About 10 days ago a press release by the Alfred Wegener Institute gave readers the impression that the Arctic sea ice would keep on melting. In response I sent e-mails to the two scientists cited in it, Marcel Nicolaus and Lars Kaleschke, and asked if they would advise a bet on it. I even posted my bet here.
My proposed bet: mean September sea ice for the period of 2017-2022 will be higher than the September mean for the period 2007 – 2012.
Not surprisingly I got no response.
I also sent versions of that e-mail to other institutes, some having a chronic habit of sounding alarm when it comes to global sea ice. My e-mail:
I’ve read with great interest the latest AWI press release on global sea ice. www.awi.de/en/news/pressreleases/de3
One easily gets the impression the experts believe the Arctic sea ice trend will continue its downward trend over the coming years. This surprises me. Myself I think the Arctic will actually recover over the next decade or two. I’m convinced enough to bet $1000 on this. I believe that the average September sea extent for the years 2017 – 2022 will be greater than the mean September 2007-2012 sea ice extent.
Would you advise me against making such a bet? Would you bet? Surely the science can provide a probability here. Your short comment on this would be very much appreciated.
The following scientists/institutes were sent the e-mail:
1. Marcel Nicolaus, AWI
2. Lars Kaleschke, University of Hamburg
3. Stefan Rahmstorf, PotsInstitute
5. Dirk Notz, Max Planck Institute
6. Leif Riemenschneider, Max Planck Institute
7. Rebecca Rolf, Max Planck Institute
8. Frank Sienz, Max Planck Institute
9. Peter Wadhams, University of Cambridge
10. Dr. Andrey Proshutinsky, Woods Hole Institute
11. Anders Levermann, Potsdam Institute
12. Mojib Latif,
Those who replied are printed in bold, and I’d like to thank them for taking the time to respond, particularly Dr. Dirk Notz and Dr. Andrey Proshutinsky. They both took the time to provide a real reply, see here and here.
Three of the 4 replying advised against betting the Arctic would melt, warning there is too much natural variability involved. Dr. Andrey Proshutinsky even hinted that the Arctic may in fact just do the very opposite.
Mojib Latif also sent a brief reply advising against a bet, citing “natural decadal variability”. He wrote:
I don’t bet. There is of course natural decadal variability which superimposes the long-term downward sea ice extent trend, but this decadal variability is hard to predict.”
The other eight scientists did not even reply. It seems some like shouting from the rooftops the sky is falling, but suddenly get real quiet when asked to put money on it.
In summary, no one expressed any interest in accepting the above bet and not one even advised anyone to accept it. Result: From a science with a “97% consensus” and “99% certainty”, 0% of the scientists are ready to bet on it.
Three of the 4 scientists who did reply say it is not possible to predict the Arctic sea ice over the next 8 years (yet many scientists claim that predicting the Arctic 50, 100 or 200 years into the future is 99% slam dunk?).
Of course we can understand scientists’ reluctance to bet on Arctic sea ice. But on the other hand why are so many of these scientists insisting that the rest of us bet our modern prosperity on their models being right (when obviously they themselves don’t even trust them 8 years out)?
It all smacks of a sham to me.