Arctic ice

Resident concerned about MP's column on global warming

Colin Mayes’ column once again displays his creative but incorrect use of scientific information to support his and the Harper government’s intention to ignore global climate change.

Essentially he says that Arctic temperatures have returned to normal, the sea ice has recovered, that global warming has stopped, and that Antarctic sea ice has increased. Parts of this are true, but taken out of context and applied with only partial information.

Antarctic Ice

Yes, he is correct that the winter ice cover in the Antarctic is increasing, but that is due to changes in wind patterns caused by the overall patterns of global atmospheric warming.

Antarctic ice, in general, is decreasing, and in particular, the volume of Antarctic ice continues to decrease at ever increasing rates. (British Antarctic Survey)

Arctic Ice

Mr. Mayes indicates that one of his sources was the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), a reference I checked out.

Not speaking nor reading Danish, I was at a bit of a handicap and had to rely on second-hand sources reporting on this site.

Not only have this winter’s temperatures not only rested within the normal range, they have also set the coldest temperature in the last decade. Which says little as the last decade has been the warmest ever in recorded history.

But the reference itself is a one-off. Global warming does not mean that all places everywhere are warmer at all times. Variation still occurs and the DMI recognizes this.

Further, yes, Arctic ice has made a “comeback” just as the ice on our local Swan Lake makes a “comeback” each year.

Unfortunately for Mr. Mayes, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, and in conjunction with NASA (all of those satellite photos of the Arctic), indicates this winter’s ice is not “normal”.

According to the NSIDC, this year’s ice extent is already below the 2012 extent at this time of year, which itself was a new record minimum (varied a bit according to sources).

Of course the ice makes a “comeback” each winter as the open expanses of sea water freeze over in the fall, but that is a cycle that will become the new normal. Summer thaw creating large expanses of open water, and winter freeze-up as solar heat disappears.

Just like on the lakes at home, Mr. Mayes.

What is not making a comeback is the volume of ice. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Center, the volume of the multi-year ice “is showing a steady negative trend” with “three quarters loss of sea ice since 1980s.”

This ties into Mr. Mayes’ next scientific error when he says that global warming has stopped.

Global Warming

Unfortunately for Mr. Mayes, global warming has not stopped, but the rate of increase has stopped, a different kind of statistic (and even then only for one year, hardly sufficient to create a new scientific paradigm in comparison to over 60 years of research supporting global warming).

While increases in air temperatures have moderated, scientists indicate that ocean temperatures are continually rising.

Considering that most of the large weather patterns originate over the oceans, this would only indicate that greater energy will go into hurricanes and typhoons and other oceanic storm systems around the world as predicted by global warming scientists for several decades now.

And where does all that Arctic ice sit, Mr. Mayes?

It sits in the ocean, subject to warming from the oceans, and as more ocean opens up, the more heat from sunlight is able to penetrate into the Arctic waters.

Mr. Mayes’ last reference was his brother who lives “close to the Arctic Circle.” This is certainly not a scientific reference by any stretch of the imagination.

If this is the kind of pseudo-science that the Harper Conservatives are working with, we certainly cannot expect any action on the government’s part to try and protect our environment.


Jim Miles



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