2014 Arctic Sea Ice Forecasting Contest

This announcement will be followed by the actual voting contest at WUWT this coming weekend – Anthony

First Call for Sea Ice Outlook Contributions

June Report (Based on May data)

Submission deadline: Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Since 2008, the annual SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) has obtained over 300 community predictions of the September sea ice extent. 

This year represents a transition for the SIO, as it is now managed as part of the Sea Ice Prediction Network project as a contribution to SEARCH. The goal of the SIO is to improve sea ice prediction on seasonal time-scales by developing a network of scientists and stakeholders to advance research on sea ice prediction. At a recent workshop and over the past few years, SIO contributors and users have offered many recommendations for expanding the SIO. Starting this year, the SIO reports will be responsive to these recommendations and will evolve to a more robust scientific tool. While keeping the same general structure for the SIO as before, it is time to encourage more model participation and expand the information provided from model activities.

For the June and July reports (using May and June data, respectively), we request pan-Arctic Outlooks. Later in the season (early August), while updates to pan-Arctic Outlooks will be welcome, we will primarily focus on regional forecasts. However, contributions for pan-Arctic and regional will be accepted during all periods.

We will also post a separate announcement calling for participants in a SIPN Action Team to work with us to further develop and steer the details of SIO reports as the season develops.

We encourage all past contributors to submit Outlooks this year and we also hope to see new participants.

ALL Outlook submissions should be sent directly to Helen Wiggins, ARCUS, at helen@arcus.org, with the following subject lines, as relevant:




An MS Word document is preferred for ease of formatting to PDF files and extracting images for the website – we will not edit your individual submission and will not post your Word documents.

Submission Guidelines

The submission deadline is Tuesday, 10 June 2014 and all submissions should be sent to Helen Wiggins, ARCUS, at helen@arcus.org. Please feel free to contact Helen with any questions or clarifications.

Core Requirements for Pan-Arctic Contributions

You may also download a template in MS Word: Template for Core Pan-Arctic Sea Ice Outlook Contributions


  1. *Contributor Name(s)/Group
  2. *Type of Outlook projection

    ___model ___statistical ___heuristic

    If you use a model, please specify:

    Model Name ____

    Components of the model: Atmosphere__, Ocean__, Ice__, Land__, Coupler___

    For non-coupled model: Ice ___, Ocean___, Forcing___

  3. *September monthly average projection (in million square kilometers)
  4. *Short explanation of Outlook method (1-3 sentences)

    In addition, we encourage you to submit a more detailed Outlook, including discussions of uncertainties/probabilities, including any relevant figures, imagery, and references.

    If this is a model contribution, please include method of method of initialization and variable used.

  5. Projection uncertainty/probability estimate (only required if available with the method you are using)
  6. Short explanation/assessment of basis for the uncertainty estimate in #5 (1-2 sentences)
  7. *“Executive summary” about your Outlook contribution

    1-3 sentences, to be used in Outlook summary: say in a few sentences what your Outlook contribution is and why. To the extent possible, use non-technical language.

Additional (Optional) Items For Pan-Arctic Contributions

  1. Spatial forecast/map for September mean ice extent. Either images (e.g., jpg, tiff, pdf) and/or data may be provided. If data is provided, formats with geographic information included (e.g., geoTIFF) or in NetCDF are preferred, but we will work with the format provided as long as all relevant grid/projection/data format information is provided.
  2. Hindcast validation statistics for a set period. If your method has been tested in a hindcast mode, please provide summary statistics for whatever period used.
  3. Estimate for the week that the minimum daily extent will occur (expressed in date format using Sunday to denote the week: e.g., week of 14 September).
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May 28, 2014 5:52 pm

Having slavishly studied the experts, my prediction is that it’s all going to melt, then boil, so that first we’re going to drown, then be scalded to death in an unprecedented way, and soon. If not this year, then very, very soon. We’re on the Venus Express! Aiiiiieeee!!!

May 28, 2014 6:06 pm

Wait, isn’t the arctic supposed to be ice free by this year? Some contest…

wayne Job
May 28, 2014 6:34 pm

Perhaps a new competition should be set up, to guess the area or anomaly of the antarctic maximum. That would be a hoot.

May 28, 2014 7:18 pm

It reads like a cry for help.
All that public money wasted and now its help, supply us with your models/methods so that we might make more realistic predictions.
Cynical and cruel I know, but it is an ethical step up from the UK MET spending hours online at their competitors sites.

May 28, 2014 8:01 pm

I nominate 2pi million km^2

Frederick Michael
May 28, 2014 8:08 pm

I’ve long suspected that the key to Arctic ice forecasting is figuring out how much ice is being pushed out the Fram Strait. Last year, I could see that the ice along the east coast of Greenland was less than usual here:
So, I expected the minimum would show significant improvement. When that turned out to be the case, my hypothesis got a boost.
But I wished I could actually see how the ice is moving. That would allow for an earlier indication of the ice losses — especially after a few years of experience of watching the movement and seeing how that affected the minimum.
Based on a link someone posted on another thread — plus some poking around — I think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for.
As you can see, ice lost out the Fram Strait almost stopped last summer.
I wish there was a way to see some older data though. This year’s ice losses seem pretty large but maybe it’s normal for this part of the year.

May 28, 2014 8:21 pm

Too complicated. Which graph should we use??

Arfur Bryant
May 28, 2014 8:58 pm

I predict that 97% of all predictions will be wrong…

May 28, 2014 10:07 pm

@Frederick Michael says:
May 28, 2014 at 8:08 pm
I believe you are correct, here is another animation showing how Arctic Sea Ice exits through the Fram Strait:
I once saw a hokey animation during an Al Gore presentation where he had the shape of the Arctic sea ice mass as a beating heart, bleeding to death as its “blood” flowed out into the North Atlantic! Pretty bizarre….

Stephen Richards
May 29, 2014 2:15 am

Arfur Bryant says:
May 28, 2014 at 8:58 pm
I predict that 97% of all predictions will be wrong…
That will be an underestimate. According to the EU president, the real one and not the one with the goofy looks, it is 99.9% and as one guess only can be right, I agree with the loony Maoist. :))

May 29, 2014 2:21 am

My guess is a 6 million km2 minimum.

May 29, 2014 5:50 am

I predict zero. I will finally be able to paddle my kayak to the North Pole. The real North Pole.

Bill Illis
May 29, 2014 5:56 am

Frederick Michael says:
May 28, 2014 at 8:08 pm
Very good animation showing what you suspect is quite true.
After this video ends in October 2013, the extent of old ice in the Beaufort Sea/Gyre has increased considerably (more like it used to do in the 1980s), while ice export out of the Fram Strait continues just like it always does.
In the last week, very strong northerly winds on the north side of the Arctic Archipelago and Greenland, broke the fast ice free (which caused the longest Arctic sea ice crack in history) and a big question is which way this now free-to-drift old thick ice will go. Fram export would lead to less ice this year. Beaufort Gyre circulation would lead to a large increase.

May 29, 2014 9:11 am

Why not just use THEIR wiz bang models and stop getting humans involved altogether. Dana says that climate science processes are well understood despite endless uncertainties and model failures.

*Type of Outlook projection
___model ___statistical ___heuristic
If you use a model, please specify:
Model Name ____
Components of the model: Atmosphere__, Ocean__, Ice__, Land__, Coupler___
For non-coupled model: Ice ___, Ocean___, Forcing___

Michael D
May 29, 2014 9:30 am

The BBC seems to think that waves from storms have an important influence in sea ice.
Computer modellers have been trying to simulate the recent trends in polar sea ice – without a great deal of success. They have failed to capture both the very rapid decline in summer ice cover in the Arctic and the small, but nonetheless significant, growth in winter ice in the Antarctic.
.. . .
For example, where storminess was increased, in regions like the Amundsen-Bellingshausen Sea, ice extent was curtailed. In contrast, where wave heights were smaller, such as in the Western Ross Sea, marine ice was seen to expand.

May 29, 2014 3:46 pm

I always enjoy the Sea Ice prediction contest.
This year it’s going to be tough. On on hand there was a significant recovery in 2013 the lows. On the other the bering strait is ice free now so….. hmmm….. not good!
Anthony – Please be ultra clear which measure we are using for extent (Norax? JAXA?) because I always seems to pick the wrong one. Thanks!

May 29, 2014 4:01 pm

To me the Arctic appears to have entered a new mode of Ice stability. You would expect that as the average annual temperature of the arctic increased that the minimum ice levels would start to decrease, however this is proving not to be the case.
This is in my opinion because whilst the average annual temperature is increasing this increase is mostly in the form of warmer winters, but the summers are becoming slightly cooler. As the Arctic is way below the freezing point of water for most of the year, the recently seen warmer winter temperatures only result in slower growth of sea ice resulting in smaller than average maximum area. The colder winters however result in a reduction in ice melt and thus an increase of multiyear ice which results in a gradual thickening of the year round ice. This thicker ice is then in turn more resistant to melting the following summer as long as the summers trend towards being cooler.
This process results in very slow growth( initially just thickening) of arctic sea ice and should be visible as small increases in minimum sea ice area, but will likely take decades of this same temperature pattern to restore ice levels to previously seen norms.
So whats causing this temperature pattern, the AMO? solar activity? I don’t know enough to speculate, I’m simply making an observation.

May 29, 2014 4:04 pm

Edit; I meant to say colder summers half way though!!

Ron C.
May 31, 2014 7:34 am

Here are some statistics consistent with your thoughts. I use MASIE as an index, because it uses multiple data sources, including the microwave sensors. Unfortunately, the record is only available since 2006.
2014 NH Sea Ice Extent based on Recent History from MASIE
In the last 7 years, 2007-2013 inclusive, the Average maximum was 15.83 MKm2, with a variation of +2% to -3%.
In the same period, the average minimum was 5.15 MKm2 for an average loss of 10.69 MKm2 or 67%. The loss variation ranged from +6% to -4%.
The 2014 maximum was 15.52 MKm2, 1% less than 2013, and 2% less than the seven-year average.
What can we expect for the 2014 minimum?
Average: 5.05 MKm2
If the loss is the same as the seven-year average, the minimum for 2014 can be estimated to be 5.05 MKm2, which is 8% less than the 2013 minimum of 5.51 MKm2.
Low: 4.05 Mkm2
On the other hand, if the loss is as great as in 2012 (the record recent minimum, 2014 could go as low as 4.05 Mkm2.
High: 5.70 MKm2
If the melt is as small as 2009, the 2014 minimum could be as high as 5.70 MKm2.
If the 2014 NH ice extent minimum is outside this range, then maybe the climate is changing.

May 31, 2014 7:58 am

A new record at 20.5 Mkm^2.
The Arctic minimum in mid-September?
Who cares? No sunlight up there to be reflected. Throughout September, the edge of the ever-increasing Antarctic sea ice at 59 south latitude is receiving five times the radiation that the edge of the Arctic sea ice is getting at 80 north latitude.
Now, back to the critical maximum size of the Antarctic Sea Ice extents next October!

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