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Good predictions vs conventional wisdom.

September 3, 2012

You may have noticed the news that there’s less ice in the arctic this summer than at any time in recorded history.

What’s interesting is that back in 2007, a researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School came pretty close to predicting this — he suggested an ice-free summer as early as 2013. And then, conventional wisdom was ice-free somewhere between 2040 and 2100.

But look at what simple extrapolations of ice cap volume get us now, five years later:

And see how the extrapolations have changed over time:


That is, a simple fit back in 2007 would have predicted ice-free in 2019, and since then the predicted ice-free year has moved 2 years earlier.

What does this mean? One somewhat-modeled prediction is slower Rossby waves, which means that what ever weather we get (hot, cold, dry, wet), we’ll get it in longer-lasting doses. But the big official predictions (e.g., the IPCC reports) don’t incorporate any of this news; they’re still based on the assumption that there is some amount of Arctic ice cap for decades.

My personal prediction is that this next winter, or the next, when some large hunk of the US gets stuck under a long-lasting blob of cold Arctic air, that some head-in-the-sand moron will say “this proves that there is no global warming”.

Relevant links:

Estimated changes in albedo

Calculations of consequence of albedo change (LARGE).

Arctic Sea Ice blog (Good source of data, discussion, links)

And again, none of the “official” conservative models include this effect, because they assume the arctic ice cap persists for another 40 years, and not fewer than 4. This is a big warming change.

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