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More Junk Science From Mark Serreze

July 5, 2014

By Paul Homewood




The Mail report:

Earlier this year, global warming was blamed for the ‘irreversible retreat’ of west Antarctic glaciers.

But now scientists claim that warming of the planet is in fact behind a paradoxical growth in South Pole sea ice.

The comments come as Antarctica’s sea ice set a record this week, reaching 815,448 square miles (1,312,000 square km) of ice above its normal range.

Scientists believe the shift is caused by water melting from beneath the Antarctic ice shelves and re-freezing back on the surface.

‘The primary reason for this is the nature of the circulation of the Southern Ocean — water heated in high southern latitudes is carried equatorward, to be replaced by colder waters upwelling from below, which inhibits ice loss,’ Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, told Harold Ambler at Talking About the Weather.


 One slight problem with Serreze’s little theory, the ice is growing around pretty much all of the continent, and not just the small area of West Antarctic that he refers to.







Perhaps if he tried to stop blaming everything on global warming, and did some proper science instead, we might actually learn something useful.

  1. J Martin permalink
    July 5, 2014 5:09 pm

    I doubt that Serreze can do anything other than co2 religious alarmism, rather like Holdren. Alarmism pays better, provides for a higher status and more opportunities for tenure if at university.

  2. RAH permalink
    July 5, 2014 7:41 pm

    Nice thing about that Globe article are the comments. It seems that the number of people that refuse to believe this kind of dooms day stuff has decreased significantly in the last decade. The comments are just anecdotal evidence that backs the recent polls.

    • RAH permalink
      July 5, 2014 7:42 pm

      A heck. should read: “It seems that the number of people that refuse to believe this kind of dooms day stuff had INCREASED significantly in the last decade.” Sorry about that.

  3. tom0mason permalink
    July 5, 2014 10:41 pm

    A wise old friend once warned me that “What you gain in knowledge you can lose in understanding.” Mr. Serrere appears to have perfected the art.

  4. July 6, 2014 3:39 am

    Mr Serreze is wrong because he has failed to understand the variations in the geography of the Antarctic ice cap. But knocking him down merely defeats a straw man.

    The mainstream hypotheses about the increase in sea ice remain unchallenged.

    “But now scientists claim that warming of the planet is in fact behind a paradoxical growth in South Pole sea ice.”

    The physical principle that scientists base the claim on was used by my grandmother to make ice-cream before refrigeration was invented. When she added lots of ice to saltwater she got an endothermic reaction — the saltwater cooled to below 0 deg Celsius (32 deg F). The recipe mixture in the container embedded in the ice froze and became ice cream.

    Of course in the sea there is no container to isolate the fresh water from the saltwater, but gravity will tend to keep freshwater at the surface. Scientists also claim that the strong winds also tend to cause a fall in surface temperature.

    As we have seen with CO2, physical mechanisms do not work in isolation in complex systems like the Earth’s climate system. Therefore, a reference to a physical principle does not explain much in itself unless place in the context of the climate system.

    We have to ask: Where does the melt water come from? It is not enough to say that it comes from glaciers. Melt water can come from the bottom of a glacier, from the top, from the sides and from the leading edge as the glacier moves down slope into the sea.

    Alternatively, blocks of ice can break off where glaciers reach the shoreline. Flotation can increase tension at the base of glaciers causing fractures that result in calving from the leading edge. (Ice is a “rock” that can withstand compression but has little tensile strength.)

    We know that some melting of the West Antarctic glacier occurs at the base because of geothermal heating. But this cannot explain what is happening in other parts of Antarctica where the main source of freshwater is calving from the leading edges of the glaciers where they reach the sea.

    Let us for the moment accept without question, the claim that floating blocks of ice melt and then refreeze as sea ice.

    We then get the following events: Increase in calving -> increase in freshwater near the sea surface -> increase in sea ice.

    Contrary to claims, no increase in wind force is needed to cause an increase in sea ice. We apply Occam’s Razor to obtain: Increase in calving produces increase in sea ice.

    To explain the increase in sea ice we need to explain the increase in calving. It is well-established that melting occurs at the base of glaciers that receive geothermal heat from below. The melting reduces friction that normally locks polar glaciers to the bedrock and the glaciers move en masse down slope. However, most polar glaciers remain locked to the bedrock and do not move en masse down slope.

    Most polar glaciers move by shear within the glacier. (Low tensile strength.) The rate of movement varies from the bottom, which is locked to the bedrock, upwards to the surface where the rate of movement is greatest, being the integral of all shear movement within the glacier.

    Next, what caused shear movement within the glacier? Gravity represents potential energy within the glacier that is available to produce work as it is transformed into kinetic energy by movement down slope. The amount of work is given by shear force over distance.

    What causes the increased calving of ice from the glacier observed in the form of increased sea ice? We see that, apart from a small region in West Antarctica the shear forces within the glaciers have increased, thus accelerating the flow of glaciers whose bases are locked to the bedrock.

    Increased movement of the glaciers would suggest that the weight of ice has increased from increased snowfall at the top of the glaciers.

    We are not finished yet. Antarctica has about the same amount of precipitation as a desert. Snowfall is light by comparison with eastern US or western Europe. Cloudiness is less prevalent. In particular, we expect stratocumulus clouds to be less prevalent. (I leave the details to the reader.)

    Thus Antarctica is an ideal environment for the application of Svensmark’s cosmic particle theory, with a caveat. The albedo of Antarctica is already high and strato-cumulus clouds might lower the albedo slightly, the opposite of the effect of these clouds in temperate and tropical regions.

    But a small decline in the albedo of Antarctica is of no immediate concern. We hypothesize that the increase in sea ice in the Antarctic results from an increase in continental glacier ice resulting from increased precipitation in the form of snowfall. Svensmark’s theory is a possible line of inquiry to explain the increase in precipitation, but not the only line of inquiry available to scientists.

    I conclude from this thought experiment that it is not sufficient to shoot down the sort of straw man that Mr Serreze has set up. We need to explore the hypotheses that climate scientists are advancing to explain the increase of Antarctic sea ice.

    The aim would be to determine what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for this buildup in sea ice.

  5. July 6, 2014 8:01 pm

    The cool summer temperatures in the high Arctic during the last two years should get more publicity. I’d love to see Mr. Serreze explain how this is due to Arctic amplification.

  6. July 7, 2014 10:37 am

    “Scientists believe the shift is caused by water melting from beneath the Antarctic ice shelves and re-freezing back on the surface.”

    This part is physical and is explained by the well-known endothermic effect of ice melting in saltwater.

    (Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers made ice-cream using this principle.)

    But the growth in the sea ice pack can only arise if the ice shelves are continually replenished by more ice coming down slope. This must rely on increased snowfall on the glaciers.

    It is the increased snowfall that has to be explained. Svensmark’s theory might apply.

  7. Andy DC permalink
    July 8, 2014 1:43 am

    They make up stuff on the fly and try to make it sound scientific. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

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