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BBC Sea Ice Howler

May 8, 2019

By Paul Homewood


h/t Philip Bratby



US objections to wording on climate change prevented Arctic nations signing a joint statement at a summit in Finland, delegates said.

It is the first time such a statement has been cancelled since the Arctic Council was set up in 1996.

A Finnish delegate, Timo Koivurova, said "the others felt they could not water down climate change sentences".

There is international concern that Arctic temperatures are rising twice as fast as in the rest of the world.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the forum in Rovaniemi, northern Finland, with a speech welcoming the melting of Arctic sea ice, rather than expressing alarm about it.

"Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade," he said. "This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days."

"Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st-Century Suez and Panama Canals," Mr Pompeo said.

At short notice he cancelled talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday, in a surprise move. Environmental warning

Scientists and environmental groups warn that the retreat of Arctic sea ice threatens polar bears and marine species, but also contributes to rising sea levels, adding to the risk of coastal flooding.

They also warn of a major pollution risk if energy and transport firms find it easier to exploit the pristine Arctic wilderness.

The Arctic Council consists of the United States, Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. It meets every two years to address economic and environmental challenges in the Arctic.

Sources at the forum told Reuters news agency that the US shunned the joint statement because of wording stating that climate change posed a serious threat to the Arctic.

In 2017 US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Paris climate accord signed by almost 200 governments. The accord aims to limit a rise in average global temperatures to "well below" 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

At the Rovaniemi meeting Mr Pompeo also attacked what he called "aggressive behaviour" by China and Russia in the Arctic region.


Perhaps those “scientists” should go back to school!

  1. LeedsChris permalink
    May 8, 2019 10:41 am

    It always grates with me when I see reference to the idea of limiting the rise in temperature to ‘x’ degrees ‘above pre-industrial levels’…. exactly what would a pre-industrial level be? We know that we have had ice ages; we know that we have had periods of warmth and cold since the end of the last glacial with variations of several degrees. We even know from our own Central England Temperature series (that can be used as a rough proxy for a much wider area) that temperatures have varied considerably – the mean temperature for the 1730s as a decade was 1.7C!!! degrees (approx 3F) warmer than the mean temperature for the 1690s, for example….and this was before we all drove SUVs and flew anywhere!

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      May 8, 2019 1:50 pm

      It always amuses me that they refer to pre-industrial levels because they can effectively double the temperature rise figure by including the rise that occurred between 1910 and 1940.
      In fact the rise from 1910 to 1940 was around 0.6K over which period CO2 concentrations rose by about 10ppm. From 1940 to the present the global temperature anomaly has increased by about 0.5K (after temperatures dropped back by 0.2K after 1940) accompanied by a CO2 rise of about 90ppm.
      I have yet to see an explanation of how the causes of the rise in the early 20th century differ from those of the more recent rise.

      • Jon Scott permalink
        May 8, 2019 7:10 pm

        Hello!. May I ask where you obtained the 10ppm for the Atmospheric CO2 rise between 1910 and 1940? Was it ice cores? I ask because readings from the upper layers are considered not very reliable. I think you will find that the “Pre Industrial Levels” frequently mentionned by the 12 year olds skipping school and now moonlighting for the BBC as “concerned scientists” is an unscientific attempt to take the human effect all the way back to the end of the Little Ice Age which coincidently is when the industrial revolution really kicked off (1830-1850). The BBC is pushing it large thinking they are setting the narrative. I just had to larf when yet again they have to bring up Polar Bears. Like the children they are they just do not know when to shut up! Cheers Jon Scott

    • Gerry, England permalink
      May 8, 2019 1:54 pm

      By using an anomaly you can rig the graphs to show what you want as you can pick when it is anomalous to. Of course if you drew a graph of average temperature you would need a magnifying glass to see the warmth. Gives you a perspective of how tiny the claimed warming actually is.

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        May 8, 2019 3:19 pm

        I can’t remember the details now but apparently it is possible in certain circumstances to “prove conclusively” using anomalies that one given period was warmer than another even though the actual temperatures of the former were lower. Something to do with how the base periods are calculated, I think.

        Pompeo seems to be talking sense in the face of the usual inanity that somehow more open water is bad for marine life and melting floating ice will raise sea levels.

        PS Off direct topic, but anyone who hasn’t read Donna’s post today really should. Next target for the UN — sand! Which we are apparently not using sustainably!

      • Pancho Plail permalink
        May 8, 2019 5:38 pm

        An anomaly is simply a difference from a baseline, and the games that are played are by selecting the baseline you want.
        As for my example, it is based on a NASA graph so I was using their terminology. Anomalies are anyway a better way of envisaging global temperature changes because a global absolute temperature is meaningless due to the temperature variation from poles to equator. However I will put it into plain language.
        The global temperature was over half a degree higher in 1940 than it was in 1910, whilst the CO2 rose by 10ppm. During the period 1940 to now the temperature rose by 20% less but the CO2 rose by eight times more. The CO2 argument simply doesn’t explain the temperature rise in the early part of the 20th century.

  2. May 8, 2019 10:51 am

    No evidence that year to year changes in sept min sea ice extent is related to global warming.

  3. May 8, 2019 10:52 am

    Of course the BBC doesn’t identify the scientists and environmental groups and doesn’t do any of its own checking. We can guess the environmental groups because the BBC has them on speed dial.

    • Geortge Lawson permalink
      May 8, 2019 11:33 am

      Just read this on the BBC website

      “Our commitment to impartiality is at the heart of that relationship of trust. In all our output we will treat every subject with an impartiality that reflects the full range of views. We will consider all the relevant facts fairly and with an open mind.”

      So we don’t have to worry!

      • David Parker permalink
        May 8, 2019 1:23 pm

        If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

      • Bertie permalink
        May 8, 2019 1:51 pm

        That is a quotation from Joseph Goebbels – who knew a thing or two about propoganda.

    • Dadad permalink
      May 8, 2019 6:48 pm

      Roger Harrabin for everything.

  4. quaesoveritas permalink
    May 8, 2019 11:05 am

    I think the BBC have said this before.

    If I remember correctly, there is a slight contribution to rising sea levels (albeit miniscule), due to melting sea ice. However, I am no sure if that is what they mean.

    I think it’s something to do with salinity/ specific gravity but I may be wrong. Someone will probably correct me on this.

    • May 8, 2019 11:15 am

      Yes, there is a minuscule effect since the sea ice is not saline and so as it melts it decreases the density of the sea. But, as I say, it is a minuscule change and immeasurably small (a bit like the effect of CO2 on the climate is immeasurably small).

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        May 8, 2019 2:37 pm

        But if you complain to the BBC they will say that the effect is positive and because they didn’t specify the amount they are correct and you are wrong.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 8, 2019 11:30 am

      It’s why the ‘expert’ idea of using windmills to pump sea water on top of the Arctic sea ice to bulk it up is insane. When it freezes naturally the salt is excluded, it freezes from the top down, excluding the salt into the water below. If you pump salty water on top – what is going to happen!

    • Joe Public permalink
      May 8, 2019 11:50 am

      There’s this:

      “When ice on land slides into the ocean, it displaces ocean water and causes sea level to rise. People believe that when this floating ice melts, water level doesn’t rise an additional amount because the freshwater ice displaces the same volume of water as it would contribute once it melts. Similarly, people also think that when ocean water freezes to form sea ice and then melts, the water is merely going through a change of state, so it won’t affect sea level. However, in a visit to NSIDC in May, Dr. Peter Noerdlinger, a professor at St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, Canada, suggested otherwise.

      In a paper titled “The Melting of Floating Ice will Raise the Ocean Level” submitted to Geophysical Journal International, Noerdlinger demonstrates that melt water from sea ice and floating ice shelves could add 2.6% more water to the ocean than the water displaced by the ice, or the equivalent of approximately 4 centimeters (1.57 inches) of sea-level rise.

      The common misconception that floating ice won’t increase sea level when it melts occurs because the difference in density between fresh water and salt water is not taken into consideration. Archimedes’ Principle states that an object immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid it displaces. However, Noerdlinger notes that because freshwater is not as dense as saltwater, freshwater actually has greater volume than an equivalent weight of saltwater. Thus, when freshwater ice melts in the ocean, it contributes a greater volume of melt water than it originally displaced”

      However, Dr. Peter Noerdlinger & NSIDC can’t be certain, otherwise the two caveats wouldn’t have been included.

      Note that the demo in Figure 1: A freshwater ice cube floats in a beaker of concentrated saltwater. Note that the ice cube floats much higher in the saltwater than it would in a glass of freshwater because saltwater has a greater density.

      Just how concentrated is not mentioned.

      Notice also the depth of the flask is deliberately obscured, and the ruler measures from top downwards.

      The ice cube could in fact be a relatively large proportion of the mixture – mk1 eyeball analysis guess at 50%

      So when ocean salinity rockets, and, sea ice volume reaches approx 50% of 1,338,000,000 cu km, we should begin to fret about a 5mm sea level rise?

      • Joe Public permalink
        May 8, 2019 11:53 am


        Should have ‘closed’ the HTML bold after “could”

      • dave permalink
        May 8, 2019 1:28 pm

        That all seems to be a trivial “correction” to the calculation of how a certain volume of LAND ICE will affect the volume of the sea if it plops into the sea as a net addition to the sea and a net removal from the land. That 100 cubic feet of land ice equates to 102.6 cubic feet of liquid sea water.

        Nothing to do with the seasonal freezing and melting of existing open water.

        All VERY silly. But, in a world where significant numbers of excitable people think that when the ice cubes in their drink melts, the level of the drink goes up…I suppose such papers fulfill the first requirement of junk science, which is to reassure the faithful, while making them even more confused than they were before.

      • Pancho Plail permalink
        May 8, 2019 2:04 pm

        I got this from NOAA. “Ocean water freezes just like freshwater, but at lower temperatures. Fresh water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit but seawater freezes at about 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit, because of the salt in it. When seawater freezes, however, the ice contains very little salt because only the water part freezes. It can be melted down to use as drinking water.”
        So where does the salt go if a seawater pond freezes entirely?

      • May 8, 2019 2:45 pm

        Concentrated saltwater? Sea water is abt 3.5% salt. Saturated, denser 1.09 vs 1.02, salt solution is abt 25% salt. I’m betting concentrated saltwater in this demo is well above 3.5% salt. His ice seems to be floating a bit high in the picture.

  5. George Lawson permalink
    May 8, 2019 11:19 am

    “They also warn of a major pollution risk if energy and transport firms find it easier to exploit the pristine Arctic wilderness” “Scientists and environmental groups warn that the retreat of Arctic sea ice threatens polar bears and marine species, but also contributes to rising sea levels, adding to the risk of coastal flooding”

    In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, they still come up with these .outrageous and tiresome statements Well done Mr Pompeo. Keep it up. One day it will get through to these ridiculous alarmists…

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 8, 2019 1:20 pm

      Soot (or other particulate pollution) from marine diesel and other activities could well accelerate melt – that was in essence the geoengineering plan (sooting the Arctic ice) to save us from global cooling!

      • Joe Public permalink
        May 8, 2019 1:56 pm

        “Soot (or other particulate pollution) from marine diesel and other activities could well accelerate melt …”

        Shhhh. Don’t tell Greenpeace

  6. DaveR permalink
    May 8, 2019 11:42 am

    Off-topic but pertinent:

    ‘Before reading
    Considering the title and the front cover illustration, discuss what the story
    is likely to be about. Can the children explain how fires start in hot weather?
    Is Tom having a dream or a nightmare? Did they spot the helmet on Tom’s
    Topics for discussion
    • The story explains some of the causes of climate change and the effect
    of a build up of greenhouse gases. Ask the children to talk to a partner
    about some of the facts that they have learnt from the story and report
    back to the class.
    • The chief firefighter tells Tom that we must all accept our share of
    responsibility for our contribution to these problems. How can we do
    this? What suggestions did the children pick up from the story and can
    they think of any other ways to help?
    • Discuss what is meant by renewable energy and where this energy
    might come from.
    • What experiences do the children have of fire? Discuss some of the
    dangers and check that they know how to keep safe. It may be a good
    opportunity to revise the school fire drill!
    • The Mayor wants to give medals to the firefighters for their bravery.
    Why do they turn them down? Who are the children’s heroes and are
    they ‘real’ heroes or not?
    Follow-up activities
    • Begin by gathering together what you know about climate change and
    think about what you would like to find out.
    • Investigate the consequences of climate change in the UK and around
    the world. Look at reports of personal experiences of flooding, drought,
    wildfires, storms etc. Write a story based on a disaster.
    • Video a news report or write a newspaper article about the fire outside
    Merlin City. Include expert scientific opinion on the likely cause.
    • Conduct an experiment to demonstrate the effect of the build up of
    greenhouse gases. Put 2 thermometers outside on a sunny day, one
    under a glass jar. What happens and why?
    • Conduct a school or home survey to see how much energy is wasted.
    Are lights and computers switched off? Are windows double-glazed
    and draught proofed? Is the heating regulated? Do people recycle and
    reuse? Devise an action plan.
    • Write a weather forecast for different parts of the world in 50 years time.
    • Find out a little about the different types of renewable energy, such as
    wind, solar and hydro. Can you make a model windmill that will turn in
    the wind?’


    Key language
    greenhouse gases
    climate change
    renewable energy
    fossil fuels
    (information pack on climate


    The above is excerpted from the European Commission ‘Teaching Notes’ series at

    Sub-quote: ‘ Conduct an experiment to demonstrate the effect of the build up of
    greenhouse gases. Put 2 thermometers outside on a sunny day, one
    under a glass jar. What happens and why?’

    Yip. Welcome to Our new enforced dis-Enlightenment…

  7. Broadlands permalink
    May 8, 2019 2:23 pm

    It remains a puzzle to me that there are these constant, almost daily warnings, but very few suggestions as to meaningful solutions to these warnings. Act now? Time is short? Devise an action plan? What is the point if the solution we are taking is out of reach anyhow?

    • Athelstan. permalink
      May 8, 2019 2:49 pm

      your question demands logic, I don’t ever sense even remotely any logic in the alarmists chatter and bloviating, their only plan – watermelons/Communists is, of course to smash the west, economically and demographically and thus the green chimera is a means to ‘the end’.

  8. May 8, 2019 2:39 pm

    Back to school for BBC from JPL –

    “Icebergs and frozen seawater also melt in warm temperatures but do not cause sea level to rise. This is because they are already in the water. The volume of water they displace as ice is the same as the volume of water they add to the ocean when they melt. As a result, sea level does not rise when sea ice melts”

    There are two issues here, one of which is accuracy, and the other is political bias. Fake news these days may be considered to be the more serious of the two.

    I hope somebody has submitted a complaint(s)?

  9. Athelstan. permalink
    May 8, 2019 2:45 pm

    Dear Lord, they can’t even get the basics right what hope of real science?

    The problem is, as we saw with attenboro’s pathetic attempt t’other night, the message gets out globull warbling and without even a scintilla of truth in it, propaganda works but it ain’t science.

  10. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 8, 2019 3:21 pm

    Erm…. I’m horribly confused. OK melting Arctic ice doesn’t raise sea level but I thought it had stopped melting? Or more accurately the area at third week in September has been above 4 million sq km since 2007 (pace 2012?) or where it was in 1935? So where are all these trade routes? And what about SLR? Still 7ins a century or have I missed something? Polar bears? Do these people pay any attention to anything?

  11. Tom O permalink
    May 8, 2019 3:29 pm

    I wonder what the affect of so many ice breakers plowing through the sea ice from the late fall on has on the accumulation of sea ice. Could it be possible that breaking the ice into smaller parts helps keep the over winter accumulation from growing to a greater total coverage, thus it IS human activity that has affected Arctic sea ice cover? That is, could it be that the attempt to create the northern sea route is, in effect, a sort of self fulfilling thing That it IS creating the northern route as breaking ice sheets up slowly prevents the thinner ice from becoming thicker ice? I just can’t quite decide.

  12. Don B permalink
    May 8, 2019 3:37 pm

    Actually, polar bears have flourished as summer sea ice has declined. Seals, the bears’ main food, have flourished with less summer ice.

  13. May 8, 2019 5:35 pm

    Another great howler from the BBC is the statement that fracking and natural gas are cheaper than fossil fuels. Transcript by Alex Cull here:

    • Athelstan. permalink
      May 8, 2019 7:57 pm

      good grief, that is so pathetic, it makes me howl but this is quite a good example of the ignorance we face.

  14. May 8, 2019 6:56 pm

    Canada and Russia would greatly benefit by warming up!

  15. Jon Scott permalink
    May 8, 2019 7:03 pm

    What kind of “scientist” does not know that to melt SEA ice does not affect sea level? What kind of scientist exactly, Perhaps a social scientist or one of those paid to say anything you tell them “experts”?

  16. May 8, 2019 11:27 pm

    I put the BBC into a Twitter search
    that tells me who retweeted it
    The usual suspects : NGO’s, green energy biz, pseudo-liberals etc
    It ticks the boxes they want : It’s alarmist, it’s negative about Trump etc.
    Those are BBCnews rules ..actual accuracy is way down the BBC list of priorities.

    As for the get out “ah fresh water does raise a salty sea 2%, well if you omit the context that it’s not 100% effect, then that is super misleading.

    Lets have a look at the BBC stealth edits
    Wow this time, there haven’t been any

  17. avro607 permalink
    May 8, 2019 11:35 pm

    Perhaps it was mentioned,and I did not notice,but the ice contains bubbles of gases from the atmosphere,therefore the meltwater will be of less volume than the ice.
    I do not have the constituent volumes.Sorry.

  18. buchanlad permalink
    May 9, 2019 8:39 am

    All very interesting and pretty irrefutable once again . But I repeat we are only talking to ourselves . Is anybody listening ? The BBC certainly isn’t . Real science does not get the audience it deserves in today’s 24 hour fake news cycle . Dis-Enlightenment rules OK ?

  19. May 9, 2019 9:29 am

    Arctic temperatures are rising twice as fast as in the rest of the world

    2*very little = still very little.

  20. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 9, 2019 8:39 pm

    This is the response to my complaint to the BBC about Climate Change -The Facts. The gravamen of my complaint is wilfully ignored. This apparatchik must project this boilerplate at everyone. It’s mildly insulting as well.

    “Thank you for contacting us again about ‘Climate Change – the Facts’.

    Climate Change – the Facts represented the work of a wide range of scientists from the UK and US, as well as other countries, demonstrating the scale and scope of scientific endeavour and thinking around this complex subject.

    Their interviews were based on their research, describing what it has revealed and in some instances expressing personal reactions based on their deep insights. The overall content of the programme was also based on peer reviewed scientific research, which was rigorously checked by an independent scientific consultant, a leading academic at University College London. Inevitably in a 60 minute programme there were some subject areas which could not be addressed in greater detail or which we did not feature.

    The vast majority of climate scientists agree on the fundamentals of human induced climate change and this was reflected in the film. As climate change is accepted as happening, the BBC no longer seeks to ‘balance’ the debate by interviewing those who do not agree with this position.

    There are many complexities in communicating climate change to a mainstream audience; the film sought to balance potentially alarming scenarios with scientific analysis on attribution (the extent to which extreme weather events and other phenomena such as sea level rise can be linked to climate change), climate modelling and projections of what may happen in the future (in which inevitably there are many uncertainties) and actions aimed at reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change going forward. While Sir David Attenborough drew on his own experience of reporting on this subject over many years, he also balanced a sense of urgency with optimism that there are ways of addressing the serious issues we undoubtedly face.

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