AGW catastrophism Data Omniclimate Science

Scientific Literature on Patagonian Glaciers

And so once more Global Warming has meant the publication of misleading pictures, with a wrong caption…why oh why does the mere mention of AGW force so many otherwise thoughtful and wise people to switch their brains off?

Here a “Letter to the Editors” just sent to the New York Review Of Books:

Dear Editors

Clarifications and at least one correction are required about the pictures of the Upsala Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina, “from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006)”, on the first page of Bill McKibben’s “Warning on Warming” (NYRB, March 15, 2007).

At the top, the 1928 photograph of a vast flat glacier; at the bottom, the 2004 ice-free landscape as captured from a similar vantage point as the one 76 years earlier (at least two peaks are clearly distinguishable).

I was surprised indeed to see the New York Review of Books reproduce without much commentary and with a wrong caption a couple of photographs that may turn out to be exceedingly misleading.


First of all: the caption is wrong. Contrarily to the published text, it is _not true_ that by 2004, “most of the glacier had melted“.

Upsala Glacier still occupies well in excess of 850 sq km (330+ sq mi), an area vastly larger than the one covered by the photographs.

You can see pictures of Upsala taken from the Space Shuttle in January 2004 at the NASA website.

A discussion of the situation 2001-2004 is available on the same site.



If one could rely on photographs alone, those of Upsala could be the definitive, final, closing, incontrovertible evidence that something has warmed up during the XX century, at least at the location of the Upsala Glacier.

Pictures, however, are not everything, as any modern consumer must have learnt one way or another by now.

Do some little research about Upsala, in fact, and more than one doubt arises about the glacier’s changes having not been mostly caused by warming, global or local or otherwise.

They may be the result instead of the behavior of a large glacier when subjected to particular mechanical stresses.

See for example “Historic Fluctuations of Outlet Glaciers from the Patagonian Ice Fields” at the USGS web site.

That web site reports a picture from “Thinning and retreating of Glaciar Upsala, and an estimate of annual ablation changes in southern Patagonia“, by R. Naruse, P. Skvarca and Y. Takeuchi (Annals of Glaciology, Vol. 24, 1997).

In that paper, it is suggested that “considerable retreat due to calving may have resulted in reduction of longitudinal compressive stress exerted from bedrock rises and islands near the glacier front, causing a considerable decrease in the emergence flow.”

R. Naruse repeated similar considerations at the 2nd International Symposium on Arctic and Antarctic Issues, at Punta Arenas, Chile, in November 1998 (“Dynamic features of glaciers in Patagonia“).

More recently, in “Recent behavior of Glaciar Upsala, a fast-flowing calving glacier in Lago Argentino, southern Patagonia” (Annals of Glaciology, 36, 2003), P. Skvarca, B. Raup and H. De Angelis proposed again that “drastic glacier retreat in the last two decades” may be explained “partly due to the release of back stress when the glacier retreated beyond the islands in Brazo Upsala […] which acted as pinning points.”

You can also read an earlier paper by Mr Skvarca: “Significant Ice Retreat in the Region Patagonia – Antarctic Peninsula Observed by ERS SAR” (ESA ERS 1997 Workshop, 1997) by H. Rott, W. Rack, M. Stuefer and P. Skvarca:

It cannot yet be assessed if the ice retreat in Patagonia […] indicates just regional changes of the atmospheric circulation patterns or can be assigned to global climatic change.”

Last but not least, Upsala is not the only glacier in Patagonia.

Surely if the dramatic retreat of Upsala were related to global warming, all the other glaciers would be retreating too? And yet that is clearly not the case.

Read “Recent Fluctuations and Damming of Glacier Perito Moreno, Patagonia” by H. Rott, M. Stuefer, T. Nagler and C. Riedl (ESA Envisat and ERS 2004 Symposium):

The satellite data, in synergy with field measurements, confirm the stability of the [Perito Moreno] glacier, showing only minor front fluctuations and indicating an approximately balanced mass budget since many years.”

Furthermore, they report the Pio XI glacier as having experienced a “net advance of about 10 km […] from 1945 to 1995“.


Some revealing considerations should be made about Perito Moreno glacier indeed, the advancing glacier whose pictures have been used by Frank Capra in 1958 and by Al Gore in 2006 to demonstrate the retreat of glaciers due to global warming: but those will have to wait for a future article or letter.

For the time being, I am confident the above makes the main points clear:

(1) Most of the Upsala glacier has not melted.

(2) The Upsala glacier 1928-2004 pictures can only be seriously understood with an in-depth commentary of what is being shown, including “what lies beneath”.

And there are all the indications that the local characteristics of the terrain, rather than “Global Warming”, have had a major role in what has been happening.


Given the reputation of the New York Review of Books then, I will be expecting a prompt publication of this letter and of all the necessary explanations.

Keep up the good work


Maurizio Morabito

UPDATE: The NYRB went only as far as admitting the caption was wrong (read it here)…

Data Omniclimate Science Sun

Solar Oddities from Ulysses

Science@NASA (Jan 14, 2008): “Posner explains: “Eleven years ago, during a similar ‘sea change’ between solar cycles, the polar wind spilled down almost all the way to the sun’s equator. But this time it is not. The polar wind is bottled up, confined to latitudes above 45 degrees

Science@NASA (Feb 20, 2007): “One pole of the sun is cooler than the other. That’s the surprising conclusion announced by scientists who have been analyzing data from the ESA-NASA Ulysses spacecraft.

catastrophism Data Omniclimate Science

Cooling Kills More Than Warming

Something to keep firmly in mind…

W R Keatinge et al, “Heat related mortality in warm and cold regions of Europe: observational study” BMJ 2000;321:670-673 (16 September)

All regions showed more annual cold related mortality than heat related mortality.

Some of those who died in the heat may not have lived long if a heat wave had not occurred. Mortality often falls below baseline for several days after the end of a heat wave, and this has been interpreted as indicating that some of the people dying during the heat wave were already close to death.

Some of the excess deaths in the cold may have resulted from non-thermal seasonal factors such as winter diet, but deaths due to such factors are likely to be few.

Falls in temperature in winter are closely followed by increased mortality, with characteristic time courses for different causes of death.

The increases are of sufficient size to account for the overall increase in mortality in winter, suggesting that most excess winter deaths are due to relatively direct effects of cold on the population.

In other words: Heat kills the already-dying. Cold kills.

As per the following diagrams: the slopes to the left (cooling) of the “black squares” (minimum mortality temperature bands) are steeper than to the right (warming).

English Olympics

Pistorius Ban Reveals IAAF’s Stupid Hypocrisy

The IAAF has banned blade-running Oscar Pistorius from the Bejing Olympic Games, because according to a study, his prosthetics offer “unfair advantage”.

It is a very sad, and very wrong decision. Sad, because it could have been an emotionally-charged August afternoon in Beijing, seeing Pistorius compete with people whose legs have not been amputated at 11 months of age. A truly epoch-defining, world-uniting happening.

It is wrong, because Pistorius’ would have been the only publicly-declared “unfair advantage”, whilst performance-enhancing drug use is still so widespread. The underlying premises for the decision sound quite peculiar too: will the IAAF disqualify tall athletes from high or long jump, as they haveĀ an “unfair advantage” over people of short stature? Are we going to see a manual of “standard athlete measurements” with people too far off one of the scales banned from competition?

The funniest part is that Pistorius is unlikely to qualify for the Olympics finals anyway. So this shot-in-the-foot by the IAAF is worse than useless, and doubly stupid.

Cambiamento Climatico Catastrofismo Italiano Scienza

Festival delle Scie(me)nze a Roma?

Pianto e stridore di denti in programma al Festival delle Scienze a Roma (14-20 gennaio, Auditorium – Parco della Musica).

Il finto documentario (come definire un “film sul futuro”? fantascienza?) intitolato “6 gradi” viene proiettato ai bambini. Quattro “lectiones magistrales” su sei riguardano disastri (tutti futuri, naturalmente).

C’e’ Pachauri dell’IPCC e il chetempochefaista Luca Mercalli a parlare di clima (che volete che diranno? “Siamo di fronte alla piu’ grande sfida dei nostri tempi” e “Abbiamo pochi anni per evitare il peggio“. Speriamo almeno qualcuno abbia il buon senso di spegnere l’aria condizionata, per mostrare come si viva emettendo meno CO2)

David King (quello che disse che il riscaldamento globale e’ piu’ importante del terrorismo) discettera’ sul XXI secolo, mentre Mario Tozzi (rimproverato anni fa per il suo catastrofismo non-scientifico addirittura da Mercalli stesso) ponderera’ sulla sopravvivenza umana (addirittura!).

A concludere, Stefano Benni, a dimostrare che si fa sempre in tempo a essere alla moda, fara’ l’elogio apocalittico…della blatta!

Due uniche note positive: Frank Furedi, il professore britannico che ha piu’ volte denunciato la “politica della paura”, parlera’ di manipolazione del rischio sabato 19 (Sala Petrassi, ore 11).

E Roberto Vacca, il noto ingegnere, giornalista e scrittore, interverra’ al Caffe’ Scientifico (BArt, domenica 20 alle ore 17) a parlare di Informatica e Tecnologia delle Comunicazioni, con uno sguardo non secondario ai pervadenti disastri culturali.