We all cringed, then laughed when Dr. Mark Serreze of NSIDC first said it, then marveled about it as it got a life of its own, being the buzzphrase for every alarmist who wanted to shriek about declining Arctic sea ice.
In 2007 we heard him say:
“The Arctic is screaming,” said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government’s snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colorado.
So far, the “screaming” hasn’t kept anyone awake at night, and we have not returned to the low of 2007 in the last three melt seasons.
In 2008 Serreze made the bold claim:
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.
And in 2008 we had the forecast from NSIDC’s Dr. Mark Serreze of an “ice free north pole”. As we know, that didn’t even come close to being true. Summer 2008 had more arctic ice than summer 2007, and summer 2007 was not “ice free” by any measure.
With those failed predictions behind him, in an interview in The Age just a few weeks ago, Serreze pulled a Harold Camping, and changed his prediction date. Now he’s saying the new date for an ice free summer is 2030.
”There will be ups and downs, but we are on track to see an ice-free summer by 2030. It is an overall downward spiral.”
Now from a most surprising source, Andy Revkin at the NYT, a strong statement saying he’s not buying it anymore:
But even as I push for an energy quest that limits climate risk, I’m not worried about the resilience of Arctic ecosystems and not worried about the system tipping into an irreversibly slushy state on time scales relevant to today’s policy debates. This is one reason I don’t go for descriptions of the system being in a “death spiral.”
The main source of my Arctic comfort level — besides what I learned while camped with scientists on the North Pole sea ice — is the growing body of work on past variability of conditions in the Arctic. The latest evidence of substantial past ice variability comes in a study in the current issue of Science. The paper, combining evidence of driftwood accumulation and beach formation in northern Greenland with evidence of past sea-ice extent in parts of Canada, concludes that Arctic sea ice appears to have retreated far more in some spans since the end of the last ice age than it has in recent years.
Michael MacCracken, a veteran climate modeler and chief scientist at the Climate Institute, noted on the Google group on geo-engineering that this new paper adds credence to proposals for an Arctic focus for managing incoming sunlight as a way to limit greenhouse-driven impacts. (Personally, I don’t see this kind of effort going anywhere unless and until climate impacts trend toward worst-case outcomes.)
He’s referring of course to this paper we covered here on WUWT:
I wrote then:
This is interesting. While there’s much noise from alarmists that we are on an “Arctic death spiral” the team for this paper’s press release today found evidence that ice levels were about 50% lower 5,000 years ago. The paper references changes to wind systems which can slow down the rate of melting (something we’ve seen on the short term, even NASA points this out for recent historic ice retreats). They also suggest that a tipping point under current scenarios is unlikely saying that even with a reduction to less than 50% of the current amount of sea ice the ice will not reach a point of no return (i.e. a tipping point).