Debunking Monckton’s “no warming” hoax, Part 2

April 17, 2010

So, Maggie Thatcher, his boss, also rejected Christopher Monckton’s preposterous claims against the science of climate change?

Who knew?

It’s clear Christopher Monckton doesn’t know . . . much of value.

Sorta disappointed Peter Sinclair didn’t go after Monckton’s preposterous insults of Jackie Kennedy and Rachel Carson, but there’s only so much debunking one can do in a limited period of time, and so much of Monckton’s work requires debunking, even cries out for debunking.

Is there anything Monckton claims which is not hoax?

Annals of global warming: Glaciological map of Antarctica’s Palmer Land Area, 1947-2009

March 3, 2010

Are the ice fields of Antarctica increasing or decreasing?  How do we know?

U.S. Geological Survey released a study of the change in glaciation in Antarctica between 1947 and 2009.  Serious student of climate change will heed what the maps show — better bookmark the site.  The study and publication were done in a joint effort of USGS, the British Antarctic Survey, the Scott Polar Research Institute, and the Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie (same page, in English, here).

Coastal-Change and Glaciological Map of the Palmer Land Area, Antarctica: 1947—2009

By Jane G. Ferrigno,1 Alison J. Cook,2 Amy M. Mathie,3 Richard S. Williams, Jr.,4 Charles Swithinbank,5 Kevin M. Foley,1 Adrian J. Fox,2 Janet W. Thomson,6  and Jörn Sievers


Cover of USGS publication, Coastal-Change and Glaciological Map of the Palmer Land Area, Antarctica: 1947—2009

Cover of USGS publication, Coastal-Change and Glaciological Map of the Palmer Land Area, Antarctica: 1947—2009

Reduction in the area and volume of the two polar ice sheets is intricately linked to changes in global climate, and the resulting rise in sea level could severely impact the densely populated coastal regions on Earth. Antarctica is Earth’s largest reservoir of glacial ice. Melting of the West Antarctic part alone of the Antarctic ice sheet would cause a sea-level rise of approximately 6 meters (m), and the potential sea-level rise after melting of the entire Antarctic ice sheet is estimated to be 65 m (Lythe and others, 2001) to 73 m (Williams and Hall, 1993). The mass balance (the net volumetric gain or loss) of the Antarctic ice sheet is highly complex, responding differently to different climatic and other conditions in each region (Vaughan, 2005). In a review paper, Rignot and Thomas (2002) concluded that the West Antarctic ice sheet is probably becoming thinner overall; although it is known to be thickening in the west, it is thinning in the north. The mass balance of the East Antarctic ice sheet is thought by Davis and others (2005) to be positive on the basis of the change in satellite-altimetry measurements made between 1992 and 2003.

Measurement of changes in area and mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet was given a very high priority in recommendations by the Polar Research Board of the National Research Council (1986), in subsequent recommendations by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) (1989, 1993), and by the National Science Foundation’s (1990) Division of Polar Programs. On the basis of these recommendations, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) decided that the archive of early 1970s Landsat 1, 2, and 3 Multispectral Scanner (MSS) images of Antarctica and the subsequent repeat coverage made possible with Landsat and other satellite images provided an excellent means of documenting changes in the cryospheric coastline of Antarctica (Ferrigno and Gould, 1987). The availability of this information provided the impetus for carrying out a comprehensive analysis of the glaciological features of the coastal regions and changes in ice fronts of Antarctica (Swithinbank, 1988; Williams and Ferrigno, 1988). The project was later modified to include Landsat 4 and 5 MSS and Thematic Mapper (TM) images (and in some areas Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) images), RADARSAT images, aerial photography, and other data where available, to compare changes that occurred during a 20- to 25- or 30-year time interval (or longer where data were available, as in the Antarctic Peninsula). The results of the analysis are being used to produce a digital database and a series of USGS Geologic Investigations Series Maps (I-2600) (Williams and others, 1995; Swithinbank and others, 2003a,b, 2004; Ferrigno and others, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and in press; and Williams and Ferrigno, 2005) (available online at

The paper version of this map is available for purchase from the USGS Store.

What’s the condition of glaciers in Antarctica?  Now you can look it up.

The pamphlet accompanying the maps says under “Discussion”:

The most noticeable and dramatic changes that can be seen on the Palmer Land area map are the retreat of George VI, Wilkins, Bach, and northern Stange Ice Shelves. The northern ice front of George VI Ice Shelf was at its farthest extent during our period of observation between 1966 and 1974. It retreated, losing 906 km2 between 1974 and 1992 and 87 km2 between 1992 and 1995. After 1995, it retreated an additional 1 km to more than 6 km by 2001. The southern George VI ice front retreated considerably from 1947 to the late 1960s. From the late 1960s to 1973, there was additional substantial retreat, the greatest during the period of measurements.  From 1973 to 2001, there was overall noticeable retreat.

Wilkins Ice Shelf had four ice fronts up till 2009; all retreated during the time period of our study, but Wilkins “a” and “b” have had the most dramatic change, including extensive calving in 2009 that eliminated ice front “b” and threatened the future of the ice shelf. During the period of observation, the Bach Ice Shelf front maintained a fairly consistent profile, and advanced or retreated at the same time along the entire ice front. The overall trend of Bach Ice Shelf is retreat. On the northern Stange Ice Shelf during the period of observation, the 1947, 1965–66, 1973, and 1986 ice fronts were more advanced, and the 1997 and 2001 ice fronts were more in retreat. However, the earlier data are less accurate geographically, and it is difficult to quantitatively analyze them. The later satellite images are more accurate, and it is possible to measure overall advance from 1986 to 1989, then retreat from 1989 to 1997 and from1997 to 2001; the net result was retreat.

The three coastal-change and glaciological maps of the Antarctic Peninsula (I–2600–A, –B, and –C) portray one of the most rapidly changing areas on Earth. The changes exhibited in the region are widely regarded as among the most profound and unambiguous examples of the effects of global warming yet seen on the planet.


Annals of global warming: Columbia Glacier, Alaska (by James Balog)

February 20, 2010

Actual observations of the world show global warming.  Time-lapse photos of the destruction of the Columbia Glacier, in Alaska, by James Balog, should make any person start wondering how to control warming processes.

It’s a film documenting warming, a film that Joanne Nova and Anthony Watts hope you will never see.*

James Balog, at TEDS, explains the stuff in under 20 minutes:

From National Geographic’s site:

© 2008 James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey

This remarkable image sequence captures a series of massive calving events at Columbia Glacier near Valdez, Alaska. Composed of 436 frames taken between May and September of 2007, it shows the glacier rapidly retreating by about half a mile (1.6 kilometers), a volume loss of some 0.4 cubic miles (1.67 cubic kilometers) of ice or 400 billion gallons (1.5 trillion liters) of water.

The time-lapse was taken as part of the ongoing Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), an ambitious project to capture global warming-induced glacial retreat in the act. Beginning in December 2006, photographer James Balog and his colleagues set up 26 solar-powered cameras at glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, the Alps, and the Rocky Mountains. Each unit will take a photograph every daylight hour until fall 2009.

In 2008, Balog’s team began to return to each of the camera sites to collect images. In the end, they will have more than 300,000 images to analyze and stitch together to produce more dramatic videos like this one.

This kind of multiyear effort, says Balog, is necessary to “radically alter public perception of the global warming issue.”

Don’t miss: Extreme Ice a NOVA/National Geographic Television special airing on PBS March 24, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.



Am I too harsh?  Go over to those blogs and see if you can find the WordPress pingback listed in the comments to those posts, for this post’s link to them.  No?  Then they’ve gone in and deleted the message.  It’s automatic on WordPress, and it works wonderfully.  But if they have the readership they claim, and if they are so certain of their views, why do they fear Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub?

Wattsupgate: Denialists claim all knowledge is wrong

January 31, 2010

It really is that bad.  Climate science denialists now attack any information simply for not being what they want it to be.  Lysenko’s Ghost smiles broadly.

Anthony Watts is just the most prominent of the bloggers making hoax charges of error and worse in the fourth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), because of a footnote that cites a rock climbing magazine.

Here’s the trouble for Watts:  There is no indication that the citation is in error in any way.  Watts’s move is more fitting of King George III’s campaign against Ben Franklin’s lightning rods, the prosecution of John Peter Zenger, the pre-World War II campaign against Einstein’s work because he was born a Jew, or the hoary old Red Channels campaign against Texas history told by John Henry Faulk.  It’s as bad as the Texas State Board of Education’s attack on Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Watts’ and others’ complaint is simply that Climbing magazine’s story on the worldwide retreat of glaciers suitable for climbing is not published in a juried science journal.

In other words, they indict the science, not because it’s wrong — they have no evidence to counter it — but because it’s too American Patriot correct Jewish left Texan mistakenly thought to be political well-known, too accessible, (small “d”) democratically-reported.

And of course, any comment that points that out at Watts’s blog goes into long-term “moderation,” keeping it from the light of day in the best tradition of the Crown’s defense of Gov. Cosby’s misadministration of New York (see “John Peter Zenger”).  Watts said in a quote that should have been attributed to the Daily Telegraph:

The IPCC’s remit is to provide an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence on climate change.

In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information.

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

The revelations, uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, have raised fresh questions about the quality of the information contained in the report, which was published in 2007.

It comes after officials for the panel were forced earlier this month to retract inaccurate claims in the IPCC’s report about the melting of Himalayan glaciers.

By those standards, Watts’s own readers should eschew his blog — it’s not peer reviewed science by any stretch, and Watts isn’t an established authority in climate science (he’s not even working for an advanced degree).  Consistency isn’t a virtue or concern among climate change denialists.  Watt’s entire modus operandi is much more anecdotal than the story in Climbing, which was written by a physicist/climber who studies climate change in the world’s mountains.

And did you notice?  They’re whining about research done by a scientist in pursuit of a degree, complaining about the second citation.  That’s the exaclty kind of research that they claim the magazine article is not.  Their complaint is, it appears, that a scientist in pursuit of education is not the right “kind” of person to do climate research. It’s the chilling sort of bigotry that we spent so much time in the 20th century fighting against.  In the 21st century, though, it appears one can still get away with demonizing knowledge, education and research, part of the campaign to indict “elitism,” the same sort of elitism aspired to by America’s founders.  Too much of the criticism against scientists involved in documenting global warming is the cheap bigotry the critics claim to find in science, falsely claimed in my view.


And the glaciers?  Yeah, the evidence tends to show they are in trouble.  Those Himalayan glaciers?  The IPCC report was accurate in everything except the speed at which the glaciers decline — they should be with us for another three centuries, not just 50 years, if we can reduce warming back to 1990s levels (oddly, denialists rarely deal with the facts of accelerating warming, preferring to point to a local snowstorm as a rebuttal of all knowledge about climate).

Oh, and the research?  The author of the story in Climbing magazine is Mark Bowen.  Dr. Bowen’s Ph.D. is in physics from MIT. He’s a climber, and he researches climate change on the world’s highest mountains.  His 2005 book, Thin Ice, focused tightly on what we can learn about climate from the world’s highest mountains.   Bowen is the expert Anthony Watts would like to be.

Bowen’s newest book:  Censoring Science:  Inside the political attack on James Hansen and the truth of global warming. Watts doesn’t want anyone to read that book.  It is easy to imagine Watt’s s attack is, he hopes, pre-emptive, against Bowen’s book.

I’ll wager Watts hasn’t read the article in Climbing, and didn’t know who Bowen was when he launched his attack, though.  The denials of bias coming out of the denialists’ camp will be interesting to watch.

Let the denialists roll out the rope far enough, they’ll inevitably hang themselves.

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Annals of Global Warming: Black soot and glaciers in Tibet

January 5, 2010

Another in a series on the history of global warming; this comes from the Earth Observatory at NASA (visit that site — the image is more stunning, larger):


Black Soot and the Survival of Tibetan Glaciers

Posted December 15, 2009
Black Soot and the Survival of Tibetan Glaciers

Color bar for Black Soot and the Survival of Tibetan Glaciers
download large image (677 KB, JPEG) acquired September 26, 2009
download large animation image (9 MB, M4V) acquired August 1, 2009 – November 9, 2009

On the Tibetan Plateau, temperatures are rising and glaciers are melting faster than climate scientists would expect based on global warming alone. A recent study of ice cores from five Tibetan glaciers by NASA and Chinese scientists confirmed the likely culprit: rapid increases in black soot concentrations since the 1990s, mostly from air pollution sources over Asia, especially the Indian subcontinent. Soot-darkened snow and glaciers absorb sunlight, which hastens melting, adding to the impact of global warming.

NASA climate scientists combine satellite and ground-based observations of soot and other particles in the air with weather and air chemistry models to study how the atmosphere moves pollution from one place to another. This image is from a computer simulation of the spread of black soot (“black carbon” to climate scientists) over the Tibetan Plateau from August through November 2009. It shows black carbon aerosol optical thickness on September 26, 2009. (Aerosol optical thickness is scale that describes how much pollution was in the air based on how much of the incoming sunlight the particles absorbed.) Places where the air was thick with soot are white, while lower concentrations are transparent purple.

The highest concentrations of black soot are in the right-hand side of the image, over the densely populated coastal plain of China. But high concentrations occur over India, as well, and the black soot spreads across the southern arc of the Tibetan Plateau, which is defined by the towering peaks of the Himalaya Mountains. (Note: Topography has been exaggerated to highlight features that influence air movement). The animation shows how the black carbon pollution from India often circulates at high concentrations for several days against the base of the Himalaya, periodically “sloshing” over the rim of the mountains and spilling northward over the plateau, before being carried away over the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea.

Writing about the implications of the study for the Goddard Institute for Space Studies Website, NASA climate scientist and study co-author James Hansen said, “[C]ontinued, ‘business-as-usual’ emissions of greenhouse gases and black soot will result in the loss of most Himalayan glaciers this century, with devastating effects on fresh water supplies in dry seasons. The black soot arises especially from diesel engines, coal use without effective scrubbers, and biomass burning, including cook stoves. Reduction of black soot via cleaner energies would have other benefits for human health and agricultural productivity. However, survival of the glaciers also requires halting global warming, which depends upon stabilizing and reducing greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide.”

NASA image by Gregory Shirah, Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio, based on model simulations from the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5). Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

Problem for climate change skeptics: Climate changing

March 17, 2008

It’s just one more report to throw on the pyre of reports to be burned if it ever turns out as skeptics say and others hope, global climate change is just a momentary trend: From 1999 to 2006, the pace of glacier melting worldwide picked up.

We had a cold winter; skeptics will argue that the winter of 2007-2008 was not included, and it reverses the trend.

If only that were so.

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