Al Gore’s Wild Ass Arctic Ice Guess

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Mr. Gore spent lots of time talking about Arctic Ice in his 2006 pseudo documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth.  We got to see Al ride on a Nuclear Submarine and watch as he saw first hand how the Navy measured ice thickness in the Arctic.

Sometimes it’s good to be Vice President.

Mr. Gore talked about how he was able to use his influence to get very important confidential Arctic Ice data released.   He then provided the data in graph form.   Mr. Gore narrated while the graph was displayed.   He said that the ice had been reduced by 40% in 40 years.  It was catchy and easy to remember.  What a story.

But was it true?

No.  Well I’m sure he rode on the sub and the Navy has data.   Most everything else is simply a part of his story.  And it’s a good story.

Mr. Gore (in the film) presented a charts that showed a steady decline in the ice mass in the Arctic.  He lectured to the audience while the slide was being displayed.   He claimed the ice had decreased 40% in 40 years.   Here’s the chart:

https://i2.wp.com/web.ncf.ca/jim/ref/inconvenientTruth/full/00_44_25.jpg

Mr. Gore’s chart says the ice declined by 1.5 million square kilometers from a base of a bit less than 14.    I’ll help Mr. Gore with the arithmetic.  1.5/13.7 = 11%.

11% in 35 years is not exactly 40% in 40 years.   Mr. Gore’s careless use of data  really is old news.  Why, one might wonder, am I bringing this up now?

Well I always suspected the entire calculation was a wild ass guess but I didn’t have good independent confirmation.   I suspected Sub based data would be spotty and incomplete.  But I wasn’t sure.  Now I am confident the entire section of the film was a fabrication (except for the submarine ride).  A good story and nothing else.

Visit the National Snow and Ice Data Center  (NSIDC) web site.   They provide lots of statistical information about  ice in the Arctic (and Greenland and the Antarctic too).   The NSIDC has this to say about Arctic Ice thickness:

While satellite observations have shown a decline in Arctic Ocean sea ice extent since the late 1970s, sea ice is highly mobile, and a decrease in extent does not necessarily imply a corresponding decrease in ice volume. Observations of thickness (which allows  calculation of volume) have been limited, making it difficult to estimate sea ice volume trends. The European Space Agency (ESA) CryoSat satellite was launched in October 2010 and has enabled estimates of sea ice thickness and volume for the last three years.

The best information is only 3 years old.  Wow.  Everything before that is a guess or so says The National Snow and Ice Data Center.  These University of Colorado scientists are the recognized experts.  Mr. Gore released his film in May of 2006.  Most of his data ended before 2005.

Wild Ass Guess Confirmed.

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