More settled science: The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is 20 million years older than thought

icesheets[1]From the University of California – Santa Barbara

West Antarctica ice sheet existed 20 million years earlier than previously thought

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– The results of research conducted by professors at UC Santa Barbara and colleagues mark the beginning of a new paradigm for our understanding of the history of Earth’s great global ice sheets. The research shows that, contrary to the popularly held scientific view, an ice sheet on West Antarctica existed 20 million years earlier than previously thought.

The findings indicate that ice sheets first grew on the West Antarctic subcontinent at the start of a global transition from warm greenhouse conditions to a cool icehouse climate 34 million years ago. Previous computer simulations were unable to produce the amount of ice that geological records suggest existed at that time because neighboring East Antarctica alone could not support it. The findings were published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Given that more ice grew than could be hosted only on East Antarctica, some researchers proposed that the missing ice formed in the northern hemisphere, many millions of years before the documented ice growth in that hemisphere, which started about 3 million years ago. But the new research shows it is not necessary to have ice hosted in the northern polar regions at the start of greenhouse-icehouse transition.

Earlier research published in 2009 and 2012 by the same team showed that West Antarctica bedrock was much higher in elevation at the time of the global climate transition than it is today, with much of its land above sea level. The belief that West Antarctic elevations had always been low lying (as they are today) led researchers to ignore it in past studies. The new research presents compelling evidence that this higher land mass enabled a large ice sheet to be hosted earlier than previously realized, despite a warmer ocean in the past.

“Our new model identifies West Antarctica as the site needed for the accumulation of the extra ice on Earth at that time,” said lead author Douglas S. Wilson, a research geophysicist in UCSB’s Department of Earth Science and Marine Science Institute. “We find that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet first appeared earlier than the previously accepted timing of its initiation sometime in the Miocene, about 14 million years ago. In fact, our model shows it appeared at the same time as the massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet some 20 million years earlier.”

Wilson and his team used a sophisticated numerical ice sheet model to support this view. Using their new bedrock elevation map for the Antarctic continent, the researchers created a computer simulation of the initiation of the Antarctic ice sheets. Unlike previous computer simulations of Antarctic glaciation, this research found the nascent Antarctic ice sheet included substantial ice on the subcontinent of West Antarctica. The modern West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains about 10 percent of the total ice on Antarctica and is similar in scale to the Greenland Ice Sheet.

West Antarctica and Greenland are both major players in scenarios of sea level rise due to global warming because of the sensitivity of the ice sheets on these subcontinents. Recent scientific estimates conclude that global sea level would rise an average of 11 feet should the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melt. This amount would add to sea level rise from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet (about 24 feet).

The UCSB researchers computed a range of ice sheets that consider the uncertainty in the topographic reconstructions, all of which show ice growth on East and West Antarctica 34 million years ago. A surprising result is that the total volume of ice on East and West Antarctica at that time could be more than 1.4 times greater than previously realized and was likely larger than the ice sheet on Antarctica today.

“We feel it is important for the public to know that the origins of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are under increased scrutiny and that scientists are paying close attention to its role in Earth’s climate now and in the past,” concluded co-author Bruce Luyendyk, UCSB professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Science and research professor at the campus’s Earth Research Institute.

###

Other co-authors include David Pollard of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Pennsylvania State University, Robert M. DeConto of the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Stewart S.R. Jamieson of the Department of Geography at Durham University in the United Kingdom.

The National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs and the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council supported this research.

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77 thoughts on “More settled science: The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is 20 million years older than thought

  1. Gee, you mean the models are wrong? Again?

    What a surprise.

    Meanwhile, looks as if Arctic sea ice this year will register the highest low extent since 2006.

    It must really suck to be a CACA scamster these days.

  2. “The belief that West Antarctic elevations had always been low lying (as they are today) led researchers to ignore it in past studies. ”

    So … researchers didn’t believe massive amounts of ice could depress the ground? Sounds like the author of a recent WUWT article was not alone …

    :)

  3. Forgive my scepticism but I’m not even sure we know how glaciers form.

    OK so snow lasts all year round.
    But is it from snow and continuous low temps, hail storms leaving a different albedo level, wind replenishing melted snow from other reservoirs…?

    How do you model that when their are so many potential mechanisms and so few observations of glaciers being seeded?

  4. We feel it is important for the public to know that the origins of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are under increased scrutiny and that scientists are paying close attention to its role in Earth’s climate now and in the past… .

    Why?

    (I am, btw, genuinely asking this question — hope someone can take the time to answer)

  5. Where is the empirical evidence. It’s nice that they have a model that says so, but how do we know without any measurements?

  6. Janice Moore says:
    September 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

    For “catastrophic” sea level rise to be plausible before reaching CO2 equilibrium at lower levels, CACA needs both the Greenland & West Antarctic Ice Sheets magically to disappear. Even CACA kooks recognize that the massive 34 million year-old East Antarctic Ice Sheet isn’t going away any time soon.

  7. M Courtney – Glaciers form when there are years of snow fall build up which do not melt. Which leads to a thick ice sheet. At roughly 40 acres, the ice mass is considered a glacier. During the build up, air is either forced out due to pressure or the snow accumulates so quickly little air is trapped. The lack of air gives glaciers their blue coloring. At least according to the National Park Service. We’re more likely to see glacier growth rather than new glaciers. It is kind of difficult to get the kind of precipitation needed to seed/create a new glacier.
    For example, the glaciers in Glacier National Park in in Alaska originate nearly 70 miles from the face we see. Their origination point receives nearly 100 feet of snow/year. It is the sheer pressure from this accumulation which causes the growth of the glacier. Hubbard Glacier is one such example.

  8. @Wyguy: As soon as I read the word model, I quit reading.

    Like so many of these so called studies it’s just a hypothesis that is supported by a model. The model, of course, is little more than the same basic hypothesis expressed in computer code.

    Our model (hypothesis) supports our hypothesis so the science is settled. QED and alert the Nobel committee!

    I need to run outside and scream now….

  9. Janice Moore says:
    September 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

    We feel it is important for the public to know that the origins of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are under increased scrutiny and that scientists are paying close attention to its role in Earth’s climate now and in the past… .

    Why?

    (I am, btw, genuinely asking this question — hope someone can take the time to answer)

    One of the unassailable facts of climate science is that if the models do not work – and they do not – then you do not know how climate operates. You may have a collection things that you know must influence climate – e.g. the physical properties of H2O vapour and CO2 both store and transport energy. The failed models though show that the facts you are in possession of are either not properly understood.

    The why and how of the WAIS is one of those points where the models are under question. Showing the WAIS to have greater age than previously thought offers insights into what we do NOT know. The data that is available indicates that the current “ice age” – we are in an interstadial at present – started during the early Pleistocene with comparatively short, sharp climate oscillations. During the last half-million years or so, that changed with planet becoming colder and with much longer spans between warm interstadials. Knowing more about what is not known offers indications – big neon signs really – of where to look for new information.

  10. Thanks RHS.
    I agree that is how glaciers grow. I’ve read about it and know we have seen examples.

    But it is the seeding and origination of glaciers that puzzles me. (Which is relevant to his paper).

    Years of snow fall build up which do not melt is the first option I suggested, but I also added two others off the top of my head that could cause them to form. My dots before the question mark indicated that there may be other possible mechanisms too.

    And I honestly do not know that the repeated failure of winter snows to melt is the proven form of glacier formation. It may just be the simplest idea. If other mechanisms are quicker then that form of glacier formation may have never actually occurred.

  11. Non-geologists often have trouble breaking the “rock is rigid” paradigm because the abundance of experience is at small scales (100 m) however, rock is elastic. It bends under stress, it stretches under strain, and because it is floating on a fluid mantle, it sags under weight. Under enough weight it will sink like an overloaded raft. The basic malleability of rock is often ignored by climatologists and other non-scientists. This renders all ‘mean sea level’ measurements over extended periods of time essentially meaningless with respect to indicating the total volume of water in all the world’s oceans.

  12. (I am cringing as I write this in anticipation at the scorching retort it will elicit from M. Harlani, but…. here goes)

    Re: my post at 11:47am today, re-wording my question to make it more meaningful:

    Q. How (specifically) does what the above article says potentially help the CAGW gang?

    (I am really not getting how this could possibly help their abysmally weak case — thank you for helping me understand, somebody?)

  13. Nice story, but what happened to the scientific method? Remember Richard Feynman, you start off with a guess. This is a guess, model or not. Then you check your guess against reality and find Scherer et al 1998:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/281/5373/82

    Abstract quote:
    “Some glacial sediment samples recovered from beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet at ice stream B contain Quaternary diatoms and up to 108 atoms of beryllium-10 per gram. Other samples contain no Quaternary diatoms and only background levels of beryllium-10 (less than 106 atoms per gram). The occurrence of young diatoms and high concentrations of beryllium-10 beneath grounded ice indicates that the Ross Embayment was an open marine environment after a late Pleistocene collapse of the marine ice sheet. “

    And thus should join all all great tragedies of science, a beautiful theory slain by an ugly fact.

  14. Janice Moore says:
    September 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    You’re welcome, but please also see Duster @ 1208.

    Radionuclides in the periglacial soil of the EAIS show that it hasn’t retreated for at least 3000 years, ie since the end of the Minoan Warm Period, after which Earth has been in a long-term (ie, secular) cooling trend, with ever colder warming, as now, & cooling cycles, headed inexorably out of the current interglacial toward the next glacial phase.

    PS: Our planet is about 4.55 billion years old, not 7000. To imagine the latter, you have to reject every scientific discipline, to include astronomy, physics & chemistry, not just biology & geology.

  15. A quick perusal of available charts at www (dot) globalwarmingart (dot) com shows that this continental ice sheet formed at a time when the “average” global temperature was somewhat warmer than it is now.

    So, I am being asked to believe that a paltry rise of 1 degree C (give or take) is going to cause an entire ice sheet to go … … ….. POOOOOOF !?!?!?!?!?

    Sidebar: thanks for letting me know that Global Warming Art was back on-line, Anthony. Just before it disappeared a couple years ago, I was getting ready to ask WUWT’ers to archive as much of their data as possible, just in case they wised up the the fact that much of their data/charts contradicted belief in CAGW. Dare we take the chance on the website disappearing again?

    Best regards to all,

    Mark H.

  16. leftturnandre says:
    September 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    You have misunderstood the import of the paper.

    No one doubts that ice sheets fluctuate. The WAIS, as do all ice sheets, waxes & wanes. Its marine portion probably was smaller in the past. But that’s beside the point.

    The portion of it on land is shown here (arguably) to have formed much earlier than previously thought, when of course the continental crust rode higher on the mantle.

  17. Janice Moore says:
    September 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    It doesn’t help CACA. It hurts it in at least two ways, IMO.

    1) The GIGO GCMs are yet again shown (possibly) faulty, &

    2) The WAIS might be far more persistent & formed at much higher CO2 concentration than formerly conjectured. If so, it’s harder to melt completely, making reasonably potential sea rise under worst case scenario nearly impossible to attain, unless our current interglacial last tens of thousands more years.

  18. The universe is always getting older than we thought with each study – never younger – always proving the previously “popularly held scientific view” wrong. We might ask why should we believe you this time?

  19. Janice Moore:

    This is my attempt to answer your question in your post at September 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/04/more-settled-science-the-west-antarctic-ice-sheet-is-20-million-years-older-than-thought/#comment-1407820

    I will try to spell it out.
    1.
    The greatest asserted potential problem from AGW is rapid sea level rise.
    2.
    Rapid sea level rise requires Antarctic ice to enter the sea either as solid ice or melted ice from the land.
    3.
    The melting is impossible: it would take millennia.
    4.
    The ice sliding into the sea is extremely improbable according to existing understanding.
    5.
    Anything which provides doubt to existing understanding of the ice behaviour reduces the certainty that the ice cannot slide into the sea.
    6.
    The AGW scare requires that the public be scared by risks.
    7.
    Hence, the statement which you query; viz

    We feel it is important for the public to know that the origins of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are under increased scrutiny and that scientists are paying close attention to its role in Earth’s climate now and in the past… .

    Please note the language of the statement.
    They “feel” but do not know any reason for it to be important to tell the public.
    The “origins” of the WAIS are “under increased scrutiny” because there are things we need to know.
    And “scientists are paying close attention to its role in Earth’s climate now and in the past” which implies the uncertainty about WAIS behaviour applies to NOW.

    In other words, this gives them an excuse to say the WAIS could induce rapid sea level rise although there is good reason to think it cannot.

    This is called spin.

    Richard

  20. This doesn’t mean anything. I want to hear from Cook et al what is believed by 97 percent of scientists.

  21. Golden says:
    September 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    The universe is always getting older than we thought with each study – never younger – always proving the previously “popularly held scientific view” wrong. We might ask why should we believe you this time?
    ——————————-

    Estimates of the age of the earth & universe aren’t based upon popularity, but geology, chemistry, astronomy & physics.

    The best estimate of the age of the earth has remained 4.54 to 4.55 billion years at least since 1956, confirmed & reconfirmed by a variety of methods & measurements since then.

    Before the discovery of radioactivity, estimates by 19th century physicists based upon the cooling of the planet from its original molten state gave ages less than 100 million years, but biologists & geologists knew this had to be wrong. Eventually nuclear physicists agreed with the them against the prior purely thermodynamic physicists.

    The physics of the sun confirms radioactive dating of the earth & other solar system bodies like asteroids, measured in meteorites.

    Estimates for the age of the universe have likewise remained in a narrow range since convincing evidence of the Big Bang in 1965. Various methods provide estimates with fairly small margins of error from ~13.7 to 14.5 billion years.

    Between 1929, when the universe was discovered definitely to have a finite age, & 1965, estimates varied more widely, ranging up to 25 billion years.

    In the late 18th century some geologists, like Hutton, thought it possible that the earth was infinite in age. In the early 20th century, some physicists thought the universe might be infinitely old.

    So you’re wrong.

  22. “”””””……And I honestly do not know that the repeated failure of winter snows to melt is the proven form of glacier formation. It may just be the simplest idea. If other mechanisms are quicker then that form of glacier formation may have never actually occurred…….””””””

    We have quite robust observational evidence, that when winter snows melt completely in the spring/summer, the rate of formation of glaciers is quite low.

    This has led to conjectures that glacier formation is more frequent when winter snows do not completely met in the spring/summer months.

    As for the subject matter of this new thesis, I’d be a lot happier, if they actually had physical samples of the glacial ice that formed 20 million years earlier.

    But if well known thick ice cores are only about 800,000 years old or less, it would seem that the 20 megayear ice already ran down to the coast and horrified everybody/thing/whatever, by breaking off and falling into the southern ocean.

    I’m open to hearing them out; but that word model does cause a buzzing in my ears.

  23. “””””……milodonharlani says:

    September 4, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Golden says:
    September 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    The universe is always getting older than we thought with each study – never younger – always proving the previously “popularly held scientific view” wrong. We might ask why should we believe you this time?……”””””

    Well that’s a well known fact; if the universe was not getting older al the time, that would suggest that time might be running backwards.

    I know the part of the universe I live in, is getting older, all the time, and more decrepid too.

  24. There is yet another problem with such early ice sheet, possibly conflicting with other ideas. I’m not chosing sides but I’m merely pointing out.

    It is believed that the volume of ice is reflected in oxygen isotopes of benthic foraminifera shells. As lighter isotopes evaporate more easily than heavy isotopes, the ocean tends to get enriched in heavier oxygen (in water) isotopes, when that water does not return but accumulates in ice sheets. That’s the basin effect

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Paleoclimatology_OxygenBalance/

    Now we know that the oxygen isotopes in the benthic shells started the great enrichment only some 3.5 million years ago: http://www.lorraine-lisiecki.com/stack.html

    I’m not sure if we can balance the ice volume /LR04 benthic stack but I would expect that there would be some tension between a huge early WAIS and the bentic isotopes/ice volume theory/hypothesis.

  25. george e. smith says:
    September 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    The scary part is that it’s not only getting older & more tenuous all the time, but that the aging appears to be speeding up!

  26. What? I thought that was the ‘consensus’ view? How could it be wrong? Isn’t the ‘consensus’ ALWAYS right? I mean, if 97% of ‘scientists’ agree, it can’t possibly be wrong, can it?

  27. leftturnandre says:
    September 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Stratigraphy has long indicated an ancient age for the WAIS, although more like 25 than 34 Ma.

    Anderson, J. B. & Bartek, L. R. Cenozoic glacial history of the Ross sea revealed by intermediate
    resolution seismic reflection data combined with drill site information. Antarctic Res. Ser. 56, 231–
    263 (1992).

    Shipp, J. et al. High- to intermediate-resolution seismic stratigraphic analysis of mid–late-Miocene
    to Pleistocene strata in eastern Ross sea: implications for changing glacial/climatic regime. Terra
    Antarctica 1, 381–384 (1994).

    But the alternative hasn’t been Pleistocene age, but rather nine million years ago on the younger estimate, based upon analysis of deep-sea sediments.

    Kennett, J. P. & Barker, P. F. Proc. Ocean Drilling Prog. 113, 937–960 (1990).

    Kennett, J. P. & Hodell, D. A. Evidence for relative climatic stability of Antarctica during the early
    Pliocene: a marine perspective. Geografiska Annaler 75 A, 205–220 (1993).

    Naturally it got larger during the Pleistocene, however, advancing in glacial phases & receding in interglacials, as now.

  28. milodonharlani says:

    I was using the term universe very broadly here to include dating of all things within, including the earth’s geology, since the article was about the Antartic ice sheet, and I used the term “popularity” since that is a direct quote from the article.

    Your quote did not prove me wrong. It proved me right upto 1965 about the universe as a whole. And now you’ve only shown that there is a general consensus about the universe. But a consensus now does not prove me wrong because to do so would mean you cannot predict in the future someone is not going to say the “popularly held scientific view” is wrong as this article has.

  29. Golden says:
    September 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    You were wrong to assert without any basis whatsoever that science says “the universe is always getting older than we thought with each study – never younger – always proving the previously “popularly held scientific view” wrong. We might ask why should we believe you this time?”

    Each study most certainly does not always find the universe older than previously thought. As I showed, estimates from 1929 to 1965 declined from infinite to 25 billion years to the present ~14 billion years. Since 1965, the estimate has varied only slightly, & not always higher.

    So, you were as wrong as wrong could be.

    I’d urge you to study a topic before presuming to comment upon it.

  30. milodonharlani says:

    September 4, 2013 at 12:52 p m “…since convincing evidence of the Big Bang in 1965…”

    What was the convincing evidence?

  31. mkelly:

    re your question at September 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm.

    The discovery of the microwave background radiation was the “compelling evidence” which induced adoption of Big Bang and rejection of Steady State universe theories.

    Can we now return to the subject of the age of the WAIS, please?

    Richard

  32. “In fact, our model shows it appeared at the same time as the massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet some 20 million years earlier.”

    Really! This is a discovery? With the massive EAIS next door, was it believed that things were balmy in W. Antarctica. I’m from Manitoba and I noticed that when we get winter it also gets cold and snowy in Ontario and Saskatchewan on either side. When I got older, I found it also happened in Quebec and Alberta and the Maritimes and the Northwest Territories and the Yukon and Alaska. Later, I found out the timing was about the same in Russia, too!! I’m a geologist so I suppose I should have been aware of this thinking on geographic split in the climate of Antarctica and I might have fixed this for them 50 years ago. Anyway geology is a big subject.

  33. mkelly says:
    September 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Discovery of the cosmic background microwave radiation of three K.

    Not just convincing, but dispositive (unless the finding resulted from bird droppings on the horn antenna being used as radiotelescope).

    The observation has since been noted repeatedly.

  34. “(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– The results of research conducted by professors at UC Santa Barbara and colleagues mark the beginning of a new paradigm for our understanding of the history of Earth’s great global ice sheets. The research shows that, contrary to the popularly held scientific view, an ice sheet on West Antarctica existed 20 million years earlier than previously thought.”

    “A new paradigm” – let’s translate. That just means, “reach for your wallet, a small cabal (community) of ideologues (researchers) are about to have a very private party. They will decide for everyone else what is to be observed, what questions are asked, and how to interpret results.”

    It’s called a “structured revolution.” And, what an awkward situation, it appears you are not invited.

    The AGW theory is a perfect example of Kuhn’s paradigm shift in action. As long as the experts do not acknowledge a better paradigm, they do not have to question or doubt their own paradigm. And of course, you can see in the process of the paradigm shift that the incommensurate people, theories, and realities are deliberately left out of the paradigm shift in the first place.

  35. Dear Mr. Harlani, Duster, and Mr. Courtney,

    THANK YOU!

    All of your tutoring was helpful and this clinched it for me:

    The WAIS might be far more persistent & formed at much higher CO2 concentration than formerly conjectured. If so, it’s harder to melt completely, making reasonably potential sea rise under worst case scenario nearly impossible to attain, … .

    Milodon Harlani (at 12:33pm)

    Gratefully,

    Janice

    P.S. You’re all pretty cool for a bunch of grumpy old men (to whom that category applies, of course)).

    P.P.S. Re: exponential aging — as to your sharp minds and warrior’s hearts,
    you’ve still got it. #(:))

    Recorded just last year — OLD(er) GUYS, YOU ROCK!

    .
    .

    And we still need you.

  36. The models would have failed Karl Poppers tests of falsifcation/fallibilism many years ago. This should be another nail in the coffin…perhaps warmism is a zombie science?

  37. Janice Moore:

    Re your comment about OLDER GUYS ROCK.
    Did I tell you I can teach any lady to jive in under 90 seconds?
    Yes, I really can, and it is one of the very few abilities of which I am proud.

    Richard

  38. the popularly held scientific view

    Too risky to call it ‘the scientific consensus’.

    greenhouse-icehouse transition

    Jeez. They couldn’t resist slipping in that bit of propaganda.

  39. Well, well, well, Richard. Heh. #(:)) Good for you. And here you are, if you are at home, still up after midnight, sharp mind busily typing away.

    Sleep well.

    Janice

  40. Latitude says:
    September 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    The EAIS is generally considered to have formed ~34 Ma, but not the WAIS. The prior oldest estimate was ~25 Ma, but usually younger.

  41. Rats. When the article said they had done “research,” I hoped they had done some actual on-the-ground work — perhaps discovering geological clues, perhaps uncovering evidence of ancient flora or fauna — that provided the evidence for the new conclusion. Turns out it was just computer models?

    Computer models can be useful and valuable in many instances, but it seems we need to come up with a separate word to distinguish actual observational science from modeling. Calling all the modeling efforts “research” seems a stretch in some cases.

  42. It seems that 97% of earth scientists are sitting at their desks playing computer modelling. Maybe they should be banned from computers until they have done 30 years field work and got a little wear on their boots.

  43. milodonharlani says:
    September 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm
    =====
    Thanks!
    ….not paying much attention…I only remembered ‘ice’ “Antarctica” 34 mya

  44. Ok , if the ice is so old ,how where trees growing there in the past. When Scott made his trip and found tree fossils they were not 20 million years old from what I have read. Sorry I can’t find my reference.

  45. This was already known.

    The ice-rafted debris and glacial erratics discovered by the ocean drilling programs going back to the 1980s had already determined that Antarctica glaciated over in less than 100,000 years between 33.6 Mya and 33.5 Mya. The extent of the glaciers at the time extended right to the continental shelves of all of Antarctica including West Antarctica.

    By 27 Mya, the glaciers on West Antarctica melted back and, as a whole, about half of the glaciers on the continent melted. They didn’t grow back again until starting about 14 Mya and then complete glaciation occurred again just 3 Mya.

    The timeline of geographic and temp changes going back 45 Mys.

  46. “””””……milodonharlani says:

    September 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    george e. smith says:
    September 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    The scary part is that it’s not only getting older & more tenuous all the time, but that the aging appears to be speeding up!…….”””””

    Dang ! are you sure on that ? Whew ! that’s a relief; I thought it was just me slowing down .

  47. Antarctic Beeches grow in a few places in SE Queensland. (And NE NSW?) There’s a closely related tree species in South America.

    Getting a handle on the ages of the Antarctic ice sheets will give us a better estimate for the time of the breakup of the ancient Southern supercontinent into our present Southern continents.

    Obviously, the breakup happened before Antarctica was thoroughly covered by continental glaciers. If the continental glaciers had come first, there wouldn’t be any surviving Antarctic Beeches for natural history buffs to enjoy. :)

    A side benefit will be better estimates for the rate of genetic drift in these tree species.

  48. Don’t know about anybody else, but I lost the will to live when they said they used a “sophisticated ice model”! Oh, when will they ever learn to use the proper correct language if they want people to believe their little X-Box360 Lara Croft fantasy worlds?

    Now, let’s redefine Consensus, yet again: A long time ago, say 2,500 years ago, with the exception of a few Greeks, the general consensus as that the Earth was flat, & that were one sail to far this way or tat, they would full off the edge to oblivion! This strongly held view lasted pretty much until the mid-seventeenth century, rigidly & brutally enforced by the UNIPCC of its day, the Holy Roman Catholic Church! Then some fella called Copernicus decided that all was not well, followed by Gallileo. Eventually, thanks to an age of enlightenment, the consensus changed! Gravity would ten be discovered as a result! e now know differently!

    Throughout history, & in particular, the dark t middle ages until the early eighteenth century, I was a general consensus that witches were real, &were the rot cause of all evil! The punishments for these poor wretched women, based upon the soundest of scientific thinking of the day, was to place them on a ducking stool & repeatedly duck them under water in a pond or stream until the confessed their crimes against Humanity & God. If the poor girl drowned, then she was declared innocent, if the poor girl had the temerity to hold her breath & survive, she would be declared guilty, the burned to death at the stake! We now know differently!

    For many hundreds of years Malaria (or the old English word Ague, mentioned Shakepeare’s plays set in temperate climes, numerous times), was believed to be an airborne disease, hence the name malaria, Italian for “bad air”! It wasn’t for centuries that it was discovered to be transmitted by mosquitos We now know differently!

    The general scientific consensus in the mid to late 19th century, was that the cure for many an ill was to undergo a course of bloodletting! This would take the form of attaching slimey creatures to various bits of ones anatomy to suck out the bad blood, to the severing of main arteries, with the most unpleasant of results! We now know differently!

    At the end of the nineteenth century, there were various Heath-Roberson attempts to achieve manned powered flight wit varying degrees of success & failure. This culminated in 1895 w the then President of the Royal Society to proclaim that “heavier than air flying machines were impossible!”. We now know differently!

    In the mid 1970s the general scientific medical consensus was that peptic & gastric ulcers were caused by stress & some even said of eating too much spicy food. Two Antipodian medical scientists disagreed, & had the temerity to claim that they may even be caused by a bacterium, no less! Oh how they were pilloried & chastised for their stupidity & ignorance by the cream of the profession!! These two people eventually won the Nobel Prize for persistence in research & their eventual finding that that was indeed how such ulcers! We now know differently!!!!!

    Before any scientist claims settled science, or even consensus, hey should think long & hard before doing so! A t B.

  49. Alan the Brit says:
    September 5, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Now, let’s redefine Consensus, yet again: A long time ago, say 2,500 years ago, with the exception of a few Greeks, the general consensus as that the Earth was flat, & that were one sail to far this way or tat, they would full off the edge to oblivion! This strongly held view lasted pretty much until the mid-seventeenth century, rigidly & brutally enforced by the UNIPCC of its day, the Holy Roman Catholic Church! Then some fella called Copernicus decided that all was not well, followed by Gallileo. Eventually, thanks to an age of enlightenment, the consensus changed! Gravity would ten be discovered as a result! e now know differently!
    —————————–

    Your general point about consensus is of course correct, but Earth was known to be spherical long before the mid-17th century or Copernicus’ 16th century. From at least the AD 400s, the Church not only recognized Earth to be a globe but added spheres upon spheres, advocating as it did the Ptolemaic system.

    Some Early Church Fathers insisted upon a literal interpretation of the Bible, hence advocated a flat Earth, but this view was soon replaced in the Christian West by Greek science, geocentric & immobile but spherical.

    Copernicus’ contribution was to argue that Earth goes around the Sun, not the Sun around the Earth. He did however wrongly keep Aristotle’s perfectly circular orbits.

  50. Modellng…….

    Interesting but still hocus pocus..

    Stick a drill hole through the ice and hope to intersect underlying soils with contemporary pollen
    A suitable target might be able to be defined with geophysics.

    Find pollen then we’ll know,the age, not guess

  51. milodonharlani says:
    September 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    A cursory search shows estimates of the universe are getting older. If you had done your research you would have found these links. When I said the estimates are for the universe getting older I was referring to recent works. That is the context. I’m not talking about ancient history. Before you call someone wrong maybe you should read more than just Wikipedia.

    2004: The Universe, Seen Under The Gran Sasso Mountain, Seems To Be Older Than Expected

    As a consequence, in the light of Luna’s new data, the age of our Universe passes from the previous estimate of about 13 billions years to that of about 14 billions years” explains Eugenio Coccia, director of Gran Sasso National Laboratories.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040514030155.htm

    2006: Universe Might be Bigger and Older than Expected

    Scientists now estimate the universe to be about 13.7 billion years old (a figure that has seemed firm since 2003, based on measurements of radiation leftover from the Big Bang) and about 156 billion light-years wide.

    The new finding implies that the universe is instead about 15.8 billion years old and about 180 billion light-years wide.

    http://www.space.com/2707-universe-bigger-older-expected.html

  52. leftturnandre says:
    September 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm
    Nice story, but what happened to the scientific method? Remember Richard Feynman, you start off with a guess. This is a guess, model or not. Then you check your guess against reality and find Scherer et al 1998:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/281/5373/82

    Unfortunately Scherer et al. are real scientists, i e they are willing to change their hypothesis when new data becomes available:

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2009EGUGA..11.5895S

    So, sorry, but there is no concrete evidence for a late pleistocene WAIS collapse, but a growing amount of evidence that the WAIS has been fairly stable since MIS 31.

  53. WUWT is one of my favourite sites. However, some of the comments are amongst my least favourite. Could we have a more forgiving attitude towards debate and uncertainty in scientific liteature, instead of a “point-scoring” antagonistic approach. The age of the Antarctic Ice Sheet has been debated for a long time, regarding whether it started at the Eocene Oligocene border around 34 Ma (timescale of Gradstein et al 2004) or sometime in the Miocene or at the Miocene Pliocene boundary (5 Ma ago) or later. The early evidence related to oxygen isotope variations, and the changes observed at the Eocene Oligocene boundary and later. Various researchers interpreted that information against geological and paleo-environmental information. However, it is not a done deal as to which theory or interpretation is correct. At present, the comments seem to be predominantly anti anything that comes out of a university research program. For example when Anthony highlighted research that showed the circum polar current may have been blocked by the volcanic ridge of the Scotia Arc, there seemed to be a barrage of anti-research-paper commentary. Meanwhile debate over which features may have blocked or allowed passage of the circum Antarctic current is quite a key issue regarding paleoclimate. Could I appeal that commentary be more balanced

  54. Btw, this commentary in favour of a more open attitude to debate in the scientific literature comes from someone with >25 years in the oil industry, but who enjoys seeing academic debate.

  55. leftturnandre says:
    September 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm
    Now we know that the oxygen isotopes in the benthic shells started the great enrichment only some 3.5 million years ago: http://www.lorraine-lisiecki.com/stack.html

    I’m not sure if we can balance the ice volume /LR04 benthic stack but I would expect that there would be some tension between a huge early WAIS and the bentic isotopes/ice volume theory/hypothesis.

    Sorry, but You are utterly wrong again. The first big drop comes withe the Oi-1 glaciation about 35 million years ago. There were oxygen isotopes before the LR04 stack starts you know, though the detail and dating is less precise. Check here for example:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031018298000935

  56. Golden says:
    September 5, 2013 at 9:53 am

    You did not specify which time frame you meant for “always getting older”. Had you stated “between 2004 & 2006″, I’d have shown you all the studies since then which are back to being less than the outlier high estimate from 2006.

    The current best measurement of the age of the universe is 13.798±0.037 billion years (13.798±0.037×10^9 years or 4.354±0.012×10^17 seconds), within the Lambda-CDM concordance model.

    Planck Collaboration (2013). “Planck 2013 results. I. Overview of products and scientific results”. arXiv:1303.5062 [astro-ph.CO]

    Bennett, C.L.; et al. (2013). “Nine-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Final Maps and Results”. arXiv:1212.5225 [astro-ph.CO]

    Clearly, you are the commenter who needs to study the topics upon which you post. And, as before, you are wrong as wrong can be, upon whatever time scale you chose since 1929.

  57. Keith says:
    “The age of the Antarctic Ice Sheet has been debated for a long time, regarding whether it started at the Eocene Oligocene border around 34 Ma (timescale of Gradstein et al 2004) or sometime in the Miocene or at the Miocene Pliocene boundary (5 Ma ago) or later.”

    I would say that the evidence that the first continent-wide glaciation in Antarctica was Oi-1 about 35 million years ago is overwhelming. The appearance of IRD (Ice Rafted Debris) in the surrounding seas is pretty uncontrovertible evidence that the ice extended to the coast on a large scale. And the simultaneous sharp 18O-shift is difficult to explain without a major ice-sheet.
    The 5-or-14 million year debate is about when the ice-sheet was less-than continent wide for the last time and therefore also when the last tundra areas with vascular plants and land animals were eliminated. Personally I think that the strong evidence that the Dry Valleys in the Transantarctic Mountains have not had temperatures over freezing for any lengthy period for 14 million years strongly suggests the longer time scale. However if the valleys were at a considerably higher altitude during the Pliocene than they are now, middle-arctic conditions could possibly have existed near sea level. This would require some rather remarkable post-Pliocene tectonics in the Transantarctic Mountains, but it is possible.
    The somewhat rabid attacks on academic research on WUWT are unfortunate, but probably inevitable. Many here are probably only familiar with “climate science” which is unfortunately replete with dubious methods, dodgy data, “spin” and outright fraud. Most research in most “hard science” fields is still good, though I am sorry to say that fraud and shoddy work seems to be on the increase almost everywhere.

  58. GregK says:

    Stick a drill hole through the ice and hope to intersect underlying soils with contemporary pollen
    A suitable target might be able to be defined with geophysics.
    Find pollen then we’ll know,the age, not guess

    Its not nearly that simple.
    We might not find any pollen (most ice-cores don’t)..
    If we do, they might be redeposited (under an ice-sheet they almost certainly are, most Antarctic pollen is redeposited stuff from the Cretaceous or Paleogene)
    Even if we do find pollen from the last plants to grow before the ice came, how do we date them? Pollen by themselves aren’t datable. We date them by indirect means, e. g. by knowing when those particular plants lived, or by dating the rocks we find them in. We have pollen from the last plants that lived in Antarctica, from the Meyer Desert Formation, and it has been disputed for 20 years whether they are 3 or 15 million years old.

  59. “”””””……milodonharlani says:

    September 5, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Golden says:
    September 5, 2013 at 9:53 am

    You did not specify which time frame you meant for “always getting older”. Had you stated “between 2004 & 2006″, I’d have shown you all the studies since then which are back to being less than the outlier high estimate from 2006.

    The current best measurement of the age of the universe is 13.798±0.037 billion years (13.798±0.037×10^9 years or 4.354±0.012×10^17 seconds), within the Lambda-CDM concordance model…….””””””

    The Hewlett Packard (now Agilent Technologies) R&D department (Standards lab) used to have (probably still does) two Cesium Beam atomic clocks, (which HP made), set to the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) time standard, and the second one to the US Naval Observatory Time Standard.

    They kept the two standards, because their atomic clock (which you can buy) is about the only commercial instrument, that could tell the difference.

    As I recall, the NBS clock claimed that the universe was one day older than the US Naval Observatory claims.

    When finally those two parties came together to figure out what the time really was, it was NBS who set their clock to the correct USNO time. That 2 parts in 10^13.

  60. “West Antarctica ice sheet might have existed 20 million years earlier than previously thought, we really don’t know.”

    There, title fixed.

  61. I need a new form of creating ice without a freezer…. I will accept any form of ice trays that work in 100 degree temperatures…,only serious applicants should apply

  62. Golden and Milodonharlani, please cease this squabble. Of course the age of the universe is getting older, and I know by how much! It gets one year older every year. Now back to the WAIS.

    If you have a problem, such as where did all the water go about 34 M years ago, it is a good scientific method to use your computer to check a hypothesis that the excess water could have ended up as the WAIS. Your computer can confirm that the land under what is now the WAIS could have had enough area above sea level to accumulate a massive amount of snow and then ice. You have not proved anything, but what you have done is to, assuming your data is correct and you have not made any mistakes, shown that the alternative hypothesis, that the WAIS could NOT have originated 34 M years ago, is at the least highly unlikely. This may or may not lead onto further areas to investigate.

    As far as CAGW is concerned, the possibility that a WAIS existed from about 34 M years ago means it is plausible that it has existed ever since. Whether or not it has melted in the mean time is another matter – but one would suspect that it the subsequent inland temperatures on the WAIS have been similar to those of today, there would have been no chance of both the WAIS melting and plants and animals surviving in the forms that have actually survived from that time – think not of a rise of 8 or 10 degrees Celsius, but of an earthwide 50 or so degrees Celsius, to bring the inland temperatures up to around melting point. And if earth’s plants and animals have survived, there could, surely, have been no such temperature rise as could have been driven by any large accumulations of carbons dioxide in the intervening period. Hence CAGW is bunk.

    BTW, please, lower case “m” stands for ‘milli’ or ‘metre’ – usually distinguishable by the context. Upper case “M” stands for ‘mega’ or mile, also normally distinguishable by context. Please take care!!!!!

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