The stupefying pace of glacier melt in the 1940s

Here’s a bit of research that you don’t normally see in the MSM stories about glacier melt. It is backed up by a second and very interesting article (below) from 1947 in Geographical Review which says “Most of the worlds glaciers have been shrinking in recent decades.” Yet, news reports of the last decade would have you believe that glacier recession is an unprecedented phenomenon.

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From ETH Zurich: The most recent studies by researchers at ETH Zurich show that in the 1940s Swiss glaciers were melting at an even-faster pace than at present. This is despite the fact that the temperatures in the 20th century were lower than in this century. Researchers see the main reason for this as the lower level of aerosol pollution in the atmosphere.

A glaciologist on the way to work on the Silvretta glacier (Image: Matthias Huss / ETH Zurich) 

A glaciologist on the way to work on the Silvretta glacier (Image: Matthias Huss / ETH Zurich) (more pictures)

In Switzerland, the increase in snow in wintertime and the glacier melt in summertime have been measured at measurement points at around 3,000 metres above sea level – on the Clariden Firn, the Great Aletsch glacier and the Silvretta glacier – without interruption for almost 100 years. As part of his doctoral work, Matthias Huss used this unique range of measurements to examine how climate change in the last century affected the glaciers. The work was carried out under the supervision of Martin Funk, professor and head of the Department for Glaciology at the Laboratory for Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (‘VAW’) at ETH Zurich, who is also co-author of the study.

Solar radiation as the decisive factor

In its work, the research team took into account the solar radiation measured on the Earth’s surface in Davos since 1934. Studies over the past two decades have shown that solar radiation varies substantially due to aerosols and clouds, and this is assumed to influence climate fluctuations. Recent years have seen the emergence of the terms ‘global dimming’ and ‘global brightening’ to describe these phenomena of reduced and increased solar radiation respectively. These two effects are currently the subject of more and more scientific research, in particular by ETH Zurich, as experts feel that they should be taken into account in the climate models (see ETH Life dated July 9, 2009)

The new study, published in the journal ‘Geophysical Research Letters’, confirms this requirement. This is because, taking into account the data recorded for the level of solar radiation, the scientists made a surprising discovery: in the 1940s and in the summer of 1947 especially, the glaciers lost the most ice since measurements commenced in 1914. This is in spite of the fact that temperatures were lower than in the past two decades. “The surprising thing is that this paradox can be explained relatively easily with radiation”, says Huss, who was recently appointed to the post of senior lecturer at the Department of Geosciences at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

On the basis of their calculations, the researchers have concluded that the high level of short-wave radiation in the summer months is responsible for the fast pace of glacier melt. In the 1940s, the level was 8% higher than the long-term average and 18 Watts per square metres above the levels of the past ten years. Calculated over the entire decade of the 1940s, this resulted in 4% more snow and ice melt compared with the past ten years.

Furthermore, the below-average melt rates at the measurement points during periods in which the glacier snouts were even advancing correlate with a phase of global dimming, between the 1950s and the 1980s.

Less snow fall and longer melt periods

The researchers arrived at their findings by calculating the daily melt rates with the aid of climate data and a temperature index model, based on the half-yearly measurements on the glaciers since 1914. These results were then compared with the long-term measurements of solar radiation in Davos.

Huss points out that the strong glacier melt in the 1940s puts into question the assumption that the rate of glacier decline in recent years “has never been seen before”. “Nevertheless”, says the glaciologist, “this should not lead people to conclude that the current period of global warming is not really as big of a problem for the glaciers as previously assumed”. This is because it is not only the pace at which the Alpine glaciers are currently melting that is unusual, but the fact that this sharp decline has been unabated for 25 years now. Another aspect to consider – and this is evidenced by the researchers’ findings – is that temperature-based opposing mechanisms came into play around 30 years ago. These have led to a 12% decrease in the amount of precipitation that falls as snow as a percentage of total precipitation, accompanied by an increase of around one month in the length of the melt period ever since this time. Scientists warn that these effects could soon be matched by the lower level of solar radiation we have today compared with the 1940s.

Reference

Huss M, Funk M & Ohmura A: Strong Alpine glacier melt in the 1940s due to enhanced solar radiation. Geophysical Research Letters (2009), 36, L23501, doi:10.1029/2009GL040789

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Here’s the supporting article in Geographical Review, available here:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/211127

h/t to WUWT reader “Jimbo”

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64 thoughts on “The stupefying pace of glacier melt in the 1940s

  1. “A glaciologist on the way to work on the Silvretta glacier ….”

    These Swiss!!!

    Fancy getting chilblains going out in that ice & snow just to take measurements!

    So old fashioned! Haven’t they realised that there are some great Computer Model Games you can play in your academic ivory tower which will PROVE cAGW in a matter of minutes! All you need to do is a bit of cherry picking and “homogenisation”, run it through the Meltdown Mann statistics application, get the results “reviewed” by your pals and you’ll be showered with grants and glory!

  2. The fact that glaciers have been melting since the 19th century is relatively well known. But, it’s worthwhile pointing it out again given Willis’ recent posts on his problems with IPCC temperature projections.

    The reason I says that is that several commenters started raising the issue of “lag” on the effect of CO2 on climate in response to Willis. Yet, when I’ve seen the issue of 19th century glacial melt brought up in the past, lots of “mainstream believers” start saying “but that’s when man’s influence from fossil fuels started!”.

    Steve McIntyre says “keep your eye on the pea” for a reason.

  3. It is a shame that so much work is done myopically, assuming that only one factor, their pet factor MUST be overly important. Here, they assume that the global temperature record is correct and work within this false assumption. Since rural monitoring site raw temperature data show that our recent warm decade was not as warm as in the first half of the 20th century, it is not surprising that glacier melt was greater then.

    Why it was warmer then is more more likely due to more than one factor and ocean cycles HAVE to be included as they create the observed 60-70 year cycle of warming and cooling, the 1930s and 1940s being the peak of that particular cycle.

    People studying the cycles often also buy into the assumption that, if we are warming out of a mini-ice age, then the latest warm time must, acceptably so, be warmer than the 1930-40s. Fine.

    However, assuming that nature does anything constantly over time is a big mistake. In this case, it is clear from the raw rural data that our recent warmth was a decline from the 1930-40s peak. [They forget that you cannot have a mini-ice age without at some point having a decline in temperatures from relative warm times.] Big mistake – again making assumptions and trusting others.

    The unscientific treatment of the temperature data by the data keepers and its persistence in the scientific world is all about taking advantage of other people’s trust. They are banking on this myopic thinking of others to make false data appear true. “Others are using it. How could it be false?”

  4. So we really, really are hotter now than the ’40s, but it’s a special non ice melting heat !!
    “Oi, Mike, need your Nature Trick here!”

  5. I am astonished that in all this discussion of warming and radiative heat transfer that no one really discusses the precise values of solar insolation at the surface. We base all our studies on temperature, probably, because that is the only “global” data that we have. Unfortunately those sites are mostly located in the 1.5% of the earth’s surface that are tagged as “urban”.

    Values of surface insolation vary radically depending on atmospheric moisture content, cloud type, and even briefly with jet contrails. Volcanic and industrial processes play a significant role too. And there is a good way to measure these values. In the early 1980s when I was operating a solar furnace at White Sands Missile Range in NM we monitored solar surface insolation with an Eppley Normal Incident Pyroheliometer (NIP) and would get seasonal variations at solar noon of up to 150 watts/m^2. Summer readings here in the desert SW with lots of moisture in the air often peaked at only 950 w/m^2 while fall readings with a drier atmosphere might peak at 1100 w/m^2. Surface temperatures in the summer could be 100+ deg F while fall temperatures might be in the 70s at noon. When volcanic eruptions from El Chicon occurred (1982?), peak readings at solar noon slowly dropped to finally reach almost 100 w/m^2 less than those original values noted above. These gradual decreases in insolation took almost a year to go away(by gradually increasing back to “normal”). These dramatic insolation fluctuations caused by moisture (also clouds) and particulates (and gas) in the atmosphere are found over vast regions as well as over most of the planet in the case of El Chicon. Clouds could drop the NIP peak value (solar noon 950 to 1100) to anywhere from 600 w/m^2 to almost nothing. These effects are huge when compared to a few w/m^2 when discussing CO2. As far as I can tell, globally only Japan has a nationwide net of NIP instruments. NOAA from what I can tell has only 4 regional NIPs in the continental US (in the NW NE SW and SE). In my opinion, along with getting our temperature network into shape we should be developing a widely spread NIP network. NIPs near the glaciers would probably have immediately indicated what was happening even during a cooling period. It seems to me that rapid changes in the atmosphere due to the “other” greenhouse gas or greenhouse particulate effects should be of greater interest to us than well mixed CO2 effects.

  6. Of course we could question the assumption that the ’40′s where substantially cooler than current times. The current 20C temperature record from the GISS is inconsistant with the “Global Cooling” alarmism. Look at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/23/gistemp-movie-matinees/.

    Before adjustment, there was a -2.5C decline in the annual means, after adjustment it becomes -1.5C decline. That -.55C/decade vs -.33C/decade. Which of those is consistant with a “Global Cooling” meme? Memes are living organisms, they need a mental pH range to live. When new “data” revisions create an invalid agar for the memes current at the time, that’s a big red WUWT prompt.

  7. Martin Brumby says:
    October 24, 2010 at 7:33 am

    Martin,
    there are still a few oldfashioned guys left over here, still ignoring the modern ways.

  8. John M “but that’s when man’s influence from fossil fuels started!”.
    Put a certain amount of whine in that and you get a reply from a
    greenie co-worker I know- my usual reply is “but that is when the
    Little Ice Age ended!”

  9. ‘Scientists warn that these effects could soon be matched by the lower level of solar radiation we have today compared with the 1940s.’

    This is one of several references made in the article to the supposedly higher insolation in the 1940s. I remember Leif Svalgaard producing a useful chart illustrating this fallacy.

    As I recall it shows TSI reconstructions after Wang, Svalgaard, Kriv, Preminger and Lean. All are in good agreement except Lean’s curve which is low pre-1940.

    BUT the real outlier is the one attributed to Hoyt (I think Hoyt and Schatten 1993). This reconstruction has TSI rising from about 1890 to a peak around 1945.

    IPCC TAR and to a lesser extent AR4 still point to TSI as the major forcing responsible for the 1910 – 1940 warming, but my understanding is that this is incorrect. The older TSI reconstructions are now believed to exhibit too much variation – especially Hoyt and Schatten.

    If this is the case, then why does the above study claim that higher insolation was the cause of accelerated glacial melt?

    Apologies to Dr Svalgaard if I have misunderstood/mis-remembered this.

  10. “A new religion has been invented to fulfil this need:extreme environmentalism. It is an urban atheistic religion disconnected from the environment. The rise in environmentalism parallels in time the decline of Christianity and socialism and incorporates many of the characteristics of Christianity and socialism”
    Ian Plimer, “Heaven and Earth”, pp.463.
    From its beginning, in the 1960¨s, this has been a sub-culture born out from pot smoking and LSD “flights”. Its supreme hymn: Beatles´”Imagine”:
    Imagine there’s no Heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too …

    This Liberal dream, was the product NOT OF HARD WORKING AND HEALTHY people, but an excretion of a corrupted youth, daughters and sons of daddy and mommy, who, remember?, rejected to serve their country….
    Now, while many starve in the world, their ideological and most trascendental worries are, among other really weird and which make any healthy human being shudder, go from “save the whales” to the human rights of child molesters; from “global warming” to distributing the “day after pill” among girls below 14 years old at schools (this was made by a former SA female president, who is about to be nominated for the UN secretary).
    This is the same people who proclaim there are no laws whatsoever governing our cosmos, who preach that everything is “chaotic”, and who have managed to invent a kind of devilish “philosophy”called the “post-normal science”.
    Let us remember: Back in the 1960´s they were really qualified as they really are:
    They were the “misfits”, the “feeble minded ones”, the “subterraneans”, the “hippies”, “beatnicks”etc.,etc.
    What has really happened is, that because of their high ranked social origin have had the opportunity to reach governmental positions all over the world, menacing with their sick natures the future of mankind as a whole.

  11. EthicallyCivil says:
    October 24, 2010 at 8:17 am [snip]

    It sounds like you’re trying to make a point worth making. But you’re being too obtuse for me to understand. Could you make it a bit more explicit?

  12. “Nevertheless”, says the glaciologist, “this should not lead people to conclude that the current period of global warming is not really as big of a problem…”

    They always have to throw in that “nevertheless” caveat to keep the funding flowing.

  13. Bernie McCune says on October 24, 2010 at 8:13 am

    I am astonished that in all this discussion of warming and radiative heat transfer that no one really discusses the precise values of solar insolation at the surface. We base all our studies on temperature, probably, because that is the only “global” data that we have. Unfortunately those sites are mostly located in the 1.5% of the earth’s surface that are tagged as “urban”.

    Values of surface insolation vary radically depending on atmospheric moisture content, cloud type, and even briefly with jet contrails. Volcanic and industrial processes play a significant role too. And there is a good way to measure these values. In the early 1980s when I was operating a solar furnace at White Sands Missile Range in NM we monitored solar surface insolation with an Eppley Normal Incident Pyroheliometer (NIP) and would get seasonal variations at solar noon of up to 150 watts/m^2. Summer readings here in the desert SW with lots of moisture in the air often peaked at only 950 w/m^2 while fall readings with a drier atmosphere might peak at 1100 w/m^2.

    I am confused. I thought that TSI was about 1366watts/m^2, but that figure is the average across the whole surface of the Earth. In which case, the instantaneous figure should be much higher than that at noon in summer at a location New Mexico.

    What have I misunderstood?

  14. I think the story is interesting. I am not a strong proponent of dimming though as I think in all cases we overstate our ability to impact the Earth’s climate. The ice cores show there has always been strong natural variation.

    That makes the AGW attempts to determine climate sensitivity from swings in temperature so limited. Those always overstate the actual climate sensitivity. My guess is that they have overstated the climate sensitivity by a lot. That by itself takes away the whole concern about CO2 forcing.

    I have shown that the Greenhouse Effect is incompatible with the stated climate sensitivity.
    http://theinconvenientskeptic.com/2010/10/determining-the-correct-climate-sensitivity/

    John Kehr
    The Inconvenient Skeptic

  15. I looked at annual NM temperatures from a handful of sites that actually went back past the 50s and there were some universal conclusions I could make. These are average annual temperatures from generally smaller NM communities with probably less than 20,000 people in them in the 1930 to 1960 time frame. Northern hemisphere temperatures tend to follow each other on decadal scales.

    There were three “warm” years during that time with a dropping trough that had a maximum delta of 4 deg F between the 30s and 50s. From the early 1940s until about 1947 NM was cooler than “normal”. High temperature years were 1935, 1951, and 1955. Of course average annual temperatures are very jagged from year to year with only decadal trends that can be seen.

    One additional point to my earlier post is that plant life also has a significant effect on moisture and particulates in the atmosphere that is found near them (and plants of course affect atmospheric CO2 content which in their vicinity is NOT well mixed and at certain times of the day/night can vary by 100s of ppm).

  16. “Sandy says:
    October 24, 2010 at 8:01 am
    So we really, really are hotter now than the ’40s, but it’s a special non ice melting heat !!
    “Oi, Mike, need your Nature Trick here!”

    It probably is non ice melting heat. Most of the alleged heating is at the poles and at night – probably takes temperatures from -30 to -28 or whatever.

  17. As usual, what I miss is the influence of the albedo – ‘whiteness’ – of the glacier.
    The coal based industry of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century created enormous amounts of soot and dust, which diminished the whiteness of glaciers (= lowers the albedo). As a result, the glaciers receive more heat from the sun.

    Since the 1970-ies the industry in the Western world has cleaned up enormously, meaning less soot. At the same time, in places like China which is rapidly building coal plants, soot is now a bigger issue.

    In my opinion, a discussion of the causes of shrinking or growing glaciers without considering albedo is incomplete.

  18. Wonder if these folks who have tumbled to “recent” glacier melting realize they have been melting for the better part of the last 15,000 years and will continue to do so until the next major advance of the continental ice sheets kicks in.

    Which could be any year now . . . we are just about due for the next advance if the cycle of the recent geologic era holds . . . .

    Wonder how they’ll link CO2 and hysterical global warming to the 10,000 feet of ice covering Chicago?

  19. 18 Watts more than at present but no higher temperatures? It is not impossible, but seems highly unlikely.

    That reminds me about the wrong kind of CO2. Natural radiative forcing does not warm (although it melts), while anthropogenic radiative forcing causes catastrophic warming.

    The interesting thing is that ONLY homogenized temperatures in the Alps are lower now than then, raw temperature data probably was about the same or may be higher in the 40′s.

  20. The 30s/40s were warm but recently the record now understates their temperatures due to revisionary homogenisation/adjustment. It is therefore no great surprise that there was significant glacier melting in the 40s. This is before manmade emmissions were substantial and whilst CO2 levels were considerably less than today.

    Natural variations in solar radiation and the AMO may well have a lot to do with it.

    Articles like this need wide circulation and emphasis since they challenge that changes are occuring at unprecedented rates.

  21. …temperature-based opposing mechanisms came into play around 30 years ago. These have led to a 12% decrease in the amount of precipitation that falls as snow as a percentage of total precipitation, accompanied by an increase of around one month in the length of the melt period ever since this time. Scientists warn that these effects could soon be matched by the lower level of solar radiation we have today compared with the 1940s.

    Since the authors appear to have an overriding need to “save the glaciers”, why are they worried about “the lower level of solar radiation we have today”? Maybe because the official Climate Science “Method” has to try to induce panic somewhere along the line?

  22. I would love to see Anthony or someone follow these articles with a quick review of the unadjusted temperature record in Switzerland and the Alps.

    Another thing that makes me curious is the record melt year of 1947. The winter of 1947/48 was a severely cold and “record” one in Britain (according to my mum, who lived through it), and also, I believe, in other parts of Europe. A curious coincidence.

    All the best.

  23. Robin Kool says: ‘In my opinion, a discussion of the causes of shrinking or growing glaciers without considering albedo is incomplete.’

    Agreed. See here for more:

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Black_Carbon_Driving_Himalayan_Melt_999.html

    And it all gets mistakenly attributed to CO2 or changing TSI.

    BUT – why did it stop in the 1950s? Why did the climate cool? It wasn’t sulphate aerosols (as the consensus would have it), so what really happened?

  24. International Committee on Glaciers1907 Report Summary
    “The great number of glaciers of which we have any information are retreating; the glaciers of the Scandinavian Alps alone are entering a period of advance;….”

    ———–

    National Park Service [pdf]
    1879 John Muir records his “discovery” of Glacier Bay. He enters the bay in a dugout canoe guided by Tlingit Indians from Fort Wrangell. Toyatte, a Stickeen nobleman, leads the group. S. Hall Young, a Presbyterian missionary, accompanies Muir. The glacial ice has retreated up into the bay 40 miles from where Whidbey saw it.”

    ———–

    American Fisheries Society [pdf] – 2005
    “In 1794, members of Captain George Vancouver’s crew reported the presence of a massive wall of ice blocking what is now the entrance to Glacier Bay (Vancouver 1798). Since then, the glacier has retreated about 100 km up the bay, exposing a magnificent fjord system (Figure 1).”

    This is unprecedented, again. :o)

  25. Swiss!! What do they know about ice and snow and stuff like that? Its as dumb as teh Russians claiming to know about the Arctic!

    Proper studies of all these things can only be done in ‘labs’ in warm places in the US and in Norwich, UK. All other sources of information are corrupted by exposure to unadjusted ‘data, which misleads those who are not fully authorised ‘Climate Scientists’.

    It is also worth noting that the Swiss did not even invent the cuckoo clock. According to an ex-girlfriend from Zurich, they are Austrian. But then she was Swiss and probably thought that her brother who owns a skiing hotel knows something about snow and ice as well……tosh!

  26. So, global dimming leads to global warming which melts the glaciers???
    The article jumps a lot, and is hard to follow the logic.
    Nevertheless, CRU99 (Jones) has this to say about the progression of temperature in Sitka, Alaska:

    Everything look copacetic until one gets to the mid 1970′s and the NCDC/NOAA data takes a big jump.
    The extra warm weather in the NCDC/NOAA data set should have delivered more snow to the glaciers, but then they say no, so somebody has something ‘adjusted’ and salted to taste.

  27. Richard Sharpe

    “I am confused. I thought that TSI was about 1366watts/m^2, but that figure is the average across the whole surface of the Earth. In which case, the instantaneous figure should be much higher than that at noon in summer at a location New Mexico.

    What have I misunderstood?”
    ____________________________
    Yes your reference points the right direction. Clearly satellites can measure the TOA but probably not an integrated surface solar insolation value – yet anyway!

    You are talking about TOA (Top of the Atmosphere) levels. I am talking about a much more variable solar level at the surface in NM.

    Bernie

  28. I wonder whether particulates from the 1939/45 event could have made much difference to alpine glaciers? A significant amount of combustion from that time would have been “dirty” burning producing lots of soot, with explosive events propelling at least some of it skywards. Aeroplanes of that time were flying in massive formations at low altitudes (relative to jets today) and would have produced rather more particulates in their exhaust than similar engines of today.

    I recall a study indicating the Himalayan glaciers of modern times being impacted by soot in modern times.

  29. We are probably at the very end of the present Interglacial Warmup Period. Any glaciologist, not feeding at the public trough of free grant money, will tell you that glacier melting during IWPs is to be expected. What should be of serious concern is that many glaciers are growing.

  30. Jimbo @ 11:43 links to a pdf with a map – Figure 1
    Location map of Alaska and Glacier Bay National Park showing
    terminus positions and dates during retreat of glacier. . . .

    This map shows that most of the glacier melt occurred between 1780 and 1900. Perhaps a few more of you could save a copy of this document before it is “disappeared.” Just saying . . .

    Is the map with the Geog. Review available someplace?

  31. I love the catch phrases these people use
    “Never been seen before” Not in my lifetime.
    “Since records began” i.e. Satellite observations.
    “Unprecedented” I am too lazy to look at records.

  32. Generally speaking, glaciers have been melting for 22,000+ years.

    Way too many laypersons seem to think that glaciers were unchanged throughout history until the 20th century. They see glacier melting as PROOF of climate change. The same with rising sea levels.

  33. Pehaps related to the glacier melts discussed above is the increase in sea level rate-of-rise around 1930.

    Although there have been some articles printed that curve fit a parabolic to the GMSL history to show that there is an accelerating trend, the best fit is really just two straight lines, with the breakpoint between the lines being about 1930.

  34. Paul Deacon, Christchurch, New Zealand says:
    October 24, 2010 at 10:47 am
    …………..
    Another thing that makes me curious is the record melt year of 1947.

    ———————
    “Degrees of heat unrecorded since the beginning of regular meteorological statistics were observed in Central Europe during last summer.”

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2256653

  35. Enneagram says:
    October 24, 2010 at 8:34 am

    From its beginning, in the 1960¨s, this has been a sub-culture born out from pot smoking and LSD “flights”. Its supreme hymn: Beatles´”Imagine”:

    1) “Imagine” was neither written nor sung by the Beatles.
    2) It wasn’t written in the 60′s. Nor was it ever a hippie anthem (In fact its incredible sales show that it was very firmly not just a sub-culture anthem.
    3) If you think the pot and LSD sub-culture of the 60′s still exists in some sort of linear progression, then you are sadly out of tune.

    Grow up! The current green movement is rather more solidly based than the rabid imaginings of hippies 50 years ago. Take it at its merits, and fight it at its merits. Don’t sink to the level of slagging modern people based on some commonalities with what their grandparents did.

  36. Warrick says:
    October 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm (Edit)
    I wonder whether particulates from the 1939/45 event could have made much difference to alpine glaciers?

    I believe it the LACK of particulates that they are talking about.

    In that time period you had more direct sunlight ( short wave in summer month) on the ice, which of course works very fast to melt the ice. So if you look at all the factors that contribute to the galciers melting ( direct sunlight, soot on the ice, air temps ) you see that in that period the melt was driven by the direct light. Less aerosals, more direct sunlight. less C02 in the air, cooler temps, but not cool enough to mitigate the effect of the summer month short wave sunlight

    When you come into the prsent period the melt is no longer driven as hard by the direct sunlight factor, why? more aerosals. Instead, the process is driven by increased soot, and increased air temps ( from C02). These factors ( as well as others) all work together, at sometime in the past the driver was direct sunlight, a fast acting processing. Now, today there may be less direct summer month shortwavet, but slightly higher air temps. The Causes stay the same, but there relative contribution changes.

    the finding here are utterly consistent with AGW theory. The theory doesnt state that glaciers melt ONLY because of increased air temps ( or downwelling IR) many factors drive the process. But in the presence of ever increasing air temps the ice is fighting a losing battle. For example, if you clean out soot from the air the ice will be happier, but on the other hand to the extent that this leads to more direct sunlight hitting the ice, the ice will be less happy. So you have fast acting processes intermingled with slower acting processes, but there is nothing remarkable about one aspect ( summer short wave) dominating during a past period, while the current period is driven by another process.

    Nothing here, excpet perhaps a admonition to climate scientists to speak more clearly when they discuss “unprecidented” events.

  37. Many German cities were on fire for length periods from 1943-45. Industrial sites were regularly bombed. The Balkan oil fields were attacked and incinerated. These events must have provided extensive black soot that altered the albedo of the Alpine glaciers and snow fields.

    Is there any indication in the research papers of this factor and its impact and melting?

  38. The Bernese Oberland glaciers have clearly been melting for a long time. Mountain huts were originally built just above glacier level, so that they could collect snow to make water. When I trecked there in the 1980s they were all well above glacier level. ConcordiaPlatzHutte was a good 100m above the Aletsch glacier, the longest in Europe, probably more now.
    Around 1769 St François de Sales answered a request from Chamonix and went to pray for the retreat of the two major glaciers, which were threatening to block the valley, destroy Argentière and form an unstable dam on the Arve. His prayers were answered and the Argentière and Géant glaciers have been retreating ever since.
    Scientific proof of global warming and the efficacy of prayer in one post!

  39. Wow each study chooses their own temperature regime for the period in question.
    1) The 1930s and early 40s were known to be a warmer period than today; it was just viciously adjusted down to make the present the hottest ever.
    2) Are they saying there were no aerosols and particulates to cool things down in the early 40s with the most destructive war in history all around Switzerland. The pulverisation and burning of Dresden alone must have been on par with at least a small volcano and there were untold billions of tons of dust, smoke, cordite, there were hundreds of thousands of air sortees and these old babies didn’t have good fuel and catalytic exhaust systems. The artillery, small arms, tank battles, etc went on for 6 years. Did those wily Swiss stop all this stuff at the border, too?

  40. Was watching a doom and gloom marathon on History Channel yesterday. Most of the programs were about volcanoes, earthquakes, etc. But of course they had one on climate catastrophe. There were some names I wasn’t familiar with as far as scientists go, and the program took a long time to start spouting greenhouse gases. Of course they were preaching catastrophe for glaciers, failing to state that most glacier melt since the LIA had occurred before 1950.

    But they categorically said that the oceans are warming because the atmosphere is warming.

    Is that even possible? I’m not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems that the thermal capacity of the oceans far exceeds that of the atmosphere, probably by several orders of magnitude. It doesn’t seem to add up.

  41. Frank Lansner says:
    October 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Heres how Oerlemans in 2005 could produce glacier based graphs “showing” that todays temperatures are especially high.

    What a Farce:

    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/the-warm-glacier-temperature-reconstruction-of-oerlemans-2005-160.php

    K.R. Frank

    A little cautious here Frank, Oerlemans is a moderate skeptic here in The Netherlands. He doesn’t believe that the climate models are able to “project” the future, simply because climate is chaotic and unpredictable. He used models for the glacier retreat, but checks them with reality: He finds that measurements are the necessary base and has done and still does a lot in the field. And should be extended in the future.

    His glacier “thermometer” is based on a lot of measurements on different glaciers, but is of course quite rough in time resolution (10-20 years), and only goes back to about 1600. All it shows is that the LIA was a lot colder than the CWP, much colder than MBH’98/’99 and similar reconstrcutions shows (the “shaft” of the HS). In that way it is a good indication of much higher natural variability in the past.

  42. Precipitation needs to be weighted as highly as temperature. If patterns changed so that even the annual precipitation was the same but more fell in the summer as rain and less in winter as snow, that would cause a glacier to retreat quite rapidly.

    What were the monthly precipitation patterns in that period compared to an earlier period and compared to today?

    In recent years I believe the Alps have been getting considerable winter snow. We should see those glaciers stabilizing or advancing soon.

  43. Wasn’t the whole temp history of the forties colored by “bucket adjustments” to sea temp measures and East Anglia emails about smoothing out “warm blips” in the forties? Then it turns out that suddenly, because it was obviously cooler in the 1940s, East Anglia say so, it must have been solar insolation?

    This controversy stinks as much as the warmies utterly discredited claims about Greenland in the MWP.

  44. Some addition from the largest and fastest Greenland glacier (marvellous sight: 30 km of icebergs trapped behind a morene). From NASA the breakup line moving up since 1850:

    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/greenland_glacier.html

    The retreat was faster around 1930-1940 than today, but one need to take into account that the breakup point advanced inbetween the two melting periods.

    Further, one had no satellites around that time, but pictures taken from that period showed a huge melt of the surface. From

    http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm05/fm05-sessions/fm05_C41A.html

    last paragraph:

    To address this issue, we compiled a history of surface elevation changes of Jakobshavn Isbrae since the LIA. We first combined data from historical records, ground surveys, airborne laser altimetry, and field mapping of lateral moraines and trimlines. This record shows two periods of rapid thinning by about 70 meters, in the early 1950s and since 1997. Observed changes in glacier behavior during these two events are markedly different. The recent thinning, which involved several episodes of retreat followed by large thinning, resulted in a rapid retreat of the calving front toward grounding line. Thinning in the 1950s occurred during a period when the calving front was stationary with only minor annual fluctuations. Nevertheless, aerial photographs collected in the 1940s and 50s indicate that thinning extended far inland.

  45. This whole topic may perhaps be explained by catastrophism, i.e. 200-yr events. Every few centuries there may be one extreme-snowfall winter which causes the glaciers to extend hundreds of additional meters. Then they slowly melt back in the intervening time.

    I am reminded of seeing some new housing south of Boulder, Colorado on the foothill mesas there. I remarked to my then-wife that those mesas were clearly catastrophic originated — you could see the plain flood marks on their sides — and that I would not buy a house sited on a place with such obvious scour marks. I thought no more of it until a few months ago when a new paper was reported which said essentially the same thing about the same place. Catastrophism is likely to play a big role in our world, so why not glaciers too?

  46. Gary Pearse says:
    October 24, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    The 1942 mass movements of armored vehicles in the So. Russian Steppe & North Africa kicked up so much dust that sunsets were turned red. The accounts are in the published books of the campaigns of that time. The burning & bombing in the Northern Hemisphere is preceeded by the Dust Bowl years.

  47. Question for the learned out there. It seems to me that Temperature should be tracked as a function of Atmospheric Pressure. Is this type of data set being collected?

  48. 1. Soot diminishes the amount of sunlight that makes it through the atmosphere all the way down to the glacier. So that the glacier melts a bit slower.
    It also makes the glacier less white (lowers its albedo) so that more of the sunlight is absorbed. So that the glacier melts a bit faster.

    Is there a study about the resulting effect? And would that be linear?

    2. It’s not only that snow catches soot as it descends through the atmosphere, landing on the glacier less white than it would otherwise have been:
    In places where it doesn’t snow in summer, soot contained in melted snow assembles on the surface and the glacier will get less and less white (dirtier and dirtier). The resulting increase in absorbed heat must be substantial.
    On glaciers where it snows all year, fresh snow keeps covering the glacier.

  49. Global Dimming: “as experts feel that they should be taken into account in the climate models “. Next you’ll be telling me they think: “we should take account of clouds in our models” or even “hey — they’ve just realised the sun don’t shine at night”.

    They are just pathetic. They make organisations like the scientology church look scientific.

    Of course global dimming has had a direct effect on global temperatures. Likewise, even basic physics tells us that the ozone depletion has also had an effect on ultraviolet light hitting the surface near the poles.

    So, what do you expect since the clean air acts in the 1970s cleaned up the world atmosphere and the CFC legislation has turned around ozone depletion at the poles: Global warming particularly concentrated at the poles

    QED: basic “obvious” science as proven that these were the one and only cause of the “proven” temperature rise … and it has nothing to do with CO2, Urban heating, and the move from manual to automated temperature monitoring.

    You can just see it now. If the zealots hadn’t jumped on the CO2 bandwagon, they’d all have jumped on the “global dimming” bandwagon, or the “global heating from ozone depletion”, or whatever vaguely connected environmental measurement just happened to fit their “basic science shows us … we must all follow the zealots”.

  50. Ferdinand Engelbeen

    Hi Ferdinand!
    Oerlemans: What i dont like is the tiny bits of data he uses to say anything about th4e present temperature develompent.
    At least, hes word are used as hard facts in the debate, so even though you say that Oerlemans is a moderat skeptic (nice!) a few of hes conclusions are (mis)used here and there – and this i find important to focus on. Therefore i wrote:

    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/the-warm-glacier-temperature-reconstruction-of-oerlemans-2005-160.php

    K.R Frank
    PS: Anthony: ALL the best, hope the last weeks was good in every way!

  51. Frank Lansner says:
    October 25, 2010 at 4:03 am

    The main problem with many CAWG promotors is that they all focus on the blade of the hockeystick, as if that is most important. But the blade is not that important, it is the shaft: the more natural variability there was in the past, the less room there is for CO2 and other GHGs to influence temperature. Several European scientists agree on that. See:

    http://www.wsl.ch/staff/jan.esper/publications/QSR_Esper_2005.pdf

    So, what would it mean, if the reconstructions indicate a larger (Esper et al., 2002; Pollack and Smerdon, 2004; Moberget al., 2005) or smaller (Jones et al., 1998; Mann et al., 1999) temperature amplitude?
    We suggest that the former situation, i.e. enhanced variability during pre-industrial times, would result in a redistribution of weight towards the role of natural factors in forcing temperature changes, thereby relatively devaluing the impact of anthropogenic emissions and affecting future predicted scenarios.

  52. This study is a very study of 3 specific glaciers on a swiss mountain over 9,000 feet above sea level (3000 meters).

    99% of glaciers are at the polar regions , at or near sea level.

    This studies conclusion, as regards to these 3 specific glaciers which are 3000 meters above sea level (ie atmosphere is very thin) concluded, “Solar radiation as the decisive factor” …

    This does not say that ALL glaciers in 1940 had a rate of melting faster then now. It does not even claim most or even alot, just 3.

    It states nothing about the rate of the majority of the glaciers at sea level, where solar radiation may or may not be the deciding factor (when there is 3000 meters more of atmosphere to shield them)

  53. “Ice-borne prehistoric finds in the Swiss Alps reflect Holocene glacier fluctuations”

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jqs.1111/abstract

    “During the hot summer of 2003, reduction of an ice field in the Swiss Alps (Schnidejoch) uncovered spectacular archaeological hunting gear, fur, leather and woollen clothing and tools from four distinct windows of time: Neolithic Age (4900 to 4450 cal. yr BP), early Bronze Age (4100–3650 cal. yr BP), Roman Age (1st–3rd century AD), and Medieval times (8–9th century AD and 14–15th century AD). Transalpine routes connecting northern Italy with the northern Alps during these slots is consistent with late Holocene maximum glacier retreat. The age cohorts of the artefacts are separated which is indicative of glacier advances when the route was difficult and not used for transit. The preservation of Neolithic leather indicates permanent ice cover at that site from ca. 4900 cal. yr BP until AD 2003, implying that the ice cover was smaller in 2003 than at any time during the last 5000 years. Current glacier retreat is unprecedented since at least that time.

    This is highly significant regarding the interpretation of the recent warming and the rapid loss of ice in the Alps. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.”

    Nothing new then

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