A Potted History of Glaciers


NOVEMBER 10, 2021

By Paul Homewood

A friend recently suggested that “melting glaciers” must surely prove “global warming is true”.

It is a common belief. After all, glaciers are a visible phenomenon and it all sounds logical.

As you know, I have written extensively about glaciers, (see the “glaciers” tab on the sidebar). But it is worth posting this potted history of them:

Middle Ages


As glaciers recede in Alaska, scientists are finding the remains of forests previously buried by the ice.

Above is an example at the Mendenhall Glacier, where carbon dating reveals the trees are between 1200 and 1400 years old. Other older trees have also been found.

Exactly the same is happening elsewhere in Alaska, at the famous Exit Glacier, below. The trees there are a similar age:

These are not just odd trees, but the remnants of great forests. It is clearly evident that the glaciers then were much smaller than they are now.

And it is not only Alaska. At the other end of the continent in Patagonia, more buried trees are turning up, though these are younger, between 250 and 460 years old (See here).

A similar pattern can be found around the world, as the next section illustrates.

Little Ice Age

Beginning in the 16thC, Alpine glaciers began to advance down the valleys. We know this because of thee wealth of historical accounts from the time. This was of course the beginning of the period known as the Little Ice Age.

Historian Brian Fagan described in his book, The Little Ice Age, just what a horrifying calamity this was for those who lived there:

In the 16th Century the occasional traveller would remark on the poverty and suffering of those who lived on the marginal lands in the glacier’s shadow. At that time Chamonix was an obscure poverty stricken parish in “a poor country of barren mountains never free of glaciers and frosts…half the year there is no sun…the corn is gathered in the snow…and is so mouldy it has to be heated in the oven”. Even animals were said to refuse bread made from Chamonix wheat. Avalanches caused by low temperatures and deep snowfall were a constant hazard. In 1575 a visitor described the village as “a place covered with glaciers…often the fields are entirely swept away and the wheat blown into the woods and onto the glaciers”.

In 1589 the Allalin glacier in Switzerland descended so low that it blocked the Saas valley, forming a lake. The moraine broke a few months later, sending floods downstream. Seven years later 70 people died when similar floods from the Gietroz glacier submerged the town of Martigny.

As the glaciers relentlessly pushed downslope thousands of acres of farm land were ruined and many villages were left uninhabitable such as La Bois where a government official noted “where there are still six houses. all uninhabited save two, in which live some wretched women and children…Above and adjoining the village there is a great and horrible glacier of great and incalculable volume which can promise nothing but the destruction of the houses and lands which still remain”. Eventually the village was completely abandoned.

The same official visited the hamlet of La Rosiere in 1616 and found” “The great glacier of La Rosiere every now and then goes bounding and thrashing or descending…There have been destroyed 43 journaux of land with nothing but stones and 8 houses, 7 barns and 5 little granges have been entirely ruined and destroyed”.

Alpine glaciers, which had already advanced steadily between 1546 and 1590, moved aggressively forward again between 1600 and 1616. Villages that had flourished since medieval times were in danger or already destroyed. During the long period of glacial retreat and relative quiet in earlier times, opportunistic farmers had cleared land within a kilometer of what seemed to them to be stationary ice sheets. Now their descendants paid the price with their villages and livelihoods threatened.

Between 1627 and 1633 Chamonix lost a third if its land through avalanches, snow, glaciers and flooding, and the remaining hectares were under constant threat. In 1642 the Des Bois glacier advanced “over a musket shot every day, even in August”.

By this time people near the ice front were planting only oats and a little barley in fields that were under snow for most of the year. Their forefathers had paid their tithes in wheat. Now they obtained but one harvest in three and even the grain rotted after harvesting. “The people here are so badly fed they are dark and wretched and seem only half alive”.

In 1715 the village of Le Pre-du-Bar vanished under a glacier caused landslide. The glacial high tide in the Alps came around 1750 and gradually the glaciers began their retreat, much to the relief of the people who lived there.

Glaciologists also know that similar advances were taking place on glaciers all around the world, including Alaska, Greenland, the Canadian Rockies, South America, the Caucasus, the Himalayas and China.

Even New Zealand did not escape, Brian Fagan writes:

In New Zealand the Franz Joseph glacier was “a mere pocket of ice on a frozen snowfield nine centuries ago”…. Then Little Ice Age cooling began and the glacier thrust downslope into the valley below smashing into the great rain forests that flourished there, felling giant trees like matchsticks. By the early 18th Century, Franz Joseph’s face was within 3 km of the Pacific Ocean .

The high tide of glacial advance at Franz Joseph came between the late 17th Century and early 19th Century, just as it did in the European Alps.

Modern Era

We all know that the same glaciers which grew massively a few centuries ago are now retreating. What many people don’t know is that this process began around the late 18th and early 19thC.

Surprising though it might sound, explorers were already mapping Alaskan glaciers in the 18thC. The map below shows how the glacier edge progressively retreated after 1760. Most of the glacier had disappeared even before 1900, whilst glacier loss has been relatively small in recent years.


In the Alps it was a similar story. The Rhone Glacier reached its maximum extent in the late 18thC, and, according to HH Lamb, had already receded half a mile by 1870. Most had disappeared by 1950:


HH Lamb: Climate History & The Modern World



The modern day retreat of glaciers is part of a much longer natural cycle. Indeed, we find evidence of that cycle going back long before the Middle Ages.

Lamb, for instance, claims that glaciers in the Alps and Norway were advancing between 800 and 400BC, reaching an extent almost as great as during the Little Ice Age. They advanced again around AD600 to a similar position as before.

In between times, of course, the same glaciers also retreated, both during the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warming Period.

Whether man-made warming has played any part in modern glacial retreat, we know that:

  • Most of the retreat since the 18thC occurred before any possible impact from humans.
  • Glaciers were smaller than now in the Middle Ages
  • There is nothing unprecedented or alarming about the current state of the world’s glaciers

All of this is common knowledge amongst glaciologists. But for some reason the world of climate science does not want the public to know.

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Mike Lowe
November 11, 2021 10:14 am

Is that something else that Greta did not learn before dropping out of school?

Reply to  Mike Lowe
November 11, 2021 10:40 am

Not only Greta, but looks like Chinese ‘greens’ will find their glaciers will be growing next year.
The heaviest snow falls in China for over a century (since 1905), just as they are running out of coal, and having power cuts. Ausies will be laughing all the way to the coal mines.

Last edited 1 year ago by vuk
Alan the Brit
Reply to  Vuk
November 11, 2021 10:19 pm

I think I may have mentioned this before, but back in January 2008 I was attending my Institution’s international centenary conference in Hong Kong. On every morning I would watch the local news channel where they were, at the beginning of the week, reporting the worst winter blizzards in China for 50 years, by the end of the week they had become the worst blizzards in a century!!! Strangely it never got reported by any mainstream news outlets back in the UK, because family, friends, & colleagues hadn’t heard anything of them. This confirmed my opinion of BBC eco-bias to only report on warming & ignore any cooling news, it doesn’t fit the BBC’s eco-bunny propaganda polices!!!

Reply to  Alan the Brit
November 12, 2021 5:55 am

They reported it this time

North Europe get your house in order, just in case.

Reply to  Vuk
November 12, 2021 12:19 am

Chinese glaciers melting at ‘shocking’ pace, scientists say’
Chinese glaciers melting at ‘shocking’ pace, scientists say – CNN

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 2:42 am

‘They would say that, wouldn’t they’

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Vuk
November 12, 2021 3:05 am

Their pension plans are totally reliant on them saying it!!! That’s what happens when politics enters the science arena & corruption sweeps through it!!!

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 3:04 am

and what is the cause, Griff, mate?

I know, do you?

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 9:24 am

Did you not read this topic? You are like a bot. Your AI scans Glacier and you just google search something and just post it. The point is that melting glaciers is nothing new and some glaciers were larger then in the past.

Reply to  griff
November 13, 2021 7:50 am

scientists say – CNN

Using an oxymoron reference proves zilch!
CNN is not reputable and has been caught lying, repeatedly.

Reply to  ATheoK
November 15, 2021 1:28 pm

Much like griff.

Reply to  Vuk
November 12, 2021 6:40 am

Glacial ice growth requires may years of increased snowfall and/or decreased average temperature that allows for accumulation of snow to be turned into ice. One or two unusual snowfall events are unlikely to jump-start glacial advancements.

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Lowe
November 11, 2021 11:49 am

Some other facts she missed are that many glaciers are advancing, others staying put, and that among those retreating, the cause often is not from their regions’ warming.

Kilimanjaro’s ice retracted from downslope deforestation. The mighty Siachen glacier has been blasted by the warring Indian and Pakistani armies. Granted, human causes, but not CO2.

A pedantic quibble: Alaska and Patagonia lie on different continents.

Reply to  John Tillman
November 11, 2021 12:19 pm

Same Continent (unless you are American) but different hemispheres.

John Tillman
Reply to  Vuk
November 11, 2021 1:39 pm

North and South America are indubitably separate continents. SA was formerly west Gondwanaland. Then for tens of millions of years, it was an island continent. Its flora and fauna were radially distinct from North America’s.

No way are North and South America the same continent. Asia and Africa are connected. Europe and Asia are connected. But there is more justification for those continents being the same than for North and South America.

Europe and most of Asia are on the same tectonic plate. North and South America are on plates as different as they can be. Africa, Asia and Europe are on plates also as different as can be, but happened to bump into each other.

To claim there is an “American plate” is not just a lie but absurd. North America separated from the Eurasian and African plates 100 million years before Africa started separating from South America. The Central Atlantic opened first, then the North Atlantic, then finally the South Atlantic.

And these facts are brought to you from a North American living on South America.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Tillman
Rory Forbes
Reply to  John Tillman
November 11, 2021 5:43 pm

That was an exceptionally succinct commentary, John. Well explained.

John Tillman
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 11, 2021 6:55 pm

Thanks for thinking so.

The fauna of South America were so different from North American animals after tens of millions of years apart that the interchange three million years ago remade both continents’ animal life dramatically.

You name it, they were radically different. But for me the most dramatic difference is the rodents of South America, with their broken vitamin C gene, as in guinea pigs and capybaras, plus New World Monkeys distinctions from Old World monkeys and apes. Then there are armadillos, glyptodonts, ground sloths, gomphotheres and the strange Hemiauchenia.

In terms of its biogeography, North America is far more related to Eurasia than to South America and the rest of Gondwanaland. A South American marsupial of Australian connection:


Central Atlantic opening between North America and Europe and Africa:


South Atlantic later opening between Africa and South America:


Last edited 1 year ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 11, 2021 7:22 pm

Just to show how divergent the fauna of Gondwanaland is from Laurasia (the northern continents), consider this placental mammalian clade:


And its slightly less divergent South American sister clade:


For tens of millions of years, South America drifted apart from not only North America but its Gondwanan comrades Antarctica and Africa. New World Monkeys and rodents however managed to reach SA via vegetation rafts and/or islands between spreading apart Africa and SA.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  John Tillman
November 11, 2021 10:16 pm

It would be hard to find two better examples of how diverging continents affect speciation. Afrotheria alone opens up so many avenues of understanding, but comparing that to the Xenarthra is quite astounding on so many levels.

Side note:
I can remember delving into all these wonders, half a century ago, when the only sources were five local libraries, a cross city trek to the university or making appointments with the various university departments to refine complicated searches. This exchange between us, across two continents, concentrated perhaps two weeks of research into a matter of hours. I’m even more appreciative now, when time is so precious, scarce and heavily rationed.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  John Tillman
November 11, 2021 9:57 pm

Those two maps are brilliant. They illustrate exactly what you explained … and so much more that I have often wondered about. They’re essential to understanding “who’s on 1st. Thanks once again for the mini lecture. Looking at the juxtaposition of the S, Hemisphere continents makes one want to lift Antarctica’s ice sheet and have a look-see underneath. But comparing those two maps is the real money shot … explaining so much about the flora, fauna and present day geology. Suddenly isolated bits of information form a coherent picture.

Talk about distance learning 😉

John Tillman
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 12, 2021 12:07 pm

Scotese’s whole series of maps is well worth studying.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  John Tillman
November 12, 2021 1:30 pm

Muchly appreciated.

Reply to  John Tillman
November 12, 2021 4:27 am

It’s most refreshing to read some real, solid Science for a change rather than the drivel called “Climate Science”.

John Tillman
Reply to  Vuk
November 11, 2021 5:13 pm

North and South America were connected only about three million years ago.

Reply to  John Tillman
November 11, 2021 12:31 pm

I’ve always wondered how two land masses that are connected together could be considered separate continents.
Then again, Europe and Asia are considered separate continents.
Geography is hard.

John Tillman
Reply to  MarkW
November 11, 2021 1:49 pm

Africa and Asia are connected. Oceania and Asia are connected. The Indian Plate is connected with the Eurasian.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 12, 2021 12:38 pm

It works the other way, too. Parts of continents whose land connection is presently submerged by shallow, epicontinental seas are still on the same continent. The British Isles are part of Europe, while New Guinea and Australia are on the same continent. NZ however is a separate, largely submerged minicontinent.

Greg in NZ
Reply to  John Tillman
November 12, 2021 6:24 pm

We who live on that ‘largely submerged’ Zealandia, the 8th (mini)continent, are residing on the remaining ridge tops and high ground after the seas rose… more than 11,000 years ago.

The South Island’s Franz Josef Glacier flows westward, eventually trickling, or roaring, into the Tasman Sea. The Pacific Ocean is on the east coast – just for geographical accuracy. And it’s SNOWING today up on the tops, mere weeks away from our first day of ‘summer’. Oh for a little of that long-prophesied ‘warmth’!

John Tillman
Reply to  MarkW
November 11, 2021 7:59 pm

If North and South America are the same continent, then even more so are Europe and Asia. Also Africa and Asia.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 11, 2021 8:16 pm

Indeed then the World Island of Africa, Asia and Europe are one continent. But their tectonic history says no.

Australia and India started out on the same plate, separated from Antarctica. India set a tectonic speed record across the Indian Ocean from Antarctica to its collision with Eurasia, crumpling up the Himalayas in the process.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  John Tillman
November 11, 2021 10:33 pm

My understanding also, from my school Geography lessons. Nice to know my teacher was right, although he was a miserable old so’n’so!!!

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  John Tillman
November 12, 2021 2:31 am

I will never forget a Geology cover from the ’80s illustrating a paper on the formation of the Himalayas. The authors created a model using blocks of Plasticine to represent Asia then shoved a solid chunk of wood, representing the sub-continent, into the mass, forcing the soft Plasticine to rise up into a representation of the Himalayan orogeny. A model that had nothing to do with computers. Strangely, I remember nothing from that paper, not even the authors, a fine example of the power of one good illustration,

John Tillman
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 12, 2021 10:17 am

There’s also a (much lower) mountain range where the North American plate collides with Eurasian in NE Siberia:


Gunga Din
Reply to  John Tillman
November 11, 2021 3:30 pm

And it is not only Alaska. At the other end of the continent in Patagonia, more buried trees are turning up, though these are younger, between 250 and 460 years old…”
Valid “quibble”.
Perhaps something like: “And it is not only North America and the Northern Hemispere. In South America and the Southern Hemisphere, in Patagonia, more buried trees are turning up, though these are younger, between 250 and 460 years old (See here).”?

But a great article that helps refute the MWP etc. were only in the Northern Hemisphere.

Reply to  John Tillman
November 12, 2021 12:25 am

No, the vast majority of glaciers are retreating and glaciers are losing volume rapidly…

this contains graphs showing the (small) proportion of advancing glaciers and the mass loss

Are glaciers growing or retreating? (skepticalscience.com)

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 4:28 am

Junk “Science” from a junk website.

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 8:43 am

The Web article you linked Griff starts off with a standard bit of nonsensical agitprop, i. e., that communities depend on glaciers for water. Growing glaciers store water, shrinking glaciers release it. Are they dependent on melting glaciers? In fact glaciers have very little to do with water supply which is dependent on precipitation, snow melt patterns and soil storage and release capacity. The article starts with propaganda fear mongering and goes downhill from there.

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 8:53 am

Now, griffter, when did the glaciers that are retreating start retreating? Many started retreating BEFORE the atmospheric CO2 concentration increased. That fact doesn’t lend any support to your claim that CO2 is the control knob on temperature, does it? The timing of glacier retreat is a problem for Alarmists like you, whether you realize it or not.

John Tillman
Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 10:21 am

Huge glaciers on every continent, Greenland, New Zealand and other islands, are growing, including some of the largest. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet, with most of the world’s fresh water, is also gaining mass.

Here in Chile, Brüggen (or Pío XI) Glacier, the largest western outflow from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, is growing. Now about 66 km, it is the longest glacier in the Southern Hemisphere outside Antarctica.

To take but one example.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Lowe
November 12, 2021 7:29 am

Another article on glaciers, and no mention of Hubbard Glacier. It’s the largest North American tidewater glacier, 76 miles long and:

Long-Term Advance And Repeat Closure Of Russell Fiord Expected
Hubbard Glacier has advanced at a rate of about 80 feet per year since 1895 (fig. 8). Although the timing is uncertain, the prospect of the glacier continuing to advance and again blocking the entrance to Russell Fiord is much more certain.

What happened to the easily monitored Hubbard advancement of a few years ago?



Last edited 1 year ago by purecolorartist@gmail.com
Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 11, 2021 10:23 am

The Greens have romanticized glaciers, presenting them as something highly desirable and needing protection from us terrible humans. If they lived in the path of an advancing glacier they would surely rethink this notion. Glaciers are essentially neutral, neither good nor bad, they just exist and wax and wane as the planet warms and cools.

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 11, 2021 11:45 am

IMO glaciers are no good for any kind of claims in terms of climate.

Most of them are located in Antarctica 91% and most of the rest in Greenland 8% according to USGS
(though these numbers look a bit too high for me)

Therefore regional shifts in climate can even cause an increase in size of most glaciers even on a warming planet (and vice versa) because almost all of them are located in just 2 places.

Another problem is that there is an overall constant sea level rise of > 3mm per year that going on for centuries .Therefore a loss of snow and ice(= shrinking glaciers ) should be expected.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  SxyxS
November 11, 2021 2:20 pm

They are very poor indicators, I agree. But the CAGW clowns have turned them into an emotional trigger. Remember the signs in Glacier National Park about how soon the beloved park glaciers will all be melted, oh boo-hoo!

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 11, 2021 3:17 pm

Thx god someone understood what i meant.
My English was really bad with this one.

It is really important to detrigger people in terms of glaciers.
And the best way is to make them realise that Antarctica&Greenland are less than 3% of earth surface but have almost 99% of all glaciers and there can therefore not be used as indicator for global climate.
And if we add the fact to the mix that Greenland was green when Vikings settled there (=significantly less glaciers )
and that the Vikings got killed by the cooling Greenland climate and growing glaciers that buried the trees(winter heating)and their farms and houses,
they may understand that neither growing glaciers in greenland turned earth into an iceball nor will shrinking glaciers turn the planet into a fireball.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  SxyxS
November 11, 2021 10:58 pm

Good that you referred to Vikings’ farms, they grew wheat there which is impossible today!!!

Matthew R Epp
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 12, 2021 6:50 am

Well, they had to try something since those darn polar bears keep fornicating and reproducing.

Jacques Dumon
Reply to  SxyxS
November 11, 2021 2:20 pm

The last average value of the sea level rise through many tide gauges with GPS altimetric correction is 1.7 mm/year, not 3 mm. There is no acceleration of the rise.

Reply to  Jacques Dumon
November 11, 2021 2:50 pm

Sir ,i know .(i even tend to believe it’s closer to 1.0mm)
But i already explained 3 days ago that i chose 3mm for strategical/ protective reasons.
If we use 1.7mm as reference and then a sea level rise of 2.4mm happens
these bastards will cry “40% increase in sea level rise – AGW is real”.
>3mm a year does not give them a chance to abuse fluctuations and sell them as fact.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  SxyxS
November 11, 2021 5:51 pm

Even if SLR was 3mm per anum it’s no big deal. It’s a barely noticeable rise. The error the AGW true believers always make, with all these measurements is; they assume straight line increases (where any increase even exists). That is never the case with weathering. It always fluctuates.

Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 11, 2021 8:20 pm

Forty two years of satellite observations have no meaning if not viewed within the context of a geologic timeframe. The sea level has been rising for 16,000 years since the end of the last ice age. The first 8,000 years it rose at a much faster rate than today. The maximum temperature since the end of the ice age was reached about that time and started down to what we have now, approximately 5C lower. Sea level rise slowed down as well to roughly the rate we have today but has not stopped. Earth is still recovering from the end of the last ice age 16000 years ago.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Joe
November 11, 2021 10:28 pm

Forty two years of satellite observations have no meaning if not viewed within the context of a geologic timeframe

There’s a thought that cannot be repeated often enough. It’s the essence of what’s missing in AGW orthodoxy … no sense of geologic time, making a mockery of their constant repetition of “unprecedented”, without which they have no argument at all.

Earth is still recovering from the end of the last ice age 16000 years ago.

And it will continue to do so well into the onset of the next full glaciation, because we really haven’t left the last one. We’ve only had a brief reprieve and our weak efforts are not going to interrupt this planet’s present default … COLD.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 11, 2021 11:02 pm

As I have noted before, the sea level down hear at Torbay South-West England, rises & fall several feet twice a day, every day & on Spring Tide days it reaches the 10ft tall sea-wall! I wonder if does a similar thing elsewhere in the World, sarc on!!!

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Alan the Brit
November 12, 2021 12:32 am

I live within a stone’s throw of ocean on the Pacific North West of BC. It would be impossible not to notice any serious SLR. The shoreline hasn’t changed noticeably in nearly 80 years. It isn’t a thing one could miss because I still visit locations I visited as a child. I see the same boom anchors set in stone and the stumps of pilings where wharves once stood or log rafting was done.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  SxyxS
November 11, 2021 10:55 pm

Pleased to see that someone else’s Geography teacher delivered similar knowledge, however back in the day we were not particularly concerned about a 1/8th inch rise (in old money), nor were we worried that the North American continent was drifting away at a rate of 4 inches per century. Give it time & the Warmunistas will claim Plate Tectonics is caused by CO2.

BBC/ITV news guys & girls wetting themselves predicting the outcome of the final days of the Glasgow jolly/jamboree. Little did they bother analysing one representative from a “developing” nation, who gave the game away, by saying the “rich” countries can afford to adapt to climate change but they can’t!!! It’s all about wealth re-distribution, the money, give us the loot, NOW!!!! If memory serves these jollies have failed because none of the “developing” nations wanted to sign up to a money verification system, proving that they don’t want “rich” nations, (oh alright, the West as it is our tax-money we’re talking about), to know where & on what the cash was being blown!!!

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 12, 2021 12:27 am

glaciers are a very important resource for tourism and an even more vital resource as regards supply of water to river systems…

Shrinking Mountain Glaciers Are Affecting People Downstream – Scientific American

Alan the Brit
Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 3:11 am

Yes true, but where would the water supply be if they didn’t melt???

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Alan the Brit
November 14, 2021 11:51 am

Just so, frozen water is no use for drinking or agriculture. The water tied up in glaciers is only useful when it melts, as in retreating glaciers.

Holocene Max
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 14, 2021 9:24 am

Nothing instills shear terror in the hearts of glacier-loving greens than a video of a calving glacier, which, of course merely shows that the ice has flowed from accumulation zones out into the sea.

November 11, 2021 10:23 am

“ArsTechnica” is at it again only with a new twist. Anyone care to shoot holes in this “Hockey Stick” extended and straightened?

Scientists extend and straighten iconic climate “hockey stick”
24,000 years of climate history, with our current warming being unique in the record.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  TEWS_Pilot
November 11, 2021 1:45 pm

Easy. See the Ars Technica main figure. All regions work using proxies shoed a global cooling since the Holocene optimum. Bit the 500 or so marine proxies are geographically ‘lumpy’ (many in some regions, few or none in others). The new paper ‘corrects’ to geographic ‘uniformity using climate models of the climate then, thus introducing GIGO to get the answer they want. They use the mann Nature trick thermometer temperature splice to get their blade.

Marcott got his 2013 Science blade (which was NOT in his thesis) via simple academic misconduct, by redating proxies.

Rud Istvan
November 11, 2021 10:31 am

Not only are these facts all true, they were known globally at least since Lamb’s work that predated CAGW by decades. How the warmunists continue to ignore them says a great deal about their fact devoid ‘religion’.

Thanks to computational intractability, climate models must be parameterized. That necessarily drags in the attribution problem. As glaciers show, attributing the warming since 1975 to GHG is simply false. Even with out long term glacier evidence, we have recent shorter term physical evidence. The warming from about 1920-1945 is statistically indistinguishable from about 1975-2000 (beginning of the pause). Yet even IPCC AR4 SPM said the former period could NOT be attributed to anthropogenic forcings—too little change in CO2. Natural variability did NOT somehow magically stop in 1975 as warmunists believe.

Ignored by failing COP26, Thunberg, and Kerry.

DD More
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 11, 2021 12:08 pm

Rud “we have recent shorter term physical evidence. The warming from about 1920-1945″
On cruise thru Glacier Bay about 10 years ago, noted their map showed the Grand Pacific and Hopkins Glaciers both had terminus lines in 1924 & 1926 under the current ice fields.

Doesn’t look like they hand out that map anymore.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  DD More
November 11, 2021 1:46 pm

I did not know that. Confirms that the 1925-1940 warming was ‘real’ and natural.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 12, 2021 8:00 am

“In Spitsbergen the open season for shipping to the coal port lengthened from three months in the years before 1920 to over seven months of the year by the late 1930s. The average total area of the Arctic sea ice seems to have declined by between 10 and 20 per cent over that time”

H. H, Lamb Climate, History and the Modern World, 2nd Edition, p260

Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 11, 2021 6:19 pm

It is much more than “computational intractability” that requires parameterization of many climate factors. It is the fact that there is still little understanding of how those things operate so no way to make a functional model.

J Mac
November 11, 2021 10:33 am

The evidence is largely irrefutable. There are clear and multiple paths of evidence demonstrating glacial advances and retreats are all natural cycles, within the Holocene interglacial period. The hypothesis of man made global warming causing the current minor glacial retreats is rejected.

Reply to  J Mac
November 11, 2021 6:30 pm

Here on WUWT a few years ago was a report by someone ‘studying the last 4000 years of climate and geology in the Cascade range.’ He wrote that he produced his essay in response to some university professor in Washington or Oregon who had released a scare story to the new papers about how drastically 5 well know glaciers were retreating, soon to be gone. Those glacier had been much larger for an eon or so.

This researcher included photos taken by low flying aircraft and geological survey maps from the early 1950s, with glacial boundaries marked on them for all 5 of the glaciers. Comparison with today’s documents clearly showed that all 5 glaciers were significantly smaller in the early 1950s than today.

November 11, 2021 10:36 am

I always tell people that glaciers are not magically static – they will be either growing or shrinking. Which would you rather have?

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Terry
November 12, 2021 2:40 am

When you consider the vast amount of fresh water locked up in glaciers around the world, a shrinking one is much to be preferred over a growing one!

Rick W Kargaard
Reply to  Terry
November 13, 2021 7:07 pm

Nor are global temperatures static. It is either warming or cooling. My vote, if it mattered, is for warming.

Dennis G Sandberg
November 11, 2021 10:40 am

Every scientist in the climate discussion knows that the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warms were warmer than the current Modern Warm. Surely that’s a given. The evidence is overwhelming. Likewise, it’s so contour to the Warming/Climate Change narrative that those scientists, who are dependent on the perpetuation of the hoax, cannot admit it. It’s not complicated.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
November 11, 2021 3:09 pm

Another given is trees found underneath glaciers, were growing in a warmer time than now.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
November 11, 2021 4:43 pm

Interestingly, a recent U of A paper [ https://scitechdaily.com/global-temperature-reconstruction-over-last-24000-years-show-todays-warming-unprecedented/ ]
has erased all those warm episodes, and claimed that current warming is “unprecedented” in the last 24,000 years.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
November 12, 2021 4:14 am

I saw that headline yesterday.

The alarmists must erase past warming, otherwise their Human-caused Climate Change narrative is exposed as not representing reality, if it was just as warm in the past as it is today. And it was. Alarmists don’t want to hear that.

ed fox
November 11, 2021 10:50 am

Consider this: People have been told that as glaciers melt and disappear, there is danger that countries like India will run out of water.

This is false, because if glaciers remain the same size from year to year, the rivers fed by the glaciers can have no extra water than what fell as rain or snow. If the glaciers are shrinking, the countries like India are enjoying MORE water in the rivers than they would have if the glaciers were unchanged.

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 5:06 am

Blizzard brings record snowfall in NE China – Global Times


John Tillman
Reply to  rbabcock
November 12, 2021 4:52 pm

And flooded coal mines.

November 11, 2021 10:53 am

Each tree or stump screams that it was warmer then than now. Those logs are not democrats or republican and but are vary effective as calling the ruling party stupid. Sorry to say so many voted for them.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Roy
November 11, 2021 4:45 pm

And also provide evidence that the common perception of glaciers being giant bulldozers, scraping off the soil down to bedrock, is wrong.

Alastair Brickell
November 11, 2021 10:58 am

Many thanks for this timely discussion. But let’s not forget Otzi…he didn’t walk through solid ice to die 5500 years ago in the Italian Alps.

These bits of evidence are surely all we need to show that the current warming is in no way unusual. It’s a theme we should all use to convince the uneducated politicians and teachers we are surrounded by. And tell the schoolchildren. These are facts they need to know and be allowed to think about.

Maybe as a community of skeptics we need to rise up and fundraise to produce educational material for our schools worldwide to show these basic facts. There is no way they can refute them. It’s got to have an effect on their thinking. Or am I just hopelessly naive?

Reply to  Alastair Brickell
November 11, 2021 3:31 pm

I would love to see a crowd-sourced educational material produced here at WUWT. If there was a way to use this website to gather in all of the great ideas, I believe it would be a success. Perhaps Anthony could set up a section for folks hoping to create these educational documents/productions.
Many possibilities exist. Perhaps expound on your ideas and see if anyone bites.

Also if there were an open thread on WUWT, these types of conversations could occur without it being considered off topic.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  chickenhawk
November 11, 2021 4:46 pm

He is already acting on it in two ways.

  1. The essay contests.
  2. The companion ‘pro-con’ site, with draft articles critiques here.
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 11, 2021 4:52 pm

Thank you Rud. The essay contest, I think, will be very helpful. I look forward to reading those essays.
I have not been to the pro-con site.

Thanks, I will look for it.

Reply to  Alastair Brickell
November 11, 2021 6:33 pm

When you can get a reply is is generally along the line that it doesn’t matter what happened in the past, today’s warming is completely man made greenhouse gas warming and its destination is terrible.

November 11, 2021 11:11 am

All of this is common knowledge amongst glaciologists. But for some reason the world of climate science does not want the public to know.

When I was a child, my family took a trip out on the Columbia Ice Fields in some kind of tracked vehicle. The guide explained how the glacier had been melting since the mid-1800s. I wonder what the guides are saying these days.

Reply to  commieBob
November 11, 2021 3:12 pm

I’ve been there more recently, and they are bleating on and on about runaway anthropogenic CO2 driven global warming, while conveniently ignoring the stakes in the ground identifying the retreat of the glacier with dates back into the 19th Century, hoping you won’t notice.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  LKMiller
November 11, 2021 4:47 pm

Somebody should ask about those stakes.

Margaret H Smith
Reply to  LKMiller
November 11, 2021 5:49 pm

You can also see this in the Val Roseg in SE Switzerland and its great glacier. I was there in 1989 and was 150yd beyond the (then) last stake. It will be four stakes further on now. They started back in the 19thC.
The glacier itself is huge and impressive.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  LKMiller
November 12, 2021 3:13 am

I suspect they tie unwanted cabbage-patch dolls to them as a disguise!!! 😉

David Wolcott
November 11, 2021 11:17 am

It’s all part of Greenies’ obsession with a Goldilocks temperature that’s somehow “perfect” and which we should dismantle our economies and whole societies in order to achieve.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  David Wolcott
November 12, 2021 2:46 am

What is so interesting is that for all their claims of knowing the perfect temperature they never give us a number!

November 11, 2021 11:20 am

All of the discussion the I see regarding glaciers refers to temperatures. Is not the amount of precipitation that feeds the glaciers also important and variable?

Peta of Newark
Reply to  rwnj
November 11, 2021 12:15 pm

As happened to Kilmanjaro – the snow atop of it disappeared because the forest on its flanks were cut.
The snow didn’t even melt, it just evaporated away

This appeared today at the BBC:
Headline:”Himalayan village split in two by climate change” LinkDo we suppose there’s any connection with, going back to 2013, this:
Headline;”Overgrazing turning parts of Mongolian Steppe into desert” Link

Meanwhile in Scotland, ‘The Sphinx‘ has seemingly melted Link
Did it melt or evaporate. No matter, what we want to know is how many trees are there now compared to ‘back when’, how many sheep, how many acres of barley, how many towns, how big cities, how much ground cleared to windfarms….

We are systematically removing not only the things that pump water into the atmosphere but also, as per the Steppe story, removing the soil based water store that those pumps relied upon.
So where is that water if not in the ocean – raising its level?
If its in the ocean, its not up in the sky making clouds and shading the sun – surely Shirley making things warmer than ‘way back when

Feel free to “Cntrl+F” and see where I mentioned CO2

Ad another epic water pump as I discovered on a roasting hot summer’s day was, of all things, Drax Power Station.
It was actually creating its own weather, a grey, damp and drizzly Low Pressure system in the midst of a Europe-wide High pressure system of 2+ weeks standing

But not especially Drax burning wood, the cooling towers of big old conventional stations burning coal esp are huuuuge water pumps

who would have thunk – that Awful Coal cools the climate and makes glaciers

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 11, 2021 4:51 pm

And it also may be a function of cloudiness. Ice and snow can melt when the temperature at the height of a weather station is below freezing if it is in direct sunlight. There are still some snow and ice fields on the north side of the mountains in Glacier NP that have been static for a century. The whole situation is much more complex than “It has to be CO2. We can’t think of anything else that would cause it.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 12, 2021 8:11 am

As regards trees in Scotland 13m removed to make way for wind turbines.

November 11, 2021 11:24 am

Thank you for that. Very informative in the era of mis/dis information spouted ad nauseam by the MSM.

Tom Halla
November 11, 2021 11:43 am

I think the term “pre industrial” is why the green blob mythologizes the Little Ice Age.

Reply to  Tom Halla
November 11, 2021 6:40 pm

Disciples of Ted Kaczynski.

November 11, 2021 11:50 am

I find “THE EASY BUTTON” to be NOAA Tides & Currents Sea Level. Show someone the NOAA data accompanied by these facts.

IPCC AR5 says CO2 didn’t have any effect on the climate before 1950.

APGW has increased the melting of polar ice raising ocean levels at an accelerating rate.

APGW has warmed ocean waters expanding the water column increasing the catastrophic rise in sea level.

Compare and contrast these data with the 170 years of flat sea level rise shown by NOAA in New York Battery Park sea level data. “See that hockey stick”, that last bit is sarcasm, as there is no hockey stick in the sea level data.

In the life of a very long lived person (100 years) sea level is going to rise about eight inches.

Reply to  Lil-Mike
November 11, 2021 11:52 am
Reply to  Lil-Mike
November 11, 2021 4:33 pm

IPCC AR5 says CO2 didn’t have any effect on the climate before 1950.”
Or after.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Lil-Mike
November 11, 2021 4:44 pm

Yep, I’m hoping to live to my eight inches.

Jolyon Hallows
November 11, 2021 12:07 pm

I have a question about glaciers that perhaps someone with more knowledge of them than I have can answer. When news broadcasts want to depict the horrors of global warming, one iconic image is calving glaciers. But it strikes me that a glacier that is calving is one that is growing and that melting glaciers withdraw. In which case, the media have it exactly wrong again. Is this analysis accurate or am I missing something?

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Jolyon Hallows
November 11, 2021 12:28 pm

You are not wrong, but are missing something. Glaciers are rivers of ice that flow very slowly. If they flow to the sea, they will calve. But that only means they are flowing. Whether they are growing or shrinking depends on the changing volume of upstream ice, which depends on precipitation.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 11, 2021 4:48 pm

Well, Rud, since you are a member of the patriarchy I will have to consult a feminist glaciologist for an accurate description.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 11, 2021 4:56 pm

… which depends on precipitation.

And, sublimation and summertime melting, which can be affected by windiness and cloudiness, respectively.

November 11, 2021 12:17 pm

Just another make the narrative, seize the narrative, personally attack any/all that discredit the narrative, repeat the narrative ad nauseam. That’s how propaganda works.

John V. Wright
November 11, 2021 1:04 pm

Another two questions to ask people who worry about the earth’s glaciers disappearing:
Question 1: Where are the vast majority of the earth’s glaciers located?
Answer: Antarctica.
Question 2: What is the average temperature of Antarctica?
When they have looked this up, the next question is: Shall we talk about something else now?

November 11, 2021 1:38 pm

Why do warmists assume that processes that have historically been cyclical are now progressive.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  rwisrael
November 12, 2021 3:20 am

Simply because they have to otherwise the whole AGW game falls apart. Scary stories are designed to just one thing………scare people, but NOT inform!!!

Robert W Israel
November 11, 2021 1:44 pm

Why do warmists assume that processes which have historically been cyclical are now somehow linear ?

Reply to  Robert W Israel
November 11, 2021 4:34 pm

Arrogance, rent seeking and self-removal from reality

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Robert W Israel
November 12, 2021 3:21 am

See above!!! 😉

November 11, 2021 2:06 pm

When I traveled to Glacier Bay in the mid 1970s, a major tidewater feature was the “interstadial forest,” the stumps revealed by the then melting and retreating glaciers that had opened up the bay starting at least sometime before the mid 19th century. The stumps left behind by the melting glaciers indicated that Glacier Bay had been ice free for centuries before advancing and during my visit there, those stumps were quite large…

It was hoped that the melting of the glaciers would continue into British Columbia so that Canada could have a port for timber and mining on Canadian soil sometime by the end of the 20th century. In addition at the border of Alaska and BC was also a static deposit of nickel that was hoped to be ice free so that we could mine the ore and produce another vital resource, now especially needed for “green energy” within the US.

November 11, 2021 2:46 pm

Paul you may already be aware of this, but in case you have seen this a link.


November 11, 2021 2:58 pm

The solar input to Earth in the present era peaked in 1585. That was the last time that perihelion occurred before the austral summer solstice. Since then the oceans have been getting less heat input. The northern land masses are getting more sunlight in summer but getting less in winter.

Glaciation, in the present precession cycle, should be in progress now. It appears it may have started but has been interrupted.

I wonder if humans have interfered with glaciation by make the snow dirty due to burning wood and coal.

As far as I can determine, the only way that Earth rapidly recovers from glaciation is for the ice to have reduced reflection as a result of widespread atmospheric dust.

Gunga Din
November 11, 2021 3:36 pm

Forgive me for repeating this oldie.

“When glaciers calve, alarmist have a cow.
That explains all the bellowing!”

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Gunga Din
November 12, 2021 10:34 am

That one’s been milked for all its’ worth.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 13, 2021 5:32 pm

They haven’t come up with anything new. Why should I? 😎

November 11, 2021 3:49 pm

Glaciers melt even when the ambient temperature is below freezing because they are dirty. That changes the albedo. The dirt on and in the glaciers absorb the Sun’s heating radiation. And then the melting begins.

There was just some article about how the wild fires are contributing their soot to the poles.

November 11, 2021 4:30 pm

Huh! But where does co2 come in?

Jeff Reppun
November 11, 2021 4:34 pm

Geologist Don Easterbrook’s book “A Walk Through Geologic Time From Mt. Baker to Bellingham Bay” also addresses remnants of forests on multiple Mt. Baker (Washington State) glaciers that radiocarbon dated to Little Ice Age inundation.

Book also shows retreat of glaciers up to 1947, then expanding up to 1979 before again retreating. NASA needs to homogonize glacier history.

Reply to  Jeff Reppun
November 11, 2021 6:53 pm

No glaciers but an anthropology article a year or so ago on high altitude Colorado was about the discovery that rather large numbers of native Americans had often inhabited areas that are so inhospitable today that hardly no one ever goes there. Only quite recently had someone noticed there were remains of habitation and human activity.

At the end of the article one of the researchers casually mentioned that ‘up there’ 500 feet above today’s tree line, there are quite a few dead trees. Carbon dating has shown they grew in two separate periods, around 1000 and 2000 years ago.

John Tillman
Reply to  AndyHce
November 12, 2021 4:58 pm

Holocene Climatic Optimum: ~5000 Ka
Egyptian Warm Period: ~4000 Ka
Minoan WP: ~3000 Ka
Roman WP: ~2000 Ka
Medieval WP: ~1000 Ka
Modern WP: Now.

November 11, 2021 4:49 pm

What Greta does not appear to know or ignores is that 4000 years ago the Scandinavian climate was considered to be at it’s optimum. According to museum information near Stockholm the climate then was similar to what the mediterranean is now.
Since there were no cars in those days, I keep asking people who was doing all the flatulence to have created the optimum then. Still waiting for answers.

Reply to  outtheback
November 11, 2021 6:59 pm

Considering this for some insight.
Due to obliquity and precession, summer insolation in the far north was markedly greater than at present just a short (geological) time ago – during the Holocene.

Reply to  AndyHce
November 11, 2021 10:31 pm

Precession is the big factor in latitudinal variation in insolation. If you go back to 1585, the orbit perihelion was coincident with the austral summer solstice. Go back almost half a precession cycle to 10,000 years ago 55N was getting 40W/sq.m more insolation at the summer solstice than now. Northern Hemisphere insolation minimum was about 400 years ago.

The Northern Hemisphere will experience increasing summer sunlight for the next 10.000 years but the maximum at 55N will only be 20W/sq.m more than now because the orbital eccentricity is reducing.

Something few people realise is that the South Pole currently gets the peak daily average sunshine of any place on Earth – the sun is not intense but it shines all day to average 560W/sq.m. The North Pole currently peaks around 540W/sq.m. The precession cycle will cause those values to equalise in about 5,000 years and then the North Pole getting more sunlight till it reaches 560W/sq.m.

Bill Rudersdorf
November 11, 2021 6:56 pm

I have heard it posited that Hannibal’s invasion of Italy by marching over the Alps (218 B.C.) might have come at a time when the alps were virtually free of glaciers. Does anyone here have and data of that place and time? Thanks in advance.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Bill Rudersdorf
November 11, 2021 7:36 pm

Roman warm period
Warm being good meaning times of plenty but also open invasion routes for elephants.

Into each period some rain must fall.

Say a recent Secrets of the Dead on this that let slip there was little ice then

Surely PBS has now defunded that particular producer.

Mikey Mann to perform the exorcism

michael hart
November 11, 2021 7:38 pm

Ahhh, Chamonix. As a teenager, I recall camping below the Bossons glacier in Chamonix.

The showers piped the water straight off the glacier. In a very Kafkaesque form of torture, you had to continuously pull down on a chain to inflict the pain on yourself.
It was only matched by the hotness of the daughter of the French family camping next to us.

November 11, 2021 7:42 pm

Catastrophic global-greening is a thing.

November 12, 2021 12:18 am

And if you look, the world’s glaciers have shown ACCELERATED retreat in all areas in the last 30 to 50 years, with marked acceleration since 1990.

A great summary – but you missed off the end.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 3:26 am

As a retired structural engineer of many years experience I advise that making observations is one thing, interpreting those observation is a whole different ball-game!!! Jumping to conclusions is a common fault of the inexperienced IMHO!!!

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 5:42 am

Just plain false. For example, the map above is from 2001. In the top left, you’ll see no retreat at all in the last 100 years, and none showing acceleration of retreat in the 10 to 30 years of claimed acceleration from the start of your time frame to when the map was made.

Reply to  griff
November 12, 2021 6:22 pm


Clyde Spencer
Reply to  griff
November 13, 2021 10:42 am

… the world’s glaciers have shown ACCELERATED retreat in all areas in the last 30 to 50 years, with marked acceleration since 1990.

I suggest the you actually take the time to look, because you are wrong! You can start here:


Note my comment at the end of the article.

Have you no shame? Most people would be embarrassed by being shown to be wrong as often as you are!

Last edited 1 year ago by Clyde Spencer
November 12, 2021 4:26 am

A few months ago, I posted a link to the article on the forest being revealed by the Mendenhall Glacier on Facebook. They removed it.

November 12, 2021 9:31 am

“All of this is common knowledge amongst glaciologists. But for some reason the world of climate science does not want the public to know.” – article

The World of Climate Pseudo Science (fixed it for you!) does not want the public to know that the planet’s climate is beyond their control and the planet has a mind and a will of its own.

The state of Minnesota yesterday had a blizzard warning. Snowing up there now, if the weather radar is accurate, and we down here in the hinterlands will also get snow, plus nasty cold stuff, and I will have to put food out for the birds.

It is what it is, and we mere mortals have ZERO control over it. Eventually, the poor souls blinded by the brilliance of controlling the planet (followers of so-called climate science) will find that they were delivered a sucker punch and that we Mere Mortals have no control – ZERO control – over what this planet does. If we had any control, why aren’t we stopping those nasty gas-spouting volcanoes from erupting and adding nasty gases to the atmosphere???

Thanks for the article.

November 14, 2021 12:12 pm

For a long time the Jakobshavn glacier, the biggest one in Greenland, was the poster child of catastrophists due to its impressive melt and retreat.
In 2016 however it’s retreat abruptly stopped and changed to advance.
At the time this was reported to be connected with local oceanography, specifically a cooling of the water in Disko Bay.

Is Jakobshavn glacier still advancing and growing?

There now seems to be a chilling silence on the internet about the current status of Jakobshavn glacier.
Only out of date news of its earlier retreat in past decades being endlessly recycled.

Can anyone give a recent update on the status of Greenland’s Jakobshavn glacier?

November 18, 2021 8:36 am

“These are not just odd trees, but the remnants of great forests. It is clearly evident that the glaciers then were much smaller than they are now.”

When i got it right, the picture shows a extended forest just below the glacier. So could someone elaborate why the picture shows ‘clearly evident that the glaciers then were much smaller than they are now’.

There are other places in the wolrd where we see this. but not in the picture withthe forest above.

November 18, 2021 8:40 am

“Glaciers were smaller than now in the Middle Ages”

this depends on the location. For teh european Alps i have here reasonalble doubts.

See papers from Patzelt and Nicolussi on the Treeline in Austria: even in 2003 the treeline was higher than in the middle ages. So why shlould ELA have been higher in the middle ages than today?

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