Russia’s Northern Shores

Regular readers will have realised by now that we’ve been pestering the Mail and The Telegraph with telephone calls and emails for weeks now. That’s because, as The Economist put it last weekend:

There are climate facts—and facts are stubborn things.

Both The Mail and The Telegraph have now corrected a couple of the gross inaccuracies they printed (virtually and/or physically) on September 8th, but many more remain. One of those is the identical phrase in both articles saying:

An unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores.

The fact of the matter is that this statement is untrue. I’ve recently received a couple of letters about this from “The Daily Telegraph” signed by “Robert Winnett, Head of News”. Here’s an extract from the first one:

Them:

Reputable evidence exists to show an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shore.  This can be seen on the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s website [in the article] “A Real Hole Near the North Pole“.  The site states that the average ice extent for August 2013 was 6.09 million square kilometres, which is more than half the size of Europe.

Us:

Have I got news for you Robert!  If you’d read any of the articles on here, or watched any of the videos I linked to in my emails, that wasn’t the “fact” I was quibbling about. The fact is that the Arctic “ice sheet” was not “unbroken” and did not “stretch… to Russia’s northern shore” on September 8th 2013 and for considerable periods of time both before and after that date. Here’s an extract from The Telegraph’s second letter:

Them:

In reply to your enquiry, the Telegraph’s policy is to correct clear inaccuracies once we are alerted to them – and in appropriate cases update articles on our website.

Us:

I thought I’d already made this perfectly plain, but evidently not, so here’s yet another alert about clear inaccuracies in the “reporting” of climate science in The Telegraph:

9 thoughts on “Russia’s Northern Shores

  1. I don’t give a crap if the ice sheet is unbroken or not or if it isn’t a million years old or if it stretches to the moon or if someone lied about it or that it isn’t 500 miles thick and neither does anyone else, what I and everyone else wants to know is; Is there more ice in the arctic now than there was last year…period! Well, Is there?

  2. Hi Ron,

    I’m not sure that you’re in a position to speak for everyone else. You certainly don’t speak for me, since as you’ve no doubt gathered I do concern myself with questions such as whether “someone lied about it”.

    The answer to your question is unfortunately non-trivial. How do you define “more ice” for example? Your non-functional link suggests you have heard of PIOMAS. Are you happy to accept an estimate provided by a computer model as a definitive answer? If so you’ll have to wait, since at the moment the PIOMAS numbers for September and October are unavailable due to the US Government “shutdown”. However here’s their latest chart of Arctic sea ice volume, which shows that using that measure there was “more ice in the Arctic” in August “than there was last year”:

    1. Tom, Now that wasn’t hard to say was it, most of the time the truth isn’t. I do have some comments to about your reply. First your liberal side is showing about why PIOMAS is not up to date on there site, it is not because of the government shutdown, which I am surprise you didn’t just come right out and blame the Republicans for doing it, it is because PIOMAS says, “I apologize yet again for having been so inactive on the blog. I’m the kind of person who shuts off certain activities when being too busy with momentarily higher-priority stuff, but with the exterior of our house now nearing completion…”. And to your apparent hypothetical question of “Are you happy to accept an estimate provided by a computer model as a definitive answer?” To which model are you referring to, the one that said that we were going to have an above hurricane season this year or the one that said that we were going to have an above tornado season or the one that says that there it would be ice free in the arctic this year or the ones that can’t explain why no increase in temperatures. To answer your question, NO, I would not accept any modeling, because none of them work. The scientific community is doing their modeling on the SWAG method of modeling and sorry that doesn’t work for me. And one last thing, when I said that “everyone wants to know” that was a hyperbole, kind of like most of the GW modeling I have seen!!

      And here is your link….http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/08/piomas-august-2013.html

  3. What’s my supposed “liberal side” got to do with anything? If you had clicked my link you would have seen this:

    I was of course referring to the PIOMAS model. If you “would not accept any modeling” why accept that one?

    Your link isn’t to the PIOMAS web site, it’s to commentary about it on the Arctic Sea Ice Blog.

  4. Tom, Thanks for your reply, you are right about the link I gave you, but that is what I bookmarked that takes me to PIOMAS. I did not say that I accept any model, I just ask a simple question, is there more ice now than last year, that does not take a model to answer, it is observable and measurable. And you are right again about reading your article I would have seen my answer that you had already given. But to your question about “What’s my supposed “liberal side” got to do with anything?” that was in reference to the reason for PIOMAS not up to date. If you were a conservative I guarantee you that you would not have made that mistake.

  5. I made no mistake. The Polar Science Center “Arctic Sea Ice Volume Anomaly” page currently states:

    September Update Delayed: Required data not available due to US Government shutdown.

    You have made a mistake though. Arctic sea ice volume is not directly “observable and measurable”. As the same web page puts it:

    Arctic sea ice volume cannot currently be observed continuously. Observations from satellites, Navy submarines, moorings, and field measurements are all limited in space and time. The assimilation of observations into numerical models currently provides one way of estimating sea ice volume changes on a continuous basis.

  6. Jim, First I would like to apologize for calling you Tom, don’t know where that came from. And again you are right about the shutdown restricting the information, but in my defense we were talking about PIOMAS’s reasons for not having the site up to date and as I have given you his reasons they do not have anything to do with the shutdown, he is simply fixing his house at the present time. And I would also like to apologize to you for calling you a liberal, that is if you took offense to being called a liberal. But as for not being able to observe what the arctic ice is doing, your entire video is about observing what the ice is doing and if it is continuous or not. And if it is not observable nor measurable, why do the GW scientists say it is or was disappearing, it has to be measurable and observable or it would be just more guessing. I don’t think any one is expecting people to continuously observe the ice day and night, that wouldn’t make any sense. People just want to know is there more ice or less ice than last year and you have already answered that.

  7. Fortunately I don’t easily take offence Ron.

    As you say, the video above is about (amongst other things) observing the sea ice in the Arctic through a wide variety of publicly accessible methods. Should any member of the public choose to so do, they will quickly discover that Larry Bell is telling fibs about the sea ice in the Arctic. He says in Forbes that:

    Arctic sea ice fluctuates normally. After declining during the 1978-1998 period, it expanded by 60% in 2013.

    The first sentence is accurate. As we have discussed here at length, the second is not. Whatever measure you use, and however you choose to average out those “normal fluctuations”, the trend in the “amount” of Arctic sea ice is down.

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