Some Ice With That?

by Andrew Stuttaford

BBC, December 12, 2007:

Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice. Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years. Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss. Summer melting this year reduced the ice cover to 4.13 million sq km, the smallest ever extent in modern times.Remarkably, this stunning low point was not even incorporated into the model runs of Professor Maslowski and his team, which used data sets from 1979 to 2004 to constrain their future projections….

Former US Vice President Al Gore cited Professor Maslowski’s analysis on Monday in his acceptance speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.

The Sunday Telegraph, September 8, 2013:

There has been a 60 per cent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice compared to this time last year, they equivalent of almost a million square miles. In a rebound from 2012’s record low an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores, days before the annual re-freeze is even set to begin.

The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year, forcing some ships to change their routes. A leaked report to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) seen by the Mail on Sunday, has led some scientists to claim that the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century…

Now, it is worth noting (as, to be fair, the BBC did back in 2007) that Professor Maslowski was something of an outlier.  And it’s also true that the Arctic’s ill-mannered failure to melt on the Maslowski schedule does not “disprove” the CAGW thesis (although, as Rupert Darwall points out in The Age of Global Warming, one has to ask what would). Nevertheless this polar puzzle does provide yet another reminder that computer modeling, particularly of a system as complex as the climate, is an inevitably imperfect process, a fact that the Obama administration, not to speak of the climate catastrophists running the EU, shows few signs of understanding. 

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