Arctic sea ice extent in 2014

Following last year’s simple straw poll, a similar question for this year:

Will the Arctic sea ice extent for September 2014 be more or less than September 2013?

Hoping for views and expectations from public and scientists alike.

This week is the annual UK Arctic Science Conference, and I will be asking the scientists there. Last year, 80% of scientists correctly predicted there would be more Arctic sea-ice in 2013 than 2012, and this has recently been discussed in The Guardian and The Telegraph.

UPDATE (18/09/13): This question was asked during my talk at the Arctic sea-ice meeting on 17th Sept, with around 30 sea-ice scientists present. All but one voted for a smaller extent next September, although several indicated that they would have voted for ‘similar’ if that option had been available. So, the vast majority of those present believe that Arctic sea-ice extent in September 2014 is more likely to be less than 2013, although a similar sea-ice extent would not be a surprise.

UPDATE (02/04/14): Today at the SIPN workshop, 49 sea-ice scientists were asked for predictions of the September 2014 mean sea-ice extent. The median was 4.6 million sq km, with a 5-95% range of 3.9-5.5 million sq km. The wider Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) project will ask for submissions with a deadline of 1st June.

About Ed Hawkins

Climate scientist in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) at the University of Reading. IPCC AR5 Contributing Author. Can be found on twitter too: @ed_hawkins

17 thoughts on “Arctic sea ice extent in 2014

  1. Based on a hunch I tried looking at detrended July+August HadCET averages against detrended NSIDC Arctic September averages and found a pretty good correlation since about 2000. It could be that a significant proportion of the dramatic lows in sea ice minima between 2007-2012 has been related to the same variability responsible for relatively cool British summers over the same period. Likewise the warm summer of 2013 has coincided with a relatively high September minimum.

    The correlation doesn’t hold throughout the record, and indeed there appears to be an anticorrelation over the first 10-15 years. Perhaps linked to changes in Pacific variability, or maybe the response to strong volcanic forcing?

  2. Can I go OT.

    I read (at Judith Curry’s blog I think) that you were going to appear on Newsnight. How did it go and do you know if video exists of the debate. I’d be interested in seeing what everbody in the debate had to say. Was it Paxman, did he grill you?

    (BTW I live abroad so can’t get video on the BBC iPlayer.)

  3. Hi HR,

    Yes – I did a pre-recorded piece for Newsnight discussing the recent 15 years, along with Myles Allen discussing the trillion tonne carbon budget. The infamous graph of simulations and observations also appeared. I have a copy of the pre-recorded segment but it is a very large file, so not online.

    Emily Shuckburgh and Anastasios Tsonis were debating live in the studio with Jeremy Paxman. I don’t have a copy of that – as far as I know it is only available on BBC iplayer.

    Some of my other media appearances (including live BBC news and 5live radio) on Friday are available here. I say some similar things to the shorter Newsnight piece.


  4. Thanks Ed.

    On arctic predictions I’m going to go out on a limb. I’ll ‘predict’ a possible ‘recovery’ on the Atlantic side of the Arctic. This is based on the weakening of energy follow northward through Atlantic waters.

    Given that this
    and this
    both suggest energy flow north peaked a few years ago I’m going to guess that next year (or following years) there will be some ‘recovery’ in the Barents and Kara. All other things being equal (weather) then this will contribute to higher extents in the years to come.

  5. My Gaussian process based prediction for September average sea ice extent is 4.271925 (+/- 1.129063), so I’d say very probably lower.

  6. September 2013 was higher than 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012. It is likely to be thicker in March and will be similar to 2013, but I will predict slightly higher, closer to the 2009 extent.

  7. It is certainly interesting watching the variation of predicted trends in both the Arctic and Antarctic. I live in Australia and our weather patterns have demonstrated the highest temperature on record , January 3rd 2014 (As much as 50C + in western Queensland) The recent ice build up in the Antarctic and a myriad of other factors have led to reduced precipitation over the entire continent.( el Niño + la Niña neutral)
    The prediction of an ice free Summer in the Arctic by 2020 is a little hard to take on board given the variable conditions that prevail.

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