The publishers of the world’s most prestigious atlas have been caught out by Cambridge scientists exaggerating the effects of climate change.Reality deniers on the left are going to be very confused. On one hand this global warming myth takes a huge hit, but at the same time this journal is owned by the evil Rupert Murdoch.
In its latest edition, the £150 Times Atlas of the World has changed a huge coastal area of Greenland from white to green, suggesting an alarming acceleration of the melting of the northern ice cap.
Accompanying publicity material declared the change reflected ‘concrete evidence’ that 15 per cent of the ice sheet around the island – an area the size of the United Kingdom – had melted since 1999.
But last night the atlas’s publishers admitted that the ‘ice-free’ areas could in fact still be covered by sheets of more than a quarter of a mile thick. It came after a group of leading polar scientists from Cambridge University wrote to them saying their changes were ‘incorrect and misleading’ and that the true rate of melting has been far slower.
Experts from the University’s internationally-renowned Scott Polar Research Institute said the apparent disappearance of 115,830 sq miles of ice had no basis in science and was contradicted by recent satellite images.
There are no official figures on how much ice has melted but one scientist put it at between 0.3 and 1.5 per cent of the ice sheet.
Publicity for the new atlas read: ‘For the first time the new edition has had to erase 15 per cent of Greenland’s once permanent ice cover – turning an area the size of the United Kingdom and Ireland “green” and ice-free.
‘This is concrete evidence of how climate change is altering the face of the planet for ever – and doing so at an alarming and accelerating rate.’
The seven Cambridge scientists who signed the letter are closely involved with research into changes in the Greenland ice shelf.
They do not dispute that some glaciers have got smaller but say the overall picture presented is wrong.
Dr Jeffrey Kargel, a hydrologist at the University of Arizona, said it was ‘a killer mistake that cannot be winked away’.Michael Hanlon is hot on the trail.
The Times Atlas, which claims to be the ‘most authoritative’, first came out in 1895. It is not owned by The Times newspaper but is published by HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corporation.
A spokesman for HarperCollins yesterday admitted the land shown as green and described as ‘ice-free’ could be up to 500m – more than a quarter of a mile – thick.
She said: ‘I can see why you could see that as misleading.’
What seems to have happened – and I am happy to be corrected if wrong – is that a decision has been made to single out Greenland, as the poster-child of global warming, for special and unique cartographic treatment which has massively and deliberately exaggerated the extent of ice-cover loss.
This makes a good story which will, they hoped, give the Atlas some publicity.
But it has backfired, badly. Scientists who believe in climate change - and that means nearly all of them – are dismayed by what has happened.
They know that the sceptics will have a field day with this. And they are right.