Map-makers admit Greenland gaffe

The 2011 version of the map, left, which incorrectly showed ice-loss
The 2011 version of the map, left, which incorrectly showed ice-loss
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IT APPEARED to provide incontrovertible proof that global warming was accelerating faster than even the most doom-laden scientists had predicted.

There was considerable alarm when the word’s most authoritative atlas printed a map which showed that Greenland was rapidly turning green.

However, experts from around the globe pointed out that the cataclysmic chart had no scientific support and was contradicted by all of the most recent satellite images.

Now the Scottish map-makers responsible for the disappearance of 115,830 square miles of polar ice have admitted publicly they were wrong.

As an act of contrition, The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World cartographers have produced a new map which restores Greenland’s ice cover.

Jethro Lennox, senior publishing editor of the £150 tome, insisted lessons would be learned from the episode, which generated headlines around the globe.

The Glasgow-based map-maker said: “We’re very disappointed at the way it happened.

“But we are now looking to draw a line under the Greenland controversy and move on.”

The latest atlas, which was published in September, showed a reduction in ice cover compared with the previous edition from four years ago.

Accompanying publicity material declared the change represented “concrete evidence” of the effects of global warming, stating: “For the first time the new edition has had to erase 15 per cent of Greenland’s permanent ice cover – turning an area the size of the UK and Ireland ‘green’ and ice-free.”

Publishers HarperCollins originally stood by the accuracy of the map but have since admitted to the mistake after the blunder was exposed by scientists.

Mr Lennox said: “After publication of the 13th edition of The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World it became apparent that we had not represented the permanent ice cover in Greenland fully and clearly.

“In failing to do that, this section of the map did not meet the usual high standards of accuracy and reliability that the atlas strives to uphold.

“To correct this, we decided to produce a new, more detailed map using the latest information available.”

A new, corrected map of Greenland will be inserted into all remaining copies.

The updated chart was put together after the cartographers consulted experts from the University of Arizona, the University of Bristol, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland and the Byrd Polar Research Centre.

The editor claimed the newly established links would prevent errors in future.

He said: “We have made some valuable contacts and will be keen to work with them again in the future.”

Dr Liz Morris, of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, said: “This was a really bad mapping error. If 15 per cent of ice was lost, then sea levels would have risen by one metre, and that hasn’t happened.”