October 8, 2010

Tibetan Snowpack Decreasing??

No global warming presentation is complete without some pictures of snowpacks and glaciers melting away in alpine environments. The world is warming and the warmth is melting snow and ice in mountainous areas – seeing is believing, and finding pictures of melting snow is rather easy (just wait until spring every year)!

We conducted a search on the internet for “Global warming and snowpack” and nearly 70,000 sites appear with nearly all of them insisting that snowpacks the world over are being devastated by ongoing warming. The Technical Summary of the IPCC states:

“Decreases in snowpack have been documented in several regions worldwide based upon annual time series of mountain snow water equivalent and snow depth. Mountain snow can be sensitive to small changes in temperature, particularly in temperate climatic zones where the transition from rain to snow is generally closely associated with the altitude of the freezing level. Declines in mountain snowpack in western North America and in the Swiss Alps are largest at lower, warmer elevations. Mountain snow water equivalent has declined since 1950 at 75% of the stations monitored in western North America. Mountain snow depth has also declined in the Alps and in southeastern Australia. Direct observations of snow depth are too limited to determine changes in the Andes, but temperature measurements suggest that the altitude where snow occurs (above the snow line) has probably risen in mountainous regions of South America.”

The IPCC is widely cited by the websites – clearly there is a consensus that snowpacks are declining, and who can argue with a consensus?

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April 12, 2010

Icing Up the Great Lakes

Congratulations to Boston College and Wisconsin for making it to the finals of the NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament with Boston College dominating for the national title. College sports fans would generally agree that football is the #1 sport in terms of overall fan interest followed by men’s basketball. Picking the 3rd most popular sport is more difficult with fans in the Great Lakes and New England areas insisting hockey is #3 while fans throughout the Sun Belt insist that baseball is the clear #3. With the focus this week on the hockey finals played in Detroit by schools from the American hockey belt, we turned our attention specifically to the Great Lakes themselves.


Boston College Lovin’ the Ice!

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January 4, 2010

Lessons of the Ice

We have all heard over and over that the icecaps are melting, glaciers are retreating, and sea level is rising as ice around the world turns to liquid water. We have covered this topic many times in our essay series, but we revisit the ice issue given two recent and important publications in the science literature.

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December 21, 2009

A Christmas Story: Some Facts about Greenland

The wonderful Christmas season is upon us, and no Christmas story would be complete without snow. If you really like snow, Greenland is the place for you! The snow there lasts all year long and is 1,000s of feet deep in the interior – a white Christmas is guaranteed every year in this winter paradise.

Anyone following the global warming debate is aware that Greenland is a favorite topic of the apocalypse crowd – melt Greenland, sea level will rise, the ocean currents will be disrupted, and the climate of the world will be changed for thousands of years — all thanks to our inability to slow-down our greenhouse gas emissions. The rhetoric from Copenhagen recently was full of disasters involving rapid melting of Greenland. Within the past week alone, we found the headlines “Warming Hits Greenland’s Hunters” and “The Maldives and Greenland’s Ilulissat: Two Countries Experiencing Global Warming at an Alarming Rate”.

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October 6, 2009

Antarctic Ice Melt at Lowest Levels in Satellite Era

Where are the headlines? Where are the press releases? Where is all the attention?

The ice melt across during the Antarctic summer (October-January) of 2008-2009 was the lowest ever recorded in the satellite history.

Such was the finding reported last week by Marco Tedesco and Andrew Monaghan in the journal Geophysical Research Letters:

A 30-year minimum Antarctic snowmelt record occurred during austral summer 2008–2009 according to spaceborne microwave observations for 1980–2009. Strong positive phases of both the El-Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM) were recorded during the months leading up to and including the 2008–2009 melt season.


Figure 1. Standardized values of the Antarctic snow melt index (October-January) from 1980-2009 (adapted from Tedesco and Monaghan, 2009).

The silence surrounding this publication was deafening.

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January 23, 2009

Glacier Slowdown in Greenland: How Inconvenient

In this week’s Science magazine, science writer Richard Kerr reports on some of the goings-on at this past December’s annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

While he didn’t cover our presentation at the meeting in which we described our efforts at creating a reconstruction of ice melt across Greenland dating back into the late 1700s (we found that the greatest period of ice melt occurred in the decades around the 1930s), Kerr did cover some other recent findings concerning the workings of Greenland’s cryosphere in his article titled “Galloping Glaciers of Greenland Have Reined Themselves In.”

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December 23, 2008

Christmas Snow Job

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… well, it’s Christmas and all those wonderful holiday-season movies are back on the airwaves. One common feature is snow—we get the impression that every American lives in a place that guarantees a white Christmas. Truth be known, Americans experiencing a white Christmas are on a decline due entirely to migration patterns to the Sun Belt, not global warming. However, if you conduct a web search for “global warming and snow,” an incredible 4.8 million sites are found. You will find everything from global warming causes more snow to global warming causes less snow to global warming is a snow job! Who can ever forget the January 22, 1996 Newsweek cover (below) screaming that blizzards should be blamed on global warming? Get granddad and grandmom reminiscing about Christmas days in the past and you might get the impression something has happened to the climate system.


Figure 1. Cover of Newsweek, January 22, 1996.

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July 28, 2008

Back to Africa: Kilimanjaro Update

We are happy to report that over 100,000 websites come up for a search of “Global Warming and Kilimanjaro” and to be sure you will find plenty of sites proclaiming “Mount Kilimanjaro Photo: Wake-Up Call for Action Against Global Warming” or “Kimimanjaro’s Ice Gone Completely within Two Decades” or “Saving the Snows of Kilimanjaro” or “Mount Kilimanjaro’s Glacier Is Crumbling” or our favorite bland classic “Mt. Kilimanjaro Showing Signs of Global Warming.” Obviously, Al Gore’s documentary raised interest in Kilimanjaro given his claims that the mountain’s glaciers and ice fields were falling victim to global warming. As we have written about in the past there are many who would like to make Mt. Kilimanjaro the poster child of everything that has gone wrong with the global climate. At World Climate Report, Kilimanjaro is a symbol of global warming nonsense!

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April 21, 2008

Little Ice Age in Southern South America?

Recall our long essay series a few years (e.g., here) ago regarding the now-debunked “Hockey Stick” depiction of hemispheric and/or global temperatures. In 2001, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) rolled out a depiction of temperatures over the past 1,000 years, and as seen below (Figure 1), the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age all but disappeared, and the warming rate of the most recent 100 years looked nothing short of incredible. The second plot below (Figure 2) comes from the most recent IPCC assessment, and note that (a) the plot is clearly labeled as “Northern Hemisphere,” (b) the recent warming looks less impressive, and (c) the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age periods are more prominent.

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February 20, 2008

More “Bad for Good and Good For Bad”

Just in case you don’t believe our original contention that reports about the impacts of global warming almost always say that ‘bad’ things will happen ‘good’ species and ‘good’ things will happen to ‘bad’ ones, we’ve recently come across perhaps the best example of this phenomenon to date.

A symposium titled “Under Thin Ice: Global Warming and Predatory Invasion of the Antarctic Seas” was held at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) during which several researchers discussed the probability that in the near future, anthropogenic global warming is going to elevate the temperatures in the sea off the coast of Antarctica such that sharks and crabs (read ‘bad things’) are going to invade the ecosystem there (where it has thus far been too cold for them to venture) and wreak havoc, or rather find a “smorgasbord” among all the innocent and unprepared creatures (i.e. the ‘good’ things) that currently inhabit those waters.

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