Frozen in Time
Jul 01, 2008
Climate Regime Shifts of the Past Four Centuries

CO2 Science

D’Arrigo et al. (2005 Journal of Climate), developed a tree-ring-based reconstruction of the December-May North Pacific Index (NPI) - which is a measure of the atmospheric circulation related to the Aleutian low pressure cell - for the period 1600-1983, based on data derived from 18 tree-ring chronologies (selected from a total of 67 candidate chronologies) obtained from sites surrounding the North Pacific rim that calibrated “significantly at or above the 90% significance level” against winter/spring monthly values of the NPI derived from 20th-century instrumental data. In addition, they employed an intervention analysis to the NPI reconstruction “to identify significant shifts in the series.”

D’Arrigo et al. report that “the NPI reconstruction successfully tracks the known regime shifts (1924/25, 1946/47, and 1976/77) seen in the instrumental NPI during the twentieth century.” They also note that “prior to the instrumental period there are decadal-scale variations that may also represent regime shifts,” noting that “significant ‘shifts’ (at the 90% confidence limit) are identified in 1627, 1695, 1762, 1806, 1833, 1853, and 1891.”

The nine researchers conclude that their analysis “suggests that the 1976 transition was not unique in terms of magnitude.” In addition, the recurring nature of the climate regime shifts suggests that they are natural non-anthropogenic-forced phenomena that have nothing to do with the historical increase in the air’s CO2 content. This conclusion is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that the study of Seidel and Lanzante (2004) suggests, in their words, that “it is reasonable to consider most of the warming during 1958-2001 to have occurred at the time of the climate ‘regime shift,’ modeled here at the start of 1977.” Consequently, the complementary findings of these two studies do much to relieve anthropogenic CO2 emissions of responsibility for the global warming of the last fifty or more years. See story here.

Jun 30, 2008
Arctic Ice Melt May be Due to Undersea Volcanoes

By Thomas Lifson, American Thinker

The Arctic ice that is supposedly melting, stranding those cuddly looking polar bears, just might be affected by a wave of volcanic eruptions on the ocean floor under the Arctic ice cap. AFP reports on the recently-documented volcanoes, but oddly makes no mention of the possible effect on apocalyptic predictions of global warming. Recent massive volcanoes have risen from the ocean floor deep under the Arctic ice cap, spewing plumes of fragmented magma into the sea, scientists who filmed the aftermath reported Wednesday.  The eruptions - as big as the one that buried Pompei - took place in 1999 along the Gakkel Ridge, an underwater mountain chain snaking 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) from the northern tip of Greenland to Siberia.

Scientists suspected even at the time that a simultaneous series of earthquakes were linked to these volcanic spasms. But when a team led of scientists led by Robert Sohn of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts finally got a first-ever glimpse of the ocean floor 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) beneath the Arctic pack ice, they were astonished. What they saw was unmistakable evidence of explosive eruptions rather than the gradual secretion of lava bubbling up from Earth’s mantle onto the ocean floor. (NOTE: SEE THIS EXCELLENT EXPEDITION ACCOUNT HERE)

Steve Gilbert of Sweetness & Light draws our attention to the report, and makes all the connections AFP studiously ignores: “Er, is it not possible that these volcanic eruptions - going back to at least 1999 - may have played a part in whatever melting there has been of the Greenland and Arctic ice sheets?” For according to the global warming cultists scientists at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, the decline seems to have begun in earnest around 1999.

See larger graph here

But isn’t it funny how not one word of this possibility was ever mentioned in the original article? Why is that? Do not hold your breath waiting for the major media to trumpet this dramatic new discovery and the implication that anthropogenic global warming theory has nothing to do with polar bears. Read more here.

Icecap note: This would be similar to what happens near the Antarctic peninsula where ice sheets have been cracking even as the total ice extent for the vast continent has risen to record levels.  As of the latest report, we are running 1.5 million square KM ahead of last year when we set the record (since satellite tracking began in 1979). We have more Arctic Ice this year too. See the current status side-by-side with 2007 here. This arctic volcanic activity along with the delayed melting from the warm Atlantic water intrusion as identified by Polykov and Francis here may have been responsible for the recent rapid arctic ice decline even as gobal temperatures cool. Finally as for the Northwest Passage being unprecedented before 2007, see this post suggested by Tom Nelson here . He notes how the Northwest Passage was navigated in many prior years including 1906, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1944, 1957, 1969, 1977, 1984, 1988, and 2000.

Jun 29, 2008
Lawrence Solomon: What I told the Petroleum Club

By Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post

I’m surprised to see so many of you here today. I thought you might be at trial, for your global warming crimes. James Hansen - he’s one of the leaders in the climate change movement in the U.S. - wants you in court.  “CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing,” he stated yesterday. “...they should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.” Come to think of it, David Suzuki also sees those who abet CO2 emissions as criminals.

And you know what, I bet some of you see yourselves as criminals - or something close to it - because there’s something in human nature that makes us feel guilty, even for crimes we didn’t commit, let alone for non-crimes. And I bet some of your friends and associates might look at you sideways. And your children may be teased and made to feel guilty about what their dad does for a living. Even more, you’ve been cowed into silence. Instead of making your case to the public, instead of defending yourselves and your industry, you’ve thrown in the towel, or tried to be greener than green, hoping to avoid recrimination.

As many of you know, I and Energy Probe, my organization, have long been critics of the energy industry. We have opposed Arctic pipelines and tar sands that we considered to be ill-advised. We have opposed nuclear plants and big dams. We favour conservation and renewable energy. We like clean and economic energy, something we have had too little of in Canada. For this, some of you in this room bear some responsibility. But on the global warming issues, based on the evidence to date, you have nothing to feel guilty about. Albertans have nothing to feel guilty about either. No crime has been committed. No known harm has occurred. You’ve been had.

The fears of cataclysm over global warming are unfounded. There is no consensus on climate change, despite what Al Gore and the UN’s Panel on Climate Change would have you believe. Let me tell you why most people think that global warming is a serious problem. It comes down to one number:  2500. That’s the number of scientists associated with the UN’s Panel on Climate Change that the press reports has endorsed the UN Panel’s conclusions. These are the conclusions that get released in the UN’s mammoth reports every six years or so, and that then dominate the media airwaves for weeks. “2500 scientists can’t be wrong,” the press always says, explicitly or implicitly. Without that number, it would have no basis for the claim that they repeat over and over again - that there’s a consensus on climate change.  2500 is an impressive number of scientists. To find out who, exactly, they were, I contacted the Secretariat of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and asked for their names. The Secretariat replied that the names were not public, so I couldn’t have them. And I learned that the 2500 scientists were reviewers, not endorsers. Those scientists hadn’t endorsed anything. They had merely reviewed one or more of the literally hundreds of background studies, some important and some not, that were part of this immense United Nations bureaucratic process. They did not review the final report or endorse it.

Their reviews weren’t even all favorable. I know that from many sources, including from among some of the scientists that I profiled - several of the deniers in my book are among those 2500. And those deniers, and others, generally consider the UN’s work a travesty. There is no endorsement by 2500 top UN scientists. The press has been taken. And so the public has been taken.

The extent to which the public has been taken may surprise you. Not only is there no consensus, the scientists who are skeptics - the deniers - have extraordinary credentials, people at the very top echelons of the scientific establishment. They are the Who’s Who of Science. Not only do they disagree with the UN conclusions, they often value CO2 for the benefits it provides the planet - satellite data shows the planet is now the greenest it has been in decades. Until recently, after all, CO2 was universally viewed as Natureís fertilizer. 

If these top scientists are right, you are being attacked without justification. You are being painted as criminals and your children are being made to feel ashamed of what you do. You are being victimized, in a modern form of shunning. Your present strategy of lying low and hoping all this will pass has gotten you nowhere. You need to make your case, factually and frankly. The public will be skeptical of your arguments, as it should be. But if your critics can’t counter your factual arguments, it is your critics who will fail. You need to decide.  Do you want to go on being attacked for something that may be laudable, for producing CO2 may well be laudable? Do you want to go on feeling guilty out of public ignorance of where scientists truly stand on the global warming issue? On global warming, the science is not settled. You have the facts on your side. But facts will count for naught as long as you see the battle as lost. See story here.

Jun 28, 2008
Due for a Spell of the Roaring 90s

by Ned Rozell, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Alaska sees ‘longest stretch of no-nineties in the Alaska climate record, since 1904’ according to the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

According t” Eric Stevens at the Fairbanks Forecast Office of the National Weather Service, more than a decade has passed since Fairbanks, one of the warmest places in Alaska, reached at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit. ďAugust, 1994,” Stevens said over the phone, remembering the last time Fairbanks reached 90 degrees. “This is the longest stretch of no-nineties in the Alaska climate record, since 1904.” Fairbanks reached 93 degrees on Aug. 5, 1994, and hasnít reached 90 degrees in the 14 years since.  Due to its location in the middle of Alaska and far from the moderating effects of the ocean, Fairbanks is a good representative of the warmest summer temperatures in Alaska. Stevens did a little more digging and found that, since 1904, Fairbanks has hit 80 degrees or warmer every single summer. And, during the summer of 2004, when an area the size of Vermont burned and much of the state was choked in smoke, Fairbanks had 30 days with highs of 80 or higher, but never reached 90.

Anchorage hasnít reached 80 degrees since Aug. 16, 2004, when the temperature was 81 degrees. Before that, the city had an 80-degree drought that went back to the summer of í97. As of late June 2008, Anchorage hadnít yet hit 70 degrees for the year, the longest such cool spell since 1993.

See full size Anchorage photo here.

Jun 25, 2008
What the CCSP Extremes Report Really Says

By Roger Pielke Jr., Prometheus

Yesterday the U.S. Climate Change Science Program released an assessment report titled “Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate” (PDF) with a focus on the United States. This post discusses some interesting aspects of this report, with an emphasis on what it does not show and does not say. It does not show a clear picture of ever increasing extreme events in the United States. And it does not clearly say why damage has been steadily increasing.

First, let me emphasize that the focus of the report is on changes in extremes in the United States, and not on climate changes more generally. Second, my comments below refer to the report’s discussion of observed trends. I do not discuss predictions of the future, which the report also covers. Third, the report relies a great deal on research that I have been involved in and obviously know quite well. Finally, let me emphasize that anthropogenic climate change is real, and deserving of significant attention to both adaptation and mitigation.

The report contains several remarkable conclusions, that somehow did not seem to make it into the official press release. They include: over the long-term U.S. hurricane landfalls have been declining, nationwide there have been no long-term increases in drought, despite increases in some measures of precipitation, there have not been corresponding increases in peak streamflows, there have been no observed changes in the occurrence of tornadoes or thunderstorms, there have been no long-term increases in strong East Coast winter storms (ECWS), called Nor’easters, there are no long-term trends in either heat waves or cold spells, though there are trends within shorter time periods in the overall record.

From the excerpts above it should be obvious that there is not a pattern of unprecedented weather extremes in recent years or a long-term secular trend in extreme storms or streamflow. Yet the report shows data in at least three places showing that the damage associated with weather extremes has increased dramatically over the long-term. Here is what the report says on p. 12: “… the costs of weather-related disasters in the U.S. have been increasing since 1960. For the world as a whole, “weather-related [insured] losses in recent years have been trending upward much faster than population, inflation, or insurance penetration, and faster than non-weather-related events” (Mills, 2005a). Numerous studies indicate that both the climate and the socioeconomic vulnerability to weather and climate extremes are changing (Brooks and Doswell, 2001; Pielke et al., 2008; Downton et al., 2005), although these factors’ relative contributions to observed increases in disaster costs are subject to debate.

What debate? The report offers not a single reference to justify that there is a debate on this subject. In fact, a major international conference that I helped organize along with Peter Hoeppe of Munich Re came to a consensus position among experts as varied as Indur Goklany and Paul Epstein. Further, I have seen no studies that counter the research I have been involved in on trends in hurricane and flood damage in relation to climate and societal change. Not one. That probably explains the lack of citations.

In closing, the CCSP report is notable because of what it does not show and what it does not say. It does not show a clear picture of ever increasing extreme events in the United States. And it does not clearly say why damage has been steadily increasing.  Overall, this is not a good showing by the CCSP. Read more here.

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