Comment On Why Climate Science Is Presenting Evidence Of Glacier Advance or Near-Stationary Positions In Some Areas

The question has been raised as to why Climate Science is seeking evidence for regions without glacier retreat. It has already been mentioned that the impression that glaciers are retreating almost everywhere worldwide has been expressed in media reports (e.g. see). This web posting provides a clear reason why the summary of papers and other evidence on glacier retreat is needed, since the 2007 IPCC chapter on this subject (Chapter 4) does not completely report on this subject.

The material on Wikipedia entitled “Retreat of glaciers since 1850″ makes it clear why this documentation is needed. The Wikipedia article reads,

“The retreat of glaciers since 1850, worldwide and rapid, affects the availability of fresh water for irrigation and domestic use, mountain recreation, animals and plants that depend on glacier-melt, and in the longer term, the level of the oceans. Studied by glaciologists, the temporal coincidence of glacier retreat with the measured increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases is often cited as an evidentiary underpinning of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming. Mid-latitude mountain ranges such as the Himalayas, Alps, Rocky Mountains, Cascade Range, and the southern Andes, as well as isolated tropical summits such as Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, are showing some of the largest proportionate glacial loss.

The Little Ice Age was a period from about 1550 to 1850 when the world experienced relatively cool temperatures compared to the present. Subsequently, until about 1940 glaciers around the world retreated as the climate warmed. Glacial retreat slowed and even reversed, in many cases, between 1950 and 1980 as a slight global cooling occurred. However, since 1980 a significant global warming has led to glacier retreat becoming increasingly rapid and ubiquitous, so much so that many glaciers have disappeared and the existence of a great number of the remaining glaciers of the world is threatened. In locations such as the Andes of South America and Himalayas in Asia, the demise of glaciers in these regions will have potential impact on water supplies. The retreat of mountain glaciers, notably in western North America, Asia, the Alps, Indonesia and Africa, and tropical and subtropical regions of South America, has been used to provide qualitative evidence for the rise in global temperatures since the late 19th century…The recent substantial retreat and an acceleration of the rate of retreat since 1995 of a number of key outlet glaciers of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, may foreshadow a rise in sea level, having a potentially dramatic effect on coastal regions worldwide.”

The statement that the retreat since 1850 is rapid and worldwide leads a reader to assume this trend continues everywhere. It does not. They also write “since 1980 a significant global warming has led to glacier retreat becoming increasingly rapid and ubiquitous..”. This is the kind of inaccurate reporting that Climate Science is responding to on this theme of glacier retreat.

Climate Science has so far documented the following examples of recent and current glacial advance or near stationary movement within the following regions:

1a. Himalayas

1b. Himalayas

2. Alps

3. New Zealand and Norway

4. Palmer Peninsula, Antarctic

5. Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa

6. Alaska, USA

This information is not presented to refute the conclusion that humans are altering the climate system. Indeed, Climate Science has emphasized that the 2007 IPCC seriously understates the role of the wide diversity of human climate forcings. However, honest assessments of climate require that the range of observed environmental conditions be reported, not just those that are convenient to support a particular narrow perspective.

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