Glaciers Growing in France, Switzerland, and Washington: Will Media Care?

June 28th, 2007 10:46 AM

One of the pet peeves of anthropogenic global warming skeptics is how the media and climate change alarmists like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore only address events supporting that which they conflate and abuse data to prove.

A perfect example is the discussion concerning receding glaciers, as these folks will either ignore when such recession began, or the other possible environmental issues that many scientists believe to be responsible.

Maybe even worse, the media alarmists will always ignore information that might throw a monkey wrench into the position they’re trying to advance.

With that in mind, it seems a metaphysical certitude American press outlets will ignore reports of glacial expansion around the globe, most hypocritically as one such growing ice mass is actually right here in the U.S. as reported by Washington’s News Tribune (h/t NB member dscott, emphasis added throughout):

Crater Glacier is like no other glacier in the world. It’s the only glacier with lava extruding through it and forming a dome. And while most glaciers are receding, Crater Glacier is advancing three feet per day and forming a collar around the growing dome.

A glacier that’s growing? How can that be? According to Al Gore and the supposed consensus of scientists claiming the global warming debate to be over, glaciers everywhere are receding.

Not so:

Crater Glacier started forming shortly after St. Helens blew its top on May 18, 1980. The glacier is fed by snow and falling rock and ice from the crater rim. The glacier is about 40 percent rock and 60 percent ice, USGS geologist Willie Scott said.

Originally, the glacier filled the void between the crater walls and the lava dome that formed from 1980 to 1986. Peter Frenzen, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument’s scientist, says the crater’s architecture is perfect for nurturing the glacier.


What happened next surprised the scientists.

Cooling rock on the outside of the dome insulated the glacier from the lava, and only about 10 percent of the glacier melted, said Carolyn Driedger, a USGS hydrologist. Instead, the dome, growing by a pickup truckload of lava every two seconds, split the glacier into two moraines – deposits of glacial rock and soil – pressing each against the crater walls. The pinching forced the glacier arms to double in depth and increase their speed.


At its current rate of growth, the dome will rebuild St. Helens to its pre-1980 glory in 180 years.

Hmmm. Scientists can be surprised by nature? Aren’t climate models perfect in predicting future events?

Appears not, for glaciers are also expanding on Mont Blanc in France and Switzerland as reported by World Climate Report (h/t Benny Peiser, emphasis added throughout):

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says in their recent 2007 Summary for Policymakers “Mountain glaciers and snow cover have declined on average in both hemispheres. Widespread decreases in glaciers and ice caps have contributed to sea level rise.” Someone in Europe missed the memo on this subject as a recent article has appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research entitled “Very high-elevation Mont Blanc glaciated areas not affected by the 20th century climate change.” To say the least, we at World Climate Report were interested in what the authors had to say.

The research was conducted by six scientists from leading agencies and departments in France and Switzerland that deal with hydrology and glaciology. Before you see the title of the article and immediately suspect some conspiracy funded by European coal companies, be aware that the research was funded by Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Grenoble (OSUG), the European Programs ALPCLIM and CARBOSOL, and by the city of Chamonix Mont-Blanc. Given the title of the article, we wonder if the six scientists will ever be funded again by any European agencies.

Doubtful. Fortunately, these scientists – apparently new heretical departures from the supposed consensus – have thrown caution to the wind so to speak:

The Vincent et al. team collected a variety of datasets that could help them understand how the high elevation glaciers of Mont Blanc were impacted by variations and trends in climate. Among other findings, they found that the mass balance of the glaciers is strongly controlled by precipitation, not temperature. The team used accurate survey maps from 1905 to compare to maps they generated with modern GPS measurements, and by subtracting the two surfaces, they could determine changes in the ice fields during the 20th century (see the two figures below).

Fascinating. So, something other than temperature is responsible for the growth of glaciers on Mont Blanc and Mount St. Helens. Doesn’t it logically follow that something other than temperature might be responsible for the recession of glaciers elsewhere? Or, does that require too much logic?

Regardless of the answers, the article continued:

Vincent et al. state “The most striking features of these figures are the small thickness changes observed over the 20th century. For both areas, thickness variations do not exceed ±15 m. The average changes are +2.6 m at Dôme du Goûter and -0.3 m at Mont Blanc. Considering the uncertainty interval, i.e., ±5 m, it can be concluded that no significant thickness change is detectable over most of these areas”. Putting all their findings together regarding the surface mass balance (SMB) of these two glaciers, they state “All these results suggest that the SMB at Dôme du Goûter and Mont Blanc did not experience any significant changes over the 20th century.” The first sentence of their conclusions section states “Geodetic measurements carried out in 1905 and 2005 on the highest ice fields of the Mont Blanc range indicate small thickness changes and show that these very high-elevation glaciated areas have not been significantly affected by climate change over the last 100 years.” Later in the conclusions section, they write “In any case, this study reveals that the very high-elevation ice fields in the Mont Blanc area have not been affected by the climate warming. The 20th century climate warming affected the atmospheric temperature in the Alps by +1°C. However this change did not significantly affect the ice deformation rate in the high-altitude ice fields since the ice temperature remains far below the melting point and therefore keeping the glacier frozen to its bed.”

Hmmm. So, the Alps have seen a one degree rise in temperature in the past 100 years. Yet, some glaciers are expanding rather than receding?

Somebody better call Al Gore for an explanation. And, while you’re at it, contact Katie, Charlie, and Brian to let them know that not all glaciers on the planet are receding. I’m sure they’ll want to share this information with their viewers.