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Arctic sea ice gone by 2015? A challenge to David Barber.

December 10, 2008
Here we go again. Last March I wrote about the media predictions that the Arctic sea ice would be gone by the summer of 2012. As I showed back then, those wild predictions were based on a simple extrapolation of the minimum summer sea ice extents of 2006 and 2007.

 

I’ll repeat the basic facts:

The sea ice area in the Arctic has been monitored by satellite for almost 30 years, since 1979. The area of the ice rises and falls, as you would expect, as the year cycles through its seasons. It reaches its yearly minimum by late September or early October. On the average, this minimum has been declining for the last 30 years. After October the northern sea ice area increases until it reaches a maximum in late March or early April each year. The yearly cycle is huge. Typically, about 60% of the total sea ice area melts away as is goes from yearly maximum to the yearly minimum.

The 2007 melt season was very severe and the Arctic sea ice area anomaly reached its lowest level since satellite tracking began.  But that low level was immediately followed by an unprecedented rise in sea ice area in the Arctic in the months following the 2007 summer melt season. The 2008 melt season was quite severe, but not as severe as the 2007 melt season. In order to go from the minimum ice extent of 2007 to zero ice in 2012, the Arctic sea ice extent minimum needs to drop an average of about 600,000 square kilometers per year. But the Arctic ended up with slightly more ice area (about 100,000 square kilometers more) after the 2008 melt season than after the 2007 melt season.  Figure 1, below sums it up.

Figure 1

Figure 1

New predictions of meltdown

Now along comes David Barber  from the University of Manitoba, who estimates that the Arctic Basin will be ice free by the summer of 2015. The Star Phoenix reports:

The ice that has covered the Arctic basin for a million years will be gone in little more than six years because of global warming, a University of Manitoba geoscientist said. And David Barber said that once the sea ice is gone, more humans will be attracted to the Arctic, bringing with them even more ill effects…He said he estimates the Arctic sea should see its first ice-free summer around 2015…Barber has said before the Arctic basin would be free of summer sea ice some time between 2013 and 2030. But their research about recent changes in the Arctic has allowed them to pinpoint the date even closer.

Barber sounds like a smart guy, and was the scientist in charge of a $40-million Arctic research project, the Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study. He will present his preliminary findings at the International Arctic Change 2008 conference  in Quebec. However, his track record for predictions is rather spotty. Earlier this year National Geographic reported:

“We’re actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history],” David Barber, of the University of Manitoba, told National Geographic News aboard the C.C.G.S. Amundsen, a Canadian research icebreaker.”

Prediction for summer of 2008 didn’t work out

The Arctic sea ice concentration reached its minimum around September 15th this year. Figure 2, below, from the Polar Research Group at the University of Illinois, shows the distribution of ice in the Arctic on that day. As you can see, the North Pole was not even close to being ice free. Figure 3 shows the Arctic Basin sea ice area for the last 365 days. Note that in mid-September the the sea ice area anomaly for the Arctic Basin was about negative 0.75 million square kilometers, but there were still 2.5 million square kilometers of ice yet to melt. Again, not even close to zero.

Figure 2

 Figure 2. Arctic Sea Ice Concentration on September 15th, 2008, when the Arctic sea ice reached its minimum for the year. Image from the University of Illinois Polar Research Group.

Figure 3. Figure 3. Arctic Basin sea ice area for the last 365 days.  In mid-September the sea ice anomaly was negative 0.75 million square kilometers, but there were 2.5 million square kilometers more than zero.  Image from the University of Illinois Polar Research Group.  Click on image to see clearer version. 

 
Those who like to parse words will note that National Geographic piece did not quote Barber as saying the “Arctic Basin” or the “Arctic Ocean” would be ice free during the summer of 2008.  They will correctly point out that he said “the North Pole.”  My answer to that is “So what.”  The North Pole has certainly seen open water in modern times, as attested to by the following images:
Figure 4.

 Figure 4. Skate (SSN-578), surfaced at the North Pole, 17 March 1959. US Navy photo courtesy of tripod.com. This image is from NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

Figure 5.

 Figure 5. Seadragon (SSN-584), foreground, and her sister Skate (SSN-578) during a rendezvous at the North Pole in August 1962. Note the men on the ice beyond the submarines. USN photo from The American Submarine, by Norman Polmar. This image is from NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

 

What about Barber’s prediction for 2015?

The December 5th StarPhoenix article mentioned above says that according to Barber, “The ice that has covered the Arctic basin for a million years will be gone in little more than six years because of global warming.”  I wonder if Barber can seriously believe that the Arctic Basin has been continuously ice covered for “a million years.”  There is considerable evidence  that the entire Arctic region was warmer just several thousand years ago than it is now. 

Open water from the northern coast of Greenland to the North Pole likely occurred in the not too distant past.  According to Science Daily, Astrid Lysa and colleagues have studied shore features, driftwood samples, microfossils and shore sediments from Northern Greenland. Science Daily reports:

 “The architecture of a sandy shore depends partly on whether wave activity or pack ice has influenced its formation. Beach ridges, which are generally distinct, very long, broad features running parallel to the shoreline, form when there is wave activity and occasional storms. This requires periodically open water,” Astrid Lyså explains.

Pack-ice ridges which form when drift ice is pressed onto the seashore piling up shore sediments that lie in its path, have a completely different character. They are generally shorter, narrower and more irregular in shape.

“The beach ridges which we have had dated to about 6000-7000 years ago were shaped by wave activity,” says Astrid Lyså. They are located at the mouth of Independence Fjord in North Greenland, on an open, flat plain facing directly onto the Arctic Ocean. Today, drift ice forms a continuous cover from the land here.

Astrid Lyså says that such old beach formations require that the sea all the way to the North Pole was periodically ice free for a long time.

“This stands in sharp contrast to the present-day situation where only ridges piled up by pack ice are being formed,” she says.

Funder and Kjaer reported similar results at the 2007 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. They point out that “Presently the North Greenland coastline is permanently beleaguered by pack ice…” but “that for a period in the Early Holocene, probably for a millennium or more, the Arctic Ocean was free of sea ice at least for short periods in the summer.” They date this time period to sometime between 8500 and 6000 years ago.  (Update 7/8/10 – Funder now believes “that multiyear sea ice was reduced to between half and a third of the present during the Holocene Thermal Optimum.”  Thanks to Kevin O’Neill and his persistence  in making this correction.)

An Open Challenge to David Barber

I am concerned about climate exaggerations and the effect  they have on public policy makers.  It seems quite clear that David Barber was off the mark when he predicted that “this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time,” because neither the Arctic Ocean, the Arctic Basin nor the North Pole were ice free this past summer.  The North Pole being ice free is not that unusual, and the entire Arctic was probably ice free a relatively short 7,000 years ago.

Now Barber has made the slightly longer term prediction that “The ice that has covered the Arctic basin for a million years will be gone in little more than six years.”  I propose a friendly wager based on this prediction.  I will bet David Barber $1000(US) that the ice covering the Arctic Basin will not be gone anytime before December 31st, 2015.  The bet would involve no transfer of  cash between myself or Barber, but rather, the loser will pay the sum to a charitable organization designated by the winner.

 Definition of terms.  The Arctic Basin is defined by the regional map at Cryosphere Today.  “Gone” means the Arctic Basin sea ice area is less that 100,000 square kilometers, according to National Center for Environmental Prediction/NOAA as presented at Cryosphere Today .  Charitable organizations will be agreed upon at the time the bet is initiated. 

David Barber is a smart guy and evidently an expert in his field.  Taking on a wager with an amateur like me should be like shooting fish in a barrel.  I look forward to reaching an agreement soon.

57 comments

  1. Quantity over quality is a good rhetorical tactic. The funniest part of this piece was when you preempted being called out as an equivocator by dismissing “those who like to parse words”. I’ve always been a bigger fan of word parsers than equivocators myself.


  2. Good post. I won’t even pretend to know whats up with the climate but I’d sure like it if the others that don’t will just shut up. Nice blog, I look forward to coming back.


  3. […] LINK (No Ratings Yet)  Loading … […]


  4. Good article. Keep your eyes on the ice at
    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm
    Around 2015 arctic ice will be a lot bigger.


  5. I look forward to seeing which charity you get $1000 too.


  6. I have sent these questions to Dr Chapman at CT.

    Dr William Chapman,
    Can you please explain a couple of things on the Cryosphere Today “Compare side-by-side images of Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent” product, please?
    Why does the snow in the more recent dates cover areas that were previously sea inlets, fjords, coastal sea areas, islands and rivers? (Water areas, most easily discernible in the River Ob inlet)
    Why does the sea ice in the older images cover land areas? (Land areas, most easily discernible in River Ob inlet)
    See this overlay:

    Looking forward to your answer,
    Mike Bryant


  7. In terms of semantics, Barber is incorrect in his assertion about million year old ice in the Arctic. Even if we assume that the Arctic has been ice bound to some extent for a million years, the ice itself is not that old since it ablates from the top and bottom, there is no long term reservoir like you would find at the south pole.

    I rather think that you will not see any wager from Barber. He knows how tenuous his predictions are. Rather, he would make some excuse about not wagering with amateurs or some such.


  8. No trend in Arctic sea-ice extent can be easily seen in the short record from June 2002 to present as linked to in this blog
    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm
    But there is a definite downward trend in the 30 monthly values since January 1979 shown at
    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/
    Meanwhile the variability and extent for January seems to be increasing in Antarctica.
    Could the increase of Antarctic extent in January be compensating for a decrease in Arctic albedo?
    Makes me wonder if this is evidence for a built-in mechanism compensating for GHG increases.


  9. this is most moronic piece of garbage ever. I wish i hadn’t wasted precious bandwidth even reading it.


    • Dear ******,

      It is nice to know that this blog post is still being read by you folks in Manitoba. Since I am so moronic, perhaps you would like to take up Barber’s part of the bet. It’s a sure thing for you, right?

      By the way, please stay tuned. There will be some follow-up on this issue at this site within the next few weeks.

      Best Regards,
      Tom


  10. […] December I challenged Barber on this blog to wager over his 2015 prediction.  He has not taken me up on the offer.  Now I have doubled the […]


  11. […] more rapidly since the mid-1990s than before.  Those of you who have read my blog in the past know where I stand on the probability of the Arctic ice melting in the near future, and I stand by my previous […]


  12. The beauty of the Barber prediction is we get to watch it fail in real time. Nevermind, that soon there will be another equally idiotic prediction and the press will move onto that.


  13. The thing about satellite imagery is that it fails to tell the whole story. I hope you disbelievers are still following what is going on because that multi-year ice is now nearly gone. If you wish to disbelieve, you’d better get your feet wet and go to the Arctic to see what is happening before you say it is nonsense. In my experience, deniers are attempting to ease their conscience about SUVs, golf courses, dollar store sprees, houses filled with plastic and useless junk . . . . the list is endless. Your children will not thank you.


    • Robin,

      Thank you for you emotional comment.

      You say the motivation for my comments is an attempt “to ease my conscience…” I suggest you check out the “About Climate Sanity by Tom Moriarty” button on the right column of this page. Or just click here.

      Best Regards,
      ClimateSanity


  14. “this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time”.

    The word may is a very important semantic point here. It means the author is accepting he could be wrong.


  15. See
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ for near daily updates on declining arctic ice extent.

    See http://psc.apl.washington.edu/ArcticSeaiceVolume/IceVolume.php for periodic updates on declining arctic ice volume.

    Go to the scientists, not the bloggers.


  16. Arctic sea ice volume and sea ice extent have not only been steadily declining, but it appears the numbers have been skewed to indicate *more* ice than actually exists. In situ observations the past couple of years could not locate multi-year ice that satellite radar telemetry indicated should exist.

    If the multi-year ice disappears completely, then sea ice extent is essentially irrelevant as it’s simply a function of local weather. I.e., think Lake Superior in the winter time.

    I’m a lay-person with no personal or professional involvement in the outcome – other than the climatic implications it might have for any of us – good or bad.

    This reminds me of the run-up to the Iraq war vis a vis WMDs: Scott Ritter was telling everyone who might listen that Sadaam’s WMD programs were non-existent and that the stockpiles he once had were gone; but why listen to someone who knows the subject, has actually been onsite doing the work, and has nothing to gain by making his claims?

    Professor Barber’s predictions for future levels of sea ice extent seem to be consistent with all the data I can find online. Until we get new sensors in place that can differentiate between ‘rotten ice’ and multi-year ice the answer really can’t be known, but I’d place my money on Professor Barber.


    • The minimum sea ice extent was greater in 2009 than in 2008, and it was greater in 2008 than in 2007. Take a look at the “quick links for sea ice extent” on the side bar of this web page to verify this fact.

      There is also much controversy about ice “volume.” This is a value that is much more difficult to pin down. There has almost certainly been a volume decrease corresponding in some fashion with the 30 year decrease in extent, but modeled results cited by the alarmists show it to be much greater. Measured data is not so ominous, as shown here…

      http://www.vancouversun.com/Scan+Arctic+dispels+melting+gloom+Researcher/3158192/story.html

      Professor Barber’s predictions for future levels of sea ice are most definitely not consistent with the data. The arctic will not be ice free by the summer of 2015, and his prediction will be wrong. Take a look at figure 3, above. Notice that the minimum sea ice exent for the Arctic Basin was down by about 0.75 million km2 from its 1979-2000 avarage. Yet it still had 2.5 million km2 to lose before the Arctic Basin would be ice free. The following year (2009) the minimum was higher, not lower.

      The problem is that we only have 30 years of satellite data to go on. There is much evidence that the Arctic has been this warm before – but there weren’t any satellites to record the event.

      While we are at it, let’s not forget about the Antarctic sea ice extent. The same year that the Arctic sea ice extent reached its minimum for the satellite era, the Antarctic reached its maximum sea ice extent for the satellite era. And the anomally for the Antarctic is over a million km2 higher than the 1979-2000 average at the moment that I am writing this.

      Best Regards,
      ClimateSanity


  17. I’m not sure you understood my points:

    First: Sea ice extent can be a function of weather, not climate. Cold winters can cause Lake Superior to completely freeze over; it’s not normal, but it does happen (three times in the last 30 years). At the same time, the average temperature in Superior, WI (at the western tip of Lake Superior) has risen by 2.5 degrees C since 1979. So the fact that the arctic basin freezes over to a larger or lesser extent every winter may now *only* be a function of weather. Without multi-year ice we will see the yearly minimums continue to decrease.

    Second: The data for both sea ice extent and volume has been shown to be skewed; the bias tends to show more ice than actually exists. The bias is important in that ‘rotten ice’ has been mistaken for 2 or 3 multi-year ice.

    If we’re talking about the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s sea ice extent graphs (http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png) it’s important to remember *what* these numbers represent. You said:

    “Yet it still had 2.5 million km2 to lose before the Arctic Basin would be ice free…”

    The data tells us that’s 2.5 million km2 with at least 15% ice. In other words, if it *only* had 15% coverage then there was less than .4 million km2 of ice. Combine this with #2 above and you could arrive at an even smaller number.

    I do not know how to quantify the microwave scattering error that’s counting ‘rotten ice’ as multi-year ice. I do not know the actual percent covered – only the “at least 15%” from the NSIDC. What we can say with almost absolute certainty is that 2.5 million km2 is an upper bound and the actual amount of ice was significantly lower.

    There’s no grand theory behind my view: it’s simply a matter of looking at the numbers, observing the trends, understanding the deficiencies in gathering the data, and deciding what the likeliest outcome will be.

    It’s my understanding that most global warming models predict an increase in antarctic ice, but I haven’t spent any time or energy trying to understand it – yet. I’ve been following the arctic ice projections for 10 or 12 years. When they first came to my attention the projections were for an ice free arctic by 2100, then by 2070, then 2040, then 2030 and now scientists are seriously talking about it before 2020. If anything, the models have proven to be far too conservative.


  18. The Arctic Ocean sea ice has been declining since summer solstice at rate of 170,000 square kilometres per day. For example, over the last weekend Friday to Sunday 25-27 June the sea ice area decreased 516,000 square kilometres, which equals at 170,000 km2 per day. The highest daily melting was 25.6 at 208,000 km2 of which 112,000 km2 occurred above the normal 1979-2008 melting.

    At current rate of 170,000 km2 per day all the ice would melt away by 8th August. Normally, the melting slows down already by that time, but there is still another 5 weeks that allow melting to continue if the current melting slows down. It is almost certain by now that melting is as bad as in 2007, and there is a possibility that the greatly thinned ice in the Arctic Ocean could be all melted before the new winter freezes set in.


    • Veli Albert Kallio,

      I think your numbers need a little revision. Your rate of decrease (170,000 km2 per day) is off by about a factor or two. It doesn’t really make much sense to base your estimate on data ponts that are only two days apart, does it?

      See here…
      http://arctic-roos.org/observations/satellite-data/sea-ice/ice-area-and-extent-in-arctic
      for example. Take the slope for the last few weeks. Notice that it gives a slope of about -90,000 km2 per day.

      Or download the daily AMSR-E data from here…
      http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/plot.csv
      Then take the slope at the beginnig of June this year. You will see a slope of about -110,000 -75,000 km2 per day. But that has now dropped to about -90,000 km2 per day now (at the end of the month).

      It is also important to put these values into perspective. If you take that same AMSR-E data and calculate the average sea ice extent for each day of the year, then take the derivative, you will see that during the last week of June the rate of loss has been typically about 75,000 km2 per day. So the rate of loss this at the end of June this year is high, but not astonishingly high.

      So, you are profoundly incorrect to say that at the current rate of loss “all the ice would melt away by 8th August.” And there is zero chance that “the Arctic Ocean could be all melted before the new winter freezes set in.” You are probably a good and decent person in many ways, but this is extreme alarmist dribble.

      Best Regards,
      Tom Moriarty
      ClimateSanity


  19. Tom,

    For some reason you seem hung up on sea ice extent – it’s not the crucial factor in predicting if the arctic sea ice will reach a new yearly minimum or how much of the ice pack will disappear during the summer melt season.

    The crucial factor is multi-year ice. MY ice is thicker and therefor requires more energy to dissipate. MY ice is virtually gone. Compare the 1979 map vs the 2003 map at Ice Concentration and Thickness and then watch this quick PIOMAS forecast for 2010.

    In 1979 the MY ice, inferred from thicknesses of 3m+, accounted for 70% of the ice pack at yearly minimum. In 2003 the MY ice accounted for only 30% of a much smaller ice pack. The MY ice has dwindled every year since – even years where the minimum ice extent increased.

    The PIOMAS forecast linked above shows a Sept 1st 2010 map with virtually no ice of 3m+ thickness. It shows an arctic basin at the end of this melt season almost uniformly less than 1m in thickness.

    If this forecast holds, and current melt rates show it’s probably erring on the conservative side, an ice free arctic is just a matter of localized weather; i.e., one warm winter followed by an average or warm summer … or an average winter followed by a warm or hot summer and the arctic basin will be ice free for the first time in thousands – if not millions – of years.

    As an aside, your whole schtick with the submarine photos is pretty ridiculous. Professor Barber predicted an ice-free arctic basin or an ice-free north pole; he never said there hasn’t been open water at the pole. There has occasionally been open water at the pole during arctic *winter*. And your submarine photos show plenty of ice around. Not to mention that in at least one of those expeditions they surfaced at the pole through 2 feet of ice. So in regards the discussion of an ice-free north pole it’s your submarine photos that deserve a “So what?” tag.

    I don’t think anyone disputes the fact there have been historically warmer periods in the arctic. Our best understanding is that the arctic ice started around 45mya. Permanent year round ice possibly 13 mya and certainly by 2.5mya. The two warm periods of note were the last interglacial (130kya) and the onset of the current interglacial (10 -8 kya).

    The beach ridge formations definitely indicate that a large portion of the basin was at least seasonally free of ice. There are at least three different observations that argue against the basin being ice-free even during these warmer periods. Quartz content in cores from the Icelandic margin, the location of Atlantic and Pacific bowhead whale fossils, and most important – the lack of micropaleontological objects associated with open water in cores drilled at the center of the arctic basin.

    I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on the proposition either way. Suffice to say that if there’s been an ice free arctic basin in the last couple of million years it’s been rare – and didn’t last very long.


    • Kevin O’Neill,

      I am surprised to learn that comments about sea ice extent are now considered a “hang up.” As I recall, just a few years ago this was de rigueur among the alarmist. It certainly was after the 2007 arctic melt season. I guess that fashion has faded since the 2008 extent was greater than the 2007 extent, and the 2009 extent was greater than the 2008. Maybe it will come back into fashion if the sea ice minimum turns our to be very low this year.

      *************

      About my “schtick with the submarine is pretty ridiculous.” Your reasoning is “Professor Barber predicted an ice-free arctic basin or an ice-free north pole; he never said there hasn’t been open water at the pole.” Au contraire, National Geographic reported…

      “We’re actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history],” David Barber, of the University of Manitoba, told National Geographic News aboard the C.C.G.S. Amundsen, a Canadian research icebreaker.”

      Note the words “NORTH POLE” and “FOR THE FIRST TIME.”

      I pointed out very clearly that he did not say “Arctic Basin” or “Arctic Ocean.” I then pointed out very clearly that an ice free North Pole is not very unusual – as you seem to agree. The submarine photos illustrate the point. The problem is the part about “for the first time.” I did not put those words in Barber’s mouth.

      But the real gist of the post, and of the proposed wager, is about his later claim that the “Arctic Basin” will be ice free in the summer by 2015. I made a clear distinction between his earlier use of the words “North Pole” and his later use of the words “Arctic Basin.” I hope that you realize that an ice free Arctic Basin in the summer of 2015 is orders of magnitude less likely than an ice free North Pole.

      **************

      You said “I don’t think anyone disputes the fact there have been historically warmer periods in the arctic.” Good, that is a start.

      The problem is that you ignore the parts of the Holocene (the last 12k years) when it was likely warmer. There is an abundance of evidence that it was warmer in the Arctic in the middle of the Holocene, as little as 6,000 years ago. This was commonly referred at the Holocene Climate Optimum until global warming dogma seemed to stomp out that term.

      You go on to say “to say that if there’s been an ice free arctic basin in the last couple of million years it’s been rare – and didn’t last very long.” That is most certainly true – only because the interglacials (like our present interglacial, the Holocene) have occupied only about 10% of the last 2 million years. But during THIS interglacial, there likely was a period where the basin was ice free in the summer. There is very little data for the status of the Arctic Basin for the Eemian (the previous interglacial, more than 100,000 years ago) and almost zero data for the interglacials before that.

      Tom Moriarty
      ClimateSanity


  20. P.S. – forgot to mention. I have professor Haas’ paper (you linked to a newspaper article quoting him supposedly as a rebuttal to PIOMAS data). Neither he nor his research supports your assertion that ice volume increased. His research shows that the thickness of the MY ice remained within the range of seasonal variability, but he does not dispute that the amount of MY ice has decreased, nor does he dispute that the overall volume has decreased. I don’t usually rely on newspaper reports when the source material is available.

    His paper, by the way, is really about a new method he’s developed for gauging ice thickness utilizing an EM Bird trailing behind an airplane flying at low altitude. This method is not suitable for developing entire maps of the basin. He’s working with the CryoSat project and will be flying sample transects underneath the satellite to validate their measurements.


    • Kevin O’Neill,

      Thank you for your comment.

      However, it would be nice if you took extra care in reading my posts and comments. You referred to the Haas article and said “Neither he nor his research supports your assertion that ice volume INCREASED.”

      Here are my exact words in referring to Haas…

      “There is also much controversy about ice “volume.” This is a value that is much more difficult to pin down. There has almost certainly been a volume DECREASE corresponding in some fashion with the 30 year DECREASE in extent, but modeled results cited by the alarmists show it to be much greater. Measured data is not so ominous, as shown here…

      http://www.vancouversun.com/Scan+Arctic+dispels+melting+gloom+Researcher/3158192/story.html

      Where in these words do I assert that the ice volume has increased?

      You also mentioned “I have professor Haas’ paper…I don’t usually rely on newspaper reports when the source material is available.” That is a good point, but most people do not want to pay the $9 required to get a copy of Haas’ paper from GRL if they are not already AGU members. The newspaper article works nicely as a bridge for people. Are you asserting that the newspaper article was inaccurate? In what way?

      My point was stated clearly: “There is also much controversy about ice “volume.” This is a value that is much more difficult to pin down.” Haas confirms this point. Everybody can read the abstract of his paper for free, where he says…

      “While summer Arctic sea-ice extent has decreased over the past three decades, it is subject to large interannual and regional variations. Methodological challenges in measuring ice thickness continue to hamper our understanding of the response of the ice-thickness distribution to recent change, limiting the ability to forecast sea-ice change over the next decade…Comparison with previous EM surveys shows that modal thicknesses of old ice had changed little since 2007, and remained within the expected range of natural variability.”

      You seem to have a habit of mischaracterizing my statements, and yout repeated claims that I mislead my readers are getting tedious.

      Your comments are welcome here, but please consider your words more carefully.

      Best Regards,
      Tom Moriarty
      ClimateSanity


  21. Tom,

    Professor Haas’ paper concerns the thickness of old ice, multi-year ice. In the newspaper article he says that ice volume will likely continue it’s 30 year decreasing trend.

    From this you assert, “modeled results cited by the alarmists show it to be much greater[ice volume loss]. Measured data is not so ominous, as shown here..” and then you link to the newspaper article. These are two separate issues. The volume loss models such as PIOMAS are not dependent on old ice losing it’s modal thickness and Professor Haas is not saying that ice volume is staying constant or increasing. He agrees it’s decreasing.

    “The measured data is not so ominous..” By this aren’t you saying that Professor Haas’ paper rebuts the PIOMAS ice volume loss model? Why don’t you just email Professor Haas and ask him if that’s true?

    Here’s part of what his paper says;

    “Kwok et al. [2009] showed that basin-wide Arctic sea-ice volume strongly decreased between 2003 and 2008, mostly due to replacement of multiyear by first-year ice as a result of recent regime shifts [Maslanik et al., 2007; Nghiem et al., 2007], and thinning of multiyear ice. However, they did not observe significant changes in the mean thickness of the first-year ice regions.”

    and in the next paragraph he cites himself,

    “Ground and helicopter-borne EM surveys have shown that the modal thickness of second-and multiyear ice in the region of the North Pole has decreased by 0.9 m between 1991 and 2007 [Haas et al., 2008]. Modal thickness at the North Pole plummeted from 2.2 m in 2004 to 0.9 m in the summer of 2007, mainly as a result of first-year ice replacing old ice [Haas et al., 2008].”

    It’s in this context that his remarks have to be considered. Again the key is not ice extent per se, or modal thickness of multi-year ice, but the replacement of old ice with first-year ice.

    I don’t believe I mischaracterized your words. You believe ice volume is intrinsically related to sea ice extent.

    …there has almost certainly been a volume decrease corresponding in some fashion with the 30 year decrease in extent…

    By inference then, since the sea ice minimum extent has increased since 2007 shouldn’t there be (in your view) a volume increase corresponding in some fashion with the 2 year increase in extent? I’ve only applied your logic in the reverse direction. I’m sorry if you believe that has led me to mischaracterize your views.


    • Kevin O’Neill,

      Thank you again for your comment.

      The gist of our comment is this:

      You say

      “I don’t believe I mischaracterized your words. You believe ice volume is intrinsically related to sea ice extent.

      Then you quote me…

      …there has almost certainly been a volume decrease corresponding in some fashion with the 30 year decrease in extent…

      So this is the point over which I am wrong? Apparently so, because you follow up with…

      By inference then, since the sea ice minimum extent has increased since 2007 shouldn’t there be (in your view) a volume increase corresponding in some fashion with the 2 year increase in extent? I’ve only applied your logic in the reverse direction. I’m sorry if you believe that has led me to mischaracterize your views.

      Is it your belief that Haas contradicts my observations? Please read the first two sentences in the conclusion of the Haas paper…

      Conclusions

      We conclude that the older sea ice in much of the Arctic Ocean was of similar or even slightly larger thickness in April 2009 relative to conditions in 2007, but within the expected range of interannual variability. However, the volume of older ice may have been less overall due to a lower areal coverage…It seems the consequences of strong melt and ice export during and after the summer record minimum 2007 may have been compensated for by weather patterns in 2008 that were not conducive to high melt and ice dispersal in summer and may have fostered enhanced thermodynamic ice growth during a colder winter 2008/09…”

      That is a very good analogue to what I have said. All you need due is change the words “areal coverage” to “extent” and you have it.

      How does all of this relate to my original post? Haas confirms my point very nicely. The type of meltdown predicted by David Barber is not materializing. Barber considered the low ice extent in 2007, extrapolated out a few years and said the Arctic Basin would be ice free in summer. My offer of a wager is still open. I will likely write another post concerning this offer in the near future.

      Tom Moriarty
      ClimateSanity


  22. However, the volume of older ice may have been less overall due to a lower areal coverage…

    I.e., the volume of older ice may be less because it’s occupying less area. The older ice is the same thickness – there’s just less of it. This supports the PIOMAS model. This is also why Professor Barber believes the north pole will soon be ice free (not just occasional patches of open water).

    Sea ice volume decreased as the ice extent decreased and sea ice volume continued decreasing even as the ice extent increased. This is the what the PIOMAS model says has happened. This is what Haas agrees has happened. You’ve now agreed with both the decrease during decrease and the decrease during increase. What’s left to drive volume upwards?

    I’ll ask again, why don’t you ask Haas if he believes his research rebuts the PIOMAS model? That’s the reason you linked to him, isn’t it? The source material won’t cost you $9 – just a minute or two to compose an email.


  23. I then pointed out very clearly that an ice free North Pole is not very unusual – as you seem to agree.

    All the photos I’ve ever seen of the north pole have had ice in them. The photos you have on this page have ice in them. Open water is *not* the same as ice free. If you have some secret photos of the pole free of ice you should post them.

    Until then I’d completely disagree with you – I’d say it’s not only unusual, but never been seen.

    I gave you three good reasons to believe the basin was not ice free even during the interglacials. The most telling is the lack of open water associated fossils from central basin ice cores. The point is open to disagreement, but are you just dismissing conflicting evidence out of hand or do you have an explanation why these fossils are absent from the cores?


    • Kevin,

      I do not dismiss your statement out of hand. Please provide references concerning these cores and I will be happy to have a look.

      Tom


    • Kevin,

      You might want to consider the following sources concering Arctic temperature in the mid-holocene. If you look here, you will see a map showing the locations of all of these proxies, and the mid-holocene time period over which they indicate the Arctic was warmer than it is now. Please note that they nicely encircle the entire Arctic.

      1. Jung-Hyun Kim, Norel Rimbu, Stephan J. Lorenzb, Gerrit Lohmanna, Seung-IlNam, Stefan Schoutene, Carsten Ruhlemannf, Ralph R. Schneiderg, North Pacific and North Atlantic sea-surface temperature variability during the Holocene, Quaternary Science Reviews, 23, 2004

      Kim, et. al., used alkenone-derived sea-surface temperature records from sediments from over 30 locations to derive temperature changes in the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans during the Holocene. I have marked the locations of the five highest northern latitude cores, two above the arctic circle and three below it. Kim’s data for these cores covers only the last 7,000 years, rather than the entire Holocene. Nevertheless, the cores show temperatures clearly dropping to modern values over the last 7,000 years. The northern-most core (75N) shows a temperature drop of 4.4 degrees C since 7,000 years ago. Two other cores show temperature drops greater than 3 degrees C (3.3 and 3.8 degree drops at 57.8N, 8.7E and 57.7N, 7.1E respectively). The remaining two cores show temperature drops of 1.8 and 0.6 degrees C. Get copy here.

      2. Kultti, S., et. al., Past changes in the Scots pine forest line and climate in Finnish Lapland: a study based on megafossils, lake sediments, and GIS-based vegetation and climate data,” The Holocene, Vol 16 No3, 2004b.

      In this paper, Kultti, et. al., (2004b) looked at tree lines in Finnish Lapland and found “Results indicate that pine reached its maximum distribution between 8300 and 4000 cal. yr BP. The inferred minimum shift in mean July temperature was at that time c. +2.5.” Get copy here.

      3. Solovieva, N., and Jones, V., A multiproxy record of Holocene environmental changes in the central Kola Peninsula, northwest Russia, Journal of Quaternary Science, 17(4), 2002.

      Solovieva and Jones studied a multi-proxy record of the Kola Peninsula in northern Russia and concluded that for the period from 8000 years ago to 5400 years ago “A maximum of forest cover and the high Pinus abundance during this period indicate the Holocene climate optimum. The multiproxy data from Chuna Lake generally agree with the temperature reconstructions based on the evidence from the Greenland ice-cores (Stuiver et al., 1995) and summer temperatures were likely to have been 2°–3 °C higher than at present.” Get copy here.

      4. MacDonald, G., et. al., Radiocarbon dated Pinus sylvestris L. wood from beyond tree-line on the Kola Peninsula, Russia, The Holocene, Vol. 10, No.1, 2000.

      MacDonald, et. al., dated Scots Pine wood (Pinus sylvestris L.) in Russia’s Kola Peninsula and found “the density of trees north of the modern tree-line was greatest between 7000 and 5000 BP. Get copy here.

      5. Sarnthein, et. al., Centennial-to-millennial-scale periodicities of Holocene climate and sediment injections off the western Barents shelf, 75°N, Boreas, Vol. 32, 2003.

      Sarnthein, et. al., studied sediments on the Barents shelf and found “disappearing sea ice from 6.4–5.2” thousand years before the present, and again “3.0–1.6 kyr BP.” Get copy here.

      6. Kultti, S., Oksanen, P., and Väliranta, M., Holocene tree line, permafrost, and climate dynamics in the Nenets Region, East European Arctic, Canadian Journal of Earth Science, Vol 41, 2004a.

      “Pollen, stomata, and macrofossils in a lake core with a basal date of 9700 14C BPwere used to reconstruct past changes in climate and vegetation in the arctic tree line area, northeast European Russia” … “We interpret summer temperatures to have been ca. 3–4 °C higher between ca. 8900 and 5500 BP than at present, and the lowest temperature regime of the Holocene to have occurred between 2700 and 2100 BP.”

      7. V.L. Koshkarova and A.D. Koshkarov, RegionalSignatures of Changing Landscape and Climate of Northern Central Siberia in the Holocene, Russian geology and geophysics, N 6, v. 45, 2004

      Koshkarova and Koshkarov(2004) draw their conclusions based on “25 sections of Holocene deposits and soils of northern Central Siberia [that] were studied by paleocarpologicalmethods. Special attention was given to the reconstruction of the dynamics of speciation of forest cover in time and space.” These 25 sections are all above the arctic circle and range in longitude from 86 to 119°E. They divide the Holocene in the region into “intervals 9-8 ka (thermal maximum), 6.5-5ka (climate optimum – combination of higher temperatures and higher humidity), and 2.5-2 ka (thermal minimum). Get copy here.

      8. Robert A. Monserud, Nadja M. Tchebakova, and Olga V. Denissenko, Reconstuction of the mid-Holocene Palaeoclimate of Siberia using a bioclimatic vegetation model, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 139, 1998

      Monserud, et. al., concentrated on the mid-holocene, which they defined as 4600 to 6000 years before the present. They found that during this period the Siberian winters “between 60 and 65N the palaeoclimate was 5.3 C warmer on average, and between 65 and 70N it was 7.7 C warmer.” For the warmer months the found “Summer was 2-5 C warmer than today between 63 and 73N, embracing much of the Northern Taiga, Forest-Tundra, and Tundra zones. A band of moderate summer temperature anomalies (0 – 2 C) is centered at 65N, and a second band of greater anomalies (2-5 C) is centered at 70N.” Get copy here.

      9. Ilyashuk, E.A., Ilyashuk, B.P., Andreev, A.A.b, Bennett, K.D., Hammarlund, D., Hubberten, H.W., Chironomid-inferred Holocene mean July air temperatures for the Lena River Delta area, East Siberia, and the Kola Peninsula, northwestern Russia, ACSYS Final Science Conference,11-14 November 2003, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), St. Petersburg, Russia

      Ilyashuk, et. al. show that Radiocarbon-dated chironomid records from the lake Nikolay region of the Lena River Delta area “imply the warmest (up to 2-3°C warmer than nowadays) climate during ca. 10,200-9200 cal. yr BP…with two short warm oscillations (up to 8.9oC) at c. 5600 and 4500-4100 cal. yr BP…and a relatively long warm period ca. 2300-1400 cal. yr BP.” Get copy here.

      10. Matul, A. G., et. al., Recent and Late Holocene Environments on the Southeastern Shelf of the Laptev Sea As Inferred from Microfossil Data, Oceanology, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2007.

      Matul, et. al., (2007) from the Russian Academy of Science studied microfossils from the Laptev Sea, which is north of Siberia and well within the Arctic circle. They found that “Judging from the increased diversity and abundance of the benthic foraminifers, the appearance of moderately thermophilic diatom species, and the presence of forest tundra (instead of tundra) pollen, the Medieval warming exceeded the recent “industrial” one and is reflected in the near-delta sediments.” But they indicate that it was warmer even earlier by saying “..the warming in the Laptev Sea during the period of ~5100–6200 years B.P. corresponding to the Holocene climatic optimum could be even more significant as compared with the Medieval Warm Period.”

      11. Lawson, D.E.,et. al., 2007, Early to mid-Holocene glacier fluctuations in Glacier Bay, Alaska, in Piatt, J.F., and Gende, S.M., eds., Proceedings of the Fourth Glacier Bay Science Symposium, October 26–28, 2004: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5047, p. 54-55.

      Lawson looked at glacial advances and retreats in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Glacier Bay is well south of the Arctic circle, but yields information about northern latitude climates. They found a glacial retreat starting 6800 years ago followed by a new glacial advance starting 5000 years ago. The retreat “was long enough to develop a mature forest” on land that was subsequently recovered with ice. Get cop here.

      12. Kaufman, D. S., et. al., Holocene thermal maximum in the western Arctic (0-180°W), Quaternary Science Reviews, 23, 2004

      In a very comprehensive study of the western Arctic Kaufman and coauthors from the US, UK, Canada, Norway, Iceland, and Russia (2004), studied proxies from over 140 sites in the western hemisphere part of the arctic. Their abstract notes “Paleoclimateinferences based on a wide variety of proxy indicators provide clear evidence for warmer-than-present conditions at 120 of these sites. At the 16 terrestrialsites where quantitative estimates have been obtained, local HTM[Holocene Thermal Maximum] temperatures (primarily summer estimates) were on average 1.6 ± 0.8 ° C higher than present…”
      They devided the region into four zones, which I have labeled on the map.
      12a. Central Eastern Beringia.Sketchy evidence indicates that the Holocene Therma Maximum occurred very early and had a short duration in this region. Temperatures were several degrees above current temperatures for some period between 12.8 and 7.1 ka. (mean initiation plus one sigma to mean termination minus one sigma).
      12b. Northern Continental Canada.Better evidence indicates that this zone experienced higher temperatures from about 7.3 to 4.3 ka.
      12c. Canadian Arctic Islands.Good abundant data that this zone was warm from 8.6 to 4.9 ka.
      12d. Greenland, Iceland and other Artic islands.Temperatures were high in this zone from 8.6 to 5.2 ka.

      13. Stewart, T. and England, J., Holocene Sea-Ice Variations and Paleoenvironmental Change, Northernmost Ellesmere Island, NWT., Canada, Arctic and Alpine Research, Vol 15, No. 1, 1983.

      Stewart and England examined more than 70 samples or Holocene driftwood on Ellesmere at 82° N Latitude. The time distribution of the driftwood indicates “prolonged climatic amelioration at the highest terrestrial latitudes of the northern hemisphere” from 4200 to 6000 years before the present. Get copy here.

      14. D. Dahl-Jensen, K. Mosegaard, N. Gundestrup, G. D. Clow, S. J. Johnsen, A. W. Hansen, N. Balling, Past Temperatures Directly from the Greenland Ice Sheet, Science, 282, 1998

      “Dahl-Jensen, et. al., use borehole data to conclude “After the termination of the glacial period, temperatures in our record increase steadily, reaching a period 2.5 K warmer than present during what is referred to as the
      Climate Optimum (CO), at 8 to 5 ka. Following the CO, temperatures cool to a minimum of 0.5 K colder than the present at around 2 ka. The record implies that the medieval period around 1000 A.D. was 1 K warmer than present in Greenland.” Get copy here

      Best Regards
      Tom Moriarty
      ClimateSanity


  24. Tom,

    I’m not sure what you’re point is – I’ve already stated there was a warming period during the last interglacial and the onset of this one. That’s not in dispute. It’s not even in dispute that there have been large areas of the arctic basin that have been seasonally ice-free. What *is* in dispute is whether the north pole has been ice-free or the arctic basin as a whole.

    Professor Barber says we could soon see a north pole free of ice for the first time in history. You post photos of submarines at the pole surrounded by ice and claim it’s not unusual for the pole to be free of ice. I say show me a photo of the north pole free of ice. You change the subject and link to a dozen articles about warmer weather 6000 years ago that no one disputes.

    We know the edges of the basin have been at least seasonally free of ice in the past. I say the jury is still out on whether or not we can infer the entire basin was ice-free in the recent past (last 10ky). I say we’d like to see central basin cores that include micropaleontological evidence associated with open seas. We have 40 million years worth of central basin cores – we have yet to find that evidence. But those cores have not all been processed and analyzed – so evidence could still be found.

    Overnight I emailed a leading research scientist who specializes in arctic microfauna and asked him his opinion on the last time the arctic basin was ice-free. His answer: 50 million years ago. He did say that we need more data from the early part of this interglacial and expects to see more definitive evidence in the next few years, but he doubts the basin was ice free at that time.

    If one of the papers you cited has evidence that the basin was ice-free in the recent past please point it out. Though, from reading the abstracts, I seriously doubt any of them do – otherwise it would have been the highlight of their research.


    • Kevin,

      What does “ice free” mean? Under “Definition of Terms” in this post I said…

      Definition of terms. “Gone” means the Arctic Basin sea ice area is less that 100,000 square kilometers, according to National Center for Environmental Prediction/NOAA as presented at Cryosphere Today.

      According to their criteria, an area can be covered by as much as 15% ice, and still be considered ice free.

      The point is the difference between the “North Pole,” which is a dot on the map, and the “Arctic Basin,” which is 4 million square kilometers. It is not a big deal for the “North Pole” to be ice free, but a very big deal for the “Arctic Basin” to be ice free. Barber used the term “North Pole” in his statement to National Geographic along with the words “for the first time.”

      Later (for example, see the Star Pheonix article) he started using the words “Arctic Basin.”

      You mentioned “I say the jury is still out on whether or not we can infer the entire basin was ice-free in the recent past (last 10ky).” Well, I guess I would consider that progress.

      The point of the papers I cited is that the Arctic was warmer roughly 6000 years ago than it is today. Their results are drawn from physical evidence for longitudes surrounding the entire arctic. If you are worried that the Arctic Basin sea ice will melt at today’s temperatures, then it isn’t much of a leap to conclude that they would have melted at HIGHER temperatures in the past.

      Please re-read the Astrid Lysa article that it quoted in the post. Note the conclusion that “the sea all the way [from Greenland] to the North Pole was periodically ice free for a long time.

      I am open minded. Please provide a link or citation to the work of the research scientist that you mentioned. I will read them.

      Best Regards,
      Tom


  25. Tom,

    I pointed out to you earlier in this thread that 15% was the threshhold for ice-free according to the NSIDC. That’s the definition I’ve been using. The satellite resolutions vary, but we’re usually talking about grid sizes anywhere from 6 to 50km depending upon the particular satellite and the frequency beam selected.

    The north pole has not been ice-free in recorded human history. I suspect you’ve finally figured that out since you continuously avoid the subject of your submarine photos. Last year was close – in August a Russian trawler sailed all the way to the pole finding a mile and a half expanse of open water and thin ice in the vicinity of the pole. They had to sail 10 km from the pole to find ice thick enough for passengers to stand on and have their pictures taken.

    Well, I guess I would consider that progress.

    Why? It’s been my position all along and I stated as much in not one, but two previous posts. My position hasn’t changed – it’s possible the north pole and the arctic basin were ice free 6000 years ago, but there’s conflicting evidence. The arctic ice-cap in the Pleistocene reached 1km in thickness – so all the other interglacials are inconsequential. The *only* possible time the pole or the entire basin was ice-free in the last few million yrs was 6k BP. Your statement that an ice free north pole is not unusual stands in stark contrast.

    I’ve been studying this subject for a long time – almost a full week. Just to be sure I’d synthesized the information correctly I asked an expert. In his opinion the arctic basin hasn’t been ice-free in 50 million years. Though he did indicate a need for more data from the 6k BP era.

    If you are worried that the Arctic Basin sea ice will melt at today’s temperatures, then it isn’t much of a leap to conclude that they would have melted at HIGHER temperatures in the past.

    It is if you know that ice melt depends on more than just temperature. Temperature alone does *NOT* account for the current ice loss. At least not directly. Off the top of my head and a full week’s worth of knowledge here are the variables I can think of that need to be taken into account:

    Are the starting ice conditions the same?
    Is ice transport likely to be the same?
    Is the amount of direct sunlight the same?
    Is the earth’s orbital tilt towards the sun the same?
    Are sea level depths comparable?
    Have there been any changes in geological features?
    Has ocean salinity changed?
    Have ocean currents changed?
    Are surface windspeeds comparable?
    Are stratospheric conditions comparable?

    In short, every climatological, meteorological, environmental, geological, oceanographical and anything else that would, could, or should effect the heat transfer function needs to be accounted for … as I said, temperature alone does *NOT* account for the current ice loss – so knowing past temperatures cannot tell us everything about ice loss in the past … unless we also know the status of a host of other variables.

    If this were simple I wouldn’t have had to spend a whole week learning it.


  26. I am open minded. Please provide a link or citation to the work of the research scientist that you mentioned. I will read them.

    Holocene fluctuations in Arctic sea-ice cover:
    dinocyst-based reconstructions for the eastern
    Chukchi Sea

    You’ll find Figure 7 on page 1384 gives a nice summary of Holocene sea ice cover for this portion of the Arctic. Note that they use a much higher threshhold for sea ice coverage (>50%).


    • Kevin O’Neill,

      thank you for the link to

      J. L. McKay, et. al., Holocene fluctuations in Arctic sea-ice cover: dinocyst-based reconstructions for the eastern
      Chukchi Sea, Can. J. Earth Sci. 45: 1377–1397 (2008).

      I would like to make it clear to readers why you cited this paper. In an earlier comment on this post I cited 14 papers that suggest that the Arctic was warmer than today around 6,000 years ago and thus suggested that the Arctic ocean may have been ice free earlier in the Holocene. You provided the McKay paper to refute my argument.

      When I cited the 14 papers I provided a link to this map showing the locations covered by the papers…

      The link also provided a graph showing the times when the 14 papers indicted that the Arctic was warmer than the present. Here is that graph…

      The McKay paper the you cited refers to the one region (region 12a) out of the 17 regions in the above map and graph where the temperature probably was not warmer 6000 years ago. This region is the Chukchi Sea, off the Northern coasts of Alaska and Siberia.

      The paper I cited for this region, Kaufmann, et. al., says the following about that region…

      “Sketchy evidence indicates that the Holocene Thermal Maximum occurred very early and had a short duration in this region. Temperatures were several degrees above current temperatures for some period between 12.8 and 7.1 ka.”

      However, as my above graph indicates, it was the one region out of 17 where the temperature may not have been higher 6000 years ago.

      That is OK. The McKay paper that you cited says some interesting things. For example…

      “episodes of reduced sea-ice cover and corresponding relatively high sea-surface salinity and temperature that are centered at 7500, 5000, and 2000 years BP”

      or this…

      “The millennial-scale variability in the eastern Chukchi Sea is characterized by quasi-cyclic periods of high SSS, high SST, and reduced sea-ice cover”

      Or, right out of the abstract…

      “Superimposed on these long-term trends are millennial-scale fluctuations characterized by periods of low sea-ice and high sea-surface temperature and salinity that appear quasi-cyclic with a frequency of about one every 2500–3000 years.”

      Now, you also suggested that I pay special attention to figure 7 on page 1384. Here is that figure (click to enlarge)…

      Fig. 7. Reconstructions of Holocene (a) sea-ice cover, (b) summer sea-surface salinity (SSS), and (c) summer sea-surface temperature (SST)

      Here is the full caption from Mckay for figure 7…

      Fig. 7. Reconstructions of Holocene (a) sea-ice cover, (b) summer sea-surface salinity (SSS), and (c) summer sea-surface temperature (SST) for cores from site HLY0501-05. Trigger core data are shown by the solid symbols and piston core data by the open symbols. The thick line is the data smoothed using a 5-point average. Modern sea surface conditions are shown by the thick bar on the x axis (modern range). The shaded zones indicate times of relatively low sea ice, higher summer SSS, and high SST. The overall error of prediction calculated from modern assemblages is ±1.5 8C for the summer SSTs, ±1.8 for the summer salinity in the >20 salinity domain, and ±1.1 months/year of sea ice.

      Lets start with (c) on the right side of figure 7, the summer sea surface temperature. Look at the top of the graph: McKay says in the caption “Modern sea surface conditions are shown by the thick bar on the x axis (modern range).” Note the cyclic periods the McKay talks about (gray shaded) when the temperatures where significantly HIGHER than today.

      Let’s look at (a) on the left of figure 7, sea-ice greater than 50% (months/year). Again, look at the top of the graph: the thick line shows present conditions, the solid dots below it show the trigger core data going back about 1000 years. It is crystal clear from this graph that sea-ice coverage was significantly LESS earlier in the Holocene. For the last 1000 years the ice cover was greater than 50% eight or more months out of the year. Earlier in the Holocene it was greater than 50% as little as 4 months out of the year.

      You asked me to “Note that they use a much higher threshold for sea ice coverage (>50%).” Does this have some special significance to you? If the sea-ice was greater than 50% for only four months out of the year, then it was less than 50% eight months out of the year. That does not mean that for those eight months the sea ice was 49%. I could very well have been 0%.

      I am actually quite amazed that you would use this paper to support your position. It is like the defense attorney in a murder case telling the jury “I will now present evidence the proves my client is innocent,” and then showing a close-up video of his client poisoning, slashing and shooting the victim. I doubt that you carefully read this paper or thoroughly understood what it said.

      Thank you for pointing this paper out to me. I may find it useful in supporting my arguments in the future.

      Best Regards
      Tom Moriarty
      Climatesanity


      • I’ve repeatedly stated it was warmer 6kBP.
        Your 14 papers support this.

        I’ve stated there is conflicting evidence on whether the north pole was ice-free 6k BP and no evidence the arctic basin was ice-free 6k BP. The 14 papers do not support your claim the arctic was ice-free. This an inference YOU make. Not the authors of the papers.

        TM:

        If you are worried that the Arctic Basin sea ice will melt at today’s temperatures, then it isn’t much of a leap to conclude that they would have melted at HIGHER temperatures in the past.

        If ice-loss and an ice-free arctic basin only depended on temperature your case would be logical, but temperature alone does NOT account for today’s ice loss and cannot be used to simply extrapolate ice-loss in the past. Numerous additional variables have to be taken into account. Your simplistic “temperature = ice loss” model is meaningless.

        So, rather than rely on temperature alone, I gave you the opinion of an expert in the field – not my opinion – but his. He said the arctic hasn’t been ice-free in 50 million years.

        You asked for a link to his work.

        I provided you the link.

        His work is directly concerned with ice coverage in the Holocene. Your 14 papers are not, but let’s gloss over that little fact.

        What do you think this paper proves?

        All this paper says is that it was warmer earlier in the Holocene in the eastern Chukchi. Does it prove the arctic was ice-free 6k BP? No. It only concerns itself with where the core was drilled – the eastern Chukchi.

        You quoted extensively from the paper; I’ll add one:

        If both the observed and reconstructed time series are correct,
        then the last part of the 20th century must have been particularly cold compared with the mid- to late Holocene in
        the Chukchi Sea, which is opposite to what is seen in the eastern Arctic and northern Baffin Bay (e.g., de Vernal et
        al. 2008). This hypothesis implies a strong regionalism in climate changes over the Arctic and deserves to be further
        explored because it has some important implications with regard to the significance of the ‘‘modern’’ climatology in the Arctic.

        Now, why didn’t you include this quote?

        Why is it the experts that produced this paper disagree with your assertion?

        You truly believe this paper supports your position the north pole and the arctic basin was ice-free 6k BP?

        You’ve been studying this topic for years and haven’t even exposed yourself to the actual scientific work in the field?

        I’ve been studying this topic for less than 10 days. Every time I extensively cite a paper I communicate with the authors to be sure I’m not mischaracterizing their work. I’ve asked several other experts their opinion when I’m not sure I’ve made correct inferences from the sum of what I’ve read. I’ve only had one question that hasn’t been answered (What is the historical timeline of polar bear habitation in the western Hudson Bay region?). I suspect they’ve not responded because no research exists on the topic.

        You, on the other hand, selectively quote from papers ignoring evidence that doesn’t suit you. You claim papers support your assertions when they don’t. You refuse to make the simple effort to ask authors if you’ve interpreted their work correctly.

        But you have pictures of submarines at the pole!!! That proves it’s not unusual for the pole to be ice-free!!!

        Brilliant.


  27. Tom,

    In your main post you devote quite a bit of space to the Greenlandic beach ridges. You quote Funder and Kjaer,

    “for a period in the Early Holocene, probably for a millennium or more, the Arctic Ocean was free of sea ice at least for short periods in the summer.”

    Yet earlier, in the very same Abstract, we read,

    “We therefore suggest that the occurrence of wave generated shores and abundant ice berg dropped boulders indicate that the Arctic Ocean was nearly free of sea ice in the summer at the time when they were formed.”

    These are dramatically different statements in their scope. The one you quote is a declarative statement that the Arctic Ocean was free of sea ice in the summer for 1000 years. The other, not so much. These conflicting statements come from an abstract to an oral presentation; we aren’t able to consult the full text for clarification. Did you make any attempt to resolve the conflict? Did you even mention the apparent conflicting statements when using the quotation?

    I have a draft copy of Past Climate Variability and Change in the Arctic and at High Latitudes prepared by the US Climate Change Science Program. In Chapter 8 — History of Sea Ice in the Arctic, section 8.4.3 The Holocene (the most recent 11.5 ka) just about everything that is known about sea ice coverage during the Holocene is referenced – including the beach ridges in Greenland that you reference in your main post. Yet here is the section’s concluding paragraph:

    Despite many records from the Arctic margins indicating considerably reduced ice covering the early Holocene, no evidence of the decline of perennial ice cover has been found in sediment cores from the central Arctic Ocean. Arctic Ocean sediments contain some ice-rafted debris interpreted to arrive from distant shelves requiring more than 1 year of ice drift (Darby and Bischof, 2004). One explanation is that the true record of low-ice conditions has not yet been found because of low sedimentation rates and stratigraphic uncertainties. Additional investigation of cores by use of many proxies with highest possible resolution is needed to verify the distribution of ice in the Arctic during the warmest phase of the current interglacial.

    No declarative statement that the Arctic Ocean was free of sea-ice in the summer for 1000 years. Instead we read “no evidence of the decline of perennial ice cover has been found in sediment cores from the central Arctic Ocean “ And whom do we find among the contributing authors? Dr. Svend Funder.

    Now, it’s possible Dr Funder has contributed despite disagreeing with the conclusion. Possible. Shall we wager on it?


    • Kevin,

      Thank you for another interesting comment.

      You acknowledge that Funder and Kjaer said “for a period in the Early Holocene, probably for a millennium or more, the Arctic Ocean was free of sea ice at least for short periods in the summer.” That statement is quite clear.

      Apparently you find that to be contradicted by another sentence in the same abstract that reads ““We therefore suggest that the occurrence of wave generated shores and abundant ice berg dropped boulders indicate that the Arctic Ocean was nearly free of sea ice in the summer at the time when they were formed.”

      There is not contradiction. Do you understand what they are saying? Think about this: if the Arctic were to be ice free in September, then it would have been ice free for part of the summer, satisfying the first quote of Funder and Kjaer. Correct? But in July icebergs may have been melting and dropping their debris as they floated by, satisfying the second quote of Funder and Kjaer. Correct?

      I did not “make an attempt to resolve the conflict” between these two statements because there is no conflict to resolve. If you think there is, then YOU “make any attempt to resolve the conflict” yourself.

      In the second part of your comment you have applied argumentum ad ignorantiam, or argument from ignorance. Let me be clear that I am not using the word “ignorance” in an insulting manner or implying that you are ignorant. It is just the name of the logical fallacy.

      How does argumentum ad ignorantiam apply in this case…?

      Carl Sagan summed up this fallacy by saying ” “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

      You have read a paper that provides “No declarative statement that the Arctic Ocean was free of sea-ice in the summer for 1000 years.” (This is absence of evidence for ice free summers.) You then conclude that the Arctic Ocean must not have been “free of sea-ice in the summer for 1000 years.” (Evidence of absence of ice free summers.) You a applied the logical fallacy.

      The authors of the paper you cited say “no evidence of the decline of perennial ice cover has been found in sediment cores from the central Arctic Ocean.” But they make it clear that “Additional investigation of cores by use of many proxies with highest possible resolution” may in fact provide that evidence.

      On the other hand, Funder and Kjaer, have provided evidence that the Arctic Ocean was ice free for parts of the summer. But they use a different line of evidence, not sediment cores from the central Arctic Ocean.

      Best Regards,
      Tom Moriarty
      ClimateSanity


  28. Tom,

    Did you read what I wrote? Funder *is* one of the authors of Past Climate Variability and Change in the Arctic and at High Latitudes yet the claims made in the material you quote are absent.

    Would you like to know what actually happened? The Funder & Kjaer abstract you quote is from an oral presentation at the 2007 Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. These presentations are *NOT* peer-reviewed and the attendees are aware of this. Presentations have to be taken with a grain of salt until the full peer-reviewed papers are published. Funder and Kjaer never followed up with a paper.

    Why didn’t they? They fully expected core samples to back up their claims. Instead, analysis of central basin cores provide no evidence of decreasing perennial ice cover. Instead the cores show a high degree of regional variability. I’ve given you that evidence already in my previous post:

    … the last part of the 20th century must have been particularly cold compared with the mid- to late Holocene in the Chukchi Sea, which is opposite to what is seen in the eastern Arctic and northern Baffin Bay.

    I’m fully cognizant of “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” If there were *no* central basin cores you would be correct, but there *are* central basin cores and they do *not* contain the sedimentary record that would prove Funder and Kjaer’s hypothesis.

    Think about it for a moment. The central basin has low sedimentation rates precisely *because* it is ice-covered. If you predict that for long stretches it was *not* ice-covered then we’d expect to see increased sedimentation. When analyzing cores absence of evidence actually *is* considered evidence of absence.

    In short, Funder & Kjaer made a non-peer-reviewed claim in front of an audience that knew to await a fully peer-reviewed paper. The evidence necessary to prove their claim never materialized. Others less knowledgeable about the process jumped on the claim as if it was proven.

    I asked an expert if he could confirm my suspicions and received this response:

    Funder clearly made a somewhat premature and not very well-worded statement. The accurate way of describing his conclusion is that the part of the Arctic Ocean adjacent to his study area in Greenland was likely seasonally ice free. His line of thinking was that this area today contains a very thick, multiyear ice, and could be therefore indicative of ice conditions in the entire Arctic Ocean. However, we don’t have good evidence of ice-free early Holocene summers elsewhere in the central Arctic Ocean, so the story is obviously more complex, with a considerable geographic and temporal inhomogeneity.

    Note that abstracts and following presentations, even at such authoritative meetings as the AGU, are not peer-reviewed, and therefore can be considered only as a preliminary source of information that yet needs to be validated in ensuing papers.

    You claim to have an open mind, but I’ve done everything but hand you a signed affidavit from Dr Funder. If you’re so sure your interpretation is correct, accept the wager. I’ve asked Dr Funder for clarification as well, but have not yet received his reply.


    • Kevin,

      Again, I am open minded. Please identify the expert that you mentioned.

      Best Regards,
      Tom Moriarty
      ClimateSanity


      • Yeah, right.


  29. After further reflection I do have to admit amusement that you choose to believe that Holocene fluctuations in Arctic sea-ice cover: dinocyst-based reconstructions for the eastern Chukchi Sea supported your position that the Arctic Ocean was ice-free in the mid-Holocene.

    I mean, I told you *ahead* of time that one of the authors had already given me his opinion that the Arctic Ocean hadn’t been ice-free in 50 million years. Were you under the impression he doesn’t read his own papers? That he didn’t understand the implications of his own research?

    Obviously for the entire ocean to be ice-free all of its component areas have to be ice-free. My only guess is that you took the conclusion for the eastern Chukchi (warm compared to today) and forgot what I’d already told you about the author’s views and somehow missed the part where the paper says:

    … the last part of the 20th century must have been particularly cold compared with the mid- to late Holocene in the Chukchi Sea, which is opposite to what is seen in the eastern Arctic and northern Baffin Bay.

    Now, when two out of three areas mentioned show colder temperatures than today …. do I really need to spell it out? The significance of this paper is *not* that the Chukchi was warmer, but that it exposed large regional variations, because at the same time the Chukchi was warmer other areas were colder.

    I know a bit about confirmational bias. You entered this discussion with an opinion you’ve held for several years. I hadn’t really given it more than a passing glance before June 26th. Since you’d never actually read Haas’ paper you might actually believe his work refuted the PIOMAS model. I took a different route by first reading the paper, reading additional papers by other authors, then asking Professor Haas for clarification. I didn’t have any beliefs to be overturned – no stake in the outcome. You did. Your resistance to the evidence was predictable – not because of the particular views you hold, but because we humans are so danged susceptible to confirmational bias.

    In a sense I’ve been cheating by knowing what many of these cited authors personal views are via email correspondence and haven’t had to rely solely on my own interpretation. My only excuse is that I’m nobody, they responded to me and answered my questions in spite of the fact that I’m not one of their peers – and you could have asked them yourself long before I did.

    If nothing else, I could now write a factual and instructive critique of Dr. Barber’s prediction. I can cite the reasons he could be right and the reasons he could be wrong. It would not involve pictures of submarines. The case against him can be made using data and climate models that are accepted by a consensus of researchers in the field without twisting anyone’s words or selective use of supporting knowledge (while ignoring everything else).

    I believe you’ve pointed out elsewhere in a different context that huge climate changes have occurred in the past in as little as 10 years time. I hope – I’d pray if I were religious – that Dr. Barber is wrong and that we’re not about to experience one of those step-like climate functions. Given the historical record, I’m not sure why you’d preclude such an event happening now.

    What you’ve failed to realize in your zeal to ridicule Dr. Barber (and prove the Arctic Ocean was once ice-free) is that the mid-Holocene provides better proof that the earth can withstand heightened temperature increases and *still* retain perennial ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean. It is this lesson that leads Professor Haas to dismiss ‘tipping points’ and to believe that the arctic sea-ice can recover. He doesn’t have to believe the PIOMAS model is wrong – just that we’ll see a stabilization of the sea-ice through negative feedback before it can reach the point of no return.

    All of which leads me back to my initial inclinations – wobbling on the fence. I wouldn’t be willing to bet much money on the outcome either way; leaning slightly in Dr. Barber’s direction (that we’re headed for an ice-free arctic basin for brief periods in the summer), but unsurprised if it takes a few years longer than his prediction or doesn’t happen at all.


  30. In response to my question:

    Is it your personal belief that the Arctic Ocean was ice free in the summer during the mid-Holocene?

    Dear Kennin O’Neill,

    No, after more work and data we have had to modify our view. We are presently working on a final synthesis of the results from northernmost Greenland. Here we argue that multiyear sea ice was reduced to between half and a third of the present during the Holocene Thermal Optimum. The assessment report you refer to has been updated and published recently in Quaternary Science Reviews, again with Polyak as lead author. I think you will find the best up to date estimate that covers most data here.

    Thank you for your interest!

    Best wishes/Svend

    I think that ends today’s lesson.


    • To recap:
      Professor David Barber made a prediction. You disagreed with his prediction and ridiculed two of his contentions.

      The North Pole could become ice-free for the first time in history
      The Arctic Ocean could become ice-free for the first time in a million years

      Your rebuttal for #1 is

      The North Pole has certainly seen open water in modern times, as attested to by the following images: pictures of submarines

      You’ve made an argument here by false equivalence. ‘Ice-free’ does *not* equal ‘open water’. Despite your pictures of submarines, there is no evidence the North Pole has been ice-free in recent geological history – though the possibility cannot be precluded.

      So, as regards #1, the scientific evidence today backs up Dr Barber.

      Your rebuttal for #2 rests on two main points; the first that Greenlandic beach ridges ‘prove’ the Arctic Ocean was ice-free in the middle Holocene. This is a fallacy of defective induction by appeal to a false authority, you argue that the Arctic Ocean was ice-free and quote Funder & Kjaer as your authority. Their work was not authoritative, in fact it wasn’t even peer-reviewed. They no longer even believe the claim themselves.

      The second part of your rebuttal for #2 concerns comparing temperatures from today and the mid-Holocene:

      If you are worried that the Arctic Basin sea ice will melt at today’s temperatures, then it isn’t much of a leap to conclude that they would have melted at HIGHER temperatures in the past.

      This is a fallacy of false cause. Ice loss is far more complex than just a simple function of temperature. Our current understanding is that the Arctic cannot be regarded as a monolithic slab of ice. There are many regional and temporal variations. Ice loss can be dependent upon ice transport, ocean current circulation, current flow rates, water temperature, and numerous other variables that contribute to positive and negative feedback loops.

      So, as regards #2, the scientific evidence today backs up Dr Barber.

      You should really attempt to look at all the evidence when drawing your conclusions. You’ve ignored entire areas of research – such as marine mammal fossils. After spending the past two weeks immersed in the science of the paleo-arctic, if you wish to prove the arctic was ice-free in recent geological history consider the polar bear and the Late Pleistocene – approximately 45kya.


      • Kevin,

        I have written emails to Funder and Kurt Kjaer and I am awainting replies from them.

        I will have more to say on this topic later.

        Best Regards,
        Tom Moriarty


  31. Tom,

    I posted this a few comments above:

    In response to my question:

    Is it your personal belief that the Arctic Ocean was ice free in the summer during the mid-Holocene?

    Dear Kennin O’Neill,

    No, after more work and data we have had to modify our view. We are presently working on a final synthesis of the results from northernmost Greenland. Here we argue that multiyear sea ice was reduced to between half and a third of the present during the Holocene Thermal Optimum. The assessment report you refer to has been updated and published recently in Quaternary Science Reviews, again with Polyak as lead author. I think you will find the best up to date estimate that covers most data here.

    Thank you for your interest!

    Best wishes/Svend

    I think that ends today’s lesson.

    Was I not specific enough? ‘Svend’ is Dr. Svend Funder.


    • Kevin,

      I have made a correction to this post that notes that Funder now believes “that multiyear sea ice was reduced to between half and a third of the present during the Holocene Thermal Optimum.” I have given you credit for the correction and placed a link directly to your most recent comment.

      I have not recieved a return email from Funder or Kjaer yet, but I cannot argue with your email from Funder.

      Best Regards,
      Tom Moriarty


  32. Tom,

    I note the correction.

    I also just realized that the entire Final Report:

    Past Climate Variability and Change in the Arctic and at High Latitudes

    Is available online for free download. I can’t speak to the whole report, but Chapter 8 is an invaluable resource that I wish I’d discovered a week earlier. It would have saved me dozens of Google searches and all the time I spent reading irrelevant Abstracts.


    • Kevin,

      thanks for the link. I wish I had know about it before I paid (tax dollars paid) for three chapters.

      Tom


    • Oops, they’ve renumbered the chapters since the draft copy I had was printed. What was Chapter 8 in Draft 3 is now Chapter 6 – History of Arctic Sea Ice in the Final Report.


  33. well it’s 2013 and David barbers prediction still looks tobe pretty close to the mark. Are you still feeling confident about your Bet?


    • DavidR,

      Thank you for the comment.

      Yes, I am still feeling confident about my bet. If you can convince David Barber to take my up on my bet, I will be happy to follow through.

      Since you think his “prediction still looks to be pretty close to the mark,” perhaps you would like to stand in for Barber? I am open to that idea.

      Best Regards,
      ClimateSanity


  34. […] At the time I challenged Barber to… […]



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