Greenland climate change blunder may lead to Times Atlas climbdown
- 21st September 2011
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The new edition of the Times Atlas of the World faces the prospect of having an entire print run pulped after it appeared to claim climate change in Greenland is far worse than it really is.
Leading UK polar scientists have claimed that the Atlas, costing £150 and published by a Times Books, a division of HarperCollins and another part of News Corporation organisation, is wrong to assert that it had to re-draw the map of Greenland to account for climate change. Publicity for the new edition of the atlas last week said global warming had turned 15 per cent of Greenland’s formerly ice-covered landscape ‘green and ice-free’.
Scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute say the figures are wrong and the ice has not withdrawn to such a dramatic extent. Director Julian Dowdeswell said the claim of a 15 per cent loss of ice in just 12 years is wrong. “Recent satellite images of Greenland make it clear that there are in fact still numerous glaciers and permanent ice cover where the new Times Atlas shows ice-free conditions and the emergence of new lands. We do not know why this error has occurred, but it is regrettable that the claimed drastic reduction in the extent of ice in Greenland has created headline news around the world. There is to our knowledge no support for this claim in the published scientific literature.”
The atlas claims to be the most authoritative in the world, and documents the break up of some Antarctic ice shelves, the shrinking of inland waters such as the Dead Sea and Aral Sea, as well as the drying up of rivers like the Colorado River.
A spokesman for publisher HarperCollins said the atlas was compiled with data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center.