Debunked: Most recent NASA study shows ice growth in Antartica

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
The release of a 'new' report has conservative outlets claiming it supersedes 'previous' reports claiming ice loss in Antartica.

Snow that began piling up 10,000 years ago in Antarctica is adding enough ice to offset the increased losses due to thinning glaciers, according to a NASA study.

The latest findings appear to challenge other studies including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 report, which found that Antarctica is overall losing land ice.
http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015...c-ice-growing-countering-earlier-studies.html
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Antarctica is growing not shrinking, according to the latest studyfrom NASA. Furthermore, instead of contributing to rising sea levels, the still-very-much-frozen southern continent is actually reducing them by 0.23 mm per year.
The study – by an organization not hitherto noted for playing down environmental scares – will come as a major blow climate alarmists.
http://www.breitbart.com/big-govern...shock-study-antarctica-growing-not-shrinking/
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But the 'new' report is only based on data up to 2008.

Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) data (2003–08) show mass gains from snow accumulation exceeded discharge losses by 82 ± 25 Gt a–1, reducing global sea-level rise by 0.23 mm a–1.
http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/igsoc/jog/pre-prints/content-ings_jog_15j071
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The 'old' studies that confirm ice loss are based on data up to 2013, making this 'new' study pretty much moot.

Article from Dec. 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 fourobservation 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.
http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astr...more_than_6_billion_tons_of_ice_annually.html
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skephu

Senior Member.
That's not correct. The second article you quote is only about West Antarctica while the first is about the whole of Antarctica.
 

tadaaa

Senior Member
the whole topic of whether Antarctica either gaining or not gaining ice/snow/mass is a complicated one

not surprising as the climate is a complicated system after all - and the Antarctic "ice" is one small/marginal component

it seems some parts are gaining "ice", some parts aren't

it seems a general warming trend will promote more precipitation (simple physics)

but as with all scientific endeavour there are uncertainties, especially at the "margins"

but what is certain is that the anti-science brigade will try and get as much mileage out of it as possible

it is a shame when "uncertainty" in one aspect of a theory, is used as evidence that the whole theory is wrong

it is a classic "denier" modus operandi
 

skephu

Senior Member.
Here's a more recent article by Phil Plait:
http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2015/11/03/antarctic_ice_still_losing_mass.html

He claims that data since 2008 show an increased ice loss in West Antarctica and claims that this is enough to overcompensate for the gains, so he claims there is now a net loss.

But this is just a blog post, not a peer-reviewed paper, so I wouldn't take it for granted.
The people at skepticalscience.com are still thinking about what to say about the newly published study.
 

Henk001

Senior Member.
Those conservative outlets use -- as usual -- the over simplified reasoning: global warming = global melting (in the sense that ice should vanish everywhere)
From the NASA article about this study of Zwally et. al.:
“At the end of the last Ice Age, the air became warmer and carried more moisture across the continent, doubling the amount of snow dropped on the ice sheet,” Zwally said.
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Directly coupling warming to increasing ice mass.
and:
Zwally’s team calculated that the mass gain from the thickening of East Antarctica remained steady from 1992 to 2008 at 200 billion tons per year, while the ice losses from the coastal regions of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula increased by 65 billion tons per year.
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Finally:
“The new study highlights the difficulties of measuring the small changes in ice height happening in East Antarctica,” said Ben Smith, a glaciologist with the University of Washington in Seattle who was not involved in Zwally’s study.
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As an example: the net gain of 112 Gt over 1992 to 2001 has an uncertainty of 55%

So what are we dealing with here? A study that challenges other studies about whether Antarctica is at this moment gaining or losing ice. It seems to depend on what measuring technique/instrument you use. The Grace satellite measurements f.i. show a declining trend with around 2008 a change from net gain to net loss (http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/land-ice/), Zwally et.al. show a declining trend as well saying this change from gain to loss could occur around 2035. Neither of the cases would prove or disprove global warming. 9870782ad3f13a167af05cc05b47dc9d.jpg
 

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Pete Tar

Senior Member.
That's not correct. The second article you quote is only about West Antarctica while the first is about the whole of Antarctica.
Thanks for pointing that out; but it's still based on data 5 years older, and the 2013 report noted accelrating ice loss which would have (I'm assuming, do the maths if I'm wrong) outweighed any gain noted 5 years earlier.
 

mrfintoil

Senior Member.
Related:

NASA Scientist Warned Deniers Would Distort His Antarctic Ice Study -- That's Exactly What They Did
http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/11/04/nasa-scientist-warned-deniers-would-distort-his/206612



Lead Author Jay Zwally: "I Know Some Of The Climate Deniers Will Jump On This," But "It Should Not Take Away From The Concern About Climate Warming." In an interview with Nature, the study's lead author, glaciologist Jay Zwally, warned that "climate deniers" would wrongly tout the study as proof that "we don't have to worry [about global warming] as some people have been making out":

The findings do not mean that Antarctica is not in trouble, Zwally notes. "I know some of the climate deniers will jump on this, and say this means we don't have to worry as much as some people have been making out," he says. "It should not take away from the concern about climate warming." As global temperatures rise, Antarctica is expected to contribute more to sea-level rise, though when exactly that effect will kick in, and to what extent, remains unclear. [Nature, 10/2/15]
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Dan Wilson

Senior Member.
Another article that tells the full story:
http://www.popsci.com/yes-parts-ant...m-to-be-growing-no-global-warming-is-not-over
So, is it melting? Yes and no. Antarctica is a very large place and while some areas in the West are melting at alarming rates, scientists found that some areas of East Antarctica are gaining ice.
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And another that describes the precarious state of the Antarctic ice.
http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/...antarctic-ice-sheet-raise-sea-levels-3-meters
What they found was that local destabilization of the Amundsen Sea region of West Antarctica ultimately causes the entire ice sheet to fall into the ocean over several centuries to several thousands of years, gradually adding 3 meters to global sea levels, they report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Pete Tar

Senior Member.
That's not correct. The second article you quote is only about West Antarctica while the first is about the whole of Antarctica.
Revisiting this point; his quoted statement mentions specifically “Our main disagreement is for East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica – there, we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas.”, so I'm not so sure that's correct, especially as the study based on more recent data showed increases in loss rates.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL060111/abstract
However, I don't know if they were for the exact same locations as what he was talking about.

Presumably he made this statement recently, but was he accounting for the data that went up to 2013, or was that statement only about earlier studies that went up to 2008? And if so, what was the point of this study being released for public consumption at this time and in this way?
It's a pedantic technicality, only of interest to climate specialists specifically studying melt rates in Antartica pre-2008, that has been made pretty much irrelevant by the studies done more recently which address the only thing the general public wants to know - ie. 'how bad is it NOW?'

In terms of public consumption on facebook feeds it's completely counter-productive and being used by rabid partisans as ammunition to gleefully mock those who accept the consensus, while they at the same time dismiss all his qualifying remarks and the studies based on actually relevant years.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
that has been made pretty much irrelevant by the studies done more recently which address the only thing the general public wants to know - ie. 'how bad is it NOW?'

In terms of public consumption on facebook feeds it's completely counter-productive and being used by rabid partisans as ammunition to gleefully mock those who accept the consensus, while they at the same time dismiss all his qualifying remarks and the studies based on actually relevant years
especially as the study based on more recent data showed increases in loss rates
This study shows increases in loss rates too. It says in 20 years the losses will overtake the gains.

As far as FB, i thought everyone already knew (or thought) Antarctica was gaining ice. Isnt that one of the arguments from 'deniers'?

Real scientists dont care about FB or public perception. They care about the data. (Even though the data doesnt sound that rock solid-no pun intended- since we have to wait for the new machine in like 2015 that will be able to measure more accurately). I think the study is fine for what it is, it's not the scientists fault the public will see only what they want to see. That happens all the time anyway.

To me, a neutral observer, this study says "yes parts of Antarctica are gaining ice, but he parts that are losing ice are losing ice faster than we thought and in 20 years the losses (loss rate) will overtake the gains (gain rate) which are pretty consistent each year"
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
As far as FB, i thought everyone already knew (or thought) Antarctica was gaining ice. Isnt that one of the arguments from 'deniers'?
Yes, which makes getting the truth through much harder because they're crowing in victory over this newest misrepresentation of reality (by the secondary outlets, not the source).
Real scientists dont care about FB or public perception. They care about the data.
Yeah I fully support that, but it's a relatively obscure and technical quibble between specialists, I question why it's gotten so much exposure.

It just irks me is all.
I am irked.
 

tadaaa

Senior Member
I think what it shows, is that a vast number of "deniers" still haven't moved away from simply looking out of their kitchen window and saying

"look it's snowing - ergo no global warming"

the "Inhofe snowball" paradigm

they simply don't understand the initial starting parameters of the problem - i.e. "global"

they will say they do - but I think deep down they simply don't
 
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