A case to prove a point: The claims of major (ongoing) Antarctic Peninsula warming

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

H.L. Mencken (1918)

It is chronically advanced by the members and fans of the climate establishment as an ostensibly documented (and hence undeniable) Truth – one of many such ‘Truths’ typically laid down as premises considered facts in argument by the warmists, one of many cornerstones of the ongoing promotional campaign for their ‘CO2 global warming hobgoblin’:

‘The Antarctic Peninsula endures some of the highest warming rates of any region of the world, warming several times (three, at least) as fast as the globe at large. Major events such as the breaking apart of the Larsen A and B ice shelves in 1995 and 2002 respectively are clear indicators of this calamitous warming.’

From wikipedia:

“(…) the Larsen Ice Shelf is a series of three shelves that occupy (or occupied) distinct embayments along the [eastern] coast [of the Antarctic Peninsula]. From north to south, the three segments are called Larsen A (the smallest), Larsen B, and Larsen C (the largest) by researchers who work in the area. The Larsen A ice shelf disintegrated in January 1995. The Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated in February 2002. The Larsen C ice shelf appeared to be stable in 2008, though scientists predict that, if localized warming continues at its current rate, the shelf could disintegrate at some point within the foreseeable future.

The Larsen disintegration events were unusual by past standards. Typically, ice shelves lose mass by iceberg calving and by melting at their upper and lower surfaces. The disintegration events are linked to the ongoing climate warming in the Antarctic Peninsula, about 0.5 °C per decade since the late 1940s, which is a consequence of localized warming of the Antarctic peninsula. This localized warming is caused by anthropogenic global warming, according to some scientists through strengthening of the winds circling the Antarctic.

(My emphasis.)

Such statements clearly indicate a continuing warming going on.

The most disturbing (and perhaps most symptomatic) thing about this issue is how even most people calling themselves ‘sceptics’ just simply appear to accept these assertions as true. Especially considering how easy it is to check their veracity. Merely a cursory look at the available data is enough to understand how they’re completely unsupported by real-world observations, how they’re in fact just plain wrong. As with so many of the claims being spewed out from the warmist camp.

So why aren’t people calling them out!? All you need to do is put the relevant data on the table. It never fails.

Why do people have such an aversion to real-world data? To actually find it, look at it and study it, see what it might reveal, what it might tell us? To go that (short) extra step to find out for yourself?

It’s not hard at all. You don’t have to be an ‘expert scientist’ to read data, to see whether for instance the temperature has gone up or not. It’s right there in front of you. Again, from the fingertips of statistician William M. Briggs:

“If we want to know if there has been a change from the start to the end dates, all we have to do is look! I’m tempted to add a dozen more exclamation points to that sentence, it is that important. We do not have to model what we can see. No statistical test is needed to say whether the data has changed. We can just look.

(…) if you want to claim that the data has gone up, down, did a swirl, or any other damn thing, just look at it!”

‘Climate ScienceTM’ absolutely abhors this method. That’s why they employ the exact opposite one. Always torture the data until it speaks the true words you want to hear. Remove them altogether if possible (or necessary). And this is what we have all been successfully indoctrinated into believing is the right approach to ‘scientific discovery’ – model rather than data, theory/opinion rather than empiricism/observation.

It is all about those ‘trend lines’, isn’t it? That’s what we’ve been taught. Long-term, linear trend lines. They’re the ones that hold the real Truth about our ‘climate’. The ones that matter. Not the data. The calculated trend lines across the data. On top of it. In front of it. Crude statistical tools, yes. But also, at the same time, the actual Truth of what’s going on. Pay no attention to the data behind the trend line. It will only confuse you. It will only lead you away from the Truth.

This is the sad legacy of ‘Climate ScienceTM’. And people seem happy to go along with it.

They claim the Antarctic Peninsula is warming. Is warming. A claim completely at odds with the real-world situation. And still they are allowed to continue promoting it as if an undisputible fact.

Because people don’t check for themselves. They trust the ‘experts’. They know what they’re doing. They wouldn’t fool us. Why would they fool us? They wouldn’t have a reason to fool us. No agenda. No “Cause”. They’re disinterested scientists. Knowledge – Truth – their only motivation.

Well, the ‘experts’, the unbiased ‘scientists’, talk about some ‘localized warming’ being responsible for the Larsen break-ups. And this warming apparently goes on at some ‘current rate’. For the Peninsula as a whole this rate is seemingly ‘about 0.5 °C per decade since the late 1940s’.

Sounds pretty serious.

The only problem is that we don’t see any hint of its actual existence anywhere in the data. This warming rate is not a ‘current’ one. And it hasn’t been for more than a full climatological normal period of 30 years, the time within which any climatic trend of some sort should be comfortably recognisable above and beyond any distracting short-term variations.

So how come we don’t see it? At all?


Figure 1.

Look at the red dots representing the annual mean temperatures on the Larsen Ice Shelf. If anything, there’s a slight ‘localized cooling‘ trend since 1986/87. No matter how you twist and turn, there is surely no 0.5 °C decadal warming to be spotted.

So the Larsen Ice Shelf collapse can’t reasonably be associated with any ‘current localized warming’ – simply because there isn’t any. It must either have been a particular glacier/ocean dynamic response or the result of warming that ended ages ago. Bear in mind, the glaciers in question here are huge. And they rest on the ocean. Ever heard of the Tidewater Glacier Cycle?

The size of tidewater glaciers is such that the tidewater glacier cycle is several hundred years in length. A tidewater glacier is not sensitive to climate during the advancing and drastically retreating phases of its cycle. In the same region, disparate terminus responses are observed amongst tidewater calving glaciers, but not land terminating glaciers. This is exemplified by the 17 major glaciers of the Juneau Icefield, 5 have retreated more than 500 m since 1948, 11 more than 1000 m, and one glacier the Taku has advanced. This difference highlights the unique impacts on terminus behavior of the tidewater glacier cycle, which has caused the Taku Glacier to be insensitive to climate change in the last 60 years. Concurrently, in both Patagonia and Alaska, there are tidewater glaciers that have advanced for a considerable period, tidewater glaciers undergoing rapid retreat and stable tidewater glaciers.”

(My emphasis.)

The glacier ‘scientists’ working on the Antarctic Peninsula should know about it. I’m sure they do know about it. But for some reason they don’t seem too eager to let the public know about it. All the public gets to hear is that the Larsen Ice Shelves broke up because of strong ‘current localized warming’, the implication being that it’s all because of ‘Climate Change’ and hence – by extension – our fault.

No bias? No agenda? No “Cause”? You tell me …

A quick glance at regional temperature anomalies of the sea surface surrounding the Peninsula (from the end of 1981):

Peninsula SSTa

Figure 2. Reynolds (NOAA) OI.v2 SSTa.

And at the lower troposphere temperature anomalies of the same region (from 1979):

Peninsula tlt

Figure 3. UAH 5.5 tlt.

Where is that 0.5 °C warming per decade? Where is any decadal warming to be seen? Nothing of consequence has happened for the last 35 years!

What about other localities on the Peninsula?


Figure 4. The Antarctic Peninsula.


Figure 5. Rothera Point (mean temps), 1983-2014 (almost 32 years).


Figure 6. Faraday (Vernadsky).


Didn’t think so. So how does this flat overall temperature evolution over the last 3+ decades square with the idea held by the AGW movement of an unabated (even strengthened) rise in a postulated ‘atmospheric CO2 radiative forcing’ mechanism as being (directly and/or indirectly) responsible for the warming?

It doesn’t.

I’m sure there might have been warming – maybe even a lot – over the last 60 years on the Antarctic Peninsula. But if there hasn’t been any for the last 30-35 of those years, well, it naturally won’t do drawing a linear trend line all the way from 2014 back to the 50s and then – based on this one alone – claim that warming is still going on, does it? I would call doing so a pretty dishonest move. Just look at the trend line! The trend line! The Truth! Behold the Truth! Look how nice and linear it is! And relentlessly up! Just like our ‘radiative forcing’ from CO2, that EVIL, EVIL gas! Ignore all those confusing data in between the end points!

But this is precisely what they do. And this is but one example of many.

The standard ‘Climate ScienceTM’ tactic. The AGW scare in a nutshell.

4 comments on “A case to prove a point: The claims of major (ongoing) Antarctic Peninsula warming

  1. daveburton says:

    Interesting article, making a point that I’d not heard before! But…

    1. Four of your six images are dead links.

    2. I strongly agree with the point, “look at the data!” But it is slightly ironic that it was about 19 paragraphs into your article before you actually got to the data. (Of course, that’s a lot better than most alarmists’ sites, which never get around to it.)

    3. Also, could you please provide links to the sources?

    4. Also, I hate WordPress themes which show only month & day, but not year, for article dates.


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