Oh noes! Last remnant of ancient North American ice sheet on track to vanish

From the UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER and the “300 years out canary in the coal mine meme” department, comes this press release with absolute certainty. I tend to ignore any science that uses the favorite phrase of activists “The Barnes Ice Cap is like a canary in a coal mine”.

Study involving CU Boulder shows Barnes Ice Cap on Baffin Island will melt in about 300 years because of warming climate

CU Boulder Professor Gifford Miller, shown here, is part of a team that has found the Barnes Ice Cap on Baffin Island, the last remnant of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, will vanish in several hundred years because of rising temperatures caused by human activity. CREDIT Gifford Miller, University of Colorado

Last remnant of North American ice sheet on track to vanish

The last piece of the ice sheet that once blanketed much of North America is doomed to disappear in the next several centuries, says a new study by researchers at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and the University of Colorado Boulder.

The Barnes Ice Cap, a Delaware-sized feature on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, is melting at a rapid pace, driven by increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that have elevated Arctic temperatures. The ice cap, while still 500 meters thick, is slated to melt in about 300 years under business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions.

The results provide compelling evidence that the current level of warming is almost unheard of in the past 2.5 million years, according to the authors. Only three times at most in that time period has the Barnes Ice Cap been so small, a study of isotopes created by cosmic rays that were trapped in rocks around the Barnes Ice Cap indicated.

“This is the disappearance of a feature from the last glacial age, which would have probably survived without anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions,” said Adrien Gilbert, a glaciologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia in Canada and lead author of the new study published online today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

While the melting of the Barnes Ice Cap will likely have negligible effects on sea level rise, its end could herald the eventual dissolution of the larger ice sheets like Greenland and Antarctica, said CU-Boulder Professor Gifford Miller, a study co-author.

“I think the disappearance of the Barnes Ice Cap would be just a scientific curiosity if it were not so unusual,” said Miller, the associate director of CU Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research who has conducted research on Baffin Island annually for the past five decades. “One implication derived from our results is that significant parts of the southern Greenland Ice Sheet also may be at risk of melting as the Arctic continues to warm.”

Elevated sea rise created by a melting Greenland would automatically cause the Antarctic Ice Sheet, whose dimensions are controlled by sea level, to also shrink in size, Miller said.

The Barnes Ice Cap is part of the Laurentide Ice Sheet that has covered millions of square miles of North America episodically since the start of Quaternary Period roughly 2.5 million years ago. The ice sheet grew and shrank over time as Earth went through various climate cycles, and the ice was a mile thick at present-day Chicago about 20,000 years ago. It started receding substantially around 14,000 years ago when Earth slipped out of its last ice age.

The ice cap stabilized about 2,000 years ago until the effects of the recent warming caught up with it. Miller was conducting research on Baffin Island in 2009 when he realized the ice cap had shrunk noticeably as compared to images from a few decades earlier. He recruited Gilbert and Gwenn Flowers from Simon Fraser to develop a model of how the ice cap might behave in the future.

In the new study, the researchers used their model to estimate when the ice cap would disappear under different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. They project that under all future emission scenarios the ice cap will be gone within 200 to 500 years. For a moderate emissions scenario that assumes Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions will peak around the year 2040, they project the ice cap to be gone in 300 years.

“The geological data is pretty clear that the Barnes Ice Cap almost never disappears in the interglacial times,” Miller said. “The fact that it’s disappearing now says we’re really outside of what we’ve experienced in 2.5 million-year interval. We are entering a new climate state.”

The Barnes Ice Cap is like a canary in a coal mine, said Miller, who also is a professor in CU Boulder’s Department of Geological Sciences. Even if humans stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, the ice cap would still disappear in the next few centuries.

In 2010, the project received a boost from Waleed Abdalati, current director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (a joint venture of CUBoulder and NOAA), who was NASA’s chief scientist at the time. Abdalati supported the flight of a NASA plane monitoring ice loss in the Arctic to revisit the Barnes Ice Cap.

In addition to measuring changes in the ice cap’s height, researchers used ice-penetrating radar aboard the aircraft to reveal its hidden, sub-glacial topography. The measurements were key for the computer model subsequently developed by Gilbert and Flowers to predict the evolution of the Barnes Ice Cap.



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The Barnes Ice Cap, a Delaware-sized feature on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, is melting at a rapid pace, driven by increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that have elevated Arctic temperatures. The ice cap, while still 500 meters thick, is slated to melt in about 300 years under business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions.

I wonder if they used RCP 8.5 for their “business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions” scenario.

Here’s a link to the GRL paper… http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL072394/abstract

It’s not behind a paywall.


How does this cr*p get published?

The abstract says “Measured concentrations of cosmogenic radionuclides 10Be, 26Al, and 14C at sites exposed near the ice-cap margin suggest the pending disappearance of Barnes Ice Cap is very unusual in the last million years”, yet the text says “Marine oxygen isotope stage (MIS) 5e (~125 ka) was exceptionally warm because of favorable tilt and precession orbital configurations; all of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is thought to have been ice-free then [Koerner, 1989]”.

So evidence indicates all of northern Canada was ice-free 125,000 years ago, yet modeled disappearance of the Barnes Icecap is “very unusual”. Bogus

Exposure-age estimates based on Be, Al, and C isotopes are full of assumptions and statistical “phrenology”, and are in no way “absolute ages”.

In fact, the paper states “Although an infinite number of combinations of exposure, burial, and erosion can explain the measured CRN inventories in many of our samples, the known timing of the cyclical glaciation-interglaciation (burial-exposure) histories of these samples significantly limits the range of geologically reasonable scenarios”.

So, they have a couple of data points from a few samples, throw them into a whirly-gig of models of models, and conclude “all is doomed, sooner or later”. Wow, I’m shocked

I was a Geology grad student at Univ Colorado at the same time as Giff Miller in the early 70s. He’s been studying Baffin Island for over 40 years, and this is the best his grad students can do?

Time to retire.


This is excellent news. I bought Barnes Ice Cap futures and have secured the rights to build a Tim Hortons on the Cap, once it melts. My investment is paying off!!!

Robert of Ottawa

Am I going to far in my investment in Baffin Tropical Resorts inc?


That will certainly stop the glacial melt!


It’s great news for you and a disaster for me. I had plans to open the world’s first ski resort for nudists there. When the news broke my backers left like rats from a sinking ship.

Karl Compton

Easy fix — water ski resort! The crutch-makers might sue you for cutting into their business, though.

John M. Ware

How soon can I move up there and plant banana trees? Wouldn’t “Baffin Bananas” be a catchy product name? Or perhaps hops, so someone could market “Baffin Beer” or “Baffin Brew.” Just a thought . . .

“The ice cap stabilized about 2,000 years ago”

All this foolishness is predicated on this straw man argument which presumes that the climate is absolutely stable?


Of course, there were several “probably’s” , “may’s’ and the definite “almost never” in the article.

John B

These are the same scientists who can’t tell us why the last Ice Age ended. An area 1,000 times bigger than the Baffin ice shelf disappeared over several hundred years without manmade CO2. Why-who cares?

“We can’t explain the recent past, but we can accurately predict the future.” In any other business these guys would be in jail or bankrupt – probably both.

Strictly speaking, from a geological perspective, we are still in an Ice Age. We are in one of those relatively comfortable times called an interglacial, which simply means that the ice coverage is at or near the minimum, but way above zero. To get out of our current Ice Age, *all* of the perennial ice has to melt or sublime.

Alan Robertson

OT, but a first at WUWT??? An entire post just disappeared.
By the numbers: Lifetime Performance of World’s First Offshore Wind Farm “
What’s up with that?


I brought this to our host’s attention, and amid the site’s other issues, he is looking into the disappearance.

It’s back.


Still there for me. Try forcing a browser refresh (Ctrl-F5 in Windows).

It briefly vanished.


It’s either Soros or the Russians.


I suggest coining a new name for these people: glaciophiles. It seems that they reaaly, really like glaciers, and probably won’t be happy until they are under a mile thick one 🙂

I really, really like glaciers too. I just prefer that they move away from, rather than toward, the equator.


For the record, I have nothing against glaciers. As my mother is Austrian, I have probably spent more time than most people on glaciers, up in the Alps. I can tell you that they are unpleasant and very dangerous places. Give me the tropics any day of the week!


No mosquitoes on the glaciers means they’re safer for humans than the tropics are. In fact if we looked at glacier deaths v tropic malaria deaths we’d find a strong climate change correlation. (ARC)

NW sage

No mosquitoes is good. It means no yellow fever etc and that means a LOT more humans live.

Mark Luhman

As far a glaciers or the tropics is a good place to live for humans the tropics is where billion of humans live, glaciers very few it it over a few thousand it would surprise me. The tropics won that since it were humans evolved from.


NW Sage, how does that work out on a per capita basis? I suspect you will find more people in the tropics than on top of glaciers.


I like the timeline. It will happen sometime 300 to 500 years from now. Scotty will be able to save the glacier by then, just like he saved the whales.

Figure S3 from their SI…
comment image?w=680


It appears as if the Barnes Ice Cap is doomed in all three RCP scenarios.

Dale S

It also appears from figure S3 that the pre-1950 melt rate is also sufficient to get rid of the glacier , if continued. Figure 2B illustrates annual rates of changes, almost all of the historic values are negative. There was a sharp increase in loss in the 20s or 30s to over -5G, which then steadily reduced up to the point the calibration starts — I wonder what the effect on the model would be if the calibration had started in 1920 or 1880 instead of 1960, though I don’t know when the local temperature data is first available. As it stands, the loss rates indicated by geodetic data in the post-1960 period don’t appear remotely unprecedented.


Thoss plot all seem to be representative of the “gram of data/kilo of inference” problem. There’s more “inferred” than proven.


Arrgh – “Those plots …”

NW sage

First I ever heard of being able to date things (accurately?) using cosmic rays – suppose I wear a tin foil hat, does that make me younger? I seriously wonder about the peer reviewed basis for those so called thickness measurements. And THEN using that as input to a … model … which of course, like ALL climate modes stuff has been thoroughly peer reviewed and demonstrated to repeatably and accurately produce consistent results when run both backwards and forwards. RIGHT!

Svend Ferdinandsen

These two dots are the measurements, and then comes the predictions.
I wonder what they would think if it was gaining mass. Would that be good or would it be bad.
Or you could ask if it is good that we are not in a glaciation time. In the 1960-70 we where all scared by stories of the coming glaciation.

Robert of Ottawa

I can tell how poorly received would be the news that “Glaciers Move South Toward the Outtaouais” around here.

It’s easy when you plug in the doom model.


It probably melted away during the previous interglacial, the Eemian, which was warmer than the Holocene and lasted longer than our current interglacial has so far as well.

It naturally fluctuates during warmer and colder spells.

Miller is making a career out of outlandish alarmist pronouncements after his junkets to the Canadian Arctic.

Bryan A

This could be easily varifiable by drilling an ice core down to bedrock and dating the ice. Perhapps earlier melting events have left a base that is 1-200,000 years old and a mid range that is 20,000 years old. Or, if it had completely melted in the past, the base would be no older than the last complete melt period.


Can’t be done. There is pleistocene ice at the bottom of the icecap, but this ice-cap has a very marginal position relative to the old Laurentide ice. The old ice in it was originally far away to the west and much higher. It is only possible to find the history of an ice-cap from an ice core at an ice-divide, where the ice hasn’t moved sideways, and in this case there is no such place.

Well that is convenient, or inconvenient.

Bob Kutz

“Only three times at most in that time period has the Barnes Ice Cap been so small, a study of isotopes created by cosmic rays that were trapped in rocks around the Barnes Ice Cap indicated.”

So . . . it’s been larger, and then three times in the past, as well as currently, it is this size . . . ?

And its our fault and its an emergency???

Alarmist FAIL!

Excellent point.

Gunga Din

The last piece of the ice sheet that once blanketed much of North America is doomed to disappear in the next several centuries, says a new study by researchers at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Yet another “doom and gloom” prediction/hypothesis that can’t be tested until far beyond anyone alive today ability to verify.

(Maybe they should photoshop in a cuddly polar bear on the ice behind the guy in the picture?)

Robert of Ottawa

The last piece of the ice sheet that once blanketed much of North America is doomed to disappear

And I say “YAY!, just what the world needs! More Canada!”

There are lots of people in India and China that need some elbow room. And people in the US that need healthcare.


Doomed to disappear…unless it gets colder instead.
And if it disappears?
Then what?
A somewhat less frigidly frozen wasteland.
The horror!
What irks me the most is how he starts off with an iffy prediction based on a computer game, and one sentence later it is a done deal and has already happened.
Warmista jackassery at it’s very finest.


(Maybe they should photoshop in a cuddly polar bear on the ice behind the guy in the picture?)
& a penguin;
plus where are the pictures of a flooded city complete with rescue boat http://www.somewhereinitaly.it/individuals/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/venice-discovery-1.jpg

This has been going on for 20,000 years,

Barnes Ice Cap
The ice cap contains Canada’s oldest ice, some of it being over 20,000 years old.[2] It is a remnant of the Laurentide ice sheet, which covered much of Canada during the last glacial period of the Earth’s current ice age.


If I owned a swanky bar, I’d hire someone to get me a half-ton of that 20,000-year-old ice and offer it in drinks for a premium. Imagine making margaritas from Laurentian glacial remnants!

Caligula Jones

You laugh…but here in Canada, there is a commercial where a couple of urban hipsters row out to an iceberg to chip off some ice cubes…

I’m not laughing. If I did own said bar, I’d figure a way to get said ice.


Articles like this should be forwarded to our new “climate surgeon” Scott Pruitt, so he can immediately excise the problem – funding for stupid stuff!!!!


Even if humans stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, the ice cap would still disappear in the next few centuries.

…oh well

Frederick Michael

Thanks Latitude. That’s worth a bookmark.

And here I thought there was hope fore the human race, I don’t know if I should cry (for them) or laugh out loud.

Patrick MJD

Keep it up, keep the wailing going, heavy breathing etc, it helps the trees grow, all that extra CO2 don’t you know.


A $1 million grant compounded annually for 300 years at the rate of scare inflation is worth speculation or even certainty statements. Where are the Canadian researchers on this?

Ron Williams

The lead author was Dr. Adrien Gilbert from Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver. Was a collaboration between Canada and Colorado. SFU churns out socialist leaning leftists and was principally responsible for convincing the BC Liberal party to implement the carbon tax in BC in 2008. The one that ‘everyone’ says is revenue neutral and the best designed CT in the world. Of course it isn’t revenue neutral, since it is mainly essentials we must buy up here where it is winter 6 months of the year. And with the BC provincial election on May 9th, there is plenty of money to splash around to buy the election. It is really a wealth transfer from the poor to the upper middle class with a large cut going to Govt for admin.

I suppose the alternative is worse with the NDP socialists. And absolutely Catastrophic with the Green Party, whose leader is the infamous Dr. Andrew Weaver, a former climate science (mathematics) prof from UVIC at Victoria, the other one who sues his critic’s for libel (money) God help us all if a ‘real’ climate scientist gets into power.


Along with the usual pearl-clutching, they managed to introduce the birth of Christ as the beginning of all this instability. Bravo.

But Jesus will save us. He must have started this global warming scare. Mann is an imposter.


Funny, but this kinda reminds me of the “Snow Pack will disappear from the Sierra Madre Soon!!!!” story.


The Barnes Ice Cap is like a canary in a coal mine, said Miller…


I thought Trump was. Or Obama or Bush or Clinton. How many canaries in the coal mine can there be?

300 years? A chunk of ice in the high arctic? No one cares, and it doesn’t matter. In fact, good riddance. Maybe some caribou or something will be able to use the new found land (woops, we already have a place called that).


The ice is gone. Yea. Plant potatoes!!!!

Richard G

We’ll plant potatoes on Mars before we can plant them on the Barnes Ice Cap.


I thought they already did. Didn’t they make a documentary on that this past year?


Canadian Forces Base Alert (Ellesmere Island) current temperature -24F
Frobisher bay (Baffin Island) current temperature -1F (long-john weather tomorrow -17F)

I wish it would hurry up and disappear. That way Barnes woild be out of a job and stop wasting junket money.

Bruce Cobb

Alarmists love their canary-in the coal-mine meme. It’s part of their harbingers-of-doom syndrome. These so-called “scientists” are actually doomed to go the way of the Dodo bird. Thankfully.


What’s funny is every single canary they have claimed would die is still chirping merrily away it seems. Can anyone here remember any instances where a canary in their coal mine died? Here are just a few examples of the many that were predicted to die that are still chirping.


The only thing these canaries need to worry about is old age.
And cats.

This is the new title to the Game of Thrones sequel — “All Glaciers Must Die”. I mean what good are immortal glaciers anyway?

A quick search of old papers and scientists were making similar claims until 1950, then
New york (a.p.) . —
For some time now
there has been a scientific
suspicion that the world’s
many icebergs are melting
into the world s oceans.
This is .not true, says
Dr. R. P. Goldthwait, of
Ohio State University.
– The Arctic Ice cap at Baffin— a
part of the huge glacier sheet that
once covered ‘ the midwest of the
United States— actually is getting
larger, he reports.

That’s funny, the bit on the graphs above covering 1900 to 2000 doesn’t show the size growing in 1950. Oh, wait! The blue line isn’t actual measurements, it’s “historical forcings!” So the hindcast gets the 1950’s wrong, but the forecast is good out to 2400.

Standard climate science methods and results.

+100 Robert B and tw2017!

Jaakko Kateenkorva

“The results provide compelling evidence that the current level of warming is almost unheard of in the past 2.5 million years, according to the authors.”

What is almost unheard of? The moraine deposits count only partially? Or Australopithecus afarensis Lucy et al started it?

Robert of Ottawa

I for one salute our new ice-free country.


Maybe he should move onto tropical glaciers and get more travel points on the taxpayer dime.

“ike polar ice caps, tropical glaciers that are located high in the equatorial mountain ranges are disappearing due to global warming.”


James J Strom

“The Barnes Ice Cap is part of the Laurentide Ice Sheet that has covered millions of square miles of North America episodically since the start of Quaternary Period roughly 2.5 million years ago.”

Drive a stake through its heart.

Should we be worried. Even in an ice age the ice in the arctic region was probably the same as today.

“The Arctic Ocean between the huge ice sheets of America and Eurasia was not frozen throughout, but like today probably was only covered by relatively shallow ice, subject to seasonal changes and riddled with icebergs calving from the surrounding ice sheets. According to the sediment composition retrieved from deep-sea cores there must even have been times of seasonally open waters.”

J Mac

Linear thinking in a cyclical world…. Max Photon

Isn’t the Juneau Ice Field also left over from the North American ice sheet?
At 1,500 sq miles, it is almost the size of Delaware, 1,954 square miles. It is much deeper than The Barnes Ice Cap – as much as 1,370 metres (4,490 ft) thick at Taku glacier (which is growing in mass, by the way).
“Since 1946, the glacier has been monitored by the Juneau Icefield Research Program, which has documented its rate of advance since 1988 at 17 metres (56 ft) a year. The advance is due to a positive mass balance; that is, more snow accumulates than snow and ice melt.”
Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taku_Glacier

The Juneau Icefield has been retreating since 1700. Not sure how thick it was 20,000 years ago compared to the Barnes Ice Cap, when the ice was a mile thick in the Chicago area.

The Last Glaciation – Northern Hemisphere – included Juneau: https://www.iceagenow.com/Ice-Age_Maps.htm

Moderately Cross of East Anglia

Three hundred years? I can’t wait…oh drat none of us can! They get paid for this drivel?


Yes, they get paid…highly paid, with our hard earned tax dollars.
Imagine that.

Wow- getting paid to watch ice melt and play computer games. It doesn’t get any better than that!

David L

I stopped reading at “…develop a model of how the ice cap might behave in the future.”. This is where the article diverged from science to #fakenews.


It is hard to believe that grown men are making lucrative careers out of inventing Chicken Little fantasies straight out of their over-active imaginations, and not only are half the adults in the World buying their nonsense, but calling them scientists.
I am reminded of a scene for a great movie:


LOL in Oregon

All I can say about this “research” is:
a) I hope no public $$ were used, and
b) Haaaa, Haaaa, Haaa, Haaaa, Haaa!


Rather than simple rejection, have you any alternative science to submit to CUB ?

One doesn’t have to be a great scientist to spot a bad one.

All those great scientists who make drugs that don’t work are laughing all the way to the bank. Is that a problem?


The sine qua non of “science” is the testing of a hypothesis. Computer models can’t test a hypothesis – they can only flesh out the details of a hypothesis. Since this paper merely rests on the theoretical output of a computer model, it by definition is not “science” at all, so I don’t know what you mean when you suggest that Anthony should present “alternative science.”

WTF. Why CUB? Based on the criteria of Obama administration, it has the same credibility as Pravda.

James at 48

What about Greenland? It is somehow not part of the Pleistocene remnant? A remnant unlikely to decline very much prior to the end of the interglacial.


On a shorter time scale,we call this “spring.” Evidently in some quarters, it’s unwelcome.


Edward Ingold

Isn’t much of the Arctic almost a desert at the present time? Lack of snow and lots of dry wind. I would suspect more ice lost to sublimation than melting. Similar circumstances to Mt Kilimanjaro.

Paul Penrose

According to some, soon it will be to hot to live anywhere except the poles, so it’s probably a good thing that the ice is melting there. /sarc


Step right up. Watch the weather change. It’s been happening for eons on a scale that is pert near unfathonable. Except for the enviros, They have it all figured out.

Ron Williams

I was surprised to learn a few years ago that the Columbia Icefield on the Continental Divide between Jasper and Banff, had all the glaciers melt by about 7000 years BP and that the glaciers that are there now and receding since the Little Ice Age cooling were formed new again from scratch just in the last 5000-6000 years. (Sorry I have no source for this, but would appreciate confirmation if others also know this. I heard it on a radio interview of a glaciologist that was drilling the icefield) The wiki article does’t go into much detail about the the actual icefield dynamics, other than they are now melting away again since 1850.

So things would have had to have been extra extra warm after the Younger Dryas period circa 12,900 years BP. to melt away that much ice so quickly from a full blown ice age when there would have been much more ice than all of present Antartica. That would be a lot of heat, some say more than can be accounted for by than just much warmer temperatures in the first optimal climate warming that lasted maybe 3000-4000 years. So, we now know that the climate was much warmer 7000 years BP and if I understand correctly, the oceans were a fair bit higher than today. So why do they say now is is an unprecedented warming in earths history? And how are they able to get away with it, with most everybody actually believing everything they say, and I am an ignorant denier that knows nothing. And then Gov’ts impose taxation to stop the ‘sea level rise’ and issue decrees that we will keep earth’s warming to less than a two degree warming, and we are apparently already 1.1 degrees up since 1850, a hundred years well before any significant use of fossil fuels. I guess you just have to follow the money…and influence of power. But that a majority of people still believe this has me wondering about the theory of the wisdom of the crowd.

Unfortunately, even today, Canada’s major conservative news paper has an article about the gloom and doom of too hot to now survive. It is so depressing just reading this claptrap from supposed people who actually went to University. I am now so suspicious of all science that makes me not believe any peer reviewed science paper from academia. I guess doom/gloom sells more papers, and also helps academia get research funded for the alarmism that politicians can take us all to the cleaners on, and they use this carbon tax revenue to get themselves re-elected. Please someone, tell me how have they been able to get away with this for so long? I am not stupid, and I know when I am being played…


Smart Rock

No news there Ron W. We all knew that 2016 would be the warmest ever years ago. And we know that 2017 will be warmer than 2016, and 2018 will be warmer than 2017, and 2019 will be…. (you get the idea). Don’t know why they bother trying to sound surprised when they control the outcome by cooling the past. Plus, calculating the global average by gridding of very irregularly spaced data points opens up all kinds of opportunities to tweak the outcome by varying the gridding parameters without having to change any of the data.

Once in a while we get a year that’s cooler than the last one by a few hundredths of a degree, just to make it look real.

That “few hundredths of a degree” is in no way justified by the accuracy of the instruments, either. The thermometers used in the weather stations are only accurate to what, +/- 0.5 C? It’s impossible to statistically justify using those to claim accuracy to two decimal places.


Many of earth’s glaciers have formed recently. The Holocene Climatic Optimum, which ended around 5000 years ago, finished off many glaciers. Some reformed during the increasingly cooler cold periods in between the subsequent warm periods, each less balmy than the preceding, ie Egyptian WP (c. 4 Ka), Minoan (c. 3 Ka), Roman (c. 3 Ka) and Medieval (c. 2 Ka). Big surprise! We’re in the Modern WP, right on time, and yet again less warm than the preceding one, following the coolest yet cold period, the LIA.

The trend is not our friend.

chris moffatt

“I think the disappearance of the Barnes Ice Cap would be just a scientific curiosity if it were not so unusual,”

Not the least unusual. The ice has been melting and receding ever since it started shrinking when it covered Manhattan at the start of the current interglacial. In fact there’d be no Barnes Ice Cap if all the rest of the ice wasn’t already gone. It would just be an indistinguishable part of the enormous mass of ice extending to the mid-Atlantic region.

Someone should tell these genii at Boulder about interglacials; the knowledge obviously hasn’t penetrated. As for Simon Fraser University? Right…..

tony mcleod

A 300 year event for only the third time in 2+ million years is an extreme out-lier. It means some climate conditions are changing much more rapidly than they usually do. Whether rising gas levels in a mine are an appropriate metaphor remains to be seen.

Dale S

As yet there’s no “300 year event”. There’s an ice cap that may melt all the way — that according to their figures has been melting as far as they go back, which is only the late 19th century. And it’s a tiny remnant of a massive ice field that melted to allow this interglacial — just as it has for all the other interglacials in the last 2 million years, none of which we have hard information about how rapidly they changed on an annual basis.

Given that this is a remnant of the same mighty field that ended the previous interglacial, “canary in a coal mine” would only be appropriate if the ice cap was growing instead of shrinking. The end of an interglacial *really would be* catastrophic climate change. In the unlikely event that AGW prevents the next glaciation, it would qualify as massively beneficial climate change.

tony mcleod

“In the unlikely event that AGW prevents the next glaciation, it would qualify as massively beneficial climate change.”

Ok BAU, move along, nothing to see. But if there is anything “massive” it will certainly be beneficial. Awesome for you the science is in and your optimism unbounded.

Patrick MJD

The output of this study is based on a model.

Dale S

Are you seriously claiming that the end of the glaciation would not constitute catastrophic climate change? This really is settled science. The short-lived ice age scare of the 70s didn’t end because there was any doubt about the negative effects of returning to glacial conditions. It ended because we were warming.

What I’m most curious about is this claim in the conclusions:

“The Laurentide Ice Sheet retreated throughout the Holocene, until finally reaching an approximate mass balance equilibrium ~2 ka and stabilizing as Barnes Ice Cap. After 2000 years of little change in its dimensions, recent observations show that the ice cap is now losing mass at all elevations, despite the continued decrease in summer insolation [Berger and Loutre, 1991].”

Checking the references shows Berger and Loutre to be concerned with the decrease in summer insolation, not the stability of the ice cap for the last 2000 years (which also had decreasing summer insolation, of course). Meanwhile, their figure 2 shows a steadily *declining* ice mass balance as far back as it goes, shrinking about 10% in less than a century prior to the calibration period (starting 1960), despite minimal anthropogenic forcings in that period. Nowhere in the article is this discussed. That the ice cap *would have* survived this interglacial absent anthropogenic forcings is not actually either claimed or modeled.

Paul Penrose

OK Tony, I’ll bite. What caused it the other times? You know, before man was putting CO2 into the atmosphere. I know you don’t know; it’s a rhetorical question. The point is, whatever caused it before could be in play now as well. This is why the “it must be us” argument does not get any traction here.

Paul Courtney

Oh, and those 3 other times, it went into a positive feedback catastrophic death spiral hot house earth, from which the earth never recovered. Right? We know it didn’t, maybe the death spirals of old didn’t happen because there were no prophets of doom back then?

Med Bennett

More than 99% of the ice that’s melted since the end of the last glacial maximum melted long before humans began emitting greenhouse gases in any significant quantities. I don’t think it’s something to fret about.

^ My comment on the Facebook post by the local Boulder Daily Camera on this story, which was featured prominently. I alsoposted the chart of Holocene sea level rise. Interestingly, I got very few responses, two likes and no one called me a denier, an idiot, or a fossil fuel shill.


Their projections are based on CMIP5 which begs the question reagarding the climate effects of CO2 and has been wrong in terms of predictions. The predictions thay have made are just fantasy. They did not say much about what happened to this patch of ice during the Eemian, when temperatures were higher than today, sea levels were higher, and there was more ice cap melting.

Jeff Alberts

I always read that as CHIMP5, and picture 5 chimps battering away on computers to come up with some random climate catastrophe. Apparently it’s not an infinite number of monkeys needed, only 5. 😉


I resemble that remark!

Puh-leez! Chimps and humans are apes, not monkeys.

(“Monkey” is a paraphyletic group, anyway, since we apes and Old World monkeys are more closely related to each other than either clade is to New World monkeys.)

Jeff Alberts

Master Primate, you have my abject apologies!


The GCM is basically a weather simulation that thy have modifyed to run long enough in finite time to simulate climate change. The weather simulations are not very good past 15 days but they ignore that fact. They have increased the spatial and temperal sampling intervals so that the simulation of climate for several decades can be performed in finite time. The increaseing of the sampling intervals adds to the instability of the whole process but they just ignore that problem. The weather simulation does not have code to acount for any changes in CO2 so they just add code that adds warmth to the system as a function of increasing amounts of CO2. They are guessing as to how CO2 affects climate so they generated a plethora of different models to cover their guesses. The computer results are just as they programed them to be since they have begged the question. The fact that all of their results do not adequately predict what has actually happened does not seem to bother them. They should reach the conclusion that the range of their guesses as to the climate sensivity of CO2 are all wrong but no, apparently they have concluded that Nature has been wrong and they are in their right to adjust what nature has done in order to fit their models. In the end they have spent a lot of money but have learned nothing. It is all politics and not science.

michael hart

The ice cap, while still 500 meters thick, is slated to melt in about 300 years under business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions.

Then there is still time for him to take a little skiing vacation on it.


Makes it sound like it is as certain as a train schedule, rather than a wild ass guess straight off the top of his head.


I suppose we file this one with “The end of snow” doomsaying, and the “Arctic ice-free by 2014” fearmongering…as if an unfrozen ocean is a fearsome thought?
Yup, right into the same file…the circular one.
With the rest of the worthless trash.


It is rather strange that this study comes to exactly the opposite conclusion compared to a much larger study in West Greenland, just across Davis Strait. And that study used a considerably more sophisticated method to calculate exposure time:



It has been proven that a number of medium altitude glaciers in the French Alps had completely vanished during the roman and medieval optimums. The 16th-19th Little Ice Age made them reappearing in the shape we know them currently, on the way to slowly vanish again
If the Barnes Ice Cap is undergoing a similar fate, who cares ?

NW sage

Perhaps Barnes cares – whoever that is! I’m not sure I’d like to be named Barnes and having a completely melted ice cap on Baffin Island blamed on me. The horror!

Walter Sobchak

“The last piece of the ice sheet that once blanketed much of North America is doomed to disappear in the next several centuries”

Next several centuries?

tony mcleod

Yeah. Geological time is just incomprehensible to some people.

“Geological time is just incomprehensible to some people.”

It’s much worse than that Tony. Some claim mankind can adjust the climate and place their ideal at the end of 1800’s.

Presuming this adjustment is possible, why to the little ice age? When year without summer/crops starved to death 15% of my people? When even more had to abandon their homes to survive? Mass immigrating to foreign lands across the ocean?

Why are my people purposefully forced to this type of terrible choices again? I want an explanation, particularly from you as the loudest proponent of this crime against my people on this website.

““I think the disappearance of the Barnes Ice Cap would be just a scientific curiosity if it were not so unusual,” said Miller, the associate director of CU Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research .. “

Last time I visited New York it was completely free of ice. Likewise Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec and other cities. Has Miller been there recently?

Another Colorado hit piece?
A Bogart hit or not.
But it does bring into question about what is being smoked in Colorado.

The alleged research is melting ice. Yet the cover photo is Boulder CU Professor Gifford Miller is picking through what looks to be pieces of jasper. Is he looking for jasper shards and flakes from the passage of man?
That would be a major story! Finding flaked stones from under the last of a piece of ice age ice. That would throw the whole out of Africa concept into a spin.

Then again, it could be flakes from passing primitive hunter bands; especially if the ice builds and then retreats.

Which brings up the question whether any one bothered to try and actually determine age of the ice in question?
Maybe, if the Colorado whiz professor bothers to check, he could find his own WWII debris and ponder why ice age frozen water has war debris in it?

Then again, if they were serious they would have wondered how far the ice retreated during previous warm periods and how far the ice advanced during the cool periods.
Nope, they’re only interested in studies that result in doom and gloom.