BC's glaciers are melting, but the province isn't warming
Soon after the release of the National Climate Assessment came stories in the Canadian media about how "unprecedented B.C. glacier melt seeps into U.S. climate change concerns." Glaciers in British Columbia are melting ("in rapid retreat," according to the media reports), and apparently anthropogenic climate change is directly to blame.
According to Brian Menounos – a geography professor at the University of Northern British Columbia – "we've seen an acceleration of the melt from the glaciers," but "glacial loss can be slowed, Menounos said. The biggest issue is human consumption of fossil fuels."
This got me thinking that if "human consumption of fossil fuels" is the biggest issue behind the melting glaciers in British Columbia, then we should expect temperatures in BC to have been rising rapidly over the past couple decades as our global rates of fossil fuel consumption increased exponentially.
Such is not the case at all. I looked at the trends in annual temperatures for the 54 climate stations around BC from the Adjusted and Homogenized Canadian Climate Data (AHCCD) database of Environment Canada. Not a single station has a significant warming trend since 1990. Not one. In other words, not a single region of British Columbia has been warming over the past quarter-century. Meanwhile, consumption of fossil fuels has skyrocketed.
There is a long-term climate station at Glacier, BC, having an elevation of 1,323 meters right in the heart of Glacier National Park. Here are the spring, summer, and autumn temperatures at the site since the climate record begins in 1908. Average winter temperatures are always well below zero at these high elevation sites in BC's glacier country.
Do these patterns of spring, summer, and autumn melt-season temperatures look consistent with claims that anthropogenic climate change is driving the long-term (~150 years and counting) melting of glaciers in these parts of British Columbia? Absolutely no chance.
There have been no significant trends in spring, summer, and autumn temperatures at Glacier, BC since the 1920s. Just looking at the graphs, it is clear that temperatures increased rapidly during the first few decades of the 20th century, and haven't increased since. If anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions were having a major influence on glacier melting, we would expect the exact opposite trend: namely, little to no change in melt-season temperatures during the first half of the 20th century, followed by massive increases since the 1970s and 1980s, and especially over the last couple decades. In case you're wondering, the time trends for winter and annual temperatures look similar – big increases in the first part of the 20th century, and little to no change thereafter.
The Glacier site is both the highest and most representative site in the AHCCD database for investigating potential relationships among glacier melt, temperatures, and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. But moving to include either nearby valley bottom sites or reasonably high elevation sites elsewhere in the province doesn't favor the case of the alarmists. I simply cannot find general relationships anywhere in the province's climate record that support the belief that the combustion of fossil fuels is resulting in an accelerating rate of glacier loss for this region.
Looks like we have more problems with National Climate Assessment-related science, to add to the massive pile of concerns we already had.