Ken Ham’s been bumping his gums again. And once again, both his ignorance and dishonesty have been put out there for everyone to see. This time he has climate change in his sights, focusing on Antarctica and a new report that claims it isn’t losing ice.
But this time, he’s stepped across the line from ridiculous eccentric to dangerous lunatic.
Why dangerous? Simple, because there are ignorant people out there who hang on to his every word and treat them as gospel.
You can read his full blog post here, so that nobody can accuse me of cherry-picking when I select a few quotes.
I had to chuckle when I saw this headline: “New study finds Antarctic ice growing, countering earlier studies.” This is very different from headlines a few years ago that were spreading alarm about melting sea ice in Antarctica causing sea levels to rise!
I followed the link to the news report and discovered it was a headline on the Fox News website… Which set the alarm bells off in my head virtually instantly.
Climate change ideas are constantly changing (just like our climate!), as the switch from using the term “global warming” to “climate change” itself shows. Climate change alarmist scientists failed to include all the parameters when they declared that Antarctic ice melting was causing sea levels to rise—this new study shows that it’s not.
The report in question was authored by a man named Jay Zwally, a glaciologist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre.
Ken goes on to say:
“… earlier models only looked at the increase in ice calving from the glaciers and entering the sea in the Antarctic Peninsula and parts of West Antarctica. They had failed to include the thickening of the ice sheets in East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica. This thickening is due to increased snowfall which fell, according to the researchers, about 10,000 years ago…”
“… Researchers estimate this to be a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001 and 82 billion tons from 2002 to 2008. This ice gain was found to exceed the losses of ice falling into the sea at the continental margins. It was also determined that Antarctica is not contributing to global sea level rise.”
Ken’s explanation of a subject he clearly knows nothing about is a mish-mash of poor science and creationist nonsense.
“Climates do change, but when we start with a biblical picture of Earth’s history, we reach an entirely different conclusion about the nature and severity of this change. God created a perfect climate that was upset at the time of the catastrophic global Flood of Noah’s day. This Flood was followed shortly by the Ice Age and then a transitional climate that has led up to the climate we have today. Yes, climates change, but that shouldn’t surprise us.”
And exactly what does Ken base his conclusions on? Apart from a dubious report of limited support by the majority of climateologists, that is…
We can be confident in knowing that our climate was designed by an all-knowing God who has promised,
While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)
Sadly this is what happens when you only read one book.
We can discount the biblical nonsense that Ken Ham spouts, I’m sure we all agree on that, but the report written by a NASA scientist deserves a closer look. Especially as it reaches the conclusion that Antarctica is actually gaining ice, rather than losing it.
A closer look shows a catalogue of errors and examples of poor science. But before I share them with you, allow me to make a few things clear.
The North Pole is covered by floating pack ice (sea ice) over the Arctic Ocean. Portions of the ice that do not melt seasonally can get very thick, up to 3–4 meters thick over large areas, with ridges up to 20 meters thick. One-year ice is usually about 1 meter thick. The area covered by sea ice ranges between 9 and 12 million km2.
In addition, the Greenland ice sheet covers about 1.71 million km2 and contains about 2.6 million km3 of ice. When the ice breaks off (calves) it forms icebergs scattered around the northern Atlantic.
The Arctic icecap is losing ice due to climate change. That is proven. And if it disappears completely, which is entirely within the bounds of possibility, then the sea level would rise by about 0.6 metres. Should climate change cause Greenland’s ice sheet to melt as well, then sea level would rise by about 6 metres.
This might not sound like much, but take into account tidal forces and of course the effect on large coastal population centres and we are looking at a serious problem.
Antarctica, is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet. It covers an area of about 14.6 million km2 and contains between 25 and 30 million km3 of ice. Around 85% of the fresh water on Earth is contained in this ice sheet.
If Antarctica were to lose all of its ice, then the seas would rise by somewhere in the region of 60 metres. So you can see that it’s vitally important we get it right with this one.
If you wish to see an interactive map that shows the changes to the world’s coastlines, should the sea level rise by 60 metres, click here. It can even show you which cities will be submerged.
Bear in mind that the summer/winter temperature in the Arctic is 0°C/-40°C, but in Antarctica the summer/winter temperature range is -28°C/-60°C.
You may think that, because the ice sheet on Antarctica weighs in the region of 27 million billion tons, reaches a depth of 4,00 metres thick in places, and is a great deal colder than the Arctic, we have little to worry about. But this isn’t the case. Especially when you consider that Antarctica contains 85% of the world’s fresh water.
In 2016, it is expected that the Earth’s mean surface temperature will have risen by 1%, from the 2015 measurement of 15.8°C to 16.8°C. Should the temperature rise another 1°C over this then it will be – if not impossible – then at least very difficult to stop global warming from spiralling out of control.
And that’s when we kiss goodbye to the polar icecaps completely.
One issue is that, as the Arctic loses ice, the process speeds up. Ice reflects 90% of the sunlight it receives back into space, helping keep the planet’s average temperature fairly stable. But sea water absorbs it and heats up, thereby melting the ice from below and causing the rate of loss of ice to increase exponentially.
Many parts of the Arctic Ice shelf and those of Greenland too, are now disintegrating and allowing pools to appear. Each one playing its own part in chipping away at the ice.
There is even an area the size of Greenland on Antarctica that is experiencing similar sorts of issues, albeit on a smaller scale. But as the northern hemisphere accelerates climate change, then the problems in the southern hemisphere can only accelerate as well.
I have only touched on the the explanation for my worry about the dangers of climate change, for a more complete explanation I urge you to watch An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary presented by Al Gore. Whatever you think of his politics, you cannot ignore the science.
Okay, so back to the report.
You can read NASA’s summary of the report here, but what it says in a nutshell is that Antarctica is not losing ice, instead it is experiencing a net gain.
“…an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.”
“According to the new analysis of satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.”
“The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away,” Zwally said. “But this is also bad news. If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for.”
However, there are issues to be addressed. For one thing, this ‘new’ report is based on data gathered up to 2008, whereas ‘old’ studies use data up to and including 2013. So the new report can hardly be described as new.
This is an extract from the study released in December 2014:
The scientists used observations from four different techniques to measure the amount and change in rate of ice loss from a region in West Antarctica. This area was already known to be melting at an astonishing rate; a recent study using Cryosat 2 showed that in the period from 2010 to 2013, the region was losing ice to the tune of 134 billion metric tons of ice per year.
The new study looked at four observation sets covering the years 1992–2013. They found that on average over that time, ice loss from West Antarctica was about 83 billion metric tons per year … but the average increase in that loss was 6.1 billion tons every year. By the end of the time range, the numbers between the new study and the one from CryoSat2 are consistent.
What follows is extracted from skepticalscience.com:
Can we trust the new study?
Measuring ice changes on Antarctica has long been problematic – particularly on East Antarctica. The many different satellite missions of different durations makes it tricky to get a consistent view of what is happening to the ice sheet.
The findings of the new NASA study are “at least somewhat at odds with multiple lines of other evidence,” says Prof Richard Alley from Penn State University, who wasn’t involved in the research. He points to another recent paper – which some of the authors of the new study also contributed to – as the current scientific consensus on ice loss from Antarctica. That paper found changes between 1992 and 2011 of +14bn, -65bn and -20bn tonnes of ice per year on East Antarctica, West Antarctica, and the Antarctic Peninsula, respectively.
Prof Andy Shepherd from the University of Leeds, who led the study that Alley refers to, says the NASA study attempts the difficult job of accounting for snowfall, which can mask changes in ice sheet thickness. He tells Carbon Brief:
“It’s right to attempt this, but in places where nothing much happens – like the interior of Antarctica, which is a vast a desert – it’s really quite difficult to be sure that snowfall can be simulated with enough precision to detect ice imbalance.”
Prof Jonathan Bamber, a professor at the University of Bristol whose work focuses on satellite monitoring of the ice sheets, says there are also potential pitfalls in combining radar and laser satellite data for the two different time periods, as the NASA study does. He tells Carbon Brief:
“At a whole ice sheet scale, the results between the two time periods that they study appear to be consistent. But when you start to look at a slightly smaller regional level – and I’m still talking about thousands of kilometres – then it is doesn’t appear to be quite so consistent, and that is a bit of a worry.”
Nonetheless, Bamber says, the reasons the researchers give for inconsistencies in previous estimates of ice changes on Antarctica and why their estimates are different, are “completely plausible”.
So, the ‘new’ report is at odds with several other studies, all of which used much more up-to-date data. Not only that, but Theodore Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, had this to say:
“I think the study is just plain wrong, far too inconsistent with other lines of evidence, and not worth the public’s attention.”
Ian Joughin of the University of Washington, who was not part of the research, pointed out that measurements from the same satellites as those used in the current study yielded different results in studies done in the past. He said:
“Because the signal over the plateau is very small relative to the measurement uncertainty, it’s not implausible that this could be calibration error either.”
Of this, Scambos said:
“The satellite is not at fault here, not inherently, but the data are being pushed to a place it can’t go. The data receive several corrections, and some are problematic.”
So not only was the data used in the study out of date, it was also collected (in part) by unreliable means.
One wonders why Ken Ham would involve himself in this matter in the first place, and then it came to me. Maybe he thinks climate change, global warming and rising sea levels means that he’ll be able to find out if his ark floats too.