See update below
Jim Steele is a so-called environmentalist who rejects climate science and fails geography. Some environmentalist! He's another born again denier whose articles have started to appear more often on Anthony Watts' anti-science blog.
Today on WUWT he has a go at the people of Kivalina. Many readers may be familiar with this settlement because they took on Exxon a few years ago. They didn't succeed in the courts. The people of Kivalina will need to relocate in the near future as their settlement will soon be uninhabitable.
Kivalina is a tiny settlement situated on a barrier reef on the Chukchi Sea. It's at the mouth of the Kivalina River. Because the ice is melting sooner in spring and forming later in autumn, the settlement is more vulnerable to sea surges and storms than in the past, when ice lasted longer and protected it. It is reported that the barrier reef is rapidly eroding from these storm surges plus, presumably, rising sea levels.
Jim Steele fails geography plus...
Jim Steele cites greater winter sea ice in the Bering Sea as evidence that the lack of ice is causing erosion at Kivalina. He writes (my bold italics):
Finally it is hard to understand Sackur’s claim, “No longer does thick ice protect their shoreline.” In 2012 the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported “ice extent in the Bering Sea was much greater than average, reaching the second-highest levels for January in the satellite record.” NASA’s Earth Observatory wrote, “For most of the winter of 2011–2012, the Bering Sea has been choking with sea ice… NSIDC data indicate that ice extent in the Bering Sea for most of this winter has been between 20 to 30 percent above the 1979 to 2000 average. February 2012 had the highest ice extent for the area since satellite records started.” And in 2013 Bering Sea ice was again above normal as seen in National Snow and Ice Data Center picture.
Two points. Firstly, it's not the winter ice that's the problem, it's the fact the ice is melting sooner and forming later than it used to. Secondly, Kivalina is on the Chukchi Sea, not the Bering. This chart from Cryosphere Today shows how the sea ice has been declining over the years. Note particularly the anomalies in recent years - from the late nineties in particular.
|Source: Cryosphere Today|
Here are two extracts from a report by the US Army Corps of Engineers . The file properties indicate it is from March 2009. The pdf file includes outlines of the past coastline and short term projections. (My bold italics in the following):
Kivalina has not historically seen significant erosion. The Kivalina spit has seen cyclic accretion, with modest accretion on the Chukchi Sea side more prevalent during the 30-year period of 1970 to 2000. The higher energy storms that could result in significant erosion occur during the winter months when the Chukchi Sea is frozen. This has resulted in natural erosion protection in the past. However, with global climate change the period of open water is increasing and the Chukchi Sea is less likely to be frozen when damaging winter storms occur. Winter storms occurring in October and November of 2004 and 2005 have resulted in significant erosion that is now threatening both the school and the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) tank farm. This erosion has resulted in the loss of some teacher housing and the school and community washateria drain fields....
What is the expected time line for a complete failure of the usable land?
The winter storms of 2004 and 2005 eroded 70 to 80 feet of uplands behind the school. The bank line is now within 25 feet of the main school structure. Erosion in the vicinity of the AVEC tank farm is similar, with only 5 feet of uplands remaining between the nearest tanks and the bank line. Without the construction of emergency erosion control structures, the school and tank farm will begin to fail within the next year if erosion continues at the same rate as it has during recent months,. Even if erosion slows, these critical structures are in imminent danger and are unlikely to survive for any extended period of time. Due to the physical lack of open land in the Kivalina community, these structures can not be relocated, and their failure would render the community uninhabitable.
You sometimes read fake outrage on WUWT, from deniers who try to argue that the world's poor need to burn fossil fuels or they'll get poorer. But when it comes to vulnerable people who's lives are being turned upside down by climate change, the deniers show their true colours.
Most of the WUWT comments are lashing out at the BBC, because there was an article on the BBC about Kivalina. There was one comment by a person outraged that anyone would consider looking out for the interests of indigenous peoples. Heck, what decent plundering victor would give a toss for displaced persons.
PS So far, not a single fake sceptic at WUWT has commented on the fact that Jim Steele was wrong and that Kivalina isn't on the Bering Sea! Nor that it's the fact the ice season is shorter that's causing problems, not mid-winter ice.
UPDATE: 4 August 2013
Jim Steele has visited us and claimed that (my bold italics):
However the Bering Sea extent is a good climate indicator and correlates well with sea ice in the Chukchi.Let's check that out, shall we? Here is an animated gif showing the anomalies for the Bering Sea and the Chukchi Sea over the last few decades. Note particularly the recent years I've circled:
|Source: The Cryosphere Today - Chukchi and Bering|
Looks like Jim's not just wrong but he's spectacularly wrong. (Does anyone think it's necessary to do a correlation analysis to see just how wrong Jim is?)
Remember, Jim Steele is a man who thinks heat waves disprove global warming! So is it any surprise that he maintains such wildly different patterns are a good correlation?