Ice Capades – New Iceberg Not What It is “Cracked Up” To Be

Steve Goddard
Watts Up With That?
Aug 14, 2010

Readers will surely recall when WUWT was the first climate news outlet to publish this story:

Oh no! Greenland glacier calves island 4 times the size of Manhattan

In it, an admonition: “Watch the media now as this story is only about an hour old.” So far the media (and foot in mouth politicians) haven’t disappointed in their zeal to make this “business as usual” for a glacier into a poster child.
Ice Capades – New Iceberg Not What It is “Cracked Up” To Be

Image from The Arc

Professor Andreas Muenchow became a media celebrity this week with his quote about an iceberg in Greenland being “four times the size of Manhattan.” This iceberg has become a poster child for global warming, even though a much larger one broke off the same glacier 50 years ago.

From the Kansas City Star

Researchers last week spotted a 100-square-mile chunk of ice that calved off from the great Petermann Glacier in Greenland’s far northwest. It was the most massive ice island to break away in the Arctic in a half-century of observation. The huge iceberg appeared just five months after an international scientific team published a report saying ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet is expanding up its northwest coast from the south. Changes in the ice sheet “are happening fast, and we are definitely losing more ice mass than we had anticipated,” said NASA’s Isabella Velicogna.

Others took the misinformation one step further:

In what he calls ‘a manifestation of warming’, Dr Richard Bates who helps monitor the Greenland ice said he was ‘amazed’ to see such a huge area of ice break off the Petermann glacier. Reported in the Telegraph a team from the University of St Andrews said that a huge 106 square mile chunk of ice had broken away at the start of August. This is the largest ever seen to come from Greenland. The US National Ice Center has named the iceberg the ‘Petermann Ice Island’. They also report that the Petermann glacier, which is located in North West Greenland to the East of the Nares Strait and one of the largest in the Northern hemisphere, hasretreated back to a level not observed since 1962.

What the press is not widely reporting is that Professor Muenchow also said :

years of data on the glacier itself show that after this month’s event, the mass of ice is still, on average, discharging about the same amount of water it usually does – some 600 million cubic meters a year, or about 220,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. “Even a big piece like this over 50 years is not that significant.  It’s just the normal rate,” he said. Muenchow warns people not to jump to conclusions. “An event like this, this specific event, all flags go immediately up, ‘Oh, let’s explain this by global warming.’ I cannot support that,” he said.

So what we know is that the glacier is where it was 50 years ago, a bigger chunk broke off 50 years ago, and the rate of ice moving to the sea has not changed. There is absolutely no story here. Our warming friends get more desperate by the day. It is pathetic.