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Glacier Meltdown

Latest Scientific Studies Refute Fears of Greenland Melt

By EPW Blog

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ilulissat, Greenland – The July 27-29 2007 U.S. Senate trip to Greenland to investigate fears of a glacier meltdown revealed an Arctic land where current climatic conditions are neither alarming nor linked to a rise in man-made carbon dioxide emissions, according to many of the latest peer-reviewed scientific findings. Recent research has found that Greenland has been warming since the 1880's, but since 1955, temperature averages at Greenland stations have been colder than the period between 1881-1955.

A recent study concluded Greenland was as warm or warmer in the 1930's and 40's and the rate of warming from 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than the warming from 1995-2005. One 2005 study found Greenland gaining ice in the interior higher elevations and thinning ice at the lower elevations. In addition, the often media promoted fears of Greenland's ice completely melting and a subsequent catastrophic sea level rise are directly at odds with the latest scientific studies. These studies suggest that the biggest perceived threat to Greenland's glaciers may be contained in unproven computer models predicting a future catastrophic melt.

As a representative of Environment & Public Works Committee Ranking Member, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), I made the trek to the Arctic Circle with the Senate delegation to the land the Vikings once farmed during the Medieval Warm Period.

Senators and their staff viewed majestic giant glaciers and icebergs in the Kangia Ice Fjord and in Disko Bay via helicopter, boat and on foot, during the three day 24 hours of daylight trip which began in the Arctic city of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

In an informational handout, participants of the Senate trip to Greenland were shown a depiction of coastal flooding that illustrated what would happen if most of the ice on Greenland was to melt and sea levels rose nearly 20 feet. The handout on Greenland was written by UN scientist Dr. Richard B. Alley, who is also a professor of Geosciences at Penn State University and traveled with the Senate delegation. Dr. Alley noted that the illustration of coastal flooding was not a forecast or a prediction, but merely an illustration of what could happen.

Dr. Alley's handout stated in part, "We don't think Greenland could melt completely in less than many centuries, but it might get warm enough this century to start complete melting."

During the trip, a Danish scientist and Danish government officials appealed to the U.S. government to act now to address global warming and used the prospect of Greenland melt fears as a wake up call for such action. But the very latest research reveals massive Greenland melt fears are not sustainable. According to a survey of some of the latest peer-reviewed scientific reports, current Greenland temperatures are neither alarming nor linked to a rise in man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

Sampling of Recent Scientific Studies:

1) A 2006 study by Danish researchers from Aarhus University found that "Greenland's glaciers have been shrinking for the past century, suggesting that the ice melt is not a recent phenomenon caused by global warming." Glaciologist Jacob Clement Yde explained that the study was "the most comprehensive ever conducted on the movements of Greenland's glaciers, according to an August 21, 2006 article in Agence France-Presse. "Seventy percent of the glaciers have been shrinking regularly since the end of the 1880's," Yde explained. [EPW Blog note: 80% of man-made CO2 emissions occurred after 1940. (LINK) ] Niels Tvis Knudsen of Aarhus University co-authored the paper.

2) A 2006 study by a team of scientists led by Petr Chylek of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Space and Remote Sensing Sciences found the rate of warming in 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995-2005, suggesting carbon dioxide 'could not be the cause' of warming.

"We find that the current Greenland warming is not unprecedented in recent Greenland history. Temperature increases in the two warming periods (1920-1930 and 1995-2005) are of similar magnitude, however the rate of warming in 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995-2005," the abstract of the study read.

The peer-reviewed study, which was published in the June 13, 2006 Geophysical Research Letters, found that after a warm 2003 on the southeastern coast of Greenland, "the years 2004 and 2005 were closer to normal being well below temperatures reached in the 1930's and 1940's." The study further continued, "Almost all post-1955 temperature averages at Greenland stations are lower (colder climate) than the (1881-1955) temperature average."

In addition, the Chylek led study explained, "Although there has been a considerable temperature increase during the last decade (1995 to 2005) a similar increase and at a faster rate occurred during the early part of the 20th century (1920 to 1930) when carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases could not be a cause. The Greenland warming of 1920-1930 demonstrates that a high concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is not a necessary condition for a period of warming to arise. The observed 1995-2005 temperature increase seems to be within natural variability of Greenland climate. A general increase in solar activity [Scafetta and West, 2006] since 1990's can be a contributing factor as well as the sea surface temperature changes of tropical ocean [Hoerling et al., 2001]."

"To summarize, we find no direct evidence to support the claims that the Greenland ice sheet is melting due to increased temperature caused by increased atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide." The co-authors of the study were M.K. Dubey of Los Alamos National Laboratory and G. Lesins, Dalhousie University in Canada.

3) An October 2005 study in the journal Science found Greenland's higher elevation interior ice sheet growing while lower elevations ice is thinning. According to a November 8, 2005 article in European Research, "An international team of climatologists and oceanographers, led by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC) in Norway, estimates that Greenland's interior ice sheet has grown, on average, 6cm per year in areas above 1 500m between 1992 and 2003." Lead author, Ola M. Johannessen of NERSC "says the sheet growth is due to increased snowfall brought about by variability in regional atmospheric circulation, or the so-called North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)," according to the article.

4) A February 8, 2007 peer-reviewed paper published in Science found two of Greenland's largest glaciers have "suddenly slowed, bringing the rate of melting last year down to near the previous rate," according to the New York Times blog (2-8-07). The report found that the Kangerdlugssuaq glacier's "average thinning over the glacier during the summer of 2006 declined to near zero, with some apparent thickening in areas on the main trunk." (LINK) University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory researcher Ian Howat, the lead author of the report, explained "Greenland was about as warm or warmer in the 1930's and 40's, and many of the glaciers were smaller than they are now." "However, it does suggest that large variations in ice sheet dynamics can occur from natural climate variability," Howat, also a researcher with the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center, explained. "Special care must be taken in how these and other mass-loss estimates are evaluated, particularly when extrapolating into the future because short-term spikes could yield erroneous long term trends," Howat cautioned.

5) A July 6, 2007 study published in the journal Science about Greenland by an international team of scientists found DNA "evidence that suggests the frozen shield covering the immense island survived the Earth's last period of global warming," according to a Boston Globe article. (6-6-07) According to the article, the study indicates "Greenland's ice may be less susceptible to the massive meltdown predicted by computer models of climate change, the main author (Eske Willerslev, professor of evolutionary biology at University of Copenhagen) said in an interview. "This may have implications for how the ice sheets respond to global warming. They may withstand rising temperatures," Willerslev said. The article explained, "The discovery of organic matter in ice dating from half –a-million years ago offers evidence that the Greenland ice sheet remained frozen even during the Earth's last 'interglacial period' – some 120,000 years ago – when average temperatures were 9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they are now." Willerslev addressed scary computer model predictions of a massive Greenland melt. "[The study] suggests a problem with [computer] models" that predict melting ice from Greenland could drown cities and destroy civilizations, Willerslev said. The study found "Greenland really was green, before Ice Age glaciers enshrouded vast swaths of the Northern Hemisphere…somewhere between 450,000 and 800,000 years ago," according to the article.

6) Climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels of University of Virginia and the Virginia State climatologist wrote the scenario promoted by former Vice President Al Gore and others showing Greenland's ice melting and raising sea levels by 20 feet is not supported anywhere in scientific literature, not even by the United Nations. "Where is the support for this claim? Certainly not in the recent [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)] Policymakers Summary from the United Nations. Under the [IPCC's] medium-range emission scenario for greenhouse gases, a rise in sea level of between 8 and 17 inches is predicted by 2100. Gore's film exaggerates the rise by about 2,000 percent," Michaels wrote in a February 23, 2007 article. "According to satellite data published in [the journal] Science in November 2005," Michaels wrote, "Greenland was shedding ice at 0.4 percent per century." "Nowhere in the traditionally [peer-reviewed] refereed scientific literature do we find any support for Gore's [Greenland melt] hypothesis," Michaels concluded.

7) Geologist Morten Hald, an Arctic expert at of the University of Tromso in Norway has also questioned the reliability of computer models predicting a melting Arctic. "The main problem is that these models are often based on relatively new climate data. The thermometer has only been in existence for 150 years and information on temperature which is 150 years old does not capture the large natural changes," Hald, who is participating with a Norwegian national team in Arctic climate research, said in a May 18, 2007 article. The article continued, "Professor Hald believes the models which are utilized to make prognoses about the future climate changes consider paleoclimate only to a minor degree." "Studies of warm periods in the past, like during the Stone Ages can provide valuable knowledge to understand and tackle the warmer climate in the future," Hald explained.

8) Polar expert Ivan Frolov, the head of Russia's Science and Research Institute of Arctic and Antarctic Regions, said atmospheric temperature would have to much higher to make continental glaciers melt. "Many hundred years or 20-30 degree temperature rise would have made glaciers melt," Frolov said in a December 14, 2006 Russian news article. Frolov noted that currently Greenland's and Antarctic glaciers have the tendency to grow. The article explained, "Frolov says cooling and warming periods are common for our planet – temperature fluctuations amounted to 10-12 degrees. However, such fluctuations haven't caused glaciers to melt. Thus, we shouldn't be afraid they melt today."

9) Physicist Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu, the former director of both University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute and International Arctic Research Center who has twice been named "1000 Most Cited Scientists" told a Congressional hearing in 2006 that highly publicized climate models showing a disappearing Arctic were nothing more than "science fiction." "All the papers since (the advent of satellites) show warming. That's what I call 'instant climatology.' I'm trying to tell young scientists, 'You can't study climatology unless you look at a much longer time period.'"

10) In addition, current climate fears tends to ignore the fact that the Vikings arrived in Greenland around 1000 A.D. and found it to be habitable settlement that they farmed for hundreds of years. A 2003 Harvard University study found the Earth was warmer than today during the Medieval Warm Period from about 800 to 1300 A.D. without modern SUV's or man-made CO2 emissions. The Vikings abandoned Greenland when the Little Ice Age took hold.

11) Another problem for predictions of catastrophic sea level rise due to polar ice melt is Antarctica is not cooperating with the man-made catastrophic global warming models. "A new report on climate over the world's southernmost continent shows that temperatures during the late 20th century did not climb as had been predicted by many global climate models," reads the February 15, 2007 press release announcing the findings of David Bromwich, professor of professor of atmospheric sciences in the Department of Geography, and researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University.

"It's hard to see a global warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now," Bromwich explained. The release explains that Bromwich's research team found "no increase in precipitation over Antarctica in the last 50 years. Most models predict that both precipitation and temperature will increase over Antarctica with a warming of the planet."

Top UN Scientist Explains Why Climate Models Predictions Are Failing

Recently, a top UN scientist publicly conceded that climate computer model predictions are not so reliable after all. Dr. Jim Renwick, a lead author of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, admitted to the New Zealand Herald in June 2007, "Half of the variability in the climate system is not predictable, so we don't expect to do terrifically well."

A leading scientific skeptic of global warming fears, Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, former CEO of the Netherlands' Royal National Meteorological Institute, took the critique of climate models that predict future doom a step further. Tennekes wrote on February 28, 2007, "I am of the opinion that most scientists engaged in the design, development, and tuning of climate modes are in fact software engineers. They are unlicensed, hence unqualified to sell their products to society."

Ivy League geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack of the University of Pennsylvania noted "for most of Earth's history, the globe has been warmer than it has been for the last 200 years. It has rarely been cooler," Giegengack said according to a February 2007 article in Philadelphia Magazine. The article continued, "[Giegengack] says carbon dioxide doesn't control global temperature, and certainly not in a direct linear way."

Climatologist Dr. Timothy Ball explained that one of the reasons climate models fail is because they overestimate the warming effect of CO2 in the atmosphere. Ball described how CO2 stabilizes in the atmosphere and its warming impact diminishes. "Even if CO2 concentration doubles or triples, the effect on temperature would be minimal. The relationship between temperature and CO2 is like painting a window black to block sunlight. The first coat blocks most of the light. Second and third coats reduce very little more. Current CO2 levels are like the first coat of black paint," Ball explained in a June 6, 2007 article in Canada Free Press. (LINK)

New data is revealing what may perhaps be the ultimate inconvenient truth for climate doomsayers:

Global warming stopped in 1998

Dr. Nigel Calder, co-author with physicist Henrik Svensmark of the 2007 book "The Chilling Stars: A New Theory on Climate Change," explained in July 2007:

"In reality, global temperatures have stopped rising. Data for both the surface and the lower air show no warming since 1999. That makes no sense by the hypothesis of global warming driven mainly by CO2, because the amount of CO2 in the air has gone on increasing. But the fact that the Sun is beginning to neglect its climatic duty – of battling away the cosmic rays that come from 'the chilling stars' – fits beautifully with this apparent end of global warming."

Perhaps the conversion of many former scientists from believers in man-made global warming to skeptics and the new peer-reviewed research is why so many proponents of a climatic doom have resorted to threats and intimidation in attempting to silence skeptics.

One final note: To many residents of Greenland, a little warming may not be that bad. A June 7, 2007 Washington Post article detailed how Greenland's residents were "cheering' on warming. "I can keep the sheep out two weeks longer to feed in hills in the autumn. And I can grow more hay. The sheep get fatter," said one resident.