Update: AP’s Seth Borenstein at it again hyping Antarctic melt fears – Recycles same claims from 2014, 1990, 1979, 1922 & 1901! – Climate Depot’s Point-By-Point Rebuttal

By: - Climate DepotFebruary 28, 2015 11:08 AM with 301 comments

The Associated Press and Seth Borenstein are at it again. The article by Seth Borenstein and Luis Andres Henao titled ‘Glacial Melting In Antarctica Makes Continent The ‘Ground Zero Of Global Climate Change’‘ was published on February 27, 2015.

The AP left out contrary peer-reviewed studies, inconvenient data and trends that counter the articles ‘worse than we thought’ narrative. The AP paints an erroneous picture of potential sea level rise, omits potential volcanic causes of any melting and the current state of Antarctica and the geologic history of the continent.

Why did the AP not include any ice specialists with differing views? See: Prominent Scientist Dissents: Renowned glaciologist declares global warming is ‘going to be a big plus’ – Fears ‘Frightening’ Cooling – Warns scientists are ‘prostituting their science’ – Dr. Hughes is an internationally renowned glaciologist who pioneered many of the modern ideas currently under study in the field.’ Dr. Hughes has travelled to the Arctic ten times and the Antarctic thirteen times since 1968, mostly as the principal investigator of NSF-funded glaciological research.

Of course this was no surprising given the article was co-written by Seth Borenstein who’s recent reporting on ‘hottest year’ claims had to be corrected. See: AP ‘clarifies’ ‘hottest year’ claims: ‘Kudos to Marc Morano for keeping the heat (heh) on about this’

AP’s Seth Borenstein at it again! Claims ‘global warming means more Antarctic ice’ — Meet the new consensus, the opposite of the old consensus

Borenstein has a long history of promoting global warming fears at the expense of journalistic ethics. See: ‘Long sad history of AP reporter Seth Borenstein’s woeful global warming reporting’ More on Borenstein here.

Climate Depot Analysis:

First off, no mention of all=time record sea ice (not land based ice sheets) expansion in Antarctica. See: Feds: ‘January had largest Antarctic sea ice extent on record’ – NCDC: ‘Antarctic sea ice during January was 890,000 square miles (44.6 percent) above the 1981–2010 average. This was the largest January Antarctic sea ice extent on record, surpassing the previous record set in 2008 by 220,000 square miles.’ & National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC): Past 3 years in a row set ice record! ‘Sea ice in Antarctica has remained at satellite-era record high daily levels for most of 2014′

And yes, AP’s Seth Borenstein has previously tried to claim that more Antarctic sea ice is caused by global warming. See: AP’s Seth Borenstein at it again! Claims ‘global warming means more Antarctic ice’ — Meet the new consensus, the opposite of the old consensus

Of course this claim ignores contrary data. See: Brian Gunter: ‘Antarctic Continent Has Not Warmed In The Last 50 Years’ — ‘Zero temperature trend for the main regions of the Antarctic continent’

And by just focusing on the smaller West Antarctic ice sheets, the AP seems to be intentionally misleading readers by ignoring the conditions on the vast bulk of Antarctica. See: 2013: New paper finds the majority of East Antarctic glaciers have advanced in size since 1990 – A new paper published in Nature.

Climate Depot’s Point-By-Point Rebuttal of latest Antarctic melt fears:

AP claim: ‘In the worst case scenario, Antarctica’s melt could push sea levels up 10 feet (3 meters) worldwide in a century or two…Scientists estimate it will take anywhere from 200 to 1,000 years to melt enough ice to raise seas by 10 feet, maybe only 100 years in a worst case scenario.’

Climate Depot Response: This is just speculation, unproven predictions amped up with extreme scenarios and not based on current climate reality. According to the AP’s article, the melt rate has slowed down. See: Sunshine Hours blog: Antarctica Losing 130 gigatons of ice per year (last Year it was 159 gigatons per year) 1) Last year it was 159 gigatons per year (Almost all of it where there are volcanoes under the ice)

2) NSIDC: “The Antarctic Ice Sheet contains 30 million cubic kilometers (7.2 million cubic miles) of ice.” A gigaton of ice is approximately one cubic kilometer of ice.

So … at 130 gigatons per year, how long before Antarctica melts? That would be 30,000,000 / 130.

The Answer: 230,000 years until Antarctica melts.

Why did Associated Press Borenstein fail to mention that?

This is not the first time the AP’s Borenstein has done this type of misleading reporting. In 2008, Borenstein was criticised by scientists for similar journalistic efforts.

From 2008 report: Climate scientist Ben Herman, past director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and former Head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona, stated, “It is interesting that all of the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) stories concerning Antarctica are always about what’s happening around the [western] peninsula, which seems to be the only place on Antarctica that has shown warming. How about the net ‘no change’ or ‘cooling’ over the rest of the continent, which is probably about 95% of the land mass, not to mention the record sea ice coverage recently.”


AP Claim: ‘130 billion tons of ice (118 billion metric tons) per year for the past decade, according to NASA satellite calculations. That’s the weight of more than 356,000 Empire State Buildings, enough ice melt to fill more than 1.3 million Olympic swimming pools.’

Climate Depot Response:  Sounds scary, right? Well, that is what the AP reporters want you to be scared. But just how alarming is  that melt rate? The AP answers that question many paragraphs later.

“At its current rate, the rise of the world’s oceans from Antarctica’s ice melt would be barely noticeable, about one-third of a millimeter a year. The oceans are that vast.”

So all of these analogies about Empire State Buildings and Olympic swimming pools amount to ‘barely noticeable.’  Of course the rate of sea level rise is not noticing anything unusual in Antarctica. Even the IPCC concedes that there was no significant anthropogenic influence on climate prior to 1950, thus man is not be responsible for sea level rise beginning 150-200 years ago, at the end of the Little Ice Age.

Via The Hockey Schtick: The sea level rise over the past ~200 years shows no evidence of acceleration, which is necessary to assume a man-made influence. Sea level rise instead decelerated over the 20th centurydecelerated 31% since 2002 and decelerated 44% since 2004 to less than 7 inches per century. There is no evidence of an acceleration of sea level rise, and therefore no evidence of any man-made effect on sea levels. Sea level rise is primarily a local phenomenon related to land subsidence, not CO2 levels. Therefore, areas with groundwater depletion and land subsidence have much higher rates of relative sea level rise, but this has absolutely nothing to do with man-made CO2.

Scientist counters media hype on Antarctic ice sheet ‘collapse: ‘It has been in progress for several thousand years, and is neither new nor man-caused’

Some Perspective on the Headlining Antarctic Ice Loss Trends – The press coverage is aimed to make this sound alarming—“This West Antarctic region sheds a Mount Everest-sized amount of ice every two years, study says” screamed the Washington Post. Wow! That sounds like a lot. Turns out, it isn’t. The global oceans are vast. Adding a “Mount Everest-sized amount of ice every two years” to them results in a sea level rise of 0.02 inches per year.

Climatologist Dr. Pat Michaels Mocks climate claims: ‘Sea levels have been rising since before the end of the last ice age, about 11,600 years before the Industrial Revolution’


AP Claim: ‘The world’s fate hangs on the question of how fast the ice melts.’

Climate Depot Response: Drama queen nonsense not rooted in scientific evidence.


AP claim“I was last here 10 years ago,” Convey said during a rare sunny day on the island, with temperatures just above freezing. “And if you compare what I saw back then to now, the basic difference due to warming is that the permanent patches of snow and ice are smaller. They’re still there behind me, but they’re smaller than they were.”

Climate Depot Response: This is just anecdotal evidence based on personal observation and an extremely short 10 year window which tell us nothing about climate time scales of 20, 50, 100 years or longer. Misleading Hype Over Antarctic Ice Loss: ‘Antarctic land ice has been steadily disappearing since the end of the Ice Age, some 18,000 years ago’ – ‘Their new survey covers just three years, up to 2013. The previous period, that they compare against, was 2005-11. Would any serious scientists use such short periods to make claims about trends?’

Also, the AP article failed to mention that climate is not a one way street. Other variables can contribute to a sea level reduction. See: Paper predicts increased precipitation in Antarctica will slow sea level rise by > 1 mm/yr & New paper finds East Antarctic ice sheet will have negative contribution to sea levels over next 200 years – Published The Cryosphere

Why did the AP leave out peer-reviewed studies that were inconvenient to the their ‘worse than we thought’ narrative? See:

Mankind Not Causing West Antarctic Glaciers To Collapse: ‘The warming and cooling in the South Pole is well in line with historical trends dating back thousands of years’ – ‘Study from British Antarctic Survey released last year found that the current melt in the western Antarctic is within the “natural range of climate variability” of the last 300 years.’

Also, why did AP leave out studies revealing that current temperatures in Antarctica are not ‘unprecedented.’ See: Latest Research: Antarctica Was Warmer During Medieval Period

New paper finds most of Antarctica cooled over the past 1,000 years: A new paper published in Nature Climate Change reconstructs temperatures in Antarctica and South America over the past 1000 years and shows that most of Antarctica has cooled over the past 1000 years.

And even further back: Antarctic palm trees: 52M years ago: ‘New paper in Nature: ‘Persistent near-tropical warmth on the Antarctic continent during the early Eocene epoch’ – Analysis: ‘The finding, if true, proves that all existing climate models are complete rubbish because they obviously don’t allow the continental temperatures to naturally change by this much’


AP Claim: ‘Now scientists in two different studies use the words “irreversible” and “unstoppable” to talk about the melting in West Antarctica.’

Climate Depot Response: AP says ‘now’ those apocalyptic terms are being used as if Antarctica ice sheet melt fears were new or something. Far from it.  Borenstein is not the first one to hype these same Antarctica melt fears. Virtually the exact same claims and hype have were recycled in 2014, 1990, 1979, 1922 and 1901. Yes, the same recycled Antarctic ice melt and catastrophic sea level rise scares have been around since 1901!

2014: Let’s start with 2014: Flashback 2014: Watch: WUSA 9 DC TV station on Antarctic melt fears features images of DC monuments underwater. ‘It’s our choice how fast the seas rise’ – We control sea level rise? Watch Now: Local DC News Schlock Report on Antarctica & Sea Level Rise ‘It’s our choice how fast the seas rise and that gives us time to prepare and protect our communities in a smart way.’ – Brenda Ekwurzel – Union of Concerned Scientists

The same claims about Antarctic ice melt and DC landmarks were made in 1990.

1990Flashback January 11, 1990: NBC’s Today Show features Paul Ehrlich warning of impacts of Antarctic ice melt: ‘You Could Tie Your Boat to the Washington Monument’ – Paul Ehrlich: ‘As global temperatures rise, they may cause the massive West Antarctic ice sheet to slip more rapidly. Then we’ll be facing a sea-level rise not of one to three feet in a century, but of 10 or 20 feet in a much shorter time. The Supreme Court would be flooded. You could tie your boat to the Washington Monument. Storm surges would make the Capitol unusable. For Today, Paul Ehrlich in Washington, DC, on the future shoreline of Chesapeake Bay.”

And the same Antarctic melt and sea level rise fears in 1979.

1979 NYT: “Boats could be launched from the bottom of the steps of the Capitol’ in DC –‘Experts Tell How Antarctic’s Ice Could Cause Widespread Floods – Mushy Ice Beneath Sheet’ – Jan. 8, 1979]

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1922: And the same story was told in 1922 warning of ‘Biblical deluge’ and a ‘Worldwide flood’ due to a potentially melting Antarctica.  1922: ‘Today’s scare of the day is that Antarctica is going to collapse and drown us all – in about 1,000 years. Scientists told exactly the same story in 1922′ – The Mail Adelaide, SA – April 29, 1922 – 1922 Article Excerpt: ‘We are now, it is believed, slowly approaching another warm epoch, when, if it becomes universal, affecting both hemispheres together, the ice will again melt, and the sea rise to its ancient level, submerging an enormous portion of what is now dry and thickly populated land. According to another view the melting of the ice and rise of the sea may occur comparatively suddenly instead of being a very gradual process, spread over many centuries…With [Antarctic] ice ever forming above and a sea gradually growing warmer below, the process must eventually over balance, the undermined glaciers disintegrate, and the ice-cap break up. Mountain after mountain of ice will fall into the sea, be swept northwards by the currents, and melt, thus bringing about, but at a much more rapid rate, the threatened inundation of the land by the rising of the sea to its ancient level.

ScreenHunter_388 May. 12 17.28

1901: And the same story on Antarctic melt fears was being hyped in 1901. ‘London On The Border of Destruction’: ‘To Be Wiped Out By A Huge Wave’ – Queanbeyan Age – August 10, 1901 Excerpt: ‘According to a recent theory of some geologists London is on the border edge of destruction, the destroying angel being the great Antarctic icecap which has been forming itself for centuries, and which holds at present in its grip all the waters drawn from off the Northern Hemisphere. Geologists believe that this great ice sucker has reached the stage of perfection when it will, break up again, letting loose all the waters of its suction over the two hemispheres, and completely flooding the low-lying lands of Europe, Asia, and North America. This being the case, London will be swept out of sight in less time than can be calculated by this great wall of water a mile high, and huge blocks of ice be hurled here, there, and everywhere.’

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Also, there is nothing new scientifically: See: Flashback 1932: West Antarctic Ice Loss Has Been Occurring For Centuries

‘The Western Antarctic Ross Ice Shelf retreated 30 miles before 1932. It has nothing to do with CO2’

ScreenHunter_7963 Mar. 16 23.07

21 Jul 1932 – A Warmer World. – 21 July 1932: “SOME great world change is taking place on the Antarctic Continent. Its glaciers are shrinking. Commander L.A. Bernacchi, who visited the South Polar land 30 years ago, says that the Great Ice Barrier which fronts the continent with a wall of ice for 250 miles has receded at least 30 miles since it was first seen and surveyed. Sir James Ross, who went out on the earliest Antarctic expedition of the nineteenth century, and those who fol lowed him, left clear descriptions of this tremendous ice frontage and its position. It was a cliff 150ft. high and 1000ft. thick. But now it appears to be continuing its century-long process of shrinking; and that process may have been going on for centuries.

Geologist Dr. Don Easterbrook’s new paper: ‘The West Antarctic ice sheet is NOT collapsing, the retreat of these small glaciers is NOT caused by global warming’

Even the New York Times cringes at use these types of alarmist terms about Antarctica. See: NYT’s Revkin on Antarctic sea level scare study: ‘Awful misuse of “Collapse” in headlines on centuries-long ice loss in W. Antarctica. See rates in papers. Same as ’09′

‘Irreversible Collapse Of Climate Alarmism’ – Antarctica & Sea Level claims – ‘Yet another non-crisis crisis’ – ‘Truth sacrificed in the name of sensationalism’


AP claim: ‘What’s happening is simple physics. Warm water eats away at the ice from underneath. Then more ice is exposed to the water, and it too melts. Finally, the ice above the water collapses into the water and melts.’

Climate Depot Response: ‘Simple physics’? Is the AP serious? What about simple data that counters  their ‘simple’ propaganda? See: No Warming In Antarctica During Satellite Record – Since 1979 – ‘According to GHG theory, it is the poles which should be warming fastest. Apparently, nobody told the South Pole.’

MIT Scientists Confirm Antarctica Is Cooling – ‘Antarctica has cooled and has gained some ice recently’ – Abstract excerpt: ‘The eastern Antarctic and Antarctic plateau have cooled, primarily in summer, with warming over the Antarctic Peninsula and Patagonia . – Abstract excerpt: ‘The eastern Antarctic and Antarctic plateau have cooled, primarily in summer, with warming over the Antarctic Peninsula and Patagonia .

NOAA Data Show Southern Oceans Getting Colder…Contributing To Rapid South Polar Sea Ice Expansion


AP claim: ‘Over at NASA, ice scientist Eric Rignot said the melting “is going way faster than anyone had thought. It’s kind of a red flag.”

Climate Depot Response: The old ‘faster than anyone had thought’ canard. Who is ‘anyone’ and how ‘fast’ was their ‘thought’ about melting? All sounds very unscientific and more like political campaigning than scientists dispassionately looking at evidence.


AP claim: Rignot, of NASA:  “We have to stop it; or we have to slow it down as best as we can.”

Climate Depot Response: ‘We have to stop’ ice from melting? How? Through EPA regulations? UN Treaties? What about multiple peer-reviewed research countering claims that the West Antarctic melt is due to human activity?  See: New Study finds West Antarctic Ice Sheet outlet glacier being melted by magma – not co2 global warming after all – Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

New paper finds West Antarctic glacier likely melting from geothermal heat below from volcanoes – Published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters

Study: ‘Earthquakes suggest magma still churns beneath a previously unknown subglacial volcano in West Antarctica’s Executive Committee Range’

West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting From Geothermal Heat, Not Global Warming

Studies indicate collapse of West Antarctic ice sheet is typical of interglacials: ‘Thus, the complete collapse and disappearance of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet is typical of interglacials, there is no evidence that man has anything to do with the cause, nor that man can stop this phenomenon by forsaking use of fossil fuels.’

What about the rest of Antarctica? New Study Finds ‘Surprisingly Thick Antarctic Sea Ice’ – Published in journal Nature Geoscience

The AP left out contrary peer-reviewed studies, data and trends that counter the articles claims and serious doubts by even warmist researchers about attributing any potential melting in West Antarctica to human causes. See: AGW link ‘is pretty tenuous’: Researcher ‘has a problem’ with attributing West Antarctic Ice Sheet ‘collapse’ to human activity – “I have a problem with the widespread implication (in the popular press) that the West Antarctic collapse can be attributed to anthropogenic climate change,” said Mike Wolovik, a graduate researcher at Lamont-Doherty who studies ice sheet dynamics. “The marine ice sheet instability is an inherent part of ice sheet dynamics that doesn’t require any human forcing to operate. When the papers say that collapse is underway, and likely to last for several hundred years, that’s a reasonable and plausible conclusion.”

Geochemist: Chilling the melting Antarctic hysteria – ‘Thawing of glaciers is historically followed by refreezing’ – ‘Erosion of Antarctica’s glaciers has proceeded unabated since the end of the last ice age and continued slowly through the past century to the present day. Passage of time, even millennia, would be required before enough ice melted to raise sea levels by the 12 to 13 feet mentioned in recent news accounts, assuming the rate of about 7 inches per century remains constant…Statements suggesting man-made carbon dioxide somehow triggers high-velocity circumpolar winds over the Southern Ocean is speculative for a region already notorious for high winds and treacherous seas. But, he said, the link between CO2 levels and the loss of ice in West Antarctica “is pretty tenuous.” The upwelling of warmer waters that melt the ice has been tied to stronger westerly winds around Antarctica, which have been linked to a stronger air pressure difference between the polar latitudes and the mid-latitudes, which have in turn been linked to global warming.

AGW: more Wind & Rubbish: ‘By far the biggest piece of rubbish from the alarmist camp has been the release of a new paper about Antarctic winds’ – ‘This paper is co-authored by Matthew England. England has written other papers on wind. His past papers describe how winds have driven the missing heat to the ocean bottom which explains the temperature hiatus. The absurdity of that proposition is critiqued here.’

Related Links:

Watch Now: Morano on Fox News rebuts study claiming ‘Unstoppable’ Antarctica melting & Sea Level Rise: ‘When current reality fails to alarm, they make a bunch of scary predictions’

We control sea level rise? Watch Now: Local DC News Schlock Report on Antarctica & Sea Level Rise: ‘It’s our choice how fast the seas rise’ – WUSA Ch. 9 DC: ‘It’s our choice how fast the seas rise and that gives us time to prepare and protect our communities in a smart way.’ – Brenda Ekwurzel – Union of Concerned Scientists –Junk Science Analysis: ‘We have a President who said he could stop the seas from rising and now a Concerned Scientist who says it’s our choice. ‘

Atmospheric Physicist Dr. Fred Singer on Antarctica melt claims: Old news, new panic

Real Science: ‘Tracing The Antarctic Scam’

Flashback 1929: ‘Primitive Peoples’ Have Always Had Flood Myths: ‘The Antarctica is melting and is going to drown us all story has been a useful tool for generating research money – for as long as scientists have known about Antarctica.’

NYT in 2014: ‘Sometime between 200 and 900 years from now the rate of ice loss from this glacier could reach a volume sufficient to raise sea levels about 4 inches (100 millimeters) a century. At that point, according to the paper, ice loss could pick up steam, with big losses over a period of decades.* But in a phone conversation, Joughin said the modeling was not reliable enough to say how much, how soon. “Collapse is a good scientific word,” he told me, “but maybe it’s kind of a bad word” in the context of news. There’s more on this work ina well-written news release from Joughin’s university. We are talking about a retreat that is unstoppable because we think we have enough evidence to say that these glaciers will keep retreating for decades and even centuries to come…. We’re talking about a slow degradation of ice in this part of Antarctica. Disturbingly, you can backtrack to 2009 and see a similar burst of “collapse” news around the release of two Nature papers, even though the science then also spoke of sea-level changes over millenniums. Click back to “Study: West Antarctic Melt a Slow Affair” for a bit of déjà vu.

Flashback 2009: Study finds West Antarctic Ice Sheet May Not Be Losing Ice As Fast As Once Thought

New study: Antarctic ice shelves showing no sign of global warming – June 2009

Scientists: ‘Why the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are Not Collapsing’

Shock: Real Climate touted Steig et al ‘Antarctica is warming’ study ‘falsified’ — ‘the paper’s premise has been falsified’ ]

Study finds: West Antarctic Ice Sheet May Not Be Losing Ice As Fast As Once Thought – October 19, 2009 – University of Texas at Austin Press Release

Flashback: Gore’s ‘melting’ Antarctic claims refuted by reality — Climate Depot counters Gore’s claims