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Earth The Media Science

Atlas Takes Heat For Melting Glacier Claim 429

dtjohnson writes "The 'Times Atlas of the World' claims, while publicizing its newest edition, that global warming has turned 15 percent of Greenland's former ice-covered land 'green and ice-free.' Now, however, scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute say those figures, based on data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, are wrong. 'Recent satellite images of Greenland make it clear that there are in fact still numerous glaciers and permanent ice cover where the new Times Atlas shows ice-free conditions and the emergence of new lands,' they say in a letter that has been sent to the Times. Others have pointed out that if 15 percent of Greenland ice cover had been lost, then sea levels would have risen by 1 meter... which has not happened. Perhaps yet another climate controversy is brewing." An update to the story pinpoints the probable source of the error: a 2001 map from the NSIDC illustrates Greenland's central ice sheet without showing any of the peripheral glaciers. The Atlas editors may have seen this map and misinterpreted it. Says the article, "Now glaciologists are left trying to figure out how not understate the importance of the extent glacial ice melt, while at the same time correcting the error."
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Atlas Takes Heat For Melting Glacier Claim

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  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:06PM (#37447666)

    What started out as a well-supported observation that the earth was starting to slowly warm

    This isn't even true; global temperatures haven't risen since 1998. This contradicts computer simulation--the primary source of current global warming consensus--to such a degree that climate scientists are searching for hypotheses to explain the missing heat []. So now people are coming up with explanations for the observations that don't match their predictions. Truly the scientific method at work.

    Note that the the research in the article I linked also comes exclusively from a computer simulation; there isn't actually any recorded observation that the "missing heat" is in the oceans. It's just a guess. I suspect many environmentalists are unaware that global warming consensus comes entirely from simulations written by humans and not actual recorded observation.

  • Re:Just be honest? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arlet ( 29997 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:08PM (#37447696)

    It wasn't a matter of exaggerating a claim. Somebody grabbed the wrong map, and didn't consult with a scientist.

  • by Arlet ( 29997 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:15PM (#37447814)

    This isn't even true; global temperatures haven't risen since 1998

    Except that 9 of the 10 hottest years in our measurements have been after 1998.

    1998 was a statistical fluke, an out-lier, due to a very active El-Nino during that particular year. In 2010, the same temperature was reached under very average circumstances.

  • by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:32PM (#37448118)

    global temperatures haven't risen since 1998

    I'm not going to talk at you about how to do data analysis and averaging. Picking 1998 as a starting point is a canary for someone who is measuring "increase" as "difference since start of plot" and then cherry-picking a high value as their start point.

    Even if you use that highly-deceptive "analysis" technique, though, it's not true:
    NASA GISS Global Surface Air Temperature Anomaly
    1998: 0.70 C
    2010: 0.83 C
    2010 is the most recent year for which there is data.

    NASA GISS Land-Ocean Temperature Index
    1998: 0.56 C
    2010: 0.63 C

    If you look at the tabular data [], anyone reasonably familiar with analysis should spot immediately that 1998 is an outlier and that there is an overall positive trend that continues up to 2010.

  • by Arlet ( 29997 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:32PM (#37448132)

    Other humans, with different interest, could re-interpret the same data, and publish their findings in a paper. It's a lot of work, but it's not impossible.

    Actually, several group of people have done exactly this, and their results are in pretty good agreement.

  • by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @05:02PM (#37448648)

    No, it isn't causing a drought in Texas. There were droughts in Texas at least this bad, long before the argument started.

    Not so. The following graph clearly shows that this year is an extreme outlier: []

  • by SETIGuy ( 33768 ) * on Monday September 19, 2011 @08:01PM (#37450896) Homepage

    Except I don't buy that "environmental science" is any more an unbiased field of science than I buy that "ethnic studies" is an unbiased field of history.

    That's because you are a moron. What is your evidence that "environmental science" is biased? Because you don't like its results? The proof that these "environmental scientists" biasing their results? Let me guess: lots of unproven accusations of fraud. Or will it just be an "I don't like algore"? I've peer reviewed a lot of your posts in the past and found nearly all of them to be lacking. I guess that means I'm not in your peer group. The fact that you're marked insightful is proof that every moron gets to moderate here.

    Besides, I don't think the term "environmental science" is what you're looking for. Better terms might be "Climatology", "Atmospheric science", "Geophysics", or "Planetary Science". Your use of the word "environmental" is just so you can bring up the spectre of "goofy environmentalists."

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