WIRED Science: Tipping Point Not Likely for Arctic Sea Ice

While this article is encouraging when looking at the title, they are still pushing that “ice-free summer” meme.

http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/wiredscience/2010/04/beringsea_ice_lrg_may7.jpg

Image: Ice in the Bering Sea/NASA.

A late-winter expansion of Arctic sea ice is a good example of ice-forming dynamics that could keep the Arctic from hitting a “tipping point” in the near future.

Some scientists have predicted that rising temperatures could create a runaway feedback loop in the Arctic. Sunlight-reflecting ice sheets would give way to sunlight-absorbing water, driving up temperatures and melting even more ice. The Arctic climate would change so dramatically that winter ice couldn’t form again, producing planet-wide ripples in weather patterns.

But some research suggests that other, previously underappreciated forces may stabilize the melt before it’s complete. The Arctic will soon be ice-free in summer, and winter ice will decline, but it won’t suddenly become permanently ice-free.

“Everyone thought there would be a tipping point,” said Dirk Notz, a Max Planck Institute climate scientist. “But that’s too simple.”

Tipping-point evidence is stronger for western Antarctica than Greenland, said Notz. But even the absence of a tipping point wouldn’t necessarily be reassuring. “It doesn’t mean Greenland won’t melt away,” he said. “It just means it will happen gradually.”

Read More http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/04/polar-ice-review/

But even the absence of a tipping point wouldn’t necessarily be reassuring. Gosh. What would be reassuring, continental glaciation? It was only a little over 3 months ago that WIRED was touting a Polar Ice “tipping point”, even quoting the same scientist, “Notz”.

Polar Sea Ice

Dwindling Arctic sea ice and crumbling Antarctic ice sheets are now a common sight. Whether they signal an impending tip, with rapid melts causing Earth’s seas to inundate heavily-populated coastal plains, is debated.

The process appears to accelerate itself: Warming ice melts, which exposes darker areas, causing local temperatures to rise further. But in the Arctic, another feedback may stabilize the ice, wrote Max Planck Institute meteorologist Dirk Notz in PNAS. Though most of the ice “will disappear during summer,” much of it will re-freeze in the winter. Arctic sea ice loss “is likely to be reversible if the climate were to become cooler again.”

But Notz is less optimistic about Antarctic sea ice, its undersides heated by eddying Southern Ocean currents. And the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have shrunk suddenly at least twice in the last several million years, a behavior that’s backed up by climate models. It’s “well possible that a tipping point exists for a possible collapse” for those sheets, wrote Notz. It could “render the loss of ice sheets and the accompanying sea-level rise unstoppable beyond a certain amount of warming.”

Oh and there’s this one:

Climate ‘Tipping Points’ May Arrive Without Warning, Says Top Forecaster

From a UC Davis press release

Though, my favorite environmental tipping sign is this one :

http://www.velocitypartners.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/tipping-point-in-b2b-technology-marketing.jpg

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105 thoughts on “WIRED Science: Tipping Point Not Likely for Arctic Sea Ice

  1. A form of cognitive dissonance. If the world starts cooling in earnest there will be thousands of “climate scientists” wandering around disoriented.

  2. Which scientist(s) predicted the Arctic would “suddenly become permanently ice-free.”

  3. The picture is intriguing. What time of year was it taken? Is the ice actually flowing south? I’d greatly appreciate the whole back-story.

  4. Everyone thought there would be a tipping point,” said Dirk Notz, a Max Planck Institute climate scientist. “But that’s too simple.”

    Indeed, as Notz described in a review of polar-sea-ice research in December in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there’s no evidence of the Arctic hitting a tipping point in the last several million years, even though temperatures and sea-ice levels have fluctuated widely.

    Over the last few years, Arctic sea-ice cover has reached modern historical lows, stoking the tipping-point fears.

    Gosh, this clever man from the institute smashed the everybody clever-folk consensus by his peer review article, while dumb folk like me got our stupid ideas that its not so simple by gawking at newsreel ofancient pre-historical subs surfacing at zero lat.

  5. “Runaway feedback loop”
    *roll eyes*
    Have any observations in any area of earth science at any time, past or present, shown a “runaway feedback loop” and “tipping point” (aka point of no return) ??
    Nope.
    Well that settles that assumption/speculation, doesn’t it ?
    “When claims do not coincide with observation, it’s best to toss out the claim and start again…”
    These guys are reading from tarot cards.

  6. Let’s talk about cognitive dissonance.
    Time Magazine has a article about Pepsico’s Tropicana retooling their orange groves to reduce greenhouse gasses .
    “PepsiCo will use the two alternative fertilizers for a multiyear pilot study at SMR Farms to see whether the switch could cut Tropicana’s carbon footprint without losing crop yield, which would raise overall costs.
    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1971379,00.html#ixzz0kpIGe9Ld
    They manage to do that without mentioning the oranges that froze back just 3 months ago.
    http://www.newser.com/story/77955/florida-oranges-freeze-solid.html
    “Florida Oranges Freeze Solid
    Cold wave inflicts significant damage on citrus crop
    By Nick McMaster| Posted Jan 11, 10 4:36 PM CST| G
    (Newser) – Florida citrus growers stayed up last night spraying their crop with water, and taking other measures to prevent freezing, as arctic air threatened to inflict significant damage on the orange crop. Losses to the citrus crop may hit 10% as the state sees its worst freeze since 1989. “There’ll be reduced juice yield on some of this frozen fruit, no doubt,” a rep for the state’s main citrus growers group told Reuters. “I would say there was considerable fruit, twig and leaf damage.”

  7. I couldn’t leave it alone. The Pepsico/Tropicana farms fertilizer trials are taking place a SMR Farms.
    Here is a 1st quarter grove update from SMR Farms
    We began our 2009/2010 harvest season in late November. We started in some areas that experienced extreme freeze damage last year. Initial fruit quality was poor but improved during the harvest.
    That was the end of the good news. As most know, the Manatee County area received an extended period of below-freezing temperatures, with many nights into the low 20’s. While we were far enough along in our EM’s to avoid significant losses, our Murcott Tangerines and Valencia Oranges were not so lucky.
    Our Murcotts could not be harvested for fresh fruit due to freeze damage. We lost some of that fruit outright, and sent the rest to the juice plant, which will certainly help.
    We have had to do salvage work in the Valencias and have experienced loss of pound solids in certain blocks, but appear to be OK in most areas. We’ll see as the rest of the season reveals its secrets.
    We are very thankful that damage to the trees was minimal.
    http://www.smrfarms.com/citrus/groveupdate.cfm

  8. If we got a whole bunch of people together, sent them all to Greenland, all stood on on side, Greenland might tip over. And then where would we all be, when that ice all melted.
    I have often wondered how ice that is 40 below melts if the temperature goes up by a few degrees.

  9. Anna V:
    What do you mean they will be. They already are with stories like this one.
    I want to get this straight: Out of 30 or 40 (Several million years) glacial/ inter glacial cycles the Arctic had sudden warming at least twice. That would be at least between 5 and 10 percent so by climate standards there is a likely chance there will be a repeat sometime in the future.
    Greenland and the West Antarctic Peninsula are both affected by volcanic zones and Greenland was more ice free during the MWP.

  10. The pond in my back garden reached it’s tipping point last month. Once some of the ice turned into sunlight-absorbing water it created a runaway feedback loop and has been completely ice free for some weeks now.
    We just have to hope against all the odds that even though the temperature will remain several degrees below freezing continuously for a week or so next winter that the surface still be able to freeze again.

  11. O/T but good news, i think.
    Excerpts from a small article in a MAJOR Chicago newspaper, regarding glaciers in Glacier National Park:
    “He warned many of the rest of the glaciers may be gone by the end of the decade.”
    But, here is the stunning last paragraph of said small article.
    “The park’s glaciers have been slowly melting away since about 1850, when the centuries-long Little Ice Age ended. They once numbered as many as 150, and 37 of those glaciers were named.
    Seems encouraging ?

  12. I wish that somehow these “top” forecasters would have to put their own money on that which they speak.

  13. Bob (Sceptical Redcoat) (13:02:19) :
    There’s no GOOD NEWS in the world of AGW promoters. They won’t be happy till the Earth freezes over!
    ——
    REPLY: Bob, even then, the AGW crowd would claim that the sudden surge of glaciation was but another sign of global warming!
    Case in point:
    http://www.life.com/image/95638883
    Face it, these folks have far too much prestige/money/ego invested in their pet AGW theories to just go into the night without an all-out fight! I expect to see all sorts of bizarre/silly claims made in the coming months & years.
    Meanwhile, I’m sure we will all keep an eye on the Arctic this summer! Cheers!

  14. To many Weasel words for a real scientist to use. No quantification of likely hood of events happening –> no value in what he says.
    Still plenty of cargo cult climate science around at the moment, but few and few of the public are listening to what they say.
    Come to WUWT, if you want a more balanced view!

  15. What did we figure a while ago, 200,000 years for all the ice caps to melt at the current rate? That’s well into the second ice age after the Holocene ends.
    And the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have shrunk suddenly at least twice in the last several million years, a behavior that’s backed up by climate models.
    Darn climate models are back-casting millions of years, too. Doubtless as accurately as they forecast. A warming climate is good, and even better with enhanced CO2 to make the crops grow.

  16. ‘Tipping Points’ – what a wonderful, scary, unprovable, non-demonstrable, concept with which to extract long term research grants from politicians, keen to show their green credentials.

  17. With all the goal post moving going on these climate science types must have great upper body strength.

  18. Bob (Sceptical Redcoat) (13:02:19) :
    There’s no GOOD NEWS in the world of AGW promoters. They won’t be happy till the Earth freezes over!

    When you start looking at the Holocene and correlate it to historical events, the rise of Homo Sapiens really, it does not look like warming to me.
    What I see is the end of the Holocene Interglacial at about 500 AD and a couple pauses in the cooling some would call the Medieval Warm Period and Modern Maximum (which has ended). Other than that we are drifting down to the next Heinrich Event during this GLACIATION (just look at Antarctica!).
    So the interval on Heinrich Events is around 7000 years … when did the first one take place in the Wisconsin Glaciation?

  19. “The Arctic climate would change so dramatically that winter ice couldn’t form again, producing planet-wide ripples in weather patterns.”
    How do they know? They haven’t given any evidence for countering the reality we see since 2007- the sun has gone quiet, temperatures began to decrease, and many more real life observations, but these wackos still keep pressing the tipping point alarm button.

  20. The tipping point has been reached and the Arctic ice cap is advancing. Plan on cold in your future. Warm clothes and food stores needed.

  21. “Some scientists have predicted that rising temperatures could create a runaway feedback loop in the Arctic. Sunlight-reflecting ice sheets would give way to sunlight-absorbing water, driving up temperatures and melting even more ice. The Arctic climate would change so dramatically that winter ice couldn’t form again, producing planet-wide ripples in weather patterns.”

    And yet what do we get? An increase in sea ice extet, thicker than expected in 2009, sea ice area near normal. What does this say about AGW and the Arctic? What does this say about AGW and Antarctica? Ziltch!!!
    I have read so many explantions about these contradictions that I now fnally understant that AGW has evolved into a religion.

  22. They will sit around pontificating on what will happen like so many pundits before a football game,then after the fact will come the explanations/excuses for why so many failed to predict the home team equalising in the final minutes etc.
    Really, all this endless prophesizing says more about human nature then it does about the climate.

  23. The disorientation of climate science is the act of confusing feedback mechanisms with the drivers that maintain the feedbacks.
    The winds that moved the ice out of the Arctic can just as easily prevent the ice from getting out.
    And what of the drivers that are responsible for a string of Ice Ages lasting 100,000 yrs?
    Did the Ice Ages occur as a result of drivers, tipping points, both or none of the above?

  24. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge is one who thinks it’s going to be hell on earth – this from October last year.
    ‘The new data, presented by the Catlin Arctic Survey and the international conservation group WWF, support the view that the Arctic will be ice free in the summer within about 20 years.
    Most of the ice melt is expected to happen within the next ten years, Wadhams said in his statement.’

  25. ” The arctic will soon be ice-free during the summer ….” Now that’s quite the statement . How soon is soon ? Or does that depend on what your definition of soon is ?

  26. “That is the question. Read More”
    I’m not sure I can read more! My head is starting to hurt! Where’s my duct tape?

  27. The message in the two stories is almost identical. I think they’ve dusted the old story off and rephrased it to cover their posteriors in light of the Arctic ice showing such signs of resilience. As for this Notz guy, I’m not sure what kind of “top forecaster” he is if he’s still crying about the sky falling in Antarctica, when even alamist Cryosphere Today has the current southern Hemisphere anomaly above normal, as it has been for most of the last 3 years, and the only discernable trend is UPWARD. I suspect they figure they can get away with the Chicken Little approach to the Southern ice only because it hasn’t received enough press for the general public to know how badly the alarmist forecasts down there are failing. When the MSM start paying attention to the very healthy Southern Ice Sheet, watch WIRED produce a reworked version of this same story, with the Southern ice comments toned down or excised altogether.
    Meantime I’m crying in my coffee over the eco-nonsense my old Alma Mater has plunged itself into. Ironic this panic over “GHG”s–which throughout their story clearly means “CO2”, though the essential plant nutrient is never named–considering a vast body of scientific literature originating at UBC–a long-time pioneer of research in agriculture (particularly silviculture) that definitively establishes the benefit of higher CO2 levels to the ecosphere. Someone in admin has been drinking the coolade, I’m afraid.
    So much for expecting donations from this alumnus.

  28. Oh, they’ll re-orient quickly, anna v. And watch them continue to demonize carbon and the albedo of the Chinese. Dismaying as the prospect is, it’s going to take a hard freeze to kill these bugs.
    ==================

  29. It’s nice to see this going more or less mainstream. The comments show many people get it.
    If WUWT could get linked on Wired, BoingBoing, Digg, FARK, and any other social aggregate sites more often, Anthony could help turn the indoctrination tide.

  30. Even the Met Office with it’s new computer is wrong in it’s forecast almost 100% of the time.

  31. 2008: The ice is in a “death spiral” and may disappear in the summers within a couple of decades, according to Mark Serreze, an Arctic climate expert at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
    2009: Mark Serreze Named NSIDC Director, in charge of the web site you mentioned – he drew the blue line and decided what to show and what not to show (there is no analog of the Norwegian graph above shown)
    This week, April 4, 2010 The Sunday Times
    “Arctic ice recovers from the great melt”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7086746.ece
    “In retrospect, the reactions to the 2007 melt were overstated. The lesson is that we must be more careful in not reading too much into one event,” Serreze said.
    “On current trends it will still become ice-free in summer by around 2060.”
    Did you think Mark Serreze had moderated his views? On our national ice web site directed by Mark Serreze, the “Frequently Asked Questions about Arctic sea ice”
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/faq.html
    “Is Arctic sea ice really declining? Yes, the data show that Arctic sea ice really is in a state of ongoing decline.”
    “Is Arctic sea ice starting to recover? Even though the extent of Arctic sea ice has not returned to the record low of 2007, the data show that it is not recovering.”
    There’s the Arctic, and then then there’s Mark Serreze’s Arctic melting fast…

  32. I want my Ice-Free Arctic. After all, I teach science and as water freezes at zero degrees, I want to see just how it avoids freezing at the average temperature of -40 to -50 during the winter. This would be a major blow to my previous beliefs. Still, having – with reluctance – looked at Wikipaedia for their unique take on events, I find that it can all be blamed on ferns – yes, ferns. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_the_Arctic
    “This unusual climate was created in the Azolla event when fresh surface water in the Arctic Ocean caused a long term abundance of Azolla, a type of aquatic fern. Huge quantities of dead Azolla Ferns built up and formed sedimentary rock, much of which contains fossil fuels as a result of the carbon contained in the Azolla. This process caused global cooling as a result of a reduction in the greenhouse effect”.
    Well, words do fail me here.

  33. too bad they don’t need 97% consensus before issuing a press release of their latest disaster scenario.

  34. anna v (13:09:00) :
    A form of cognitive dissonance. If the world starts cooling in earnest there will be thousands of “climate scientists” wandering around disoriented.

    Unfortunately, what would happen is tragically simple. No matter what happens, whether it’s warming, cooling, drought, floods, fire, famine, pestilance, the Earth being struck by an asteroid, the sun dimming, the sun going nova, a rogue planetoid yanking Earth out of orbit, the moon crashing down into the South Pacific, etc. etc. etc, the answer is simple:
    Humanity will be the cause. Most likely fossil fuel use will be the cause. Almost certainly our current population level will be the cause. Sigh.

  35. Good article, thanks for citing this.
    Tipping points, such as those that could lead to sudden arctic ice disappearance, are less important than feedback loops, which exacerbate GHG caused global warming. Changes could occur in century time scales, not in the abrupt pattern that “tipping point” implies.
    The problem is that these changes are going to be very difficult to reverse, since so much CO2 will be in the atmosphere. It may be a slow moving train, but the train’s arrival at 7c (as predicted by the MIT business as usual model) will depopulate this planet, and it won’t be pretty.
    “Alarmists” like myself don’t welcome all of the bad news that has been coming in lately, including record global highs in March. We would rather be wrong. Unfortunately, the probability of that appears to be very, very small.

  36. Wired generally does a yeoman’s job of science reporting. But their audience is hip, young, green kids with no working knowledge of reality beyond their bedrooms. Springing the real picture on them in one article would get the editor fired. This is progress for them.
    In general, I like their science reporting. In the past they’ve done a better job than the NYT on topics that hold their interest.

  37. About the only tipping point anyone’ll see due to a lack of ice will be that reached by climate scientists and journalists , after they’ve had too many neat drinks.

  38. mike roddy;
    The problem is that these changes are going to be very difficult to reverse, since so much CO2 will be in the atmosphere. It may be a slow moving train, but the train’s arrival at 7c (as predicted by the MIT business as usual model) will depopulate this planet, and it won’t be pretty.>>
    Pre-industrial population of earth => 1 billion
    Current population of earth => 8 billion
    number of people who must DIE to go back to a pre-industrial economy
    7 billion
    Is that pretty enough for you?
    I’ll take my chances that the 0.6 degrees temperature rise over the last CENTURY won’t turn into 7 degrees. Wonderfull nice March we had by the way, warmest in a long time, coincides with the biggest human population on the planet ever. Growing ice extent at both poles and a declining ocean heat content that signify a net energy loss of the planet on the order of 1000 times the increase in the atmosphere…. remember that wooly mammoth they found, frozen in a glacier, green plants still in its mouth? Now that worries me.

  39. Saying there are no tipping points for the arctic is as extreme a stance as saying there are. It’s all junk science. There are tipping points in every dynamic system where it suddenly shifts to some new state that was unpredictable from the previous input– the problem is, no one knows where those points are. Saying there are or aren’t tipping points is junk science as it really says nothing at all. Pushed far enough, every system will change to a new mode– the more important question is, will AGW push the arctic far enough? The only honest thing to say is– we don’t know.

  40. O/T but good news, i think.
    Excerpts from a small article in a MAJOR Chicago newspaper, regarding glaciers in Glacier National Park:
    “He warned many of the rest of the glaciers may be gone by the end of the decade.”
    But, here is the stunning last paragraph of said small article.
    “The park’s glaciers have been slowly melting away since about 1850, when the centuries-long Little Ice Age ended. They once numbered as many as 150, and 37 of those glaciers were named.
    Seems encouraging ?
    ============
    My original comment seems to be stuck in moderation ??
    So here it is again.

  41. @ Jim Steele (16:12:33) :
    “Permanently” was the operative word used in the original article.
    Your citation does not answer my question.

  42. Bob (Sceptical Redcoat) (13:02:19) :
    There’s no GOOD NEWS in the world of AGW promoters. They won’t be happy till the Earth freezes over!
    Which should start happening in earnest in about 2,000 years. Why? Orbital mechanics.
    Mike Ramsey

  43. Does the ‘runaway feedback loop’ in their model take into consideration that the surface of the ‘sunlight-absorbing water’ becomes nearly parallel to the propagation direction of the incoming solar energy as the north pole is approached?
    It seems to me, that as the angle of incidence approaches zero, the percentage of the available solar energy that can be absorbed also approaches zero. In other words, reflection bcomes more dominant and there is less absorbed solar energy available to ‘drive up temperatures’ and ‘melt even more ice’ the closer you get to the north pole.
    I’d like to know how or if this variable is handled in their model!

  44. R. Gates (16:43:27) :
    RE: Tipping points
    Give me proof of one tipping point, ever.
    Oh, and by the way, define; “tipping point”.

  45. arch stanton (13:10:27) :
    Which scientist(s) predicted the Arctic would “suddenly become permanently ice-free.”
    Too late to keep Arctic sea ice from vanishing?
    ‘It’s hard to see how the system may come back,’ expert says
    updated 6:21 p.m. ET, Tues., Feb. 12, 2008
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Arctic sea ice next summer may shrink below the record low last year and it’s hard to see how it won’t eventually melt away completely, according to a University of Washington climatologist.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23134090/
    ‘Frightening’ projection for Arctic melt
    The Arctic Ocean could be free of ice in the summer as soon as 2010 or 2015 – something that hasn’t happened for more than a million years, according to a leading polar researcher.
    By CanWest News ServiceNovember 16, 2007
    QUEBEC — The Arctic Ocean could be free of ice in the summer as soon as 2010 or 2015 – something that hasn’t happened for more than a million years, according to a leading polar researcher.
    Louis Fortier, scientific director of ArcticNet, a Canadian research network, said the sea ice is melting faster than predicted by models created by international teams of scientists, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
    Fortier told an international conference on defence and security in Quebec City Thursday that the worst-case scenarios are becoming reality.
    “The frightening models we didn’t even dare to talk about before are now proving to be true,” Fortier told CanWest News Service, referring to computer models that take into account the thinning of the sea ice and the warming from the albedo effect – the Earth is absorbing more energy as the sea ice melts.
    According to these models, there will be no sea ice left in the summer in the Arctic Ocean somewhere between 2010 and 2015.
    “And it’s probably going to happen even faster than that,” said Fortier, who leads an international team of researchers in the Arctic looking for clues to climate change.
    http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=c76d05dd-2864-43b2-a2e3-82e0a8ca05d5&k=53683

  46. “R. Gates (16:43:27) :
    Saying there are no tipping points for the arctic is as extreme a stance as saying there are. It’s all junk science. There are tipping points in every dynamic system where it suddenly shifts to some new state that was unpredictable from the previous input– the problem is, no one knows where those points are. […]”
    Except for the class of dynamic systems that have no tipping points.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pendulum

  47. The image of ice emerging from larger bodies of ice (or were those islands) is powerful and beautiful, flowing in a sweep of nature, before our eyes.
    Oh, how we wonder, when explanations lacking.
    Observation & measurement.

  48. They are scared to buck the consensus even when the info says it is wrong. That is like being called a racist. The truth will set them free. Just say it :” CO2 AGW is BS.” Now lets work on some real problem in the environment: fish depletion and forest diversification.

  49. Yosemite Valley used to be a mile deep in ice, as did Chicago and New York. They both reached their tipping points a long time ago, and I doubt anyone feels badly about it – except for maybe the Sabre Toothed Tigers.

  50. Has anyone taken the trouble to check this man Mike Roddy’s credentials, who posted at 16.03.02, by clicking on his name to reveal his contribution to “The Beast” with “14 Most Heinous Climate Villains.” He appears to be proud of his sick and loathsome Ad Hominem attacks.
    With contributions like his I know I am definitely on the right and the righteous side.
    Look at his entry for Steve McIntyre
    9) Stephen McIntyre, Mathematician
    Misdeeds: Despite having no training or field experience in climate science, McIntyre runs the blog ClimateAudit.org, whose mission is to use arcane statistical analyses to break the “hockey stick” reconstruction of historical climate patterns. He recently claimed victory over the Briffa tree ring data controversy, but failed to note that there are at least 15 studies that don’t need tree ring data to show the identical late 20th century hockey stick shape of rising temperatures and CO2 concentrations.
    Corporate teats: McIntyre lives in tar sands besotted Canada as a “semiretired minerals consultant,” and served as President of Northwest Exploration Co Ltd before they became CGX Energy, Inc. His funding sources are hidden, since the Canadian government is legally somewhere between Texas and Saudi Arabia, and transparency is not required.
    Most egregious lie: “I constructed a variation on the CRU data set, removing the 12 selected cores and replacing them with the 34 cores from the Schweingruber Yamal sample….” The echo chamber goes wild, but neither they nor McIntyre himself have any idea what he’s talking about, since Climate Audit is all about masturbating to numbers. Even Briffa’s tree ring work was later vindicated by something McIntyre never considered: further scientific research.
    Comeuppance: Sent to the Maldives, given cement shoes and used to mark the rising tide.
    He has similarly sick comments for others who he obviously sees as a major threat, such as James Inhofe, Patrick Michaels, Fred Singer, Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen Bjorn Lomborg and even our own Lord Monckton.

  51. R Gates wrote:
    “Pushed far enough, every system will change to a new mode– the more important question is, will AGW push the arctic far enough? The only honest thing to say is– we don’t know.”
    You bring up an important disconnect in the use of the term “tipping point,” so the first thing we need to do is get our terms defined properly. Some people use the term to simply mean a situation where a previously-stable state is changed to a different state, where it then re-stabilizes. Others use the term in the sense of a slippery slope, in which case once you are over the “tipping point” there is an inevitable slide to chaos, destruction, or some similar horrific result.
    The scare stories almost always play on general public fear of the latter sense of the term, although when pressed, most advocates would acknowledge that they are really talking about the former.
    As to whether we can whether the Arctic will reach a tipping point, we would have to ask what kind of tipping point we are talking about. I think some of the commenters who suggest that there is no known process in nature that results in a tipping point are talking about the latter definition.
    Of course, if the former is used in a narrow enough sense, then it simply means good old fashioned change — In other words, the “tipping point” simply becomes a confirmation of the fact that nature is not forever static.

  52. “mike roddy (16:03:02) :
    Good article, thanks for citing this.
    Tipping points, such as those that could lead to sudden arctic ice disappearance, are less important than feedback loops, which exacerbate GHG caused global warming. Changes could occur in century time scales, not in the abrupt pattern that “tipping point” implies.
    The problem is that these changes are going to be very difficult to reverse, since so much CO2 will be in the atmosphere. It may be a slow moving train, but the train’s arrival at 7c (as predicted by the MIT business as usual model) will depopulate this planet, and it won’t be pretty.”
    What the AGW crowd calls tipping points is mathematically the local maximum between two local minima of a potential function. By perturbing the state of the system you can push it up, if the perturbation is strong enough you make it over the local maximum and the system will then fall into the potential well behind this wall and stay there as long as it isn’t perturbed again.
    The positive feedbacks you and the AGW crowd often quote are not a magical force in this picture that move our state around; but they are depressions in the landscape, in other words, guiding our system state to a lower energy level; to a local minimum.
    I hope you get the picture; it would mean that once we push the state over a wall (CO2 emissions being the external force) it follows these depressions, seeking a new minimum (minimum not as in temperature minimum but in potential minimum for the system).
    So it makes no sense to say when there no tipping points the feedbacks can still mess things up; there are really only 3 possibilities:
    1) there is a tipping point and behind it looms positive-feedback-land and your 7C.
    2) there is no tipping point and we already descend into the new state (+7C-land).
    3) There is no tipping point but negative feedbacks work against our system state perturbation – the walls around our system state become steeper and cannot be crossed.
    (All of this assuming for the moment that CO2 is a significant climate driver)
    For a good illustration see here about gradient descent:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steepest_descent

  53. Do not underestimate Dirk Notz, read what he says:
    “Arctic sea ice loss “is likely to be reversible if the climate were to become cooler again.”
    Now that is what I call a bright mind. He does not work at the Max Planck Institute for nothing !!!
    Minor point is that his assumption is not backed up yet by a climate model. So grand the man a couple of millions so he can build a model that will generate proof (95% confidence level) that lower temperatures, combined with high CO2 levels may well lead to more ice…

  54. Krugman the economist in his NYT diatribe today mentions a tipping point. The point Joe Romm at Climateprogress referred to as Permanent droughts in southwestern states. The droughts and heat tipped the opposite direction. Floods and mudslides in LA, blizzards from Arizona to Houston and no end to moisture.
    Since I am also an economist in addition to other professions, the tipping point that will hurt the most is the coming choking of grants and funding. In fact as disgusting as the state supported forecasts are, I suspect we need to fire some of them. The fetish clause that was inserted in many grant applications included some hypothesis slanted toward warming matters.
    Why would someone send research money to PSU when Mann has cheated on archived temp records?
    The equities markets destroyed the market price for Enron common share because the financial reports could not be trusted.
    Let’s name this crash of warming related funding the Enron effect.
    The week in November of the 19th as I recall was a tipping point. It started tipping the wrong way. There was nothing sweeter than private e-mail confessions of error, falsification and DECLINING temps.
    One of my favorite moments of the tipping point was around Christmas last year. Nasty winter had taken most of any sort of fun out of the Copenhagen fiasco and around Christmas Joe Bastardi says it is going to get nasty wet and cold in the UK. It is coming hard. Even Jan 1, The Met Office as it started turning nasty said they had no idea what was Joe talking about. The Met Office could greatly improve their forecasts if they stuck with reporting what they could see with their eyes looking out the window.

  55. Briffa’s tree rings are so discredited that even Briffa refuses to publicly defend them. There is nothing to defend. He used a selected sample for crucial data, He cannot find the tree rings used. He used proxies for proxies from 1980 onwards because his proxies were not such when compared with real temp measurement. Pure scientific fraud. A PHD candidate would have been blackballed.

  56. mike roddy (16:03:02) :
    Please tell me how a warming of 7 degrees C kills everyone on the planet. Even if it was instantaneous, the human death tool would likely be less than what we had during our two world wars. The warming would be mainly in winter at high latitudes where few people live. Sea level rise would accelerate, but a crawling baby could easily out pace the advancing water.
    Of course, it can not happen instantly and there is no evidence that it will happen at all, but if it did over 100 years time, humans would easily handle the physical challenges and survive.
    You wrote:
    “Alarmists” like myself don’t welcome all of the bad news that has been coming in lately, including record global highs in March. We would rather be wrong. Unfortunately, the probability of that appears to be very, very small.”
    How can you have so little evidence that you are right and still insist that you can’t be wrong? And what bad news are you talking about? We have had no significant warming for the last 12 years, aside from the minor ups and down associated with ENSO events. Global sea ice is near the 30 year norm, which is remarkable considering that the satellite record started at the end of a global cooling period and we are now at the end of a warming period. The PDO is likely in the beginning of its cool phase, which resulted in global cooling in the mid-20th Century, despite the rapid increase in atmospheric CO2, so cooling is, once again, almost certain. The sun does not appear to be nearly as active as it was last Century. There is no significant evidence of the vital positive feedbacks required to make CO2 a climate crisis and the evidence is growing for negative (stabilizing) feedbacks. ‘Alarmists’ have been caught ‘cooking’ the books on past and current climate to make it seem worse than it actually is. Sea level is rising slower now than it has for the last 100 years. There is no trend in severe weather. There is no trend in tropical cyclone activity. There is nothing happening out of the ordinary at all! Yet you insist that you can not be wrong about the impending doom.
    Seriously…in the face of almost no supporting evidence that you are right, why do you feel that you can not be wrong?

  57. I predict that if we don’t do something immediately at least 9 billion people will die by 2100.

  58. Of course if we do absolutely nothing at all I also predict at least 9 billion people will die by 2100.

  59. Ok so there’s not tipping point.
    How about tilting point or leaning point.
    If this keeps up warmers won’t have anything left but their climate models.

  60. u.k.(us) (17:18:02) :

    R. Gates (16:43:27) :
    RE: Tipping points
    Give me proof of one tipping point, ever.
    Oh, and by the way, define; “tipping point”.

    I’d say a tipping point is a point in a dynamic system where positive feedbacks take over and push it toward a different balance point. That is akin to pushing the top of a tall glass until its centre of gravity is past the base – it ‘tips’, hence the name.
    And to be fair, we are aware of tipping points in our climate. They cause ice ages as far as we can see, and also bring us out of them to interglacials such as the current one. I am not aware of any tipping points that have occurred to turn the climate into some raging fireball, despite many times the CO2 trace we have now. That tells us two things (if true):
    1. There is no tipping point that leads to runaway warming. Just none at all. If there were, it would have occurred already, and I am pretty certain it has not.
    2. CO2 is not the main driver of temperature.

  61. Oh, yes, and when the temperature was at a particularly high point for a seriously long time, all that nasty evil carbon was actually running around as dinosaurs eating all sorts of other carbon. Only when it got terribly cold (I believe) did they pretty much die out, and get sequestered for millions of years as coal and oil for us to use later on. Neat, that.

  62. “Everyone thought there would be a tipping point,” said Dirk Notz.
    Everyone? He needs to get out more often.

  63. “Tipping-point evidence is stronger for western Antarctica than Greenland, said Notz. But even the absence of a tipping point wouldn’t necessarily be reassuring. “It doesn’t mean Greenland won’t melt away,” he said. “It just means it will happen gradually.”
    ================
    This is a man in need of an ark.

  64. These folks are so damn fond of keeping track of ice and all, it’s a darn shame that we’re cutting back on the space program. With the discovery that Pluto is actually one of potentially dozens, or even hundreds of dwarf planetary ice balls floaring around just shy of the Oort cloud, seems that groups of them could be assigned their very own little plantetoid to measure and study ice makeup to their heart’s content, and never have to lose a single wink of sleep worrying their fevered noggins that it was ever going to melt.
    And from that distance, we really wouldn’t have to listen to their drivel.

  65. Maybe someone can refresh my memory. I seem to recall reading, I believe it was sometime last year, where several of these geniuses finally ‘fessed up that if the fabled “collapse” of the West Antarctic ice sheet was to occur it would take place over the next 1 to 3 THOUSAND YEARS. I haven’t been able to relocate the reference, so it is possible i just dreamed it.

  66. We shouldn’t complain about these partial steps toward sanity in the media. It’s a “work in progress” and reminded me of the farmer’s position on the heroic pig that awoke a farm family when a house fire broke out. The pig had even reentered the burning inferno and retrieved the farmer’s baby from its crib by the scruff of the neck. When the farmer was later asked why the pig had only three legs the farmer responded, “You can’t just eat a special pig like that all at once!”

  67. Please all, take the time to read this post – Colin Porter (17:42:18)
    Very importent that you waste no time with roddy the troll. This person is way wacked. Please ignore, and hopefully he will go back under his bridge!

  68. No tipping point in my opinion. 1. The environmental dynamics of the Arctic bowl will keep it in oscillation between the seasons (IE lots of ice in Winter, not so much in Summer). 2.The dynamics of greenhouse gases and AGW are only a very tiny part of why the Arctic freezes in Winter and melts in Summer. 3. In addition, the affects of CO2 based warming will diminish as CO2 emissions diminish (as they will with time). 4. The forces of nature that bring about extremes will continue unabated.

  69. I once worked for a company that made the cover of Wired magazine. They made up a bunch of stuff about what we did that wasn’t true. It wasn’t negative stuff, it was just fabricated.
    So I’d take anything they say with a grain or two of salt.

  70. Steve Oregon (18:45:46) :
    They never had anything more than thier climate models.
    That’s what has been eating them (and thier 3-legged pig).

  71. Much uncertainty about what exactly is a tipping point so following the precautionary principle I feel Al Gore’s wife must be banned from visiting the Arctic. They say that behind every great man….. could explain a lot!

  72. “Some scientists have predicted that rising temperatures could create a runaway feedback loop in the Arctic. Sunlight-reflecting ice sheets would give way to sunlight-absorbing water, driving up temperatures and melting even more ice.”

    I know I’m simple minded but why didn’t it happen after the drastic sea ice loss of 2007?

  73. There is a high Stratus cloudiness in the Arctic, 70-80 percent. The clouds will probably remain even if the ice is receding. Therefore, the arctic albedo will not change as much as if the Arctic was cloudfree, as shown on many arctic photos.

  74. mike roddy,
    ““Alarmists” like myself don’t welcome all of the bad news that has been coming in lately, including record global highs in March. We would rather be wrong.”
    LOL!

  75. Henry chance,
    “Krugman the economist in his NYT diatribe today mentions a tipping point.”
    The only tipping point Krugman should be crowing about is the impending national debt explosion.

  76. It doesn’t take much to stampede a heard of buffalo or 6.5 billion “lemmings”. I wish these people would just be quiet about AGW and ‘tipping points’, there’s more to life than weather. Well, there used to be.

  77. R. Gates (16:43:27) :
    Pushed far enough, every system will change to a new mode– the more important question is, will AGW push the arctic far enough? The only honest thing to say is– we don’t know.
    Amidst the towering mountains that affect climate, AGW is but a molehill. It can’t push anything. It’s interesting that you continue to believe that it can. Where is your evidence? Remember, correlation is not causation.

  78. rbateman (22:01:52) :
    Steve Oregon (18:45:46) :
    They never had anything more than thier climate models.
    That’s what has been eating them (and thier 3-legged pig)
    Has anyone yet established the tipping point of a 3-legged pig?

  79. When I was a child we called this kind of speculation a “Pipe Dream”. I have smoked good Dutch tobacco in my pipe ever since, but still no dreams. What am I missing here? I know, we can call it “speculative science”. Oh, that is an oxymoron, but so are tipping points in dynamic and chaotic systems.

  80. Given the incredible climate history of this planet and the fact that the Earth now still does resemble a warm, wet and welcoming home for billions of species, how is it that any credible scientist can make a claim that a “run away feed back loop” is ever going to occur?
    Mercury and Venus, even Mars, look like “run away feed back” possibilities. But Earth? In this so called “run away feed back loop”, once the water and the gases evaporate into outer space, exactly how would Earth gets its oceans and atmosphere back?
    If such an event hasn’t happened at all in the past (since we still do have our oceans and atmosphere) then why should we believe that our minute influence would make it occur in our tiny blip that is human history?

  81. “”” Climate ‘Tipping Points’ May Arrive Without Warning, Says Top Forecaster
    From a UC Davis press release “””
    Well that’s why they call it the “future”; it will happen, when it happens.
    A warning is something you were told about what is now the past.
    And you know that famous statement about making predictions; especially about the future; wazzat Yogi Berra who said that; maybe it was Satchel Paige.

  82. Well let’s see now; ice is white; high albedo, and open water is black; low albedo.
    And ice extent is 85 % black water and 15 % white ice.
    So howcome most of that picture is whie rather than black. I see very little black mixed in there with the white areas. Even the mush in that tongue at the bottom is mostly white.
    So how much of that ice do you think is actually horizontal, so that the arctic sun strongly reflects off it, because of grazing incidence.
    Well we are looking pretty much straight down from the Zenith; so why is it so bright, if the low sun angle is supposed to give rise to high albedo specular treflectance. Wouldn’t surprise me, if that surface turned out to be at least Lambertian; and could even be nearly isotropic reflectance; well the ice parts. The open water is more likely to be specular, when there aren’t violent storms around.

  83. “And the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have shrunk suddenly at least twice in the last several million years, a behavior that’s backed up by climate models. ”
    Now the models are good out to millions of years? They predict nothing well, but their predictions are taken as fact.
    So, they had a programmer program these melts using what variables? Hummers? Hummingbirds? Humans making the first fire? Humble penguins passing gas?
    Try as they may, they still cannot get these programs to make a good cup of coffee. When they can do that without request when needed, then they can claim to predict whims. Only then can the pretend to predict climate.

  84. Can someone please point me to a site that shows how many and where the REAL thermometers are that are RECORDING the Artic temperatures (that we continually hear are rising) I am sceptical that the Artic is warming but would like very much to have good data to understand how such claims are made. Thanks

  85. As tipping points are being discussed, I think it would be illuminating for some of you to read this following article, on how one little thing can affect the global climate:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100110151325.htm
    A quote from this article is most revealing:
    “the fact that seemingly insignificant changes can lead to dramatic tipping points for climate patterns, especially in and around the Arctic.”
    When it comes to any system, no matter how complex, there is always that one extra nudge that pushes the system into a new response pattern. The truth is, we don’t know what those nudges are in the arctic, or how far current nudges can go before a tipping point is reached. To say there are no tipping points or we are not close to a tipping point in the arctic is as ignorant as saying you know where a tipping point is…we don’t know, but as the above article demonstrates, but what we do know is that they are out there– somewhere.

  86. And one small point that was in their article was the statement, that this doesn’t have anything to do with today’s climate.
    Well they actually said this:- “”” While the findings do not directly bear on current global warming, they highlight the complexity of Earth’s climate system …. “””
    They said that, right before they said what you posted above; funny how you missed that small tipping point.

  87. “”” Rob (11:10:19) :
    Can someone please point me to a site that shows how many and where the REAL thermometers are that are RECORDING the Artic temperatures (that we continually hear are rising) I am sceptical that the Artic is warming but would like very much to have good data to understand how such claims are made. Thanks “””
    Don’t have a site Rob; but I believe that at the 19/20th century boundary it was 12 real actual thermometer stations; well that was for their definition of the Arctic, which is >+60 deg lat.
    This number gradually wandered up to about 86 if I remember correctly; and then it started to fall to something like 72; and I think that happened along with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    Now I could be wrong on those numbers; but those are about what i remember from the article that mentioned that.
    Phil will know the real numbers.
    Don’t quite see how 12 equates to 72 ; well other than a factor of six; but that is just accidental I’m sure.

  88. So how do you actually measure earth’s albedo? Just what is it anyway ?
    It has always been my understanding, that albedo measures the fraction of the total solar insolation intercepted by planet earth, that gets reflected from somewhere, and routed back out into space, so that it has zero effect on the energy balance of the earth. Well the actual amount that is reflected affects the amount that “lands” on earth and contributes energy somehow.
    That means that albedo, represents solar spectrum radiation; which may be somewhat modified by a non constant spectral reflectance of various surfaces that make up earth; but it does not include energy that arrives at 6438.4696 Angstrom units wavelength; and somehow exits at 10.1 or even 15 microns wavelength.
    So how do you measure that.
    Let’s consider the earth being at an equinox position in solar orbit, so the axis is tilted roughly at right angles to the radius to the sun, and the visible sun is on the horizon at both poles. Well actually the entire disk of the sun would be visible above the horizon at the poles because of atmospheric refraction, and the center might be as much as one degree above the horizon.
    So we have somewhat more than half of the earth simultaneously irradiated by solar energy; maybe 182 degrees out of 360 or more.
    Now at the north pole, and south pole, you have ice/snow in both places (highly likely), and the surface is not optically flat and parallel to the mean earth surface; so the “grazing” angle reflected light from that snow ice, is actually impinging on surfaces with every possible angular orientation, so the reflected light is likely to have at least a Lambertian (cosine) angular distribution, and it could be nearly isotropic.
    So that means that light reflected from the poles, can be backscattered towards the direction of the sun, or sent straight up towards the zenith; or forward scattered towards the darkness of space; so it will illuminate the entirety of space out there in the midnight sky.
    Now actually, this same geometry really exists, anywhere in the earth orbit about the sun; not just at the equinox position; I just wanted to have the axis tilt in a known direction.
    So even though earth is illuminated only over slightly more than a hemisphere; it actually reflects sunlight over 4 pi steradians.
    So now where are you going to put your radiometer to simultaneously observe that complete 4pi steradians of space to measure the total reflected energy from the earth.
    Now don’t tell me you are going to do a moon bounce, and measure what reflects off the moon.
    The earth is essentially a point source as seen from the moon, so the only thing you can read at the moon’s surface, would be the axial (zenith)Radiant Intensity of the earth.
    Well if you had a nice telescope, you could focus in on points on the earth, out to the limb, and make radiance measurements; but only of the backscattered light.
    I suppose if you were on a satellite, that you could steer into any position in space above the earyth, you could map the radiant intensity or radiance over the complete earth and 4pi space; but you wouldn’t be able to do that all at once everywhere.
    So you couldn’t keep up with cloud changes by the minute as they come and go; and it might take you some effort to even keep up with the changes in ice/snow cover, and seasonal greenery changes.
    If somebody has a plot of the average 4pi radiant intensity distribution; of the earth albedo reflections; or of the radiance at all points over the earth (average) it would be interesting to see what it looks like.
    I imagine that is something that is in some climate text book somewhere; or maybe a PhD thesis.

  89. George E. Smith (10:39:23) :
    Well let’s see now; ice is white; high albedo, and open water is black; low albedo.
    And ice extent is 85 % black water and 15 % white ice.
    So howcome most of that picture is whie rather than black. I see very little black mixed in there with the white areas. Even the mush in that tongue at the bottom is mostly white.

    At this time of year most of the sea ice area is ~90+% coverage with a ‘fuzzy’ edge, the threshold chosen to designate the edge is 15% (or 30% at this time of year it makes little difference because of the steep dropoff).

  90. “”” Phil. (06:56:18) :
    George E. Smith (10:39:23) :
    Well let’s see now; ice is white; high albedo, and open water is black; low albedo.
    And ice extent is 85 % black water and 15 % white ice.
    So howcome most of that picture is whie rather than black. I see very little black mixed in there with the white areas. Even the mush in that tongue at the bottom is mostly white.
    At this time of year most of the sea ice area is ~90+% coverage with a ‘fuzzy’ edge, the threshold chosen to designate the edge is 15% (or 30% at this time of year it makes little difference because of the steep dropoff). “””
    Well that of course was my point Phil; although some of these official data sets may have 15% coverage as a criterion; actual photographs, will often reveal a somewhat different viewpoint. Such as for example; that picure of a virtually completely snow covered British Isles; not long after a proclamation of future extinct species status for snow in Britain.

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