Pessimistic Reporting for Climate Change, Optimistic Data for Antarctic Ice Sheets

Washington Post correspondant Juliet Eilperin, in her 12-26-08 report entitled “New climate change estimates more pessimistic,” dutifully surveys the latest bleak findings of the climate change community. Her primary source is a recently released survey comissioned by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program – expanding on the findings of the 2007 4th IPPC Report on Climate Change. Apparently this “new assessment suggests that earlier projections may have underestimated the climatic shifts that could take place by 2100.” One of Eilperin’s primary examples of alarming new data is reported as follows:

“In one of the reports most worrisome findings, the agency estimates that in light of recent ice sheet melting, global sea level rise could be as much as 4 feet by 2100. The IPCC had projected a sea level rise of no more than 1.5 feet by that time, but satellite data over the past two years show the world’s major ice sheets are melting much more rapidly than previously thought. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are now losing an average of 48 cubic miles of ice a year, equivalent to twice the amount of ice that exists in the Alps.”

This indeed sounds ominous, until one recalls the data from just over two years ago, released and reported with similar overtones of dreadful urgency. Our October 20th, 2006 report entitled “Greenland’s Ice Melting Slowly” referenced then recent findings from NASA indicating that Greenland’s ice was melting at “a net loss of 27 cubic miles of ice per year.”

In our above-noted critique of this 2006 NASA report, we correctly noted 27 cubic miles of new water in the world’s oceans per year would result in a net rise of sea level of 1.2 inches per century. The calculations for this claim are fairly straightforward and are outlined in that post. Now in this new 2008 report in the Washington Post, not only Greenland, but Antarctica as well are only combining to contribute 48 cubic miles of net ice-melt per year into the world’s oceans on average during the last three years. That is about 2.0 inches per century, and clearly these datapoints don’t indicate a trend towards faster melting, when Antarctica’s ice mass is nearly 10x that of the Greenland ice cap.

It would help if Eilperin and others would have included links to the original just-released study from the USGS Climate Change Science Program, “Abrupt Climate Change.” Using the key words “USGS faster climate change feared,” the many, many links found on Google, including the Washington Post story’s own link to the study, only reference the Washington Post story itself. And despite the overwhelming intent of all these posts spawned by Eilperin’s latest dispatch, to crow yet again that our worst primal diluvian fears could come true, the most supposedly alarming data they themselves have cited suggest strongly otherwise. Three years ago what NASA quantified as an alarming loss of annual ice loss from Greenland was easily demonstrated at that time to be an insignificant loss, and today NASA’s updated data appears to suggest the annual rate of global polar ice loss has actually decreased since then.

Read Arctic Cooling on Schedule, “Hottest Year? 1934,” “Greenland’s Ice Melting Slowly,”Greenland’s Ice Cap”,” and “Antarctic Ice,” for more on the relationship between land-based polar ice mass and sea level rise.

Greenland’s Riviera – their green southwest. Will another Maunder minimum
grip the region in cages of ice again, or will bells ring in the portside squares,
as they did in the 1300′s before that cooling came, and ships sailed the fiords?
(Source: NASA)

29 Responses to “Pessimistic Reporting for Climate Change, Optimistic Data for Antarctic Ice Sheets”
  1. Kevin says:

    So as the world gets colder, the warming alarmists get more alarming. Strange.

  2. Dan Staley says:

    The world is not getting “colder”. That is just a denialist talking point:


    Global Temperature Trends: 2007 Summation

    The year 2007 tied for second warmest in the period of instrumental data, behind the record warmth of 2005, in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis. 2007 tied 1998, which had leapt a remarkable 0.2°C above the prior record with the help of the “El Niño of the century”. The unusual warmth in 2007 is noteworthy because it occurs at a time when solar irradiance is at a minimum and the equatorial Pacific Ocean is in the cool phase of its natural El Niño-La Niña cycle.

    “Global warming stopped in 1998,” has become a recent mantra of those who wish to deny the reality of human-caused global warming. The continued rapid increase of the five-year running mean temperature exposes this assertion as nonsense. In reality, global temperature jumped two standard deviations above the trend line in 1998 because the “El Niño of the century” coincided with the calendar year, but there has been no lessening of the underlying warming trend.

    In other words, man-made climate change continues, glaciers across the globe continue to recede, plants and animals move north and higher in elevation, etc.

  3. Steve says:


    No one cares about 2007 anymore, where is your 2008 summation??

    Coldest Winters in 50 years….

    That about sums it up.

    You attempts to link alarmist propaganda do nothing for any shred of credibility you may have.

    Oh, by the way, if CO2 is driving your so-called man-made global warming then why would plants need to move north, or even how could they?? Since their roots are in the GROUND and all that superficial stuff you don’t want to hear about.

    Higher concentrations of CO2 in our atmosphere will help plants to grow faster and use less water, surely that is good for humans and the Earth right??

  4. dercks says:

    @ steve. Thnx for the graphics. It is clear that from 1998 it is getting much colder.

    It must have something to do with manmade greenhouse gas I think. Because they increase since 1998 dramatically (but just still only a few percent of the total greenhouse gasses) but who cares if you believe in a religion the facts do not count anymore.

  5. jmrSudbury says:

    Steve. I agree with most of your analysis; however, your simplistic view of plants is odd. While you are correct that plants are rooted to the ground, they are said to move when their seeds, over several years/life cycles, are able to grow in more northern climes.

    Oh, and Dan’s first link shows that 2007 is the seventh warmest and not the second warmest as he claims. So far 2008 has been much colder than 2007. December will not bring 2008′s average up significantly.

    John M Reynolds

  6. Garacka says:

    1. If there were no observed natural cycles that offer so many possibilities for correlation with temperature, then I’d be more open to exercising the precautionary principle towards “manmade” CO2 emission reductions.

    2. However, there are so many natural cycle candidates and few can get funding to study them so we get an endless string of “CO2 causes Global Warming, thank you for the grant, but we will need more” studies that it is nauseating.

    3. The dearth of detailed CO2 physics discussions in public pronouncents, studies, and blog positing must suggest something. Could it be that it would reveal one of the great hoaxes in history hiding behind the complexity?

    4. It is interesting, though that the Global Circulation Models that are attempting to model an extremely complex problem are widely cited even though they;

    (a) minimize (or exclude?) the negative feedbacks of cloud and vertical heat transport,

    (b) don’t include cosmic ray cloud formation physics which may not even be quantifiable yet,

    (c) can be tweaked to make them predict the past, but can’t predict the future temperature any better than random walks, and last but not least…

    (d) assume a 1 degree (or so) CO2 warming with an air concentration doubling which man can’t even cause even if they burned all the fossil fuels on the planet

    5. The extent to which these issues are avoided in supposedly scientific studies and their sister blog postings, leaves many with the only common sense conclusion that something is not quite right. That it would be so easy to avoid this suspicion by revealing raw data, identifying methods, showing that natural cycles don’t correlate, and explaining the models and CO2 physics only reinforces the hoax theory.

  7. wadosy says:

    is co2 a greenhouse gas, or not? are we laboring under a 100-year-old delusion about the physics of the co2 molecule?

    does burning a gallon of gas produce over 19 pounds of co2, or not? were all my chemistry courses nothing but warming alarmist bullshit?

    are we depositing something like 30 gigatons of co2 into the atmosphere every year, or not?

    has the concentration of co2 risen by 50 parts per million in the last 33 years, or is that just more alarmist propaganda?

    is co2 a greenhouse gas… or not?

  8. wadosy says:

    ABCs (atmospheric brown clouds) shield the surface from sunlight by reflecting solar radiation back to space and by absorbing heat in the atmosphere.

    These two dimming phenomena can act to artificially cool the Earth’s surface especially during dry seasons. The pollution can also be transported around the world via winds in the upper troposphere (above 5 km in altitude).

    As a result global temperature rises—linked with greenhouse gas emissions—may currently be between 20 per cent and 80 per cent less as a result of brown clouds around the world says the report.

    If brown clouds were eliminated overnight, this could trigger a rapid global temperature rise of as much as to 2 degrees C.

    google “global dimming”

  9. Demesure says:

    @ wadosy
    - co2 a greenhouse gas yes !
    - we are depositing something like 30 gigatons of co2 into the atmosphere every year, yes ?

    - But the atmosphere is cooling over the past 8 years. End of story.

  10. wadosy says:

    “…end of story”…

    …until the global economy crashes and energy consumption crashes, or we run out of oil…

    at which point the particulates will settle out of the atmosphere in a few years, leaving the co2 behind to heat the planet for a few hundred years.

  11. Garacka says:

    CO2 does not correlate at all well with temperature, but many natural factors are good candiadtes. For example, did anyone see the sunspot length to CO2 correlation paper \”Length of the Solar Cycle: An Indicator of Solar Activity Closely Associated with Climate\”,

    A graph from that 1991 paper is shown under today\’s Blogosphere entry at

    That\’s unbelieveable correlation. The physical mechansms to fully explain it are being worked out as irradiance changes alone don\’t seem to be enough (but they could be with amplifications). Perhaps Svensmarks Cosmic ray data will be out shortly to build a physical explanation.

    Compare this to the CO2 situation. It is amazing that CO2 is not on the bit player list.

  12. Garacka says:

    wadosy: you state “…until the global economy crashes and energy consumption crashes, or we run out of oil… …at which point the particulates will settle out of the atmosphere in a few years, leaving the co2 behind to heat the planet for a few hundred years.” (December 30th, 2008 at 6:36 am)

    #1 It will be a quite a while before we run out of fossil fuels. Plenty of time for new energy sources to be developed. As fossil fuel supplies dry up in perhaps 50 to 500 years (no one really knows) the natural increase in price will make alternatives competitive without the need for subsidies which they all need now. Otherwise we’d already have them.

    #2 CO2 perturbations equalize in only about a 5 year period of time. The several hundred year numbers are bogus and don’t account for 100-600 year ocean circulation cycles which bring up “old” water with higher CO2 concentrations that can outgas and mask the CO2 response to perturbations like volcanoes and fossil fuel combustion.

    Bottom line. Don’t worry about CO2 for CO2′s sake. Focus on pollution reduction and prevention, reduced fossil fuel use to extend any long term supply concerns and energy security, managing and protecting our natural resources, etc.

    The concern over CO2 creates specific technical constraints on energy production of no direct value and has the potential to cripple our economy and prevent us from doing all the necessary things.

    Don’t try to correlate AGW CO2 skepticism with anti-environmentalism. They do not correlate well.

  13. wadosy says:

    please discuss the fact that crude oil and lease condensate production has been flat for the last four years.

    please explain why exxon and its israeli american allies at the AEI are the lead deniers of global warming… in view of the fact that israel and exxon had the most motive to stage 9/11 in response to peak oil and global warming.

    please explain why you refuse to acknowledge the existence of atmospheric brown clouds and global dimming, phenomena that account for the cooling observed in the 70s.

    please discuss the fact that israel and israeli americans must either (1) grab control of oil and restrict oil consumption oil, thus reducing the threat of an eventual 80-meter sea level rise that will wipe out 70% of the israeli population, or (2) grab the palestinians high ground in the west bank.

    and please discuss the fact that, one way or the other, israel must be secured before its american protector goes tits up from (1) oil shortages and (2) looting by american financial oligarchs that see the peak oil handwriting on the wall.

  14. Garacka says:

    # wadosy Says:
    December 31st, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I can’t explain much about crude oil and lease condensate production being flat for the last four years other than to suggest it could be due to business decisions, economic driven consumer reduction, cost increase driving use down, US moratorium on new drilling, regulatory/legal hurdles to new refinery construction, etc. I’m not sure why you ask unless you assume that it is all because we are running out of oil. If that is the case, we should get cranking on alternatives to petroleum, like nuclear and coal. Wind and solar should be pursued, but mostly for small scale operations and home use.

    I don’t know that exxon and its israeli american allies at the AEI are the lead deniers of global warming and how that is connected to 9/11, peak oil and global warming, so I can’t explain that. It sounds pretty wild though. BTW I think of a denier as one who knows a truth, but doesn’t acknowledge it. Exxon probably knows that CO2 effects are minimal and that we are more likely to be entering a cooling period, so I ‘m not sure what you would call them. Are they publicly stating their opinion one way or the other?

    I haven’t said anything about the existence of atmospheric brown clouds and global dimming, did I? I would imagine they are due to Asian coal combustion not having the scrubbing technology that we have. Why don’t we encourage them to put scrubbers on their stacks? Perhaps we could provide foreign aid to them to install scrubbers or solicit the UN to focus on this.

    I have no comment on you last 2 paragraphs about the israel other to say that the 80-meter sea level rise is not based on anything credible that I’ve read.

  15. wadosy says:

    if crude oil production has been flat for the past four years, why do you suppose drills have double since january 2002? …are they drilling for practice? …what do you suppose that price spike was about, if not dawning awareness that, despite the expanded drilling efforts, production was not increasing? …what do you suppose the corn to ethanol effort was about, an effort that caused a spike in food prices?

    you need to look into the association of exxon with the AEI, which spawned PNAC, which noted the need for “a new pearl harbor” in september of 2000, just before the signatories of that PNAC document were installed into US goverment positions high enough to make their “new pearl harbor” happen.

    you need to know that those PNAC people were installed in those high positions in a phony election recount in a state governed by the president-elect’s brother and PNAC member, jeb bush.

    you need to connect a few dots.

  16. Tom Moriarty says:

    Wow! 48 cubic miles of ice per year is melting from Antarctica and Greenland?

    That translates into about 200 cubic kilometers of ice. A cubic kilometer of water will raise the oceans by a whopping 2.7 microns (2.7 millionths of a meter). So all that melting ice in Greenland and the Antartic would raise the oceans by 540 microns, or about half a millimeter per year.

    At that rate the oceans would rise by an incredible 2 inches per century due to melting ice. What will we do!?!

    Best regards,

  17. wadosy says:

    According to a new report led by the U.S. Geological Survey, we “face the possibility of much more rapid climate change than previous studies have suggested.” The report synthesizes the latest published evidence on four specific threats for the 21st century. It uses studies not available to the UN’s IPCC 2007 report, which explored similar questions.

    The report, commissioned by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, found that in light of recent ice sheet melting, global sea levels could rise as much as 4 feet (1.2 metres) by 2100.

    The IPCC had projected a rise of no more than 1.5 feet by that time, but satellite data over the last two years show the world’s major ice sheets are melting much more rapidly than previously thought. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are losing an average of 48 cubic miles of ice a year, equivalent to twice the amount of ice in the Alps. The models used by the IPCC did not factor in the dynamic where warmer ocean water under coastal ice sheets accelerates melting. (About 600 million people currently live in low lying coastal areas.)

    Abrupt Climate Change – Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.4 Updated 15 December 2008

  18. wadosy – we value your comments and a vigorous debate, but you have pasted a quote – apparently to support your point about sea level rise, that is precisely the quote the author of this post was debunking.

    There are 139 million square miles of ocean. Add 48 cubic miles of land based ice melt per year and you get 2 inches of sea level rise per century. Unless ice melt were to accelerate, and there is evidence the opposite is the case, particularly in Antarctica where 90% of land based ice resides, how do you get from 2 inches every 100 years to 4 feet by 2100?

    You may be completely right in your concerns, but you may wish to help those of us who remain skeptical to understand. And to do that, you will have to present data other than “48 cubic miles per year of ice melt” because that is a trivial amount of ice.

  19. wadosy says:

    i haven’t done the math.

    maybe tom moriarity will be so good as to post the figures he used for land and sea area, including urls to his references, so we all know we’re on the same page.

    in the meantime, i will trust the professionals, although i haven’t read all their report.

    …the basic problem being, when co2 has been recognized as a greenhouse gas for over a hundred years, when we’re pumping an extra 30 gigatons into the atmosphere every year, and when the parts per million of the second-most powerful greenhouse gas have climbed by 50 parts per million in the last 33 years…

    well, what can i say?

    the physical facts remain, and the consequences of continuing to pump more tens of gigatons per year are unpredictable.

    if the methane gets away from us, we’re gone goslins, and there’s no second chance.

    nobody wants to talk about the political implications of exxon and the AEI being the most prominent deniers of global warming…

    do you ‘spose tom’s getting a $10K backhander out of the AEI reptile fund?

  20. Ed Ring says:

    wadosy – with respect, here are the calculations:

    A – 139,000,000 square miles, the area of the world’s oceans (ref.

    B – 48 cubic miles of icemelt per year according to study you reference.

    C – .00003453%, the percent of a 48 cubic miles that would spread onto each square mile of ocean ( B / A ).

    D – 63,360 inches per linear mile (12 x 5,280).

    E – 2.188%, the percent of one inch per year that would spread onto each square mile of ocean based on 48 cubic miles of icemelt input ( C x D).

    F – 2.19 inches per century (100 x 2.188%).

    This is a very straightforward calculation, and often calculations of similar simplicity are all it takes for anyone, including you and me, to see through a lot of the fearmongering.

    We prefer to examine the facts, and not spread accusations about who is funding who. What if Exxon was right, and CO2 has nothing to do with climate change? We say “was” right, because currently Exxon has yielded to environmentalist pressure and is no longer challenging this claim.

    Climate change alarm, in our opinion, helps big business, helps big labor, and helps big government. It is a joint venture between these powerful vested interests, and is incredibly regressive. We believe the poor, emerging nations, private property rights, economic pluralism, innovation and individual freedoms are what are hurt by climate change alarm.

  21. wadosy says:

    if you compile a list of suspects for 9/11, using the traditional “motive, means, opportunity and character” parameters, you’ve got to put israel, the israeli americans of the AEI and their exxon allies at the top of the suspect list.

    seeing as how netanyahu thought 9/11 was “very good”, seeing as how PNAC said, in september of 2000, that they needed “a new pearl harbor”, seeing as how PNAC signatories were installed in the 2000 election recount in florida —a state governed by a PNAC signatory and the brother of the president-elect— seeing as how the 9/11 oil acquistion project will be paid for by the american taxpayer instead of exxon —at a time when access to big oilfields is limited, and exploration and production costs are soaring…

    …well, all that is indication of “motive” to stage 9/11, and once the PNAC signatories were installed in high government positions, they had “means, opportunity and character” galore.

    historians will start looking for the truth some time or other…

    …and they’re gonna have a hard time swallowing the official 9/11 conspiracy theory if they use the traditional parameters —motive, means, opportunity, and character— to figure out exactly what happened, especially in view of the fact that peak oil and sea level rise will have become painfully obvious as motives for starting a land and oil acquisition project.

    the 9/11 operation was a necessity, to get the project started before the motives for starting the project became obvious.

    motive, means, opportunity, and character

    …and premeditation, as israelis and israeli americans have been agitating for decades to rearrange the middle east, and PNAC even confessed —a year before 9/11— that they needed “a new pearl harbor” to get their project started.

    not to mention the fact that the prime deniers of global warming are the AEI, exxon and CERA… the people with the most motive to deny that their motives for doing 9/11 exist.


    now, that’s how the historians are gonna see it …and if that’s not what’s happening, it would behoove the israelis, israeli americans, exxon and their fellow travelers to stop behaving as if that IS what’s happening.

  22. wadosy says:

    anyhow, that’s about all i got to say on the subject.

    if it’s too hot for you to handle, i can understand that.

    …seeing as how you’re going for all the marbles here, especially if global warming and peak oil turn out to be the real deal… it’s just too damn bad that all real evidence and logic points seems to show global warming and peak oil are the real deal.

  23. Private Worker says:


    The calculation of inches/year from ice melt at present is straightforward as you say. (Not counting thermal expansion, etc, just melting of land based icepack).

    It does seem however that your calculation has a major assumption: no change in rates over the coming century. You assume that if the melt rate driven rise today is .02 inche/year, that means 2 inches over the coming century.

    If we can assume that the temperature and other factors will be more or less stable for the next century and that the melt rate won’t change, then you have demonstrated that there’s no real problem with sea level rise. Put another way – if there’s no further global warming, then there’s no sea level rise to worry about, either, because current melt rates are not alarming in themselves.

    However, as I understand the issue, the concern is that these figures indicate how fast the melt rate may be accellerating, rather than indicating that the current rate, if unchanged, would cause 4 feet of rise in a century.

    So your calculations, even if well meaning, appear misleading at best. Sort of like saying “public employee pensions are affordable this year, so they will be no problem for the next 100 years”.

    It is legitimate to question global warming scientifically (though I believe that the preponderance of the evidence is still behind major warming at this stage of research, I’m open to that changing), but any calculation changes of the next century which completely presupposes zero global warming or melt rate change must very explicitly acknowledge that major stipulation to avoid circular reasoning.

  24. Ed Ring says:

    Private Worker: You make an excellent observation – clearly there are many layers to this. But in response to your point – the trend indeed could be one of reduced ice melt, which the data points we’ve been examining actually may suggest. If most of the ice melt in Antarctica is due to vulcanism, and indeed in aggregate the ice mass of antarctica is increasing in recent years, that renders most reasonable projections for the rest of the world insignificant, given Antarctica contains roughly 90% of the world’s land based ice mass.

  25. wadosy says:

    …none of which explains why, when it comes to global warming, you prefer to believe the people who lied us into the iraq war, and are the prime suspects for having staged 9/11.

  26. wadosy says:

    need a map, ed?

    a lot of thought went into your project, but it seems to have been spawned in desperation… and no amount of thought makes up for the basic sleaziness of the operation.


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