Vanishing Ice Most Likely All Natural

video by Jim Steele, Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University


The video outlines why the timing and mechanisms of glacier retreats is evidence of natural climate change.


  1. The drying out of Kilimanjaro
  2. Retreat of glaciers in Glacier National Park begins 2:45
  3. Overview of Holocene warming and cooling and ice melt begins at 4:22
  4. The advances and retreat of the Aletsch Glacier and solar activity begins at 9:14
  5. Ocean Oscillations and the retreat of Greenland Glaciers begins at 11:39
  6. The unique locations and causes of retreating Antarctic glaciers begins at 17:39

A transcript with links to selected references is available here

A transcript with a list 61 citations is available here

Partially adapted from the chapter “Many Ways to Shrink a Glacier” in Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

26 thoughts on “Vanishing Ice Most Likely All Natural

  1. Jim
    Thanks for your post.
    50 years ago E Roy Ladurie compiled an epic record of glacier movements using thousands of references. I graphed this into a 3000 year record of Northern Hemisphere changes; blue line at the top of the page indicates glacier retreat, blue line at the bottom indicates advance.
    Against the glacier changes (which can be only broadly indicative) has been graphed extended Central England Temperatures in decadal and 50 year format, as well as the Hockey stick. Dr Mann’s work indicates that temperatures appeared to remain steady until recent years. The glacier record suggests much greater fluctuation than he was aware of

    • In 1900 to present glaciers did retreat as temperature rose, but in 2000 as temperature continued to rise glaciers advanced again. Also from 1000 to 1900 the advancing/retreating occurred independently of temperature.
      This indicates that climate science tying glacier retreat to global warming is false. Using the climate science measure of certainty, let’s call this settled, as in settled science and ask climate science go to a 10 step program for integration back into the real world. Subsequently they can go back to their drawing boards and then maybe, at some point in the future, be given back their models and super computers.

  2. “In the last week, due to an intense cooling of large central-eastern Siberia, encouraged by the intense snowfall that has produced a remarkable effect “Albedo”, the vast anticyclone of thermal origin has shifted its center of gravity towards the west, placing its maximum baric ground, higher than the 1045-1050 hpa between Kazakhstan central and south-central Siberia, where temperatures have sunk below the wall of -40 ° C. Temperatures below -30 ° C -35 ° C have also been reported in the region north of Lake Baikal. Because of a new intensification of the zonal wind on the euro-Atlantic, once again, the pole of the great Siberian frost, interested for two weeks after the plateau of central Siberia, has moved in the Republic of Yakutia. Just in Yakutia frost extraction “skins” became really extreme these days, so that the mercury has managed to fall below -52 ° C. The wall of -52 ° C was broken in some parts of Yakutia, as Verhojansk and Sebyan-kyuel ‘, which were much colder village Ojmjakon, known throughout the world as the main pole of the cold northern hemisphere , where often in winter the mercury slips under the wall of -60 ° C, -65 ° C even touching the waves of frost bloodiest. Just think that in the cold winter of 1926 the local station of the Russian weather service recorded a minimum temperature of absolute well -71.2 ° C.”

    • Quite a bit, actually.
      See, in these frost-free refrigerators, a tray of ice cubes will disappear over a fairly short time whether you use them or not. Every time the freezer goes into a defrost cycle, a little bit more of your ice cubes melt/evaporate until there’s next to nothing left.
      I have a suspicion a similar process is going on with the glaciers, though here it has more to do with how much moisture is there to replenish glaciers than any sort of mechanical device. Wind and sun will cause some erosion unless sufficient snow falls to replenish the loss to evaporation.

      • Sublimation:
        Sublimation is the transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gas phase without passing through an intermediate liquid phase. Sublimation is an endothermic phase transition that occurs at temperatures and pressures below a substance’s triple point in its phase diagram.
        I just thought I’d throw it into the mix 🙂

      • Even if the troposphere isn’t a factor, temperatures at a height of 5000 m are so low that glaciers there can’t melt. That’s the main reason the threat to the Himalayas’ is very far off. Maybe sublimation from lower precipitation and humidity would have an effect.

      • Five-thousand meters is over 16,000 feet. The chief threat to high-altitude glaciers is lack of additional snow rather than melting. The principle way that ice vanishes that high is through sublimation. Read up on Kilimanjaro’s loss of ice. It was known, well before AGW became an issue, that Kilimanjaro’s ice fields were declining and that the loss was due to deforestation around the mountain, which was leading to lower orographic precipitation on the mountain. Plants, like all other lifeforms give off water as one of their respiratory by products. Bigger plants yield more. Converting the forest around the mountain’s feet to pasture resulted in less water vapour moving up the mountain and a change from a positive to a negative balance with no temperature shifts. The snow sublimates directly to water vapour when struck by sunlight.
        In the ’90s with AGW rising, Kilimanjaro became – briefly – a poster child for “the cause.” That ended pretty quickly when it became known that Kilimanjaro and its ice loss was already well understood, and while truly anthropogenic, was not due to warming.

  3. Excellent presentation Mr. Steele: clear, concise and easy to understand. I find it particularly interesting that you have dedicated a large part of your career to teaching kids science in the inner city schools of the bay area. This aspect of your professional credentials should give confidence to laymen trying to discern who is and who is not an honest broker of scientific information regarding climate change.
    Thank you for all you do to advance the love of science and the ultimate truths that flow from our better understanding of the natural world around us.
    Good health and Happy holidays to you sir.

  4. A good presentation, very much in line with the view of Hubert Lamb who argued long ago for a concentrated effort to improve our understanding of climate history as a pre-requisite to having any hope of discerning our global impact at all reliably. The scientific method has also been respected, with the prospect of a clear and testable hypothesis being developed that could be verified or rejected within the next decade or so. Well done.

  5. The null hypothesis is that the ebb and flow of ice is entirely natural. There is no need to state that the skeptic argument isn’t that CO2 can not possibly contribute today, as that is a straw man as well as a red herring. It is also not the skeptic argument that because [if] it was natural before then space aliens can not possibly contribute today. If either CO2 or space aliens have contributed, it can’t be shown, and therefore is unimportant.
    Excellent presentation otherwise. I just wish that Warmists who wail about waning ice would watch the video. But, since it would threaten their ideology, they won’t.

  6. Thanks very much for this interesting video!
    Just allow me a little hint regarding a better camera position during your lecture for the next vid: It would look more natural (and not so schoolmasterly) when the camera position were a little bit above your face level, like the typical perspective in a talk between grown-ups.

  7. Clear presentation. Wanting to hear Dr. Svalgaard’s assessment of the claims to correlations with solar flux…

  8. Alx
    December 17, 2014 at 4:49 am
    “In 1900 to present glaciers did retreat as temperature rose, but in 2000 as temperature continued to rise glaciers advanced again.”
    Do we have to tell CAGW climate scientists that it’s snow that makes glaciers? Warm air/rain will melt tongues back – many of these tongues extend below the frost line because they flowed there. However precipitation above the frost line feeds mass to the glacier obviously. I can see where an extended spell of exceedingly hot weather would melt back the tongues. Many situations are at play. If the warm air is moist, it could be raining on the lower terminations of the glacier AND building mass as snow above the frost line. Perhaps the only certain condition to correlate in sync with glacier mass loss is dry air – little or no precipitation – as occurred at Kilimanjaro and caused a brief ‘flurry’ of concern.

  9. Two thirds of the ice on earth at “glacial max” 18,000 years ago melted before the steam engine was invented.
    Now a little more ice is gone, and somehow it’s all our fault.
    And please send money now to stop it, you dirty deniers you.
    Unh-huh. tell me another bedtime story.

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