The Media over-hyped the West Antarctica climate propaganda reporting

Studies do not address sea level rise projections alleged by misleading media headlines

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

As seems to always be the case the climate fear propaganda news media have completely mislead the public once again regarding climate related issues this time by alleging claims of 4 meter high future sea level rise increases supposedly addressed in two recent studies which performed analysis of glacier melt behavior of six large glaciers in West Antarctica.

One study was published in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) and titled “Sustained increase in ice discharge from the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica, from 1973 to 2013“. This study is available here:

http://www.ess.uci.edu/researchgrp/erignot/files/grl51433.pdf

The second study was published in Science and titled “Marine Ice Sheet Collapse Potentially Under Way for the Thwaites Glacier Basin, West Antarctica“. This study is available here:

http://sciences.blogs.liberation.fr/files/glacier-thwaites.pdf

Both studies evaluate the relatively recent melt rate history of these glaciers with one focusing on the use observed satellite data to estimate melt rate behavior while the other uses computer models to estimate melt rate behavior.

Amazingly enough and considering how the press manufactured headlines about sea level rise increases being determined from these studies neither of the studies addresses or make any claims about the impact of their research results on specific future sea level rise projections.  

In fact GLC study mentions nothing specific about future sea level rise projections while the Science study clearly notes that their research models “are not coupled to a global climate model to provide forcing nor do they include an ice-shelf cavity-circulation model to derive melt rates. Few if any such fully coupled models presently exist (13). As such, our simulations do not constitute a projection of future sea level in response to projected climate forcing.”

Also unreported by the same climate alarmist propaganda focused media were the significant qualifications, limitations and cautions noted in these studies concerning their glacier melt research findings.

The GRL published study noted for example the following qualifiers regarding its analysis:

“These observations are a possible sign of the progressive collapse of this sector in response to the high melting of its buttressing ice shelves by the ocean.”

“Until numerical ice sheet models coupled with realistic oceanic forcing are able to replicate these observations, projections of the evolution of this sector of West Antarctica should be interpreted with caution.”

The Science published study contained the following similarly related qualifiers regarding its analysis:

“Although our simple melt parameterization suggests that a full-scale collapse of this sector may be inevitable, it leaves large uncertainty in the timing. Thus, ice-sheet models fully coupled to ocean/climate models are required to reduce the uncertainty in the chronology of a collapse.”

Why aren’t these significant research finding qualifiers regarding the preliminary nature of these studies results addressed by the main stream media?

The main stream media manufactured numbers alleging sea level rise projections not addressed at all in either of these studies and then compounded that alarmist portrayal by concealing very significant scientific qualifiers noted in both studies regarding their glacier melt rate research findings.

Even some of the climate media have problems with how this entire climate alarmist episode has been handled. New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin wrote an article in that paper in 2009 addressing the glacier study work underway in West Antarctica titled “Study: West Antarctic Melt a Slow Affair” where he challenged the use of the word “collapse” in describing the melt behavior of that region. This article included the following observation:

“Over all, the loss of the West Antarctic ice from warming is appearing “more likely a definite thing to worry about on a thousand-year time scale but not a hundred years,”

With latest round of speculative media climate alarmism regarding the West Antarctica region glacier research Revkin has written yet another article titled “Consider Clashing Scientific and Societal Meanings of ‘collapse’ When Reading Antarctic Ice News” again challenging the use of the word “collapse”. He offers the following observations in this article about the recent alarmist news reporting:

News articles by The Times, Time, the Associated Press and others capture the basics in two new papers, one on six West Antarctic glaciers that appear to have nothing holding back eventual disappearance, accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, and the other taking a closer look at one of those ice masses, the Thwaites Glacier, posted online today by the journal Science.

Some headlines are completely overwrought — as with this NBC offering: “West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s Collapse Triggers Sea Level Warning.” This kind of coverage could be interpreted to mean there’s an imminent crisis. It’s hard to justify that conclusion given the core findings in the studies. (Am I trying to maintain a hold on reality or am I a “scold”?)

Take the Science paper: Marine Ice Sheet Collapse Potentially Under Way for the Thwaites Glacier Basin, West Antarctica. Using ice-flow models and observations, the researchers, led by Ian Joughin of the University of Washington, concluded:

“Except possibly for the lowest-melt scenario, the simulations indicate that early-stage collapse has begun. Less certain is the time scale, with the onset of rapid (>1 mm per year of sea-level rise) collapse in the different simulations within the range of 200 to 900 years.

To translate a bit, that means sometime between 200 and 900 years from now the rate of ice loss from this glacier could reach a volume sufficient to raise sea levels about 4 inches (100 millimeters) a century. At that point, according to the paper, ice loss could pick up steam, with big losses over a period of decades.* But in a phone conversation, Joughin said the modeling was not reliable enough to say how much, how soon.”

This on going West Antarctica reporting frenzy clearly establishes that the climate alarmist news media have abandoned any pretense of objectivity regarding climate reporting and become soldiers dedicated to conducting an alarmist propaganda campaign that is built on manufacturing misleading, inaccurate and erroneous headline grabbing articles unsupported by published science to support their flawed cause.

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91 thoughts on “The Media over-hyped the West Antarctica climate propaganda reporting

  1. Actually, the press release that triggered The Weather Channel, CNN, and others to spin the public’s shorts into a knot was NASA.

    The reporting was as poor as its always been and the damage is done thanks to lots of scary art delivered by, wait for it, NASA.

    Has Gore accepted a PR position at NASA or is this yet another poorly delivered press release from a “trusted” governmental agency?

  2. I have yet to see a serious, truly scientifically founded commentary on the West Antarctic ice sheet that forecasts a short-term collapse of the sheet. If anything, with the Antarctic as a whole rapidly gaining ice mass on both land and sea, and temps falling, the odds would appear to be very great against such an occurrence. Inter alia, the Thwaites glacier has extended out into the sea and broken off at least three times within my own memory (I’m 66), and obviously no mass collapse followed.. It is not, methinks, a harbinger of a larger collapse.

  3. John McClure said:
    May 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm
    Has Gore accepted a PR position at NASA or is this yet another poorly delivered press release from a “trusted” governmental agency?
    ————
    As worthy of trust as the VA.

  4. In lieu of weather events to talk up, the Cult is stuck with shuffling paperwork – and this is how they do it. No surprises really. But the shrillness and volume will only grow all the way to Paris in 2015.

  5. The usage of the word “Collapse” is without justification in these papers.

    The “Qualifications” are damning evidence that the ‘conclusions’ reached are without justification.

    So Science and GRL walked away laughing with the publication fees earned and left nothing to doubt about “Their” motives: and the ‘Authors[?]’.

    Rather sad state of affairs.

  6. I think NASA put this out so that the media would have something cover other than the real news that day: that Antarctic sea ice extent had reached a new record high.

  7. The consensus estimates published last year for Antarctic ice mass changes was between losing 200 billion tons per year to gaining 100 billion tons per year. This effort used improved glacial rebound models based on data from GPS sensors (which provided data quite a bit different than previous rebound models).

    The central estimate of losing just 71 billion tons per year (revised up from losing 200 billion tons per year) would only result in sea level increase of just 0.25 mms/year.

    In other words, it takes 100 years to get just 1 inch of sea level rise. The people dealing with this new paper just do not want the general public left with the proper reference. They should receive some type of sanction for trying to mislead people.

    Link to the general consensus paper using improved models published in Nature last year (note the Greenland numbers in the paper were not based on the new improved GPS-based models, just Antarctica’s estimates, Greenland to come in the future I guess).

    http://www.vliz.be/imisdocs/publications/248038.pdf

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v498/n7452/full/nature12238.html

  8. could be NASA is Governmental owned and was told you better give this report or we will defund you…The Gov.way to keep Bengazi, IRS, and other scandals in the background

  9. I think we are now seeing the impact of the skeptic blog sphere on climate science.

    It seems that climate scientists, that is the real climate scientists, not the pseudo wannabe catastrophe predicting climate scientists who like to think they are qualified in climate science and usually end up looking and acting like totally ignorant blathering idiots with their climate catastrophe predictions, are now beginning to be very circumspect in their pronouncements on the future climate related trends.
    The skeptic blog sphere is devastating on climate science that is shown to be simply very bad science, uses completely corrupt and / or made up ; ie fraudulent data or fails to and categorically refuses to release the data the promoted climate science papers are supposedly founded on.

    And that web based, skeptic created pressure for much better standards of science in climate science and in other science disciplines is starting to really show in the way many climate scientists are now introducing carefully worded caveats and qualifications into many climate science papers.

    The increasingly bad and corrupting odor of seriously bad and corrupt science that has become a characteristic hall mark of climate science is now sheeting home to much of science that they have to clean up their act big time if they want to continue to have the respect of the public and by implication from that,the respect from the politicals who reflect their voter’s inclinations and from that their continuing access to any future long term funding.

    However the climate catastrophe alarmist scientists have made their own bed with the MSM and now as they show signs of wanting to retreat from their idiotic, totally unprovable, fear promoting climate catastrophe promoting future climate predictions that they so heavily promoted through and with the full co-operation of the headline seeking, catastrophe and sensationalist promoting MSM, they have so ingrained their corrupt ideology and dogma beliefs onto the MSM that as they want to retreat from their previous idiotic alarmist stance, the MSM, never known for it’s adherence to reasonableness and honest accuracy in it’s headlines or articles, is now unable itself to dig itself out of the mire and gutter of the corrupted and idiotic statements from those same scientists, whose climate catastrophe predictions have been adopted as climate gospel , never to be allowed to be challenged and so sensationally promoted by the MSM over the last decade and a half..

    In the end it is those same climate alarmist, climate catastrophe and dogma fixated climate scientists who will have to demand accurate reporting of their science and force the MSM into reporting the science as it is actually is in the science papers if those same scientists want to ensure and continue a modicum of public respect towards both the science and themselves as scientists.
    Those same scientists would get a whole truck load of kudos if every time the MSM ; [ deliberately ] mis-reported or [ deliberately ] corrupted or cherry picked and grossly exaggerated some aspect of a science report or paper they openly published an open letter to the editors for publishing across the web on the nefariousness of the MSM in falsely reporting the results of that research.

    The MSM won’t like it one little bit if they are openly called irresponsible, cherry picking, bigoted, sensationalist lying a*** holes by the very people, the scientists, they assume they are reporting for.

  10. Antarctica doesn’t have an East or a West, so could someone please tell me what bit is meant by the term “West Antarctica”?

    Please tell me either in political terms (e.g. Norwegian Territory, Australian Territory – big bit, Australian Territory – small bit, etc.) or place names (e.g. Queen Maud Land, Wilkes Land, Ellsworth Highland, etc.).

    I won’t ask why that bit is called “West Antarctica”. The reason would probably be too stupid for me to bear.

  11. Having looked at the two studies referenced by the author of this post, all I can say about them is that the authors of the two studies have figured out how to cover their tracks by hindcasting with some success, which not even the climate models have been able to do lately. That having been said, until someone more qualified than me can look at the assumptions behind the models (which I presume to be questionable until hard evidence shows otherwise), I hardly think that these studies reliably predict future lce loss, melting rates, or sea level rises. Which is why the authors have been noticeably and pointedly cautious in their conclusions about future predictions at this point. They may not even be able to find anyone to replicate their conclusions. All reasons why Andrew Revkin has been, and continues to be, justified in challenging the notion that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is “collapsing.” Given that the authors are looking at more of a 1000 year timeframe, a LOT of things can happen in the next 1000 years. So the Chicken Littles of the MSM have no business promoting scare tactics.

    Unfortunately, truth and careful inquiry has never been the MSM’s agenda.

  12. They worked out that global warming at a certain rate (unspecified) would take a thousand years or more to melt Antarctica.

    No rate of global warming, no argument and no prediction!

    Even with a “theoretical rate” of global warming it would take a thousand years or more to melt Antarctica in it’s current state.

  13. Actually… if they used the current rate of global warming for the past 15 years, statistically it would take ∞ year to melt Antarctica.

  14. Actually… if they used the current rate of global warming for the past 15 years, statistically it would take ∞ years to melt Antarctica.

  15. RoHa says:
    May 13, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Antarctica doesn’t have an East or a West, so could someone please tell me what bit is meant by the term “West Antarctica”?

    Please tell me either in political terms (e.g. Norwegian Territory, Australian Territory – big bit, Australian Territory – small bit, etc.) or place names (e.g. Queen Maud Land, Wilkes Land, Ellsworth Highland, etc.).

    I won’t ask why that bit is called “West Antarctica”. The reason would probably be too stupid for me to bear.

    nah. Don’t worry about asking, and your question isn’t “stupid” by any means. (Now, having said that, CLAIMING that your own question is stupid without verifying that it is, in fact, stupid IS stupid, but I digress …) 8<)

    Get a globe – Mine is a 12.00 dollar 6 inch diameter one from Office Max. Your mileage may vary, try to get a bigger one if your budget allows. (Use some of that well-funded conspiracy-sourced evil oil money.)
    Trace the 0.0 longitude line down south from Greenwich England down across the equator.
    Turn the globe upside down, and continue south just west of Africa until it hits Antarctica.

    Then trace it further "south" until that same line hits the pole.
    Continue "north" on the same longitude line (now 180 degrees) "up from the south pole towards what will become the Pacific Ocean.
    You will proceed north zig-zagging around New Zealand, then the Equator again, then up zig-zagging between the US and Russia, then to the North Pole.

    Go back under to Antarctica. That blobby-shaped peninsula you cut "off" from the larger east half of Antarctica is obviously "West Antarctica" It extends up towards South America. Almost all of the non-ice-covered land mass of Antarctica is on small extension of the skinny part of that blobby peninsula. it is also the only part of Antarctica that has warmed any at all since measurements began in the mid-1950's.

  16. RoHa says:
    May 13, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Antarctica doesn’t have an East or a West, so could someone please tell me what bit is meant by the term “West Antarctica”?

    Please tell me either in political terms (e.g. Norwegian Territory, Australian Territory – big bit, Australian Territory – small bit, etc.) or place names (e.g. Queen Maud Land, Wilkes Land, Ellsworth Highland, etc.).

    I won’t ask why that bit is called “West Antarctica”. The reason would probably be too stupid for me to bear.

    It does. It’s that bit which is ‘West’ of ‘zero’ (the Greenwich Meridian) in longitude. I think in this case it is the bit that sticks up toward South America (which is also ‘West’).

    If you take the premise that it does not have a ‘West’, then you would probably have to assume that everywhere on Antarctica is ‘North’, which would make navigation awkward.

  17. Mark and two Cats says:
    May 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    John McClure said:
    May 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm
    Has Gore accepted a PR position at NASA or is this yet another poorly delivered press release from a “trusted” governmental agency?
    ————
    “As worthy of trust as the VA.”
    ________________________________
    Hey. The good doctors (and the VA system) saved my life. I hear gritching and grumbling from some veterans, but I’m still on this side of the dirt. I went to the VA as last resort and the VA found a very big health issue for which I’d poured thousands of dollars into civilian medicos, only to be treating a phantom, due to misdiagnosis which brought me to death’s door.

  18. @RoHa –
    “West Antarctica” is the smaller portion of the continent, between the Ross and Weddell Seas, directly south of South America..

  19. I’d say the media hype from the study in GRL was fanned by NASA itself. The NASA Science News blurbs GRL paper as “A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in irreversible decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea.”

    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/12may_noturningback/

    And the article has even more alarmist statements from co-author Eric Rignot, saying “We’ve passed the point of no return” and “At current melt rates, these glaciers will be ‘history’ within a few hundred years.”

  20. The media isn’t entirely at fault. The previous thread on this topic quoted the AGU press release. It’s at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/12/the-guardians-suzanne-goldenberg-jumps-the-shark-again-gets-called-out-by-nyt/ . The following comment appeared later in that thread:

    Falstaff says:
    May 13, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Criticism for alarmism here should go to the paper’s author, not the Guardian, since Rignot used it in the press release – interview process:

    “The collapse of this sector of West Antarctica appears to be unstoppable,”

    Authors sometime have a hard time sticking to the text of their own papers.

  21. East/ West also is used in flying in Antarctica. Working in McMurdo gives some perspective on navigation. You fly South to the pole but how do you get home? Grid north is toward Greenwich and Grid South is toward the international date line. So to fly from the South Pole Station to McMurdo Station you would fly almost due grid south.

  22. “a full-scale collapse of this sector may be inevitable”

    So is the above comment in the Science published study the reason why NASA/headline writers are predicting a 4-meter rise in sea level? My guess is somebody must have calculated how much sea level would rise if the West Antarctica ice sheet collapsed completely. Then they ran with that estimate even though it is not to be found in either paper.

  23. Bruce,

    Or if you keep flying south you’ll fly off the planet into outer space right? so how do we know what is up and what is down? /src lol

  24. This mess could turn into an own goal. For many years we’ve been told the melting in W. Antarctica was due to global warming. Now, these papers claim it is from warmer water upwelling. IOW, the original claims were untrue. Add to that the recent paper claim 50-80% of the warming in Greenland was due to natural processes and what is left? Skeptics should be able to use these papers to demonstrate the dishonesty of climate alarmists.

  25. Louis,

    We all know it was worked out by stevengoddard years ago, and he correctly suggested what to look out for when the devious bastards worked it out!

  26. @ RACookPE1978, Jerome.

    Thanks for that. Now I know what they are talking about.

    And the reason isn’t as stupid as I feared it might be. (I didn’t think my question was stupid.)

    So the smaller bit west of the Greenwich* Meridian is what they mean by “West Antarctica”. Fair enough.

    And that includes the whole lot round to 180?

    I see West Antarctica as west of 0 but east of the 180 line, and if you head east from Queen Maud Land, you end up in West Antarctica without leaving Antarctica.

    Hence my idea that Antarctica has a North (the coast) and a South (the pole), but not a real East ot West.

    Still, if that is the convention, I now know.

    (*I know Greenwich is in England, thanks.)

  27. And I now know that West Antarctica isn’t the Australian bit, so I don’t have to do anything about it. It isn’t my problem.

  28. Revkin initially missed the point of the Science paper, that once the threshold is passed, complete collapse will be rapid (decades). He back filled this after it was pointed out. While the timing of reaching the threshold is uncertain, and could be in the far future, it could also be sooner than the 200 year lower limit that the model finds, because it assumes a slower than observed retreat of the grounding line as shown by the GRL paper.

    Not a walk in the park.

  29. The disintegration of floating ice shelves has no direct impact on global sea level. The only possible impact is by affecting the rate at which glaciers uphill from the shelves flow toward the sea.

    When grounded ice melts or slides into the sea, it does affect sea level rise, but the effect is reduced if the ice is grounded below sea level (i.e., if the rock upon which it rests is below the waterline). In that case, the ice is “partially floating,” so the effect on global sea level when it melts or floats away is reduced.

    Note that it takes a LOT of melted ice to significantly affect sea-level. Melting a cubic mile of grounded ice causes global sea level to increase only about 1/100-th of a millimeter.

    http://sealevel.info/conversion_factors.html

  30. @ RoHa says, @ RACookPE1978

    As an explanation, I would have just gone with a Mercator or Kavraiskiy map projection as an explanation …
    [img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4f/Kavraiskiy_VII_projection_SW.jpg/800px-Kavraiskiy_VII_projection_SW.jpg[/img]
    Everything on the left half of the bottom of the map is West Antarctica, everything on the right half is East Antarctica.

  31. daveburton says:
    May 13, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    “Melting a cubic mile of grounded ice causes global sea level to increase only about 1/100-th of a millimeter.”

    Really? where did the ice come from?

  32. If this was an ice age, “sea level rise” would be [irrelevant] due to the fact that sea levels would fall. Oh wait.. this isn’t an ice age… I wonder what it could be.

  33. You all didn’t seem to actually read the two peer reviewed studies. If you could look away from your red meat media angle, there was some interesting science to be noted. The main reason the ice sheets and glaciers are being destabilized is that the Southern Ocean has warmed. That weakens the ice edges that reach down deep into the ocean that act as stabilizers. This ocean warming is down deep, not on the surface. The surface is cold, gladdening the hearts of you “skeptics” that get pleasure from seeing all the expansion of the sea ice extent “disproving” global warming. Surely it confounds you to take in the counter intuitive idea of warming down deep but staying cold on top. Science is more interesting than politics any day.

  34. Making a claim that the melting of the glaciers of West Antarctica is unstoppable is a strategic mistake by the alarmists. Positing that there is actually a collapse that is inevitable puts them in Catch 22. Since forestalling doomsday is now no longer within man’s control, then why must we bother changing our hedonistic ways when it comes to fossil fuel consumption?

  35. Here is the BBC hype on this topic. They made it the lead item, on a day when Antarctic sea ice reached their greatest ever extent. No mention of that, though. BBC reporting is straight out of the manual written by Joseph Goebbels.

    The BBC (or perhaps Reuters) have obviously got hold of one of the scientists in this study, and he has added the extra info about sea level rises.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27381010

  36. “mislead the public once again regarding climate related issues this time by alleging claims of 4 meter high future sea level rise increases supposedly addressed in two recent studies ”

    for chrissakes , it’s four FEET not four metres.

    You make valid points about the spin on this but at least get your numbers correct !

  37. Another major problem with the media reporting is that it fails to point out that glacier instability is almost certainly an entirely natural process, with little or no influence from a modest warming of the climate. Such warming may actually nudge things slightly the right way, via changes in ocean currents.

    If polar ice were not being continually lost all the water in the world would end up at the poles, via snowfall and direct accretion of water vapour to ice.

  38. Reading this made it clear that the MSM had to have been briefed by a green-activist organisation, I suspected Greenpeace or WWF. Silly of me to have overlooked a government funded bunch of green activists – NASA.

  39. matayaya says:

    You all didn’t seem to actually read the two peer reviewed studies. If you could look away from your red meat media angle, there was some interesting science to be noted. The main reason the ice sheets and glaciers are being destabilized is that the Southern Ocean has warmed.

    If you had bothered to read (and understand) the two peer reviewed studies you would have learned that: “elevated melt rates on the Amundsen Coast are largely driven by increased transport of warm CDW onto the continental shelf rather than by direct warming of the CDW”.

    I. e. changed ocean currents, not warming.

  40. @tommy E

    But on my Mercator projection maps West Antactica is on the right.

    Chad’s version was the best. I know the shape of the continent. I know where the Weddel Sea is. I know where the Ross Sea is. I know where South America is. Job done.

    The versions involving the Prime Meridian were excessively wordy, but they helped me to understand why the bits were named West and East.

  41. Everybody seems to have forgotten the far more imminent threat (maybe in 100 years) of a lethal, devastating tsunami which will occur when when a slab of rock falls ,yes collapses, horror of horrors into the sea from the island of Palma in the Canary Islands .,Morrocco and North Africa will face tidal waves over 300 ft high , whilst some time later waves 164 ft high will hit the eastern seaboard of the USA at more than 500mph. Where is the alarm over this ?

    http://rense.com/general13/tidal.htm

    A sense of proportion urgently required.

  42. OOOOOOPs I forgot , many prominent scientists and influential Government advisers , do believe that Man made CO2 may be directly attributable to creating this event, urgent meetings to set up funding by an IPCC group,with really really ,clever and more clever than you scientists, to investigate how mitigating emissions and carbon sequestration may help to prevent this cataclysmic event .

  43. The cause of the collapse is attributed to intrusion of Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) at the grounding line of the glaciers. Is there some contention that recent AGW has warmed this deep current in the last 50 years?

    From wiki “Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) is a designation given to the water mass in the Pacific and Indian oceans that essentially characterizes a mixing of other water masses in the region. A distinguishing characteristic is the water is not formed at the surface, but rather by a blending of other water masses, including the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), the Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW), and the Pacific Intermediate Water Masses.”

    CDW is not formed from surface waters, so when was the heat deposited in the CDW?

  44. RokShox says:
    May 14, 2014 at 4:50 am

    CDW is not formed from surface waters, so when was the heat deposited in the CDW?

    Hmm . . . This may be Trenberth’s cue.

  45. I have run across a few papers that show the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in this area has been cooling for at least 2,000 years. And this is from several ice-cores drilled here (using dO18 isotopes which is by far the best temperature proxy we have).

    I just don’t know what to say. How can these people sleep at night.

    The first one is actually from Eric Steig last year.

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~qinghua/pdf/23.pdf

    And this one is a similar high resolution sampling over the last 2,000 years.

    http://www.igsoc.org:8080/journal/57/204/j10J207.pdf

    And then the PaleoArchive has another yearly resolution archive of the data for the last 100 years. It shows no real temperature increase over the last 100 years but a very warm 1940 period then cooling and the last few years up to the year 2000 are warmer again.

    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/antarctica/west-antarctic-iso2008.txt

    When combined with the actually “cooling” southern ocean, one has to conclude it is just a corrupt field which will publish anything that promotes the cause.

  46. If one looks at the location of the active volcano discovered last fall you will see it’s melt water discharge would flow into the CDW directly upstream of these glaciers. Now, what did I do with my Occam’s Razor?

  47. Please, the past tense of “mislead” is “misled”, not “mislead”. The word spelled “lead” but pronounced “led” is only the metal.

    Ian M

  48. Breaking news
    Lennart Bengtsson Resigns from GWPF.
    Apparently fear and derision , intolerance and the threat of exclusion from his scientific work have led him to resign.
    How very sad that a person can no longer express an opinion without being vivisected by the warmists. This is seriously bad news all round.

  49. RoHa says:
    May 13, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I see West Antarctica as west of 0 but east of the 180 line, and if you head east from Queen Maud Land, you end up in West Antarctica without leaving Antarctica.

    Hence my idea that Antarctica has a North (the coast) and a South (the pole), but not a real East ot West.

    Still, if that is the convention, I now know.

    Ah, yes, the joys of living on a spinning ball. While North and South are defined by our planet’s axis, East and West are relative to our current location, and so labeling locations with those terms ends up being more or less arbitrary.

  50. RoHa, you got a geographic but not a geologic answer, that is also relevant to the media spin.
    The Greenwich meridian also roughly corresponds to the transantarctic mountains. The East ice sheet is growing, and because of the underlying bedrock is stable except on the margins, just like Greenland. The WAIS sheet west of the mountain range slopes to the sea, so can ‘slide’ off via glacial creep.. It is doing so in three areas. The largest is the Ross Ice shelf, which is recently very slowly losing mass. That is why the Andrill program looked at the Ross grounding line. Stable last 4000 years, and no evidence of larger deterioration in the warmer Eemian. Second largest is the Ronne. It is gaining ice mass, so subtracting from SLR. Third is the collection of six much smaller glacier flows into the Amundsen sea. That is what NASA deceptively called major. In reality all six equal 10% of Ross plus Ronne. Thwaites is the smallest of these Six. It is the one which models said was unstable, and would ‘unstoppably’ collapse over the next perhaps 900 years IF present trend continued for that long. And that got projected to WAIS to gin up the four foot SLR nonsense in the MSM. All geologically and glaciologically wrong.

    At the very least, NASA deceptively omitting key context, and the MSM knows little to nothing about Antarctica and is derelict in not reporting the record sea ice extent. Perhaps MSM fact check with experts like Prof. Turney and his Ship of Fools.

    Ross, Ronne, and WAIS ‘tipping points’ are an essay for the next book fortuitously just completed last month. Now I have to substantially rewrite to incorporate this new nonsense.

    • I’m not a scientist but I want to understand if possible. Help me understand this Antarctica sea ice extent thing you just mentioned. I don’t get how you automatically presume that a growing sea ice extent proves AGW is not happening. I understand how intuitively one would think so, but science is constantly throwing counter-intuitive stuff at us. What exactly is the mechanism making the sea grow? It is already well below freezing there so saying its getting colder doesn’t explain it.

  51. The Guardian article by Suzanne Goldenburg leads her story about the West Antarctic glacier melt with the subheading 4 meter sea level rise will happen. Her article is here:
    wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/guardian_goldenberg_antarcticslr.jpg

  52. Thank you, Larry, for this valuable review of the GRL and Science studies. Thanks also Rud for your comments on “context.” If you have links to relevant data on relative mass of the different WAIS ice shelves, please post in a follow-up comment.

    My two cents here is that the inevitable demise of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is old news, although the acceleration in flow and grounding line retreat found by the GRL and Science studies is newsworthy even if hyped by the MSM.

    Back in 1999, Science published a study by Conway et al. mapping Ross Ice Shelf grounding line retreat since the last glacial maximum (LGM). The researchers found that “most recession occurred in the middle to late Holocene in the absence of substantial sea level or climate forcing.” The researchers conclude that “the future of the WAIS may have been predetermined when grounding-line retreat was triggered in early Holocene time. Continued recession and perhaps even complete disintegration of the WAIS within the present interglacial period could well be inevitable.”

    When might the “inevitable occur”? Conway et al. estimate that if the Ross grounding continues to pull back at the 1990s rate, complete disintegration occurs in about 7,000 years.

    A chart from the study tracing Ross ground line retreat from the LGM to 7,600 yrs. BP, 6,800 yrs. BP, 3,200 yrs. BP, and the present is available on p. 95 of my critique of An Inconvenient Truth: http://cei.org/pdf/5820.pdf.

    For those with a subscription to Science, the reference is: Conway, H., B.L. Hall, G.H. Denton, A.M. Gades, and E.D. Waddington. 1999. Past and future grounding-line retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Science, 286: 280-283.

    • So you are saying it is all natural, nothing to be concerned about, we humans should just carry on as usual. You say the subjects studies are useful but then proceed to step on their message. The studies, or at least the report of the studies we are commenting on, seem to be saying the melting processes are speeding up due to AGW. If you are going to blow off the science, at least first state accurately what is being said. Then you all can move on to your stories about the hysterical media.

  53. I know I’m prob going to get trashed for my ignorance but here goes anyway….. Warm water is undercutting the glacier, causing it to melt and slide easier into the ocean. Now…that melted water is flowing into the ocean where, over the past several years, it has frozen into record levels because fresh water freezes easier than salt water. My question is this….Where is the warm water coming from? If the sea ice is growing at a record pace, how is it that the water is melting the glacier. And again….take it easy on me…I’m new at this.

    • Kenny, I’m not a scientist but I think I get the jist of what is being said. The “feet” of the glacier and ice sheets reaches over the continent edge down to the bottom of the ocean serving as a bulwark holding the land ice in place. The warm water you speak of is the deeper ocean water these bulwark feet sit in. Relatively speaking, the deeper water has warmed more than the upper surface water has warmed. I guess that warmer, deeper water is part of the global ocean dynamics we hear about where the “missing” heat of the past 15 years has been going.

  54. Climate Science needs a Six Sigmoidoscopy. Gage R and R, real statistics, etc, etc.

  55. The headline “West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s Collapse Triggers Sea Level Warning.” has become really hard to find on NBC News. It was still in my browser history at “http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/west-antarctic-ice-sheets-collapse-triggers-sea-level-warning-n103221″. The reporter, Alan Boyle, should be called out by name for submitting such a misleading headline, it’s akin to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. A news organization like NBC News has such a far reaching influence they should as accountable as advertisers are for making false or misleading claims.

  56. Yet more, this time from the New Yorker‘s blog:

    Elizabeth Kolbert quotes Rahmstorf as saying in a tweet: “One of the feared tipping points of the climate system appears to have been crossed.” She also quotes the headline
    of a Mother Jones article on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet thusly:
    ““This Is What a Holy Shit Moment for Global Warming Looks Like.”

    She also snidely invokes the infamous precautionary principle:

    Of the many inane arguments that are made against taking action on climate change, perhaps the most fatuous is that the projections climate models offer about the future are too uncertain to justify taking steps that might inconvenience us in the present. ….

    But the unfortunate fact about uncertainty is that the error bars always go in both directions. While it is possible that the problem could turn out to be less serious than the consensus forecast, it is equally likely to turn out to be more serious. In fact, it increasingly appears that, if there is any systemic bias in the climate models, it’s that they understate the gravity of the situation.

    Mind-boggling. Here is the link:

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2014/05/the-west-antarctica-ice-sheet-melt-defending-the-drama.html

    • Chris, just because something sounds exaggerated to you should not be cause to say there is not one shred of information there to be worthy of consideration. It is an equal, or greater exaggeration and leap of faith to presume that everything these scientist are saying is bogus.

  57. @matayaya

    “What exactly is the mechanism making the sea grow? It is already well below freezing there so saying its getting colder doesn’t explain it.”

    Sea ice melts on summer and grows on winter. If winter is colder than previous season, sea ice coverage increases. The melting on Antarctic land ice occurs mostly below sea level. Deep water is warmer than Antarctic sea surface. That’s why the sea surface is frozen but underneath is liquid.

  58. To matayaya:

    Except, sir, that the so-called GCM models, predicted a steady rise
    of approximately 0.2 deg. centigrade/decade. That has not happened.
    Since 1997, one of the major data sets–RSS–has quite literally shown
    no rise for over 17 years. All the others have shown no statistically
    significant rise for periods ranging up to, I believe, 21 years.

    Now, notice one further thing. In 2008, when NOAA put out their
    “state of the climate report”, they included the following statement:

    Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.

    In other word, on their own terms, the climate scientists at NOAA
    have given a testable, falsifiable prediction for their models vs. reality–which
    at least one of the major data sets has already met. To any scientist–and that’s
    me, sir–that means that their modelling of the real world temperature is incomplete
    or wrong.

  59. How much warm water can exist under the Antarctic sea ice?

    Answer none.

    The water next to Antarctica has three different states.

    – frozen sea ice at -1.9C (getting as cold as -30C when exposed to the air) and with little salt content;
    – very cold -1.8C water with high salinity (32 psi) that has been expelled from the sea ice above it – the next 100 metres of water under the sea ice;
    – very cold -1.8C water with very high salinity (over 35 psi) which makes this the coldest most dense liquid water on the planet (which means it immediately starts sinking and becomes the continuing flow of the Antarctic Bottom Water which sinks to the bottom of the ocean and spreads out at the very bottom of the southern oceans wherever it can flow to – and which eventually finds the lowest channels in the Pacific Ocean and flows into the northern Pacific somewhere (which we don’t really know).

    The biggest source of Antarctic Bottom Water is in the middle of the Weddell Sea under the sea ice with another main source under the sea ice in the Ross Sea..

    There is no warm water around Antarctica; there is only very cold sea ice, there is very cold less salty water and there is very cold more salty water.

    Warm water is only in the imagination of climate-science-fiction-writers.

    Now in the Arctic, there is a layer about 100 metres to 500 metres deep which is warmer but this has more to do with the stratification of the density of the water. Sea ice being the least dense, floating on top. High salinity cold water immediately under the ice sinking to the bottom, moderate density high salinity warmer water stuck in a layer, very cold -1.5C high salinity dense water at the bottom – Arctic Bottom Water – flowing out of the Arctic through 2 main 3000 metre deep channels which then flows out to cover the bottom of the Atlantic all the way down to about 15S (Antarctic Bottom Water which is denser than even this water is mostly below 15S in the Atlantic not having enough flow pressure to move beyond this latitude.

    Actual Thermo-Haline Ocean Circulation System versus the myths of climate-science-fiction.

    • Are you saying there is nothing to the premise in the recent reports that Antarctica is losing glacier and land ice beyond normal give and take? Are you saying there is no trend of the global oceans warming that might have some impact on the Southern Ocean?
      Maybe you can also help me understand how the increased Antarctic sea ice extent proves the global trend is toward cooling and not warming. How can getting a bit colder create more sea ice where it is already well below freezing?
      You say thermohaline ocean circulation vs myth. So the top of atmosphere measurements showing more energy coming in than going out is also myth? I’m skeptical.

  60. Dr. Strangelove, you say “Sea ice melts on summer and grows on winter. If winter is colder than previous season, sea ice coverage increases. The melting on Antarctic land ice occurs mostly below sea level. Deep water is warmer than Antarctic sea surface. That’s why the sea surface is frozen but underneath is liquid.”

    I still don’t get how a colder winter ensures more sea ice if the starting point is well below freezing. Don’t you give some credence to the premise of the ozone hole letting in space cold air above Antarctica that increases the wind speed around the continent, churning the sea ice up and outward, opening up new surface water than can freeze over. With this hypothesis, it is colder; but it is not the cold expanding the sea ice, but the increased wind. Point being, there could be more than one hypothesis to explain the phenomena and it doesn’t have to automatically negate AGW.

  61. Chris R,
    What do you say to the premise that the oceans have been absorbing heat during the “pause” and that top-of-atmosphere measurements still show the trend of more energy coming into the system than is leaving.
    Don’t write off modeling just yet. All professional fields use them now to help make sense of their metadata. Like computer programing, every generation of models is better than the one before. Models may be wrong, but they get us closer to right quicker than wading thru reams of tables. When a model proves wrong, you learn why it was wrong and that helps you make a better model next time. A model is a tool, just a tool; nothing inherently bad about them.

  62. Bill Illis says:
    May 14, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    With all that very cold water flowing away from the ice, I guess the resulting vacuum produced must be growing.

    (Hint: when the cold water drops to the bottom, something actually replaces it which tends to be “warmer” )

  63. Bill Illis, check out this paper which characterizes Upper Circumpolar Deep Water (UCDW) intrusions onto the continental shelf in WA. UCDW temperatures were observed “well above 1.7 C”.

    http://www.ocean-sci.net/8/433/2012/os-8-433-2012.pdf

    Very clever analysis which attributes the intrusions to eddy shedding off the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC).

  64. My two cents on the warmer water may be dated, but back in 2006, NASA scientist Robert Bindschadler had a study in Science arguing that slightly warmer water (just a few tenths of a degree) from higher latitudes reaches the base of Antarctic glaciers at the grounding line. The immense weight of the glaciers puts pressure on the base, lowering the melting point of the ice. In Bindschadler’s words: “Increased pressure at these greater depths lowers the melting point of this ice, increasing the melting efficiency of the warmer water. Rapid melting results.”

    One implication of the study seems to be that grounding line retreat would occur with or without global warming (although warming could accelerate it). Another implication: Once begun, the process cannot be stopped: “Retreating glaciers lengthen the distance warmer water must travel from any sill to the grounding line, and eventually tidewater glaciers retreat to beds above sea level. This might limit the retreat in Greenland but will save neither West Antarctica, nor the equally
    large subglacial basin in East Antarctica where submarine beds extend to the center of the
    ice sheet.”

    Here’s the reference: Bindschadler, R. 2006. Hitting the Ice Sheets Where It Hurts. Science 311: 1720-1721

  65. @Marlo Lewis: If the process is irreversible, how did the grounding line get so far out to begin with?

  66. “””””…..daveburton says:

    May 13, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    The disintegration of floating ice shelves has no direct impact on global sea level. The only possible impact is by affecting the rate at which glaciers uphill from the shelves flow toward the sea……”””””

    Not true.

    The “heat” energy to melt the ice, (latent heat, 80 calories per gram) comes from the ocean water that the shelf is floating on; not from the atmosphere (which is colder than the water).

    Since salt water increases in density, right down to its freezing point, then extracting all that energy, COOLS THE OCEAN. Why else would you put ice cubes in you Pepsi ??

    So when the floating sea ice melts, the sea level GOES DOWN !!

    It might cool one gram of water, by 80 deg C (not bloody likely) or perhaps 80 grams of water by one degree C.

    If both the Tc and the specific heat are roughly constant over that temperature range, then the way the heat distributes in the ocean is irrelevant; the sea level fall is first order independent of where in the ocean that latent heat comes from.

  67. Minor quibble: “ongoing” and “mainstream” are single words. A “black board” is something different to a “blackboard”, the most obvious characteristic of the latter being that they are rarely black :)

  68. matayaya (May 14, 2014 at 10:49 pm) “Maybe you can also help me understand how the increased Antarctic sea ice extent proves the global trend is toward cooling and not warming.”

    Red herring. There is nobody saying that.

    matayaya (May 14, 2014 at 11:07 pm) “Don’t you give some credence to the premise of the ozone hole letting in space cold air above Antarctica that increases the wind speed around the continent, churning the sea ice up and outward, opening up new surface water than can freeze over. ”

    Ridiculous pile of crap. The ozone hole doesn’t affect surface weather. The Katabatic winds are simply cold air flowing downhill. The ice forming 700 or 800 miles out at sea in winter is simply from locally colder weather and winter storms. In no way is it from ice moving outward.

    matayaya (May 14, 2014 at 11:39 pm) “Like computer programing, every generation of models is better than the one before.”

    More crap. The problem in computer programming is bad programs written by morons. Programs generally get worse over time until something comes along to replace the entire structure. With the modelers it is an even bigger problem because nobody is allowed to fix them without first joining the bad model club.

  69. Studies predicting things – and now – oh my oh my, – TWO studies saying the same thing so it must be true, should at least have some connection to measured data to see if they are valid. If the authors believe this slow collapse has been happening for some time and is not unstoppable, then you would think we’d see an increase in sea level rise. Yet the best data I’ve seen is that sea level rise has remained relatively constant since the temps started this newest and least peak since the end of the last ice age a couple of hundred years ago. In fact, in the last 1/2 decade, like the temps there even seems to be a slight decrease in the rate of this natural sea level rise. Certainly nothing in the data points to a problem adaptation cannot handle. Obviously long lived glaciers flow out and build back up like a river. This thing could be ‘collapsing’ forever and been ‘collapsing’ forever at a rate matching it’s build-up at the other end. I understand the study thinks this isn’t happening, but even with their stated rate of collapse, the local weather patterns that created the glacier in the first place ebb and flow and the glacier represents the average of this.

    Oh, just to throw it out there, as most people know, most glaciers around the planet at more normal latitudes are young. Glacier National Park’s are about 3000 years old. Once people start getting their facts together related to paleo-climate including since the last ice age, this current increasing level of panic just looks sillier and sillier.

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