Thongchai Thailand

Peter Wadhams: Arctic Sea Ice Expert

Posted on: January 29, 2020








THIS POST IS A CRITICAL REVIEW OF: “Peter Wadhams at ArcticCircle2014 Arctic Ice Global Climate Scientific Cooperation” [LINK TO YOUTUBE VIDEO]







  1. The issue I would like to address is the current retreat of sea ice and what some of the implications of that are for the climate and for the future of our planet. We’ve all seen this picture that’s been shown several times and it shows the most extreme summer retreat that has occurred so far … in 2012 … and we see the difference between that and the black line which is the way the summer sea ice used to be. bandicam 2020-01-29 08-47-29-410
  2. To get a feel for that, those of you that go up regularly up to the Arctic, will be aware of how rapidly conditions have changed, and so I’ll show a then and now picture and this is the first one here – it’s August 1917 (he means 1970), my first summer in the Arctic. This is the Canadian ship the Hudson. This is just north of Prudhoe Bay, in fact it’s trying to get around part of Prudhoe Bay, and we see it’s trying to handle very heavy multi-year ice floes, really thick and quite challenging. bandicam 2020-01-29 08-56-50-012
  3. Now this shows THIS August on the <name of ship> and about 400 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, and the ice that is seen is very very weak and vulnerable. It is extremely thin and weak and we can see that it was on the verge of melting. The ice that remains in the summer now in the Arctic is first year ice and it is extremely thin and weak ice. bandicam 2020-01-29 09-10-10-677
  4. So, how do we know all this? Well, we have been going on to the ice for quite a long time and the measurements of ice thickness in the Arctic, and the ice thickness distribution, really started in 1958 when the US submarine Nautilus went to the Arctic and got good looking sonar data along its track and the British program, which I think could be described as a sort of a distinctive British contribution to Arctic science, and when it started in 1971 with the very fine glaciologist Charles Swithinbank going on a British submarine and many of you will know him. He died very recently.
  5. I took over the program in 1976 and it continues with voyages at longer intervals than US submarines but US results and British results are put together and we now have multi beam sonar which gives us beautiful  views of the underside of sea ice and what it looks like. bandicam 2020-01-29 09-34-08-390
  6. And putting the US and British data together, and looking at submarine, at satellite data, we now have this very frightening rather, rather frightening but impressive picture of how the volume of sea ice is decreasing. This is the volume in the minimum period time which is mid September and the volume, this is real data, computed by multiplying the area which is measured very accurately from satellites and have been for many many decades, multiplying that by the thickness, mean thickness, which is inferred from all the US and British submarine data circulated. bandicam 2020-01-29 09-38-37-590
  7. So when that is put together, we get this curve, which again is based purely on the data, no model here, this is data, and it is showing a decrease in summer which is quite precipitous, in fact it is accelerating downwards. And there doesn’t seem to be, although there was a slight recovery last year, there doesn’t seem to be anything to stop it from going down to zero. So we can expect summer sea ice to DISAPPEAR VERY SOON, and this is much sooner than is envisaged in many models which shows that the models are not taking account of data. bandicam 2020-01-29 10-07-28-648
  8. And summer means September but the other months follow on behind and this ia a representation of what the data show for the area, or the volume of sea ice in different months of the year so it’s being called The Arctic Death Spiral by Mark Serreze in Boulder because it is showing the volume spiraling toward the center line and it means that not only would the September sea ice disappear but not many years afterwards the adjacent months (July, August, and October) will follow. It will take much longer for the winter sea ice to vanish but it’s still shrinking. bandicam 2020-01-29 10-19-26-917
  9. What does that mean? Well, firstly, the reduction in the global albedo when the sea ice disappears, and this is an estimate that was published in a paper this year, which is that the reduction in albedo caused by this opening up of the Arctic is equivalent to adding about a quarter to the greenhouse gas emissions, the heating effect of that. It’s like increasing our emissions by a quarter. And a second effect feedback is the snowline retreat. And the retreat there is really great in spring and mid-summer when the insolation is very high and in fact we find that the anomaly of snowline area in the Northern Hemispheres reach six million square kilometers, which is as great or greater than the reduction in sea ice area and of course that is having the same effect on albedo as removing ice. bandicam 2020-01-29 10-25-25-325
  10. The second thing that many people have gone into in this meeting is that the warmer air in the Arctic causes faster melting of the Greenland ice sheet and that’s causing the Greenland ice sheet to lose its mass at an accelerating rate, and that means that our predictions about sea level rise this century are being constantly revised upwards. The IPCC 5th Assessment is revised upwards from the 4th but a lot of glaciologists would like to see it revised upwards a lot more because because of the ice sheet retreat from Greenland and from the Antarctic. bandicam 2020-01-29 10-53-38-578
  11. But perhaps the greatest immediate threat is the fact that as the sea ice retreats in summer, this opens up large areas of continental shelf which are then able to warm up because of the insolation and also that the water is shallow, so we now see these big temperature anomalies in summer in around the shelves of the Arctic, and the most shallow shelf of all is the Siberian Shelf where a lot of field work has been done in the last few years observing methane plumes being emitted and this is thought to be due to the fact that offshore permafrost in that area is now thawing because of the warmer water temperatures in summer. This is releasing methane hydrates as methane gas. And this is showing some results from the Sharkova study which is showing methane plumes rising and coming up to the surface and being emitted because it is not true to say that methane which is being observed being emitted from the Arctic is not getting into the atmosphere. It doesn’t get into the atmosphere when it is released from deep water because it dissolves on the way up but when it is released from only 50 or 70 meters, it doesn’t have time to dissolve and it comes out into the atmosphere, and this is a very big climatic pride???. bandicam 2020-01-29 11-15-30-032
  12. So this is what it looks like. And we did an analysis from colleagues did an analysis of this at, using the PAGE model which is the model used by the Stern Review and the UK Govt estimates of the costs of climate change. And this is an integrated assessment model and it came to the conclusion that if there is a large methane outbreak due to this phenomenon, then it could cause a large amount of warming in a short time so. The blue is the present IPCC prediction of warming and the red is what it would be if there were a 50 gigatonne methane outbreak into the atmosphere; which is about a 0.6C increase. bandicam 2020-01-29 11-26-05-759
  13. This increase in warming comes at a very very high cost because that model was actually an economics model, the PAGE model, and it came to some very large figure like 60 trillion dollars as the extra cost to the planet (??) over a century of methane emissions due to the retreat of sea ice. So retreat of sea ice may have economic opportunities for the world (Northwest Passsage, oil and gas exploration) but the costs are going to be very much greater because of the impact of the resulting climate change on the planet as a whole. (??). bandicam 2020-01-29 13-19-02-371







  1. A PLANETARY SCOPE FOR THE IMPACTS OF ARCTIC SEA ICE MELT: In three different instances, a claim is made for a planetary scope and relevance of climate change and Arctic sea ice melt in terms of the implications for of an ice free Arctic and its dire and costly impacts. It is claimed that (1)“the current retreat of sea ice has implications for the climate and for the future of our planet, (2)This increase in warming comes at a very very high cost, a very large figure like 60 trillion dollars as the extra cost to the planet” (3)So retreat of sea ice may have economic opportunities for the world but the costs are going to be very much greater because of the impact of the resulting climate change on the planet as a whole“.
  2. Kindly consider that 99.7% of the planet has no economy, no climate,  no sea, no Arctic, and no sea ice. The crust of the planet consisting of land and ocean where we live and where we have things like climate, climate change, Arctic sea ice, and climate scientists, composes not more than 0.3% of the planet. Surface phenomena observed on the crust of the planet by climate scientists, such as climate change, sea ice melt, albedo loss, feedback warming, sea level rise, and economics are peculiar to the crust and have no relevance to the the rest of the planet from the lithosphere down to the mantle and the core that compose 99.7% of the planet. No matter how great the horror of fossil fuel emissions and climate change, it is not possible to represent AGW in a planetary context.
  3. THE FAILED ICE-FREE ARCTIC OBSESSION OF CLIMATE SCIENCE: At least since 1999, climate science has been seized by the obsession with an ice free Arctic and its claimed feedback and planetary horrors as the scientific substance of the case against fossil fuels. This effort has been a dismal and comical failure as seen in the list of failed claims to an imminent ice free Arctic that appears at the end of this section. These failures have convinced some climate activists to abandon the idea altogether and simply paint the horror of an ice free Arctic based on a hypothetical event [LINK] .
  4. STEEP DECLINE IN SEPTEMBER MINIMUM SEA ICE VOLUME: It is shown in paragraph#7 of PART-1 that Arctic September Minimum Sea Ice Volume (ASMSIV) had undergone a dramatic decline from 1979 to 2011. This decline is then attributed to AGW climate change without any information as to how his causation was determined. Such attribution is arbitrary and it contains no causation information.
  5. In terms of correlation analysis, one method of providing evidence of causation, that global warming causes the decline in ASMSIV, is to show that ASMSIV is responsive to AGW temperature. Such responsiveness should be apparent in the detrended correlation between surface temperature and ASMSIV at the appropriate time scale for the causation.
  6. This analysis is presented in a related post [LINK] for ASMSIV data from 1979 to 2019 against UAH lower troposphere temperature over the North Polar region for the same period. No detrended correlation is found at an annual time scale to support the assumption by the lecturer that year to year changes in  ASMSIV can be explained by year to year changes in AGW temperature. Therefore, there is no evidence that changes in ASMSIV can be explained in terms of AGW
  7. It is likely that the strange combination of obsession and frustration of climate science with ASMSIV  derives from their atmosphere bias such that all observed changes are explained in terms of atmospheric CO2 and fossil fuel emissions and that therefore a possible role of the geology of the Arctic in Arctic phenomena having to do with ocean temperature and ice melt are overlooked. 
  8. The Arctic is geologically active. A survey of its geological features is presented in a related post [LINK] . Specific features of Arctic geology that apply to Svalbard and to the Chukchi Sea are listed separately [LINK] [LINK] .
  9. These geological features of the Arctic do not constitute evidence or proof that geological forces cause ASMSIV but their presence implies that these forces must be considered in the analysis particularly since climate science has simply assumed that ASMSIV is driven by AGW without proof or evidence. The case against fossil fuel emissions is not clear but murky and sinister.
  10. THE 60 TRILLION DOLLAR PRICE TAG OF ASMSIV:  The PAGE model of the economic cost of AGW was used to estimate the cost “to the planet” of AGW driven ASMSIV if it were to cause methane release from known methane hydrate deposits on the continental shelf. An estimate of 50 gigatonnes of methane release was used. The PAGE model estimated that the the impact of the methane on AGW would add another $60 trillion to the global cost of AGW. This enormous cost is thus claimed to outweigh any economic gains to be had from an ice free Arctic in terms of shipping through the Northwest Passage and oil and gas exploration. It also stands as the cost of failure to take climate action at much lower cost to prevent the horror of the ASMSIV from happening. This is a kind of Mafia tactic to extract climate action and to downplay the economic advantages of ASMSIV. Yet, without evidence to relate fossil fuel emissions to ASMSIV it cannot be claimed that climate action will have the assumed effect of moderating what is being presented as an explosive, dangerous, and costly crisis. 
  11. As things stand, no causation is established for the sharp downward trend in ASMSIV seen in the chart in paragraph#7 of the lecture. Therefore,  no claim can be made that climate action will moderate the ASMSIV trend such that the budget for such action must be weighed against a $60 trillion cost of inaction estimated by economists. 



  1. FAILED ICE FREE ARCTIC FORECASTS: 1999, STUDY SHOWS ARCTIC ICE SHRINKING BECAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING. Sea ice in the Arctic Basin is shrinking by 14000 square miles per year because of global warming caused by human activity according to a new international study that used 46 years of data and sophisticated computer simulation models to tackle the specific question of whether the loss of Arctic ice is a natural variation or caused by global warming. The computer model says that the probability that these changes were caused by natural variation is 1% but when global warming was added to the model the ice melt was a perfect fit. Therefore the ice melt is caused by human activities that emit greenhouse gases.
    Soot that lands on snow has caused ¼ of the warming since 1880 because dirty snow traps more solar heat than pristine snow and induces a strong warming effect, according to a new computer model by James Hansen of NASA. It explains why sea ice and glaciers are melting faster than they should. Reducing soot emissions is an effective tool to curb global warming. It is easier to cut soot emissions than it is to cut CO2 emissions but we still need to reduce CO2 emissions in order to stabilize the atmosphere.
    An unprecedented 4-year study of the Arctic shows that polar bears, walruses, and some seals are becoming extinct. Arctic summer sea ice may disappear entirely. Combined with a rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet, it will raise the sea level 3 feet by 2100 inundating lowlands from Florida to Bangladesh. Average winter temperatures in Alaska and the rest of the Arctic are projected to rise an additional 7 to 13 degrees over the next 100 years because of increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. The area is warming twice as fast as anywhere else because of global air circulation patterns and natural feedback loops, such as less ice reflecting sunlight, leading to increased warming at ground level and more ice melt. Native peoples’ ways of life are threatened. Animal migration patterns have changed, and the thin sea ice and thawing tundra make it too dangerous for humans to hunt and travel.
    The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) report says: increasing greenhouse gases from human activities is causing the Arctic to warm twice as fast as the rest of the planet; in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia winter temperatures have risen by 2C to 4C in the last 50 years; the Arctic will warm by 4C to 7C by 2100. A portion of Greenland’s ice sheet will melt; global sea levels will rise; global warming will intensify. Greenland contains enough melting ice to raise sea levels by 7 meters; Bangkok, Manila, Dhaka, Florida, Louisiana, and New Jersey are at risk of inundation; thawing permafrost and rising seas threaten Arctic coastal regions; climate change will accelerate and bring about profound ecological and social changes; the Arctic is experiencing the most rapid and severe climate change on earth and it’s going to get a lot worse; Arctic summer sea ice will decline by 50% to 100%; polar bears will be driven towards extinction; this report is an urgent SOS for the Arctic; forest fires and insect infestations will increase in frequency and intensity; changing vegetation and rising sea levels will shrink the tundra to its lowest level in 21000 years; vanishing breeding areas for birds and grazing areas for animals will cause extinctions of many species; “if we limit emission of heat trapping carbon dioxide we can still help protect the Arctic and slow global warming”.
  5. 2007: THE ARCTIC IS SCREAMING. Climate science declares that the low sea ice extent in the Arctic is the leading indicator of climate change. We are told that the Arctic “is screaming”, that Arctic sea ice extent is the “canary in the coal mine”, and that Polar Bears and other creatures in the Arctic are dying off and facing imminent extinction. Scientists say that the melting sea ice has set up a positive feedback system that would cause the summer melts in subsequent years to be greater and greater until the Arctic becomes ice free in the summer of 2012. We must take action immediately to cut carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. [DETAILS] 
  6. 2007: THE ICE FREE ARCTIC CLAIMS GAIN MOMENTUM: The unusual summer melt of Arctic sea ice in 2007 has encouraged climate science to warn the world that global warming will cause a steep decline in the amount of ice left in subsequent summer melts until the Arctic becomes ice free in summer and that could happen as soon as 2080 or maybe 2060 or it could even be 2030. This time table got shorter and shorter until, without a “scientific” explanation, the ice free year was brought up to 2013. In the meantime, the data showed that in 2008 and 2009 the summer melt did not progressively increase as predicted but did just the opposite by making a comeback in 2008 that got even stronger in 2009. [DETAILS]
    Our use of fossil fuels is devastating the Arctic where the volume of sea ice “fell to its lowest recorded level to date” this year and that reduced ice coverage is causing a non-linear acceleration in the loss of polar ice because there is less ice to reflect sunlight. [DETAILS]
  8. 2008: THE ARCTIC WILL BE ICE FREE IN SUMMER IN 2008, 2013, 2030, OR 2100. The unusually low summer sea ice extent in the Arctic in 2007
    The IPCC has taken note and has revised its projection of an ice free Arctic first from 2008 to 2013 and then again from 2013 to 2030. The way things are going it may be revised again to the year 2100. [DETAILS]
    The survival of the polar bear is threatened because man made global warming is melting ice in the Arctic. It is true that the Arctic sea ice extent was down in negative territory in September 2007. This event emboldened global warming scaremongers to declare it a climate change disaster caused by greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and to issue a series of scenarios about environmental holocaust yet to come. [DETAILS]
  10. 2009: SUMMER ARCTIC SEA ICE EXTENT IN 2009 THE 3RD LOWEST ON RECORD: The second lowest was 2008 and the first lowest was 2007. This is not a trend that shows that things are getting worse. It shows that things are getting better and yet it is being sold and being bought as evidence that things are getting worse due to rising fossil fuel emissions. [DETAILS]
    An alarm is raised that the extreme summer melt of Arctic sea ice in 2007 was caused by humans using fossil fuels and it portends that in 20 years human caused global warming will leave the Arctic Ocean ice-free in the summer raising sea levels and harming wildlife. [DETAILS]
    Climate scientists continue to extrapolate the extreme summer melt of Arctic sea ice in 2007 to claim that the summer melt of 2007 was a climate change event and that it implies that the Arctic will be ice free in the summer from 2012 onwards. This is a devastating effect on the planet and our use of fossil fuels is to blame. [DETAILS]
    Summer melt of Arctic ice was the third most extensive on record in 2009, second 2008, and the most extensive in 2007. These data show that warming due to our carbon dioxide emissions are causing summer Arctic ice to gradually diminish until it will be gone altogether. [DETAILS]

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