James Balog’s inconvenient glacial canaries

Anytime I see the “canary in the coal mine” phrase being applied to some phenomenon related to climate, I know right away that the person using it hasn’t really put much thought into using the phrase, and that it is purely an emotional response. Photographer James Balog is the emotional user this time.

This misleading headline, photos, and story in the Daily Mail highlights the photo work of  James Balog and the “Extreme Ice Survey” (EIS). They write:

This shocking time lapse video shows how a glacier has receded thousands of feet in just four years.

The footage of Alaska’s Columbia glacier was taken by expert and photographer James Balog and his team between May 2007 and September 2011.

Balog used to a climate change skeptic himself but eventually went on to start the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), the most comprehensive photographic study of glaciers ever conducted.

His new documentary Chasing Ice will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on January 21, the Huffington Post reports.

Balog told the Idaho Press: ‘Shrinking glaciers are the canary in the global coal mine.

‘They are the most visible, tangible manifestations of climate change on the planet today.’

Unfortunately, I can’t show you the video, because this is what happens when you try embed it in a blog or newspaper article: 

So, you have to follow the link: AK-01 Columbia Kadin Narrated

It seems Balog is all about his film, paying speaking engagements, and photo shows, and less about “saving the planet”, since everything he does is heavily copyright plastered. Given that he only wants people to visit his website and see his talks/photo/presentations, I’ll not try to post any of his video or photos here given that he’ll likely squawk about it even though it would be considered fair use. He won’t like what I’m about to say.

Here’s the interesting thing though. In the video, Balog shows what glaciers do normally: calve to the sea, no surprise there. And yes, there was some reduction in the terminus between May 2007 and September 2011.

But is it really honest to show the glacier time-lapse with different endpoints (May versus September) when you know those endpoints have seasonal differences?

And, more importantly, is a four-year period statistically valid for comparison of anything climate related?

If any of us used four years worth of data to make a point about climate, our warmer friends would have a veritable cow. Tamino would call out the cherry picking brigade and scream about hiding/not using the whole data set. Dana1981 of “Skeptical Science” would dash off another get even missive calling us names in violation of his own site policy. Peter Gleick would create some new “worst climate deniers” list to denigrate us with for being so dumb as to use 4 years worth of data to try to make a point.

But, not one of those guys has uttered a peep about four years of glacier footage being used to make a point. Of course what they’ll say now in response is that “Watts is ignoring the ENTIRE glacier record with his four year criticism”.

So to head that off, and to keep in the spirit of photographic evidence, I am in fact going to show more than four years worth of Alaskan glacier data. Let’s have a look at what the USGS says about this glacier. They also have a page on glacier photography.

While they don’t have Alaska’s Columbia glacier in that page, they do have others. Here’s the photos of the Muir glacier in sequence. I’ve added captions for the dates the USGS says they were taken at:

It seems a good portion of the reteat happened well before 1950. They write about this photo sequence, bold mine:

Three northeast-looking photographs taken from a Glacier Bay Photo station that was established in 1941 by William O. Field on White Thunder Ridge, Muir Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska. The three photographs document the significant changes that have occurred during the 63 years between August 13, 1941 and August 31, 2004. The 1941 photograph shows the lower reaches of Muir Glacier, then a large, tidewater calving valley glacier and its tributary Riggs Glacier. Muir and Riggs Glaciers filled Muir Inlet.

The séracs in the lower right-hand corner of the photograph mark the location of Muir Glacier’s terminus. The ice thickness in the center of the photographs is more than 0.7 kilometers (0.43 miles). For nearly two centuries prior to 1941, Muir Glacier had been retreating. Maximum retreat exceeded 50 kilometers (31 miles). In places, more than a 1.0 kilometer (0.62 mile) thickness of ice had been lost. Note the absence of any identifiable vegetation and the numerous bare bedrock faces present on both sides of the glacier (W. O. Field, # 41-64, courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Archive).

The August 4, 1950 photograph, the first of two repeat photographs documents the significant changes that have occurred during the 9 years between it and the 1941 photograph. Muir Glacier has retreated more than 3 kilometers (1.9 miles), exposing Muir Inlet, and thinned 100 meters (328 feet) or more. However, it still is connected with tributary Riggs Glacier. White Thunder Ridge continues to be devoid of vegetation. In places, erosion has removed some of the till from its surface. (W. O. Field, # F50-R29, courtesy of the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Archive).

The August 31, 2004 photograph, the second repeat photograph, documents the significant changes that have occurred during the 63 years between the first and third photographs and during the 54 years between second and third photographs. Muir Glacier has retreated out of the field of view and is now located more than 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) to the northwest. Riggs Glacier has retreated as much as 0.6 kilometers (0.37 miles) and thinned by more than 0.25 kilometers (0.16 miles). Note the dense vegetation, dominated by Alnus, that has developed on the till cover of White Thunder Ridge. Also note the correlation between Muir Glacier’s 1941 thickness and the trimline on the left side of the 2004 photograph. (USGS Photograph by Bruce F. Molnia).

And here’s a map from USGS that James Balog will never, ever, show in his videos or photo essays, because it blows his argument (and meal ticket) right out of the water:

Glacier Bay: Map of Alaska and Glacier Bay. Red lines show glacial terminus positions and dates during retreat of the Little Ice Age glacier. Green polygon outlines approximate area mapped by multibeam system in May-June 2001.

The source of that map is the USGS Monthly Newsletter for July 2001, seen here.

Note that the majority of the glacier retreat occurred well before CO2 was said to be a problem, when CO2 was at the “safe” level below 350 parts per million as espoused by weepy Bill McKibben and Dr. James Hansen of NASA GISS.

Balog may be an “expert photographer” but he’s a pretty shoddy historian. Maybe instead of “chasing ice” he should chase historical facts, it might help him be a skeptic again.

But none of these guys will ever show you this, it’s just too damned inconvenient.

h/t to Steve Goddard

About these ads
This entry was posted in Climate FAIL, Glaciers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

102 Responses to James Balog’s inconvenient glacial canaries

  1. Latitude says:

    Ok, now that was funny
    As I was reading, I thought, well I’ll be darned Steve made this same post using the same pictures, etc

    ….When I got to the bottom I saw the h/t….LOL

    Only in the screwed up world of climate science…would glaciers staying exactly the same or advancing…be a good thing

    REPLY: Goddard did an incomplete job, and didn’t provide enough sources and references to everything. I felt it needed a proper treatment – Anthony

  2. David L. says:

    I prefer the Aug 31, 2004 photo. Looks so much more hospitable for humans than the other photos.

  3. klem says:

    I’ve seen some of these videos. Once you see these clips you can’t take your eyes off them, they are astonishing and beautiful.

    Of course they are wonderful visual documentation of how glaciers move and calve but that’s all. However they are being sold as evidence that human activity is the cause, therein is the lie.

  4. Bobuk says:

    Seems the guy needs a history lesson.

    On her second visit to Glacier National Park in 1894, Mary Vaux (pronounced “vox”) was aghast at how the Illecillewaet Glacier had retreated since her previous visit seven years earlier. The lowest edge of the Great Glacier, as it was also known then, was clearly withdrawing upslope. We now know that most of the world’s glaciers were in retreat then, as they are now.

    http://www.cmiae.org/Resources/glaciers-lichens.php

  5. So, not only do we have (some, limited) evidence that neutrinos may travel faster than light, we now have conclusive evidence of CO2 molecules travelling backwards in time to destroy glaciers. This is big stuff, guys.

  6. Scott Covert says:

    They don’t use canaries in coal mines because much better technology exists. We also have a rather large network of weather sensing instruments so staring at glaciers to measure climate isn’t needed. /sarc

  7. PaulID says:

    what is really interesting is that comments have been disabled after 7 comments under that video they certainly don’t want people that are able to think for themselves to be able to put comments in.

  8. Roger Caiazza says:

    Further strengthening your argument is the National Park Service description of the glacier history. According to the Glacier Bay Visitor’s Guide, there was no Glacier Bay in 1680. ”By 1750 the glacier reached its maximum, jutting into Icy Strait. But when Capt. George Vancouver sailed here 45 years later, the glacier had melted back five miles into Glacier Bay – which it had gouged out.” In 1880 the glacier had retreated 40 more miles and today you have to travel 65 miles up the bay to view tidewater glaciers. Also see “An overview of Selected Glaciers in Glacier Bay” for specifics on the glaciers today (http://www.nps.gov/glba/naturescience/upload/Overview%20of%20Glacier%20Bay%20Glaciers2.pdf).

  9. DD More says:

    What does he say to the Park Service, who’s handout shows that in 1680, there was no bay, but a valley with a river flowing thru it. To quote Glacier Bay today is the product of the Little Ice Age, a geologically recent glacial advance in northern regions. The Little Ice Age reached its maximum extent about 1750.

    Also on the map, John Hopkins Glacier is currently past the 1929 and 1966 terminus.

  10. Jason says:

    I am always amused at how poorly prepared the warmanistas are for debate. This is what happens when you enter the ring with the predisposed notion that AGW is settled fact. You see sloppiness on such a rudementary level.

  11. crosspatch says:

    Considering the load of snow Alaska is getting this year, I wonder if we are going to see some glacial advance.

  12. Paul says:

    That video was so cool, there is nothing like watching the incredible natural forces it takes to make that much ice flow with that much plasticity, to make you realize how puny Human endeavors really are.

  13. DesertYote says:

    David L. says:
    January 17, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I prefer the Aug 31, 2004 photo. Looks so much more hospitable for humans than the other photos.
    ###

    Makes me want to go fishing.

  14. Andre Tahon says:

    Anybody interested in Alaskan glaciers can go to http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/p1386k/ and download the 2008 USGS Special Report. A lot of historical data in there.

  15. Wizzard says:

    Year 1902, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/61382631?searchTerm=glaciers%20melting&searchLimits=
    It so much more worse than we never ever can imagine;)

  16. Nick Shaw says:

    LOL! The USGS map actually has the notation “Little Ice Age”! And alarm bells didn’t start ringing at USGS when folks that shall remain nameless either started their “warming” graphs near the end of the LIA or ignored it altogether?
    Really, you have to find this funny as we are, perhaps, still recovering from an Ice Age and, as such, of course the earth is warming!
    Perhaps Mr. Balog should take up other forms of nature photography to prove global warming. Maybe take a picture of a frog on a log and return the next day to get photographic evidence that the frog is no longer on the log hence, the demise of frogs worldwide is imminent!
    What a dumbass! But, I betcha’ it pays well!

  17. Dave says:

    This is part of the Natural Global Cycle of warming and cooling! It is what has been happening for millions of years and will continue to happen for million years. Allowing politicians to force us to drive electric cars to pay carbon indulgences and excessive energy cost “save the environment” won’t change a thing, but it will line the pockets of the warmist class’s.
    Don’t you just love the big lie!

  18. Why doesn’t this guy document Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North America.
    “Hubbard Glacier has advanced at a rate of about 80 feet per year since 1895.”
    Check out: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-001-03/
    Hubbard has twice closed the entrance to Russell Fiord during the last 25 years, and was within a hundred meters of doing it again this past summer. The warmers are always cherry picking. They should change from “Global Climate Disruption” next to “Global Climate Cherry Picking”.

  19. Joey B says:

    Jason, they are not looking for debate. They merely throw out claims and hope the naive will eat them up. Far too many people only read headlines and have lost the ability to think for themselves.

  20. David Ball says:

    I’m proud of the glaciers. Calling Jenny Craig was very brave and empowering. Looking good, glaciers!!

  21. Interstellar Bill says:

    While Warmistas blather on about tipping points,
    they blithely ignore all the societal tipping points:
    bloated governments, terminal economies, shrinking populations,
    failed education, stifled enterprise, moral bankruptcy.
    Where’s the societal alarmism? Where’s the awareness of impendingl doom?
    The same crowd prattling about laws of radiation balance
    will trample upon the natural workings of societies and economies.
    They’re as desparate to cover up their social destruction
    as they are to manufacture climate fantasies.

  22. Bob Kutz says:

    Too funny; extreme ice survey has disabled the comments on every one of their calving videos. At least two of them were disabled within the last 5 hours. The rest have no recent comments so you don’t know when it happened.

    My take; once some truthful comments (as opposed to the ‘I’ve been there, isn’t this terrible’ variety) started showing up, apparently the extreme ice survey people no longer wanted to have any feedback.

    No room for inconvenient truth in the warmist camp.

  23. Fred from Canuckistan says:

    Somebody is a very good photographer but needs to take an intro course on Glaciation.

    If I was still teaching I could make good use of these time lapse sequences to illustrate the idea of a frozen river slowing moving down hill, how glaciers calve and the geomorphological residues of glaciation.

    As “evidence” of climate change, nee global warming, this photographer is somewhere between hysterical fear mongering and blatant get rich quick self promotion.

  24. BC Bill says:

    Does anybody have a good reference on the state of the worlds glaciers in general. Somebody above comments that glaciers generally declining, which would seem to be in keeping with a gradual climb out of the little ice age. But I seem to recall comments to the effect that some glaciers in some parts of the world outside of the antarctic, are also increasing, or am I just imagining this?

  25. A physicist says:

    Jason says: I am always amused at how poorly prepared the warmanistas are for debate. This is what happens when you enter the ring with the predisposed notion that AGW is settled fact. You see sloppiness on such a rudementary level.

    Yes, as Clint Eastwood’s character “Munny” says in the movie Unforgiven: “Well, he should have armed himself” … which is good advice for skeptics and nonskeptics alike.

    Yep, taken overall, the Earth’s glaciers are in retreat, and the rate of that retreat is accelerating.

    Perhaps as Willis learns more-and-more about radiative transport, he will eventually be able to tell us why that retreat might be happening.

    REPLY: Perhaps as you learn more about what primarily drives glaciers (precipitation) you’ll see that radiative transport isn’t much of a factor. – Anthony

  26. Bob Johnston says:

    Steven Goddard went back a little further in history in an earlier post… The vast majority of the glacier receding happened in the 1800’s.

    As you enter Glacier Bay in Southeast Alaska you will cruise along shorelines completely covered by ice just 200 years ago.

    Explorer Captain George Vancouver found Icy Strait choked with ice in 1794, and Glacier Bay was barely an indented glacier. That glacier was more than 4000 ft. thick, up to 20 miles or more wide, and extended more than 100 miles to the St.Elias Range of mountains.

    By 1879 naturist John Muir​ found that the ice had retreated 48 miles up the bay. By 1916 the Grand Pacific Glacier headed Tarr inlet 65 miles from Glacier Bay’s mouth.

    http://www.real-science.com/glacier-climate-scam

  27. Nick Shaw says:

    I love the Muir Glacier photo series. In about 70 years the area went from barren, desolate, ice covered lands to vibrant, budding, CO2 capturing forests!
    If you look at the map provided, just think of the vast swaths of current greenery that were, relatively recently, looking like the 1941 shot of the Muir.
    And this is a bad thing, how again?

  28. jorgekafkazar says:

    klem says: “…Of course they are wonderful visual documentation of how glaciers move and calve but that’s all. However they are being sold as evidence that human activity is the cause, therein is the lie.”

    Therein lies the lucre.

  29. jorgekafkazar says:

    Joey B says: “…Jason, they are not looking for debate. They merely throw out claims and hope the naive will eat them up. Far too many people only read headlines and have lost the ability to think for themselves….”

    They are zombies in the service of the AGW witch doctors.

  30. Francois says:

    Dated ’41, ‘ 50, ’04, the only pictures you could find? The glacier has obviously been retreating for over a century, you don’t deny it; pretty soon, there won’t be anything left of it to speak of. What have you demonstrated? That CO2 in the atmosphere has not increased roughly in the same proportions?

  31. Latitude says:

    Look how fast all that endangered vegetation migrated…..
    …I’ll bet bugs, birds, and furry animals migrated with it

    …..poor things, obviously all the vegetation at the other end is gone

  32. John T says:

    As David L. said, the 2004 picture looks so much more hospitable -like a good vacation spot.

    Note too, the complete lack of any signs of life in the first two photographs. That’s the difference between warming and cooling. Warming is good for life (including humans). Cold is the only real “climate catastrophe” where life is concerned.

    Why the AGW crowd wants the world to look like the first two pictures I’ll never knowl

  33. J. Snow says:

    A year and a half ago I took my son hiking in Glacier National Park (Montana near the Canadian border). The visitor center (US Park Service) has an impressive display showing how in the last great ice age most of North America was covered by glaciers. It explains how beginning about 13,000 years ago the earth’s climate slowly began to change and the glaciers began to recede, exposing all that is now Canada and the northern United States. My first thought was of the awesome power of nature. My second was: “Wonder what man was doing between 11,000 BC and 1800 AD which caused all this climate change – you know, the kind that is unprecedented?”

  34. PhilJourdan says:

    Balog needs to learn about photoshop. It will save him time for his useless endeavors so he can concentrate on more fruitful things.

  35. mwhite says:

    Read the book over Christmas,

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/what-was-life-like-in-the-little-ice-age/

    In 1642 the Des Bois glacier advanced “over a musket shot every day even in the month of August”

    Page 124

  36. Viv Evans says:

    “But is it really honest to show the glacier time-lapse with different endpoints (May versus September) when you know those endpoints have seasonal differences?”

    No – but then, the videos/pictures are Art, with a capital “A”! So the feeling sure was honest.

  37. DougS says:

    “….Balog used to [be] a climate change skeptic himself but eventually went on to start the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), the most comprehensive photographic study of glaciers ever conducted…..”

    May just as well have said – ‘Balog used to be a skeptic……….but there wasn’t any money in it!

  38. DCA says:

    We happen to be discussing glaciers on my local blog and i came accross this comment.

    Why would glaciers “advance”, when the rate of mass balance loss has accelerated since being at near equilibrium in the 1970’s?

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/himalayan-glaciers-growing-intermediate.htm

    “. . . After 1975, glacier shrinkage continues to accelerate until present. The mass loss from 1996 to 2005 is more than double the mass loss rate in the previous decade of 1986 to 1995 and over four times the mass loss rate over 1976 to 1985.”

  39. G. Karst says:

    It still amazes me that many climate researchers would like us to return to LIA conditions, so that some glaciers will stop shrinking. Glaciers are always shrinking and they are always growing. They are never static. Surely the purpose of this planet is not to propagate ice, but life instead. Growing ice serves no critter, including man.

    It is reckless to assume that the ideal climate for the planet is the present one. To attempt to preserve this climate, would be an attempt to keep the planet locked in it’s current ice age. I for one, do not want to doom the planet to a eternal ice age. Ice must melt before it is biologically useful.

    “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering ice sheet; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” Capt’n Ahab.

    GK

  40. There’s two interesting papers here on Alaskan glaciers.

    One concludes the rate of retreat has been pretty constant since 1780ish, with the exception of a couple colder interludes.

    The other maps out just how far they grew during the LIA. MWP trees are reappearing at the current edges of glaciers.

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/the-truth-about-alaskan-glaciers/

  41. Mike Robinson says:

    Nick Shaw that was funny! The sad thing is Mr. Balog and his ilk would probably miss the sarcasm in your post. Gotta love the censorship at the warmist sites. Can’t have the truth leaking out, you never know what would happen. These people are truy pathetic.

  42. DirkH says:

    Overall, the volume of a glacier should not be proportional to temperature but roughly to an integral of temperature, in a long-term mean. So when it was already retreating in 1950, no further warming is necessary to maintain the retreat.

  43. Archonix says:

    Francois says:
    January 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Dated ’41, ‘ 50, ’04, the only pictures you could find? The glacier has obviously been retreating for over a century, you don’t deny it; pretty soon, there won’t be anything left of it to speak of. What have you demonstrated? That CO2 in the atmosphere has not increased roughly in the same proportions?

    Are you seriously trying to suggest a direct linkage with the percentage of atmospheric CO² and the length of this glacier?

    Want to think about that?

    This glacier, as pointed out in this very thread, has been retreating for the better part of 200 years and most of its retreat took place in the 19th century.

    Want to think about that as well?

  44. dvunkannon says:

    The AGW argument on glacial retreat needs to be, not that it is happening, but that it is happening faster in the industrial period than in the pre-industrial period. (A hockey stick inflection in rates of change.) haven’t seen that argument made. Anything less and the retreat is just a local response to local changes.

  45. A physicist says:

    J. Snow says: A year and a half ago I took my son hiking in Glacier National Park (Montana near the Canadian border). The visitor center (US Park Service) has an impressive display showing how in the last great ice age most of North America was covered by glaciers. It explains how beginning about 13,000 years ago the earth’s climate slowly began to change and the glaciers began to recede, exposing all that is now Canada and the northern United States. My first thought was of the awesome power of nature. My second was: “Wonder what man was doing between 11,000 BC and 1800 AD which caused all this climate change – you know, the kind that is unprecedented?”

    J. Snow, if you teach your son about Milankovitch Theory, it will help him toward a sobering understanding that even rather small decreases in the Earth’s energy balance can take our planet into an ice age, or conversely, that small increases in heat retention can drown vast tracts of Earth’s land-masses under rising seas from melting glaciers and icecaps.

    Then your son will be better-prepared to consider (rationally, and for himself) whether the CO2 that we are adding to the Earth’s atmosphere may (in the long term) exert a warming impact sufficient to cause the latter rising-sea eventuality, not in thousands of years, but appreciably within your son’s lifetime, and accelerating during his children’s lifetime.

  46. Oldjim says:

    I am always sceptical about any of Goddard’s claims – it is always necessary to look for the pea under the thimble. In this case the sudden loss of ice in the Columbia Glacier is well documented and appears to be the result of the glacier changing from grounded to floating.
    The retreat apparently started in about 1980
    These are worth a read
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051210120437.htm
    http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/163-glacier-once-stuck-to-sea-floor-breaks-loose.html
    The first link states
    Tad Pfeffer, associate director of CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, said the glacier is now discharging nearly 2 cubic miles of ice annually into the Prince William Sound, the equivalent of 100,000 ships packed with ice, each 500 feet long. The tidewater glacier — which has its terminus, or end, in the waters of the Prince William Sound — is expected to retreat an additional 9 miles in the next 15 years to 20 years before reaching an equilibrium point in shallow water near sea level, he said.
    and
    The glacier’s retreat appears to be due to a combination of complex physical processes, he said. “The start of the retreat in 1980 is not the direct result of global warming, but was triggered by longer-term warming,” said Pfeffer. “The Columbia Glacier, like all Alaska glaciers, is melting at an increased rate, but the enormous volume of loss accompanying the retreat is much greater than melt alone.”

  47. John T says:

    I had to take another look at the two pictures in the linked article representing the “loss” over a couple of years time. A couple of observations:

    1) In the second picture (taken in September), you can tell the “loss” was due to the glacier breaking off. I say that because of the nice, sharp break you can see.

    2) Imagine what happens the winter after the second picture and take a look at the first picture, taken in May a couple years earlier. Can you see the line? Or is that just my imagination? The new ice/snow simply fills in where the old stuff broke off.

  48. John West says:

    A physicist says:

    “Yep, taken overall, the Earth’s glaciers are in retreat, and the rate of that retreat is accelerating. ”

    Evidence?

    The map above shows most of the retreat between 1780 to 1880 (50-100 km compared to 30-40 km from 1880 to present). That’s not acceleration, that’s deceleration. Do you have a data source that is not a cherry picked “sampling” of glacier extent that supports this accelerating retreat assertion? (BTW: a global survey of <10% of glaciers is inadequate for determination.)

  49. Smokey says:

    Oldjim reports:

    “… the glacier is now discharging nearly 2 cubic miles of ice annually into the Prince William Sound, the equivalent of 100,000 ships packed with ice, each 500 feet long.”

    Get up to speed, Oldjim! The correct units are Olympic-sized swimming pools. That number would surely be bigger, and thus more scary. Which is, of course, the whole point.

    OTOH, the planet is still emerging from the LIA, and glacier retreat is normal due to the natural warming. But that explanation doesn’t generate grants, does it?

  50. Steve M. from TN says:

    wow, lots of CO2 using trees in that final picture that didn’t exist 50 years ago….

  51. scott says:

    Someone asked about global glacial mass balance. Here’s a paper from 2006:

    http://ppg.sagepub.com/content/26/1/76.short

    abstract:

    The paper reviews measurements of glacier mass balance in the period 1946-95. There are data for 246 glaciers but most records are quite short. The available mass-balance data are biased to Western Europe, North America and the former USSR with too few measurements from other parts of the world. The data are also biased towards wetter conditions with too few data from the dry-cold glaciers that are typical of many regions. There is no sign of any recent global trend towards increased glacier melting, and the data mainly reflect variations within and between regions. The ‘direct method’ of measuring glacier mass balance is with stakes and snowpits but it is a very laborious way of measuring long-term glacier changes. Stake/snowpit measurements should be more integrated in future with geodetic and remote sensing methods, especially laser profiling, and with modelling.

  52. mkelly says:

    A physicist says:
    January 17, 2012 at 10:35 am
    “Perhaps as Willis learns more-and-more about radiative transport, he will eventually be able to tell us why that retreat might be happening.”

    You’re a physicist why don’t you tell us. And please tell us what emissivity you will use in your radiative heat transfer equation for CO2 at 1 atm and 288K. I will truly be interested.

  53. Hey, could it be that both sceptics and warmistas are wrong? A third school of thought attributes glacier movements to supernatural causes rather than boring old physics.

    Since 1862 the people of Fiesch and Fieschental in Switzerland have been offering prayers to the almighty, hoping to halt the advance of the Great Aletsch Glacier. It worked!

    Here’s an account of the prayer: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=151382

    Here’s the 3500-year history of the Aletsch: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-M_qAas_Ctoc/Tnz2VWOdfcI/AAAAAAAAABM/nU5MKRG6Fho/s1600/Image3.jpg

  54. John West says:

    Archonix says:

    “Want to think about that?”
    “Want to think about that as well?”

    Why didn’t I think of that? Perhaps no one has ever invited them (AGW advocates) to simply think about it. It’s so obvious that we’re in a natural cycle of warming (perhaps even near or @ peak) following a natural cooling (LIA) that if anyone thinks about it they’d have to realize it. Hopefully it’ll work, but for some reason I’m skeptical they will really think about it.

  55. Nick Shaw says:

    Archonix says: This glacier, as pointed out in this very thread, has been retreating for the better part of 200 years and most of its retreat took place in the 19th century.
    Want to think about that as well?

    Ummm, well, they were burning an awful lot of peat and coal in Britain during the 19th. Do you think that might be the answer Francois could cuddle up with? ;-)

  56. Nick Shaw says:

    dvunkannon says: “…that it is happening faster in the industrial period than in the pre-industrial period”
    You wanna’ try looking at that USGS map again and maybe, rephrase your comment?

  57. Al Gored says:

    “REPLY: Goddard did an incomplete job, and didn’t provide enough sources and references to everything. I felt it needed a proper treatment – Anthony”

    I agree that this story was well worth expanding here. But I never thought that Goddard’s presentation was “incomplete” by his standards, as all his posts are ultra-concise snapshots that I feel are always just invitations to readers to dig deeper.

    All these little feuds are kind of funny.

  58. Al Gored says:

    I find the term ‘canary in a coal mine’ rather apt here. Because they don’t get there by themselves. Somebody has to deliberately put a canary there… sort of like this whole bogus glacier tale was arranged.

    And that is what photographers do. They attempt to compose images of reality to suit their needs. And even when they take so many images that they do capture reality – like news photographers for example – they CHOOSE the ones that fit their story.

    Or like the way news organizations choose the most unflattering photos they can find of somebody they don’t like.

    Unfortunately, people fall for this overt and subliminal messaging all the time.

    And it is getting worse with photoshopping. Once upon a time you actually could accept a photograph as evidence of something, with fakery readily detected. Now it is not so simple.

  59. bladeshearer says:

    RESEARCH PROPOSAL

    1 – Place canary in coal mine.

    2 – Take time-lapse photos until canary falls off perch,

    3 – Conclusion: anthropogenic global warming.

  60. Lee L. says:

    I am always fascinated by how easily we are led down a pathway of assumed fact without even noticing. The language in print media commonly ASSUMES that the normal state for a glacier is static, hence it must be evidence of something abnormal if it is retreating. I live high on the hill in the Pacific Northwest and sometimes amuse myself by gazing down into the valley and recreating in my imagination the thickness of ice that was in the actual location of my kitchen table. First, I gaze out the window and visually estimate the length of a city block then imagine it tilted it up on end 90 degrees. I do that 14 or 15 more times, mentally stacking this thickness of ice high into the sky above my head.
    This is a LOT of ice and it is ALL GONE in only 14,000 years. That’s roughly a foot of ice thickness every year or 2.
    Your glacier retreating? Such is life in the Holocene.

  61. Dave N says:

    “All these little feuds are kind of funny.”

    I didn’t see it as a feud; I saw it as Anthony expanding a smaller story. On the other hand, I think Steve made his point well: that alarmists left out facts in order to create a scare story.

  62. I usta be a climate skeptic. But then I noticed that people would pay money to see evidence of impending catastrophe…Hey! A guy’s gotta make a living!

    And yes, precipitation is the prime mover of glaciation.

  63. kwinterkorn says:

    The final 2004 picture shows an explosion of life where formerly there was just cold ice, more evidence that “Happiness is a Warm Planet!”.

  64. John West says:
    January 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    [M]ost of the retreat [is] between 1780 to 1880 (50-100 km compared to 30-40 km from 1880 to present). That’s not acceleration, that’s deceleration. Do you have a data source that is not a cherry picked “sampling” of glacier extent that supports this accelerating retreat assertion? (BTW: a global survey of <10% of glaciers is inadequate for determination.)

    Not only that, the initial faster retreat involved a substantially larger volume of ice. I don’t buy the meme-recital about recent acceleration, either.

  65. Zeke says:

    Halog the Sundance Film Festival participant offers his Artist’s Impression: ‘They are the most visible, tangible manifestations of climate change on the planet today.’

    Art has long filled in the missing gaps in observations. It started with artist’s impressions in textbooks and astronomy news releases, and now has come to its extreme fruition in computer simulations – which now not only provide illustrations, but are used as actual evidence. But at least in this case with glaciers, a little EXCELLENCE in scientific rigour and investigative journalism can reveal the artist’s brush strokes.

    But the alarmists who shamelessly hide the extreme monthly variations in the Antarctic ozone hole and pick out the largest hole from each month, and present it in a series of years getting larger – these are the ones who deserve a big Sundance Prize for Wild, Flagrant, Unreserved, Uncontrolled, Immodest, Wanton, Indecorous, Indecent, Rude, Improper, Forward, Bold Fabrication.

  66. eyesonu says:

    A physicist says:
    January 17, 2012 at 11:51 am

    ============

    While I don’t respect it, I do somewhat admire your admiration and dedication to your religion of CAGW. I have never understood the unadultered belief in a cause or other belief without some form of confirmation. I always thought it was just a position to be expressed to be accepted by some form of peers or other group. To be a ‘Believer’ requires something that I can’t grasp.

  67. dvunkannon says:

    @Nick Shaw – I was pointing out what the AGW argument needs to be, not asserting it. What distinguishes AGW from GW is a change in rate of (CO2 concentration, ocean acidification, glacial retreat, etc.) away from we would otherwise expect, which can be associated with human activity. My eyeball inspection of that USGS diagram doesn’t see support for the AGW argument.

  68. Al Gored says:

    Dave N says:
    January 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    “All these little feuds are kind of funny.”

    I didn’t see it as a feud; I saw it as Anthony expanding a smaller story. On the other hand, I think Steve made his point well: that alarmists left out facts in order to create a scare story.

    ——-

    I agree with your main point and, indeed, stated that.

    But if you know the history here you would know about this little feud. I have no idea where it came from but when I first started reading this blog, “Goddard” was a regular commenter here and now he’s not. And his site is not listed on this blog. So… what’s up with that?

    In any case, I now read both. WUWT for in-depth ‘main course’ stories, and realscience for multiple condensed appetizers. Together they make a very delicious dinner.

  69. grayman says:

    Glacier Bay looks so inviting. I have some worms that need drowning.

  70. Billy Liar says:

    DirkH says:
    January 17, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Temperature isn’t the only variable to affect glaciers. No precipitation = no glacier.

    See the dry valleys in Antarctica. There are dry valleys in Northern Greenland too.

  71. A physicist says:
    A physicist says: “Perhaps as Willis learns more-and-more about radiative transport, he will eventually be able to tell us why that retreat might be happening.”

    mkelly says: You’re a physicist why don’t you tell us. And please tell us what emissivity you will use in your radiative heat transfer equation for CO2 at 1 atm and 288K. I will truly be interested.

    Thank you for your question, Mkelly. If you work through the reasoning in the Manabe-Wetherald one-dimensional radiative-convective model (or any model that incorporates similar physical mechanisms), you will see that the predicted warming associated CO2 doubling is surprisingly insensitive to the exact value of CO2 emissivity (the internal numbers of the model are sensitive to the precise value, but nonetheless, the overall CO2 forcing number is reasonably robust).

    A physicist says: “Yep, taken overall, the Earth’s glaciers are in retreat, and the rate of that retreat is accelerating.”

    John West says: Do you have a data source that is not a cherry picked “sampling” of glacier extent that supports this accelerating retreat assertion?

    John West, please consult this summary of mass balance for all glaciers having continuous long-term observation series. Do you see a pronounced downward mass slope, and an obvious accelerating trend of the melting rate?

    And this global data is in common-sense accord with the pronounced year-by-year shrinking we are seeing here in the PNW, where all the glaciers of the North Cascades are shrinking rapidly.

    By the way, John West, are you familiar with the well-respected, non-partisan Rasmussen Poll of American political trends? Well, it so happens that in this week’s pool, precisely 1/500 of the Rasmussen numbers are the opinions of … yours truly. :)

    But hey, feel free go ahead and disregard this week’s Rasumussion poll, and in fact, disregard all polls. For the too-simple reason, that because polls sample only a tiny fraction of American voters, they can tell us precisely nothing, eh?

  72. Nick Shaw says:

    dvunkannon says:
    Sorry, D, I just read your comment too fast, I guess!
    However, for the warmistas to take your tack, they are going to have to burn a lot of books and scrub a lot of pages! ;-)
    Of course, deep down, that’s exactly what they want to do!

  73. eyesonu says:

    In reference to Steve Goddard @ Real Science.com:

    Al Gored says:
    January 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    In any case, I now read both. WUWT for in-depth ‘main course’ stories, and realscience for multiple condensed appetizers. Together they make a very delicious dinner.

    ====================

    I’m with you there.

  74. Zeke says:

    sorry, pick out the smallest or largest ozone hole

  75. eyesonu says:

    A physicist says:
    January 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    By the way, John West, are you familiar with the well-respected, non-partisan Rasmussen Poll of American political trends? Well, it so happens that in this week’s pool, precisely 1/500 of the Rasmussen numbers are the opinions of … yours truly. :)

    But hey, feel free go ahead and disregard this week’s Rasumussion poll, and in fact, disregard all polls. For the too-simple reason, that because polls sample only a tiny fraction of American voters, they can tell us precisely nothing, eh?

    ================

    You use the tag “A physicist”.

    If you are a ‘physicist’ you are obviously of the post modern variety. Psydo type of science. I have lost any admiration of you. Stick to your consensus, it is only incorporating those easily convinced of your skewed views. A consensus is the current level of the convincing of a group that a specific view is valid. A little thought and the consensus is ‘poof’. I could think of amore appropriate tag for you to use.

  76. A physicist says:

    kwik says: Must be embarrassing [link provided to a Cleveland weatherman's skeptical editorial]

    Definitely, kwik, it is embarrassing … those darn Cleveland glaciers all melted several thousand years ago.

    Whereas, the North Cascade’s glaciers may last a few more decades at present rates.

  77. Dan says:

    Or how about the fact that it takes a couple hundred years for precipitation that falls up top in the snowfield to actually make it down to the terminus? There actually are advancing glaciers over there, though they are few – and its mostly due to changing weather patterns. So what we’re seeing has taken a long time to unfold – the lag in there makes it very tough to show “acceleration.”

  78. J. Snow says:

    Thank you “A physicist” for your suggestion to teach my son “Milankovitch Theory”. However since he just turned 12 I’ll hold that for a while. What I have taught him is to think things through before accepting them as fact. When he asked me about AGW I told him the jury is out but that we should require a great deal of proof before accepting the idea that man has greater influence on our climate than oceans, volcanoes, clouds, and that big yellow ball in the sky.

  79. CRASHEX says:

    No doubt the glacier is receding. But, I think it’s worth noting that the photographer is NOT standing at a fixed point, each one of the photos is taken from a slightly more distant position.

  80. Byron says:

    Well i`ll say this for the Mail , they are true devotees to the church of CAGW and thus ALL things prove it true , Got shrinking glaciers ? must be AGW . Got expanding glaciers ? must be AGW :

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1203500/In-pictures-How-global-warming-changing-face-northern-hemisphere.html

    But then the whole CAGW meme seems to be constructed with ONLY the WORST aspects of many religions as a template , I could bang on for several pages about that but John Brignell does a much more eloquent job of it than I ever could

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/religion.htm

  81. Lew Skannen says:

    Great work Anthony. You should have been a detective. Actually I will be waiting for the climate version of NCIS to appear on TV. :)

  82. John F. Hultquist says:

    A physicist says:
    January 17, 2012 at 11:51 am
    “J. Snow, if you teach your son about Milankovitch Theory, . . .

    You might want to include this in your reading:

    http://earthweb.ess.washington.edu/roe/GerardWeb/Publications_files/Roe_Milankovitch_GRL06.pdf

    This simple and dynamically-logical change in perspective is used to show that the available records support a direct, zero-lag, antiphased relationship between the rate of change of global ice volume and summertime insolation in the northern high latitudes. Furthermore,
    variations in atmospheric CO2 appear to lag the rate of change of global ice volume.
    [from paragraph #1]

    and this:

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/07/in-defense-of-milankovitch-by-gerard.html

    The second one is a post on “the reference frame” dealing with the first.

  83. mkelly says:

    A physicist says:

    January 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Since you did not write a radiative heat transfer equation with the emissivity for CO2 only more words I assume you can’t or you know the emisivity of CO2 is so low at 1atm and 288 K that the equation would show how bad the idea of CO2 heating the ground is. By the way an equation would have been shorter than the paragraph you did write. But thanks for the limited answer.

  84. As any competent glaciologist will tell you, the Glacier Bay situtation is rather unique. During the Little Ice Age (1300-19xx), glaciers worldwide reached far downvalley in response to profound global cooling. This is why ice in the late 1700s extended all the way to the mouth of Glacier Bay. The large glacier system terminated in the sea and required a lot of nourishment to maintain its position at sea level. As we’ve been thawing out of the Little Ice Age, the snowline moved to higher elevations and sent less ice into the Glacier Bay system, causing it to become precariously unstable. As the ice thinned, calving of ice into the sea produced major losses of ice mass that were not replaced by flowage from upvalley. Calving glaciers are notorious for rapid recession because much ice is lost by breaking off into the sea without melting. Thus, the spectacular rates of recession of the Glacier Bay glacier is a continuing process that has little to do with recent warming–it continued to recede during the 1890-1915 and 1945-1977 cool periods while other glaciers were advancing. The Glacier Bay glacier is the last place in the world one would look to find correlations with global warming and cooling.

  85. MarkW says:

    The early photograph is in May, at the start of summer.
    The end photograph is in September, at the end of summer.

    Surprise, surprise, surprise. Over the course of a summer, a glacier melts.

  86. markx says:

    What always amazes me is how quickly a forest can take over – In less than a human lifetime bare rocky soil becomes a dense forest. I see this time and again in my travels.

    It’s no big deal people, you want more forests? Plant em now!

  87. R Barker says:

    Do you suppose this is the kind of thing that goes on during interglacials?

  88. Caleb says:

    RE: Paul Homewood says:
    January 17, 2012 at 11:27 am

    That was interesting, reading about the MWP log exposed by recent retreat. I’ve come across the same observations in Europe. What is most interesting is when a Roman Road to a lead mine (still covered with ice) is exposed. It really does tell you something about how warm it was in the past.

    I’m glad the ice does not totally scour everything away, but in some situations just compresses the branches and logs it overrides. This gives us a chance to glimpse what existed before, as the ice again retreats. A little stick may have grown in a brief period, but a big log indicates a tree had to grow for some time, and also to live in warmth beyond the tree-line chill where things barely cling to life.

    There are parts of the east (colder) side of Greenland where to this day nothing grows, however the retreat of ice has exposed branches and scrub from the MWP. In other words, the east coast of Greenland was actually green, back then. It could turn green again, just as the bare rock in these three pictures show the return of trees.

    I knew about all this stuff back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, before there was any political advantage to promoting Global Warming. That was what made me start to doubt “climate science,” when I first heard about it in the 1980’s. They were “eracing the MWP” in too obvious a manner, completely ignoring and even attacking the work of scientists who came before.

    The fact people persist with this “ereace the MWP” nonsense really disgusts me. I am less and less able to be polite. In fact I don’t even think it is wise to be polite, in the face of such bald-faced balderdash.

  89. douggie says:

    “Canary in a coal mine” is so ironic. A bird perches in the ultimate non-green source of energy and may succumb to methane or carbon monoxide but never to CO2. When a warmist speaks of birds I think of bird bodies under a wind turbine.

  90. nevket240 says:

    http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/

    more and more seismic activity around Antarctica. I wonder what AGWs druids will invent to explain this event, especially if the volcano suddenly springs to life, ala Iceland.
    regards

  91. JohnH says:

    The fact that it only took 4 years to retreat as it did (accepting the odd start and finish points exaggerates the retreat) then is is not warming that caused the retreat, +0.75C in a century cannot cause that amount of retreat.

  92. Bdaman says:

    Any one notice the commenter Kwaut_Lizard at the video link who commented.
    “I am a scientist, well aware of the facts, hype and politically driven denial of global warming. I was a member of an expedition that hot-pointed and delineated the area of the worlds equatorial glaciers in the early 1990’s. I truly pity your attitude and the subjective approach you have chosen to take in an attempt at dispelling what is quite simple science. You are a testament to the demise of quality education in the US and to the rudely pervasive approach of American politics.”

    It’s funny how these people cherish communism and Mao. Look at what he/she chose for the gravatar. Isn’t that Mao. Incredible to know the Obama administration is filled with these people.

  93. David A. Evans says:

    This is just the latest tactic in the war.

    I used to be a sceptic, but now I’m convinced.

    A bit like BEST!.

    DaveE.

  94. Charlie K says:

    Anthony, this is an interesting post and all, but the shot at a “weepy” Bill McKibben really does nothing to help your position and if anything pulls it down into an emotional shot at the guy. I realize it is easy to get frustrated with people and there is a desire to get your shots in from time to time, but while it may be satisfying in the short term it doesn’t help your case any. Just a thought, keep up the good work.

  95. Ged says:

    @a physicist

    “Definitely, kwik, it is embarrassing … those darn Cleveland glaciers all melted several thousand years ago.”

    And why did they do that, aphysicist, when CO2 levels were so low? Or why did the glacier in the post above begin its retreat long before the turn of the 20th century? Glaciers have been retreating for hundreds of years (they carved out the entire Puget Sound), so by what mechanism was this massive reduction in glacier mass been constantly occurring long before out industrial era?

    Or, how do you explain the mechanism by which some glaciers retreat, others grow, and then they swap with the previous retreating ones growing and the previous growing ones retreating, which is common in the cascades (around which I grew up) and other mountain regions?

    Your bias and preconceived ideas in this matter are highly unscientific, and do not explain the observational evidence.

  96. John West says:

    John West says:
    “Do you have a data source that is not a cherry picked “sampling” of glacier extent that supports this accelerating retreat assertion?”

    A physicist says:
    “John West, please consult this summary of mass balance for all glaciers having continuous long-term observation series. Do you see a pronounced downward mass slope, and an obvious accelerating trend of the melting rate? ”

    From the link you provided: [bolds mine]
    “The mass balance statistics (Table 1) are calculated based on all reported values as well as on the data from the 37 reference glaciers in 10 mountain ranges (Table 2) with continuous observation series back to 1980.”

    All the way back to 1980. WOW! /sarc
    We’re talking about a geologic process, not fashion. What was the rate from 1780 to 1880, 1880 to 1980?

  97. We are at the very end of the present Interglacial Warmup Period. It is long in the tooth at 10,500 years old. It may come as a shock to Mr. Balog, that glaciers are melting during this IWP. But that is what they are supposed to be doing.

    The world’s total ice inventory or Mass Balance is the only measure that can be used to judge whether ice is being lost or added. Looking at cherry picked glaciers is anecdotal information and is no canary in a coal mine. Does Mr. Balog know what the MB is doing? If not, he is wasting everyone’s time.

  98. Hello Anthony, love the story,
    I actually sent you a link to my thoughts on the story on the 16th.

    http://robertleather.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/daily-mail-richard-black-propagate-bogus-extreme-ice-survey-video/

    The majority of what is being shown is the melting of the extraordinarily large snowfall that lasted almost continually from Winter 2007 into Summer 2008. My piece includes two references to the events and it’s effect on the Northern part of Prince William Sound…. which is where the glacier is located. So the “sudden loss of ice” is in fact a sudden loss of snow, the Anchorage story mentions the snow floating on the Sound.

    I contacted Richard Black, the BBC environmental columnist to ask what he thought, he declined to comment. Or rather… he said “No comment”, which is surely a paradox. :-)

  99. Rob Dekker says:

    The spectacular retreat of Glacier Bay is indeed very interesting. Not so much because it retreated (“disintegrated” would probably be a better word), but even more because of how fast that went.

    Explorer Captain George Vancouver found Icy Strait choked with ice in 1794, and Glacier Bay was barely an indented glacier. That glacier was more than 4000 ft. thick, up to 20 miles or more wide, and extended more than 100 miles to the St.Elias Range of mountains.

    That’s a lot of ice, folks, and one may wonder how that mostly (trusting the USPGS map Anthony provided above) disappeared within 150 years after the LIA..

    Don Easterbrook above already suggested that the bulk of ice in Glacier Bay became “precariously unstable” after only minor local changes in climate.

    One reason a glacier like this would become unstable (please correct me if I’m wrong, Don) if when it thins enough so that it become buoyant. At that point, sea water gets under the ice, melting it from below. Besides, tidal movement will cause extreme stresses on the tongue of the glacier, which means it starts calving rapidly.

    If massive glaciers like Glacier Bay (with a grounding line below sea level) can collapse and disappear within the timespan of a century, and after only small local changes in climate, then what about similar glaciers ?

    For example : the sea bed under the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet is also situated below sea level. When does that become instable and how fast can that collapse, then ?

  100. Please read the following story from the Victoria Advocate.

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=L40_AAAAIBAJ&sjid=7VUMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5026,5017166&dq=prince-william-sound+snow&hl=en

    I think it explains adequately the large amounts of snow that were laid down (at sea level) over the winter 2007 – summer 2008 period and provides further expert testimony as to the volatility of the Alaskan Glaciers.

Comments are closed.