Max Planck Institute Arctic Sea Ice Expert: “I Wouldn’t Put Money On Further Decrease Of Ice Cover”!

About 10 days ago Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) put out a press release on global sea ice. In it AWI scientist Marcel Nicolaus and Lars Kaleschke of the Hamburg Cluster of Excellence for Climate Research (CliSAP) confirmed the “long-term downward trend in the Arctic.”

Somewhat annoyed by that conclusion, I sent the 2 scientists an e-mail asking them if they would bet $1000 on the mean 2017-2022 September sea ice will be less than the mean 2007-2012 September sea ice – just to see if they were ready to put their money where their mouth is. I even made my bet public here.

Unfortunately both Marcel Nicolaus and Lars Kaleschke have yet to reply. No surprise.

I also sent similar e-mails to other scientists at leading institutes all over the world, mainly those that actively claim that the Arctic is melting, asking if betting on less sea ice over the next 10 to 20 years was a safe bet. Some replies have come in. The results of which I will disclose soon in the future.

One excellent response I got was from Dr. Dirk Notz of the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) in Hamburg. I’m very thankful he took the time to send it. In fact he has been so kind to give me permission for me to post it. His reply (my emphasis):

===============================

Dear Pierre,

thanks for being in touch, and sorry for the slow reply. I was at a meeting with surprisingly little internet access.

Regarding the bet: I’d be very careful to place a bet in either direction, simply based on our understanding of the system from climate-model simulations. These basically say that on short time scales, such as from one decade to the next, internal variability can cause both an increase or a decrease of the ice coverage. To exemplify this, I’ve attached a slide that shows 30-year long trends from our climate-model simulations (Trends_for_talk3.pdf).

Notz_1 MPIM

There you see 30-year long trends for different start dates in our simulations, which vary wildly. This would even more be the case for 10-year long trends. Hence, I wouldn’t put money on a further decrease of the ice cover in the years to come, nor on the opposite.

I’ve also attached a plot showing two of the simulations with our Earth-System Model, which suggest that there might be slightly less sea ice in the next decade, but other simulations show a slight increase on these short time scales.

Notz_2 MPIM

Hence, on time scales such as one decade, the ice cover could well increase a bit (as you are suggesting), but it might also decrease. This depends in my opinion primarily on weather patterns in individual summers – nothing we can predict at the moment.

Having said this, however, one of the presentations at the meeting I’ve just been to by Andrey Proshutinsky went in the same direction as you’re suggesting, namely that because of ocean cycles there will be a recovery of sea ice in the years to come. However, I don’t believe this to be a very robust finding that I would put money on at the moment. It’s nevertheless certainly something that we’ll investigate more in the time to come.

I hope this helps you (and I also hope that it’ll save you from eventually having to pay $1000!).

Please let me know if any further questions should come up.

Best wishes,

Dirk

==============================

Dr. Notz is Head of the Research Group Sea ice in the Earth system, where they “use large-scale coupled climate models to better understand the evolution of sea ice in a changing climate”.

What I find interesting is that although he advises me against betting on growing sea ice, he also expressly advises against betting on less. He also drops hints that there are signs pointing to possible Arctic sea ice growth ahead.

Moreover Notz confirms above that Russian oceanographer Andrey Proshutinsky, a senior scientist in the Department of Physical Oceanography at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, suggests Arctic sea ice cover growth in the years ahead.

In a nutshell, while the AWI seems to have no qualms about (mis?)leading the public to believe Arctic sea ice is shrinking and that the trend will continue, other scientists clearly are no longer ready to go out on that limb.

More on this in the days ahead.

Also read: http://www.carbonbrief.org/

 

38 responses to “Max Planck Institute Arctic Sea Ice Expert: “I Wouldn’t Put Money On Further Decrease Of Ice Cover”!”

  1. William Connolley

    $1000 is peanuts. Make it $10k and we’ve got something worth talking about. 2022 is too far out though, so we’d need to agree a closer period.

    1. Mark in Toledo

      please…that is a copout! if $1,000 is peanuts, then it should be no sweat to take the bet William. heck…you have until 2022 to save the money…what’s the problem?

    2. DirkH

      Willi, your 10,000 against Pierre’s 1,000.
      After all you have 97% of all scientists behind you. The odds are in your favor, aren’t they?

    3. DirkH

      Oh; while you’re reading, the wikipedia lacks a page for the term Climate Disruption; an official term used by Ban Ki-Moon himself. You know the drill.

    4. Jimbo

      2022 is too far out though, so we’d need to agree a closer period.

      Pierre, have you emailed Dr. Peter Wadhams. He says there WILL be an ‘ice-free’ Arctic no later than 2016. [see here].

      1. Jimbo

        Here is another prediciton from Wadhams from earlier this year.
        TheRealNews – 29 May 2014
        Transcript [Youtube]
        [Q] WORONCZUK: And, Peter, what’s your take? Do you think that we’ve already passed the point of no return in terms of controlling polar ice cap melting?

        [A] WADHAMS: Yes, I think we have. A few years ago, I predicted that the summer sea ice–that’s the September minimum–would go to zero by about 2015. And at that stage, it was only really one model that agreed with me. My prediction was based on observations from satellites and from measurements from submarines of ice thickness, which I’ve been doing from British subs, and Americans have been doing the same from American subs. And the trend was so clear and so definite that it would go to zero by 2015 that I felt it was safe to make that prediction, and I still think it is, because next year, although this year we don’t expect things to retreat much further than last, next year will be an El Niño year, which is a warmer year, and I think it will go to zero.

    5. Jimbo

      William Connolley,
      $1000 is peanuts because Pierre is not oil funded.

  2. Ron C.

    Analysis of NOAA Arctic Sea Ice extent since 1979

    For climate analysis we consider the average extents for March and for September of each year in the satellite record, and the differences (the melt extent). Though we would prefer a longer record, these are the reliable data. Several observations:

    March averages (annual maximums) do not vary greatly: 15.48 M Km2 is the average extent, with a range of 16.45 to 14.43 M Km2. 2/3 of the years are between 15 and 16M.

    September averages (annual minimums) vary much more: 6.40 M Km2 is the average, with a range of 7.88 to 3.63 M Km2. Standard deviation is +/- 1.07 M Km2.

    Note: The largest September extent (7.88) in the record occurred in 1996, the same year of the smallest melt extent: 7.25. And the smallest September extent (3.63) occurred in 2012, due to the largest melt in the record, 11.8M. The March extents of those two years were nearly the same.

    The Arctic ice extent time series appears to consist of three periods:
      1979 to 1996 Annual minimums mostly above average
      1997 to 2006 Annual minimums around average
      2007 to 2014 Annual minimums below average

    Since 2004 the combination of below average March extents, combined with above average melts has produced September extents below 6 M Km2 each year.

    It is now evident that 2012 was an outlier (probably due to the unusual storm activity). That year’s melt of 11.8 was 28% above the average melt of 9.09 and more than 1 M km2 larger than the second largest melt in 2008.

    The pivotal decade was 1997 to 2006, preceded by slightly declining extents, and followed by much lower extents. What any of this has to do with CO2 and air temperatures is not obvious.

    Data is here:
    ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/Mar/N_03_area.txt
    ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/Sep/N_09_area.txt

  3. Ron C.

    Analysis of NOAA Arctic Sea Ice extent since 1979

    For climate analysis we consider the average extents for March and for September of each year in the satellite record, and the differences (the melt extent). Though we would prefer a longer record, these are the reliable data. Several observations:

    March averages (annual maximums) do not vary greatly: 15.48 M Km2 is the average extent, with a range of 16.45 to 14.43 M Km2. 2/3 of the years are between 15 and 16M.

    September averages (annual minimums) vary much more: 6.40 M Km2 is the average, with a range of 7.88 to 3.63 M Km2. Standard deviation is +/- 1.07 M Km2.

    Note: The largest September extent (7.88) in the record occurred in 1996, the same year of the smallest melt extent: 7.25. And the smallest September extent (3.63) occurred in 2012, due to the largest melt in the record, 11.8M. The March extents of those two years were nearly the same.

    The Arctic ice extent time series appears to consist of three periods:
      1979 to 1996 Annual minimums mostly above average
      1997 to 2006 Annual minimums around average
      2007 to 2014 Annual minimums below average

    Since 2004 the combination of below average March extents, combined with above average melts has produced September extents below 6 M Km2 each year.

    It is now evident that 2012 was an outlier (probably due to the unusual storm activity). That year`s melt of 11.8 was 28% above the average melt of 9.09 and more than 1 M km2 larger than the second largest melt in 2008.

    The pivotal decade was 1997 to 2006, preceded by slightly declining extents, and followed by much lower extents. What any of this has to do with CO2 and air temperatures is not obvious.

  4. Kurt in Switzerland

    Somebody should take the IPCC FAR out of the mothball-laden closet and give it a look.

    The NOAA data for total sea ice is shown from the early 70s. Interestingly, N & S Hemisphere polar sea ice extents are 180 deg. out of phase with each other on decadal time scales. And during the early- to mid-1970s, Arctic Sea ice was way down (&, surprise: Antarctic Sea Ice was way up).

    Gives some perspective to the satellite data showing the Arctic Sea Ice Minimum “death spiral” starting in 1979 (which was at the crest of the curve).

    Could this be another poorly understood cyclic pattern?

    Strange that this isn’t discussed by the experts (at least not repeatedin the MSM).

    Kurt in Switzerland

    1. Jimbo

      Could this be another poorly understood cyclic pattern?

      There was an earlier Arctic Warm Period.

      Here are the abstracts.

      1. Kurt in Switzerland

        Jimbo –

        Thanks for the references.

        It would be worthwhile to find a reference with estimates of arctic ice extent / area for the entire 20th century. I find it particularly interesting that antarctic and arctic sea ice area tend to be out of phase with each other.

  5. Svend Ferdinandsen

    Normally they say that if you take the average of all models it will show the most likely path, so why does he not trust in such an average?

    1. DirkH

      Maybe because he’s not stupid enough.

    2. John F. Hultquist

      “. . .they say that if you take the average of all models it will show the most likely path, . . .

      The people with the models, I think, are using Monte Carlo Simulation and what you say may work for one model over a thousand or 10,000 runs to get a probable outcome for that model – if it is a correct model, that’s good. If there are dozens of models and an average is taken – of each model’s average ?? – the result is likely hard to understand. If most of the models are wrong in the same direction and only a couple are close to being correct, would it not be better to use the 2 and discard all the others? But, of course, the problem is no one knows if any of the models are better than the others. Which to use?

      Large financial firms will use a person’s data to get probable outcomes of investment choices and withdrawals. I have some idea of what is being done and what they tell me might happen if I live to be 95. I’m not sure the climate models are as useful.

  6. William Connolley

    Good to see that you still fear me enough to put my comments in moderation and be slow about releasing them. I’ll get worried when I’m on the whitelist, or off the blacklist, whichever way you run it.

    The $10k isn’t just available to our host; any of the usual blowhards here are welcome to try to come to terms; see http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2014/09/25/probably-not-betting-on-sea-ice-again/

    1. DirkH

      William Connolley
      25. September 2014 at 23:40 | Permalink | Reply
      “Good to see that you still fear me enough to put my comments in moderation and be slow about releasing them.”

      Ah Willie, that tells me a lot about you.
      All your life you have deleted the words of people who wanted to contribute to the wikipedia; sent them to the Null device gulag forever… and enjoyed it.

      And here, having to wait a few minutes until your words are published unchanged for all to see gives you the feeling you are the poor suppressed victim.

      When you are in fact the Josef Stalin of scientific debate.

    2. DirkH

      So I would say you’re a narcissist.

    3. David Johnson

      Pierre would only blacklist you if he wanted to reduce the humour quotient of this blog.

    4. Jimbo

      William Connolley, my comments also go into moderation. We must retrieve your tin foil hat. 🙂

  7. Ulric Lyons

    “This depends in my opinion primarily on weather patterns in individual summers – nothing we can predict at the moment.”

    Yes it does depend on weather patterns in individual summers, but is predictable. The Summers of 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022 will have months of negative North Atlantic Oscillation conditions, and will see a lot of ice melt.

  8. Stephen Richards

    These modelers are great are they not? They can predict everything and nothing.

    I don’t know why anybody bothers with the fumier that is connoley. Walter Mittey of the modern age. Mind you, I suspect he is better paid than the rest of us. He must be, mustn’t he.?

    1. DirkH

      Wikipedia now allows editors who are paid by a third party.

      Quite in your face; don’t know whether that helps the propaganda effort.

  9. Salvatore Del Prete

    The fact is Arctic Sea Ice will be back to normal or above once the AMO flips.

  10. crandles

    Dr Notz answer seems to suggest the outcome isn’t certain either way. I can understand scientists not wanting to take a risk as they have more to lose both the monetary loss and the risk of damaging their reputation.

    So wouldn’t it be a good idea to try to see if you can find a retired scientist that is willing to take some risk…. Oh wait, you do realise William Connolley is Dr Connolley and has ceased to be an ice modeller.

    I think it is interesting that you choose 2017-2022 vs 2007-2012. The winnings would come earlier if you decided upon 2015-2020 vs 2005-2010 instead. So I think it is fairly clear there is some cherry-picking going on with choosing the dates you did. Having said this, the bet doesn’t seem unreasonable and you would expect someone with Wadham’s views to want to take part.

    Shame your “open to scientists, and not parrots” makes it look like you want no-one to take it up so it is just propaganda not bets that you really want.

  11. crandles

    >The longer we wait, the warmer it is supposed to get and so the better the chances I’d lose
    Why would that be when there is a decade gap between the two six year periods in both cases, or perhaps you just didn’t notice that?

    >suddenly having second thoughts?
    Not sure what counts as suddenly. Gradual evolution seems more appropriate description. I have just conceded a small £100 bet to William Connolley. I had also won and collected £100 previously if that helps you trust him any more, though you seem more interested in propaganda than establishing trust in order to make a bet.

    I felt in a strong position with the bet (agreed May 2011) after 2012. However I am still thinking that 2012, 2013 and 2014 divergence is noise in the system, the trend is still downward albeit nowhere near as strongly downward as it appeared in 2012.
    The level of divergence in 2012-2014 doesn’t seem much larger than previous swings like 1992-1995 or 1980-1981 – see:
    https://sites.google.com/site/arctischepinguin/_/rsrc/1391854794514/home/piomas/grf/piomas-trnd6.png?height=360&width=480
    so I don’t see any reason to see it as recovery rather than noise.

    It does appears the shape is now much more likely to be as the models indicate rather than a rapid transition to ice free. However, I doubt you would want to portray this as yet another win for the models. I would maintain I felt it was always possible for the downward trend to start to become less steep as the models indicated even when after 2012 it was looking like there was little remaining time for this change in shape to make an appearance.

  12. richard

    Business sees a need and fulfills that need.

    Canada has a funding pot to build ice breakers for the next 30 years. Alaska is building 4. Russia is building 8 and the biggest ever built. The American government is being lobbied to build more.

    In the 2010/11 season 10,000 ships were rescued by ice breaker.

    The Arctic ice is not going anywhere soon.