Shock News! Why Isn’t the Arctic Ice Free?

Today we move on to the second sentence in David Rose’s article “this time last week”.


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.


As you can see, the Mail article includes no references. Surely in this day and age an online article about such a controversial subject should at the very least include a few links?  Hayley Dixon’s article for The Telegraph did at least manage to do that! I’ve asked David Rose via a number of different avenues where he got his information, and how he did his sums. I know he got at least one of the messages because he was browsing my profile on LinkedIn last week, but I have yet to receive any answer from him.

Groping in the dark I’ve tried to speculate about which BBC report in 2007 David is referring to. Perhaps it’s  this one  by Jonathan Amos entitled “Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013′”. Please note the quotation marks around the date. According to this article:

Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss.

[His] latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.

Instead of relying on what David Rose says Jonathan Amos says Wieslaw Maslowski said, why don’t we instead take a look at what Prof. Maslowski actually said. Here’s an extract from the slides he used when giving a presentation in Japan in the summer of 2008, when he’d had plenty of time to learn the lessons of the astonishing Arctic sea ice melt in the summer of 2007:

Wieslaw Maslowski says "if" and "about" in 2008
Wieslaw Maslowski says “if” and “around” in 2008

Note that he didn’t say words to the effect that “The Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2013” as claimed by David Rose. What he actually said, and converting the mathematical symbol into plain English, was:

IF this trend persists the Arctic Ocean will become ice-free by AROUND 2013!

which is a very different thing.  For those of you that would prefer to actually hear Prof. Maslowski convey that message himself, here’s a podcast from December 2007:


The interview lasts for about half an hour, and a full transcript is also available courtesy of Beyond Zero Emissions. You will note that what Wieslaw actually said was:

If we project this trend ongoing for the last 10 – 15 years, we probably will reach zero in summer some time mid next decade.


The evidence suggests that David Rose doesn’t research his sources properly, doesn’t understand English and doesn’t understand common mathematical symbols.  Alternatively he understands all of that perfectly well, but chooses to misrepresent all of that to his loyal readership instead of educating them about the facts of the matter.

9 thoughts on “Shock News! Why Isn’t the Arctic Ice Free?

  1. Great detective work. You wonder what Rose is referring to when he says that the BBC said the arctic would be ice-free by 2013, and you google and find the BBC article saying the arctic would be ice-free by 2013.

    Then you make a logical error – surprising for someone with a computing background – in criticising Rose when your criticism, such as it is, applies to Amos. Rose’s statement about what the BBC said seems to be accurate.

    You also chose to omit the Maslowski quote in the Amos article “Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007,”
    “So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.”

  2. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your comment, and your kind words!

    Moving on to your own logic, in 2013 David Rose wrote:

    The BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013.

    whereas in 2007 Jonathan Amos wrote:

    Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.

    Would you care to play “Spot the difference” with me?

    I “chose to omit” all sorts of stuff, because I prefer to keep things short but sweet here. Unlike David Rose I have provided links to my source material, to make life so much easier for commenters like you!

      1. Hi John,

        As you can see from my picture my temples are receding and I’m a bit grey around the edges. What does “owned” mean in this context? I was labouring under the misapprehension that I am a free man.

        Perhaps you could explain in greater detail precisely what I’m guilty of too. It’s easy to say things, but much harder to prove them!

  3. @ Paul: Your statement, that the BBC article by Amos said that the Arctic would be ice free by 2013, appears to be based on the goofy mistake of identifying the HEADLINE of the Amos article with the actual article CONTENTS. There is nothing in the BODY of the Amos article to support the claim made by Rose. Moreover, as for the headline itself, it isn’t even an unambiguous statement, since the verb is suppressed, in typical headline fashion. If one wishes to report on an article, reading no farther than the headline is not an option. Your criticism of Hunt’s blog entry is unjustified.

      1. @ Paul: I presume you are referring to my remark about the need to read past the headline of an article. That was a reference to Rose, not you.

  4. @Paul – but even you can see that David Rose who is trying to present himself as a serious writer about the science here actually didnt bother to check with the scientist of which he base his article on. And neither did he choose to refer to where he got the information. How can a reader actually believe anything David Rose say when it looks like he pulled it out of a hat? A bit of research like Jim Hunt here does clearly shows that David Rose was quite likely just making headlines with cheap tricks. He might even have checked the real source but since what Maslowski said didnt quite fit his idea of a headline news story, he found it convenient to: A) Not refer to Maslowski directly – B) Hide behind something BBC said that someone else said… David Rose has no credibility and its clear that he is running an agenda with this story, and not really reporting on the science.

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