Antarctic peninsula warming 'unusual but not unprecedented'

Still there?

Canaries and coal mines. The Arctic and the Antarctic. We will inevitably have to suffer the hysteria of the warmenistas if Arctic ice falls to a new low this summer, which looks possible. Of course, it tells us nothing about the attribution of the ice loss, which could be contributed to by a thousand other things as well as anthropogenic warming.

And when we point to the Antarctic’s increasing ice, they wail “What about the Antarctic peninsula which is warming faster than ever?”

New light is shed on this topic by a paper in Nature, which indicates that the warming in Antarctic peninsula began long before the Industrial Revolution, or the invention of the SUV:

The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth — records since 1958 suggest warming of around 3.5°C per century.

But long-term climate data has been unavailable because of the logistical difficulties associated with finding good ice-core sites, says co-author and palaeoclimatologist Dr Nerilie Abram, of the Australian National University.

“What the ice core showed was that this site started warming 600 years ago — well before the Industrial Revolution — so there was a natural climate cycle that meant this area was warming naturally,” says Abram.

The researchers say the ice core records also show that the warming has accelerated rapidly over the past 100 years.

They describe this warming “unusual (but not unprecedented) in the context of natural climate variability over the past two millennia”.

Eric Steig, who has championed the Antarctic warming story for a long time (see here) comments as well:

In an accompanying editorial, glaciologist Dr Eric Steig, says it is possible to postulate the ‘null-hypothesis’ that the warming on the Antarctic Peninsula is happening independent of recent global warming trends, but that this is highly unlikely.

“The rate of recent warming at James Ross Island is highly unusual, falling within the uppermost 0.3 per cent of all century-scale temperature trends of the past two millennia, which would compel us to reject the null hypothesis with confidence,” writes Steig, professor of glaciology at the University of Washington.

Steig says the peninsula serves as a sort of mine canary for the rest of the continent.

See? I told you there would be canaries and coal mines…

Read it here. Abstract here.

Evidence that Medieval Warm Period was global

MWP was global?

“We must get rid of the MWP” a certain warmist once said, and who can blame him? Here was a period in recent history where temperatures were warmer than today without any assistance from man-made emissions.

Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick obliterated both it and the Little Ice Age through the use of some tricky algorithms which McIntyre and McKittrick debunked comprehensively. The IPCC, whilst not erasing it completely from the historical record, claims that it was a “local event” in the Northern Hemisphere only and therefore not a genuinely global phenomenon, thus preserving the modern warm period as unusual.

But now evidence lends weight to the argument that the MWP was a global event, with effects reaching Antarctica:

More peer-reviewed science contradicting the warming-alarmist “scientific consensus” was announced yesterday, as a new study shows that the well-documented warm period which took place in medieval times was not limited to Europe, or the northern hemisphere: it reached all the way to Antarctica.

The research involved the development of a new means of assessing past temperatures, to add to existing methods such as tree ring analysis and ice cores. In this study, scientists analysed samples of a crystal called ikaite, which forms in cold waters.

“Ikaite is an icy version of limestone,” explains earth-sciences prof Zunli Lu. “The crystals are only stable under cold conditions and actually melt at room temperature.”

Down in the Antarctic peninsula that isn’t a problem, and Lu and his colleagues were able to take samples which had been present for hundreds of years and date their formation. The structure of Ikaite, it turns out, varies measurably depending on the temperature when it forms, allowing boffins to construct an accurate past temperature record.

A proper temperature record for Antarctica is particularly interesting, as it illuminates one of the main debates in global-warming/climate-change: namely, were the so-called Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age merely regional, or were they global events? The medieval warmup experienced by northern Europeans from say 900AD to 1250AD seems to have been at least as hot as anything seen in the industrial era. If it was worldwide in extent that would strongly suggest that global warming may just be something that happens from time to time, not something caused by miniscule concentrations of CO2 (the atmosphere is 0.04 per cent CO2 right now; this figure might climb to 0.07 per cent in the medium term).

The oft-mentioned “scientific consensus”, based in large part on the work of famous climate-alarmist scientists Michael Mann and Phil Jones and reflected in the statements of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that isn’t true. The IPCC consensus is that the medieval warming – and the “Little Ice Age” which followed it – only happened in Europe and maybe some other northern areas. They were local events only, and globally the world was cooler than it is now. The temperature increase seen in the latter half of the 20th century is a new thing caused by humanity’s carbon emissions.

Lu and his colleagues’ new work, however, indicates that in fact the medieval warm period and little ice age were both felt right down to Antarctica. (source)

This also inconveniently shows that the science isn’t quite settled just yet.

The debunking of the Antarctic warming scare

Debunked again?

In the science blogs there is currently a serious bust up between Eric Steig, author of a paper claiming that the Antarctic was warming (and therefore, in his view, putting the final nail in the sceptics’ coffin) and Ryan O’Donnell, who, with Steve McIntyre, has published a challenging rebuttal. The story is taken up in the UK Spectator this week. The main story is subscription only, but the editorial makes very interesting reading:

In January 2009, Nature magazine ran the a cover story (pictured) conveying dramatic news about Antarctica: that most of it had warmed significantly over the last half-century. For years, the data from this frozen continent – with 90 percent of the world’s ice mass – had stubbornly refused to corroborate the global warming narrative. So the study, led by Eric Steig of the University of Washington, was treated as a bit of a scoop. It reverberated around the world. Gavin Schmidt, from the RealClimate blog, declared that Antarctica had silenced the sceptics. Mission, it seemed, was accomplished: Antarctica was no longer an embarrassment to the global warming narrative.

He spoke too soon. The indefatigable Steve McIntyre started to scrutinise his followings along with Nicholas Lewis. They found several flaws: Steig et al had used too few data sequences to speak for an entire continent, and had processed the data in a very questionable way. But when they wanted to correct him, in another journal, they quickly ran into an inconvenient truth about global warming: the high priests do not like refutation. To have their critique (initial submission here, final version here) of Steig’s work published, they needed to assuage the many demands of an anonymous ‘Reviewer A’ – whom they later found out to be Steig himself.

Lewis and Matt Ridley have joined forces to tell the story in the cover issue of this week’s Spectator. It’s another powerful, and depressing tale of the woeful state of climate science. Real science welcomes refutation: with global warming, it is treated as a religion. As they say in their cover story:

“Nature’s original peer-review process had let through an obviously flawed paper, and no professional climate scientist then disputed  it – perhaps because of fear that doing so might harm their careers. As the title of Richard Bean’s new play – The Heretic – at the Royal Court hints, young scientists going into climate studies these days are a bit like young theologians in Elizabethan England. They quickly learn that funding and promotion dries up if you express heterodox views, or doubt the scripture. The scripture, in this case, being the assembled reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

They went through 88 pages of correspondence in their battle to have their critique published.

“So has Antarctica been warming? Mostly not – at least not measurably. Retreat of the floating Antarctic ice shelves is a favourite story for the media. But, except in a very few peripheral parts, Antarctica is far too cold to lose ice by surface melting.”

As Lewis & Ridley say in their closing paragraphs:

“Papers that come to lukewarm or sceptical conclusions are published, if at all, only after the insertion of catechistic sentences to assert their adherence to orthodoxy. Last year, a paper in Nature Geosciences concluded heretically that `it is at present impossible to accurately determine climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide’ (high sensitivity  underpins the entire IPCC argument), yet presaged this with the (absurd) remark: `Earth’s climate can only be stabilized by bringing carbon dioxide emissions under control in the twenty-first century.’Likewise, a paper In Science last month linking periods of migration in European history with cooler weather stated: `Such historical data may provide a basis for counteracting the recent political and fiscal reluctance to mitigate projected climate change.’ Sceptical climatologist Pat Michaels pointed out that the sentence would make more sense with `counteracting’ removed.

Science as a philosophy is a powerful, but fragile thing. In the case of climate, it is now in conflict with science as an institution.” (source)

Oops! Ice caps melting "twice as slowly"

Not "worser" than thought

Or half as quickly – woteva. Isn’t it odd that all the errors and dodgy sources in the IPCC report conspired to make the climate change problem bigger, badder, “worser” than previously thought? Wouldn’t you think that roughly half the errors would show it “worser”, and half would show it not “worser”? If you were cynical, you might even conclude that such dodgy sources and errors were included because, oh, I don’t know, the authors had some pre-conceived agenda to push? OK, sarcasm off. But today’s “inconvenient headline” (thanks to Paul at The Daily Bayonet), which comes from the UK Daily Mail, reports that things in the melting ice cap department aren’t quite as bad as previously believed:

The Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps are melting at half the speed previously predicted, it has been announced.

Scientists measured the change in the ice caps by analysing changes in Earth’s gravitational field using two satellites, which monitor the distribution of mass on Earth including ice and water.

When ice melts and joins the sea, this has a small, but detectable effect on the Earth’s gravitational field.

This finding has emerged from research by a joint US/Dutch team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Delft University.

The average rise in sea levels as a result of the melting ice caps is also lower, the team discovered.

Previous estimates for the Greenland ice cap calculated that the ice was melting at a rate of 230 gigatonnes a year  – 230,000 billion kg. That would result in an average rise in global sea levels of around 0.75 mm a year.

For West Antarctica, the estimate was 132 gigatonnes a year. However, it now turns out that these results were not properly corrected for glacial isostatic adjustment.

This phenomenon relates to the rebounding of the Earth’s crust rebounds [sic] as a result of the melting of the massive ice caps from the last major Ice Age around 20,000 years ago.

These movements of the Earth’s crust have to be incorporated in the calculations, since these vertical movements change the Earth’s mass distribution and therefore also have an influence on the gravitational field.

Researchers have now succeeded in carrying out that correction far more accurately. (source)

Makes a change, dunnit? A bit of good news. Once again, it just goes to show how utterly nonsensical it is for anyone to say about climate change “the science is settled.”

ABC: alarmist business as usual

Not science, but alarmism

I suppose we should have expected the green-left brigade at the ABC to go into alarmist overdrive in response to the government’s dropping of the ETS, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. The flagship TV science programme, Catalyst, opened last night with a hysterical piece on the melting Antarctic. Yes, the Antarctic. Note how, without dropping a beat, the ABC switches its attention to the South pole, since as we all know, ice levels in the Arctic are the highest they have been for years.

The segment played out like a disaster movie: scary voiceovers, scary music, dramatic footage of, er, melting ice, scary “what ifs”, and, to suck away any last vestige of credibility, quotes from James Hansen. Here are a few choice extracts, starting with the creepy opening:

NARRATION: The seas are rising [Yes, at the same rate they have been for thousands of years – Ed]. How fast and how high they will go is the big unknown. But one thing is certain. What happens in Antarctica will be critical. Around 90 percent of the planet’s snow and ice is found here. Is the sleeping giant stirring?

NARRATION: The Wilkins Ice shelf is the latest of seven ice shelves on the Peninsula to start collapsing, and it’s the furthest south. Ice shelves are already floating, so they can’t contribute to sea level rise. It’s what’s behind them that’s the big concern. But now it is all too familiar. Seven shelves on the Antarctic peninsula have collapsed in the past two decades. This is a region of the huge Wilkins ice shelf which collapsed in 2008.

Dr Ian Allison: If you take that barrier away, the big glaciers behind it will flow more quickly.

NARRATION: Glaciers that drained into the Larsen B ice shelf have sped up by a factor of seven.

Neal Young: That does contribute to sea level rise. The quantity of ice in the Antarctic Peninsula region though is small. The key message is what would happen in the east and to the major glaciers in the West Antarctic if such changes were to occur there? That would be a consistent, persistent and very ominous I think change in the scenario.

NARRATION: And there’s strong evidence that change is already occurring. In the Amundsen Sea region, glaciologists have found the major glaciers are speeding up and losing mass, thinning by up to nine metres a year. What’s remarkable is the thinning extends hundreds of kilometres into the grounded ice sheet.

Mark Horstman: It’s the middle of summer here in East Antarctica, and right now the air temperature is minus four degrees and dropping. There’s no way that air temperatures like this are going to melt any ice. And In fact, until just recently, it was thought that the ice sheet on this side of the continent was actually growing in size.

NARRATION: But alarming new evidence indicates this trend has reversed.

Mark Horstman: What we’ve revealed here is a complex story about Antarctica under changing climates. And the take home message, like the continent itself, comes in two parts. Here in the East, it appears that it’s a warming ocean that;s driving the changes in the ice sheet.

Dr Paul Willis: Whereas here in the West the ice is melting from above and below. When it comes to sea level rise, Antarctica the sleeping giant is waking up.

Business as usual at Their Alarmist Broadcasting Corporation.

Read it (and watch it) here.

Today's alarmism

Still there?

Still there?

The editors of some news outlets still haven’t read the CRU Files, so don’t yet realise that alarmists massage data to fit their pre-conceived catastrophist agenda, and (bless) still believe every press release they read:

“Crumbling icesheets could add 5m to sea levels”

THE East Antarctic icesheet, once seen as largely unaffected by global warming, has lost billions of tonnes of ice since 2006 and could boost sea levels in the future, according to a new study.

Published yesterday in Nature Geoscience, the same study shows that the smaller but less stable West Antarctic icesheet is also shedding significant mass.

Scientists worry that rising global temperatures could trigger a rapid disintegration of West Antarctica, which holds enough frozen water to push up the global ocean watermark by about five metres.

In 2007 the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) predicted sea levels would rise 18 to 59cm by 2100, but this estimate did not factor in the potential impact of crumbling icesheets in Greenland and Antarctica. (source)

Sorry, your credibility is shot to pieces. We trust you even less than we did before last Friday…

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