Congrats to the Associated Press

I want to congratulate the Associated Press and the Arizona Republic for running this story:

Scientists fear Arctic thaw has reached ‘tipping point’

On the exact same day that this was published:

Arctic Sea Ice Re-Freezing at Record Pace

The record melting of Arctic sea ice observed this summer and fall led to record-low levels of ice in both September and October, but a record-setting pace of re-freezing in November, according to the NASA Earth Observatory. Some 58,000 square miles of ice formed per day for 10 days in late October and early November, a new record.

Still, the extent of sea ice recorded in November was well shy of the median extent observed over the past quarter century, as the image from Nov. 14 (above, right) shows. The dramatic increase in ice is evident, when compared to the record-low amount observed Sept. 16 (below, right). In both images, 100% sea ice is shown in white, and the yellow line encompasses the area ion which there was at least 15% ice cover in at least half of the 25-year record for the given month.

The re-freeze continues in December, such that the ice coverage is pretty much at the median level today.  The AP/Republic article is admirably free of any new facts except the oft-repeated "Arctic ice at all-time low,"  all-time of course meaning not all-time but in the last 30 years that we have been able to observe by sattellite.  And neither article bothers to mention the high coverage record that was set in the South Pole this very same year.

The AZ Republic article is mostly made up of dueling catastrophists competing to see who can have the most dire forecast:

Just last year, two top scientists surprised their colleagues by projecting that the Arctic sea ice was melting so rapidly that it could disappear entirely by the summer of 2040.

This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: "At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions."

Anytime you see someone use the word "tipping" point in relation to climate, you should immediately be skeptical.  Tipping points imply runaway positive feedback, something that is a feature of nuclear fission but is generally not a feature of stable natural processes.  TJIC said it well the other day:

Wow, it’s almost as if there are negative feedback loops that keep the system centered, despite occasional perturbations.

Which is odd, because to listen to the global warming alarmists, one concludes that:

(a) the environment is a delicately balanced system that can be pushed, by the least little perturbation, into a runaway positive feedback loop, turning the Earth into another Venus.

(b) over the last 200 million years there have been asteroid impacts, brightenings and darkenings of the sun, and massive volcano eruptions, but the Earth’s environment has always returned to a slow oscillation around a moderate middle point.

Updates:  New NASA study says Artic melting part of a natural cycle.  Post here debunking the myth that the Northwest Passage was never opened prior to 2007.  More on tipping points in this post.

  • Kyle Bennett

    They have to be careful with all this talk of tipping points and no more ice by 2012. Should they ever let the public think that it’s tipped, rather than tipping, there isn’t much reason to keep funding more research and socialist programs.

    The point of no return will be just around the corner for generations to come.

  • brazil84

    Another fine article.

    “The point of no return will be just around the corner for generations to come.”

    Good point. Reminds me of Mark Russel’s speech about politicians and “the crossroads” Every 4 years, we’re back at the crossroads.

  • dearieme

    Does this mean that the poor ickle polar bears will be trapped in the re-freezing ice? They’re all doomed!

  • What? No more ice for my Martini!? Lovey, call the Polar-Butler!

  • Where’s the info about December (“such that the ice coverage is pretty much at the median level today”) come from? Didn’t see this in the article you linked to.
    Thanks.

  • RJP