Forecast: 3-in-5 chance of record low Arctic sea ice in 2008

The Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research (CCAR) predicts “a 59 percent chance the annual minimum sea ice record will be broken this fall for the third time in five years.” Pretty amazing prediction when you consider we supposedly had record refreezing of Arctic ice last fall and are only now coming out of a month-long Ice Age.

According to the researchers, “63 percent of the Arctic ice cover is younger than average, and only 2 percent is older than average“:

“Based on the current sea ice conditions, aerospace engineering Research Professor Jim Maslanik said the Northern Sea Route — the shipping lane from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean along the Russian coastline — might also open up this summer. “It also is quite possible that extensive ice-free conditions could develop at or near the North Pole,” said Maslanik.


In January 2008, a team led by Maslanik and involving CCAR’s Drobot, Charles Fowler and William Emery, as well as Julienne Stroeve of CU-Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and NASA’s Jay Zwally and Donghui Yi, concluded there had been a nearly complete loss of the oldest, thickest Arctic sea ice. The team calculated that 58 percent of the remaining Arctic sea ice was thin and only two to three years old.

The researchers used passive microwave, visible infrared radar and laser altimeter satellite data from NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as ocean buoys to measure and track sections of sea ice. They developed “signatures” of individual ice sections roughly 15 miles square using their thickness, roughness, snow depth and ridge characteristics, tracking them over the seasons and years as they moved around the Arctic.

Colarado’s Arctic Regional Ice Forecasting System group is “the only research group in the world currently making seasonal Arctic sea ice forecasts based on probability.” Significantly, “Last summer the CCAR Arctic Regional Ice Forecasting System group, which has been making Arctic sea ice forecasts for the past six years, correctly forecast the 2007 record minimum.”

5 Responses to Forecast: 3-in-5 chance of record low Arctic sea ice in 2008

  1. Mark Shapiro says:

    And you can watch it melt here:

  2. Paul K says:

    Are you going to give 3 to 5 odds on future ice bets?

  3. Joe says:

    Still taking bets on ice free by 2020. Can’t seem to find many takers any more, though — but IPCC says 2080 or later, so I don’t know why….

  4. HumansFirst EarthSecond says:

    What has science come to when they start using “probability”. When I went to school, probability and science did not mix. “What if” scenarios are meaningless. This “Vegas” style science is necessary to capture the imagination of the uninformed.

    [JR: Rest of post deleted for being repetitive ad hominem disinformation — I give people one shot at unsupported claims that repeated denier talking points, but that’s it.]

  5. Joe says:

    HumansLast — Do you really know nothing about science, or are you just trying to waste everybody’s time?

    Let’s see, there is quantum mechanics and thermodynamics, which are primarily statistical in nature. Indeed, QM says the world can only be known probabilistically.

    Pretty much all of science related to human health is probabilistic — e.g. not everybody who smokes will get sick from it, but a substantial fraction will.

    Chaos theory makes clear that all complex systems dependent on myriad initial conditions (such as weather or climate) are inherently nondeterministic — not because the world is quantum mechanically un-determinable at a large scale, but because the initial conditions can’t be measured with sufficient accuracy.

    When you went to high school, you were dealing with rudimentary calculations that are all approximations of the real world — frictionless systems and the like. Your school ever ask you to calculate something as simple as where a metallic pendulum dangling above 3 magnets will come to rest? Didn’t think so.

    Probability ain’t the same as “what if.” If you play Russian roulette with three bullets in the chamber, there is some infinitesimally unlikely chance you will never kill yourself, but somehow my guess is you understand probability well enough to know that I can scientifically state that doing so is suicidal.

    If we keep pouring unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, we’re gonna go to 800 to 1000 ppm, and there ain’t no model for which that is not an unmitigated human catastrophe for billions of people.