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ICECAP in the News
Dec 31, 2007
Update: Cause Versus Effect In Feedback Diagnosis

By Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in Climate Science

On August 8, 2007, I posted here a guest blog entry on the possibility that our observational estimates of feedbacks might be biased in the positive direction. Danny Braswell and I built a simple time-dependent energy balance model to demonstrate the effect and its possible magnitude, and submitted a paper to the Journal of Climate for publication.

The two reviewers of the manuscript (rather uncharacteristically) signed their names to their reviews. To my surprise, both of them (Isaac Held and Piers Forster) agreed that we had raised a legitimate issue. While both reviewers suggested changes in the (conditionally accepted) manuscript, they even took the time to develop their own simple models to demonstrate the effect to themselves.

Of special note is the intellectual honesty shown by Piers Forster. Our paper directly challenges an assumption made by Forster in his 2005 J. Climate paper, which provided a nice theoretical treatment of feedback diagnosis from observational data. Forster admitted in his review that they had erred in this part of their analysis, and encouraged us to get the paper published so that others could be made aware of the issue, too.

This issue is critical because, to the extent that non-feedback sources of cloud variability cause surface temperature change, it will always look like a positive feedback using the conventional diagnostic approach. It is even possible to diagnose a positive feedback when, in fact, a negative feedback really exists. Read more here.

Dec 20, 2007
Cold in India

By Dr. Madhav Khandekar

Find below a picture of residents in India’s Kasmir valley region were there is a cold spell for the past few days and people are keeping themselves warm by making coal-fires or wood fires right on the streets while selling their merchandise!

Elsewhere in Rajasthan State (Northwest of India, the state is adjoining Pakistan) several locals have witnessed low temp for the past few days. Mount Abu a tourist spot recorded a low of -1.8C a few days ago, while nearby State of Gujarat also had cold weather for the past few days.

In Kashmir, it is quite common for many men as well as women to keep a small coal-fired stove (called ‘segri’ in Hindi ) and this little stove can be even ‘tucked in “ in a long garment! This is how people there have been keeping warm during the cold days of December & January.


Dec 19, 2007
Evidence For A Lack Of Water Vapor Feedback On The Regional Scale

By Roger Pielke Sr.

An essential component of the IPCC perspective of global warming is that atmospheric water vapor must increase in order to amplify the radiative warming effect of carbon dioxide. Without this amplification, the global warming that would be due to just carbon dioxide would be quite modest. The multi-decadal global models predict such an amplification, with the claim that the relative humidity remains nearly constant as the atmosphere warms. The atmospheric depth total column water vapor (called precipitable water) is a useful metric for this purpose.

Our paper on this approach, currently under review, is Wang, J.-W., K. Wang, R.A. Pielke, J.C. Lin, and T. Matsui, 2007: Does an atmospheric warming trend lead to a moistening trend over North America? Geophys. Res. Letts., submitted, with the abstract:

An increase in the atmospheric moisture content has been generally assumed when the lower-tropospheric temperature increases, with relative humidity holding steady. Rather than using simple linear regression, we propose a more rigorous trend detection method that considers time series memory. The autoregressive moving-average (ARMA) parameters for the time series of lower-tropospheric temperature (Tcol), precipitable water vapor (PWAV), and total precipitable water content (PWAT) from the North American Regional Reanalysis data were first computed. We then applied Monte Carlo method to replicate ARMA time series and collected samples for estimating the variances of their OLS trends. Student’s t tests showed that the Tcol from 1979 to 2006 was significant and positive; however, the PWAV and PWAT were not. This suggests that atmospheric temperature and water vapor trends do not follow the conjecture of constant relative humidity. We thus urge further evaluations of lower-tropospheric temperature and water vapor trends for the globe.

While the analysis at a location or even over North America needs to be expanded globally, the lack of a long-term increase in precipitable water even on a large regional scale or point location should be disquieting to the global climate modelers, as the water vapor in a column is a result of water vapor transport over large distances. Read more here.

Roger is Senior Research Scientist, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado in Boulder and Emeritus Professor of the Department of Atmospheric Science Colorado State University

Icecap Note: This work provides observational evidence that supports the Spencer, Brasswell, Christy and Hnilo findings about precipitation systems acting as a thermostat, which in turn supports Lindzen’s 2001 adaptive iris idea. The Earth has mechanisms to keep temperatures within bounds.

Dec 18, 2007
Has Global Warming Stopped

By David Whitehouse, The Independent

’The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 and every year since 2001.

Global warming stopped? Surely not. What heresy is this? Haven’t we been told that the science of global warming is settled beyond doubt and that all that’s left to the so-called sceptics is the odd errant glacier that refuses to melt?

Aren’t we told that if we don’t act now rising temperatures will render most of the surface of the Earth uninhabitable within our lifetimes? But as we digest these apocalyptic comments, read the recent IPCC’s Synthesis report that says climate change could become irreversible. Witness the drama at Bali as news emerges that something is not quite right in the global warming camp.

The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming - the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly. Read more here.

David Whitehouse was BBC Science Correspondent 1988-1998, Science Editor BBC News Online 1998-2006 and the 2004 European Internet Journalist of the Year. He has a doctorate in astrophysics and is the author of The Sun: A Biography (John Wiley, 2005).

Dec 15, 2007
Malcolm Hughes and the Witness Protection Program

By Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit

Malcolm Hughes (coauthor Matthew Salzer) made a presentation entitled “Twentieth Century Bristlecone Pine Tree Rings near Upper Tree Limit Wider than in Recent Millennia”. This included a report on Sheep Mountain. He showed a picture of Matthew Salzer on Sheep Mountain and praised his work. He said that there was no difference between strip bark and whole bark chronologies and showed a graphic up to 2005 with relatively wide recent ring widths. Linah Ababneh’s name did not pass his lips (the Ababneh thesis showing non-nomalous 20th results discussed here, here and here), nor did he discuss her work. In Ryan Maue’s felicitous phrase, it was as though she had been put in witness protection. made a presentation entitled “Twentieth Century Bristlecone Pine Tree Rings near Upper Tree Limit Wider than in Recent Millennia”. This included a report on Sheep Mountain. He showed a picture of Matthew Salzer on Sheep Mountain and praised his work. He said that there was no difference between strip bark and whole bark chronologies and showed a graphic up to 2005 with relatively wide recent ring widths. Linah Ababneh’s name did not pass his lips (the Ababneh thesis showing non-nomalous 20th results discussed here, here here), nor did he discuss her work. In Ryan Maue’s felicitous phrase, it was as though she had been put in witness protection. For reference, here is Linah Ababneh’s plot showing a material difference:

For full size image go here.

Linah Ababneh’s result are different than the results presented at AGU. Malcolm Hughes was on Linah Ababneh’s thesis committee but did not mention her work which arrived at different conclusions than the ones presented here. Linah Ababneh’s thesis said that the data would be archived at ITRDB, but Hughes and her other thesis supervisors did not archive the data. David Meko said that they had lost track of Ababneh although she was easily located. When asked about the data by a CA reader, she said that she had legal advice not to provide the data to me.

Why didn’t Hughes acknowledge the efforts of Linah Ababneh in collecting Sheep Mt data, while acknowledging the efforts of Matthew Salzer? Why didn’t he discuss her conflicting results? For the full blog go here.

Icecap Note: For those unaware, Hughes was a coauthor with Mann and Bradley of the original ‘hockey stick’ study in 1998 featured extensively in the IPCC 3rd Assessment. Steve McIntyre’s detective work with regards to the data and methods helped discredit that work and the hockey stick vanished from the latest IPCC report.  The hockey stick did away with the Medieval Warm Period and subsequent Little Ice Age and exaggerated the recent warming. Steve’s work and the good work of the Idsos on CO2 Science have exposed the errors and shown strong support for the Medieval Warm period, the Little Ice Age and for less recent warming.

Dec 14, 2007
Penguins and Climate Change

By Bob Ferguson, SPPI

The press out of Bali today includes coverage of a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report about the fate of penguin species under climate change. The press reports draw heavily from the press release put out by the WWF to draw attention to their report on penguins, but more importantly, the WWF’s desire for large and immediate carbon dioxide emissions restrictions. From the press reports and the WWF release, things seem bad for Antarctica’s penguin species. But, as is the case with nearly every alarmist issue, the truth reveals quite a different story. In this case, a review of the literature on penguins, climate change, and ecosystem disturbances, reveals a large variety of penguin responses to changing conditions, changes that include in addition to climate fluctuations, a large-scale alteration to the local and regional food chain as industrial whaling and fishery operations over the course of the past several decades have significantly reduced the number of many species, including both predators and prey. This perturbation to the foodweb has likely had large impacts on the resident penguin species and makes isolating or even correctly identifying impacts from a changing climate quite difficult (Ainley et al., 2007). See full story here.

Dec 12, 2007
More on Polar Bears

World Climate Report

We’ve been talking til we’re blue in the face about how the very existence of polar bears today is the strongest evidence possible that they should manage, as a species (although some individual populations may struggle), to hold their own in a warming climate. Why is this? Because their existence today is proof that they survived long periods of time (many thousands of years on end), when the climate of their Arctic habitat was warmer (and thus likely more ice-free) than conditions are now, and will be into the future.  But, in case you were withholding final judgment until you heard it from someone else, well, here you go:

What may be the oldest known remains of a polar bear have been uncovered on the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic. The jawbone was pulled from sediments that suggest the specimen is perhaps 110,000 or 130,000 years old. Professor Olafur Ingolfsson from the University of Iceland says tests show it was an adult, possibly a female. The find is a surprise because polar bears are a relatively new species, with one study claiming they evolved less than 100,000 years ago. We have this specimen that confirms the polar bear was a morphologically distinct species at least 100,000 years ago, and this basically means that the polar bear has already survived one interglacial period, explained Professor Ingolfsson. And what’s interesting about that is that the Eeemian - the last interglacial - was much warmer than the Holocene (the present).


Will this new finding by Professor Ingolfsson put folk’s minds at ease and quiet the talk of the bear’s imminent extinction? Hardly. After all, the ultimate goal of such talk is not the survival of the polar bear, but the restriction of mankind’s activites on earth. And such fervent desire is not easily doused.

Dec 09, 2007
Climate Warming is Naturally Caused and Shows No Human Influence

By David Douglas, U of Rochester, John Christy, U of Alabama, Fred Singer, U of Virginia

Climate scientists at the University of Rochester, the University of Alabama, and the University of Virginia report that observed patterns of temperature changes ("fingerprints") over the last thirty years are not in accord with what greenhouse models predict and can better be explained by natural factors, such as solar variability. Therefore, climate change is “unstoppable” and cannot be affected or modified by controlling the emission of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, as is proposed in current legislation. These results are in conflict with the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and also with some recent research publications based on essentially the same data. However, they are supported by the results of the US-sponsored Climate Change Science Program (CCSP).

Lead author David Douglass said: “The observed pattern of warming, comparing surface and atmospheric temperature trends, does not show the characteristic fingerprint associated with greenhouse warming. The inescapable conclusion is that the human contribution is not significant and that observed increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases make only a negligible contribution to climate warming. Co-author John Christy said “Satellite data and independent balloon data agree that atmospheric warming trends do not exceed those of the surface. Greenhouse models, on the other hand, demand that atmospheric trend values be 2-3 times greater. We have good reason, therefore, to believe that current climate models greatly overestimate the effects of greenhouse gases. Satellite observations suggest that GH models ignore negative feedbacks, produced by clouds and by water vapor, that diminish the warming effects of carbon dioxide.” The report is published in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society [DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651]. 

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