Catastrophic Meltdown of Canadian Ice…


Guest post by David Middleton


A precious collection of ice cores from the Canadian Arctic has suffered a catastrophic meltdown. A freezer failure at a cold storage facility in Edmonton run by the University of Alberta (UA) caused 180 of the meter-long ice cylinders to melt, depriving scientists of some of the oldest records of climate change in Canada’s far north.

The 2 April failure left “pools of water all over the floor and steam in the room,” UA glaciologist Martin Sharp told ScienceInsider. “It was like a changing room in a swimming pool.”

The melted cores represented 12.8% of the collection, which held 1408 samples taken from across the Canadian Arctic. The cores hold air bubbles, dust grains, pollen, and other evidence that can provide crucial information about past climates and environments, and inform predictions about the future.

The storage facility is normally chilled to –37°C. But the equipment failure allowed temperatures to rise to 40°C, melting tens of thousands of years of history. Among the losses: some of the oldest ice cores from Mount Logan, a 5595-meter-high mountain in northern Canada. “We only lost 15 meters [of core], but because it was from the bottom of the core, that’s 16,000 years out of the 17,700 years that was originally represented,” Sharp says.

Scientists also lost 66 meters of core from Baffin Island’s Penny Ice Cap, which accounts for 22,000 years—a quarter of the record. That leaves “a gap for the oldest part, which is really the last glaciation before the warming that brought us into the present interglacial,” Sharp says.



Apparently the meltdown was due to two three malfunctions:

Investigation points to two malfunctions

An investigation into the freezer malfunction found fault with the cooling system. Specifically, the refrigeration chillers shut down due to “high head pressure” conditions. Essentially, the chillers were not able to reject their heat through the condenser water system—heat instead of cold circulated through the freezer.

Compounding matters, the system monitoring the freezer temperatures failed due to a database corruption. The freezer’s computer system was actually sending out alarm signals that the temperature was rising, but those signals never made it to the university’s service provider or the on-campus control centre.

In the short term, refrigeration technicians are monitoring the freezers through twice-daily checks, Sharman said. The computer database corruption was resolved by adding a second monitoring controller, which is now issuing real-time messaging updates every eight hours.


University of Alberta

  1. The “chillers” circulated heat through the freezer.
  2. Database corruption prevented the alarm signals from reaching their destination.
  3. The failure to visually inspect the freezers on a daily basis before 1 & 2.



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April 10, 2017 12:52 pm

There’s a strong temptation to say how convenient…..

Reply to  David Middleton
April 10, 2017 1:37 pm

Database corruption…..wait for it……Russians

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
April 10, 2017 2:31 pm

Sounds like a perfect opportunity for a little Field Work recoring the ice

Rhoda R
Reply to  David Middleton
April 10, 2017 6:59 pm

Bryan A’s comment is on target. Just go out and recollect the cores.

Robert Austin
Reply to  David Middleton
April 10, 2017 7:24 pm

Bryan A,
But the cores are irreplaceable because Griffy assures us that the Arctic glaciers have all melted.

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
April 11, 2017 6:24 am

Careful there, the Griffmeister is like old Lord Moldywart, you invoke his name and he magically appears

Reply to  David Middleton
April 11, 2017 8:36 am

Bryan A, that was exactly my first thought. Even if the glaciers have melted a bit, that is only a few years lost. Fire up the coring machines and get some new cores.

PS, I wonder what power source the coring machines use?

Reply to  David Middleton
April 11, 2017 3:15 pm

Yah–a few too many coincident “failures” to be, uh, “coincidence.” Methinks we’re hiding more inconvenient truths . . .

Reply to  Latitude
April 10, 2017 1:03 pm

First thought as well. If these cores were so important, then it is sheer incompetence to have let this melt occur.

Reply to  goldminor
April 10, 2017 1:12 pm

In the real world, anything that important is not only monitored using multiple independent systems, but regular tests are made of all components to ensure that they are working correctly.
For example, you would throw a switch on the thermometers to cause then to send out alarm signals and it would be verified that all the proper authorities received a notification in a timely manner.

Reply to  goldminor
April 10, 2017 1:29 pm

Dog ate my homework?

Reply to  Duncan
April 10, 2017 1:34 pm

Lack of pride in the work environment.

Reply to  goldminor
April 10, 2017 2:00 pm

It was sheer incompetence to not have redundancy in the cooling system and the monitoring system, Maybe even more incompetent to not have split the cores (lengthwise [timewise]) in tow and store them in two different facilities. Sort of like the CRU losing the raw data because they couldn’t afford a server. If you are spending tons of our (taxpayers’), at least show some sense and spend it wisely. But, of course, these are scientists, not engineers – never, ever consider the possibility of failure and provide for it.

Reply to  goldminor
April 10, 2017 3:00 pm

Computers enable mass incompetence to happen and delving in and determining the reality of the situation takes too long so people let it slide:

– “My machine crashed.”
– “I got hacked.”
– “I can’t do that because I need an upgrade.”
– “Oh – that was autocorrect.”
– “There is no backup.”
– “The file got corrupted.”
– “I’m waiting for IT to fix it.”
– “Typo.”
– “I wrote that all by myself.”

Reply to  goldminor
April 10, 2017 3:11 pm

Puts a whole new light on ‘the warm bias’ in data adjustment!!

Reply to  goldminor
April 11, 2017 8:44 am

Canadian incompetence on display

Reply to  goldminor
April 11, 2017 10:00 am

If they were under my control I’d have had sirens fitted. seriously, I would .. not just one either.

Reply to  goldminor
April 11, 2017 1:45 pm

Incompetence?… I can just imagine the newly indoctrinated, scientifically trained climate scientists getting their new ice cores. Get to the top of a high, snow covered mountain, find a nice slope of appx. 45 degrees, start drilling down the side of the mountain slope at 45 degrees and there’s yer new ice core.

Ron Williams
Reply to  Latitude
April 10, 2017 6:35 pm

New Democrat Party (NDP) socialist/commie gov’t elected less than 2 years ago has a goal of outright destroying Alberta. Very similar and maybe even worse than South Oz…a real basket case of governance.
This is the Gov’t that had just cut rapid initial attack for forest fires after being elected, and then Ft. McMurray burns down and they try and blame it on climate change. Sad.

Dave in Canmore
Reply to  Ron Williams
April 11, 2017 11:31 am

Ron Williams says “This is the Gov’t that had just cut rapid initial attack for forest fires after being elected”

I disagree with Alberta NDP on nearly everything but firefighting money ALWAYS comes out of emergency budget due to the wild swings in resources required from year to year.. Their claims that fires had anything to do with climate are as you describe it, sad. But you can not claim that budget shuffling in any way impeded fighting the Ft. Mac fire. The real culprit was dry, warm winds and poor fuel load management. After that, all the money in the world cant stop a fire like that as any seasoned fire fighter will tell you.

Ron Williams
Reply to  Ron Williams
April 13, 2017 4:05 pm

Sorry Dave in Canmore, you are outright wrong on this and ask why you are providing cover for NDP in Alberta? A little biased are we? This story below was published April 19th, 2016, and the Fort Mac fire started May 1st/16 causing $3.58 billion (insured damages); and $9.5 billion (direct and indirect costs) which was almost equal to the entire budget deficit of over $10 Billion this fiscal year. It is absolutely despicable that any Gov’t would cut budgets to fire fighting, but this is what happened. Don’t lie for the NDP Dave. The result of the cutbacks caused the confusion that led to a momentary delay when they could have had a chance at knocking that fire down.

Furthermore, it was absolutely declared as a human caused fire, with lightening having been completely ruled out. Some theorize it was a wildfire 15 Km out of town that was the cause of the fire. But a second fire was already burning within town in the north end near a garbage dump, and resources WERE NOT immediately dispatched to it, but were dispatched to the the fire burning 15 Km out of town.

“Complicating matters was a second fire burning at the same time within Fort McMurray near an industrial area in the city’s north end. That fire was moving up a hill towards a row of houses on May 1. Mr. Spring says that fire crews had to decide which to tackle first: the fire in a remote area south of town or the one bearing down on homes.

Video from May 1 shows tankers dropping fire retardant in Fort McMurray as helicopters poured buckets of water. Crews had decided to confront the blaze burning in the industrial north end–because it was first spotted within the city it doesn’t have a wildfire name like MWF-009.

“The choice had to be made between fire 009 and that second fire headed towards houses. Five out of five times anyone would choose to go after the second fire,” Mr. Spring said.

His company wasn’t asked to dispatch a helicopter to MWF-009 on May 1. Within two hours that fire had grown to 60 hectares, fed by strong winds. The first evacuation notices went out before dusk that evening.

Fort McMurray’s 80,000 residents were evacuated two days later, on May 3.”

Reply to  Latitude
April 10, 2017 7:20 pm

Gosh! Surely you not hinting at some sort of conspiracy rather than cock-up! That would be a foul slander on scientists who we know are of the highest integrity. I am shocked – shocked that any such suggestion could even be conceived. let alone expressed in public. I have never heard of
(Continued on page 94)

Reply to  Latitude
April 11, 2017 10:18 am

It’s worse than we thought. Global warming is now causing ice cores to melt inside of freezers. The warming has truly become “global.” We will have to move freezers off planet if we want to keep things frozen.

Rob R.
April 10, 2017 12:55 pm

Problem with temps noted. 37C is way above freezing.

Rob R.
Reply to  David Middleton
April 10, 2017 1:12 pm

I’m guilty of missing the minus sign and stand corrected.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Rob R.
April 10, 2017 3:30 pm

I can tell you those things make researchers go more than Hmmm. Freezer failures were a bain where I was facility manager for a state college with research facilities. The problem was that the low bid got the sale, so we had cheap stuff.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 10, 2017 3:54 pm

They should consider themselves lucky that ice cores merely melt and don’t get rancid like tissue in a medical lab freezer.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 10, 2017 4:16 pm

The biggest problem is that they outlawed the only refrigerants that work in a cascading cryo-system without reaching ridiculously high pressures. newer refrigeration equipment is much more prone to freon leak-down failures.

April 10, 2017 12:57 pm

They had better get out and cut down some old trees and start counting the rings to make up for the lost data.

Reply to  rocketscientist
April 10, 2017 3:02 pm

Just go back to the site and get another core, I’m sure the ice is till there…

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Yirgach
April 10, 2017 3:58 pm

I saw on Ebay that supplies were limited. Better act now before they’re all gone!

April 10, 2017 12:57 pm

I’m a software developer. It simply is not smart to rely on software for something this important, if there are other options.

Software’s greatest risk of malfunction occurs when something unusual happens – the code to handle unusual situations is rarely executed and difficult to test, so it is the part of the system most likely to harbour undetected defects.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 10, 2017 1:10 pm

Also lack of backups and monitoring of critical systems.

Reply to  jaxad0127
April 11, 2017 12:32 pm

“The first shuttle had 3 computers that did all flight calculations.”

Flight Control Software is still written that way. A single specification, but three separate programs written by three separate software teams, if possible using three different compilers.

Reply to  jaxad0127
April 12, 2017 10:07 am

When I worked at Rockwell/Collins we supported 3 to 5 computers, however they were all our computers and all used the same software.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 10, 2017 1:15 pm

It’s not that hard to test, all you need is a proper test rig. Either the hardware is set up to use a variable resistor to represent the temperature measuring unit (or voltage input if that is the kind you are using).
Then switches and lights to represent the other inputs and outputs of the system. Then you can completely exercise even the most unlikely of scenarios.

I’ve built systems like that this to emulate nuclear power plants. A single thermometer for a single room should be trivial.

Reply to  MarkW
April 10, 2017 1:17 pm

Even without that, you can put the sensor in a box, use dry ice to cool it and a heater to warm it. Then go ahead and test every scenario in your test suite.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  MarkW
April 10, 2017 3:15 pm

Yes, I built a small model of a grain mill once that I was rewriting the control software for (because the original developer was incompetent). All the sensors were represented with simple switches and the motors/actuators with LEDs. This allowed me to test every conceivable failure and operating condition. The new software not only was reliable, but also helped find faults with the hardware (bad relays, bypass diodes, etc.).

The kind of software monitoring mentioned in the article is quite simple by comparison, and not that hard to test, as you mentioned. Testing the complete system from time to time would have uncovered the corrupted database and probably saved the ice cores. There really is no excuse for this level of incompetence. The solutions for these kinds of problems are well known and commonly implemented.

Ron Williams
Reply to  MarkW
April 10, 2017 7:46 pm

Perhaps having an analogue back-up alarm independent of any digital higher tech, would at least alert the problem to those responsible for the maintenance. If it had its own redundant back-up analogue alarm separately with its own sensor etc, in conjunction with the main digital alarms, then the analogue alarm bells would have been ringing the problem regardless of the high tech monitoring equipment. Sort of like having an analogue volt meter wired independently into a electrical panel for a visual back-up of a digital meter. (in case the display burns out) Those damn cosmic rays…

Reply to  MarkW
April 11, 2017 7:56 am

The first shuttle had 3 computers that did all flight calculations. The calculations were compared against each other before any decision was made. Two of the computers were made by one manufacturer and the 3rd was made by a different one. This helped to ensure that all three computers wouldn’t make the same mistake because they all had the same software bugs.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 10, 2017 2:09 pm


I come form an aviation background with computer-controlled, FBW / FBL, uninhabited aricraft. We ALWAYS include software in our flight control systems to “handle the unusual situations” – at least all the ones we can anticipate. That’s the purpose of safety cases. You are right, it is difficult to test, but it is better than a smoking hole in the ground.

And I have to disagree – unless you are working in AI with fuzzy logic, software never malfunctions – give it the same inputs, you get the same outputs. Now, in my experience, failures owing to hardware inadequacies have often been blamed on “software glitches”. Ain’t fair. Also, of course, if you chosen to use a computer language known for inadequate design, such as doing garbage collection poorly, or not cleaning up unused allocations, or handling thrown exceptions poorly, then maybe you can call that software failure, as it is a failure in the language choice / design. But there are languages out there that can be used and are better designed / implemented.

Now, having disagree, it is merely a gentleman’s disagreement – please keep up your articles.


Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
April 10, 2017 2:41 pm

Tge fact is that random errors can and do occur. Most are probably the result of stray cosmic particles, but we obviously cannot be certain. Others are, as you say, the results of programming errors, and as software becomes increasingly complex, they are more difficult to diagnose. As we start getting AI to develop software, this will get much worse.

The best solution is multiple identical redundant systems, allowing a consensus. I believe this is what is done in space missions. This cannot rule out hardware faults, however, and as I understand it, the Intel 386 chip is the only verified bug-free hardware in common use.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
April 10, 2017 3:40 pm

The punchline to the joke is “I think we should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again.”

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
April 10, 2017 3:42 pm

All good Jim. I doubt aviation QA standards were being applied in this case 😉

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
April 11, 2017 8:01 am

While working at a large avionics company, I had to write the software that performed the power on self tests for the error detection circuitry for the memory modules. There was a trick that allowed us to deactivate the circuitry long enough to write bad data to the memory locations, then when we read it back, it would trip the circuitry.
To the best of our ability, every circuit in the hardware was validated each time the system was powered up.
PS: If you think Unix takes a long time to boot up, you should have seen these systems.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 10, 2017 4:25 pm

As a fellow s/w developer, I tend to agree with you in general. But s/w specifically designed to monitor temperature not being tested to detect high temperatures or complete loss of data? Kinda hard to believe.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 10, 2017 5:42 pm

Yes, it is like backing up data. It happens every night without fail, but it’s only when you lose the original data, and try to restore that you find that the backup process had a bug.

Reply to  Stan
April 11, 2017 12:18 am

I thought that you should always do a test restore of the backup to make sure that the backup was valid.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 11, 2017 8:16 am

Eric, this is exactly the sort of thing fire alarm systems handle all the time with great reliability. Commercial fire alarms that report to a central station send a test signal every day. Under the latest code a test signal will be required 4x a day. There is no excuse for not using some similarly reliable system to monitor the situation.

April 10, 2017 12:59 pm

Well it looks like they will just have to make it up as they go along then.

Reply to  jones
April 10, 2017 1:30 pm

so normal procedure then

April 10, 2017 1:01 pm

Keep in mind – the ice is still there, albeit not in the warmed up freezer, but Baffin island is still there and the bottom of the ice is still reachable! All is not “lost” – just what had been archived!

Reply to  tomwys1
April 10, 2017 1:31 pm

My thoughts, too, tom … it’s not as if those glaciers are going anywhere for the next few thousand years, at least … particularly the ice at the bottom of the coreholes. All it takes is time and money to recollect.

April 10, 2017 1:01 pm

They can just drill, baby drill!

Steve Lohr
April 10, 2017 1:03 pm

Inexcusable! System checks, eyes on monitoring and backup must be in place. To claim a perfect storm of failures is to show incompetent planning and poor execution of preventive protocols. Somebody didn’t do their FMEA!!!!

Reply to  Steve Lohr
April 10, 2017 1:18 pm

The fact that the database corruption had not been detected shows that they were not running periodic systems checks.

Greg F
Reply to  MarkW
April 10, 2017 1:47 pm

Database corruption??? … Red flag here … Seems this is a ‘it’s nobody’s fault excuse’ since the consequences would likely result in someone getting terminated.

Alternate scenario. If somebody did something stupid like use their own credentials when setting up the system and said person is no longer with the university and said persons credentials were disabled, well … The system would no longer have valid credentials to communicate with the database. I have seen this scenario played out a million times. The person either doesn’t understand or decided’s they will create a service account later but never gets around to it. If the said person’s supervisor is still around it may not be career enhancing to be responsible for loosing such a valuable asset.

Reply to  MarkW
April 10, 2017 2:00 pm

I’m a software developer too. I have a hard time believing “database corruption“. Especially database corruption going undetected.

April 10, 2017 1:06 pm

It is because of all the Donald Trump cut backs

Reply to  Lawrence Todd
April 10, 2017 1:18 pm

Trump controls the budget of the University of Alberta?
The man has more influence than I imagined.

Reply to  Lawrence Todd
April 10, 2017 2:36 pm

I’m expecting more data/evidence destruction during Trump’s administration, to be blamed on budgets etc. while hiding the decline, and other lies.

Jimmy Haigh
April 10, 2017 1:06 pm

Why not just freeze them again?

Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
April 10, 2017 1:17 pm

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get 16000 year old Freon to re-freeze this with?

NW sage
Reply to  FerdinandAkin
April 10, 2017 6:01 pm

How convenient the cores were only 16,000 yrs old. If they were 32,000 yrs old you would find that 32,000 yr old Freon is IMPOSSIBLE!

Steve Fraser
Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
April 10, 2017 1:19 pm

Would that be ‘flattening the data’?

Bryan A
Reply to  Steve Fraser
April 10, 2017 2:36 pm

True Homogenization

Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
April 10, 2017 1:38 pm

The ice is meaningless. It’s the captured air holes. Once the air in the holes got out, refreezing is pointless.

Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
April 10, 2017 3:56 pm

Bottle the water and sell it to those who would use water to ruin a good single malt.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  RayG
April 10, 2017 4:27 pm

Maybe it’s all a coverup for a bunch of grad assistants stealing the ice for mixed drinks, because, “16,000 year old ice, man!”

How does anyone know the water on the floor is REALLY from the ice?

Reply to  RayG
April 10, 2017 4:52 pm

if you’re going to ruin 100 year old Scotch, you may as well use 17,000 year old water. it at least SOUNDS classy. ^_^

Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
April 10, 2017 5:43 pm

Pour the water into ice cube trays, and see how you go.

Dodgy Geezer
April 10, 2017 1:08 pm

Let’s get a book going on how long it will take before this is claimed to be Trump destroying climate data…

April 10, 2017 1:09 pm

” Christ, 7 years of college down the drain.”

Reply to  Scott Frasier
April 10, 2017 5:13 pm

Thanks for that memory…

Reply to  Scott Frasier
April 10, 2017 5:48 pm

Comment of the day.

April 10, 2017 1:10 pm

Database corruption? Not again.

April 10, 2017 1:09 pm

“depriving scientists of some of the oldest records of climate change [16,000 years out of the 17,700 years] in Canada’s far north.

Hahaha. Everybody knows there was no climate change before 1850.

Reply to  BallBounces
April 10, 2017 2:30 pm

The records are still there as tomwsy1 so aptly pointed out. Just no longer in the laboratory.

Bryan A
Reply to  rocketscientist
April 10, 2017 2:37 pm

But without the original data source they can’t verify that their adjustments go in the proper directions

Pop Piasa
Reply to  rocketscientist
April 11, 2017 1:12 pm

Bryan A, those old records have been sufficiently disproved by the latest methods of consensus that people could not detect or record the proper temperatures before computers and satellites were in place.

April 10, 2017 1:14 pm

Well it looks like they are just going to have to go 100% with sophisticated computer models of the ice now.

April 10, 2017 1:17 pm

Well, some entrepreneurs used iceberg water to make signature vodka…
Just sayin’

April 10, 2017 1:17 pm

Am I reading this right? The article has ice floating around that’s 16000 yesrs old? Meaning the artic has never been ice free this entire interglacial?

Reply to  Mark
April 10, 2017 1:18 pm

Doh! The artic not article

Bryan A
Reply to  Mark
April 10, 2017 2:40 pm

These are Ice Cores on Land Fast ice

Reply to  Mark
April 10, 2017 1:36 pm

There is very little Arctic Ocean ice older than 5 years (about 3% of total in 2012)comment image

Reply to  Mark
April 10, 2017 2:56 pm

Mount Logan is the highest mountain in the Canadian Arctic. Not sea ice. Glacier ice.

Ron Williams
Reply to  ristvan
April 10, 2017 6:47 pm

Not really in the Arctic per say, but in the southern Yukon at 60 degrees, 34 minutes North, sort of close to Alaska. Ok, splitting hairs…

April 10, 2017 1:25 pm

How the heck does a freezer become a sauna? When my freezer fails it eventually goes to 0C not 40C.

Reply to  Scott
April 10, 2017 2:44 pm

Mine goes to room temperature, about 30C where I am.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Scott
April 10, 2017 4:14 pm

Their explanation is wrong and shows no understanding of how these systems work. The most likely cause is the tripping of the high pressure safeties as stated ( for any number of reasons), with the result being the constant input of heat from the evaporator motors which may run continuously even though the compressors are not. Still some questions I would have about that. 25 years as a journeyman refrigeration tech , system designer and even salesman (under duress). With a well insulated room, even lighting can drive up temps quite quickly and to pretty high temps. Lots of big evap fans running? – X 10.

Reply to  Scott
April 10, 2017 7:01 pm


sigh /sarc

Peta from Cumbria - now Newark
April 10, 2017 1:26 pm

So what’s the problem – its just the same as Kriging, averaging or hommorogerising the data.
Saves a muppet from getting it wrong in Excel. and I’ve always said that an analog computer will gives better answers than any digital one.
Climate Science finally moves on

April 10, 2017 1:27 pm

Top of the range smart freezer’s software hacked by Russian hackers loitering about Canada?
(just wondering)

john harmsworth
Reply to  vukcevic
April 10, 2017 4:21 pm

What’s the medical concept? When you hear hoofbeats, don’t go looking for zebras? Most likely garden variety incompetence. Most mechanical engineers know next to nothing about refrigeration, most University purchasing departments know nothing about hiring competent firms and have to take the lowest bidder with at least superficial qualification. I also worked a lot with controls companies, ALL of which were generally lacking in knowledge of what they were controlling and how those components worked and worked together. I saw dozens of screw ups like this, just none so spectacular.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  vukcevic
April 11, 2017 8:26 am

The next university department that shells out coin for a “top of the range” freezer will be the first. Gotta cover those “fees” for university “overhead” related to the program. Forget about top-of-the-line equipment.

April 10, 2017 1:29 pm

No problem in line with normal procedure in climate ‘science ‘ they will just ‘model the problem away’ and of course they can always refer to the magic tress. Heck the science is so ‘settled ‘ there is hardly any need to collect ice cores now , as they ‘know ‘ the result then want .

M Courtney
April 10, 2017 1:31 pm

In any other field of science this would be assumed to be incompetence.
But Climatology is known for it’s convenient accidents. Remember that poor tree on the beach?

After all, handing over data only let’s people find out when you are wrong, to paraphrase the scandalous Climategate emails.

April 10, 2017 1:31 pm

MSM Report

“Unprecedented warming results in Catastrophic melting of century old Canadian arctic ice”

R. Shearer
Reply to  scottmc37
April 10, 2017 3:32 pm

+1 Major headline.

April 10, 2017 1:34 pm

The Russians hacked UA.

Ross King
April 10, 2017 1:35 pm

Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta, with her Green Agenda and buddies (likely left-wing so-called intellectuals @ U. of A.) might be asked to account for this inexcusable event. Are these data not as important as Dead Sea Scrolls (and the like) and what opprobrium would be visited on the so-called guardians of the Archive in *that* circumstance?

April 10, 2017 1:36 pm

It was all down to the routine update of the software….it seems some of the coding had come from the Mann Hockey Stick data….and it, being corrupted, did likewise to the freezer control software.
Afterall, that makes inevitable sense….adding corrupt data, forcing warming!!!

April 10, 2017 1:37 pm

I am sure it is Trump getting rid of the evidence. We were warned about this.

Reply to  Ken
April 10, 2017 4:03 pm

I guess Justin Trudeau really is an airhead if he is letting Donald Trump control Canadian universities.

April 10, 2017 1:37 pm

I wish I could blame this on climate warming crowd, however I’ve been involved in a number of “university” projects, and the ignorance of your average professor even the most basic of quality control is amazing to me.

April 10, 2017 1:38 pm

Actually, it was the use of solar panels in mid-winter, during the night that caused the failure. Her highness wants to shut down our coal fired plants in a few years, so maybe that reliable source of solar/wind will be much better…. /sarc….

David L. Hagen
April 10, 2017 1:42 pm

When “whoops” is not acceptable, its time to call in engineers skilled in Mission Critical Facility design and operation. e.g. FTCH

has applied our highly capable engineering staff to address the challenges of Mission Critical Facilities. These include data centers, high performance computing suites, operations centers, nanotechnology facilities, vivaria, and other research and scientific facilities. Research and computation are expensive and time consuming endeavors. Our systematic process for systems definition and design enables us to excel with these complicated and difficult facilities. We work to make sure that facility constraints do not limit mission success. We go well beyond the traditional belt and suspenders design approach and deliver the true value of a facility or system built to respond to an owner’s needs.


Mission-Critical Backup Redundancy SACOM hardware platforms can be configured for total
redundancy for belt and suspenders reliability. The system automatically detects a system fault and
seamlessly switches to the backup system. In addition, an alarm is immediately sent to the technical staff,
informing them of the fault, and what must be done to rectify the situation.

Type B Systematic Errors
Related are the problems of Type B Systematic Errors which can equally destroy the objective scientific basis of models and measurements.
Now how can we have NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation Program engaged to thoroughly vet all Global Climate Models to verify and validate that they comply with the purpose of providing objective data information to politicians and the public, free from Type B systemic error and political biases?

Tutorial on CFD Verification and Validation
How can we require that all climate modelers take NASA’s Independent Validation and Verificationcourse?

On Type B errors, see NIST: 2.5.4. Type B evaluations
and BIPM GUM: Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement

April 10, 2017 1:42 pm

The real failure was to delay processing the cores. Analysis should be done soon after collection of vulnerable samples.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Gary
April 10, 2017 2:10 pm

That may well have been done. However, it is so difficult and expensive to obtain the cores that they are archived so that they can be used if a different question arises that the cores can shed light on. Also, as technology advances, more information can be gleaned from the archived cores as a check on the original results.

Reply to  Gary
April 10, 2017 2:57 pm

These cores were analyzed. They were then archived for future reanalysis and reference.

Reply to  ristvan
April 10, 2017 5:36 pm

A very long way from ice cores I know but when farmers take soil samples for analysis across fields it is a requirement that those samples be taken at certain spaced and regular intervals in that field to achieve a reasonable level of accuracy in the final laboratory analysis of minerals, fertiliser levels and etc in that field.

As somebody who is quite ignorant about the statistics involved in the accuracy of the data from each of the one off and quite isolated ice cores that are taken from the various global deep ice deposits on the planet;

What is the true, real world statistical accuracy of the analysis and consequent data from each of these single one off in location and depth and therefore time, ice cores ?

How many similar in depth and etc ice cores from close and adjacent coring locations would be needed to statistically verify the validity of the data supposedly derived from each of these deep ice cores?

Why in fact whilst the coring equipment and living quarters and back up equipment are all in place for a major coring operation in admittedly very harsh conditions, a second set or preferably more of adjacent verification cores not drilled and archived to remove any doubts about the statistical validity of the data being collected from those cores?

Why isn’t there a policy of both collecting a grouping of cores to enable verification of any analysis and data from that grouping of cores plus a policy of locating and housing those precious cores in quite separate and distinct locations to counter episodes of the now quite regular and not at all unusual scientific incompetency such as we see described in this case?

April 10, 2017 1:44 pm

Reminds me vaguely of a freezer in a university pharmacology department that was filled with the carcasses of experimental animals that had been injected with radioactive tracers.

When the freezer failed, the whole contents melted into a single stinking, radioactive soup. Then, when freezer function was restored, the soup froze into a solid block. The whole thing now was of course too heavy to be moved, so it just stayed there for years, with nobody having a frigging clue as to disposal. Happened a good while back, but might still be there …

William Mason
April 10, 2017 1:46 pm

Too much head pressure happens when someone overcharges the system with too much refrigerant. This causes the compressor to shut down within a short time of starting to avoid damage. It is usually caused by a technician used to working on systems that takes more refrigerant and assumes this system is the same. I would bet this system was redundant with more than one compressor but if someone overcharged each of them then they would all fail. Just my guess.

April 10, 2017 1:46 pm

How long before the conspiracy boys start pointing accusing fingers at those who would profit from the meltdown? Big problem : who gains from this loss? Ice core drillers,probably.

Tom Halla
April 10, 2017 1:47 pm

Silly design. Murphy’s law rules.

April 10, 2017 1:49 pm

Come on everybody — we know what’s going on. The ice core meltdown is directly due to climate change. I’m sure of it.

This never would have happened during the ice ages!

Bryan A
Reply to  lorcanbonda
April 10, 2017 2:44 pm

Just ask the Ice Sages

Reply to  lorcanbonda
April 10, 2017 4:08 pm

I just awakened. Was this a nuclear core meltdown?

john harmsworth
Reply to  lorcanbonda
April 10, 2017 4:24 pm

There you go! Maybe some CO2 leaked into the box!

Bryan A
Reply to  john harmsworth
April 11, 2017 6:27 am

Probably someone left the electric blanket on

Reply to  john harmsworth
April 11, 2017 8:11 am

I think that is the most likely explanation.

It certainly has to have something to do with hot air.

Bryan A
Reply to  john harmsworth
April 11, 2017 9:29 pm

Must admit my first thought was that scene in THE THING where the electric blanket was thrown a cross that huge block of ice and a trickle of water begins to flow from beneath

April 10, 2017 1:54 pm

The Mount Logan core was the onlynone in western Canadian Arctic. It showed recent cooling past 200 years. McIntyre pointed out in 2013 that it was therefore left out of several recent Arctic hockey stick reconstructions, including PAGES2. Now it is melted. So doesn’t have to embarassingly be left out anymore. How convenient.

Reply to  ristvan
April 10, 2017 2:31 pm

..It takes 48 hours for a well insulated grocery store, walk in freezer, to gain 4 degrees C after a CONTINUED power loss. Because it is insulated, it will not get above zero C for 4 days unless the store has a complete meltdown of it’s air conditioning system …….(meat manager in Daytona Beach, 10 years)..Going from -37 C to + 40 C is not possible unless intentional !

john harmsworth
Reply to  Butch
April 10, 2017 4:27 pm

It depends on the design and defrost setup and the type and mass of product in the freezer. It can be much faster than that and go much higher. 25 years as a refrigeration tech.

NW sage
Reply to  ristvan
April 10, 2017 6:08 pm

Would it be too obvious to point out that ‘acts of God’ occur in mysterious ways especially when helped by ignoring maintenance requirements – deliberately?

Juan Slayton
April 10, 2017 2:04 pm

Time to enroll in DueDiligence 101, instructor Steve McIntyre:

. In addition to familiar forms of financial audit trails, the splitting and retention of drill cores is a form of audit trail in the exploration business.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Juan Slayton
April 10, 2017 3:00 pm

They may have split them…but stored them in the same place.

Mickey Reno
April 10, 2017 2:23 pm

This makes me wonder how the frozen human gonads are doing at Colorado State University. Check those freezers!

April 10, 2017 2:28 pm

Risk of having your freezer, or refrigerator, or toaster, or thermostat, or electric car, etc. connected to the IoT?

April 10, 2017 2:30 pm

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to install a low-temperature alarm on this freezer. Thousands or maybe millions of freezers in the world are protected in such a manner. Seems to be something fishy here.

john harmsworth
Reply to  taptoudt
April 10, 2017 4:34 pm

It’s standard stupidity I think. A simple alarm is not sufficiently high tech to be trusted with something this important. They would have hired Honeywell or Johnson controls or some such to provide an alarm “system”. That means solid state sensors ( probably put in the wrong places), wired to a computer which monitors the sensors through some complex sampling software which involves time and temperature functions and perhaps disables during coil defrost cycles. This software signals alarm specifics to secondary software. A hundred places where this can go wrong. KISS!
Of course, if you make it simple, Honeywell and their brethren contractors won’t have a contract to maintain at margins exceeding 100%.

April 10, 2017 2:30 pm

Nothing has been lost, if they head north there’s a vast natural storage of this stuff, they just need to avoid the hole left by the extraction of the last core.

Reply to  jaffa68
April 10, 2017 2:35 pm

..Good thing Canada seems to have an unwanted abundance of ICE ! …D’OH !

Juan Slayton
April 10, 2017 2:33 pm

MODS: This comment from about 20 minutes ago was in moderation but seems to have disappeared. Not sure why.

Time to enroll in DueDiligence 101, instructor Steve McIntyre:

In addition to familiar forms of financial audit trails, the splitting and retention of drill cores is a form of audit trail in the exploration business.

April 10, 2017 2:45 pm

It’s a university, for goodness sake. As soon as the grad projects were finished they forgot about the ice cores. The university has much more important concerns like developing condos. Give them a break!

April 10, 2017 2:46 pm

It is an expensive and embarrassing accident, but it is no tragedy. There is plenty of ice where that came from. It is not as if it had melted meanwhile and was irrecoverable. They should ask for a grant to re-drill that 12.5% with more modern equipment and better techniques and say that they are going to demonstrate that the ice is going to disappear so it better doesn’t happen again in the future.

April 10, 2017 2:47 pm

It didn’t melt, they are simply correcting for biases.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
April 10, 2017 3:10 pm

Perhaps they should check who left the freezer door open after getting some ice to put in their Jack Daniels.

John in Oz
April 10, 2017 3:38 pm

This is homogenisation at its best – the inside of the fridge was lower than the air temp outside so needed to be ‘adjusted’.

April 10, 2017 3:53 pm

I stand to be corrected but I watched an episode of Discovery Channel Canada about these coolers. They are brand new and the cores had just been transferred from a facility in eastern Canada, can’t remember where.

That Discovery Channel is very pro anthropological warming to almost fanatical. They treat Suzuki almost like a god.

Reply to  nc
April 10, 2017 4:15 pm

Amazingly, a Discovery Channel crew are indirectly responsible for saving much of the ice in that cooler. Many cores had been moved from the doomed freezer to another one with better light for the Discovery Channel camera operator’s benefit.

J Mac
April 10, 2017 4:11 pm

‘In-filling’ the lost ice cores with ice cores from adjacent freezers should be valid, by current standards.

April 10, 2017 4:15 pm

Just my 2 cents worth but Duncan’s comment : “The dog ate my homework” is still tops! This is way to convenient. As in “lets lose the data and get funding for another grant to replace the cores”.
And sorry if this sounds petty but some of the stuff that the left does is “suspect” to say the least..

April 10, 2017 4:16 pm

Okay, guys – fess up.

Who filed the FOIA?

Reply to  cirby
April 10, 2017 7:39 pm


April 10, 2017 4:22 pm

The simplest solution: create a storage facility in Antarctica. Cooling systems may be unnecessary… “the highest temperature ever recorded at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station was −12.3 °C (9.9 °F) on Christmas Day, 2011.” Scientists worried about global warming can go there to study the cores.

Reply to  Thinker
April 11, 2017 12:47 pm

No need to go so far away. Much of Canada has permafrost. Just build a vault anywhere where there is permafrost. No refrigeration needed.

Bill Illis
April 10, 2017 5:51 pm

Mount Logan temperatures from do18 isotopes versus others in the North Hemisphere going back to the beginning of the last ice age. Logan on top. Note that 2002 temperatures are still in the Little Ice Age region, were higher around 1800 and much higher 9,000 years ago.

Ie. The important data is already published (although probably very hard to find).

J Mac
Reply to  Bill Illis
April 10, 2017 6:10 pm

Very informative – Thanks Bill!

April 10, 2017 7:40 pm

Massive, massive incompetence. There’s nothing at all unusual about freezers failing; that’s what keeps refrigeration mechanics in business.

Considering what those ice cores must have cost, failing to have a periodically tested temperature alarm system in place at their storage facility was like putting the contents of a jewelry store in a cardboard box on the sidewalk, and sealing it with Scotch Tape for security.


Reply to  daveburton
April 10, 2017 8:21 pm

Here’s a discussion of freezer temperature monitors. There are many products out there, some of them very inexpensive. Many of them can directly send automatic text messages, emails & phone calls in the event of a failure.

Here’s a discussion:

Hundreds of thousands of stores and restaurants use these things. Any refrigeration mechanic should be familiar with them.

Phil Rae
April 10, 2017 7:50 pm

Oh well! Bad luck, eh? Perhaps they can reach out to these guys and get some other glacial ice samples to play around with? : ]

“Climate change scientists’ bid to drill Everest glacier”

April 10, 2017 7:56 pm

Oh Wow!

The March For Hypocrisy Will Bust An Artery To The Vagina on this! I.e. TRUMP!

Ha ha

April 10, 2017 8:23 pm

Given the absence of importance given to real data in this discipline, nothing was lost.

April 10, 2017 8:46 pm

No child of God should suffer from a melted ice core. We need to send a message!

April 10, 2017 9:50 pm

Well, system failures by University of Alberta folks is not new.

Consider the work done by the Polar Bear Specialists at the U of A, particularly Prof. Andrew Derocher and group:

Another case of the researchers contaminating the species being saved/studied.

Mark Luhman
April 10, 2017 9:58 pm

This looks to me as what we can expect to see more and moe of, no one today seems to be able to take responsibility for what they are responsible for, they somehow think a computer and computer software will take the place of just plain hard work, weather it modeling flood in a basin, God forbid we go out and actually do measurement of the conditions. That to much work after allt hat what computer models are for. In this case it was a simple mater of have someone checking on the condition twice a day in the past a janitor did such work, he was conscious of the building he maintained and would know just in a simple walk through if something did not sound right but with the music blaring or that latest game going, on today janitor’s smartphone somehow that is lost.

April 10, 2017 10:34 pm

Sometimes I think the entire climate change boondoggle is down to the ability of computers to provide sexy visuals to the point that the screen becomes the research, becomes the fact, becomes the theory, becomes the object of worship.

April 10, 2017 11:44 pm

Renewable energy needs backup … then cores don’t melt! BTW no diesel backup generators? What a monumental failure!

April 11, 2017 2:10 am

The automatic defrost stayed stuck on by the sounds of that….. It’s why you have alarms on everything if you have automatic systems.

Reply to  J.H.
April 11, 2017 4:47 am

Alarm failure in alarmist camp!

michael hart
April 11, 2017 4:02 am

Corporate fires always increase during a recession.

April 11, 2017 4:35 am

Nah, this is nothing. Imagine if the whole block would have been freeze thawing outside for millennia. Oh, wait…

April 11, 2017 5:05 am

“Put all your eggs in one basket and watch the basket. ” – Wm. Wrigley

April 11, 2017 5:10 am

How can I disable the Google ads at the end of the article? Every time they reload they reset my browser so that I see the ads and not the content I was just trying to read! It makes it impossible to read the article from start to finish. It has glitched me three times even as I type this reply.

Joseph Borsa
April 11, 2017 5:27 am

The persons responsible for maintaining the freezer storage facility should be fired. Replacing the lost material would require launching of an expensive drilling expedition.

Tom in Denver
April 11, 2017 6:30 am

Here’s my prediction for the MSM spin on this event:

“It’s worse than we thought! Global warming has gotten so bad, that we can no longer keep ice frozen in the freezer. Our kids will grow up not knowing what a cold Gin & Tonic tastes like”

Jeff Labute
April 11, 2017 8:20 am

Can’t trust those solar powered computers and refrigerators.

Taxed to Death
April 11, 2017 9:05 am

Yes many UofA professors are political left wing advocates to climate alarmism. The list is very long which includes Andrew Leach who was a big push to convince the new and naive government to implement the carbon tax. They know it’s there lunch ticket and the governments. The premier listens to them like they are God to the demise of the low and middle class. The NDP will be a one term government because of this foolish marxist agenda which most people are waking up to now. The only place where they will get seats is in “Redmondon”. A big socialist city in northern Alberta. The UofA has been a hub for this marxism for a long time. The only saving grace is the rural ridings that could oust this government but they are doing their damnedest to add and change riding boundaries where their support is. The silent majority will speak with their vote (just like Trump supporters) and if not the province will be doomed after 2 terms of NDP.

April 11, 2017 9:39 am

That was a new facility just open last October with the ice moved in on March 24.

“The ice core archive is the world’s largest collection of ice core samples from the Canadian Arctic. The collection represents more than 80,000 years of evidence of changes to climate in 1.4 kilometres of ice. The collection contains 12 ice cores that were drilled in five locations.
The collection of ice samples, drilled out of the depths of the Arctic over the past 40 years, was carefully transported from Ottawa to Edmonton in January.
They were shipped in a freezer container chilled to -30 C, equipped with a custom-built monitoring system.
The university had built a $4-million facility to keep the ice safely frozen. The ice cores remained in the freezer container until they were moved into the new facility on March 24.”

April 11, 2017 9:54 am

Geological surveys have the policy to store longitudinally split rock cores. Why was this policy not enfirced for ice cores? Perhaps scientists not willing to share their data?

Reply to  Hans Erren
April 11, 2017 10:36 am

If rock cores start melting, we got bigger problems.

April 11, 2017 10:54 am

The USGS has an Ice Core storage facility at the Denver Federal Center. Collaboration with other similar facilities is always beneficial.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
April 11, 2017 11:12 am

Another consideration: what happens if they redrill all the cores and they turn out to show different results to the first set. This might, if compacted ice is as unreliable an indicator of past atmosphere as some have suggested, prove to a lot more troublesome that our careless friends suppose. Any thoughts on that possibility from our expert contributors?

April 11, 2017 11:21 am

We already know what a glacier can do in just two months.

Why would a glacier remain static 264000-times longer? For this reason in my opinion the University of Alberta’s quest from A to Z is an insane waste of Canadian taxpayers’ money.

April 11, 2017 3:56 pm

Wait. What? I thought these guys were the ultimate experts at reading thermometers, after generations of knuckle draggers who didn’t even know what time it was. How is it these genuises missed their own thermometer, when they possess the magical ability to read thermometers from over a century ago and half a planet away?

April 11, 2017 8:00 pm

Didn’t they make backups?

April 18, 2017 3:37 pm

Drill baby drill! If they did not make backups, they can sure go back and drill new cores. Contrary to Al Gore’s claims, the Arctic has not completely melted.

The locations where the original cores were collected should have been recorded. Go back, collect new ones.

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