October 9, 2006

Kilimanjaro Glaciers Exit the Debate

Snow cover and sea ice extent have long been thought of as monitors of climate change, and so it is no surprise that the global warming crusade has promoted any signal of glacial decline as clear evidence of global warming. The simplicity of the concept that “warming means less ice” makes a decline in snow and ice an appealing piece of ammunition for their cause. However, wielding this with a narrow view of the issue makes it dangerous ammunition, or useless, as appears to be the case for one set of tropical glaciers that are widely referenced in the global warming debate.

In a recent article in Geophysical Research Letters entitled “Kilimanjaro glaciers: recent areal extent from satellite data and new interpretation of observed 20th century retreat rates,” the glaciers of Africa’s highest mountain are in effect removed from the debate of climate change in the 20th century. The work of a team led by Nicolas Cullen of the Tropical Glaciology Group at the University of Innsbruck is significant because drastic retreats in tropical glaciers during the mid- to late-20th century have attracted broad attention among global warming alarmists.


March 24, 2006

No News is Bad News

There is not much new in a collection of articles about global warming and sea level rise in the latest issue of Science. As such, it is mostly recycled and repackaged information that the head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Donald Kennedy, can take down from New York Avenue in DC to Capitol Hill, to scare politicians into doing what it wants, which is an immediate cap on U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide.

Never mind that even a 25% reduction will have an undetectable effect on the rate of global temperature rise in the foreseeable future, and that it will cost a lot. Science crammed its March 24th issue with five articles (including commentary and editorials) devoted to melting ice and sea level rise—including one (Overpeck et al., 2006) which proclaims “[I]t is highly likely that the ice sheet changes described in this paper [leading to an—egad—global sea level a rise of 12-18 feet] could be avoided if humans were to significantly reduce emissions early in the current century” is hardly surprising.


February 17, 2006

Ice Storm

The latest issue of Science contains a paper by Eric Rignot and Pannir Kanagaratnam claiming that glaciers along the periphery of Greenland are melting at a rapidly increasing rate. Another paper on this subject was published by Science just last year. Ola Johannessen did not consider direct ice lost by glaciers into the ocean but instead only focused on elevations changes. Johannssen showed that increasing snowfall in Greenland was leading to greater ice accumulations than had previously been measured and this was acting to slow Greenland’s contribution to sea level rise. It was conspicuously ignored in this new report.

(Read more at Tech Central Station)

January 18, 2006

Not As Bad As We Thought!

A couple of weeks ago we wrote a cute little piece titled “Proving Science Bias” that looked into the deluge of news stories on global warming and its impacts that were released on a single day last December when both the COP-11 meeting was going on in Montreal and the fall meeting of American Geophysical Union (AGU) was taking place in San Francisco. Of the 15 different findings that were released and covered by the press on December 7, 2005 about global warming, 14 of them were reporting that things were “worse than we thought” and only one of them concluded that things weren’t going to be as bad as originally forecast. Given an unbiased prediction, there should be a 50-50 chance that things turned out either worse or better than expected. Under such a scenario, there is only a 1-in-2,000 chance that 14 things out of 15 would be worse. But that’s what happened. So, either the original forecasts were not unbiased, a rare event did indeed occur, or, more likely, the interpretation and reporting went a bit over the top—that is, the press (and to some degree the researchers themselves) only like to hype the more extreme results.

May 27, 2005

Antarctic Ice: A Global Warming Snow Job?

Climate scientists have long suspected that warming the oceans around a very cold continent is likely to dramatically increase snowfall. Consider Antarctica. It’s plenty chilly, dozens of degrees below freezing, and it’s surrounded by water. The warmer the water, the greater the evaporation from its surface, and, obviously, the more moisture it contributes to the local atmosphere.

So, when this moisture gets swirled up by a common cyclone, do you think it’s going to fall as rain in Antarctica?

A recent study, no shocker to real climatologists (but perhaps to climate doomsayers), demonstrates this simple physics. It appears in the latest SciencExpress, and it shows that the vast majority of the Antarctic landmass is rapidly gaining ice and snow cover.

April 22, 2005

The Tip of the Iceberg: Yet another Predictable Distortion

This Earth Day, AP newswire leads with a real scare story: “Study Shows Antarctic Glaciers Shrinking.” In doing so, the press, yet again, predictably distorted a global warming story.

By “Antarctica” they actually meant the Antarctic Peninsula, which comprises about 2% of the continent. It’s warming there and has been for decades. But every scientist (or for that matter, everyone who has read Michael Crichton’s State of Fear) knows that the temperature averaged over the entire continent has been declining for decades.

The underlying science behind the AP story was published in the April 22, 2005 issue of Science magazine, under the more appropriate (and accurate) title, “Retreating Glacier Fronts on the Antarctic Peninsula over the Past Half-Century.” A research team led by Alison Cook of the British Antarctic Survey carefully measured the historical position of 244 glaciers as determined from a 60-year collection of images including aerial photographs and satellite pictures. By comparing the position of glacier termini over time, the researchers were able to determine the timing and speed of glacial changes.

The results presented in Science weren’t even based on the entire Peninsula, but rather the northern portion. While a more comprehensive continent-wide investigation of coastal glacier changes is underway, only the results from the Peninsula were written up.

April 5, 2005

Is soot, not CO2, to blame for the loss of Arctic ice?

There are three primary tools that global warming alarmists use in their arguments that anthropogenic enhancements to the world’s naturally occurring greenhouse effect are causing the climate to behave as it never has before and this will ultimately be catastrophic. They are 1) the “hockey stick” temperature reconstruction for the past 1,000 years, which purports to show that left to its own devices, the global average temperature changes very little, yet it jumps at the slightest provocation from mankind; 2) the IPCC 21st century temperature projections which show a range of possible warming by century’s end that spans 1.4 to 5.8ºC (of course, the alarmist attention is given to the high end projection); and 3) the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has been steadily declining for the past several decades and will be entirely gone in the summertime in the next 50 years as a result of rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases. With the latest publication by NASA scientists Dorothy Koch and James Hansen, the final of these arguments now joins the first two in being soundly repudiated.

March 24, 2005

Reviewer Comments: Extracting a Climate Signal from 169 Glacier Records

A new paper that is soon to appear in the print version of Science magazine reconstructs the temperature history of the earth for the past 400 years using data gathered from 169 glaciers from around the world. Problems with this publication again lead us to wonder what is happening to the peer-review process at our major scientific journals. Here, we offer our comments, had we been one of the reviewers of the paper.

March 17, 2005

The Great Himalayan Snow Job

Filed under: Glaciers/Sea Ice

On March 14, Reuters shipped a story about rapid recession of the Himalayan glaciers—the largest nonpolar ice mass in the world. They quoted from a World Wildlife Fund press release stating “Himalayan glaciers are among the fastest retreating glaciers globally due to the effects of global warming.

WWF timed its press release before a two-day “Energy and Environmental Ministerial Conference” in London. At this meeting the United States was (predictably) blasted because it won’t commit economic suicide by adopting the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

This is one of those repeating news stories, like “Strife in Haiti” or “Irish Unrest.” It goes like this. To wit: “The (glaciers, polar bears, butterflies) of (anywhere) are in dramatic decline because of global warming. Unless the (US, US, US) signs on to the Kyoto Protocol, their continued decline is assured.”

Well, here at World Climate Report we have our own repeating news story. To wit: “It appears that the (UN, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club) forgot to check the temperature histories where the (glaciers, polar bears, butterflies) are in decline, and the (US, US, US) isn’t going along with counterfactual nonsense produced by agenda-driven environmentalists.”

July 16, 2004

Cold, Hard Facts

Filed under: Glaciers/Sea Ice

Geologic history reveals that Earth’s glaciers, ice caps, and sea ice advance and retreat in natural cycles—not because of greenhouse forcing. Montana’s glaciers began to retreat long before the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases began to change very much. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has been identified as the potential driving force behind snowpack variability in the western United States.

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