TV3 on thin ice over glacier

Who wants to write a letter?

Once again, Campbell Live runs an alarmist piece on disappearing New Zealand glaciers.

Tonight they featured a climate scientist from Victoria claiming “climate change” is affecting the Franz Josef glacier. It has retreated over the last few decades.

Apparently it’s a “problem”. Actually, listening to the reporter’s tone you’d think it was a tragedy. Loss of a national icon and all that.

But the man on the spot, making a living from helicoptering Japanese tourists to the now-remote glacier, says it comes and goes and it most certainly won’t disappear.

Good news, that!

I thought I should check the temperature and rainfall near the glacier so I downloaded data from NIWA’s Cliflo database for the settlement of Franz Josef (agents 4059, 4060 and 24926) since 1956. Those weather stations are only several kilometres from the glacier. Glacial advance and retreat is based more on mass balance than anything else, and precipitation is an important component of mass balance.

I don’t know whether the rainfall data here include snowfall. Years with missing data were omitted.

So here are the facts of local temperature for nearly 60 years:

Franz Josef temperature

And this has been the rainfall for over 80 years:

Franz Josef rainfall

TV3 had some scientist talking about the glacier and he quickly went on to make vague and scary comments about future sea level. He blamed “climate change” for the retreat but never mentioned how much temperature had risen at the glacier. I smelled a rat. These graphs confirm my suspicions. Climate change has been nowhere near the place.

The only competing voice came from the excellently level-headed bloke running the tours up the glacier. He candidly described how the glacier comes and goes and certainly won’t vanish. When you see the size of it in Google Earth you can only agree, but the reporter asked ridiculously whether we were seeing the last of it now.

Someone should send them a stern letter to ask for a retraction. Now who could it be?

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26 Thoughts on “TV3 on thin ice over glacier

  1. Alexander K on 20/05/2014 at 8:31 am said:

    Campbell’s programme is so Left/trendy it is a national embarrassment and his drive for the heartstrings is always on the silly side.
    Of course his minions see everything as ‘getting worse’ due to the Left not being in power.
    Don’t ask Campbell’s show for science, it doesn’t understand anything but feeeelings.

    • Mike Jowsey on 22/05/2014 at 10:56 pm said:

      AlexK, I don’t watch TV generally. I watch internet. Much less do I watch Campbell. Yet Campbell’s expose of the political machinations surrounding the Dotcom debacle was absolutely marvelous. He really pissed off Mister Key. It was good investigative journalism. Here it is – 16 minutes:

      Note, the second episode of this story was quashed. I imagine Campbell and his backers were seriously hobbled by blue-chip advertisers threatening to withdraw.

      So I just posit that maybe he is not so feeelings oriented as you perceive, especially when his dander is up. One can count on the fingers of one hand the number of good searching investigative reports from msm TV in the last ten years. IMO this is one of them. It raises questions. It can easily be dismissed as tin-foil hat stuff, but it raises questions which have not been answered. A pity that the second episode was never aired.

      So, I think Mr. Campbell has an ounce of scruple, even if he does tend to go off half-cocked. His research team just serves up some half-interesting-to-the-zombies gruel to pad out his half hour in the limelight and in this case we rightfully take exception to it, but to put it in perspective, his side-kick’s few minutes wondering if Franz Joseph is doomed will not change anyone’s mind. It simply feeds gruel to the zombies. (Disclaimer – I have not viewed the offending piece as RT did not provide a link and I am a lazy sob).

      I hope that makes sense – I’ve had a coupla small drinkies. Probably could have put it more lucidly, but I is wot I is. Just like Campbell. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes wrong. Life is like that, but let’s not get philosophical with a tipsy cherry farmer.

    • I have not viewed the offending piece as RT did not provide a link

      Yeah, sorry, Mike, did it in a hurry. Your comments are good, nice balance. I like “tipsy cherry farmer”. lol

    • Richard C (NZ) on 22/05/2014 at 11:47 pm said:

      >”I’ve had a coupla small drinkies. ……..a tipsy cherry farmer.”

      I remember this:

      >”Last year’s crop [2011] was about 60% of normal. Then we got the rain at Christmas which buggered everything! However, we strip-picked the split fruit, juiced it and got a local winery to produce a very smooth and rich Cherry Liqueur – similar to a port, with 17% alcohol. So all was not lost.”

      Any connection Mike?

    • Mike Jowsey on 22/05/2014 at 11:57 pm said:

      RC, I am sure that elephants come to you when they forget.

  2. Andy on 20/05/2014 at 8:42 am said:

    Franz Josef was advancing between 1985 and 2006

    Also caused by climate change, of course

  3. Andy on 20/05/2014 at 12:36 pm said:

    “The position of the Franz Josef Glacier has changed since 1865. From 1865 to 1985 it gradually thinned and retreated, with some minor advances. From 1985 to 2006 it generally advanced and thickened, with minor retreats.”

    There is a sign at Franz that shows where the snout was during the LIA, Quite a long way down from the current snout.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 20/05/2014 at 6:46 pm said:

    >”Franz Josef (agents 4059, 4060 and 24926) since 1956″

    You’ll have to manufacture some adjustments RT. That series wouldn’t sit well in the NZT7.

    But an interesting proxy for NZ temperature at this stage, viz, “Climate change has been nowhere near the place”.

    • Heh, heh. True.

      Yes, it is interesting, but it’s no proxy. Still, it will be a revelation to some just to see that “global” temperatures are not actually reflected everywhere in New Zealand. So it cannot be said that global warming affects every place.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 22/05/2014 at 8:15 pm said:

      >”You’ll have to manufacture some adjustments RT”

      Brandon Schollenberger on “empirical breaks” in BEST:

      ‘A Small Challenge’

      I happened to come across something which annoyed me on the Berkeley Earth (better known as BEST) website today. I’ll discuss it later, but it reminded me of something I’ve been interested in about that group’s efforts. For those who don’t know, their project involves creating a record of the planet’s temperatures.

      To do so, they combine data from many different temperature records across the globe. There are lots of different ways to do this, and there are lots of debates about how good or bad any of them are. I won’t get into that, but I want to talk about one newish thing BEST does. Instead of adjusting individual records when it appears there’s a shift in data unrelated to climate (such as you’d get if a temperature station moved), BEST simply splits the record into separate series.

      It’s a good approach. If a temperature station moves three times, we’d have four different segments with little relation to one another. Treating them as four different series makes sense. The problem is figuring out where to split those series. How do you tell when a change in data is and is not related to climatic effects?

      Sometimes you can tell because there are records of things like stations moving. Most of the time though, you can’t. You can only try to guess by looking at the data itself. To help, you can compare a record to nearby records and see if you can spot differences. Breaks in the data found this way are considered “empirical breakpoints.” BEST looks for such (in a bit more complicated way than I described).

      The question is, does BEST find what it hopes to find? I’m skeptical. To see how you feel, here are three temperature records I picked out while browsing. I’m showing only the data from 1965-1991 (where there was overlap). For each one, I want you to see if you can guess how many breakpoints each series should have. If you’d like, feel free to try to guess where those breakpoints should be:

      A couple notes. The first two records should be similar because I intentionally picked stations near one another. Feel free to use that to help you try to find breakpoints or to ignore it all together. Also, don’t think a small gap in data means there should be a breakpoint. None of the series shown have a breakpoint due to missing data.

      Good luck. If you can guess the right amount for any of these, you’re better than me. To make it more fair, here are larger versions of the three: first, second, third.

      >”one newish thing BEST does”

      NiWA (NZT7) doesn’t look for empirical breaks, splits series, and adjusts cumulatively.
      BOM (ACORN) looks for empirical breaks, doesn’t split series, and adjusts cumulatively
      (I think – could be wrong).
      BEST looks for empirical breaks, splits series, but doesn’t adjust cumulatively (see below).

      ‘A Small Answer’

      It’s time to provide the answer to my recent challenge. For those who don’t remember, the challenge was to look at three graphs and decide how many sudden, non-climatic shifts were in them.

      The first station was ANNA-1E, a station in Illinois.
      BROOKPORT DAM 52, the second station used in this challenge.
      The third record chosen for this challenge was MAKURAZAKI,



      I’m skeptical any of these “empirical breakpoints” reflect anything at all, much less discernible, non-climatic biases. I struggle to see any reason why temperature records should be broken apart for effects considered to be that small. My impression is it’s just over-fitting and a waste of processing power.

      I could be wrong, of course. Maybe there are legitimate reasons for thinking these breakpoints are necessary. However, I can’t help but notice the adjustments to the (full) first station cause its stated trend to increase from -.43°C / Century to .42°C / Century; the second from .96°C / Century to 2.27°C / Century.

      Given a similar pattern of adjustments exists for Illinois as a whole, it’s difficult to see how assigning all these breakpoints could be the best idea.

      # # #

      BEST manufactures some wicked warming with empirical breaks at some locations, how will you go about it for Fox Glacier RT?

      Although I should point out that BEST’s empirical breaks corroborate NZCSET Auckland adjustments but leave NIWA high and dry.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 22/05/2014 at 9:25 pm said:

      >”BOM (ACORN) looks for empirical breaks, doesn’t split series, and adjusts cumulatively
      (I think – could be wrong).”

      Yes wrong, on two counts. Should be “[splits] series, and [I’m not sure about cumulative adjustments]”. An empirical break effectively creates a split of necessity.

      NIWA’s cumulative adjustments are applied to all data prior to the break to make a concatenated series of sites. BEST does not attempt site concatenation. I’d have to check BOM ACORN methodology because I’m not 100% sure whether BOM’s adjustments have a cumulative nature like NIWA’s or are more like BEST’s i.e. each site series separate but split, but not concatenated to other sites. BOM may in fact concatenate in some instances to create extended location series in which case cumulative adjustments are necessary but I just don’t know without checking.

    • how will you go about it for Fox Glacier RT?

      I’m not planning any adjustments but if I were, I would definitely be asking for help.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 12:52 am said:

      >”I’m not planning any adjustments but if I were, I would definitely be asking for help.”

      Help is at hand. Here’s how BEST adjusts Haast AWS:

      Mean Rate of Change ( °C / Century )
      Raw monthly anomalies -1.61
      After quality control -1.54
      After breakpoint alignment 0.78

      An excellent warming result after empirical break adjustment.

      Then there’s the kriging. I assume Haast AWS is one of the nearby stations in the Franz Joseph series. The average temperature over the 57 year series is around 11.1 – 11.2 C. BEST’s nearby reference location to Haast and Franz Joseph after kriging is here:

      21st century mean, about 6.7 C. Late 20th century mean about 6,5 C.

      Haast AWS: 43.86 S, 169.00 E
      BEST refer: 44,20 S, 169.94 E

      Isn’t it amazing how the climate changes in such a small geo-spatial shift?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 11:06 am said:

      >”Here’s how BEST adjusts Haast AWS:

      Did you spot the circular reasoning, viz, “Difference from Regional Expectation”

      In other words, BEST have a master template they term “Regional Expectation” which all NZ station profiles MUST conform to including Haast AWS.

      One wonders, why go to the effort of adjusting all the NZ stations to conform to an external “regional” template if the regional master template has already been set in stone irrespective of NZ temperatures? And how was the regional master template compiled without adjustment to conform to a global master template and what does that consist of?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 11:23 am said:

      BEST’s kriging wrt Franz Josef Glacier.

      No time to look up CliFlo but if agents plotted are right at Franz Josef Glacier (i.e. excluding Haast AWS elevation 4.50 ± 0.55 m, near sea level) then the mean temperature of 11.1 C is at the altitude of the glacier.

      BEST’s reference location above doesn’t give an elevation but lets say there’s an altitude component. BEST’s kriging interpolation indicates a micro climate 4,5 C cooler on average in the vicinity than at Franz Josef.

      Probably best we get temperature from thermometers rather than BEST then (same situation in the Waikato too).

      Also, Franz “Joseph” upthread should be “Josef” in all incorrect instances.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 3:09 pm said:

      ;Submit Comment’ (and CCG generally) is playing up at my end so I’ll try this in stages.

      >”BEST’s kriging interpolation indicates a micro climate 4,5 C cooler on average in the vicinity than at Franz Josef.”

      BEST reference location 44,20 S, 169.94 E (Google Maps -44° 12′ 0″,+169° 56′ 23.9994″ is immediately on the the eastern side of the Alps directly south of Franz Josef Glacier in the hill range between Lake Ohau and Twizel. Lake Ohau surface elevation is 520 m (533 also given) and the reference point is in a valley rather than at the range peak just short of 2000m. So lets say the elevation of the reference is about 1000m (although it could be near Omarama/Tara Hills weather station: 488 m.a.s.l. – see below).

      Haast is SW of Franz Josef along the coast and opposite 44,20 S, 169.94 E across the Alps. Haast and Franz Josef would be similar elevations nearer sea level (Haast AWS elevation 4.50m, Franz Josef 122m).

      Weather station comparison follows.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 3:14 pm said:

      >”BEST’s kriging interpolation indicates a micro climate 4,5 C cooler on average in the vicinity than at Franz Josef.”

      It is possible then (see previous comment) that the average micro climate of the hills east of Lake Ohau is 4.5 C cooler on average (6.6 C) than at Franz Josef Glacier where it is 11.1 C by thermometer. The monthly weather statistics indicate same, see next comment.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 3:17 pm said:

      Weather station comparison.

      Weather statistics for Franz Josef, West Coast (New Zealand)
      Franz Joseph weather station: 122 m.a.s.l., 0.0 km away from Franz Josef

      Weather statistics for Haast, West Coast (New Zealand)
      Lake Hawea weather station: 350 m.a.s.l., 81.0 km away from Haast

      Weather statistics for Lake Ohau Lodge, Otago (New Zealand)
      Omarama/Tara Hills weather station: 488 m.a.s.l., 34.0 km away from Lake Ohau Lodge

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 3:27 pm said:

      [CCG ‘Submit Comment’ isn’t functioning properly. I keep getting “Not found” message unless I break a comment down into snippets]

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 3:29 pm said:

      So although Ohau is warmer in summer by about 1 C it is much cooler in winter by about 5 C than Franz Josef.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 3:38 pm said:

      BEST gets the absolute temperature level about right in this case as it turns out (i.e. I’ve been too harsh). That’s apart from the Haast adjustments of course.

      [Submit Comment appears to be returning ‘Not found’ to some items copied in to the comment box, I think]

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/05/2014 at 5:33 pm said:

      >”So lets say the elevation of the reference is about 1000m (although it could be near Omarama/Tara Hills weather station: 488 m.a.s.l. – see below)”

      Not quite, Tara Hills is further south and down at Lake Ohau elevation.

      BEST reference location: 44,20 S, 169.94 E

      TARA HILLS AWS Latitude: -44.51729, Longitude: 169.87942

      Close enough for the micro climate to be much the same but not so in BEST’s trend profiles, Tara Hills trend is essentially flat after 1970 but the reference location rises markedly from 1990 at 0.257°C / Decade. Both sets exhibit a climate regime change in the late 70s (i.e. not an empirical break I don’t think and BEST doesn’t adjust as such either) which has a profound effect on the linear trend of Tara Hills resulting in 0.82°C / Century overall when from 1980 onwards there was nothing like that.

      The late 70s early 80s regime change is evident at Franz Josef too.

  5. Andy on 20/05/2014 at 9:34 pm said:

    The glacier guide is clearly an evil denier funded by big oil to spread denialist lies.
    He needs to be sent to a re education camp as soon as possible

    I met some similar ” enemies of the state” at Mt Cook on a school camp. Some DOC staff explains that glacier retreat is a function of temperature and precipitator. No mention was made of The Climate Change (the cause of Everything)

    Can you imagine my horror at this child abuse which is probably racist and homophobic as well?


  6. “Submit Comment’ (and CCG generally) is playing up at my end”
    “[CCG ‘Submit Comment’ isn’t functioning properly. I keep getting “Not found” message unless I break a comment down into snippets]”

    Yes, problem noted, RC; nor can I post articles. I apologise. It’s a problem with WordPress. A similar thing happened about two weeks ago. I spent a few hours searching for a solution, but it fixed itself overnight, so I’m hoping that happens again.

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