Arctic Climate Emergency


As the first image here shows, the sea ice computer models are far from being able to project the rate of sea ice loss. Even so they are being relied on.

Sea ice computer models have a history going back decades

The IPCC AR5 WG1 SPM, for our current worst case emissions scenario, reports that 'Based on an assessment of the subset of models that most closely reproduce the climatological mean state and 1979 to 2012 trend of the Arctic sea ice extent, a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean19 in September before mid-century is likely for RCP8.5'

Hoeve some modls have projected as early as 2020. ''...some showing a nearly ice-free state as early as 2020... ( J. Stroeve Trends in Arctic sea ice extent.. 2012)

It is crucial for climate change mitigatio that we do not allow the Arctic summer sea ice to disappear and therefore any model that is relied must be accurate.

Why Predicting Sea Ice Cover Is So Difficult ( Nat Geo July 2013) gives the latest 2013 sea ice model published projection which is predicted to be 2054-2058, with amazing apparent precision. The article also provides all the large gaps in the modeling, on which basis the ice could be gone muich earlier.

Direct measurement of Arctic sea ice from real time monitoring is from Professor Peter Wadhams by UK navy submarine sonar and the 2009 Catlin Survey.

Even the satellites have not provided reliable readings in sea ice extent and scientists in general have been relying on their computer modeling- '.

With the 2012 record low collapse of the sea ice we know the models are in error to an extreme and dangerous degree to guide the climate science and policy.

The NAP has a 2012 comprehensive review on sea ice modeling .. predictions of Arctic sea ice'.

Like climate change models in general many models do not project an abrupt decline like happened in 2007 but M Holland says Faster rates of decline and a potential for abrupt
changes in September sea ice are simulated by many of the better Arctic models. Just over half the IPCC sea ice models projected a possibility of abrupt decline.

However even after the 2012 sea ice collapse  the experts cannot agree, with most still sticking to their seas extent models even though they fail to project the actual rate of extent decline. Only the US Navy's W. Maslowski has a model that includes seas ice volume and it projects an ice free Arctic in a few years not a few more decades.

The 2007 IPCC recorded models projected range for the start of an ice free Arctic is 2050 to well beyond 2100. The large record summer sea ice in 2007 caught the sea ice modeling scientists completely by surprise. Research by NSIDC have found observations proved the sea ice decline to be 30 years ahead of the decline projected by the models.

 The models simulated a loss in September ice cover of 2.5 percent per decade from 1953 to 2006. September marks the yearly minimum of sea ice in the Arctic. But data sets, blending aircraft and ship reports with satellite measurements, show that the September ice actually declined at a rate of about 7.8 percent per decade during the 1953 to 2006 period - three times larger than the mean from the computer models (Arctic sea ice decline: Faster than forecast Stroeve et al 2007)

The one exception to the huge model error wa s a model developed by Wiesław Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, which had predicted the Arctic to be seasonally ice-free in the summer by 2013 – an estimate that many experts criticized.

Results from his new and improved computer model predicts that increasing summer sea ice melt could lead to an ice-free Arctic during at least part of the boreal (northern hemisphere) summer by 2016, with a margin of error of plus or minus three years.

Wiesław Maslowski and his team, released results in 2011 from a new and improved computer model . The model predicts that increasing summer sea ice melt could lead to an ice-free Arctic during at least part of the boreal (northern hemisphere) summer by 2016, with a margin of error of plus or minus three years.

The new model incorporates new data on the thickness of sea ice – which satellites are now able to measure more accurately.

In a 2011 public statement based on decline in sea ice thickness Cambridge UK Arctic expert Peter Wadhams said he could see an ice free summer Arctic by 2015. He was relying on the retrospective sea ice trend computed by the University of W Washington PIOMAS model. The PIOMASS model finds 2011 to be a clear record in ice volume loss. The ice overall is thinning as multi-year old ice has been declining rapidly, as is shown by the drop in sea ice maximum in the PIOMASS graph.

AMEG extrapolating sea ice volume also says an ice free summer could start by 2013.

The latest opinion of the majority of the sea ice modeling scientists was published in Realclimate April 2012 (Arctic Sea Ice Volume: PIOMAS, Prediction, and the Perils of Extrapolation). They are sticking to their linear projections giving a very large range of 2040 -2100 which is still many decades later than the earliest minority projections. They do so despite the factb that they acknowledge their models do not account the various non linear factors on sea ice decline. They do not accept that the sea ice volume is reliable in projecting extent loss.

But when will the Arctic be ice free then? The answer will have to come from fully coupled climate models. Only they can account for the non-linear behavior of the trajectory of the sea ice evolution and put longer term changes in the context of expected natural variability. The sea ice simulations in the CMIP5 models are currently being analyzed. This analysis will reveal new insights about model biases, their causes, and about the role of natural variability in long-term change.It is possible that this analysis will change the predicted timing of the “ice free summers” but large uncertainties will likely remain. Until then, we believe, we need to let science run its course and let previous model-based predictions of somewhere between “2040 and 2100″ stand”.

This is indeed an extraordinary anti-precuationary approach to take on such a crucial issue as the rate of loss of Arctic sea ice albedo.

The latest 2012 Arctic sea ice decline points to the rashness of this judgement. Up to May-June sea ice extent had been tarcking the long term average, but then suddently dropped and now is tracking below the 2007 record extent loss. PIOMAS volume shows a steady loss tracking just below the record 2011 volume loss.