2011-09-22 12:03:33Warming Island - An Own Goal For WUWT


Edited 28 Sept.

The article version here in this 1st comment is now obsolete.

Please see new version and comments below:



I have been researching Greenland's Warming Island in some depth recently.  I am still waiting for a copy of 'Arctic Riviera' but in light of a current WUWT article I feel the need to respond now, rather than wait perhaps another week.


By a strange coincidence, WUWT has just published an article on the Times Atlas fiasco - and has used Patrick Michaels' 2008 propaganda piece on Warming Island to highlight the fact that the new atlas shows Warming Island - which WUWT claims is a warmist myth.


The amount of data on Liverpool Land is collosal.  During the 1920s and 1930s the area was mapped by land expeditions with great precision - most especially during the International Polar Years 1932 - 1933.  During WW2 the area was further explored and was patrolled to seek out German weather stations and radio transmitters.  The area was again explored extensively during the height of the Cold War.

Patrick Michaels uses a sketch map and some temperature data from a single site some 800 kilometers distant to 'prove' that Warming Island was a separate island in 1957.  On the side of science we have many tens of thousands of documented observations of the region.  Who to believe?  Decisions, decisions!

My response to WUWT follows.

Please note that it is not yet finished.  I am clicking 'submit post' to save my edits so far while I get a coffee.

I will edit this with a note here when the article is complete.

Comments are welcome, even at this unfinished stage.


Now complete as to 1st draft.

Comments / suggestions welcome.



Warming Island - An Own Goal For WUWT ?

The latest edition of the Times Atlas was launched with a claim that it shows a 15% loss of Greenland's ice cap. 

Many scientists rushed to question this claim.

The publishers of the Atlas have admitted their mistake.

We all make mistakes: it is a normal part of being human.  Scientists, being human, also make mistakes.  One of the great things about the scientific method is that all ethical scientists strive hard to reduce the number of errors made and strive to correct them as rapidly as possible as soon as the errors are discovered.

When mistakes are made and corrected it is no part of the scientific process to gloat over it.  Unfortunately, many commenters on the news about the Times Atlas error are gloating.  Over at WUWT David Middleton gloats over the Times Atlas error - and then proceeds to make a major error of his own.  His mistake is to rely on a flawed article by Patrick Michaels to 'prove' that Warming Island was known to be a separate island before the claimed discovery of that fact in 2005.  I am glad of the opportunity to help him to correct the errors in his - and Patrick Michaels' - article.

In September 2005, explorer Dennis Schmitt discovered - in an area which he had personally explored by land 10 years earlier - that melting ice had revealed a new strait.  What had previously been assumed to be part of the mainland of Liverpool Land was now seen to be an island.  Dennis Schmidt named this new island 'Uunartoq Qeqertoq', which is Inuit for 'The Warming Island'.

Dennis Schmidt standing on a peak on Warming Island.

Image source: http://www.geotimes.org/july07/article.html?id=trends.html


Satellite images from 1985, 2002 and 2005 show how the ice has progressively retreated so as to leave a narrow strait between Warming Island and Liverpool Land.  These images constitute evidence in support of Dennis Schmidt's claim that he saw water in 2005 where he had seen ice 10 years earlier.

Satellite images of Warming Island.  Resized to suit SkS image standards.

Much larger images are available from the original source: http://landsat.usgs.gov/


The new island was featured on many web pages, notably geotimes.org.  The story was picked up by many newspapers, notably New York Times.  In 2008 Patrick Michaels published an article purporting to show that Warming Island had been seen from the air in 1957 and mapped by the airial photographer Ernst Hofer.

Ernst Hofer is not widely known to either climate scientists or even Arctic historians, much less the general public.  His book 'Arctic Riviera' is quite rare.  Rare as in 'hard to find' rather than monetary value.  Patrick Michaels has stated that he was made aware of the book by his colleague Paul C. Knappenberger.

According to Patrick Michaels, a map published by Ernst Hofer in 1957 shows Warming Island as an island.  He claims that the island became separated during an earlier warming period and shows a GISS temperature graph to support that claim.  Let us examine the validity of these claims.

Ernst Hofer's map and Liverpool Land detail.  (Annotations by Patrick Michaels.)

source: Warming Island article by Patrick Michaels. 

Image cropped and resized to suit SkS image standards.


The Hofer map is obviously a sketch map and as such was not intended to show exact details.  My assertion - and it is at this stage only an assertion - needs to be backed up with evidence.  I present as evidence two maps published in 1946 by Kåre Rodahl in his book The Ice-Capped Island Greenland.  One of these maps is intended to show areas explored.  The other is intended as an accurate portrayal of survey work done.  I leave it as an exercise for my readers to determine which map is likely to be the least accurate.


Endpaper map from The Ice-Capped Island Greenland, Kåre Rodahl, 1946.


Page 35 map from The Ice-Capped Island Greenland, Kåre Rodahl, 1946.


In a popular science book it is not necessary to use anything more sophisticated than a sketch map to show areas described in the book.  The Kåre Rodahl map which shows Liverpool Land does not show the distinctive shape of what is now known as Warming Island.  Also, it shows neither Reynolds Island nor Murray Island.  The Ernst Hofer map does not show Reynolds Island either.  More to the point, if the Ernst hofer map is taken as being to an exact scale then the width of the strait separating Warming island from Liverpool Land would be the same as the distance between Warming Island and Murray island - about 2.5 kilometers.  The image below shows the two similar dimensions circled in green.

Detail from map as posted by Patrick Michaels, above, with additional annotation in green.


We are faced with a simple choice of scenarios: either the Hofer map is intended as a rough sketch or it is accurate.

If it is accurate, then the new strait was 2.5 km wide in 1957.  Modern satellite images show that it is only about 0.25 km wide, perhaps less.  The shift from 2.5 km to 0.25 km would have been recorded as a very significant seismic event by the world's earthquake monitoring stations.  It wasn't.  There was no great Liverpool Land earthquake.  There was no megatsunami.

The Hofer map is, accordingly, a sketch map only and cannot be relied on as evidence of any small scale geographical detail in the area covered.


The temperature records


In patrick Michaels' article he provides a graph of GISS temperatures in support of his assertions.  The graph is of temperatures recorded at Angmassalik.  Unfortunately for the plausibility of Patrick Michaels' novel theory, the data refers to a location south of the Arctic Circle.  Warming Island is north of the Arctic Circle.  The two are about 600 km apart by latitude and at least 800 km apart as the crow flies - or would do so if there were crows in that region.

Patrick Michaels seems to have overlooked the importance of the fact that that latitude effects temperature.

The nearest weather station with records covering the relevant periods is Daneborg, only some 75 km from Warming island.



A previous rebuttal.


Patrick Michaels' suggestion that Warming island was mapped by Hofer in 1957 has already been adequately rebutted by Andrew C. Revkin.  His suggestion that fog partially obscured an airial view of the region is very plausible.  It is a notorious fact that fog and mist is common in the Arctic.  Indeed, many books, journals and scientific articles make mention of the way that mists and fogs interfere with plans for mapping surveys.


In the interest of balance and to ensure coverage of both sides of the climate debate, I respectfully suggest that David Middleton or Anthony Watts might want to advise their readers about Andrew Revkin's rebuttal.


I would like to conclude this article by sharing a section from a map drawn in 1984.


Warming Island before it became an island.

image source:http://www.geus.dk/...


The glacial ice was clearly still present in 1984 when this very detailed map was drawn, or at an earlier date when the map data was compiled.

2011-09-22 19:30:27


The two end-paper maps don't really give me a clue as to what I'm looking for, and they are big enough that scrolling up&down doesn't help much.

Perhaps you could photoshop circles on top of these images, to draw the idea to the subsection of the maps you want the people to see.

Also helpful: If you had a side-by-side (horizontal separation) of the two maps for the same subsection of interest.

2011-09-23 01:39:16


Thanks for the feedback.  Maybe I could shrink those maps.  What I was trying to show was that a single author in one book produced both a very rough map of East Greenland and a very detailed map of one small part of East Greenland - in this case Froya Glacier on Clavering Island.  The book is not widely available, so any propagandist could use the sketch map to 'prove' almost anything about the area - with little chance of being rebutted.

I'll do an edit later today.  I'll probably shrink the maps, add some annotation and put in some comments about how a sketch map can be used to mislead people.


Is the 'temperature varies with latitude' link too subtle, or too snarky?  Michaels is a meteorologist.  The link is to a meteorology for kids site.  Should I emphasise more that he used temperatures from 800 km away rather than only 80 km to 'prove' his point?  That is surely a world-class cherry-pick.


Historical note, and some whimsy:

Carlsberg Fjord is named for the funder of an expedition in the region -


CO2 isn't a pollutant - it's an essential component of beer.  ;-)

2011-09-23 01:43:12


Latitude: The idea is OK, but I would say it more simply: He took the temperature from 800 km away - and further north/south.

2011-09-23 01:52:54



I'll use another copy of Michaels' own annotated map and show just how far 'off the map' his choice of site is, as against the nearer site which is well and truly 'on the map'.

I'll come back later today and try out some edits.

2011-09-23 02:38:47
Dana Nuccitelli

You should provide a little background on the Times Atlas at the beginning, because I've never heard of it personally.

In the aerial images of the island, you should link to the original file so that people can see it in larger size (just click on the image and use the link tool, and put in the source URL).

On your Rodahl maps, can you indicate where Warming Island should be?  I'm not seeing Liverpool Land.  Also in the 1984 map.

What does the Daneborg temp data indicate?

Overall I would include Michaels more - the title and much of the text are critical of WUWT, but the error originally came from Michaels.

Interesting post though.

2011-09-23 06:13:56


Thanks for the comments and advice.

I've re-written some sections and posted here -



I'm aware of the broken hyperlinks - an artifact from copying a version saved on my computer.

I'll correct the links later.


Dana - the satellite image triptych links to the original now - but it comes up for me in Firefox only if I right click and select 'view image'.  Is there a better way to link to the larger image?  Suggestions?

2011-09-23 06:30:01



I get lost paging back and forth between the maps. PLEASE put the two things you want me to compare right next to each other, so I can see them at the same time.

Otherwise, my immediate reaction is, "I have no idea of what he's talking about, and I don't care."

2011-09-23 08:33:34Logicman
John Hartz
John Hartz

Check out Andy Revkin's "Updates on Greenland’s Ice" posted today on his DOT Earth blog. He uses a graphic that is very powerfual and may be in the public domain. He also discussed the Times Atlas controversy.

2011-09-24 07:17:55


Is the Ernast Hofer"s map being too easily dismissed?

Even if we accept that Hoffer's map is less accurate than subsequent survey mapping, the fact is that his map does show Warming Island as an island. Hofer had no reason to falsely show it this way - even if what he saw was not drawn to scale.  

Would Hofer draw something he had not observed? If so, why?  Are there other inaccuracies in the Hofer map which point to it being a document on which one could not place reliance or is it, notwithstanding its lack of scale to survey standards, reasonably accurate?

2011-09-26 14:08:40


Agnostic: The Hofer map does not label the island.  It was Patrick Michaels who suggested that it was Warming Island.  I need to produce a new graphic to show clearly that what Patrick Michaels claims is Warming Island is much more likely to be Murray Island - as noted by Andrew Revkin.


I've taken a break from this by catching up on some legal studies.  I'll post a greatly revised version soon.  I am still hoping to get hold of a copy of Hofer's book - I have a reserve request posted on what I believe to be the only copy of Arctic Riviera within the British public library system.


Bottom line: Patrick Michaels has a theory that the 1957 sketch map shows Warming Island.  In support of that theory he produced only one piece of evidence - a temperature record from a weather station 800 km distant.

The Hofer map is not in itself evidence: it illustrates, but does not support Michaels' theory.

2011-09-28 11:50:12Completely rewritten version.


I finally got hold of a copy of the Hofer book.

Patrick Michaels has been a tiny bit naughty.

My new version of the article cites Ernst Hofers' own words in rebuttal of Michaels nonsense.

2011-09-28 16:29:07A few more minor edits done


I have re-read my new version multiple times and tried hard to be self-critical.


Key points now made:

The map which Patrick Michaels relies on was almost certainly drawn by a graphic artist.

If it is accurate enough to support Michaels' contention that it shows a 'Warming Island 1957', then sea levels at that time were at least 180 meters - yes, that's one hundred and eighty meters - above current levels!

I have shown evidence that Ernst Hofer intended his book to be a photo album and that he denied any scientific intent.


Over to you all - for deeply critical snark or just plain nit-picking.  I think this time I've come up with a readable version.

2011-09-28 17:48:02


I think you have to read all the way to the end to get the punchline: That, if Michael's analysis is true, GW is proceeding at an extraordinary case. This point needs to be made within the first few sentences. Otherwise, you will never get the reader to read through this to get to the joke.

2011-09-29 01:01:07
Julian Brimelow


A very interesting read!  Some thoughts:

1)  I might change the title to say that "Warming island was not an island in 1957", to say "before 2005" is quite general, it could hav ebeen an island at some point in the Holocene or before that.

2) The article is quite long, and the spacing between paragraphs is odd at times.  Have another go at stripping away some of the text-- a tough job I know, but what I ask myself is "what is the minimum that the reader needs to know?".  There is quite a bit of anecdotal content in there, which is always neat and interesting, but maybe consider limiting the quotes if possible to keep the length down.

3) Given the length I would suggest an abstract.  A paragraph that outlines the key points.  To me one of the key points was this:

"If the Hofer map is entirely accurate then the width of the strait as shown in the Hofer map was about 2.5km and Reynolds Island was underwater.  It follows that sea level when the map was drawn was some 180 meters - about 590 feet - higher than it is today.  There is no record - scientific or otherwise - of such a high sea level."

but it is buried deep in the text.  Basically you are saying that "For that to happen the sea level would have to be 180 m higher than it is today." IMHO, this is your strongest point, so highlight it in the abstract.  You can highlight it again at the end (use the 180 m number there too).  Actiually, you have the underpinnings of an abstract in your post at 28 Sep 2011, 4:29 PM :)

4) I agree with Neal's point-- I do this sometimes with the intro chapter of papers-- a long lead up to why we are doing this research and why it is important, I have been told to get to the point ASAP and then go to the detailed background.   It works.

2011-09-29 01:24:59


Neal, Albatross: thank you for your very helpful comments.

Alby: I agree with you about the title change.  However, my first choice was 'Can Michaels Read A Map?'. ;-)

I'll do another edit after I've mulled over how best to use your inputs.

Meanwhile I'm going for a long walk to clear out the cobwebs.

2011-09-29 02:08:20
Julian Brimelow

Have nice walk Patrick, got to make the ebst of those nice days before you-know-what arrives....

2011-09-29 04:00:04
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Nice job, Patrick.

On the sketch vs map controversy:

In my years working as a nautical cartographer for the US military, I made a very great number of surface, subsurface and aeronautical products in both the Arctic and Antarctic environs.  The Hofer product is fully consistent with other period source materiels produced at small-scale with the intention of being a guide in inconsequential areas (like that of Warming Island).  One way to tell is if you were digitizing the shorelines on the map source, areas of note would be highly detailed, necessitating numerous vector points.  In the vicinity of Warming Island, the lines are represented by a very few points, as long horizontal runs are used with few vector changes in direction.

Warming Island vicinity

Even at the scale of the Hofer product, had actual shorelines been decipherable, more detail would have been shown.  The accepted rule of thumb in cartography is to show what you know:  i.e., solid lines are used to show established shorelines, dashed lines where only inferred (or sometimes in a very lightweight line weight called hairline).  The big red flag that long experience highlites for me is that if the intended product was for a map-grade source, then there is insufficient detail to justify the long straight lines without also showing the glaciers and landfast shore ice, which was extant in the historical record.  Since Warming Island is depicted as an island, without the physical connection of the ice sheet, then the Hofer product was just intended as a sketch reference only.

I do not see any evidence of this convention in the Hofer product.  That, coupled with the long stretches of lines with little vector changes/deformations as well as the depiction of glaciated valleys with solid stream lines (implying rivers with running water), leads me to conclude with reliability that the Hofer product is just a sketch.

Would that conclusion withstand the scrutiny of public opinion?  Even given that it is based on many years of looking at polar source material, no.  But for someone with a background in the manual compilation of mapping products in polar environments, absolutely.

I'd say your surmise about shorelines being fogged-in (a grave degradation in accurately placing the shorelines during a mapping phase) is spot-on.  A topographic product with accuracy sufficient to be considered a map would have a great deal of mountain peaks identified so that each section of coastline could be reliably situated such that shipborn or aerial measurements taken from them could be used as a positional fix for local navigation (whether inland [on or over the ice] or at sea).

With sufficiently detailed aerial photography obtained under optimal conditions, a seasoned cartographer could be able to decipher the shorelines hidden by a moderate burden of glacial ice connecting an island to the mainland.  But I see no evidence for this in the sources cited above.

2011-09-29 06:03:23


Daniel: thanks for the wealth of detail.  There is much to ponder.


I could have used more logic, but I find that most people don't understand the concept of logical fallacy.

That said: Michaels is using a cherry-flavored circular argument.

Cherry flavor - of all the books in all the world he chooses one that the author states is not intended to be scientific and a map therein which has no cartographic provenance.

Circularity - "This map appears to me to show Warming Island as it was in 1957.  I suggest that it is an accurate map of Warming Island in 1957.  In proof I submit this map of Warming Island from 1957."


The book is exeedingly hard to find and the author is unlikely to be still living, which Michaels presumably thought would reduce the chances of rebuttal.  I have been trying to find a copy on sale for about 6 months now.  After WUWT resurrected this particular red herring I tracked down the only copy in southern England's public library syatem and borrowed it.  I have scanned and OCR'd the entire text for future reference.


I'll post a new comment when I have completed further edits.

2011-09-29 14:52:11Latest update


I have updated the article in light of suggestions.


I've added a brief overview which refers to the 180 meter sea level rise.

I've added a link to another Times Atlas article.

I've experimented with colored backgrounds - but I would be happy if someone could edit and tidy up the layout if they think it is needed.

I'm confident that my logic is sound - but is the article punchy enough now?

It is obvious that it took Michaels about 3 years to track down the one map on the entire planet which supports his denial of anthropogenic warming in general, and Greenland warming in particular.

That is an epic, world class, industrial strength cherry-pick.

Any thumbs?


Pretty please?  ;-)

2011-09-29 18:21:50


Why can't you put the two last maps:

- side by side?

- on the same scale?

2011-09-29 22:31:40
Tom Curtis




I have become fascinated by this story, and greatly appreciate the effort you have put into gathering the relevant evidence.  My thumb is certainly twitching, but I still think the presentation can be improved, as detailed below:


First of, this picture may be very usefull in the discussion of fogbanks (if you can get permission to use it):



The picture is by Jeff Shea, and he has a host of other interesting pictures.


His captions:


Greenland, Warming Island, off coast of Liverpool Land, Peak of SW Finger, Broken Glacier and New Strait, 2006 - This is an aerial shot showing the three Pinnacles in the foreground. The mountain in the center left is the high point of the south-westerly finger, and the pyramid sticking out of the clouds to the right is the tip of the middle finger. The crevassed glacier falls to the sea. The top of the glacier at the base of the SW finger is where we made our camp for six nights.


Second, the headings "Rebutal 1" and "Rebutal 2" would probably be better replaces with something more descriptive - say "Schmidt responds" and "Under the fog" (or something similar).


The the following wording is very awkward:


 "There are three satellite images available which clearly show the steady  progression of melt.  Why was the 2002 image left out of his graphic, and why not draw attention to the 2002 temperature as well?  But that is irrelevant.  The GISS graph may or may not be accurate - but that factor is irrelevant.  In fact the GISS data which Michaels wants us to accept in support of his theory is completely irrelevant."

 Far better to drop the first two assertions of irrelevance, as they are covered by the third anyway.


Overall, the sections on the temperature record, map detail and Hofer's comments on fog could probably be trimmed.  The essential argument is the possibility of fog, which completely rebuts Michael's only significant evidence.  Spending too much time discussing other issues detracts from that.


In fact, it may be possible to get rid of the Hoffer section entirely by shifting his best quote about fog to the Schmidt rebutal as a corroborating quote.  (Possibly also a good place for the photo above if you decide to use it, and can get permission.)  The final Hofer quote could then be used to introduce the section on map accuracy and detail.


Finally, logically discussion of map detail belongs with discussion of the fog.  Therefore it is probably better to have them following each other rather than being split appart by the discussion of temperature.

2011-09-30 00:37:45


Neal: I have put the images side by side as you suggest and have changed the wording to  suit.

I also pointed out something I missed stating before: there are two islands missing from the 1957 map.


Tom: I just finished an editing session before reading your input.

I have a number of images of fog, some from Hofer's book, but I thought that none was striking enough to use.

Many thanks for the pointer to Jeff Shea.  One of his photos was used in the original NYT article, so that is a strong link to the SkS article.

I browsed his site and found the perfect image.

Greenland, Warming Island, off coast of Liverpool Land, Looking South To Southwest Finger, 2006 - This is an aerial photograph from the helicopter on the way to Warming Island. This shot looks south. The southwest finger of Warming Island is just right of center in the foreground. Following the strait to the right leads to the broken glacier, hidden here by afternoon fog.


The image you see here is a 50% reduced preview.

I can use a reduced size image under the US 'fair use' copyright rules provided I give full and proper credit to Jeff Shea - which of course I will do.


I'll take a rest before I do any more editing.

2011-09-30 01:07:01


"If that sketch map is as accurate as Michaels' theory requires, then global warming is galloping along at a very alarming rate, and sea levels in 1957 were at least 180 meters higher than they are today."

WHY? The reasoning is not clear. If you're talking about glacial melt, say so.


"with deserved skepticism"

=> "with well-deserved skepticism"


"Supposedly, the Angmassalik GISS temperature record supports Michaels' theory that the 1957 map is accurate.  We shall see later that it does not.  That temperature series has no bearing on the issue of whether or not the 1957 map is accurate."

=> "The claim is that the Angmassalik ... "


"Of course, if proponents of the 'Warming Island 1957' theory insist they are right, and that glacier ice really did melt fast enough to reveal a new island in 1957 then it follows that they must believe that global warming is proceeding at an extremely alarming rate."

This is more explicit; still could use some work.

2011-10-01 04:25:54


I've just finished another editing session.  Suggestions have been taken on board.  Scoresby, who discovered and named the nearby islands, is now mentioned.  The fact that the map is not shown to be derived from any cartographic source or data is mentioned.

I am trying to demonstrate strongly - without using inflammatory words - that Michaels has created a new denier myth.  But his article is just about the worst 'science' you can get.  Rather than educate his readers he prefers to rely on their lack of knowledge as a strong barrier against rebuttal of his idiotic anti-science propaganda.

( I feel so much better having got that off my chest.)


Further comments are invited - link repeated for your convenience:


2011-10-01 11:49:00
Tom Curtis


A very enjoyable read.  I like the new edit and the argument flows smoothly.  One sticking point.  You say, 

"The region where Warming Island lies was exceedingly well explored and mapped by 1957.  Had Ernst Hofer or his employer - Lauge Koch - discovered a newly detached island during the expedition he describes it would have made the world's headlines."


I doubt discovery of a new island of the coast of Greenland would have merited much media attention in 1957.  It only gained media attention in 2005 because of the implications for global warming.  The weaker claim that as an arctic explorer, Koch would have noted the discovery the existence of an island where a peninsular was previously thought to exist, however, is true.

2011-10-01 12:34:55


Thanks Tom.

I've tweaked that point to reinforce my point.


exceedingly well explored and mapped by 1957.  During the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958 the world's media was paying great attention to the polar ice, and to Greenland, as heroes from many nations battled extreme weather to expand our scientific knowledge.  Had Ernst Hofer or his employer - Lauge Koch -


Added Jeff Shea's photo of the island in fog. ( I just plain forgot before. :blush:)


minor typo corrected - the aithor ???  Darn keybroad! :-)

added at 04:44 UK time

Last remaining reference to "Hofer map" changed to "1957 map"

(It is my considered opinion that Hofer had nothing to do with drawing the map.)

2011-10-01 14:05:47
Tom Curtis


Seems good to me.

2011-10-01 14:34:24My 2 cents
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey


These images constitute evidence in support of Dennis Schmitt's claim that he saw water in 2005 where he had seen ice 10 years earlier, which would be 1985.


These images constitute evidence in support of Dennis Schmitt's claim that he saw water in 2005 where he had seen ice 10 years earlier, which would be 1995.


And change:

Remember that what Patrick Michaels has asserted about Warming Island is only a theory.  His theory in a nutshell: the 1957 map of the East Greenland Coast is accurate, hence Warming Island was an island in 1957.  This is an assertion unsupported by relevant and credible evidence and is in both the scientific and popular senses of the term just a theory.


Remember that what Patrick Michaels has asserted about Warming Island is only an hypothesis.  His theory in a nutshell: the 1957 map of the East Greenland Coast is accurate, hence Warming Island was an island in 1957.  This is an assertion unsupported by relevant and credible evidence and is in both the scientific and popular senses of the term just an hypothesis.


And change:

Patrick Michaels asserts thet the 1957 map, reproduced below, is accurate - but provides no data and no pointer to data.


Patrick Michaels asserts that the 1957 map, reproduced below, is accurate - but provides no data and no pointer to data.


Well done, sir.

2011-10-01 15:32:34


Tom: thanks for the thumb.

Daniel: ditto and - 1985 ?  What was I thinking?  Was I thinking? Thet wasn't what I were thinking. ;-)

Re: 'hypothesis'.

I deliberately used the terms 'just a theory' and 'only a theory' because they are exactly the terms frequently used by deniers of GW / AGW / climate change / evolution / sanity.

While 'hypothesis' would be more correct in a more formal setting, I feel that 'theory' is more intuitive grasped by a majority of people - but what do others think?

2011-10-01 15:45:38Ah, derision, where is thy sting?
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Use "theory" but leave it in air quotes then (people can picture the fingers wiggling that way)



2011-10-01 16:26:01


Changes made:


for variety - and to hammer home the point that Michaels' claim is nonsense - I have changed 'theory' as follows:

Alternatively, the map is not accurate and Patrick Michaels' "theory" has no scientific basis.

of no scientific value: it is an idea which he does not support ...

the two nearby islands which feature in rebuttals of Michaels' assertion.

The image illustrates Patrick Michaels' 'Warming Island 1957' notion.

shows the gist of Michaels' argument in support of his supposition.

Michaels claim is that the Angmagssalik GISS temperature record supports his suggestion that ...

suggests that the GISS temperature record from Angmagssalik supports his contention that ...

Of course, if supporters of the Warming Island 1957 "theory" insist they are right, ...


Here, I have added quotes to reinforce 'the message of the bold'.

Remember that what Patrick Michaels has asserted about Warming Island is only a theory.  His "theory" in a nutshell: the 1957 map of the East Greenland Coast is accurate, hence Warming Island was an island in 1957.  This is an assertion unsupported by relevant and credible evidence and is in both the scientific and popular senses of the term just a theory.

Any more suggestions?


btw: using a piece of graphic art - probably the only pre-2005 map which suits Michaels' agenda - is what I hereby officially dub kerasian falsification. Kerasian - of or pertaining to cherries.

Any new evidence can falsify your theory.

This is a new piece of evidence.

Your theory is false q.e.d.


Is that worthy of an entry in rational wiki ? :-)

2011-10-01 18:33:46
Rob Painting

Patrick, the post is way too long. 

2011-10-01 19:46:36


Maybe there should be a short and a long version.

This would be the long version; but directly posted would be the short version, with a link to the long version.

The short version could have just a bullet-item list of the points, and maybe just the direct-comparison maps.

2011-10-02 03:02:11


Rob, Neal:

The NYT rebuttal has had no impact - especially on the Watters.

My purpose is to cover all the bases so that there is nothing left to rebut and so that anyone refering to this map in future will look just plain stupid.

A shorter version would omit rebuttal evidence and leave Michaels and his supporters with wriggle room.

I've managed this so far despite suffering from chronic exhaustion - fuelled by my anger at Michaels' mendacity, but I'm out of steam now.

I'm waiting to see this published here because I want to publish simultaneously in my own blog - apart from this article and some comments I have written nothing for some time now.


Sorry - I'm off color - I'm not looking for the sympathy vote.  If further tweaks really are necvessary I'll give it my best shot.

Back later.

2011-10-02 03:48:11
Julian Brimelow

Maybe one more check for typos then off to the "printers".

Nicely done Patrick!  

It is long, no doubt, I like Neal's idea of a long and short version.  Neal is very good at condensing the message, so maybe he can tackle that with Patrick?  If not, Patrick, and if you want assistance, then I can assist you in drafting a shorter post.

2011-10-02 05:04:27


Firstly - my apologies to all for the tone of my previous comment.

I have suffered from depression all of my adult life and once in a while it gets the better of me.


Alby: thanks.  Can you chat amonmgst yourselves and ptoduce a 'Readers Digest condensed books' version? Thanks - I really need to rest my (alleged) brain.

A note: 'a notorious fact'.  In English law a notorious fact is anything so widely known as to be not seriously arguable in a court of law.  A step further is 'judicial notice'.  If a fact is so notorious that it is irrational to argue against it then the court will take judicial notice of it as fact - and brook no argument.


On 'lengthy'.

Watts ahs posted an exceedingly long and dull post about how that evil scumbag Gore didn't do a video in one take.

Michaels took 3 years of digging for dirt before he found the 1957 map.

Some people are still digging in the IPCC archives for misplaced commas - how long are those documents? All references to ISO 216 will earn an e-slap.

See - my good humor returns.  I'll eat a Chinese tak ah wei and watch a movie and then -

I'll be back!

2011-10-02 05:52:15
Peter Hogarth


Hi Patrick, always enjoyed your website and scribblings there, lengthy or otherwise.  An esoteric topic certainly, but you have my vote for what it is worth.  How to squeeze huge amounts of hard won knowledge into a post, tricky, and even trickier to get the balance right for the target audience (whoever they are). I had always imagined I was writing for the scientifically literate waverer, as I've met plenty of these in my career, but as Neal has said, we have to get them to read whatever we write... The title helps (around here!).

2011-10-02 06:21:29
Dana Nuccitelli

Is the Times Atlas discussion necessary?  I understand that's what prompted Middleton to make the Warming Island mistake, but it seems off-topic.  I'd suggest just deleting that part of the post.

I think the "In Brief" at the start of the post serves as a good summary along the lines of what neal is suggesting.  We can make this clearer by putting a greenbox around it or something.  However, I would suggest revising it a bit:

"The melting of glacier ice in North East Greenland revealed in 2005 that land thought to be a cape was in fact an island, which was named "Warming Island" since it was created due to local warming temperatures.  The new island appears on many maps published since its discovery."

"At "skeptic" blog Watts Up With That (WUWT), David Middleton has used the recent Times Atlas story as an excuse to resurrected Patrick Michaels' flawed article on Warming island, hence this detailed rebuttal Here we will examine in detail the errors made by Michaels, and repeated by Middleton on WUWT."

I'd also suggest starting out the post with the "In Brief" and deleting the section above it.

For the title I would suggest "Michaels Mischief #3: Warming Island"

2011-10-02 07:58:42


dana: many thanks.  I'm cool with those suggestions.  I've made one change from them, since Muddletoon is merely shooting his mouth off citing the claims as if accurate, not simply repeating them.

Here we will examine in detail the errors made by Michaels, and promoted by Middleton on WUWT

I've added the  'Michaels Mischief' title and retained the 'not in 1957' title as a sub-title.

Can you do the green box and any other graphic arts bits for me please?  Thanks.



Why Michaels is not even wrong about natural cycles.

I feel sooo much better for producing that work of art!  :-)


(The map is from a German edition of 'Treasure Island'.)

2011-10-02 08:27:44


Reserve ammo:  proof that Michaels knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote his Warming Island propaganda.

"The problem with Antarctic temperature measurement is that all but three longstanding weather stations are on or very near the coast. Antarctica is a big place, about one-and-a-half times the size of the US. Imagine trying to infer our national temperature only with stations along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, plus three others in the interior."


2011-10-02 08:58:52
Dana Nuccitelli

I'll have another look later, make some minor tweaks, and I think this should be good to publish sometime early next week (I haven't set up next week's schedule yet).

2011-10-03 05:12:27


Thanks, dana.  It looks good now.


I've made these minor changes:

The melting of glacier ice in Northeast Greenland revealed in 2005 that land which - since 1822 - was thought to be a cape

It which was named "Warming Island" since it was created due to local warming temperatures.

It was named "Warming Island" because it had been uncovered due to local warming.

added precedent to "In reality ..."

According to David Middleton, "Pat Michaels debunked this particular Warmist myth back in 2008".  In reality, it was


the absence of Reynolds Island from Hofer's the 1957 map ...

If the Hofer 1957 map is entirely accurate then the width of the strait as shown in the Hofer that map was ...

does not appear on Hofer's the 1957 map ...

Hofer's the 1957 sketch map, however, is obviously and seriously inaccurate.


( It is my considered opinion that Hofer had nothing to do with the creation of the map. )


Thank you all for your assistance in making this article readable.  I could never have come up with such a polished version on my own.

2011-10-03 05:41:34


OK, go for it.

2011-10-03 18:28:11
Alex C


I like it.  I hadn't payed much attention to this particular post until I actually read (at Tamino's, in a comment there) that the post from WUWT was by Middleton - I remember work of his.  He used to post on Yahoo! Answers too, I think.

One of his previous entries at his blog was a "rebuttal" to De'ath et al 2009, which claimed that there had been a decrease in coral calcification in the last decade at the GBR.  De'ath used two collections of coral data, one extending into 2001 and one extending into 2005.  The set into 2005 was the one that was referenced for the recent decade decrease.  The paper is here.

Middleton proceeded to use the OTHER data set, without correcting for latitudinal bias over time, to show that coral calcification had not decreased in the last decade.  He also proceeded to claim that the conclusion of the paper was based off of a single data point (remember, this is not the right data set he's using even!  This data set doesn't even go into the 2000s, besides about 8 cores!), and that there was some mysterious drop in sampling rate near the ends (because obviously De'ath et al were frauds, herp derp).

Then of course some crappy correlation = causality arguments, please beware the stupid.

The one thing that irks me the most is that he used the wrong data.  While the abstract doesn't state there are two data sets, one could easily Google the paper and find figures extending into 2005.  Figures A-C use the data he SHOULD have used, Figure D uses the data he did use (and correctly too, i.e. taking into account latitudinal bias).  This guy's FOS.