I was mildly surprised when a somewhat “skeptical” interlocutor of my Arctic alter ego linked to “Climate at a Glance” in the course of our alleged “debate”. I was even more surprised to discover that the far end of the suggested link was not NOAA’s familiar overview of the Arctic temperature trend:
but instead a similarly named web site proudly sponsored by the Heartland Institute:
The “Climate at a Glance” home page currently features the Arctic at the top, and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the linked article is full of half truths and untruths about “Snow White’s” favourite topic? Here are the Heartland Institute’s key Arctic takeaways:
- Arctic sea ice melts and refreezes every year, typically peaking in March, while the summer minimum typically occurs in September.
- Many scientists, politicians, and media sources wrongly predicted Arctic sea ice would disappear in the summer.
- Satellite data show the summer minimum sea ice has not decreased at all since 2007, and instead has formed a stable level after a temporary low in 2012.
Snow cannot argue with number one, but the evidence provided for number 2 includes a blatant untruth. Allegedly:
In 2008 NSIDC scientist Mark Serreze told ABC News that the Arctic could be “ice free” that summer.
However the linked ABC News article actually states that Mark said:
There is this thin first-year ice even at the North Pole at the moment. This raises the spectre – the possibility that you could become ice free at the North Pole this year.
It even goes on to clarify that:
Despite its news value in the media, the North Pole being ice free is not in itself significant. To scientists, Serreze points out, “this is just another point on the globe”.
However evidently for the Heartland Institute’s learned author the “North Pole” is synonymous with “the Arctic”! Equally evidently the Heartland Institute haven’t actually spoken to Mark Serreze about their scurrilous assertion. When I interviewed him in 2014 concerning the matter:
Mark confirmed to me that he still stood by his 2030 estimate for the onset of a seasonally ice free Arctic, although “most models say more like 2050”.
Moving on to takeaway number 3, the “Climate at a Glance” article on the “Underlying Science” of “Arctic Sea Ice” also links to a recent academic article, and needless to say mispresents its findings. According to the Heartland Institute:
The sea ice minimum in September 2023 was essentially the same as it was in 2007, when all the predictions of “ice free summers” began. Moreover, data from 2007 to 2023 show a zero net-change over the past 17 years. The flat trend from 2007 to 2023 suggest a regime shift in the Arctic sea ice system to a new stable level.
The “regime shift” in Arctic sea ice age and thickness should come as no surprise to our regular readers, but the “new stable level” assertion will come as a big surprise to the authors of the paper in question. They state that in their discussion that:
Our analysis demonstrates the long-lasting impact of climate change on Arctic sea ice through reduced residence time, suggesting an irreversible response of Arctic sea ice thickness connected to an increase of ocean heat content in areas of ice formation…
Impacts of this regime shift in Arctic sea ice on the pan-Arctic environment are extensive and require further investigation.
To be continued…