The Melting Glaciers

About a decade ago, Doctor R.J. Braithwaite wrote an article that appeared in Progress in Physical Geography.

In that article, which was peer-reviewed, Doctor Braithwaite tells us how he analyzed 246 glaciers, sampled from both hemispheres and latitudes, between the years 1946 and 1995. This “mass balance analysis” he conducted found that “some glaciers were melting, while a nearly equal number were growing in size, and still others remained stable.” Doctor Braithwaite’s unequivocal conclusion:

“There is no obvious common or global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years.”

“By some estimates, 160,000 glaciers exist on Earth. Only 63,000 have been inventoried, and only a few hundred have been studied in the detail described by Braithwaite” (“It Would Be Nice to Know More about Ice,” Jay Lehr).

On the basis of that logical fallacy known as the fallacy of insufficient evidence, all glacier fears are stopped cold right there.

But in fact that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Keith Echelmeyer, a glaciologist at the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute, says this:

“To make a case that glaciers are retreating, and that the problem is global warming, is very hard to do… The physics are very complex. There is much more involved than just the climate response.”

Mr. Echelmeyer goes on to tell us that in Alaska there are large glaciers advancing in the very same areas where others are retreating.

Quoting Doctor Martin Beniston of the Institute of Geography at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland:

Numerous climatological details of mountains are overlooked by the climate models, which thus makes it difficult to estimate the exact response of glaciers to global warming, because glacier dynamics are influenced by numerous factors other than climate, even though temperature and cloudiness may be the dominant controlling factors. According to the size, exposure and altitude of glaciers, different response times can be expected for the same climatic forcing.

Of course, as Doctor Beniston intimates, the paramount thing to consider in any discussion of glacial melt is the sheer size of these suckers, which because of their size do not respond to heat and cold like the snow in your backyard. According to the excellent glacier program at Rice University, those response times run something like this:

Ice sheet: 100,000 to 10,000 years

Large valley glacier: 10,000 to 1,000 years

Small valley glacier: 1,000 to 100 years

Glaciers are influenced by a variety of local and regional natural phenomena that scientists do not fully comprehend. Besides temperature changes, glaciers also respond to changes in the amount and type of precipitation, changes in sea level and changes in ocean circulation patterns. As a result, glaciers do not necessarily advance during colder weather and retreat during warmer weather (John Carlisle, National Center for Public Policy).

Glaciers Are In World-Wide Retreat — read one New York Times headline recently.

Well, they were anyway, starting decades before industrialization (i.e. increased CO2 output). As IPCC AR4 reports:

Most mountain glaciers and ice caps have been shrinking, with the retreat probably having started about 1850 [NB: the end of the ‘little ice age’]. Although many Northern Hemisphere glaciers had a few years of near balance around 1970, this was followed by increased shrinkage.

Research published by the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the much-touted Peruvian glacier (on p. 53-53) disappeared a few thousand years ago.

There are, moreover, glaciers forming across the globe, in both hemispheres. Here’s a very partial list:

In Norway: Alfotbreen Glacier, Briksdalsbreen Glacier, Nigardsbreen Glacier, Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, Hansebreen Glacier, Jostefonn Glacier, Engabreen Glacier, Helm Glacier, Place Glacier. Indeed, a great number of Scandinavia’s glaciers are exploding.

In France, the Mount Blanc Glacier.

In Ecuador, Antizana 15 Alpha Glacier.

In Argentine, Perito Moreno Glacier, the largest in all of Patagonia, was recently observed to be advancing at about 6 feet per day.

Chile’s Pio XI Glacier, the largest in the southern hemisphere, is also growing.

In Switzerland, Silvretta Glacier.

In Kirghiztan, Abramov Glacier.

In Russian, Malli Glacier is growing and surging.

In New Zealand, as of 2003, all 48 glaciers in the Southern Alps were observed to have grown.

In the United States: Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Shuksan, Mount Shasta, Mount McKinley, Mount Hubbard, and Rocky Mountain National Park have all shown recent glacier growth.

“There is evidence that the McGinnis Glacier, a little-known tongue of ice in the central Alaska Range, has surged,” said assistant Professor of Physics Martin Truffer. He recently noticed the lower portion of the glacier was covered in cracks, crevasses, and pinnacles of ice – all telltale signs that the glacier has recently slid forward at higher than normal rates.

There’s also this article from the Associated Press, which I quote only in part:

Geologists exploring Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Park say that they discovered more than 100 additional glaciers here in a single summer, said Mark Verrengia.

Officials previously believed the park, which is 60 miles northwest of Denver, included 20 permanent ice and snow features, including six named glaciers. The new survey, conducted by geologist Jonathan Achuff, shows there are as many as 120 features.

“Comparisons with historical photos suggest that at least some of the glaciers are expanding,” say park officials. “Subtle climate changes may be helping the formation of glaciers or at least reducing their retreat.”

“We’re not running quite in sync with global warming here,” park spokeswoman Judy Visty said.

Not, of course, that it really matters much either way, since the entire climate change issue is predicated upon a stupendously fraudulent premise: a corrupt epistemology.

To say nothing of the fact that, as has been demonstrated repeatedly, the free market is far better equipped to deal with environmental issues than proposed socialist policies — for the simple reason that free markets generate astronomically more capital with which to deal with such issues.

The wealthier the country, the healthier the country.


  • Darrin McCrea

    February 4, 2010

    What next, will you be “trotting out” the “Oregon Petition” authored by shamed (and shameless) Fred Seitz, the same petition that anyone with a BS in Communication could sign, practically, possing as a “scientist”? Seitz was once considered a reputable man, until the 70s when he was hired by R J Reynolds to “study” the effects of smoking, he did a “bang up” job there too and lost his reputation (and his soul) completely along with it, but made more money that you can imagine in the process, he was one of the first scientists completely willing to grab ankle (like Ray Harvey) for an employer despite costs, they are everywhere nowadays. These days, though he is older than “Christ,” his campaigns for oil companies, drug companies and off-handed foreign policy occupy his time by the duck pond, but these 32,000 petioner signatures are incredible! The “Oregon Petition” was a copycat of a 1992 letter from 1,200 real climatologists who were warning about the good effects of global warming. Embrace peer review, not petitions. Why? Don’t ask, you simple, big-cock hillbilly.

  • Dave Cochrane

    February 4, 2010

    It was nice of Darrin to finish with a compliment.

  • Ray

    February 4, 2010

    I know, Davey.

    That’s what I thought too.

    Of course, the real question is: how did he know?

  • Redmond

    February 5, 2010

    What I don’t understand is why Darrin chose to bring up a completely unrelated topic, that of the Oregon petition.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe you mentioned it once.

    One can only surmise that upon reading your well crafted arguement, his heart must have sunk. Realizing that he had no cogent rebuttal, in his desperation  he decided to try discredit you with a kind of guilt by association by simply cutting and pasting the wikipaedia entry on the Oregon Petition into his post.

    Now that Greenpeace is questioning the reliability of the IPCC’s “peer review”, I am amazed he dared to use those words. He mustn’t have gotten the memo from warmist HQ. 

    Straw man + big tobacco + big oil + ad hom. Must’ve gotten an a+ from the Monbiot school.


  • EJ

    February 6, 2010

    Ray, don’t even bother about advancing or retreating glaciers.

    Less than 1 of every 10,000 glaciers has been surveyed. We don’t know with any certainty about glaciers. We don’t know with any certainty about the future.

    This is not to say that our earth hasn’t warmed.

    This is to say that the science is far, very far, from settled.

    Great essay

  • EJ

    February 6, 2010

    As a postscript to Darrin.

    How about letting us know your education in the natural sciences please. Are you a quantum physicist, an engineer or a geologist?

    Otherwise, chatta Darrin! Chat da hell up. Te Heeee.

    Me, I am a lowly engineer.


  • Dave Cochrane

    February 6, 2010

    I wonder also how Darrin can say, with a straight face (not that I can see his face, but I imagine he’s not exactly laughing): “Embrace peer review?” Have the Climategate revelations told him nothing? OK, stupid question, clearly not. But one of the things revealed to the rest of us in those emails, is the way the whole peer review process has been abused. We see how many falsified findings have passed ‘peer review’. Mann’s long debunked Hockey Stick passed peer review. That in itself makes a closed case. Those crooks within the IPCC are all peer-reviewing each other’s work. Peer review is supposed to be anonymous, but the emails show various scientists actually offering/agreeing to review each other’s work, and conspiring to keep undesirable papers (those that contradict the Message) out of the peer review process with threats to journal editors and baseless ad hominem attacks on those sceptical scientists.

    So I for one, Darrin, will not “embrace peer review.” Not as it currently stands, anyway. And not as long as those crooks are part of it.

  • Dale

    February 7, 2010

    Cogent Thinkers 4, Keepers of The Faith 1.

    Faced with withering evidence of fraud, fewer and fewer can Keep the Faith. Bravo Cogent Thinkers.

  • Homer Corlee

    November 7, 2010

    I do not assume I have ever witnessed your blog on this a lot of commentary onto it!

  • deeps

    November 26, 2010

    In India, because of melting of glaciers, recently there was terrible floods in the whole north of india.And these floods spreaded so much that it entered pakistan also.
    the ice-sheets melting in the polar region, makes the sea level rise and due to this chennai is just 1 meter above the sea level.
    The prediction is by 2025, there will not be any place like chennai, ramnathapuram and kanyakumari.
    Malaysia is sinking day by day.indonesia’s moving towards sri lanka day by day…


  • Ray

    November 27, 2010


  • Wrangler Wayne

    January 15, 2011

    If the oceans are really rising due to warming of the seas, then the earth would in fact slow down just a little, similar to a spinning ice skater extending the arms. So, has the earth increased or decreased its rotation? I checked on this and here is what I discovered: In 1950, the length of the day in seconds was plus 3 milliseconds above the day count (60 sec/min x60 min/hour x24 hr/day: 86,400 seconds). But in 2010, it was only 0.3 millisecond above the day count. This means relative to 1950, the day is now shorter. The earth has increased its rotation ever so slightly. This does not support the seas are rising.

  • KJJ

    September 26, 2011

    “Somewhere along the line we … became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth” I agree with this because as people we feel we need more (materials – meaning more factories) and everything needs to go faster (life- meaning less appreciation).

    I always wonder what our lives would have been like if we just stayed simple. Actually had to work and live off land without the luxuries of sitting back and watching life pass by in seconds. (that’s how fast my life seems to be going) I remember my father telling me, ” you’re 17 today, you’ll be 35 tomorrow.” -I was 13 and I’m 33 now, I swear he told me that yesterday, he was 2 years off HaHa.

    I want to know if people really believe that humans have no impacted on Mother Earth?

    No matter what, Mother Earth will wipe us out (that’s how she is if you look back before humans were even around) all we are doing it making her decision to do it sooner.. easier :-)

    Thanks for giving me something to talk about! Have a great day.

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    November 30, 2012

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