It looks like I’m safe for this year. I’m being just a teensy bit premature, but its rather unlikely to change, people want to pay up :-) and others have said it anyway (irritatingly that link will probably fade, so to quote “The Arctic sea ice cover appears to have reached its minimum extent for the year, the second-lowest extent recorded since the dawn of the satellite era”). I’m basing my victory on as of today.

Although I won, I didn’t win by as much as I expected, so in some sense my prediction was wrong. But I’ll take the cash anyway. Those who bet in carrots or beer are excused until we meet face to face. Those who want to use paypal, my email is wmconnolley (at)

I’ve decided to slightly shift my ground, and assert that 2007 (and to a lesser extent 2008) in sea ice are like the 1998 ENSO in temperature: large anomalies on top of an existing trend. So I predict that there will be more ice in 2009 than in 2007. Because I like their graphics, the bet is based on the IARC AMSR data, though I’m sure we can agree some other series if you really like.

Any takers?

[Updates, misc: JF points out that although it wasn’t a record extent year, people have managed to find some ways in which it was a record: see

Gareth concedes, and provides some useful round-up.

Embarassing quotes section: “We could very well be in that quick slide downward in terms of passing a tipping point,” said Mark Serreze, a senior scientist at the data center, in Boulder, Colo. “It’s tipping now. We’re seeing it happen now.”

Nature: Arctic ice shrinks less this year than last


  1. #1 pough

    Hmm… the anomaly argument is compelling, but isn’t it also likely the next year will be warmer?

    [Are you under the impression that there is a strong correlation between yearly anomlaies of sea ice and global temperature? -W]

    This year there was a pretty big melt of that first-year ice even though it was a cooler summer. Next year there’ll still be first-year ice, no? I think you’re probably right about the anomaly thing, but I think it was enough of an anomaly to have a bit of a long-term effect. Maybe. Depends on the winter.

    I’m not going to bet against you, though, based on it being a no-win bet. I don’t really want the arctic to melt a lot, so there’s no way for me to actually win.

    But I do endorse your site of choice. Not only do they have nice graphics, they have an easy-to-find link to download their data.

  2. #2 pough

    Are you under the impression that there is a strong correlation between yearly anomlaies of sea ice and global temperature?

    Strong correlation? No. Some correlation? Possibly sometimes. I do think that a warmer year will have an increased likelihood of more “warm” moving northwards than a cool year. I might be wrong, though, which is another reason I’m not inclined to make any bets. And I’d be very happy if a mistake I make leads to someone correcting me. I think there’s a strong correlation between my mistakes and helpful corrections.

    BTW, anomalies is damn difficult to type, isn’t it? Some words are just like that.

    [Sorry, probably an over-aggressive response. Yes I think that there is a long-term trend in global T and Arctic ice, and the linkage is mostly T -> Ice direction, though there are feedbacks. but no, I don’t think that allows you to predict less ice next year specifically, except in a very weak probabalistic sense -W]

  3. #3 David B. Benson

    What odds are you offering?

    [For the sake of simplicity, I was going to offer evens.

    Of course, given the expected pronouncements from the rabid disaster freaks (have there been any yet?) I’m sure there will be people queuing up to offer me 10-1 in my favour :-) -W]

  4. #4 Ice

    Congratulations – you were right.
    but i’m not sure about your analogy with 98-nino: i guess a strong nino doesn’t make it probable that the following years will be warmer (actually it’s even rather the contrary since you go back to neutral or nina conditions for a while), whereas for sea-ice, a strong melt (on a downward trend) on one year might make it more probable to have a even stronger melt on the following year ( via the first-year-ice-melts-more -easily thing) ? or you think there’s no,or very weak, interannual melt-memory ?

  5. #5 Nick Barnes

    I’ll take £10 worth of 2009-vs-2007 IJIS.

    And this year’s brown beer voucher will be yours at lunchtime.

  6. #6 Eli Rabett

    The rabid disaster bunny is game to play double or naughts if he could remember how much he bet (it was a tenner? right). . . . It is best to bet on things you don’t rationally want to happen.

    [Might well have been. Why don’t we assume it was, for the sake of simplicity -W]

  7. #7 Gareth

    I think it was £20 and a signed copy of Hot Topic? I’ll formally concede at the end of the month.

    Double or quits for next year?

    [Probably the simplest solution. Do I still get the book though? -W]

  8. #8 Gareth

    Glad to send one over. All you have to do is promise to read it!

  9. #9 Robert Grumbine

    I didn’t think we’d set a new record this year. But I’m not so confident about next year. Have to get back to you on that and odds. Of course I’d prefer using extents computed at (aside from the detail that the extents aren’t online; doesn’t really matter as the global grids are and we can integrate over the hemisphere).

  10. #10 Gareth

    Officially conceded here. Book should be with you within a week.

  11. #11

    I bet on a Beer the 2009 equal or less than 2009
    1st That the only option to place a bet here
    2nd Generally the sea ice decline didn’t stop so 2007 record will brake this year or another.
    3rd The risk is not so big and beer isn’t so expansive in Israel

    And Now for Something Completely Different – Alfred Nobel Prize

    “which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” from the Will of Alfred Nobel.

    Is understanding how the fundamental symmetries of nature are broken will benefit most of mankind? I don’t think 99.9% of mankind will benefit in the foreseeable future. But other branch of Physics effecting all mankind in this generation and generations for the next millennium GEOPHYSICS. The discoveries and improvements in the field of CLIMATE CHANGE can (with political will) benefit all mankind.

    For Nobel to Charles Keeling we are to late so maybe Jim Hansen maybe someone else from the field. But the cosmic microwave background radiation is much less important then the radiation balance of Earth.

    P.S. 1st Alfred Nobel have the option of invention and improvement in his will no need to discover anything.
    2nd I don’t suggest to stop physics basic research I’m only suggest to expand the subjects of the Nobel physics prize.
    3rd 2009 is very critical year because of COP15 – United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

  12. #12 Luna_the_cat

    Sorry I missed this post, I was still away when you posted it, and even though I looked for it later I seemed to miss finding it. D’oh. :( Anyway, I also concede the bet; we haven’t reached the minimum I predicted, and minimum sea ice extent was definitely above that of 2007 this year.

    I owe you money, but I am also signally failing to find my note of how much. Was it £50?

    I can’t say I’m hugely sorry to have lost this bet, although the continuing trend is definitely not great, and I am morbidly curious as to what sea ice will do on the next La Nina.

  13. #13 Luna_the_cat

    Ah, nevermind — just found the note, I do indeed owe you £50. It is on its way via Paypal, although for reasons best known only to itself PayPal would only let me do one of those annoying takes-a-week-to-clear eChecques to you.

    [Aha, thank you, I have indeed received a missive from Paypal informing me that something eCheque-ish is on its way. I shall drink a glass to your health with your money ;-) -W]

  14. #14 rx1

    I missed this post, I was still away when you posted it, and even though I looked for it later I seemed to miss finding it. D’oh.

  15. #15 David

    Congratulations on beating Garth twice….
    And was his bet “double or nothing”? and if so..
    did he really pay double?

  16. Do you still think that there are anomalies on the correlation of melting sea ice and the global temperature? With what’s happening no, such as flooding in a part of Australia, while it was extremely hot in other parts; or the fact that it also flooded in Saudi Arabia? Can I hear some of your opinions regarding what other factors (aside from melting sea ice) affects the global temperature?

    Thanks and a very late congratulations. :)

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