Betting on sea ice?

Looking back over the past sea ice record, I see that a min year is very rarely followed by another record. But some people are getting so carried away by this years ice, they might not realise that. So does anyone want to put an interesting amount of money, at (say) even odds, on there being a record minimum in the arctic next year? I get the no-record side. And we use the record as presented by cryosphere today. Any (credible, non-anonymous) takers?

[Only £20 on offer so far, plus an indeterminate amount of beer; roll up, roll up -W Plus another £10 from PH by email]

[This was the first of the series. I won. Here is 2008's version -W]

[Also David B. South has tried to get the "2013-ers" to stump up, with no success so far -W]

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What, a mere hack bet on Arctic sea ice against a sea-ice modeller?

You're on. I base my "confidence" (such as it is - I'm not willing to bet much!) on a swift eyeball of the figures in Cecilia Bitz' Jan RealClimate piece. Looks to me that when the Arctic goes into a rapid loss phase, this lasts for a few years - up to a decade, presumably because it takes an unusually cold year to slow the process.

After a summer of rapid ice loss, the ocean/atmosphere has to lose a lot of "extra" heat in order to refreeze: this should mean a late start (you can see the shift to a longer melt season in the NSIDC graphs). This year's extent is 1m km2 lower than last year, so that much has to refreeze before we get back to the same position as last year. Come spring 2008, that million square kilometers will be "primed" to melt back quickly, provided of course that Arctic winter 07/08 is not significantly colder than in recent years.

I would expect the 08 minimum at CT to be either less than 07, or comparable (+/-50,000 km2). I put that at 50/50, so I'm happy to bet. Ten of your British pounds? I think I've got a tenner stashed away somewhere...

I take another tenner. One of the interesting things about time series is that it is easiest to reach a new record from an earlier new record. OTOH if you want a serious bet, how about that the average of minima from the next five years is going to be a new record.

[Too long a time frame for me :-) -W]

By my count there are fewer record arctic sea ice minima on record than there are of the Atlantic cat 5 hurricanes we were arguing about a few days ago. I don't understand how any of the 3 of you can justify your bets on so little data. Really it looks guessing.

while nobody serious would bet that in 2008 another record low year will occur (nor Lubos Motl :-D).
On the other hand, if this were to occur, I would strongly doubt, that we have *not* passed the arctic ice tipping point yet. (Though there is a good chance, that we already have)

But I would definitely bet, that the new record will be set within next 5 years (i.e. by 2012).
I am ready to offer 100$ against 5$.
Fair enough? ;-)

Well, [...] nobody serious would bet that in 2008 another record low year will occur (nor Lubos Motl :-D).

Oh, I'm quite serious. But taking William's money will still be fun...

Last record low was 2005. 2006 was damn close to 2005. As I said, barring an exceptional (for current climate!) cold winter, it's at least reasonable to expect that 2008 will be comparable with 2007. Note that I'm not betting on the 2008 minimum being 25% below 2007...

The most interesting question - which I have not seen widely discussed - is what the refreezing of substantial areas of ice-free Arctic ocean does to NH autumn and winter climate. The heat has to go somewhere...

Dear Gareth,

I agree that 2008 can be close to 2007, but I am not sure, what the chance of the new record in 2008 would be...
Considering the autumn and winter - we will see ;-)
I don't think it should be something special...


JeffM has argued in several articles that low arctic sea ice cover played a role in the late onset of NH winter in 2006-7 and 2005-6 (in N America). Unfortunately my google-fu is failing me, and I can't find the articles I remember - but these are close: Dreaming of A Brown Christmas , 2006 Warmest year on record in US , The big weather meeting .
The idea is that continental NH winters rely on the development and southward movement of a great deal of very cold arctic air. The development of said cold arctic air relies in turn on an Arctic that retains a high albedo during summer (and thus gathers little heat), and has ice covering the oceans to prevent the oceans from warming the air, and to prevent the oceans from contributing moisture to cloud formation, as cloud formation traps heat. So a late-onset winter should be expected over most (but not necessarily all) of the NH.

Just to up the tempo a bit, I'll bet twenty quid.

[That would be good, bets have been on the low side so far. You have to be identifiable and hence non-anonymous, though -W]

I expect (and hope) that I'll lose, since annual records are rarely broken in the following year. However the 2005 record both alarmed and surprised me, and this year is frankly astonishing.

I'm likely to save far more in heating bills over the coming winter (compared with my long term average). I have to do something with all this surplus cash.

I wouldn't bet against Alexander Ac, though, despite the excellent odds.

[That would be good, bets have been on the low side so far. You have to be identifiable and hence non-anonymous, though -W]

Sounds sensible and fair, but what exactly do I have to do to be considered "identifiable" or even "non-anonymous"?

[I have to be reasonably confident you'll pay up if you lose. At the minimum that requires a verifiable name -W]

OK, you're on. How about the international currency -- beer?

[Sounds good, but it will have to be a *lot* of beer -W]

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 21 Sep 2007 #permalink

My name, Stewart Argo, is not a common one but is certainly not unique. I guess that I'm still not identifiable though (as for all you know I could be lying).

Ah well. No offence meant, and none taken.

[Sadly so. OTOH if you were the SA from edinburgh and care to email me from your work address, that would be good enough id -W]

While stoats sleep, the odds change:

Andy Revkin in today's NYT: "Experts say the ice retreat is likely to be even bigger next summer because this winter's freeze is starting from such a huge ice deficit. At least one researcher, Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., projects a blue Arctic Ocean in summers by 2013."

No names in that prediction, but Andy had just finished quoting a raft of experts. New odds on William closing the betting soon? :)

Speaking of which, I'll take 20 of that bet right now!

[OK, good. Sometime Ill post up a summary -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 01 Oct 2007 #permalink

Hey, William, if you'll keep the bet open a little while longer I'll email all the quotees and refer them to your offer. This could be the start of a whole new trend of scientists staking more than just their reputations on their results!

[Sure, its still open, and will be for a while yet -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 02 Oct 2007 #permalink

Rummaging around the old currency drawer, I find another tenner (though you could have Fijian dollars or Thai baht, if you prefer). So that would be £20, a signed copy of Hot Topic, and a drink next time you pass through Christchurch. OK?

[Sounds good, are you getting more confident? Signed copy would certainly be nice -W]

Blame Andy Revkin, and the US Navy researcher (linked in SB's comment).

Do you really want to wait until next September for a copy of HT? I could do a review copy for RC (I owe Gavin a copy).

I think these bets on Arctic Ice are great...!!
In fact, I am offering another $1,000 bet on Arctic Ice...
(similar to the Romm - Schmidt, Annan and Connolley bet).

Therefore, I would like to bet $1,000 with a climate scientist that the Arctic Ice extent will not drop below 50,000 sq km during 2013. So far, I am having a hard time finding a modeler that is willing to bet with me.

[Errr, well I'm certainly not taking your bet. But if you do find anyone who is interested, and has more than $1000 to put up, I'll consider taking some of it on (on the ice-will-be-left side, of course) -W]

Congratulations on winning the 2008 bet with Gareth!!

[Thanks. I see you've tried to interest the 2013'ers, but with little success. I'll add a link to your page -W]