Ice Capades – New Iceberg Not What It is "Cracked Up" To Be

By Steve Goddard

Readers will surely recall when WUWT was the first climate news outlet to publish this story:

Oh no! Greenland glacier calves island 4 times the size of Manhattan

In it, an admonition: “Watch the media now as this story is only about an hour old.” So far the media (and foot in mouth politicians) haven’t disappointed in their zeal to make this “business as usual” for a glacier into a poster child.

Image from The Arc

Professor Andreas Muenchow became a media celebrity this week with his quote about an iceberg in Greenland being “four times the size of Manhattan.” This iceberg has become a poster child for global warming, even though a much larger one broke off the same glacier 50 years ago.

From the Kansas City Star

Researchers last week spotted a 100-square-mile chunk of ice that calved off from the great Petermann Glacier in Greenland’s far northwest. It was the most massive ice island to break away in the Arctic in a half-century of observation. The huge iceberg appeared just five months after an international scientific team published a report saying ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet is expanding up its northwest coast from the south. Changes in the ice sheet “are happening fast, and we are definitely losing more ice mass than we had anticipated,” said NASA’s Isabella Velicogna.

Others took the misinformation one step further:

In what he calls ‘a manifestation of warming’, Dr Richard Bates who helps monitor the Greenland ice said he was ‘amazed’ to see such a huge area of ice break off the Petermann glacier. Reported in the Telegraph a team from the University of St Andrews said that a huge 106 square mile chunk of ice had broken away at the start of August. This is the largest ever seen to come from Greenland. The US National Ice Center has named the iceberg the ‘Petermann Ice Island’. They also report that the Petermann glacier, which is located in North West Greenland to the East of the Nares Strait and one of the largest in the Northern hemisphere, has retreated back to a level not observed since 1962.

What the press is not widely reporting is that Professor Muenchow also said :

years of data on the glacier itself show that after this month’s event, the mass of ice is still, on average, discharging about the same amount of water it usually does – some 600 million cubic meters a year, or about 220,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. “Even a big piece like this over 50 years is not that significant.  It’s just the normal rate,” he said. Muenchow warns people not to jump to conclusions. “An event like this, this specific event, all flags go immediately up, ‘Oh, let’s explain this by global warming.’ I cannot support that,” he said.

So what we know is that the glacier is where it was 50 years ago, a bigger chunk broke off 50 years ago, and the rate of ice moving to the sea has not changed. There is absolutely no story here. Our warming friends get more desperate by the day. It is pathetic.


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Theres none so blind as cannot see! everything is as they expect it to be, for them there is no other way.

I propose naming it Markey Iceland §.-)


Hmm, I think you’re on to a scoop here. Penguins on a Greenland iceberg. What won’t they think of next.


I particularly like the Arctic penguins. A new species perhaps?

The “green industry” has tied it’s wagon to the global CAGW myth which is rapidly loosing it’s political steam. They stand to loose big time if cap and tax legislation or EPA regulations are not enacted. There will be a lot of political issue ads and bad “science” releases between now and November trying to keep CAGW politicians in office. It’s not about science. It’s about research funds and carbon offsets.

Summer of the Shark meet the Generation of Global Alarmism.

P Walker

Yes , it is pathetic . But did you expect less than the worst in media coverage ?


I’m tempted to make a blacklist of all those experts who interpreted this event as a sign of CAGW…

adrian smits

Why dont they come check this out at wuwt?They could have been set straight before they made fools of themselves

Rod Everson

“It was the most massive ice island to break away in the Arctic in a half-century of observation.”
Interesting how just adding “of observation” to that sentence makes it sound like: In all the time we’ve been observing the Arctic, this is the biggest ever.” Sounds a lot more dramatic than: “The last time this happened was 50 years ago when a much larger one broke off” What he wrote was true, but readers will be misled, perhaps intentionally?

ANY attempt to get the ‘cattle’ to stampede … pitiful state we find ‘science’ in today …


Whatever happened to having honor and integrity? The warmers and the lap dogs in the media have neither.

Holger Danske

Here is DMI’s take on the situation:
I know it is a lousy translation by Google, but it is too late for me to do it myself.
Istab = Loss of ice
Isudbredelse = ice extent
Isdrift = ice drift
Make no mistake – DMI has both feet firmly planted in the Warmers’ camp.

selective editing a wonderful idea……


It’s a bit like splatter movies. The acting and the plot don’t matter as long as enough blood flows. News has become a subgenre of B movies.

Mike Jowsey

Equals more grants for studying the Greenland ice sheet…. More careers cocooned in soft fluffy science where rose-tinted glasses are part of the uniform.

Mike McMillan

Penguins stranded on a mini-iceberg.
Heart-wrenching, but I’m not going to give up carbonated soda pop.

charles nelson

On a similar theme but different subject.
ABC radio in Australia stated that the floods in Pakistan
were “worst in the country’s history”… I wonder how many
of their listeners realize that Pakistan came into existence
in 1947?


It seems the warming interests have issued the MSM the same template article to write world wide: blame the fires in Russia, the monssoon in Pakistan as the latest “proof” that global warming is happening. Funny every article starts with the disclaimer that prudence is required BEFORE attributing these to AGW, but this is just what journalists are doing in the title of their articles…


They’re all jumping on this iceberg like a pack of starving wolves.
Giant Greenland iceberg a climate ‘warning sign’
AFP – Marlowe Hood – ‎5 hours ago‎
PARIS — A giant iceberg that snapped away from Greenland last week is a signal that global warming is causing the island’s continent-sized ice cap to melt …
Ice sheet in Greenland melting at record rate – Louise Gray – ‎9 hours ago‎
The Greenland ice sheet is melting at a record rate due to global warming, according to a British-led expedition currently taking measurements from the …
Greenland Ice Island Prompts Global Warming Debate
Voice of America – Carla Babb – ‎19 hours ago‎
Heat waves, droughts and floods have been wreaking havoc across the globe in recent weeks, and now scientists say a 250 square kilometer island of ice has …
Scientist: Huge Greenland iceberg a sign of warming
OCRegister – Pat Brennan – ‎6 hours ago‎
When a massive ice island broke off Greenland last week, it looked quite familiar to UC Irvine climate researcher Eric Rignot. …
Greenland ice melts at record pace
The Economic Voice – Jeff Taylor – ‎12 hours ago‎
In what he calls ‘a manifestation of warming’, Dr Richard Bates who helps monitor the Greenland ice said he was ‘amazed’ to see such a huge area of ice …


Of course it’s pathetic, all they have left is pathos.


To people like this – Isabella or Bates, nothing existed prior to their birth.

Jimmy Haigh

That was my first reaction – it’s desperation.


yes, crop yields which are actually increasing are said to be catastrophicaly failing because of global warming.
glaciers, which are actually growing, are said to be collapsing because of global warming.
the warmist machine is really running with this calving incident, it is all over the press, perhaps the worst being at the guardian
when in fact the ice sheet is growing, and we are obviously on the long (maybe rapidly steepening) descent into in the next glaciation


Anthony PS: I have a couple hours of 8mm color film my father took on a trip to Antarctica back in the ’50’s of giant icebergs when he was on a Navy icebreaker. If you are interested, email me.


In colder climates glaciers will tend to grow their tongues much further on the sea than in a warmer world. Eventually, they break off even if it is cold.


“Calving and surging glaciers play a major role in delivering land ice to Arctic waters. Changes in calving frequency might impact sea transport, fisheries and oil exploration in the Arctic. However, these changes are poorly understood. A new Ph.D. project at UNIS aims at increasing the understanding of glacier changes in a shifting climate.”
Almost every credible source, I have found, begins with this “poorly understood” caveat. No kool-aid for the glaciologists.


Here, you can be among the first to report this:
NOAA: Second Warmest July and Warmest Year-to-Date Global Temperature on Record
August 13, 2010
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature made this July the second warmest on record, behind 1998, and the warmest averaged January-July on record. The global average land surface temperature for July and January–July was warmest on record. The global ocean surface temperature for July was the fifth warmest, and for January–July 2010 was the second warmest on record, behind 1998.


The “bigger chunk” in 1962 was from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, northern Ellesmere Island in Canada. Is the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf considered part of the Petermann Glacier?


OMG! Is that us?! We are SO CUTE!

Leon Brozyna

The media’s turned into a poitically correct new Chicken Little — The ice is melting! The ice is melting!
And they can always count on a few ethically challenged scientists to join in the chorus just to keep that AGW money machine pumping out the green. And those that don’t toe the propaganda line can be safely edited out.


How Ice Islands were once reported…
THE ARGUS Wednesday 8 February 1911
The ice floe upon which an entire fishing village has been carried from the neighbourhood of Bjorko Sound has become stranded near the island of Seibkar.
There are 253 men and a number of horses on the floe. Despite the fact that the temperature is 18deg. below zero, the fishermen refuse to abandon their huts and horses and an extraordinary fine catch of fish which they had secured. Their position is not dangerous at the present time.

Village Idiot

I feel bound to inform you, brother Goddard of another enemy who also threatens the security of our Village. He is one professed glaciologist Konrad Steffen who claims to be of the University of Colorado, but who (on the side) is overseeing the Greenland section of a major report by the UN IPCC (Gasp!…the source of all climate lies) due in 2013.
He proclaims (by phone):
“It is a warning sign that we are seeing changes…..The ice sheet is continuing to lose volume at an accelerated rate…..We are now at 350 cubic kilometres (84 cubic miles) ice loss per year. That’s more than twice the ice in all the glaciers in the Alps….We used to say the south (of Greenland) was the active part (for ice loss), that we didn’t need to worry about the north. This is no longer true — the north has started to lose ice at the same rate…The ocean has a memory of years to decades — it takes a while before you see the change, but once it’s there it will stay ”
A said J.P. Steffensen, a University of Copenhagen glaciologist and field manager for a deep-drilled ice core project who will look at a key layer from 125,000 years ago reportedly said:
“We are keen on getting a record of this period because it was five degrees degrees Celsius (nine degrees Fahrenheit) warmer in Greenland than today [He noted: That rise is exactly what is predicted for the Arctic region by 2100 if average global temperatures go up by 2.0 or 3.0 Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 Fahrenheit) ]…You could say this is Nature’s own example of what we have coming for us with future global warming.”
This information was thus gleaned:


So, just to be clear, here we are in range of arctic sea ice minimum (another month or so), tracking more than 6M km/2 of floating ice, and they’re having a hissy over ~260 km/2 of new floating ice? Is that right?


This article states: “This iceberg has become a poster child for global warming, even though a much larger one broke off the same glacier 50 years ago.”
GeoFlynx – The “much larger one” was from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf (1962), northern Ellesmere Island in Canada. The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf in Canada is NOT the same as the nearby Petermann Glacier in Greenland.


Steve G., I think you need to take one for the team here. Send Revkin an email and tell him that if arctic minimum extent comes in at 5,500,000-5,500,260 km/2, we’ll still consider you to have missed because of the unfair recent addition.
Maybe that’ll chill them out.


This is a perfect example of why people are turning away from believing.
I say encourage them to do more of this.

Village Idiot

“DMI has both feet firmly planted in the Warmers’ camp”
Aaah…Holger D. Wasn’t it better in the good old days?
[Reply: Kindly post articles in English. Thanx.]


Scientists say a lot of things. If, might, could. They even pretend to know the future. Fortunately there are still enough sane people not buying into everything they say.
Now don’t you have a dinner date with Joe Romm?


geo @ 3:55 PM: Good question and, yes, that’s what they seem to be saying. NPR had a breathless account this afternoon of the catastrophe with some warmist “science” interlocutor explaining how even though the air isn’t warm enough to melt anything, the ocean is full of heat and eats away at the ice from below and it breaks off, plus Greenland is seeing all sorts of ponding of water on the ice cap which cuts its way through the several kilometers of cap (evoking images of an oxyacetylene torch on butter), and yes all this could and probably should be attributed to global warming. The advocacy requires constant close focus on a few events that can be posed as lurid or spectacular, and then surrounded with some generalization as if the same thing is happening everywhere. Think how disaster movies are made: a pornographic close-up of the fire starting or the building teetering or the wall of water rushing toward shore; then endless variants of same; then cut to faces of victims with frozen expressions of horror; repeat as needed.
It has nothing to do with the systematic and principled collection and interrogation of data over time and space.

Hmmmn… I wonder if the Associated Press will exaggerate and scare readers with their report? Let’s see …

Huge ice island could pose threat to oil, shipping
This Aug. 5, 2010 satellite image provided by NASA shows an ice island that has broken off the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland. A University o AP – This Aug. 5, 2010 satellite image provided by NASA shows an ice island that has broken off the Petermann …
By KARL RITTER, Associated Press Writer Karl Ritter, Associated Press Writer – Tue Aug 10, 5:55 pm ET
STOCKHOLM – An island of ice more than four times the size of Manhattan is drifting across the Arctic Ocean after breaking off from a glacier in Greenland.
Potentially in the path of this unstoppable giant are oil platforms and shipping lanes — and any collision could do untold damage. In a worst case scenario, large chunks could reach the heavily trafficked waters where another Greenland iceberg sank the Titanic in 1912.
It’s been a summer of near biblical climatic havoc across the planet, with wildfires, heat and smog in Russia and killer floods in Asia. But the moment the Petermann glacier cracked last week — creating the biggest Arctic ice island in half a century — may symbolize a warming world like no other.
“It’s so big that you can’t prevent it from drifting. You can’t stop it,” said Jon-Ove Methlie Hagen, a glaciologist at the University of Oslo.
Few images can capture the world’s climate fears like a 100-square- mile (260-sqare-kilometer) chunk of ice breaking off Greenland’s vast ice sheet, a reservoir of freshwater that if it collapsed would raise global sea levels by a devastating 20 feet (6 meters).
The world’s newest ice island already is being used as a powerful emblem in the global warming debate, with U.S. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts suggesting it could serve as a home for climate change skeptics.
Researchers are in a scramble to plot the trajectory of the floating ice shelf, which is moving toward the Nares Strait separating Greenland’s northwestern coast and Canada’s Ellsemere Island.
If it makes it into the strait before the winter freeze — due to start next month — it would likely be carried south by ocean currents, hugging Canada’s east coast until it enters waters busy with oil activities and shipping off Newfoundland.
“That’s where it starts to become dangerous,” said Mark Drinkwater, of the European Space Agency.
The Canadian Ice Service estimates the journey will take one to two years. It’s likely to break up as it bumps into other icebergs and jagged islands. The fragments would be further ground down by winds and waves and would start to melt as they move into warmer waters.
“But the fragments may still be quite large,” warned Trudy Wohlleben, a Canadian ice forecaster, who first spotted the massive chunk of ice on satellite images last Thursday.
The chunks of ice could be large enough to threaten Canada’s offshore platforms in the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, said Wohlleben.
And, while it’s possible to redirect smaller icebergs, by towing them or spraying them with water cannons, “I don’t think they could do that with an iceberg this large,” she said. “They would have to physically move the rig.”
Moving an offshore platform is time-consuming and expensive — and very complicated in cases where they are fixed to the ocean floor.
While Greenland’s glaciers break off thousands of icebergs into Arctic waters every year, scientists say this ice island is the biggest in the northern hemisphere since 1962.
It contains enough freshwater to keep the Hudson River flowing for more than two years, said Andreas Muenchow of the University of Delaware.
The drifting ice sheet is likely to remain at the heart of the global warming discussion during its journey.
While experts say it’s difficult to directly tie the giant ice island to climate change because there are so many factors that affect glaciers in the area, the unusual event coincides with worrisome signs of warming in the Arctic.
Since 1970, temperatures have risen more than 4.5 degrees (2.5 degrees C) in much of the Arctic — much faster than the global average. In June the Arctic sea ice cover was at the lowest level for that month since records began in 1979, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The retreat of Greenland’s glaciers, which has accelerated in recent years, is one of the least understood pieces of the climate puzzle.
A team of climate scientists who visited the Petermann glacier last year, expecting it to crack then, is now planning another trip within weeks.
“We did leave behind a couple of time-lapse cameras and 11 GPS (devices). Now we are scrambling to get up there and recover the data,” said Jason Box, an expert on Greenland glaciers from the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University.
Box and two British researchers traveled to the glacier last year with Greenpeace activists who offered space aboard their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, to scientists studying climate change.
They were hoping to capture the event with cameras rolling, which would have been a powerful image just months before the Copenhagen climate talks that failed to produce a binding treaty to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions.
“It would have been nice if it had broken off last year,” said Melanie Duchin, who led that Greenpeace expedition. “I mean ice melting, it doesn’t get any simpler than that.”
Still, she finds it ironic that the Petermann breakup coincides with another catastrophe linked to fossil fuels. The Arctic Sunrise is now in the Gulf of Mexico, surveying the massive oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
Associated Press Writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report”

Nah. No scare tactics or exaggerations here.
By the way, the “ice island” in question is INSIDE a narrow, twisting fjord, now about 3/4 – 1 mile from even the OPENING of the fjord in Greenland. But a so-called glaciologist is claiming it is in “open seas” ???? Is this a credible “expert” or does it represent the level of knowledge and real-world experience of today’s “average” CAGW-spouting glaciologists?
The “island” is no larger than Manhattan – which will permit it to BECOME a large iceberg – WHEN it gets out of the fjord – IF it can! – and WHEN it starts melting as it goes south (many hundreds of miles) towards the shipping lanes.
But right now? It’s trapped and can do nothing but melt. Or re-freeze into the tip of the glacier since the Arctic temperatures at 80 degrees north latitude (which cuts across north Greenland) are trending back towards 0.0 Celcius, and will go below freezing in about two more weeks.


The connection between the Greenland ice breakup and the Russian bog fires and the Amazon draughts and the Austrailian political situation and the Japanese economy and the heatwaves in the American southern states cannot be stressed enough. Everything that happens on this speck of dust in the middle of nowhere in this galexy so far, far away from anything really exciting in the universe is all connected. No ’bout a’doubt it!

D. King

They must be getting tired; I know I am!


The sad thing is that you could probably get a lot of cash donations to save the penguins of Petermann Island. I think I’ll start a foundation, hell, I might even score a federal grant. (blatant sarcasm – except for the getting donations part)


Given those are penguins that iceberg is from Antarctica, not Greenland. Not that the AGW crowd would notice. They will probably have a visual using polar bears for Antarctica in the next gloom, doom, and gore report.


“They also report that the Petermann glacier, which is located in North West Greenland to the East of the Nares Strait and one of the largest in the Northern hemisphere, has retreated back to a level not observed since 1962”
Well then how did it get bigger since 1962, so it could retreat back to where it was in 1962?


Hey Mike,
I’m impressed with your ability to parrot government statistics! However, I don’t think NOAA or NASA need your help with dissemination of their ‘official news’. They’ve got taxpayer-funded information officers and PR staff for that. At this late date, I think you should know better than to blindly accept press releases from any government agency. I think it was that radical anarchist, Albert Einstein, who once said something like: “Unquestioning acceptance of authority is the greatest enemy of the truth”. I think you may fall into this ‘unquestioning’ category.

Jose Suro

And my 84-year old Mother watched this “news” on CNN and ate it all up – mega warming included. “OMG” was the gist of her reaction while on the phone today. Being’s she is an avid reader I’m sending her a copy of “State of Fear” tomorrow.