Sea Ice News Volume 3 Number 5 – SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook forecasting contest for 2012

SEARCH : Study of Environmental Arctic Change

The Arctic sea ice extent forecasting contest is on again.  As before I’ll allow readers to submit their best estimates in a poll, and I’ll submit those results as we’ve done in the past two years. Last year, the forecast submitted by reader poll was a bit high, probably due to optimism that abounds here as opposed to the gloomy outlooks submitted by others.

click to enlarge

This year, due to the near normal excursions,  it might be tempting to again submit a significantly higher value than 5.0 million square kilometers, it might also be tempting to “pull a Zwally” and declare the sea ice will be gone entirely. I don’t recommend either forecast.

Here, you can read the post season summary from 2011. 

http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/2011/summary

And here are the guidelines for 2012 submissions.

From http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/guidelines

The SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook organizers are now soliciting pan-arctic and regional outlooks for the 2012 season. We encourage past and new contributors to participate.

The 2012 Outlook season will be a transition year to an expanded Outlook in 2013; this year, we would like to focus on expanding discussion of ice thickness, expanding discussion of the relative performance of different Outlook techniques, and improving access to relevant outlook data (see “Data Resources” webpage at: http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/data.php). So in addition to the pan-arctic and regional outlook contributions, we invite any information or input to those topics as well.

JUNE REPORT (using May data). Deadline for contributions:
4 June. Publish reports online: 11 June.

JULY REPORT (using June data). Deadline for contributions: 2 July.
Publish reports online: 10 July.

AUGUST REPORT (using July data). Deadline for contributions: 2 August.
Publish reports online: 10 August.

SEPTEMBER REPORT (brief updates based on August data). Deadline for contributions: 4 September. Publish updates online: 10 September.
MINIMUM ANNOUNCEMENT. Based on the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s
(NSIDC) announcement for minimum.

POST-SEASON SYNOPSIS (exact dates dependent on when minimum is reached).
Deadline for contributions: early October. Publish post-season synopsis: late October.

============================================================

Consider and study the current situation at the WUWT Sea Ice reference page.

I’ll put up the poll in a few days for the June 4th deadline and WUWT readers can make the collective forecast then.

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56 thoughts on “Sea Ice News Volume 3 Number 5 – SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook forecasting contest for 2012

  1. >>it might also be tempting to “pull a Zwally” and declare the sea ice will be gone entirely. I don’t recommend either forecast.<<

    Anthony, can you tell us why you think it's a bad idea to pull a Zwally?

  2. wobble says:
    May 23, 2012 at 10:14 am Why?

    Unless you have information that says otherwise, assuming regression toward the mean is a useful approach. So, in this case, picking the mean should work about as well as anything. But if you do have other information, please share!

    To avoid making wrong inferences, the possibility of regression toward the mean must be considered when designing experiments and interpreting experimental, survey, and other empirical data in the physical, life, behavioral and social sciences.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_toward_the_mean

  3. Right now, the extent looks like another 2009, but the temperature above 80 °N seems like its going up fast. My bet is same as 2009 or slightly lower.

  4. Mods, the link:”“pull a Zwally” and declare the sea ice will be gone entirely.” is not functioning

  5. I think it is interesting that last year the average of the June forecasts was 4.7 million sq miles (msm). The July and August figures were both 4.6 msm. The actual value was 4.6 msm. So, maybe, just maybe, when it comes to June 11th 2012, and we get the first forecasts, we may have an idea of just how much ice there will be at minimum this year.

  6. wobble says:
    May 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

    >>it might also be tempting to “pull a Zwally” and declare the sea ice will be gone entirely. I don’t recommend either forecast.<<

    Anthony, can you tell us why you think it's a bad idea to pull a Zwally?
    ============================================
    Lol, I can't speak for Anthony, but I'm willing to bet a large amount of money that the arctic will not be ice free this year. Fact is, this melt season is going to be most interesting. I expect some different dynamics this year and the low should be more than last year.

  7. “The 2012 Outlook season will be a transition year to an expanded Outlook in 2013; this year, we would like to focus on expanding discussion of ice thickness, ……..”
    ==========
    So, seeing as extent looks rather high, we should focus on another metric ?
    Already ?

  8. u.k.(us) says:
    May 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    “The 2012 Outlook season will be a transition year to an expanded Outlook in 2013; this year, we would like to focus on expanding discussion of ice thickness, ……..”
    ==========
    So, seeing as extent looks rather high, we should focus on another metric ?
    Already ?

    More to the point, we should immediately switch to one you can’t just look at a picture and see. Far better that it be some derived value based on a host of modelled assumptions.

  9. Why is it that the ice extent appears to be reducing much more quickly according to NSIDC than to the Danish Meteorological Institute.

  10. Looking at Cryosphere Today’s comparison with 2007, it looks like it’s melting a lot faster this year!

  11. I think the very high extents and cool SST anomalies in the Bering Sea will eventually play a role in slowing early season loss in the Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian Seas.

    My money is on the 5.5 to 6 million sq km range.

  12. The winds have not been favorable for the ice the last month and a half. If this keeps up we could see a new low minimum. Note that it has nothing to do with temperatures.

  13. Based on the 2012 Requirements, that’s quite a few polls.
    – what percentage of sea ice should we use as the lower limit for the estimates; 30%, 15%, all?

  14. u.k.(us) says:
    May 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    “The 2012 Outlook season will be a transition year to an expanded Outlook in 2013; this year, we would like to focus on expanding discussion of ice thickness, ……..”
    ==========
    So, seeing as extent looks rather high, we should focus on another metric ?
    Already ?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    You know the drill….. either move the goal posts or just make up numbers….. or both. This year should be exceptional. I expect more of an increase in thickness than extent…. per se….. we’ll have to see where all the ice in the Bering Strait goes.

  15. It seems odd that the area most different from “normal” is off the coast of Siberia. Could it be that the Russians are polluting the ocean causing the melt?

  16. given last years min 4.6 and state of the ice…
    take the under bet at even odds

  17. DCA says: May 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    It seems odd that the area most different from “normal” is off the coast of Siberia. Could it be that the Russians are polluting the ocean causing the melt?

    That’s the Barents Sea that has been trending well below average:
    ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02186/plots/r06_Barents_Sea_ts.png

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.6.html

    In terms of “pollution”, “In course of the five months long sailing period of 2011, Atomflot’s nuclear-powered icebreaker escorted 34 vessels in transit along the Northern Sea Route. The total cargo was 820 000 tons. In comparison, in 2010 there were only four transits with a total cargo of 111 000 tons.”

    http://barentsobserver.com/en/arctic/icebreakers-getting-ready-new-season

    “Eni Norge AS looks to a busy drilling year in the Barents Sea offshore northern Norway with a program that calls for several exploratory and development wells.”

    http://www.ogj.com/articles/2012/03/eni-sees-busy-drilling-year-in-barents-offshore-norway.html

    “Norwegian oil giant Statoil ASA (STO) said Thursday it is launching an exploration drilling campaign in the Skrugard area of the Barents Sea, and also revealed that the first oil from Johan Sverdrup, a huge North Sea discovery, is expected to be produced in the fourth quarter of 2018.”

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/news/2012/05/10/statoil-to-drill-barents-sea-johan-sverdrup-to-produce-in-2018/#ixzz1vk2jnW00

    However, there is abundant evidence that that wind and atmospheric oscillations have the largest influence on Arctic Sea Ice, i.e. in this October, 1 2007 NASA article;

    http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/quikscat-20071001.html

    Son V. Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that “the rapid decline in winter perennial ice the past two years was caused by unusual winds. “Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic,” he said. When that sea ice reached lower latitudes, it rapidly melted in the warmer waters.

    “The winds causing this trend in ice reduction were set up by an unusual pattern of atmospheric pressure that began at the beginning of this century,” Nghiem said.”

    This 2010 Guardian article states that;
    “Much of the record breaking loss of ice in the Arctic ocean in recent years is down to the region’s swirling winds and is not a direct result of global warming, a new study reveals.” including in the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/22/wind-sea-ice-loss-arctic

    This 2011 paper submitted to The Cryosphere by L. H. Smedsrud, et al. “used “geostrophic winds derived from reanalysis data to calculate the Fram Strait ice area export back to 1957, finding that the sea ice area export recently is about 25% larger than during the 1960’s.”

    http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/5/1311/2011/tcd-5-1311-2011-print.pdf

    This 2007 paper “Rapid reduction of Arctic perennial sea ice” by Nghiem, Rigor, Perovich, Clemente-Colo, Weatherly and Neumann states that;

    “Perennial-ice extent loss in March within the DM domain was noticeable after the 1960s, and the loss became more rapid in the 2000s when QSCAT observations were available to verify the model results. QSCAT data also revealed mechanisms contributing to the perennial-ice extent loss: ice compression toward the western Arctic, ice loading into the Transpolar Drift (TD) together with an acceleration of the TD carrying excessive ice out of Fram Strait, and ice export to Baffin Bay.”

    http://seaice.apl.washington.edu/Papers/NghiemEtal2007_MYreduction.pdf

    This 2004 paper “Variations in the Age of Arctic Sea-ice and Summer Sea-ice Extent” by Ignatius G. Rigor & John M. Wallace, states that;

    “The winter AO-index explains as much as 64% of the variance in summer sea-ice extent in the Eurasian sector, but the winter and summer AO-indices combined explain less than 20% of the variance along the Alaskan coast, where the age of sea-ice explains over 50% of the year-to year variability. If this interpretation is correct, low summer sea-ice extents are likely to persist for at least a few years. However, it is conceivable that, given an extended interval of low-index AO conditions, ice thickness and summertime sea-ice extent could gradually return to the levels characteristic of the 1980′s.”

    http://seaice.apl.washington.edu/

    This 2010 paper, “Influence of winter and summer surface wind anomalies on summer Arctic sea ice extent” by Masayo Ogi, Koji Yamazaki and John M. Wallace, published in Geophysical Research Letters states that;

    “We have shown results indicating that wind‐induced, year‐to‐year differences in the rate of flow of ice toward and through Fram Strait play an important role in modulating September SIE on a year‐to‐year basis and that a trend toward an increased wind‐induced rate of flow has contributed to the decline in the areal coverage of Arctic summer sea ice.”

    http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d2/masayo.ogi/2009GL042356.pdf

    Finally, this 2001 paper, Fram Strait Ice Fluxes and Atmospheric Circulation: 1950–2000
    by Torgny Vinje found that:

    “Observations reveal a strong correlation between the ice fluxes through the Fram Strait and the cross-strait air pressure difference.”

    “Although the 1950s and 1990s stand out as the two decades with maximum flux variability, significant variations seem more to be the rule than the exception over the whole period considered.”

    “A noticeable fall in the winter air pressure of 7 hPa is observed in the Fram Strait and the Barents Sea during the last five decades.”

    “The corresponding decadal maximum change in the Arctic Ocean ice thickness is of the order of 0.8 m. These temporal wind-induced variations may help explain observed changes in portions of the Arctic Ocean ice cover over the last decades. Due to an increasing rate in the ice drainage through the Fram Strait during the 1990s, this decade is characterized by a state of decreasing ice thickness in the Arctic Ocean.”

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0442%282001%29014%3C3508%3AFSIFAA%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    As such, while anthropogenic influences such as shipping, ice-breaking, soot/black carbon, etc. likely have a measurable impact on Arctic sea ice, mother nature is likely the primary reason for the current dearth of sea ice in the Barents Sea.

  18. James Sexton says:
    May 23, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Lol, I can’t speak for Anthony, but I’m willing to bet a large amount of money that the arctic will not be ice free this year.

    Yes, I agree.

    But it still might be a good idea to “pull a Zwally” in order to give his failed prediction more attention.

  19. I can’t quite understand the minimum figure quoted as 4.61 for 2011
    The table below is taken from the NSIDC site

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2011/09/

    Table 1. Previous minimum Arctic sea ice extents
    Year Minimum Ice Extent Date
    in millions of square kilometers in millions of square miles
    2007 4.17 1.61 September 16
    2008 4.55 1.76 September 18
    2009 5.10 1.97 September 12
    2010 4.60 1.78 September 19
    2011 4.33 1.67 September 9
    1979 to 2000 average 6.71 2.59 September ’10
    1979 to 2010 average 6.29 2.43 September

  20. While the numbers for sea ice are interesting I find that they have little meaning without understanding the effects of wind on those numbers. They cut off anything below 15/30 % and ignore what happens when the % goes above 100% (wind causing the ice to pile up, increasing the thickness but not the area.
    I watch the numbers daily and the sea ice around the Antarctic peninsula shows massive changes on a daily,weekly basis. To see huge chunks of sea ice attached to mainland and islands one day, then not see them the next means to me that have been blown away by the wind.

  21. kent Blaker says:
    May 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    While the numbers for sea ice are interesting I find that they have little meaning without understanding the effects of wind on those numbers. They cut off anything below 15/30 % and ignore what happens when the % goes above 100% (wind causing the ice to pile up, increasing the thickness but not the area.
    I watch the numbers daily and the sea ice around the Antarctic peninsula shows massive changes on a daily,weekly basis. To see huge chunks of sea ice attached to mainland and islands one day, then not see them the next means to me that have been blown away by the wind.

    ==========
    Kent, you’re exactly right……

    I say 4.5, which is normal, because 1979-2002/6 was not normal

  22. Steven Mosher says:
    May 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm
    given last years min 4.6 and state of the ice…
    take the under bet at even odds
    ======
    Are you hedging, or betting Vegas odds ?
    Not that there is any difference.

  23. kent Blaker says: May 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    While the numbers for sea ice are interesting I find that they have little meaning without understanding the effects of wind on those numbers. They cut off anything below 15/30 % and ignore what happens when the % goes above 100% (wind causing the ice to pile up, increasing the thickness but not the area.
    I watch the numbers daily and the sea ice around the Antarctic peninsula shows massive changes on a daily,weekly basis. To see huge chunks of sea ice attached to mainland and islands one day, then not see them the next means to me that have been blown away by the wind.

    Yes, this Sea Ice Speed and Drift 1 year animation is helpful in seeing the changing wind patterns;

    and the Sea Ice Thickness 1 year animation is helpful in seeing the influence of wind on the sea ice, especially in the Fram Strait:

  24. I predict the ice will melt but not all of it during the Arctic Summer season. And then the water there will start to freeze again. I also predict that the Earth will tilt so that the Sun’s rays hit the ice at a sharper angle for a while and then the Earth will tilt back to where it was. This will coincide with the melting and refreezing of the ice.

    I also predict that my grass will grow, it will get cut, and then it will start to grow again. But I ain’t watchin it! There are fish to catch!

  25. we would like to focus on expanding discussion of ice thickness

    …as my missus says, “thickness counts!”

    We are entering a period of “new normal,” and I think it will look much like last year, maybe about 4.5 million sq. km. minimum extent. After another 20 or so years of this, I think the attention will die down. Polar bears should be fat & sassy after feasting on harp seals all season!

  26. SWAG o’mine says …. (fake drum roll please)
    4.83165
    :)
    I’m sure they can measure it to that accuracy because they love a lot of decimals!

  27. I must protest in the strongest terms at this hemispherism. Those of us who live in the Southern Hemisphere are fed up with this blatant discrimination. Our sea ice is just as important as that in the Arctic. We secretly want all of your ice to melt then, not only would we have more than 90% of the land ice, but all of the permanent sea ice as well.

  28. @Manfred: Peterson’s ‘pathetic’ modelling result was .61m sqkm off; the heuristic WUWT reader poll was .89m sqkm off. I don’t think either one is pathetic. They’re just both not very accurate forecasts, but that’s ok.
    I must say the median seems remarkably close. Tempting to say that both utopic and catastrophic forecasts are not realistic. But then, taking out the 4-5 heuristics, my heuristic eye-balls say the median/average forecast was spot on. And we’re left with statistics and models, which are arguably less subject to utopic and catastrophic outcomes. (Arguably!)

    I don’t consider myself sufficiently informed to make a forecast but if I had to place my money on something, I would stick closely to last year’s minimum, just slightly higher: 4,7?
    Guess we’ll find out in September!

  29. Solar scientists are predicting a reduction in solar radiation due to a magnetic pole reversal so perhaps arctic summer ice will continue, much against model forecasts.

  30. Looks like NE passage will open up early this year, whereas NW passage might only just make it.

    I reckon less than 5.0 but not a new record low.

    So, I’ll go 4.4 million square kms.

  31. Some European says:

    May 24, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I don’t consider myself sufficiently informed to make a forecast but if I had to place my money on something, I would stick closely to last year’s minimum, just slightly higher: 4,7?
    Guess we’ll find out in September!

    Your just as likely to be right as any expert, after all a pin is right more times than the UK met office!

  32. “The Arctic sea ice extent forecasting contest is on again.”

    I feel about as happy as The Jerk when the phone books arrived. Seriously. It’s fun.

  33. Well my quantitative prediction method doesn’t work until there is less ice (+8e6sqkm range happening near the end of July) but looking at the Bering Straight and noting the thinness of the ice north of Siberia, I don’t think it’s going to be a good year for icers.

  34. probably due to optimism that abounds here as opposed to the gloomy outlooks submitted by others.
    ———
    Translation: the WUWT result was as bad as the worst modelling results.

  35. LazyTeenager says:
    May 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Translation: the WUWT result was as bad as the worst modelling results.

    Reality: The WUWT result was based off of the mode of the responses on this site. Had the mean or median been used instead, the WUWT results’ accuracy would have been near the middle of the pack and considerably better than those models. But I guess that’s just what happens when poll results have a bimodal distribution and are used that way…

    -Scott

  36. Well, I won’t give a number, but my guess is below 2008 and 2011. Might even break the 2007 record low. I hope I’m wrong, but the ice thats up there is mighty thin and will disappear very fast. Very little multi-year ice left, and more of it is disappearing every summer.

  37. Kelvin Vaughan says:
    May 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm
    Looking at Cryosphere Today’s comparison with 2007, it looks like it’s melting a lot faster this year!
    ———————————————————————————————————

    Yup. It was down for a long time, but it’s back up. When I took a look I said yikes! And it’s still only May. The thin ice up there is going to disappear like fog on a lake when the sun rises.

  38. Is it just me or is NSIDC diverging significantly from JAXA and NORSEX lately on 15% extent?

  39. Richard says:
    May 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm
    Kelvin Vaughan says:
    May 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm
    Looking at Cryosphere Today’s comparison with 2007, it looks like it’s melting a lot faster this year!
    ———————————————————————————————————

    Yup. It was down for a long time, but it’s back up. When I took a look I said yikes! And it’s still only May. The thin ice up there is going to disappear like fog on a lake when the sun rises.

    I wouldn’t read too much into the appearance of the CT images (2007 and now) on any given day since you will notice – if CT stays up – that there is quite large variation in the colour map of ice thickness from day to day. It might be useful if they could make an averaged colour map over several days. I suspect their increased resolution has increased noise.

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