Arctic Hell in a Handbasket

Posted by John Goetz

CNN posted an AP story tonight on their website regarding the separation in early August of a 19-square-mile ice shelf from Elsmere Island. It starts:

TORONTO, Ontario (AP) — A chunk of ice shelf nearly the size of Manhattan has broken away from Ellesmere Island in Canada’s northern Arctic, another dramatic indication of how warmer temperatures are changing the polar frontier, scientists said Wednesday.

Derek Mueller, an Arctic ice shelf specialist at Trent University in Ontario, told The Associated Press that the 4,500-year-old Markham Ice Shelf separated in early August and the 19-square-mile shelf is now adrift in the Arctic Ocean.

It sure sounds impressive and scary, but then most people probably think of New York City when they hear “Manhattan”. They might even think of the greater NYC Metro Area. But in reality, Manhattan is but one of the five Boroughs in NYC. And 19 square miles is roughly 4.4 x 4.4 miles. Is it really that impressive or alarming? It is actually smaller than the town limits of the little community I live in.

Furthermore, the ice did not actually melt. The article states that it is adrift in the arctic.

Here is the rest of the article:

“The Markham Ice Shelf was a big surprise because it suddenly disappeared. We went under cloud for a bit during our research and when the weather cleared up, all of a sudden there was no more ice shelf. It was a shocking event that underscores the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic,” said Muller.

Muller also said that two large sections of ice detached from the Serson Ice Shelf, shrinking that ice feature by 47 square miles — or 60 percent — and that the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has also continued to break up, losing an additional eight square miles.

Muller reported last month that seven square miles of the 170-square-mile and 130-feet-thick Ward Hunt shelf had broken off.

This comes on the heels of unusual cracks in a northern Greenland glacier, rapid melting of a southern Greenland glacier, and a near record loss for Arctic sea ice this summer. And earlier this year a 160-square mile chunk of an Antarctic ice shelf disintegrated.

“Reduced sea ice conditions and unusually high air temperatures have facilitated the ice shelf losses this summer,” said Luke Copland, director of the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research at the University of Ottawa. “And extensive new cracks across remaining parts of the largest remaining ice shelf, the Ward Hunt, mean that it will continue to disintegrate in the coming years.”

Formed by accumulating snow and freezing meltwater, ice shelves are large platforms of thick, ancient sea ice that float on the ocean’s surface but are connected to land.

Ellesmere Island was once entirely ringed by a single enormous ice shelf that broke up in the early 1900s. All that is left today are the four much smaller shelves that together cover little more than 299 square miles.

Martin Jeffries of the U.S. National Science Foundation and University of Alaska Fairbanks said in a statement Tuesday that the summer’s ice shelf loss is equivalent to over three times the area of Manhattan, totaling 82 square miles — losses that have reduced Arctic Ocean ice cover to its second-biggest retreat since satellite measurements began 30 years ago.

“These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present,” said Muller.

During the last century, when ice shelves would break off, thick sea ice would eventually reform in their place.

“But today, warmer temperatures and a changing climate means there’s no hope for regrowth. A scary scenario,” said Muller.

The loss of these ice shelves means that rare ecosystems that depend on them are on the brink of extinction, said Warwick Vincent, director of Laval University’s Centre for Northern Studies and a researcher in the program ArcticNet.

“The Markham Ice Shelf had half the biomass for the entire Canadian Arctic Ice Shelf ecosystem as a habitat for cold, tolerant microbial life; algae that sit on top of the ice shelf and photosynthesis like plants would. Now that it’s disappeared, we’re looking at ecosystems on the verge of distinction,’ said Muller.

Along with decimating ecosystems, drifting ice shelves and warmer temperatures that will cause further melting ice pose a hazard to populated shipping routes in the Arctic region — a phenomenon that Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems to welcome.

Harper announced last week that he plans to expand exploration of the region’s known oil and mineral deposits, a possibility that has become more evident as a result of melting sea ice. It is the burning of oil and other fossil fuels that scientists say is the chief cause of manmade warming and melting ice.

Harper also said Canada would toughen reporting requirements for ships entering its waters in the Far North, where some of those territorial claims are disputed by the United States and other countries.

I really like the comment “we’re looking at ecosystems on the verge of distinction

This is the time of year when Arctic sea ice reaches its minimum. Yes, right now it stands at the second lowest level measured in nearly thirty years. But is what we find reported in this article truly alarming and out of the ordinary?  I don’t know. I’m asking.

Talk amongst yourselves.

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Pamela Gray
September 3, 2008 6:23 pm

If I had any bats left I would ask them what they know.

September 3, 2008 6:32 pm

“Ellesmere Island was once entirely ringed by a single enormous ice shelf that broke up in the early 1900s.”
What caused that then?

Les Johnson
September 3, 2008 6:41 pm

At least the CBC reported that most of the break-up occurred in the 30s and 40s. Of course, most posters on that board ignore that part of the story.

September 3, 2008 6:52 pm

Small detail. New York City has “boroughs” not “burroughs”
Reply: Steve, thanks, no small detail. I let the spell-checker take control and should not have.

Retired Engineer
September 3, 2008 7:08 pm

What happened to the ice that broke off? Did it float away and merge with other ice? Did it evaporate in a giant puff of steam? We have only part of the story.

Pamela Gray
September 3, 2008 7:13 pm

Anthony, in Oregon, we call them asses, AND we have bats. Lots easier to spell.

Tim Lindt
September 3, 2008 7:17 pm

These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present,” said Muller.
During the last century, when ice shelves would break off, thick sea ice would eventually reform in their place.
“But today, warmer temperatures and a changing climate means there’s no hope for regrowth. A scary scenario,” said Muller.
irreversible ,no hope for regrowth,
do you see the lies too?

September 3, 2008 7:17 pm

This guy Muller is just another AGW alarmist along the same lines a David Suzuki,
Canada has plenty of them. I remember in the spring he was whining about another chunk of ice that broke away. It was playing 24/7 on the local news channel CP24.
I forget the headline but it was linked to climate change or global warming. He like David Suzuki want’s to lay the blame on Stephen Harper, because Harper is actually sane and has not drank the AGW kool-aid.
That the Liberal party has, it is going to go down in flames this fall because Canadians are getting sick and tired of being preached to by these fanantics. So bring on the elections the liberal “green shift” that they are trying to pedal is going to bring us, I hope a Conservative majority

Bill in Vigo
September 3, 2008 7:30 pm

As I sit and look at my glass. Oh my a piece of ice has come apart from the mass. It is melting and it is irreversible. In its current climate it can’t refreeze. It’s scary, must be climate change.
But the tea is still good.
Bill Derryberry

Pamela Gray
September 3, 2008 7:36 pm

Please, science is supposed to be “color” blind. I hate this artificial divide. “Liberals believe in AGW, Conservatives do not.” Horse poo. Here in the US we even have colors assigned to us. Liberal is blue, conservative is red. That has nothing to do with observed scientific phenomena. I am as liberal as they come. And as conservative as they come. I pick up gum wrappers, try to leave no footprint, I hate governmental rules regarding my household, I believe in unfettered adult individual rights (if you find love, you should have the right to marry it), I believe that corporate entities sometimes don’t consider anything other than their stock holders, I believe in full family planning choices, I believe in public education, and I don’t consider AGW to be a scientific phenomena.
It gets me in a pissy mood when political views enter into this debate on BOTH sides! So stop it!

September 3, 2008 7:40 pm

Speaking of global warming, or lack thereof, RSS for August is out. The anomaly is out at
Mo/Yr 2007 2008
July.. +0.363 +0.147
Aug.. +0.367 +0.146
The Aug 2008 number is +0.146 versus +0.147 in July. It’s 0.221 lower than August 2007. This brings down the 12-month running mean to +0.086, which is very slightly lower than the +0.091 12-month running mean to the end of November 1987. That’s almost 21 years ago.
What I’m really waiting for is Hadley and GISS 12-month means to drop below their 1995 values. Hadley might make it in the next couple of months. GISS by year end. Once we get annual means matching temperatures on the other side of 1998, global cooling will be undeniable.

James S
September 3, 2008 8:00 pm

“Ellesmere Island was once entirely ringed by a single enormous ice shelf that broke up in the early 1900s.”
Must have been all the SUVs that people were driving around in that caused that one.
Or perhaps ice shelves just break up naturally every now and again due to tidal / weather / climatic pressures?

September 3, 2008 8:27 pm

It’s OK. According to DailyTech, the Arctic as more ice twice the size of Germany this year:

Patrick Henry
September 3, 2008 8:29 pm

Here is a nice picture of when hell froze over – 20,000 years ago.
Listening to the looney left, we can infer that times must have been much happier when all of Canada and much of the United States was buried under two miles of ice. More ice is obviously a good thing, if you have an IQ of about 20.

Jack Simmons
September 3, 2008 8:30 pm

How old was the ice that broke off? The article stated this ice was thousands of years old. Was it there while the Vikings were raising cows and growing grain on the West side of Greenland?
How do we know?

Pamela Gray
September 3, 2008 8:56 pm

A conservative friend of mine (who I truly like) was aghast when I told him I did not believe in AGW. He could not understand how in the world a democrat could state that AGW is a farce. He believed that if you are a conservative, you must not agree with AGW. If you are a Dem, you must agree. Do you see the stupidity in that statement? His argument was as unscientific as it gets. Nuf said.

Leon Brozyna
September 3, 2008 9:00 pm

It is misleading to refer to an ice shelf as being thousands of years old. As I understand it, an ice shelf exists thanks to never-ending movement of glaciers as they slowly push ice out onto the sea. At some point in time, the further out to sea the shelf extends, the more fragile it becomes until a piece of it eventually breaks off. Seems like a regularly occurring normal event to me.

September 3, 2008 9:50 pm

Quoth’d Pamela:

It gets me in a pissy mood when political views enter into this debate on BOTH sides! So stop it!

Pamela, it’s pretty much only one side of the aisle that wants use “governmental rules regarding our households” and “fetter everyone’s individual rights” when it comes to Al Gore Warming. The Left has been, and continues, using pseudo-science, scare tactics and propaganda campaigns that would make Goebbels blush with envy to push forward a worldwide Socialist agenda that aims to control every single aspect of our lives.
The Left has turned this argument into a political one. They’re the ones who fired the first shot, declared victory without even engaging the enemy head-on (Algore & Hansen, et al.: “The debate is over!” Us “Uuuh, there was a debate? When? Ya’ don’t say? Well, let’s have one now. Algore & Hansen, et al.: “Lalalalalala… We can’t heeeear you!”) and they move the goalposts (or try to assassinate someone’s character) every time another one of their idiotic canards is shot down in flames with actual facts.
You may find it “shocking” that many of us Eeeevil Right Wingers™ actually work in the conservation field and do far more good for the planet than 99.9999% of the supposedly “caring” Leftists out there. Many of us also took oaths to protect and defend the US Constitution, and our individual rights as American citizens, and we don’t take those oaths lightly, even if we’re no longer in the military.
I’ll be thinking of Anthony and the rest of you fine folks as we’re sending TONS of carbon into the atmosphere tomorrow while setting fire to Mother Gaia. (It’s only about 100 acres, but it’ll be reeeeeal pretty.) 🙂

September 3, 2008 10:05 pm

Tim Ball has an interesting article (15 page pdf) on a similar story and the manipulation of words and facts. Its at

September 3, 2008 10:07 pm
September 3, 2008 11:05 pm
September 3, 2008 11:15 pm

There are several errors in the article. Ellesmere land has certainly never been surrounded by a continuous ice shelf. Only the north coast. This shelf is different from Antarctic ice shelves, since it is not fed by glaciers. Basically it is sea-ice that has remained frozen for a very long time and has built up to a thickness of several tens of meters. This ice-shelf was first seen by the Nares expedition in the 1870’s and was already breaking up at that time. This process has been going on since then, and will probably be finished in a few decades more. As for the age of the shelf, it is known to be less than 3,000 years since there is 3,000 years old driftwood on the beaches landwards of the shelf. Most likely it is from the Little Ice Age.
Incidentally Greenland Inuit has/had a special word for this type of coastal ice that never melts, but the word may be extinct now, since there hasn’t been any such in Greenland for a century.
That bit about “unusual cracks in a northern Greenland Glacier” is intriguing. A glacier *without* cracks would indeed be most unusual.

Bobby Lane
September 3, 2008 11:46 pm

Pamela Gray:
I’ll try to be a bit more civilized than BC, but he is essentially correct. I don’t find it surprising that you don’t believe in AGW and are still a liberal and/or Democrat. I doubt you find it very surprising that many conservatives actually work in ecological conservation. But the radical environmentalists are Leftists and mix in really well with the liberals, and much of the modern Democratic Left is “owned” by radicals such as those these days (read: & fellow-travelers). Let us say you are the victim of poor political company, even though I am sure you do not intend to be. Nonetheless, I applaud you for being one that thinks about things and does not just imbibe party doctrine as do too many on both sides of the red/blue divide. Don’t get too offended though at those who may be surprised. Stereotypes are around for a reason: they’re usually true to a large degree. But as I said, I am glad you don’t conform to the stereotype. And as for the stereotype of loud-mouthed, rude, the-only-good-liberal-is-a-dead-liberal conservatives, I must apologize for those with whom I myself keep political company. I am a conservative in good standing, typically voting Republican, and I disagree in part or in whole with some of what you say in both of your postings, but I am glad you have not been duped by the AGW crowd. If we had more of your kind that would be a step in the direction back towards sanity. But try not to let the political banter get under your skin too much. Science is about rational discourse, and to that we should keep as much as is possible here.

Bobby Lane
September 4, 2008 12:03 am

A bit OT but along the vein of the general senitment on this site towards the Warmists:
Here is an interesting tidbit I found while trying to find the lowest recorded minimum pressure for an Atlantic Hurricane. It was hurricane Wilma, by the way, in 2005 at 882 mb. See if you can spot the pro-AGW sentence in this paragraph.
First, the link:
Now the quote:
“Characteristics of an active multi-decadal signal in the Atlantic include: warmer SSTs in the tropical Atlantic region, an amplified sub-tropical ridge at upper levels across the central and eastern North Atlantic, reduced vertical wind shear in the deep tropics over the central North Atlantic, and an African Easterly Jet (AEJ) that is favorable for promoting the development and intensification of tropical disturbances moving westward off the coast of Africa. Recent studies also indicate that in addition to this multi-decadal oscillation the destructive power of hurricanes has generally increased since the mid-1970s, when the period of the most rapid increase in global ocean and land temperatures began. However, it is important to note that increased tropical cyclone activity does not necessarily translate into an increase in the number of landfalling tropical storms or hurricanes. Six of the past 11 years have had one or fewer landfalling hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, and there is no long-term trend in the number of landfalling hurricanes since 1900.”
I did a mental double-take when I read that. But it goes to show you how sneaky the AGW crowd can be. “We’re not saying that global warming causes more destructive land-falling hurricanes, since there’s been no trend in that since 1900, but well…” I suppose we must pity all those poor folks who somehow managed to build their houses in the middle of the tropical Atlantic only to have them smashed by hurricanes? Or am I missing something?
Whereas, from page 35 Dr. William Gray’s August 2008 report:
“For the entire United States coastline, 39 major hurricanes made landfall during the earlier 42-year period (1924-1965) compared with only 22 for the latter 42-year period (1966-2007). This occurred despite the fact that CO2 averaged approximately 365 ppm during the latter period compared with 310 ppm during the earlier period (Figure 17). This figure illustrates that caution must be used when extrapolating trends into the future. Obviously, U.S. major hurricane landfalls will continue.”
Yeah, obviously, but illustrated by the first above it is equally as obvious that some people are tough to convince otherwise.

September 4, 2008 1:13 am

Also, Pamela, in Canada the political parties are “CONSERVATIVES” (blue) and “LIBERALS” (red). There are also some whacko nutjob fringe parties that can be safely ignored.
The liberals have made this URGENT NEED TO DEAL WITH AGW an important part of their entire party, and the Conservative Prime Minister is going to allow an election to happen. See? These kind of articles will be filling the media for the next few weeks.
And, well, face facts. It IS a political issue, and the majority of liberal-types are more than willing to submit to whatever it takes to “save the planet”. Until the bill arrives, of course, at which time they’ll be casting about for a way to blame the Conservatives.

September 4, 2008 3:17 am

TTY there does appear to be glaciers on Ellesmere Island.
Did you look at the original article?
Also from Wikipedia:
“Large portions of Ellesmere Island are covered with glaciers and ice, with Manson Icefield and Sydkap in the south; Prince of Wales Icefield and Agassiz Ice Cap along the central-east side of the island, along with substantial ice cover in Northern Ellesmere Island. The northwest coast of Ellesmere Island was covered by a massive, 500 km (310 mi) long ice shelf until the 20th century. The Ellesmere Ice Shelf was reduced by 90 percent in the twentieth century due to global warming, leaving the separate Alfred Ernest, Ayles, Milne, Ward Hunt, and Markham Ice Shelves.[10] A 1986 survey of Canadian ice shelves found that 48 km2 (19 sq mi) 3.3 km3 (0.79 cu mi) of ice calved from the Milne and Ayles ice shelves between 1959 and 1974.[8] The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, the largest remaining section of thick (>10 m, >30 ft) landfast sea ice along the northern coastline of Ellesmere Island, lost 600 km (370 mi) of ice in a massive calving in 1961-1962.[11] It further decreased by 27% in thickness (13 m (43 ft)) between 1967 and 1999.[12]
The breakup of the Ellesmere Ice Shelves has continued in the 21st century: the Ward Ice Shelf experienced a major breakup during summer 2002;[13] the Ayles Ice Shelf calved entirely on August 13, 2005; the largest breakoff of the ice shelf in 25 years, it may pose a threat to the oil industry in the Beaufort Sea. The piece is 66 km2 (25 sq mi).[14] In April 2008, it was discovered that the Ward Hunt shelf was fractured into dozens of deep, multi-faceted cracks [15] and in September 2008 the Markham shelf (50 sq km / 20 sq miles) completely broke off to become floating sea-ice. [16] It seems likely the shelf is disintegrating.”

Les Francis
September 4, 2008 4:06 am

Pamela, Here in Australia we have the same sort of system as Canada. Blue Blood Conservatives and well ……. The True Believers – (The Reds). WE do have a fair proportion of watermelons also. One anomaly here is that the Conservatives are named the Liberal Party. The Left’ Centrist are Labor (Trade Union party)(ala Britain).
The most conservative people in Australia are actually the “Liberal” voting working class. They know where their bread is buttered. They want a constant stable government with the most important thing – Job security. The last thing required is a radical unstable economy driven by Zealots.
The voting age in Australia is eighteen up and we have compulsory voting. Don’t vote and you get fined. The “liberal” left wing Labour Government gets voted in by the younger voters and a small amount of swinging voters.
Any wonder that the AGW agenda is being flogged to death in schools, and on TV ads primed to the desired audience during their demographic watching period.

September 4, 2008 4:45 am

In that list of things that you believe in, I can’t find a single issue that would be considered conservative.

September 4, 2008 4:47 am

In regards to your friend, do you understand the difference between anecdote and data?
Do you deny that the vast majority of people who are pushing the AGW meme are left to far left?
Yes there are exceptions, but that doesn’t invalidate the point.

Steven Goddard
September 4, 2008 5:36 am

The Canadian Ice Service shows ice all the way up to the Alaskan Coast today.
No more swimming for the Polar Bears.
It turns out that microwave sounding, which is relied on for all the ice readings is not trustworthy. NSIDC states on their web site that microwave sounding underestimates ice during the summer.
The upshot is that NSIDC/CT/Bremen maps are missing a lot of ice around the edges, so comparisons versus the historical record of sailors are useless.

September 4, 2008 5:44 am

Bobby Lane (00:03:42) :

Here is an interesting tidbit I found while trying to find the lowest recorded minimum pressure for an Atlantic Hurricane. It was hurricane Wilma, by the way, in 2005 at 882 mb. See if you can spot the pro-AGW sentence in this paragraph.

Yep, it’s “the destructive power of hurricanes has generally increased since the mid-1970s” because that’s the period most touted as demonstrating AGW. 🙂
The references to “Characteristics of an active multi-decadal signal in the Atlantic” refer to the “Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation” whose warm phases (like the current on started about 1995) correlate with increased tropical activity (like the current period since about 1995).”
Lines like “there is no long-term trend in the number of landfalling hurricanes since 1900” suggest that Chris Landsea had a role in the report, he studied under Bill Gray and has initiated a task to review and fix errors in the hurricane record. Hmm, is decent.
BTW, the Colorado State Klotzbach/Gray hurricane forecast for September is out at . They’re expecting a very active month, but their forecast of five named storms will be exceeded if things keep up a they have.

Craig D. Lattig
September 4, 2008 6:32 am

Pamela Gray
Nice Rant! Hope you do feel better!…..and no, that is not a saracasm…it is quite serious. The total, overwhelling stupidity that all of us see in the AGW issue is enough to make any normal person want to scream and bang their head against the wall occationally. Good for you…you were able to get it out of your system, here, among friends.
Others have commented on your posts, and certainly have portions of a much larger truth. On the August RSS thread, Bobby Lane has a good handle on the situation.
As a dedicated independant, and professional environmentalist [it says so right here in my job title] who has been watching the radicals on both extremes, here is my take. There are well intentioned environmentalists, who seriously believe that we are doing irreparable harm to the planet…and who believe that only the government can force the rest of us to behave in what they feel is an environmentaly responcible manner…and if it wrecks lives and the economy, well, the ends justify the means. At the same time, there are the socialists, who will use any excuse to increase governmental powers…and AGW makes a really nice excuse. Both groups are very vocal, dedicated, and from where I sit, dead wrong….but their very high visibility makes it look like the all liberals hold the same veiws…tarred by the same brush.
Thankfully, this site is about the science, not the politics…but politics is part and parcel of human life, so we have to work around it, while trying to concentrate on understanding the very interesting climate changes we can all see happening.
This site is home to a very interesting and well informed group of individuals, who have a great deal of interesting information, that we all want to share…without the personal attacks so common elsewhere…and with only an occational nod to the politics of the situation. Thank you one and all!

Doug Janeway
September 4, 2008 6:51 am

I first saw this article at MSNBC and quickly dismissed it as GW media hype. I would classify this as journalistic sensationalism to to the hilt. Furhtermore, it is poorly written, lacks credible documentation and explanation and fails to leave the reader with a clear understanding of what actually occurred.

Bill Illis
September 4, 2008 6:59 am

I don’t agree that these ice shelves built up from long frozen sea ice and snow. They are all at the end of glacial valleys and would have been fed at some point in the recent 6,000 year past by the glacial ice sheet from the middle highlands of Ellesmere Island.
The existence of 3,000 year old driftwood could just be the result of the Holocene Optimum temps when Arctic sea ice would have been lower than today.
Here is a good high resolution sat picture of Ellesmere showing the middle highlands, glacial valleys and ice shelves on the north end of the island.

September 4, 2008 7:31 am

Nathan/Bill Illis:
Certainly there are glaciers on Ellesmere Island, but they are in the mountains well inland and have nothing to do with the shelf ice. That the Ellesmere shelf ice is sea ice is well established and described in many places in the litterature (see here for example:
The presence of glacial valleys only shows that the ice once reached the sea, probably last during the last glaciation.
Of course the driftwood is from a warmer period (though 3,000 BP is a bit late for the Holocene optimum). However the point is that the driftwood is on the beach inland of the shelf ice, and therefore shows that there was no shelf ice then, since the driftwood hardly walked across the ice on its own.

David Gladstone
September 4, 2008 10:21 am

Like I said to my readers, I hope those guys have an ‘ice day’! :]

September 4, 2008 11:21 am

If the named ice shelf broke off, can we give a new name when we discover a new ice shelf at the same location? There are some obvious names to use.

fred houpt
September 4, 2008 2:12 pm

I get the terrible feeling that those who buy into the fear that the northern ice cap is actually on the road to uncontrollable melt think that in the almost 5 or 6 months of arctic winter, under almost total darkness and bone breaking cold that…….shudder….. the ice cap CONTINUES to melt in an agony of meltdown.
I mean, do these people have a clue what goes on when winter blankets the area above the Arctic Circle? Do they actually think that any more is melting during the winter months? I just have a feeling that some actually think that melting goes on 24/7/365. A quick way to end this is to send the most rabid fear mongering of them all (Gore?) up to the North Pole to report back to us on lets say January 2’nd, with a web cam and microphone and just tell us what they see? Oh, I forgot, it will be totally dark…..tisk, tisk.

John Nicklin
September 4, 2008 2:58 pm

I’d also give him a candle to see by. He’ll also need it to keep from freezing his butt off.
What I find striking in all these reports of melting ice and calving ice sheets and glaciers is the underlying idea that some folks think that ice has never melted before. Just a little logic would tell them that if that were the case, all of the world’s water would be piled up at the poles, not just the bit that’s there now, all of it. Ok, so a tiny bit would be frozen out on a few mountains around the globe.
People really need to get out more.

September 4, 2008 4:03 pm

I’ve changed my name so that I can make some political comments!
As a Brit, a dedicated conservationist, working ecologist, and one time further left than Mao Tse Tung (when I was a student and we didn’t get to hear about the downside of all those happy smiling equal people in blue dungarees!) – its great to hear about how the different colours relate to AGW – in the US, Canada and Australia. Over here – the left-liberal press are the real guardians of civil liberty – our socialist government (red) has proven the nastiest authoritarian liberty taker in living memory – but they BOTH believe in AGW and support renewable energy – blindly – for example, a plant is being built that will process the whole of our annual export of wheat- for ethanol to put in the petrol tank (EU required) without any thought for the impact on world food supplies.
Recently, the director of Ecotricity – having just built a turbine against the wishes of the local elected government, but overuled by the central in the name of national need – opined that ‘we can build a better world, yes, but democracy as we know it won’t do it’. So Green is the new Black.
Only the true Blue conservatives hold out any hope. Dear Boris – the new blue Mayor of London – replacing Red Ken, a previous [snip, SKEPTIC subsituted ~ charles the moderator], has now signed up to AGW, but I don’t think he BELIEVES. The Blues just might come round when they see the damage that turbine fever, tidal barrages, biofuels and nuclear reactors can do – but somehow I doubt it.
There is, I think, something else going on – I haven’t got its name or colour – except that it IS dark. Its global. Al Gore has its number – and so do the Carbon Banks he promotes. Maybe its the need to believe itself – and not to question…..
I just gave a talk to a small group at a local festival (fair) – on what is really happening to the climate (cycles, periods, spotless suns) and up jumped the local Friend of the Earth and in a rude and highly intimidating way called me a liar and a charlatan – the audience gave him short shrift – they were rainbowheads with some respect for protocol – and they, along with the 9/11 ‘truth movement’ have always had a gut feeling about AGW – we got on fine with all the science, and the FOE went off to plot my downfall.
We live in interesting times, indeed.

September 4, 2008 4:24 pm

Here’s another local “global warming” story. I wanted to e-mail it straight to Anthony Watts, but can’t find his address.
Asian soot, smog may boost global warming in US;_ylt=Auvj4fqkZ4ZNtrdwR6dQGqCs0NUE

Pamela Gray
September 4, 2008 6:42 pm

Is it just me or do I see a plank in the republican platform? And does it not say “global climate change”? I must be seeing things. The good ol’ American red folks are all rank and file natural variability folks, or at least the vast majority of them say that. It can’t be true that their own platform has something on climate change in it. Afterall, they are the true believers in science and refute this political-religious nonsense, while the left side of the isle blithely believes in CO2 spirits and the Messiah Gore.
There is something vaguely familiar about my argument. Can’t quite put my finger on it.

Pamela Gray
September 4, 2008 6:53 pm

Sorry about the above post, but it gets my dander up when one side of the isle accuses the other of being more willing to be bamboozeled into believing in something that is not based on solid science and will believe in it so much that it is willing to stuff it down the throats of people who do not believe thus. BOTH sides of the red/blue divide sleep with that bed partner.
Shall we skip calling the kettle black?

September 4, 2008 11:35 pm

Excellent summary of the project on the Speedo website:
“He wants to alert people to the fact that the Arctic ice is melting faster than predicted by scientific models. He also wants to send a message of peace by placing 192 flags from every nation onto the North Pole…”
Anyone think that his next announcement will be that perhaps the Arctic isn’t melting quite as fast as we’ve been lead to believe?
Given that he’s 1) Got stuck almost as soon as he started and is still rather a long distance from the pole and 2) Forgotten at least 1 flag (that of his colleague) I’m inclined to agree with a post above that this must be one of the most poorly planned expeditions ever.
All those diesel particulates they are spewing out whilst bobbing around pointlessly up there must really be helping the environment.
Can’t be much longer now until they give up and admit that perhaps, maybe, they shouldn’t have taken all of the hysteria quite so seriously.

September 5, 2008 5:04 am

Pamela, read and compare the planks in the two platforms.
Just because one says we need to be concerned doesn’t mean that one is a dyed in the wool warmer.

Mike Bryant
September 5, 2008 5:35 am

Global Climate Change is quite simply the industrialization of much of the world. This is a problem that will solve itself as China, India and others become rich enough to clean up their own back yard.
Whoever takes the White House must recognize this simple fact, so that the climate war does not drain the world of it’s wealth.

David xke
September 5, 2008 6:17 am

OT, but In the eyes of most of our world leaders AGW has morphed into a convenient root of all evil that’s really easy to sell. It’s exactly the simplification that they were looking for.

Craig D. Lattig
September 5, 2008 9:27 am

Pamela Grey
lol…as always, I enjoyed your posts….
The republicans have been toying with a climate change plank for several weeks…and I beleive it was Monday when the settled on the final version.
OK, the republicans, being political critters, have yelled “Me TOO!” and have agreed to hold hands with the democrats while all of them jump off of the same cliff. I can’t imagine why this is a good thing…but it IS politics….
Since they are all products of our stellar education system, why should any of us really be supprised….
Seems more timely….
Excuse me for a moment while I finish screaming and go beat my head against the wall….

Jeff Alberts
September 5, 2008 9:35 am

Isn’t it more likely that the shelf broke off because of ice pushing it from the glacier behind?

Scott Covert
September 5, 2008 1:19 pm

Pamela, I respect your opinion and enjoy your posts very much.
Here’s my take on the Republican Climate change stance.
First off we are in a two party system. The Greens have to lump in with the Democrats and the Libertarians have to lump in with the Republicans on Presidential ellections. Ross Perot and Ralph Nader have shown us that by voting for your ideal representitive (if there is one) you can ruin the chance of the one of the two most likely to be elected. They will lose votes to someone whom has no chance of being elected.
That’s something everyone (practically everyone) knows. The republicans know (assume) they have the ultra-conservatives in their pocket. Why not then pander to the fence sitting liberals and conservatives?
Yes, it’s dirty but that’s Politics.
I envy the voters that have a candidate that is exactly what they want. Most of us have to hold our noses at the polls and pick the less stinky piece of poo.

September 5, 2008 8:12 pm

Mr. Watts asked if anyone knows whether the breakup of such shelves is a regular occurence.
Apparently no one here has any knowledge of that.
Lot’s of opinions, but no info on the question asked.
Reply (by JG); Actually, JG asked, not AW.

John Marshall
September 6, 2008 3:25 am

Large lumps of ice are easy to break from ice shelves. It needs a storm not higher temperatures. A few years ago NASA observed a wave front from a north Pacific storm travel south and break a large piece of ice from part of the Antarctic ice shelf. We only have 30 years of real time polar observation, via satellite, which is too short a time to get any measure of natural cyclic ice changes. We know that in 1903 Roald Amundsen sailed the NW passage and observed a great lack of ice whilst Franklin died in ferociously cold conditions a little over one hundred years before trying to find the NW passage. As a geologist all I can say is that CO2 never drove climate in the past so why would it do so now?

September 7, 2008 8:11 pm

This hell in a handbasket sounds a lot like a tempest in a teapot.

September 7, 2008 8:12 pm

The Markham Ice Shelf had half the biomass for the entire Canadian Arctic Ice Shelf ecosystem as a habitat for cold, tolerant microbial life
Save the Germs.

September 7, 2008 8:15 pm

Along with decimating ecosystems, drifting ice shelves and warmer temperatures that will cause further melting ice pose a hazard to populated shipping routes in the Arctic region
Arctic melt threatening Arctic shipping. Um. Come again?

September 7, 2008 8:22 pm

a habitat for cold, tolerant microbial life
Normally I don’t go pedantic on such things, but sometimes when the copy editor is asleep at the switch, the results are, well, risible.
(If it’s cold, how can it be tolerant? Would you care to replace that comma with a hyphen, laddie? Or at least just remove it!)

September 7, 2008 9:00 pm

Cold and tolerant–kind of like my moderating style, or is it my dating style?

September 7, 2008 9:07 pm

You are a rare liberal since most of them (I’ve found) won’t argue for what they believe in (I think they just make a mental note to add me to the extermination list).

W Robichaud
September 8, 2008 7:58 am

The Ice shelf can not be 4500 years old.
Here is a study from 1986. The shelves had collapsed.

September 8, 2008 9:03 am

evanjones (20:15:43) :

Along with decimating ecosystems, drifting ice shelves and warmer temperatures that will cause further melting ice pose a hazard to populated shipping routes in the Arctic region
Arctic melt threatening Arctic shipping. Um. Come again?

Evan, you missed another low hanging fruit. IIRC, the etymology for “decimating” goes back to the Roman Empire where to reinspire troops that needed it, a commander would line them all up and kill every tenth. The remaining 90% would then put out greater than 111% effort and do better than before.
The author should have used the word “devastation.” I think decimation crept into common usage in the aftermath of Katrina as I only recall previous natural disasters(*) causing devastation.
* The failure of the New Orleans levee system means Katrina was partially an anthropogenic disaster. And the failure of people to heed the warnings means means it was a political disaster. A complete package!
BTW, the Arctic shipping reference was probably to ice bergs drifting south into shipping lanes. Think Titanic. However, that’s south of the Arctic Circle. Oh well.

fred houpt
September 8, 2008 1:31 pm

“John Nicklin”: you know I recall reading somewhere (I wish I could recall the source) and this guy was lamenting that if this particular glacier would continue to retreat all along a large mountainous area it would be very bad for tourist business. I read this and nearly fell off my chair. Bad for tourists business? Yeah, because they shlep up there to go stare at the vast ice field and without the glacier to look at the locals figure that tourists will not come back. These type of people, in my imagination would have stood in front of the last ice age and held plackards reading “bad ice, bad ice, go home”. The foolishness that this discussion brings out of people is staggering. I am certain that if we did a sample poll of 10,000 Americans (for example) just asking on the street…..if the ice caps in the Arctic continue to melt in the winter months, a big number would say “no” they don’t and when asked why they would say “global warming” has put a stop that. I am certain.
“Jeff Alberts”, yes, I agree. I read a few years back when the hysteria was focussed on the South pole….that the main reason that a humungous berg larger than Manhatten had broken off was because the pressure from inland was so great – all due to increase of snow fall way inland….forcing the bergs to push out. But, the media all jumped on the story and claimed without a single drop of evidence that it was a sign of a warming world, when the fact was it was a sign that inland the snow had been higher.
But wait: I promise you that when this current hurricane season has blown itself out the press will publish op-eds (that’s about all they are) that will claim it is all because the earth is going over the tipping point, into the demonic grip of runaway global gore-gasses…..

September 8, 2008 7:28 pm

“fred houpt”
Not 100% sure but I think that was the a 1980 article about the Franz Josef glacier in NZ.

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