The Guardian tries to claim global warming sank the Titanic – research says the exact opposite

A purported photo of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office

The photo of the iceberg that sank purportedly the Titanic. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office

makes this nutty claim at The Guardian:

But in fact the catastrophe may have been set in motion by a warm, wet year over Greenland in 1908, resulting in greater snow accumulation. Writing in the journal Weather, Grant Bigg and David Wilton of Sheffield University explain how the snow soaked through cracks in the ice sheet, encouraging excess iceberg calving over the following few years. Soberingly, global warming has increased iceberg hazard greatly in recent decades, making years like 1912 more the norm than the exception.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2014/apr/27/weatherwatch-icebergs-greenland-titanic

Yeah, but have a look at what this research actually says and you’ll understand why The Guardian is nothing more than agitprop.

Titanic Sunk During Average Iceberg Year

“more than a century of Atlantic iceberg counts reveals 1912 was an average year for dangerous floating ice.”

Old Coast Guard records are throwing cold water on a long-standing explanation for the loss of the Titanic: the suggestion that the fateful journey took place in waters bristling with icebergs, making 1912 an unlucky year to sail the North Atlantic.

Instead, more than a century of Atlantic iceberg counts reveals 1912 was an average year for dangerous floating ice. The findings also contradict a popular notion that the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier on Greenland’s west coast birthed the Titanic’s deadly ‘berg. Instead, a computer model suggests that one of the glaciers at Greenland’s southern tip released the iceberg that hit the Titanic on April 14, 1912, drowning more than 1,500 people in the frigid ocean.

“I think the question of whether this was an unusual year has been laid to rest,” said Grant Bigg, an environmental scientist at the University of Sheffield and lead study author, adding, “1912 is not an exceptional year.”

According to Bigg, 1912 was a high ice year, but not exceptional compared with the surrounding decades.

In 1912, data shows that 1,038 icebergs moved south from Arctic waters, and crossed the 48th parallel. The Coast Guard records show a slightly higher number of 1,041 icebergs crossed south of 48 degrees north in 1909. Between 1901 and 1920, five years saw at least 700 icebergs drift below 48 degrees north, where they could menace ships.

http://www.accuweather.com/en/features/trend/titanic_sunk_during_average_ic/25555532

And, inconveniently according to GISS, it was the third coldest year on record. And, the years following it were still quite cold.

Fig.A2[1]

Then there is the fact that radar has been around for about 65 years, though some folks think that  ship radar might not help against global warming icebergs. They hide in the deep ocean and then surface right in front of the ships. (Thanks Roy)

Image from the bridge of the Ocean Nova Antarctica Cruise Ship

Image from the bridge of the Ocean Nova Antarctica Cruise Ship

Tim Ball has a well reasoned analysis:

Titanic Anniversary: Unusual Climate + Extreme Ice Conditions = Tragic Accident

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John

I keep expecting to hear that hangnails are caused by global warming.

Bloke down the pub

It’s hard to know if the Gruniad actually believes a single word of what they publish.

Rick K

The Gruniad can kiss my ice…

Jimbo

Kate Ravilious goes on to say….

Soberingly, global warming has increased iceberg hazard greatly in recent decades, making years like 1912 more the norm than the exception.

Is she right? Where is the data for this?
The abstract she links to has no abstract to look at.
Anyway, I think I found the full paper, no time to read, have to dash for other duties.
There is a graph showing “Total number of icebergs crossing latitude 48°N” which seems to be trending DOWN since 1985.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wea.2238/pdf

SMC

It would be nice to know if there was something global warming and CO2 weren’t the root cause of.

katarax

CAGW: I just can’t quit you.

Tom O

“SMC says:
April 28, 2014 at 6:21 am
It would be nice to know if there was something global warming and CO2 weren’t the root cause of.”
Might I suggest, in response to your statement, that possibly the cruxifixion of Christ and the Spanish inquisition “may not” have been caused by global warming and CO2. Then again…

Apparently global warming caused Capt Smith to pay little heed to numerous iceberg warnings from other ships and sail his ship far too fast for prevailing conditions. Yeah, that’s how it happened!!

‘The Guardian’ is the Titanic.
I am benevolent enough to wish that Dana Nuccitelli survives the sinking of it. Who else is such a silly comical foil for skeptics? OK, Mann is but having two silly comical foils for skeptics is twice as enjoyable.
John

David

One thing I know CO2 has done is line the pockets of a bunch of crooks who run around screaming fire in crowded places.

richard

They should have rammed the Titanic hard into that iceberg, maybe that would have given them a few extra hrs.

artwest

Col Mosby says:
April 28, 2014 at 7:02 am
Apparently global warming caused Capt Smith to pay little heed to numerous iceberg warnings from other ships and sail his ship far too fast for prevailing conditions. Yeah, that’s how it happened!!
——————————————
To be fair, I understand that there is evidence Smith wasn’t doing anything outside of the norms of the time and wasn’t traveling exceptionally fast.
There does seem to have been a bigger problem with lookouts not having binoculars, allied to unusually calm sea conditions which didn’t produce waves against the base of icebergs, thus making them harder to see at the best of times.

Alan Robertson

Yeah, but have a look at what this research actually says and you’ll understand why The Guardian is nothing more than agitprop.”
____________________________
With such luminaries as Dana Nuccitelli managing the Guardian’s comment pages, how can you say such a thing?
(Do I really need a sarc tag?)

There does seem to have been a bigger problem with lookouts not having binoculars, allied to unusually calm sea conditions which didn’t produce waves against the base of icebergs, thus making them harder to see at the best of times.

The binoculars wouldn’t have helped; I’ve stood lookout watches at sea, and we used the naked eye to scan for things. Binoculars can hinder detecting stuff since they narrow your field of view and because they need to be properly focused. I only used the binoculars when I was trying to identify what I was looking at (including the instance when what I thought was a life raft carrying a frantically waving castaway turned out to be a bit of flotsam occupied by three seagulls having a fight over some bit of food).
My understanding was that the cold labrador current impinging on the gulf stream created a layer of cold air under a layer of warm air. This refracted the horizon upwards so the ice berg could not be seen silhouetted against the night sky. It also made the California and Titanic look closer to each other than they were, and distorted their profiles so that the crew of the California were convinced they were looking at a small passenger ship rather than the immense Titanic. Moreover, the refraction layer was unstable, making the lights flicker and twinkle, making it impossible for a viewer to recognize and decipher signal lamp communications.

From what I’ve read, the loss of life was due to poor design and structure of the ship (not enough life boats, for one), with possible crew errors only adding to the tragedy. With the number of icebergs around, the real miracle is that more ships were not lost to them, especially before modern technology made them easier to spot.
The idea that CO2 (plant food) had anything to do with it is, of course, insane.

Jeff Alberts

Instead, a computer model suggests that one of the glaciers at Greenland’s southern tip released the iceberg that hit the Titanic on April 14, 1912, drowning more than 1,500 people in the frigid ocean.

So made up data is ok if we agree with it. Right.

Greg

“Instead, a computer model suggests that one of the glaciers at Greenland’s southern tip released the iceberg that hit the Titanic on April 14, 1912, drowning more than 1,500 people in the frigid ocean.”
Err, I think it would be more accurate to say the ship “hit” an iceberg rather than the other way around.
It’s a bit like driving down a country lane with no lights and getting “hit by a tree”.
Of course if you want to spin it make it sound like “extreme weather” caused the event you’d have to say the iceberg jumped out and hit the ship.

Also of note was the construction of the ship. Turns out the iron used was more prone to cold embrittlement than expected. Also the ship had a new disign with one big prop in the middle and two small ones each side. Fine for fast crusing (mid-prop direct thrust line) but lousy for emergency turns (can’t run full forward one side, full back the other, as that midline prop doesn’t put in a turning moment…)
So once the berg was spotted, they could not turn away fast enough. And once it was hit, the iron fractured instead of bending.
Then again, it is nice to know that Global Warming was happening in 1912. That means it was not caused by all that coal and oil burned to raise the CO2 level…. so sure “Global Warming” sank the Titanic… I’m OK with that being pushed by the Dark Side….

Political Junkie

Some here may not have seen the “Complete list of things caused by global warming” – worth a peek! The Titanic sinking does not seem to appear on the obviously “incomplete list.”
http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

Louis Hooffstetter

From the conclusions of the article, the authors themselves say:
“The Titanic set sail in a year when sea-ice transport and iceberg calving rates were high, but not exceptionally so.”
So only Kate is making the unsupported claim that global warming contributed to the sinking of the Titanic. The Guardian no longer hires reporters. Instead, they hire activists like Kate Ravilious and Dana Nuccitelli who twist research to fit their agendas.

chris moffatt

“…released the iceberg that hit the Titanic on April 14, 1912,”
Correction. Titanic hit the iceberg. Under international ColRegs Icebergs have right of way – as any fule kno! The good Colonel Mosby is quite correct; the findings of the Board of Inquiry were that collision occurred due to the speed of the ship being excessive for sea-ice conditions. The iceberg was in way at fault.

Dell from Michigan

I have to conclude that the sinking of the Titanic was directly caused by CO2 emissions from burning of coal.
The engines that were making the Titanic travel so fast when its hull was ruptured by the inceberg were coal fired steam engines. Therefore they were emitting CO2. So the sinking of the Titanic was directly related to manmade greenhouse gas emissions from the engines making it go too fast for dangerous iceberg laden ocean travel.
Now where is my 2 million dollars for proving that the sinking of the Titanic was caused by CO2 emissions?
;>P

So where were all the SUVs in 1908 I wonder?

Billy Liar

Jeff Alberts says:
April 28, 2014 at 7:49 am
It should also be noted that the iceberg in the computer model travelled quite a way over Newfoundland itself before sinking the Titanic. It’s worse than we thought.
See Fig 7 in the paper referenced by Jimbo above:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wea.2238/pdf
Great model – didn’t even model the coastline correctly! The rest of the paper is equally ridiculous; including this quote:
However, the iceberg risk to the Titanic is likely to have predominantly developed around 1908, when a moderately warm and wet year over Greenland produced enhanced snow accumulation (Figure 8). We believe that this gradually soaked through cracks in the ice sheet and accumulated around its margins, which probably led to enhanced short-term outlet glacier sliding, with resulting enhanced calving.
Snow fell down the cracks in the Greenland ice sheet and caused enhanced calving 3 years later – no evidence provided.

Neil

Of course. Global Warming sunk the Titanic (because of icebergs).
Good to know that poor quality rivets supplied because of time pressures, an issue known at the time of Titanic’s construction, (http://www.materialstoday.com/metals-alloys/news/what-really-sank-the-titanic/) had nothing to do with it.
US Marines: “If the ground doesn’t match the map, the map is wrong”
Climate Scientists: “If reality doesn’t match the models, reality is wrong”.

dudleyhorscroft

E.M.Smith says:
April 28, 2014 at 7:50 am
“… Also the ship had a new disign with one big prop in the middle and two small ones each side. Fine for fast crusing (mid-prop direct thrust line) but lousy for emergency turns (can’t run full forward one side, full back the other, as that midline prop doesn’t put in a turning moment…)”
With respect, not so. To turn at a high speed, rudder hard over, the centre propeller impinges directly on the rudder, which creates a very substantial turning moment. With one outboard prop going full ahead, and the other full astern – if it had time to reach that speed, very likely it would have nearly stopped – does take time to stop large masses of machinery – the turning effect would have been very good.
And no, the side was not slashed open. IIRC the divers did not find the side slashed open. If it had happened she would have sunk in minutes. Far more likely is the explanation that she actually ran aground on the berg. At depths there is hardly any water flow past the ice, so there is a ‘blanket’ of ice-cold water against the ice. Melting is slow. At sea level wave action continually washes over the ice and the melt water is removed, to be replaced by water a bit warmer, so melting is quicker. The result is that a shelf can develop underwater, and it is believed that she ran onto the shelf, with the effect that when balanced on the shelf there were very severe stresses on the hull which caused substantial rivet distortion and some failure. A ship I was on hit another in Singapore. The other ship was berthed on a curve in the wharf, and we hit her just abaft midships. So she was bent a bit. There was apparently little damage, but the Class Society determined that in order to inspect the damage she would have to be dry-docked, and the cargo discharged to permit this. As the cargo was removed, so the stresses on the ship were relived and she straightened up. As she did so, rivets started falling out, and eventually she was leaking like a colander. The water was pouring in as fast as the cargo was coming out. That is what I believe happened with the Titanic. She was badly strained as she rode over the ice shelf, and when Capt Smith ordered her to move ahead again, rivets started popping with the change in strain, and rivetted seams opened up. When the Second Officer was in charge of a naval vessel that had been torpedoed or mined in WW1, rather than go ahead, he ordered astern movements only and managed to bring the ship to safety (needs checking, this from memory of the relevant book). The Master of the sister ship, Britannic, which was either torpedoed or mined, put her ahead to try to reach the shore, but she sank first.
Note that very few of the passengers drowned. Apart from those who could not swim and struggled, leading to drowning, and those who had heart attacks as a result of the sudden immersion in ice cold water, most would have died of hypothermia. Massive temperature loss would have resulted in the body shutting down bit by bit, eventually brain death and heart stoppage.
Note that the rivets supposedly became brittle at temperatures of -4C. But the water would not have been that cold. Approaching it, yes, but not there.
The fire in a bunker had been there for a long time – possibly from the time she set out from Liverpool (?) to go to Southampton. Coal fires were not unknown in coal bunkers, and still are in coal heaps – witness the coal fire in Victoria – not certain if it is out yet, and I believe there are some coal fires in the eastern USA which have been burning for thousands of years.

Vince Causey

Well, if it was global warming back then, that’s evidence against it being man made.
One interesting theory of why the iceberg wasn’t spotted early enough, put the blame on “refraction”. Apparently, it was well known that different atmospheric temperature layers can make the horizon appear to lift up. This would completely block the light from an iceberg. Analysis of ships logs on that night does appear to suggest that refraction was abnormally high.
Maybe that was caused by global warming as well.

Gamecock

If the dog eats your homework, it’s not the dog’s fault: it’s just a dog.
It wasn’t the icebergs fault the Titanic hit it. All sorts of fanciful theories about the iceberg still doesn’t make it the iceberg’s fault.

Stephanie Clague

The loss making low circulation failing guardian? Mad as a box of frogs and dumber than dirt

Jimbo

Is it possible that we have better detection capabilities for ice-bergs than we had in 1912?

Global Warming Sunk the Titanic – – – no
Global Warming Sunk ‘The Guardian’ – – – closer
hmmmmm . . . .
‘The Guardian’ Sunk Global Warming
That’s better.
John

Arctic ice extent was mapped long before the satellite era. Over data available for the Northern-European Basin (77% of Arctic ocean era), the 1910s had a higher ice extent than a few years immediately beforehand and than the decades afterwards. And that was during relative cold, not relative warmth.
More icebergs might indeed occur in the near future like the next decade from now — and, incidentally, though not arctic, already this year “US temperatures through April 26 are third coldest on record, just barely behind 1899 and 1912. This week is forecast to be cold, and will likely push 2014 into the #1 spot” as noted yesterday at http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/2014-closing-in-on-coldest-start-to-the-year-in-us-history/ . But, if so, the “climate change” causing the extra ice would be cooling, not warming.
The ice extent of the 1910s can be seen in a Russian-source plot about 3/4ths of the way down in my usual http://tinyurl.com/nbnh7hq set of illustrations (which also shows how the GISS temperature in this article has been heavily adjusted, in the usual style explored at http://hidethedecline.eu , although the adjustments were more later in the century).

richard

tarran says:
April 28, 2014 at 7:36 am
very interesting.

LogosWrench

The ship did swerve but the iceberg hit It anyway. Damn you AGW!!!!!

richard
Jimbo

Aren’t icebergs that far south a sign of cooling?

richard

Jimbo says:
April 28, 2014 at 9:07 am
Aren’t icebergs that far south a sign of cooling?
“The disaster occurred in a period of worldwide cooling. Looking at the National Climate Data Center database dating to 1880, for 15 consecutive years before the sinking, annual global temperatures finished below long-term averages”

Alan the Brit

Greg says:
April 28, 2014 at 7:49 am
“Instead, a computer model suggests that one of the glaciers at Greenland’s southern tip released the iceberg that hit the Titanic on April 14, 1912, drowning more than 1,500 people in the frigid ocean.”
Err, I think it would be more accurate to say the ship “hit” an iceberg rather than the other way around.
My thoughts exactly, although such an instance might absolve Captain & crew & the White Star Line of any responsibility, It’s a bit like me savagely butting someone in the fist with nose!

pat

One of the more interesting idiosyncrasies of the Guardian is that absolutely nothing in it can be believed, Nothing.

Ex-expat Colin

It was sunk because it wasn’t the Titanic…get it right FFS

JimS

AGW is sinking like the Titanic, but it will take another 10-15 years before it is totally submerged.

Gary H

Well whatever – 1912 was decades prior to the onset of anthropogenic global warming (mid 1900’s is the consensus view there of the IPCC and other alarmists).
Therefore, if it was global warming which caused it (not that it was), it would have been that GW which is naturally occurring, rather than anthropologically induced.

Gary Pearse

Yeah, they’ve abandoned the CAGW being only since 1950 when CO2 emissions increased rapidly. That pesky natural variation pushed them back to the 1880s and then, having to abandon the rearguard action to keep the LIA out of site (they are always hiding something – their kids probably never do find the easter eggs), they moved our culpability back to the 1700s. These “corrections” where the first wheels falling off the CAGW cart. Now the “pause” 17+years of no warming, has caused them to embrace odious natural variation, sun activity, AMO/PDO, Enso and whatever else they can subvert to their cause. CAGW and ocean heat are always waiting to jump out at us. The only global warming that threatened a ship was the belief in it by Turney’s Ship of Fools sporting in the Antarctic summer.

richard

Remarkable.
The guardian let through a link to this page in the comments section.

Mark

E.M.Smith says:
So once the berg was spotted, they could not turn away fast enough. And once it was hit, the iron fractured instead of bending.
There’s a theory that it was the turning away was a big part of the problem. Resulting in the berg scraping along the hull. Whereas had the ship not turned away the bow would have crumpled but the ship may have stayed afloat.

Gary Pearse

My comment above mentioned the only ship threatened by global warming was the Ship of Fools who thought it was happening in Antarctica. This led me to Chris Turney’s website where I find 140 papers he had co-authored. Only two were published in 2014 – a nature article shrilling that the Ship of Fools was not a pleasure cruise, and ironically the second one:
“The discovery of New Zealand’s oldest shipwreck–possible evidence of further Dutch exploration of the South Pacific”
This struck me as akin to a slip of the tongue vis a vis the brain. Having written 140 papers since 2000, he has definitely quietened down. He hasn’t updated his website – still advertising the Antarctic expedition of the century. I truly feel a little sorry.

Myron Mesecke
richard

Iceberg Occurrences from the book “White Wings” by Henry Brett, fifty years of sail in the New Zealand trade, 1850 to 1900.
http://www.warwickhughes.com/climate/Iceberg.htm
[1] On January 2, 1868 the 1326 ton clipper “Mermaid” arrived in Lyttelton after an 89 day passage from GB and it was reported that, ” When in the vicinity of Cape Leeuwin, Captain Rose and his officers had an anxious time avoiding 30 huge icebergs.” Are icebergs seen off Albany or Margaret River ever these days ?
Blimey!!
The captain reported seeing several icebergs off the Cape (of Good Hope) and then, “.. that from the Cape to the Crozets was a most trying time as icebergs were in sight for a distance of two thousand miles.”

Gary Hladik

Ex-expat Colin says (April 28, 2014 at 9:34 am): “It was sunk because it wasn’t the Titanic…get it right FFS”
That reminds me of a Titanic conspiracy “theory” I discovered only yesterday:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Titanic_alternative_theories#Gardiner.27s_Ship_That_Never_Sank
Supposedly the White Star Line disguised Titanic’s sister ship Olympic as Titanic and sank it for the insurance. No doubt the owners turned to crime under the nefarious influence of Glooooobaaaal Waaaaarmingggggg. 🙂

JBJ

Lots of icebergs this year!!! http://iceweb1.cis.ec.gc.ca/Prod20/page3.xhtml