This blog is mostly aimed at a source of criticism and fact checking for the blog 'real science' run by someone who goes by the name Steven Goddard. It is intended that material presented here is informative, neutral, impersonal and well sourced such that any of my claims can be checked and criticized in their own right if necessary.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Daily mail: "Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year with top scientists warning of global COOLING"

 This was recently posted on stevens blog, and its in the mainstream media; so its perhaps worth a look.

"A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 60 per cent."
This is a little ambiguous, are we talking about a daily figure, or perhaps the entire month of August? Either could be a reasonable interpretation. In the later case the nsdic does indeed have 2013 at "919 000 square miles" above 2012. So this seems all very reasonable so far. As for 'chilly summer', again this is open to interpretation too, but when talking about the northern most arctic region it is certainly true that it has been colder than average for most of the summer.

"The rebound from 2012’s record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013."

Yes the BBC did release a news article in 2007 where a reseacher,  Prof. Wieslaw Maslowski commented on the model projections as 2013 to be ice free. It is worth noting that the BBC offered alternative estimates for an ice free arctic including predictions of 2030 or "earlier than 2040". What I would like to do, is find an actual paper from circa 2007 and have a look at the abstract at least, it would be a fairly interesting exercise to see exactly what went into that prediction. Unfortunately, as is too often the case I have not been able to find what I wanted. However Maslowski has a lot of very interesting papers about the arctic vieweable on scholar. But to be clear, this was one view in the scientific community, based on a model prediction. To highlight this with any implication that the arctic is recovering or such like is somewhat inappropriate.

"Instead, days before the annual autumn re-freeze is due to begin, an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores."
The area of Europe is actually surprisingly difficult to get a reliable figure for. Wikipedia does have a figure (about 10 million square kms) but it appears to be unsourced. Although half of this at 5 million square kms is a bit less than NSDICs figure of ~6 million square kms. And also, does 'ice sheet' include the land ice of greenland? I think ill just leave this one alone, the area of Europe in itself is could cause arguments related to the boundry between it and Asia.

"The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year. More than 20 yachts that had planned to sail it have been left ice-bound and a cruise ship attempting the route was forced to turn back."

Well, I am still not certain if the southern part has been blocked. There have been reports that there is considerably more ice than in recent years see for example.  And the main, northern part of the NW passage has certainty remained closed. But yes, I think this is true from what I gather.

"Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century – a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading."
Claims like this must  be sourced. If no citation is provided then it is impossible to check such claims, or whether said scientists even exist.  No name was provided, no paper, no journal, no credentials.

"The disclosure comes 11 months after The Mail on Sunday triggered intense political and scientific debate by revealing that global warming has ‘paused’ since the beginning of 1997 – an event that the computer models used by climate experts failed to predict."
"The pause – which has now been accepted as real by every major climate research centre – is important, because the models’ predictions of ever-increasing global temperatures have made many of the world’s economies divert billions of pounds into ‘green’ measures to counter  climate change."
"The continuing furore caused by The Mail on Sunday’s revelations – which will now be amplified by the return of the Arctic ice sheet – has forced the UN’s climate change body to hold a crisis meeting."
It is ridiculously arrogant for the daily mail (or any newspaper for that matter) to claim credit for something like this. Even most of the blogs have been talking about the 'pause' for longer than the last 11 months, indeed even Steven would be in a better position to take credit. In any case here is a journal article from science in 2009 
The idea that the daily mail has forced the IPCC to hold a 'crisis meeting' is almost laughable. Still, its a case of guilty until proven innocent. The buden of proof is on the daily mail to show that they are the distal cause behind any delay.

There is also talk, of leaked IPCC files. Personally it makes more sense to wait and actually see what the fifth assessment report says. The remainder of the article does contain opinions of atmospheric scientists: proffesor Judith currey, proffesor Anastasios A Tsonis, and Dr Ed hawkings. It should be noted that none of them mention this so called global cooling. In the case of Prof A Tsonis I would strongly urge the Daily Mail to read his own paper in full:

"Has the climate recently shifted?

Kyle L. Swanson, Anastasios A. Tsonis"

I particularly suggest that the conclusion of the paper is read; it does not seem to completey support what the Daily mail is saying. The DOI is here: 10.1029/2008GL037022.

 "Finally, it is vital to note that there is no comfort to be gained by having a climate with a significant degree of internal variability, even if it results in a near-term cessation of global warming."

An example of a quote taken from the papers conclusion. The full paper may be read at:
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L06711, doi:10.1029/2008GL037022, 2009


  1. Worth emphasising that Maslowski said 'could' not 'will'. If I buy a lottery ticket I could win £10m. Doesn't mean I will ....

    1. Yes, that's a good point. Part of the problem though, is actually finding Maslowskis original source (he has authored many journal articles) that the BBC used. Its interesting the daily mail aimed their criticism at the BBC rather than Maslowski specifically. It all just looks like a pointless dig in a way.