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Andrew Bolt

Mar 5, 2010

Bolt on ice

More sea ice junk science from Bolt, with an assist from

More sea ice junk science from Bolt, with an assist from Anthony Watts. Apparently, the fact that the Arctic Oscillation has gone into a highly negative phase (connected to the recent very cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere) puts paid to any “alarmist” predictions that long-term climate change means we can expect a trend toward less Arctic sea ice. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Bolt starts by repeating one of his most (wilfully?) ignorant statements:

[4 Corners’ Marian] Wilkinson never explained why the end of the earth we had to go to for evidence was the top, and not the bottom, where sea ice was actually increasing

Wilkinson might not have, but as someone who claims to study this stuff, Andrew Bolt should know that there’s good reason to think that something location-specific is going on with the Antarctic sea ice extent that explains why it’s trending slightly upward. But even if he hadn’t already studied it, the NSIDC report he (via Watts) bases his post on covers it:

Sea ice extent in the Antarctic has been unusually high in recent years, both in summer and winter. Overall, the Antarctic is showing small positive trends in total extent. For example, the trend in February extent is now +3.1% per decade. However, the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas show a strong negative trend in extent. These overall positive trends may seem counterintuitive in light of what is happening in the Arctic. Our Frequently Asked Questions section briefly explains the general differences between the two polar environments. A recent report (Turner, et. al., 2009) suggests that the ozone hole has resulted in changes in atmospheric circulation leading to cooling and increasing sea ice extents over much of the Antarctic region.

His next bit of evidence is this tiny little uptick in the 2010 line on the following graph, which Bolt takes as evidence that “the Danish Meteorological Institute shows the ice extent at nearly the highest in its six-year record”:


Then he draws on the NSIDC map of current sea ice and says that you “might just see from the National Snow and Ice Data Center that the Baltic has even more ice than the long-tern average”, and he quotes a news article on shipping being blocked in the Baltic. Because, you know, weather isn’t climate and events in one location don’t tell us anything, unless they prove that it’s very very cold.

The parts from the NSIDC report that Bolt doesn’t go near addressing include the following:

Arctic sea ice extent averaged for February 2010 was 14.58 million square kilometers (5.63 million square miles). This was 1.06 million square kilometers (409,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for February, but 220,000 square kilometers (85,000 square miles) above the record low for the month, which occurred in February 2005.

Ice extent was above normal in the Bering Sea, but remained below normal over much of the Atlantic sector of the Arctic, including the Barents Sea, part of the East Greenland Sea, and in the Davis Strait.

Ice extent remained more than two standard deviations below the 1979 to 2000 average throughout the month.

The average ice extent for February 2010 was the fourth lowest February extent since the beginning of the modern satellite record. It was 220,000 square kilometers (85,000 square miles) higher than the record low for February, observed in 2005. The linear rate of decline for February is now 2.9% per decade.

Based on his continued repetition of this sort of selective, misrepresentative rubbish, I don’t get how anyone can give the slightest credence to the notion that Andrew Bolt is an informed and honest broker with respect to science or climate change.

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11 thoughts on “Bolt on ice

  1. Bolt’s “vital signs of warming” – Pure Poison

    […] he rolls out a graph of Antarctic sea ice extent — which, as I’ve covered before, has tended to track above its long-term average in recent years for reasons that climate […]

  2. Matthew of Canberra

    Since this site has become an AGW debating club … 😉

    This week, Michael Mann had a chat with one of the new guys at Point Of Inquiry. It’s a good listen – it’s so REASONABLE. I think michael mann has been seriously mistreated in the press. I don’t believe he needs to apologise to anyone for anything, so it’s interesting to see the way he’s been demonised and subjected to a witch hunt. Here, he gets to tell his side:

  3. monkeywrench

    Confessions: the usual almost-braindamaged replies. One of them wants me to tell him if the sea-ice is “increasing or decreasing????” Jesus, they’re in a paddock all their own….

  4. confessions

    monkeywrench: the sheep are out in reply to your comment I see! Shame there’s nothing except the usual simplistic bullshit in reply – why do they bother?

  5. Lee Harvey Oddworld

    Bogdanovist @ 1, that’s a great quotation from Bertrand Russell.

    One might also add that a mature person/culture has a large capacity for self-criticism … anathema to self-righteous blowhards, jingoists and white ragers. One might even get biblical: “First take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

  6. monkeywrench

    My comment on the Bolt piece got published (about 15 minutes before Tobias put this thread up: groupthink?) so I’ve added a comment to it linking to Watts’ previous graph that had the years 2002-2005 included.
    This shiftyness reminds me of that other science stinker Roy Fielding when he tried to massage his temperature graph by changing the running average from a 13-month to a 25-month one. Frauds, I say again!

  7. monkeywrench

    This graph is the Anthony Watts-sourced graph Bolt used to link to. Note how the eralies year was 2002.
    It seems they are gradually trimming off the years to remove any embarrassing excesses from earlier times. Note how they fail to include the 1979-2000 average at any time. Frauds!

  8. Jay

    Bogdanovist @ 1

    I think that’s true for many people, but with Bolt I’m not so sure at the moment. I think that he is just basically a {Snip – You can think it, but we can’t print it – Dave} (my opinion disclaimer). Given the amount of time he devotes to this he should have seen the weight of evidence by now (cue the trolls).
    I’m not sure however that he understands there is a difference between ice coverage and ice depth.

  9. gregc09

    I presume that if Phil Jones (or anyone) mentioned that the february increase in sea ice was “not statistically significant” (which seems pretty likely given those graphs) then Mr Bolt would willingly conclude there has been in fact no increase. Right?

  10. Idlaviv

    #LOLBolt showing degreenis envy again.

  11. Bogdanovist

    The best scientific explanation for why people like Bolt exist come from the Dunning-Kruger effect

    In a nutshell this is the observation (supported by careful study, read the article) that “people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than in actuality; by contrast the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority”

    Bertrand Russell put it more pointedly

    “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

    I actually think there are quite a number of unskilled people displaying the same kind of ignorant cock-sure behaviour on the pro-AGW side of the fence as well, which doesn’t help. Of course almost all of those with the genuine ability to come to a well thought out position are on that side as well.