Atlas publishers 'incorrect' on ice
Published 20/09/2011 | 12:21
The publishers of the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World have apologised for an "incorrect" statement in which they suggested 15% of Greenland's permanent ice cover had melted.
When the latest edition of the atlas was launched last week, it was claimed that cartographers had to erase an area of ice the size of the UK and Ireland on the world's largest island.
The reduction was said to reflect the retreat of Greenland's glaciers in the past 12 years in the face of a warming climate. The map of Greenland in the atlas itself shows a clear reduction in ice cover, compared with the previous edition published four years ago.
But scientists at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge said they were extremely puzzled by the suggestion that the atlas showed Greenland was "turning green".
Dr Poul Christoffersen, a glaciologist at the institute, said experts there believed the figure of a 15% decrease in permanent ice cover in 12 years "is both incorrect and misleading".
In a statement the publishers of the atlas, HarperCollins, said: "The Times Atlas is renowned for its authority and we do our utmost to maintain that reputation."
But for the launch of the latest edition of the atlas, the company issued a press release which it admitted was "misleading with regard to the Greenland statistics".
"We came to these statistics by comparing the extent of the ice cap between the 10th and 13th editions (1999 vs 2011) of the atlas.
"The conclusion that was drawn from this, that 15% of Greenland's once permanent ice cover has melted away, was highlighted in the press release, not in the Atlas itself.
"This was done without consulting the scientific community and was incorrect. We apologise for this."