Mont Blanc Glacier History Clearly Shows Natural Cycles Behind Climate, And Not Man

Little Ice Age as a suitable reference point for the warming of the last 150 years?  The case of Mont Blanc

By Uli Weber
(Translated/edited by P Gosselin)

On October 29 television station ARTE broadcast the documentary “Laboratory Mont Blanc“ (94 Min.). It’s available at until November 6, 2016.  The description at ARTE:

On a 6-day expedition three scientists climbed the Mont Blanc, which is considered the heart of the European Alps. At approximately 4810 meters tall the ‘white giant’ is a natural wonder of nature. Climbing the large mountain is a unique experience and is considered as a look at the past 240 million years of evolution…”

Of course the problem in the documentary all gets back to man-made climate change. Yet between the 37 minute and 45 minute marks, we found some rational documentation: The Mont Blanc glacier had retreated just as much during the Medieval times as much it has today. Back then a small town near what today is Chamonix (Le Chatelard?) was covered in 1643 by the Mer de Glace (sea of ice) glacier and destroyed. In 1860 – the end of the Little Ice Age – the Mer de Glace reached its greatest extent, which is documented by photos and other means.

Since then the Mer de Glace has been in retreat, as the following satellite photo from Google-Maps clearly shows:


Also other sources report of glacier advance during the Little Ice Age, e.g. the Blog History of Geology on October 8, 2016:

In the year 1644 in the Mont Blanc region, a procession to the glacier was organized at the village Les Bois because supposedly it had advanced to only 120 meters away from the village and it was threatening. The bishop of Geneva blessed the Les-Bois-glacier personally…“

Wikipedia on the Mer de Glace, quote:

„… Earlier the glacier flowed over a steep part and into the valley of Chamonix, and right up to the settlement Les Bois. This part of the glacier was named the Glacier des Bois and used to be an attraction of old Chamonix. At the elevation of Montenvers the glacier used to be 130 meters thicker than today. Crossing the right bank was free of trouble. People even drove the herds of sheep over it…“

It is most astonishing that the mean temperature at the end of the Little Ice Age (usually 1850, but in the ARTE documentary 1860) gets misused as the “natural” yardstick for measuring our current warming, and thus used as proof of a “man-made” global warming – even though that it is clearly shown by the ARTE documentary and without a doubt as simply part of the ongoing natural cycle since the Medieval time.


17 responses to “Mont Blanc Glacier History Clearly Shows Natural Cycles Behind Climate, And Not Man”

  1. AndyG55
  2. David Appell

    “…and without a doubt as simply part of the ongoing natural cycle since the Medieval time.”

    Hardly. Solar irradiance was not nearly enough to cause the LIA.

    The science points to volcanoes:

    1. ClimateOtter

      DA, interesting that I agree with you to some extent re: volcanoes and a quiet sun…. but more interesting is that you admit the LIA was real, despite your god mann deleting it from the records.

      1. David Appell

        The LIA shows up in the hockey stick. Look more closely.

    2. AndyG55

      Science points…..


      You wouldn’t have the slightest clue where science points.

      You are NOTHING but a low end fantasy writer.

      1. ClimateOtter

        Very low end, Andy. *I’M* a science-fiction / fantasy (anthro) writer, and I doubt he even makes the low end

    3. Kenneth Richard

      David Appell: “Solar irradiance was not nearly enough to cause the LIA. The science points to volcanoes”

      Is it truly possible that you don’t understand that the “volcano” explanation is actually a short wave (solar) explanation for climate change? Volcanoes, like clouds, increase albedo and thus prevent solar radiation from being absorbed by the Earth’s surface (ocean). When we have periods of very low volcanic activity, as we have enjoyed since the 1920s (or reduced cloud cover, which has been observed on a global scale since the 1980s), the surface solar radiation increases and the Earth system warms up. When we have very high solar activity or more cloud cover, the Earth cools because less solar radiation is absorbed by the Earth system.

      Why do you assume that the only means by which the Sun influences climate is via changes in its output (TSI)?

  3. John F. Hultquist

    Very interesting. I just spent the last ½ hour reading and looking at things about the area. Sorry to say I’ve never visited the Mont Blanc area. Maybe, when my check from Big Oil or Big Coal arrives.

    This summer I spent a few days as a volunteer trail worker at Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington State. Mostly we were on the northeast side with the Emmons Glacier in view. One day I worked on the Emmons Moraine Trail, the white line if you go to Google Earth, here: 46.89622, -121.67436
    You can manipulate the “view” and see what the area is like.

    The third paragraph of the Wiki write-up explains some of the complicating factors regarding melting.

    Click on the top photo there for a larger image. Lower left (with road) is the Sunrise area with an elevation of almost 2,000 m. I worked there also just to west of the large parking area and activities center.

  4. Bob Hoye

    Thorough research, but improbable.

    Michael Mann made the Little Ice Age go away.

    Don’t you know?

  5. Sebastian Luening

    @ David Appell
    The 2012 study you refer to is meanwhile outdated. New age dating of volcanic ash layers in ice cores showed that the LIA timing of cold episodes does not really fit with the volcanoes (see Sigl et al. 2015). But cold phases fit very nicely with solar minima. See Abb. 1 here:

    and compare to Sigl et al. 2015:

    1. David Appell

      Do you have any peer reviewed published science?

      Blogs are not science.

  6. Pam Landon

    Whether it is sun activity or volcanoes, it still equals Not Man Made Global Changes.

    1. David Appell

      There is no evidence the LIA was global. See the abstract of

      “Continental-scale temperature variability during the past two millennia,” PAGES 2k Consortium, Nature Geosciences, April 21, 2013

  7. tom0mason

    So the glaciers can advance or retreat as nature dictates.
    So how can any so called ‘scientist’ say that the current retreat is man-made? They are actually just tacitly admitting they have no understanding of how natural cycles begin, develop, and progress — that’s all.

    1. David Appell

      What natural force(s) is(are) causing glaciers to retreat?

  8. Stevenson

    My chalet is facing the “glaciers des Miages” which are 3 glaciers east of the Mont Blanc, just after the Bionassay. (Going eastwards Mont Blanc – Bionassay – Miages)
    I bought this (very nice) chalet 5 years ago and we have seen the glaciers going up, literally last year a tongue just disappeared.

    I am not implementing this is man made. I actually think that man made global warming is a small part of the explanation. But global warming there is that is for sure !

  9. Kenneth Richard

    David Appell: “What natural force(s) is(are) causing glaciers to retreat?”

    Clouds (for one):
    Tricht et al., 2016
    Clouds are known to play a pivotal role in regulating the local SEB [Surface Energy Balance], with competing warming and cooling effects on the surface. … The satellite-based cloud observations allow to estimate the cloud impact on the SEB [Surface Energy Balance]. … The annual mean CRE [Cloud Radiative Effect] of 29.5 (±5.2) W m 2 provides enough energy to melt 90 Gt of ice in the GrIS [Greenland Ice Sheet] ablation area during July and August. … The snow model simulations, which capture the evolution of the GrIS SMB [Surface Mass Balance] from 2007 to 2010, indicate that clouds warm the GrIS [Greenland Ice Sheet] surface by 1.2° (±0.1) C on average over the entire period [2007-2010]. … These results further indicate that not only liquid-bearing clouds but also clouds composed exclusively of ice significantly increase radiative fluxes into the surface and decrease GrIS SMB [Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Mass Balance]
    Conway and Cullen, 2016
    The effect of clouds on glacier surface energy balance (SEB) has received increased attention in the last decade, but how clouds interact with other meteorological forcing to influence surface mass balance (SMB) is not as well understood. This paper resolves the SEB and SMB at a site in the ablation zone of Brewster Glacier over a 22-month period, using high-quality radiation data to carefully evaluate SEB terms and define clear-sky and overcast conditions. A fundamental change in glacier SEB [surface energy balance] in cloudy conditions was driven by increased effective sky emissivity and surface vapour pressure, rather than a minimal change in air temperature and wind speed. During overcast conditions, positive net long-wave radiation and latent heat fluxes allowed melt to be maintained through a much greater length of time compared to clear-sky conditions, and led to similar melt in each sky condition. The sensitivity of SMB to changes in air temperature was greatly enhanced in overcast compared to clear-sky conditions due to more frequent melt and changes in precipitation phase that created a strong albedo feedback. During the spring and autumn seasons, the sensitivity during overcast conditions was strongest.

    Conclusion: Given the frequent cloud cover at the site, cloudy periods accounted for a majority of the melt observed, especially during autumn when SWnet [shortwave] inputs were lower
    Not CO2:

    Smithusen et al., 2015
    Abstract: For this region [central Antarctica], the emission to space is higher than the surface emission; and the greenhouse effect of CO2 is around zero or even negative, which has not been discussed so far. We investigated this in detail and show that for central Antarctica an increase in CO2 concentration leads to an increased long-wave energy loss to space, which cools the Earth-atmosphere system.

    For most of the Antarctic Plateau, GHE-TES [greenhouse effect as measured by the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer] is close to zero or even slightly negative; i.e., the presence of CO2 increases radiative cooling. Over Greenland, the greenhouse effect of CO2 is also comparatively weak

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. More information at our Data Privacy Policy