Ice melt underestimate reported in Nature doi:10.1038/nature10847 published online 8 February 2012 and The Guardian 8 February 2012.

Scientists in Boulder Colorado have used data from a NASA satellite project named GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) to calculate how much the world’s glaciers and ice caps are melting. They calculated that from January 2003 to December 2010 the Glaciers and Ice Caps (GIC) lost mass at a rate of 148 ± 30 Gigatons per year.

According to the research team: “The GIC rate for 2003–2010 is about 30 per cent smaller than the previous mass balance estimate that most closely matches our study period. The high mountains of Asia, in particular, show a mass loss of only 4 ± 20 Gt per yr for 2003–2010, compared with 47–55Gt per yr in previously published estimates”.

Jonathan Bamber, a glaciologist at Bristol University, who was not part of the research team, commented: “The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero”.


Editorial Comment: The “very unexpected results” of this current study i.e. lack of melting of the glaciers of “high mountains of Asia” (Himalayas), which have been the centre of much controversy in the climate debate, follows from the IPCC prediction these glaciers would all have melted by 2035. The IPCC later admitted this was an error, but it left a strong impression in the minds of politicians, journalists and other promoters of man-made global warming that the glaciers were in danger of disappearing.

However, the results should not be all that surprising because the warming that certainly occurred in the latter half of the twentieth century has ceased, and the world has not warmed for over a decade, which included the period of this study.

This study is a good example of the difference between actual data, as provided by the GRACE satellites, and computer models as used by the IPCC. Computer models can be very useful, but they are only as good as the data fed into them. When new technology enables more and better data to be collected, and that data disagrees with the models, it is the models that have to be thrown out.

Evidence News 16 February 2012

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