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Sea-ice modellers open up?

An article in Wired magazine recounts how sea-ice modellers are sharing data and methods and are learning from each other in the process. It's not obvious whether the sea-ice community have actually made their data and code open to the world or whether this is just a case of sharing within the community, but it's a step forwards at least.

It's also nice to see Mark Serreze apologising for his role in stirring up scare stories in 2007:

"In hindsight, probably too much was read into 2007, and I would take some blame for that,” Serreze said. “There were so many of us that were astounded by what happened, and maybe we read too much into it.”

If climatologists are now going to eschew scaremongering then that is certainly welcome. It's therefore a pity that the Wired reporter, Alexis Madrigal, begins the piece with the obligatory reference to "record low levels of sea ice in the Arctic". It's not that she's wrong, but just a few months ago sea ice levels were higher than they have been for years, and the more representative global sea ice levels are actually currently above their long-term average.

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Reader Comments (8)

The yo-yoing of Artic and Antartic sea ice extents is warning to all those who profess belief in alarmist man-made global warming. The planet will have nothing to do with human obsessions.

Jun 18, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

AMSR-E is "state-of-the-art" satellite yet has significant problem with Antarctic sea ice:

The older satellites have a drift relative to AMSR-E that could account for all the Arctic sea ice 'decline' over the satellite era:

Jun 18, 2010 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Drake

Though it'd be ridiculous to suggest that this sharing data isn't a good thing, it strikes me that sharing data within the subject hasn't really been the issue - even if, as shown in the Climategate files, it's often been more specifically sharing among sympathetic eyes within the subject. The issue has been (and quite obviously continues to be) a lack of broader openness and transparency between the scientists and the population of climate sceptics that fund them.

Even if it transpired that what is being reported is a genuine example of true openness and transparency I'd be hesitant to make too much of a deal about, or pat a bunch of scientists on the back for, something which ought always to have been a de facto feature of their work.

I don't expect a pat on the back for not exceeding the speed limit or for not drinking and driving, nor should I expect such things. I'm legally and morally obliged to act within constraints as defined in law, and so are these scientists. It's a sad day when we're actually considering celebrating a signal from a small group of scientists that might actually begin to adhere to their legal obligations.

It's a pretty ridiculous state of affairs if you take a broad step back and look at it.

Jun 18, 2010 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonH

Hopefully Mark Serreze and others will understand that this sort of comment is all that skeptics have ever asked for or wanted, i.e. an admission that they, like the rest of us, are not perfect and that the science is anything b ut settled.
But somewhere along the line the climate research community has developed an urgent need to pile scare story upon scare story in a desperate attempt to .... what? We know that Gore is tainted by his moneymaking activities, ditto Pachauri. Hansen is coming across as a fanatic (vide his appearance at a UK court of law in an attempt to stop construction of a UK power station) which is always dangerous in a scientist. Mann and Schmidt inter alia may be honest scientists but since they come across as arrogant and totally unprepared to consider alternatives to their belief system it seems doubtful.
From the depth of my lack of scientific knowledge I looked at the 2007 graph and said then "it's an outlier". If I could see it, Serreze should have seen it. The fact that he now comes forward and admits to getting it wrong is good news; the fact that he and his scientific colleagues were "astounded" by it and failed to consider even the possibility that it might turn out to be the freak event that it was is very bad news indeed and since neither they nor I know with any certainty on what timescale (other than the last 30 years ... how long is it since the last Ice Age, again?) it was the lowest summer coverage we come back to the ongoing and, to my mind at least, most important question of all: Why are we being asked to commit trillions of dollars to something that even the majority of its own researchers still haven't got a handle on and which,as every skeptic and an increasing number of 'warmists' knows, flies in the face of logic, common sense, historical information, and even in some cases the laws of physics?

Jun 18, 2010 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

The Wired author goes well beyond what you cited about the record low levels of Arctic sea ice. That at least is a documented fact, although one must keep in context that the quantitative record is only 30 years long. Anecdotally, Arctic ice has been known to retreat strongly in the past. The reporter says the following without attribution:

Given the current patterns of fossil fuel use and the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, sea-ice-free summers in the arctic are a virtual certainty by the end of century, and possibly much sooner.
From context, I'm guessing that Mark Serreeze is the source, so I'm not sure that there's much of a retreat in opinions: it's more of a disowning of the unwarranted extrapolations from a single year's unexpected observations, which have already proven false. However, the belief remains that the models have it right -- only the horizon for predictions has moved beyond the immediately falsifiable.

The models' predictions for this summer's low Arctic ice extent varies from 5.7 M km^2 (which is well above last year's value) to 4.2 M km^2 (below 2007's record). Well, not counting the outlier at 1 M km^2. Given the range of one year's predictions by presumably well-qualified teams, I don't see why we can attribute any significant certainty to a prediction of future ice-free summers.

Jun 18, 2010 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

You have to click on the video type you want to use, but this shows the Skate surfacing at the N Pole in March, when the ice is thickest. In 1959.

Despite having 30 years of satellite data, that would not show a 60 or 80 year cycle. We know ice ages are in the 10,000's of years. Why do all "scientists" assume that ice caps would operate in cycles recognizable in 30 years?

Jun 19, 2010 at 3:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterTW in the USA

It is indeed odd that someone studying the Arctic would have seen 2007 as some sort of seminal year, they have only to go to US and UK naval records to see that there have been plenty of times in the last 150 years when the Arctic has been clear for shipping above 80 degrees.

Climate scientists, clearly not all of them but certainly those of the alarmist tendency, seem to stop researching and publish as soon as their results confirm their alarmism.

Jun 19, 2010 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

As the HS shows, climate alarm promoters do not need to wait on data to confirm anything.
They already know their answer. The only time they need between publications is to hack away and trick up the data to fit the conclusion.
Think of how the oil industry used boilerplate to fill out the safety and spill response disclosures, for an example of this.

Jun 19, 2010 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

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