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Earth’s glaciers have shrunk by 267BILLION tonnes per year since 2000

April 30, 2021

By Paul Homewood



The media love to bandy around big numbers in order to scare people:




The study referred to is here.

267 billion tonnes sounds scary, but it is in reality a mere drop in the ocean, equating to 0.7mm a year in sea level rise, three inches a century. The claimed acceleration of 48 Gt/year, which is little bigger than the error margin, is even more tiny, about 0.1mm a year. [“Glaciers”, by the way, exclude the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets].

As we know, glaciers worldwide expanded massively during the Little Ice Age, (see here). And they have been retreating since the mid 19thC, long before any supposed AGW.

As for sea levels, they too began rising in the 19thC, and, following a slowdown in the second half of the 20thC, are again rising at a similar rate to the rest of the period 1850 to 1950:



In short there is not the slightest evidence of anything unusual, unprecedented or scary going on.


Drilling down into the study, most of the claimed acceleration of 48 Gt a year arises in Alaska and Central Asia.

We know that Alaskan glaciers were melting much faster during the 19thC. And evidence of medieval forests being discovered as glaciers retreat now prove that they used to be much smaller than now.

map showing location of Glacier Bay on the panhandle of Alaska, and glacial terminus positions within Glacier Bay


The acceleration of glacial retreat in Asia revolves around the Karakoram, where glaciers were actually expanding until a few years ago. This is well known scientifically as the Karakoram Anomaly.

However researchers have found that this expansion has not been a constant process. During the 20thC there have been periods of decline as well as expansion. The most recent growth only began in the 1990s:




The end of that expansion is simply part of a natural cycle.


Interestingly, it is surging glaciers that are bad news, not the gradual decline:





There is of course nothing mankind can do, either to prevent these surges, or stop glaciers around the world continuing their retreat from Little Ice Age maxima.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack Broughton permalink
    April 30, 2021 2:45 pm

    What is very clear is that you (and many of the regular correspondents on this site), are more proper scientist than the so-called “climate scientists” who try to get headlines for half-baked studies. Science means knowledge and these papers, that are being peer reviewed and accepted, do not demonstrate knowledge merely desire to publish,

    • Gerry, England permalink
      May 1, 2021 1:34 pm

      Our incomes don’t depend on the scam so we can take an impartial and honest look at the subject.

    • James permalink
      May 1, 2021 4:14 pm

      Jack Broughton: So are you actually refuting what this article states, or are you just trying to smear the article itself?

      • May 1, 2021 5:14 pm

        Paul debunked the alarmism in the article
        Then Jack came along and didn’t actually make any claim about the Mail article never mind smear it.
        He said ” the so-called “climate scientists” who try to get headlines for half-baked studies.
        By which I guess he doesn’t mean every climate scientist
        but rather the ones that produce activist alarmist material for journos to cherrypick
        as they omit mentioning more moderate claims.

  2. April 30, 2021 2:52 pm

    So in 20 years we melted 0.175% of the ice? Scary. Maybe we can get it up to

    • April 30, 2021 2:53 pm

      Maybe we can get it up to 1% in the next century.

    • May 1, 2021 5:23 pm

      Jamal so you’re saying the Earth has 152,571 Gt of glaciers and 267 Gt has been lost
      Do we have a source for the 152,571 Gt number ?

  3. April 30, 2021 3:00 pm

    What evidence suggests that AGW explains? Why not just a natural process?

    Is there any suggestive evidence that decarbonisation might retard or “correct” natural climate changes?

  4. Broadlands permalink
    April 30, 2021 3:53 pm

    “There is of course nothing mankind can do, either to prevent these surges, or stop glaciers around the world continuing their retreat from Little Ice Age maxima.”

    Indeed. The same is true for the whole global warming aka climate change scam. Eliminating fossil fuels won’t change any of those dire and catastrophic consequences that are all model forecasts anyhow. But it will create more economic damage as the pandemic travel lockdowns have shown clearly.

    • Duker permalink
      May 1, 2021 12:11 am

      Even during ‘peak ice age’ there were millennial scale ‘warmings’, (Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles) clearly involving much more ice melting of the larger ice sheets.
      We are currently in an interglacial period as well. The ice is guaranteed to come back

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    April 30, 2021 4:19 pm

    Don’t forget, old trees are being exposed from melting all over the NH. Some of these may date to as little as 1000/3000 years ago, whereas most appear to be from 5/7000 years ago. i.e. The glaciers now meting are not that old.

    e.g. “This implies that even the WSS summit location at 3500 m altitude was ice-free during an interval prior to (5.9 ± 0.7) ka.”

    • April 30, 2021 5:47 pm

      And Patagonia

    • April 30, 2021 6:01 pm

      Or, even more recently. Try 851 yrs ago:

      “The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a time of global cooling from approximately 1350
      to 1870 AD. During this time glaciers expanded in the northern regions, moving
      down the mountains and scouring the vegetation that had been in the valleys
      below. Park Service personnel recently discovered evidence of a buried forest
      dating back to at least 1170 AD high in the Forelands near the current glacier’s edge.
      Exit Glacier advanced from the Harding Icefield during the Little Ice Age, burying
      this existing forest and advancing to a maximum marked by the terminal moraine
      dated to 1815.”

      Click to access The%20Retreat%20of%20Exit%20Glacier.pdf

      PS – Have heard that some believe that the CA Sierra’s were glacier free by the end of the MWP. Maybe there’s an exception or two – anyone have a source?

      • StephenP permalink
        May 1, 2021 7:57 am

        Make sure that activists don’t come and remove the evidence as happened to a tree on an island beach in the Pacific. /s

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 1, 2021 9:10 am

      None of that matters. Climate began in 1980.

  6. MrGrimNasty permalink
    April 30, 2021 7:18 pm

    That massive flood in 1947 again!

  7. tom0mason permalink
    May 1, 2021 12:55 am

    Hurray! Rejoice the glaciers are melting. That is an incredibly GOOD sign that maybe the planet is warming up and life will thrive everywhere.
    I now hope that the North pole and mountain top glacier all disappear, precipitating a new era of plenty.

  8. markl permalink
    May 1, 2021 3:53 am

    That’s nothing compared to the amount of money wasted on promoting AGW as the cause of weather patterns, much less climate patterns.

  9. May 1, 2021 7:40 am

    Without glaciers melting we would not have a scenic Lake District.

  10. Mack permalink
    May 1, 2021 8:34 am

    O/T Just a little reminder to our English and Welsh friends that, from today, the sale of domestic loose coal and wet wood (logs with a moisture content over 20%) is banned to we proles. No doubt, local government enforcement officers will be licking their lips at the prospect of whipping out their moisture probes and checking for dodgy bags of the black stuff secretly stashed under beds every time they see a puff of chimney smoke somewhere. Just a little taste of what’s coming further down the road it would seem.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 1, 2021 8:56 am

      I’m not really bothered by that because frankly anyone burning those in a populated area is a selfish nut causing real problems of pollution health and unpleasantness for their neighbours. Most sensible people switched to ‘smokeless’ coal/fuel years ago. They’ve only banned household coal, not processed forms.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      May 1, 2021 10:08 am

      Not true in Wales. AFAIK.

      • Mack permalink
        May 1, 2021 10:50 am

        Apologies, the Welsh gov want to introduce the ban in 2023.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      May 1, 2021 2:12 pm

      A local supplier I have used sent an email that says that they can only supply air-dryed firewood in a minimum quantity of 3 cubic metre bags under the new legislation. Kiln-dried you can have just one bag. Not sure what the logic is – if any knowing the government is involved – in this.

      And just looking at house coal, they can only supply it open bags so they will deliver the sealed bags and then empty them into your bunker if you have one while taking the empties with them, or will cut open the tops of the bags before they leave. Only a country governed by morons could come up with such legislation.

  11. May 1, 2021 5:02 pm

    That website clip about the Karakoram surging glaciers
    is a big small here’s a narrower screenshot

    (if doesn’t appear here it’s cos the filename has a _ in)

  12. May 1, 2021 5:30 pm

    so 267GT has ben lost off what total mass ?

    As I try to check I can’t find a figure
    but a .gov page shouting glacier doom, says this
    Scientists have described more than one hundred thousand glaciers in the World Glacier Inventory, but only a small fraction of these have been consistently monitored for long enough to measure climate-related changes in their size or mass.
    Scientists refer to this collection of about 40 glaciers as “reference” glaciers.

    • Mack permalink
      May 1, 2021 5:59 pm

      40 reference glaciers out of 100,000 heh? Wouldn’t that be 0.04% of the total that these scientists are using as a ‘reference’. Rings a bell.

  13. John Wainwright permalink
    May 3, 2021 8:48 am

    If shrinking glaciers account for 21% of sea level rise, and overall sea level rise has not accelerated (as proved by PSMSL data), how do these so-called experts account for the implied 21% drop in the natural rise that has been going on for centuries?

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