Headline from 2014: “Expert predicts ice-free Arctic by 2020 as UN releases climate report“.
Here from NASA is a picture by year of the estimated minimum sea-ice extent, which occurs around September each year.
The first thing to note is the short, the very short, time span. The second is to recall the 1970s in the northern hemisphere were cold. Which is why back then the predictions were for mass starvations, etc. etc., due to global cooling.
The graph would have been more use had it began as far back as possible. Alas, measures were not really taken with any regularity or uniformity until the “satellite age”, which commenced in the late 1970s. Which means nobody has a robust, uncertainty-free estimate of minimum sea-ice extent before satellites.
Which itself means we have to watch our tendency to extend the trend we see at the beginning of this series, and guess the values were even higher prior to 1979. They might have been; indeed, they likely were, since the period of cold was from the mid 1940s through the 1970s. But before the 1940s it was warmer.
Anyway, what we do see is a declining trend, which leveled out, more or less, around 2007, with a minimum in 2012. It is therefore not surprising somebody would make prediction extrapolating only the available data that the September minimum would be zero (0) around 2020.
If only Nature would have cooperated. Which it did not.
Here’s the article opening:
[Ice free by 2020 is] two decades sooner than various models for climatic warming have indicated the Arctic might fully open.
“No models here,” Peter Wadhams, professor of applied mathematics and theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge in England, told the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Sunday. “This is data.”
Wadhams has access to data not only on the extent of ice covering the Arctic, but on the thickness of that ice. The latter comes from submarines that have been beneath the ice collecting measurements every year since 1979.
This data shows ice volume “is accelerating downward,” Wadhams said. “There doesn’t seem to be anything to stop it from going down to zero.
There’s that 1979 again.
“No models here,” said the scientist, which is false. His prediction is a model. The observations are even a model. They are not a direct measurement, but an interpolation from satellite images: they are not raw data. And neither can submarine data, which is periodic and spotty, be sufficient for the whole Arctic. But let that pass.
In any case, a prediction necessarily involves a model. This is inescapable. The model does not have to be formal to be a model. It does not have to exist in computer code. Even brute crude guesses are models.
And this one has been proven false. It has been falsified. It, the model, which is synonymous with the mind of Wadhams, said a thing would happen that did not happen. The model should therefore be abandoned. Science should self-correct—though just who the “self” is, is entirely ambiguous.
Now our original headline came from 2014, as stated. Here is another headline (and subheadline), this one from two years earlier, 2012: “Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years: As sea ice shrinks to record lows, Prof Peter Wadhams warns a ‘global disaster’ is now unfolding in northern latitudes.”
Simple math shows 2012 + 4 = 2016. But it also shows that two years after 2012, Wadhams abandoned his earlier model, which is why he said the end would come in 2020, and no longer 2016. You could say he self-corrected. But his new model has also been proven wrong, as we saw.
Yet here is Wadhams, in 2016, generating another headline, this time at the World Economic Forum: ‘Ships will sail over the North Pole by 2017‘. This suggests that two years after his 2014 forecast that the end would come by 2020, he moved the date up by three years. If you follow me. For in 2016 he stated, ““Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice”.
Now let’s pop up to 2021, where we have an interview with “world-recognised authority on sea ice and climate change in the polar regions” Peter Wadhams. Who is author of the book A Farewell to Ice. He offers no new specific prediction in that interview.
Our final stop is February of this year. We have an article on the horrors that await when the Arctic is ice free (“he following are already in motion”).
As further stated by Dr. McPherson, there are name-recognition scientists that believe the Arctic will be ice-free very, very soon, as early as 2023…According to Dr. McPherson: September 2023 is the likely date for an ice-free Arctic.
“Then we can expect the full effects next year (2024).” For a detailed analysis of the Arctic: A Farewell To Ice (Oxford University Press) by one of the world’s leading experts on polar ice, Peter Wadhams.
Wadhams is now emeritus, which may be why he no longer making predictions. Before he retired, he received The Polar Medal, “presented by H.M. The Queen”.
Meanwhile, we have this (among many, many) headlines: “Abrupt Ice Retreat Could Produce Ice-Free Arctic Summers by 2040”.
UPDATE Here’s a post I wrote in 2013, about a 2007 prediction that sea ice would be gone by 2013. Bonus: Don Ho!
Subscribe or donate to support this site and its wholly independent host using credit card click here. Cash App: $WilliamMBriggs. For Zelle, use my email: email@example.com, and please include yours so I know who to thank.