Pacing the Glacial

AR4 WGII Figure 10.6. Composite satellite image showing how the Gangotri Glacier terminus has retracted since 1780 (courtesy of NASA EROS Data Center, 9 September 2001).

Guest post by Tom Fuller

How glaciers have responded to the warming of the past 130 years is a complicated story, although many millions of words have been written to try and explain it.

How glaciers have been used to promote fears of a disastrous future is a much simpler story, but it really only gets told in skeptic weblogs. The story competes with a much easier tale, one that is told by the media strategists for environmental organisations and is repeated by politicians and others seeking temporary fame or permanent fortune through shaping our future to meet the challenges of climate change.

As a non-scientist, what I take from the many articles and papers I have read can be summarized as follows: Glaciers advance and retreat in response to a variety of forces, some mechanical, some climatic, some of each regular, some of each unusual. This has been going on as long as there has been ice. I realize that this is so vague as to be useless and vapid, but I want to start from a non-controversial position. It will probably start to get controversial with the next sentence, and will probably not stop after that.

It is my best understanding based on what I have read (and please feel free to correct errors or hints of bias), that at this point in time more glaciers are retreating than are growing, and probably by a significant percentage. However, some of those that are retreating actually began retreating before global warming started. So, many glaciers are retreating, many should be attributed to global warming, but there are many exceptions–it is by no means a universal phenomenon.

There has never been anything like a census, even using satellite photography over the past 30 years, although photographs of 100,000 glaciers are available at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. (I’d love to be proven wrong on that point, as continuous satellite coverage would be really useful.) The Assessment of The Status of The Development of The Standards For the Terrestrial Essential Climate Variables, published in 2009, references the inventory of the 100,000 glaciers, but draws no conclusions on overall status.

It is also my best understanding that those pushing the story of catastrophic global warming have used and misused glacier melt to advance their quest for political agreement to their preferred solutions. They started with the glacier at Kilmanjaro, prominently featured in Al Gore’s move An Inconvenient Truth. However, it turned out that Kilmanjaro’s glacier had been receding long before human contributions to global warming, and it sort of receded to the background.

But glaciers on a mountain make a pretty picture, and Kilmanjaro was replaced by Himalayan glaciers, which are just as pretty, and didn’t seem so controversial. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in their 4th Assessment Report wrote, “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world.

(see Table 10.9)

And, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).”

This finding was meat to a hungry press corps, and was featured prominently in print, on television and on the internet. But it was wrong, as most readers here already know. Worse, the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, had been informed it was wrong years before.

But again, as with polar bears, Antarctic ice and pictures of flooded cities, the image and the fear it produced was too important to let go. I’m not speaking of the scientists, although the warmist weblogs keep accusing me of doing so. I’m speaking of slick media strategists working hard to keep an issue alive, donations coming in, lobbyists full of talking points and committee votes on tough issues like Cap and Trade. So although the IPCC finally admitted their report was in error, it still gets spun as a typographical error that doesn’t change the inevitability of glacial disappearance.

The warming we have experienced has caused many glaciers to lose mass–in a few cases, glaciers have disappeared entirely, or are likely to do so soon. But the issue is not as simple as the media have been spoon-fed to believe, at least not according to the articles I have read.

But complexity gets in the way of a scare story, and so the narrative must be simplified–and exaggerated.

As has been the case in each instance of symbols being hijacked for political purposes, a sober and compelling story could have been told. It would have had many qualifications, and would have probably ended with a call for further research and keeping a close eye on the situation. I honestly believe such a story would have resulted in more and more effective action than the sledgehammer horror story approach the activists took.

Thomas Fuller http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller

How glaciers have responded to the warming of the past 130 years is a complicated story, although many millions of words have been written to try and explain it.

How glaciers have been used to promote fears of a disastrous future is a much simpler story, but it really only gets told in skeptic weblogs. The story competes with a much easier tale, one that is told by the media strategists for environmental organisations and is repeated by politicians and others seeking temporary fame or permanent fortune through shaping our future to meet the challenges of climate change.
As a non-scientist, what I take from the many articles and papers I have read can be summarized as follows: Glaciers advance and retreat in response to a variety of forces, some mechanical, some climatic, some of each regular, some of each unusual. This has been going on as long as there has been ice. I realize that this is so vague as to be useless and vapid, but I want to start from a non-controversial position. It will probably start to get controversial with the next sentence, and will probably not stop after that.
It is my best understanding based on what I have read (and please feel free to correct errors or hints of bias), that at this point in time more glaciers are retreating than are growing, and probably by a significant percentage. However, some of those that are retreating actually began retreating before global warming started. So, many glaciers are retreating, many should be attributed to global warming, but there are many exceptions–it is by no means a universal phenomenon. There has never been anything like a census, even using satellite photography over the past 30 years, although photographs of 100,000 glaciers are available at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. (I’d love to be proven wrong on that point, as continuous satellite coverage would be really useful.) The Assessment of The Status of The Development of The Standards For the Terrestrial Essential Climate Variables, published in 2009, references the inventory of the 100,000 glaciers, but draws no conclusions on overall status.
It is also my best understanding that those pushing the story of catastrophic global warming have used and misused glacier melt to advance their quest for political agreement to their preferred solutions. They started with the glacier at Kilmanjaro, prominently featured in Al Gore’s move An Inconvenient Truth. However, it turned out that Kilmanjaro’s glacier had been receding long before human contributions to global warming, and it sort of receded to the background.
But glaciers on a mountain make a pretty picture, and Kilmanjaro was replaced by Himalayan glaciers, which are just as pretty, and didn’t seem so controversial. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in their 4th Assessment Report wrote, “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).”

This finding was meat to a hungry press corps, and was featured prominently in print, on television and on the internet. But it was wrong, as most readers here already know. Worse, the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, had been informed it was wrong years before.

But again, as with polar bears, Antarctic ice and pictures of flooded cities, the image and the fear it produced was too important to let go. I’m not speaking of the scientists, although the warmist weblogs keep accusing me of doing so. I’m speaking of slick media strategists working hard to keep an issue alive, donations coming in, lobbyists full of talking points and committee votes on tough issues like Cap and Trade. So although the IPCC finally admitted their report was in error, it still gets spun as a typographical error that doesn’t change the inevitability of glacial disappearance.

The warming we have experienced has caused many glaciers to lose mass–in a few cases, glaciers have disappeared entirely, or are likely to do so soon. But the issue is not as simple as the media have been spoon-fed to believe, at least not according to the articles I have read.

But complexity gets in the way of a scare story, and so the narrative must be simplified–and exaggerated.

As has been the case in each instance of symbols being hijacked for political purposes, a sober and compelling story could have been told. It would have had many qualifications, and would have probably ended with a call for further research and keeping a close eye on the situation. I honestly believe such a story would have resulted in more and more effective action than the sledgehammer horror story approach the activists took.

Thomas Fuller href=”http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfulleHow glaciers have responded to the warming of the past 130 years is a complicated story, although many millions of words have been written to try and explain it.

How glaciers have been used to promote fears of a disastrous future is a much simpler story, but it really only gets told in skeptic weblogs. The story competes with a much easier tale, one that is told by the media strategists for environmental organisations and is repeated by politicians and others seeking temporary fame or permanent fortune through shaping our future to meet the challenges of climate change.

As a non-scientist, what I take from the many articles and papers I have read can be summarized as follows: Glaciers advance and retreat in response to a variety of forces, some mechanical, some climatic, some of each regular, some of each unusual. This has been going on as long as there has been ice. I realize that this is so vague as to be useless and vapid, but I want to start from a non-controversial position. It will probably start to get controversial with the next sentence, and will probably not stop after that.

It is my best understanding based on what I have read (and please feel free to correct errors or hints of bias), that at this point in time more glaciers are retreating than are growing, and probably by a significant percentage. However, some of those that are retreating actually began retreating before global warming started. So, many glaciers are retreating, many should be attributed to global warming, but there are many exceptions–it is by no means a universal phenomenon. There has never been anything like a census, even using satellite photography over the past 30 years, although photographs of 100,000 glaciers are available at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. (I’d love to be proven wrong on that point, as continuous satellite coverage would be really useful.) The Assessment of The Status of The Development of The Standards For the Terrestrial Essential Climate Variables, published in 2009, references the inventory of the 100,000 glaciers, but draws no conclusions on overall status.

It is also my best understanding that those pushing the story of catastrophic global warming have used and misused glacier melt to advance their quest for political agreement to their preferred solutions. They started with the glacier at Kilmanjaro, prominently featured in Al Gore’s move An Inconvenient Truth. However, it turned out that Kilmanjaro’s glacier had been receding long before human contributions to global warming, and it sort of receded to the background.

But glaciers on a mountain make a pretty picture, and Kilmanjaro was replaced by Himalayan glaciers, which are just as pretty, and didn’t seem so controversial. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in their 4th Assessment Report wrote, “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).”

This finding was meat to a hungry press corps, and was featured prominently in print, on television and on the internet. But it was wrong, as most readers here already know. Worse, the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, had been informed it was wrong years before.

But again, as with polar bears, Antarctic ice and pictures of flooded cities, the image and the fear it produced was too important to let go. I’m not speaking of the scientists, although the warmist weblogs keep accusing me of doing so. I’m speaking of slick media strategists working hard to keep an issue alive, donations coming in, lobbyists full of talking points and committee votes on tough issues like Cap and Trade. So although the IPCC finally admitted their report was in error, it still gets spun as a typographical error that doesn’t change the inevitability of glacial disappearance.

The warming we have experienced has caused many glaciers to lose mass–in a few cases, glaciers have disappeared entirely, or are likely to do so soon. But the issue is not as simple as the media have been spoon-fed to believe, at least not according to the articles I have read.

But complexity gets in the way of a scare story, and so the narrative must be simplified–and exaggerated.

As has been the case in each instance of symbols being hijacked for political purposes, a sober and compelling story could have been told. It would have had many qualifications, and would have probably ended with a call for further research and keeping a close eye on the situation. I honestly believe such a story would have resulted in more and more effective action than the sledgehammer horror story approach the activists took.

Thomas Fuller href=”http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller

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91 thoughts on “Pacing the Glacial

  1. Tom Fuller- I am not a AGW acolyte, but, I appreciate your effort at presenting a reasonable, cogent, argument. Politics, science, and religion have congealed in the
    AGW debate. Human nature has not changed. Eventually even the most carefully concealed lie gets outed-even more so in our digital age. I am an educated layman,
    but, when the wool is pulled over our eyes, by the IPCC, Hadley, etc. real sicence
    gets pulled down too.
    I have always held that this whole thing was/is about control and not saving the planet..
    The planet does not care.

  2. How glaciers have responded to the warming of the past 13,000 years is a complicated story, …

    … would have been a less biased starting point, since the glaciers have been retreating since at least that far back. If they hadn’t, it would be rather difficult to drop the ball in Time Square on New Year’s Eve, since it would have been under ~1.5 to 2.0 miles of glacial ice. It may be a minor point, but it’s one worth pointing out.

    I honestly believe such a story would have resulted in more and more effective action than the sledgehammer horror story approach the activists took.

    Effective action towards what ends? The entire AGW theory has already been shot to pieces. Having a “soft sell” campaign on a bogus “problem” isn’t any better than clubbing someone over the head with loud advertising. One still ends up with damaged goods (loss of personal freedom, national sovereignty, starving Third World populations), while ending up in the poor house, as the snake oil salesmen end up filthy rich and holding the reins of power, as the Earth goes about its merry way of heating up and cooling down.
    I’ll pass, thank you very much.

  3. Glaciers are flowing ice and need input (pecipitation) to produce output. Melting at their termination is natural. You need to know the speed of the glacier first before you can come to any conclusion based on temperature. I repeat, melting at the termination is normal: lower flow rates will therefore produce retreat.

  4. Would we really want to live in a period of time where glaciers were growing?
    Given all the other “climate” choices that we could be trying to live through,
    How in this world did an almost perfect time for us to be here,
    get turned into a disaster?

  5. This from the IPCC AR3 (before the science was “settled”):
    http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/

    Glaciers are generally not in equilibrium with the prevailing climatic conditions and a more refined analysis should deal with the different response times of glaciers which involves modelling (Oerlemans et al., 1998). It will take some time before a large number of glaciers are modelled. Nevertheless, work done so far indicates that the response times of glacier lengths shown in Figure 2.18 are in the 10 to 70 year range. Therefore the timing of the onset of glacier retreat implies that a significant global warming is likely to have started not later than the mid-19th century. This conflicts with the Jones et al. (2001) global land instrumental temperature data (Figure 2.1), and the combined hemispheric and global land and marine data (Figure 2.7), where clear warming is not seen until the beginning of the 20th century. This conclusion also conflicts with some (but not all) of the palaeo-temperature reconstructions in Figure 2.21, Section 2.3 , where clear warming, e.g., in the Mann et al. (1999) Northern Hemisphere series, starts at about the same time as in the Jones et al. (2001) data. These discrepancies are currently unexplained.

    As for the census, check the WGMS, the GLIMS and the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network:
    http://wgms.ch/index.html
    http://www.glims.org/
    http://glaciology.ethz.ch/swiss-glaciers/

  6. Due to the cyclic nature if climate, and glacier life, to take a snap shot of what is happening ‘now’ does not give the complete picture. There are some 16000 glaciers on this planet and the vast majority are not examined. Those that are showing climate change characteristics, ie. melting are actually few and far between. Glaciers melt from below. If we ignore the seasonal summer surface melting which looks impressive but when measured against the vast mass of the ice contained is very little. But geothermal heat from below does the bulk of melting. This also supplies the lubrication, from the water, to aid the movement down valley. If a temperature profile is taken through a glacier then top temperatures are well below zero C and as the temperature is taken through the ice it increases towards zero to the sole of the glacier. Without geothermal heating glaciers would probably move very little due to being frozen to the valley floor.

  7. We really don’t have a clue what is happening with ice on this planet. Even with satellite technology, the question of Arctic and Antarctic ice thickening or thinning over the long term is fraught with debate because of seasonal and long-term natural ocean cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and others. Also there are over 120,000 glaciers in the world, some retreating, others advancing. Presently the so-called “world data base” consists of data from less than 350 glaciers. Most of these tend to be in places somewhat accessible to researchers. Every glacier has it’s own unique situation regarding why it is either advancing or retreating depending on not only temperature and precipitation over long periods of time, but terrain, elevation, prevailing winds over time and other many other factors. In many cases today’s glacier action is the result of temperature and percipation that occured years or even decades ago depending on the elevation. Even the measurement techniques tend to vary depending on the researcher. Many researchers keep their own databases on the glaciers they monitor because they don’t trust the others. The top researchers in this field bemoan the lack of data after more than 60 years of monitoring the “glacier mass balance”.

  8. Hi Tom,
    Actually, there is a lot to be said for a complete inventory of changes in glacial mass. The uncertainty in the contribution of glacial loss to rising sea levels makes it more difficult to estimate the contribution of ocean heat accumulation from the satellite measured sea level rise. That is, if you really knew the amount of water added to the ocean from glacial melt, then you could infer the thermal expansion of the oceans and so put a constraint on how much heat could possibly be accumulating in the Earth’s oceans. Which would help estimate the true response of the Earth to forcing. But alas, the contribution of glaciers to sea level rise is uncertain.

  9. “…in a few cases, glaciers have disappeared entirely, or are likely to do so soon.”
    If something has already disappeared entirely how can it be likely to do so soon?
    I don’t know about glaciers disappearing, but has anyone else noticed that this site has become decidedly warmer since the Google ads disappeared?

  10. I guess my problem with the whole ice melting thing, is that during an interglacial period it’s all supposed to be melting – it’s dynamic, it might look stationary, but it isn’t. If you live in the Northern Hemishpere, you’ve only got to look around you at most of the geography outside your windows to see it’s influence – It’s really nothing to do with the whole AGW debate. Plus, even if it was, shrinking is much better than growing – As then we really would have a problem

  11. There is a spot in the Wallowa Mountains, at the peak of the Wallowa Lake tramway, that was probably the highest point of the glacier that eventually led to the moraine that now stands as a testimonial to the damage done by such a mammoth sized ice field. This spots usually melts away by August. Not this year. I was shocked by how much ice is still there. In fact, two weeks ago, visitors to the top of the tram had to do their site-seeing in a blizzard that left 2 inches of snow on the ground in short order. That ice field still there is likely to be bigger next year at this time. My recommendations? Sell your Wallowa Lake property to someone from out of state, especially greenies from California.

  12. Two years ago, I had an experience that settled the glacier issue for me. While in Alaska, I was driving to the Exit Glacier, outside Seward. A few miles from the glacier, I noticed periodic signs beside the road, with four digit numbers upon them. I was puzzled at first, then realized that they were dates, marking the extent of the glacier in that year. There has been continuous European presence in the area for ~250 years. There was a constant record of the glacier, and in the mid 18th century it reached miles from where it is today. It has steadily, if in starts and jerks, retreated for that entire timespan. Long before industrialization, or AGW, climate change, or anything man has done.

  13. TFuller:
    “The warming we have experienced has caused many glaciers to lose mass–in a few cases, glaciers have disappeared entirely, or are likely to do so soon. But the issue is not as simple as the media have been spoon-fed to believe, at least not according to the articles I have read.
    But complexity gets in the way of a scare story, and so the narrative must be simplified–and exaggerated.” And that narrative, once ascendant, allowed the proponents to postulate outrageous, impractical, horrifically expensive and societally destructive solutions without significant political or social opposition. Until now.
    But bloggers such as Tom and Anthony and many others have been accenting that complexity and so have been pulling the plug on the “certainty” of the scary, simplified and exaggerated narrative. A cinematic parallel would be the scene in “12 Angry Men” where after Lee J. Cobb said that you couldn’t find a duplicate of the accused’s switchblade anywhere in the neighborhood, Henry Fonda pulled out an identical switchblade, stuck it into the jury room desk and said he had found it in a store during a short walk in the neighborhood during a break. The jury was shocked – the conviction narrative took a hit to the gut. And the “guilty – let’s hang him” narrative slowly began to collapse. The jury didn’t just begin to doubt the narrative. The prejudices that warped their judgements began to be revealed. (Can you say “Climategate”? WWF? Gore’s wealth from “green” credits?)
    The narrative is starting to die through a thousand blog cuts.

  14. The above Table 10.9 from the IPCC for Himalayan glacier melt had a large number of errors in it (in addition to the 2035 versus 2350 problem).
    I think only 1 of the 9 individual glaciers had the correct melt rate and the timeline that it was measured on.
    For example, the Pindari Glacier (line 2) melted back 2,840 metres (even that is wrong) over 121 years —> which equals 23.5 metres per year —> but the Table 10.9 from the IPCC has it at 135.2 metres per year. [Basic math mistakes even].
    —–
    In any event, no one knows the rate at which glaciers are melting and whether that has changed at all in the last 8,000 years.

  15. “The warming we have experienced has caused many glaciers to lose mass–in a few cases, glaciers have disappeared entirely, or are likely to do so soon. “

    Mr. Fuller,
    Are you sure it’s just the warming? Is it the warming that has caused Greenland’s Petermann Glacier to grow for years now?
    SOOT

    Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos
    “Plausible estimates for the effect of soot on snow and ice albedos (1.5% in the Arctic and 3% in Northern Hemisphere land areas) yield a climate forcing of +0.3 W/m2 in the Northern Hemisphere. The “efficacy” of this forcing is ∼2, i.e., for a given forcing it is twice as effective as CO2 in altering global surface air temperature.
    …………….
    We suggest that soot contributes to near worldwide melting of ice that is usually attributed solely to global warming. ”
    James Hansen and Larissa Nazarenko – PNAS 2003
    More on soot caused melting – James Hansen

    ************
    Further reading on SOOT and glaciers:
    Black carbon aerosols and the third polar ice cap
    Soot is Key Player in Himalayan Warming – NASA
    ************
    OBSERVATIONS

    No Sign Yet of Himalayan Meltdown, Indian Report Finds
    “The report, by senior glaciologist Vijay Kumar Raina, formerly of the Geological Survey of India, seeks to correct a widely held misimpression based on measurements of a handful of glaciers: that India’s 10,000 or so Himalayan glaciers are shrinking rapidly in response to climate change. That’s not so, Raina says. ”
    Science

    ************
    Futher reading:
    The stupefying pace of glacier melt in the 1940s
    Himalayan Glaciers Not Melting (Quotes and links to report)
    "Himalayan Glaciers: A State-of-Art Review of Glacial Studies, Glacial Retreat and Climate Change" [pdf]
    A list of growing glaciers

  16. I agree with your last statement John. If fact, the whole AGW issue.
    To explain;
    If IPCC were to say something like “we have to get the societies to get off CO2 addiction. We are spewing ‘x’ amount into the atmosphere, and CO2 concentrations are rising.”, I would agree as I believe this is valid.
    But they aren’t talking like that, and it appears that they just want to create a tax system, and form a ‘government of governments’ of sorts. No one at IPCC seems to want to talk about a deadline of shutting down things like coal fired electricity or anything like that.
    Further, topic for discussion in Mexico is the supposed to be centered on some kind of payment schemes to poor countries, and emissions discussions are …………..where? (are they even to be tabled?).
    I think the whole discussion of emissions should be taken away from the UN and handed over to the G8 or G20.
    The UN is sort of like King Midas, only instead of everything they touch turning to gold. it turns to S**T…..always.
    The UN has to be the world’s least effective organization!!!!

  17. I think any discussion of glacier progress has to begin with the snout age. There has been no significant glacier developing climate or mini-climate since the LIA, so if snout age is as old or less than the time since the LIA then glaciers are going to recede. That has been going on for centuries.
    Economies that depend on glaciers and the water that flows off them are already in trouble just because of that dependency. In fact it is the water, not the glacier that is critical. Glaciers are not like lakes which rise and fall seasonally. They are ponderous, and what melts is difficult to replace. Precipitation that falls to sustain or grow glaciers is not available for farming, energy, or other uses. It is only water that falls in excess of the needs of the glaciers that is useful, multipurpose water. Which raises the point: Where did the notion come from that glaciers must be? There is nothing about this planet that guarantees there will be glaciers. There is no plan. Glaciers happen, or not.
    The larger point of this is, if the glacier is melting now, and the runoff of that and the existing precipitation does not generate enough multipurpose water, then you require too much water for too little precipitation. You had better start conserving and drilling. If precipitation is adequate to sustain or grow the glacier, even if aided by colder weather, then yet more precipitation is needed to provide multipurpose water.
    You cannot build generating plants with water that is frozen and stuck to a mountain top. You cannot form long term multiuse plans based on melting glaciers. You need a reliable source of precipitation that is not consumed by glaciation.
    We actually compete with glaciers for that precipitation in the same way we compete with gravity for river water. It is not too difficult to imagine in a time of need, glaciers could be harvested by water-poor populations just as we have banked river water in man-made lakes.

  18. Mr. Fuller,
    Anyone who has spent time objectively examining these issues is aware of the fact that we don’t actually KNOW if human activity has had ANY EFFECT on the planet’s weather or climate, let alone a significant one. Even those who do see an effect in the abused and mangled data find that it is a very small one. If humans have had ANY EFFECT, other than in our own back yards, the effect has largely saturated (i.e. gotten about as big as it’s ever likely to get).
    If anything ‘catastrophic’ were happening, the evidence would be unmistakable, and we wouldn’t be nit-picking about miniscule things like 0.007°C per year for the past hundred years, or a few millimeters per year of sea-level changes, in the face of normal variations of tens of degrees or tens of meters per day in many places, day after day, year after year, as has been the case forever.
    Nonetheless, in your recent series of posts, you keep making matter-of-fact comments about the warming that has supposedly been caused by humans, as if this had actually been demonstrated. You rarely if ever qualify these statements, nor do you indicate their relative importance (if they in fact do have any).
    In the end, your articles give the impression that Anthropogenic Global Warming is an accepted fact, and all you are complaining about is the packaging of the message that has been delivered to the general public. This is, at the very least, rather disingenuous, and does nothing useful. Rather, it simply fosters belief in the religion that has been manufactured around such ideas. You are not helping. But perhaps that hasn’t been your intention.
    /dr.bill

  19. With at least two terminal moraines within short miles of each other and a valley topography that clearly reveals the extent of damage caused by catastrophic melting of these glaciers in Wallowa County, it would be instructive to post signs at all the advances and retreats of these glaciers, plus the valley wide floods that occurred. The landmarks are clearly visible for those in the know.

  20. Thomas:
    Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate and have enjoyed your cogent and eminently readable essays. Advancing the debate is not only about talking points and factoids. Coming to a reasonable agreement in a reasonable fashion is the mark of reasonable minds. As a scientist by training, I greatly value the ability to interpret and clearly explain a point of view that is reality-based.
    Well done.

  21. People tend to see glaciers as the end-all, be-all source of water for valley purposes. Glacial melt water is NOT the most significant source of water for agricultural/human purposes. Rain, aquifer, and ground water are.

  22. Warning! The following observations contains no science.
    I live in the Rocky Mountains in Canada and have many glacial remnants out my back door. What has amazed me since childhood is that there are glaciers here at all! They seem to contradict the pleasant temperatures they experience half the year. We take it for granted that the ski hill will melt completely each spring yet for some reason, we also take it for granted that a pocket glacier higher up will not melt. It actually seems quite odd for a default position to take in your mind that “ice” and “summer” ought to be compatible!
    It’s another example of how the mind tends to imagine a static world even when in this case, it doesn’t make sense.
    If I don’t stop to think about precipitation regimes, and flow dynamics etc, observing glacial remnants around here is really just looking at two points in climate history superimposed on one another.
    Data is always better than impressions but I do find it fascinating how the mind flips problems around sometimes.

  23. Scientific articles about disappearing glaciers are all about content, not style. Here’s one example: Glacier National Park in Montana now has 25 glaciers, compared to 150 in the 19th century.
    Making a connection between disappearing glaciers and a warming climate is a clear and obvious way to communicate the fact that it’s rapidly getting warmer, in spite of distracting talk about temperature stations and sunspots.
    You are effectively accusing scientists and others of using glacier melt to promote a political agenda, as a way to attract more funding etc. This is an irrelevant and unsubstantiated charge, and is typical of your entire ouevre.

  24. Pamela Gray says:
    September 12, 2010 at 7:47 am
    You’ll have to travel much further south in Calif. to find greenies to sell Wallowa property to.
    Mt. Shasta currently presents itself as a huge cone with white sauce running down like syrup.
    It has not been seen like this in a very long time, and as a consequence, the supply of greenies chanting global warming has been receding.

  25. “…the image and the fear it produced was too important to let go. I’m not speaking of the scientists…,”
    Well, if the scientists didn’t produce the images and fear-mongering, as you say, they at least sat back and enjoyed the show, and kept mum.
    They could have issued corrections if the science was miss-presented by sensationalist reporters and PR people.

  26. Well gosh it is not surprising if indeed more than 50% of the worlds glaciers are retreating,many for more than 100 years.
    The Little Ice Age ended just 150 years ago.A climate epoch that FAVORED glacial growth,that went on for several hundred years.
    Thus I would not be surprised that many glaciers can be melting back in this current warming trend that started just….. 150 years ago.

  27. Interesting post. I remember that, back in the early 60’s (when I was quite young but already interested in science), I read about the retreating glaciers of Kilimanjaro.
    There was a photograph from around 1900 that showed a quite disturbing difference in ~60 years.

  28. It is my best understanding based on what I have read (and please feel free to correct errors or hints of bias), that at this point in time more glaciers are retreating than are growing, and probably by a significant percentage
    RONGGGG!!!!
    Most glaciers are advancing.
    Most glaciers are in Antarctica.

  29. “And, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 ….”
    This is why one shouldn’t be taking their “science” from the WWF. The present rate never continues in the real world. The fact that the glaciers referred to are shrinking uphill means that with linear trends in warming, these would slow down. It is the same reason that the glaciers around the periphery of Greenland shrunk back in a huge way during the MWP, permitting grain farming, but the ice cap remained pretty much as it was (ice core records have a relatively continuous record as I understand it). I climbed Kilimanjaro in 1988 and I can tell you it was very cold in the last few thousand feet – we had arctic downfilled sleeping bags at the last camp for the ascent. There was lots of dry cold snow when we arose just after midnight for the last leg. I have no way of comparing what it may have been like before or since but I’m pretty sure at 19,000 feet it isn’t melting. Sublimation and lack of precipitation anyone?

  30. There was a report last year that the Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau Alaska had increased mass at its summit. That may be an isolated event because the glacier has retreated a fair distance from the sea over many years. This is one glacier we would not want to see add mass and begin to move again toward the sea. Check it out on google earth. Look at the land on the southwest shore of the melt water lake. Its been developed with residential subdivisions. Amazing.

  31. I am getting a little full of ‘I’m not a scientist’ science writing. TF does not represent well enough to be a major near-daily contributor.

  32. We are 12,000 years (more or less) past the last “big melt” and there are still 30,000,000 sq km (more or less) ice on the planet surface. Either the current inter-glacial has yet to run its course (ie: more ice is going to melt), or we’re just out of luck (ie: most of the ice that’s going to melt has done so). If you think “global warming” is a problem, I suggest you think seriously of the alternative. A glacial maximum would mean an uninhabitable planet north and south of about latitude 40. For most of the past 500 million years Earth has had less ice than now (most of that time none at all), so the odds are in our favour. However, we are still in an ice age and at risk of another maximum. I find it hard to believe people who complain about being warm. I lived for the better part of a decade in the sub-Arctic. Warm is way better than cold.
    Ref: http://www.unep.org/geo/geo_ice/graphics.asp

  33. I wish that the story of the Great Aletsch Glacier got more publicity.
    The glaciologist Hanspeter Holzhauser has reconstructed its length back to 1600BC, and his graph is a peach, showing the ‘lapping tongue’ through Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period etc. His methods are an object lesson in scientific talent and rigour: for example, he uses the exposure of historical artifacts (a Roman wall) and radiocarbon dating of trees engulfed by past advances of the tongue.
    His graph shows the current length of the glacier to be unexceptional: The Aletsch comes and goes; since 1860 it has been a-going, but it has been this short before.
    Versions of his paper “Fluctuation of the Great Aletsch glacier during the last 3500 years” can be found online, but the Word version I have, with its superb colour graph, seems to have been pulled.
    Holzhauser has gone on record saying that Global Warming is going to screw up his pet glacier. But if his research budget depends on the Thermageddon threat, well he’s hardly likely to rock the boat is he?!

  34. Tom, I enjoy the reasonableness and moderation of your posts, as well as their subject matter. However, I take issue with your political position, which, in this and other posts, appears to be as some sort of luke-warmism (“CO2AGW is happening, we need to act, the problem is that the issue has been hyped by activists and political/media strategists, they need to do better”).
    I suggest your political position is not necessarily a rational one. If CO2AGW were to be undetectable, minimal, mild or uncertain (and presented truthfully as such), it would not support calls for political action. Without exaggeration, hyperbole and deceit, the warmists have no obvious strategy to generate popular support for political measures such as taxes and/or rationing. The case for CO2AGW is a one trick pony. Like a glacier, it can advance, but it cannot retreat.
    All the best.

  35. The warming we have experienced has caused many glaciers to lose mass
    Not proven. By a long chalk.
    The most common way a glacier can lose mass is lack of snow up the top, which is our old friend precipitation – or the lack of it. Without the weight pushing down, the speed slows, and the front retreats.
    It’s a bit like a snowball in Hell – it gets further if you throw it hard and fast, than if you just roll it in.

  36. “Porlicue Wombaster” and others may not be aware, but Anthony has an ongoing family situation that he announced on August 31st in a post entitled . The first paragraph of the article reads as follows:
    I have a few very important (and personal) announcements to share with the WUWT community because they will impact content and moderation over the next few weeks. Please take a moment to read this.
    Tom (and others) are relieving Anthony of some of the load he normally carries on WUWT, so he can attend to a more pressing need. Even though I don’t agree with much of what Tom says, I’m grateful to him for stepping in to support Anthony.
    If you disagree with what Tom says, the appropriate way to respond is with facts. Don’t complain that he lacks the appropriate credentials. (We don’t want WUWT to be just like the warmist blogs, do we?) Most importantly, don’t ask Tom to leave. He’s an invited guest, providing an invaluable service to Anthony.

  37. Just what we need–an article about glaciers by a non-scientist. Do you dental work also? How about trying your hand at neurosurgery? I will continue to get my information from the scientists.
    REPLY: Question: Did you watch Al Gore’s movie section about glaciers? – Anthony

  38. In my previous post (“September 12, 2010 at 3:34 pm”), I inserted a link to Anthony’s August 31 post (titled “Announcements”) in which he explained that he would be preoccupied for some time with a family issue. Something bad happened and the link disappeared from the posting. Here’s the link as text:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/31/announcements/
    Check it out.

  39. Tom, what “more effective action”, apart from “keeping a close eye on the situation”, would you suggest to “meet the challenges of climate change”, i.e. ‘global warming’ which started 130 years ago?
    Just asking.

  40. Porlicue Wombaster says:
    September 12, 2010 at 2:00 pm
    I am getting a little full of ‘I’m not a scientist’ science writing. TF does not represent well enough to be a major near-daily contributor.

    That’s because the bulk of the loudspeaker chorus is not coming from scientists per se.
    It’s been screeched at us from Agenda-based sources like a broken record, and if Tom Fuller wants to fling a few Raspberries back at ’em, I say more power to him.
    Remember that guy with all the fancy knife knuchucking moves in the Indiana Jones movie, and then Indiana whips out a gun and pops him? That’s about how the General Public feels about all the hype & hysteria.

  41. A few years ago, the Jakobshavn glacier (west Greenland) was iconic as the fastest retreating glacier in the world, although it all seems to have gone rather quiet recently.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/26175880@N05/4753025383/&quot; This marked-up NSIDC image shows its retreat at intervals from 1851 through to 2006, from which it can be seen that the rate has been extremely erratic. For instance, in the 37 year period between 1964 and 2001, whilst the NH average temperature according to HADCRUT was in a pronounced warming stage, the rate of retreat was at its very lowest. Thus, there seems to be no correlation with temperature. Topographic (gravitational) considerations suggest that unless precipitation increases a good deal, the rate of retreat may well slow further now that the termination is back at the “throat” in the mountains. Notice the two “ice streams” striations from the SE and NNW, heading towards the “throat” in the ring of mountains near the coast, the island bedrock being somewhat bowl shaped. (below sea level inland )

  42. SORRY TRY AGAIN html tag error
    A few years ago, the Jakobshavn glacier (west Greenland) was iconic as the fastest retreating glacier in the world, although it all seems to have gone rather quiet recently.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/26175880@N05/4753025383/&quot; This marked-up NSIDC image shows its retreat at intervals from 1851 through to 2006, from which it can be seen that the rate has been extremely erratic. For instance, in the 37 year period between 1964 and 2001, whilst the NH average temperature according to HADCRUT was in a pronounced warming stage, the rate of retreat was at its very lowest. Thus, there seems to be no correlation with temperature. Topographic (gravitational) considerations suggest that unless precipitation increases a good deal, the rate of retreat may well slow further now that the termination is back at the “throat” in the mountains. Notice the two “ice streams” striations from the SE and NNW, heading towards the “throat” in the ring of mountains near the coast, the island bedrock being somewhat bowl shaped. (below sea level inland )

  43. Hi Christopher,
    I heartily support a ‘no regrets’ policy of taking action that makes sense no matter what the outcome of the global warming question. This includes a variety of actions, which I may go into in another post. But although you’ll probably like some of what I advocate, you probably won’t like all of what I support, as some of it will involve taxpayer dollars. Just warning you…

  44. ‘I realize that this is so vague as to be useless and vapid, but I want to start from a non-controversial position.”
    You should rethink this comment. There are many that think posting useless and vapid comments about climate science is very controversial.

  45. REPLY: Question: Did you watch Al Gore’s movie section about glaciers? – Anthony
    Yes, Anthony, and Al Gore was rightly lambasted for that film and for many such ‘factual sections’ within in it. What Tom Fuller is doing to this site is to bring the same kind of armchair opinion based on one mans psuedo-scientific analyses and then posting it up as an ‘article’.
    I really am not sure what this piece says (similar to the sea level rise piece a few days ago). Its not anything scientific about glaciers, it makes huge assumptions (AGW is happening) and sweeping statements like “at this point in time more glaciers are retreating than are growing, and probably by a significant percentage” but with the admission that “I realize that this is so vague as to be useless and vapid”, badly rehashes old news stories (the IPCC glaciergate) and then ends up with a whine about how activists always hijack symbols like this.
    I fully agree with most of the sentiments written, but I also agree with people who say the suns going to rise tomorrow – I just don’t need to read a bad essay about it.

  46. This may upset some people, but let me explain some things about glaciers. We have had melting glaciers since the last Mini-Ice age.
    We have had consistent sunspot activity for the last 310 years. 2 cycles tend to be weak and 7 cycles tend to be strong.
    There is nothing to prove arguing over glacier melt. We are in the hottest period of global warming in 310 years.
    Details: As we travel north up the USA west coast, we can begin to see mountain top glaciers above the Canadian border. As we travel on north to Juneau, Alaska, the ice field on top of the mountain has the Mendenhall Glacier reaching down to the valley.
    There it now stops and recedes 60 feet a year. The Juneau Ice Field is still active and feeding the glacier. The glacier nearly reached the Juneau area during the Mini-Ice age.
    The same is true farther north in Seward, Alaska. There, the East Glacier is still being fed, but the glacier is still receding 60 feet a year.
    Now, in the Glacier Bay area and next to Skagway are some active glaciers, still reaching the water line, one coming 32 miles out of Canada. We are finishing the warmest period of global warming in 310 years.
    Our average winter temperatures in the US hit 31.4. This is a 6 degree downward trend since 2000. We are in a 30 year cooling period.
    We are in the slow descent into something no nation has experienced in modern times. Where can we look for glacier growth?
    First we will find that at higher latitudes and higher altitudes first. Glacier Bay had some growth in 1967 and 2002.
    There was slight growth recorded in the Alps. There is evidence of mountaintop glaciers that would have required an ice sheet glacier foundation thousands of feet below at the ocean’s water line.
    One thing to add. We came out of the last Ice Age rapidly in a 10,000 year period.
    And that began 20,000 or more years ago. In the last 10,000 years, known as the inter-glacial period, there has been 3 cooling periods.
    We know of the Mini-Ice the most. There was another period about 2500 years ago that chased tribes men out of Glacier Bay.
    They settled at Hoonah, Alaska. Somewhere in front of us is a 10,000 year slide to the next preliminary states of the next ice age.
    Our axis is at about 23.66 degrees. As the Axis becomes more upright at about 22.5 degrees over the next 7,000 years and the earth moves away from the Sun in its slightly elliptical orbit, things will be drastically colder.
    Going back a week or two, when we speak of the Northern polar ice cap, we are dealing with a different set of variables than the southern Polar Region. The North Pole is ground Zero. There is not much elevation, but highest latitudes.
    From here, glacier activity grows to Highest elevations at lowest latitude possible. We are probably past the last peak global warming period for this inter glacial ice age.
    Why? We have herds of deer in Alaska that are biologically changing.
    The Bucks are taking on female characteristics and their male parts are disappearing inside of themselves. This is a defense measure and a cold measure.
    The bucks travel in the group of six does. The lead doe is out in front and the buck and others follow in line.
    Wolf Packs protection is my thought. Also, as biology has it, cold testicles reduces production of sperm.
    Now, the testicles have moved inside the body for more warmth. An observer would have to ask,”Just how freaking cold is it going to get?”
    Paul

  47. Mike Roddy says:
    September 12, 2010 at 10:05 am
    “Scientific articles about disappearing glaciers are all about content, not style. Here’s one example: Glacier National Park in Montana now has 25 glaciers, compared to 150 in the 19th century. […]”
    So educate me, Mr. Roddy. Was it buffalo toots or SUVs that caused the retreats in the 1800s?

  48. In Patagonia there are is a glacier named Upsala that had retreated since 1928 several hundred meters, and is Greenpeace’s proof of glaciar melting due to global warming. You can see the pictures in an article I wrote several years back (in Spanish, but the pictures are worth thousand words).
    http://www.medioambiente.gov.ar/noticias/medios/2004/m_021104_01.htm
    However studies made by glaciologists R. Naruse, P. Svarka and Y. Takeuchi, tell a quite different story. The study in English is at:
    http://glacier.lowtem.hokudai.ac.jp/project/patagonia/patagonia.htm
    “Thinning and retreat of Upsala glacier and an estimate of changes in annual ablation in Southern Patagonia.” They prove that Upsala glacier retreat has nothing to do with temperature but is related to changes in the bottom of the lake where the glacier ends its course.
    Curiously, 50 km south of Upsala glacier is Perito Moreno glacier, world famous for its size and its beautiful spectacle of huge blocks of ice calving from its front and to the breaking of an ice bridge that used collapses every 4 years, during the month of March. Thousands of tourists all over the world come to watch the show.
    But the Perito Moreno is advancing so fast that now it is breaking its bridge every two years, and the last time it broke the bridge was on July, in the midst of winter!
    More, on the other side of the Andes Cordillera there is the fastest advancing glaier in the world: Pio XI, whose advance keeps glaciologists wondering why it advances so fast.
    Big glaciers seem to be advancing fast, while small glaciers are stable or retreating.

  49. Mr. Fuller,
    The most true statement in the post was that you are a non-scientist.
    Glaciers are not terribly confusing beasts. They mostly react to summer temperature and winter precipitation. Therefore in a warming climate
    (which we are in fact warming and are in the warmest year on record as confirmed today by the The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)
    http://www.ecmwf.int/publications/cms/get/ecmwfnews/263 )
    one can expect to see that predominantly glaciers will be losing ice and that some in fact won`t be because of increased precipitation or because they recede into the shadows of cirque backwalls and so on. The best analysis present and available show that glaciers are retreating globally. There are some outliers but the absolute and utter majority are retreating and losing ice. Including the himilayas which is losing 40 Gt year (supplementary material Bamber et al 2010, The Cryosphere Discussions, New Paper)
    The aforementioned bamber paper does a great job of quantifying the state of glaciers and ice sheets globally and would be a great resource for you mr. Fuller.
    It is freely available. And before any other individuals here take pot shots, read the article first, afterall it is free. Bamber is a leading glaciologist and has essentially written the book on field measurement techniques so no discrediting commentary please…

  50. Tom Fuller
    Can I suggest you tackle another icon-that of the notion of ‘accurate global figures from…”
    The idea that there can be such a thing as a meaningful global average sea level, surface temperature, sea surface temperature etc is nonsensical.
    A global figure hides lots of sins, for example that there are many places still cooling in the world is cancelled out by the greater number of places that are warming. The idea that we have comprehensive enough records to go back hundreds of years and then parse those figures to fractions makes the climate industry appear much more scientific than it is. For example, our knowlege of historic Sea surface temperatures is extremely fragmentary at best, yet such organisations as CRU make money selling the data.
    Tonyb

  51. Robert, you stated:
    Glaciers are not terribly confusing beasts. They mostly react to summer temperature and winter precipitation.
    The following mark-up of an NSIDC image of a famous Greenland glacier suggests that there are many complex factors, the least of which is air temperature.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/26175880@N05/4753025383/
    See also my earlier post: September 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm plus 4:14 pm
    Any comments?

  52. The mistake with the glacier timing was due to taking over a typo in a secondary source without checking the primary source (which is of course very bad housekeeping), in a regional chapter of wg2 (read by hardly anyone; in wg1 the glacier situation was assessed correctly).
    See also
    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/glaciers-are-retreating-but-wont-be-gone-in-2035/
    Based on surveying lots of glaciers, some 95% of them seem to be retreating.

  53. @Fuller

    It is my best understanding based on what I have read (and please feel free to correct errors or hints of bias), that at this point in time more glaciers are retreating than are growing, and probably by a significant percentage.

    Since this is a science blog and the tradition in science is to provide references instead of waving of hands saying “based on what I have read” which means nothing as it might include reading twitters from 10 year olds might I suggest you provide references? I’ll demonstrate how that works.
    From what *I* have read the Little Ice Age lasted several hundred years and didn’t end until around 1800 which is, probably by design, the approximate date when your graph of one particular retreating shrinking glacier begins. Do you know how to spell “cherry picking”?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age
    It’s worse than you thought. As far as we can determine over the last 10,000 years of the Holocene interglacial period the maximum extent of glaciers occurred just about 200 years ago at the end of the Little Ice Age.
    http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/overview-on-glacier-changes-since-the-end-of-the-little-ice-age
    It appears reasonable to me quite reasonable that most glaciers would be in retreat in the 19th and 20th centuries given that they grew like banshees during the coldest epsode in the last 10,000 years which lasted from the 14th through the 18th centuries.
    So what’s your point?

  54. Colonial says:
    September 12, 2010 at 3:34 pm
    “Most importantly, don’t ask Tom to leave. He’s an invited guest, providing an invaluable service to Anthony.”
    Quite right. Even the best rodeos have paid people dressed as clowns running around to fill the gaps in time between the serious competitive events.

  55. “should be blamed on global warming”. Nothing, really nothing at all should be blamed on “global warming” because it is such an ill defined meaningless concept that any causal attribution is ridiculous. And when combined with the statement that some glaciers are expanding and other glaciers are retreating, it becomes hilarious. Moreover, the term “blamed” suggests that it is an evil development, glaciers retreating whereas I tend to believe we should get really worried once they start showing continuous growth. As said time and time again on this blog, attributing any isolated weather or regional or local geological phenomenon on antropogenic greenhouse gas is pretty daring (read wrong) and almost certainly not supported by convincing scientific evidence.
    Glaciers as much as climate are fascinating puzzles, lets enjoy the puzzling and not force the non fitting pieces in place because we get impatient.
    By the way, the “typo” excuse to cover the scam on the 2035 Himlayan glacier melt myth is a shameless act of PR driven contempt of integrity to cover up the equally shameless inclusion of an uneducated traveler’s concerns which unfortunately has been bought by the press.

  56. Any mountain glacier that exists below the freeze line will most likely melt away. I always want to know what is the altitude of the mountain glacier so I can check what the temperature is at its location using the lapse rate formula. Most of the time mountain (Himalayian) glacier stories never give that information.

  57. Robert September 12, 2010 at 9:30 pm states: “Including the himilayas which is losing 40 Gt year (supplementary material Bamber et al 2010, The Cryosphere Discussions, New Paper)”
    I’ve got to confess that I’m confused by this statement. You cite “Bamber et al 2010”
    (sic).
    “et al.” is an abbreviation for et alia which means “and others” and is used when there are more than one other author beside the primary author. The only apparently similar paper I could find was Bamber and Riva 2010 at The Cryosphere Discussions. Was this what you meant? If so, it should not be cited as Bamber et al. 2010.
    Assuming this is the paper you mean, their supplementary material indicates that glaciers in the Himalayas and Karakorum together are losing ~40GT/yr, which differs from what you wrote.
    If you are going to chide someone, it would behoove you to be as factually correct and precise as possible.

  58. Excuse me, yes I did mean Bamber and Riva 2010 but I forgot the name of the second author, therefore my claims are invalidated correct? Those who nitpick things like that really can’t nitpick the science.
    I said the himilayas were losing 40 gt a year and so did you? I don’t understand your point? Is it because i didn’t clearly state himalayas and karakorum? Sorry, I assumed I didn’t have to specify the exact range.
    So once again, you nitpick the way I word my answer but cannot refute the science behind it. Just so we are clear.

  59. Bob_FJ says:
    September 13, 2010 at 1:04 am ,
    I generalized regarding glaciers. If we are talking about ice sheet dynamics and how outlet glaciers from ice sheets react to different perturbations, you can read my substantive post here.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Part-One-Why-do-glaciers-lose-ice.html
    Generally when people make discussions about glaciers, receding and melting away we are referring to land based or mountain glaciers. Ice sheets and ice caps have much more varied dynamics. But in general once again, Glaciers are extremely dependent on summer air temperatures and winter precipitation (Benn & Evans, 2010, Glaciers and Glaciation).

  60. Tom, I am not in full dispute over what you wrote. Nor do I think that there is anything too wrong with it. I just find it a little disingenuous to make the following statement
    “It is my best understanding based on what I have read (and please feel free to correct errors or hints of bias), that at this point in time more glaciers are retreating than are growing, and probably by a significant percentage.”
    When it is so clear and unequivocal that 95% of the world’s glaciers are retreating. I think that 95:5 is more than just a significant percentage… Especially when those that were advancing such as in parts of southern norway where I studied only gained ice for a while because of increased precipitation associated with warming at high altitudes (Nesje et al. 2008).
    Overall, no I don’t think that this post misconstrued the science really, but I felt it would be useful to post and particularly show the recent study which helps to symbolize how unequivocal the retreat is. I know it can be hard to make statements like the aforementioned ones here at this website because there are a lot of individuals who would sense that as being an AGW type remark… but it seems these days that reality tends to have an AGW bias…

  61. Bob_FJ says:
    September 13, 2010 at 1:04 am ,
    I read your other comment and like I said, if you read the following series of posts:
    [SNIP]
    [SNIP]
    [SNIP]
    You will likely have a greater understanding of the issues at play in outlet glaciers particularly with respect to ice sheets. It is not a plug for another website but rather what I consider to be a useful resource for inquiring minds…
    [Reply: It certainly is a plug for your blog when you repeatedly link to it, as you did three times in this comment, and in previous comments, and in your screen name. Your blog is listed in the WUWT sidebar, but it does not return the courtesy. Please stop using WUWT as a vehicle to boost your blog’s traffic, and simply say what you want to say here, in your own words. Links to peer reviewed papers, charts and graphs are fine. ~dbs, mod.]

  62. latitude says:
    September 12, 2010 at 7:25 am
    Would we really want to live in a period of time where glaciers were growing?

    Yes, but only long enough to get the AGW types to understand that climate and ice are cyclical. The only catch would be their flip to CO2 = cooling mode.

  63. [Reply: It certainly is a plug for your blog when you repeatedly link to it, as you did three times in this comment, and in previous comments, and in your screen name. Your blog is listed in the WUWT sidebar, but it does not return the courtesy. Please stop using WUWT as a vehicle to boost your blog’s traffic, and simply say what you want to say here, in your own words. Links to peer reviewed papers, charts and graphs are fine. ~dbs, mod.]
    It is not my blog it is John Cook’s Blog. Referring to specific articles that I wrote because they have substantive information is not the same as plugging the blog over there. I included all three because they build off of each other. Part 1-3. Unfortunately Skeptical Science is not always as organized as we would sometimes like so if I said to the individual to go find my articles where i discuss this over at skeptical science then they might have difficulty in actually finding the articles. I was not trying to increase traffic over there, just trying to specify exactly where to find the information I was referencing. Sure I could be specific and cite papers and books from which I drew my analysis but frankly a list of 20 papers won’t help anyone to better understand ice dynamics. Sure I could summarize in my own words but frankly I have done so many times here and so excuse me if I just find it easier to refer to a specific article. I just don’t really appreciate the accusation that i’m trying to increase traffic over there, if there is a resource which discusses the issues at hand, how does it matter which blog it comes from?

  64. Mr. Fuller,
    You’re not a scientist? Well, slap my side and pick up my jaw.
    Let’s see, Is Al Gore? Don’t know, but he has a lot of followers and a lot of them are scientists. How can that be?
    I was on a cruise through Alaska. I came away impressed that to be a national park ranger, one had to worship Gore and Obama. And they had to science or history degrees to get a job.
    Was Newton a scientist? Hmmm! Nope!
    Was Einstein a Scientist? Not at first.
    According to Edward Blair Bolles, who authored the “Ice Finders”, the first people to discover and study the last Ice age were a Poet, a professor and a politician and I add a Barron.
    I along with others discovered relationships between sunspot activity and Accumulated cyclone energy, temperatures, number of hurricanes, glacier melt and precipitation and my work is at nationalforestlawblog.com Oct. Newsletter under my name and I’m a golfer.
    Can you imagine that?
    A golfer knows more about climate change than any given number of people at the FEDEX Cup.
    The bulk of new stars and such discoveries are by amateurs.
    Mr. Fuller, your in good company. You may not want to be called a scientist. That sounds so derogatory.
    Most sincerely,
    Paul Pierett

  65. Robert Reur September 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm and 12:32 pm
    I presented an NSIDC image of the Jakobshavn glacier, which was iconic a few years ago when it was trumpeted as being the fastest retreating glacier in the world. However, the overall retreat rate over the past ~160 years has been EXTREMELY erratic, and it then slowed down in the latter years to the end of data shown up to 2006. One would wonder, what with the alarm expressed over recently diminishing Arctic sea-ice, why this would be the case, and why it is easy make sweeping statements about glaciers. Here it is again:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/26175880@N05/4753025383/
    When I asked for: “Any comments?”
    I was referring SPECIFICALLY to that image, AND in the context of my September 13, 2010 at 1:04 am which opened with:
    Robert, you stated:
    Glaciers are not terribly confusing beasts. They mostly react to summer temperature and winter precipitation.
    Please read my earlier comments, and respond to the points therein
    BTW, I no longer go to the website that you recommend.

  66. To Bob FJ,
    In the entry above yours, I posted a web site of my work.
    In the numerous pages are 30 some charts and as I mentioned somewhere above:
    Glacier Bay glaciers melted at half the rate during the period of the early party of the 1900s when sunspot activity was low as compared to the period when sunspot activity nearly doubled. During that latter period, glaciers melted nearly twice as fast as the early part of the century.
    Paul

  67. Robert says:
    September 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm
    Bob_FJ says:
    September 13, 2010 at 1:04 am ,
    I generalized regarding glaciers. If we are talking about ice sheet dynamics and how outlet glaciers from ice sheets react to different perturbations, you can read my substantive post here.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Part-One-Why-do-glaciers-lose-ice.html
    Generally when people make discussions about glaciers, receding and melting away we are referring to land based or mountain glaciers. Ice sheets and ice caps have much more varied dynamics. But in general once again, Glaciers are extremely dependent on summer air temperatures and winter precipitation (Benn & Evans, 2010, Glaciers and Glaciation).
    —…—…
    OK.
    (1) There (might be! – since data is “corrected” by NASA-GISS) a maximum 1/2 of one degree change in global temperatures since 1970 that (might be) attributable to Mann-made global warming.
    Any increase in temperature (and therefore theoretical glacier change-in-length) before that period cannot be due to CO2. Therefore, any change in glacier length before 1970 shows that glacier length – anywhere in the world – DISPROVES your CAGW theory. Your job? Show that this conclusion is false with data.
    (2) Any (theoretical) change-in-glacier-length due to atmospheric summer-time temperature changes (caused by CO2 and not natural variations – which the CAGW theory prohibits) MUST therefore be proportional to global average temperatures. (This is because CAGW zealots use retreating glaciers to “prove” CAGW, therefore glacier length MUST be proportional to air temperatures.)
    Therefore, please provide the names and data of glaciers that have BEGUN retreating in 1970, and whose retreat is consistent with global air (summertime) temperatures between 1970 and 1998, and whose length has steadied (not changed!) since 1998 – since global air temperatures have not increased since 1998. Also: Note that global air temperatures retreated (got cooler) between 1940 and 1970. Therefore, your data must show a corresponding increase in glacier length/stop of glacier retreat between these dates. If you cannot plot these relationships, your theory -though a nice high-school generality – is dead wrong.
    (3) Also. From first principles of heat transfer, mass flow rate, heat transfer coefficient of air to the glacier front, and the specific size of the theoretical glacier frontal area, derive the coefficient of glacier length to air temperature.
    Prove that the 1/2 of one degree change in average air temperature measured since 1970 is enough to melt ANY length of ANY glacier.

  68. RACookPE1978 Reur September 13, 2010 at 8:38 pm
    AND, Robert….. Your various comments:
    It occurs to me now from several comments above, that there may be a thought that the Greenland ice-sheet outlet glaciers may be considered to have different providence to “typical” mountain glaciers. But what pray is typical? Different mountains and their glacial valleys have different topography, and thus different varying gradients (gravitational effects) along the path of a glacier. Sure, the Greenland ice-sheet has a significant central elevation and in that parameter alone, a gravitational effect, but don’t forget that as it creeps towards the coastal outlets it has to sheer across the ice that is trapped below the outlet and even way below sea level. (or drag it uphill!?)
    If you have ever done mountain hiking/climbing you would know that what may appear to be pyramidal mountain from a distance, actually usually has significant gradient variations. What may appear to be the top of a climb is but a crest, merely revealing a relative dip, followed by yet another climb, maybe even steeper.
    I have to go now, but will expand on this when I have time, with a photographic example in the Italian Alps.
    Robert Please respond to my earlier questions first.
    I assume you understand the engineering concepts of creep, sheer, and gravitation etc.

  69. Paul Pierett Reur September 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm AND 7:12 pm
    Thanks; I enjoyed your first post particularly, but could you please give a more definitive link to your work on nationalforestlawblog.com?
    Thanks, Bob_FJ

  70. To Bob_FJ
    Here is how to get to my stuff.
    http://www.nationalforestlawblog.com/newsletters.htm
    Go to October 2009
    http://www.nationalforestlawblog.com/Pierett%20Cover.pdf
    http://www.nationalforestlawblog.com/Global%20Warming%20By%20Paul%20Pierett.pdf
    http://www.nationalforestlawblog.com/Atlantic%20Storm%20Correlation%20To%20Sunspot%20Activity.pdf
    Summary:
    Most historical data begins on Page 27 of “Low Sunspot Numbers Cools Global Warming”.
    The first 26 pages is an argument addressing the Discovery Magazine Article from June 2009 stating that sunspot activity has no impact on the earth.
    The other paper shows what I discovered from the previous year about the direct relationship between Accumulated Cyclone Energy and Sunspot Activity.
    The cover letter is the cover to the “Low Sunspot…”. The first cover letter from Jan. 09 did not get a link, but states that we appear to be leaving global warming.
    So, one doesn’t have to be a scientist to figure this stuff out. But, it takes a lot of time.
    Thank you.
    Paul Pierett

  71. Policyguy says: “…This is one glacier we would not want to see add mass and begin to move again toward the sea. Check it out on google earth. Look at the land on the southwest shore of the melt water lake. Its been developed with residential subdivisions. Amazing.”
    Hey, we build (and rebuild) cities below sea level. Why not put a city right downhill from a glacier?

  72. Robert at September 13, 2010 at 12:17 pm whined about being nitpicked.
    I see. It’s nitpicking to ask for accuracy, precision, traceability, and transparency. These don’t matter as long as a number is similar. If a number is similar then the science is sound. That’s a fairly distorted view of science. If you write something and fill it with inaccurate citations, it’s no good to anyone as it’s not accurate, precise, traceable, or transparent. If you state that a document reports something and the report says something different, no matter how slight, then your statement is not accurate or precise. Demanding accuracy, precision, traceability, and transparency is not nitpicking; it’s science in all of its mundane glory.
    Additionally, Bamber and Riva 2010 in the supplementary information state explicitly: “We did not include the Himalayas and Karakorum in the total (~40 Gt/yr) as there is uncertainty about whether the glacier losses reach the ocean or whether they contribute to land water storage.” However they don’t provide a citation for this value. Granted that Bamber is a pre-eminent glaciologist, but what is the source for the data that provide this value? This isn’t a very traceable statement.

  73. RACookPE1978 says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:38 pm
    (1) There is a multitude of evidence which suggests that temperature reconstructions are accurate and not artificial inflating temperatures. These reconstructions have been displayed on WUWT and other websites and have been done by many independent and sometimes sceptical researchers. Perhaps before you open your mouth you should think carefully.
    Reconstructions can be found here: (They are also found on WUWT but this one addresses a few more issues than the one on WUWT)
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/surface-temperature-measurements-advanced.htm
    Further disproving your evidence is that satellite temperatures show warming from both UAH and RSS despite UAH being operated by two prominent skeptics. The only reason I said the skeptics part is that if you’re going to allege misconduct, lets be clear about who you’re making the allegations against. Recent temps can be found here:
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/
    Also note that calling it Mann made instead of man-made just makes you look slanderous rather than an honest debater. I have not slandered anyone in any of my discussions therefore I would ask you would respond with the same amount of respect that I gave.
    Also note, that I have not attributed anything to AGW and for you to create this strawman is very disingenuous. I would like you to point me to the sentence where I say glaciers have lost all there ice due to AGW?
    Once again, you make a comment that individuals in favour of AGW are “zealots”
    refer to my point above about slander.
    (2) Changes in Glacier volume are generally associated with summer air temperatures and winter precipitation. In outlet and tidewater glaciers there are other dynamics but the most important for those are water temperatures. This is well understood among the glaciological community. As mentioned above in my previous comment
    See Cogley 2009. Geodectic and direct mass balance measurements: comparison and joint analysis. Annals of Glaciology.
    which does in fact show that globally glaciers gained ice during the cooling period of the 1960s-1970s. Furthermore it shows the rapid retreat of glaciers since the 1970s which has been remarked in many places. A study which I find particularly interesting on this subject is Nesje et al. 2008 which very much discusses a rapid decrease in glacier volume over the 2000s in southern Norway despite having seen growth (due to winter precipitation, in the 1990s).
    The European Center for Medium and Long Range Forecasting has already concluded with certainty that 2009-2010 holds the warmest 12 month period on record. 2005 is considered the 2nd. This is the same as the GISS record and many of the reconstructions mentioned above do not show 1998 as the warmest on record. Furthermore, the satellite record shows that 2010 is within 0.06 of the UAH record for 1998 referred to at the website for drroyspencer above.
    http://www.ecmwf.int/publications/cms/get/ecmwfnews/263
    Therefore I find it highly unlikely that your pronouncement of “it hasn’t warmed since 1998 is true. This is addressed at sceptical science (which I know the moderator dislikes but it does address the issue) in the following post:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998-intermediate.htm
    (3) I do not need to prove to you the amount of air temperature change that would cause a corresponding glacier length change, it is not quite as simple as that. Do you know how many assumptions about the “typical” glacier would have to be made to do that? If you wanna plot up the data yourself go right ahead. These are fundamental things understood in glacier physics and if you want to read up on the relationship between summer air temperatures and glaciers you can read Glaciers and Glaciation (2010) by Doug Benn and David J.A. Evans. There is a plethora of literature on the topic and I’m not going to waste my time getting into glacier dynamics when your sole purpose is to confuse and dismiss. If I take glacier volume changes and compare it to temperature, my thoughts is I would receive a significant correlation with a statistical significance of greater than 99%. Will I confirm this for you right now? No thanks, but keep an eye on sceptical science where I will elaborate in the near future.
    For the record, you have to start acting like a grown-up and not a child by throwing baseless allegations and accusations out there. You have no credibility in my books when you spew insults at those trying to help others understand the science of glaciers. There was no significant discussion of AGW and its associations with glacier changes but you felt obliged to join in, next time, Don’t until you’re grown up.

  74. Taphonomic says:
    September 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm
    Okay buddy,
    I called the himilayas and karakorum the same thing when they’re in close proximity and that is what you’re going crazy about? Frankly, most people don’t even know the difference so what is the point of your tirade?
    And yet you sit by while
    RACookPE1978 says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:38 pm
    sits there filled with inaccuracies and say nothing? Lets hope it was because you missed his comment and not because his narrative fits well (minus things like facts) into the web of deceit you would like to partake in spinning?
    I don’t mean to fling accusations but you are trying to lecture me on data accuracy and yet you let that comment just sit there? No one else called him out either, is there a reason?
    Bamber and Riva 2010 use grace from my understanding for their estimate.

  75. Bob_FJ says:
    September 13, 2010 at 3:41 pm
    BTW, I no longer go to the website that you recommend.
    The link shown is a discussion of ice dynamics and ice sheets. Particularly the main drivers in their mass losses. I could care less if you like the website or not. The science is there, if you choose to ignore it and go on with your questioning then why should I dignify your questions with a response when you obviously and clearly aren’t willing to read up on the topic.
    With respect to Jakobshavn, under the article that I posted to you, and the part 2 and part 3 to that article there is discussion regarding that specific glacier by Dr. Mauri Pelto who is a glaciologist who has studied that glacier in particular for years. It would be a useful resource for you to look at it. With respect to the retreat of glaciers globally and its erraticness I beg to differ. The retreat since the 1970s is extremely prominent.
    See Cogley 2009. Geodectic and direct mass balance measurements: comparison and joint analysis. Annals of Glaciology.
    for further confirmation of that.
    You also made a commentary about Arctic sea ice and from what i’m assuming that it is being over exaggerated? My understanding is that this year will remain below the trend line (barely) for minimum extent so I do not really agree where you find that exaggeration to be dispelled. Under the same climatic conditions as in 2007 (particularly the wind patterns) we would likely see less ice today than then. I see that as being at least somewhat alarming from a climatological perspective. Certainly you could not make a statement such that sea ice is recovering or anything of the sort with a straight face could you?

  76. Finally I would like to say something regarding the commentary by
    RACookPE1978 says:
    September 13, 2010 at 8:38 pm
    I think that it is comments like his that explain the majority of the reason why professionals in fields like glaciology (such as myself) avoid these sorts of websites. Sure there are many individuals out there who can have a fair and reasoned debate on these subjects but allowing commentary such as RACOOKs just makes me not really want to come back. I enjoy discussing and educating on issues such as glaciology for those who have questions but when it is allowed for commentators to make accusations and to slander other individuals (who havent even declared a belief !) it is not worth my time.
    I think that when some things have been just clear proven wrong that some individuals shouldnt be allowed to clutter up debate with non-sensible commentary. Furthermore as a researcher who is taking time to partake in the debate I do not appreciate being insinuated to be a zealot or to have theories which are “high school generalities” when in fact these theories, such as the relationship between summer air temperatures and glaciers, are completely factually based. I mean even the most skeptical of geologist or glaciologist cannot refute this and yet commentary such as RACOOKs is allowed to go unabated without any sort of response.
    I believe skepticism is healthy and forces researchers to up their standards and so on, but I do not think that comments such as RACooks are conducive to the debate or helpful at all. It is commentary such as that, that will continue to keep my colleagues from debate at WUWT when they know that the second they talk science (And not even AGW) that they will be attacked by some commentator out there who is so convinced that AGW is a hoax that he will ignore any facts and hurl accusations.
    This sort of thing occurs far too often on both sides of the debate but as the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. And idiotic commentary like that of RACOOK is clearly wrong.[noted . . b.mod]

  77. Bob_FJ says:
    September 14, 2010 at 1:28 am (Edit)
    RACookPE1978 Reur September 13, 2010 at 8:38 pm
    AND, Robert….. Your various comments:

    It occurs to me now from several comments above, that there may be a thought that the Greenland ice-sheet outlet glaciers may be considered to have different providence to “typical” mountain glaciers. But what pray is typical? Different mountains and their glacial valleys have different topography, and thus different varying gradients (gravitational effects) along the path of a glacier. Sure, the Greenland ice-sheet has a significant central elevation and in that parameter alone, a gravitational effect, but don’t forget that as it creeps towards the coastal outlets it has to sheer across the ice that is trapped below the outlet and even way below sea level. (or drag it uphill!?)
    If you have ever done mountain hiking/climbing you would know that what may appear to be pyramidal mountain from a distance, actually usually has significant gradient variations. What may appear to be the top of a climb is but a crest, merely revealing a relative dip, followed by yet another climb, maybe even steeper.

    —…—…
    Three distinct differences I would begin with:
    Alpine: From a higher elevation ice mass fed from local precipitation (less than 100 km for example), the glacier run off down into a valley where the tip is isolated and has a distinct melted water runoff. The alpine glacier could intersect another glacier, but isn’t significantly blocked or restricted by the other moving glacier , and the alpine glacier itself could be fed from other valleys. Easiest to study = Ice is added to the top depending on local precipitation, falls and turns to a locally-defined ice mass, which presses down and pushes the ice over irregular terrain down towards the tip. Melted ice on the way down runs quickly down to the bottom of the glacier and runs out to the valley. Meltwater cannot get “trapped’ under the ice in large “pools” or “lakes” because the narrow sloped valley floor cannot stop water flow.
    Continental Edge, Sea Terminus: Differs from alpine glaciers because the tip is out over water. Melt water from under the glacier can’t be seen nor measured, and the behavior of the tip will vary as the water conditions and water depth change as the glacier advances and retreats. Moraines left at the tip from previous advances (as in Alaska’s coast) may block the fjord, leave open spaces, or be swept by floods and tides to change water flow (tip melting.) Long shallow water areas under the glacier tip (as in some of the Antarctic Ice shelves) may support the ice in places, leave it floating in places, and then support it again. Ice islands may be left nhanging or locked in place for long periods of time, and may re-freeze as sea ice. Determinig why a particular block cracked off, and whether the glacier will move back out and recover the same area the same way may or may not happen. Souring and erosion under the tip changes since bare rock and tidal mud and dumped glacier deposits are get mixed up over time. t least in the valley glaciers, the valley floor gets scraped clear and the rock features left sticking up are consistent.
    Greenland’s edge glaciers (the short glaciers from the exposed tops of the east and west coast rim mountains to the sea) are isolated from the central Greenland ice masses, and how they behave (expand or contract) depends on water behavior. They get “higher” – extend further up the mountains, and they can only get longer or shorter out the fjord on top of the water under their tips.
    Continental ice masses differ from glaciers in two very significant ways: The ice masses are geographically static for very long periods of time (hundreds of thousands of years of ice sample are stacked right on top of each in neat layers – never “flowing” from where the ice was originally deposited), and the ice masses are blocked in from flowing by either equal-and-opposite ice masses or by continental mountain ranges rising equally high. So loss is only from the surface: wind loss, sublimation, melting. Gains – as in Greenland’s central area where 300 foot ice increases are found in only 60 years over top of WWII airplanes – are also “vertical”. The ice isn’t moving. The steady pressure of ice moves the continental crust down: SO now there is a very wide, very flat central valley between Greenland rim mountain ranges. But the ice in that region is static: it isn’t flowing towards any coast. And, because the rim mountains are higher than the central ice, it can’t “flow” either east nor west nor south out of the central valley as glacier ice. Theoretically, the ice could flow north since the rim mountains are lower than the central ice height, but there isn’t enough energy (difference in height) over the 1000 km difference in length to allow motion. Local mountains and their very localized valleys – such as the fjord that spawned the recent ice island about the size of Manhattan are very small when compared to the continental area they would be required to “drain”. So the central Greenland ice cannot flow north either.
    Inland ice between the rim mountains doesn’t flow out “over” the rim mountains to the sea – the rim mountains are like a continental divide for regular water systems: If any rock is exposed between two glaciers sources, the rate that one glacier flows west does not depend on how the second glacier does or does not flow east. If there is a shared ice mass at the extending over the top of the mountain, then the two outflowing glaciers only “share” flow mass until the rock is exposed.
    So any single 60 km glacier on the west side of Greenland’s rim mountains could retreat back to a zero length. And it would not affect the 600 km wide central ice mass in any way. Every 60 – 100 km glacier on the east coast of Greenland could retreat to a zero length – and their length would not affect the central ice mass at all either. Now, whatever precipitation change or melting cause that caused that retreat on either coast would clearly affect deposition rates across the central Greenland ice mass – but that ice mass would not move.
    —…—
    Measured daily summer temperatures at 80 north latitude from DMI since 1958 have decreased steadily since 1958, and now are cooler than 1960 by slightly less than 1 degree C. (Winter temperatures have increased slightly in that same time, but are substantially below freezing. Yearly average temperatures (raised by the warmer winters) are greater than they were in 1958-1960.) CAGW theory cannot explain this reduction in summer (melting season) temperatures since it contradicts NASA-GISS’s modeled arctic temperature gains of some 4+ degrees.
    Colder melting seasonal temperatures across the north slope of Greenland, and measured ice deposit increases in central Greenland’s ice static masses of several hundred feet since WWII, do not show any threat to the Arctic. Well, actually, they do highlight the constant danger that exists from the next ice age, now overdue by some 2000 years.

  78. Robert says:
    September 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm (Edit)
    Please continue. Your comments are …. entertaining. Enlightening.

  79. Some Fundamentals.
    Though there are comparisons between the Arctic and Antarctica, the North Pole is a floating sheet of ice and the South Pole is a land mass.
    The North Pole is surrounded by land and the South Pole is surrounded by sea.
    The two have a different set of variables.
    Secondly, we have an enormous amount of information.
    If we could put the chronology of information onto a huge sheet of paper we would see things going up and down.
    What we are seeing and discussing are the affects. What I don’t see is the causes.
    For example, What is the purpose of a hurricane?
    Is it a global warming feature?
    Why are there more hurricanes as the Earth warms up?
    Another example: An observation: as the Earth hit peak global warming period during the last decade, so did Ozone hit critical levels. As the Earth cooled, the Ozone critical levels dropped.
    Thus, when there is a full Ozone layer above us, is it a global warming feature that assists global warming?
    As the Earth cools as it did in the 1970s, a hole formed in the Ozone Layer. Numerous chemicals were blamed for the whole during the infancy period of The EPA.
    Have we miss-interpreted the purpose of the Ozone layer and how it is created and why it dissipates?
    What is the Cause for its coming and going and what is the Ozone purpose?
    Final example: What is a glacier?
    What is the purpose of a glacier?
    It is the affect of global cooling!
    What is the cause?
    If we would note what changes as the Earth warms up and note what changes as the Earth cools, a lot of this information would fall into place.
    My conclusions:
    Glaciers, Ice sheets and Polar Regions are the Earth’s ice storage much as your Refrigerator. They store water and CO2 for the earth as Topography grows and compresses. They control the green making materials.
    What is the purpose of Ozone, as the earth warms up, it enhances global warming for more green production.
    When the earth is warm, there is more water vapor in the high atmosphere? Why? Enhance more green.
    What is the purpose of a hurricane? As stated 50 years ago by a weather man, hurricanes break up heat fronts over the US. If not our crops would burn up.
    When are Hurricanes most prevalent?
    During harvest. The hotter the heat fronts, the more hurricanes are needed to keep things moving.
    The main cause right now for all this is sunspot activity. When there is an abundance of sunspot activity, there is more green. When there is a lack of activity, there is less green.
    One final look at this. As the Earth moves through the seasons, we can see a 60-70 degree swing in temperatures here in Florida. The Northern states may experience. A 100 degree swing. In Alaska, a 179 degree swing in temperatures is noted at Coldfoot.
    The Earth Axis is tilted in our favor now, but 5000 years from now, it will be closer by a couple of degrees to being more upright. The land mass covered by solar energy will change in the coming millenniums.
    Global cooling will be severe. Topography will compress and glaciers will show growth. It is just One of the various global cooling periods.
    The habitat for man will be reduced?
    Why? .
    It appears the Earth gets a full renovation every 115,000 years.
    We need to get the big picture and, until Climate-gate last year, all the pieces were not allowed on the table.
    We now stand in time and space to put the puzzle together in spite of the Alarmists and have a game plan for those who follow, less we go back to bows and arrows and chucking spears.
    Sincerely.
    Paul

  80. Robert and Bob_FJ
    Have been lurking re your exchange on glaciers, specifically Jakobshavn.
    As we all know, glaciers are simply slow-flowing rivers of ice. As with a river of water, the net balance depends on what comes in and what flows out. If growth and melting balance, the glacier appears to be ‘stationary’. If precipitation exceeds melting the glacier advances; if melting exceeds precipitation the glacier recedes, but there will be a time lag between cause and effect. Air temperature itself (i.e. short-term response to “global warming”) seems to play a minor role.
    Glaciologists tell us that the mountain glaciers in Switzerland (where I live) have been receding since they reached a 10,000 year high in the mid-19th century. Earlier periods, during which the glaciers were considerably smaller than today, have been confirmed by physical evidence as the glaciers retreat (signs of old vegetation and, more rarely, of earlier civilization).
    http://alpen.sac-cas.ch/de/archiv/2004/200406/ad_2004_06_12.pdf
    As far as Jakobshavn is concerned, it appears from the cited literature that the retreat since the 1970s is prominent, although no comparison with earlier periods is cited.
    The mouth of Jacobshavn lies near Illulisaat.
    A close look at the temperature record there shows that there has been essentially no long-term warming trend over the 20th century. There was pronounced warming during the first half of the century and slight cooling over the second half, with the warmest temperatures reached in the 1940s. The latest decade has shown a warming spurt, similar to that seen in the1930s, but the overall trend since the mid-1970s has been essentially flat.
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2620/3797223161_16c1ac5e39_b.jpg
    So we have to look somewhere else for the cause of the Jakobshavn retreat.
    Max

  81. Paul Pierret
    An interesting post.
    I had not seen a correlation between the ozone hole and global warming, although I have seen the White et al. study showing a response of global upper ocean temperatures to changing solar irradiance.
    http://tenaya.ucsd.edu/~dettinge/white1.pdf
    Using two independent data sets, the authors show global-average upper ocean temperature responses to changing solar irradiance on decadal and interdecadal scales, based on data collected over three different upper ocean basins (i.e. Atlantic, Pacific, Indian), on two different timescales (i.e. decadal and interdecadal), over the 95 years from 1900 to 1994.
    The sun has entered a less active phase recently (since this study was made), and upper ocean temperatures are apparently cooling over the most recent years.
    Then there is the Met Office acknowledgement that there has been a recent cooling of surface air temperature, which can most likely be attributed to “natural variability” (= “natural forcing factors”?), despite record CO2 levels..
    Just another piece of the puzzle, which points to natural forcings as a much more important part of the cause of observed global temperature changes than assumed by IPCC in its AR4 WG1 report.
    Max

  82. Robert Reur September 14, 2010 at 10:26 pm
    One reason I have not recently visited your favoured “Skeptical Science” blog is that they declare up-front that their agenda is not to discuss the science with sceptics but to reject whatever they have to say. (paraphrasing). However, after having been excommunicated from commenting at RC, I may take another look over there some time.
    Another reason is that you still have not adequately commented on the data I presented above.
    You wrote in part:
    With respect to Jakobshavn… …With respect to the retreat of glaciers globally and its erraticness I beg to differ. The retreat since the 1970s is extremely prominent.
    Sorry; here it is again, the NSIDC image, marked-up to show retreat rates, with no correlation to NH temperature:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/26175880@N05/4753025383/
    The retreat rate between 1964 and 2001 (37 years) was only about 0.3 Km/year, whereas between 2001 and 2006, (end of data), it was about 10 times faster at ~3.0
    More recent data through to 2008 from MODIS, show differences to that of NSIDC, with very rapid retreat ONLY in 2003, and even a slight advance in 2007. (Jakobshavn)
    http://bprc.osu.edu/MODIS/?paged=2
    Several other Greenland glaciers in this source showed small advances in 2007/2008, but the general trend was for retreat.
    You [Bob_FJ] also made a commentary about Arctic sea ice and from what i’m assuming that it is being over exaggerated?
    No, I mentioned Arctic sea-ice loss as a crude indication that glacier retreat does not correlate well with temperature. The MODIS info shows that some glaciers, including Jakobshavn grew during the iconic maximum sea-ice melt. (yes, I know sea-ice floats on the open sea)
    I see that Manacker does a better job below by showing a temperature graph, (quoting a reliable source), for Illulisaat.
    The mouth of Jacobshavn lies near Illulisaat.
    Again, there is no correlation with air temperature
    See also racookpe1978 September 14, 2010 at 11:42 pm , concerning reducing summer T’s north of 80 latitude.

  83. racookpe1978 Reur September 14, 2010 at 11:42 pm
    Thanks for your interesting discussion. If I could add to it; As an engineer, as I see it, glaciology is a science that is closely associated with geology, engineering, and hydrology, (at least), and I wonder if it would be improved if it were more cross-disciplinary. I also feel that the associated disciplines that I mentioned are less alarmist, and less assumptive.
    Concerning the differences that you describe between Greenland outlet glaciers at the rim mountains, compared with most mountain glaciers, I think it should be born in mind that topography, altitude, and weather-region all play a part in wide variation in all of them. Whilst Greenland glaciers may generally terminate in a fjord*, unless it is in a significant tidal situation, with warming ocean currents, it seems to me that the mechanical effect would be much like as on gently sloping downhill land. (gravitation roughly balances coefficient of friction). On the other hand, The “Manhattan Island”, calving you mentioned, on Petersen (?), must have been caused by mechanical failure resulting primarily from tidal action.
    Here is a clearer image of ice-flow striations at the head of Jakobshavn, that I mentioned earlier.
    http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/101954main_calvingstill_2001_t.gif
    These are on the inland side of the rim mountains, and it seems that the ice-sheet is exerting pressure on the mountains to the north and the south, where it can‘t go. It would seem reasonable to assume that the bedrock here has negative slope, but the ice creeps and sheers around through the “throat”. I would think that there may be similar situations in typical alpine regions.
    Of course, if one zooms out on a map of Greenland, even if you can actually see it, it is obvious that even this biggest glacier will have negligible effect on the ice sheet as a whole, be it retreating or advancing
    * That would be more so, say 150 years ago. Currently, Jakobshavn termination is on bedrock.
    Gotta go.

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