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« IPPR does climate and energy | Main | Inspirational Betts - Josh 289 »

Arctic ice on the up

David Rose has an article in the Mail on Sunday about the rapid recovery in Arctic sea ice over the last couple of years.


The speech by former US Vice-President Al Gore was apocalyptic. ‘The North Polar ice cap is falling off a cliff,’ he said. ‘It could be completely gone in summer in as little as seven years. Seven years from now.’

Those comments came in 2007 as Mr Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigning on climate change.

But seven years after his warning, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that, far from vanishing, the Arctic ice cap has expanded for the second year in succession – with a surge, depending on how you measure it, of between 43 and 63 per cent since 2012.


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Reader Comments (32)

Al Gore was very scientific about it. I wonder where he got his statistics from.

There is a 75 per cent chance that the entire polar ice cap during some of the summer months could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.

David Rose also highlights nother fraudulent claim to parliament:

Only last month, while giving evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee inquiry on the Arctic, Cambridge University’s Professor Peter Wadhams claimed that although the Arctic is not ice-free this year, it will be by September 2015.

Aug 31, 2014 at 9:04 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Let's hope the ex hurricane that is supposed to bring us warm weather next week won't do too much damage. One of the reasons for the increased ice was the weather we've had for most of the summer. The winds that saw us sweltering, also kept the ice in the Arctic. There wasn't much swirling about in the basin either. Last winter saw a quite a bit of the ice that survived last summer flow out or there would be an even bigger total this year. Perhaps we've reached a new normal where bad years can see a repeat of 2012 but good years sees it recover to present levels?

Aug 31, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Either way, it proves not a lot. If we are to remain objective and realists must be that and are the very sticklers for viewing statistics as what they are - just numbers. Whether, the weather in the Arctic is just freezing cold or bone numbingly erm 'Arctic', good or bad, even if the ice is at it's greatest extent or lowest "evah" - we are damn sure that, man made CO2 has not the slightest effect - none, nada, zilch - FA. Oceanic currents are, always were the key factor.

Forsooth, what will alarm the nutters [politicians and the EU mafia], investment bankers, green hedge fund managers and a couple or four hundred thousand hangers on and NGOs in the EU + all eco loons. Is that, the albedo effect and the consequent home made suppositions attached tacked on - "weirding weather", " a 'warming Arctic" means cold winters [how so?] in nord Europa and all that malarky.

Now then, the $64,000 question for alarmists is how to argue spin that facts, that, an expanding sea ice area somehow ties in with and = man made warming from man made CO2?

Do yer see?

Aug 31, 2014 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

There was a similar melting back in the 1920-1950 period which I wrote about last week here with hundreds of references.

Unusually the Antarctic was also melting at the same time, unlike today.

In total the global sea ice area during the 1920-1950 period was probably not that dissimilar to today


Aug 31, 2014 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

The arguments of the "Death spiral- fellows" are on the horizon: "The record in the article in the Mail is too short, cherry-picking!" Anyway, let's have a look at the yearly loss of the area, the difference between the area ( cryosphere today) of the 31st of March ( near Max.) and the 29th of August ( last data of 2014): . There is no autocorrelation in this record, it's the advantage. And one can look at the anomaly of the loss over all years: . The loss of 2014 returned to the average of 1979-2014. No "Death Spiral" after 2014, what now?

Aug 31, 2014 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

So there's an even greater area in which the polar bears may hide.

Aug 31, 2014 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Ed Hawkins, referenced in the article gave an Interesting presentation at the 2014 Sea Ice Prediction Workshop held at NCAR Boulder Colorado 1-2 April 2014

Ed Hawkins, Reading University. "Climate Variability and Arctic Predictability"

(scroll down to first video)

One hour long but worth it, lots of good interesting detail.

It also contains a couple of intriguing statements, one at 11mins in along the lines of:-

"we have a magic number of 2 deg C the policy makers care about, they seem to care about 2 deg C above pre-industrial global average temperature"

So politicians determined the "magic number"?

Also it would appear that 2100 is just an "arbitrary figure, sometime in the future"?

The narrative between scientist and politicians is always going to be difficult, even more so if reality increases the distance between the two groups of "experts".

Aug 31, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Did I ever mention the anomalous expansion of water? Without that weird property of mine none of you would be reading this.

You have so much to thank me for but all I ever hear is the wonders of CO2.

Life is so unfair!

Aug 31, 2014 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

Hey fellers, climate is cyclic.

Eventually the Climateers will realize that their daft theories are wrong. The truth will out.

Aug 31, 2014 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

If things were really so bad that the Arctic ice-cap would be gone in seven years from (pick a deadline) , then the average rational person would conclude that there is nothing we could do in that timeframe that would have any impact.

And the Greenies wonder why nobody is listening any more.

Aug 31, 2014 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

I show the AMO trend and compare to temperature trends in Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Russia below.

In all cases temperatures now are around where they were in the 1940's (when AMO peaked), dropped through the floor in the 1960's and 70's (when the AMO was at its lowest), and since have recovered (as AMO has again peaked).

We fail to learn from history at our peril - we have 30 years of colder Arctic temperatures, expanding ice and, to boot, a colder NH.

Aug 31, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

+1 for that.
So obvious when you think about it.

Aug 31, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Interesting article which I'd already read.

Aug 31, 2014 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Although he's not everyone's cup of tea Steve Goddard posts some interesting stuff. The graphs here are a case in point.

Aug 31, 2014 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Where was the cliff that the polar ice-cap was supposed to be falling off? Not too many around the North Pole I would have thought.

Aug 31, 2014 at 2:24 PM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

The cliff? Thought it was in Portugal.....

Aug 31, 2014 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterturnedoutnice

It bears repeating several times so it sinks in: remove the outlier 2012 low -caused by an unusually powerful Arctic cyclone, something no one refutes- and it is ever more evident that 2007 was the turning point.

The yearly minima have increased every year since. Look carefully and the yearly maxima are also moving up, albeit it less robustly than the minima.

"Boots on the ground" evidence provided by sources such as the master of one of Canada's icebreakers [a friend of mine] indicates ever more multi year ice.

Aug 31, 2014 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered Commentertetris

Some people just do not get the message, You can waste huge amounts of money warning the world about a non-problem or you can wisely spend huge amounts of money building things that tackle a real problem.

"Why the U.S. Must Build More Icebreakers Now

"The United States has just one functioning icebreaker. While the Arctic region is of increasing strategic importance, the U.S. is falling behind Russia, China, Canada, and other countries in its ability to operate there"

"Washington, Alaska senators pave way for 4 new icebreakers"

"Canada have put together a funding pot to build ice breakers for the next 30 years"

"Russia is Building the World's Largest Nuclear-Powered ice breaker..."

"The need for icebreakers will increase after the year 2016 ..."

With 10,000 ships rescued by ice breakers in the 2010/11 season, you can see why.

Aug 31, 2014 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterpaasingby

Thank you, David Rose. Best laugh of the week. :-)

Aug 31, 2014 at 7:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

"we have a magic number of 2 deg C the policy makers care about, they seem to care about 2 deg C above pre-industrial global average temperature"

So politicians determined the "magic number"?

Aug 31, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

At least one paper has been published that investigated the source but do not have a link to hand. here is an article that attributes the source to Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Rarely has a scientific idea had such a strong impact on world politics. Most countries have now recognized the two-degree target. If the two-degree limit were exceeded, German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen announced ahead of the failed Copenhagen summit, "life on our planet, as we know it today, would no longer be possible."

But this is scientific nonsense. "Two degrees is not a magical limit -- it's clearly a political goal," says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "The world will not come to an end right away in the event of stronger warming, nor are we definitely saved if warming is not as significant. The reality, of course, is much more complicated."

Schellnhuber ought to know. He is the father of the two-degree target.

"Yes, I plead guilty," he says, smiling. The idea didn't hurt his career. In fact, it made him Germany's most influential climatologist. Schellnhuber, a theoretical physicist, became Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief scientific adviser -- a position any researcher would envy.

Rule of Thumb

The story of the two-degree target began in the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). Administration politicians had asked the council for climate protection guidelines, and the scientists under Schellnhuber's leadership came up with a strikingly simple idea. "We looked at the history of the climate since the rise of homo sapiens," Schellnhuber recalls. "This showed us that average global temperatures in the last 130,000 years were no more than two degrees higher than before the beginning of the industrial revolution. To be on the safe side, we came up with a rule of thumb stating that it would be better not to depart from this field of experience in human evolution. Otherwise we would be treading on terra incognita."

As tempting as it sounds, on closer inspection this approach proves to be nothing but a sleight of hand. That's because humans are children of an ice age. For many thousands of years, they struggled to survive in a climate that was as least four degrees colder than it is today, and at times even more than eight degrees colder.

More at

Aug 31, 2014 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

Good to know you are laughing at fools like serreze, em! You could almost be one of us......

...... If we didn't know better.

Aug 31, 2014 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

Entropic man (Aug 31, 2014 at 7:20 PM) said "Thank you, David Rose. Best laugh of the week. :-)"

I tend to agree... nature and a few genuine scientists are showing just how silly Al Gore's statements really were.

Aug 31, 2014 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Mick J

Many thanks Mick, in a previous discussion Ruth Dixon pointed to the same article.

Reaction then and still:-

So scientists who felt the need to yield to political pressure now feel free to pontificate about our inability to comprehend how they communicate the science?

Bottom line? Scientist "invented an easily digestible message" and now they claim it is a political target, a sort of "not me guv"! Sorry IPR and therefore responsibility remains with the inventor.

Aug 31, 2014 at 9:53 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

^ ... and despite all of that 'hot air', the ice continued to grow.

Aug 31, 2014 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Where do you get your "science" from EM?
Computer "models"? "The Guardian"?
Try reading some real experimental science, rather than "projections" and "models".
This is a good starter;
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L16705, doi:10.1029/2009GL039628, 2009- shows MEASURED outgoing radiation to space increases with temperature.
or this;
Global and Planetary Change Volume 100, January 2013, Pages 51–69- shows that atmospheric CO2 changes LAG, rather than LEAD global temperature (by about 10-12 months).
You do know about "cause and effect" don't you?

Sep 1, 2014 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Mick J
Governments are in love with simple numbers (matches their own IQ perhaps) because they think it is all the sheeple can understand and, who knows, maybe they're right.
So we have 2 degrees and 5 portions a day and 21 units a week and BMIs and all sorts of other rules of thumb designed to persuade us that Utopia is just a matter of doing what nanny tells us but stepping out of line will inevitably end up with the Big Bad Wolf coming to get us.
It would be amusing if it wasn't so dangerous.

Sep 1, 2014 at 9:52 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Damned facts just keep getting in the way of a good alarmist theory...

Sep 1, 2014 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

It would be amusing if it wasn't so dangerous.
Sep 1, 2014 at 9:52 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Ah, the five a day...

Lang, a professor of food policy at City University, remembers it differently. It was the late 1990s, the new Labour Government had come to power and set about instilling a target-driven culture in every aspect of British life.

“We all understand targets in the policy world. I remember being in the room when we were being briefed by Americans on five-a-day, which we adopted from them. They chose five partly as it was considered a nice round sum and partly because it seemed possible, given how low consumption of fruit and vegetables was.”

The Department of Health was searching for a motivational tool for a nation of poor eaters and the ready-made American campaign based on the number five seemed catchy. What, I say? Can this really be true — the five in five-a-day was chosen for marketing purposes?

“Five-a-day was an attempt to shift culture, which is not the same thing as saying eating five-a-day will protect everyone. It was a political judgment, but not a bad one.”

Hippocrates said “let food be thy medicine”, but was this “let modern branding be thy medicine”? Walter Willett, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard University, is one of the world’s most eminent nutrition researchers. His career, though, has been distinguished by disproving excitably reported ideas about “superfoods” rather than forming them.

In 1991 the American Government adopted the five-a-day policy, as growing numbers of experts were stating that bad food was causing cancer. First and foremost among them was Britain’s esteemed Sir Richard Doll, the scientific hero who established the link between cigarettes and cancer. In 1981 he estimated that a third of cancer deaths in the West could have been avoided with a better diet. When Sir Richard spoke, the world took notice and, by 2007, says Willett, the experts proclaimed that eating a load of fruit and veg could reduce your cancer risk by 50 per cent. The American National Cancer Institute upped its recommendations to nine-a-day.

“It was a pretty rough, arbitrary number, which is always the case with any target,” says Willett. But, he adds, the studies were fatally flawed.

“They were based on retrospective evidence — asking people about their diet after they had already got cancer, which can lead people to report differently. Also, the control groups were not perfectly random, the people who volunteer for that kind of thing are much more health-conscious individuals.”

So, from where did the US Government get the idea for the number five, if not the scientific studies? I was closing in. Marion Nestle, nutrition professor at New York University, thinks she remembers exactly where.

“It was Susan Foerster, the head nutritionist in California. She had the bright idea of promoting fruit and vegetable consumption in a state which was a big fruit and vegetable producer.”

The American National Cancer Institute admits that “no studies have tested the impact of specific numbers of servings on cancer risk”. But it says five was chosen in California in 1988, as it doubled the average consumption, and “the number five was memorable and provided a platform for creative message and programme delivery”.

In America now, the five-a-day message is “invisible; [it has] completely dropped off the radar”, says Nestle.

Britain, though, has taken California’s 1980s marketing policy and run with it.“We have to abandon this idea that there’s something miraculous in diet,” says Paulo Boffetta, the doctor behind last week’s study. “It’s not true for fruit and vegetables as a whole, and even less true for fruit and vegetables individually.”

And by the way, as everyone I spoke to emphasised, an unexpected surprise of all this research is the discovery that although it may not do much for cancer, eating fruit and vegetables is good for your heart. How many a day? Don’t ask.

Now behind a paywall, the link was

Sep 1, 2014 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

There is history and form to consider:

Have we heard from Uncle Bob this year yet?

Sep 1, 2014 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

No doubt that we have an Ice-Free Arctic "hiatus." /sarc

Sep 1, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuck L

The BBC now has this on its news:

Antarctic coastal waters 'rising faster' By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News

I wonder if this is a response to Rose's article.

Sep 1, 2014 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Don Keiller

I' m not sure whether your 9.39AM post was intended as a joke.

Of course measured outgoing radiation to space increases with temperature! It is standard physics that radiation increases as the 4th power of increasing temperature.
In the climate context this is what one would expect. Increasing heat retention from whatever cause increases temperature. The result is increasing outward radiation. One of the best pieces of evidence that sceptics could put forward to show that warming has stopped is to demonstrate that the outward radiation has stopped increasing. Anyone?

On the lead/ lag relationship between CO2 and temperature I presume you refer to Humlum et al , 2013 .

I can access the abstract, but not the text. They describe 9 month lags which I presume you are claiming to be systemic rather than seasonal.

Could you please suggest a full text source or explain their data in more detail. I have two particular concerns. Firstly, how have they confirmed that this is not a seasonal effect not directly connected to long term trends? Secondly, have they considered secondary release of CO2 from carbon sinks such as permafrost?
If you consider the cause and effect relationship you would expect anthropogenic CO2 release to increase temperature. The increased temperature then causes further increase in CO2 released from permafrost. The first effect is CO2 leading temperature ; the second is temperature leading CO2. Is their analysis technique picking up the second, but not the first?

Like most people I am quite content to regard temperature as leading CO2 on the timescale of glacial cycles. In the modern period it is hard to get away from the link between industrial CO2 emissions, increasing CO2 and increasing temperature. I am interested to know whether Humlum et al have accounted for this. I rather suspect that you have seen a short term lag mentioned in the abstract and jumped to an incorrect conclusion regarding its relevance to the longer term relationship.

Sep 1, 2014 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

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