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Saturday, September 22, 2007
Comments on the New Arctic Sea Ice Minimum

By Joe D’Aleo, ICECAP

There have been and will continue to be stories on the new record minimum of arctic ice and how this is further proof of anthropogenic global warming. As we have blogged, the authors of the papers and media reporting on them have no sense of history and of the real factors involved in the global cycles of temperatures and arctic ice.

In the attached UPATED pdf we will use the excellent discussions of the NSIDC updated weekly on the sea ice extent and some of our own analyses previously blogged to show you much of this is cyclical and driven by the multidecadal cycles in the oceans, and influenced this summer by an unusual summer weather pattern.

This excellent animation by NSIDC from 1981 to 2007also shows how arctic ice has varied and moved in recent decades on an annual basis due to the global pattern changes. 

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Posted on 09/22 at 10:45 PM
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Thursday, September 20, 2007
Northwest Passage

By Craig James, Wood TV Blog

The headline in this press release from the European Space Agency reads “Satellites witness lowest Arctic ice coverage in history”. In history! That sounds like a long time. However, when you read the article you find “history” only goes back to 28 years, to 1979. That is when satellites began monitoring Arctic Sea ice. The article also says “the Northwest Passage – a long-sought short cut between Europe and Asia that has been historically impassable.” I guess these people flunked history class. It has been open several times in history, without ice breakers. The first known successful navigation by ship was in 1905.

This is all very similar to the story on the NBC Nightly News Friday, 14 Sep 07 where the story on water levels in Lake Superior never mentioned that the lowest recorded water level on the lake occurred in March and April 1926, when the lake was about 5 inches lower than it is now. Instead, NBC interviewed several people who could never remember seeing it this low and blamed most of the problem on global warming. Never mind that the area has seen below normal precipitation for several years and for most of this year has been classified as being in an extreme to exceptional drought.

A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers has said ” Global warming could be an underlying cause, but the scientists said it’s too soon to know. We need to do more tracking,” also, “The last time Lake Superior was so low was November and December 1925 and January through September 1926, during a long drought that preceded the great dust bowl.”

Brian Williams actually led into the story by saying that much of the Great Lakes area has been wet. But why let facts get in the way of a good global warming story? And they wonder why not as many people watch television news anymore.

Read Craig’s blog here.

Posted on 09/20 at 10:59 PM
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Monday, September 17, 2007
Sea-Level Slowdown?

By World Climate Report

We have heard a million times that if we don’t stop emitting greenhouse gases, our inexcusable actions will result in a warmer earth, and the warming of the planet will cause icecaps and mountain glaciers to melt and sea level to rise. Island nations will be drowned, coastlines around the world will go underwater, Florida will cease to exist, and the World Trade Center Memorial could someday be a sight seen only by scuba enthusiasts.

We have covered this sea-level rise issue many times in the past at World Climate Report and we fully agree that sea level is rising – sea level has been somewhat steadily rising for the past 10,000 years. During the last glacial advance, a large amount of fresh water was tied up in ice, and as the glaciation ended, that water returned to the oceans. Furthermore, as the earth warmed up following the last glacial advance, thermal expansion of the ocean water occurred, and sea level rose even more. There is little doubt that the sea-level rise will continue into the future, but the rate of rise is the focus of an interesting paper published recently in Global and Planetary Change by a team of scientists from France and Spain.

When the authors (Wöppelmann et al.) factored their measurements of land motion into the estimate of sea-level rise, they determined a global value of 1.31 ±0.30 mm per year compared to the 1.8±0.5 mm per year value given by the IPCC for the recent half century. We understand that the IPCC acknowledges a low-end value of 1.3 mm per year in their estimate, but another way to look at this article is that Wöppelmann et al. just reduced observed sea-level rise by 27%! Perhaps the IPCC should reconsider whether they still have high confidence that the rate of sea level rise has in fact increased from the 19th to the 20th century.Of course, these results gained absolutely no press coverage whatsoever – imagine the coverage they would have received had their results increased sea-level rise by 27% and suggested that sea level rise was occurring faster then previous research indicated!  See full report here.

Posted on 09/17 at 10:23 PM
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Saturday, September 15, 2007
UCAR Slideshow and Station Quality Ratings Online

By Anthony Watts, Watts Up with That?”

Anthony’s slideshow on the station siting issues can be found here.

With 33% of the USHCN weather station network now surveyed, the site quality rating is now applied. The rating system for site quality was borrowed verbatim from the new Climate Reference Network being put into operation by NCDC and NOAA to ensure quality data. Their siting criteria can be found here.

I welcome input on this work in progress. The site rating will now be a running total in the spreadsheet and always available online as new stations are added to the survey. What is important to note is that the majority of stations that have a rating of 4 are MMTS/Nimbus equipped stations, which according to NCDC’s MMS equipment lists, make up 71% of the USHCN network. It appears that cable issues with the electronic sensors have forced them closer to buildings, roads, etc because NOAA COOP managers don’t often have the budget, time, or tools to trench under roads, sidewalks etc to reach the site where Stevenson Screens once stood. While this isn’t always the case, a pattern is emerging. 

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See larger image here. See Watt’s full blog and site here.

Steve Mcintyre has done a plot of the best versus the worst sited temperatures here.

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See larger image here

Posted on 09/15 at 07:33 PM
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Fire (Relationship to Global Warming)—Summary

By CO2 Science

In the Gospel According to Gore, i.e., his book An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore writes that “wildfires are becoming much more common as hotter temperatures dry out the soil and the leaves,” and to support this claim he presents a bar graph which, as he describes it, “shows the steady increase in major wildfires in North and South America over the last five decades,” noting that “the same pattern is found on every other continent as well.”
How correct are these claims?

As shown in this summary, although one can readily identify specific parts of the planet that have experienced both significant increases and decreases in land area burned over the last two to three decades of the 20th century, as we have done in the materials reviewed above, for the globe as a whole there was absolutely no relationship between global warming and total area burned over this latter period, when climate alarmists claim the world warmed at a rate and to a degree that were both unprecedented over the past several millennia. As a result, it should be abundantly clear there is simply no truth to the contention of Al Gore that the pattern of increasing wildfires over the last three decades of the 20th century, which he plots for North and South America, “is found on every other continent as well.” To reprise a portion of a favorite quote of his (An Inconvenient Truth, p. 20-21), it just ain’t so.

Posted on 09/15 at 07:08 PM
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007
A New Record for Antarctic Total Ice Extent?

While the news focus has been on the lowest ice extent since satellite monitoring began in 1979 for the Arctic, the Southern Hemisphere (Antarctica) has quietly set a new record for most ice extent since 1979.

This can be seen on this graphic from this University of Illinois site The Cryosphere Today, which updated snow and ice extent for both hemispheres daily. The Southern Hemispheric areal coverage is the highest in the satellite record, just beating out 1995, 2001, 2005 and 2006. Since 1979, the trend has been up for the total Antarctic ice extent.

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While the Antarctic Peninsula area has warmed in recent years and ice near it diminished during the Southern Hemisphere summer, the interior of Antarctica has been colder and ice elsewhere has been more extensive and longer lasting, which explains the increase in total extent. This dichotomy was shown in this World Climate Report blog posted recently with a similar tale told in this paper by Ohio State Researcher David Bromwich, who agreed “It’s hard to see a global warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now”. 

Indeed, according the NASA GISS data, the South Pole winter (June/July/August) has cooled about 1 degree F since 1957 and the coldest year was 2004.

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This winter has been an especially harsh one in the Southern Hemisphere with cold and snow records set in Australia, South America and Africa. We will have recap on this hard winter shortly.  See full story here.

Posted on 09/12 at 03:44 AM
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Saturday, September 08, 2007
The Arctic in the News and Blogs – No Sense of History

By Joe D’Aleo, ICECAP

A series of reports by the USGS were released Friday predicting tough sledding ahead for the world’s polar bear populations. More than two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will be killed off by 2050 — including the entire population in Alaska — because of thinning sea ice from global warming in the Arctic, government scientists forecast Friday. See in this blog why the evidence does not suggest that rising temperature endangers them or will cause their extinction but don’t let the facts get in the way of a good cause.

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Jeff Masters in his Wunderground blog yesterday projected the decrease in arctic ice the last few decades will continue, eventually leaving the arctic ice free by 2030. He gets there by comparing the ice in 1979 to the ice cover in 2007 and noting it was disappearing faster than the climate models showed it would. He notes that although this will have little effect on sea level it will mean we have to reevaluate the melting of the Greenland icecap and revise its demise sharply upwards. This he notes would have a much greater effect on sea level. Again Jeff and the researchers he quotes have little regard or understanding of the history nor understanding of the true factors at play in the cyclical changes in the arctic and Greenland (and the globe for that matter). See more here.

Posted on 09/08 at 09:27 PM
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Thursday, September 06, 2007
Antarctica: Warming, Cooling, or Both?

By World Climate Report

The ice caps are melting – right? If you visit thousands of websites on climate change, watch Gore’s film or many similar documentaries, you would be left with no doubt that the icecaps are warming and melting at an unprecedented rate. However, with respect to Antarctica, you might be surprised when you examine what the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in their 2007 Summary for Policymakers. Believe it or not, IPCC reports “Antarctic sea ice extent continues to show inter-annual variability and localized changes but no statistically significant average trends, consistent with the lack of warming reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region.” Furthermore, they note “Current global model studies project that the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall.”

A major article on this subject appears in a recent issue of the Journal of Climate by William Chapman and John Walsh of the University of Illinois. The two scientists extensively review the literature on temperature trends in Antarctica and conclude “These studies are essentially unanimous in their finding that the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed since the 1950s, when many of the surface stations were established.” They note “Recent summaries of station data show that, aside from the Antarctic Peninsula and the McMurdo area, one is hard-pressed to argue that warming has occurred, even at the Antarctic coastal stations away from the peninsula and McMurdo.” Furthermore, they write “Recent attempts to broaden the spatial coverage of temperature estimates have shown a similar lack of evidence of spatially widespread warming.” Like it or not, over the past four decades, and during the time of the greatest build-up of greenhouse gases, Antarctica has been cooling!

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Linear trends of annual mean surface air temperature (°C/decade) for the period 1958–2002 from Chapman and Walsh, 2007

Read full report and analysis of this paper here.

Posted on 09/06 at 02:22 PM
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The Inconvenient Truth about the Ice Core Carbon Dioxide Temperature Correlations

By Nir Shaviv, Science Bits

One of the “scientific” highlights in Al Gore’s movie is the discussion about the clear correlation between CO2 and temperature, as is obtained in ice cores. To quote, he says the following when discussing the ice-core data (about 40 mins after the beginning for the film): “The relationship is actually very complicated but there is one relationship that is far more powerful than all the others and it is this. When there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer, because it traps more heat from the sun inside.”

Any laymen will understand from this statement that the ice-cores demonstrate a causal link, that higher amounts of CO2 give rise to higher temperatures. Of course, this could indeed be the case, and to some extent, it necessarily is. However, can this conclusion really be drawn from this graph? Can one actually say anything at all about how much CO2 affects the global temperature?

To the dismay of Al Gore, the answer is that this graph doesn’t prove at all that CO2 has any effect on the global temperature.  The main evidence proving that CO2 does not control the climate, but at most can play a second fiddle by just amplifying the variations already present, is that of lags. In all cases where there is a good enough resolution, one finds that the CO2 lags behind the temperature by typically several hundred to a thousand years.

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Analysis of ice core data from Antarctica by Indermühle et al. (GRL, vol. 27, p. 735, 2000), who find that CO2 lags behind the temperature by 1200±700 years.

See more in this excellent blog here.

Posted on 09/06 at 02:03 PM
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Politicization of Global Warming Science

Final blog by Roger Pielke Sr. on Climate Science

Former Colorado State Climatologist Roger Pielke Sr slams the politicization of global warming science in his final blog on Climate Science, the best of all the climate blogs for many years. Roger’s voice will continued to be heard and we expect to continue to find many more of his papers published. His Climate Science reports and the comments they inspired will be missed.

Excerpt from the final blog: Climate Science has discussed the shortcomings, bias and errors with the 2007 IPCC Report (e.g. see, see, see, and see). My final Climate Science posting summarizes the fundamental problem with this assessment. If instead of evaluating research in climate, suppose a group of scientists introduced a new cancer drug that they claimed could save many lives. There were side effects, of course, but they claimed that the benefit far out weighed these risks. The government than asked these scientist to form an assessment Committee to evaluate this claim. Colleagues of the group of scientists who introduced the drug are then asked to serve on this Committee, along with the developers. If this occurred, of course, there would be an uproar of protest! This is a clear conflict of interest. Yet this is what has happened with the IPCC process! The same individuals who are doing primary research in the role of humans on the climate system are then permitted to lead the assessment! There should be an outcry on this obvious conflict of interest, but to date either few recognize this conflict, or see that since the recommendations of the IPCC fit their policy and political agenda, they chose to ignore this conflict. In either case, scientific rigor has been sacrificed and poor policy and political decisions will inevitably follow. We need recognition among the scientific community, the media, and policymakers that the IPCC process is obviously a real conflict of interest, and this has resulted in a significantly flawed report.

Read Roger’s final blog here.

Posted on 09/05 at 08:45 PM
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Carbon Dioxide: The Houdini of Gases

By Alan Siddons and Joe D’Aleo

How long does carbon dioxide linger in the air? This is actually an important question, a question of so-called residence time. As previously discussed on this blog, studies compiled by geologist Tom Segalstad rather convincingly show that earth’s biological and chemical processes recycle CO2 within a decade, meaning that a CO2 molecule you’re exhaling at the moment is bound to be captured by a plant or a rock or the ocean just a few years from now. Yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other authorities insist that carbon dioxide generally remains in the air for up to 200 years.

Who to believe? We’ll present some evidence here and you be the judge. See also this recent posting.

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Posted on 09/05 at 04:28 PM
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Friday, August 31, 2007
NASA and Greenland Ice

By Peter McGurk, Joseph D’Aleo and George Taylor

We received an interesting analysis from Peter McGurk, a meteorologist and climatologist and member of Icecap. It began as follows:  “In a NASA posting by Kendall Haven, there was a very interesting discussion entitled “Greenland’s Ice Island Alarm”. The article described how NASA is using advanced satellite technology to try and get an accurate estimate of the amount of ice loss currently occurring in the Greenland Ice Sheet. NASA noted that in terms of ice sheet elevation, most of the loss is occurring near the edges, but due to somewhat warmer temperatures snowfall has increased across interior portions of the ice sheet so that across many inland sections the ice sheet elevations are unchanged or increasing, especially across much of southern Greenland.”

Peter went on to take an in-depth look at the annual retreat rates of the Jakobshavn glacier and their relationship to the AMO (Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation). 

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He also finds on the longer time scales interestingly that the interglacial periods seem to be getting shorter while the glacial periods longer. Peter concludes “It seems to me that climate cycles have been occurring on this planet for millions of years and will continue to do so. Latching on to little pieces of these cycles and projecting them out linearly forever is not very realistic. We are still trying to unravel the complexities of our climate system with all its wonderful checks and balances. Maybe someday we might even figure it all out, but as my late professor Dr. Theodore Fujita used to say “nothing integrates as fast as Mother Nature”. In the long run, the Earth will take care of itself and the Greenland ice sheet will be just fine.”

See Peter’s full analysis here. I have added some relevant information supporting Peter’s conclusions from an earlier blog story authored by George Taylor and I. 

Posted on 08/31 at 08:00 PM
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Science Trumped by Human Nature

Scientific Allliance Newsletter

We have benefited enormously from scientific advance and its practical applications. Humans are the ultimate generalists and highly adaptable because they observe and learn. The scientific method takes this one stage further: we put forward hypotheses and do experiments to validate them. If the hypothesis doesn’t fit the observations, we reject it. But if it does fit the facts, that doesn’t prove it’s right. Science should continually test theories so that we become more certain of their correctness, but we can never be absolutely sure.

Post-modern thinking teaches that there are no hard truths, that scientific “facts” are social constructs. In one sense, that’s true, since we can never provide absolute proof of any theory. But, taken to the extreme, this school of thought is essentially anti-science and leads to the dangerous tendency we see today of decisions being made on the basis of people’s feelings rather than any objective basis. That leads to belief- rather than evidence-based policy. It also leads us away from the Enlightenment.

But science also is not a perfect, foolproof system; neither is it perfectible. The scientific method, for all its advantages as a basis for decision-making, and for all the benefits it has undoubtedly brought us, is only an overlay on human nature.

Since there remain large areas of uncertainly the scientific method should mean that we continue to make observations until the evidence becomes compelling. But the majority of people now believe global warming – human induced global warming – to be an established truth. And the reason for this is typical crowd behaviour: when enough establishment scientists make their views known, have them amplified by the media and supported by the environmental movement, the majority of people take this as the truth. It’s the Emperor’s new clothes once again. Those who play the role of the little boy pointing out that the Emperor is in fact naked are derided and attacked, often in very personal ways. The establishment does not tolerate dissent well.

So, what will happen? Ultimately, the whole debate will be settled on the basis of real evidence. Whatever policy is implemented in the meantime is likely to be immaterial in terms of influencing the climate, although it will consume resources, slow growth and actually have a real negative impact on those at the bottom of the pile. But at some stage – perhaps by 2010, perhaps later – we could reach a tipping point where it becomes clear to the majority of scientists, commentators and the public that, whatever is happening to the climate, Mankind is not the major contributor, and cannot reset the thermostat by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Alternatively, real confirmatory evidence that carbon dioxide is the main driver may be found, and those critics with open minds will change their views.

If a tipping point is reached where the current received wisdom is overturned, it’s trust in the scientific establishment which will be the loser, and that could lead to further erosion in the general public’s regard for the scientific method. Human nature would have trumped science, and science would suffer.

Read more here or got the see the newsletter at the Scientific Alliance website here.

Posted on 08/31 at 02:12 PM
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Thursday, August 23, 2007
The HO83 Hygrothermometer

By Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit Blog

In the discussion of the Tucson weather station, Ben Herman of the U of Arizona observed that there were serious biases with the HO83 hygrothermometer - introduced in the early 1990s - which was said to be a contributor to the uptick to Tucson values. Although USHCN has implemented adjustments to U.S. data to deal with time-of-observation bias and station history, both of which resulted in significant upward adjustments of recent data relative to earlier data, I have been unable to see any evidence that either NOAA or NASA made any attempt to adjust for the upward bias of recent readings using the HO-83 thermometer, although its problems are thoroughly discussed in the specialist literature.

So problems with the HO83 thermometer are amply documented in specialist literature. USHCN has been quick to adjust time-of-observation bias which worked in the direction of increasing 20th century trends - what have they done to adjust for HO83 bias which caused an upward bias to measurements in the 1990s?

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I must confess that this indicates at least the possibility of a bias in adjustment decisions: one is hard-pressed not to take away an impression that, if the HO83 adjustment had increased 20th century trends, that Karl and Hansen would have been on it like a dog on a bone, but, since the adjustment will lower late 20th century temperatures, the adjustment mysteriously becomes too elusive to implement. Just an impression.

Read more here on Steve’s blog.

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Posted on 08/23 at 03:07 PM
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Hurricanes and CO2 Rise

By Dr William Gray

It is now over a year-and-a-half since the media explosion following hurricanes Katrina and Rita’s landfalls and several papers saying that the US landfalling hurricanes of 2004-2005 probably had a human-induced global warming component.  With this there was an implication that US hurricane landfall and damage would continue to get worse with time as CO2 amounts continued to rise. 

Although global mean CO2 and Atlantic surface temperatures have increased between the two 50-year periods (1900-1949 compared with 1956-2005), the frequency of US landfall numbers actually shows a slight downward trend for the later period.  It is also to be noted that there were 39 US landfalling major hurricanes (Cat 3-4-5) between 1925-1965 and only 22 in the same length period between 1966-2006 when CO2 amounts were getting higher. 

The increased Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995 is a result of a speed-up of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation – as occurred also in the 1940s-1950s and the late 19th century. The advocates of CO2 are either unaware or unaccepting of this plausible explanation. The alarmist’s position that the overall trend in SSTs and tropical cyclone and hurricane numbers is substantially influenced by greenhouse warming.  Read Bill’s take on the season and the issue here.

Posted on 08/21 at 12:53 PM
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