“Thoughts-blowing” Claims of Report Low Antarctica Sea Ice on BBC Contradicted by Statements Made Seven Years In the past • Watts Up With That?

From the Daily Sceptic


Antarctica sea ice is at a “mind-blowing” record low winter area of 17 million square kilometres, reports a three-person BBC “News Climate & Science and Data Journalism Team”, as lower levels than those recorded in the recent past provide the cue for yet more media climate hysteria. Of course, the BBC headline is clickbait nonsense, not least because it has been generally known in scientific circles that early NASA Nimbus satellites showed even lower winter levels around 15 million sq. kms in 1966. But the BBC story does provide an excellent example of how science is twisted to fit the political narrative supporting the collectivist Net Zero agenda. Any unusual variation in weather and natural events is treated as evidence of a climate collapse requiring urgent human intervention. 

The BBC reports that according to satellite data, sea ice surrounding Antarctica is well below any previous recorded winter level. It is said to show a worrying new benchmark for a region “that once seemed resistant to global warming” — that last phrase of course is a reference to the fact that Antarctica has shown little or no warming over the last 70 years. Dr. Walter Meier, who monitors sea ice with the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Centre, helpfully added: “It’s so far outside anything we’ve seen, it almost mind-blowing.”

This would appear to be the same Dr. Walter Meier who was part of the science team that cracked open the secrets of the early Nimbus data that revealed significant Antarctica sea ice variability in the 1960s, including a high in 1964, not seen again until 2014, and the low for 1966. This is what he told NASA Earth Data in 2016:

Even in the passive microwave record [available since 1979] for the Antarctic you see these seesaws where the ice concentrations go up and down, so extreme high or extreme low are not that unusual. What the Nimbus data tell us is there’s variability in the Antarctica sea ice that’s larger than any we had seen from the passive microwave data. Nimbus helps put this in a longer term context and extends the record.

At the time, the Nimbus Data Rescue Project won awards and was highly praised for re-examining data that had been kept in store for 40 years. Meier noted that the longer term context that the Nimbus data provides is really valuable and useful for the science community. These days, Meier tells the BBC he is “not optimistic that the sea ice will recover to a significant degree”. Another member of the Nimbus recovery team has noted that the data would improve the accuracy of climate models, since predicting the past successfully can help projections going forward. Whether any of this has been taken on board is a moot point. Certainly Dr. Meier doesn’t seem to have shared his previous enthusiasm for the Nimbus data when he recently spoke to the BBC. 

What a difference just seven years makes in the climate alarm business.

As the Daily Sceptic has often noted in the past, Antarctica is a difficult place to create climate panic. Over the last seven decades there has been little or no warming over large areas of the continent. What warming there has been on the west side is directly on top of large numbers of volcanoes. According to a recent paper (by Singh and Polvani), Antarctica sea ice has “modestly expanded” and warming has been ‘”nearly non-existent” in this period. According to NASA figures, the ice loss is 0.0005% a year. Another recent paper found that ice shelves surrounding the continent grew in overall size in the years 2009-2019. As an example of how humans cause the climate to warm by burning fossil fuel, Antarctica leaves a lot to be desired.

The BBC article, co-written by the increasingly prominent green activist Georgina Rannard, is a classic mainstream media cherry-pick of one year of natural variation to support the view that the climate is somehow heading for collapse. As can be seen in this case, evidence that challenges the wild ‘scientists say’ predictions is ignored, and seemingly not considered suitable for inquiry. Dr. Caroline Holmes of the British Antarctica Survey is reported to note that when summer comes, “there’s potential for an unstoppable feedback loop of ice melting”.

“Are we awakening this giant of Antarctica?” asks Professor Martin Siegert of Exeter University. “It would be an absolute disaster for the world,” he adds in response to his meaningless first utterance. Professor Anna Hogg, who is reported to be an “Earth scientist” at the University of Leeds, opines that there are signs that what is happening to Antarctica ice sheets is in the worst case scenario range of what was predicted. Predicted by what? Almost certainly computer models using a ‘pathway’ assuming 5°C global warming in less than 80 years. That pathway, regular readers will recall, infects about half the headline-grabbing predictions now made by climate science papers, despite the International Panel on Climate Change deeming it of “low likelihood”.

So it continues – ‘settled’ science corrupting much of the scientific process while inconvenient facts and data are ignored in the interest of persuading populations that time is running out to save the boiling planet.

Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.

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