BBC links Arctic sea-ice loss to sea level rise

Posted: November 29, 2015 by tallbloke in Accountability, alarmism, bbcbias, solar system dynamics

In an almost unbelievable display of ignorance or deliberate deception, the BBC on one of its climate alarm pages, links loss of Arctic sea ice to sea level rise. Do they really not understand that floating ice doesn’t change sea level when it melts? Archimedes principle has been around for a couple of thousand years, but it seems the science illiterates at the BBC skipped this class in school.


Listen up BBC fools. Ice displaces it’s own weight in water. 9/10’s of ice-bergs are below the waterline That’s because ice is less dense than sea water. This means that when sea ice melts, it MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO SEA LEVEL.
UPDATE 30/11/15 : the BBC seem to have attempted a correction.

  1. Reposted

    And comments, send them a complaint!

  2. Speechless isn’t the word for it, of course they dare not show a South polar ice map, Father Jack had a word for people like this, “Bunch of **stards”

  3. daveburton says:

    It’s not just the BBC where everyone apparently slept through middle-school science class.

    In the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is the primary arbiter which decides whose scientific research proposals are good enough to merit federal financial support. They made exactly the same mistake. For over six years their web site contained this erroneous statement, in their “America’s Investment in the Future” eBook:

    I wrote to them and told them it was wrong. They verified what I told them, and after a while they corrected their web site. It now says:

    However, there’s also a PDF version of that material on their site, and I asked them to fix it, too. They still have not done so. It’s been there for over a decade. Here it is: (p.140, or 149 as Adobe numbers the pages)

    The NSF hands out about 10,000 research grants per year. Aren’t you glad they’re making sure that the grant recipients are doing sound science?

    I’ve subsequently written to them about another (albeit less basic) error on their site (about how CO2 absorbs and emits IR photons), They’ve ignored me.

    And then there’s American’s premier television news program, PBS NewsHour. They hired a pretty little Feminist Film Criticism major, fresh out of college, to be their “Reporter/Producer on Science and Climate Change.” Her senior honors thesis at UNL was entitled, “Unzipping Gender: Gender Stereotypes, Identity, and Power.” She is so clueless that in 2012 she reported that 90% of Greenland’s ice mass had thawed that summer. She really did. And nobody else at PBS caught the error.

    It doesn’t seem to have hurt her career; she’s still their “Reporter/Producer on Science and Climate Change,” to this day.

  4. tallbloke says:

    PIOMAS model looks like there’s not much of any trend since 2007

    So as well as their science 101 error, the BBC narrative is lagging the data by around 8 years.

    Meanwhile the Antarctic sea ice anomaly continues to climb

    Not tht the BBC will ever mention that of course.

  5. From xxxx:

    From DMI – Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice extent, at

  6. Duncan McNeil says:

    I have made an online complaint to the BBC. It is a fairly short process which allows the user to request that the BBC sends them a reply. If a lot of people go online and make a complaint, the workload created to reply to all the complainants, may induce the BBC to think more carefully about the content they post.

    For your information, here is the content of my complaint.

    Point 3. Artic ice melt does not affect sea level
    Complaint description:
    “The rate of sea-level rise has accelerated in recent decades, placing a number of islands and low-lying countries at risk. The retreat of polar ice sheets is an important contributor to this rise.” In an almost unbelievable display of ignorance this page links loss of Arctic sea ice to sea level rise. Floating ice doesn’t change sea level when it melts – ask Archimedes from a couple of thousand years ago. It would be absolutely astounding if the BBC could start to introduce verifiable scientific DATA and EVIDENCE into their SCIENCE reports. As a case in hand – point 2 starts with “Scientists believe”. Wrong! Scientists have evidence to support their theories (or not). Belief, along with consensus, should remain in the realms of religion and politics where they belong. They have no place in science.

  7. oldbrew says:

    It’s yet another proof that they’re more interested in raising false alarms than in understanding real climate science. Morons 😦

  8. ntesdorf says:

    The BBC’s understanding of this issue of floating sea ice and sea level is on a perfect par with all the rest of the BBC’s collective knowledge of any scientific matter….No surprises here.

  9. Graeme M says:

    Is this really the case? An object in water is buoyed up by a force equivalent to the weight of the water displaced which determines whether the object floats or sinks, however the object still only displaces a volume equal to its submerged volume. If ice is floating on water in a container and melts, then wouldn’t it depend on the actual volume of water in the ice above the water as to whether it adds to the level of the water in the container?

  10. wolsten says:

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    BBC climate science fail. It would be hilarious if we weren’t paying for this nonsense. Morons.

  11. tallbloke says:

    Graeme M, Icebergs are made of water. Their mass is the same as the mass of the water they displace. Therefore when they melt, they will form a mass (and volume) of liquid water equal to that which they displaced as a solid iceberg. So no, they won’t add anything to sea level.

  12. tom0mason says:

    So even with the “Hottest Year Ever©” flags still flapping furiously in the chilly wind, and these BBC reports showing the polar caps vanishing, why are so many countries buying or building more icebreaker?
    See (2.3 MB pdf)

    Click to access Subactivity-2.1-final-report.pdf

    (2.0MB pdf)

    Makes me wonder …

  13. oldbrew says:

    Two minutes of science.

  14. CodeTech says:

    Water expands when it freezes. It retains the same mass, but the volume increases and the density decreases. This makes ice lighter than water for the same volume, which is why it floats. This is why when water in a pipe or an engine (instead of anti-freeze) freezes, it can destroy heavy metal containers. However, the same mass of water exists no matter what the state – solid, liquid, or gas.
    The only time melting ice can affect sea level is when that ice is on land… and contrary to the unwarranted alarm we keep hearing, no significant amount of ice is melting off of land (largest concentrations being Antarctica and Greenland). As we all know, Antarctica is gaining significant ice mass, and even though we’ve been told Greenland is melting, it’s not.

  15. Tim Hammond says:

    To be absolutely correct, won’t melted sea ice increase sea levels very slightly as there is now more water subject to thermal expansion?

  16. Graeme M says:

    Tallbloke, I don’t doubt the science here, I was just thinking of something more practical. If I have an object that floats with some volume proud of the surface and I push that completely below the surface, the object will displace an increased volume of water and the water level must rise. Sea ice I assume is salty and presumably occurs because the sea surface freezes so on its own it wouldn’t add to sea level if it melts (although here I am uncertain how much of the salts etc freeze in the ice) but any iceberg, or precipitated snow/ice on top of the sea ice is fresh water and must have a greater amount of actual water compared to salt water for a given volume. Surely any calved iceberg from a land borne glacier, or any precipitated snow/ice on sea ice must add mass to the sea and when melted add to sea level?

  17. stewgreen says:

    Roger, Seems, the BBC “thinks of the children”
    ………………………. it gets them to write the climate science pages.

    That page begin by listing things : ” all linked to a warming climate”
    #1 Higher temperatures …Wow, is this true ?

    #2 “extreme weather events” – No, IPCC science doesn’t accept that as proven, just that it could be a possibility, especially if temps rise greatly

    Plenty of ‪#‎BBCclimatePropaganda‬, but, where’s the BBC’s quality control ?

  18. stewgreen says:

    It’s only a few days since another Harrabin big ‪#‎BBCclimatePropaganda #‎BBCclimateScienceFail‬
    where he began a report by unfairly comparing a Moroccan renewable electricity CAPACITY target of 42%, with a UK renewable electricity DELIVERY target of 30%
    ..When since solar/wind are so inefficient, 42% capacity is likely to turnout to be a 11% delivery..

    He did a tiny stealth edit of changing ” 42% of electricity” to ” 42% of electricity generation”, so it still misleads.

  19. oldbrew says:

    There are other factors in play re sea ice e.g. albedo change and…

    ‘When salt is ejected into the ocean as sea ice forms, the water’s salinity increases. Because salt water is heavier, the density of the water increases and the water sinks. The exchange of salt between sea ice and the ocean influences ocean circulation across hundreds of kilometers.’

  20. tjfolkerts says:

    What everyone — BBC and Tallbloke and commenters — seems to have missed is “sea ice” vs “ice sheets”.
    * Melting “ice sheets” (large masses of land-based ice in Greenland & Antarctica) WOULD contribute to rising sea levels (just as BBC stated).
    * Melting “sea ice” WOULD NOT contribute to rising sea levels.

    So everything BBC says is technically correct. They are, however, quite misleading when they put the two ideas in the same section.

  21. oldbrew says:

    The BBC clearly says ‘An area of sea ice roughly 10 times the size of the UK has been lost’ since the early 1980s.

    TJ: that’s *sea ice*. So for the BBC to say this is relevant to sea levels is all wrong, not ‘technically correct’.

  22. Neil Hampshire says:

    The BBC seem to have quietly admitted their error.
    They have now added a further rider to their Arctic sea ice is shrinking statement.

    “Arctic sea ice is also shrinking because of higher temperatures, though it makes little contribution to raised sea levels. ”

    However I noticed David Schukman on the BBC news tonight continued to link rising sea level with melting polar sea ice!

  23. Graeme M says:

    I still come back to my original question. The reason that ice doesn’t contribute to water level rise is that by volume it’s the same mass. But that only applies to fresh water. An ice block of pure water in a container of pure water will float completely submerged. It has to, because the buoyant force can only equal the ice block’s weight once the block displaces the same volume.

    However sea water is dense because it contains other matter such as salts and so on. For a given volume, there is less actual water and more total mass. A glacier calving will produce ice of mostly fresh water. For a given volume, it is less dense (less mass) but more actual water. As a result, it floats high in the water as it takes less mass submerged to generate a large enough buoyant force to offset the weight. But I don’t think there is a one to one correspondence in volume of water concerned.

    If we push an iceberg beneath the surface it will displace more water and raise the water level. So it must be similar once the berg melts – there is a greater volume of water in the berg than is displaced while it is solid and floating.

    Something similar must happen for sea ice. I know nothing about sea ice but I am pretty sure it is not floating submerged and there must be a quantity above water – from ice piling up due to conditions or precipitation. And I assume sea ice is more fresh or pure than sea water though I don’t know that for sure.

    So when sea ice melts it must add volume to the sea and hence raise its level, surely?

  24. agfosterjr says:

    Graeme M:

    You can do the experiment in your kitchen, like oldbrew above–just add salt. The saltier the water, the more buoyant the ice and the less water displaced. So no, it matters not that salt water is denser.

    The BBC article was further at fault in suggesting that melting sea ice decreases the salinity with any more than transitory effect: the salt was released in the seasons before when it froze (or refroze–only multi-year ice is near salt free). Increased northern precipitation can and does decrease Arctic salinity of the top layer. You have to melt huge ice caps to create a supposed Dryas event.

    And yes, glaciers calving into the sea add volume to the ocean, but only when they fall, not when they melt. Increased snow falling on the high Antarctic desert makes up for most of that. –AGF

  25. manicbeancounter says:

    As of 9.30pm, the BBC have completely changed the text. It is still sub-headed “Arctic sea ice melt“, but the text now emphasizes polar ice cap melt as the cause of sea level rise. The BBC does not mention warming as the other other alleged major cause, but the IPCC does. They mention acceleration of the rate of rise, but do not mention that the step change in sea level rise was in the change-over from tide gauges to satellites. They still maintain the error in the revised comment.

    Arctic sea ice is also shrinking because of higher temperatures, though it makes little contribution to raised sea levels.

  26. oldbrew says:

    The Beeb are still all at sea and relying on unreferenced assertions. They should stick to reporting news.

    Note: this whole post is getting a lot of views 🙂

  27. stewgreen says:

    @tjfolkerts No mate we didn’t miss the point about “polar ice sheets”

    The statement in the middle of the section “The retreat of polar ice sheets is an important contributor to this rise” is completely correct, that is why we didn’t comment on it yesterday . However it is sandwiched between section where they push sea ice melt as the cause.
    @oldbrew has well pointed out the contradiction.
    And the average reader probably read “polar ice sheets” as “sea ice” oblivious to the big difference between the two.

    The item is headed Arctic Sea Ice melt : The vast majority of polar ice sheets are in the Antarctic ice, in Arctic there is just a bit on the Greenland
    TJ says “So everything BBC says is technically correct.” – Past tense now that they edited the page. But the archived page is full or errors.

    PS There is no point us bickering about tiny differences due to salt as that is not what the article is talking about. It talks about huge changes “An area of sea ice roughly 10 times the size of the UK has been lost when the current day is compared with average levels from the early 1980s.” (there is a reason why they pick the high ice time of 1980 as a start date.)

  28. stewgreen says:

    Now @manicbeancounter said
    “As of 9.30pm, the BBC have completely changed the text.”
    No, they haven’t. They just inserted that extra phrase … about Arctic sea ice melt not contributing to sea level rise, right after the old sentence about “polar ice sheets” being a major contributor to sea level rise. So clarifying to the reader that “polar ice sheet” is no the same as “sea ice”.

    It’s also a STEALTH EDIT ..with no update note made
    I had guessed that the BBC had got the page from some wacky activist group, but the 3 credits are all BBC news staff (coincidentally mentioned in the climategate emails)

  29. CodeTech says:

    I live on a 43 acre lake in Calgary, almost exactly the same distance to the North Pole as London. Every year our lake freezes in November. I’ve kept records for the last 20 years, and the variation in freeze dates is within a few days. Whether it’s a warm year or a cold year, air temperature is not the major factor in determining when the lake freezes. Polar sea ice is the same.

  30. Each oxygen atom in a water molecule is bonded to two Hydrogen atoms via covalent bonds. On the surface of the oxygen atom are a couple of electron pairs. The hydrogen atoms carry a small positive charge and these seek out the negative charge from the electron pairs on the oxygen atom forming the all-important Hydrogen bonds.
    Cool down liquid water and the molecules start to move more slowly until they lock on to each other via these hydrogen bonds forming a more open structure.
    Better to look at diagrams such as those on this link:
    The ice has the same number of atoms present as the liquid water and hence it has the same mass. But its larger volume means that it is less dense.
    Also note that there is no place for sodium or chloride ions to disrupt the bonding pattern, so salt molecules are mostly left behind in solution.

  31. linneamogren says:

    I think every bartender knows this law. The BBC no longer shocks me. But at least the left can be happy now that they removed terrorism from topic number one and return to their real enemy capitalism.