Thursday, December 01, 2005

A coming ice age? Updated

Hat tip to Jack Kelly over at Irish Pennants for this one. Quick: are the world's glaciers melting due to global warming? If you've been taking your science news from the MSM, your answer will be near instantaeous and almost certainly, "Yes, of course." Now, be honest: do you have data that shows you this to be true? I'll bet not, for a simple reason. It's not true.

From the magazine 21st Century, there's this article from Lawrence Hecht that has some interesting datapoints. For example, the Nisqually glacier on Mt. Rainer in Washington State is the best measured glacier in the country with continuous measurements going back to the mid-1800's and exquisitely precise measurements being taken since 1931. What's the verdict?

::::::::In 1931, fearful that the receding glacier would provide insufficient runoff for their newly completed hydroelectric facility, Tacoma City Light began careful measurements of the glacier. Since the mid-1800s, the glacier had receded about 1 kilometer. Annual to semi-annual measurements, continued by the U.S. Geological Survey and private contractors for the National Park Service, provide the longest continuous series of glacier measurements in North America.

The details are described in a report by government specialists, which appeared in the September 2000 issue of Washington Geology:

“The greatest thickening during the period of measurement occurred between 1931 and 1945, when the glacier thickened by about 50% near 2,800 meters of altitude. This and subsequent thickenings during the mid-1970s to mid-1980s produced waves that advanced its terminus. Glacier thinning occured during intervening periods. Between 1994 and 1997, the glacier thickened by 17 meters at 2,800-m altitude, indicating probable glacier advance during the first decade of the 21st century.”

So, this glacier is getting bigger, which means it ain't melting. It's not alone:
::::::::The geological requirements for an Ice Age are the presence of a large landmass around the Polar Circle and extending southward. A look at the globe, or world map, shows that those conditions exist in the Northern Hemisphere, but not in the Southern. Therefore, the important thing to look at is the climate conditions in northern and far northern regions. Some of the indicators:

• Since 1980, there has been an advance of more than 55% of the 625 mountain glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring group in Zurich. (From 1926 to 1960, some 70-95% of these glaciers were in retreat.)

• A comparison of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 1965 and 1990 Plant Hardiness Zone Maps, shows a southward change of one zone, or 10°F, between 1965 and 1990.

Careful measurements of the oxygen isotope ratios in German oaks, which are rigorously calibrated to temperature data, show a 1°C temperature decline from 1350 to 1800 (the lowpoint of the Little Ice Age). Temperature thereafter increased by 1°C from 1800 to 1930, and has been declining since then.

• From weather stations in the Alps, and in the Nordic countries, we find the temperature decline since 1930 is also 1°C.

• Satellite measurements have shown growth in the height and breadth of the huge Greenland ice sheet, the largest in the Northern Hemisphere

Emphasis mine. So, most of the glaciers being monitored by the group whose task it is to monitor such things are advancing, not melting. Average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere have been declining for decades. Perhaps it's time to actually discuss the reality of the situation rather than simply pander to the anti-human, anti-industrial crowd. I'd like to see more real data and less allegation that doesn't appear to have support in the facts.

Update: Interesting that this appears on today's Seems the Kyoto-treaty celebration in Montreal isn't the happy event that was planned. I note especially the item in there where the European signatories to the treaty - the ones who've been busting America's chops for not signing on - are not meeting their own committments under Kyoto.