern. On the other hand, if we see a recovery of Arctic ice in this decade, it would invalidate the existing climate models pretty comprehensively, as they all seem to be in accord that the Arctic ice is on its way out.

    • Peter Ellis says:

      Heya – my challenge was to Steven, so I’m afraid he gets first refusal. If he confirms he’s not interested, I’d be happy to take a bet with 1 (one) other person on the accuracy of the Maslowski prediction. Ounces of gold are a little outside my means though – I seem to have missed the firehose of global warming funding the skeptics keep banging on about!

      I do however have to admit to an embarassing mistake above – Maslowski’s prediction (80% of summer ice volume lost by 2016 +/- 3 years) is confirmed if volume drops below 4000</i) km³, and not the 400 I wrote. I'm willing to bet up to £200 on that being true, if we can agree a suitable measurement of volume. PIPS2 pixel-metres are NOT an acceptable measurement for this purpose.

      As for extent, my envelope calculations above are clearly out by an order of magnitude, so any number I come up with would be my own wild-ass guess rather than anything Maslowski would recognise! 4000 km³, despite being an 80% loss of ice volume, could easily be achieved with no further loss of extent, simply by thinning the ice to an average of a little under 1m thickness. That’s actually the whole point of Maslowski’s numbers – that the majority of ice loss is due to thickness changes and is being missed by the annual commentary on extent/area.

      If Steven (or one other person should Steven not be interested) wants to bet on extent, I’ll stick a random figure in the air and say it’ll go below 2.5 million square kilometres by the end of summer 2019. Note that this is my own wild guess and not based directly on Maslowski’s predictions. As such, I’ll only venture £50 on that.

      (Note: I’ve quoted £ for convenience: happy to use any other major currency. I’m not willing to speculate on the commodities markets though, currency only I’m afraid. If you think the dollar or pound’s going to lose that much value within a decade, pick yen or something.)

  7. rw says:

    It’s worth pointing out (again, I suspect) that there’s a difference between predictions (in the scientific sense) and forecasts. The former are always and only of the form, if conditions x, y, z … hold then w will occur. ‘Predictions’ about an ice-free Arctic and the like are more like forecasts, i.e. statements about future trends based on past time series, although the use of simulations based on physical models perhaps makes them something in between. The problem is that no one can specify the conditions adequately or make the measurements that would be required to make predictions in the scientific sense.

    There are some impressive examples of predictions of complex phenomena being verified, but the ones I know of were done under highly controlled conditions, where the key parameters could all be measured precisely. As soon as these conditions were relaxed, it wasn’t possible to make precise predictions.

    In short, the real-world is not a laboratory environment. One of the problems with all of this debate about the future of the earth’s climate is that people often seem to forget this simple point.

  8. etudiant says:

    Hi rw,

    You are entirely correct, imo. That is why the Peter Ellis proposal is so attractive.
    He is confident enough in Maslowski’s projections to stipulate a change well beyond recent historic experience. Possibly the Vikings saw a minimal Arctic ice and there are some suggestions that the Chinese may have done extensive global travel during a relatively ice free period in the 1400s, but we’ve been in a mini ice age since the 1650s. It is possible that the AGW proponents that call for the Arctic ice melting are just stopped clock advocates at a time when it happens to be 12.00, but it does seem to me that predicting a once in several centuries or longer change would be a serious achievement. It is a big enough change imo that it would be well outside of the normal world fluctuations that make forecasting the weather such a bear.

  9. check11 says:

    first of all I just stumbled onto to this page, read the comments, and realized that all of the commenters have no idea what they are talking about.
    I am just a layman, but I have worked in the high canadian artic for over 20 years, and my father worked there before me.
    Summer sea ice is weather dependant, it has nothing to do with global warming. I have seen 20ft slabs of sea ice melt in a week(as big as a warehouse). I have seen vast oceans of ice dissapear overnight(well I slept, it is always day in the summer)
    I will bet anyone here $1000 dollars that there will be plenty of summer sea ice in 2020.

  10. PJB says:

    That is not quite an ounce of gold so you may have to up your ante…. 😉

  11. gofer says:

    The Arctic ¡s melting says scientist

    Los Angeles (AAP)
    A mysterious warming of the Arctic climate is slowly manifesting itself, said Dr Haas Ahlmann, Swedish geophysicist at the University of California yesterday.
    If the Antarctic ice regions and the major Greenland icecap should reduce at the rate of the present melting, he said, the oceanic surfaces would rise to catastrophic propor- tions. People living in the lowlands along the shores would be inundated. Temperatures in the Arctic had increased l deg fahrenheit since 1900, an “enormous” rise from the scientific standpoint. The level of waters in Spitsbergen area in the same period had risen 1 to l£ millimeters a year.

    The Argus
    Melbourne, Vic
    May 31st, 1947

  12. gofer says:

    Melting Pole Ice Threat To Ports
    Australian Associated Press

    Dr. William S. Carlson, an Arctic expert, said last night that polar ice-caps were melting at an astonishing and unexplained rate, and were threatening to swamp sea ports by raising ocean levels.

    Dr. Carlson, president of the University of Vermont, told the Cleveland Medical Library Association it would take hundreds of years for the melting to have much effect, but the rate in the last half century had been exceedingly rapid.

    “The glaciers of Norway and Alaska,” he said, “are only half the size they were 50 years ago. The temperature around Spitzbergen has so modified that the sailing time has lengthened from three to eight months of the year.”

    Dr. Carlson spent several years in Greenland as a geologist and meteorologist.

    Feb. 1952

  13. gofer says:

    “Temperatures in the Arctic had increased l deg fahrenheit since 1900”

    This should read 10 deg. fahrenheit…

  14. AndyW says:

    37 comments .. impressed.

    2013 seems to be far to close for it to be ice free now, I think 2007 must have had some influence on that estimate. More likely 2020+ I’d say


  15. Thrasher says:

    Predicting an ice free arctic in less than 3 years borders on complete lunacy. Everyone thought 2007 was bad, we’d need to see another 4 million sq km of ice reduction in 3 years to get a virtually ice free arctic. Considering we haven’t really come all that close to 2007 since then, its pretty ridiculous to think we’d get more than 4 million sq km less than that 3 years from now.

    That would be about equivalent to someone predicting a 9 million sq km minimum in 3 years. I’m sure some of you AGW alarmists would think that is complete lunacy. That’s pretty much what an ice free arctic in 2013 is.

  16. Les says:

    Brendan & Chris D.

    You want a prediction. I’ll give you a prediction. The Arctic will NOT be ice free anywhere between now and 2013, and probably even longer.
    Oh yeah, and just to be quite sure about this, when I say ice-free, I mean NO ice, not even a single iceberg. This is to stop you weaseling out of it.

    • Dikran Marsupial says:

      Given that nobody (including Maslowski) is predicting a completely ice free arctic before 2013, you are essentially making a prediction so bland that everybody agrees with it, regardless of their position on the future of sea ice extent!

      • Andrew says:

        I just came back to this page in May 2012.
        How’s the “ice-free arctic by 2013” claims panning out for you now, warmists?
        Or are you going to move the goalposts once more to another year in the future?

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