NSIDC’s Dr. Walt Meier on Catlin and Ice Survey Techniques

Walt sent me this essay unsolicited, and I think it is very useful for establishing some baseline techniques. There’s more useful information on techniques here than in the entire Catlin Arctic Survey website. UPDATE, a response has been posted at the end of the article. – Anthony

Dr. Walt Meier

Dr. Walt Meier

There have been several recent posts on sea ice thickness, particularly in regards to the Catlin expedition. I don’t have any direct connection to Catlin and in my research focus, I don’t anticipate using the Catlin data. I’m not responding to defend them or their methods. Thus, I can’t address details of their operation. However, from reading the posts and comments it seems like some basics on how sea ice thickness is estimated might be of interest.

Sea ice floats in the ocean. Because sea ice is a lower density than unfrozen water, it floats and a portion (~10-15% depending on density) rises above the water line, while most of the ice (~85-90%) is below the surface. The part of the ice cover above the water line is called the “freeboard”; the portion below is called the “draft”. The sum of the freeboard and the draft is the total ice thickness. There may or may not be snow on top of the ice which can add to the “snow+ice freeboard” and the “snow+ice thickness”.

A variety of techniques have been developed to obtain information about sea ice thickness. Most of these methods don’t actually directly measure thickness but estimate thickness from a related measurement. Here are some examples:

Upward Looking Sonar: Mounted on a submarine or on the ocean floor, these instruments measure the return of sound waves bouncing off the bottom of the sea ice. They measure the sea ice draft from underneath the ice. From this draft measurement, the thickness can be derived with knowledge of the ice and water density and the snow cover.

Altimeter: Compared to sonar, altimeter measure the opposite side of the ice. They measure the freeboard from above the ice, from which the total thickness is derived. The NASA ICESat is a laser altimeter, which actually measures the snow+ice freeboard, so knowing something about the snow cover is particularly important (http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/324868main_kwokfig2_full.jpg). Radar altimeters are also often used (including the European Cryosat-2 scheduled to be launched later this year); these penetrate through the snow and thus measure the ice freeboard. ICESat can take a lot of measurements over a large region of the Arctic, but there are limitations, which are discussed below. Altimeters can also be flown on airborne platforms.

Ground radar: This carried on or near the surface and sends out a radar pulse that echoes off the ice-water boundary. Thus it is an estimate of the total ice+snow thickness.

Drill holes: This is the simplest way to obtain ice thickness and it is the only direct measurement of ice thickness – drill a hole and stick measuring tape through it and you have the thickness (whether it is in units of meters, feet, or smoots [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoot]). A variant of drill holes are the ice mass balance buoys that Steven Goddard wrote about – drill a hole and put in instrumentation to estimate thickness automatically over time.

There are errors associated with any estimate, but the errors tend to be higher the farther one is away from a direct measurement. For example, for ICESat, you need to know very precisely: (1) the altitude of the satellite above the surface, (2) the ocean surface topography [sea level isn’t constant], (3) the density of the ice and water, and (4) the density and height of the snow cover. All four of these are challenges, though by far the biggest one is #4. There just isn’t a lot of information about snow. ICESat has already provided valuable information about sea ice thickness over large regions of the Arctic and more results will be forthcoming. However, the goal is to continue to improve these estimates to make them even more useful.

This is where surface measurements, radar and drill holes are particularly valuable because they provide “ground truth” – of both ice and snow thickness. The problem with these ground measurements is that it is difficult to obtain a large number of them over a broad area. And this is particularly important for sea ice thickness, which can vary considerably over short distances. This is a limitation of the ice mass balance buoys. There are only a few within the entire Arctic and they measure thickness on a single floe. Even in the immediate vicinity, ice thickness could be quite different than that being measured by the buoy. Thus, while the buoys provide an excellent measurement of thickness at a point through the seasons, they do not provide good information on the large-scale spatial distribution of ice thickness.

Ideally, we’d send a few thousand people out to the Arctic and drill thousands of holes and get good sampling of thickness, but this is just not possible. Even putting out more than a few autonomous buoys are impractical because of the cost of the buoys and the fact that they only last a few years (the ice melts and the buoys are lost, though people are looking about buoys that can float and could potentially be recovered and recycled).

This is where the Catlin expedition can be particularly valuable. To have a group out on the ice taking direct measurements of thickness across a relatively large region (compared to most field expeditions) of the Arctic is something that has only rarely, if ever, been done before. It is unfortunate that the radar may not have worked as well as hoped, but that is the nature of field work, especially in harsh polar environments – things almost never go according to plan. The radar would essentially provide a continuous transect of thickness estimates over several hundred kilometers. However, the drill hole measurements taken regularly over the route will still likely be valuable.

It is also unfortunate that they are not likely to get as much data from multiyear ice as hoped because that is of greater scientific interest, but any ground truth estimates can help improve data from satellites like ICESat is useful. Their planned route looked like it would’ve taken them over ice of varied ages, but the older ice moved out of the area over the winter and, as Steven Goddard showed comparing their position with the ice age data on NSIDC’s web page, they started squarely in first-year ice. Generally, logistics for an expedition need to be planned several months in advance, long before anyone can know how and where precisely the ice will move. Like many scientific expeditions, it seems like they won’t get as much data as hoped, but ground data from the ice is so rare that every little bit helps.

As a final note, since it seems the measuring tape used by Catlin is of great interest, I’ll end with a bit of information on that. Basically, it is simply a measuring tape, but with a collapsible metal flange at the end of the tape. The weight pulls the tape down through the hole to the bottom of the ice. Then you pull the tape taught and the flange opens and catches on the bottom of the ice. You make your measurement, then pull hard on the tape and the flange collapses and you can pull it up through the drill hole. Since such tapes with flanges are relatively specialized, there aren’t many places to get one. One place is Kovacs Ice Drilling Equipment

kovacs_gauge

http://www.kovacsicedrillingequipment.com/ice_thickness_gauge.html

NSIDC has a gauge from Kovacs and it has units of meters and feet, on opposite sides of the tape. I would guess that the Catlin tape is similar, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions.


Response to Dr. Meier by Steven Goddard.

First, I want to thank Dr. Meier for his candid explanation of how Catlin landed on first year ice, and how ice is measured. As always, he has treated our concerns seriously and that is very much appreciated.

Dr. Meier said that the ice “can vary considerably over short distances” and the Catlin web site has said “the team systematically seeks out flatter ice.” That implies to me that there is a geographical bias to the data which makes the entire data set suspect. (That might be analogous to having a temperature set where a disproportionate percentage of the thermometers were located in Urban Heat Islands.) If I were traveling across the Arctic pulling a 100Kg sledge in -40 degree weather, I would certainly seek out the flattest ice, as they have done.

The Catlin team has reported “Snow thickness, measured by the team during the first 2 weeks of March, shows an average snow depth of around 11 centimeters. Since then the average has risen to around 16cm.” Four to six inches of snow hardly sounds like a serious problem in estimating ice thickness in metres. They also said “March snow depths in this area should be 32‐34 cm on multi‐year ice.” If snow thickness is less than expected, does that imply that the satellites may be slightly underestimating the thickness of the ice?

If the multi-year ice shifted over a period of several months ahead of the expedition launch, why was the Catlin team seemingly surprised upon their arrival to find first-year ice? NSIDC knew it was first year ice in February. This reminds me of Lewis Pugh’s attempt to kayak to the North Pole, at a time when NSIDC maps showed the route blocked by 600 miles of ice.

It sounds like the new European satellite Cryostat-2 will provide the desired ice thickness data, without any geographical bias or concern about snow thickness. Speaking as a former amateur explorer, I certainly appreciate and admire the adventurous nature and grit of the Catlin team. However, I don’t see that there is a lot of scientific value to their ice measurement efforts – particularly given their stated disposition towards arriving at a seemingly pre-determined result.

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158 thoughts on “NSIDC’s Dr. Walt Meier on Catlin and Ice Survey Techniques

  1. Good.

    Just the facts.

    No spin. No apologies for what is or isn’t happening. Just a straightforward explanation on techniques for measuring floating ice.

    Well done.

  2. Give Catlin a break. Antibiotics were discovered by a guy that left his lab messy and went on vacation. They could still stumble onto something.

  3. Well balanced and informative. Group-think leads to confirmation bias, so maybe we should wait before we start acting like them (warmers).

  4. Dr. Meier,
    Thanks very much for your explanation of the methods used to determine sea ice thickness. I especially appreciate the view of the tape measure with the clever device attached.

    Could you please explain to me why Cryosphere Today Has become an outlier on NH summer ice extent here:

    I would really appreciate a comment on this.
    Thanks,
    Mike Bryant

  5. Thanks to Dr. Walt for the information. I think this is his second post since I started reading here. Well done.
    I work on wilderness trails and one week-long work party developed its own smoot-like measurement. One young lady was just the height our footer or cross pieces needed to be. We had to dig many of these trenches across the trail and if she could stretch out in it, then it was long enough and we could stop digging on that one. We think she got taller as the week wore on.

  6. I just want to thank Dr Walt Meier for taking the time to explain to us the basics in such a simple and straightforward way.

  7. DocWat,

    Its clear that the Catlin team had predetermined conclusions worked out well before they set foot on the ice, they set out to confirm a narrative and partake of a PR excersise, photo opportunities and PR stunts do not constitute a scientific project.
    You will notice that the Catlin expedition will only confirm what they set out to confirm, actual reality plays no part in their mission and data that does not support their agenda will be ignored, they may well stumble as you suggest but I fear the stumbling will be on their falsified conclusions and nothing more.
    Its very easy to selectively drill holes by visual discrimination, we know that the ice pack varies in thickness and we know that there are various tell tale structures visible to the expedition, the temptation to drill only where they find thinner ice would be tempting for an expedition that got its funding from organisations who only want to confirm their own agenda, there will be no impartial oversight of the drilling and we only have the word of the team.

  8. Thanks Dr. Meier. I would like to pose a question on snow cover. It seems from my limited reading so far, that snow cover is not really considered important. Is that true? It seems that it should be because the snow would melt before the ice, and shield the ice from some melting.

    Anyhow, thanks for acknowledging the skeptical corner. We appreciate it. :)

  9. Walt Meier,

    Thanks for the essay here!

    I hope to see you here periodically during the summer to talk about where you think the Arctic summer melt is heading. Most here, I think, will be watching it. It would be interesting to have your input.

  10. I am surprised no one knew about those tapes.
    There were many suggestions here about a ROD with a flange.

  11. Dr. Walt Meier,

    Do you really think that the Catlin “expedition” is anything
    more than a stunt, with per determined conclusions?

    There may or may not be snow on top of the ice which can add to the “snow+ice freeboard” and the “snow+ice thickness”.

    snow+ice thickness
    At what density does snow become ice?

  12. Thank you again Dr Meier for taking the time to give us the benefit of your specialist knowledge.

    I once had a client called Smoot. Mad as a snake in a teapot. He spent his days sitting by his front window with binoculars keeping a log of all comings-and-goings from houses within his field of vision. I’ll stick to feet and inches, much safer than Smoots.

  13. I would like to thank you as well Dr Meier.

    I do have one question. Is there a physical characteristic which diferentiates first year ice from multi year? Or is it thickness alone which determines what the ice is called?

  14. Dr. Meier –

    Thanks for that. Small question from a layman.

    You mentioned that the contour of the ice surface varies. To what degree does it vary under the surface? One might assume the abrasion and relative heat of liquid water currents underneath would make it relatively smooth, but one might also infer a contour similar to the surface as the currents provide the forces to heave the ice in the first place. To the degree that one has a varied contour on the underside, does that pose an uncertainty issue for satellite based measurements as well?

  15. I think I owe Pen and the gang a bit of an apology. I had assumed from their lack of preparedness, disorganization, and propagandist pronouncements, that AGW PR was the only goal of their efforts. I neglected to consider the remote sensing calibration benefit of the data they’re collecting, a particularly egregious oversight in my case, since in another life I spent a number of years doing ground control surveys for aerial mapping projects and well know the benefit that good ground data can provide. Hopefully the disorganized picture of their efforts so far is not indicative of their ability to collect and maintain reliable data and that when they bring the expedition home it will provide an assist to improving the reliability of satelite readings. Although I disagree vehemently with the carbon proscriptions the warmists are attempting to force on the world I must, being an old Minnesota boy and well aware of the difficulty of spending even a few hours out in the kinds of temps they’re facing, respect their willingness to place themselves in harms way, when most of the presumptive leaders of AGW alarmism seem primarily interested in personal and financial aggrandizement.

  16. Excellent indeed. My compliments and thanks to you Mr Meier if you read this. It can be very hard to find this sort of information for a layman like myself. We don’t claim to be experts and we try to soak up what we can so I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate when someone takes such a straight approach to sharing the information they think is missing.

  17. Dr. Meier’s post provides a reliable source of information to compare to the Catlin tools and process. I perused the Catlin site looking for their manual measuring devices. They were quite detailed in photo-documenting all their stuff right down to the water bottles, lip balm, bags of nuts, and socks. I would have expected such an important device as the ruler used to collect ice thickness data to be shown off some. What little I could find was not the Kovacs ice thickness gauge, but rather what looks like an off-the-shelf 100′ surveyor’s tape with no sign of what is on the end of the tape. The Catlin group got their ice auger from Mora of Sweden, not Kovacs of New Hampshire. Mora does not sell an ice thickness measuring device, but Kovacs does sell an auger as well as the guage. I did find a shot of Pen using a folding ruler down a hole. How that works to accurately determine the bottom past a couple of meters, I’m not sure.

  18. Dr Meier recycles pages from basic technical textbooks. Fine. Yet, just like his previous posts here, he seems much more willing to indicate the next hardware store than explain NSIDC choices (20 y average vs 30 y depending on the item measured, the CO2 bias versus atmospheric circulation evolution over the past 30 years as per works by Leroux, Pommier, Favre & Gershunov etc…). The justification for the Catlin novelty act is unconvincing at best: either there is a coordinated scientific effort to acquire meaningful data or not. One can feel some reluctance from Dr Meier yet he walks the plank he is told to walk.

  19. Dr. Meier,
    I’m sorry, just one last question.

    Do you believe that our use of carbon based fuels
    is causing substantially negative, consequential
    Global Warming?

  20. Dr. Meier, Thank you for posting on this site.

    Please, if you could, define “normal” as it relates to arctic temperatures, sea ice extent, sea ice thickness and sea ice age.

  21. I would have thought that submarine sonar measurements would be a more direct method. The pulse would have two reflected components; off the seawater/ice interface, then off the ice/air interface (with snow fuzzing the second?). With a nominal velocity of 1500m/sec*, a 15kHz pulse should provide at least 200cm resolution. Not the Catlin 47 significant digits, but ….

    Imagine the submarine on a drunkard’s walk under the cap, taking soundings at close discrete intervals. The results would be spectacular.

    cheers,

    gary

    * For the sake of argument, I’m assuming the velocity of sound in ice is about the same. Density is less, raising the V, while compressibility is greater, lowering V.

  22. Allow me to add my thanks, Dr Meier.

    One question: Are such amateur 18th Century style ground surveys really necessary in this day and age? Would it not be possible to install comfortable base stations from which surveyors could sally forth with proper drilling and measuring equipment — and protection? Obviously that would be a heavy financial investment – but compared with satellite programmes and submarines…

  23. I have to say that the people jumping to conclusions about the Catlin expedition give skeptics a bad name, and make us look as bad as the alarmists (who also jump to conclusions).

    Personally, I doubt that the Catlin team will *falsify* results – I think they are just a bit inept, and in it as much for the *personal* publicity as the science. It’s not as if the biometric web site, with out-dated (& thus repeating) data, was within their control while they are out in Arctic! I’m sure they’ll wish to shoot however they hired to do that biometric web site, once they hear what they did…

  24. Slightly off-topic, I was wondering if Dr Meier still had some links to “Cryosphere Today”? The NH Seasonal sea ice plot (top right corner of the front page), which shows quarterly seasonal NH ice, now appears to me to be two seasons out of date. It’s an interesting plot, and it would be nice to see it updated. Also, any thoughts on producing a similar SH seasonal plot?

  25. Re: drilling. How do you know the hole you drill is plumb? Can you game the system if you drill at a slant?

  26. Nice article, interesting information on how to measure ice.

    FWIW, the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoot is not active in the article since there is no space between the link text and the enclosing brackets (wordpress needs a space between chars and the link text to identify it as a link and auto insert the HTML to make it work…)

    I did a copy / paste into another browser window and the link does work. I find it an amusing unit of measure ;-)

  27. Yes thanks Dr. Meier good article.

    “As a final note, since it seems the measuring tape used by Catlin is of great interest, I’ll end with a bit of information on that. Basically, it is simply a measuring tape,”

    Catlin site photograph.

    http://www.catlinarcticsurvey.com/science

    This is an image of Pen using a plastic folding ruler.
    You can see the hinge pin.

    This page will also allow you to download a pdf file:
    “Ice Report 14.4.09
    The results collected in the first month of the Catlin Arctic Survey point to an unexpected lack of thicker Multiyear Ice”

    The ruler must be giving “unexpected” low readings.

    Dr. Meier, I think you are wise not to I “anticipate using the Catlin data. “

  28. Dr Meier

    Thank you for your post.

    It would be interesting to know firstly which ice thickness measurement surveys have previously been and are being used to tie satellite data.

    Secondly to know the extent to which US and Russian satellite data such as on the site below compare as independent and overlapping surveys, if indeed they do, to provide additional supporting confidence.

    http://www.aari.nw.ru/default_en.asp

  29. We should not let our focus meandor off the real subject here. That is we already know we’ve been through a warm period and that the Arctic ice has got thinner. THIS SHOULD NOT BE A SURPRISE.
    The question remains what caused the warming of 1975 to 2000?

    Natural or manmade factors?
    The Catlin expedition will nothing to answer that question. And very little indicates that it was CO2.

    Anyway, thank you Dr Meier for the informative comment and your time.

  30. So given the updated position of multi-year ice, this expedition shouldn’t be surprised to find a lack of it. So why are they conveying such surprise to journalists, and why are the journalists spreading the disinformation? It seems scientists such as our esteemed author should be going out of their way to correct the record.

    Also, one other criticism of this expedition’s data record so far is that their precise locations are not being transmitted. I presume they are keeping such a record of their holes’ locations and depth measurements to compare later with other modalities. If not, it doesn’t seem like there is a whole lot of point to the exercise. Well, except for its propaganda value. I shouldn’t discount that, I guess.
    =======================================

  31. I would agree with the above assessment about it being wise not to anticipate using the Caitlin data, as I cannot find any data either.
    I would expect to see in the pdf a comparison of Caitlin drill depth vs Satellite data, whether in graph or tabular form.
    Failing that, a daily summary of drill depth data on about a week delay somewhere on site or a link to it. Anything is better than nothing.

    Many thanks to Dr. Meier for taking time to explain how this whole thing is supposed to work.

  32. “Catlin site photograph.

    http://www.catlinarcticsurvey.com/science

    This is an image of Pen using a plastic folding ruler.
    You can see the hinge pin.”

    The photograph demonstrates how the snow on top of the ice is measured. A straight edge is laid across the snow and then a measurement is taken between the top of the ice and the top of the snow.

  33. B Kerr (02:37:29) :
    B Kerr (02:37:29) :
    Catlin site photograph.
    This is an image of Pen using a plastic folding ruler.
    You can see the hinge pin.

    More disinformation here. If you are going to reference the photo why not look at it first!

    To the right of the “stick” overlaying the green “thing” is a tape measure.

    I think I read somewhere that they measure the distance between ice top and water top (in the hole) having left it a few moments for the water to settle.

    Before pouncing like rabid wolverines on supposed error and falsifications try just taking a LLLooonnnggg look and check your facts.
    On another thread a illustrative photo was disected (shadows indicating not taken near pole etc). Having now agreed the shadow was not a shadow there is even a complaint that the photo was not taken using a more scientific camera (one using a rotating colour filter in front of a sensor!!!).

    Then of course there was the video of ice drilling – now admitted to have been found by pking around the hosts web site. There being no direct link to it from the Catlin site.

    And whatever happened to all those comments about their breaths not being visible in the tent videos!!!!

  34. You have added to this laywoman’s knowledge Dr Meier so thank you for that.

    I was intriqued by Smoots. Perhaps we should measure the departure of warmist propoganda/theory from reality in Hansens?

  35. It is interesting that the topic is now the thickness of ice. Since the previous topic- ‘no ice’ has failed to have the ice cooperate, the alarmist industry is now going to worry about the thickness of the ice and use ignorance about that to keep the fear alive.
    Of course, as Arctic ice recovers from its cyclic low, the ice will tend to be thinner.
    Catlin = fraud = AGW.

  36. Who did the Catlin expedition consult on the parameters for the survey? They evidently didn’t ask for input from NSIDC. I think it the explorer personality to not consult anyone thank you very much.

  37. The fact that these publicity hounds only measure the thinnest ice is telling. If they had drilled a hole exactly every mile, for instance, sometimes they would be drilling through a hundred feet of ice on a ridge.

    It’s only a matter of time before they start pointing out any open water they can find. They’re probably anxiously looking for it right now and when they spot open water, they will head straight for it so they can be “rescued” from the melting ice.

  38. bill (05:06:55) :

    Yes bill but what is the yellow “thing” which is in the hole.
    The “thing” with numbers on it?

    Give you a hint.

    http://www.diy.com/diy/jsp/bq/nav.jsp?action=detail&fh_secondid=9285061&fh_view_size=10&fh_location=%2f%2fcatalog01%2fen_GB&fh_search=rulers&fh_eds=%C3%9F&fh_refview=search&ts=1240225066061&isSearch=true

    When I looked at the other “thing” I thought it could be a tape measure. I looked at it more closely and the part that is shadow looks like a rope.

  39. FWIW, the arctic sea ice extent appears to be at the highest area coverage for this date in the last eight years.

  40. hunter (05:23:09) :
    … Catlin = fraud = AGW.

    Smokey (05:33:07) :
    The fact that these publicity hounds only measure the thinnest ice is telling. If they had drilled a hole exactly every mile, for instance, sometimes they would be drilling through a hundred feet of ice on a ridge.

    Are you people for real?!!!!!!!!!!!!
    In what respect is Catlin expedition a fraud – remember a legal case could result from your disclosure.

    Exactly what would the purpose be of measuring the pressure ridge height? In the same way I’m sure they will not report a zero ice depth because they tried drilling in a lead.

    Are you suggesting Smokey that at -40C they wander around the ice tapping the ice to find the thinnest and then drill. I would suggest they do what they say they are doing – lay out a line and drill every few metres. Or are you also accusing them of fraud? in which case I’m sure the legal people would be interested.

  41. Thank you, Dr Meier. I find reasoned contributions from people who know what they’re talking about most helpful!
    What did strike me from the posting was that, given the variation in ice thickness within such a small area, is it possible that what the Catlin team are doing (and giving them all the benefit of the doubt) is essentially meaningless since there is no way of knowing what the ice thickness was last year or will be next year or is now 100 metres from where the measurement was taken?
    We can agree that the Arctic ice coverage hit a low in 2007 but is this relevant to anything in the real world, especially if in palaeoclimatological terms (I hope I’ve got that right!) an ice-free Arctic is “normal”.
    Whatever “normal” is.

  42. bill,

    Yes, as a matter of fact I do think the whole thing is based on fraud. They pretend it’s science — but their minds were made up before they started.

    If they had used a grid, for example, and drilled into the ice at very specific intervals, they would have gotten an average ice thickness.

    Show me where they have ever drilled into thick ice — which is all around them, as they’ve pointed out themselves. They have had to climb over ice ridges. But rather than drill into thick ice, they avoid it and look for thin, first year ice.

    This publicity-seeking stunt is to science as astrology is to astronomy. It has nothing to do with true science, and everything to do with advocating for a predetermined agenda: that the polar ice is fast disappearing.

    I expect to see them eventually being “rescued” from the melting ice. Then the book tours begin.

  43. B Kerr (05:40:37) :
    Yes bill but what is the yellow “thing” which is in the hole.
    The “thing” with numbers on it?

    it is a folding ruler they use to measure the water level below the ice surface. Your point is?

    When I looked at the other “thing” I thought it could be a tape measure. I looked at it more closely and the part that is shadow looks like a rope.

    Observation is not your good point is it? At one moment the “rope” is very thick with regular marks on it (looks like inches to me) and then at the green thing it turns on its side (judging by the shadow) and becomes a very thin “rope” It might be a nylon tape type of rope or it is probably a tape type of measuring tool!

  44. We don’t know the value of the ‘science’ they are doing; absent more information about location, that can’t be determined. So far as ‘fraud’ goes, Bill, it seems to me fraudulent for them to claim, and have purveyed through the news media, that they are surprised to be finding so much thin ice. If they really are surprised, they didn’t prepare adequately. If, as many suspect, they aren’t surprised, then the information they are letting out is fraudulent.
    ==============================================

  45. I feel that if they are “Rescued” they will put the Aircrews or Icebreaker Crews in peril.
    Nothing gets a crew’s toungue wagging like rescuing idiots from a situation they created themselves.I have a friend who was a Canadian SAR (CH-43) driver.I’d love to hear from him about this impending mess.I just hope they don’t end up Polar Bear scat.
    Thank you Dr. Meier…
    My friend,BTW was last seen with his wife gettng on a plane to Tahiti.No doubt doing a little sea level research on the beaches…

  46. Thank you Dr Meier but it would have better for you to post an opinion on the Wilkins Ice Shelf recycled story that one in your own shop perpetrated. The Catlin PR stunt has already been exposed as a fraud. There is no doubt the Arctic is recovering and the world has cooled based on the data you guys have published. How much longer are we mortals going to hear the feedback is going to flood the low lying areas and turn everything else into a desert. Climate is like the weather; mother nature is in control and will always surprise you.

  47. Could Dr. Meier inform Senator Waxman that the Arctic ice floats on the ocean. This might help resolve his confusion on the subject. Further it might help resolve the evaporation conjecture. We have before congress a significant bill, presented by Senator Waxman and some help on the basic science would be useful.

  48. Thanks, Dr. Meier.

    Re: measuring, if you browse the photo gallery and click on the album labeled “Science Equipment”, you can find a couple of images of Pen Hadow taking measurements using a foldable, rigid ruler at the Polaris Camp – presumably as part of the training they did prior to the expedition. The flexible tape can be seen also. In the same album, there is a fairly good image of it in the foreground of an image showing Hadow packing or inspecting the SPRITE device in an office, but I can’t make out the flange, if one was used.

    I do hope they are documenting each drill site with images and GPS locs.

  49. bill (06:06:33) :

    “I give up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    What? Give up your lawsuit already?

  50. bill (05:06:55) : “I think I read somewhere that they measure the distance between ice top and water top (in the hole) having left it a few moments for the water to settle.”

    Dude! As Dr. Meier points out “. . . most of the ice (~85-90%) is below the surface [of the water] . . .” If, as you think you read somewhere, their measurement if from the ice top to the water in the hole, they will be missing 85% of the ice because “water seeks its own level.”

    You didn’t do well in high school science, did you.

  51. Ah, my apologies – I see from earlier posters’ comments that my previous post was somewhat redundant. Snip at will. Thanks!

  52. Some links for those interested in exploring Ground Penetrating Radar in measuring snow/ice:
    Ground-Penetrating Radar Applications in Rivers, Lakes, Ice, Snow, and Permafrost US Army ERDC Cold Regions Research & Engineering Lab e.g. see their Ground-Based Crevasse Detection on the Antarctic Ice Sheet (It can get embarrassing to drop a LC-130 aircraft into a crevasse!)

    Note:

    The profiles (Figure 11.19) not only revealed the thickness of the ice but also that of the snow cover.

    2004, p 452, Ground penetrating radar, D. J. Daniels, Institution of Electrical Engineers, 2nd Ed. ISBN 0863413609

    In this study Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) has been used to investigate snow accumulation variability in the southwestern Antarctic Peninsula to aid the interpretation of a new ice core record. The GPR revealed homogeneity in the observed isochrones to a depth of 150 meters, encompassing the depth of the ice core (136 meters), over a 20 km radius from the central drill site. The GPR records have been used to validate accumulation records that reveal a doubling in snowfall in the southwestern Peninsula since 1850 allowing us to infer that this is a true climate signature and not a result of topography changes or flow.

    Investigating snow accumulation variability on the Antarctic Peninsula using Ground Penetrating Radar, – A tool for interpreting ice core records, Elizabeth R. Thomas, June 2008, Science report 824, Geophysical Equipment Facility (GEF),
    Note that this DOUBLING in snowfall is in the southwestern Peninsula which has the major temperature increase. i.e. the glacier is increasing in thickness, not melting.

    Local-scale snow accumulation variability on the Greenland ice sheet from ground-penetrating radar (GPR) John Maurer, University of Colorado at Boulder

    Distortion of isochronous layers in ice revealed by ground-penetrating radar David G. Vaughan, Hugh F. J. Corr, Christopher S. M. Doake & Ed. D. Waddington, Nature 398, 323-326 (25 March 1999) | doi:10.1038/18653

  53. Dr. Meier has made an excellent argument for disregarding anything that comes of the Catlin “survey”.
    I disagree with most of this following statement however; “Like many scientific expeditions, it seems like they won’t get as much data as hoped, but ground data from the ice is so rare that every little bit helps.”

    Every “little bit” of bad science, when added up, makes merely a lot of bad science.

    Regards and thanks to Dr. Meier for the “sea ice measurement 101” I would argue that most of us lowly peons here were already well versed on this topic though… But every little bit helps!

  54. Thank you Dr Meier for your time and effort in posting here.

    Bill, I would have a lot more confidence in the Catlin Expedition if they had been upfront about their equipment failures, but when you advertise yourself as “A pioneering scientific expedition to help determine the lifespan of the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice cover”, then get caught obscuring the reality of what is going on with the “science” you are doing while on your expedition, well I guess that is what makes me a “skeptic”.

  55. One question: Are such amateur 18th Century style ground surveys really necessary in this day and age? Would it not be possible to install comfortable base stations from which surveyors could sally forth with proper drilling and measuring equipment — and protection?

    Of course, at various costs. For some values of “comfortable”, explorers in ships have drifted with the ice. There are plenty of construction and truck components which can be rigged up with remote controls and fuel tanks. With enough money there could be remotely controlled or autonomous devices wandering around the ice, with assorted operational lifetimes. We could pepper the ice with balloon- or missile-delivered ice radar units. Or rent a nice, warm, nuclear-powered submarine. Got money?

    It would be nice to include in the data the information of locations and sizes of ice formations and leads, rather than merely note that a lot of walking was needed to get around an obstacle in order to reach a place suitable as both a drilling and camping site. Is this an ice survey or a camping site survey?

    Oh, and this is not an amateur project. They’re getting paid, or at least fed, for this work, so they’re professionals. I don’t know if that disqualifies them from the Winter Olympics.

  56. While in theory it’s a good idea to have people making measurements on the ground, I don’t trust this particular set of people.

  57. It sounds like Waxman and Boehner both need a little more science in their diets. Boehner just recently spoke of CO2 being ‘carcinogenic’.

    Well, a little more science might not be a bad idea. Read Plimer’s ‘Heaven and Earth; Global Warming, the Missing Science’. There is an excellent review of it in the Australian, found through icecap.us

    Another great read is Peter Huber’s new article in the City Journal, ‘Bound to Burn’. He explains why we’ll not wean off energy from hydrocarbons soon. Aren’t you glad that CO2 doesn’t really warm the planet much?
    =========================================

  58. bill (05:49:58) :
    hunter (05:23:09) :
    … Catlin = fraud = AGW.

    Are you suggesting Smokey that at -40C they wander around the ice tapping the ice to find the thinnest and then drill. I would suggest they do what they say they are doing – lay out a line and drill every few metres. Or are you also accusing them of fraud? in which case I’m sure the legal people would be interested.
    —————————-

    How terrifying ……. legal people being interested !!

    Would Catlin be the plaintiff or the defendant Bill ??

  59. Dr. Meier,

    You stated on your website on April 6th that because most of the Artic ice is “thin” first year ice, that it would melt rapidly. The data so far shows that the melt rate is slower than past years, and the ice extent is converging on the 1978-2000 average. Why is this? Why was your forecast so far off?

  60. I am grateful to Dr. Meier for his lesson on sea ice measurement re thickness. I certainly have benefited. My biggest concern is about how scientifically, how accurately, any expedition that calls itself scientific is measuring sea ice. I did not see much in the way of intelligent planning or truthful reporting from the Catlin expedition. If my memory serves me, multi-year ice is pretty much in one area of the arctic at present; the Catlin expedition began far away from the multi-year and in a place where ocean currents, which move the ice, were against them.

    Dr. Meier said: “This is where the Catlin expedition can be particularly valuable. To have a group out on the ice taking direct measurements of thickness across a relatively large region (compared to most field expeditions) of the Arctic is something that has only rarely, if ever, been done before.”

    Others on this blog have noted that the findings of this group seem to have been decided before the expedition got underway. The headline sponsor, The Catlin Group, Ltd, is underwriting insurance for “climate change”; In October 2007 a Group subsidiary that manages the Catlin Syndicate at Lloyd’s joined Climate Wise, an initiative to sponsor research, public debate, reduce environmental impact, and support climate awareness of clients; this group has entered into a contract with Carbon Neutral Co, a leading carbon offset and consulting business. They will purchase offset credits and use them to finance alternative energy and other environmentally sound projects.

    Then of course there is the WWF, and the fact that the findings will “taken to the national negotiating teams working to replace the Kyoto Protocol agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in December 2009” (From Insurance Journal 3/09).

    With these purposes in mind, and with the lack of scientific integrity of the on-the-ground researchers, It is hard to imagine anything but “cooked” data and interpretations, the primary concerns of those reading this blog.

    I would think that anyone who was going to make any reasonable measurements of the sea ice would coordinate those measurements with both upward looking sonar and the altimeter, then maybe some truth would be forthcoming.

    I would appreciate Dr. Meier’s comments on the scientific integrity of this particular effort to measure sea ice.

  61. If this truly were an effort to substantiate ice conditions with ground sonar and not a publicity stunt, the same re-supply helicopter would have been employed to run out to a spot, drop a team, take measurements, get back in, and so on. While I appreciate Dr. Meier’s post, I could have developed a better scientific experiment and I have neither a doctorate, nor a background in measuring polar ice. However, I have published scientific discovery and I do know well designed and carried out experiments. The Catlin stunt is just that, a stunt. The data is most likely contaminated and useless, or there is nothing to validly compare it to, thus still being useless. The Catlin team and their sponsors should be banned from further scientific endeavors via blacklist.

  62. Just in case you missed these:

    ONE: The reference to Waxman (TerryBixler (07:11:21) : ) includes the following quote:
    “We’re seeing the reality of a lot of the North Pole starting to evaporate, and we could get to a tipping point. Because if it evaporates to a certain point – they have lanes now where ships can go that couldn’t ever sail through before. And if it gets to a point where it evaporates too much, there’s a lot of tundra that’s being held down by that ice cap.”
    One report is here:
    http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2009/04/i-may-have-been-wrong-when-i-said-government-officials-werent-dumb.html

    TWO: For all who have an image of old thick ice on the Arctic Ocean, maybe you missed this:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/13/watching-the-2007-historic-low-sea-ice-flow-out-of-the-arctic-sea/#more-7019

    Scroll to the video and watch it, noting the date in the upper right. This makes me want to do a ‘search and replace’ on the word ‘melt’ regarding Arctic ice – ‘melt’ to be replaced with ‘flushed out.’

  63. David L. Hagen (07:46:23) : “Some links for those interested in exploring Ground Penetrating Radar in measuring snow/ice…”

    Excellent! I quoted from your comment here over on the relevant CA thread. I’m particularly interested in where the latent heat goes from all that water vapor turning into Antarctic snow…

    Thanks to those who made all the considerate, reasoned comments here, and especially to Dr. Meier.

  64. Dr. Walt Meier…

    Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation on ice survey techniques.

    Personally, I have not questioned the importance of the Catlin group for a better understanding of the physical state of the arctic frozen layer; nevertheless, the intention of the mission clearly is biased to AGW cause, never in support of scientific knowledge. Perhaps their techniques are correct, perhaps they are not; I don’t know. What I know for sure is that the results will not prove, absolutely, that human beings or carbon dioxide emitted from human activities are the drivers of the arctic ice melting.

  65. To be clear, published scientists and researchers have had their hands slapped for sloppy work, and in a very public way. I see no reason why this same effort to keep scientific work above board cannot be applied in this instance.

  66. Having worked in the Canadian North in the winter doing mineral exploration I can attest to the problems with gathering useful data at temperatures less than 20 below. Everything take seemingly twice as long and equipment breakdowns are more frequent. Productivity was woefull however one cannot walk on a frozen lake during the summer.
    This was 20 or more years ago and there has been significant improvement in equipment since then. We used to go through cases of high priced alkaline batteries in our geophysical instruments as they only lasted hours at minus 20 as opposed to days in the summer. (Now one just steam heats the battery to get it to work).
    I’ve drilled many holes through the ice with a hand auger, mostly less than a meter. It’s hard work and anything over 30 cm takes considerable time. One drill hole mesasurement using a hand auger will likely take one to two hours
    Today’s post from the ice (with it’s improbable photo) notes that they are completing 7 to 9 hours of non-stop topographical observation and 3-5 hours of static observations and recording up to 76 such observations (25 per person) per day.
    This sounds significant if they are recording data at 76 specific locations.
    Or are they just recording an avarage of 76 bits of data per day.
    Given the expeditions history of selective disclosure I suspect we have been given another dose on non-information.
    I also don’t think I’ll be using the data generated by the Calin crew.

  67. Steven Goddard wrote:
    The Catlin team has reported “Snow thickness, measured by the team during the first 2 weeks of March, shows an average snow depth of around 11 centimeters. Since then the average has risen to around 16cm.” Four to six inches of snow hardly sounds like a serious problem in estimating ice thickness in metres. They also said “March snow depths in this area should be 32‐34 cm on multi‐year ice.” If snow thickness is less than expected, does that imply that the satellites may be slightly underestimating the thickness of the ice?

    But given that Dr. Walt Meier wrote:
    … (4) the density and height of the snow cover. All four of these are challenges, though by far the biggest one is #4. There just isn’t a lot of information about snow.

    So more to the point I think is the question “What is the source of the Catlin Team’s expectations regarding snow cover?”

  68. Related:

    “Fargo flooding was not due to global warming, It was a natural event aggravated by a colder winter and more snow

    Obama flunks Global Warming 101 on Fargo

    By Dr. Tim Ball

    “When the freedom they wished for most was the freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and never was free again.” Edith Hamilton.

    President Obama used recent flooding in Fargo, North Dakota to push his misguided belief in global warming. His comment, “If you look at the flooding that’s going on right now in North Dakota and you say to yourself, ‘If you see an increase of two degrees, what does that do, in terms of the situation there?’” is speculative and completely wrong.

    A two-degree warmer North Dakota would mean less snowfall, therefore less flooding. Spring flooding along the Red River of the north is due to snow melt and the geography of the region. This year the cold winter caused heavy snow in the south basin and all across the northern continental US. Obama’s comments do what the focus on global warming does; diverts us from real issues. In this case it is flooding and people living in naturally high-risk areas.

    I was a founding member of the International Coalition, a joint project of citizens from Canada and the US living in the flood plain of the Red River.

    Failure of the federal governments on both sides of the border to deal with flooding forced creation of this illegal organization. I won’t forget riding on the bus to the first meeting at the University of North Dakota and listening to the US federal government bureaucrat in the seat in front of me saying to his assistant, “Which way does this bloody river run anyway?” Later I was the first Chair of the Assiniboine River Management Advisory Board (ARMAB) set up to establish management plans for this river, which is the largest tributary of the Red.

    The Red River is the largest and one of very few rivers that start in the US and flow north into Canada. This is not an accident but a result of history. The 49th parallel in western North America was a simple geometric boundary that effectively approximated the divide separating water flowing south into the Gulf of Mexico or north into Hudson Bay. The Hudson’s Bay Company was granted land draining into Hudson Bay and that land became part of Canada in 1870 under the British North America Act.

    Rivers usually create their own valleys but the Red River runs through lowland formed and occupied by Glacial Lake Agassiz. This lake was created by the meltwater from the Wisconsin ice sheet. Figure 1 shows a reconstruction of the ice at an early stage of lake development, but the middle stage of ice sheet melting.”
    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/10390

  69. Many thanks Dr Meier.

    The US,Royal,French and Russian navies have nuclear submarines under the ice for most of the year and they are taking upward looking sonar measurements most of the time. There must be a vast library of information here. Is much of it released into the public domain?

  70. “Oh, and this is not an amateur project. They’re getting paid, or at least fed, for this work, so they’re professionals. I don’t know if that disqualifies them from the Winter Olympics.”

    But their methods are amateurish!

  71. This sounds a lot like what I used to hear from my apprentices during my “teaching” years.

    Me: So, how did the repair go?
    Apprentice: Well, it runs like crap, and I don’t understand why, but it’s running. So that’s good enough… Isn’t it?
    Me: No. It’s not “good” because you haven’t done it “enough”! Start again, and pay attention this time!

    Dr. Meier states; “Ideally, we’d send a few thousand people out to the Arctic and drill thousands of holes and get good sampling of thickness, but this is just not possible.” Say what? Dr. Meier goes on to more or less say that the cost is too great to do a truly effective survey, so we must accept piecemeal and inferior data as that is all we can get. Yikes! Considering the cost of not doing this, and instead relying on ineffective and unproven data, I would argue that spending 500 million, or several billion dollars on this work is cheap by comparison. I am also dismayed with Dr. Meier’s use of weak economic factors to restrict his own admittedly limited research! Why not put millions of observers out on the ice and get it over with? It is clear that empirical observation is desperately needed here. I think folks are freaked out enough about this issue to acquiesce to spending the large sums needed for such important work.

    I join with others in thanking Dr. Meier for having the courage to address us in this forum. It takes obvious intellectual strength and guts to wander into the “lions den” the way he has. I cannot, however,agree with his conclusions on the subjects he raises here. Much more needs to be done before this is even “good enough”; let alone good.

    Thank you.

  72. Unknown Waters is a book about a submarine survey of the Arctic. It made clear that ice draft could change very quickly. The sub was once stuck in an “ice garage” and had to back out very slowly.

  73. Pamela Gray (09:11:06) :

    To be clear, published scientists and researchers have had their hands slapped for sloppy work, and in a very public way. I see no reason why this same effort to keep scientific work above board cannot be applied in this instance.

    If I’ve understood your question, my answer would be as follows: because the objective of this ice survey is not scientific, but for sake of growing the quotes of insurances and AGW myth. I cannot trust a biased work for the sake of political or economical objectives. How could I know that the Catlin’s group is not picking only the convenient data and discharging the inconvenient ones? How could I trust a work which is flawed since its beginning towards AGW crusade?

  74. Snow acts as an insulator. If you ever been on a frozen lake in winter, you can remember that the area with more snow on the ice will have ice that is less thick and even you find water under the snow.

    So, the same applies for Artic ice. It should be normal that if there is more snow up there, due to increased precipitation because of global cooling, you could expect to have thinner snow over time. But I guess, when it melts in summer, it should freeze even more the next year round.

  75. Maybe the Catlin mission will generate useful data on snow vs. ice composition but I wish they hadn’t used preconceived conclusions in their description of the mission.

    I wonder how they will word their final results. “With Arctic sea ice increasing at 500,000 square kilometers per year, it will all be gone in X years.”

    Dare they put in a negative number for X?

  76. P Folkens (07:25:23) :
    Dude! As Dr. Meier points out “. . . most of the ice (~85-90%) is below the surface [of the water] . . .” If, as you think you read somewhere, their measurement if from the ice top to the water in the hole, they will be missing 85% of the ice because “water seeks its own level.”

    Are you beinfg serious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They take a measurement from water top to ice top. They take a measurement from Ice top to snow top with something stiff – a ruler!!!!!!!!!!!!. Why they make this measurement I do not know. The tape measure (a floppy thing with an attachment on the end – which I pointed out in the Catlin photo is used to measure the ice thickness.

    Pamela Gray (08:30:09) :
    If this truly were an effort to substantiate ice conditions with ground sonar and not a publicity stunt, the same re-supply helicopter would have been employed to run out to a spot, drop a team, take

    The plane has to refuel once to reach them (not a helicoptor) twice eventually.
    A helicopter uses more fuel. Would you like to land on ice which has not been inspected, in a plane?

  77. Thanks Dr. Walt Meier for the authoritative review of the current state of the ice measurement technology.

    Perhaps a more important question is — if you were designing an ice measurement expedition, (funding no object) what bits of data would you be looking for?

    What sort of measurement resolution, spacing and or gridding would be most useful to field check the satellite data?

    Would it be more useful to sit on an ice flow and periodically re-measure the same piece of ice along with recording the air temp history?

    Would a linear transect with measurements every x meters be more useful than a carefully gridded 1 KM square?

    From you comments it sounds like careful measurement of both the free board and the true ice thickness at the same spot would also allow you to estimate the ice density.

    I was thinking that to cover a lot of ground (ice) in reasonably sheltered environment an air cushion vehicle might be useful, (although difficult to control in high winds) unless it was built with the ability to operate in that sort of environment. The over surface speed of a hover craft and its ability to cross water would allow a very large area to be covered quickly without the risks of flight in icing conditions.

    For systematic ice thickness surveys you could combine military cold weather training with a long term ice measurement mission. The team members need to do cold weather movement exercises anyway, why not give them a practice mission to go measure a 100 meter grid on the ice?

    No country could afford to systematically map the ice thickness of the whole arctic but a cooperative effort of the major nations which abut the arctic or have direct interest in it could get perhaps 10 – 20 high quality measurement missions each winter season, and pool the data. Over a 20 year span that would build a useful reference data set.

    Larry

  78. vanderleun (01:44:45) :

    > Re: drilling. How do you know the hole you drill is plumb? Can you game the system if you drill at a slant?

    Of course you can, but the tilt has to be pretty steep to get a severely wrong measurement. Here’s a table of angles (degrees from vertical) and error factor for that angle.

    >>> r = 180/3.14159
    >>> for t in range(0.0, 90.0, 5.0):
    … print ‘%2d %5.2f’ % (t, 1.0 / cos(t / r))

    0 1.00
    5 1.00
    10 1.02
    15 1.04
    20 1.06
    25 1.10
    30 1.15
    35 1.22
    40 1.31
    45 1.41
    50 1.56
    55 1.74
    60 2.00
    65 2.37
    70 2.92
    75 3.86
    80 5.76
    85 11.47

    The auger would have to be tilted 25 degrees to come up with a measurement 10% too high.

    In practice, depending on the drill handle shape, just finding the balance point of the auger bit will be plenty close to vertical.

  79. The AMSR-E ice extent in the sidebar is now showing a distinct seven year high.

    I’m glad to see others commenting on the submarine measurements. Are there any submariners that could comment on the problems with releasing ice thickness measurements from the Navy? I’m guessing that there might be problems with running active sonar while trying to be stealthy, although bumping the roof would seem to be a greater risk. Also one would not want confirm a date and location where a submarine was that could be used to validate submarine detection efforts by the opposition. Still it seems that the satellite calibration could be done by those with the proper security clearances without releasing any classified data.

  80. I’m just not getting this.

    I haven’t read everything on this ice measuring treck to the pole, but I can’t imagine how this crude collection of ice measurment will have any value or usefulness at all.
    I mean all it will tell anyone is what the ice thickness appeared to be at that time at those locations they measured. So that means what?

    Are we to look forward to some interpolated importance at a later date?

    What is it?

  81. Pamela Gray and INGSOC are absolutely right. If polar ice thickness data is as important as Dr. Meier and the Catlin website say it is, why aren’t they making a serious effort to obtain the ice data. This is NOT serious science! I’m not a scientist but, in my work I collect data, document conditions and analyze the data. The difference is, when that work is finished there’s a “hot seat” and a dozen attorneys who are highly motivated to impeach the work in a deposition. If the “road to hell” is paved with good intentions, the base supporting the paving is bad methods and poor documentation (believe me!) I’m sure that in most areas of science they have a strict peer review, I’m just afraid that in the case of AGW “scientists” look the other way.

  82. bill (10:18:01) : “Are you beinfg serious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They take a measurement from water top to ice top.”

    Yes, Billy, I am beinfg [sic] serious. Think about it: their stated goal is to measure ice THICKNESS, not the amount of ice “from the water top.” 85% of the ice volume is BELOW the water’s surface. They need a Kovacs-style ice thickness gauge with the flange device on the bottom so it can catch the bottom of the ice, then pull the tape taut and read the measurement. They don’t seem to have a Kovacs ice thickness gauge. They have a stick.

    Unfortunately, you represent the core of the AGW cadre. You really need to think things through before making off-the-cuff statements that make you come off like a cocktail of agenda, ignorance, illogical thoughts.

  83. Every time I think about the US Navy and what it knows about arctic ice, I can’t help think that they know a whole lot more than they will ever tell us.
    The same holds true for the ocean sub-surface currents and typography.

  84. bill,
    I did not notice that you are rounding me up for stating my opinion on the Catlin Arctic fraud.
    Bring. It. On.

  85. John H-55 at 11:01:01

    Presumably their data will be compared with data from other modalities measuring ice thickness at the same time and same place, but that presumes that they are documenting their exact position, and measuring with precision and accuracy. Not much evidence of that, yet. If they are doing so, there will be scientific value to their work. If they are not doing so there will still be propaganda value to their work, depending upon the gullibility of their public. I think the jury is still out.
    =============================================

  86. O/T – it seems my skpeticism regarding the Hadley Center numbers was unfounded. They clearly show that the Global Temperature Anomoly dropped a whole 0.01K from February to March 2009. And I was SURE that the rash of record low temps and record high snow over significant portions of the Northern Hemisphere in March were going to be “corrected” out of the data.
    Pardon my skepticism! [/sarc]

  87. OT but this REALLY needs big attention.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/science/earth/16degrees.html?_r=1

    Look at the photo itself. Indian woman cooking at her stove. The same traditional technique humanity (including neanderthals) used for cooking and creating warmth for thousands of years.

    Now look at the photo caption

    “Soot from tens of thousands of villages in developing countries is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s warming, studies say.”

    That is an incredible statistic. 18 percent! How did they get that figure when nobody knows how much of the warming trend is attributable to mankind? And why pick on the poor again when they could make historic examples of cities like Paris, New York and London?

    Two points:

    1. Hundreds of thousands of villages and towns all across the world for thousands of years created soot the same way. Did they cause global warming? How do you work out the percentage? Why have there been cooling periods while villages expanded, multiplied and more soot was generated?

    2. Soot and smog block incoming sunlight while trapping some heat that is created by humans. Towns and cities whose soot and smog has cleared up saw warming as more sunlight penetrated to ground level. This has caused temperature monitors to show what looks like manmade warming at first glance but it actually a cleaning of the atmosphere.

  88. Aron 11:41:52

    It’s jockeying in the guiltstakes leading up to Copenhagen. The developing countries are going to lay guilt on the developed ones for past carbon use and the developed countries are going to lay guilt on the developing ones for soot. At least, that’s my call from the sidelines.
    ===================================

  89. Oh yeah, and they’ll both lay guilt on each other for present hydrocarbon use. Read Peter Huber in the City Journal, ‘Bound to Burn’. We are not weaning off of hydrocarbon use for energy soon, and it’s a doggone good thing that CO2 has minimal effect on climate, because if it did, we would be in the sort of trouble Hansen fantasizes.
    ===============================================

  90. Dr Meier!
    Why doesn’t the US Navy help you?
    If they don’t, you can always lease a Swedish submarine like they did, no need to go nuclear.

  91. John F. Hultquist (08:48:10) :

    “TWO: For all who have an image of old thick ice on the Arctic Ocean, maybe you missed this:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/13/watching-the-2007-historic-low-sea-ice-flow-out-of-the-arctic-sea/#more-7019

    Scroll to the video and watch it, noting the date in the upper right. This makes me want to do a ‘search and replace’ on the word ‘melt’ regarding Arctic ice – ‘melt’ to be replaced with ‘flushed out.’”

    Excellent point John. If we take ice from the freezer and put it in the fridge, then we shouldn’t be assuming that our freezer is faulty, when the ice consequently melts !

  92. Here’s hoping the good Doctor Meier will make a comment or two to answer some of the questions.
    Thanks,
    Mike

  93. It is somewhat surprising to see Dr. Meier suggesting that the Catlin data might be helpful:

    “Like many scientific expeditions, it seems like they won’t get as much data as hoped, but ground data from the ice is so rare that every little bit helps.”

    One would presume that Dr. Meier, recognizing the publicly announced bias of the Catlin expedition (to document thinning ice), would decline to describe the event as “scientific” at all. This bias, noted by Steve Goddard as geophysical selection – so weights the measurements from Catlin as to reasonably dismiss it out of hand.

    Add to this, the already embarrassing disclosure of data manipulation, delay in acknowledging equipment failure and lack of time, date, location stamps on visual records – pretty well relegates this adventure to those found at… Disneyland.

  94. Given the straightforward method to measuring ice outlined by Dr. Meier, you must wonder how these measurements can reconcile real volume of ice. Here is underwater photography from the NOAA Arctic 2005 Exploration expedition. The variability of the subsurface ice indicates that true thickness of any ice formation may be far more difficult to determine than by simple tape measure with collapsible metal flange.

    http://tinyurl.com/cog4ra

    Note images #3 and #4 in the series to get a sense of what lies under the surface.

    In case the tinyurl expires – here’s the original: http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/05arctic/logs/july24/media/slideshow/slideshow.html#

  95. Aron (11:41:52) : “OT but this REALLY needs big attention.”

    Aron: There is a backstory to this of which you may not be aware. Following the 1st IPCC Working Group report the question was raised as to where they got the notion that fossil fuel burning in developed countries caused the measured increase in residual carbon in the atmosphere. Where was the data? Well, there was no data, but assumptions. So a study was launched. Results were reported in a 2000 issue of Nature that over 50% of the residual carbon in the atmosphere came directly from Third World Home Fires with a noticeable component from the Indonesian peat fires. Well, that didn’t fit what the IPCC wanted, so a second study was launched with results appearing in a 2005 issue of Nature. Those results also showed Third World Home Fires as the culprit with a distinct component in rural China.

    An additional note: From the article you cite, “In Kohlua, in central India, with no cars and little electricity, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, are near zero.” That is a bizarre statement. CO2 is released in the creation of soot, so the emissions are no where near zero. It points to the ignorance of many in the media that assume CO2 emissions only come from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, that ignorance is pervasive these days.

  96. Thought this was interesting…

    From Wiki:

    “The ice in central parts of the Arctic Ocean is on average 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) thick. Nuclear-powered icebreakers can force through this ice at speeds up to 10 knots (19 km/h, 12mph). In ice-free waters the maximum speed of the nuclear-powered icebreakers is as much as 21 knots (35 km/h, 24mph).”

    I wonder if this eight foot thick ice is two or three year ice. It seems to me that if anyone needs to know the thickness of the Arctic sea ice, a few well placed calls to the numerous icebreakers, sailing under many flags, would quickly and easily answer the question.
    I wonder if the route planned for the Catlin group was influenced by the travel plans of icebreakers also. An icebreaker steaming toward your camp at two AM would certainly be adventurous.
    Still wondering if the hugely increased operations of icebreakers in the Arctic could be contributing to the “flushing out ” of the ice.

  97. Pieter F (11:14:32) :
    Yes, Billy, I am beinfg [sic] serious. Think about it: their stated goal is to measure ice THICKNESS, not the amount of ice “from the water top.” 85% of the ice volume is BELOW the water’s surface. They need a Kovacs-style ice thickness gauge with the flange device on the bottom so it can catch the bottom of the ice, then pull the tape taut and read the measurement. They don’t seem to have a Kovacs ice thickness gauge. They have a stick.

    Oh dear this is getting tedious.

    they measure a number of dimensions at each hole
    1 snow thickness
    2 top water to top ice
    3 ice thickness
    I assume that the tape is used for 3 and the stick is used for 1 & 2. Geddit?

  98. “Like many scientific expeditions, it seems like they won’t get as much data as hoped, but ground data from the ice is so rare that every little bit helps.”

    I would think that any captain of any icebreaker cruising the Arvtic ocean would not only be able to tell you the thickness of the sea ice, but the precise location of those thickness measurements.

    See this study:

    http://www.geosensors.com/global/prins15.pdf

  99. I’d like to nominate Pieter F’s remark, “off-the-cuff statements that come off like a cocktail of agenda, ignorance, illogical thoughts” as quote of the week.

  100. Cassandra King

    What you say may be entirely true. I was not expecting real climate breakthroughs… maybe the cure for the common cold… a new way to freeze skin cancer… a better snow shoe… like our vacationing friend and antibiotics, something entirely unexpected.

    They might even read this fine article by Dr. Meier and have a head slapping moment: “Geese is that what we were supposed to be doing?!”

  101. Dr Meier seems to have strange reluctance to call [snip] when he sees it. Does anyone REALLY believe this mob will get any data worth anything at all? That is if they are even on the ice they say they are on? What a pathetic PR stunt by pretentious idiots.

  102. It doesn’t really seem to matter what kind of measuring stick they use. I’m most curious how they establish the top and bottom surfaces of the ice. If they properly measure both the thickness of the ice and the distance from the water surface to the top of the ice, then is should be possible to calculate the density of the ice.

    While I think the expedition has at least as much to do with publicity as it does with science, it is possible that they may actually provide some usable information. They would be well advised to provide information regarding methods.

  103. It’s wonderful to have Dr. Walt to help clarify things. Thanks.

    I did a little looking on the Kovacsice Drilling Equipment site and found this page http://www.kovacsicedrillingequipment.com/publications/ and the “Handbook for Community-Based Sea Ice Monitoring” PDF. It has the logo of the National Snow and Ice Data Center on it. It appears to show a striking difference in how sea ice is to measure and the reports from Catlin.

    I for one am simply worried that high profile expeditions like Catlin appear to use shoddy methods and are quite willing to present false data (the live from the ice nonsense). Why should I accept anything these people do. Even if the data shows vastly more ice than we expect I can’t accept it.

  104. Marc @ 16:28:35 “Why should I accept anything these people do.”

    In a court of law, if a witness is shown to be lying about even one small thing, their entire testimony can be disregarded and considered unreliable.

  105. Bill, you seem rather young, based on your posts. Which means you are idealistic and trusting of whatever entity agrees with you. It comes with the territory of being young it seems (didn’t used to be that way). Try this on for size: Question everything, even your own beliefs. Youth used to be really good at this. Not so much anymore.

  106. Very nice to read the good Dr Meier’s description of their procedures. I suspect he only scratched the surface, of what people can use that data for; and I’m not going to prejudge the value of knowing.

    My ex Navy contact says they know a whole bunch about that ice, that they are not about to tell anybody; which is fine with me. But he did say that on average all over the whole area about one metre thickness is about typical; that’s also about the thickest that the Navy likes to surface through unless they have to.

    But given how it gets moved around by wind and tide, and seas, I’m sure it cracks and buckles, and piles up into some quite thick local areas; but not like Antarctic sheets.

    And when it melts each summer, the water below sucks a whole 18-20 ppm of CO2 out of the atmosphere above the arctic ocean; how cool is that.

    So much for the 200 year CO2 residence time BS that the MMGWCCers try to feed us. In any case; an IR photon needs about one millisecond to escape to 300 km from the surface; so it only needs to encounter one H2O or CO2 molecule on that journey to get captured; so the GHG only needs to be there for the same one msec. So nuts to those who say they don’t count water vapor, because it is removed from the atmosphere quickly. It’s actually very slow compared to the needed one msec encounter time.

    George

  107. @Marc (16:28:35) :

    You wrote: “It’s wonderful to have Dr. Walt to help clarify things. Thanks.

    I did a little looking on the Kovacsice Drilling Equipment site and found this page http://www.kovacsicedrillingequipment.com/publications/ and the “Handbook for Community-Based Sea Ice Monitoring” PDF. It has the logo of the National Snow and Ice Data Center on it. It appears to show a striking difference in how sea ice is to measure and the reports from Catlin. […]”

    Thanks for that link. It answered one of my questions. It looks to me that if the ice is reasonably flat top and bottom, the measurement precision appears to be about +/- 1cm and maybe a tad better than that.

    Now if you carefully record the location of the hole on the arctic ice using GPS well, in three to four days you’ll have no clue where that hole went due to ice drift. Ah well.

  108. Pamela Gray (17:10:06) :
    Try this on for size: Question everything, even your own beliefs. Youth used to be really good at this. Not so much anymore

    I am sceptical of all sides – the anti AGW and the AGW . I have weighed up all the information. I have looked at the consequences of doing nothing and the consequeces of “going green”.

    I am not convinced the AGW is valid. BUT I know I would not be able to say to my children “I did nothing to stop GW” if AGW is true

    I am convinced, absolutely, that oil and gas will be in short supply in a couple of decades. I am convinced that nuclear is not the way – dangerous, and if the world goes nuclear then supply will run short in a couple, or so, of decades, (please do not mention sea water as extracting and processing uranium from it will take most of the energy it will provide) AND I do not want to pass the need to attend a festering heap of higly radioactive waste onto the next 5 generations of my family.

    I therefore KNOW that renewables are the only option for any future for my children. So consequently following the path of preventing AGW will be hard but at least I will feel at ease with the future I pass on.

    AND if the AGW is not happening then at least the world will have a future.

    Going the other way my children become fuel impoverished anyway and the world could overheat.

    Which way is the right choice?

  109. By the way
    Pieter F (11:14:32) :
    Yes, Billy, I am beinfg [sic] serious. Think about it: their stated goal is to measure ice THICKNESS, not the amount of ice “from the water top.” 85% of the ice volume is BELOW the water’s surface. They need a Kovacs-style ice thickness gauge with the flange device on the bottom

    from Dr. Meier:
    Altimeter: … They measure the freeboard from above the ice, from which the total thickness is derived. The NASA ICESat is a laser altimeter, which actually measures the snow+ice freeboard, so knowing something about the snow cover is particularly important …. Radar altimeters are also often used (including the European Cryosat-2 scheduled to be launched later this year); these penetrate through the snow and thus measure the ice freeboard. ICESat can take a lot of measurements over a large region of the Arctic, …

    so physically measuring the top of water to top of ice is probably as accurate as satellite data!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  110. bill (19:55:04) : So what will you tell your children when the economy of the world has been wrecked because the politicians bought into the AGW belief because they were insufficiently skeptical and your childrens’ lives are shorter and much more impoverished as a result? I’m not aware of any looming disasters from the pathetically small amounts of “climate change” that we’ve seen(if indeed we have seen anything significant at all in the last 50 years or so that hasn’t been happening since the last ice age ended) except that the political imperative to “do something” may result in the wrong things being done.

    You seem to be convinced of and KNOW a lot of things that many here with science and engineering backgrounds and decades of real world experience would dispute. Can I suggest you read a little more than Greenpeace propaganda re nuclear energy and do some real engineering about the possibilities for renewables. Start with Gen 4 reactors, thorium and figure out if renewables can ever be a solution without lots of pixie dust , Good Intentions and Pious Hopes.

  111. Mike Borgelt (20:43:19) :
    bill (19:55:04) : So what will you tell your children when the economy of the world has been wrecked because the politicians bought into the AGW belief because they were insufficiently skeptical and your childrens’ lives are shorter and much more impoverished as a result?
    —————————-

    You know Mike, someone ought to make a movie about that. They could call it “The Age of Stupid” …

  112. bill (19:55:04) :
    Pamela Gray (17:10:06) :
    Try this on for size: Question everything, even your own beliefs. Youth used to be really good at this. Not so much anymore

    I am sceptical of all sides – the anti AGW and the AGW . I have weighed up all the information. I have looked at the consequences of doing nothing and the consequeces of “going green”.

    I am not convinced the AGW is valid. BUT I know I would not be able to say to my children “I did nothing to stop GW” if AGW is true
    ————————–

    Bill, I think some of the responses to your earlier posts related to your belief in the “science” of the Catlin group. Indeed, I thank you for not biting, and telling me that they were “taking advice from their solicitors”, thereby making me spray copious amounts of Pinot noir across my keyboard.

    Your views on renewable energy are, however, in my opinion quite valid.

    You should stay on this site and I think you will learn something about the real world.

  113. hereticfringe (08:26:38) :
    Dr. Meier,

    You stated on your website on April 6th that because most of the Artic ice is “thin” first year ice, that it would melt rapidly. The data so far shows that the melt rate is slower than past years, and the ice extent is converging on the 1978-2000 average.

    I don’t know where you get this from, it isn’t true. Nothing of significance wrt the ultimate demise of the ice will show up much before July.

  114. Bill: at (05:06:55) you wrote “I think I read somewhere that they measure the distance between ice top and water top (in the hole) having left it a few moments for the water to settle.”

    Where did you read that? I’ve looked all over the Catlin site, including their 14-4-09 Ice Report and there is no indication of any interest in the freeboard of the ice floes. They want the thickness. The freeboard measurement is used by NASA’s ICESat unit because that is all it can measure: altitude with no way on measuring below the water’s surface. Ice thickness is then extrapolated from that data. The Catlin gang doesn’t need to extrapolate as they can just measure the thickness.

    I think you are making that up, but I will reserve judgment on the subject by a day or two to give you a chance to demonstrate Catlin’s interest in the freeboard.

  115. I read this today on the Catlin blog under the “Polar Woodpecker” (Thursday 16 April):

    “Sea level is not underneath the ice, so when the hole is drilled, icy water surges upwards, sometimes spilling over the top of the hole, before settling. Hadow waits 30 seconds for the water to level and then uses a tape measure to record the distance from the top of the water, which is usually 5 – 20cms from the surface – to the top of the ice.”

  116. P Folkens (07:25:23) :

    bill (05:06:55) : “I think I read somewhere that they measure the distance between ice top and water top (in the hole) having left it a few moments for the water to settle.”

    Dude! As Dr. Meier points out “. . . most of the ice (~85-90%) is below the surface [of the water] . . .” If, as you think you read somewhere, their measurement if from the ice top to the water in the hole, they will be missing 85% of the ice because “water seeks its own level.”

    You didn’t do well in high school science, did you.

    Rude and wrong!! Bill was not wrong in thinking he read this somewhere. From http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7897392.stm

    and I quote directly Ice surprises

    As I drill though the ice, I get what looks like an ice cornflake mound on the surface, and usually I get to about 10cm-down before going through to water.
    When I’m through, I push the drill further down to remove any ice crystals, and then as it’s pulled out through the hole, the sea water tends to shoot up.
    I need to wait a bit for the water to settle before I can then get down to the measuring process.

    The first measurement is easily done with tape measure – the water that comes up the hole naturally settles at sea level (sea level is not below the ice), so I measure the distance between the surface of the ice and the top of the water.

    Took one google search to find this. Perhaps you should read before you shoot the messenger:P

  117. Ohhh I wish I’d read this a couple of Catlin articles ago, but I honestly try my best not to go to BBC website for anything:)

    He describes the measurement tool as well:

    Essentially, I drop a metal bar vertically down the hole – when it gets to the bottom it naturally swings horizontal, at which point, I can take the measurement.
    How to get it back up? Simple – there’s a second piece of string attached to the end of the bar, so I have to lower it, then let the first piece of string go. Then I pull on second string and, hey presto, it’s vertical and can be brought back up the hole.

  118. Thanks pkatt.
    From the same reference:
    I do the drilling in the evenings before dinner and from now on I’ll be doing two kinds.

    The first type is on a fairly flat ice floe, from one side to the other, and the second type is an “all terrain” drilling – basically starting at the tent and heading due north, no matter what the terrain, be it thin ice, pressure ridges or rubble fields.
    So he does actually measure at a pressure ridge if it is present.

    Mike Borgelt (20:43:19) :
    bill (19:55:04) : So what will you tell your children when the economy of the world has been wrecked because the politicians bought into the AGW belief

    Someone has to design turbines for example. Other have to construct the design, and still more have to erect them. The grid will need upgrading = more jobs.
    Renewables will not replace all conventional power stations . But ever kW generated by wind equates to a bit under kW of fossil fuel equivalent that can be passed onto future generations.

    At least going this route will give benefit to the futere. Handing out £1000,000,000,000s to bankers will have less lasting effect.

  119. “I do the drilling in the evenings before dinner and from now on I’ll be doing two kinds.

    The first type is on a fairly flat ice floe, from one side to the other, and the second type is an “all terrain” drilling – basically starting at the tent and heading due north, no matter what the terrain, be it thin ice, pressure ridges or rubble fields.

    I measure 40m between each drilling, and I will be doing about 10 holes every evening, which takes roughly four hours (although I’ll probably take a tea break after a couple of hours!). “

    This is the best description I’ve found of their sampling regime.

    It’s not very clear what he is doing.

    Maybe he does 5 “flat” and 5 “random” holes in each session. Is the location of the tent random ? Probably not. The 5 “random” holes will presumably be one at the tent and then 4 more at gaps of 40m which will take him 160m from the tent.

    This still doesn’t seem very good to me. It cannot possibly show any year-on-year trend. How could it ? They are going to “discover” that April is warmer than February – are they really going to extrapolate from that into the future ?

    It’s like wandering round your lawn in the dark measuring the length of blades of grass. It doesn’t tell you anything about year-on-year trends or even very much about anything at all. Using a micrometer will not turn the process into science.

    No it’s just a stunt.

  120. @bill – do you mean kW (kilowatts) or kWh (kilowatt-hours). Big difference.
    A scientist or engineer would know the difference.

  121. Once again the AGW fear machine managed to shift the topic of discussion away from yet another of their failed predictions.
    Just like with their failed predictions on hurricanes, droughts and temperatures, the AGW community will now focus on ice thickness when they were, less than a year ago, talking about the absence of ice.
    Next year, when the ice is increased again, they will find something else to dissemble over.

  122. Jack Hughes (04:19:50) :
    This still doesn’t seem very good to me. It cannot possibly show any year-on-year trend. How could it ? They are going to “discover” that April is warmer than February – are they really going to extrapolate from that into the future ?

    It’s like wandering round your lawn in the dark measuring the length of blades of grass. It doesn’t tell you anything about year-on-year trends or even very much about anything at all. Using a micrometer will not turn the process into science.

    And yet the US Army set their buoys out on the water to wander where they may and take measurements, the Russians do likewise and also set up a manned station each year to drift across the Arctic ocean. Thus expending millions of dollars to acquire data which according to you “doesn’t tell you anything about year-on-year trends or even very much about anything at all”. Don’t you think that perhaps you’re missing something?

  123. Phil.
    I think the Army and the Russians want buoys there so they can know where to surface quickly and let the nukes fly… it ain’t research… of course, I could be wrong.

  124. Jack Hughes (04:23:47) :
    @bill – do you mean kW (kilowatts) or kWh (kilowatt-hours). Big difference.i>

    It’s off topic but ~snip~

  125. Mike Bryant (07:44:14) :
    Phil.
    I think the Army and the Russians want buoys there so they can know where to surface quickly and let the nukes fly… it ain’t research… of course, I could be wrong.

    In which case the current deployment is hopelessly inadequate for the task.
    Of course they say that what they’re doing is research with different goals than you suggest, but they would wouldn’t they.

    http://imb.crrel.usace.army.mil/ourplan.htm

  126. April E. Coggins (22:30:28) :

    Any day now, some disinterested wind/mapping/ directional scientist will feel compeled to explain the use of lacy black panties for a wind sock.

    Perhaps the environmental reporter posted early. April the first was probably the intended date. What do you expect from the useless twerps that call themselves environmental journalists these days?

  127. “”” bill (19:55:04) :

    Pamela Gray (17:10:06) :
    Try this on for size: Question everything, even your own beliefs. Youth used to be really good at this. Not so much anymore

    I am sceptical of all sides – the anti AGW and the AGW . I have weighed up all the information. I have looked at the consequences of doing nothing and the consequeces of “going green”.

    I am not convinced the AGW is valid. BUT I know I would not be able to say to my children “I did nothing to stop GW” if AGW is true

    I am convinced, absolutely, that oil and gas will be in short supply in a couple of decades. I am convinced that nuclear is not the way – dangerous, and if the world goes nuclear then supply will run short in a couple, or so, of decades, (please do not mention sea water as extracting and processing uranium from it will take most of the energy it will provide) AND I do not want to pass the need to attend a festering heap of higly radioactive waste onto the next 5 generations of my family.

    I therefore KNOW that renewables are the only option for any future for my children. So consequently following the path of preventing AGW will be hard but at least I will feel at ease with the future I pass on.

    AND if the AGW is not happening then at least the world will have a future.

    Going the other way my children become fuel impoverished anyway and the world could overheat.

    Which way is the right choice? “””

    So Bill; given what you believe; or is it don’t believe, what is your excuse for having children; given that all the ones we have now are helping use up the limited resources left on this planet.
    About 100 years ago, the head of the US patent office declared that everything that could be invented, had already been invented. Obviously he thought the future would be pretty grim too.

    But I can’t fathom people who see everything wrong with what has been accomplished by those who came before them; not having the self control to stop having children.

    There’s 14,000 children available for adoption in just the city of Oakland California. Why would environmentally concerned people want to make more.

    George

  128. pkatt and Jim G.: thank you both for providing the missing information in good detail; and I apologize to bill for doubting him as to that point.

  129. P Folkens (10:56:23) : you’re a gent! (or gentess!)

    George E. Smith (09:46:07) : no point me answering as it will be snipped
    Jack Hughes (04:23:47) : I did answer but it was snipped!

  130. Phil.
    “In which case the current deployment is hopelessly inadequate for the task.
    Of course they say that what they’re doing is research with different goals than you suggest, but they would wouldn’t they.”

    From the wesite you identified:

    “We recognize the importance of international collaborations in building a Sustainable Arctic Observing Network. Towards this end, we will also continue our established collaboration with the European Union scientists involved with Developing Arctic Modelling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies (DAMOCLES) project.”

    Doesn’t “DAMOCLES” pretty much say all that needs to be said?
    Thanks,
    Mike

  131. bill (19:55:04) :
    “Someone has to design turbines for example. Other have to construct the design, and still more have to erect them. The grid will need upgrading = more jobs.
    Renewables will not replace all conventional power stations . But ever kW generated by wind equates to a bit under kW of fossil fuel equivalent that can be passed onto future generations.”

    Every dollar spent on wind/solar that produces less energy than the same dollar spent on fossil/nuclear/hydro is some fraction of a dollar that cannot be spent on other goods and services in society.
    You end up with the same amount of energy to use but miss out on the other goods and services including the ability to pay for research that will increase energy availability from ever cleaner and more efficient sources.

    I’m still hoping that the Bussard/Nebel Polywell fusion reactor will work and produce nett power. It is looking good so far. If it does, all talk of energy shortages will be over. If it doesn’t fission or fission/fusion hybrid with fuel recycling and thorium will do for a couple of thousand years although I doubt the human race will be using it for that long before something better comes along.
    With enough cheap and abundant energy you can MAKE “fossil fuels” from CO2 and water.

    Here’s a link to the Bussard device

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/04/inertial-electrostatic-bussard-fusion.html

    And this one will make you think about the nuclear “waste” problem.

    http://blog.the-thinking-man.com/nuclear-waste-does-not-exist

  132. bill (19:55:04) :

    “Someone has to design turbines for example. Other have to construct the design, and still more have to erect them. The grid will need upgrading = more jobs.”

    That is a well known economic fallacy. It goes something like this:

    A vandal throws a rock through a store window. This creates jobs! Because the glazier will get extra work replacing the window, and he will then have extra money to pay for a new pair of shoes, so the shoemaker will have more income… and so on.

    But here’s what really happens:

    Because the store owner must pay for the damage, he cannot buy the new shoes his kid needs, so the shoemaker loses business, and can’t paint his shop, so the painter loses income… etc.

    When the government forces taxpayers to pay for unnecessary job creation, the same thing happens. The country becomes poorer.

    Every new “green” job is the equivalent of throwing a rock through a store window. Businesses and taxpayers are made poorer as a result of not allowing them to direct their money into the most productive uses. Every green job created is created by money confiscated from taxpayers. There is no free lunch.

  133. “Smokey,
    Every green job created is created by money confiscated from taxpayers. There is no free lunch.”

    I’ve never seen this fallacy so simply and so utterly destroyed. I was watching the Green Channel (sorry) and saw some of the new green workers. I think they were in Chicago. They even had cheerleaders and signs and everything! It was explained that these green workers were cleaning up around the lakefront. Also, they were spreading potted plants on the roof of a three story building! Of course, the plants were first raised in lifts of hundreds of plants to the roof by a crane. Wow they made a green roof!!! What tremendous strides we have made, and soon these gangs, uh I mean groups of our highly educated high school grads will be cleaning lakefronts and spreading out plants all over this great country of ours!!

    I have a lump in my throat…

    Thanks, Smokey,
    Mike

  134. OT: some posters suggest that eco-schemes will rebuild the economy by providing thousands of hi-tech jobs.

    This is just a variation on the Broken Windows Fallacy
    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_fallacy )

    In this fallacy, a child breaks a window – this provides work and pay for the glazier – who then buys bread off the baker and shoes off the cobbler, who each buy …..

    Maybe if we all decided to walk round in lead divers’ boots: it would provide jobs for the boot makers, jobs for floor repairs, jobs for physiotherapists, ….

  135. A brick through a window creates work but does not provide a benefit – therefore not the same as building renewable energy sources benefit = kWh.
    Have thorium reactors produced commercial power yet? India has one I believe.

  136. Bill,

    if the “renewable energy source” is less efficient and more costly than fossil fuels over it’s expected lifetime, then it IS breaking a window.

    If you have to put a gun to my head in order to get money from me for a green project, I can almost assuredly guarantee that such is NOT efficient, and thus represents a wast of resources that decreases economic growth.

    I.e. it’s a “broken window”, Dude.

  137. The last few posts are funny. I was going to comment that bill would claim that building inefficient renewable power plants wasn’t breaking windows and there he comes in right on schedule.

    As for thorium reactors not producing commercial power yet, that is because there was an incentive to use uranium and that path was chosen. There don’t appear to be any fundamental reasons why thorium reactors won’t produce commercial power.
    I would also argue that renewables (other than hydro) have yet to produce any commercial (unsubsidised) power to the grid and are not likely to in the foreseeable future.
    The only “commercial” power they produce is if you are off grid and need to rely on them and you’ll find the price per Kw-hr is very high and your personal economic circumstances are poorer as a result..

    It’s a “broken window” , Bill.

  138. Speaking of renewables. While watching the AGW channel, er Weather Channel, they were talking about wind turbines. And I learned that not only do they not produce if the wind doesn’t blow (duh), but have to be shut down if the wind blows too hard. If I recall correctly they have to be shut down if winds reach 50 mph. Not very practical if you ask me.

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