My First Trip To A Glacier May Be My Last

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes; everybody knows.” -Leonard Cohen

As you know, last week I took my first week off of the year, and went on a trip to Glacier National Park, which was my very first time there. Although I’ve spent a lot of time in the mountains, including some pretty icy and snowy places, I’d never walked on an actual glacier before. All of that was about to change for me.

Photo credit: Richard Helmich.

On Tuesday, we drove over to the Many Glacier area, and took the boat over towards the trailhead to Grinnell Glacier. There were four of us, total, including my old friend Rich (this guy), who’s responsible for all of the photos taken during our hike. We started hiking early in the morning, before any of the early haze had burned off.

After about an hour of hiking, this was the view we were treated to.

Photo credit: Richard Helmich.

The reason it’s called Glacier National Park is not because the park is covered in glaciers, but because the valleys and lakes that dominate the landscape of the park owe their very existence to the presence and activity of glaciers. The lake on the left is the direct result of a glacier sliding down into the valley until it reached a place where it melted, something I hadn’t seen since I was here 11 years ago. On the right, you can see a waterfall cascading down some 450 feet from Salamander Glacier into the lake below.

(That’s me in the red backpack in the distance.)

Photo credit: Richard Helmich.

Once the clouds burned off in the late morning, we were treated to a warm, sunny day complete with gorgeous vistas and some truly magnificent floral, faunal, and geologic treats, plus we were able to see Salamander Glacier clearly (below, on the upper right) from the trail.

Photo credit: Richard Helmich.

On our hike up (and eventually back down) the trail, we passed the uneven tree-line, got to see some fossils uncovered from the eroded sedimentary rock, but — perhaps most unforgettably — got to enjoy the wildlife of the park.

Brazen, unafraid chipmunks went about their business mere feet from the trail.

Photo credit: Richard Helmich.

I had seen marmots before, and generally expect them to be around the size of a house cat. But when I saw this giant, below, I was dumbfounded, as it was maybe half the size of a capybara; so large that I didn’t believe it was a marmot until a park ranger confirmed that, in fact, they’re just that big up here.

Photo credit: Richard Helmich.

And the most terrifying encounter came with a huge Bighorn Ram, far larger than a human, that we encountered on our return trip. (I named him “Ramses.”) He was by far the largest creature we encountered on the hike, much larger than all the other Bighorn Sheep (who made way for him), and decided the best place to hang out was — you guessed it — right in front of us on the trail.

Photo credit: Richard Helmich.

But enough about the fauna. From our high-altitude destination, near the top of the mountains, a view down into the valley told the story of those aeons of glaciation that carved the terrain.

Photo credit: Richard Helmich.

Eventually, we reached our destination — Grinnell Glacier — and I got to stand on a glacier for the very first time there.

Photo Credit: Richard Helmich.

But it was a much, much longer hike to the glacier itself than we were anticipating. You see, over the past few generations, the glaciers of Glacier National Park have been retreating rapidly, particularly since the 1960s.

Images credit: various / Glacier National Park and USGS.

Grinnell Glacier and Salamander Glacier used to be part of the same glacier, but have not only separated, they have shrunk dramatically. In particular, Grinnell Glacier has lost 40% of its area from 1966 to 2005, and continues to shrink today.

Grinnell Glacier from the trail overlook, via USGS staff.

As you can clearly see, there’s a beautiful lake that’s being left behind by the melting glacier, and that the hike to Grinnell Glacier itself is nearly a mile longer than it was when the trail was first constructed.

But what these images don’t show you is that in just the past six years — from 2006 until today — the glacier has not only shrunk even further, but that a very large fraction of the area that was underwater in 2006 is now completely dry. (We ran into a couple who was there both in 2006 and 2012, and they confirmed this for us.) A large fraction of the rocky area at left in the image below was only recently (in 2006) covered in snowy glacial ice; last week it was dry as a bone.

Photo credit: Richard Helmich.

Now, this is one example — admittedly, a very dramatic one — of a glacier that’s lost an awful lot of its ice mass. Does this mean that global warming is real?

No. Not by itself, anyway.

Measuring the change in the ice mass of one glacier is no way to do science. If you truly want to know what’s happening to the Earth’s glacial ice, studying one glacier can only — at best — give you a hint. If you want to do science, you need to study all the glaciers — or at least a fair sample of them — worldwide. Looking at any one particular glacier, heat wave, wildfire, drought, or extreme event is no way to fairly assess climate science, but there is lots of quality, well-established science being done. Courtesy of this paper by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, let’s take a look at it.

Image credit: World Glacier Monitoring Service / ICSU (WDS) – IUGG (IACS) – UNEP – UNESCO – WMO.

When you look at all the monitored glaciers on Earth, you don’t find that the glaciers are melting and growing in equal numbers and equal amounts. You can work hard to find a few glaciers that are counterexamples to the overall trend, but when you look at what’s happening globally?

Image credit: the 2011 World Glacier Monitoring Service report, with data through 2009.

Nearly 90% of glaciers are shrinking, while only about 10% are growing. In addition, the ones that are melting are doing so at a rate that far outstrips the ones that are growing, so much so that glacial melt is contributing noticeably to the overall sea level of our planet. Since 1970, here’s how mountain glacial ice has fared, with blue indicating glacial thickening and red indicating thinning.

Image credit: Robert A. Rohde.

Where that melted glacial ice goes, of course, is into lakes, rivers, and — you guessed it — the ocean. The video below shows the contribution of glacial ice losses in blue (and ice gains in red) to global sea level rise (or fall). This was measured by the joint NASA / German Aerospace Center mission GRACE: the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment, from 2003 to 2010.

When we look at the overall amount of ice being held in glaciers, it’s not only (very obviously) decreasing, it’s decreasing at an accelerating rate.

Image credit: World Glacier Monitoring Service / ICSU (WDS) – IUGG (IACS) – UNEP – UNESCO – WMO.

You may wonder, of course, whether this trend holds if we look at not just glacial ice, but also Arctic and Antarctic sea ice as well. Of course, it isn’t just the ice from glaciers that show this trend, either. If we sum the ice from the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the globe, we see the same melting trend. (And, again, you have to look at them both, combined, not cherry pick just one or the other to get the result we want!)

Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), graph from http://SkepticalScience.com/.

The same overall, warming trend holds true for global air temperatures, too, over both land and water. It’s no wonder that permafrost, which we used to learn was, you know, permanent, is thawing at unprecedented rates. You don’t have to take my word for the rising global air temperatures: you can see for yourself!

Image credit: UCAR, NCDC / NESDIS / NOAA.

What this means for Glacier National Park is that, by all accounts, the last remaining glaciers will disappear for good during the 2020s. The park itself, of course, will be largely indifferent to that. The lakes will remain, the plants and animals will continue to flourish for a long time, and it will still remain one of the most beautiful natural places in the world.

But what the worldwide data shows us is that the dice are loaded: if you look across the globe, you’re more likely to have unusually warm weather than unusually cool weather, and the warms outnumber the cools in both frequency and severity. For ice across the world, that means more is melting than freezing, more are thinning than thickening, and more is getting added to the sea than is getting taken away.

That’s how it goes; everybody knows.

Comments

  1. #1 Wayne Robinson
    Perth Australia
    September 12, 2012

    I’m surprised there aren’t the usual comments from AGW denialists already. Retreating versus advancing glaciers is a similar phenomenon to local temperature trends. Richard Muller expressed it in his latest book ‘Energy for Future Presidents'; if you take a large number of weather stations (allowing for the heat island effect), about a third will show a recent cooling and two thirds will show a recent warming. If you live in a location which is cooling, then you’ll be inclined to reject AGW.

    But as AGW intensifies, warming will occur in almost all locations.

    My experience is that it’s getting warmer in Winter and cooler in Summer, so I don’t need to use heating in Winter or air conditioning in Summer. 20 years ago, it wasn’t unusual to have maximum temperatures of 45C in Summer and subzero minimum temperatures in Winter, but that hasn’t happened for years.

  2. #2 George
    September 12, 2012

    Don’t worry about shrinking glaciers. Glaciers come and go with NATURAL (not man made) earth climate cycles. The glaciers will melt, but they will be back again one day.

    While I a glorified man made climate change skeptic, I have to give you credit. You visited a place that I cannot afford to go. The pictures are beautiful. I would love to go there myself one day.

  3. #3 Vince Whirlwind
    September 12, 2012

    Specifics please George: Which natural climate cycle is currently causing the glaciers to melt?

  4. #4 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    And people die of NATURAL causes too George.

    Yet somehow, I think you’d like it if someone investigated a murder by human action when someone you know dies in suspicious circumstances.

  5. #5 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    Just thought of an analogy that may help some USins recognise AGW.

    If the USA’s GDP is rising, does that mean EVERYONE is getting richer? If I could find ONE person who got poorer, is that proof that the USA is in decline?

  6. #6 Chelle
    September 13, 2012

    Yet somehow, I think you’d like it if someone investigated a murder by human action when someone you know dies in suspicious circumstances.

    Not when that ‘someone you know’ would be you, Wow.

  7. #7 Tony Mach
    September 13, 2012

    The four images you took from the wikipedia article are very nice, but you should have posted as well the graph right next to them:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USGSglacierssince1850.jpg

    Glaciers have been retreating at least since the little ice age – and even the little ice age was a small reprise compared to how much bigger glaciers were during the last proper ice age. And if you look at the historic records and prehistoric proxies, you will find that there is no significant trend in the retreat of glacier – they are retreating for a long time now, and they will continue to retreat until they are gone.

    From a natural-monument perspective it is sad, but it is neither man-made, nor is it a catastrophe – just look at how fauna and flora reclaim the area! An return of an ice age – even a “little” one – now that would be a catastrophe.

    If you use historic cut-off points to tease out an association between glacier retreat and modern warming, you are deluding yourself – glaciers have been retreating way longer than humans have contributed CO2 in significant amounts. Use proper examples if you want to teach us something about the dangers of CO2.

    Now you know.

  8. #8 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    “Glaciers have been retreating at least since the little ice age”

    Got any proof? No, you haven’t, just a soundbyte from WUWT.

    Yes, there was more ice in the last ice age, which was about 20,000 years ago. This is because we came OUT of an ice age 20,000 years ago.

    “they are retreating for a long time now, and they will continue to retreat until they are gone.”

    Yup, for about 100 years.

    Of course, for the last 10,000 years we’ve been getting colder apart from the last 100 ish. That’s because when you go in a cycle from galcial to interglacial and back again, you expect AFTER coming out of a glacial that some time later you will go back INTO a glacial.

    Except this time, the cycle is not going back into a glacial.

    Why?

    AGW.

    Now you know.

  9. #9 Tony Mach
    September 13, 2012

    “Of course, for the last 10,000 years we’ve been getting colder apart from the last 100 ish.”

    And do you have any proof for this?

  10. #10 Tony Mach
    September 13, 2012

    I rather think you will have a very hard time showing that the modern warming period is anything special on a timescale of tens of thousands of years.

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=climate 10.000 years&tbm=isch

    So what was your point again? That we are coming out of an ice age? Wasn’t that what I have written?

  11. #12 Tony Mach
    September 13, 2012

    To see the retreat of the glacier terminus in Glacier Bay from 1760-80 (way before the industrialization and any significant CO2 emissions) until today, go here:
    http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2001/07/fieldwork2.html

    http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2001/07/glacierbaymap.gif
    Looks almost linear to me since 1760-80.

    And if you mention WUWT, I might as well link to it:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/17/james-balogs-inconvenient-glacial-canaries/

  12. #13 Tony Mach
    September 13, 2012

    Oh well, I and the URLs I post are being moderated. Let’s try again:

    Search for “Spring Multibeam Cruise in Glacier Bay Provides Spectacular Images” and UGS.

    Ssee the retreat of the glacier terminus in Glacier Bay from 1760-80 (way before the industrialization and any significant CO2 emissions) until today – looks almost linear to me.

  13. #14 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    Oh dear. Was that the whooshing sound of hurtling goalposts I heard?

    So, are the only glaciers in the world Glacier Bay from 1760-80?

    Cherry picking. At its finest. There’s been a paper on your kind recently. You and yours have been busy proving it right, all unconsciously.

  14. #15 Tony Mach
    September 13, 2012

    @Wow:
    Your link to planetforlife shows a 2 degree cooling trend over the last 10.000 years (with lots of noise) and a 10 degrees warming trend the 10.000 years before that.

    Oh, now I understand.

    You say it was 2 degrees warmer in the past (which was good?), and we were sliding back into an ice age with about 8 degrees colder temperatures (which would have been good?), but due to human interventions we are no longer sliding back to an ice age (which is bad?)

  15. #16 Tony Mach
    September 13, 2012

    Yeah call it cherry picking – I call it an inconvenient glacier retreat. The retreat of this (quite massive) glacier does not correlate well with CO2 emissions (actually it does not correlate at all). So either some glaciers are bad proxies for temperature (Why this one? Why not the glaciers in Glacier National Park?) or the temperature hasn’t quite developed like you assume.

    But can we agree that showing one glacier retreating over the past decades (aka cherry-picking) proves nothing, without looking at all glaciers for a much longer (pre-industrial) time-period?

    Or is cherry-picking only bad if the bad guys do it, and good if the good guys do it?

  16. #17 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    “Your link to planetforlife shows a 2 degree cooling trend over the last 10.000 years”

    Yup.

    Like I said, and you wanted proof of: cooling.

    Moreover, a pattern of cooling you’d expect in the NATURAL CYCLE.

    But I hear the roaring whoosh of yet more goalposts moving…

  17. #18 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    “I call it an inconvenient glacier retreat.”

    So you WANT an ice age????

    I guess when the country is getting richer you point to someone who got poorer and claim that it’s all wrong, right? After all, if the country is better off, there can’t be ANYONE who is worse off, right?

  18. #19 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    “But can we agree that showing one glacier retreating over the past decades (aka cherry-picking) proves nothing, without looking at all glaciers for a much longer (pre-industrial) time-period?”

    Yes, we can agree that.

    And that has been done. Go look at the science papers on the subject or the IPCC synthesis of all of the ones available at the time.

    And there you’ll see that your assertions are all wrong.

  19. #20 Tony Mach
    September 13, 2012

    And by the way, even the glaciers in Glacier National Park are bad proxies for your temperature/CO2 assumptions:
    en.wikipedia org/wiki/File:USGSglacierssince1850.jpg

  20. #21 Tony Mach
    September 13, 2012

    What, I have to look it up in the IPCC? No more links to planetforlife to prove me wrong?

    Glacier Bay and Glacier National Park be damned, and their lack of correlation with CO2 levels – if it is in the IPCC, then surely the data is wrong and the theory is right. How convenient to abscond from the discussion when the point that “OMG THIS GLACIER IS MELTING”, the base of this article, is shown to be untenable. Surely you can cherry-pick a glacier that shows a more favorable correlation with CO2 levels. Come back with your cherry-picked quotes from the IPCC.

    Which brings me back to “Use proper examples if you want to teach us something about the dangers of CO2.”

  21. #22 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    Well, you’re raving now, Tony.

    The IPCC collates the information you demanded. You were dismissive of the link that proved you wrong once, but now you’re pretending you want that and only that. And you admit that cherry picking is incorrect, but DEMAND that it be recognised as something approaching proof anyway.

    Then, in a crowning moment of idiocy, when you have claimed you don’t want to read the IPCC reports, that I am not allowed to show you where your specific questions are answered because you want to pretend that selecting the answers you want is somehow “cherry picking”.

    I guess you’re desperate to cling on to your beliefs.

  22. #23 davem
    September 13, 2012

    So, where the glaciers are advancing, is that due to higher snowfall? Often, warmer and wetter = more snowfall, so the advancing glaciers could also be evidence of warming.

  23. #24 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    Whether a glacier grows or shrinks depends on a lot of factors, dave.

    1) How much snow is falling at the source
    2) How much is melting at the end
    3) How fast is it moving (which can increase if it’s more nearly melting, thereby extending the distance the glacier goes)

    ‘sfunny how deniers of climate science insist that the models used don’t include *everything* yet the self same people turn around and make a model that excludes just about *everything* and insist that this should be it.

  24. #25 Kevin Dowd
    September 13, 2012

    Ethan.. I know you had a good trip. My questions are .. how many pairs of those shorts do you own? or is it just one well-worn pair? do you wear kilts?

    I heard some god-believers saying that the Higgs Boson was not found and it was all fake.

    I have been reading several books about the electro-weak force and Dr. Higgs.. apparently ten years after he proposed the use of the a “mass particle” to normalize the results joining the weak and electric forces he felt he hit the wall as a physicist and could no longer do good work.

    He was saved professionally when Weinburg realized that what they had actually described. I was supprised at the pages the books devoted to superconductivity.. but apparently the phase shift from “frictionless” (while super) to friction-full (when not) gave the clue they needed.

    anyhow I read the “Story of W and Z” by Watkins and thought it was great!

  25. #26 copernicus34
    September 13, 2012

    I find it hard to believe this ‘Wow’ character needs ‘proof’ of glacier retreat since the little ice age. Are you serious? That statement right there makes everything you say after (and perhaps before) questionable. Also, what is ‘climate science denial’? Most of the people I’ve come across that question the premesis that Evan is making here simply are not convinced recent upticks in land and sea surface temperatures (along with a 20cm rise in sea level in the last 100 yrs or so) are due to CO2. There is quite alot of evidence (and yes science) that indicates the opposite, that CO2 levels follow temperature instead of the popular perceived notion that CO2 actually drives temperature. There are scientific papers that come to complete opposite conclusions on this matter. Why on earth must the person that questions validity of scientific results be called a name? or worse, a name derived from people who deny the holocaust of all things? It almost seems like people who call people these names are so frustrated that they cannot seem to get ‘everybody’ to sign up to the way they see the data, that they get hysterical in there belief system. Some call that religion. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that, but I can certainly understand why those at the business ends of the stone throwing can come up with those descriptions. The science is simply not settled in this matter, and perhaps likely will never be. Some really good people on both sides of this argument, really good scientists writing great papers on observations. What we are learning is that the climate of this planet is so complicated. It fascinates me sometimes when I hear how ‘stunned’, and ‘surprised’ scientists are when they discover new things about planets, or star observations, or things like that….and yet apparently we know all we need to know about the climate of this planet. There is nothing else to learn, its settled, no more getting ‘stunned’ by results because we already know and can predict exactly how things will develop hundreds of years from now, even tens of years from now. I guess I’m solidly in the skeptic side of things, i resent being called a ‘denier’, thats an insult. I don’t deny evidence, i don’t question a certain scientists conclusions based on observational evidentiary findings, for the most part i don’t question that scientists political leanings or the fact they need to put food on the table too, what i question though how someone can come to the conclusion that this matter is settled science. It is not, I advise folks to take off political glasses and immerse themselves in the data. I have. This is my conclusion so far:
    – the Earth, for the most part has had its temperatures rise
    – sea surface temperatures have risen also, by obviously a much smaller amount.
    – the above 2 mentioned facts are just that…facts–the argument is why? AGW or natural variability. Ladies and Gentlemen there is no conclusion yet to this question.

  26. #27 Vince Whirlwind
    September 13, 2012

    Presumably Tony & Co. are being paid to post non-factual opinions as part of the concerted PR effort to cast doubt on facts due to their inconvenience to the energy lobby.

    Let’s summarise what we’ve learned:
    Ethan has explained how 90% of the world’s glaciers are currently in retreat.
    Tony has shown that 0.02% of the world’s glaciers were in retreat through the 19th Century.
    Wow has explained that the long-term temperature trend since 10,000 years ago has overall been a cooling trend.
    Tony tells us that prior to 10,000 years ago, the trend was different.
    “copernicus” tells us there is a lot of science that backs his position, his position being that all the published science we know of is wrong.

    And there you have the difference between the rational, science-based approach of analysing the available information and drawing conclusions; and the approach of those who desperately try to shoe-horn a mish-mash of cherries, red herrings, and unicorns to fit their pre-conceived notions. Their laughable pre-conceived notions.

  27. #28 George C Monser
    United States
    September 13, 2012

    Ethan, I always like your blog on astrophysics, but this issue MOVES me. It reminds me of walking with my friends in mountains long ago. I want to do it again…time to find the will power to do it! Cheers, George from So. Arizona

  28. #29 Angela
    near Seattle
    September 13, 2012

    I hope you did not get sunburned on your hike. I read this blog post about the sun-blocking effects of beards and immediately thought of you.
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/scicurious/2012/09/07/friday-weird-science-how-much-sun-could-a-good-beard-block/#more-3845

  29. #30 Wow
    September 14, 2012

    “I find it hard to believe this ‘Wow’ character needs ‘proof’ of glacier retreat since the little ice age”

    I find it hard that copper knickers here thinks that me providing proof of glacier retreat due to AGW means I need proof of glacier retreat since the little ice age.

    Viiny accurately and elegantly explained the other evident problem with copper knickers here, but I thought I’d illustrate the tortuous logic that deniers splin through to try to make out that anyone who supports the climate science are wrong about something (anything) if they acknowledge the fact of AGW.

    Vinny and myself disagree vehemently with each other on many other things which also illustrates a difference between ACTUAL skeptics and deniers.

    Deniers WILL NEVER disagree with each other if their theories propound the idea that AGW is false.

    ACTUAL skeptics will disagree if the other propounds what they consider false fact or incorrect opinion no matter whether it supports AGW’s basis.

  30. #31 Wow
    September 14, 2012

    “There is quite alot of evidence (and yes science) that indicates the opposite, that CO2 levels follow temperature”

    A little OT discussion for you deniers.

    What, scientifically, is the CAUSATION that makes CO2 follow temperatures? Remember you have to explain away the production of 30 gigatons a year of CO2 from human production (which figures you can get from the SEC submissions and quarterly reports of the fossil fuel companies).

  31. #32 copernicus34
    September 14, 2012

    is there nothing left to learn regarding climate science? have we learned it all? i for one, and i would hope every single “scientist’ that has an observational interest in this subject, do not think the answers to the above 2 questions is ‘yes’. there is a reason hysterical warmists (see i can call people names and give them labels too) haven’t convinced the world to stop the presses and move back to the stone age. you cannot convince 7 billion people to basically stop progress and stop the way you’re living because of some data that shows we have some ‘warming’ occuring that might or might not be due to the cars that we drive. are we to cull the entire world cow population? will raising cows become illegal? most sane thinking people have seen evidence of some warming, but most sane people (or people that bother to look into it a little further) know it was this warm and much much warmer before without CO2 as well, which would naturally lead to questions. the AGW lot are just pissed at pithy comments they read in the skeptic blogs, it gets their ire up and they respond in kind. please understand this is the way it works when science gets turned on its head and you have “scientists’ now playing the political game. it quickly leads to unintended consequences where trust is thrown out the window. to the AGW folks: you brought that crap on yourselves. stick to the science, leave the rest to the rest of us who have to grapple with the data and figure out what to do. its when a scientists says “we need to….” that garbles the message and inserts themselves into the solution that creates the trouble. keep observing the data, question everything, be skeptical. the data and its conclusions will be there for all to see.

  32. #33 Vince Whirlwind
    September 14, 2012

    WoW – Never mind CAUSATION, how about RELEVANCE.
    Why would the positive feedback (hang on, he must have missed the latest Heartland talking point directive…) Temp–>CO2 be an argument against CO2->Temp.

    Copernicus, could you please attend some training in the application of logic before sharing any more of your stuff with us? It will make it easier on everyone.

    Additionally, would it be at all possible for you to employ some of the basic skills of literacy to enable us to read what you have written without causing so much strain?

  33. #34 Mark McAndrew
    September 14, 2012

    The point is not whether or not ‘the planet’ will survive with global warming – of course it will. The point is that human civilization has trillions upon trillions of dollars invested in the status quo: our major cities crowd the coasts, and we rely on farming and river systems to pretty much stay as they are.

    FFS, we burn the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez EVERY 4 MINUTES. It would be a scientific mystery if the planet WASN’T warming.

    You can count the number of boan-fide climatologists who deny AGW on one hand. Sadly, the same can’t be said for right-wing conspiracy theorists.

  34. #35 copernicus34
    September 14, 2012

    @ vince, so when we refuse to answer any question we just resort to the insults about intelligence and whatever criticism one can bring against one that simply asks questions. its amazing; one who simply admits to some warming (and the good science that observed it), desires even more information, and is subsequentl bludgeoned regarding his intelligence (or was it grammar you take issue with? simply because of a thirst for more knowledge. can anyone see why it is that these folks (with all their hand wringing and screaming from the rooftops) do not get their way in the various political arenas. the scientific method is being mocked by these hysterical warmists.

  35. #36 Wow
    September 15, 2012

    I think old copper knickers here may be crakarNN, where NN is a monotonically increasing number added to each time the twat gets banned from somewhere.

    And yes, you deniers do “just resort to the insults about intelligence”. Simply admit that you’re not the next gallileo and that you have a problem with the fact of AGW.

    You have no thirst for knowledge, as evidenced by your and your fellow deniers refusal to acknowledge any response to your questions.

  36. #37 Wow
    September 15, 2012

    “is there nothing left to learn regarding climate science? have we learned it all?”

    Have you learned nothing about climate? Have you learned nothing at all? We don’t know how gravity forms nor mass is gained, but we know enough to send rockets to a tiny dot in the far distance.

    Why do you think that is?

    Hint: it’s because we don’t have to know EVERY LITTLE DETAIL before we can come to a useful conclusion.

    But you yourself really have learned nothing. Because you do not wish to learn.

    PS look at the difference between your whine at 3:07: “they get hysterical in there belief system” and your two-faced whine at 8:16: “just resort to the insults about intelligence” and the doubling down on the stupid and vicious in the same post: “these hysterical warmists”

    You whine and whinge and moan and bitch about being insulted whilst doing it all and more.

    You are a fuckwit. It is a statement of fact.

  37. #38 Vince Whirlwind
    September 15, 2012

    In this instance, Wow, I don’t think I can rightly try to castigate you for calling Crakar a fuckwit.

    Crakar, if you really had “a thirst for knowledge”, then you would have attended to your literacy skills, which are currently sub-par to my 9-year-old’s.
    Then, instead of repeating nonsense you’ve read on crank-blogs, you would go to respectable sources and build up knowledge of,
    1/ logic
    and
    2/ the facts resulting from the experts’ decades of examination on this topic.

    You have no “thirst for knowledge”.
    You are an ignorant simpleton suffering from intellect envy and desperate to riot in the streets, destroy others’ property and burn some witches.

  38. #39 spicyvomitsnack
    Virginia
    September 16, 2012

    I love the shirt :)

  39. #40 kai
    September 16, 2012

    wow and all the other warmist trolls and truth denialists have extreme difficulties in understanding that their terribly low scientific capabilities make them easy subjects of misguided religious climate church manipulators: men as evil murderers of nature, men who have to be punished for climate blasphemia, men of the tea party who object to follow the gut faithful climate demcratic consensus of politically correct true climate believers, men who follow romney and not obama and uncle gore the godfather of the blessed climate church community and glacier pilgrims in summer time when it’s warm there and no risk to the pilgrims to get a cold. oh, holy glacier pilgrims let’s pray to god that we mankind get our punishment for evil climate ignorance and glacier arrogance, amen

  40. #41 kai
    September 16, 2012

    wow: “but we know enough to send rockets to a tiny dot in the far distance”

    wrong: you wow have such a low degree of knowledge that do don’t belong to the “we” who know, you are outspoken arrogant and are full idiot in the lower part a people’s intelligence distribution, you don’t even master one foreign language

  41. #42 Vince Whirlwind
    September 16, 2012

    Thanks ‘kai’, for yet another demonstration of the inverse relationship between learning and denialism.

    Your first spray is positively lunatic.

    So glaciers are warm in Summer? Who knew!?
    In fact: BWAHAHAHAHAHhhhhhahahahahhaha.

  42. #43 kai
    September 17, 2012

    whirlpool, your intellectual peccability is striking. all post-normal science climate church fellows like you, wow, mandas etc. are misguided science ignorants without a formation in meteorology and any scientific track record. you are only strong believers in your religious climate church and you are manpulated to think that western mankind is evil and has to be punished by socialist co2 taxes, and the money has to go to poor countries serving as your salvation from the original sin

  43. #44 kai
    September 17, 2012

    whirlpool, some natural science instructions to ignorants like you:

    1. on the northern hemisphere in summertime where the glaciers are it is warmer than

    2. in the northern hemisphere in wintertime where the glaciers are

    understood, stupid?

  44. #45 Wow
    September 17, 2012

    This infant has been doing the same content-free ranting and raving on illconsidered too.

  45. #46 Chelle
    September 17, 2012

    Kai,

    “… mankind is evil and has to be punished by socialist co2 taxes”

    I don’t think that mankind is evil, but very stupid. If you live in a big city, than you don’t need to start to wobble about global warming, only the output of smog of all the cars driving around is enough to show that we are poisoning ourselves just like a cigarette smoker does. Besides that we know that we humans ‘run’ on oxygen which is generated by plants, now if you start chopping down the Rain Forrest, our biggest supplier, than you know that we are slowly suffocating ourselves. Yes the tax thing may be a socialist issue, I agree with that, although a big chunk of the tax income goes to the army and not only the poor, but tell me how do you propose to reduce pollution and the amputation of our oxygen supplies?

    Anyway, regarding global warming here is an article by Richard A. Muller who ‘used to be’ A skeptic about global warming, I think this might help:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?pagewanted=all

    btw you might want to read the book ‘Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World’, by Nick Lane, it is about how the composure of our atmosphere goes hand in hand with all the different life forms here on Earth.

  46. #47 Wow
    September 17, 2012

    Well done, chelle. You made a coherent post with all relevant defined information required to understand that post within it and maintained on-topic throughout.

  47. #48 Vince Whirlwind
    September 17, 2012

    kai, it is supremely irrelevant whether it is colder in winter – a glacier is simply not warm in summer. In fact, it is downright freezing

    BWAHAHAhahahahaahahahahahaha

  48. #49 DavidL
    September 17, 2012

    Well except for the oxygen bit. Only ecosystems laying down the fossil fuel deposits of the future have a net contribution to atmospheric oxygen. In otherwise stable ecosystems any oxygen released is all taken up again by their subsequent decay, whether through biological consumption or by fire. Net oxygen is only affected by burning fossil fuels, and even without any warming effect the CO2 would poison us well before we ran out of oxygen.

    And why is a CO2 tax “socialist”. Aside from the fact that Carbon Trading schemes, and more particularly their exemptions, provide a new income stream for the capitalist money men I would say it is anything but socialist. A meaningful Carbon Tax has to be on the Polluter Pays principle. A pound of CO2 released keeping a superstar’s executive jet in the air is no different to a pound of carbon released preventing an old lady dying of hypothermia. That is an odd form of socialism.

  49. #50 Wow
    September 17, 2012

    “And why is a CO2 tax “socialist””

    To a teabagger like kai, any tax that comes off them is “socialist”. It also is the same as “evil” for some reason.

    However, they still demand government keeps their hands out of their Medicare.

    (You’ll note that even the richest teabagger will suck off the government teat with a great deal more puling whining about it not being enough than the actual people they pretend to represent)

  50. #51 kai
    September 17, 2012

    wow, “a teabagger” how creative these wamist hysterics can be ….

    hahahahahah

    and no clue whatsoever why socialist and evil, your work packages for intellectual improvement are huge, wow, the warmist watchdog

  51. #52 Toby
    September 17, 2012

    Even is you argued about the glaciers …. but

    – put that with the temperature record
    – put it with Arctic Sea Ice
    – put it with decline in spring and summer snow pack
    – put it with sea surface temperatures
    – put it with variations in seasons … the list goes on.

    Just too many indicators point in the same direction for climate change to be ignored. You may be able to rationalise away each one (end of the ice age, error, fraud, whatever) but there just are too many in the red zone to be comfortable with.

    If you are rationalising each indicator away .. then you are in serious denial.

  52. #53 Toby
    September 17, 2012

    CO2 tax “socialist”?

    In Europe, carbon taxes have been implemented by the right wing parties. Go figure.

  53. #54 Wow
    September 17, 2012

    “If you are rationalising each indicator away .. then you are in serious denial.”

    You may notice kai isn’t being rational.

    This doesn’t mean he’s in serious denial, however.

  54. #55 Wow
    September 17, 2012

    This doesn’t mean he’s *NOT* in serious denial, however.

    FTFM.

  55. #56 mk
    September 17, 2012

    wow, “a teabagger” how creative these wamist hysterics can be ….

    It was “men of the tea party” who originally called themselves teabaggers, you ignorant raving fool.

  56. #57 Harvey
    September 18, 2012

    Your friend Rich made great photos, they remind me of an Ultimate Survival a bit. The fact that it lost 40% of its area could be explained by the change of earth climate cycles, am I right? The lack of educational instances in the field of climate research should be resolved ASAP (what about these found here http://top-univercity.com/why-study-abroad/ ?), or we’ll see the whole Earth to shrink soon.

  57. #58 Philipp
    Germany
    September 19, 2012

    Hiking on a glacier — in a shirt?! Sounds freezing to me :)

    Thanks for this blog (this entry and the whole sum of it). It motivates me to learn more and it makes me dream of distant galaxies — or in this case of not quite so distant mountains.

    Thanks!

  58. #59 MadScientist
    September 21, 2012

    What are those New Zealanders doing to their glaciers? Oh well, it doesn’t matter – I’d already seen their chunks of ice. There are still the glacial sheets of Antarctica and the Arctic – I guess they’ll be around a bit longer than most of the other glaciers.

  59. #60 Tony Mach
    September 27, 2012

    Oh look, new data for Glacier National Park:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/27/surprise-glaciers-in-montana-retreated-up-to-6-times-faster-during-the-1930s-and-1940s-than-today/

    I’m sure you’ll find countless explanations to shoehorn any new data into an alarmist narrative.

    In my maybe not so humble opinion it is an foley to try to use glaciers as the prime evidence for catastrophic warming caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

    Yes we humans have raised the CO2 content of the atmosphere significantly beginning about 1890 to 1910, and yes CO2 warms the atmosphere (I know the the radiative/spectral diagrams), but quite frankly every proxy that has been tried to be passed off as an smoking gun (or rather an smoking hokey stick?) for an *catastrophic* and/or *unprecedented* anthropogenic global warming has failed in my view. Which should be surprising given that the changes in the temperature record are anything but clear on the point of being catastrophic or unprecedented.

    Maybe there is better evidence out there, but pointing to Glacier National Park and saying “SEE!!!! *WE* caused this!!!!” just doesn’t cut it for me – it causes exactly the opposite reaction. I see it as badly constructed emotional alarmism. It is like pointing to the ground and saying “SEE!!!! The Earth *IS* flat!!!”

  60. #61 Wow
    September 27, 2012

    Oh, look, another idiot.

    I guess that data showing thousands of glaciers retreating is as nothing compared to a single area with a few glaciers increasing in extent, hmmm?

    How prophetic that you should complain about hysteria so hysterically…

  61. #62 Tony Mach
    September 27, 2012

    And by the way, thanks for the IPCC report suggestion. I looked into two IPCC assessment reports regarding glaciers, and quite frankly, if there is an anthropogenic signal (CO2 rise after 1890-1910, aka the “hockey stick”), you won’t find it in glaciers.

    And “Wow”, thanks for the name calling, it reminds me of that joke:

    A guy walks up to a cop and says “I have a question: Am I right that it is illegal to call an police officer an idiot?” And the police officer says: “Yes, that is illegal.” And the guy then ask: “How about if I call an idiot an police officer?”. The cop answers: “Well, that would be legal.” To which the guy replies: “Well police officer, I thank you.”

    In that spirit: “Wow”, I thank an scientist.

  62. #63 Vince Whirlwind
    September 27, 2012

    Tony, you’re well out of your depth.

    Quite ironic to see you type,
    “I’m sure you’ll find countless explanations to shoehorn any new data into an alarmist narrative.”,
    when you’ve just linked to an amateur crank website whose sole raison d’etre is to perform exactly such shoehorning.

    And,
    “it is an foley to try to use glaciers as the prime evidence for catastrophic warming”
    …something which nobody is doing. Well done.

  63. #64 Wow
    September 28, 2012

    “if there is an anthropogenic signal (CO2 rise after 1890-1910, aka the “hockey stick”), you won’t find it in glaciers.”

    Tony

    a) anthropogenic signal isn’t CO2 rise
    b) the hockey stick isn’t CO2 rise either
    c) yes, we won’t find anthropogenic signal in galciers if we look at only one metric.

    When your economy recovers and GDP average rises, would the existence of a few people who lost their jobs and got poorer be proof that there was no recovery?

  64. #65 Wow
    September 28, 2012

    And Tony, you’re a moron.

    This is not an insult, merely a fact.

  65. #66 Tony Mach
    October 2, 2012

    @”Wow”:
    You can try to shout me down, you can try to insult me, but do you think that will change my opinion about climate change and the role of humans in it? Seriously?

    Once more, the theory posted here is:

    1. Humans have caused unprecedented warming over the last 100 years. (“CAGW”)

    2. This warming is causing an (accelerated?) retreat of glaciers. (“Hockey-Stick”)

    I don’t need many counter-examples to show that this theory (as stated above) is wrong – some part of that theory has got to give. Just like the theory of “Luminiferous Aether” only needed one proper experiment to prove it wrong, no matter how many experiments showed it might be right.

    And quite frankly the number of glaciers that could be cherry-picked to “prove” that above theory is minimal. Stop calling names, be a scientist and go ahead, look into the IPCC reports yourself.

  66. #67 Wow
    October 2, 2012

    No, I AM insulting you, Tony.

    Because you deserve it.

    (and given that this is a written media, I can’t shout).

    “1. Humans have caused unprecedented warming over the last 100 years.”

    Yup. True. It isn’t CAGW, though, you just made that humpty-dumpty definition.

    “2. This warming is causing an (accelerated?) retreat of glaciers.”

    Yup, true. It isn’t the Hockey Stick, though. Another humpty-dumpty definition.

    “I don’t need many counter-examples to show that this theory … is wrong”

    Go on, give one then.

    “And quite frankly the number of glaciers that could be cherry-picked to “prove” that above theory wrong is minimal”

    FTFY.

    Links to primary research available here (since you rabidly hate linking to the IPCC which is more direct and accurate):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retreat_of_glaciers_since_1850

  67. #68 Tony Mach
    March 30, 2013

    Sorry, lost interest, but WTF?
    How do I “rabidly hate linking to the IPCC”????

    Really WTF???

    I have looked into the last two or three IPCC reports back then and what they write about glaciers. NOTHING in there shows a slight hint of evidence that glaciers are behaving radically different due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

    They have been retreating.

    They are retreating.

    They will be retreating.

    There is no observable link to human CO2 emission to be found in data on glaciers. Sure you can pick some that have accelerated their retreat, then I pick some that are actually growing. There is not signal in glacier retreat, otherwise we would have heard about the “glacier hockey-stick” six ways from Sunday. (But maybe the Mann-O-Matic with some upside down glacier data could make something out this glacier chopstick.)

    Trying to link glacier retreat to anthropogenic global warming – as our dear host does very emotionally – is just noise (in the best case) or plain intellectual dishonest. My initial point. And that’s why *I* am an idiot?

    Not only is the entire “OMG, the Earth is going to MELT!!!! garblegarble” line of reasoning dishonest, but it isn’t even possible to point this out in a polite manner without being shouted down as an idiot. Why the fark is it not possible to discuss this in a civilized manner? And then you go out and wonder if there is a problem “communicating science”. This is not science, you are a bunch of emotional hacks who think that crying wolf no matter what is the right thing to do – sorry that I disagree. It is *you* who makes an discussion of this topic impossible, as only the most rabid right-wing FoxNews-loving idiot is sadomasotic enough to try to argue with you. So go to hell, you can argue with yourself in your nice echo-chamber how horrible the climate is going to get.

    “I don’t need many counter-examples to show that this theory … is wrong”
    Go on, give one then.

    I have given more than one example in my comments above of glaciers that showed constant retreat in the past until today. Glaciers that show no acceleration of warming. And please, just look into the IPCC reports you so love, in the section on glaciers – you can find the documents yourself. (Or is that me again “rabidly hating linking to the IPCC”???)

  68. #69 Tony Mach
    March 30, 2013

    And anyway, how exactly does it show that one does “rabidly” “hate” to link to the IPCC? By telling you that you should do your research yourself? That you should look up the sections on glaciers in the IPCC report yourself? Is it so hard to look this stuff up for yourself? Did *I* make it too hard for you, because I have refused to provide the URLs to the IPCC reports in my “rabid hate”, that you poor thing are not able to find these reports yourself? Should I post excerpts as well? And nice plots? And my summary? Some hot milk with honey maybe? And do you have any other wishes?

    BTW: If it is really so difficult to find these sections from the IPCC reports yourself, then maybe “your side” should start working on that? Hmmm?

    Listen, I am not your maid, and if you want to show me why glaciers are important in the context of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, then this is your job, not mine. I was just pointing out that glaciers is one example (of the possibly many) that is breathlessly shown as evidence of CAGW, yet fail to be such evidence on close examination. My advise would be to focus on the strong evidence (if there is any, that is) and call out all those intellectually dishonest people who try to cry wolf, but couldn’t tell a wolf from a chihuahua.

    And while we are it, if you insist on calling me an idiot, then you surely don’t mind if I try to retort in in the same spirit: You’re an anti-scientific hack.

  69. #70 Tony Mach
    March 30, 2013

    And the “Retreat of glaciers since 1850″ article is quite impressive. Especially the section on the unprecedentedness of glacier retreat. But the best evidence in the wikipedia article is the comparison between glacier retreat in the industrial and pre-industrial era. And the section on CO2 just blew my mind.

    Sorry for my sarcasm, but there is nothing in that wikipdia article that backs up your position that glacier retreat somehow matters when discussing climate. All the article says (with many many words) is “Glaciers have been retreating” while saying nothing about the time before 1850. Best of all, the wikipedia article does say nothing about CO2 emissions. Why is that?

    And so you choose to come here with an wikpedia article that says nothing about an link between CAGW and glaciers, in order to call me an idiot for pointing out that a link between CAGW and glaciers is impossible to find.

    Really? That’s the best you can do?

  70. #71 Wow
    March 30, 2013

    “Sorry for my sarcasm, but there is nothing in that wikipdia article that backs up your position that glacier retreat somehow matters when discussing climate”

    Well, I guess you could try reason.

    You know, things like ask yourself “How does ice melt?”.

  71. #72 Wow
    March 30, 2013

    And the wiki link was there to prove your ridiculous statement

    “And quite frankly the number of glaciers that could be cherry-picked to “prove” that above theory wrong is minimal”

    was complete bullshit.

    but you decided to drop that debunked statement and gish on to another load of gobshite.

  72. #73 Tony Mach
    March 31, 2013

    You know who you remind me of? The “Electric Universe” nut jobs with their “god’s battery” theory.

    The EM nut jobs say “There is an electromagnetic force*, therefore everything we observes in the Universe is driven by electromagnetism**”.

    You say “There has been man-made global warming due to CO2 emissions*, therefore everything we observe on Earth is driven by this global warming**.”

    Alternatively you can look up this obnoxious guy who claims on TV that events in the past where caused by Aliens, well, just because he says so, and ask yourself if you have any similarities with him.

    It is raining? Man-made climate change!
    It is snowing? Man-made climate change!
    It is warm today? Man-made climate change!
    It is cold today? Man-made climate change!

    Some species is dieing? Man-made climate change!
    Some species is thriving? Man-made climate change!
    Some species is unimpressed by climate change? Man-made climate change!

    As long as any observation can somehow be claimed (contrary to evidence) to be “due to CAGW/CO2″ without being clearly refuted as an anti-scientific hit-piece, as long this entire climate science business will remain anti-scientific hackery in my eyes. Either focus on the good evidence (if there is any) or STFU, you anti-scientific hack.

    And if you keep insisting that it is OK to go out, take an image of a glacier and say “See??? Man-made climate change!!!!!!”, then I guess I will go out, take a image of the night sky and claim “See???? Static Universe!!!!!”

    * Yes, this is a correct observation of reality.
    ** No, this is not a correct observation of reality.

  73. #74 Tony Mach
    March 31, 2013

    You say I should ask myself “How does ice melt?”

    The question you should ask is: “Why did glaciers retreat long before there were any substantial CO2 emissions in the atmosphere?”

  74. #75 Tony Mach
    March 31, 2013

    And the wiki link was there to prove your ridiculous statement

    “And quite frankly the number of glaciers that could be cherry-picked to “prove” that above theory wrong is minimal”

    was complete bullshit.

    but you decided to drop that debunked statement

    Please, there is *no* evidence whatsoever in the wikipedia article you linked to that that glacier retreat is novel (because there glacier retreat is *not* novel), nor is there any evidence in the article that glacier retreat was impacted by CO2 emissions (because there is no such evidence).

    All the wikipedia article says is “Glaciers are retreating”, and it does so with many many words, without touch the subject of CO2 emissions, without comparing modern glacier retreat to pre-industrial glacier retreat.

    So where exactly does this wikipedia article you linked to “debunk” any of my supposedly “ridiculous” statements, or shows them to be “gobshite”?

  75. #76 Tony Mach
    March 31, 2013

    And oh, I will say goodbye now, because a discussion with you is as fruitful as a discussion with a telephone pole (at least the telephone pole does not try to insult me constantly). You bring nothing to this discussion, you don’t care for reality or evidence, and your simply are angrily hyperventilating because you think “OMG THE EARTH IS MELTING!!!!”. If you want to contribute something, be part of the solution, not part of the problem (as you are now), look at the evidence, stay with good evidence, and call out contra-factual claims (like this emotional glacier retreat hit-piece by our dear host).

    So I go now and you “win”, this discussion, in the same way that the EM nut jobs “win” win an discussion. I am not nearly sadomasochistic enough to put up with assholes like you.

  76. #77 Wow
    March 31, 2013

    you’re not going to say goodbye denier-freak. because you cannot let the truth get out there without spattering some crap on it to make people look away.

    ” because you think “OMG THE EARTH IS MELTING!!!!””

    Being one example of your only avenue for denial being the construction of insane arguments on your opposition so that your own insanity is “no worse than them”.

    Please, there is *no* evidence whatsoever in the wikipedia article you linked to that that glacier retreat is novel

    It was given in demonstration that your claim which WASN’T that glacier retreat was not novel but your denier retardedness cannot let that go, can it. You have to claim it wasn’t that despite it being there on the thread. After all, the deniers never bother reading anything claimed and merely assume that every argument against the reality of AGW is wrong is absolute truth. So since it has been so successful on the denier blogs you frequent, you think it will work here too.

    It doesn’t.

  77. #78 Wow
    March 31, 2013

    It is raining? Man-made climate change!
    Is it raining MORE? Climate change.

    It is snowing? Man-made climate change!

    Did you not realise that snow is just rain that falls through freezing cold air?

    It is warm today? Man-made climate change!

    Is it a warming trend? Warming climate change.

    It is cold today? Man-made climate change!

    ‘sfunny. you deniers have been bleating on that it’s cold, therefore no AGW. Yet you pretend to think that this is the other way round.

  78. #79 Wow
    March 31, 2013

    It is raining? Man-made climate change!

    Is it raining MORE? Climate change.

    It is snowing? Man-made climate change!

    Did you not realise that snow is just rain that falls through freezing cold air?

    It is warm today? Man-made climate change!

    Is it a warming trend? Warming climate change.

    It is cold today? Man-made climate change!

    ‘sfunny. you deniers have been bleating on that it’s cold, therefore no AGW. Yet you pretend to think that this is the other way round.

  79. #80 Wow
    March 31, 2013

    fuck it, close enough.

  80. #81 Wow
    March 31, 2013

    As long as any observation can somehow be claimed (contrary to evidence)

    Since you’ve never claimed any evidence that “it is raining” for any reason that precludes climate change, I take this idea was pulled from your arse.

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