Half-Truths About Retreating Glaciers

HALF TRUTHS ABOUT RETREATING GLACIERS part 6 : How Pressure Systems Control Climate

Jim Steele

There is no question what-so-ever that most of the world’s glaciers have been retreating. However because the elites at Climate.gov believe rising CO2 is causing all the earth’s warming, they mistakenly assume it can also be blamed for retreating glaciers, stating

“the most dramatic evidence that earth’s climate is warming is the retreat and disappearance of mountain glaciers around the world.” So, the public is fed half-truths about a CO2 climate crisis causing glacier retreat.

In contrast, there is wealth of opposing, peer-reviewed, published, scientific evidence demonstrating that changing patterns of moisture transport control the ebbs and flows of glaciers – not global average temperature. So here I will share just a small portion of that science for you to follow.

For a transcript visit


Jim Steele is Director emeritus of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus, authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism, and proud member of the CO2 Coalition.

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Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 6:20 am

Where’s the “half truth” in this chart, Steele? https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/ice-sheets/

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 10:17 am

You know what an ice sheet is ?
And you know what a glacier is ?

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 12:33 pm

Offhand, apples and oranges. Volume vs advance/retreat (linear). The NASA data linked is to icesheets, one a continental icesheet. Different scale. However, the precipitation issue may still apply, and if you watch the video above, you can see the Greenland icesheet’s location relative to the precipitation patterns that may answer your question. A better, less snarky, question you could have asked is, “is there precipitation data explaining the alleged volume loss in the icesheets.

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 2:30 pm

So in 20 years it has lost 3000 Gt of its 26,500,000 Gt mass, for a loss of 0.000001%

Another 1 million years and it may time to be concerned.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 4:22 pm

You really are Griff

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 23, 2022 7:11 am

1) False precision
2) The assumption that it is caused by warming temperatures
3) The assumption that the assumed warming temperatures is being caused by CO2.

No Name Guy
February 22, 2022 6:41 am

The fact that the glaciers in the PNW and Alaska began retreating long before any significant increase in CO2 levels due to anthropogenic causes falsifies the hypothesis that CO2 is related to said retreat.

That is unless the glaciers sensed what was coming. 😉

Reply to  No Name Guy
February 22, 2022 6:51 am

but now they retreat faster and further… For example, between 2006 and 2016, glaciers in western Canada lost an average of 1 percent of their ice mass annually 

Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 7:46 am

Yeah, and the UK’s rain is 6% wetter

No link, no cred, griff – you should know by now.

Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 7:49 am

The Athabasca river is fed by the Columbia Icefield. The annual flow is reasonably constant since 1912. link That means the ice loss is reasonably constant. Since the icefield has been retreating for the last century and a half, that means that a greater proportion of it is lost each year.

As far as I can tell, the statistic you provide doesn’t mean what you think it does. (apologies to Inigo Montoya) 🙂

Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 8:36 am

In griff’s world there are no such things as climatic cycles. If anything changes, it must have been CO2 that caused it.

Reply to  MarkW
February 22, 2022 8:39 am

Simon is dumb enough to believe that too.

(It is inappropriate to make this comment on someone not in the thread at the time, lets focus on the topic instead) SUNMOD

Last edited 1 year ago by Sunsettommy
Reply to  Derg
February 22, 2022 10:15 am

(Deleted completely off topic comment) SUNMOD

Last edited 1 year ago by Sunsettommy
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 10:04 am

Once again, you did not do your homework. That is, read the article wherein Steele says, “There is no question what-so-ever that most of the world’s glaciers have been retreating.”

Your response is really a non sequitur. Saying that the Canadian glaciers are currently losing an average of 1%/yr does not support the claim that they are now retreating faster and farther compared to any unstated time period. Nor does it support the claim that increasing temperatures are solely responsible. Decreased precipitation and/or decreased cloudiness, increased windiness, or increased dust could all be contributing to the retreat. Not only do you not provide citations, you demonstrate that you don’t understand the big picture.

Hutches Hunches
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 10:10 am

So what? The article clearly states that glaciers are retreating around to world. It also clearly notes that CO2 is not the cause. This fact is the basis for trillions of dollars wasted on “clean energy, restrictive government policies and high real energy costs. Wise up griff, cause and effect really does matter!

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 10:44 am

Most of those glaciers in WC weren’t there 5,000 years ago. Organic debris in the melt water is 5,000-7,000 years old, indicating forests grew in those valleys during the Holocene Climatic Optimum.

No glaciers, forests instead. Kind of nice. Hope we get there again soon. It would be a shame to have to wait 100,000 years for it.

Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 10:52 am

> “For example, between 2006 and 2016, glaciers in western Canada lost an average of 1 percent of their ice mass annually ”

Excellent. Zeno says that means they will never disappear.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Rob_Dawg
February 23, 2022 8:53 am

Let’s suppose that this is true, and the loss of glaciers reduces the available melt water in spring. That would actually be a strong indication that a reduction of spring melt is not an agricultural disaster in the making. In Western Canada this has been going on since the mid 1800’s at least. No apparent effect on crop production in an important growing area of the world. Why would it? It probably prevents a lot of damaging flooding, and if snowfall is reduced it is replaced by rainfall, a more reliable and usable form of moisture. Damn glaciers! Who needs ’em?

Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 1:53 pm

And at some point in the past they were losing 2% mass annually. And at another point in time they were gaining 1% mass annually. It doesn’t mean a thing. So what. Even if you could prove it definitively. Just, so what.

john harmsworth
Reply to  griff
February 23, 2022 8:45 am

I tell this story over and over. Cover your ears, Griff. Never mind, you’re deaf to the truth anyway. I went on a family holiday in the early 60’s through the Columbia Icefields. There were lookouts along the highway where we could walk down to the toe of the glacier. The parks authority had signposts up showing the retreat of the glacier since the mid 1800’s. Your insistence on denial of facts smacks of a pathological issue or else employment, Griff. It’s an unhealthy pattern. Get help or get a real job.

Reply to  griff
February 24, 2022 10:45 am

but now they retreat faster and further

Until finally they get to bare land, and then THAT starts to melt!!!!!!!

Chris Wright
Reply to  No Name Guy
February 23, 2022 5:33 am

Yes, both the modern glacier retreat and sea level rise started almost precisely in 1850, right at the end of the Little Ice Age. It was almost as if someone had thrown a switch. They have both been remarkably constant ever since. Today glacier advance and sea level rise is no faster than during the Boer War.
During the LIA glaciers were advancing. Some Alpine villages were destroyed by advancing glaciers. For people/things like griff, perhaps they should be careful what they wish for!

Glacier length MacFarling-Meure et al 2006
Sea level rise Jevrejeva et al 2014

Reply to  Chris Wright
February 24, 2022 12:13 am

Agree, but the temperature increase must have happened earlier due to the 15-20 year lag between temp and glacial retreat.

So warming starts as early as 1830. This directly contradicts IPCC temperature reconstruction which doesn’t start to warm until 70-80 years at the start of the 20th century.

Graphs below on this thread.

February 22, 2022 6:49 am

and yet all but the very highest glaciers are in retreat and that rate of retreat has increased in recent decades..

(I exclude a handful of fast moving glaciers, which no doubt will be cited here any minute…)

David Kamakaris
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 7:12 am

Explain Antarctic ice, Griff. BTW, how long is your record?

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  David Kamakaris
February 22, 2022 9:43 am

Oh, his record of fibbing and spouting Warmunist propaganda goes way back.

jeffery p
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 7:24 am

Assuming you are correct, so what? Can you show cause and effect? You’re plotting a trend using one data point.

Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 7:58 am

So why did the Southern continent just have a record cold winter, griff?

The hemispheres are very different. Your notions of global warming cannot overcome that fact. So spin away….

John Tillman
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 8:05 am
Last edited 1 year ago by Milo
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 8:19 am

If you had read the article before commenting, you could have saved yourself from sounding so ridiculous and earning the pity and judgements of everyone reading your words. Jim provided a dozen well researched pages on WHY they are retreating to which you counter with “but they are retreating.” I would say try harder but I’ll amend that simply to “try.”

Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 8:38 am

It was only a few years ago that we were being told that all of the Glaciers in Glaciers National Park were going to be gone by 2010. Yet somehow, they are still there. I guess that’s because the glaciers shrank faster than expected.

Reply to  MarkW
February 22, 2022 9:04 am

But then as with all AGW calamity predictions that didn’t eventuate, the “experts” just pushed their predictions forward another generation.

So now we don’t have to worry about our children or grandchildren, but be very alarmed about your great great grandchildren.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Mr.
February 23, 2022 9:39 am

Gonna go see those disappearing glaciers as soon as I get my flying car! Lol!

Reply to  MarkW
February 22, 2022 1:10 pm

Didn’t they remove the sign that said the glaciers were all going to melt?

Reply to  TonyG
February 26, 2022 3:35 am


Clyde Spencer
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 10:10 am

… that rate of retreat has increased in recent decades..

It depends how one measures the retreat. As commieBob so astutely points out above, if a constant amount melts each year, then the percentage increases as the denominator decreases.

Just throwing out ‘facts’ without context or definitions is what politicians do, not scientists.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clyde Spencer
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 10:21 am

Did the Kilimanjaro glacier disappear ?

Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 22, 2022 10:31 am

But the commonly heard—and generally correct—statement that glaciers are disappearing because of warming glosses over the physical processes responsible for their disappearance. Indeed, warming fails spectacularly to explain the behavior of the glaciers and plateau ice on Africa’s Kilimanjaro massif, just 3 degrees south of the equator, and to a lesser extent other tropical glaciers. The disappearing ice cap of the “shining mountain,” which gets a starring role in the movie, is not an appropriate poster child for global climate change. Rather, extensive field work on tropical glaciers over the past 20 years by one of us (Kaser) reveals a more nuanced and interesting story. Kilimanjaro, a trio of volcanic cones that penetrate high into the cold upper troposphere, has gained and lost ice through processes that bear only indirect connections, if any, to recent trends in global climatte

The Shrinking Glaciers of Kilimanjaro: Can Global Warming Be Blamed?

Albert H Brand
Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 10:27 am

None of these glaciers are more than 12 million years old so it must have been warmer then than now

Reply to  griff
February 22, 2022 11:03 am

You repeatedly make unsupported assertions without evidence/sources in comment after comment, it is a bad reputation you have here.

You are expected to make your case with sourced evidence otherwise you will always be considered a lightweight nobody here.

Reply to  griff
February 23, 2022 9:32 am

Actually Griff your claim about rates is not correct. For the subset of glaciers which have very long length records (there are 18 in total globally) going back to 1800 or earlier there is statistically no difference in the rates of retreat for the three very clear periods approximately 1860-1900, 1935-1965 and 1985 to present. Note the periods of retreat lag temperature by about 15-20 years depending on the lag dependence of the individual glacier.

Reply to  ThinkingScientist
February 23, 2022 9:34 am

And here is an average length graph after standardising each glacier length series (I used the Mer de Glace as the reference as it has the most continuous coverage)

Reply to  ThinkingScientist
February 23, 2022 9:37 am

And for good measure here are the well known published length graphs from Nussbaumer & Zumbuhl (2011) clearly showing the Mer de Glace as retreating at its fastest rate by far pre-1900.

john harmsworth
Reply to  griff
February 23, 2022 9:38 am

Here’s a news flash for you, Griff. Mountains are pointy! As the snow line rises, the area covered decreases. Hence an apparent acceleration. Still dates back to the 1800’s.What’s the reasoning behind that now? Gaia anticipating the burning of fossil fuels?
What caused the Little Ice Age?
What temperature do you want it to be? Please advise how your answer would affect crop outputs.

Rud Istvan
February 22, 2022 6:55 am

The US NPS had to remove the posters saying that Glacier National Park’s glaciers would disappear by 2020 thanks to global warming when they didn’t.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 22, 2022 9:45 am

They should have left them up as a monument to hubris.

Curious George
Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 22, 2022 10:29 am

That’s why they now predict for year 2100.

jeffery p
February 22, 2022 7:19 am

What isn’t caused by global warming?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  jeffery p
February 22, 2022 7:38 am

it’s The Great Satan- so it causes all bad things

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  jeffery p
February 22, 2022 8:47 am

You could write a book on everything attributed to global warming. I would call it, “Global Warming Ate My Homework.”

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  jeffery p
February 22, 2022 10:16 am

So far, no one has had the temerity to claim that “the heart break of psoriasis” is caused by global warming. But, it wouldn’t surprise me if one of our resident trolls were to do so.

Reply to  jeffery p
February 22, 2022 1:11 pm

What isn’t caused by global warming?


Steve Keohane
February 22, 2022 7:38 am

Sea level is down six feet in the last 4-6K years. If that didn’t go into glaciers and pole ice, where did it go?

Reply to  Steve Keohane
February 22, 2022 8:39 am


Gary Pearse
February 22, 2022 7:40 am

Jim, as always, your articles are educational, logical and a delight to read – very much the opposite of the face of doctrinaire climate:

“M Mann: little ice age was a time of modest cooling of the northern hemisphere by about 0.6 degrees Celsius.” those centuries may have been “more significant in terms of increased climate variability.”

‘Modest’ warming of 0.6°C from1850 to 2000, however, was catastrophic!! This man is supposed to be a scientist when the obvious correct conclusion is hanging out there like a mandrill’s butt -recovery from the LIA!


MM then compounds his remoteness from things scientific by suggesting the LIA’s significance was its increased climate’variability’. Now I fully understand why it’s okay by him to throw out the decline in tree ring temperatures where they conflict with his story.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 22, 2022 8:47 am

The story of the MWP and LIA is the historical record of which crops could, or could not, be reliably grown in what locations.

If the climate is highly variable, farmers will be very conservative about what crops they plant. ie. they will plant stuff that won’t be wiped out by a shortened growing season.

Mann’s increased MWP climate variability flies in the face of the historical record.

Bob Hunter
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 22, 2022 9:45 am

Re LIA global: Anecdotal evidence, a # years ago, I remember reading about Spanish explorers on this website. An early Spanish ship had sailed up a fjord (channel) in Peru. Approx a 150 years later another Spanish ship that had the previous Captain’s notes travelled up the same channel. The 2nd ship encountered a glacier down to the water that wasn’t mentioned by the first captain. But damn if I can remember the explorers or the channel.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 22, 2022 12:40 pm

In a recent article (ok, maybe several weeks ago) on this site, there was a graphic that showed CO2 and temperature levels going back millennia. On that graphic were several key points, including the RWP, MWP, and LIA. When I looked at that graphic, it struck me how close we still are to the LIA in temperature. Based on that, I certainly don’t want to go cooler! I wish I had saved that graphic somewhere…

February 22, 2022 7:47 am

These alarmist claims refuse to die. 

I remember when the IPCC (AR4) claimed the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035 that nice Mr Pachauri described an Indian report that criticised the claim as ‘voodoo science’.

February 22, 2022 8:35 am

From the chart above. The retreat started in 1850, there wasn’t enough CO2 added to the atmosphere to make a difference until about 1950.

1) What caused the retreat from 1850 to 1950?
2) Why did it stop in 1950?

Peter W
Reply to  MarkW
February 22, 2022 10:13 am

Details, details, always details!

Peta of Newark
Reply to  MarkW
February 22, 2022 10:16 am

1/ Because they were cutting a lot of trees down, especially to make railway sleepers also houses for the growing population
2/ Because ‘we’ discovered plastics made from oil and so didn’t need so much wood anymore (wood is a plastic after all)

Reason being that trees are water pumps – they push water vapour into the sky and depending where it falls, makes rain, snow and glaciers.
Grasses also but when the Grass World is now dominated by annuals like wheat, corn and rice, the water pumping effect of those is next to zero compared to the perennials that previously existed
NOW, there’s a coincidence Mr Steele. The mid 1800’s when the glaciers all changed direction and the arrival of John Deere’s all steel plough.
Any comment?

Following the logic of Steele’s explanations, and I’m really sorry but, cutting trees also cause the Atlantic to overturn and the sun to make spots? All he’s done here, as usual, is pump out a list of coincidences and wild barely believable reasons.

Another epic outpouring of whats wheres and whens but no significant whys
How many times do Sun Spots need to be debunked and apart from that, Steele has nothing.

Wasn’t Kilimanjaro’s disappearing snow put down to de-forestation on its slopes and now some trees have been allowed 6to grow back, so has the ice
And if we want Modern Glaciers to be melting especially oin the Northern Hemisphere, simply look at the amount of road de-icing salt that’s being used.

Kindergarten Science says they melt because of the heat, maybe they melt because their freezing point has been lowered?
Also by the blizzard of water soluble metals coming off farmland, esp Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium = alkali metals having a similar de-icing effect as Sodium in the road-salt.
Even before soot, brake-dust and rubber-dust – even the asphalt itself wearing away and blowing off in the wind (why new roads start off very black then fade to grey)
Melting the Arctic also but noticeably NOT the Antarctic. How does CO2 know the difference?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 22, 2022 11:10 am

Peta, your posts are so monomaniacal, wordy and fanciful I just skim them now. That way I avoid the “negative information” you spew.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 23, 2022 7:25 am

Please tell me how cutting down a handful of trees in England caused temperatures to fall all over the world?

Like the rest of your beliefs, this one is based on fancy, not fact.

February 22, 2022 9:42 am

The Taku Glacier, which is east of Juneau, is the world’s deepest alpine glacier. It drains into the Taku River that flows west to the ocean. In 1981 I worked as geo on a molybdenum prospect south of the river and have long had an interest in the region.
A few years ago, came across a map showing that the glacier was advancing. That was to 2014, so I contacted the USGS office in Juneau for an update.
The geo that kept track of it would not give me an update, so I’ve assumed it is still expanding.
If anyone can get through to those guys it would be interesting to see the latest survey.

Steve Case
February 22, 2022 9:42 am

Missing from the discussion is the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming shibboleth that shrinking glaciers threaten world-wide fresh water supplies.

A simple Google [news] search turns up story after story about how water supplies are threatened by shrinking glaciers – for example:

Mountain glaciers are essential water sources for nearly a quarter of the global population.” LINK

It doesn’t take much thinking to realize that even if the glacier disappears, it will still rain and snow in the valley and the rivers will still flow.

Reply to  Steve Case
February 22, 2022 9:50 am

Growing glaciers also decrease the amount of meltwater that is available.

peter schell
Reply to  Steve Case
February 22, 2022 11:00 am

I was about to argue with you that glaciers meter water rather than letting it gush away at a steady pace. but then I also realized that when they are stable, or growing, the lock up a good bit of water that otherwise could flow freely and be used.

As for metering the flow. that’s what dams are for if it’s a big issue. Don’t most glaciers fill valleys? Seems a tailor made location to build water control dams

Steve Case
Reply to  peter schell
February 22, 2022 12:02 pm

Receding glaciers aren’t scary. So they have to be made scary. Well, they do contribute to sea level rise, but the oceans have been rising since we’ve been keeping tide gauge records, and aren’t all that scary especially if you live in a mountainous area. BUT if you tell ’em they’re gonna run out water, that puts a bit more urgency in it, even better if you accompany your story with images of dry cracked river beds and some emaciated dead cows.

Yes, receding glaciers release water and growing glaciers store water. And believe it or not, melt water from snow or ice occurs throughout the summer. Some places like Hawaii don’t have glaciers and they have water. OK, there’s some snow and ice on the Big Island. On a clear day you can even see it up there. But this meme that when the glaciers disappear the communities down stream will not have water is just more misdirection, propaganda and bullshit from climate cult.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Steve Case
February 23, 2022 4:45 am

We don’t use glaciers for water management. For that we build dams.

Tom Abbott
February 22, 2022 9:48 am

Great article, Jim.

Moisture, not temperature. Got it!

Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 22, 2022 10:24 am

In contrast to griff, he will never get anything 😀

Last edited 1 year ago by Krishna Gans
Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 22, 2022 4:31 pm

He’s got something, probably not polite to probe.

Ulric Lyons
February 22, 2022 10:56 am

There is a fundamental problem with those European NAO correlations. Positive NAO gives wetter winters but drier summers for northwest Europe, and negative NAO gives drier winters but wetter summers.

Glacial retreat around the northern hemisphere is clearly associated with the warm phase of the AMO, which is driven by negative NAO.

1950-1980 being a negative NAO regime is not quite true, the 1970’s had a positive NAO regime.

February 22, 2022 11:02 am

For the few glaciers I have examined, the alarmists also conveniently ignore that many glaciers retreated far more in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before CO2 could have allegedly been a factor.

Pat from kerbob
February 22, 2022 4:22 pm

Jim, just reading the text version but first off, all of you realists should stop referring to Mann as a climate scientist and instead continually call him a climate activist.
Don’t use the word scientist at all

Because it will drive him nuts, attacking the core of the identity he has constructed.

“Hit him in his mind”.
The Hansen brothers

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
February 23, 2022 7:30 am

If memory serves, Mann doesn’t have a degree in anything related to climate, so he could never be a climate scientist in the first place. At least if we go by the standards he applies to people who disagree with him.

February 22, 2022 4:27 pm

Who would have thought moisture would be important to glacier size.

Reply to  Olen
February 23, 2022 7:31 am

Not the climate alarmists.

February 23, 2022 12:19 am

Jakobshavn, the biggest glacier in Greenland, switched from retreating to advancing in 2016:

Major Greenland glacier is… growing | Belgian Platform on Earth Observation (belspo.be)

It’s been reported as advancing robustly till 2019.
This is associated with significant oceanic cooling of up to 2 C in the adjacent Disko Bay.
After 2019, the internet has gone strangely quiet about the Jacobshavn glacier.

February 23, 2022 9:25 am

Galcial retreat has been continuous and almost linear since as early as 1830 or so. Sea level rise is pretty much the same. There is a quasi-periodic oscillation in both observations with a period of about 60 years approx.

The retreat of glaciers and sea level are physical observations that (a) directly contradict the reconstructed temps which only start increasing from about 1900 – 1910 and (b) the CMIP5 and 6 model forcings which only kick in from about 1910.

Reply to  ThinkingScientist
February 23, 2022 9:50 am

I should add – in my graph the sea level and glacier data are calibrated to the 20th Century HadCRUT4 temps by linear regression, after allowing for a time lag derived from peak cross-correlation. Everything is baselined to the period 1961-1990 for consistency (and to show how crap the new CMIP6 model mean is….)

Last edited 1 year ago by ThinkingScientist
Robin Dean
February 23, 2022 1:53 pm
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