In his New York Times “Green” blog article “Running the Numbers on Antarctic Sea Ice” Times reporter Justin Gillis generates a new index of sea ice melt that hypes the loss of Arctic sea ice relative to the gains in Antarctic sea ice. As you’ll see below, perhaps a more appropriate title would have been “Torturing the Data on Antarctic Sea Ice.”
October 5, 2012
July 24, 2012
Apparently NASA should start distributing dictionaries to the authors of its press releases.
Here is the title of the July 24, 2012 NASA press release reporting on recent ice melt across the surface of Greenland:
“Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt”
And here is a quote from within the release:
“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.
Now, according to our version of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, “unprecedented” is defined as:
“having no precedent: NOVEL, UNEXAMPLED”
“without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled: an unprecedented event.”
So, while it may be meteorologically interesting that a series of high pressure ridges had passed over Greenland this summer with largest and warmest of these parking over the island for a few days in mid-July and raising the temperature to near the melting point of ice all the way up to the summit of Greenland’s ice cap—it is not a type of event which is unique. Rare perhaps, but not unprecedented.
But, apparently, when it comes to hyping anthropogenic global warming (or at least the inference thereto), redefining English words in order to garner more attention is a perfectly acceptable practice.
Which brings to mind this oldy but goody from the late Stephen Schneider:
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.
At NASA, apparently being honest is not considered as being the most effective.
June 4, 2012
A new study using historical images of glaciers in southeast Greenland to investigate glacier response to climate changes suggests that the recently observed acceleration of ice loss from Greenland may not be a long-term phenomenon. Instead, as marine terminating glaciers reach their grounding line and as the termini of land-terminating glaciers migrate upwards in elevation, ice loss rates from glacial discharge may slacken. According to Anders Bjørk and co-researchers:
[T]he recent high rate of retreat may come to a slowdown when retreating marine-terminating glaciers reach their grounding line and become less sensitive to the influence of ocean temperature, or through positive or negative feedback mechanisms relating to the cold East Greenland Coastal Current.
Our results have implications for future estimations of sea-level rise as retreat rates for marine-terminating glaciers are likely to increase as temperature rises until glacier fronts reach the grounding line, or when cold ocean currents re-establish, whereas retreat rates for land-terminating glaciers are not likely to rise in the same order of magnitude.
Such results throw a bit of cold water on alarmist ideas that rising temperatures will lead to ever-accelerating ice loss from Greenland and accelerating sea level rise.
August 5, 2011
Last week, a widely-repeated pronouncement was made, that after an absence of more than 10,000 years, “wildfires have returned to the Arctic tundra” spurred by an apparent increase in lightning strikes and leading to carbon dioxide (CO2) releases from a traditional CO2 sink region. Another positive feedback to anthropogenic global warming. Oh yeah, and the fires will get worse and more widespread in the future.
But as with most dire global warming predictions, this one seems to lack grounding in reality.
March 10, 2011
We hear over and over that any warming at the global scale will be amplified in the Arctic region of the Northern Hemisphere, and the warming will cause ice to melt and sea level to rise and all the rest. Let some ice-free area appear during summer near the North Pole and the global media will take the bait every time and announce we are witnessing geophysical changes of Biblical proportions. Several articles have appeared recently in leading journals with interesting results regarding the temperature history of the Arctic over the past 1,000 to 1,500 years, and they show that temperatures there have risen and fallen to a significant degree many times in the past (that is, without the benefit of large changes in atmospheric CO2 levels), and they call into question whether any unusual warming (or cooling) has occurred there in recent decades.
January 31, 2011
A common rhetorical device to make potential future climate sounds even scarier, is to invoke the concept of “tipping points”—events that no one is sure when or even if they will happen, but suggest that when and if they do come to pass, they will lead to some sort of catastrophe that can’t be recovered from. Of course, global warming will push us closer to reaching these “tipping points.”
President Obama’s advisor on Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, John Holdren, is a fond user of such scare tactics.
November 5, 2010
Back in May, we reported on the Trumpeter Swan’s recovery from the edge of extinction that was being made a bit easier by a warming Arctic. Now comes word of another Arctic bird that is benefiting from the warming—and at the same time, helping the polar bear cope with climate change.
This time around it is the snow goose—a rather plentiful denizen of the far north.
March 17, 2010
You’ve heard it a thousand times before – greenhouse gases are causing the Earth to warm, there is more warming in the Arctic than other parts of the planet, and the permafrost is melting away. Remind the world that permafrost holds carbon and methane that can be released into the atmosphere, throw in some pictures of a drunken forest (below), claim that the permafrost melting is some type of global warming time bomb, and you will be embraced by the global warming alarmists. Do a web search on the subject of global warming and permafrost melting for 1,000s of additional ideas.
Figure 1. “Drunken forest” undoubtedly caused by widespread melting of the permafrost?
We have covered the permafrost issue before, and over and over, this story seems to be far more complex than one might expect. A recent article in Global Change Biology is yet another addition to the complicated warming = melting of permafrost issue.
December 21, 2009
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”.
October 20, 2009
There is a bit of press covering a just-published paper that concludes that the current climate and ecological conditions in a remote lake along the north shore of Canada’s Baffin Island are unique within the past 200,000 years—and anthropogenic global warming is the root cause. Which of course, spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e.
Somehow, that temperatures there were several degrees higher than present for a good third of the past 10,000 years and that there has been virtually no temperature trend in the area during past 50 years—the time usually associated with the greatest amount of human-caused “global warming”—was conveniently downplayed or ignored.