by Keith Henderson

As a car buyer, would you be willing to pay anything significant to get a vehicle with 0.011% better gas mileage? As a businessman, does a 0.011% change make a difference to your plans? Would you change your neighborhood of 20+ years for a 0.011% decrease in security risk, particularly if you knew it could reverse itself shortly thereafter?

Just to be sure we’re thinking realistically about the magnitude of 0.011%, we can also express it as only 110 in a million.

A technical paper recently published in Nature speaks breathlessly of massive volumes of ice melt in Antarctica—3 billion tons from 1992 to 2017!

But who can relate to a billion tons of ice? I confess I can’t even imagine what it would look like. If it were a cube, what would be its dimensions? If it were ten feet thick and five feet wide, how long would it stretch? How many glasses of tea would it chill? Do you have any idea, right off the top of your head? Neither do I.

And that’s what the authors of this and similar articles are depending on. They toss out astronomical numbers, confident that lay readers will have no sense of proportion for them.

However, when compared to the 27,000 billion tons of total Antarctic ice, we are worrying about a trivial 0.011% decrease over a 25-year period. That is, out of every million parts, Antarctica lost 110 in 25 years. At that rate, how long would it take to lose half of Antarctica’s ice? Over 100,000 years!

Suddenly the situation doesn’t sound quite so dire, does it?

In the real world where decisions of consequence are made, this is simply round-off—or “windage,” as a shooter pulling the trigger might say!

Yet, climate alarmists are spinning the 0.011% decrease in Antarctic ice mass over 1992–2017 as “we are in serious trouble” and “ice loss has tripled in a decade.”

Does this 0.011% decrease flood the world’s coastlines? Not unless your flood threshold is less than the width of your pinky (i.e., 0.31 inch).

As usual, alarmists project their supposed bad news forward into the future as invariably caused solely by the progress of civilization enjoying hydrocarbon fuels. If per chance this current rate of calculated rise in sea level were to continue (an assumption that has no justification other than hypothetical conjecture), then even over a period of 200 years we are looking at a sea level rise of less than 3 finger widths (i.e., 2.4 inches).

Should we panic and return to the horse and buggy to prevent it?

As for me, I sleep well knowing that 99.989% of the Antarctic ice cap is still there. And even if the loss rate of 1992 to 2017 continues for a total of 250 years, 99.89% of it will still be there.

Additionally, we must respect forces beyond our control. We have no idea whether the melt rate will remain the same, accelerate, or decline over the next century or two. That’s partly because we have no idea what energy mix the nations will use, and partly because it will be controlled primarily by natural factors like cyclical changes in

  • solar irradiance, the amount of energy emitted by the sun, which affects earth’s temperature;
  • solar magnetic wind , which modulates the influx of cosmic rays, which in turn affect the formation of clouds, which modulate earth’s temperature; and
  • ocean currents like the proverbial El Niño/Southern Oscillation, which affects not only weather and hurricane formation along the Gulf of Mexico but also temperature worldwide.

In fact, after adjusting for the recent history of solar, volcanic, and ocean current cycles, there was no room left to blame any warming on CO2 increases.

But changes in atmospheric temperature aren’t all the forces that affect Antarctic ice formation and depletion. Volcanism is an uncontrollable threat to Antarctic ice. Indeed, there are at least 91 volcanoes in Antarctica alone.

Jesus certainly encountered those who would abuse others via political power as they strained to enforce inconsequential self-righteousness standards against others, but were willing to swallow whole systems of human cost to maintain their control of the populace.

Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. (Matthew 23:24–25, NKJV)

Are our environmental standards a blessing or a curse? Are we, including scientists who are still human in spite of rumors to the contrary, deceptive in our pursuits of government financial grants?

Swallowing the Paris Climate Agreement, or any other global warming mitigation measure, to add 0.011% more ice to Antarctica for future generations is a straining not worthy of consideration.

Keith Henderson, P.E., is a chemical engineering consultant with a Masters in Christian Apologetics and is a Contributing Writer for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.


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i just did the math on how much i’d save on gas at 10,000 miles per year and 27.5 mpg and $2.75/gallon.
it cost more to do the calculation by a couple orders of magnitude.

A Friend

It’s not 3 billion tons, it is more like 3000 billion tons.

The referenced scientific paper says “2,720 ± 1,390 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, which corresponds to an increase in mean sea level of 7.6 ± 3.9 millimetres (errors are one standard deviation).”

David Paul Zimmerman

That is indeed what the abstract of the pay-walled paper says. One disturbing thing is the margins of error seem to be rather large, in many cases larger than the values given. It reminds me of a farcical study to determine the speed of light. The study concluded that the speed of light was 1000 feet per second plus or minus 186000 miles per second.

Donald Kasper

3000 billion tons out of 30,000 billion tons is a 1% calculation error that would appear typical for an approximation on a continental scale. I would think an error of 3-5% entirely probable. So the first question is whether the “loss” is real or sample error.

Pariah Dog

Am I missing something here? 2,720 billion tonnes to me means 2,720,000,000,000 tonnes or 2.72 trillion tonnes, which means the whole of Antarctica has melted over the last 25 years, but somehow also not melted. Or should that comma be a full stop and read 2.72 billion tonnes?

No, the total quoted is also wrong. It is about 27 million cubic km, or roughly 27,000 billion tons.

Oops, 27 million billion tons, as A Friend notes.


27000 * 1e12 tons, i.e. 27 thousand billion as I know it!

Write 27e18 kg, that would be more ‘logical’, but some people f-at by writing 2.7e22 g, if not using some brain dead yottagrams.

John Harmsworth

Antarctica covers 14,000,000 sq kilometers. 27 M cubic kilometers would be an average drop of 2km in the depth of the ice sheet. This is starting to look like the Mars shot that missed (due to mixed up units).

A Friend

The article got both numbers wrong by three orders of magnitude. Also, the article confuses metric and non-metric tons. The actual number of metric tons lost between 1992-2017 is around 2,720 billion tonnes, and the actual total mass of Antarctica is 24.5 million billion tonnes (metric).


Oh yeah, don’t get me started with tonnes! What was it in ice-fathom-Manhattans?

Rich Davis

Easy to figure Hugs, multiply by hiroshimas per square km, divide by (BTU-lbs per cubic yard), multiply by grams per cc, multiply by the distance to the sun in Angstroms and then make up an adjustment, ignore measurement error, and declare “It’s much worse than we ever thought!”

Smart Rock

I wanted to check but the links wouldn’t work for me. The numbers quoted are obviously way too small. WUWT is supposed to be a science-based blog.

David Paul Zimmerman

I also noticed the link did not work. I did a search in google. Something like “nature Antarctic ice loss” and it popped up with the abstract containing the numbers mentioned.

Garland Lowe

Right click and open in new tab

Crispin in Waterloo

Good grief. This is not complicated:

A cubic kilometer is 1 billions tons. It lost 2730 cubic kilometers at a rate of about 110 cubic kilometers per year. A Friend has the total correct at 25 million cubic kilometers. 110 is a rounding error on the total.

No estimate of “110” could be accurate enough not to have an error margin of at least 110 cu km. Even over the long term the uncertainty is 50%. It is nice that we can attempt to make such bold assertions, but I don’t think it is yet time to start building the new dike. Parrot fish build Pacific islands faster than mankind melts Antarctica.


The margin of error is much larger. The gravity measurements are actually not significantly different from zero. Essentially the whole “melt” is due to GIA (Global Isostatic Adjustment).


You bring up an interesting point. Global Isostatic Adjustment (GIA) is the rebound of the Earth’s surface which is still happening as a result of the glaciers having melted in North America and Europe. But there was no glacial melt in Antarctica. Therefore there should be no GIA adjustment. If GIA really is the source of all the claimed melt in Antarctica, then the ice sheet actually hasn’t melted.

D. J. Hawkins

OK, so that’s still the same percentage of loss. In a 10 foot by 10 foot room, 8 feet high, with a total volume of 800 cubic feet, the ice loss is a piece of dimensional lumber 2 inch by 4 inch, about 19 inches long.


Never mind

Just did the math. Assuming (as an approximation) 1 tonne of ice = 1 cubic meter, then the cube root of 3 billion tonnes gives you a cube of 1.42 km on each side, or 0.9 of a cubic mile. Basically, it would cover an area equivalent to LAX airport to a depth of 1,000 ft. Mixing metaphors, a drop in the ocean…


What? Only lost 3 billion tons of ice from 1992 to 2017..

1 Gt is one billion tons and corresponds to 1 cubic kilometer of water.
Greenland ice sheet is 100 GT above avg now


Well I don’t know if it actually IS loosing mass. Many say so, but measuring it up to the sign appears difficult enough

Alexander Vissers

Above which average? I hope not the avg of the last 63 million years?


FYI 2015 NASA study
Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses

Joe - the non climate scientists

the NASA study was done by Zwally – The warmists are all attacking zwally’s study as flawed.

either way 3 billion tonnes is well inside the margin for measurement error.

John Harmsworth

Plesae note: The AGW crowd dislikes negative feedback, whether it is physical or directed at their crappy math or even crappier observations.

J Mac

The deliberate deception of ‘scary big’ numbers…. until they are placed in context. Then you realize they are the equivalent of tick turds, in the grand scheme of our magnificent natural world!

“until they are placed in context”
But to place them in context you need to get them right.


Just look in the mirror.

Honest liberty

On this count I’ll give credit where it’s due to Nick, we certainly don’t want to fall into the same trap as the ignorant masses (the majority who never read the research) who believe this narrative and always attack but never concede.


“Should we panic and return to the horse and buggy to prevent it?”

No need to return to horse and buggy. Just panic. It’s always the right thing to do.


Even if we did that, they would complain about horses and flatulence, putting too much methane into the atmosphere. There is no pleasing them.

Donald Kasper

First and foremost, you cannot estimate the volume of ice water equivalent to that level of accuracy. There was no actual loss of ice at all. You cannot calculate on a continental scale to 0.011% accuracy. So the problem for the scientists is that they were screaming about calculation noise.


Bingo! … we have a winner.


This has been the basis for my arguments regarding most global warmists – they promote their work as being sophisticated by producing results with high precision. Given the quality and precision of the raw data that is used as a base, these levels of precision are not valid.

Steve O

Exactly. Another way to say “massive loss of 0.011% over 25 years” is “unchanged over 25 years.”

You should have quoted a few verses earlier in Matthew.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them”.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.”

Is this the first written description of virtue signalling and the Moralising Chatterati on record?


Probably all claiming to be Nobel prize winners as well!


Leo Smith

“for they do not practice what they preach”

Nah, socialism.

John Harmsworth

Sounds like the political class to me.


In June 2014, after 40 years of “Catastrophic Global Warming”, the Antarctic sea surrounding this continent set an all-time record high for sea ice extent. Antarctic sea had been long and steadily increasing since 1992, but in June the Antarctic Sea Ice anomaly was 2.16 million square kilometers – larger than the entire area of Greenland.

Now, when the CAGW climate catastrologists write press releases each time a section of a glacier separates “half the size of Manhattan”, did they issue any notice of this record-breaking event that really does matter?

No. Instead, Sereze writes a cleverly worded press release comparing the percent change for Arctic at its minimum with the “small” rise in Antarctic sea compared from its peak to peak. Antarctic sea ice was low (below it long-term average) for the first time in many years beginning August 2015, stayed below average (but increasing) through the El Nino years up the Chilean and Peruvian coast in 2016 and 2017.

This year (2018) it continues to increase, and is just under the long-time average for mid-July. increasing about 1/3 of Greenland from 2016-2017.



In June 2014 the ice extent around Antarctica set an all-time (for the satellite period) record high, over a period of constant increase of CO2 levels. That alone invalidates CAGW.

” Volcanism is an uncontrollable threat to Antarctic ice. Indeed, there are at least 91 volcanoes in Antarctica alone.”
Not quite. From the paper
“Our underpinning methodology was to identify cones that protrude upwards from a digital elevation model (DEM) of Antarctica’s subglacial topography, and to assess the likelihood that each cone is a volcanic edifice.

From this study, we are not able to determine whether the different volcanoes are active or not;
however, the identification of multiple new volcanic edifices, and the improved regional sense of their geographical spread and concentration across the WARS, may guide future investigation of their activity”

IOW, they made a model and picked out shapes that they think might have been a volcano. We have those in Victoria too.


Nick Stokes

Nothing wrong with models for you alarmists to fantasise over though, is there Nick.

When it suits you that is.

Shoe on the other foot, were this model used to support AGW, the media would be crawling all over it proclaiming 91 active volcanoes are currently erupting.

And there wouldn’t be a cheep of objection from you guys.

Geoff Sherrington

Cool it. NS is quite correct and I joined him a few weeks ago in noting that this ‘volcano count’ is not really proven volcanos, merely fuzzy shapes of geology imaging that might be.
It is OK to knock people when they are wrong. Geoff.


The paper abstract says “138 volcanoes, 91 of which were not previously identified.” Yet I am missing your point. In your mind and Nick’s is a volcano only a volcano when it is erupting? Volcanoes have been studied for a long time. Volcanologist have a good idea what the various types are. Yet lets say that the authors of the paper are 50% wrong in their assessment, that still leaves a lot of volcanoes in the Antarctica, something the CAGW crowd refuses to accept. HotScott is correct, Nick loves models that support his chosen orthodoxy; hates those that don’t.

Giles Bointon

Here in the Caribbean there are very many ‘pointy bits’ on many of the islands that were all formed by volcanic action. Mostly they all seem quiet but there is some action. Kick ‘em Jenny of the northern tip of Grenada last was active in 2015. Soufriere on St Vincent has constant low level activity. Technically there are all volcanoes no different that those under the Antarctic


“We have those in Victoria too.”

Indeed. Western Victoria has lots of volcanoes. They were last active about 7000 years ago. But the heat flow is still significant (though probably lower than in West Antarctica):


A “digital elevation model (DEM)” is not a computer model, like what is done in global warming “science”. It is a three-dimensional digital map of the Earth, as obtained from real world data !


We certainly do have such volcanic shapes in Victoria…they fascinate me. I guess such shapes might well be indicative of volcanic activity, whether past or present.

Mickey Reno

Didn’t the paper about the ice melt make up a novel model of Antarctic isostatic crust bending? They have no clue whether or not the model they invented is correct, but who cares so long as you can get a new scary headline into the record for the next IPCC assessment.

Everyone please remember my rule of thumb, if the picture of the thing you have to be worried about matches the picture of the human made adjustments to the picture, then you really don’t need to worry.

A Friend

This article has a second mistake. The total mass of ice on Antarctica is 24.5 million billion metric tons, not 27,000 billion as the article claims. It would be 27 million billion non-metric tons, so wrong either way.


You mean 24.5 million billion (American) metric tons, which is a Steven Hauckins (sic) -like spelling of the e-notation.

A Friend

I’m using the international form of “billion”, which is the same as an American billion. Even the British seem to have adopted the international meaning.


This needs to be written by a credentialed climate scientist. The green loony left and their gullible mainstream followers will simply decide the author is a “christian fundamentalist” and therefore not take the article seriously. I know his religion is largely irrelevant to the facts he presents but this is how the green loony left mind works.

The Reverend Badger

NKJV quoting is the new ultimate peer review process. Entertaining maybe, enlightening for some, but offputting for others. When talking about matters of science I suggest a little discipline to keep personal religious views out of it pays in the long run.

Proverbs 10:19


Amen. Er, yes.

John Harmsworth

Let us pray for wisdom and restraint.

Dr. Strangelove

Mixing science and religion? Here’s another mix – religious astronomy

Martin Cregg-Guinan

This was highlighted in the Vancouver Sun last year. I wrote a letter highlighting the numbers – i.e. the trivial amount involved. Did they publish the letter? I leave it to your imagination…. Any Vancouver Sun editors reading this?

Geoff Sherrington

About 6 years ago I did the calculation for WUWT about the extrapolated number of years to completely melted, some multiple of 10,000 years IIRC.
Some people take a long time to let proper info sink in, do they not? Geoff

Johann Wundersamer
Péter Tari

Although I agree with everything in this article, nevertheless I would suggest avoid using the number billion in a scientific text, because it has two distinct definition in English: 1 000 000 000 and 1 000 000 000 000.
Instead, using metric prefixes would be preferred. Please.



I should have read this far first. Thanks, but don’t use metric prefixes with numbers that big. Use the e-notation and the kilogram.

By the way, here (a place in Europe) we don’t ever use any big prefixes with the kilogram. Always a pure number + kg. (sometimes g, mg, ug, ng, or pg).


It would be clearer still if people used exponent notation exclusively (eg 2.7 x 10e12 instead of 2700000000000) for very large numbers.

Peter Plail

Whilst I get the objective of the article, I am afraid it loses all credibility when it simply fails to quote figures accurately from the report it is referencing. It leaves me wondering about the accuracy of any of the figures quoted.
It seems clear and generally agreed that the vast majority of the Antarctic is generally stable, neither gaining nor losing ice.
Any losses are coming from the Antarctic peninsula, which , of course, is partially outside the Antarctic circle.
What no-one appears to have explained is why this is happening. There is a lot of generalised hand waving and claims about global warming. However, looking at it from a logical point of view, the question is why an incremental increase in global temperature can produce such massive ice loss in an area where the air temperature is marginally above freezing for just a few months of the year. I am afraid I lack the skills to work out the heat transfer from the air to the ice that would produce this level of melt.
Nick Stokes has in the past kindly pointed out to me that heat transfer from volcanic activity below the ice is sufficient to lubricate but not produce major ice melt. I am sceptical about this since I don’t believe anyone has actually measured it in all but a few isolated ice cores; it is the consequence of scientific conjecture.
This view is further reinforced by comments such as this from IRIS ( – “recent discovery of deep-long period volcanic earthquakes beneath the ice sheet in Marie Byrd Land demonstrates the existence of active subglacial magmatic systems and suggests volcanic eruptions may have an important effect on the ice sheet”. They are referring to active magmatic systems which suggest something a whole lot hotter than the few watts/sq m that Nick suggested was responsible for the lubrication at the bottom of the ice sheets. And also note that this is a “recent discovery”.
I am not saying this is responsible for the melt, however I am saying that we do not know and should not close our minds to causes other than global warming.


Peter Plail

It was also pointed out to me that exploratory drilling to discover what’s going on under the ice sheet is fraught with problems as the ice is constantly moving over the supporting land mass.

John Harmsworth

The ice is running away from Antarctica! It’s worse than we thought!


John Harmsworth


Steven Mosher




Mickey Reno

… on a tortilla?


Let’s say I’ve been on a diet for 25 years.

I started out at 250 lbs.

I’ve lost 0.011% of my weight.

0.44 ounces.

That’s sure to impress the girls.


It is even worse:

25 years ago your weight was 250 lbs.
4 years ago your weight was 251 lbs.
Now you weight 250 lbs minus 0.44 ounces. (Too lazy to do that kind of maths)

And somebody thinks your weight follows a linear trend and tries to predict when you would be fit.

John Harmsworth

Good point! So now, is he hopeful or depressed?

steve case

So let’s see, ice loss is 0.00011 mostly as measured by the GRACE satellites. Well, I’m impressed those two satellites can measure the ice amount accurate to ten parts per million based on changes in gravity. That really is a neat trick. Well, we all knew what the GRACE satellites would be claimed to find before they were ever launched.


They can (or rather could) measure the changes in the gravity field very precisely. What they can’t measure is how much the bedrock beneath the ice moves up or down. That is essentially a pure guess (GIA “Global Isostatic Adjustment”), and it is larger than the actually measured change.

Incidentally the GIA is critically dependent on the viscosity of the rocks below the ice which in turn is closely linked to volcanic activity.


As I noted in a response to an earlier post:

Global Isostatic Adjustment (GIA) is the rebound of the Earth’s surface which is still happening as a result of the glaciers having melted in North America and Europe. But there was no glacial melt in Antarctica. Therefore there should be no GIA adjustment. If GIA really is the source of all the claimed melt in Antarctica, then the ice sheet actually hasn’t melted.


Fair enough with the small percentage. But we wouldn’t want the tripling effect to continue for too many decades

Dave Miller

I challenge you that a few decades of even quadrupling (scarier!) would have similarly trivial real effects on human existence.


Lets clear this up, between 1992 and 2017 3 billion tons of ice melted, and 3 billion tons of water froze. Ya know? That whole warmer/colder cycle thing that happens each year. Some people call it climate, some people call it weather, happens continuously and humans can not stop it nor are we causing it. The “scientists” who did this, well, crap, need to move on and do something useful with their lives.


“…need to move on and do something useful with their lives.”

Then who would pay their grants?


McD’s will happily hire them, and give them training to become useful members of society, so will WalMart. If they can pass the test for CDL trucking companies are hiring every day! I know, that will require them having to get up, arrive on time, actually do work, etc etc, but sacrifices have to be made. 😉

Tom in Florida

But the real question is how many Olympic size swimming pools would it fill.


Or how many Hiroshimas are represented by the heat of fusion of the ice melting?



OMG, A Bomb comparisons, now we’re all forked!

All those A Bombs going on under the ice. Bound to be picked up by the MSM and taken to the Nth possible extremity of disaster.

“Breaking News: The world isn’t going to be drowned by global sea rise, it’s going to be steamrollered by the Antarctic.”


a bazillion!

Scott Scarborough

Anyone is a little naïve if they think that scientists are even capable of measuring such a small % change in ice mass over a quarter century. I measure loads, speeds, and temperatures every day in my job and this sounds like measurement error to me.

steve case

” …this sounds like measurement error to me.”

Measurement error? How ’bout good old garden variety B.S.

John Harmsworth

Yup! Inherent imprecision gets to a point where it can no longer be called measurement.

Peta of Newark

Peta’s Fantastic Plan.
Unlimited Green Energy (yellow actually, read on)
Save the World.

Peta iz going to visit The Sun and bring home some that Hot Stuff.
(Someone else is already doing it, hence Sunspots. Those are actually quarries for mining energy. Seems plenty left though)

Sol is hot and rockets are, shall we say, not that reliable and a tad on the expensive side.
We will build a bridge.
(see how I passed the buck there. tiz The Modern Way. They get to pay too. ha ha)

Sol is still hot so we make this bridge using ice. Good plan so far.
Needs to be big and strong so we make it two miles wide and one mile thick.
All the way from Drax to Sol.

Someone once burst Peta’s bubble by suggesting that Sol would vaporise the bridge inside one second flat.
Is that right……


Jim Hawthorne, an LA radio personality of many years ago, once proposed sending an oxcart to the sun, as cited in school textbooks for an example of how long it would take to get there from here.


Peta of Newark

I reckon Thor and Loki could do it with their portal bridge.

No ice needed.

No less a fantastic idea than AGW.

Damn! Just introduced the Fantastic Four into the equation. Rethink required, I’ll get back to you.


I wonder if sea levels did rise significantly that would mean the surface of the ocean was dramatically expanded. A significantly larger ocean surface area would certainly affect the climate. Have any of the modelers actually considered that? Since they seem to have tried to ignore the oceans as a major driver of climate I doubt it.


I’ve said it 3 billion times, I don’t give a straining gnat’s arse what the scaremongers say.



And I’ve told you 3 billion times not to exaggerate!


I seriously doubt that we can measure the total amount of ice to that degree of accuracy.
25 years ago that doubt increases astronomically.



Nah. S’okay, the greens are experts at measurement. We can trust them.

Steve O

“In fact, after adjusting for the recent history of solar, volcanic, and ocean current cycles, there was no room left to blame any warming on CO2 increases.”

— That’s because you’re doing it wrong. You have to start with the impact of CO2 that you believe exists, and then back into the other figures. As soon as you’ve fit a formula to the data, you can call it science.


Keith Henderson claims it is impossible to understand the meaning of total Antarctic ice loss when it is expressed as 27,000 billion tons over 25 years.. He thinks calling it a trivial 0.011% decrease is more meaningful.

Neither is meaningful. The resulting increase in sea level is meaningful: 7.6 +/- 3.9 mm/25 years or about 3 cm/century. If Keith had cited the abstract, we would have learned more.

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is an important indicator of climate change and driver of sea-level rise. Here we combine satellite observations of its changing volume, flow and gravitational attraction with modelling of its surface mass balance to show that it lost 2,720 ± 1,390 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, which corresponds to an increase in mean sea level of 7.6 ± 3.9 millimetres (errors are one standard deviation). Over this period, ocean-driven melting has caused rates of ice loss from West Antarctica to increase from 53 ± 29 billion to 159 ± 26 billion tonnes per year; ice-shelf collapse has increased the rate of ice loss from the Antarctic Peninsula from 7 ± 13 billion to 33 ± 16 billion tonnes per year. We find large variations in and among model estimates of surface mass balance and glacial isostatic adjustment for East Antarctica, with its average rate of mass gain over the period 1992–2017 (5 ± 46 billion tonnes per year) being the least certain.

[5 +/- 46 billion tonnes per year? Please verify your typing. .mod]

John Harmsworth

The estimates of ice loss are a dreamscape of imagined pluses without the minuses and are also at odds with many other research findings. Hence, there is NO definitive link to sea level rise whatsoever, said sea level rise being likewise uncertain in the extreme due to inherent difficulties in accurate measurement.
Many of us consider all this to be excorsizing ourselves and our pocketbooks over the Earth’s natural to-ing and fro-ing, and a complete waste of time. It would be a complete waste of talent also, but we see none of that!


John: 27,000 billion tons of ice, when melted, is enough to raise sea level an average of 7.6 mm – fairly negligible. The estimate of 27,000 billion tons of ice lost could easily be very wrong, but the conversion of tons to mm is not – at least in terms of SLR averaged over the globe.



The only people affected by sea level rise are the ones who bought seafront properties as an investment.

Anyone else will move inland and abandon their properties.

Therein lies the foundation of the AGW scam. The Di Caprio’s and Gore’s scare everyone away from their beach-side properties, and they live in idyllic isolation.


Some people have bought seafront properties as investments even though they are aware of the threat that storms pose and and SLR will increase. In the US, this is often possible only because government subsidized flood insurance makes it safe for banks to loan money to finance such purchases. However, only a small fraction of the people potentially threatened by rising SLR are rich American investors who have moved knowingly moved into dangerous coast. Take Bangladesh, for example. Or the non-affluent who live in the lowest areas of New Orleans. Or the Dutch. Or those who live on atolls. Almost all major ports have some endangered areas and many of our biggest cities are ports.

Given that sea level rose 120 m due to roughly 5 degC of warming at the end of the last ice age, significant future SLR seems unavoidable. However, most SLR might not arrive for centuries, which offers plenty of time to adapt.


Normal measurement uncertainty is set at two standard deviations, but 7.6±7.8 millimeters doesn’t sound very scary.


Moderator wrote: “5 +/- 46 billion tonnes per year????”

Frank replies: I copied and pasted the words directly from the abstract. It means that the confidence interval is much bigger than the central estimate. Nothing wrong with that scientifically, but it means that the central estimate isn’t different from zero.

Rhys Kent

I found an article from the CBC in mid June which states three trillion tons in that period. Which is correct, three billion or trillion?
Either is no cause for concern, but if there is a mistake it is a rather large error.

John Harmsworth

Alarmingly, or not, no one can say!


The important thing to remember is that “alarmists” are not trustworthy:

“someone who is considered to be exaggerating a danger and so causing needless worry or panic.”


One ton of ice is about 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet.



Imperial or metric?

I presume imperial from your post, but some smart arse is bound to swan up and criticise you for your comparison.


I put “about” there to cover my bases…


Keith Henderson,

This is an excellent essay! It puts things in perspective!

Perspective will deliver the final blow on CAGW as well as anything else where putting things in perspective makes one think.

Analogies and perspective is a mainstay of my communication.



What’s my perspective of your height?

I can make a fair assessment in feet and inches (or cm if you’re so inclined) assuming I’m provided unadjusted measurements. And of course, the full facts relative to your environment, race, diet, parentage, exercise regime and, of course, posture.

Sorry, just feeling a bit pissed off tonight.

Effing banks!……If there is such a thing as AGW, I damn well hope they suffer first, and worst.


You leave me confused. I am shorter than the WTC while standing at ground level. I’m taller than the piss ants on the walkway. But that would not matter if we were discussing the distance to Jupiter.

Hocus Locus

The [unethical] omission of facts ready at hand, to the sole purpose of leaving the reader with insufficient data to make their own assessment… is one form of what I call statistical malfeasance.

Another popular tactic is to take some tiny likelihood or risk-percentage of disease or death… especially something whose true value is lost in noise or dispute… call the issue a global or national threat for the sole purpose to leverage it into the entire population to obtain an integer number of deaths of diseases. These integral maladies are then emotionally ‘canonified’, by which I mean the presenter is given free reign for depart from any discussion of method and monopolize the presentation with a purely emotional narrative. For example, spice it up by applying standard population ratios to obtain a hypothetical-upon-hypothetical count of dead babies. Top it off with a stock photo of… a baby.

Another is a manifestation of threat in which the threat is assured and inevitable beyond doubt, is not regular like clockwork, and yet we have no Monte Carlo clue as to when it will happen. So to belittle such an existential threat — which I consider to be a form of mental disorder — the presenter calculates a ‘daily probability’ based on time span since it last happened. The object may range from salving one’s (extreme) fear that it is likely to happen today… all the way to advocating that worry be shelved entirely and no action be taken, and they always have something in mind they’d rather you do first. There is NO assured future in this, but it would surely be no one’s fault when it does happen.

I thought that recently Antarctic ice was gaining in volume. Can’t seem to find the recent ref.
(because of more snowfall). etc.