Wash. Times Misrepresents Glacier Study To Attack Global Warming Science

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

The Washington Times attacked global warming science by citing a recent study that showed some Himalayan glaciers are stable or expanding. But the study did not cast doubt on global warming, as the study's lead author noted, "Overall in the Himalayas, the glaciers are retreating," while the ones that weren't were protected by a shield of debris; additionally, other studies have showed that glaciers are melting all over the world.

Wash. Times Cites Recent Himalayan Glacier Study To Attack Global Warming Science

Wash. Times Cites Recent Study To Attack Global Warming Science, Claim That Glaciers "Stubbornly Refuse To Melt On Cue." In a January 27 editorial, titled, "Snow Job," The Washington Times attacked the "false prophets of the global-warming movement" and cited a recent study in the journal Nature Geoscience to claim that glaciers "stubbornly refuse to melt on cue." From the Times editorial:

No matter how many times nature is proved more powerful than man, false prophets of the global-warming movement continue to insist that mankind can control the weather through tax policy.

[...]

The glaciers, however, stubbornly refuse to melt on cue. On Sunday, a detailed study of that region's glaciers was published online by the journal Nature Geoscience. Using high-resolution satellite imagery, the researchers demonstrated that although some glaciers were indeed melting, the majority of the others in the northwestern Himalaya were either advancing or stable. "Our study shows that there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change," they concluded. Neither over-salted roads nor carbon credits can overcome the natural cycles of the weather. [The Washington Times, 1/27/11]

But Study's Lead Author Stated That "Overall In The Himalayas, The Glaciers Are Retreating"

Study's Lead Author: "Overall In The Himalayas, The Glaciers Are Retreating." On January 23, Reuters reported on the recent Himalayan glacier study and noted, "Some Himalayan glaciers are advancing despite an overall retreat." The article reported that the study found "[a] blanket of dust and rock debris was apparently shielding some glaciers in the world's highest mountain range from a thaw" and that the study's lead author, Dirk Scherler of the University of Potsdam in Germany, stated, "Overall in the Himalayas, the glaciers are retreating." From Reuters:

Some Himalayan glaciers are advancing despite an overall retreat, according to a study on Sunday that is a step toward understanding how climate change affects vital river flows from China to India.

A blanket of dust and rock debris was apparently shielding some glaciers in the world's highest mountain range from a thaw, a factor omitted from past global warming reports. And varying wind patterns might explain why some were defying a melt.

"Our study shows there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover," scientists at universities in Germany and the United States wrote in the study of 286 glaciers.

The findings underscore that experts in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were wrong to say in a 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers could vanish by 2035 in a headlong thaw. The panel corrected the error in 2010.

[...]

Elsewhere in the Himalayas "more than 65 percent of the monsoon-influenced glaciers ... are retreating," they wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience of the satellite study from 2000 to 2008. Some glaciers that were stable in length were covered by a thick layer of rocky debris.

"Overall in the Himalayas, the glaciers are retreating," Dirk Scherler, the lead author at the University of Potsdam in Germany, told Reuters. [Reuters, 1/23/11]

Telegraph: "Climate Sceptics" Will Seize On Himalayan Study "As Providing Dramatic Evidence That Global Warming Is Not Taking Place. But It Does No Such Thing." In a January 27 post, Geoffrey Lean, the U.K. Telegraph's environmental editor, wrote that "climate sceptics are bound to seize on today's news that more than half the glaciers in the Karakoram mountains in the west of the world's highest chain are either stable or actually advancing as providing dramatic evidence that global warming is not taking place. But it does no such thing." Lean continued:

For a start, the study that made the discovery concluded - as lead researcher Dirk Scherler put it that - "overall in the Himalayas, the glaciers are retreating". What made the difference in the Karakoram was that many are covered in a layer of rubble that has eroded from the peaks, insulating the ice from the warmth of the sun. Where this layer was present the glaciers did not melt or even grew; where it was not the rate of retreat remained high.

Elsewhere in the world the retreat continues. Just last weekend, for example, it was announced that Greeenland's icesheet melted at a record rate in 2010 and studies show that most of the world's glaciers are shrinking.

Many of the smaller ones are expected to disappear this century. The World Glacier Monitoring Service calculates, for example, that the Alps will lose about 70 per cent of its glaciers by 2050, while the Pyrenees may go completely ice-free. The bigger, higher glaciers of the Himalayas, another study concluded this month, may shrink by about 10 per cent by 2100. That is a very long way from the apocalyptic projection in the IPCC report, but also equally far from justifying claims that global warming is not taking place. [Telegraph, 1/27/11]

Wash. Times Uses Erroneous Himalayan Glacier Statement In IPCC Report To Attack Global Warming Science

Wash. Times Cites Erroneous 2007 IPCC Report Claim On Himalayan Glaciers To Attack "Pseudo-Scientific Doomsayers" At IPCC. From the Times editorial:

No matter how many times nature is proved more powerful than man, false prophets of the global-warming movement continue to insist that mankind can control the weather through tax policy. The pseudo-scientific doomsayers at the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have stuck to their story that global warming is real, despite numerous flaws uncovered in the group's research. One of the most embarrassing of these revelations was the sourcing of the 2007 IPCC report claim that the Himalayan glaciers were melting. The idea that these imposing blocks of ice would completely disappear by the year 2035 fed a breathless media hysteria preaching impending doom. It turns out this conclusion was based not on a peer-reviewed study but on a press release by the WWF, a left-wing activist group. Nonetheless, the IPCC reaffirmed its commitment to the melting story last January as "robust, appropriate and entirely consistent with the underlying science." [The Washington Times, 1/27/11]

IPCC Himalayan Glacier Error Does Not Undermine Evidence Of Global Warming; Studies Show Glaciers Rapidly Melting Worldwide

Despite IPCC Error On Himalayan Glaciers, Studies Show That Glaciers Are Melting All Over The World. In January 2010, the IPCC acknowledged and apologized for erroneously citing claims that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. However, the IPCC report highlights legitimate scientific studies showing that glaciers worldwide are melting. [IPCC, 1/20/10]

Studies Show The World's Glaciers Are Melting Rapidly. The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) issued a report in March 2008 showing that, according to a United Nations Environment Program press release, for 30 of the world's glaciers, "the average rate of melting and thinning more than doubled" in a year's time. WGMS later updated its data for 2007-08 and said that the "new data continues the global trend in strong ice loss over the past few decades." Moreover, scientists at the ETH Zurich university reportedly issued a study in 2009 showing that Swiss glaciers had retreated by 12 percent over the past decade. [Media Matters, 4/6/10]

Greenland's Ice Sheet Melted At A Record Rate In 2010. Reuters reported on January 21 that "Greenland's ice sheet melted at a record rate in 2010." Reuters further reported that "[t]he ice in Greenland melted so much last year that it formed rivers and lakes on top of the vast series of glaciers that covers much of the big Arctic island, with waterfalls flowing through cracks and holes toward the bottom of the ice sheet." [Reuters, 1/21/11]

Glacier Experts Link Melting Glaciers To Global Warming. Glacier expert Michael Zemp is quoted in a January 2010 CNN.com article as saying, "Glaciers are the best proof that climate change is happening. This is happening on a global scale. They can translate very small changes in the climate into a visible signal." And a January 2010 Guardian article reported that "Lonnie Thompson, a glaciologist at Ohio State University, said there is strong evidence from a variety of sources of significant melting of glaciers -- from the area around Kilimanjaro in Africa to the Alps, the Andes, and the icefields of Antarctica because of a warming climate. Ice is also disappearing at a faster rate in recent decades, he said." [CNN.com, 1/20/10; Guardian, 1/20/10]

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
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