Fox & Friends hosted right-wing radio host Brian Sussman to cast doubt on global warming science by, in part, misrepresenting Arctic sea ice and temperature data. Fox & Friends portrayed Sussman as a credible expert on climate change despite his history of using misinformation to attack global warming science.
Sussman Misrepresents Arctic Sea Ice Data To Cast Doubt On Global Warming
Sussman Attempts To Cast Doubt On Global Warming By Suggesting Arctic Sea Ice Is Expanding. On the January 27 edition of Fox & Friends, Sussman stated global warming "is a shakedown operation being conducted by political activists with Ph.Ds who at the end of the day want to see cap and trade imposed upon the United States." Sussman went on to cite Arctic sea ice data and temperatures to purportedly explain "really what's happening":
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): So we got fifteen inches of snow here in New York City overnight, and there are lot of people who are saying, look, the reason why we're having these severe weather patterns - you know, it's really hot in the summer now and we have these great big storms in the summer and all this dumping of winter weather is because global warming has screwed up everything.
SUSSMAN: This is a shakedown operation being conducted by political activists with Ph.Ds who at the end of the day want to see cap and trade imposed upon the United States. But here, really what's happening, Steve, this is weather. They keep saying, well, the Arctic was really warm and as a result we're seeing the jet stream dip down. The Arctic during the month of December was 25 to 30 degrees below zero. That's not warm. The month of December -- during the month of December, the Arctic ice refroze 1.2 million square miles. The Arctic is covered with ice right now. These are machinations that defy the imagination. [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 1/27/11]
In Fact, Arctic Sea Ice Extent In December Was The Lowest In The Satellite Record For That Month
NSIDC: "Arctic Sea Ice Extent For December 2010 Was The Lowest In The Satellite Record For That Month." While Sussman touted the expansion of Arctic sea ice in December, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported on January 5 that "Arctic sea ice extent for December 2010 was the lowest in the satellite record for that month." NSIDC further noted that "Arctic sea ice extent averaged over December 2010 was 12.00 million square kilometers ... the lowest December ice extent recorded in satellite observations from 1979 to 2010." From NSIDC:
Arctic sea ice extent for December 2010 was the lowest in the satellite record for that month. These low ice conditions are linked to a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, similar to the situation that dominated the winter of 2009-2010.
Overview of conditions
Arctic sea ice extent averaged over December 2010 was 12.00 million square kilometers (4.63 million square miles). This is the lowest December ice extent recorded in satellite observations from 1979 to 2010, 270,000 square kilometers (104,000 square miles) below the previous record low of 12.27 million square kilometers (4.74 million square miles) set in 2006 and 1.35 million square kilometers (521,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average. [NSIDC, 1/5/11]
NSIDC: "[I]ce Extent In December 2010 Was Unusually Low In Both The Atlantic And Pacific Sides Of The Arctic." NSIDC further noted:
As in November, ice extent in December 2010 was unusually low in both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Arctic, but particularly in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait (between southern Baffin Island and Labrador), and in Davis Strait (between Baffin Island and Greenland). Normally, these areas are completely frozen over by late November. In the middle of December, ice extent stopped increasing for about a week, an unusual but not unique event. [NSIDC, 1/5/11]
AP: Arctic Sea Ice Cover "Is Considered A Marker Of Climate Change." The Associated Press further reported that the World Meteorological Organization's recent climate report stated that "Arctic sea ice cover in December was the smallest since records began in 1979" and that "the ice cover is considered a marker of climate change as global warming tends to be seen first at the poles." [AP, 1/20/11]
Sussman Touts December Arctic Air Temperatures To Attack Global Warming Science
Sussman: "The Arctic During The Month Of December Was 25 To 30 Degrees Below Zero. That's Not Warm." Also during the Fox & Friends segment, Sussman stated:
SUSSMAN: [Climate change activists] keep saying, well, the Arctic was really warm and as a result we're seeing the jet stream dip down. The Arctic during the month of December was 25 to 30 degrees below zero. That's not warm. [Fox & Friends, 1/27/11]
But Much Of Arctic Experienced Above Average Temperatures in December
NSIDC: "Low [Arctic] Ice Conditions In December Occurred In Conjunction With Above-Average Air Temperatures." In its January 5 report, NSIDC noted that "[t]he low ice conditions in December occurred in conjunction with above-average air temperatures in regions where ice would normally expand at this time of year." From NSIDC:
The low ice conditions in December occurred in conjunction with above-average air temperatures in regions where ice would normally expand at this time of year. Air temperatures over eastern Siberia were 6 to 10 degrees Celsius (11 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in December. Over the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Baffin Bay/Davis Strait and Hudson Bay, temperatures were at least 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average. Southern Baffin Island had the largest anomalies, with temperatures over 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal. By sharp contrast, temperatures were lower than average (4 to 7 degrees Celsius, 7 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit) over the Alaska-Yukon border, north-central Eurasia, and Scandinavia.
The warm temperatures in December came from two sources: unfrozen areas of the ocean continued to release heat to the atmosphere, and an unusual circulation pattern brought warm air into the Arctic from the south. Although the air temperatures were still below freezing on average, the additional ocean and atmospheric heat slowed ice growth. [NSIDC, 1/5/11]
NY Times: Temperatures In Some Parts Of Arctic Have Been "Freakishly Warm" During Past Two Winters. In a January 24 article, The New York Times reported that "while people in Atlanta learn to shovel snow, the weather 2,000 miles to the north has been freakishly warm the past two winters. Throughout northeastern Canada and Greenland, temperatures in December ran as much as 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit above normal." The Times further reported:
The immediate cause of the topsy-turvy weather is clear enough. A pattern of atmospheric circulation that tends to keep frigid air penned in the Arctic has weakened during the last two winters, allowing big tongues of cold air to descend far to the south, while masses of warmer air have moved north.
The deeper issue is whether this pattern is linked to the rapid changes that global warming is causing in the Arctic, particularly the drastic loss of sea ice. At least two prominent climate scientists have offered theories suggesting that it is. But others are doubtful, saying the recent events are unexceptional, or that more evidence over a longer period would be needed to establish a link.
Since satellites began tracking it in 1979, the ice on the Arctic Ocean's surface in the bellwether month of September has declined by more than 30 percent. It is the most striking change in the terrain of the planet in recent decades, and a major question is whether it is starting to have an effect on broad weather patterns. [The New York Times, 1/24/11]
Sussman Has A History Of Misinforming To Attack Global Warming Science
Sussman Named His Book After Thoroughly Debunked "Climategate" Scandal. Sussman titled his April 2010 book Climategate: A Veteran Meteorologist Exposes the Global Warming Scam. "Climategate" refers to an alleged scandal in which right-wing media claimed that stolen emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia show that researchers were deliberately distorting climate science. However, as Media Matters for America has previously documented, "Climategate" has been thoroughly debunked, and the critics largely rested their claims on gross distortions and misrepresentations of the stolen emails. [Media Matters, 12/1/09]
Sussman Falsely Claimed That "There Is No Consensus [On Global Warming]. This Is A Myth." During the April 22, 2010, edition of Fox News' Hannity, Sussman stated that "there is no consensus [on global warming]. This is a myth" and that "the temperature record of the Earth is clearly rigged." Further, Sussman attacked Al Gore, claiming that Gore "stands to make perhaps a billion dollars or more off of global warming" and that Gore "doesn't believe in global warming. He doesn't believe in any of this. He believes in money." [Fox News' Hannity, 4/22/10]
Sussman: Climate Change Conference A "Junk Science Circus." In a December 2010 American Thinker article, Sussman stated that the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun "devolved into a junk science circus" and called the convention's predictions a "crock." [American Thinker, 12/8/10]
Sussman: "If Anyone Is In Denial, It's Those Who Still Believe In Global Warming." In a December 2008 American Thinker article, Sussman stated that "[t]here is no planetary emergency caused by an abundance of carbon dioxide" and that "[i]f anyone is in denial, it's those who still believe in global warming." [American Thinker, 12/16/08]