November 02, 2009

D'oh! CNN Falls for Long-Debunked Kilimanjaro Global Warming Claim

This is CNN:

The ice and snow that cap majestic Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania are vanishing before our eyes.

If current conditions persist, climate change experts say, Kilimanjaro's world-renowned glaciers, which have covered Africa's highest peak for centuries, will be gone within the next two decades.

"In a very real sense, these glaciers are being decapitated from the surface down," said Lonnie Thompson, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University. Thompson is co-author of a study on Kilimanjaro published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study's authors blame the disappearing ice on increases in global temperatures and diminished snowfall at Kilimanjaro's summit.

Previous studies of Kilimanjaro's glaciers have relied on aerial photographs to measure the rate of the retreating ice. For this new survey, scientists climbed the mountain and drilled deep into the glaciers to measure the volume of the ice fields atop the 19,331-foot (5,892-meter) peak.

And this is reality

"Kilimanjaro is a grossly overused mis-example of the effects of climate change," said University of Washington climate scientist Philip Mote, co-author of an article in the July/August issue of American Scientist magazine.

Mote is concerned that critics will try to use the article to debunk broader climate-change trends.

He hastens to add that global warming is, indeed, responsible for the fact that nearly every other glacier around the globe is melting away. Kilimanjaro just happens to be the worst possible case study.

Rising nearly four miles from the plains of eastern Tanzania, Kilimanjaro has seen its glaciers decline steadily for well over a century — since long before humans began pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Mote points out.

Most of the world's glaciers didn't begin their precipitous declines until the 1970s, when measurable global warming first appeared.

Also, recent data from Kilimanjaro show temperatures on the 19,340-foot volcano never rise above freezing. So melting triggered by a warmer atmosphere can't be the reason the small summit ice sheet is retreating about 3 feet a year, said Georg Kaser, co-author of the new article and a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

Man-made global warming (creating glacial melt) cannot be a factor in a glacier disappearing if the temperature of the glacier never comes close to rising above freezing (which is underlined by the fact that the global temperature has been declining since 1998).What is far more likely is that constantly lower amounts of participation over the past century mean that the glaciers are in a natural state of decline, and state they have been in since at least 1912.

What is causing the decline

Instead, melt on Kilimanjaro is caused by sublimation, which turns ice directly into water vapor at below-freezing temperatures—essentially the glacier gets a giant case of moisture-sapping freezer burn.

Thompson has been beating this drum since 2002, but the fact remains that his claim that man-made global warming in the cause of the glacial retreat is a farce.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 2, 2009 04:59 PM

Didn't Katie Couric try to climb this mountain as a demonstration of the effects of "global warming" and bad weather forced them down.

Posted by: Penfold at November 2, 2009 05:58 PM

There are over 160,000 glaciers in the world, and less then one hundred have been studied in any in depth fashion (79 have mass balance data extending five years or more.)

So how exactly can we be sure they're all melting?

Posted by: Britt at November 2, 2009 08:18 PM

The global warmingists are getting more and more frantic as the December date of the Copenhagen meeting approaches. They want the US to sign away its rights of sovereignty over our country in the climate treaty. That would be a truly dreadful idea, with appalling long-reaching negative effects.

Glacier melt and later build-up has been going on for thousands of years, irrespective of global warming or cooling. They have little or nothing to do with global warming or cooling. Neither does CO2, which usually follows global warming, not precedes it, sometimes by as long as 50 years.

Since each human being, and indeed warm-blooded mammal, is a little CO2 generator every time he or it breathes out, perhaps the global warmingists should just sacrifice themselves and stop breathing. Come on, guys. Just do it.

Marianne Matthews

Posted by: Marianne Matthews at November 2, 2009 09:35 PM

He hastens to add that global warming is, indeed, responsible for the fact that nearly every other glacier around the globe is melting away. Kilimanjaro just happens to be the worst possible case study.

Um...what about this line? So Kilimanjaro is some exception, but global warming is to blame everywhere else? Do you read what you post?

Posted by: Dave at November 3, 2009 09:56 AM

Another likely explanation is the deforestation of the slops around Kilem that has occurred over the last century. Trees and vegetation produce water vapor (think the Smokies) which produces the cloud cover that blocks the sun from hitting the glacier. This has all but disappeared. Air temperature has remained constantly below freezing, but there is no cloud cover surrounding the top of the mountain to shield it from the sun. Amazing how the effects of the sun's rays and cloud cover never factor into these people's explanation of melting ice.

Posted by: Landru at November 3, 2009 10:34 PM

...(which is underlined by the fact that the global temperature has been declining since 1998)...

Wrong again, Bob.

Check out "Global Warming at a glance". It's at Junk Science, albeit a denialist website, but one with at least enough integrity to set forth the relevant data relatively untouched.

See how all of the graphs, which represent global mean temperatures according to the various data sources, are ascending? Each and every one? So, even though 1998 was the warmest year on recent record, the 2000's are generally warmer than the 1990's.

Hey, and don't shoot the messenger, you the people.

Posted by: Dolf Fenster at November 4, 2009 02:43 PM