Greenland “melting” and media hype

A press release from NASA titled “Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt” set off a media frenzy and many blog articles reporting a great melting of 97% of the Greenland glacier surface. This announcement was based on a change in albedo, detected by satellites, which was interpreted as surficial melting. It is true that for a few hours between July 9 and 12, the surface temperatures crept barely above freezing. But, according to the Byrd Polar Research Center, changes in albedo can also be caused by temperature-driven snow metamorphism that reduces reflectivity by rounding the sharp ice crystal edges that scatter visible light and by increased snow impurities like carbonaceous soot from wildfires or diesel exhaust. We note that there have been many large, soot-creating wildfires lately.

Whatever the cause of the recent, sort-lived change in albedo, of greater concern is the news release itself with its hyped title and contradictory content. The ‘melting’ event was not “unprecedented.” Within the press release is this: “’Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,’” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.” Ice cores from another station (NEEM) showed similar melting in 1879 and 1935. It seems that the news release headline was purposely hyped to grab headlines, and so it did. This event does not bode well for NASA’s scientific reputation and shows that NASA is becoming much more political than scientific.

I’ve noticed that the term “unprecedented” is a favorite with global warming alarmists. It says much about NASA that they would write a self-contradictory press release, accompanied by a very misleading graphic, and also much about the credulous media (such as the Arizona Daily Star) which used the word “unprecedented” even though their own stories clearly showed it was not.

Below is a satellite image of Greenland from July 12, 2012. It does not appear to be melting. Also below is the temperature record for July from Summit Camp which sits atop the continental glacier at an elevation of 10,551 feet and a view from the live webcam at Summit Camp.




 See also

Greenland from 39000 feet  some photos I took of Greenland in June.


  1. It’s OK, you can keep being a denier. No one wants to take your fantasy world away from you. Keep posting denials all you want. Maybe when a taco costs $10 because there’s so little corn and other veggies (forget the beef!), and the all those glaciers melting have caused the Gulfstream & North American Current to stop, you’ll start thinking differently (probably not). Personally, I think that’ll all happen within two to five years. But that’s just my opinion. You’re welcome to yours.

    1. Walt, thank you for demonstrating the mind of a global warming alarmist.

      1. Thank you Jonathan for showing the alarmists are manipulating data AND preying upon fear to drive their agenda. We can’t predict rain for tomorrow accurately using super computers and very recent weather pattern history and yet, these guys want us to believe they can accurately predict what is happening to temperatures and CO2 over the course of the next 20-50 years? Simply amazing that people buy such a load of crap. Here’s a model for folks to try on. Take a bunch of heated air. Inject some moisture into the heated air column. What happens? Rain? Maybe. What comes along with that? Cooling? Yes. when that happens here in Tucson, the next effect is often lower temps than we started with right? Gee I wonder if that happens in other places… Personally I think we should clean up our act. Why? Because its the right thing to do. I don’t need to be scared into it.

    2. “Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average.”

      “Ice cores from another station (NEEM) showed similar melting in 1879 and 1935.”

      It’s ok Walt, you can wallow in denial all you like as well. Keep your fantasy and believe whatever you like about the changes in weather. Just don’t expect everybody else to agree and thus support a global taxation system on your $10 tacos that will do absolutely nothing to alleviate said changes.

  2. What I find most interesting is that all of the mainstream media sources go out of their way to emphasize that this has been seen in the ice core record. This is the second paragraph of the New York Times article: “Ice core records show that last happened in 1889 and occurs about once every 150 years.” “Mr. Wagner and other scientists said because this Greenland-wide melting has happened before they can’t yet determine if this is a natural rare event or one triggered by man-made global warming.”
    I wouldn’t call this “media hype;” instead, it’s a rare instance of media actually reporting the science and not leaving out the details.

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