80,000 Yrs of Arctic Ice Melted in Single Weekend

News Brief by Kip Hansen


No, really…no kidding here…this is a real disaster.   This is not Fake News!

Here’s the story, from the NY Times’ Tatiana Schlossberg (and here):

“Ice from the Canadian Arctic has completely melted, leaving puddles of water in its place and scientists devastated.

O.K., this is what actually happened: Ice cores, millennia-old ice samples extracted by scientists from locations across the Canadian Arctic, melted because of a freezer malfunction in a lab at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The loss of these ice cores could hinder scientific research into how changes in the atmosphere have shaped Earth’s climate history, and how they could affect its future.

On April 2, the temperature of a storage freezer in the Canadian Ice Core Archive rose to about 100 degrees —… “

Now that’s Arctic warming — 100 degrees (F?) in a storage freezer?

“…some part of the cooling system failed, “then tried to get itself back into action and in the process, piped hot air back into the room,” according to Martin Sharp, the director of the archive. The freezer became so hot that it tripped the fire alarm, Dr. Sharp said, and partially or fully melted 180 ice cores collected by government scientists since the mid-1970s from the snowy expanse of the Canadian Arctic.

Dr. Sharp, also a glaciology professor at the university, said there was water all over the floor, and steam rising from puddles of ancient water.”

Luckily, although there were 12 complete cores, comprising more than 1,400 one-meter segments, which were believed to cover about 80,000 years of atmospheric history, “none of the 12 main cores were wholly destroyed.”  They did lose about 12% of the total collection.

The loss of this important repository of ice cores and the data that could be extracted from it is regrettable.  We are assured that steps are being taken to prevent any future loss.

My sympathies go out to the Canadian Ice Core Archive, Dr. Martin Sharp, its Director, and the many scientists who work will be hampered by this sad event.

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April 13, 2017 7:03 am

Didn’t we cover this two days ago?

Reply to  MarkW
April 13, 2017 7:07 am
Ron Williams
Reply to  David Middleton
April 13, 2017 12:52 pm

It’s probably worth repeating then that all mission critical digital applications such as was in place for these U of A freezers be shadow protected by an analog sensor and separate alarm system (on a double battery back up UPS) so that at least the alarm bells go off with a temperature spike independent of the digital controls that managed the freezer. At least they would have been forewarned about the freezer malfunction immediately and independently of the cause of the freezer failure. Just a simple analog sensor and alarm. That’s one of the reasons we put analog volt/amp gauges in electrical panels so that if the digital controls or display wonk out, then at least you can see the basic data you need.

Reply to  David Middleton
April 13, 2017 10:54 pm

They use wind power to keep the freezers going…

Reply to  MarkW
April 13, 2017 7:14 am

Discussion of that story’s on ice.

george e. smith
Reply to  MarkW
April 13, 2017 9:39 am

Well Dang, if they had installed renewable energy supplies for this freezer, instead of some fossilized fuel powered junk, this would not have happened.

Lemme guess; they want some more grant money to go and dig a new ice core out of the Canadian Arctic ??


Reply to  george e. smith
April 13, 2017 12:34 pm

The last one didn’t show what it should have, so they need to get a new one.

April 13, 2017 7:05 am

Well, they did predict catostrophic warming and here it is.

Reply to  Rob Dawg
April 13, 2017 8:07 am

Yep, they told me that if I voted for Trump there would be catastrophic ice loss in Canada, and here it is!!!

Reply to  Rob Dawg
April 14, 2017 12:58 am

Yep, and I bet they hadn’t paid any heed to the hard lessons
learnt by the IT industry (backup, backup, and backup)
I bet they were the complete ice cores, not longitudinally sectioned
with the other section(s) stored in other freezer(s) elsewhere on
different power supplies and well away from terrorist/warmist/green
action …

April 13, 2017 7:06 am

Call me cynical, but cui bono? Odd this should happen just now, as “The Movement’ starts to encounter real headwinds for the first time – in the form of sceptics in government in US and UK. Or perhaps its just bad luck….

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  KO
April 13, 2017 7:22 am

“…some part of the cooling system failed, “then tried to get itself back into action and in the process, piped hot air back into the room,”

Yeah, that sounds a bit suspicious, I can’t imagine any dedicated cooling system that could go in reverse, that’s not how they work. The heat created during the cooling process radiates off a compressor, and would be vented so it can’t make contact with the coolant. Sounds like sabotage or intentional tampering, or they’ve entrusted archival ice cores to a system designed and built by some pol’s dimwitted nephew.

Michael 2
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2017 7:47 am

I have seen air conditioners work in reverse. It happened when a distribution transformer blew out. In the dark, the utility technicians installing the replacement didn’t notice they’d hooked up the 3-phase power the wrong way. So the next day all of the big air conditioners were running backwards. Luckily the compressors had bypass valves apparently for this very situation.

Harold Cooley
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2017 8:46 am

In fact, freezers have a defrost cycle, where heat is put into the evaporator, to melt ice that builds up on the coils. Recently our meat freezer had a failure of the circuit board on the compressor/evaporator controls, (it was less than 20 days old.) this exact scenario occurred.

Brook HURD
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2017 10:35 am

Your conclusion sounds plausible. I’ve seen systems installed by relatives. One ultrapure water system looked to be working becase there was pressure on one of the guages. I followed that line for 5 to 6 meters and found an open line. There were no valves between the guage and the open line. Someone had jimmied the guage so that the relative would appear to be ahead of schedule.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2017 5:34 pm

The Russians did it.

Ed Grimly
Reply to  KO
April 13, 2017 8:21 am

By bizarre coincidence, the very cores that indisputably prove AGW and imminent global destruction, are the ones that melted.

Bryan A
Reply to  Ed Grimly
April 13, 2017 10:01 am

I thought it would have been the cores that Disprove it

Reply to  Ed Grimly
April 13, 2017 11:24 am

“I thought it would have been the cores that Disprove it”

You may be right. I understand that one of the lost cores was from Mt Logan. That core has never been fully published for some odd reason……

Mark L Gilbert
Reply to  Ed Grimly
April 14, 2017 6:13 am

Do not worry, We will use Models to simulate the “data” and it is probably going to be “much worse than we thought” /sarc

April 13, 2017 7:10 am

By statist economics this is a “broken window” boon . Now there will be jobs for Trump displaced “climate” workers going out in the field and replacing the samples .

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Bob Armstrong
April 13, 2017 9:33 am

They’ll be busy marching in DC for the near future.

Reply to  Bob Armstrong
April 13, 2017 10:03 am

Climate scientists going out into the field? Getting their hands dirty? Dealing with the real world? Really?

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
April 13, 2017 1:20 pm

Reminds me of a politically incorrect joke about two Irish men walking past a bar, well it could happen.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
April 13, 2017 2:50 pm

@Paul Jackson
Hey, I resemble that remark! 😉

Cold in Wisconsin
April 13, 2017 7:17 am

I guess that we should not look to scientists for appropriate mitigation strategies because they can’t seem to come up with their own loss prevention plans in the present. Nature preserved those ice cores for millions of years and they can’t keep them frozen for several decades.

george e. smith
Reply to  Cold in Wisconsin
April 13, 2017 9:43 am

They use the same model coolers to cool all of those hot nuclear reactor spent fuel cores. They are designed to work for a million years.


Thomas Homer
April 13, 2017 7:19 am

Do they really fill the ice core drill holes with kerosene to keep the bit from freezing?

There’s no mental like environmental.

April 13, 2017 7:19 am

How important could the cores be – or how negligent the scientists – if there weren’t redundant systems protecting them? I’ve never encountered a refrigeration system that doesn’t break down at some point.

Reply to  Craig
April 13, 2017 7:44 am

exactly…..the cores were so important they put them in a used LG in the garage

george e. smith
Reply to  Craig
April 13, 2017 9:46 am

Well they have one installed at Vostok Base in Antarctica, to make sure the ice cores don’t melt.

The ice cores are encased in a huge guard ring of solid ice that goes down almost all the way to the Vostok Lake.

The system has worked perfectly for at least the last 800,000 years.


John W. Garrett
April 13, 2017 7:21 am

Meanwhile, rabid CAGW promoters work feverishly to “save” data from purported imaginary destruction by the current U.S. Administration.

Reply to  John W. Garrett
April 13, 2017 10:02 am

…as smoke rises from UEA and Penn State climate departments and several EMP are recorded…

Reply to  John W. Garrett
April 13, 2017 1:26 pm

work feverishly to “save” data

In climatology, the concept of saving data works differently. It involves keeping it out of others’ hands, even if it has to be destroyed in order to “protect” it as Phil Jones infamously suggested.

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
April 13, 2017 2:01 pm

They are saving the work from people who might try to use it maliciously.
IE, tell the truth.

April 13, 2017 7:27 am

Can’t you all see that this is a wonderful opportunity for grant funding to improve ice-core storage systems, strategies, maintenance protocols?

Next, we will witness mass breakage of ARGO floats, requiring a new round of funding to improve THEIR technology.

Then, a critical failure of satellites that measure temperature, requiring … you guessed it … a new round of funding to improve THOSE.

Ah, the opportunities seem endless. Break some stuff, so that we can get paid to fix it.

Brook HURD
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
April 13, 2017 10:40 am

I’ve always believed that ice core samples should be stored at the same conditions of temperature and pressure that they were under to minimize the effects of storage.

April 13, 2017 7:35 am

This is a new facility and the ice had just been moved from eastern Canada.

Reply to  nc
April 13, 2017 8:17 am

It came from Newfoundland and in Newfoundland they lost the recipe for ice.

April 13, 2017 7:36 am

Was the collection insured? That would give some sense of how “irreplaceable” these cores are. My guess is that the main impacts here, besides the uproar of fixing/upgrading the freezers and the alarms/inspection system, is that any publication based on the data in the cores now has a broken audit trail. You can read the paper, and maybe you can read the notes and data from which the paper was created. But you can’t go behind the notes to the physical evidence. Not sure how big a problem that would be.

Unless the glaciers etc from which the cores were taken have disappeared or greatly altered, I wouldn’t think this loss is irreversible. As some have said, “broken windows” and a chance for another field trip or six.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Owen
April 13, 2017 9:44 am

Unless there is some reason that new cores from the same location might yield conflicting data. That might make replacement ice cores a detriment. No sensible reason to think that would be, anyway.

Reply to  Owen
April 14, 2017 12:01 am

Some of the places they took the ice samples from have now melted, so yes, for those it is irreplaceable.

Reply to  Chris
April 14, 2017 7:07 am

Such as?

April 13, 2017 7:39 am

I would have thought it would have had an alarm system to warn when it approached a certain temperature ??

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Butch
April 13, 2017 9:55 am

It’s a huge embarrassment to the manager of the facility when it happens, from my experience. Time to invest in sensors that interface the building automation system and have someone in physical plant receive a text when temperatures are abnormal. (Call-out = time+1/2)

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 13, 2017 10:03 am

The custodial staff that cleaned it up were probably on overtime also (or a contractor was on call). No schools staff sufficiently to allow for occasional extraordinary incidents these days.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 13, 2017 10:13 am

When I had to remediate research lab freezer failures there was also a biohazard disposal and disinfection needed. Usually the flooring was damaged from water along with the ceiling of any room below and the contaminated contents of both spaces had to disposed of, if not autoclavable.

Reply to  Butch
April 13, 2017 10:46 am

I”l give you pretty goods that Otzi has a system in his display case to warn of to high a temp.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  DonM
April 13, 2017 12:24 pm

This incident looks to be a communication breakdown which exacerbated a mechanical failure and resulted in great monetary expenditure for the institution.

April 13, 2017 7:42 am

There really is something wrong about this whole thing. True, the ice cores were special, but the demands on the cooling system were not. Exactly this kind of commercial refrigeration has been done in millions of locations worldwide since forever.

Kaiser Derden
Reply to  TonyL
April 13, 2017 7:58 am

something is very fishy here … so the system shuts off … usually a refrigerator will very slow warm up, taking hours or days to get to a melting scenario … I don’t buy the pumped hot air excuse …

Reply to  Kaiser Derden
April 13, 2017 8:19 am

They’re climate “scientists”, not engineers. What did you expect – competence?

Reply to  Kaiser Derden
April 13, 2017 8:44 am

They had a monitoring system, no doubt, bit someone got tired of all the text messages and turned it off.

Reply to  Kaiser Derden
April 13, 2017 9:07 am

Our irrigation system for the golf course also runs our fire system. On all the time and for less than $1,000 CAN we had a cell based monitoring system installed. Redundant sensors warn if temperatures fall below 40F threatening a freeze and other sensors note moisture, voltage, phase issues etc. Has saved us a number of times. The only pain is the 800 yard walk down to the pump house usually during a storm and in the dark. They should have one of these installed…ed

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Kaiser Derden
April 13, 2017 9:36 am

As is typical with Universities, rather than using a proven commercial solution, they create their own home brew, half baked solution. Likely the case here. What does a ‘server error’ (as reported in the previous article) have to do with an over temperature alarm?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Kaiser Derden
April 13, 2017 11:45 am

Somebody was probably emailed by an internet-dependant system and a server bombed when IT folks were not there to restart it, resulting in the faculty not being informed until after the fact. Our in-vitro bone growth researcher came in on weekends and holidays because he did not trust Metasys automation and security guard surveillance to save his work for him.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Kaiser Derden
April 13, 2017 12:11 pm

This is undoubtedly a comedy of errors which resulted in the tree falling silently in the woods, so to speak.
I’ve seen through a few of those during my university employment.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  TonyL
April 13, 2017 12:02 pm

In chemical plants, we occasionally have a mass breakdown a major system alongside a broken alarm for that same system. Most big incidents actually are a result of at least a double-breakdown. They are rare, but they do happen. If a system is big enough and goes long enough without trouble, complacency sets in and people skip the manual checks.

In fact, I had a comparable issue last year, where a system broke, and alarm broke, and then the manual checks were too scant to notice the issue. It was quite a scandal when it was discovered 3 days later.

Don’t go conspiracy theory on this. The situation has happened before and will happen again.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  TonyL
April 13, 2017 12:54 pm

Ask anybody who runs a grocery store, institutional food service or meat locker, walk-in freezers fail way more often than reach-ins. Not only that, one system often supplies multiple walk-ins.

In the scientific equipt industry the same things are called controlled environment rooms. With enough bux, you can have a cascading system which reduces the temps to -40C so you can roll in a rack of ice core samples 20 feet long. There are several things which can shut down these sophisticated systems to protect their vital components and adequate alarms are provided. What didn’t happen here was diligent monitoring of the alarms. That is what caused the losses.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 13, 2017 1:54 pm

I have been there when undetected mechanical failures causing losses of specimens, sometimes living (for several generations) have occurred in university research labs. The experience is like finding a dead relative for the faculty and staff involved. That’s as accurate as I can recall it. Half of their tenure accomplishments vaporize.

I can empathise with these dedicated scientists in their obvious setback, and extend my genuine sympathy.

April 13, 2017 7:44 am

Man Made Global Warming at work…

April 13, 2017 7:50 am

Only ONE freezer ? ? ? ? ?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Richard111
April 13, 2017 1:06 pm

Actually, no one found out in time to move them, from what I get.

April 13, 2017 7:55 am

Ice melts…

Go figure!

Reply to  StarkNakedTruth
April 13, 2017 10:49 am

It can be a good learning experience for them … they can now understand what tipping point really means.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  DonM
April 13, 2017 1:18 pm

Let that be a lesson to them.

Ron Booth
April 13, 2017 7:55 am

And now that they is nothing for the ice core scientist to do, how many will be in the unemployment line any time in the future?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Ron Booth
April 13, 2017 1:25 pm

They’ll get a paid sabbatical and support for a new expedition. These are not contractors, they’re faculty.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 13, 2017 3:39 pm

Faculty can be removed for incompetence.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 15, 2017 1:45 pm

Mechanical failures which happen to go undetected long enough to cause a loss of a specimen are not an indication of incompetence on the part of the faculty involved. The incompetence is in the administration of the institution. Facility managers, low-level administrators and IT people were all partly responsible for this from my experiences, having been in a similar situation before.

April 13, 2017 7:56 am

Could this have happened if the refrigeration system worked with CFCs?

Gary Pearse
April 13, 2017 8:02 am

‘Samples of millennia old ice’ rather than “millennia old ice samples” a nit pick perhaps.

Jim G1
Reply to  Gary Pearse
April 13, 2017 8:56 am

Perhaps, but a much better placement of the modifier to capture the true meaning of the situation.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Gary Pearse
April 13, 2017 9:37 am

True, the original seems to imply that the samples have been in storage for millennia.

george e. smith
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
April 13, 2017 12:40 pm

They were, until some grave robber dug them up; he had a better use for them; called MONEY.


April 13, 2017 8:05 am

Urederra: good one!
Gary Pearse: not a nit. Sloppy journalism, good catch.

April 13, 2017 8:08 am

I’m sure the power failure will be blamed on global warming anyway.

April 13, 2017 8:12 am

Core blimey.

April 13, 2017 8:13 am

There’s nothing at all unusual about freezers failing; that’s what keeps refrigeration mechanics in business. In fact, with the newer, more corrosive refrigerants, freezers don’t last as long as they used to.

Considering what those ice cores must have cost, it is really unbelievable that they didn’t have redundant, periodically-tested monitoring of the freezers. That is truly government-level incompetence.

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:


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

April 13, 2017 8:29 am

what’s happening to the oceans, what is happening to children’s minds, what is madness, this is close, amen

Ed Zuiderwijk
April 13, 2017 8:32 am

Would not be the best place to store ice cores, the, eh, arctic? Dig out a cold store at yhe bottom of the Greenland ice cap. With two kilometers of ice on top and a few hundred meters below, what could go wrong?

April 13, 2017 8:34 am

We can still utilise the water using homeopathic scientific methods – Prince Charles

April 13, 2017 8:38 am

How long until they decide that they can reconstruct the ice core data from computer climate models and save themselves the time and expense of drilling new cores?

April 13, 2017 8:42 am

So much for all that data Trump and Pruitt were going to delete…oh wait, Canada?

K. Kilty
April 13, 2017 8:48 am

… said there was water all over the floor, and steam rising from puddles of ancient water.

Steam at 100F? Vapor I guess.

Bryan A
Reply to  K. Kilty
April 13, 2017 10:07 am

Certainly sounds like Someone was busy Vaping

Reply to  K. Kilty
April 13, 2017 1:33 pm

Steam is microscopic water particles in an atmosphere that are visible, such as fog, water vapor is an invisible gas.

Cliff Hilton
April 13, 2017 8:49 am

What, no one thought to make copies of the ice cores? Like hard drives…with data on them…which fail on a regular basis? Now we don’t know if the CO2 concentration was higher when compared to current concentrations. Did someone destroy the cores on purpose? Oh pooh…

April 13, 2017 8:54 am

“On April 2, the temperature of a storage freezer in the Canadian Ice Core Archive rose to about 100 degrees —(presumably Fahrenheit)

To melt large quantity of ice (12 complete cores, comprising more than 1,400 one-meter segments) substantial amount of energy is required.

Was this
a) April fool’s day practical joke gone wrong
b) April fool’s day joke being ‘milked to the melting point’ by the University of Alberta comedians.

April 13, 2017 9:05 am

vukcevic @ 8:54: “…[melting the cores requires] substantial amount of energy involved.” Good point. Can some smart person tell us the energy needed to slag a chunk of ice that is 1400 meters long and probably 10 cm or so in diameter? How does that energy requirement fit (rate of heating x hours of heating) with the described physical plant? Maybe test both assumptions: that it was passive heating (lack of refrigeration to defeat ambient room temperature with minimal circulation between cores (insulated) and that outer environment? And (to me very strange) the alternative assumption that the cooling system was “running backward” and pumping hot air or fluid past the cores? How many Joules would be needed, over how many hours? Has this ever happened in other failures of refrigeration systems?

Put this in the “I smell something funny” file.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Owen
April 13, 2017 10:05 am

Simple problem. First off, the original article said (and this one implies) it was 180m of core (not 1.4km of core, the 1.4km is the total core stored on site, but only 180m was in the faulty freezer). Assuming you are correct and the cores are 10cm (the internet suggests that that is typical)

18,000 cm x π x 5cm = 282,743 cubic cm = 282,743 mL
Ice is 0.92g/mL, so
282,743 mL x 0.92 g/mL = 260,124 g of ice.

it take 1 calorie to warm up 1 gram of water by 1°C. So, the previous article sais it warmed up form -37°C to 40°C:

260,124 g x 77°C = 20,029,548 calories

But it also takes 80 calories/g to actually melt the ice (with no temperature change, just the actual conversion from solid to liquid; fusion)

so 260,124 g x 80 calories/g = 20,809,920 calories (a little more than all the temperature increase combined)

The total is
20,809,920 calories + 20,029,548 calories = 41,619,840 calories = 48404 Wh
That is about the energy from a 100W light bulb running for 20 days. (or 20 100W light bulbs running for 1 day).

Doesn’t seem too unreasonable

I can tell you that refrigeration systems when malfunctioning often do heat the interior rather than cool. It is often not a simple case of no more cooling.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
April 13, 2017 10:22 am

heat of fusion of ice = 333.55 kJ/kg, i.e it requires 333.55 kJ for 1 kg of ice to melt.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
April 13, 2017 10:25 am

“18,000 cm x π x 5cm = 282,743 cubic cm = 282,743 mL”

Should be (5 squared) for area. Just multiply the answers through by 5, and Made in the Shade.
Not bad.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
April 13, 2017 11:00 am

vukcevic, isn’t that what I said just using different units?
Tony, Oh ya, πr^2 Ops. Rather than 20 light bulbs we are now looking at 100 light bulbs.

Tony (second reply), it is not 1400m. The ice in the malfunctioning freezer was only 180m., and you forgot that 1 cubic cm is not 1 g, it as I previously mentioned it is about 0.92 g.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
April 13, 2017 11:08 am

OK, corrected math

18000cm x π x 5cm x 5cm = 1,413,717 cubic cm (or mL) of ice
1,413,717 mL x 0.92 g/mL = 1,300,619 g of ice
(1,300,619 g x 1 calorie/g/°C x 77 °C) + (1,300,619 g x 80 calories/g (fusion)) = 204,197,239 calories
=237,481 Wh = 237 kWh
approximately 99 light bulbe (100 watt) for 1 day.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
April 13, 2017 12:10 pm

Hi Jeff, it was meant for us in Europe, where we switched over to the metric (MKS – SI) system years ago, and thus using joules instead of calories.
Using ‘calorie’ and ‘watt’ together in an exam was an absolute no-no and would severely degrade any otherwise excellent project calculation. Thus 100W light bulb uses 100J/sec.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
April 13, 2017 12:22 pm

Ayayay. And it is not yes.

The heat capacity of ice and water are different per mass unit. But in the end, it doesn’t make any difference, you should just use less digits, like 2e8 cal.

Take-home message: There is a lot of place for a mistake in a simple calculation.

Reply to  Owen
April 13, 2017 10:18 am

OK, 10 cm dia. X 1400 meters = 11,000 kg or 12 tons (in round numbers)
Commercial refrigeration units are also rated in tons. That is how many tons of water can be frozen per hour.
A unit might 2 or 5 or so tons. Of course they are all over the map, but this gives a sense of the ballpark we are in.

In any event, if they lost 10% of the cores, they melted 1.2 tons of ice, and that takes a *lot* of heat.

george e. smith
Reply to  TonyL
April 13, 2017 3:57 pm

A calorie is a quantity of food.


george e. smith
Reply to  Owen
April 13, 2017 12:47 pm

It was positive feedback wot dun it !



Reply to  Owen
April 13, 2017 1:40 pm

Magic Eight-ball say: “Something went into defrost mode” might have been due to malfunction or due to operator error or even as a remote possibility sabotage.

April 13, 2017 9:19 am

I told therm intermittent windpower wouldn’t work

Reply to  Leo Smith
April 13, 2017 9:24 am

If one wind tower doesn’t give you the accuracy you need. Put up 100 and average them.

Reply to  MarkW
April 13, 2017 11:46 am

Yeah, and build them next to each other, That way when the wind isn’t strong enough to power one of them the rest will be able to make up the difference! [sarc]

george e. smith
Reply to  MarkW
April 13, 2017 12:49 pm

Connect them all together with a drive shaft, then if the wind doesn’t blow on all of them, they would all still work.


Mr Bliss
April 13, 2017 9:21 am

Sounds like these ice core samples held an inconvenient truth, and had to be ‘lost’ asap….

Reply to  Mr Bliss
April 13, 2017 9:28 am

I tend to agree.

“These don’t tell the right story. Lets get some new ones.”


April 13, 2017 9:25 am

Solution – drill new ice cores – problem solved.

April 13, 2017 9:27 am

The world is full of stories about freezers failing — some in peoples’ basements; some in huge food warehouses and some in important medical laboratories. The owners/operators need to balance the cost of a failure against the cost of simple alarms and complete backup systems.

“What if … ?”

Related: When was the last time you backed up your data?

April 13, 2017 9:27 am

Most commercial freezer systems contain an evaporator defrost function. Where once per 24 hours, the evaporator (the cold bit) is turned off and heating applied to melt any ice on the evaporator. Otherwise the system clogs up with ice.

Perhaps it was just a stuck relay that left the heating function and they forgot to install a high temperature alarm!!!!

Without the alarm you are admitting your own stupidity.

Still, they have learn something now.

April 13, 2017 9:46 am

Trump, you lovable bastard!

April 13, 2017 9:47 am

Now that parts of the record are gone, scientists can make up whatever fits their models to fill the gaps. Leaves much room for creative hindcasting.

andy in epsom
April 13, 2017 10:00 am

The ice was rotten anyway. That is why it melted so quickly

April 13, 2017 10:01 am

björn: “creative hindcasting” = redundant?

Mark - Helsinki
April 13, 2017 10:04 am

heh the ice cores probably revealed the wrong conclusion, freezer unplugged 😀

April 13, 2017 10:05 am

There were two freezers involved : a storage unit chilled to -37 C and an adjacent working unit cooled to -25 C. Only the storage unit failed, warming to 40 degrees C.
The ice doesn’t need to melt completely: “Once melting occurs, melted water from one core segment can contaminate other segments stored nearby.”

April 13, 2017 10:06 am

Sounds like “a polar bear ate my homework/data” issue to me. Now they will not be able to document their data supporting previous CAGW research. We just have to trust them now.

Anyone check if “bleach bit” was involved? Ohh …. ammonia was used in the refrigeration system so it could only be expected that bleaching occurred.

Javert Chip
April 13, 2017 10:07 am

Good to see “climate scientist” guys took the same care of there ice cores as they do ACTUAL temperature records (i.e.: unadjusted & unhomogenized)

April 13, 2017 10:10 am

Jeeze, it’s Canada.
Just keep them outside, eh.

April 13, 2017 10:16 am

“The samples departed Ottawa on Jan. 12, 2017, and arrived at the U of A’s north campus on Jan. 15…..freezer units were functioning properly at noon on Friday, March 31.

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.

The warming and a separate failure of the temperature monitoring system resulted in the partial melting of ice core samples, affecting 12.8 per cent of the collection. The entire archive, including affected samples, has been secured in a separate freezer with additional safeguards put in place.”

Reply to  vukcevic
April 13, 2017 3:49 pm

Sloppy engineering.
No one considered a simple relay with an alarm bell outside the freezer ?

Reply to  Felflames
April 13, 2017 6:51 pm

Or maybe a couple of thousand for a back up refrigerator to protect their millions of dollars ice cores?
If I had a dollar for every time I have seen tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment flooded and ruined because a hundred dollar sump pump failed…
It only took me having to fix one one time, to include in my repair quote a second sump pump, just above the primary one, which was never used unless the other one failed, and so it remained brand new and on standby.
“If a man don’t use his brain, he might as well have two @$$%#o!#s”.

April 13, 2017 10:24 am

Were the freezers hacked?

Michael Jankowski
April 13, 2017 10:36 am

“…Dr. Sharp, also a glaciology professor at the university, said there was water all over the floor, and steam rising from puddles of ancient water…”

Steam, eh professor? Please turn in your credentials.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
April 13, 2017 11:43 am

“Core Archive rose to about 100 degrees”
Steam ?
Fahrenheit – no
Centigrade – yes, “boiling ice cores”, things are far worse than expected.

J Mac
April 13, 2017 11:26 am

Is it possible that the ice cores were ‘water boarded’? If the data from the ice cores could not be coerced sufficiently to get the desired results, the climatologists may have reverted to torturing the original ice cores.

“I’m melting…. melting! Ahhhh, what a world!”

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  J Mac
April 13, 2017 11:34 am

That’s it! That’s where Trenberth’s missing heat went to: it’s somewhere over the rainbow!

April 13, 2017 11:44 am

It was Russians wat done it.

April 13, 2017 11:52 am

‘collected by government scientists since the mid-1970s’

How long does it take to tease the data out of ice cores? They had had these for up to 40 years. Most should have been thrown out years – decades – ago.

Reply to  Gamecock
April 13, 2017 6:42 pm

It has taken decades of rigorous torture to get the data to tell them the story they want to hear.

April 13, 2017 12:11 pm

C’mon, they’ll probably just refreeze it.

I mean, it’s not like anyone is going to go back and check their work.


Joel Snider
April 13, 2017 12:44 pm

I wonder if a carbon tax could have kept the freezer from overheating.
Perhaps a billion dollars in research funding would help answer that question.

April 13, 2017 12:51 pm

The freezer became so hot that it tripped the fire alarm, Dr. Sharp said, and partially or fully melted 180 ice cores collected by government scientists

Am I the only one recalling something like “The dog ate my data”?

April 13, 2017 12:53 pm

ES @ 10:05: “…The ice doesn’t need to melt completely: ‘Once melting occurs, melted water from one core segment can contaminate other segments stored nearby.'”

So. Second-order problem here, about the design of the storage unit to deal with cooling failure. Could they have designed a system that would not contaminate one sample with the melt-water from others? What about sealed compartments to keep leakage segregated?

Lots of cost-benefit trade-offs here, I don’t expect answers to show massive incompetence. But maybe there are lessons for future systems suppliers and users. Compared to a better freezer design, what does it cost to make another trip to the original glacier, to produce a “kinda sorta similar” sample?

April 13, 2017 1:27 pm

An education in irony. Scientists can do amazing work but they have trouble keeping the electricity on. A lesson for California, South Australia, and Ontario in there somewhere.

April 13, 2017 5:48 pm

Reminds me of the old Larsen cartoon: a cryogenic facility with bodies looking a little – er – Stiff, housed in large vertical cabinets.

The cleaner, just heading out the door, has tripped over the power cord and turned off the light…..

April 13, 2017 6:21 pm

With the closeness to the ‘March For Hypocrisy’ … I am suspicious of … planned ulterior motives.

On the other hand it could not have happened to a more deserving bunch of loons.

Call it a “Random Act Of ‘Anthropogenic Local Warming'”!


April 13, 2017 6:38 pm

OK, OK…I think it is time we heard the real story: They had a big party, and ran out of ice, and guess who they sent to look for more?

April 13, 2017 6:51 pm

Might have been a smart Green idea to cling wrap (recyclable) them and rope them together and store them back down the holes they came from. After all if they melt they’re surplus to requirements anyway.

Johann Wundersamer
April 13, 2017 9:46 pm

“My sympathies go out to the Canadian Ice Core Archive, Dr. Martin Sharp, its Director, and the many scientists who work will be hampered by this sad event.”


My sympathies go out to the Canadian Ice Core Archive, Dr. Martin Sharp, its Director, and the many scientists whose work will be hampered by this sad event.


Johann Wundersamer
April 13, 2017 10:36 pm

Tatiana Schlossberg, https://youtu.be/krK7Q49o6uA

Johann Wundersamer
April 13, 2017 10:43 pm

By the way Tatiana,

I grew up z’Mattighofen Schlossbergstrasse 12.

You know your heritage?

Johann Wundersamer
April 13, 2017 11:17 pm
Johann Wundersamer
April 13, 2017 11:33 pm
Johann Wundersamer
April 13, 2017 11:48 pm

heart braker, King maker –

heartbreaker, kingmaker, environmental reporter for @nytscience. New York.

What’s up with Schlossbergstrasse.

Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
April 14, 2017 12:57 am

Over on the west side of the pond not many know what is going on on this side, and even fewer are interested. Of course thanks to the president Trump’s election campaign pronouncements, the Brexit is an exception.
However, the turmoil in Europe may get worse in the next few weeks. There is a strong possibility that in the second round of French presidential election two candidates are a Eurosceptic hard-Left (communist) and Eurosceptic hard-Right (r…t ) .

Both candidates are anti-American, anti-German, anti-globalist, anti-NATO, and pro-Putin.

April 14, 2017 4:38 am

A broken freezer; some lost ice?

Cui bono?

I’m with @Mr Bliss: Why fret about some lost source material – climate science is settled, is it not?

April 17, 2017 10:58 am

In today’s newspaper…

Thousands of years of Arctic ice samples destroyed after University of Alberta freezer malfunctions (GW research, ice cores)

A massive freezer failure has damaged Arctic ice cores containing tens of thousands of years of climate change information invaluable to researchers.

“For every ice-core facility on the planet, this is their No. 1 nightmare,” University of Alberta glaciologist Martin Sharp said Thursday.

The Canadian Ice Core Archive includes 1.4 km of ice-core samples, representing more than 10,000 years of climate change.

More than 180 metres of ice was lost after a freezer in Edmonton malfunctioned over the weekend. That amounts to 12.8 per cent of the collection.


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