Max Plank Institute Findings Show “Arctic Tipping Point Improbable”

The drop in Arctic sea ice in the last years caused many to fret over a possible tipping point, after which melting would be unstoppable.

However, new findings from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology show this is highly unlikely. What follows is the Press Release in English:

Hope for the Arctic sea ice
Recent finding show that there is no no such a tipping point for the loss of Arctic summer ice. Instead the ice area responds relative to the climatic conditions at hand. The ongoing loss of Arctic sea ice could slow down or even stop when global warming slows down or stops. Steffen Tietsche, lead author in the study published this by Geophysical Research Letters [1], said he was at first quite surprised by the findings:

‘The possible existence of a tipping point first appears to be completely logical: When the ice cover retreats, the sea water absorbs more sunlight and so it warms up even more, and more ice melts. Such a feedback in priciple leads to an amplification of the Arctic sea ice melt and thus make it independent of the prevailing climate conditions.’

The scientists examined the validity of this concept with a climate model. In this model they completely removed the Arctic ice cover at the beginning of summer in order to maximise the absorption of sunlight by the open water.

‘Indeed we expected that the Ocean would remain ice free after the modelled ice melt because the open water takes up more warmth in the summer,’ said Tietsche. But unexpectedly, the ice sheet always recovered in the model simulation within three years so that the conditions that prevailed before the modelled ice melt were again re-established. These results indicate that the condition of the sea ice is closely connected to the prevailing climate conditions, thus making a tipping point improbable.

The scientists discovered the process that allows the recovery of ice: During the winter, the ocean loses most of the heat absorbed during the summer. Becauseof the missing ice that otherwise would serve as an insulator, heat loss becomes very efficient as the open ocean is in direct contact with the cold atmosphere. In addition the very thin ice grows very quickly because it is more poorly insulated than thick ice. The heat that is given from the ocean through the thin ice then leads to a stronger thermal radiation by the atmosphere into space and also to a reduced heat transport from the south into the Arctic.

The combination of these two stabilizing feedbacks is stronger than the destabilizing feedback from the additional absorption of sunlight by exposed water in the summer time. The study by the Max Planck scientists confirms research conducted by US scientists using a much simpler model [2].

This model agreement of two completely different levels of complexity usually means that the results are reliable,’ says Jochem Marotzke, Director at the Max-Planck-Institute and co-author of the new study.

[Now comes the MPI religious confirmation of AGW belief – necessary for further funding]

The scientists emphasize that their findings do not question the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice because of man-made climate change. ‘If we do not greatly slow down global warming, then the Arctic will be ice-free in the summertime in a few decades,’ says Tietsche. ‘Our research shows that the speed at which the sea ice is retreating is closely related to the rate of global warming. Our work does underscore, however, that we can still slow down and even stop the loss of Arctic sea ice.’ “


Firstly, forget the scary tipping points. The laws of thermodynamics and heat transfer say it isn’t possible. The tipping point was the figment of alarmist scientists’ imaginations gone wild. That we pretty much knew already. Secondly, the temperatures in the Arctic govern the melting and freezing of the ice. If the globe cools naturally, then the ice will recover. And thirdly there’s no new data to show that CO2 is the cause of the recent Arctic melt. Remember, the last 30 years show the opposite in Antarctica.

[1] Tietsche, S., D. Notz, J. H. Jungclaus, and J. Marotzke (2011), Recovery mechanisms of Arctic summer sea ice, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L02707, doi:10.1029/2010GL045698.
[2] Eisenman, I., and J. S. Wettlaufer (2009), Nonlinear threshold behavior during the loss of Arctic sea ice, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 106(1), 28–32, doi:10.1073/pnas.0806887106.

17 responses to “Max Plank Institute Findings Show “Arctic Tipping Point Improbable””

  1. DirkH

    Googled around for Marotzke, the institute’s director, and found his page, if you want to see a photo of him.

    And funnily, i also found a woman named Jin-Song von Storch at the institute:

    Wonder if she’s related to Hans. 😉

    1. ArndB

      Prof. Jochem Marotzke is a red towel for me since one of his favourite subjects is: Global Icing (Erdvereisung), see here in German: .
      Who is responsible to allow to spend so much money on so much nonsense.

  2. Verity Jones

    Nice catch. This is how I have always thought it would work, more by instinct than scientific insight, but it is good to hear the scientists say this, even if it did come from a model 😉

  3. R. de Haan

    Nice to see the Max Plank Institute kick in an open door with the help of the jin(g) and jang of the climate establishment.

  4. ghonadz

    The article is interesting but your so-called ‘summary’ is total BS. The scientists are affirming the reality of anthropogenic global warming/climate change and you are still futilely and foolishly trying to deny this obvious reality. The Antarctic is actually also losing ice mass at an increasing rate. Perhaps you confuse yourself by comparing Arctic sea ice, which covers the whole Arctic ocean, with Antarctic sea ice, which is a small fringe a few meters thick around a whole continent covered in ice sheets two miles thick. Antarctic sea ice has shown some increase because of warmer ocean temperatures which put more moisture into the air and thus more snowfall to build up the sea ice. Total Antarctic ice mass is shrinking through. CO2 driven global warming is responsible for the warming at both poles.

    1. Viv Evans

      Could you be so kind and give us some links which show this ice loss in the Antarctic?
      Please do not forget that it is actually summer there, right now.

  5. Juraj V.

    When you get half year polar night with temperatures deep bellow the freezing point, it is quite logical that the ice will form, not depending how much was there during the summer minimum. Or the tipping pointers suggest it will once melt and never form again?

    7,000 years ago, there were probably Arctic summers without any ice at all.
    We have still millions km2 of ice during the summers.

    I think the ice/snow albedo feedback in present conditions is too much overrated. Maybe if you go over some serious tipping point like with Milankovich cycles and Earth slips to or from serious ice age.. but here, even half meter of snow does not slow the spring coming, all what is needed is few days of mild south-west circulation.

  6. Adolf Balik

    Actually it means an additional negative feedback. Hot climatic events that bring about polar ice-cover loss are followed by higher rate of ocean heat content loss while cool climate episodes accompanied by huge ice-cover are followed by breaking of heat radiation from ice-free ocean.

  7. grayman

    Hi Pierre, like the article. The summary by the scientist will be a bitter pill for some. Do not like the models, so far have not found them to be of much use other than for hyperboyle scientist to scream tipping points, unprecedented or accelerating. Real world observastions and sat. data have been showing the same thing. Common sense tells me the same thing, looking at Sat. pictures of different yrs. summer and winter spreads of ice, IMO, shows to me that thier is not really a BIG problem. For anyone to expect that the ice melt and growth to be stoic and not decrease and rebound as the world has been seeing, again IMO are the “DENIERS”! The word does not bother me as it some people, Just a word, grow some skin if it does because you have thin skin. History has shown us that melt and growth do change. The northwest passage has been ice free before as shown by the finding of an british sailing vessel that had been found in thier from the early to mid 1800s. Iam rambling now so will go for now. Is it known when the paper willbe out as this is a press release?

  8. Viv Evans

    Remarks like this one just crease me up:
    Our work does underscore, however, that we can still slow down and even stop the loss of Arctic sea ice.’ “
    It shows perfectly the mindset of of those people: everything has to stay the same, no variation ‘erlaubt’, and never mind that there actually were huge variations during earth’s history …

  9. Ron Henry

    “The scientists examined the validity of this concept with a climate model. ”

    Just another worthless climate modeling study.

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