Column research questioned

Resident challenges some of the information in Colin Mayes' MP column

After reading and reviewing MP Colin Mayes latest report, I am shocked at the inaccuracies found in the report.

I have been involved with research in the Canadian Arctic for the past 40 years and I am a Canadian delegate for the Atmospheric Working Group of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). IASC assembles all of the main Arctic researchers once a year to exchange and collaborate on research within the circumpolar world.

I am shocked at the information Colin Mayes includes in his report. I am not sure what the sources of his information are but they certainly do not agree with some of the leading researchers in this field.

Specifically then, let us review his recent statement:

“This is because the polar ice cap has increased in the last two years by 40 per cent, the polar bear population is at a 20-year high, the glaciers in the Himalayas are not disappearing and ocean levels have not risen.”

Let us look at these statements individually:

1) “This is because the polar ice cap has increased in the last two years by 40 per cent.”

The National Snow and Ice Centre released on Oct. 7, 2014 the latest update on sea ice and they state: Following the seasonal daily minimum of 5.02 million square kilometres (1.94 million square miles) that was set on Sept. 17, 2014 (sixth lowest in the satellite record), Arctic sea ice has started its seasonal cycle of growth. Arctic sea ice extent averaged for the month of September 2014 was 5.28 million square kilometres (2.04 million square miles), also the sixth lowest in the satellite record. This is 1.24 million square kilometeres (479,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average extent, and 1.65 million square kilometres (637,000 square miles) above the record low monthly average for September that occurred in 2012.

Given that the sea ice extent was 1.24 million square kilometres below the 1981 to 2010 average extent, I am not sure how Mr. Mayes can calculate a 40 per cent increase.

2) “The polar bear population is at a 20-year high:” The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has a Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) which is the authoritative source for information on the world’s polar bears. These polar bear specialists create updates of polar bears for the entire circumpolar world and divide them into regional populations. Canada has 13 sub-populations and of the 13, six of them are stable (no change, so no increase or decrease), four of them show declining bear populations and only two of them are showing an increase in polar bears. I am not sure how Mr. Mayes converts these results into a 20-year high.

3) “The glaciers in the Himalayas are not disappearing:” A recent study, led by Yao Tandong, director of the Institute of Tibetan Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and eminent glaciologist and paleo-climatologist Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University, is the most comprehensive examination so far of the region’s glaciers.

The scientists studied 30 years of data from the field, and satellite and weather records to examine the retreat of 82 glaciers, the area reduction of 7,090 glaciers, and mass-balance change – the difference between the accumulation and loss of ice of 15 glaciers in the seven larger regions of the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau and the Pamir Mountains. “For the glaciers studied, approximately nine per cent of the area of ice that was present in the early 1970s had disappeared by the early 2000s.

Where we had decadal information, we could show that the rate of retreat had accelerated,” Thompson said.

Again, how does Mr. Mayes convert this into the glaciers not disappearing?

4) “Ocean levels have not risen:” The U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration show that both earth-based instrumental records and satellite data show that the average sea level rise is occurring at about three millimetres per year. Yes, there is some variation from site to site but when averaged lead to an overall consistent rise in sea level. What better information does Mr. Mayes have about sea level to claim that it is not rising.

If this is the quality of work which Mr. Mayes produces it makes me wonder about the quality of information he presents in all his reports?

If Mr. Mayes is to continue on this path, he should at least cite the proper scientific authorities he is quoting.


Claude Labine



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