Cancel the Alarm on Greenland Ice Melt
A new study by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) claims Greenland is undergoing accelerating ice melt that will cause global sea level to rise much faster than projected by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to the report, the accelerating Greenland ice melt will cause sea level to rise approximately four feet during the 21st century, which is approximately triple the median IPCC estimate. The media is having a field day with the report, with the Associated Press, for example, referring to it as “an authoritative international assessment” that should motivate the U.S. to pass legislation restricting carbon dioxide emissions.
Despite the media cheerleading, AMAP’s claims have at least three glaring flaws. First, the ice melt and sea level projections were based on a very brief and cherry-picked sampling period. AMAP reports Greenland ice melt from 2004-2009 was four times the ice melt from 1995-2000. There is a reason for this. Greenland during the 1990s was reaching the conclusion of a long-term cold spell. The 1980s and 1990s were the two coldest decades in Greenland since the 1910s. Indeed, Greenland temperatures during the 1980s and 1990s averaged a full 1.5 degrees Celsius lower than average temperatures during the 1930s and 1940s. Obviously, ice melt during such a recent and longstanding cold spell will be minimal. Similarly, when temperatures finally recover, as they have during the past six years or so, ice melt will be significantly higher than it was during the unusually long and severe cold spell. This is simple common sense rather than cause for alarm. Six years of temperature recovery after 20-plus years of extremely cold temperatures does not signal the advent of a global warming crisis. Basing a full century of sea level rise predictions on the basis of a single, anomalous six-year time period while completing ignoring the much more established and long-standing temperature and ice melt trends is poor science and poor statistical analysis. If anyone disagrees, I’ll wager any amount of money you choose that AMAP’s sea level predictions will fail to occur. For those of you who don’t expect to be alive in 2100, I’ll wager any amount of money that half the predicted sea level rise (two feet) will not occur by 2050.
Second, global sea level measurements show sea level rise has slowed down rather than accelerated since 2004. This shows that either AMAP’s data sampling is flawed or the asserted Greenland ice melt will not impact global sea levels nearly as much as AMAP claims.
Third, AMAP is far from “an authoritative international assessment.” The whole purpose of AMAP, according to its website, is to address “matters relating to threats to the Arctic region from pollution, and associated issues.” When a group is created and its staff is hired for the express purpose of calling attention to alleged threats from pollution and other human activities, you can bet your bottom dollar the group will produce reports alleging threats caused by pollution and other human activities. AMAP, in short, is neither an objective nor credible source.
Cancel the alarm yet again. Sea level is not an impending crisis.