[CRYOLIST] Something for CNN's Ridiculist: New atlas shows extent of climate change
hester.jiskoot at uleth.ca
Thu Sep 15 17:43:04 PDT 2011
It is very clear that much of the new brown (and pink) results from a simple change in mapping colour to the local ice masses surrounding the Greenland Ice Sheet (mountain glaciers and ice caps peripheral to the ice sheet itself). It is hard to read the poor resolution maps in the Guardian article, and the legends are chopped off, but one of the major issues appears from the change in colour from white to pink/brown for these local ice masses peripheral to the ice sheet between the 1999 and 2011 Times Atlas map.
Although many of these regions have decreased in area and thickness over the past decade(s), reported in many recent scientific papers, the misinterpretation of enormous losses of glacierized area from these maps is far off the range in measured losses. For example, measured areal loss for tidewater terminating local ice masses in central East Greenland is in the order of only 1-2% (Jiskoot et al., submitted). If you misinterpret the change from white to pink/brown from the Times Atlas for this region, then you would misinterpret that it would have lost all (100%) of its ice, which is clearly not the case.
There is no end to correcting frequent misinterpretations of (scientific) data by the media and the general public, and our role as scientists is primarily to use our expertise to do scientific research, so that progress in understanding the earth can proceed. The major lack in most stories, including this one, is the proper reference to source data and/or peer-reviewed scientific literature. Any informed citizen has to realise that scientific experts should be consulted for the most up-to-date, comprehensive and reliable information.
Best regards, Hester
Dr. Hester Jiskoot
Department of Geography
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4
email: hester.jiskoot at uleth.ca
office: AWESB WE-2050
Dear Cryolisters, especially media people 'listening' in:
No doubt this 'news' story and Atlas are going to be repeated far any wide. THIS IS NOT WHAT IS HAPPENING.
THIS IS NOT SCIENCE. THIS IS NOT WHAT SCIENTISTS ARE SAYING. Greenland specialists, people like Michele Cittero,
Peter Ahlstrom, Leigh Stearns, Gordon Hamilton, Waleed Abdalati and many more have documented what actually
IS happening in Greenland, and it involves some incredibly rapid changes, mainly increasing melting, thinning, and
retreat; and slight thickening in some sectors, but overall Greenland is a story of massive, rapid retreat.
Special dynamics are at play, and probably climate warming as well. However, this Guardian story is ridiculously
off base, way exaggerated relative to the reality of rapid change in Greenland. I don't know how exactly the
Times Atlas produced their results, but they are NOT scientific results. Therefore, media be warned: play on this story
at your own serious risk of losing credibility. I am certain that the scientists mentioned above, and many others,
will respond with actual data, throughly peer-reviewed publications, and lots of data to show what is happening.
It isa dramatic story, many dramatic stories. But don't believe this Guardian article.
Sorry, Guardian. I used to just grin and bear it when things like this happen. But the IPCC fiasco and the whole'
sad chain leading up to it, where media played on media and NGO's played on each other, without actual science
in the loop, leads me to believe that there is no such thing as being too critical with the media. This Greenland
story is not science; did I say that already? OK, now somebody can figure out where the new brown or the loss
of old white came from. Not from proper treatment of data, that's for sure.
Thanks to Jim Torson and Graham Cogley for bringing this new 'news' to my attention. It is a crisis of misinformation
only if the media or politicians fail to consult with scientists.
Date: Thu, 15 Sep 2011 11:08:15 -0700
Subject: New atlas shows extent of climate change
New atlas shows extent of climate change
The world's newest island makes it on to the map as the Arctic Uunartoq Qeqertaq, or Warming Island, is officially recognised
* John Vidal <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/johnvidal> , environment editor
* guardian.co.uk <http://www.guardian.co.uk/> , Thursday 15 September 2011 06.46 EDT
Greenland ice cover in Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World<http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Environment/Pix/columnists/2011/9/14/1316011106553/Greenland-ice-cover-in-Ti-007.jpg>
In Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World, Greenland has lost around 15% of its ice cover between 10th edition (1999) (left) and 13th edition (2011) (right). Photograph: Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World
If you have never heard of Uunartoq Qeqertaq <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uunartoq_Qeqertaq> , it's possibly because it's one of the world's newest islands, appearing in 2006 off the east coast of Greenland <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/greenland> , 340 miles north of the Arctic <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/arctic> circle when the ice retreated because of global warming. This Thursday the new land - translated from Inuit as Warming Island - was deemed permanent enough by map-makers to be included in a new edition <http://www.timesatlas.com/TimesAtlasRange/Pages/AtlasDetail.aspx?IDNumber=63021> of the most comprehensive atlas in the world.
Uunartoq Qeqertaq joins Southern Sudan and nearly 7,000 other countries and places added or changed since the last edition of the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World <http://www.timesatlas.com/Pages/default.aspx> , reflecting political change in Africa, administrative changes in China, burgeoning cities in developing countries, climate change <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/climate-change> , and large infrastructure projects which have changed the flow of rivers <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/rivers> , lakes and coastlines.
The world's biggest physical changes in the past few years are mostly seen nearest the poles where climate change has been most extreme. Greenland appears considerably browner round the edges, having lost around 15%, or 300,000 sq km, of its permanent ice cover. Antarctica is smaller following the break-up of the Larsen B <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2002/mar/20/globalwarming.physicalsciences> and Wilkins ice shelves <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/mar/26/poles.antarctica?intcmp=239> .
But the Aral Sea in central Asia, which had previously shrunk to just 25% of its size only 80 years ago, is now larger than it was only five years ago, thanks to Kazakhstan redirecting water <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/water> into it. Elsewhere in Asia, islands are appearing off the mouths of the Ganges and the Yangtze rivers as the amount of silt brought down from the Himalayas and inland China changes.
Sections of the Rio Grande, Yellow, Colorado and Tigris rivers are now drying out each summer. In Mongolia, the Ongyin Gol has been redirected to allow gold mining, while the Colorado river these days does not reach the sea most years. "We are increasingly concerned that in the near future important geographical features will disappear for ever. Greenland could reach a tipping point in about 30 years," said Jethro Lennox, editor of the atlas.
New Times atlas reveals changes to Earth
The Greenland ice sheet is shrinking, the latest edition of the Times Comprehensive Atlas Of The World has revealed.
Times Atlas, Aral sea<http://img.metro.co.uk/i/pix/2011/09/14/article-1316025879273-0DE2F53000000578-112080_636x399.jpg> This image shows the Aral sea is vanishing (Picture: Atlas/PA)
By comparing Greenland in the 1999 edition with the same country in its 2011 version, the full impact of the changes to our world becomes clear.
Using satellite images, map makers have turned an area of Greenland the size of Britain and Ireland 'green'. That's because its once-permanent ice cover is retreating inland.
They have also included a new island off the coast of Greenland, named Warming Island (Uunartoq Qeqertoq), which has appeared as a separate piece of land several miles long as the ice melts.
Times Atals, Greenland<http://img.metro.co.uk/i/pix/2011/09/14/article-1316026177478-0DE2F2FF00000578-895014_466x310.jpg> Laid bare: Greenland in 1999, left, contrasts with the same country today, right (Picture: Atlas/PA)
The Aral Sea, once the fourth largest lake in the world, has shrunk by 75 per cent since 1967. Soviet irrigation projects diverted its waters to cotton fields in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, effectively emptying it.
'With each new map we can see and plot environmental changes as they happen,' said atlas editor Jethro Lennox. 'We are increasingly concerned that important geographical features will disappear for ever.'
It also shows that more than 50 per cent of the world's population now live in cities.
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