Greenland is Melting! Greenland is Melting! More baloney from the cult of anthropogenic global warming.
A favorite myth fervently believed by those who accept without question the propaganda about significant human impact on climate is that glacial recession is the result of human activity. These believers are convinced that the polar regions are melting, Greenland is losing its ice cap, and major glaciers around the world are dissolving as a consequence of humans burning fossil fuels. Of course, these folks never really take the time to truly inform themselves, relying instead on the false information eagerly spread by an irresponsible press aided and abetted by duped politicians and grant-seeking "scientists."
Greenland is Melting! Greenland is Melting! ... or is it?
Throughout this commentary I refer to "anthropogenic global warming" as merely "global warming." I do this because this is the phrase used by those who would propagate the myth that humans are causing significant global climate change. The common misuse of the term fails to distinguish between global warming from natural causes and that which is caused by human activity (e.g., burning of fossil fuel). It is important to understand that climate is always naturally changing and periods of natural warming and cooling are the norm rather than the exception. We'd best understand and identify the forces that cause these natural cycles before accepting an unproven theory promoted by a coalition of losers ... politicians, irresponsible journalists, grant-seeking scientists, and those who are drawn to every issue that negatively portrays any facet of human enterprise. So please understand that natural global warming cycles occur frequently and one could well be occurring at this moment in time.
One of the most fervently believed myths of the "humans are destroying the planet" cult is the one that claims human activity is causing a world-wide meltdown of glaciers and polar ice caps. So busy are they sounding the false alarm of global warming, these wild-eyed believers don't stop to investigate the foundation of their mythology. Should they investigate, they’d discover their foundation is rests on quicksand!
Let's look at the specific claim that the great ice cap of Greenland is melting.
Before concentrating on what is really going on in Greenland at this time, it is worth noting that Greenland has not always been covered by a massive ice cap (it is called "Green"land). It is only during atypical cold climate regimes that Greenland is crushed under a massive ice cap. Indeed, much of northern North America and Europe were covered by a massive ice cap during the glacial episode of the most recent ice age cycle. Greenland has not yet lost its ice cap from that cycle. With the exception of cold cycles within Ice Epochs and Ice Eras, Greenland is typically without any ice coverage as is the rest of Earth's sea level suface, including the poles.
Excerpts from Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Patrick J. Michaels:
"Greenland is melting! Greenland is melting!" cried a spate of press stories based on two pieces in Science magazine appearing in summer 2000. These articles surely call into question the peer review process in the current culture of global warming science.
Most scientists do not intend to deceive. Still, most scientists are people, and even the most objective can and often will write or say things that may not be warranted by objective data and hypothesis testing. That's what the peer review process is supposed to catch. When a pattern of weak reviews begins to emerge, something bad is happening to science ...
The first Greenland paper was by veteran glaciologist William Krabill, whose earlier laser-bsed studies of the West Greenland Ice Sheet - by far the largest chunk of land-ice in the Northern Hemisphere - showed an actual thickening of up to seven feet in the 1980s. That fact may seem counterintuitive, but under global warming Greenland's ice indeed might grow, especially if the warming occurs mostly in winter. After all, warming the air 10 degrees when the temperature is dozens of degrees below freezing is likely to increase snowfall, since "warmer" air is generally moister and precipitates more water, which still must fall as snow at such cold temperatures.
In his 2000 study, Krabill and nine coauthors examined the very brief period 1994-1999. They find, combined with another study published that year, that the largest mass, the ice that's higher than 6,500 feet above sea level, is "rising" at the rate of 0.2 +/- 0.2 inches per year. But the land is rising, too - at about 0.15 inch per year. That leaves, in Krabill's estimation, a change of +0.04 +/- 0.2 inches per year for this massive icecap, which encompasses the vast majority of Greenland. In the far northern island's coastal regions, ice retreat predominates over about 70 percent of the area studied.
In a companion paper in the same issue of Science, Thomas and colleagues wrote, "The [whole] region has been in balance [emphasis added], but with thickening of 21 centimeters per year [8.3 inches] in the southwest and thinning of 30 centimeters per year [11.8 inches] in the southeast."
Even so, we can't count the number of press reports blaming melting on global warming, despite the fact that the overall ice is pretty much "in balance." The obvious questions: How much has it warmed in southeastern Greenland as the ice melted in that region?
Michaels goes on to report that the best temperature record for southeastern Greenland (where melting has occurred) shows a 70 year cooling trend!
Interestingly, in southwestern Greenland, where the ice cap has actually thickened, we have also observed a 70 year cooling trend.
So, after 70 years of cooling temperatures, both glacial melting and glacial thickening are observed. Evidently, atmospheric temperature (global warming?) isn't the mechanism driving changes in Greenland's ice cap.
In Meltdown, Michaels observes that "Krabill and colleagues attempted to relate the melt in the southeast to the temperatures of 1994-1999" by comparing the temperature anomalies for those years with the average temperature since 1979. Noting that the 105-year annual average tempearture in southeastern Greenland averages -1.28 degrees C, the 1994-1999 average temperature was only slightly warmer at -1.08 degreees C. Michaels further observes, average temperatures were "about one degree lower than the 1930-1950 temperatures (before human activity changed the greenhouse effect very much). But the period 1979-1999, which Krabill used for averaging, is actually a little colder than its last five years, so the 1994-1999 temperatures appear 'warm.'"
Krabill and his colleagues noted: "Greenland temperature records from 1900-95 show highest summer temperatures in the 1930s, followed by a steady decline until the early 1970s and a slow increase since. The 1980s and 1990s were about half a degree colder than the ninety-six-year mean. Consequently, if present-day thinning is attributable to warmer temperatures, thinning must have been even higher earlier this century." ... before human activity had any possibility of influencing climate to any degree.
Michael's notes the peculiar conclusion of Krabill, "Inexplicably, Krabill told Reuters, 'This thinning is a clear indication the global climate is warming up.' That's a bit of a stretch, seeing as it is cooling where the ice is melting and has been doing so for seven decades!"
What caused the earlier warming noted by Krabill? Couldn't have been global warming from human activity. Seems that any rational person would want to understand such normal climate variations before accepting the assumptions inherent in the current hype about global warming.
Putting Krabill's work in persepctive, Michaels observes: "So how long do we have left to live? If the icecap lost 0.15 inch per year - the limit given in Krabill's broad range of estimates - it would take about 800,000 years to melt. Between then and now, if history is any guide, we're likely to experience two or three major ice ages, and we will have run out of fossil fuels about 798,000 years before then."
Citing another study in Meltdown, Michaels reveals:
In 2003, another study of Greenland temperatures appeared, by Edward Hanna and John Cappelen. Hanna and Cappelen developed a high-qualtiy data set of Greenland land temperatures from 1958-2001 that were quality controlled to check for errors, biases, and so on. The eight stations are mostly from coastal southern Greenland - a key area because the edges of the Greenland Ice Sheet, along the coastline, are most sensitive to temperature changes, particularly in summer. Climate models suggest that ice sheet ablation increases by 20 percent to 50 percent for every 1 degree C rise in temperature.
Their composite record ... smoothed using a five-year moving average, shows temperatures declining significantly since 1958. Temperatures in southern coastal Greenland have dropped 1.29 degrees C since 1959. Hanna and Cappelen compared this record with nearby sea-surface temperature measurements from two different sources over the same period ... Although the ocean temperatures show less yearly variability (as expected, since water warms and cools more slowly than land, even if the land is very cold), the trend and pattern of year-to-year variation are very similar. So both land and adjacent ocean temperatures have been dropping.
Given that recored, why the concern that Greenland is melting? How did Krabill and friends get their more alraming result? Krabill's study focused on 1994 to 1999, six years in the midst of a period of warming in Greenland that began in the early 1990s.
Michaels concludes, "The reality of the overall cooling of Greenland seems to have little influence on what environmental activists will write or what the press will repeat."
In a 2001 study of the Odden ice tongue (a winter ice sheet that develops in the Greenland Sea and covers as much as 330,000 sq. km.), the average concentration and maximum/minimum area of extent was investigated for the period 1979-1998 (during which "global warming" hysteria was building to a fever pitch). The purpose of the study was to infer characteristics of the tongue over the past 75 years.
This study reveals the Odden feature varied in size, shape, and length during the 20-year study period with a considerable year-to-year variability. Reconstruction of the Odden feature over the past 75 years suggests the tongue was "a relatively smaller feature several decades ago" as a result of warmer temperatures at that time.
Since "global warming" theory claims the polar regions will warm first and most significantly, it would seem that this study, which found a relatively constant temperature record over the past 20 years, suggests a key component of the global warming theory is simply not being observed. In fact, there is evidence that the Jan Mayen Island region has actually cooled by more than 0.1 degree C during the past 75 years!
If a key facet of the global warming hype can so easily be demonstrated to be false, why are so many people so easily taken in by the scare tactics of proponents of the "humans are dooming the planet" hysteria? One possible explanation is that information such as that presented here is seldom reported ... indeed, it is generally ignored.
Until we better understand natural climate cycles, it is foolish to adopt a reactionary approach to hysterical reports that try to pin everything from Katrina to a mild weather spell on human-induced global warming.
Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Patrick J. Michaels (2004). (Michaels is research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute. Professor Michaels is also past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and winner of the American Library Association's worldwide competition for public service writing and author of the 2003 climate science "Paper of the Year," awarded by the Association of American Geographers.)
Comiso, J.C., Wadhams, P., Pedersen, L.T. and Gersten, R.A. 2001. Seasonal and interannual variability of the Odden ice tongue and a study of environmental effects. Journal of Geophysical Research 106: 9093-9116.
Biography - Bob Webster
Bob Webster, a descendant of Daniel Webster's father, Revolutionary War patriot Ebenezer Webster, has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for all high school students so they can appreciate the cost of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.
A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.