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The Royal and the Arctic

The Royal Society is holding a scientific meeting today on the Arctic and climate change, beautifully timed to coincide with the annual minimum in Arctic sea ice. Unfortunately, the ice, which looks to have passed the minimum over the weekend, has recovered again this year, so no headlines were garnered.

Readers can see a bit of what is going on at the meeting by visiting the RSArctic14 hashtag and it looks pretty interesting. I was amused to see that Julienne Stroeve seems to be tentatively suggesting that the recovery in Arctic sea ice in the last couple of years has made the GCM predictions look rather clever. Put next to their failure in the Antarctic, it feels more like luck than judgement, but perhaps that's just my natural cynicism about climate models.

It does seem to me that we are at an interesting point for the Arctic. In the next few years, natural variability enthusiasts and global coolers are predicting continuing ice recovery. Climate models are telling us that the decline will continue.

We watch with interest.

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Reader Comments (68)

Amazing coincidence. Yesterday's Sunday Times -

"Arctic ice cap in ‘death spiral’
THE Arctic ice cap has melted so much that open water is now just 350 miles from the North Pole, the shortest distance recorded, scientists say.

Satellite observations, from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) last week, coincide with a prediction from a leading British polar researcher that the summer ice cap is now so thin it is likely to disappear within five years, possibly as early as 2015. .... etc. etc. etc. "

Sep 22, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterVftS

"...perhaps that's just my natural cynicism about climate models."

I think cynicism (rather than skepticism) is the right word to use.

How can one believe in the integrity of people who present the output of unvalidated models as being on a par with physical reality?

Sep 22, 2014 at 10:40 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

We know for sure that if the arctic ice will keep recovering, or will disappear again, or will remain just the same, a herd of climate scientists will explain how that is evidence of anthropogenic global warming

Sep 22, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Thank you @omnologos for: "a herd of climate scientists"

I knew there must be a collective term for scientists suffering from confirmation bias :-)

Sep 22, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRayJ

O/T - Is there a problem with the GWPF site? The home page I look at hasn't changed the lead stories for weeks. Or is it me?

Sep 22, 2014 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

Cheshirered: you have to go to the Global warming forum (box on right on the site), which is now for the update stories. you are going just to instead.

Sep 22, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarolineK

Claiming the science is settled is a good way of not having to spend millions of pounds risking the lives of researchers sending them out to the poles for weeks on end .
Scientists get to sit in a nice offices collating data on a laptop making sweeping declarations instead of freezing their nuts off dodging polar bears and still getting paid for it.


Sep 22, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

That Sunday Times article.
September 2014 ice compared to the summer average for 1981 to 2010.
I presume that September is at the end of the summer melt and will therefore be less than the average for the whole summer.
Also why is the data for 2011 to 2013 not included? Low ice cove years perhaps?

Sep 22, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterRbravery

You'll find your answer here
and here which was linked in the Bishop's piece.

Sep 22, 2014 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

The Times article mentioned in the update is behind a paywall, but it is available at the Australian.

Sep 22, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

"the North Pole will be ice-free within five years."

As usual.

Sep 22, 2014 at 12:35 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Thanks Caroline. Sorted.

Sep 22, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

Thank you @omnologos for: "a herd of climate scientists"

I suggest a Clut of climate scientists.

This reads as if the GCMs predicted arctic ice increase. I must have missed that gem.

Sep 22, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

HaroldW, The Australian is also paywalled.

Sep 22, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Five years, what a surprise.

Sep 22, 2014 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

How odd. I also see The Australian version as paywalled when clicking my own link.

The magic seems to be in arriving at the webpage from Google search, rather than via a direct link. Try searching for "Arctic ice cap in a death spiral", and clicking on the link to The Australian.

Sep 22, 2014 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Stephen Richards

I will go with Clut on the basis it is short form of clusterf*ck?

Sep 22, 2014 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

By my reckoning according to Charles Windsor there's only three years left to save the planet?

Sep 22, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Ne'er cast a CLOUT of cliimate 'scientists' till May is Out...

Sep 22, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Wadhams predicted in 2013 that the Arctic would be free of ice by 2015

This latest prediction moves the disappearance out in time (2015 - 2020). Is Professor Wadhams vying with Paul Ehrlich for the number of failed predictions he can make?

It is significant that even Gavin Schmidt weeted that this is not supported widely. Even the warmists are disowning Professor Wadhams.

Skeptics should support Wadhams because he keeps scoring own goals for the warmists.

Sep 22, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

"Satellite observations, from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) last week, coincide with a prediction from a leading British polar researcher that the summer ice cap is now so thin it is likely to disappear within five years, possibly as early as 2015. .... etc. etc. etc. ""

Are there not photos published of two nuclear subs surfaced at an ice free north pole?

Sep 22, 2014 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Thanks for the Twitter updates, BH. Interesting that many seem to be distancing themselves from Wadhams' predictions.

Regarding the picture of Wadhams' extrapolation -- free advice from this presentation: "Extrapolation [is] not appropriate for highly nonlinear systems."

Sep 22, 2014 at 1:48 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Ah - its the THICKNESS, don't you know, not the AREA now.. Area is so 'last century'...

Sep 22, 2014 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

@Stephen Richards:
"I suggest a Clut of climate scientists."

I respectfully suggest a "Cnut", which could imply that they're vainly attempting to prevail against the tide. Or it could be a misprint.

Sep 22, 2014 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMickey C

maybe a 'bumclot' of climate scientists?

Sep 22, 2014 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergnomish

"Summer weather conditions in both 2013 and 2014 were unremarkable, helping to explain the higher September extents in these years relative to the record low recorded in 2012" - Mark Serreze.

Is this a sleekit acknowledgement that the 2012 minima was largely as a result of the unusual August storm which broke up much of the ice and quickened its demise? The Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012 -

Why do these scientists rarely if ever discuss what is likely to be the major cause of Arctic sea ice loss, which is not melting from slightly less cold atmospheric and oceanic temperatures, or higher insolation rates, but transport of the ice by wind down the Fram Strait and into the North Atlantic?

The elephant in the room?

Sep 22, 2014 at 3:13 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Curious that he is able to show a continuous downward curve, is that data only to 2010?
Here is how the PIOMASS graphs look today.

This one shows the reversal in the death spiral for Arctic ice volume.

Here are the April and September graphs, again the late summer numbers not obeying the script although a ways to go to match earlier years.

Data etc at
Will be interesting to see the updates on about the 4th October.

Sep 22, 2014 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

Re Nail @ 1h47

Photo here.

Sep 22, 2014 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle


I would suggest a "Murder of Climate Scientists" as a collective term. They remind me of crows, they are noisy, opportunistic, highly visible, wickedly smart, irritating and up to no good.

Sep 22, 2014 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

there very well might be a "climate" problem down the line, but I still fail to see howso further enriching leftwing characters (the RS, the many quangoes and institutes and leftwing city councils "recycling" ) would insure us against any of that.

R&D in bio , algae, thorium, fission, fusion, better nukes.. thats where the beef is.

smaller nannystate, putting education online thereby avoiding 15:00 rush hour out of the skools and univissitties
that's where the beef is.

Sep 22, 2014 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

Might I suggest a Lie of Climate Scientists?


Sep 22, 2014 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRalph Tittley

Interesting comments and ideas on the Arctic and climate change. In my oppinion, one of the most interesting Arctic aspect is that almost 100 years ago suddenly a period of poor Arctic sea ice showed up between 1919 to 1943, which Irving I. Schell (JoM, 1956, p.46-57) assumed that a similar occurrence may not have happen since the middle of the 17th century. "This would suggest that the recent relatively warm and wet period in the North Atlantic - Arctic and the adjacent areas may not have been duplicated earlier for 200 years ore more".
Reference located at:

Sep 22, 2014 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterLinda D.

Some great suggestions for collective nouns - I also thought Cnuts would be good, although probably far too flattering in both likely meanings - so may I propose a Dissembly of Climate Scientists™?



verb (used with object), dissembled, dissembling.
to give a false or misleading appearance to; conceal the truth or real nature of:
to dissemble one's incompetence in business.
to put on the appearance of; feign:
to dissemble innocence.

Sep 22, 2014 at 9:40 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

'it is likely'
heads you lose , tails I win may be a rather dishonest way of acting for a scientists. But important to be fair and say this is the 'standard ' way to work has a climate 'scientists' so those pursuing it are merely following the norm for the area they work in . That this 'norm' is a rather sick joke is another issue but you certainly cannot argue with all the grant money this approach has brought in so why change from an approach that is both profitable and very easy to do.

Sep 22, 2014 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR


Good attempt, but the correct collective noun is a 'glut' of climate scientists.

Sep 22, 2014 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

A "Cult of Climate Scientists"?

Sep 22, 2014 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

Niall, John Dr Melle

The three submarines at the North Pole in 1987 were in a polynya. Look behind them and you will notice ice to the horizon. An opening in the ice large enough for submarines to surface does not qualify as an ice free North Pole.

Sep 22, 2014 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Scientists debate polar sea-ice opposites

Quite remarkable:-

"Arctic sea ice has passed its minimum summer extent, say polar experts meeting in London."

Now how come the whole wide wonderful world, already knew that?

But then again this is the BBC reporting

"This year's minimum is fractionally smaller than last year (5.10 million sq km), making summer 2014 the sixth lowest in the modern satellite record. "

Que? Not according to this peer reviewed metric where it is not only greater than 2013 but also larger than 6 out of the last 7 years?

Or possibly NOAA's own darling"MASIE" which also shows this year's extent higher than 2013.

But as a BBC source why should I expect even a modicum of fact checking? Unless it involves the antics of a dodgy builder, which of course keeps the masses amused and away from the major aspects of life?

Sep 23, 2014 at 12:25 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

This game sounds fun.

How about a "denial" off sceptics?

Sep 23, 2014 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

ITV news earlier tonight (22nd Sept) included a video which began:
“Scientists announced today that the ice in the arctic has reached its lowest level for a decade”

Sep 23, 2014 at 12:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterTony

"Thank you @omnologos for: "a herd of climate scientists" I knew there must be a collective term for scientists suffering from confirmation bias :-)" --RayJ

Candidate collective nouns that might be metaphorically extended to cover lock-step climatologists should include: a rookery of albatrosses, a wreck of sea birds, an obstinancy of buffalo, a nuisance of cats, a coalition of "cheetahs," a storytelling of crows, a mob of emus, an implausibility of gnus, a bloat of hippopotamuses, a plague of insects, a tribe of monkeys, a fever of stingrays, a posse of turkeys, and a descent of woodpeckers. My favorites are a bloat, rookery, or fever of climatologists.

Sep 23, 2014 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Green Sand

You quote three different analyses of sea ice extent, using different techniques, different sensors and different resolutions; intended for different purposes.

The source most generally used is the NSIDC Arctic sea ice extent published here . This is the source the BBC used.

Sep 23, 2014 at 12:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Twelve billion tonnes of snow accumulated on Greenland on 21 September, almost exceeding the upper limit of the y axis scale on the DMI surface mass budget graph for Greenland (the largest daily accumulation in the record which began in 1990 - possibly?):

Antarctic ice has gone off the scale at the AMSR2 website run by the University of Bremen:

Sep 23, 2014 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Entropic man you are indeed prophetic:-

Entropic, level 5 of Entropy

5. Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.

If you actually believe you can restrict the development of homo sapiens without any ensuing conflict, you either have no understanding of history or you truly are a misguided fool

Sep 23, 2014 at 1:03 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

"If you actually believe you can restrict the development of homo sapiens without any ensuing conflict, you either have no understanding of history or you truly are a misguided fool"

Sep 23, 2014 at 1:03 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

To the contrary. I expect our civilisation to default to peasant farming and local feudalism within 200 years under the combined stress of overpopulation, resource depletion and climate change, with no human management involved. I also expect the transition from high technology and high population to low technology and low population to be extremely chaotic and bloody.

Why else call myself Entropic Man?

For me the question becomes, how to manage the transition with minimum bloodshed?
And before you ask, I hate the idea but see no way to avoid it.


Sep 23, 2014 at 1:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Billy liar

Have you considered the implications of the increased Greenland snowfall?

Increased precipitation comes form increased water vapour, which comes from increased evaporation which comes from higher sea surface temperatures.

That extra snowfall comes from this year's high sea surface temperatures in the Pacific.

Sep 23, 2014 at 1:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM Your view seems to be very much in the same spirit as this. Would you agree ?

It is, it seems, our civilisation’s turn to experience the inrush of the savage and the unseen; our turn to be brought up short by contact with untamed reality. There is a fall coming. We live in an age in which familiar restraints are being kicked away, and foundations snatched from under us. After a quarter century of complacency, in which we were invited to believe in bubbles that would never burst, prices that would never fall, the end of history, the crude repackaging of the triumphalism of Conrad’s Victorian twilight —

Hubris has been introduced to Nemesis. Now a familiar human story is being played out. It is the story of an empire corroding from within. It is the story of a people who believed, for a long time, that their actions did not have consequences. It is the story of how that people will cope with the crumbling of their own myth. It is our story.

Sep 23, 2014 at 1:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

Looking at the picture with the slide, there is absolutely no reason why Wadhams' prediction should not be believed by a herd of climate scientists. After all, it looks exactly the same as a global temperature graph where a smooth line is sent soaring off toward the ceiling from the high point of a temperature peak, for e.g., from 1998. Ever heard of any climate scientist not believe those?

Sep 23, 2014 at 2:16 AM | Registered Commentershub

A "decline of climate scientists".

Sep 23, 2014 at 3:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterclimatebeagle

How about "a coven of climate scientists?"

Sep 23, 2014 at 4:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMickey Reno

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