Study: Advancing glaciers in New Zealand are a sign of 'regional cooling'

Franz Josef glacier, which grew almost continuously in the 25 years to 2008

Franz Josef glacier, which grew almost continuously in the 25 years to 2008

Reader Phil Hutchings writes via email:

This article in Nature Communications caught my eye! 

This is a beauty. This week, Nature Communications published an explanation as to why (at least) 58 New Zealand glaciers grew in the twenty-five years to 2008.

The aberrant behaviour by these naughty glaciers was perfectly explicable though – it was caused by “regional cooling”.

Researchers from NZ’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and Victoria University prepared, yes, a model of the Southern Alps. And yes, they found that in their model, lower air and adjacent ocean temperatures (during those 25 years) were correlated with the growing glaciers.

Fair enough.

But where is the support for this claim ?

“While this sequence of climate variability and its effect on New Zealand glaciers is unusual on a global scale, it remains consistent with a climate system that is being modified by humans”

The paper:

Mackintosh, A.N, Anderson, B.M, Lorrey, A.M, Renwick, J.A., Prisco Frei, & Dean, S.M., Regional cooling caused recent New Zealand glacier advances in a period of global warming. Nature Communications, February 2017

nature-communications-feb-2017 (PDF)


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Tom Halla

Growing glaciers is something that does not advance the climate change narrative, until it suddenly does? Local cooling is global warming? And war is peace, and . . .

Ben of Houston

Well, local cooling doesn’t tell us anything of the globe as a whole. If one country dropped to 40C below zero for the whole year and the rest of the planet rose by 20C, the globe as a whole would be much warmer despite the localized arctic weather. The odd statement is simply a sign of the politicization of the entire field. If they hadn’t included the statement professing compliance to standard orthodoxy, I doubt it would have gotten published.
Let’s not read too much into this, it’s just a “I’m not a heretic, please don’t blacklist me” statement.

george e. smith

The glaciers of the Sahara are not advancing, hence proving the contention that the NZ experience is not world wide. Other glaciers of Oceania are generally not advancing.

Ian H

Other glaciers in Oceania?


Yes but didn’t the NZ weather bureau rig the temperature record to make cooling data into warming data and then refuse to explain their adjustments?


Not a single glacier in Australia has advanced over the last 25 years. In fairness, though, none have advanced either!


B…y fingers nor working:
….retreated either!


Ian: Oceania, from “1984”.

george e. smith

All of the glaciers in the Tuamotu Archipelago, are currently on hold; neither advancing, nor retreating.
The locals are all happy about that, since they don’t have any place left to put all that ice.


Don’t worry Ben, it’s purely a Southern Hemisphere phenomenon,
just like “global” warming is a purely Northern Hemisphere one.


The New Zealand Franz Josef glacier mirrored global temperature trends fairly going back at least to the LIA.


Strange, I undertood the glaciers here were all retreating. Where did these guys get their data from?
I visited the Franz Joseph in 1972 and in 2008. There was most certainly an overall retreat during that time.

JJM Gommers

Difference between Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Antarctic is not warming in contrast with the Arctic.

Rob R

I live about 2 hours drive from Franz Josef, on the West Coast of the South Island. It is my experience, over more than 50 years, that the climate here and consequently the snowfall in Alpine areas, is quite dynamic. The glaciers in question respond quickly to temperature and precipitation. Currently the terminal faces are retreating rapidly. However, this should reverse over the next few years as the current summer has been very cold with abundant and regular snowfall in the ice accumulation zones. Down at sea level its been one of the wettest summers in recorded history. The last time the glaciers were fed by massive summer snowfall was 1998/99 after the big El Nino. And what have we just had? A super-sized El Nino. So the current summers precipitation pattern is a repeat of that event. Who would have thunk it? After the huge 1998/99 precipitation event the Franz Josef glacier advanced by about 1 km or so, then subsequently melted back. It looks as if this cycle is about to repeat. It will take probably 4 or 5 years before the new advance reaches its maximum extent, so long as the weather during that period is reasonably average.


I think it was in 2001 that my husband and I took a flight over some of the glaciers and to see Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. We flew from the airfield at Franz Josef and the pilot was at considerable pains to point out where the leading edge of the glacier was circa 12000 years ago! It had retreated during that time by quite a distance but where was the industry and motor traffic in those days?!


Strange, I undertood the glaciers here were all retreating.
Then you’ve been misinformed. 85 – 90% of glaciers have retreated since the 1950s. The World Glacier Monitoring Service shows that most regions have a few glaciers that are growing, most retreating. Specifically mentions New Zealand as an area where there has been some glacier retreat on decadal scales.


Correction: Specifically mentions New Zealand as an area where there has been some glacier advance on decadal scales.


Living in New Zealand I can say that we seem to be getting colder. In 2012 in Wellington we had snow down to sea level that lasted for 3 days, which I don’t recall anything like that since the 1970s. This year the summer is exceptionally poor, and looking at the handy global images here on WUWT it is easy to see that we are surrounded by unusually cold water – so I’d expect we may get snow down to sea level this year too. Perhaps this is just ‘weather’ or just the La Nina, but it seems to be gradually getting just a little colder.
Nothing dramatic nor alarming, but it seems colder than the 1980s and 1990s. Which is what you’d expect if Svensmark and Shaviv’s theory about the integrated effect of Solar magnetic activity (which changes cloud cover and the heat stored in the oceans) was a good description of the recent natural climate variability.
So, I’m nothing more than an anecdotal datapoint, but I am onsite 🙂


maybe they are advancing to the rear. or is is retreating to the front?

Mike McMillan

Google Earth historical imagery show a 630 metre retreat from March 2006 to February 2013.

Matthew R. Epp

@fred berple
They are leading from behind

100 years into the future, people will be reading papers that say something like, The past fifty years of whole-degree global temperature declines has raised concerns that Earth might have transitioned from a warming to a marked cooling phase, but we should not judge this trend to hastily, since anthropogenic CO2 levels continue to rise at a moderate rate, contributing a delayed warming effect that models predict will soon be realized.


R.K. Scientifically phrased Sir.

“too hastily”, … NOT “to hastily”

These glaciers are obviously in denial, and unaware of AGW.


Reminds me of this from The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: “..and then he went on to prove that black is white and got himself killed in the next zebra crossing.”

“While this sequence of climate variability and its effect on New Zealand glaciers is unusual on a global scale, it remains consistent with a climate system that is being modified by humans”

It’s also consistent with a climate system that is not being modified by humans.
It’s standard scientific double-speak, like this…

“The agreement with the predicted curve is excellent” …good” …satisfactory” …fair.”
Fair. Poor. Doubtful. Imaginary.


Better my couplet were here,
Close but never so near.

Bryan A

It’s those nasty hunamzees that are monkeying with the system that’s cousing all of Gaia’s problems.
If we just elinminate the Humanzees, Gaia will be preserved

george e. smith

Mother Gaia has no problems.
Everything is exactly the way she wants it, and she likes it that way.

Curious George

Anything is consistent with a climate system that is being modified by humans. Stop looking for an inconsistency, nitpickers!

M Seward

Anything is consistent with a climate system that is not being modified by humans or naasty humanzes or hobbits for that matter.

Malcolm Carter

I’m confused. I would like to see a list of possible observations that are inconsistent with a climate system not being modified by humans. With the present model, ice skating on Lake Tanganyika would be consistent and so would water skiing on Frobisher Bay.


Swimming in the Todd River.



I would like to see a list of possible observations that are inconsistent with a climate system not being modified by humans.

The list is infinite.
1. Every possible observation is inconsistent with a climate not being modified by humans.
2. There are no possible observations that are consistent with a climate not being modified by humans.
3. All possible observations are consistent with a climate being modified by humans.
Three hard and fast laws of “Climate Science”, I’m afraid.

Wh at about Mt.kilimanjaro almost on the equator,height 19,341ft,its climate ranges from farmland up through rain forest ,heath ,alpine desert to arctic on the summit .ice present all year round ..almost a complete climate picture !

this [growth in NZ glaciers ] is perfectly in line what I expected from my results
can I get an answer to that question?


Is your question about the temperature, or the that the NH sea ice is variable reducing while the SH ice is increasing ?ice



tony mcleod

SH ice is increasing
It’s not. It is the lowest ever measured right now.

Patrick MJD

“tony mcleod February 15, 2017 at 5:15 pm
It’s not. It is the lowest ever measured right now.”
Measured? No, estimates based on satellite readings.


Strange. In 1998 I visited both Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. Both had retreated so much that a new and quite long extra pathway had been made from the originally constructed viewing site.

this is when the CO2 nonsense had started
an extra pathway is easy to make
one way or another.
Pictures of glacier growth or decline is what counts.
Nobody is disputing that the north pole is meting somewhat and that alp glaciers have been retreating.
Could it be because the magnetic north pole has considerably shifted north east?

Maybe this is where the Arctic ice went to:

The likelyhood of it being affected by magnetic factors is unlikely but also unknown.
Currently, at the Atlantic pathway into the Arctic region two opposing ice related events are occuring at the same time. Atmosphere is being displaced into the Arctic region at the Atlantic entry. There has been a change in atmospheric circulation (simplistic). The atmosphere is taking in both heat and moisture. The moisture is increasing the ice accumulation on Greenland, the wind carries on and is influencing the sea ice. Check where the ice is missing on the NSIDC site. When sea ice varies considerably on a day to day basis, its not the ocean temp as the primary driver.
This wind also carries temperature increases into the Arctic. Effectively the temperature is being recorded in place A on day one then the wind takes it to place B. Simply because of a slight change in atmospheric dynamics. I researched the two Russian locations noted as the highest individual global monthly increase for January and February 2016, noted in the UAH reports. The wind direction had changed. That was the primary reason. Heat was being transported in. Remember that the Arctic is adjacent to the largest heat sink (land) and the NH ocean variances.
In the Antarctic, it is the Pacific corridor that is the influence. Wind is travelling into the Antarctic region mainly down that corridore. Again look at the NSIDC image of ice anomaly. In New Zealand we are experiencing a change in wind patterns, there are more westerlies than historical at this time of year. This wind travels across New Zealand, across into the Pacific and down into the Antarctic. In the winter the wind creates and desroys sea ice, as intensity and direction change.
What has been entirely overlooked, is that since the temperature anomaly increases starting about 1980, so too has the tropopause atmospheric volume, primarily in the NH. This alters circulation patters most notably in the July to November period. Tropopause movements are one of the primary movers of atmosphere, especially in a downward direction most notably between July and November in the NH. I rarely see any reference to the tropopause on any matter, let alone atmospheric circulation, but in my opinion it is the most power influence in the troposphere. The downward movements are not smooth, and create atmospheric movement, pressure and velocity pulses. You can see the effects of these pulses in the contours of the NH sea ice leading up to and after the minimum. The same applies to the Antarctic. Variance on a day to day basis.
I will provide charts etc. at a later date. A work in progress.

george e. smith

I visited both end of 2006, and ice was falling off both, and both were along way up from where they were 100 years ago.
So they come and go; ho hum.

“Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. Both had retreated so much “
Yes. From the paper, here is the graph. The period of advance was a “pause”

Was there also a record of precipitation, snow fall over the same period ?

Rob R

The graph is out of context. Prior to 1900 all these glaciers were at an unusually extended length and thickness following the Little Ice age. In other words they were at the maximum size for the last 7000 years or so. These glaciers have still got a long way to melt back before they even get close to the Holocene minimum size. Nevertheless, there is no way of knowing what the future trend in glacier length is going to be. It is not clear whether glacial retreat is paused, continuing, or turning around.

Gloateus Maximus

Shades of Arctic sea ice in 1979, at or near its 20th century high when the dedicated satellite record began.

“The graph is out of context”
No, it’s providing context which was lacking in this post on “advancing glaciers”. And the plot covers the period when people wrote down their observations.

Michael Jankowski

So you’ve got 4 of the 58+ covered. Great. Advancing…err, pausing…during warmest years and decades evah.

Eric Stevens

In fact the photograph of the news article was taken from the end of the road at the old viewing site.

Same old, same old.
“Riddle of the Glaciers
The steady retreat of the glaciers in New Zealand he said had been observed during
the last 70 years. Photographs taken in 1896 and 1935 showed that several glaciers had
retreated distances varying from 100 yards to half a mile in 40 years”
The phenomenon, however, was world-wide. Equally impressive records were obtainable from Switzerland, Scandinavia, Iceland and the United States. Attempts had been made to reconcile these observations with the Brucknercycle of climate change every 16 years. Professor Speight said, but so many discrepancies occurred that in his opinion precise synchronisation with that period could not be accepted.
In Alaska glaciers had been retreating from 100 to 200 years, the average rate of recession being about 50 feet a year. The Antarctic ice-sheet also showed signs of recent retreat. “In fact,” said Professor Speight, “no case is recorded of a region of the world in which there are present signs of an advance. This is quite apart from the general retreat since the pleistocene age and may be merely a pacing phase. Its precise significance can only be determined by continued observation.”


1998, you mean the Super El Nino that year ? As someone who lives in New Zealand, it seems to be getting colder the last few years – consistent with the change in Solar magnetic activity changing the rate of heat transfer to the oceans (via water vapor changes, see Svensmark and Shaviv).

Clyde Spencer

I visited the Fox glacier in 1979 and it had evidently retreated recently because there was no vegetation on the outwash plain or adjacent hillsides. I returned in 1989 and it had retreated dramatically since my previous visit. If it is now advancing, I’d be interested in knowing when the reversal occurred.


They claim “unprecedented global ice loss has occurred
during the last three decades” and “predominantly negative global glacier
mass balance between 1991 and 2010”. I’ve looked briefly to see if this is true, but can’t find anything I’ve any confidence about. Does anyone have the ‘truth’?

While “unprecedented” is unlikely to be supported by any sort of data, glacier mass balance has been predominately negative since the late 1800’s… At least for the fraction of the world’s glaciers with mass balance data.

The moraines from the Little Ice Age mark maximum Holocene glacier extents in many mountain ranges. From these positions, glaciers around the world show a centennial trend of ice wastage which has been accelerating since the mid 1980s. On a decadal time scale, glaciers in various regions have shown intermittent re-advances.
The recent decline in mass balance is very similar to the early 20th century decline.
Most alpine/valley/mountain glaciers formed after the Holocene Climatic Optimum and then advanced (Neoglaciation) up until the end of the Little Ice Age, when they reached their maximum Holocene extent. Since glacier mass balance is always increasing or decreasing and it had been increasing from about 3,000 BC up until the 1800’s, it’s a very good thing that glacier mass balance has been predominately negative since the late 1800’s.


thanx DM, that put it into perspective.


Since glacier mass balance is always increasing or decreasing and it had been increasing from about 3,000 BC up until the 1800’s
Do you have a reference for that?


Consistent with and without;
Just why is it I doubt?

Malcolm Latarche

There’s certainly comedy value in this claim. But it is actually quite pitiful (a) that the authors made it in the first place, and (b) that the peer reviewers allowed it to stand.

r u saying the results are not true?


Simple truth: You can’t get a grant to study squirrels in New York, but you can get one to study the effect of climate change on squirrels in New York.

Quite possibly the peer reviewers, or the editor, asked for its insertion.

Few years ago T.S. Stocker proposed hypothesis of the ‘bipolar see-saw’ (Antarctica vs Greenland)
“The see-saw is coupled to a heat reservoir of the Southern Ocean or another slowly responding component of the climate system.”


Didn’t I read recently that properly adjusted weather stations have proven that New Zealand is warming, not cooling as the raw data erroneously indicated.

john harmsworth

Yes, it’s ice. But it’s warm ice!


Define “properly adjusted”, please. To my mind, it simply means “adjusted so as to create a warming trend”.
Anything to keep to the narrative.


yes, same thing in Oz. Most of Australia shows cooling in the raw data, until it is “corrected”. Seems the temperature record has bipolar disorder too: it does not know whether it is up or down.


As the globe warms, nature looks for regions where all the cool can trickle into.

Mike Maguire

From the “everything, including extreme cold and more ice is caused by global warming” playbook:
“A growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues,” Holdren asserts. Watch it:”
The above(January 2014) was just weather and of course we can still have record cold outbreaks with a warming planet………….but to BLAME them on global warming with a special authoritative video from an expert is something completely different……….in this case, damage control to feed the captured minds propaganda, so they don’t get skeptical(or apply too much critical thinking) of the CAGW theme.
With a SSW(Sudden Stratospheric Warming) event last month, the following, extremely comprehensive discussion related to the polar vortex event of Jan 2014 is still relevant. I consider that article to be one of the best at WUWT.
“A Displaced Polar Vortex and Its Causes”
justthefactswuwt / February 1, 2014

J Mac

Witness the glacial dance,
recede…. and then advance.


when you have no null hypothesis everything fits. How you call a theory without a null hypothesis “science” is an entirely different question.


reject the null? fail to reject the null?
what nonsense!


thanx DM, that put it into perspective for me.

Michael Carter

Yes, this came out in NZ’s leading newspaper. Later, I will publish here the temperature record from a nearby weather station


How sad to find yourself in a field which requires fealty oaths.


Worldwide their is no denying the majority of glaciers are retreating. And… it is no surprise that some will buck the trend, even in a country (NZ) that has shown significant warming over the last 100 years. It is an interesting phenomenon and one well worth researching.


Sorry but that is BS. The data has been checked and is fine. Move on. Ask the NZ Climate Change Coalition how they got in in court challenging the data. That’s if you can find the cowards who ran for the hills when the court ordered them to pay $80k. Wasted tax payers money on that goose chase.

Patrick MJD

“Simon February 15, 2017 at 10:41
And… it is no surprise that some will buck the trend, even in a country (NZ) that has shown significant warming over the last 100 years.”
Do you have evidence to back up that claim? How many thermometers were in NZ 100 years ago?


Ohh so you think NZ will be different to the rest of the planet. Some sort of wildly warm place 100 years ago. Really…. prove it.

Patrick MJD

“Simon February 15, 2017 at 5:39 pm”
You made the claim NZ is significantly warmer now than 100 years ago. I do believe that burden of proof lies with you.


I don’t know anything about glaciers or the study of.
The definition of “glacier retreat” is?
a. Less volume in the total mass
b. increase in elevation at the “toe”
c. both a and b
d. no real definition; ‘a’ when convenient, ‘b’ when convenient, or ‘c’ to when convenient to complement a specific storyline.
e. used incorrectly as often as it used correctely
Also, is there a (known/estimated) lag time and relationship between the downhill movement of a glacier vs the rate of accumulation of mass of a glacier? For example could a large accumulation of mass 80 years ago relate to a very fast loss beginning 30 years later, and end up with the “toe” of the glacier looking like it was running back up the hill (appearing to represent a big current loss of mass to those that don’t know what is really happening).


There is far more data for changes in the leading edge than mass balance. The World Glacier Monitoring Service uses both and quantifies the delineation.

M Courtney

Local ice changes probably are the effect of a local climate.
Same goes for the Arctic.
This seems sensible to me.

Rick K

Can we send some of the additional glacier ice to the Arctic? You know, to make Griff feel better?

Larry Barden

Aren’t glaciers in Tierra del Fuego (Patagonia, southern South America) also advancing? If so, the “regional cooling” may include all of the higher latitudes of the southern hemisphere. At what point does the cooling stop being “regional” and start being “circumpolar”.
Larry Barden


Cooling only in SH

Gloateus Maximus

It is cooling in the USA as well. Possibly also other parts of North America, Europe and Asia.

Gloateus Maximus

This big Patagonian one is growing:
As are those in the Darwin Range of Tierra del Fuego:
Chile has experienced possibly greater than normal heat and wind this summer, driving forest fires, many of which were set by people. Dunno what the effect has been on Patagonian glaciers.

It’s rotten ice.


Which looks consistent with the NATURAL warming started at the end of the Little Ice Age. That is exactly what we’d expect to see if Solar Magnetic Activity was driving the climate.

Bipolar seesaw anyone?

Coeur de Lion

Break out your Woollies!! BREAK OUT YOUR WOOLLIES!! We are all going to FRY – sorry – FREEZE

Smart Rock

Isn’t the advance/retreat of glaciers dependent on snowfall as well as temperature?

Paul Penrose

Maybe even more so.

Reasonable Skeptic

Yes, but when they retreat, it is due to warming.


Isn’t the advance/retreat of glaciers dependent on snowfall as well as temperature?
That is discussed in the study. There’s a link to it in the article at the top of this thread if you want to read it. It’s not long.

Clyde Spencer

Smart Rock,
Glaciers are such complex dynamic systems that it is difficult to determine what is causing an advance or retreat. Alpine glacier terrain is usually quite cloudy. A decrease in cloudiness could result in local warming and retreat. A change in precipitation in the zone of accumulation, for whatever reason, will cause a change in mass balance. Assuming that sunlight can reach the surface of the glacier, dust or soot can accelerate melting and cause retreat. And, a change in ambient temperature in the zone of wastage can cause an advance or retreat of the terminus. One needs simultaneous measurements along the entire length of a glacier before anything intelligent can be said about cause and effect. the zone of accumulation is usually above the average freezing line. If global temperatures are actually affecting the system, then one should expect that the terminus should impacted by the lapse rate. That is, the change in elevation should be predicted by the average local lapse rate for a given temperature change.


The immediate check would be: do New Zealand weather stations agree with regional cooling? As I remember, they had the same issue as US, global and Australian weather stations where the homogenisation process turned cooling into warming.
I am pretty sure there is a bust here. Local weather station data versus glaciers extending.


This is not surprising at all. During the past 10,000 years you will find very few periods when all glaciers in the planet are moving with the same trend. Glaciers respond to a lot of conditions, including temperatures, precipitations, solar irradiation, orientation, changes in elevation. Even for glaciers that are very close such a simple factor like the steepness of the glacier can determine that a glacier grows or contracts. And glaciers that end in the ocean behave very differently from glaciers that end on land.
You really need an expert glaciologist to make something out of these glaciers growing.


Precipitation is easily the most important factor in glacier growth, all things being equal. Change in the weather pattern bringing more precipitation could easily overwhelm melting from slightly higher tempreratures. The fact that no other possibilities have been considered and discussed casts doubt on the nature of the article.


Looks like “reasonable skeptic” just answered my speculation


And yet the WWF state the glaciers have lost 11% of volume in the past 30 years.
Settled science eh?


@Simon “even in a country (NZ) that has shown significant warming over the last 100 years”
Temperatures across New Zealand have been declining, at least over the last 80 years, according to the raw data.

Gloateus Maximus

Same in the USA.

Gloateus Maximus

It’s only warming in areas in which there are no thermometers, so that NOAA, NASA and HadCRU are free to make up “data”. And where there are thermometers, they “adjust” the readings to comport with the crooked consensus rather than reality, or even worse, now put their thumbs on the “raw” data.


There are eleven airfields around New Zealand, both inland and on the coast, that have been providing long term temperature data. The measuring equipment has not been interfered with over the years with structures built nearby or altered surfaces adjacent to the equipment. The raw data, as supplied by the Met service, shows a slow decline over that time averaging about one degree per century equivalent.

Gary Kerkin

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Studies (NIWA) NZ maintains a record which has achieved de facto status as a national temperature record (not claimed as such by NIWA). The adjusted (homogenised) record shows an increase of around 0.9ºC/century. Fortunately the raw data is available.


All I see is temperature barely deviating.


As the warming is 1C and the x-axis on the top graph is 20C, it would look pretty minor.


“Temperatures across New Zealand have been declining, at least over the last 80 years, according to the raw data.”
Really, let’s proof? Why would NZ be any different to other parts of the warming planet?

Patrick MJD

How many thermometers were there 100 years ago?

Gloateus Maximus

Many parts of the planet have cooled since the 1930s, to include the continental USA. So too probably has the global average, were its books not so thoroughly cooked to a crisp.

Clyde Spencer

A single number such as the global average temperature doesn’t carry a lot of information. What climatologists should be looking at is the behavior of all the different climate zones throughout the world. If any sort of pattern emerges, that may provide insight on what is actually happening. A single number presupposes that CO2 is the driving force and that the entire world responds similarly. However, there is evidence that at least the Arctic is responding in a unique manner. Where else might the Earth be responding anomalously? And why?

Michael Carter

Of late I have been getting friendly cooperation from the lead climate scientist at NIWA, New Zealand. I now have full access to the historical temperature data. This dates back to the 19th century involving scores of stations. For the moment I am fully satisfied the NIWA’s calc that NZ has warmed by 0.9 C over the last century is pretty close to the mark. However, this upward trend is flattening as time goes by as there has been no warming over the last 19 years. The record shows a very slight decline.
As for Fanz Josef here are average temperatures throughout the working life of 3 stations at Franz Josef. Many stations have been closed over the last 20 years as automation took over. The record is remarkably stable throughout the years. Twenty year averages throughout the record all hover around the 11 C mark.
Station A (1953-1990) Average annual T 11 C
Station B (1982-2015) Average annual T 11.15 C
Station C (2013 – 2017) Average annual T 11 C
This record suggests that any change in the glacier is not due to temperature. There is no correlation between the the glacier receding and elevated temperature. Going on the geomorphology (photo) I would say the glacier is near its modern maximum. We don’t see much scouring on the valley walls down slope of the toe.
What is interesting are the records from a number of stations that have backups at the same location. Very seldom do these twin stations record the same within 0.1 C on a daily basis. There is always a 0.1 – 0.2 difference. On some days there are as much as a 0.3 C difference. Only heaps of data will cancel this discrepancy out.

Gary Kerkin

Temperature data for New Zealand is freely available from NIWA’s cliflo database.

Michael, are you intending to publish your results? I do hope so.

Rob R

I have done a cross check on the temperature tend that has been proposed by NIWA for New Zealand. I find the NIWA trend to be substantially exagerated. The primary reason relates to the way they splice together station records for each locality in the seven-site compilation. My conclusion is that the warming trend has been around 0.4 deg C per 100 years. Others have come to basically the same conclusion.

Michael Carter

That would not surprise me


Thanks Michael. Would it be fair to say that the warming and flattening off is consistent with the Solar magnetic activity-water vapor-ocean link postulated by Svensmark and Shaviv and covered a few weeks ago by Anthony Watts here?
That is, does this look like natural (mostly solar induced) warming expected after the end of the Little Ice Age? because it does to me?
Humans will contribute via CO2, but it doesn’t look to me like we are the dominant effect.

Michael Carter

Moa – I don’t know. I will do a study of precipitation at Franz Josef. That could be interesting. Note that F Z is in a coastal zone


I have access to the same data as you, but I see no evidence of a decline. Definitely not one that passes any statistical tests of significance. Same for any sign of flattening by the way.


“What is interesting are … There is always a 0.1 – 0.2 difference. On some days there are as much as a 0.3 C difference.”
That is interesting. How does climate ‘science’ handle that? A major statistical problem for interpolating point-to-area data no?

john harmsworth

Doesn’t that mean that lower air and ocean temperatures correlate with warming? And we’re supposed to nod in agreement and call this science?


This is from the same people who think ‘men’ have vag!nas and ‘women’ have pen!ses. Born that way, dontcha know? /sarc
So why should it surprise anyone that these people think that colder air and colder seas are caused by ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’ ?
Now open your wallets and tug your forelocks to the unelected mandarins at the United Nations. Or else !

Brett Keane

@Simon February 15, 2017 at 11:46 am: Simon, you are lying by half-truth again, like all Marxists. The researching organisation, known as NIWA for short, and its ex-member Renwick, were forced to admit they had ruined the New Zealand 7-station Official T record. In Court, they admitted this in order to run and hide from further investigation, a legal trick. Certain idiots departed, only to be replaced by another (Brandolino?). So, we now do not have an official record because of their tampering. The original, however, shows NO significant longterm T increase over a century.
NZ West Coast glaciers, and some on the eastern Southern Alps, have a short steep run, which can take ice well below the 0C isotherm. They rely on heavy snowfall and fast transit to survive across the lowland where tourists can see them easily. Snow volumes change as cloud rain volumes change, that is, weather patterns.
As elsewhere, our courageous and honest scientists continue to combat the crooks, and creeps like Simon. We will win, and the weather patterns are changing in our favour. Much summer snow this season, nastily cold down south..


“As elsewhere, our courageous and honest scientists continue to combat the crooks, and creeps like Simon. We will win, and the weather patterns are changing in our favour. Much summer snow this season, nastily cold down south..”
Yes well last year the warmest in NZ history… so you are gonna have to find a few more crooks to help you.

Gloateus Maximus

1) Fake record.
2) Allegedly warmest since 1909. Big whoop, even if true, which it isn’t.
NZ and the rest of the world were hotter in the Medieval (~1 Ka), Roman (2 Ka), Minoan (3 Ka) and Egyptian (4 Ka) Warm Periods and during the Holocene Optimum (5-9 Ka), plus of course prior Pleistocene interglacials, the Pliocene, Miocene, Oligocene, Eocene and Paleocene Epochs of the Cenozoic Era, the entire Mesozoic Era (~66-252 Ma), despite being near the South Pole, and most of the Paleocene Era (~252-541 Ma) .

Ian Cooper

Brett, when F.J. & Fox were advancing from the mid 80’s (I made my first visit there in ’84) through to 2008 the official (NIWA) line was that those two glaciers in particular were responding to heavy rain/snowfalls on their neves as a result of increased El Nino patterns in the period. Someone had shown a direct correlation between the rainfall at Hokitika (a small town north of the glaciers) and the advance/retreat of the glaciers. The West Coast (of the South Island) is renowned for it’s rainfall where other parts of the country refer to their annual rainfall in millimetres, on the Coast they talk about rainfall in metres!
In 1984 the viewing platform that I climbed up would be well buried in the 2008 photo. The glacier has undergone a very rapid retreat in the past four years since I last visited them. They are now more like how they were back in the early 80’s or 1970’s. The photo above was taken from a large rocky bluff that was at the terminal moraine back in the late 19th century by the way.
When I visited the glaciers in 2010 I overheard a DoC (Dept of Conservation) guide telling overseas tourists about the effects of global warming on these two glaciers. On my next visit 3 years later I brought along some of my photos from 1984 and showed a few Aussies who became a bit confused because it didn’t gel with the line they were being fed by DoC.

Patrick MJD

I did contract work for DoC and NIWA many years ago, I did not trust their data and practices then and my opinion has not changed since. 7 thermometers to calculate an average for the whole of NZ…no joke! 112 to do the same in Australia…no joke!


Brett, you are lying not even by half truths, but completely, Not even to mention the ad hominems. All the unhomogenised data is available freely. Each “courageous and honest scientist” can look for themselves and if they they are indeed honest and do the calculations properly they will find that it has warmed.

Brett Keane @ 1:09
“…were forced to admit they had ruined the New Zealand 7-station Official T record.”
Is the data lost or can it be recovered? Do you have some links to this tampering?

Rob R

The raw data has been archived in the cliflo database. The database is managed by NIWA. It is publically searchable. You just need a username and password, which can be obtained for free when you register. Basically the temperature and rainfall records, along with humidity, wind, sunshine etc are available in reasonably user-friendly form, including as excel spreadsheets.

Rob R @ 2:47
Many thanks.

Brett Keane

Or, to draw again on Captain Cook, no change since at least 1777!

Localized cooling is double-plus good. I’ve also heard that chocolate ration is being increased.


In Oceania we have always been at war with Eurasia!

Brett Keane

Regional my ahse
That article is about a regional phenomenon. North Atlantic. One of the few places (the only place?) on the globe that has cooled since 1900.

For every complex problem there is a simple answer — and it is wrong.

Global Warming is eventually overwhelmed by extensive Regional Cooling.

Michael Carter

I am not a statistician. But, I have a gut feeling involving probability. Using just 7 stations to establish mean temperature in NZ over the short-term (say 10 years) is precarious. Large areas in NZ recorded well below the 1981 – 2010 average (- 1C to – 1.5 C) for Jan 2017. Nevertheless there were hot spots showing above average. Should any of the stations be in an area that is not representative (highly likely) then results get skewed.
Over 20 years plus, trend results may start to be accurate. However, it would not have been difficult to throw more stations in the mix.
Whatever adjustments that may have been applied to early stations are unlikely to be applied to the current fully automated versions. This shows in the 1998 – 2016 record (very slight cooling).
There is a big difference between adjusting individual stations and a number across-the-board e.g. many early NZ stations were run by the NZ Forest Service i.e. They were located near forest field centres. These pine forests mature inside 30 years. What would you suspect should a notable anomaly occur in these locations? Should it show rapid anomalous cooling through one 30 year period it should be excluded from national analysis (IMO).
Antagonising these institutions leads to nowhere. We need facts. These can only be found through being a seeker (of truth). The scientific method remains the best tool


It’s time we stop these games of filling in geographical areas based on far away neighbour stations. I use the term neighbour loosely. I’d really like to see a lot more climate budget going into covering the World in weather stations and stopping this guess work on land temperatures.
As for the original article, they can’t support their assertion. It is moronic. It’s unusual, but expected? It’s just the mantra of anything and everything, even if they contradict each other, can all be put back at the feet of humans and CO2.


Really, you can just stop at “model”. They are just devices to confirm the “researcher’s” faith.


They will all be melted by 2035 though, because we want to draw attention to the region.

Michael Carter

Accepting that global average temp has increased by around +0.9 C over the last century does not undermine the view that AGM is insignificant. It enhances it. The last 19 years is showing a zero to very slight upward trend depending on the data source. Meantime, CO2 levels continue to rise. This is no longer about the past. It is about the future. Lay your bets folks :-).


That +0.9C could well be due to changes in Solar magnetic activity from the end of the Little Ice Age, with an integration effect due to oceanic heat capacity. Now the Sun is starting to slow down again we’d expect to see that rise followed by a decrease in warming rate. Looks perfectly natural and explainable to me. Humans possibly do have a small effect on top, but we are not the dominant effect.


My bet is the 0.9C is a bit overinflated (from manipulation, raw rural station data shows more like 0.4C over last 100 years). I reckon the rise is largely due to desulpherisation as we move to cleaner burn technology. Less smog and smoke haze leads to increased solar radiation at ground level and higher ground temps. Taking avg of min and max exacerbates that – we should be integrating temp because it’s not gaussian.


Information on global and regional glaciers here.
Shows some glaciers in advance (including NZ), most in retreat. Database of 100,000 glaciers.


1. No, these glaciers are not advancing. On the whole they are retreating as anyone that read the paper, or even only looked at figure 2 (shown by Nick Stokes above) would have understood. The paper deals with advances during a relatively brief period on top of their overall decline.
2. The title of this post is a misinterpretation of the study. The advances are not “a sign of regional cooling”. The regional cooling can simply be measured. Rather the advances are the consequence of the cooling.


The ice in the south pole is growing, not just in New Zealand. chur


The ice in the south pole is growing, not just in New Zealand. chur”
Really?” Sea ice isn’t, in fact at an all time low.


would that taken to mean “an all time low” since 1979 ?! I’m not aware of any data preceding that.
All time is a very, very long time. It’s longer than recorded human history, it’s longer than human civilisation, it’s longer than the history of the planet Earth !!
What it seems you are trying to say is that it is lower than average for the satellite era.


“would that taken to mean “an all time low” since 1979 ?! I’m not aware of any data preceding that.”
Only accurate record we have. Got a better one, let me know.

What do you think of the massive gain in Greenland smb? It is now close to 150 Gt above the average trend line?

Chris Hanley.

That’s only one year, overall during the satellite era the Antarctic sea ice extent is trending up.
These graphs give a much more balanced idea of the global sea ice trends:


Quite true Chris, until 2016, the Antarctic was running at record highs and was steadily increasing. That’s when the mainstream media didn’t like to talk about it. They are in love with the Antarctic now, though, as all the media reports this morning show. All time low! Unfortunately for them, you can trace this back to the start of the melt season. The anomaly didn’t increase or maintain the same, but actually narrowed. Showing that what happened early on in the melt season doesn’t dictate the rest of it.
I’m personally expecting the Antarctic to continue as in the previous decade and post good numbers this southern winter.
It’s interesting how a one season event is now climate change and in the same breath they ignore that magic 30 year number for climate and also ignore the recent record highs. The bias reporting over the Antarctic really does show there is something very wrong with how climate science is discussed.


Chris, the x-axis is so large on that graph that it’s hard to spot anything.
Annual Arctic sea ice decrease since 1979 has been about 3 times as great as Antarctic increase. Global sea ice has trended downward over that time.
I’m not sure if it’s been reported here, but for the same period (the full satellite record), global sea ice has been at record lows every day (for that day of the year) for the last 5 months. The departure late last year was 6-sigma(!) for a month or so. Recently global sea ice hit the all-time low for the period.comment image
Too soon to tell if this remarkable deviation is a harbinger, but definitely worth a mention here, where much smaller blips in climate indices rate attention.


If nothing else, this discussion emphasises the near meaningless of an “average temperature”. It is like measuring the coastline: there are a limitless number of ways you could do it and all would be equally wrong.
This summer in New Zealand has been the wettest / driest / coldest / hottest in recorded history – depending on where you live:
While the parched Port Hills around Christchurch in the South Island are ablaze, much of the “winterless north” is enjoying a prolonged downpour and cool temperatures. Like many kiwis, we rely on tank water at home (rain water stored in a cistern) and (anecdotally) my tanks are still three-quarters full and filling up fast – very unusual for this time of year, in my experience. Meanwhile, the Southern Alps (briefly) had more snow cover over the summer holidays than they had over most of the previous winter.
New Zealand is a small country which nevertheless sees dramatically varied climatic and weather conditions north/south and east/west. It seems impossible to discern any meaning in an “average” temperature for the whole country.


Under that rubric you might have trouble telling Winter from Summer depending on location. But if you average the national weather records over the 3-month periods for each season, the answer will be correct every time. Even if you live calendarless underground.
You can pick Winter/Summer in a given year every time just based on averaged temp data. That’s ‘meaningful’. Averages work.


“Correct” but not helpful. It reminds me of Ford Prefect’s review of Earth for the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which, after Ford’s 15 years’ of field research, was updated from “harmless” to “mostly harmless”.


Not sure what a value judgement has to do with mathematics. You’ll always get a more accurate temperature of an object by averaging a fair sample of it than by focussing on one spot.

Rob Dawg

Glaciers measured in years is politics.
Glaciers measured in decades is weather.
Glaciers measured in centuries is data.
Glaciers measured in millennia is climate.

Michael D

The tour guide at Columbia Icefields said that glaciers grow and shrink based on whether so much snow falls that it cannot all melt during the summer. Thus humidity is a big factor.


“A climate system being modified by humans” — and from that we go to “catastrophic”? That’s quite a leap! Why couldn’t “a climate system being modified by humans” be benign or beneficial? The underlying assumption seems to be that whatever humans do is bad.


Where does it mention ‘catastrophic’ in the paper?
If you’re speaking more generally, deleterious effects in the future are not an ‘assumption’. Yes, they’re estimates based on modeling (and some physics), but not assumptions.
(In case you think i’m an ‘alarmist’, my take is to review the range of projections, from mild to greater, rather than pick one end or the other of the spectrum and announce this is the ‘truth’)