A recent article in Axios claims that the current rate of global ice sheet melting and sea level rise will rapidly accelerate unless global warming is stopped before it reaches 1.5°C. Axios also claims that even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, sea levels will rise for centuries because of the “delayed response” of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Axios’ claims are misleading at best. Warming, sea level rise, and ice melt is likely to continue regardless of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, as it has been going on for far longer than human emissions have been a factor. There is no evidence that any out-of-control “tipping point” exists or is being approached, nor any evidence rates of sea level rise are increasing. Ice mass naturally grows and shrinks in the north and south poles.
The article, “Drastic emissions cuts needed to avert multi-century sea level rise, study finds,” discusses a new study that comes to some old, unoriginal conclusions. Mainly, that unless humans stop emitting greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane rapidly in order to keep warming to 1.5°C or less (the earth has already warmed 1.2°C) rapid ice melt and rising seas will occur.
Writer Andrew Freedman cites a study published in Nature Communications, to support his story. Describing the study’s methodology, Freedman writes it “utilizes multiple simulations from what are known as “coupled” computer models in which the interactions between the atmosphere, ocean, ice sheets and ice shelves are included and capable of influencing one another over time.”
As is typical, these alarming predictions are based not on observable data, but on computer model projections that have a bias towards human-caused warming. Climate Realism has discussed the problems with climate modelling dozens of times, including here, here, and here, for instance.
In reality, scientists’ understanding of how the atmosphere and clouds, oceans, and polar ice caps interact is limited in scope, with new connections and feedbacks being discovered with some regularity. Because of the immense complexity of the Earth’s climate, it is no wonder that modelers consistently fail to accurately predict future warming and downstream effects like sea level rise.
Regarding sea level rise, current and past trends are hardly alarming. Climate at a Glance: Sea Level Rise shows that global sea level has been rising since the end of the last ices age, far before humans began burning large quantities of fossil fuels, sometimes at rates far above the roughly 1.2 inches per decade measured over the past couple of centuries. (See figure below)
Sea level has already risen more than 400 feet since the end of the last ice age. As explored in Climate Realism, here and here, for example, recent claims that rates of sea level rise have increased in the past few decades are due to an incorrect methodology in accounting for a shift from one set of satellites to a newer set. Tide gauge data does not support the claim that rates of sea level rise are accelerating.
Freedman claims that the research proves “even if global warming slows near or just after 2100, as would be the case in moderate to high emissions scenarios, ice sheet contributions to sea level rise would keep accelerating well beyond that.”
The researchers themselves are quoted as claiming that ice sheet melting will be “similar to a runaway train.”
However, ice melt data demonstrates no evidence such a “tipping point” exists that would lead to runaway melting.
Looking at Greenland, one of the “at risk” locations mentioned in the article, it’s clear that ice mass change fluctuates over time. While there has been a general decline in ice mass, the rate of loss has actually been declining in recent years, despite the modest warming and increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (See Figure below)
Ice loss in Greenland thus far has been insignificant compared to the ice mass of the entire Greenland ice sheet, the loss each year is around 0.005 percent of the entire mass.
Antarctica’s ice sheets, also mentioned by Freedman as being at risk of melting away, are seeing similarly unalarming melting trends. In fact, recent research concludes that Antarctica has seen a modest expansion of ice over the last several decades, as well as net-zero warming across the continent. Some sections, like the Antarctic Peninsula, are more prone to melting, while the eastern portion of the continent has seen a cooling trend and ice expansion.
The discovery of 800-year-old penguin remains that were revealed after some ice melted away in Antarctica gives good evidence that Antarctica experienced lower ice levels and warming that allowed penguins to inhabit the normally too-icy region during the Medieval Warm Period, which took place between 900 A.D. and 1200 A.D.
The researchers and Freedman claim that the ice sheets are merely “delayed” in responding to global warming. Yet when ice losses begin to mount, researchers claim it shows ice sheets respond to warming nearly immediately. It evidently never occurred to the researchers or Freedman that the climate models could be wrong, as they have consistently been concerning temperatures, and as a result, the response might not be as severe as they hypothesize. Without a return to ice age conditions, sea levels will inevitably rise over time, and ice will melt, regardless of anthropogenic causes. These cycles of warming and cooling are natural elements of earth history. Although humans are likely contributing to warming, available data does not point towards a looming catastrophe from rising seas. Axios probably would have been better served had they taken a more skeptical approach towards computer modelling, relying on publicly available (and easily accessible) sea level and ice melt data instead.
Linnea Lueken is a Research Fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy. While she was an intern with The Heartland Institute in 2018, she co-authored a Heartland Institute Policy Brief “Debunking Four Persistent Myths About Hydraulic Fracturing.”
Ice sheets are displacing water now. If they were to melt, sea level would decrease. You can prove that for yourself. Fill a glass with ice. Add water until it is completely full. Let it melt…see the ‘sea level’ decrease.
Only true if the ice is floating.
Try your experiment in a bowl but the ice on an upturned mug in the bowl. The full bowl will overflow as the ice melts.
Huh? What does that prove? The weight of the ice + water will not change. Only the displacement of the water by ice will change.
Uh, a one-word response is not really useful. It means you don’t really understand that water increases in volume when it freezes, and decreases in volume when it melts. That’s why melting ice can’t raise water levels.
Linnea Lueken seems to have taken over the H. Sterling Burnett column at Climate Realism and is doing such a good job, I can’t tell the difference. And that’s a big complement. I had always recommended every H. Sterling Burnett article, and now it seems I recommend every Ms. Lueken article at: Honest Climate Science and Energy
Maybe the article could have used a little more courage about Antarctica?:
Sea level rise is not accelerating because Antarctica is not melting from more CO2 in the atmosphere. Antarctica will not melt from more CO2 in the atmosphere. There is some disagreement about why, but that does not matter — the fact is that the warming from 1975 to 2015 did not melt Antarctica. There has been some local melting of ice shelves, and the peninsula, from nearby underseas volcanoes, but they have been offset by more ice on the mainland.
I believe most of Antarctica is cooled by more CO2 in the atmosphere mainly because of the temperature inversion there. Whatever the reason, 90% of the world’s ice is on Antarctica, and it is not melting and accelerating sea level rise. So there is no need to build an ark. Another leftist climate myth bites the dust.
Sea level rise is not accelerating because Antarctica is not melting from more CO2 in the atmosphere.
there’s no evidence of zero accelaeration.
the cause of ice melting in ANTarctica, is being driven by warmer water not warmer air.
here is the causal chain
more CO2 –> slower rates of heat loss to space–> ocean heat content higher than it would be otherwise–> more ice melting than otherwise.
so no direct link. also more c02 in the atmosphere at the south pole lowers the ERL and
because antartica is such a high elevation you get a reverse greenhouse effect
for greenhouse to work the surface must be warmer than ERL
What are you, some free form poet?
I explained the Antarctica warming is local and directly related to underseas volcanoes, Not a warming pattern that could be caused by CO2. Underseas volcanoes would cause local “warmer water” which is exactly what you wrote.
The important point is the ice mass is not melting.
I provided a detailed explanation as a comment is the next article, at the link below:
“A new study reports there has been a -0.3°C cooling in the Southern Ocean since 1982 per multiple observational data sets.
The authors detail the “failure of CMIP5 models in simulating the observed SST cooling in the Southern Ocean.”
The Southern Ocean is today about 1-2°C colder than it has been for nearly all of the last 10,000 years (Shuttleworth et al., 2021, Civel-Mazens et al., 2021, Ghadi et al., 2020).”
+A new study (Xu et al., 2022) suggests the Southern Ocean (50°S–70°S) has continued to cool for the last 40 years, with amplitudes ranging from -0.1°C to -0.3°C per decade in some regions.
Climate models are unable to simulate this cooling, as they are famously incapable of accurately depicting the role of cloud forcing in modulating sea surface temperature trends.
“SST in the Southern Ocean is considered as an important indicator of climate change. This study shows that the Southern Ocean (50°S–70°S) sea surface temperature has a significant and robust cooling trend during 1982–2020”
SOURCE OF QUOTE
‘A Significant And Robust Cooling Trend’ In The Southern Ocean From 1982–2020 Defies Climate Models (notrickszone.com)
I believe most of Antarctica is cooled by more CO2 in the atmosphere mainly because of the temperature inversion there
antartica has a negativ greenhouse because the surface is higher than the ERL and because the air is dry ,and because the surface is coolr than ERL, so inversion is only one contributing cause
Greenhouse gases warm the climate system by reducing the energy loss to space through the greenhouse effect. Thus, a common way to measure the strength of the greenhouse effect is by taking the difference between the surface longwave (LW) emission and the outgoing LW radiation. Based on this definition, a paradoxical negative greenhouse effect is found over the Antarctic Plateau, which suprisingly indicates that greenhouse gases enhance energy loss to space. Using 13 years of NASA satellite observations, we verify the existence of the negative greenhouse effect and find that the magnitude and sign of the greenhouse effect varies seasonally and spectrally. A previous explanation attributes the negative greenhouse effect solely to stratospheric CO2 and warmer than surface stratospheric temperatures. However, we surprisingly find that the negative greenhouse effect is predominantly caused by tropospheric water vapor. A novel principle-based explanation provides the first complete account of the Antarctic Plateau’s negative greenhouse effect indicating that it is controlled by the vertical variation of temperature and greenhouse gas absorption strength. Our findings indicate that the strong surface-based temperature inversion and scarcity of free tropospheric water vapor over the Antarctic Plateau cause the negative greenhouse effect. These are climatological features uniquely found in the Antarctic Plateau region, explaining why the greenhouse effect is positive everywhere else.
Antarctica is not melting and accelerating sea level rise using HONEST tide gauges to measure relative sea level. That disturbs you so much you ought to take a tranquilizer pill to calm down. A leftist without the Antarctica melting boogeyman is a disappointed leftist.
Similarly, this year’s Super Bowl had the 2nd highest total score within the past 2 million years.
Good article; plus glaciers are environmental hazards, especially when they calve. Calving produces icebergs, which sink ships — like the Titanic (1912) and several others. In other words, the Titanic was a victim of a cooling trend, which was clearly evident via the AMO index.
Glaciers are slowly moving rivers of ice and will calve during warming trends and cooling trends.
Calving occurs with advancing (growing) glaciers. Melting occurs with retreating glaciers. https://asf.alaska.edu/information/glacier-power/glacier-power-what-is-glacial-calving/
Too cold for glaciers to melt in Antarctica except for ice shelves over underseas volcanoes.
The issue of melting Greenland ice sheets is settled by the realization that the WWII P-38’s that landed on the glacier on Greenland are now buried under 268 feet of ice. It is insignificant what happens to some ice sheets at the perimeter, the 268 feet thickness spread out over most of Greenland is a tremendous amount of ice. Never mind.
Greenlands ice sheets have not increased in height by 268 feet.
Those P-38’s sank by 268 feet. With glaciers, snow falls on the top and ice oozes out from the bottom.
MarkW, your comment is wrong at several levels. The P-38’s are side-by-side and preserved intact. The one removed, via tunnel, Glacier Girl, had the wings removed and was extracted via the access tunnel. The 268 feet on top of the 3 P-38’s and one bomber, is composed of snow compacted to ice, semi-compacted to firn, and snow. Snow that falls and accumulates a little is 90% air, whereas the snow compacted into ice, due to weight of snow accumulated above it, is 10% air. This means that around one thousand feet of snow fell on top of the P-38’s and was compacted to the ice mixture aggregating 268 feet. Glaciers move when the weight induces plastic deformation and the ice crystals undergo translation, and the glacier moves down-gradient due to gravity. Removing the leading edge of the glacier where it contacts sea water speeds up the glacier somewhat, but not significant to the overall health of the glacial system.
An eight minute video about “Glacier Girl”, which was restored and flew again after 50 years:
The Lost P-38 Fighter that was Frozen in a Glacier for 50 Years – YouTube
Another video, almost six minutes:
\“Glacier Girl” | The Real Story of a WW2 P-38 Trapped in Ice for 50 Years | War Thunder – YouTube
Once the coastal glaciers retreat enough to no longer be melted by the relatively warmer ocean water, I expect the rate of melting to decrease.
Why do we even worry about a few watts worth of human induced CO2 when, over the long term, we have THIS (from WikiP) which will involve hundreds of feet of sea level rise and fall, to adapt to:
Oops on the comment! Never mind.
“… that unless humans stop emitting greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane rapidly in order to keep warming to 1.5°C or less (the earth has already warmed 1.2°C) rapid ice melt and rising seas will occur.”
Yup, something they love to ignore. Most of it has already happened without human effects. They used to go for 2.0°C warming until they realised that might not happen. So they arbitrarily reduced the number closer to something that might.
off topic: “Coupled computer models” still strikes me as something close to kinky. Good marketing though.
Artificial insemination accompanied by artificial stupidity?
Always get your science from Axios! Your life will be full of surprises.
To put that into perspective, it means 5% may be lost in 1,000 years. A lot can happen to the world’s population, economy, and especially technology in 1,000 years. We’ve only had heavier-than-air, powered aircraft for 120 years and the first digital computer was constructed about 80 years ago.
And of course, the BBC, this weekend, had to rush out the claim “Antarctica sea-ice hits new record low”
Excellent article, however, these two NON-data based remarks are inaccurate (stated as they are with unqualified certainty):
1. human emissions have been a factor
Not proven. Moreover, the incoherent response of surface temperature to the enormous rise in human CO2 emissions since around 1998 is anti-proof refuting this unjustified conclusion.
2. humans are likely contributing to warming
Given this theoretical (there is NO data proving this is so to any meaningful degree) possibility is, given the data, NOT at all LIKELY to be significant or meaningful, this statement is doing far more to promote AGW than to refute it.
Ms. Lueken sounds like someone whose funding depends on her keeping the faux CO2 crisis alive. 🤨
The greenhouse effect of CO2 is proven in a laboratory with spectroscopy since the late 1800s
There is no evidence that CO2 in the atmosphere is not a greenhouse gas and acts differently than in a laboratory,
Therefore more CO2 in the atmosphere always impedes Earth’s ability to cool itself
The effect of more CO2 is small above 400ppm because CO2 is a weak greenhouse gas above 400ppm, but there is still some effect
Because the effect of CO2 above 400ppm is so small, and CO2 is so important for C3 plant growth (90%) I support doubling or tripling atmospheric CO2 to support more life on our planet.
If you want to help us refute the CAGW fantasy, your CO2 does nothing strategy, is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.
The effect of CO2 to hold heat in is completely overwhelmed by the negative feedback from all of those tons of H20. If it was otherwise, the Earth would have boiled long ago.
Actually the “warming” effect of more CO2 (deflecting heat, not holding heat) is amplified by more water vapor in the atmosphere. The warming effect of more CO2 and more water vapor is limited by increased cloudiness that reduces incoming solar energy. That prevents runaway global warming, in my opinion.
But CO2 is such a weak greenhouse gas above 400ppm that it is no longer an important climate change variable, even with a water vapor positive feedback (that the IPCC claims takes 200 to 400 years to fully develop).
So it makes more sense, in my opinion based on CO2 enrichment – plant growth scientific studies, to want MORE CO2 in the atmosphere to boost the growth of C3 plants (90% of about 300,000 species). Better C3 plant growth would support more human and animal life on our planet. Anti-CO2 zealots are anti-life zealots, and they are stupidheads too.
“human emissions have been a factor”
This has to be true, because otherwise, we’d have no reason to control every aspect of people’s lives and destroy western civilisation.
Mamade CO2 emissions are one or mamy climate change variables
The actual timing and pattern of warming from 1975 to 2015 has been beneficial. Think of warmer winter nights in Siberia
And more CO2 benefits C3 plants
Manmade CO2 emissions have been GOOD NEWS.
They also correlate strongly with economic growth
Which is more good news.
And as the climate warms, women wear smaller bikinis at the beach
Perhaps the biggest benefit of them all. Which I spend 97% of my research time on.
Nice report. I can’t wait for us to pass the 1.5 C temperature increase, The sooner the better, all the hyperbole about it is beginning to bore me.
Earth reached +1.5 degrees C, rounded to the nearest 0.1 degree C. in April 1998 and February 2016 during the peak heat of two large El Nino heat releases, Millions of people died. It was in all the newspapers.
According to Sea Level Info (sidebar of this blog) SLR at The Battery was 2.7mm/ year from 1856 to 1990, and 4.47mm/yr from 1990 to 2023
The key is:
The mean sea level (MSL) trend at The Battery, NY, USA is +2.90 mm/year with a 95% confidence interval of ±0.08 mm/year, based on monthly mean sea level data from 1856/1 to 2022/10. That is equivalent to a change of 0.95 feet in 100 years. (R‑squared = 0.838)
(Source: http://sealevel.info/MSL_graph.php?id=Battery )
Why is that the key? All it does is mask the acceleration.
And SLR is not monotonic.
As is typical, these alarming predictions are based not on observable data, but on computer model projections that have a bias towards human-caused warming.
first. ALL prediction of the future must rely on models, since we dont have observable data from the future.
the simplest form of model is “the future will be like the past”
second simulations of ICE are not biased toawrds warming, quite the opposite, they historically underestimate melt.
The bias to overestimate the warming is well documented. Your simplest for of model is more properly called a projection. If you had done even the most introductory of statistics courses, you’d have discovered just how quickly a projection like that deviates from reality. The confidence interval looks like a trumpet.
the simplest form of model is “the future will be like the past”
That back of the envelope model has failed miserably in the past 120 years when using a 30 to 50 year climate trend extrapolated to predict the next 30 to 50 years of climate. That extrapolation worked better as a contrary indicator, or a reversion to the mean indicator. Demonstrating that 30 to 50 year climate trends were not predictable.
I predict your future comments
will be as bad as your past comments !
A follow-up to a comment you wrote a week ago under the “REPRISE — Why I Don’t Deny: Confessions of a Climate Skeptic — Part 2” WUWT article about Arctic sea-ice (not “ice sheets” !, direct link).
I used NSIDC sea-ice extent data, instead of the area data used in “Notz and SIMIP Community, 2020”, for their 1979-2014 “compare models to actual empirical data” period and for the dataset updated to (September) 2022.
Borrowing the idea from (satellite) SLR measurements of using a quadratic “best-fit line / curve”, which allows some basic “acceleration” calculations to be performed, I got the following graph.
Note that adding eight years of data results in the “ice-free Arctic” threshold of 1E6 km² being “pushed out” by (almost) nineteen years …
NB : I have the really strong feeling that I am missing something(s) “obvious” in this … ummmmm … “analysis” (?), but until I can see what’s wrong I can’t fix it (/ them).
– – – – –
From the Notz et al (2020) paper :
Using their “2019 = 0 GtC cumulative emissions” scale, -170 GtC ~= 2002/3 and -450 GtC is pre-1979 (= -345 GtC).
There are several CMIP6 models, even in the “plausible range” subset, that “project” that an ice-free Arctic summer has already occurred.
How does that show “simulations … historically underestimate melt” ?
Note that I can “tweak” my “Cumulative CO2 Emissions” curve to get a (very) good match to the quadratic best-fit curve for the 1979 to 2022 NSIDC dataset.
I can’t say the same for the 1979 to 2014 subset, which would indicate Notz et al (2020) used a different “best-fit curve” for their calculations (TBC).
Wouldn’t it be cheaper and faster to move to higher ground?
Yes, it would. But how do you scare the sheep to death, so they’ll give you ultimate power over them?
“Axios probably would have been better served had they taken a more skeptical approach towards computer modelling, relying on publicly available (and easily accessible) sea level and ice melt data instead.”
You’re assuming they were trying to serve the public at large. No, they were only serving the true believers.
Computer models yet again. Enough said. Although I don’t have the exact quote to hand, Charles Babbage was once asked by a parliamentarian, if you fed incorrect information into a computer, would you get a correct answer. Charles noted that he had no idea what could give rise to such a stupid question.