The Mail’s Latest Antarctic Scare
By Paul Homewood
Bearing in mind that Antarctica has a total area of 5.4 million sq miles, I was going to look at this, but The Lid blog rather sums it all up well:
Sometimes the media relies on half-truths and sensationalized headlines to advance the climate change hypothesis and Thursday’s Daily Mail is a great example of how they try and fool the public. Trying to frighten the public into a global warming fear-frenzy they published an article warning that West Antarctica has lost 386 square miles of ice since 1975, what they didn’t mention until a sidebar near the bottom of the article is that total Antarctic ice has been growing.
YIKES!..one look at the headline will make anybody living near the coast to go purchase scuba gear believing their homes were going to be under water.
The beginning of the article is equally frightening:
Scientists have known for years that parts of the Antarctic coast line have been losing ice.
But the extent of this loss may be much greater than we ever imagined.
New research has revealed that parts of West Antarctica’s coastline have lost about 386 square miles (1,000 square kilometres) of ice – an area equivalent to the city of Berlin – over the past 40 years.
A research team from the University of Edinburgh analysed hundreds of satellite photographs of the ice margin.
The images were captured in a combined effort by Nasa, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Their results showed that the region in West Antarctica has been losing ice for four decades.
Frazer Christie, who co-led the study, said: ‘We knew that ice had been retreating from this region recently, but now, thanks to a wealth of freely available satellite data, we know this has been occurring pervasively along the coastline for almost half a century.
The article even shows before and after pictures:
WOW a loss of ice the size of Berlin! Are you shivering in fear yet? Well maybe not shivering, because if you believe their hypothesis it’s getting hotter and I suppose it’s hard to shiver in the heat.
Well never fear the global warming boogeyman isn’t hiding in your closet or underneath your bed because if you scroll down a tiny drop and look at the sidebar on the right:
Huh? Gaining more than losing? Doesn’t that mean the total ice melt from Antarctica is LOWER and we don’t have to rush and purchase scuba gear? Maybe not —because the article ends with one last scare, an animated illustration of the melting ice.
Wait a second! Earlier this week there was a flurry of articles about a scientific study attempting to explain why the Antarctic wasn’t melting. The answer was old water (note: this is not the same old water one finds in those NYC food carts that sell hot dogs, the ones with the blue and yellow Sabrett umbrellas. In the case of Antarctic, the scientists are talking about older water).
A new study suggests that the Antarctic Ocean has remained unaffected by climate change and global warming due to deep, old water that is continually pulled to the surface.
A new University of Washington study reveals why the Antarctic Ocean might be one of the last places to experience the effects of global warming and human-driven climate change.
A NASA study released this past October (and referenced in the side bar of the Daily Mail piece) explains that overall Antarctic sea ice is growing (and has been growing for a longer time than the water has been in those Sabrett street carts have been around). The study agrees that certain areas of the Antarctic is losing ice, however when one looks at the entire ice sheet there has been a significant growth:
“We’re essentially in agreement with other studies that show an increase in ice discharge in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Thwaites and Pine Island region of West Antarctica,” said Jay Zwally, a glaciologist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study, which was published on Oct. 30 in the Journal of Glaciology. “Our main disagreement is for East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica – there, we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas.” Zwally added that his team “measured small height changes over large areas, as well as the large changes observed over smaller areas.”
Or to put it another way, the Daily Mail article described above is nothing but sensationalized fear mongering. And now I am in the mood for a hot dog lunchtime.
In fact, there is nothing new about such claims. Even NASA point out:
Antarctica is so harsh and remote that scientists only began true investigation of its ice sheet in the 1950s. It didn’t take long for the verdict on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to come in. "Unstable," wrote Ohio State University glaciologist John Mercer in 1968. It was identified then and remains today the single largest threat of rapid sea level rise.
Why is West Antarctica’s ice sheet considered "unstable"?
The defining characteristic of West Antarctica is that the majority of the ice sheet is "grounded" on a bed that lies below sea level.
In his 1968 paper, Mercer called the West Antarctic Ice Sheet a "uniquely vulnerable and unstable body of ice." Mercer based his statement on geologic evidence that West Antarctica’s ice had changed considerably many, many millennia ago at times when the ice sheets of East Antarctica and Greenland had not
In 1973, University of Maine researcher Terry Hughes asked the question that scientists continue to investigate today. The title of his paper: "Is The West Antarctic Ice Sheet Disintegrating?" In 1981, Hughes published a closer look at the Amundsen Sea region specifically. He called it "the weak underbelly of the West Antarctic ice sheet."
What we are witnessing are long term changes that have been around much longer than the recent spell of warming.
Indeed, Antarctic explorers of the past knew that massive changes began taking place in the 19thC, as the LIA came to a close. (The Great Ice Barrier referred to is the Ross Ice Shelf).