The Media over-hyped the West Antarctica climate propaganda reporting

Studies do not address sea level rise projections alleged by misleading media headlines

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

As seems to always be the case the climate fear propaganda news media have completely mislead the public once again regarding climate related issues this time by alleging claims of 4 meter high future sea level rise increases supposedly addressed in two recent studies which performed analysis of glacier melt behavior of six large glaciers in West Antarctica.

One study was published in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) and titled “Sustained increase in ice discharge from the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica, from 1973 to 2013“. This study is available here:

http://www.ess.uci.edu/researchgrp/erignot/files/grl51433.pdf

The second study was published in Science and titled “Marine Ice Sheet Collapse Potentially Under Way for the Thwaites Glacier Basin, West Antarctica“. This study is available here:

http://sciences.blogs.liberation.fr/files/glacier-thwaites.pdf

Both studies evaluate the relatively recent melt rate history of these glaciers with one focusing on the use observed satellite data to estimate melt rate behavior while the other uses computer models to estimate melt rate behavior.

Amazingly enough and considering how the press manufactured headlines about sea level rise increases being determined from these studies neither of the studies addresses or make any claims about the impact of their research results on specific future sea level rise projections.  

In fact GLC study mentions nothing specific about future sea level rise projections while the Science study clearly notes that their research models “are not coupled to a global climate model to provide forcing nor do they include an ice-shelf cavity-circulation model to derive melt rates. Few if any such fully coupled models presently exist (13). As such, our simulations do not constitute a projection of future sea level in response to projected climate forcing.”

Also unreported by the same climate alarmist propaganda focused media were the significant qualifications, limitations and cautions noted in these studies concerning their glacier melt research findings.

The GRL published study noted for example the following qualifiers regarding its analysis:

“These observations are a possible sign of the progressive collapse of this sector in response to the high melting of its buttressing ice shelves by the ocean.”

“Until numerical ice sheet models coupled with realistic oceanic forcing are able to replicate these observations, projections of the evolution of this sector of West Antarctica should be interpreted with caution.”

The Science published study contained the following similarly related qualifiers regarding its analysis:

“Although our simple melt parameterization suggests that a full-scale collapse of this sector may be inevitable, it leaves large uncertainty in the timing. Thus, ice-sheet models fully coupled to ocean/climate models are required to reduce the uncertainty in the chronology of a collapse.”

Why aren’t these significant research finding qualifiers regarding the preliminary nature of these studies results addressed by the main stream media?

The main stream media manufactured numbers alleging sea level rise projections not addressed at all in either of these studies and then compounded that alarmist portrayal by concealing very significant scientific qualifiers noted in both studies regarding their glacier melt rate research findings.

Even some of the climate media have problems with how this entire climate alarmist episode has been handled. New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin wrote an article in that paper in 2009 addressing the glacier study work underway in West Antarctica titled “Study: West Antarctic Melt a Slow Affair” where he challenged the use of the word “collapse” in describing the melt behavior of that region. This article included the following observation:

“Over all, the loss of the West Antarctic ice from warming is appearing “more likely a definite thing to worry about on a thousand-year time scale but not a hundred years,”

With latest round of speculative media climate alarmism regarding the West Antarctica region glacier research Revkin has written yet another article titled “Consider Clashing Scientific and Societal Meanings of ‘collapse’ When Reading Antarctic Ice News” again challenging the use of the word “collapse”. He offers the following observations in this article about the recent alarmist news reporting:

News articles by The Times, Time, the Associated Press and others capture the basics in two new papers, one on six West Antarctic glaciers that appear to have nothing holding back eventual disappearance, accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, and the other taking a closer look at one of those ice masses, the Thwaites Glacier, posted online today by the journal Science.

Some headlines are completely overwrought — as with this NBC offering: “West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s Collapse Triggers Sea Level Warning.” This kind of coverage could be interpreted to mean there’s an imminent crisis. It’s hard to justify that conclusion given the core findings in the studies. (Am I trying to maintain a hold on reality or am I a “scold”?)

Take the Science paper: Marine Ice Sheet Collapse Potentially Under Way for the Thwaites Glacier Basin, West Antarctica. Using ice-flow models and observations, the researchers, led by Ian Joughin of the University of Washington, concluded:

“Except possibly for the lowest-melt scenario, the simulations indicate that early-stage collapse has begun. Less certain is the time scale, with the onset of rapid (>1 mm per year of sea-level rise) collapse in the different simulations within the range of 200 to 900 years.

To translate a bit, that means sometime between 200 and 900 years from now the rate of ice loss from this glacier could reach a volume sufficient to raise sea levels about 4 inches (100 millimeters) a century. At that point, according to the paper, ice loss could pick up steam, with big losses over a period of decades.* But in a phone conversation, Joughin said the modeling was not reliable enough to say how much, how soon.”

This on going West Antarctica reporting frenzy clearly establishes that the climate alarmist news media have abandoned any pretense of objectivity regarding climate reporting and become soldiers dedicated to conducting an alarmist propaganda campaign that is built on manufacturing misleading, inaccurate and erroneous headline grabbing articles unsupported by published science to support their flawed cause.

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John McClure

Actually, the press release that triggered The Weather Channel, CNN, and others to spin the public’s shorts into a knot was NASA.
The reporting was as poor as its always been and the damage is done thanks to lots of scary art delivered by, wait for it, NASA.
Has Gore accepted a PR position at NASA or is this yet another poorly delivered press release from a “trusted” governmental agency?

Chad Wozniak

I have yet to see a serious, truly scientifically founded commentary on the West Antarctic ice sheet that forecasts a short-term collapse of the sheet. If anything, with the Antarctic as a whole rapidly gaining ice mass on both land and sea, and temps falling, the odds would appear to be very great against such an occurrence. Inter alia, the Thwaites glacier has extended out into the sea and broken off at least three times within my own memory (I’m 66), and obviously no mass collapse followed.. It is not, methinks, a harbinger of a larger collapse.

John McClure said:
May 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm
Has Gore accepted a PR position at NASA or is this yet another poorly delivered press release from a “trusted” governmental agency?
————
As worthy of trust as the VA.

HAL-9000

In lieu of weather events to talk up, the Cult is stuck with shuffling paperwork – and this is how they do it. No surprises really. But the shrillness and volume will only grow all the way to Paris in 2015.

SIGINT EX

The usage of the word “Collapse” is without justification in these papers.
The “Qualifications” are damning evidence that the ‘conclusions’ reached are without justification.
So Science and GRL walked away laughing with the publication fees earned and left nothing to doubt about “Their” motives: and the ‘Authors[?]’.
Rather sad state of affairs.

mpaul

I think NASA put this out so that the media would have something cover other than the real news that day: that Antarctic sea ice extent had reached a new record high.

Bill Illis

The consensus estimates published last year for Antarctic ice mass changes was between losing 200 billion tons per year to gaining 100 billion tons per year. This effort used improved glacial rebound models based on data from GPS sensors (which provided data quite a bit different than previous rebound models).
The central estimate of losing just 71 billion tons per year (revised up from losing 200 billion tons per year) would only result in sea level increase of just 0.25 mms/year.
In other words, it takes 100 years to get just 1 inch of sea level rise. The people dealing with this new paper just do not want the general public left with the proper reference. They should receive some type of sanction for trying to mislead people.
Link to the general consensus paper using improved models published in Nature last year (note the Greenland numbers in the paper were not based on the new improved GPS-based models, just Antarctica’s estimates, Greenland to come in the future I guess).
http://www.vliz.be/imisdocs/publications/248038.pdf
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v498/n7452/full/nature12238.html

Jimbo

We don’t need no stinkin caveats.

David

could be NASA is Governmental owned and was told you better give this report or we will defund you…The Gov.way to keep Bengazi, IRS, and other scandals in the background

ROM

I think we are now seeing the impact of the skeptic blog sphere on climate science.
It seems that climate scientists, that is the real climate scientists, not the pseudo wannabe catastrophe predicting climate scientists who like to think they are qualified in climate science and usually end up looking and acting like totally ignorant blathering idiots with their climate catastrophe predictions, are now beginning to be very circumspect in their pronouncements on the future climate related trends.
The skeptic blog sphere is devastating on climate science that is shown to be simply very bad science, uses completely corrupt and / or made up ; ie fraudulent data or fails to and categorically refuses to release the data the promoted climate science papers are supposedly founded on.
And that web based, skeptic created pressure for much better standards of science in climate science and in other science disciplines is starting to really show in the way many climate scientists are now introducing carefully worded caveats and qualifications into many climate science papers.
The increasingly bad and corrupting odor of seriously bad and corrupt science that has become a characteristic hall mark of climate science is now sheeting home to much of science that they have to clean up their act big time if they want to continue to have the respect of the public and by implication from that,the respect from the politicals who reflect their voter’s inclinations and from that their continuing access to any future long term funding.
However the climate catastrophe alarmist scientists have made their own bed with the MSM and now as they show signs of wanting to retreat from their idiotic, totally unprovable, fear promoting climate catastrophe promoting future climate predictions that they so heavily promoted through and with the full co-operation of the headline seeking, catastrophe and sensationalist promoting MSM, they have so ingrained their corrupt ideology and dogma beliefs onto the MSM that as they want to retreat from their previous idiotic alarmist stance, the MSM, never known for it’s adherence to reasonableness and honest accuracy in it’s headlines or articles, is now unable itself to dig itself out of the mire and gutter of the corrupted and idiotic statements from those same scientists, whose climate catastrophe predictions have been adopted as climate gospel , never to be allowed to be challenged and so sensationally promoted by the MSM over the last decade and a half..
In the end it is those same climate alarmist, climate catastrophe and dogma fixated climate scientists who will have to demand accurate reporting of their science and force the MSM into reporting the science as it is actually is in the science papers if those same scientists want to ensure and continue a modicum of public respect towards both the science and themselves as scientists.
Those same scientists would get a whole truck load of kudos if every time the MSM ; [ deliberately ] mis-reported or [ deliberately ] corrupted or cherry picked and grossly exaggerated some aspect of a science report or paper they openly published an open letter to the editors for publishing across the web on the nefariousness of the MSM in falsely reporting the results of that research.
The MSM won’t like it one little bit if they are openly called irresponsible, cherry picking, bigoted, sensationalist lying a*** holes by the very people, the scientists, they assume they are reporting for.

RoHa

Antarctica doesn’t have an East or a West, so could someone please tell me what bit is meant by the term “West Antarctica”?
Please tell me either in political terms (e.g. Norwegian Territory, Australian Territory – big bit, Australian Territory – small bit, etc.) or place names (e.g. Queen Maud Land, Wilkes Land, Ellsworth Highland, etc.).
I won’t ask why that bit is called “West Antarctica”. The reason would probably be too stupid for me to bear.

Larry in Texas

Having looked at the two studies referenced by the author of this post, all I can say about them is that the authors of the two studies have figured out how to cover their tracks by hindcasting with some success, which not even the climate models have been able to do lately. That having been said, until someone more qualified than me can look at the assumptions behind the models (which I presume to be questionable until hard evidence shows otherwise), I hardly think that these studies reliably predict future lce loss, melting rates, or sea level rises. Which is why the authors have been noticeably and pointedly cautious in their conclusions about future predictions at this point. They may not even be able to find anyone to replicate their conclusions. All reasons why Andrew Revkin has been, and continues to be, justified in challenging the notion that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is “collapsing.” Given that the authors are looking at more of a 1000 year timeframe, a LOT of things can happen in the next 1000 years. So the Chicken Littles of the MSM have no business promoting scare tactics.
Unfortunately, truth and careful inquiry has never been the MSM’s agenda.

They worked out that global warming at a certain rate (unspecified) would take a thousand years or more to melt Antarctica.
No rate of global warming, no argument and no prediction!
Even with a “theoretical rate” of global warming it would take a thousand years or more to melt Antarctica in it’s current state.

Actually… if they used the current rate of global warming for the past 15 years, statistically it would take ∞ year to melt Antarctica.

Actually… if they used the current rate of global warming for the past 15 years, statistically it would take ∞ years to melt Antarctica.

RoHa says:
May 13, 2014 at 5:53 pm
Antarctica doesn’t have an East or a West, so could someone please tell me what bit is meant by the term “West Antarctica”?
Please tell me either in political terms (e.g. Norwegian Territory, Australian Territory – big bit, Australian Territory – small bit, etc.) or place names (e.g. Queen Maud Land, Wilkes Land, Ellsworth Highland, etc.).
I won’t ask why that bit is called “West Antarctica”. The reason would probably be too stupid for me to bear.

nah. Don’t worry about asking, and your question isn’t “stupid” by any means. (Now, having said that, CLAIMING that your own question is stupid without verifying that it is, in fact, stupid IS stupid, but I digress …) 8<)
Get a globe – Mine is a 12.00 dollar 6 inch diameter one from Office Max. Your mileage may vary, try to get a bigger one if your budget allows. (Use some of that well-funded conspiracy-sourced evil oil money.)
Trace the 0.0 longitude line down south from Greenwich England down across the equator.
Turn the globe upside down, and continue south just west of Africa until it hits Antarctica.
Then trace it further "south" until that same line hits the pole.
Continue "north" on the same longitude line (now 180 degrees) "up from the south pole towards what will become the Pacific Ocean.
You will proceed north zig-zagging around New Zealand, then the Equator again, then up zig-zagging between the US and Russia, then to the North Pole.
Go back under to Antarctica. That blobby-shaped peninsula you cut "off" from the larger east half of Antarctica is obviously "West Antarctica" It extends up towards South America. Almost all of the non-ice-covered land mass of Antarctica is on small extension of the skinny part of that blobby peninsula. it is also the only part of Antarctica that has warmed any at all since measurements began in the mid-1950's.

Mike too

Since we elected Obama twice, we don’t need to worry about rising oceans.

Jer0me

RoHa says:
May 13, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Antarctica doesn’t have an East or a West, so could someone please tell me what bit is meant by the term “West Antarctica”?
Please tell me either in political terms (e.g. Norwegian Territory, Australian Territory – big bit, Australian Territory – small bit, etc.) or place names (e.g. Queen Maud Land, Wilkes Land, Ellsworth Highland, etc.).
I won’t ask why that bit is called “West Antarctica”. The reason would probably be too stupid for me to bear.

It does. It’s that bit which is ‘West’ of ‘zero’ (the Greenwich Meridian) in longitude. I think in this case it is the bit that sticks up toward South America (which is also ‘West’).
If you take the premise that it does not have a ‘West’, then you would probably have to assume that everywhere on Antarctica is ‘North’, which would make navigation awkward.

Just another “nature trick”. Except it is nature doing the tricking.

Alan Robertson

Mark and two Cats says:
May 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm
John McClure said:
May 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm
Has Gore accepted a PR position at NASA or is this yet another poorly delivered press release from a “trusted” governmental agency?
————
“As worthy of trust as the VA.”
________________________________
Hey. The good doctors (and the VA system) saved my life. I hear gritching and grumbling from some veterans, but I’m still on this side of the dirt. I went to the VA as last resort and the VA found a very big health issue for which I’d poured thousands of dollars into civilian medicos, only to be treating a phantom, due to misdiagnosis which brought me to death’s door.

RACookPE1978,
Nice geography lesson… I fell of my seat laughing. 🙂

Chad Wozniak

@RoHa –
“West Antarctica” is the smaller portion of the continent, between the Ross and Weddell Seas, directly south of South America..

tegirinenashi

The article in question makes vague predictions, making it hard to refute. 40 years ago JH Mercer paper in Nature
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v271/n5643/abs/271321a0.html
made much more bold prediction: 5-10K temperature increase during the next 50 years below 80 degree latitude (causing total disintegration of West Antarctica ice shield).

Katherine

I’d say the media hype from the study in GRL was fanned by NASA itself. The NASA Science News blurbs GRL paper as “A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in irreversible decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea.”
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/12may_noturningback/
And the article has even more alarmist statements from co-author Eric Rignot, saying “We’ve passed the point of no return” and “At current melt rates, these glaciers will be ‘history’ within a few hundred years.”

rogerknights

The media isn’t entirely at fault. The previous thread on this topic quoted the AGU press release. It’s at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/12/the-guardians-suzanne-goldenberg-jumps-the-shark-again-gets-called-out-by-nyt/ . The following comment appeared later in that thread:

Falstaff says:
May 13, 2014 at 11:13 am
Criticism for alarmism here should go to the paper’s author, not the Guardian, since Rignot used it in the press release – interview process:
“The collapse of this sector of West Antarctica appears to be unstoppable,”
Authors sometime have a hard time sticking to the text of their own papers.

Bruce

East/ West also is used in flying in Antarctica. Working in McMurdo gives some perspective on navigation. You fly South to the pole but how do you get home? Grid north is toward Greenwich and Grid South is toward the international date line. So to fly from the South Pole Station to McMurdo Station you would fly almost due grid south.

Louis

“a full-scale collapse of this sector may be inevitable”

So is the above comment in the Science published study the reason why NASA/headline writers are predicting a 4-meter rise in sea level? My guess is somebody must have calculated how much sea level would rise if the West Antarctica ice sheet collapsed completely. Then they ran with that estimate even though it is not to be found in either paper.

Bruce,
Or if you keep flying south you’ll fly off the planet into outer space right? so how do we know what is up and what is down? /src lol

Richard M

This mess could turn into an own goal. For many years we’ve been told the melting in W. Antarctica was due to global warming. Now, these papers claim it is from warmer water upwelling. IOW, the original claims were untrue. Add to that the recent paper claim 50-80% of the warming in Greenland was due to natural processes and what is left? Skeptics should be able to use these papers to demonstrate the dishonesty of climate alarmists.

Louis,
We all know it was worked out by stevengoddard years ago, and he correctly suggested what to look out for when the devious bastards worked it out!

RoHa

@ RACookPE1978, Jerome.
Thanks for that. Now I know what they are talking about.
And the reason isn’t as stupid as I feared it might be. (I didn’t think my question was stupid.)
So the smaller bit west of the Greenwich* Meridian is what they mean by “West Antarctica”. Fair enough.
And that includes the whole lot round to 180?
I see West Antarctica as west of 0 but east of the 180 line, and if you head east from Queen Maud Land, you end up in West Antarctica without leaving Antarctica.
Hence my idea that Antarctica has a North (the coast) and a South (the pole), but not a real East ot West.
Still, if that is the convention, I now know.
(*I know Greenwich is in England, thanks.)

RoHa

Thanks, Chad. Nice simple answer.

RoHa

And I now know that West Antarctica isn’t the Australian bit, so I don’t have to do anything about it. It isn’t my problem.

Revkin initially missed the point of the Science paper, that once the threshold is passed, complete collapse will be rapid (decades). He back filled this after it was pointed out. While the timing of reaching the threshold is uncertain, and could be in the far future, it could also be sooner than the 200 year lower limit that the model finds, because it assumes a slower than observed retreat of the grounding line as shown by the GRL paper.
Not a walk in the park.

The disintegration of floating ice shelves has no direct impact on global sea level. The only possible impact is by affecting the rate at which glaciers uphill from the shelves flow toward the sea.
When grounded ice melts or slides into the sea, it does affect sea level rise, but the effect is reduced if the ice is grounded below sea level (i.e., if the rock upon which it rests is below the waterline). In that case, the ice is “partially floating,” so the effect on global sea level when it melts or floats away is reduced.
Note that it takes a LOT of melted ice to significantly affect sea-level. Melting a cubic mile of grounded ice causes global sea level to increase only about 1/100-th of a millimeter.
http://sealevel.info/conversion_factors.html

Tommy E

@ RoHa says, @ RACookPE1978
As an explanation, I would have just gone with a Mercator or Kavraiskiy map projection as an explanation …
[img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4f/Kavraiskiy_VII_projection_SW.jpg/800px-Kavraiskiy_VII_projection_SW.jpg[/img]
Everything on the left half of the bottom of the map is West Antarctica, everything on the right half is East Antarctica.

daveburton says:
May 13, 2014 at 8:55 pm
“Melting a cubic mile of grounded ice causes global sea level to increase only about 1/100-th of a millimeter.”
Really? where did the ice come from?

daveburton says:
May 13, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Great website, Dave Burton. Thanks.

ren

The first question is, what are the temperatures in the Antarctic. 05/14/2014
http://oi60.tinypic.com/10nyqde.jpg

If this was an ice age, “sea level rise” would be [irrelevant] due to the fact that sea levels would fall. Oh wait.. this isn’t an ice age… I wonder what it could be.

*Irrelevant

matayaya

You all didn’t seem to actually read the two peer reviewed studies. If you could look away from your red meat media angle, there was some interesting science to be noted. The main reason the ice sheets and glaciers are being destabilized is that the Southern Ocean has warmed. That weakens the ice edges that reach down deep into the ocean that act as stabilizers. This ocean warming is down deep, not on the surface. The surface is cold, gladdening the hearts of you “skeptics” that get pleasure from seeing all the expansion of the sea ice extent “disproving” global warming. Surely it confounds you to take in the counter intuitive idea of warming down deep but staying cold on top. Science is more interesting than politics any day.

Pat Kelly

Making a claim that the melting of the glaciers of West Antarctica is unstoppable is a strategic mistake by the alarmists. Positing that there is actually a collapse that is inevitable puts them in Catch 22. Since forestalling doomsday is now no longer within man’s control, then why must we bother changing our hedonistic ways when it comes to fossil fuel consumption?

ralfellis

Here is the BBC hype on this topic. They made it the lead item, on a day when Antarctic sea ice reached their greatest ever extent. No mention of that, though. BBC reporting is straight out of the manual written by Joseph Goebbels.
The BBC (or perhaps Reuters) have obviously got hold of one of the scientists in this study, and he has added the extra info about sea level rises.
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27381010

Greg

“mislead the public once again regarding climate related issues this time by alleging claims of 4 meter high future sea level rise increases supposedly addressed in two recent studies ”
for chrissakes , it’s four FEET not four metres.
You make valid points about the spin on this but at least get your numbers correct !

MikeUK

Another major problem with the media reporting is that it fails to point out that glacier instability is almost certainly an entirely natural process, with little or no influence from a modest warming of the climate. Such warming may actually nudge things slightly the right way, via changes in ocean currents.
If polar ice were not being continually lost all the water in the world would end up at the poles, via snowfall and direct accretion of water vapour to ice.

Old England

Reading this made it clear that the MSM had to have been briefed by a green-activist organisation, I suspected Greenpeace or WWF. Silly of me to have overlooked a government funded bunch of green activists – NASA.

tty

matayaya says:
You all didn’t seem to actually read the two peer reviewed studies. If you could look away from your red meat media angle, there was some interesting science to be noted. The main reason the ice sheets and glaciers are being destabilized is that the Southern Ocean has warmed.
If
you had bothered to read (and understand) the two peer reviewed studies you would have learned that: “elevated melt rates on the Amundsen Coast are largely driven by increased transport of warm CDW onto the continental shelf rather than by direct warming of the CDW”.
I. e. changed ocean currents, not warming.