[Update: This is turning into a war of phrases. Maslowski tells the UK Telegraph: “I was very explicit that we were talking about ‘near-ice-free conditions’ and not ‘completely ice-free conditions’ (as Gore claimed) in the northern ocean.”]
COPENHAGEN – Al Gore’s citation of a scientist predicting an ice-free Arctic within a decade appears to have been accurate. It appears the scientist Gore cited, Dr. Wieslav Maslowski, did in fact make this prediction and it was published on December 2, 2009 by the Danish Climate Centre, lending support to Gore’s claim that the “figures are fresh.”
On December 14, former Vice President Al Gore told the UN climate summit that the Arctic could be ice free within a decade. “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years,” Gore said.
But Dr. Maslowski essentially threw Gore under the bus, according to a December 15, 2009 article in the UK Times:
“However, the climatologist whose work Mr. Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast. ‘It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr. Maslowski said. ‘I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.’ Mr. Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr. Maslowski as a ‘ballpark figure’ several years ago in a conversation with Mr. Gore.” The UK Times characterized it as Gore’s “embarrassing error.”
But Climate Depot has obtained a handout on the Arctic that is being distributed by the Danish government that cites Dr. Maslowski’s Arctic modeling and it appears to vindicate Gore’s citation of Dr. Maslowski. The December 2, 2009 handout, published by the Danish Climate Centre is entitled “FreshNor The freshwater budget of the Nordic Seas.”
The Danish Climate Centre’s brochure cites Maslowski’s models and claims and reaches nearly the same conclusion as Gore: “Projecting the trend into the future indicates that autumn could become near ice free between 2011 and 2016 (Maslowski, 2009).” This appears to vindicate Gore’s assertions during his UN speech that Maslowski had made such a prediction. Maslowski is a research professor with the Department of Oceanography at the Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey, CA. [Climate Depot Editor’s Note: The “prediction” of an ice-free Arctic is not “evidence” of anything other than an apparent attempt to gain media attention by Maslowski and Gore. When real world data fails to scare, make an alarming prediction. See: Arctic sea Ice GROWS by ‘area one and a half times the size of Texas’ – Sept. 20, 2009 & NYT: ‘Spread of Thicker Arctic Ice Seen Last Summer’ — ‘A substantial expansion of the extent of ‘second year ice’ – Oct. 6, 2009]
It appears that far from just a “’ballpark figure’ several years ago in a conversation with Mr. Gore,” that Maslowski has indeed made this (nearly ) ice-free Arctic prediction much more formally and in model studies. Gore’s version of events appears to be accurate, while Maslowski appears to be the one who has the explaining to do.
Climate Depot contacted Maslowski about this controversy but had not received a reply by press time.
The colorful brochure issued by the Danish Climate Centre clearly cites Dr. Maslowski’s research as predicting a nearly ice free summer Arctic in the time frame Gore claimed. The brochure states: “Models indicate that sea ice thickness and volume have decreased possibly twice as much during the same period (Maslowski et al., 2007). Should the present trend of sea ice melt continue, some models suggest that the Arctic Ocean could become near ice free in the summer time within one decade,” the brochure claims, echoing Gore’s exact claims.“FreshNor is coordinated by Dr. Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen, Danish Climate Centre at Danish Meteorological Institute.”
[Climate Depot’s Editor’s Note: The issue of whether Gore cited Maslowski’s work accurately is a very serious one scientifically and ethically. It appears Maslowski did indeed tout his extreme model predictions of a nearly ice-free Arctic within a decade or less and that Gore accurately cited his work. A larger point to be made though, is that Maslowski’s “predictions” are nothing more than wild-eyed computer model scare scenarios.
The UK Times reported: “This is an exaggeration that opens the science up to criticism from skeptics,” Professor Jim Overland, a leading oceanographer at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. […] As MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen noted: “He’s just extrapolated from 2007, when there was a big retreat, and got zero.”
Arctic Ice Changes in past 3 years due to ‘shifting winds’ – The Star Canada – July 28, 2009 –