Glacier retreat nothing new

Sept. 8, 2015

    To the editor: The present retreat of glaciers of the world began between 1800 and 1850, after advancing before 1700, including those in Alaska. The European Alps has the best record of glacier advances and retreats throughout the past. Some of the retreats after advancing occurred soon after circa 600, 1100, 1370, and 1670, as well as the most recent one, a little before 1850. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has claimed that the recession of the Gangotri glacier in Himalaya is one of the best indications of global warming from CO2, even though it began its retreat in 1780 — 1849, 100 years before CO2 began to increase rapidly in 1946. The present retreat of glaciers all over the world cannot, therefore, be a definitive indication of global warming from CO2. 

The rise of global average temperature began around 1850 and continued at the same rate of 0.5 degrees Celsius per 100 years (~1 degree Fahrenheit per 100 years), but has recently halted, since about the year 2000, a great headache of the IPCC. Because of increasing CO2, the IPCC has predicted the temperature will actually increase by about 3 degrees C (~6  degrees F) by 2100, leading us to believe the predicted increase for 2015 should be more than 0.3 degrees C (~0.6 degrees F). NOAA/NASA recently announced, however, that the observed increase has been only 0.08 degrees C over the last 15 years. Why is the IPCC estimate so far off? Quite simply, changes in the global average temperature can be caused by natural changes, not just by increases in CO2.

In the Norwegian Sea (where good historical records exist), the edge of the sea ice also began to recede around the year 1800 and continues to recede at about the same rate of 1.3 degrees in latitude per 100 years. Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was temporarily pushed twice toward the Canadian side by great storms in 2007 and 2012, amounting to irregular changes on the slow decrease. There is also no clear indication that Fairbanks may sink in thawing permafrost, and the North Slope may become a meadow, as predicted by non-Alaskan researchers.

One of the purposes of climatology is to infer future climate changes based on studying changes in the distant past. Climate study in the Arctic is still in an early stage. Instant climatology confuses natural changes and man-made ones. Actually, the earth began to recover from the Little Ice Age in 1800.

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