delivering predictive predictions formulating critical predictions exploring precise futures aggregating probable understanding aggregating critical forecasts mapping the future modeling contingent understanding assembling intelligent forecasts composing definitive futures crowdsourcing calibrated insights forecasting probable estimations exploring probable wisdom predicting critical wisdom assembling calibrated forecasts


Metaculus Help: Spread the word

If you like Metaculus, tell your friends! Share this question via Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

When (if ever) will the Arctic be essentially ice-free.

The Earth's climate is a profoundly complex system, ever in flux.

The ice caps have periodically melted and reformed numerous times over geologic history. They shall melt again!

At the very least, we know the ice caps are going to be toast in a few hundred million years, once the sun ages and swells and heats up enough.

But we're more interested in short term consequences. Per this analysis from Rolling Stone:

We've known for some time that our warming climate will eventually mean the transformation of the ice-locked Arctic into an open expanse of blue water. The question has long been not if, but when.

Researchers publishing in Physical Sciences in 2013 ("Reducing spread in climate model projections of a September ice-free Arctic") projected an "ice free" arctic by the 2050s.

In 2016, the Guardian reported this story. Key idea:

Scientist Peter Wadhams believes the summer ice cover at the north pole is about to disappear, triggering even more rapid global warming.

In March 2018, Vox reported:

In 1985, 45 percent of the ice in the Arctic was more than a year old. In 2017, that figure was down to 21 percent.

At some point, we will see a year in which the Arctic will be essentially ice-free. What year will that be?

Resolution occurs when the arctic ice coverage (at a threshold 15% ice density) falls below 1 million , as reported in numbers from the NSIDC. Should NSIDC numbers be unavailable, or arguably substantially changed in methodology from those circa 2018, an alternative source provided by a national government other than the US, and consistent within errors with NSIDC's number as of 2018, may be used as a substitute.


Metaculus help: Predicting

Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.

The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available. With tachyons you'll even be able to go back in time and backdate your prediction to maximize your points.

The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

This question is not yet open for predictions.

Thanks for predicting!

Your prediction has been recorded anonymously.

Want to track your predictions, earn points, and hone your forecasting skills? Create an account today!

Track your predictions
Continue exploring the site

Community Stats

Metaculus help: Community Stats

Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.

When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.