The Monckton has landed in New Zealand, and he’s up to his usual tricks. In a desperate display of attention-seeking behaviour, the discount Viscount has lashed out at his critics, threatened libel actions against a scientist and a journalist, and attacked the good standing of Victoria University of Wellington. To make matters worse, in a talkback session with Leighton Smith on Newstalk ZB earlier today, he was given free rein to tell lies and misrepresent the state of our understanding of climate science.
Unfortunately a full recording of Monckton’s radio performance is not (yet) available on the web1, but in a brief section discussing Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, he made the following astonishing and counterfactual claims:
- During the 1920s and 1930s there was probably less Arctic sea ice than now
- The Arctic sea ice has only declined for a few weeks in summer
- Arctic sea ice set a new record high only two weeks ago
- Increases in Antarctic sea ice make up for half of the loss in the Arctic
- There’s no way water can get under the Antarctic ice sheet
Here’s the facts:
According to the best dataset we have for the last 110 years, the present Arctic sea ice extent is at it its lowest level in all seasons. Paleoclimate data indicate that current extent is probably the lowest for several thousand years, as this graph shows (source):
Arctic sea ice reaches its annual minimum in September. Last year’s minimum extent represented a 3.29 million square kilometre — or 49% — drop below the 1979 to 2000 average minimum. Arctic sea ice extent runs below the long term average throughout the year2
Arctic sea ice set no new record high in recent weeks. The 2013 maximum extent was the fifth lowest in the dataset maintained by the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the USA. March (maximum) extent has been declining at 2.5% per decade relative to the 1979 to 2000 average.
Antarctic sea ice has shown a small increase3 in extent over the period of the satellite record, but that in no way “makes up” or somehow compensates for losses in the Arctic4. When Justin Gillis in the New York Times “ran the numbers” on Arctic v Antarctic sea ice last year he reported:
…expressed as a percentage of ocean cover, the decline going on in the Arctic is almost 25 times the increase going on in the Antarctic. Walt Meier, a top scientist at the snow and ice center, told me, “It should be pretty clear that the change in sea ice in the Arctic is much more substantial than what is happening in the Antarctic.” [my emphasis]
Despite Monckton’s claim, there is an awful lot of water under the Antarctic ice sheet, and large parts of the ice sheet are grounded below sea level in both East and West Antarctica, as this map shows (source):
So much for Monckton’s sea ice nonsense. None of the data I’ve provided here is at all controversial or hard to find. It represents a pretty middle of the road view about what’s going on at the poles as they warm. In order to downplay the importance of this knowledge, Monckton has to lie and misrepresent the facts.
As we’ve seen before, this is pretty much his normal modus operandi. Make it up, cock it up and when called on it, resort to threats and bullying. Why this puffed-up pompous hypocrite, a minor UK politician described by a former member of his own party as eccentric “even within the UKIP”, is taken seriously by anyone other than the terminally deluded remains a mystery.
Life is too short to enumerate all the deliberate distortions of climate science he perpetrated under Leighton Smith’s doting gaze, but if this is the standard of the guff he’s going to be offering his New Zealand audiences, I think they should get their money back. Preferably in advance.
- A video of the first 8 minutes of the 90 minute session has been posted by the radio station here. [↩]
- All figures from the NSIDC. Sea ice extent flirted with the long term average for a few days in April 2012 – the first time that had happened since March 2003. Plot it here, and see for yourself. [↩]
- First predicted as a consequence of warming by Manabe et al in 1992 – hat tip to the Rabett. [↩]
- Useful NSIDC comparison here. [↩]