An Honest Report On Arctic Ice Melt-Just the Facts


I posted the other day all about the Volcano Under the North Pole. The story had been out for some time but word started getting spread on June 27. On that same day came the headline “This Summer We May See the First Ice-Free North Pole” from the Associated Press. The story is based on a report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. That report came out on June 3, yet the Associated Press waited to report on it until June 27. Makes you say…hmmmmm. The first sentence in the article quotes a leading scientist with his guess that there is a 50-50 chance that the North Pole becomes ice-free this summer. Later, you find that it says slightly less than 50-50 chance. Let’s don’t let a little adverb get in the way of a catchy first sentence. Later, you find a leading scientist who puts the odds at 1 in 4. Why wasn’t he the first guy mentioned? Why was he buried in the story? Why wasn’t that the headline? BTW…the 50-50 stuff isn’t found in the NSIDC report either…only the AP story.

You also won’t find this quote from the real report in the story : “This year, much of the first-year ice is farther north than normal, and those northern areas receive weaker solar radiation. So, northern first-year ice may be less vulnerable to melt than first-year ice in typical locations” Nor will you find in the story that the report says that in May 2008 there was actually more polar ice than May 2007. The report does say that there appears to be a more rapid ice melt going on. What you do find in the AP story though is the paraphrase from a scientist that there is nothing scientifically significant about the North Pole…that the  biggest problem appears to be concern about Santa’s home. Huh? If that’s the case, then why is this a story? That sentence deserves more examination and questions, but the writer chose not to, I guess. Maybe he was afraid of the answers. Or maybe he wants to scare the kids.

The story about the Arctic Undersea Volcano was first reported by the National Science Foundation in 2004. I cited several other sources that have come out since then. Yet…you won’t find any mention of the volcano in the AP Story. Guess the reporter didn’t know about it…or maybe he didn’t do his homework. ..or maybe he did know about it and decided to leave it out of the story.  It just clutters things up, right?  But, to be fair, that the report doesn’t talk about the volcanic activity is perhaps justification.  But, a question as to why the report doesn’t mention the vulcanology going on seems vital…that is if you want the whole story.   If you read the report that is the supposed underlying source of the story, you will find other things that are just a wee bit different than what the AP writer wrote and other things left out all together.

The trouble with journalism today is that there are not any Joe Fridays out there…people who want just the facts. They jazz things up, leave out adverbs, neglect to report the entire story and put eye-catching headlines.

It’s not the NSIDC report that I have a problem with. I mean, it is what it is…the ice is melting. I would be curious though about their opinion regarding the undersea volcano and how much of a factor that may be. But, it’s the writer’s story that is problematic. In my view, either this person is not very bright or qualified to be reporting this story or he is just plain pushing an agenda instead of reporting the facts, all the facts and nothing but the facts. In this case he thinks that 50-50 is the same as slightly less than 50-50. Which is it? He’ ll probably never tell.

Here is the real report and see if you don’t see a difference between it and the AP story.

National Snow and Ice Center News and Analysis

“This summer may see first ice-free North Pole”


12 Responses

  1. According to skeptic Bob Krumm (,
    an area the 110% the size of Massachusetts could be melted by a Vesuvius size eruption, if all the heat went into melting the ice, This represents 0.7% of the area of Arctic ice that melted during 2007, so even by this analysis the volcano can’t be responsible.

    In 2001, the volcano at 85E was still erupting explosively, although in a less vigorous mode (Schlindwein et al., GRL, 2005). The associated event plume in the water column is well surveyed and described in Edmonds et al. (Nature 2003). That plume of relatively “warm” water – temperature anomaly less than 1/10 degree – reaches a minimum water depth of about 1700 m, its center being around 2500 m water depth. These data make it very evident that the sea ice is not influenced by the heat released from the ongoing eruption.
    According to Peter Winsor of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the 1999 event was still visible in CTD profiles [a sequence of measurements of water conductivity, temperature, depth] in 2007 along the Gakkel Ridge as a thin layer (50-200 m thick) with slightly warmer temperatures (~0.01 – 0.001 C warmer). The layer is at about 2600 m depth, some 600-800 m off the sea floor and has some particles in it (just barely detectable).

    The real science makes the idea that volcanoes are responsible for Arctic melting laughable.

  2. Brian, thank you for the report. As you can tell, my biggest problem was with the reporting. In that spirit, it strikes me as odd that the press didn’t trumpet this finding as they trumpet other things and then afterward look for the facts. The problem I had was why the reporter didn’t ask the experts about the event. The only issue with the report itself was that they made no mention of the volcano and it’s affects. In my view, they probably should have mentioned its existance and, if what you report is concurrent with their findings, then they should have said its not significant.

    I would caution you though from saying something is “laughable”. Often journalists or researchers or historians will operate from a standpoint of making a hypothesis and then setting out to prove or disprove it. In this case, it would be hopeful that your researchers went out and tried to find out the effects without hypothesizing. Human nature dictates that if you start out with an hypothesis, you are more likely to look for or only accept data that supports your initial idea so that you can prove that you were right. No one likes to be proved wrong, even if they are by themselves. Without knowing the background of agenda(if any) of the researchers, I think it is questionable to hook your wagon to one in itself. I have found that most people who are publishing these days are operating from a definite bias one way or the other.

  3. Woops, 99.7% NOT due to volcanic eruption; only 0.3%, not 0.7%, due to eruption in the wildestly most optimistic analysis.

  4. Brian, I just checked the Woods Hole outfit and found this story dated June 26, 2008. It was last updated on July 2. It tells about the volcano and talks about the unusual circumstance. I fail to see where it makes any assessment at all regarding the effects on the ice.

    Further, if you read my posts, this is the type of thing I am talking about. Absolutes. Calling other people names or using terms like “laughable”. That tends to make me conclude the author is smug, to be kind. Until recently, it was unknown that this thing even existed and most experts probably thought it was not possible. Yet, it is there. Until recently, hydrocarbons could not be formed from minerals…essentially the building blocks of life from lifelessness…yet, now it’s there.

    I doubt if there has been enough time to do any type of full study on the subject, unless you have an agenda to push…get enough data simply to support your position and then quash anything else and end the debate. Hiding facts also makes me suspicious. The fact that Mr. Gore left this little fact of a volcano under the north pole out of his movie makes me suspicious. The fact that the AP reporter neglected to say a word, alter the wording of his sources, not ask the sources about the volcanic activity and bury other experts’ opinions makes me suspicious. And, as I pointed out, the timing of the announcement that the ice is melting just happening to come out at the same time as that of the volcano is curious. I suspect one side was trying to quash the other and since the national press only reported the melting guesses and not the volcano story tends to make me think it was the melters trying to drown out the vulcanologists.

    Speaking in absolutes about things that we know very little about is a trait of human arrogance, something we Americans have exported over the years. Not recognizing the limitations of man is foolish. Trying to end debate is not only un-American, it also smacks of elitism and totalitarianism akin to that of the Stalinists. Those who wish to stop debate typically have something to hide. Otherwise, the debate would matter little because any truth that came out would support their position…unless it’s the truth that they are afraid of.

    I’m not taking a side here because i don’t know. But, I am saying that we need to be truth seekers, not agenda and propaganda pushers.

  5. North Pole camera’s showing melting.
    Not sure what to make of it.

    One factor in the following images is that the North Pole camera has drifted away from the North Pole, possibly about 330 miles if one degree = 66 miles (someone please check it). Assuming the drift is roughtly constant as shown by , the drift is about 40 miles for the images below, so, pretty much the same spot.

    North pole web cam June 20th 2008, shows ice all around

    North pole web cam June 23rd 2008, could be rain on camera lens

    June 25th, ice in front of camera melting

    June 27th, further melted after more rain?

    July 3rd, fully melted in front of the camera, rain on the lens, ice further out looking more melted

    Also, Arctic sea-ice monitor

    Have interpretation fun.

  6. Bob Krumm is a skeptic, who is seeking the truth. He hadn’t gone far enough in his analysis, as I’ve pointed out. When self appointed “experts” like Rush Limbaugh and his ilk to cite scientific reports of volcanic eruptions under the ice (which, as symonsezwlky noted, make no comment on the effects on th ice) as evidence that it’s not global warming melting the arctic with pontifications that (climatological) “scientists are skating on thin ice” I find it laughable. I’m retired, widowed, childless, and well enough off that I’m not worried about the impact that floods in the midwest or drought in the southeast will have on me personally. People who can’t afford $4 or $8 a gallon gasoline, or $3 or $6 loaves of bread, or who find themselves bankrupted by the effects of global warming (“climate change”, coming soon to a planet under you – a new, improved, climate!), or people who have children or grandchildren whose futures they worry about might not find it (or my sarcasm) so amusing.

  7. I would agree. I think Mr. Limbaugh’s absolute declarations regarding environmental issues are ill-advised and most probably at least partially wrong and perhaps later may be found to be totally wrong. He seems to think that human activity does nothing and we should do nothing. I for one think that we have a moral and pragmatic responsibility to be good stewards. However, I do not think one can link $4 or 8$ gasoline and high food prices on global warming, except to the extent that the mandate of using corn to make fuel has driven the price up and is extremely inefficient but is a good political billboard to gain votes.

    My biggest question is why the main focus and effort is not on clean water. We are definitely, no bones about it, poisoning the water, the very essence of our physical make up. Yet, efforts are put elsewhere.

    I’m finding as a I go along here that people from both sides tend to exaggerate data and claims and also omit any facts that may bring into question their side’s position. This should not be about one side or another. It should be about accurate assessment, though I’m not sure that is possible in the political discourse, which I may add really goes back to about 1788. It’s not new.

  8. I dun red all them fanci wurds wut u dun spoke. U must have bin thinkin that U’s sum sort uv smarty pants and wut not. But u ain’t never have been to wear I is livin in narth Arkansas so don’t be assumin nuthin lessn u wunt two git yer yankee clock cleened with my east dixie fist. And remember that cuz it’s tru! Cuz ain’t no gators dun walked throo my bak yard without askin no permishin from old Lavar. An that ain’t just a saying cuz its a fact two for I sed so!

  9. Date: 1-23-09
    Today I searched Google and other sources you mentioned above to find ‘current ocean temp in Artic’ but it must be the worlds best kept secret? I know they monitor such things 24/7/365, but i came up empty. Can you please direct me to the proper website/org?

  10. The NSIDC puts out a monthly newsletter and has other data. It seems to me to be somewhat even handed and it’s interesting to me how what they say in their reports differs in the way it is presented by the media. It either stands for National Sea Ice Data Center or National Snow and Ice Data Center

  11. I had heard that the polar ice was melting and that maybe there were volcanos, but I want to know that if this is so, then the polar bears should be relocated to the Antarctica, where they will become Bi-polar bears. Just a thought.

  12. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I would respond by quoting US Grant: “Man proposes, God Disposes”

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