Great Arctic sea ice hoax exposed


Look at the photos and see for yourself.  From 2006 to 2007, did sea ice at Barrow, Alaska, increase or decrease?

A comparison of polar sea ice at Barrow, Alaska -- July 2006 on the left, July 2007 on the right - public domain photo from U.S. military satellites.

A comparison of polar sea ice at Barrow, Alaska -- July 2006 on the left, July 2007 on the right - public domain photo from U.S. military satellites. Click for larger view from The Guardian.

These photos appeared in The Guardian – did they appear in any U.S. papers? — with a story that said the photos had been withheld by the Bush administration, and were recently released by the Obama administration.  (Bet these photos never show up on Anthony Watts’s blog.)*

Graphic images that reveal the devastating impact of global warming in the Arctic have been released by the US military. The photographs, taken by spy satellites over the past decade, confirm that in recent years vast areas in high latitudes have lost their ice cover in summer months.

The pictures, kept secret by Washington during the presidency of George W Bush, were declassified by the White House last week. President Barack Obama is currently trying to galvanise Congress and the American public to take action to halt catastrophic climate change caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

One particularly striking set of images – selected from the 1,000 photographs released – includes views of the Alaskan port of Barrow. One, taken in July 2006, shows sea ice still nestling close to the shore. A second image shows that by the following July the coastal waters were entirely ice-free.

The photographs demonstrate starkly how global warming is changing the Arctic. More than a million square kilometres of sea ice – a record loss – were missing in the summer of 2007 compared with the previous year.

Spin, from the presidency?  Who knew?

Climate change skeptics (read:  deniers) say that ice has come back in record amounts in 2008.  According to the news article, that isn’t exactly the case.

Nor has this loss shown any sign of recovery. Ice cover for 2008 was almost as bad as for 2007, and this year levels look equally sparse.

Science News noted the declassification, but without the hint of skullduggery on the part of the Bush administration.  The poster above comes from the USGS, which also included three more posters, one of the Beaufort Sea and two of glaciers — all of them showing declines in ice.

Stories that Arctic sea ice is expanding seem to be premature.

So all the claims that global warming has ended, that ice is threatening to extend its range and plunge us back into a cooling period — just hoax? Yep, just hoax.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Watching the World from Nicaraugua.

Update, 7-27-2009: A story going around the internet claims the poster at the top of this post is faked.  The poster comes from the U.S. Geological Survey, so I doubt it’s faked — they have no dog in the fight to fake it.  I think this goes to show that climate change “skeptics” have been sucked in by their own denial virus, and they will not even entertain information to the contrary of their beliefs.

*   Happy update, 8-2-2009: I’m happy to report I erred.  Actually, Anthony Watts reported on the release of the photos on July 15.  He didn’t use the Barrow photos, and he certainly did not claim that they are hoax photos.  He noted that the previously classified data have been released, and he seemed to think that there is no monkeying around with them.   It’ll be interesting to see how he deals with the photos from here on in.

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23 Responses to Great Arctic sea ice hoax exposed

  1. ScientistForTruth says:

    I responded to your mitigation point as follows:

    I’m not denying facts, but you need to differentiate between facts, interpretations and opinions. Look at the history of science. What people once thought were ‘facts’ are almost all discredited now, which only goes to show that they weren’t facts in the first place, but misguided opinions. Every generation thinks it knows things as ‘facts’ only to find that it was mistaken. What facts are there to support the proposition that humans are causing significant climate change? Don’t give me climate models – those aren’t facts!

    I have no problem at all with mitigation. My concern is that if CO2 is not causing climate change (it isn’t) then we won’t mitigate climate change by adopting hugely expensive cuts in CO2 emissions. That would be no mitigation at all, but a misguided waste of money. Far better to spend the money mitigating any effects when you know what they are. Currently, neither you nor I have the slightest idea whether it will be warmer or cooler, wetter or drier in 20 years’ time. We will get a far bigger bang for our buck mitigating the effects of climate when we know what those changes are – because we’ll be experiencing them. If you want to spend your money planning for what you speculate will happen in 20 years’ time – fine. Just don’t expect me to contribute to what appears to me to be the greatest scam of all time with my money.

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  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Mr. Kessler,

    I believe the reference is to the Sea Ice Forecast from U of Alaska Fairbanks, here:
    http://www.gi.alaska.edu/snowice/sea-lake-ice/Brw09/forecast/

    When the story broke, the forecast could be interpreted by denialists not to confirm the story in the Guardian. Since then, the group added commentary on the story in the news:

    Annual break-up of landfast sea ice off the coast of Barrow, Alaska received international media attention in July 2009 after the USGS made available high resolution-satellite imagery that show inter-annual variability in coastal ice conditions. We would like to emphasize that the images released are scientifically extremely valuable. They both clearly demonstrate the year-to-year variability of ice conditions and document the progess of summer ice break-up in Barrow 2006 in unprecedented detail. However, unlike suggested by some, comparing summer ice conditions in July 2006 and July 2007 is not sufficient evidence to verify a trend.

    We started in May 2009 to present detailed background information and analyses on the annual Barrow sea ice break-up on this page, covering the period 2000–2009. Feel free to make up your own mind

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    ScientistForTruth responded at his/her blog:

    It’s not the release of scientific information that’s the problem, but what is done with that information. There is such a thing as propaganda you know, even using unretouched photos.

    The purpose of the article in the Observer was clearly propaganda. Yes, you are right, it shows seasonal variation, natural variation and nothing more, but there’s no storyline there is there?

    I’m not interested in hysteria or propaganda one way or the other, which is why most of what is on my blog is an expose of bad science and propaganda. It’s a sad fact that a lot of ‘mainstream science’ has become propagandist – I have been making that point since I was at the University of Oxford in the 1970s.

    ‘Denialist’ is a term used by those who can’t tolerate people having an opinion about the evidence that is counter to their own. My position is that climate change has been occuring naturally for thousands of years, and there is no evidence that man is having anything but a negligible effect on that; so negligible, in fact, that it cannot be distinguished from natural variation. So, if you like, I affirm climate change but ‘deny’ that man is the driver. That’s where the evidence leads to date.

    To which I responded:

    If you’re not interested in propaganda, why not just note that you were premature in judging Obama’s actions here.

    “Denialist” is a term I use for people who deny the facts before them. Climate change denialists started out a decade ago denying there is warming (and some have resumed that claim), and now argue against the evidence that humans don’t contribute. Humans have contributed to climate change, generally in local climes, for at least 7,000 years. Now we contribute globally.

    The best evidence we can muster against human effect is the gap of information we have at global levels for greenhouse gases and potential mitigating effects of the planet. It’s similar to the gap we had in the contributions of automobiles to smog. It’s similar to the gap we had in the contributions of soot to scrotum cancers. In those cases, we got the connection evidence in two ways: The research for solutions led to new discoveries which confirmed the links, and the cleanup of the suspected causes reduced the problem with a direct correlation.

    The harmful effects of global warming strongly hint that we need to work to mitigate the effects, now. Perhaps in mitigation, we will discover human activities are not a major contributor.

    I’ve never met a someone who denies the human contribution to warming who will agree to mitigate the effects, however. While claiming we can’t afford to save our planet for our children, they actually fear being wrong, I suspect.

    Have you got posts talking about solutions? I didn’t find any in a quick search.

    Like

  4. James Kessler says:

    Curious isn’t it that he makes the claim regarding the University of Alaska Fairbanks and then forgets to provide the proof to back that claim isn’t it?

    Like

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Dear ScientistForTruth,

    Anonymity in science makes me wary. Why should anyone hide from sunshine?

    I posted this at your blog, and I note that you moderate; we’ve been there before.

    So, here’s the answer I gave to your post, at your blog, posted here rather than wait to see if you really do seek truth:

    What the hubbub shows is that denialists will do anything, no matter how hypocritical to their past claims, to deny global warming.

    The photos were not retouched. The photos were not planned to distort reality.

    The caption on the poster showing the two photos notes that it’s seasonal variation demonstrated.

    However, if one looks at the 500 photos released, one sees a clear trend to less ice, much earlier in the season.

    The scam was in the claim that there is no evidence confirming the decrease in ice. That’s the hoax that was exposed. [link to this post and thread]

    What is obvious is that denialists (are you included in that category?) will deny anything, no matter how accurate, will spin anything, no matter how innocent, in order to try to avoid the reality of climate change and the disastrous effects it will produce if we do nothing, and the disastrous effects it will produce if we do too little.

    For example, there is absolutely no evidence Obama did anything to distort the science. He ordered all the photos to be released as had been agreed in the Bush administration. Bush withheld the photos; Obama ordered they be released. How can the release of scientific data be considered anything other than opening the books?

    Here’s another post that may help you understand the spin you may have unintentionally put on the facts.

    Like

  6. James Kessler says:

    SFT, you really should change your name. You’re completely disingenous in using it.

    Like

  7. ScientistForTruth says:

    To answer your question “From 2006 to 2007, did sea ice at Barrow, Alaska, increase or decrease” the answer is “neither”. Barrow is totally iced up every year until at least mid June, and totally ice free by early-August. The ice disappears in July, so two photos from two separate Julys prove nothing one way or the other.

    The picture might not be faked, but it is craftily selected by date and craftily cropped. The picture doesn’t show anything except natural variation, but sadly has been presented in a way that makes it propaganda. Even the University of Alaska, Fairbaks have felt the need to point out that no evidence of trends can be ascertained from these photos.

    If you are ‘striving for accuracy…’ as you say, please be sure to make this known.

    See my research around the matter on http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/arctic-sea-ice-scam/

    Like

  8. [...] era de esperar em temas ecológicos, há questionamentos sobre a autenticidade das imagens, muitos blogs estão mostrando opiniões variadas, alegam-se teorias de conspiração e outras [...]

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  9. [...] of hits on the article, most going to other posts claiming the photos had been photoshopped.  A commenter here said the same.  Viewers find it odd that there is a stark contrast between land and sea inthe arctic.  [...]

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  10. Ed Darrell says:

    Ed Darrell Says:With EPA’s traditional dedication to science

    You mean the dedication that led them to supress a report that was skeptical of global warming because it ran contrary to the conclusion the Obama administration was looking for? Real dedication there, Ed.

    I know of no scientific report suppressed at EPA or any other agency since January 21 of this year. I do remember a couple of economists who got their licks on a science report in late — but it was allowed to go public with no recriminations.

    The economists made some pretty wild claims, totally contrary to the science in spots — all the science.

    Disregarding bad opinions is not suppression. Not allowing the economists to muddy the science is not suppression of science.

    I’m serious about this. Hoaxing the science is a felony. You’re making libelous accusations, if not true. You have no data to back your claim. It’s fascinating to me how hard climate change denialists work to deny the facts when presented. That effort would be much better spent doing research. Of course, most denialists aren’t scientists, and so can’t do the sort of work they ridicule.

    The photos show a stark contrast. There may be other explanations — odd winds, odd angle of the satellite shot, one shot at the first of July, the second near the end of July, or other factors. The person making up the poster may have jiggered a color to make printing easier; that might even have made the photo inaccurate.

    Denialists don’t first go to the photos to see what’s up. They fail to notice that the photos come from USGS. And they immediately accuse people of Photoshop fraud. In my experience, in legislative hearings and in court, in depositions and everyday conversations, people generally believe others would do what they themselves would do. That tells me a lot about the claims of deniers.

    But it casts no doubt on the accuracy of the photos.

    Ed Darrell Says:
    Plus, there are several other photos available, too — they’d all have to be doctored to make them square.

    And that’s the thing, Ed, Since yesterday I have looked at several other photos that are available (at http://www.gi.alaska.edu) and none of them show a vast swatch of pure black (or any other one single color), what they do show is a sea in the area near barrows shore dotted with chunks of ice. You may be content to drink the kool-aid and believe what others tell you, I prefer to look with my own eyes and think with my own brain. And looking with my own eyes it looks photoshopped.

    It would be foolhardy to Photoshop just one, when all of them are being released. Your preferred photo goes the opposite way, so you assume the photo that denies your preference is Photoshopped. It would be easier to conceal Photoshopping the other way, adding odd grays to look like ice.

    Of course, the accuracy of the photos would explain why Bush wouldn’t release them.

    Doesn’t matter. There’s no reason not to trust scientists doing the work. I think it’s interesting, and I think the photos all deserve study.

    There are easily a dozen other explanations that would make more sense, physically, scientifically and photo-reproduction wise. Again it’s telling that Photoshoppers climate denialists leap to the conclusion the photos have been doctored.

    And, about Kool-Aid. See this.

    Ed Darrell Says:
    ethical scientists wouldn’t doctor the photos.

    We now have federal laws that make that a crime. Scientists who doctor stuff lose their jobs, lose their pensions, and go to jail. No other profession has such high ethical standards. Scientists not working for the government do not have to live up to such high standards. Stuff people can do in private industry is a crime on the public dime. I’ve never met a government scientist who didn’t know the rules, once we got the rules passed into law.

    Ethical reporters don’t broadcast stories using fake memos as their evidence. Ethical Scientists don’t publish false tempurature numbers. And yet, it was some guy on the internet that proved Dan Rather’s memos were fake and it was some guy on the internet that showed Hansens numbers were in error, So just because some guy on the internet was the first to point out the photos looked altered doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

    Two interesting cases. In Rather’s case, he didn’t gin up the fraud. And, too bad for us, the information in the memos was accurate — just the memo itself was not. Rather said he’d not put the story on the air without hard corroboration, and a source hoaxed it up.

    No crime in innocently broadcasting the story — evening news does about 20 stories a night, 260 nights a year. 5,200 stories, and they got one wrong. That’s a better percentage than almost anything else but commercial airliner landings.

    In Hansen’s case, you’re holding to hoax numbers so far as I know. Hansen’s the guy who’s been warning us of the number trends for more than 20 years, now. The trend lines are inescapable. I know deniers prefer to treat Hansen as a Cassandra, or Pollyanna — but both Cassandra and Pollyanna were right.

    It also doesn’t mean it was diliberate (but given the Obama admins record so far vis-a-vis the suppressed EPA report and it’s push for cap and trade, I wouldn’t put it past them) it could be a sloppy mistake (never put down to conspiracy what can be put down to human error).

    So now you’re denying facts of reporting, too. There is no fact, no slam on Obama, deniers won’t make up to support their case, and then claim to have the high ground.

    Let’s be clear: The economists’ report at EPA not only was late, it was full of crockery, crank science, and wildly false claims. It was not science in any regard. Failing to include garbage in the soup is not a crime. It’s a requirement for health, and accuracy in this case.

    Not having seen the originals (and I’d be very interest to do so) it could very well be that there was no one clear picture of the sea area (due to clouds) so they masked that area of the picture and intended to piece together the sea area from several photos for a clearer image only the masked version of the photo was released by mistake.

    And, a reminder from http://www.gi.alaska.ed “However, unlike suggested by some, comparing summer ice conditions in July 2006 and July 2007 is not sufficient evidence to verify a trend.”

    Yeah, I noticed. Real scientists, real people in the field, don’t immediately jump to the charge of fraud. Variability, indeed. Of course, that argument won’t wash at the hard-core denialist sites. As they note, every year since 1998 has been cooler than 1998, therefore warming is over, never mind that they deny warming prior to 1998, and never mind that we have a handful of the warmest years on record since 1998, just cooler than one of the hottest years ever. Variability?

    No, not until the photos make them look silly. Then, after the charge of “fraud” doesn’t stick, they note variability.

    We see how the deniers are. We’re just dickering about the price, now.

    Like

  11. GreenDream says:

    Ed Darrell Says:With EPA’s traditional dedication to science

    You mean the dedication that led them to supress a report that was skeptical of global warming because it ran contrary to the conclusion the Obama administration was looking for? Real dedication there, Ed.

    Ed Darrell Says:
    Plus, there are several other photos available, too — they’d all have to be doctored to make them square.

    And that’s the thing, Ed, Since yesterday I have looked at several other photos that are available (at http://www.gi.alaska.edu) and none of them show a vast swatch of pure black (or any other one single color), what they do show is a sea in the area near barrows shore dotted with chunks of ice. You may be content to drink the kool-aid and believe what others tell you, I prefer to look with my own eyes and think with my own brain. And looking with my own eyes it looks photoshopped.

    Ed Darrell Says:
    ethical scientists wouldn’t doctor the photos.

    Ethical reporters don’t broadcast stories using fake memos as their evidence. Ethical Scientists don’t publish false tempurature numbers. And yet, it was some guy on the internet that proved Dan Rather’s memos were fake and it was some guy on the internet that showed Hansens numbers were in error, So just because some guy on the internet was the first to point out the photos looked altered doesn’t mean it isn’t so. It also doesn’t mean it was diliberate (but given the Obama admins record so far vis-a-vis the suppressed EPA report and it’s push for cap and trade, I wouldn’t put it past them) it could be a sloppy mistake (never put down to conspiracy what can be put down to human error). Not having seen the originals (and I’d be very interest to do so) it could very well be that there was no one clear picture of the sea area (due to clouds) so they masked that area of the picture and intended to piece together the sea area from several photos for a clearer image only the masked version of the photo was released by mistake.

    And, a reminder from http://www.gi.alaska.ed “However, unlike suggested by some, comparing summer ice conditions in July 2006 and July 2007 is not sufficient evidence to verify a trend”

    Like

  12. j a higginbotham says:

    The bar across the bottom is 1 mile (0.5 from either side of center).

    http://gfl.usgs.gov/publications/posters/barrow.zip

    Like

  13. Hannah says:

    Ed, the scale even on the enlarged image is very hard to read. Could you expand it or calculate the area shown by the map, please?

    Like

  14. Nick Kelsier says:

    You do realize, Green, that your logic is specious. I can prove that Bush suppressed it. There are actual examples.

    Can you do the same about Obama? Or are you just going to stick with what amounts to guilt by association?

    Like

  15. Ed Darrell says:

    Green, thanks for clearing up my confusion.

    With EPA’s traditional dedication to science, frustrated through eight years of Bush, and with Obama’s emphasis on letting the scientists speak their minds — yes, I think it’s a stretch to think that they would doctor the photos.

    Delaying the release of the photos was easier — the agreement was that the photos couldn’t be released if they had any defense or national security implications. All Bush had to do was claim national security (and it appears there was no appeal).

    Doctoring the photos is the sort of science fraud that gets scientists sent to jail. It’s specifically against federal law, and all science organizations have rules and ethical canons against such stuff.

    Unleashed from 8 years of suppression of science, ethical scientists wouldn’t doctor the photos.

    Plus, there are several other photos available, too — they’d all have to be doctored to make them square. And then, since the Defense Department has the originals, a comparison would be easy, and the cause would be lost.

    Like

  16. GreenDream says:

    Nick Kelsier Says: “Green, ask yourselves this question. Why would the USGS lie? What would they gain?”

    I don’t know, why would the EPA suppress a report skeptical of global warming? You believe that Bush admin had an agenda in “suppressing these photos” but find it inconcievable that the Obama administration might have an agenda that would lead to the photos being manipulated or an EPA report suppressed? really? If you can so easily believe the one had an agenda whay not the other?

    Like

  17. Nick Kelsier says:

    Green, ask yourselves this question. Why would the USGS lie? What would they gain?

    Then you and Jacek can answer this. Do you put a fire escape on a building after it’s already burned down? After all, that is what the climate change deniers are saying. That it’s not happening, that they know for fact it’s not happening, that it will never happen and that there is absolutely no reason to do anything about it. They are in effect saying “There is no reason to put a fire escape on this building..it will never burn down.”

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  18. GreenDream says:

    Ed Darrell “Greendream, follow my links. That’s the photo put out by the U.S. Geological Survey.”

    yes, I know where it’s from, thank you very much. I was just explaining what the other poster was saying since you clearly did not understand what he was saying due to one simple typo of a date.

    Like

  19. Ed Darrell says:

    Greendream, follow my links. That’s the photo put out by the U.S. Geological Survey. I’ll take their word over some guy on the internet who denies the weather.

    So, go to the USGS site, check the poster there. If you think there is a problem, notify the USGS at that site.

    The hoaxers who deny global warming are already heating up the fight, claiming this photo as faked.

    http://macsmind.com/wordpress/2009/07/26/uk-guardian-reproduces-fake-barrow-alaska-pic-as-proof-of-global-warming/

    There is no fact they will not deny.

    Like

  20. GreenDream says:

    Ed Darrell Says: “What photo are you referring to, Jacek? There is no 2009 photo here or at the Guardian, nor at the USGS site”

    Jacek made a typo, he was refering to the July 2007 photo that shows a perfectly black sea. I opened the photo up in paint (since I don’t have a more sophisticated photo editing software on the computer I’m currently at) and did an image->invert colors to see what Jacek was talking about and it does indeed look like the 2007 image had been “photoshopped” as there is a telltale line of “grey” near the shore where it looks like they “cut or painted out” the sea which is solid white. Most satelite images would not have such vast streched of solid black (or inverted, solid white) – indeed in the 2006 photo you see the part of the sea that isn’t covered in ice is not solid black and inverted it is a very light shade of grey (like the telltale line near the shore in the 2007 image).

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  21. Ed Darrell says:

    What photo are you referring to, Jacek? There is no 2009 photo here or at the Guardian, nor at the USGS site.

    Like

  22. Jacek says:

    The photo from 2009 is manipulated in graphic editor, Check the colour of see, is R:0, G:0 B:0 its absolute black and near the land, (after changing contrast and brightnes) you can see a sharp line where starts “black painting”

    Like

  23. [...] the word and finding solutions, especially at local levels. It’s clear we cannot rely on governments alone for good advice or guidance, but clear and coherent education in the guise of unbiased [...]

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