Great they’ve corrected this but the claim that scientists are sowing confusion is odd. First we have the BEST project (as you note) that claims everyone else is wrong then confirms their results, now this. It’s a transparent debating tactic to ascribe the flaws in your own argument to the other side, and I would have thought after all this time, it’s wearing a bit thin.
Maybe I was distracted at the time, but notable by its absence was any public comment from the Climate Community. Instead it was left to Scientists from the Scot Polar Research Institute to question the claims and the validity of the Greenland map.
Perhaps it served the Climate Community purpose in some way to remain silent on the issue.
The conclusion to the Kergal et.al (2011) paper includes the following:
“The publisher corrected the mistake quickly because the scientific community reacted immediately to the incorrect description of climate-related change in public media. We hope that as a result public trust in science is strengthened.”
I’m sure it has, but alas I fear the episode will have done little to improve trust in climate science, or rather the Climate Community.
Thanks for reporting “… the first edition was completely in error, and led to some rather bizarre claims about the amount of ice loss in Greenland.”
However, you do not acknowledgereiterate the direction of the error, which was to report an impossible, way overstated 15% ice loss.
An interested reader would have to follow your link to the misleadinglybrilliantly, amusingly and accurately titled Greenland Meltdown to learn that: “…, the large exaggeration of that loss rate by Harper Collins in the press release for the 2011 edition of the Times Atlas was of course completely wrong. … the confusion came most likely from a confusion in definitions of what is the permanent ice sheet, and what are glaciers, with the ‘glaciers’ being either dropped from the Atlas entirely or colored brown (instead of white) … there is simply no measure — neither thickness nor areal extent — by which Greenland can be said to have lost 15 % of its ice. “
Perhaps it served the Climate Community purpose in some way to remain silent on the issue.
The fact that no scientists actually work for the Institute of Climate Community is a dastardly plot designed to make you look silly …
You should be skeptical of skeptic denialist claims of conspiracy, and wary of making such claims yourself unless you’ve confirmed things. You know, basic things as to whether or not there’s an official “Climate Community” that is identified as such.
Ira Glickstein wrote: “you do not acknowledge the direction of the error …”
RealClimate has previously discussed “the direction of the error” in great detail.
Ira Glickstein wrote: “An interested reader would have to follow your link to the misleadingly titled Greenland Meltdown …”
First, any “interested reader” who is interested in reading anything on the Internet should follow links, and any writer of anything substantive on the Internet should provide links to relevant supporting material.
Indeed, in your capacity as a self-described “big time” guest contributor to the denialist disinformation blog WUWT, I wouldn’t be surprised if you have included links in your own articles, which you would certainly expect “interested readers” to follow.
Second, there is nothing whatsoever “misleading” about the title “Greenland Meltdown”, since the RealClimate article in question discussed “the record-breaking 2010 surface melt area in Greenland” and the fact that newly reported data shows that 2011 “was either the 3rd or 6th year in the rankings” of Greenland surface melt.
With all due respect, your attempt to suggest that RealClimate is being “misleading” about Greenland ice melt, or is somehow trying to cover up the “direction” of the Times Atlas error which RealClimate in fact helped to publicize and get corrected, is as silly as it is dishonest.
[Response: Indeed! Damned if we do, damned if we don’t, it appears.–eric]
Thanks SecularAnimist (Comment #9) for taking the time to follow the link from my name to my personal blog and, from there noticing that I am a Guest Contributor to a “big time” climate blog, which you characterize as “denialist”.
When it comes to the Atmospheric “Greenhouse Effect”, some of the commenters on that blog are “disbelievers” (the term I prefer to the non-PC “denialist”). However, the Management and Guest Contributors at WUWT accept the basic truth that CO2, water vapor, and other “greenhouse gases” are responsible for an ~33ºC boost in mean Earth temperature, that CO2 levels are rising, partly due to our use of fossil fuels, that land use has changed Earth’s albedo, and that this human actvity has caused additional warming.
Therefore, IMHO, it would be closer to the truth to call WUWT a “skeptic” site that calls into question exactly how much the mean temperature has increased since the advent of the thermometer record in the late 1880’s, how much of that is due to human activities and how much to natural cycles not under our control, what dangers rising temperatures may pose to human life and civilization, and what technologically and politically doable actions may be taken to reduce human-caused warming, and our dependence on foreign sources of fossil energy.
For evidence of the above, please have a look at my series on “Visualizing the ‘Greenhouse Effect'” (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) that was well received over there.
Oh, and by the way, I have long agreed with James Hansen that a Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax is preferable to the alternative, Cap&Trade. Hansen wrote“…In my testimony [to Congress] I noted that a “Cap” raises the price of energy, just as does a simple honest carbon tax on oil, gas and coal at the first sale at the mine or port of entry. ‘Cap’ is a pseudonym, disguising the fact that it is a tax, assuming that the public is a bunch of dummies, who will never catch on. With all its hooks and eyes, Cap&Trade will allow a lot of funny business. …”
Why not engage in a rational discussion of the valid scientific, technological, and political issues that separate well-informed and ethically motivated people on both sides of these issues.
Comment #7 reminds me of an episode of “Seinfeld” in which Elaine broke up with her boyfriend because he neglected to put an exclamation point at the end of a phone message that he had written down for her.
“However, the Management and Guest Contributors at WUWT accept the basic truth that CO2, water vapor, and other “greenhouse gases” are responsible for an ~33ºC boost in mean Earth temperature, that CO2 levels are rising, partly due to our use of fossil fuels, that land use has changed Earth’s albedo, and that this human actvity has caused additional warming.”
#12–Good to know–but I guess it refers to ‘present company only’, as I certainly recall some bygone posts that appeared quite, uh, “incongruent” with this description.
I also note that the description does not affirm that current temperatures are rising. That, to me, would seem pretty well-established, what with the canonical 5 datasets–already replicated at CCC and by a good number of other folks, many of them ‘outsiders’ presumably immune to ‘groupthink’–now being validated again by the BEST project.
Perhaps the absence of such was an oversight–or is the validity of the satellite/instrumental record, too, going to be ‘a matter of degree,’ so to speak?
Ira Glickstein wrote: “Why not engage in a rational discussion of the valid scientific, technological, and political issues that separate well-informed and ethically motivated people on both sides of these issues.”
Such a “rational” discussion would not include false and offensive insinuations that RealClimate did “not acknowledge the direction of the error” in the Times Atlas map and that RealClimate’s article on the melting of Greenland ice was “misleading”.
On the other hand, such baseless conspiracy theories are a standard part of the irrational discussions that are the stock in trade of the denialist disinformation site WUWT.
I absolutely and unequivocally reject your characterization of WUWT as a “skeptic” site. There is nothing “skeptical” about rejecting the overwhelming scientific evidence of ongoing, dangerous anthropogenic global warming while perpetrating and promoting falsehoods, distortions, sophistry and conspiracy theories, which is what WUWT is all about.
The proper term for WUWT is “denier” or “denialist”. And for the record, the implicit allusion to Holocaust denial is entirely intentional on my part.
[Response: ]Please don’t give fodder to the idiots that think they get called ‘deniers’ because of some relationship to Holocaust denial. That’s inflammatory and in any case ridiculous. People get called deniers because they are denying something, plain and simple. It’s a word, that’s it.–eric
Ira Glickstein, By all means civil discussion is to be preferred, but I would suggest that automatically assuming bad faith of your hosts here at RC, when they had in fact previously discussed exactly what you were complaining about is not the best way to start a civil discussion.
I am also all for predicating such a discussion on accepted science. The existence of the greenhouse is certainly a bare minimum–as not just its existence but also its magnitude have been known for over 100 years.
Kevin has pointed out abovethat we have several independent datasets that all show consistent warming trends. I would think that, too, ought to be hard to deny.
I would also add the determination of CO2 sensitivity via several independent lines of evidence–all of which, amazingly, favor a value around 3 degrees per doubling.
I find it somewhat difficult to understand how one can contend that somehow the greenhouse effect ends when CO2 concentration reaches 280 ppmv.
The later comments on this post seem to be moving away from the topic and discussing the demerits or otherwise of WUWT. There has been a lot of comment all over the internet that climate scientists have deviated from the way science should be conducted. It is beyond dispute that Real Climate commented that the extent of Greenland ice depicted in the Times Atlas was incorrect. This follow up comment here from Real Climate is exactly what one would expect from the scientific community as is the process that has lead to the correction by Harper Collins. I cannot see any grounds for criticism whatsoever
Brian Blagden. I suggest that you scrutinize every article on convective transport, radiative transfer, infrared spectroscopy, and cloud formation written in the last forty years. I expect you may, if you’re diligent enough, find errors. If such an error is not denounced by glaciologists from the Scott Polar Institute, that will prove your theory. I personally don’t believe that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s plays: they were written by someone else with the same name. Must rush-time to take my meds!
Is there a map of Greenland with all or most of the ice melted, and the sealevel risen under a extreme warming scenario, say, some 1000 or 2000 years from now if extreme warming takes hold. Or could someone do such a map. I read somewhere that Greenland would look more like an atoll of islands, or a ring with a huge lake in the middle. But what do I know. I can’t even remember where I read that.
[Response: I don’t have a quick source of that online, but the last National Geographic atlas I saw shows just that — it is in their ocean bathymetry section. Of course, the ‘lake’ is largely because the land below the ice sheet is below sea level because of the weight of ice pushing it down. Some 6000 to 10000 years after the ice sheet is gone, that land will have rebounded to be above sea level.–eric]
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 9 Nov 2011 @ 11:00 PM
Thanks Moderator Eric for your Response re SecularAnimist (#16).
Ray Ladbury (#17), I did not assume bad faith on the part of RealClimate from the lack of mention of the direction of the error in the body of this posting. It was most likely unintentional because those of us who have followed this issue knew which way the original error cut. The linked item is very clear that the error exagerated the amount of warming. However, not all would know, and at least one reader was mislead – comment #1 seems to have assumed Harper Collins, owned by a right-wing guy, purposely made the original error in a direction that would weaken the warming argument. (And Moderator Eric properly cautioned against personal attacks.)
As for sensitivity for CO2 doubling, the IPCC gives a range of 2ºC to 4.5ºC, so your 3ºC is about their average, and that range depends upon net cloud feedback being positive. Other competent scientists have argued for a lower sensitivity, perhaps 1ºC or even less, based on clouds being net neutral or even a net negative feedback.
We all agree that CO2 levels have gone up rapidly and nearly linearly in the several decades since Mauna Loa data came available. Yet, despite the steady rise in CO2 over the past decade, there has been no statistically significant mean warming. That is an argument for a bit of cooling due to natural cycles overcoming most of the warming effects of rapidly rising CO2. That is evidence for lower CO2 sensitivity estimates.
I know of no one who claims the effect of CO2 ends at 280 or 390 ppmv. However, everyone agrees the effect is logarithmic, which is why CO2 sensitivity is based on doubling. All else being equal, going from 200 to 400 will cause about the same amount of warming as 300 to 600, 400 to 800, etc. So, the effect of each additional 100 ppmv will be less and less, but will never end entirely. And, of course, all else is never equal. The Ice Core data report natural (pre-human) cycles of temperature and CO2 that go way above and below anything experienced in human history prior to or during the industrial age.
[Response: This belongs in the open thread as it is way off topic here. F.Y.I., this statement: “there has been no statistically significant mean warming” is simply false. For one of about 1000 write-ups on why, you might read e.g. here (worth reading for the science — ignore the personal stuff).–eric]
As for public comment I would have hoped for a press statement from one or more of these at the same time as, or before, that from the international glaciological research community.
The timing of news releases may be as simple and innocent as the details of how people within the organization communicate, who has the authority to respond, who needs to agree to the statement and who is on leave at the time, nothing sinister at all.
[Response: All. This is a silly argument. The idea that every time some publisher makes a scientific mistake, every scientific society on the planet is supposed to issue a ‘news release’ is just plain silly. We’d have news releases happening every 15 minutes.–eric]
Comment by Richard Simons — 10 Nov 2011 @ 12:25 PM
> the effect is logarithmic
The effect isn’t solely from CO2
You may be confused from reading Archer’s WUWT stuff
Ira Glickstein wrote: “despite the steady rise in CO2 over the past decade, there has been no statistically significant mean warming”
Ira Glickstein wrote: “That is an argument for a bit of cooling due to natural cycles”
Moderators, I nominate this person’s regurgitation of long-since and many-times-over debunked talking points for consignment to the Bore Hole.
[Response: Hang on. This isn’t ALL wrong. the fact that temperature does not rise precisely in lock step with ln(CO2) is indeed due in part natural variability (thought not ‘cycles’ sense strictu). Still, I agree with you. This is old tired ground…–eric]
Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Nov 2011 @ 12:56 PM
Eric you said: [Response: All. This is a silly argument. The idea that every time some publisher makes a scientific mistake, every scientific society on the planet is supposed to issue a ‘news release’ is just plain silly. We’d have news releases happening every 15 minutes.–eric]
To suggest this is indeed ‘plain silly’… Luckily that is not what I was suggesting.
Your post discusses the proposed correction to the Times Atlas that has resulted from the actions of the international glaciological research community – which you correctly applaud and hold up as a model for all scientists – “Of course, many scientists can do more, and we encourage all of our colleagues to speak publically about their research and, as the international glaciological research community did in this case, to try to correct misconceptions.”
Given that despite previous discussion/papers/guidance and / or Press releases by one or more of CRU, Met Office Hadley Centre, Tyndal Centre, UVA Climatology centre, GISS, etc. etc. about the likely effects of Climate Change on the Greenland Ice sheet, and the impact of ice melt on sea level rise, not one of those bodies would appear to have questioned why the sea level rise, that should have resulted from the claimed 15% ice loss, had not materialised.
Clearly the 15% ice loss figure sounded alarm bells at the Scott Polar Research Institute and this precipitated their action and resulting amendment to the Atlas.
The lack of a recorded 1.3m rise in Sea Level since 1999 should similarly have raised concerns among climate scientists that the claims being made by the publishers of the Times Atlas were clearly erroneous.
All I am suggesting therefore is that perhaps climate scientists (who were as well placed as the glaciologists to spot the error) should have tried to correct any misconceptions in a similar manner to their glaciological research colleagues.
[… F.Y.I., this statement: “there has been no statistically significant mean warming” is simply false. For one of about 1000 write-ups on why, you might read e.g. here (worth reading for the science — ignore the personal stuff).–eric]
Thanks for the link, I read it through. There seems to be an equal statistical chance (at the 2 sigma level) that the past decade may have seen a +0.36ºC rise or a -0.23ºC drop in mean temperature. So the actual change is 0.03ºC +/- 0.26ºC. In other words, slightly more likely there was a bit of warming, but possible the warming was greater or that there was actually cooling.
I did not claim warming had stopped, but only that the rise (or drop) is not statistically significant over the past decade.
Where I come from (a multi-decade career as a System Engineer for IBM and Lockheed-Martin and a PhD in System Science) “statistically significant” means a chance of error of 5% or less. In other words, it is statistically significant if there is less than a 1 in 20 chance of being wrong. Using that accepted scientific (and engineering) definition of “statistically significant”, the original statement stands. Indeed, Phil Jones [edit — cut out the offensive stuff, please] said as much in this well-publicized BBC interview.
[Response: You are entirely missing the point. Climate variability is not small. That means that the chance of a ‘not statistically significant warming’ in any given short period is high. That has very little bearing on whether there is greenhouse-gas-induced warming. This is why climatologists use long time periods — 30 years preferably — to discriminate the forced response from the noise.–eric]
Er..no. I also doubt the Scott Polar Research Institute proof read the “freakin’Times Atlas” either. Believe it or not there was a Press release by HarperCollins on the 15 September (or there abouts)that was picked up by many a News outlet.
Methinks you are confusing volume loss with area loss.
15% volume loss != 15% area loss (at the perimeter mind you)
The map error was about areas at the perimeter of the Greenland ice sheet.
Those MET office links you posted are specifically discussing total volume loss, over the entire Greenland ice sheet.
So unless the perimeter of the Greenland ice sheet is the exact same thickness as the entire ice sheet (say 3 km on average), an area loss there, of 15%, will produce a much smaller % volume loss, than say if this area loss were smack dab in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet.
Please remember that the major mapping error was between the 0.5 km contour and the 0 km bounding contour.