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ICECAP in the News
Aug 11, 2007
Cirrus Disappearance: Warming Might Thin Heat-trapping Clouds

By Dr. Roy Spencer, University of Alabama at Huntsville

The widely accepted (albeit unproven) theory that manmade global warming will accelerate itself by creating more heat-trapping clouds is challenged this month in new research from The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAHuntsville’s Earth System Science Center. That was not what he expected to find.

“All leading climate models forecast that as the atmosphere warms there should be an increase in high altitude cirrus clouds, which would amplify any warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases,” he said. “That amplification is a positive feedback. What we found in month-to-month fluctuations of the tropical climate system was a strongly negative feedback. As the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease. That allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space.”

See the full report on this important new peer-review paper in the American Geophysical Union’s “Geophysical Research Letters” on-line edition here.

Aug 10, 2007
Climate of Intolerance

Scientific Alliance

Newsweek has used climate change as its cover story this week, under the title “The truth about denial”. The gist of the argument is that there is a well-funded “denial industry” which seeks to undermine the sound scientific basis for the prevailing concerns about human-induced climate change. Parallels are drawn with the tobacco industry lobby and, of course, all this is said to be taking place in the name of private profit.

This is the latest example of a deeply disturbing trend towards intolerance of dissenters, which has even led to some commentators suggesting Nuremberg-style trials of “climate criminals”. Such a febrile atmosphere is not conducive to rational thinking or discussion, so let’s take a deep breath, count to ten, and look at some of the facts.

The Scientific Alliance does not think that the prevailing IPCC view on the role of greenhouse gases is necessarily wrong. However, the evidence for it is circumstantial, there are a number of pieces of conflicting evidence, and alternative hypotheses have not all been properly evaluated. In the meantime, a complex, costly (and, at present, fairly ineffectual) set of policies for reduction of carbon intensity has been introduced. There is a danger that many countries are going further down what may prove to be a major policy cul-de-sac.

In these circumstances, people who have legitimate concerns to raise have an obligation to speak out. Constructive questioning of hypotheses serves to strengthen ones which are right and cause wrong ones to fail. How can scientists possibly object to that?  See full newsletter here.

Aug 03, 2007
Hurricane Season Estimates Downgraded Slightly

By Philip Klotzbach and William M. Gray

We have lowered our seasonal forecast slightly; however, we continue to call for a very active Atlantic basin hurricane season in 2007. We expect 13 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 intense hurricanes (CAT 3-5). Landfall probabilities for the United States coastline remain above their long-period averages - Entire U.S. coastline - 68% (average for last century is 52%), U.S. East Coast Including Peninsula Florida - 43% (average for last century is 31%) and the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville - 44% (average for last century is 30%). Read full detailed analysis here.

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Aug 01, 2007
The Reality of 20th Century Hurricane Increases

By Dr. Anthony Lupo, University of Missouri

Recently, there has been a lot written about changes in hurricane frequency and how these changes may be an indicator of climate change. Yet another study has been released indicating that human activity may be partly responsible for the rise in hurricane activity over the course of the 20th century. The latest is a study entitled, ”Heightened Tropical Cyclone Activity in the North Atlantic: Natural Variability or Climate Trend?”, and published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

However, there are a few problems with the conclusions of the authors. The first and most important is that observation practices have changed radically since the 1900 – 1930 period. Today we have satellites watching over the oceans for hurricane formation. Satellite records have also allowed us to go back and “pick-up” storms that may have been missed previously and add them to the record. Naturally, there should be more tropical storms in the last few years than in the period before 1930.  Also, in the most recent decades, the National Hurricane Center has named hurricanes and tropical storms, but also what they call “subtropical storms”. These storms are hybrids which have many characteristics of both tropical storms and non-tropical storms.

The problem described is akin to the change in tornado frequencies since 1900. During the 1920’s, the US averaged roughly 100 tornadoes per year, while during the last few decades, the mean has been closer to 1200. No one would argue that this 10-fold increase in tornado counts is due, even in part, to climate change.

Read full story here.

Aug 01, 2007
Sea Level (The Role of Greenland)—Summary

By CO2 Science

In the 24 March 2006 issue of Science, a number of commentaries heralded accelerating discharges of glacial ice from Greenland and Antarctica, while dispensing dire warnings of an imminent large, rapid and accelerating sea-level rise (Bindschadler, 2006; Joughin, 2006; Kerr, 2006; Kennedy and Hanson, 2006). This distressing news was based largely on three reports published in the same issue (Ekstrom et al., 2006; Otto-Bliesner et al., 2006; Overpeck et al., 2006), wherein the unnerving phenomena were attributed to anthropogenic-induced global warming, which is widely claimed to be due primarily to increases in the air’s CO2 content that are believed to be driven by the burning of ever increasing quantities of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. But does all of this make any sense?

Hanna and Cappelen (2003) determined the air temperature history of coastal southern Greenland from 1958-2001, based on data from eight Danish Meteorological Institute stations in coastal and near-coastal southern Greenland, as well as the concomitant sea surface temperature (SST) history of the Labrador Sea off southwest Greenland, based on three previously published and subsequently extended SST data sets (Parker et al., 1995; Rayner et al., 1996; Kalnay et al., 1996). Their analyses revealed that the coastal temperature data showed a cooling of 1.29°C over the period of study, while two of the three SST databases also depicted cooling: by 0.44°C in one case and by 0.80°C in the other. In addition, it was determined that the cooling was “significantly inversely correlated with an increased phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation over the past few decades.”

Read full detailed analysis here.

Jul 30, 2007
Comments On The Second Web Posting By Kevin Trenberth on “Climate Feedback”

By Roger Pielke Sr. Climate Science Blog

In a posting on July 26, Roger commented on the backtracking of Kevin Trenberth in a second posting on the Nature weblog.

Kevin Trenberth has followed up his weblog on the Nature site Climate Feedback - The Climate Change Blog entitled “Predictions of climate” with a weblog on the subject of climate prediction. This new posting is entitled ”Global Warming and Forecasts of Climate Change.”

Unfortunately, this new post lacks the candor that is in the original Nature weblog by Kevin Trenberth on this subject (as discussed on Climate Science here).

It should be clear in his new Nature weblog that, unfortunately, his candid comments in this earlier weblog resulted in negative feedback from his colleagues such that he felt compelled to follow up with a poor summary of climate forecasting. This is unfortunate, as his original weblog was a bridge that can be used to advance climate science.

Jul 26, 2007
Hurricanes and Hot Air

By Dr. Bill Gray in WSJ Online

Some scientists, journalists and activists see a direct link between the post-1995 upswing in Atlantic hurricanes and global warming brought on by human-induced greenhouse gas increases. This belief, however, is unsupported by long-term Atlantic and global observations.

Consider, for example, the intensity of U.S. land-falling hurricanes over time—keeping in mind that the periods must be long enough to reveal long-term trends. During the most recent 50-year period, 1957 to 2006, 83 hurricanes hit the United States, 34 of them major. In contrast, during the 50-year period from 1900 to 1949, 101 hurricanes (22% more) made U.S. landfall, including 39 (or 15% more) major hurricanes.

If global warming isn’t the cause of the increased Atlantic hurricane activity seen over the past dozen years, what is? My Colorado State University colleagues and I attribute the increase in hurricane activity to the speed-up of water circulating in the Atlantic Ocean. This circulation began to strengthen in 1995—at exactly the same time that Atlantic hurricane activity showed a large upswing.

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See full story here.

Jul 25, 2007
Issues with Our Climate Network

By Craig Woods, WOOD TV8 Blog

The June issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (a peer-reviewed journal) has a couple of interesting articles about the climate network here in the United States. I am posting these articles not to claim that warming has not occurred, because it has, but to shed further light on how much uncertainty there is not only in the data but in the future of the network itself. Roger Pielke Sr. from The University of Colorado at Boulder, along with 14 other coauthors has an article titled: Documentation of Uncertainties and Biases Associated with Surface Temperature Measurement Sites for Climate Change Assessment.  The conclusion of the authors’ analysis is: “…there are large uncertainties associated with the surface temperature trends from the poorly sited stations. Moreover, rather than providing additional independent information, the use of the data from poorly sited stations provides a false sense of confidence in the robustness of the surface temperature trend assessments.”

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USHCN Station Hopkingsville, KY

Read more on this story and another on problems with the precipitation measurement network as well as an open letter to congress from the American Association of State Climatologists about the slow collapse of the 116 year climate observing network on Craig’s blog here.

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