Thongchai Thailand

The Ice Free Arctic Insanity of Climate Science

Posted on: January 15, 2020


bandicam 2020-01-15 11-51-47-431












  1. At the risk of using unfortunate phraseology, Arctic sea ice has been a hot topic for many years now. The Arctic is often called the world’s air conditioning system because of the pivotal role it plays in controlling the planet’s climate largely due to the enormous ice sheet sitting on top of Greenland and the vast body of sea ice that ebbs and flows in the Arctic Ocean. So if those two bodies of ice start to diminish, then you can expect the air conditioning effect to change as well.
  2. There seems to be a constant debate about accuracy of measurement up in the Arctic. The implications of single year anomalies in the dataset get disputed as does the accuracy and calibration of different measuring instrumentation, margins of error in climate modeling, and value differences from calculating techniques from one monitoring agency to another.
  3. But really speaking, it doesn’t matter which organization you prefer or which dataset you choose to use from one year to another or even which graph or chart you find easiest to read. My personal favorite is Jim Pettit’s spiral graph, by the way. The trend line of every single reputable Arctic sea ice dataset, graph, and chart is an inexorable trajectory downwards toward zero. bandicam 2020-01-15 12-42-22-784
  4. And when I say zero, I should probably clarify a couple of important caveats. The first is that “zero” in climate science terms means a sea ice extent that is less than one million square kilometers. The second is that there is no suggestion that this will be a year-round phenomenon – at least in the short term anyway. It is likely that the first time we get an Arctic sea ice extent that is less than one million square kilometers it will stay that way for a couple of weeks towards the end of September before building back up again when the colder months start to encroach but the heat that will have got into the water while the ice was missing will make it extremely likely that once we’ve had a Blue Ocean Event , we’ll continue to get them every year thereafter. bandicam 2020-01-15 15-03-47-967
  5. And there is an understandable human curiosity that drives the climate science community to try to make predictions about when that zero mark might actually be reached. At one extreme end of this prediction scale 2017 was touted by some as an almost guaranteed date for the first Blue Ocean Event right up until the 2017 minimum actually arrived and the sea ice bottomed out at about 4.7 million square kilometers. At the more conservative end of the scale, organizations like our own UK Met Office point to the slowdown in the Atlantic Overturning Meridional “Currents” as an indicator of a much longer timeline perhaps to the end of the century. bandicam 2020-01-15 15-18-47-868
  6. Conversely, the American Geophysical Union or the AGU has just released a new report pointing to a long term warming phase in the tropical Pacific which they suggest may mean a Blue Ocean Event could occur in the next twenty years or so. bandicam 2020-01-15 15-23-38-448
  7. Others use different extrapolations to of graph trends to hit various possibilities. This graph of prior ice measurements from 1980 to the present day has no fewer than five different overlay fit-lines including a straight linear trend line, an exponential fit, a second order polynomial fit, a log fit, and even something called a Gompertz fit. Pick your favorite line on this graph and you can have a Blue Ocean Event anywhere from about 2024 to 2050. All of that is fascinating stuff. It’s a bit frustrating and confusing for the non-scientific on-looker. bandicam 2020-01-15 15-47-13-056
  8. But attempting to put our finger on when in the next 80 years this Blue Ocean Event is likely to descend upon us is perhaps distracting us all from the real question which is what will happen after a  Blue Ocean Event and what can we do now to mitigate its worst effects. So this video contains no predictions from an English layman about Blue Ocean Event timelines. Instead we will have a look at the inextricably interconnected nature of the Arctic and its local environment and the wider global climate to establish the top ten most significant potential outcomes of an ice free Arctic. bandicam 2020-01-15 16-14-44-019
  9. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#1: LATENT HEATAs long as there is ice in a body of water, then any surrounding heat energy is carried towards the ice to try and make it melt. But the energy needed to make it change state or phase from solid ice to liquid water is the same amount of energy that would heat an equivalent volume of liquid water all the way up to 79C. So that’s your first problem. Once all the ice is gone, the water gets much warmer very quickly indeed. And then you’ve got consequence #2 which is Albedo change. 
  10. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#2: ALBEDO CHANGEOnce all the ice goes you no longer have a nice big sheet of reflective white stuff to bounce the sun’s heat safely back out into space. Back in program 17 we did a little experiment with a digital thermometer, a couple of halogen lights, and some black and white cards and it was pretty obvious that the dark cards was immediately absorbing loads more heat than the white card. And that’s exactly what happens when ice disappears from the top of a dark blue ocean. So all that energy that was previously being reflected back by the ice were now being absorbed by the water. bandicam 2020-01-15 16-41-35-357
  11. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#3: ALBEDO CHANGE:  ACCELERATED MELT OF THE GREENLAND ICE SHEET:  But hold on I hear you say. The Greenland Ice Sheet is on land not in the sea, so it’s a completely different thing, right? Well, yes. But the rapid warming of a continent size of water right next to the land mass means that ambient air in the region will also be getting warmed up. That warmer air will be pulled inland and across the surface of Greenland and it is this that will contribute to the accelerated melting of the ice sheet. 
  12. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#4: ALBEDO CHANGE:  INCREASE IN WATER VAPOR:  So we’ve got more liquid water from the melting ice and we’ve got a warmer atmosphere because of the various feedback loops that we just looked at. Physics tells us that for every 1C of warming, our atmosphere can hold about 7% more moisture. So now we’ve got more water vapor in the skies directly above the Arctic and water vapor is itself a very potent greenhouse gas. As dense low clouds drape a warming blanket over the land and sea, we get ourselves one more feedback loop to add to the list. 
  13. But because our global climate system is so interconnected, all the extra moisture in the air coupled with the warmer atmosphere also means a huge increase in energy to whip up storms, hurricanes, cyclones, and extreme flooding all over the world. We’ve already got just over a degree of warming compared to 1850 levels and that’s quite clearly having a big impact on extreme weather events around the world. According to a recent report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), most of the natural hazards that affected nearly 62 million people in 2018 were associated with extreme weather and climate events with 35 million hit by floods. Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael were just two of 14 $1 billion disasters in 2018 in the United States. Super Typhoon Mangkhut affected 3.4 million people and killed 134 mainly in the Philippines. Kerala in India suffered the heaviest rainfall and worst flooding in nearly a century.  bandicam 2020-01-15 18-20-17-993
  14. And all of that is without a Blue Ocean Event . The regularity and severity of these things will most likely see a very rapid increase as a result of an Ice Free Arctic and all that extra water will also result in consequence #5. bandicam 2020-01-15 18-30-46-946
  15. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#5: SEA LEVEL RISEAs water gets warmer, it expands and as the Greenland Ice Sheet melts at an ever increasing rate, that melting ice will flow down into the sea, an both of those things together will result in rising sea levels; not just in the Arctic but all around the globe. They are already rising as a consequence of human induced climate change of course but after a Blue Ocean Event, we’ll stop talking in tenths of millimeters a year and start talking in tens of centimeters a decade or so. And then it won’t just be hundreds of millions of people in vulnerable places like Bangladesh who suffered the loss of their homes and livelihoods as well as famines, disease, and premature deaths, something we’ve become a bit numb to here in the West because it only happens on the telly as far as we’re concerned. No, no! Now the water will coming after us comfortable affluent <people> as well. Most of the major cities in the financial centers of the world are in coastal areas and most of them face significant or even catastrophic destruction as water levels encroach on the lower lying districts. But there are some political leaders out there who wave a bit bravado about and tell their citizens they will simply use human ingenuity and technology to keep the water out. Miami for example, is already spending $500 million to install a massive pumping system to pump water back out into the ocean. And you know, good luck with that! bandicam 2020-01-15 19-46-55-059
  16. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#6: SEVERE JET STREAM DISRUPTION : A Blue Ocean Event will significantly accelerate the phenomenon known as Arctic Amplification for all the reasons we just talked about. The Arctic has already warmed by nearly 2C just over the last 30 years – much faster than the rest of the planet. And that is reducing the differential in temperature between the high latitudes and the equatorial region. And that causes the jet stream to slow down and meander about much more. A slower more meandering jet stream drags colder Arctic air down to lower latitudes for prolonged periods of time giving us things like The Beast from the East that we got in Europe in the year 2018; and many of the severe cold snaps that North America has been suffering in the last couple of years. But crucially, it dragged warm equatorial air much farther north way up into the Arctic Circle also for prolonged periods. So we witnessed ridiculously high temperatures like +11C in the North Pole in September. And of course that amplifies the Arctic warming still further and strengthens all the effects we’ve already looked at. 
  17. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#7: METHANEWe’ve all probably seen headlines like the 50 Gigaton Methane Bomb; or The Ticking Time Bomb of Methane . So what’s this all about? Where is all this methane coming from? And why does it need to be included in this Blue Ocean Event consequences? The 50 Gigaton number was first brought to light by scientists specializing in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) as far back as 2008 during the European Geophysical Conference. The ESAS continental shelf is extremely shallow, only about 50 meters deep. In a 2013 paper by Gail Whiteman, Chris Hope, and Peter Wadhams. They explain that as the amount of Arctic sea ice declines at an unprecedented rate, the thawing of offshore permafrost releases methane. A 50 gigaton reservoir of methane stored in the form of hydrates exists on the Siberian Arctic shelf. It is likely to be emitted as the sea bed warms steadily over 50 years or so. Or suddenly! According to Peter Wadhams, even if only 8% of the methane were released, this would very rapidly add about 0.6C to our global temperature; and rapidly rising temperatures will have a DEVASTATING effect on the main food growing regions of the world. bandicam 2020-01-16 10-44-43-879
  18. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#8: Global Food Crisis:  Abrupt global warming will mean that “these vital food growing regions”  {Brazil, Argentina, Indian Subcontinent, China, SE Asia}, will begin to experience such extreme temperatures and weather that agriculture will become practically impossible. The report in Time Magazine [LINK]  summarizes the predicament very well. Globally we rely on a very slender thread of genetic diversity. More than 50% of all human calories come from just three plants – rice, maize, and wheat. And the rice maize and wheat come from {Brazil, Argentina, Indian Subcontinent, China, SE Asia} all of these regions are going to be MASSIVELY affected by climate change and global warming – especially following the Blue Ocean Event. Our current human activity puts us on a path toward 4C warming above pre-industrial by the year 2100.  The map of the world at that stage will look something like this. bandicam 2020-01-16 12-40-24-493
  19. It is noted in the map above that Canada will grow most of the world’s crops, Northern Europe under huge pressure for habitable land, Russia has arable land and a habitable zone, the SW USA is a desert, North Africa, the Middle East, and Southern USA are uninhabitable, Africa is mostly desert, Southern Europe suffers from desert encroachment, Southern China is an uninhabitable dust bowl, Amazonas is an uninhabitable desert, Bangladesh and South India are abandoned after Himalayan glaciers have melted, Australia is useful only for Uranium mining, and Patagonia remains an arable zone.
  20. So the comfortable insulation and detachment we currently enjoy in the West will be pretty much shattered as we struggle to find enough food to feed our population. Here in the UK for example, we get 50% of our food from outside the country much of which is sourced from these vulnerable countries. And these huge swaths of once fertile land now turns into a dust bowl with summer temperatures exceeding 50C, a temperature way to high to grow anything. They will become places where human activity is more or less impossible. bandicam 2020-01-16 12-49-12-326
  21. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#9: CLIMATE REFUGEE CRISIS:  Commentary from Alfredsdottir, Icelandic lawmaker and former Minister of Foreign Affairs in a 2017 NATO report. It says that the refugee crisis shaking political stability throughout much of the Middle East and posing serious problems in Europe could be a harbinger of things to come. The huge economic and social costs linked to mass movements on this scale are self evident. It is distinctly possible that global climate challenges could trigger mass movements particularly in regions which no longer have the water and agricultural resources needed to support life. 
  22. The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free Arctic: SPO#10: REGIONAL AND GLOBAL CONFLICT.  In that same NATO report, Philippe Vitel, French legislator, says that it is a moral imperative to reduce hunger and thirst in the world. But it is also a strategic imperative. If the Middle East and North Africa cannot achieve sustainable food and water security, we will see many more crises in the years to come. Alfredsdottir concludes that the potential for conflict between regions affected by climate change should not be ruled out. And that’s ultraconservative NATO speaking, not Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth.  bandicam 2020-01-16 17-37-20-939
  23. Of course none of these consequences represents an existential threat to the planet itself . Our earth doesn’t care what the temperature is or what the relative concentration of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are. Its self regulatory systems have always re-calibrated themselves over long periods of time so that they always get back to equilibrium. The point is that for the last 11,000 years, since the dawn of human civilization, we’ve been able to design our entire societal infrastructure in every corner of the globe about a remarkable stable and predictable climate with an average global temperature that has never varied by more than 0.4C in all of that time until now. Our governments are perfectly well aware of what lies ahead but they are not taking the radical actions necessary partly in fear of the fossil fuel money that controls the modern political landscape, and partly in fear of inducing panic and unrest amongst their population. So thet need to be shown that their populations do want them to take radical action. That’s the objective of groups like and Extinction Rebellion.  And not forgetting of course the kids school strike movement inspired by the astonishingly determined and focused Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg. You might feel there is very little you can do as an individual to mitigate such an enormous issue but that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do at all. If you feel it’s within your gift, get involved with one of these groups or the very least hassle your elected representative and don’t take no for an answer. On a practical level, take your money away from those doing harm. Change your energy supply to a green energy supplier or better still get solar powers on your roof. And don’t give up if you live in an apartment block. Get together with the other residents and sort out a communal system. That’s already happening in many European cities. Change your bank, your life insurance, your pension provider if you’ve got one, to an organization that has divested all its funds away from fossil fuels. If you can, get rid of your internal combustion engine car and walk or cycle wherever possible. And if you do need to have a car from ability reasons or you’ve got 5 kids, then the next time you buy a new one, make sure it’s an electric vehicle. Change your diet to minimize the amount of meat you consume specially beef. A kilogram of beef is 30x more impactful on the environment than a kilogram of plant protein. Ideally, move to a plant based diet altogether. It’s much cheaper and it’s far healthier for you anyway. Each of us has a personal choice to make about how we respond to this climate crisis. I know a lot of you out there are really taking positive actions of your own.






In paragraph #3 above, TBGY says that the long term trend of year to year changes in September minimum sea ice extent is “an inexorable trajectory downwards toward zero” with the clarification that anything under 1E6 sq-km of Arctic sea ice extent counts as zero and that this state of Arctic sea ice extent, previously called the ICE FREE ARCTIC is described by TBGY as a Blue Ocean Event (BOE). After quoting some forecasts about when the BOE might happen, TBGY admits that all prior forecasts of the BOE have turned out to be wrong.

The long list of failed BOE forecasts is presented in a related post as “the ice free Arctic obsession of climate science[LINK] and a recent forecast of the BOE {Thackeray, Chad W., and Alex Hall. “An emergent constraint on future Arctic sea-ice albedo feedback.” Nature Climate Change 2019} is discussed. Like TBGY, the paper acknowledges failures of prior BOE forecasts but attributes these failures to deficiencies in climate models that the authors claim have now been corrected by re-calibrating climate models with the deep seasonal cycle of sea ice extent. Based on the re-calibration, the authors predict an ice free Arctic (BOE) at some time between 2044 and 2067. Unlike prior forecasts of an ice free Arctic (BOE), this forecast uses a long time horizon of more than 20 years into the future and a large error margin > 20 years. It is a sign that climate science is now weary and apprehensive of the BOE game having failed so many times in the past.

In this lecture, TBGY takes a very different and radical approach in the strategy to continue the BOE game in the face of dramatic and humiliating failures of the past and it is in this context that he says in paragraph#5 above that “And there is an understandable human curiosity that drives the climate science community to try to make predictions about when that zero mark might actually be reached. At one extreme end of this prediction scale 2017 was touted by some as an almost guaranteed date for the first Blue Ocean Event right up until the 2017 minimum actually arrived and the sea ice bottomed out at about 4.7 million square kilometers. And now the AGU forecasts the BOE in 20 years and the UK Met Office projects a BOE by end of the century. These statements are an acknowledgement of the failure of climate science to predict the BOE.

It is here and in this context, that TBGY makes the defining statement of this lecture when he says that {attempting to put our finger on when in the next 80 years this Blue Ocean Event is likely to happen is distracting us all from the real question which is what will happen after a  Blue Ocean Event and what can we do now to mitigate its worst effects. So this video contains no predictions about Blue Ocean Event timelines. Instead we will have a look at the inextricably interconnected nature of the Arctic and its local environment and the wider global climate to establish the top ten most significant potential outcomes of an ice free Arctic}. THEREFORE THIS LECTURE DESCRIBES A HYPOTHETICAL STATE OF THE WORLD AFTER A BOE HAS OCCURRED. THIS HYPOTHETICAL STATE OF THE WORLD IS DESCRIBED IN TERMS OF The top ten most significant potential outcomes (SPO) of an ice free ArcticTBGY identifies the top ten climate consequences of a BOE as: SPO#1: LATENT HEATSPO#2: ALBEDO CHANGESPO#3: ACCELERATED MELT OF THE GREENLAND ICE SHEET:  SPO#4: INCREASE IN WATER VAPOR: SPO#5: SEA LEVEL RISE:  SPO#6: JET STREAM DISRUPTION : SPO#7: METHANE: SPO#8: Global Food Crisis: SPO#9: CLIMATE REFUGEE CRISIS: SPO#10: REGIONAL AND GLOBAL CONFLICT, as described above.


Though the ten “consequences” of a hypothetical Blue Ocean Event are painted in horrific terms in over-hyped fear mongering language, the reality is that none of these events have happened and none is likely to happen because they are projections of a purely hypothetical scenario. What the actual data show is a repetitive pattern of failed high pitched alarms about an imminent and catastrophic ice free Arctic in September. This pattern can be traced from at least as far back as 1999. An unacceptable number of these alarms have been invoked on a regular  basis since then and all of them, except for the ones that are still in the future, have been proven false [LINK] .

The BOE alarm about an ice free Arctic in September assumes that the observed year to year decline in September Minimum Sea Ice Extent (SMSIE) in the Arctic is driven by fossil fueled AGW and that therefore it can and must be attenuated by reducing or eliminating the use of fossil fuels. Yet, the required relationship between climate change warming and SMSIE has simply been assumed. No supporting empirical evidence has been provided. In fact, no such evidence exists. As shown in related posts on this site, correlation analysis between surface temperature and SMSIE does not show that that SMSIE is responsive to changes in AGW surface temperature [LINK]  [LINK] . The single-minded obsession of climate science with fossil fuel emissions [LINK] makes it impossible for the science to include natural geological sources of heat in their analysis of ice melt phenomena even in regions known to be geologically active [LINK] [LINK] [LINK]



That climate science must now resort to a hypothetical BOE scenario to present the fear of AGW in terms of the alarming “consequences” of the BOE is not evidence of things to fear but an admission of the failure of the science. The science is proven wrong and its forecasts of the horrors of an ice free Arctic are discredited.

The admission of these failures and the attempt to sell the fear of hypothetical future horrors of climate change in the face of such failure is yet another example of an assumption in climate science that the less they know the greater the fear of the potential cataclysmic impacts of climate change [LINK]

This logic derives from the oddity that catastrophic AGW climate change and the urgent need for climate action constitute the null hypothesis in climate science; with the alternate hypothesis being the negation of this scenario. If climate science really were a science the hypotheses would have been in reverse.

It is this trickery of climate science and the consequent use of the “shift the burden of proof ” fallacy that appears to preserve the scientific credentials of a failed science. The continued survival of such a failed science is aided by the popular press with fear based activism and a faux argument that consensus proves the correctness of the climate science theory of catastrophic AGW climate change and the urgent need to move the world’s energy infrastructure away from fossil fuels [LINK]

5 Responses to "The Ice Free Arctic Insanity of Climate Science"

TBGY = The Bald Guy on Youtube


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