Thursday, April 15, 2010
A "death spiral" for warmists
Jonathan Leake in The Sunday Times picks up on the news that the size of the Arctic ice cap has increased sharply to levels not seen since 2001, putting the ice extent two days ago almost at the average level for 1979-2000.
Given the enthusiasm the media have shown for reporting Armageddon claims about the retreat of the ice, it is significant that his is the only such report in today's batch of newspapers – although The Daily Mail covered it briefly yesterday. Hitherto, the only detailed report had been on Watts up with that?.
But what is especially significant about the Leake report is his interview with Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Colorado. He is said to be "surprised" by the Arctic’s recovery from the great melt of 2007 when summer ice shrank to its smallest recorded extent. "In retrospect," he says, "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."
In making this declaration, Serreze is getting away extraordinarily lightly. It was he, after all, who was pre-eminent in stoking up the alarm over the Arctic ice melt, providing fuel for the warmists and driving much of the global warming scare as the ice extent became a poster child for the activists.
It is therefore, appropriate to revisit some of Serreze's earlier pronouncements in the broader context of the scare as it developed, to see how this now cautious scientist treated the subject. That is the theme of this post.
The baseline, of course, is 2007 when the ice extent dropped to a record low, as measured over the relatively short time period since continuous satellite monitoring had been started in 1979. And it was then, on 16 March 2007, that the Science Daily ran the headline, "Arctic sea ice decline may trigger climate change cascade".
It was recording the views of the same Mark Serreze, then a senior research scientist at NSIDC. The Arctic sea ice extent had been dwindling for several decades and Serreze thought it might have reached a "tipping point" that could trigger a cascade of climate change reaching into Earth's temperate regions. He and his team attributed the loss of ice, about 38,000 square miles annually as measured each September, to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases and strong natural variability in Arctic sea ice. Read more.