The new era of ‘global boiling’ has brought a return of the much loved climate scare story featuring the imminent demise of the Greenland ice sheet. The Daily Mail recently ran a headline noting the ‘Impact of Global Boiling‘, saying it has “shocking” photos showing how much the ice sheet has melted during the “hottest month ever recorded on Earth”. Snow melt is said to be higher than the 1981-2010 average.
But, alas, those who strive for accuracy in these matters are likely to quibble. The Earth is not “boiling” – that is the unhinged raving of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – the claim about July comes from a computer model, while “ever” refers to data of varying quality going back barely 150 years. Furthermore, the surface balance of ice on the Greenland ice sheet is higher than the 1981-2010 average, and could improve on last’s year performance, when there was little or no loss of the surface mass after the brief summer melting season.
If the Mail is “shocked” by how much the Greenland ice sheet has melted this year, it probably didn’t consult the polar portal site run by Danish meteorologists, which updates an accurate record on a daily basis. Both graphs above show the effect of a cold June where the ice loss was considerably lower than the previous year. Warmer weather arrived from the south in late June in time for the peak summer melt season.
As the second graph shows, the accumulation of surface ice on Greenland is more than the 1981-2010 average, and a big improvement on a decade ago. But as the Daily Sceptic noted recently, the current improvement can be seen in an even better light. A number of scientific institutions still use a decadal 1981-2010 average for comparison purposes, despite data to 2020 being available. The cynical might note that the ice sheet lost just 51 gigatonnes a year in the 1980s, compared to an annual loss of 244 gts in the 2010s. Updating the average figure would greatly amplify the recent, and continuing, recovery in the surface ice mass.