Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Everything frozen is melting! NOT

I am currently doing a lot of reading on polar bears, their habitats and climate. In the process I read an article from the New York Review of Books, based on the latest IPCC press release. Remember the report itself has not yet been published, only a press release which gives a synopsis, without the worrisome caveats included. The way the NYRB reports it: “Almost everything frozen on earth is melting.” Interesting.

Almost everything frozen is supposedly melting?

Now the press releases that various environmental groups put out said the polar bear was endangered because global warming is destroying ice. As my upcoming piece on the subject, when I can finish reading all the material I have, will note polar bears are at a population high compared to almost any point over the last century. In fact the polar bear population is up by something like 500% over a few decades ago. It is true that there are problems in some areas. In other areas the population is growing or stable.

One area that saw declining numbers was the Baffin Bay region. So I started looking at what is going on in Baffin Bay. If everything now frozen is melting this region would be a good example especially with the decline of polar bears there. But a report by Laidre and Heide-Jorgensen, in 2005, on narwhals in Baffin Bay noted that “since 1970 the climate of West Greenland has cooled, reflected in both oceanographic and biological conditions.” And this cooling means that “Baffin Bay and Davis Strait display strong significant increasing trends in ice concentration and extent, as high as 7.5% per decade between 1979 and 1996, with comparable increases detected back to 1953.”

Oh, dear. So increased cooling in Baffin Bay, with increased ice flow results in declining polar bear populations? By the way they also found that this cooling was very bad for narwhals but that is to be expected since “cetacean occurrence is generally negatively correlated with dense or complete ice cover due to the need to breathe at the surface.” Makes sense to me. And since I’m not taking about polar bears I won’t. But apparently here is a whole region of Greenland where everything frozen is not only not melting but things previously melted are freezing.

Nature magazine reports that “a large area of Antarctica is thickening the ice sheet” and that from 1992 to 2003 “the East Antarctica ice sheet gained about 45 billion tonnes of ice.” That’s a lot of ice. By the way the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is much, much larger than the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which normally gets all the publicity because a section of it is losing ice. But if you look at this map you will see the regions of the Antarctic gaining ice far outstrip the few areas losing ice. (Areas in shades of blue are loosing while area in yellow and brown are gaining ice. Areas in white are neither gaining nor losing.) Click to enlarge.

And this paper looks at the temperature records for Antarctica and at ice presences around the continent. They conclude: “The data clearly show that Antarctica as a whole is seeing increases in sea ice extent in recent decades, in spite of what climate models suggest should be occurring: steady warming. There are regional differences, with Weddell Sea ice extent decreasing and Ross Sea ice increasing, but overall the patter is clear: there is more ice, hot less, surrounding Antarctica.”

So everything now frozen is melting except a large chunk of Antarctica and a most of Greenland, where things previous liquid are now freezing.

This report from the Hindustan Times says that there are 9,575 glaciers in India. Who knew? Obviously they did but the rest of us were pretty clueless about it. I would think that someone would be interested in knowing what is happening to almost 10,000 glaciers in a huge chunk of the world but the paper reports only about a dozen scientists , working for the Geological Society of India are studying the glaciers. One of those scientists is VK Raina. He says that what data they do have for some 200 years “has shown that nothing abnormal has occurred in any of these glaciers.” Dr. RK Ganjoo, from the Regional Center for Field Operations and Research on Himalayan Glaciology “also maintained that nothing abnormal has been found in any of the Himalayan glaciers studied so far by him.” A third expert, geologist MN Koul of Jammu University, has studies glaciers in the Himalayas in as well. And the Times reports that he hasn’t see much change “in the past two decades.”

Everything in the world that is frozen is melting except most of Antarctica, Greenland and the Himalayan glaciers.

Next to India is Pakistan. And they’ve been studying their many glaciers as well. According to National Geographic:

Meteorological data compiled over the past century show that winter temperatures have been rising in parts of the Western Himalaya, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush mountain ranges. But the region's winter snowfall, which feeds the glaciers, has been increasing. And average summer temperatures, which melt snow and glaciers, have been dropping.

The net result is that glaciers here are growing.

Another major Arctic region is the Hudson Bay area of Canada. It freezes over every winter and thaws out every summer. It freezes up beginning in October or November and the ice is at its maximum thickness just around this time of year. By early August most the ice is melted. It happens every year that way. But for about half the year Hudson Bay, a massive body of water, is covered by ice. A couple of scientists there collected the data on the ice thickness from 7 sea ice measuring stations and 6 lake ice measuring stations. What they found was: “5 of the 7 sea ice stations show either significant trends of increasing maximum ice thickness, earlier occurrence of the maximum thickness, or both. In contrast, only one station, a lake ice station, evidenced a significant thinning trend.” They concluded that there was “statistically significant thickening of the ice cover over time... on the western side of Hudson bay, while a slight thinning lacking statistical significance was observed on the eastern side.”

Everything in the world frozen is melting except most of Antarctica, Greenland, the Himalayas of India and Pakistan and the Hudson Bay region.

The two largest glacier in New Zealand are Fox and Franz Josef. And they are expanding at a rate of between 30 cm and 80 cm per day. Those two glaciers aren’t alone. The National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research studies 50 glaciers in New Zealand. They say that between 1998 and 2002 glaciers lost some ground but in recent years they gained it all back. “Since 1977 overall for the Southern Alps there has been little change in size of the glaciers.”

California wouldn’t seem to be prime glacier country. And for much of the state it isn’t. It is dry and warm. But still there are glaciers in the mountains. Even in summer one can drive just about an hour out of San Diego and find snow in the mountains. But on the global scale California glaciers don’t get much attention. Now the California Academy of Science says that research shows that these glaciers “are so far holding their own against a warming world.”

Mount Shasta has seven glaciers. Two scientists there started measuring it year after using and to their “amazement... found that Shasta’s glaciers are growing. The Whitney Glacier, for example, is galloping forward at the rate of four inches per day. Aerial images indicate Whitney has expand by about 30 percent in the last 50 years” And while we are told that global warming is causing everything now frozen to melt the scientists studying glaciers on Mount Shasta say “they’re growing because of global warming.”

This report also tells us something about the cycles of glaciers in the world totally absent any influence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. It says the glaciers in the Sierra Nevada mountains are “relative youngsters” and had “completely vanished at the end of the last ice age, at a time when the Vikings were farming Greenland and Iceland. But long before that, at least five previous generations of glaciers, as far back as 1.5 million years ago, may have stretched for 1,500 square miles through the peaks of the Sierra.”

So five times, they estimate, before anyone was spewing out “greenhouse gases” these glaciers completely vanished, without human help. And then returned. A few hundred years ago they were gone and now they are back. South of these glaciers is a range of seven major glaciers which are estimated to have shrunk considerably over the last 100 years. The problem for the warming alarmists is that a big portion of that reduction was the result of a drought in the 1930s and 1940s “Since then, the rate of glacier surface area shrinkage seems to have leveled off... despite dramatic increases in greenhouse gas levels since the 1970s.”

In Argentina there is Perito Moreno glacier, affectionately called “White Giant”. The region “is the biggest continental ice extension in the world after Antarctica”. And Argentina officials proudly claim that this is the “world’s only expanding glacier.” Except for all the others mentioned so far obviously.

The BBC frequently broadcasts the latest and greatest doomsday hits. Here is one report where they make an offhand mention that: “One of our reporters, Paul Evans, has just emerged from a Norwegian lab built under an expanding glacier -- the only of its kinds in the world.” They aren’t clear if they are saying the lab is the only one of it’s kind or the glacier. There do seem to many glaciers that get billed as the only “expanding” glacier in the world.

Up in Alaska some glaciers are shrinking but apparently some are not. One “expanding glacier recently threatened to block seal, porpoises, fish and other sea life from getting to the open ocean.” It was also discovered that the little studied McGinnish Glacier surged forward rather suddenly but that “several glaciers” in that range “experience this.”

The Nisqually Glacier at Mount Ranier is an interesting case study in glaciers. It has advanced and retreated numerous times. “Climate cooling between about A.D. 1400 and 1840, called the Little Ice Age, cause many of the world’s glaciers to expand. Nisqually Glacier responded by advancing to the location of the current Nisqually Bridge where state highway 706 now crosses the Nisqually River.” Remember this Little Ice Age expanded glaciers around the world to high levels and when it ended about 160 years ago glaciers started shrinking--all without human help.

With the Little Ice Age over “Nisqually’s dramatic retreat between the 1850s and early 1930s was well documented.” Again this is before human greenhouse gases were being blamed for every change in nature. We know what happened next, human’s started spewing out CO2 at higher and higher levels. Excpet Nisqually Glacier wasn’t told. It started expanding. Ice thickened and the glacier grew. “By the early 1960s the thick ice wave had advanced the glacier terminus 480 feet over bare ground. A second wave of thickened ice advanced the glacier almost 600 feet between 1974 and 1981, then again several feet between 1984 and 1986.”

Then it retreated again. But this report suggests that since the upper elevations of the glacier remains thick this “thicker ice could flow downvalley during the coming decade” and stop the retreat or even advance the glacier again. Washington Geology says: “Between 1994 and 1997, the glacier thickened by 17 meters at 2,800-m altitude, indicating probably glacier advance during the first decade of the 21st century.”

Move over to Mount Saint Helen’s and you will discover that scientists there are studying the birth of a new glacier. “The crater ice body is an incipient glacier that continues to grow. It is not readily apparent from a distance that glacier ice is present in the crater, but small bodies of ice on the south crater wall behind the Lava Dome have crevasses and flow features, indicating their transformation into glaciers. The snows stacking higher each year have locally compressed the lower layers into dense, crystalline glacier ice. The ice body shows signs of flow around both sides of the Lava Dome and is flowing out toward the north side of the dome.”

In Colorado a survey of the Rocky Mountain Park showed more ice features than previously known. In fact they discovered 100 more glaciers than they knew about before. Park officials said: “Comparisons with historical photos suggest that at least some of the glaciers are expanding.” Local researchers said the “The survey results here contradict global warming trends. While precipitation hasn’t change much, temperatures have been slightly cooler in the past several years.”

Certainly that isn’t an exhaustive list of glacier that are growing. And it may still be possible that more glaciers are shrinking than growing. From the lack of studies for many thousands of glaciers it appears no one can really say. It appears that glaciers only miles apart can have different histories. Some are growing while neighbors are shrinking. Growing ice can be found in every corner of the world and I suspect that shrinking ice can be found in every corner of the world as well.

But what we do have is enough evidence to refute the New York Review of Books description of the IPCC report claiming, “That almost everything frozen on earth is melting.”

Unless, of course, by everything you don’t include the massive Baffin Bay region of Greenland, the bulk of Antarctica, thousands of glaciers in India and Pakistan, the annual ice formations of Hudson Bay, 50 glaciers in New Zealand including the two largest, a slew of glaciers in California, the massive Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina, glaciers in Norway, Alaska, Washington state, and Colorado. And if I keep reading on glaciers I would, no doubt, have found many more “exceptions” and “only” expanding glaciers.

For another example of where everything frozen is not melting read this article. It deals with not only the facts about snowpacks in the Cascades but how the climatologist who revealed the data claiming otherwise was wrong was removed from his position for doing so.

This reminds of the funny skit from Life of Brian where the underground movement to overthrow the Romans is sitting around attacking Rome. It is asked: “What have the Romans ever done for us.” As the skit goes on the list of things done by the Romans keeps growing (See it below for your own amusement.) Well, apparently everything frozen is melting except for the long list of places where more and more water is being frozen.

And I have to confess a bit of amusement, as I read report after report of expanding glaciers, to read about local officials insisting that, while they have an expanding glacier, no one else does and what is happening there is the “exception’ since similar things aren’t happening anywhere else. Yet this list includes expanding ice from all regions of the world. I readily admit that a full census, if ever done, might show something alarming. And it might not. We’ll know when one is done. Most glaciers are not studied so we don’t know. What we do know is that the claim that "most things frozen are melting" is false.