Tag Archives: Arctic

Times Atlas: Suicide By Wikipedia? – UPDATED

UPDATED: Sort of a confirmation for the below as Hanlon at the Daily Mail has posted an article where HarperCollins, the publishers of the Times Atlas Greenland fiasco, try to argue that they only depicted white the areas with ice>500m thick.

Strange things are always afoot, in matters of climate.

Incredibly, and despite having been shown the wrongness of their ways from multiple and even warmist sources, a spokesperson from the £150-a-piece Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World still maintains their debunked “AtlasGate” Greenland map is correct:

“But a spokeswoman for Times Atlas defended the 15% figure and the new map. “We are the best there is. We are confident of the data we have used and of the cartography. We use data supplied by the US Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

As the story unfolds, I would like to point to something about the new map that is strange indeed: the level of detail. See for example this comparison from Real Science:

There are two possible interpretations for that: either some people at the Times Atlas have decided to reinvent the world adding fantasy features to a previously fully white map; or, much more likely, they have used some other, existing map of Greenland, embellishing to conform to the Times Atlas style.

In fact, and intriguingly, and twice embarrassingly, there exists one map that strongly resembles the Times Atlas’ “15%” Greenland (see also the Greenland Physical Map from TourTeam.dk). And the embarrassing bits are: it’s one map used on Wikipedia. Worse, it’s supposed to be only showing ice sheet thickness, not “cover” as claimed (it doesn’t highlight the areas where the ice is less than 10m/30ft thick).

Look for example at the outline of Eastern sides of Kong Christian IX Land and Kong Christian X Land, the nearest to Iceland (brown on the Times Atlas to the left, green on Wikipedia to the right).

Look now at the Times Atlas’ Greenland map of 1999 (below, to the left) and the fact that their 2011 map (center) is so much alike the Wikipedia Greenland ice-sheet thickness (right) becomes even more evident.

So the following series of events is consistent with the observations:

  1. Times Atlas personnel read or listen from somewhere that the Greenland ice sheet is melting
  2. They open the Wikipedia page on the Greenland ice sheet
  3. As if by magic…that page contains a map of Greenland
  4. Times Atlas personnel convert that map to the Times Atlas high-quality standard

Now where’s the evidence for it? Where is it indeed, as Michael Corleone would have asked.

=====

This doesn’t look like a good way to enhance the reputation of a publication like the Times Atlas. As usual, it’s the stubborness of their response the real problem, perhaps even more than the original error. One is left wondering how many more mistakes have been made (perhaps them too, miraculously similar to maps posted on Wikipedia), mistakes simply too small to immediately notice. And the publishers and editor will never admit one anyway.

As Green As Any Falsehood – Letter To The IHT and NYT

(click here for more details on the below)

From: Maurizio Morabito
Date: Mon, Feb 7, 2011 at 8:32 PM
Subject: factual error in book review “Polar Distress” by Holly Morris (last weekend’s)
To: Letters IHT , Letters NYT

Dear Sirs or Madams

Please note that there is a factual error in Holly Morris’ “Polar Distress“, published last weekend in the NYT and the IHT and concerned with “The Magnetic North” by Sara Wheeler.

Ms Morris quotes from Ms Wheeler’s book about

one boggling case: Endocrine-­disrupting chemicals handed up the food chain have triggered changes in the sex of unborn children in the first three weeks of gestations, resulting in the birth of twice as many girls as boys in some villages in Greenland and among the Inuit nations of eastern ­Russia

That is an unwarranted claim that originally appeared in The Guardian in 2007 and was attributed to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), AMAP itself has distanced itself from that very same claim, for example writing in its 2009 SOAER report that

Systematic epidemiological studies, including all possible confounders and other relevant contaminants, must be performed before any conclusive statements can be made about contaminants and sex ratios in Arctic populations

And if you check, AMAP has been consistently reminding its reports’ readers about the preliminary nature of any suggestion of a link between pollution and sex ratios in humans, at least since 2006.

Neither Ms Wheeler, and worse, nor Ms Morris appear to have been curious enough to verify what they were writing about, and especially concerning such a “boggling” example. Please publish a correction as soon and as prominently as possible, otherwise your readers will find themselves severely mislead by a demonstrated falsehood.

Thanks in anticipation

Indications Of A Changing Arctic (Across The Centuries)

(h/t FM)

Is there anything peculiar happening in the Arctic in our time? Unfortunately, satellite-based sea-ice measurements only start from 1979, i.e. have just barely crossed the magic 30-year line that we’re told separates “weather” from “climate” (in other words, we have just been able to say that, according to mainstream climatology, the ice in 1995 was on the decrease).

A different way to look at the issue is to source information from relatively old books and newspaper articles. And there are good indications that their analysis will show quite large changes in the Arctic sea-ice extension across the centuries.

As it happens, I was sent yesterday the link to a very interesting  1818 compendium edition of mid-1770’s North-Pole-related thoughts and reports by Danies Barrington FRS of “young Mozart” fame: “The Possibility of Approaching the North Pole Asserted“.

Barrington goes at great length both in collecting as much evidence as possible from seamen claiming to have been further North than would have been expected; and in examining such evidence with a healthy dose of skepticism. His conclusions: several ships have been beyond 82N, and many of them have reported clear water to the North (see page 61). And yes, uncertainties were put in plain sight: finding a way to reach Asia without going around the tip of South America was considered very serious business, and even a strong advocate for Polar exploration like Barrington didn’t try to hide what he might have found uncomfortable. A quarter of a millennium later, we can be fairly certain ships at Barrington’s time were regularly reaching 81N.

Fast forward to 1858 and a “letter” on the New York Times by a Col. Peter Force, actually the text of a lecture at the New-York Historical Society on July 1st of that year. Col. Force appears extremely skeptical of any claim about the very existence of a Northwest Passage, going as far as to use that old saying, “if it were there we would have discovered it by now”. And if you look at the details reported, the 82N of 80 years earlier was then almost an unreachable goal, as there is plenty of mentions of sea ice going as low as 69N.

Arctic sea ice was therefore extending much further to the South in 1858 than in 1775. But were the CO2 emissions in 1775 higher than in 1858? I do not think so.

Northeast Passage's "First Known Commercial Shipment"? Almost

Andy Revkin at DotEarth’s “Welcome to Earth’s ‘New’ Ocean: The Arctic” (about the navigation of the “Northeast Passage” by two German ships) has not yet found time to reply to my question as outlined below:

In Tom Nelson’s blog there is a link at Answer.com where several sources (including Wikipedia) repeat information about the Northeast Passage (Northern Sea Route) progressively becoming more and more easy to navigate during the last few centuries, of several expeditions going all the way decades ago, of commercial exploitation from 1877. Would Mr Revkin be so kind as to comment, and perhaps clarify what he and/or Lawson W Brigham exactly meant with “this is, indeed, a first“. – thank you in advance

Revkin’s actual words include “first known commercial shipment” and “Lawson W. Brigham, a longtime source for anything related to Arctic shipping, confirmed that this is, indeed, a first“. Yes but…a first of what? If “commercial exploitation began in 1877” then the latest “first” needs some good qualifier. Here’s what the Company managing those German ships actually claims in their website (sep 9):

We are all very proud and delighted to be the first western shipping company which has successfully transited the legendary Northeast-Passage

Trade magazine Break-bulk appears to confirm:

The two vessels will then be the first non-Russian commercial vessels to make it through the Northeast Passage from Asia to Europe

Was this all too difficult to read and understand? Would the explanation of the “non-Russian” bit have removed too much from the news for it to get any space in the newspaper?

===============================

I am not sure if I will ever get an answer from Revkin.

What I am sure of though is that a little less ambiguity and a little more explanation on his part would have been quite welcome. Otherwise readers might get the impression that either the Northeast Passage is ready for leisure yachts, or that it has been forever closed by giant chunks of ice for millennia…

One For The BBC

Nowhere fast, but sometimes at the BBC they do understand when they get it wrong…

On the Science & Environment home page:

  • Yesterday: Arctic diary – The team has a dramatic night on melting Arctic ice
  • Today: Arctic diary – The team has a dramatic night on shifting Arctic ice

Somebody somewhere somehow must have realized that polynias existed long before anybody thought of anthropogenic global warmng…

Arctic Sea Ice Extent: In October 2008, Fastest Ever Growth

As expected a few days ago: October 2008 has seen the fastest Arctic sea ice extent growth ever recorded. According to the data published by IARC-JAXA, the amount of growth has reached 3,481,575 square kilometers for the month, or 112,319 sq km per day on average.

The previous maximum was October 2007, with 3,330,937 sq km for the month and 107,450 sq km per day on average. Record shrinkage remains July 2007, with 2,913,593 sq km lost and 93,987 sq km per day on average.

Growth should be starting levelling off now. November values could be as high as 2,179,844 sq km (2002) or as low as 964,688 sq km (2006).

UPDATE NOV 6: I should have known it. OF COURSE the above is an indication that Climate Change is upon us. Read this comment by Georg Hoffman at Tamino’s:

So I would make the specific prevision that 1) a seasonal cycle will show up in sea ice data and 2) due to 1) the october/november increase and the may/june decrease of seaice will become bigger and faster. I might check that with CMIP model data but I am pretty sure that this is what the model show

Here’s a link for the “CMIP model“. It never ceases to amaze me how elastic AGW theory truly is.

October 2008 Possibly Set for Record Sea Ice Extent Increase Rate

UPDATE NOV 10: October 2008 did show the fastest ever growth in sea ice extent

What is the reason behind the fact that “[Arctic] sea ice area [is] approaching the edge of normal standard deviation“?

It’s because October 2008 is set to break all records in the daily rate of increase in sea ice extent in the Arctic, that’s why.

Just look at the graph below, extracted from the values available at the IARC-JAXA website.

Daily Change Rate (Sea Ice Extent) (sq km, by month)
Daily Change Rate (Sea Ice Extent) (sq km, by month)

(The Y values are the daily rates of change in sea ice extent in the Arctic, averaged across each month. Note that for October I have only computed and plotted the rates between the 1st and the 23rd day of the month).

Some considerations:

(a) The October 2008 average daily rate so far is the largest overall, both in actual value (around 122,400 sq km of increase per day, previous record 100,500 in 2005) and in absolute terms (the overall minimum is around 94,000 sq km of decrease per day, in July 2007)

(b) If confirmed in a week’s time, the above will become the fifth record set in 2008:

largest January daily increase rate (44,000, previous record 39.800 in 2003)
largest February daily increase rate (27.500, previous record 25,400 in 2005)
largest May daily decrease rate (47,100, previous record 46,000 in 2005)
largest August daily decrease rate (66,800, previous record in 62,600 in 2004)

(c) Compared to 2007, the current year 2008 has so far shown

larger daily rates of increase in January (44,000 vs 35,400), February (27,500 vs 12,100), September (8,800 vs -600) and October (122,400 vs 93,500)
larger daily rates of decrease in April (39,800 vs 27,100), May (47,100 vs 44,200) and August (66,800 vs 55,400)
smaller daily rates of decrease in March (11,900 vs 12,200), June (57,900 vs 63,000) and July (78,800 vs 94,000)

========

Let’s see what happens during the upcoming week.

Past values suggest that the final average daily rate of increase for October may be slightly less than today’s. Still, as the current rate is some 20% larger than the previous record in October 2005, it would surprise nobody if October 2008 will remain the month with the largest value ever recorded by JAXA.

ps Who knows what NASA will have to say?

In the Arctic, Some Things Never Change

MH on the Climate Sceptics group has posted a link to the report of a 1922 expedition in the Svalbards reaching 81°29′ North.

It’s another example of what makes the recent kayaking expedition by Lewis Gordon Pugh a load of human waste.

First warming had been noted in 1918, apparently. {sarcasm}All due to that soot from First World War, no doubt{/sarcasm}

Interestingly, the report mentions newly-available resources to mine, and the disappearance of previously-abundant wildlife.

Some things really really never change…

Was There Less Arctic Ice in 1932?

Arctic Becomes an Island for the first time in human history“…really???

On Dec 5, 1932, The New York Times reports the “feat, accomplished for the first time” of circumnavigation of Franz Josef Land (actually, an Arctic archipelago). The same expedition (led by a Professor N.N. Subkov) was also described in March 1933 in the pages of Nature.

Arctic Map
Arctic Map

(Franz Josef Land is between the North Pole and Novaya Zemlya in the map above)

Notably, in the words of the NYT, that circumnavigation had been “heretofore regarded as impossible“. It actually took just 34 days, from Aug 17. It was warm enough for the “Eva” and “Liv” islands to be recognized as one, joined by “a low stretch of land” and thereby renamed “Evaliv”.

Fast forward to 2008. Cryosphere Today shows two tongues of ice still clinging to Franz Josef Land as of Aug 31.

Prof. Subkov would not have been so lucky this time around.

============

ADDENDUM: The map of end-Aug 1979 clearly shows that at the time, Prof Subkov’s trip would not have been possible

Arctic Sea Ice 1979 08 30
Arctic Sea Ice 1979 08 30