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)

212 thoughts on “Study: Advancing glaciers in New Zealand are a sign of 'regional cooling'

  1. 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 . . .

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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!

      • 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.

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

      • 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 🙂

    • 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.

    • 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.”

  2. “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.

    • 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

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

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

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

    • 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.

      • Malcom,

        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 !

  3. 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?

      • HenryP
        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.

    • 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.

    • 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).

    • Warrick,
      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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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

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

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

  10. 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.

    • “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.

      • “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.

  11. 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.

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

  13. 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. @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.

      • 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.

    • “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?

      • 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.

      • Simon,
        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?

  17. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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?

  18. 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 !

  19. @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.

      • 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) .

    • 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.

      • 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?

      • 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.

    • 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.

  20. 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.

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

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

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

  26. 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.

  27. “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’)

  28. Perhaps it is just a little “regional warming” since 2008, no worries !
    Your “regional cooling” may return, who knows.

  29. This summer in NZ, Westland is having their wettest summer in 16yrs, according to locals. This, in a province that measures annual rain in metres, many of them. The Alps, over 3000m, will be getting a huge snowpack. This might surprise people in a few years, down below. Precipitation is what it is about mainly, not Temp, which is level over time….

    • .glaciers elsewhere in the world have been retreating (except for the very highest) at an increasing rate in the last 2 decades. That’s an absolute fact.

      Griff, you know that that statement is incorrect and yet you continue to peddle such an incorrect assertion.. Several times these past couple of weeks, I have referred you to the recent Fernandez Fernandez 2017 paper on the Greenland Glaciers.
      This paper confirms that there has been a dramatic slow down in the retreat of the Greenland Glaciers. It concludes that of the total retreat these last 150 years, approximately 80% had taken place by 1946, with only 20% of the retreat after 1946.
      One of the Glaciers studied showed that approximately 90% of the total retreat had taken place by 1946, and only 10% of the retreat after 1946.
      For those not familiar with the Fernandez Fernandez paper, it can be found set out at
      To summarize the findings;
      As from the end of the LIA (which for some Glaciers was said to 1868, and for others 1898) through to 2005, the average retreat of the Glaciers studied was some 1334m. Of this 1334m, some 1062 metres had taken place by 1946. Only 272 metres of retreat had taken place after 1946.
      The finding was that from the end of the LIA to 1946, the average rate of retreat was 15.3 metres per year. Wheras after 1946 through to 2005, the average rate of retreat had slowed down to 4.7 metres per year.
      So one can see rather than glaciers retreating at an increasing rate, the rate of retreat has dramatically slowed to about one third that seen up to 1946.
      This is perhaps not that surprising since apart from one year in 2010 (coinciding with the strong El Nino that year) , the temperatures in Greenland have not been as warm as they were in 1940.

    • The ice accumulation zones for our West Coast glaciers recieve water-equivalent annual precipitation of around 4 metres to 16 metres depending on the location. Out at the coastline precipitation is around 2.5 to 3.5 metres. Overall it’s a fairly moist climate.

      • Looking at the map (greenland) provided by richard,it looks as though the central ice cannot escape at all easily .the glaciers can only descend from the ring of mountains.i am interested in the comment by Dixon that the area is geologically looks as though it may be the crater or caldera of a volcano .iceland ,not far away is well known a s very volcanically active ,hot springs etc .some ice mass may also be lost due to adiabatic winds(chinook/foehn type ) .these are common on Greenland (see DMI) &are not considered as being due to general warming .average july temp, warmest month , for Nuuk(coastal ) is 8 c elsius .

  30. Well, it is aberrant behaviour, isn’t it? And regional?
    glaciers elsewhere in the world have been retreating (except for the very highest) at an increasing rate in the last 2 decades. That’s an absolute fact.

    • See my comment above that has been misplaced.
      In Greenland, there has been a dramatic slow down in the rate of glacier retreat.

    • Griff
      In addition to the Fernandez Fernandez 2017 paper, you should perhaps also read the Nesje et al 2008 paper on Norwegian Glaciers.,%20present%20and%20future.pdf
      Rather like the position in Greenland, the substantial retreat took place by 1950, and since 1950 the rate of retreat has dramatically slowed (see Fig 4). In fact, there was hardly any retreat of the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier since 1960 to 2000.
      Not simply has there been a dramatic slow down in the rate of retreat, some Glaciers have even advanced since 1970 through to 2008.
      The position with Glaciers is far from straight forward, and is not as you are portraying.

    • Griff your wonderful, last two decades eh, sorry for the repeat on the same page,
      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.”

    • One of the few facts in this debate is an individual glacier’s extent. Their general recent retreat is made much of. What is rarely mentioned by those with money in the game is how variable glacial extents have been over recent times. Glacier extent is not simply a result of temperature, precipitation is also important. I certainly would rather live in a world 2C hotter than now, than one that had mountain valleys buried under 2-3km of ice, so if I had a choice between continuing the current warming trend and initiating an unpredictable cooling one, I’ll take the known entity of warming thanks.
      As has been mentioned, Global Temperatures are nothing more than a statistical concoction. Climate is cyclical and brings winners and losers, those are also facts. The point is any problem so complicated it requires a global solution is – so far at least – impossible to solve. Adaptation to what actually eventuates is a far more useful and productive approach.
      I found these interesting:,867.100.html

  31. Not mentioned here is that there are many hot springs bubbling up all of the place at both locations, I have been to both when I lived in NZ. Hot water, hot rocks and geothermal activity would not have any effect, has to be CO2 induced warming eh?

  32. These comments from the authors made me chuckle.
    “The dramatic retreat of Fox and Franz Josef glaciers since 2011 may be the first sign of this rapid mass loss. Finally, we suggest that future warming of the Tasman Sea, such as that experienced in the austral summer of 2015/2016 (ref. 41), will lead to enhanced rates of ice loss, due to the close relationship between Tasman Sea surface temperature and New Zealand glacier mass balance demonstrated here.”
    If you check out the Full Global SST Anomaly chart for now you can’t but help notice the large pool of dark blue surrounding New Zealand. Quite the opposite to last year, and by their own account ideal conditions for mass accumulation on our two famous glaciers. We’ve also been under the Zonal hammer of Jetstream winds from the west to south west over the spring and weak summer. More ideal glacier building conditions!

  33. What sort of tedious accountant person decided that if was 20 degrees day and night all year, life would be super. The waves of weather chaos are the beating heart of the planet, ride them and smile. It snowed in summery Queenstown a few weeks ago. The adaptable kids next door put away their swimmers and went snowboarding.

  34. One of the deliberate misconceptions behind cAGW is that there is such a thing as Global warming. Climate is regional, and so too is the nature of change.
    Some areas of the globe are cooling (eg., the US has cooled since the highs of the late 1930s/early 1940s), Antarctica appears to have cooled these past 40 years (at any rate apart from one small coastal area), some parts of the globe there is no warming (eg., both Iceland and Greenland were as warm in the 1940s as they are today), some parts of the globe there is all but no warming, eg., the equatorial areas, some parts there is extremely modest warming, the mid latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, some area more noticeable warming, eg., the mid latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, and some areas where there may have been appreciable warming, eg the very high Northern latitudes (save other than around Iceland and Greenland).
    cAGW cannot admit that
    Global warming does not exist, since to do so would invalidate the assertion that Global action is required. To admit this would inevitably lead each country to consider what impact warming has on it, and whether it would be beneficial for that country. Self interest would dominate, and the prospects of the hidden agenda behind the cAGW scare, ie, global government would be unattainable.
    It is not only New Zealand where temperatures may have declined. The other day, NoTricksZone had an article on Germany’s tallest mountain, Zugspitze, which located in the Bavarian Alps near the Austrian border, which is far away from urbanization. It has cooled by about 3degC these past 30 years, viz:

    • Some areas of the globe are cooling (eg., the US has cooled since the highs of the late 1930s/early 1940s)
      Apparently not. You can adjust the variables at that link if you think the period selection is wrong. I chose the warmest year in the 30s – 1934 – as a start point.
      Or perhaps you are using a different dataset? it would be good to check the dataset that underlies your claim.

    • Antarctic shows slight warming since the 50s – verified by the skeptics that audited the Steig paper (they found half the warming Steig did).
      There is an area of the North Atlantic that has been cooling long-term. [Anomaly map]

  35. MODS
    May I suggest that someone posts an article on the recent Fernandez Fernandez paper studying the Greenland Glaciers. This paper provides a useful perspective on Glacier retreat in High Northern Latitudes, and it makes clear that there are many glaciers that rather than retreating at an advancing rate, are in fact retreating at a very much slower rate than was observed up to 1946.
    The paper can be found free (not paywalled) at:
    If an article on this paper was posted, it might stop some well known warmists who (rightly) frequent this site from continuing to peddle misleading factual assertions that:

    glaciers elsewhere in the world have been retreating (except for the very highest) at an increasing rate in the last 2 decades. That’s an absolute fact. my emphasis.

    PS. I take it that the reference to “very highest” is a reference to altitude.

  36. “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”
    ‘But where is the support for this claim ?’
    Well you just read it in Nature Communications silly. Do they have to write it in bold type for you?

  37. One must wonder what would or could possibly occur which would not be consistent with a climate system modified be humans? There is no conceivable scenario in which this claim can not be made. All change and even no change can be retro fitted into the human modification mold by simply modifying the model to fit. The only thing you need to remember is that humans are the cause, regardless of the change. It’s really just that simple.

    • No they haven’t
      In 2014, 21 snow patches survived the summer in the Scottish Highlands.
      In 2015, 74 patches survived.
      In 2016, only 6 patches survived
      The main Scottish ski resorts were closed in January 2017 because of a lack of snow

      • Richard,
        In 2013, 6 surviving patches were reported.
        In 2012, 2
        In 2011, 6
        In 2010, the year I started paying attention, I saw snow in mid-summer on Cross Fell in Cumbria. I can’t find overall summaries for 2010 or earlier, but it appears to be the year when many others began wondering what was up with that snow. For decades prior to 2010 (since 1960s?) snow surviving summer was an extremely rare event, so we can confidently fill that range with zeros, or maybe ones, because Ben Nevis seems to have always had a minimal amount in a deep gully on the north slope. Now it has multi-year ice that is deep and well-exposed.
        What window size for trend detection makes you comfortable given this series?

    • Hello Gene,
      It’s a fascinating subject for many enthusiastic hill-walkers, skiers, and general lovers of snow, and receives an amazing amount of attention and analysis.
      A guy called P.C. Spink used to write an article each year for the magazine “Weather”, in the 1970s and 80s, . detailing which snow patches had survived where, and it was a rare year when there were no survivals. There was obviously far less coverage from phones, drones and internet in those days, and one could get the impression that he’d visited every patch himself.
      For the last 20-odd years, Iain Cameron ha co-ordinated the task, and his efforts were supported by a multitude of observers, originally on the website winterhighland, and more recently on Facebook.
      Snow patch survivals for the last 21 years have ranged between zero (3 times) and 6, with the exception of 5 years, namely
      2000 (41)
      2007 (9)
      2008 (12)
      2014 (21)
      2015 (74), which was the highest since 1994.
      I was really trying to point out that the remarkable summer snow survivals of 2014 and 2015 were rather rare, In 2015, the winter was quite mild, but extremely wet, so there was very little snow below 600 metres, but huge amounts above that level. Most of it was driven on strong south-westerly winds, which caused it to accumulate to large depths in north-east facing gullies, thereby being well-protected from summertime melting.

      • Point taken, Richard.
        My sample is clearly smaller than your sample (even though I tried hard), and even your sample is probably just a subsample. But I still find it unbelievable that a resampled trend would look drastically different. There are other things beyond snow survival that are kind of asking to be linked to glacier formation, like, for instance, the death of palm trees almost everywhere north of London. Even on the west coast. Again, I may have been very unlucky to have mostly seen the dead ones after 2010, while having no recollection of any sort of massive die-off prior to that. Another possibly related metric was how many times and for how long I could go swimming every year.
        Curiously, I have visited old homes in Yorkshire that had skis and sleds stored in the attic. I wonder whether their proprietors were compulsive hoarders or simply had foresight about the fragility of future trends.

  38. Most of the world’s glaciers are advancing.
    Before you reflexively contradict this, consider that most of the world’s glaciers are probably in Antarctica. 1619 of them to be (approximately) precise:
    And the majority of them are most likely advancing.
    Especially if you exclude those retreating due to local volcanism i.e. the western peninsula.
    Bipolar seesaw means that glaciers are retreating in the NH and advancing in the SH.
    And the SH has more of them – most, of course, in Antarctica.

    • The World Glacier Monitoring Service is a database of 100,000 glaciers worldwide, 85% of which have retreated. Even if every glacier in Antarctica (per the study you cited) was advancing, this would still mean that most glaciers in the world are in retreat.
      But not all glaciers in Antarctica are in retreat. The Antarctic Peninsula, which protrudes from the Antarctic ocean and wind gyres that keep the Antarctic (relatively) thermally isolated from the rest of the world, has about 87% of glaciers in retreat.
      It may well be that glaciers elsewhere in Antarctica are mostly advancing, but that would not change the conclusion that most in the world are in retreat.
      That the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed strongly – with concurrent glacier retreat – is evidence the bi-polar see-saw is not much in effect in modern times.
      (The chart therein is of 30,000 glaciers worldwide with long-term records)
      (Antarctica and glaciers)

    Sent from my ASUS Pad
    Watts Up With That? wrote:
    > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ Anthony Watts posted: ” 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 “

  40. Its a local reward for the Kiwis being so green, and hydro-ey and thermaly n stuff. This is why more windmills in Australia will save the Barrier Reef. Its obvious really.

    • I didn’t know the Greenies had put put windmills on the reef but I’m always learning new things about this sustainability stuff.

  41. This is bad for the more extreme claimed warming trends — any regional cooling trend should strongly limit how much the overall globe could have warmed during that period, not so much because of the effect on the average as because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This isn’t an area that just warmed slower, this region actually got colder while everything around it got warmer.

    • At the very least, there must be some explanation for the changing equilibrium conditions at the boundaries.

  42. There must have been weather down there in New Zealand. Glaciers moved forward some, moved back some.
    That’s consistent with global warming. That’s also consistent with global cooling. That’s also consistent with global not much is really changing.

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