Melting Ice And Rising Sea Level Is Not A Proxy For Warming

Dedicated to Drewski.

One of the densest alarmist claims often made is that shrinking ice is an indication of warming temperatures. Ice melts when the temperature is above freezing. Ice accumulates during ice ages. Ice melts during interglacials.

For the last 8,000 years temperatures have been falling, while sea level has been rising. Is this a paradox? Only if you are a scientific illiterate.

About stevengoddard

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45 Responses to Melting Ice And Rising Sea Level Is Not A Proxy For Warming

  1. suyts says:

    Drewski is the man! What’s the average temp in north Greenland right now? Those damned properties of H2O and physic laws……they screw up the best of psuedo-science theories!!!

  2. Daniel Packman says:

    The graphs of the last 150 years show a steady increase in sea level that is constant with the corresponding global warming .Your Holocene graph is dominated by the very slow melting of the Laurentide ice sheet.

    • pwl says:

      Can you not see the great big decline? Guess you’re blind to that by cherry picking the last 150 years.

      • pwl says:

        In a similar manner that it is 10 to 30 years before weather is considered mathematically to be climate, on a long term of 10,000 years a mere 150 years is barely a blip mathematically unless it expands outside of the 10,000 year highs or lows range – at least this seems apparent to me mathematically.

        The primary way that “climate” is used is as mathematical notion. 10 to 30 years of weather or other data is considered one data point in climate science, typically with 30 years seemingly preferred.

        Short term “climate”:
        1 month is mathematically 0.83% of 10 years (120 months).
        1 month is mathematically 0.27% of 30 years (360 months).

        In the long term that is rather short sighted since the longer the term one looks at the less 10 to 30 years contributes mathematically.

        Long term “climate”:
        100 years is mathematically 1.0% of 10,000 years.
        150 years is mathematically 1.5% of 10,000 years.

        There are of course even longer periods of “climate” since the planet is ~4.3 billion years old.

        When looking at periods like 10,000 years or ~12,500 years since the last ice age ended 150 years (1,800) months is nothing but a tiny blip of 1.2% to 1.5.

        When put in this light 150 years is like similar to about ~5.5 months on the 30 year scale and only about ~2 months on a 10 year scale. As we’re often told a month or season or so isn’t “climate” it’s weather… so 150 isn’t long term climate it’s just short term climate.

        Of course the larger the change in a period of time means that it will contribute more mathematically for that period to the “average” so certain short periods times are correspondingly more relevant when they have correspondingly sharper slopes.

        That is an implication of the main usage of the term “climate” being a mathematical abstraction.

        There are other uses of the word but I’m not addressing those here (e.g. climate zone, micro climate, …).

        That is why 150 years isn’t all that scary. There where periods much warmer and the long term 10,000+ trend is cooling with many places being 2c or more warmer for much of that time (Greenland ice core data shows about ~8,100 warmer to much warmer than any of the last 100 years out of the last 10,500 years). Also the slope of the last 150 years isn’t remarkable.

    • If you are incapable of rational thought than no point talking to you.

      • Bill Hartree says:


        Hi, we met in Lisbon a few months ago.

        Accusing someone of incapability of rational thought without proferring evidence for this damning judgement sits ill with your supposed support for reconciliation in the climate change debate.

        Mr. Packman’s point that ice cap melting can lag the end of an ice age by millenia strikes me as a perfectly rational assertion.

      • Hi Bill,

        For the past 8,000 years temperatures have been falling and the ice has been melting. The fact that the ice has been melting is not in any way an indicator of rising temperatures.

      • Bill Hartree says:

        Steve, Never mind Mr Packman’s rational faculties, I’m concerned about yours. Are you suggesting that when, say, the snows melt in Springtime in your part of Colorado it is not an indicator of rising temperatures?

        • Bill,

          The ice caps have been melting for 18,000 years – during periods of both warming and cooling. ]

          Melt indicates that temperatures are above freezing. Ice doesn’t care what temperatures were yesterday or will be tomorrow.

      • Bill Hartree says:

        Steve, you say: “Melt indicates that temperatures are above freezing”. I agree. The corollary is that absence of melt indicates temperatures are not above freezing. So, if ice is melting the temperature has gone from less than the melting point to greater than the melting point in the air/water/land adjacent to the ice.

        Ergo, it is an indicator of warming.

        By the way, the temperature plot you have shown, with the point at AD 2004, is a beautiful hockey stick – with an 8000 year handle. Are you sure we should be taking it as reliable? I thought the stick was supposed to be broken.

        • Bill,

          Yes, it is an indication of warming – 18,000 years ago. Ice is normally either accumulating (ice age) or ablating (interglacial.)

          For almost all of the last 18,000 years the ice has been melting, and sea level has risen over 100 metres. Ice melting is not a proxy for indicating recent warming. During the 1960s, the Earth was cooling, but the ice continued to melt.

      • Paul H says:


        I think the point Steve is making is that the ice sheets have been melting and will continue to do so while ever temperatures are higher than they were during the ice age.

        This obviously has nothing to do with whether temperatures now are getting warmer, colder or staying the same.

      • Bill Hartree says:

        Wow, this is getting really heavy (dense?), Steve.

        So, ice is melting today because of a temperature change 18 millenia ago. Does this mean that the the large changes in, say, arctic sea ice volume between summer and winter are actually due to some fluctuation occuring 18,000 years ago? Also, how does all this square with your previous statement that “ice doesn’t care what happened yesterday”? Presumably it wouldn’t care about what happened 18 millenia ago either?

        • Bill,

          Ice melts above the freezing point. It doesn’t matter what the temperature was yesterday or tomorrow. It doesn’t matter if the room is cooling or heating. As long as the temperature is above freezing, the ice will continue to melt.

          For the past 8,000 years, temperatures have been cooling on Earth. During that period the ice cap has melted substantially. What part of that isn’t clear?

      • glacierman says:

        Bill Says: “So, if ice is melting the temperature has gone from less than the melting point to greater than the melting point in the air/water/land adjacent to the ice.

        Ergo, it is an indicator of warming.”

        Ice melts every year during the warmer months and at the edges of the ice sheets at their lower extents. The recession of the ice sheets during this interglacial period is an indication of less accumulation than melt off over time. Most geologist believe glacial periods are periods of higher accumulation in the source areas of the glaciers, not necessarily periods of lower temperatures. Its not as if ice didn’t melt during the last ice age, there was just enough new accumulation to make up for what was lost by ice accumulation and movement.

        Bill, where do you think the ice sheet that covered North America originated?

    • Paul H says:

      Yes we had not realised that the Laurentide ice sheet stopped melting in 1979.

      • Mike Davis says:

        The Glacier that still exist on the North American continent are what remains of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. The only periods they stopped melting for any length of time was during periods of glacial expansion! (LIA for one)

      • Mike Davis says:

        That was supposed to be multiple glaciers. At least I think there is evidence of more than one glacier on the North American Continent! 😉

  3. Mike Davis says:

    I am not familiar with you but there is no reason for reconciliation as there is nothing to reconcile. Weather is variable over longer periods than we have monitored and the study of long term weather patterns is Climate. Climate is not changing for the simple reason that we are experiencing similar conditions as were experienced over the last twelve thousand years at various points in time. Weather has had long term trends before due to natural forcing and that is the same today. Debate is futile because there is nothing to debate. The Climatologists have provided their position and it has been shown to be a false one. END OF STORY!
    On the other hand Climate is Change so the only way to claim it is changing is if it stopped changing and that would be the end of life as we know it.
    They can show with models that humans have been a major contributing factor in some imagined warming that is questionable. A model run could also show that human contributions have restricted natural warming that might have been expected coming out of the Little Ice Age period of cooling as the globe has not achieved the extent of warmth as during the Medieval Warm Period or before that the Roman Warm Period. Because of that it is more likely that if humans contributed to weather conditions that it was by restricting the warming rather than causing the warming. Of course the globe has been in a natural cooling trend for up to 8 thousand years so even the idea of humans causing the cooling is ludicrous.
    You go ahead and play your what if games and I will continue to counter them!
    Reconciliation is a delaying tactic put in play by those that have already failed! There is NO MIDDLE GROUND!

  4. Bill Hartree says:

    Mike, If reconciliation is pointless you might like to ask the author of this blog why he attended an all-expenses paid junket in Lisbon a few months ago which had the declared aim of achieving reconciliation in the Climate Change controversy. If he agrees with you then he seems to have been wilfully wasting European taxpayers’ money.

    • Bill,

      It is unfortunate that none of the perpetrators of climate nonsense decided to show up for the meeting. The people who came were all very reasonable. Why do you think that the others didn’t come?

      • Bill Hartree says:

        These “perpetrators of climate nonsense” would I assume include the paleoclimatologists who have produced the first of the graphs you have shown in your post and on which you base your thesis. After all, it indicates that current global temperatures are well above those of the Medieval Warm Period despite the strong historical evidence to the contrary presented by the viking settlement of Greenland and vineyards in Medieval England. The fraudsters Mann, Jones, Briffa et al. have clearly been up to their “tricks” with this graph.

        • Bill,

          Please read the title of the article again. All I am saying is the obvious fact that glaciers melting and sea level rising is not an indication of warming temperatures.

    • Paul H says:

      “wilfully wasting European taxpayers’ money.”


      The EU wastes £20 billion of UK taxpayers’ money each year, not to mention billions more in Climate Change Research. Windfarm subsidies etc.


  5. Mike Davis says:

    Steven has his own opinions regarding the state of the climate issue. If he thinks reconciliation is possible that is his business and I once believed World Peace was a possibility. I see no real world evidence that there is any human caused catastrophic climate change happening.
    Maybe you should instead ask the Climatologists why they have wasted Millions if not Billions of European Dollars chasing imaginary phantoms. Whatever money was spent allowing Steven the opportunity to speak and participate probably was not wasted. Most of the people that attended I consider Luke Warmers that still want the science to be correct. Steven provided a good balance for you. As he already said the Chicken Little Brigade chose not to participate.

  6. Bill Hartree says:

    Steven, you write:

    “It doesn’t matter if the room is cooling or heating. As long as the temperature is above freezing, the ice will continue to melt. ”

    One of the problems I am having is that the thesis you present in your original post is unclear – hardly surprising since it contains only five lines of text. I note that other contributors to this thread are having to do some interpretative work: “I think what Steven is saying….” etc. Things seem to be becoming clearer now. In particular, you say:

    “It doesn’t matter if the room is cooling or heating. As long as the temperature is above freezing, the ice will continue to melt. ”

    I can completely concur with this (reconciliation?). Provided ice is surrounded by material – gas,solid, liquid – permanently above its melting point it will indeed melt regardless of any fluctuations in temperature of that material. This seems wholly uncontroversial, and yet you claim that “alarmists” think otherwise. Are you able to give names?

    Moreover, your thesis does not in any way preclude attributing the decline of, say, Arctic sea ice to increased average temperatures since in the Arctic the temperature does indeed fall below freezing.

  7. glacierman says:

    Does melting artic ice increase sea level?

    • What type of ice are you referring to?

      • glacierman says:

        I am just trying to figure out where Bill is coming from. He appears to be of the opinion that ice is melting, sea levels are rising, ” Ergo, it is an indicator of warming.”

        There are other reasons that ice amounts are lower without it strictly being because it is melting. As previously stated, ice melted during the advance of the last continental glaciers. The sea ice in the artic melts every year, that is why 5-year old ice is considered old.

        I asked Bill where the continental glaciers originated from and he did not answer, so I am just trying to see what he is thinking.

  8. Mike Davis says:

    What I have read is that decreasing Arctic sea ice is mainly due to wind patterns and currents that push the ice to warmer regions!

  9. Andy Weiss says:

    There is never going to be “reconcilliation” with True Believers any more than between radical Islam and Catholics. The True Believers are never going to give an inch, no matter what evidence you present. They always fall back by mouthing their Scriptures (10 of the last 12 years were the warmest on record).

    Regardless of how many times you point out contrary data or that the data is flawed, they counter by saying you are paranoid, anti intellectual, anti science and a menace to humanity.

    Steve, it was a nice gesture to go to Portugal, but you are wasting your time if you have any notion of converting True Believers.

    • drewski says:

      “The True Believers are never going to give an inch, no matter what evidence you present. They always fall back by mouthing their Scriptures (10 of the last 12 years were the warmest on record).”

      Please provide evidence that the last decade was NOT the warmest on record. And while you are at it, please give an explanation as how these record-setting hot years have occurred during the lowest solar minimum on record.

  10. Andy Weiss says:

    Mr. Drewski,

    If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will find ample evidence of data misrepresentation that brings the multiple claims of “warmest month” or “warmest year” ever into serious question.

    There has apparently been no warming during the last ten years and long term heat records have not recently been challanged in most places. It appears that recent weather has been falling within the limits of past climatology with very few exceptions.

    There may be some warming. The climate always changes. But the issue is whether there is a genuine threat of catastrophic runway warming that requires drastic, immediate and very expensive action. That is highly questionable.



    • drewski says:

      That was your “evidence”?!

      • Mike Davis says:

        Due to the problems with the surface temperature record it is possible there has been NO statistically significant warming since the late 1800s using peak to peak comparisons. The warmest year in the 1800s was within error range of the warmest recent year and the 30s had a few years of equal warmth. Number of so called warm years or cold years just provide evidence of natural variability. There is NO signature for human induced warming on a global scale.

      • drewski says:

        “Due to the problems with the surface temperature record “IT IS POSSIBLE” there has been NO statistically significant warming since the late 1800s using peak to peak comparisons.”

        In other words, you have diddly.

        BTW — This surface temperature record you are referring to as the basis for your argument — aren’t these the records that the BEST analysis appears to be in perfect agreement with? You know that new re-analysis largely funded by the Koch brothers which is calculating in all the concerns of the skeptic community.

      • drewski says:

        Oh, and the 1930’s were of equal warmth in the United States — not globally — an area approximately 5% of the world’s land mass.

      • Mike Davis says:

        In other words Drewski: I am showing the climatologists have diddly.
        I have no idea about the BEST fiasco. I have researched the problems with the surface temperature records and they are worse than pure garbage. The historical anecdotal evidence is more reliable than the so called instrumental records and the anecdotal records tell a completely different story than the fairy tales you are defending.
        Evidence supports the 30s being global also as long as the records are not “Properly Corrupted”!

      • Mike Davis says:

        The surface area measured Globally is less than one hundredth of one percent and the rest is extrapolated. The results are based on Wild Ass Guesses, Certainly not science!

  11. Bill Hartree says:

    Steven, 28 April:

    “All I am saying is the obvious fact that glaciers melting and sea level rising is not an indication of warming temperatures.”

    Steven, 27 April:

    “Yes, it is an indication of warming – 18,000 years ago. ”

    Sorry, Steven, you’ve completely lost me. Thanks for hosting my comments on your blog, but I think I’d better bid you adieu now, or as they say in Lisbon “adeus”.

    • Bill,

      I know that you are smarter than you are playing out here. If it hadn’t been for the ice age prior to 18,000 years ago, there wouldn’t be any ice to melt.

      Since then, ice has been melting almost continuously during periods of both warming and cooling. For the last 8,000 years, the Earth has been cooling, yet sea level rose 14 metres. Ice melting is not a proxy for warming.

      • drewski says:

        Steve Goddard: “The Arctic Ocean is smaller than the US.”

        Actually the Arctic Ocean occupies a roughly circular basin and covers an area of about 14,056,000 km2 (5,427,000 sq mi), almost the size of Russia — the United States (including Alaska and interior lakes) is 3,794,083 square miles — roughly 50% smaller.

        Steve, how many simple geographical mistakes does that make for you now?

      • suyts says:

        Drewski,……. yeh, well, sort of,

        “total: 14.056 million sq km
        note: includes Baffin Bay, Barents Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, East Siberian Sea, Greenland Sea, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, Northwest Passage, and other tributary water bodies”


        Quibble details much?

  12. drewski says:

    Suyts: The United States includes Maine, New jersey, South Carolina, Nevada, Texas plus 45 more states — that is what makes up the United States.

    The Arctic Ocean — as you have pointed out — is made up of its own constituents.

    It doesn’t change the fact that the Arctic Ocean is still almost 50% larger than the US and Stevey is still wrong (which seems to happen quite a lot).

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