FeatureWorld Climate Report
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Truth:   “I’m Melting!  I’m Melting!”

In another in the continuing series of Administration gaffes, Vice President Gore recently claimed the glaciers of Glacier National Park are melting because of human-induced climate change.  And in an appeal to the heart, he made sure there were lots of pretty pictures of the Park to prove it.

Here we present the summer temperature history for the western climate district of Montana, which includes Glacier Park. The data are from the National Climatic Data Center and, like most products from that fine laboratory, the numbers have been carefully checked for quality and accuracy.

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Figure 1.  Summer mean temperatures in Montana Climate District 01, which includes Glacier National Park.

The record begins in 1895.  There’s no significant warming trend over the entire period.  Temperatures in the last thirty years sure look a lot like temperatures in the first thirty years, back in the beginning of this century.

What about the new saw that, well...ok you guys at World Climate Report are right about the lack of warming, but things are getting more variable.  Not here;  looks like the variation from year-to-year, while a bit more than average in the last decade, was easily dwarfed by the 1930s, a mere 60 years ago and is about the same as it was 100 years ago.

The Administration’s lack of scientific backing for this boner is even more apparent when looking at night-versus-day temperatures.  At nearby Kalispell, the closest station taking a long record of hourly data, there is a statistically significant warming of the night temperatures over the course of the century, but no change in the day.  Glaciers melt during the summer days, when temperatures go above freezing, last we heard. Summer daytime temperatures display a significant cooling trend since 1920, or the last 75 years. The warming being touted by Mr. Gore takes place at night, when temperatures are near or below freezing at the altitudes of the glaciers.

But the fact is that the glaciers of Glacier are melting, and they have been doing this for most of the 20th century, with an occasional hiatus or two, depending upon the glacier. The reason they are melting is because the planet was cooler in the 19th century, which was the end of the “Little Ice Age.”   The big glaciers in the Park, Sperry and Grinnell, began to waste around 1850— over 100 years before man could have caused it—as the earth emerged from three centuries of chilliness, centuries characterized by a European civilization desperately trying to keep warm as the Thames River regularly froze.

Ditto:  Antarctic Sea Ice

Every reader of this Report knows that temperatures averaged over Antarctica show no net change over the last three decades. (We decided not to print this graphic, as that would be the third time in two years!).   Also, ice-monitoring satellites can’t find any net change in sea-ice since they started up 25 years ago.

Now, the aptly named Bill de la Mare, a Federal Climatologist in Australia, says there’s been a 25 percent reduction—that’s a lot—in the ice surrounding Antarctica, based upon whaling records.   The big mammals are usually caught near the edge of the ice, and records of where they were caught indicated that “The Antarctic summer sea ice edge has moved southward by 2.8 degrees of latitude between the mid-1950s and early 1970s.”

Because no one can find a significant net warming of Antarctica since 1965, and because there’s a bit of thermal lag in the ocean (most people like to assume about 40 years), this fingers the well-known planetary warming of the 19th and early 20th centuries—which human activities had very little to do with—as the cause.   (Hey, that’s about the same thing that’s melting Glacier’s glaciers!)

One little problem:  If you remove that much white, reflective ice, the regional temperature should skyrocket in succeeding years by about 2C, according to NASA climate models.  But, since the 1970s, there’s been no warming.  Maybe there’s something wrong with the models...or is there something less than straightforward about using whales as thermometers?

One other thing:  There’s no acceptable whaling data between 1959 and 1972! Quoting from page 58 of de la Mare’s article, “No records satisfied the selection criteria from 1960 to 1971 inclusive.”  That’s when the big change was supposed to take place!


National Climatic Data Center Climatological Division Data, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina.

W.K. de la Mare, (1997). Abrupt mid-twentieth-century decline in Antarctic sea-ice extent from whaling records. Nature, 389, 57–60.


Unrest in Haiti!

The story that “Administration Official says Global Warming Responsible for [droughts, floods, hurricanes, snowstorms—pick ‘em]” has become as ubiquitous and periodic as “Unrest in Haiti.” Just recently, the President conflated the Red River Flood with global warming (WCR, Vol. 2, No. 17). The flood was caused by unusually heavy snowpack. But, the warmer it is, the less it snows in North Dakota (bet you need a PhD to figure that one!).

Last year, the State Department said an average hurricane is an example of what you get from global warming, neglecting that climate models show a decrease in average hurricane strength as the greenhouse effect increases, and that this has actually been observed in the Atlantic Basin.

And in February 1996, two days after the coldest temperatures ever measured in Minnesota, President Clinton told a group of schoolkids that’s the kind of thing you get from global warming.

Mistakes like these—which could be easily avoided by a simple checking of the facts—are increasingly draining the credibility of global warming’s most powerful proponents.