Saturday, October 18, 2008


The writer below ties himself in knots trying to reconcile his pesky findings with current global warming orthodoxy. He says, for instance that "glaciers and other bodies of ice are exquisitely hyper-sensitive to climate change" and then says, "Recent warming around the frozen island actually lags behind the global average warming pattern by about 1-2 degrees C". That juxtaposition makes any and every Greenland glacier change explicable. If it melts it is hypersensitive to global warming. If it gains mass it is the air around it that is strangely isolated from global warming. That the real cause of the oscillations he has observed might be oscillations in ocean currents is not considered

Two researchers here spent months scouring through old expedition logs and reports, and reviewing 70-year-old maps and photos before making a surprising discovery: They found that the effects of the current warming and melting of Greenland 's glaciers that has alarmed the world's climate scientists occurred in the decades following an abrupt warming in the 1920s.

Their evidence reinforces the belief that glaciers and other bodies of ice are exquisitely hyper-sensitive to climate change and bolsters the concern that rising temperatures will speed the demise of that island's ice fields, hastening sea level rise. The work, reported at this week's annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco , may help to discount critics' notion that the melting of Greenland 's glaciers is merely an isolated, regional event.

They recently recognized from using weather station records from the past century that temperatures in Greenland had warmed in the 1920s at rates equivalent to the recent past. But they hadn't confirmed that the island's glaciers responded to that earlier warming, until now. "What's novel about this is that we found a wealth of information from low-tech sources that has been overlooked by most researchers," explained Jason Box, an associate professor of geography at Ohio State University and a researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center. Many researchers, he says, rely heavily on information from satellites and other modern sources.

Undergraduate student Adam Herrington, co-author on this paper and a student in the School of Earth Sciences, spent weeks in the university's libraries and archives, scouring the faded, dusty books that contained the logs of early scientific expeditions, looking primarily for photos and maps of several of Greenland 's key glaciers. "I must have paged through more than a hundred such volumes to get the data we needed for this study," Herrington said.

They concentrated on three large glaciers flowing out from the central ice sheet towards the ocean - the Jakobshavn Isbrae, the Kangerdlugssuaq and the Helheim. "These three glaciers are huge and collectively, they drain as much as 40 percent of the southern half of the ice sheet. All three have recently increased their speed as the temperature rose," Box said, adding that the Kangerdlugssuaq, at 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) wide is half-again as wide as New York's Manhattan Island .

Digging through the old data, Herrington found a map from 1932 and an aerial photo from 1933 that documented how, during a warm period, the Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier lost a piece of floating ice that was nearly the size of New York 's Manhattan Island. "That parallels what we know about recent changes," Box said. "In 2002 to 2003, that same glacier retreated another 3.1 miles (5 kilometers), and that it tripled its speed between 2000 and 2005."

The fact that recent changes to Greenland's ice sheet mirror its behavior nearly 70 years ago is increasing researchers' confidence and alarm as to what the future holds. Recent warming around the frozen island actually lags behind the global average warming pattern by about 1-2 degrees C but if it fell into synch with global temperatures in a few years, the massive ice sheet might pass its "threshold of viability" - a tipping point where the loss of ice couldn't be stopped. "Once you pass that threshold," Box said, "the current science suggests that it would become an irreversible process. And we simply don't know how fast that might happen, how fast the ice might disappear."

Greenland 's ice sheet contains at least 10 percent of the world's freshwater AND it has been losing more than 24 cubic miles (100 cubic kilometers) of ice annually for the last five years and 2007 was a record year for glacial melting there.


Arctic sea ice now 28.7% higher than this date last year - still rallying

10/14/2008 7,064,219 square kilometers

10/14/2007 5,487,656 square kilometers

A difference of: 1,576,563 square kilometers, now in fairness, 2008 was a leap year, so to avoid that criticism, the value of 6,857,188 square kilometers can be used which is the 10/13/08 value, for a difference of 1,369,532 sq km. Still not too shabby at 24.9 %. The one day gain between 10/13/08 and 10/14/08 of 3.8% is also quite impressive. You can download the source data in an Excel file at the IARC-JAXA website, which plots satellite derived sea-ice extent:

There is no mention of this on the National Snow and Ice Data Center sea ice news webpage, which has been trumpeting every loss and low for the past two years.not a peep. You'd think this would be big news. Perhaps the embarrassment of not having an ice free north pole in 2008, which was sparked by press comments made by Dr. Mark Serreze there and speculation on their own website, has made them unresponsive in this case. From May 5th, 2008:
"Taken together, an assessment of the available evidence, detailed below, points to another extreme September sea ice minimum. Could the North Pole be ice free this melt season? Given that this region is currently covered with first-year ice, that seems quite possible. "

More here

Past climate fluctuations revealed in history

by Dr Kelvin Kemm

The period of global warming that we have experienced on our planet over the last century, which has seen a rise in temperature of some 0.6 degrees C, does not correlate at all with a rise in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), but is does correlate with solar activity. Indications are that solar activity is the primary driver of the variation in global temperature.

Even more compelling is the fact that there exists a well-documented Roman Warm period from the time of the Roman Caesars, and a Medieval Warm Period, both of which correlate with solar activity, but certainly can have nothing whatever to do with CO2 produced by any human industrial activities.

Further, earlier global warming periods were always accompanied by great human prosperity, and not by gloom and doom, as today's global warming adherents are forever saying. In fact, it was periods of global cooling that were bad for the world's population and for the environment as a whole. In AD 793, the Vikings burst upon their European neighbours, starting with England. One venture took them into eastern Europe. There, they founded the Russian State at Kiev, in Ukraine, in 882 AD. They also moved into France, as the Normans, and became a power in the Mediterranean as well as in Europe.

Two centuries of global warming then followed, from about 930 AD. This warm weather assisted the Vikings in taking Iceland from the Irish. The Vikings settled in Greenland and explored as far west as Newfoundland, in North America. During this period, around 1000 AD, grain grew in northern Norway and grapes in northern England. The signs of warm-weather crops in these settlements puzzled modern archaeologists when they found evidence of these crops in what they thought had always been an iced-over region.

High in the mountains in central Europe, abandoned ancient mines were reopened when the area thawed. In what was thought of as the arid region of New Mexico, Amerindians of the Anasazi ethic group built canyon towns and irrigated crops as the climate warmed and rain became a regular feature of the area. Rain also soaked the grasslands of Asia during the warm centuries, and nomadic horsemen thrived. This was great for the nomads but not so great for some of the other tribes in the region, who got beaten up by the nomads, who then acquired great mobility over the grasslands covered in food for the horses.

In China, a magnetic compass was invented - the earliest practical compass was described in a Chinese military manual of 1044. It was a magnetised fish shape that floated on water. Compasses soon evolved into magnets hanging on silk threads. The importance of the compass is that it allowed people to confidently sail far away from land in small ships.

Administrative reforms in China, starting in 1068, transformed the Chinese empire into the first economy managed on modern lines, relying on equitable money taxes rather than forced labour. The economy and the population boomed during the warm years, and government loans encouraged farmers to plant a new variety of rice from Indochina. The Chinese seafarers continued to trade widely across South-East Asia and so spread their knowledge and goods, to the benefit of all.

In the meantime, in Middle America, around 1200, there was turmoil. Aztecs, from the north, entered the Valley of Mexico. They rose to power over their neighbours in about 1320. It appears the reason why they moved and rose to power was the downturn in the climate, which began in about 1190. "Hey man, chill out" had a different meaning for them. Other sufferers from the cooling climate were the Anasazi, who were then forced, by drought, to abandon their canyon settlements. They moved to concentrate along the Rio Grande.

Starting in 1314, Europe was struck by repeated famines. The mountain mines were abandoned again, and the Vikings were frozen out of their settlements. By 1342, the Vikings' customary route to Greenland had been blocked by ice. The Eurasian steppes became the scene of terrible military events. When the rainfall diminished from 1160, the numerous horsemen were happy for a warlord to tell them to attack the farming villages.

The break-out of the Mongols and their allies, the Turks, exceeded any previous break-out in ferocity and scope. In 1211, the Chinese Wall was breached. Baghdad, amid its decaying irrigation works, fell in 1258 to the Mongols.

A crash in the population of medieval Eurasia, already evident in China by 1290, was made worse by disease carried by the Mongol supply and trading caravans. The Black Death first appeared among the Chinese in 1331, killing more than a quarter of them, and in 1346 a Mongol army in southern Russian spread it to Europe. The Medieval Warm Period was past, and the Little Ice Age was really on its way.



Decision deferred

Italian industrialists on Thursday praised a compromise reached in Brussels on the European Union's climate change plans which has to be adopted unanimously in December. The employers' group Confindustria, which had lobbied for climate change targets to be delayed, issued a statement thanking the Italian government for the "determination they showed in defending the rights of the productive world and the interests of the country."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi threatened to torpedo the plans, branding them too big a burden for business amid the global financial crisis. He finally accepted a compromise in exchange for an assurance that the package must be adopted unanimously by all 27 countries at their next summit in mid-December.

According to the text, the 27 heads of state and government agreed the package should be introduced in a "cost-effective manner ... having regard to each member state's specific situation."

After Italy and Poland brandished the threat of a veto if their reservations were not taken into account, Germany, Europe's largest economy, also voiced concerns over the ambitious environmental plans.

European leaders on Thursday retained the targets and timeline of the European plan but they are preparing for two and half months of difficult negotiations after the most reluctant countries won the right to veto a final plan. "We are right in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis, and today the priority should be to fight the risk of economic recession," Confindustria wrote.

They added: "The postponement of any decision to December should allow a modification of the timeline and a more equitable distribution of the burden among different countries."


IPCC ENDORSES OBAMA (policy-neutral, my foot!)

The election of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama would help clear the deadlock in United Nations talks to slow global warming, said Rajendra Pachauri, head of a United Nations panel of climate-change scientists.

"A critical factor in these talks is the position of the U.S.," Pachauri, chairman of the UN panel that shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, said today in an interview in Berlin. "If Obama is elected, and this seems more likely, this would create positive momentum" for the UN talks.

Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois vying with Arizona Republican Senator John McCain for the presidency, and his advisers have indicated policies will be implemented that will push climate- change talks ahead, Pachauri said without providing details. Last year's UN meeting in Bali was a "positive step" that needs to be moved forward, helped especially by the U.S., he added. U.S. voters go to the polls on Nov. 4.

Negotiators from almost 200 countries will meet in December at a UN conference in Poznan, Poland, to discuss ways to limit carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming. The talks are aimed at reaching an accord to replace the Kyoto protocol, which the U.S. has not signed, by next year at a Copenhagen conference.

Obama will tell the Environmental Protection Agency that it may use the 1990 Clean Air Act to set emissions limits on power plants and manufacturers should he win the presidential election, his energy adviser, Jason Grumet, said in an interview. President George W. Bush declined to curb CO2 emissions under the law even after the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 the government may do so.



In view of the uncertainty over the future direction of the British and the world economies, the timing of Ed Miliband's announcement of new "green" targets was odd to say the least. The younger brother of the Foreign Secretary was only recently installed in the new post of Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. It might have been imagined that he would take stock of the extraordinary turmoil in the financial world before committing the country to further environmental measures. But Mr Miliband has required just a fortnight to decide that the 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to which the UK had previously signed up was insufficiently ambitious.

There is a lot of ministerial hot air about these targets; new ones are announced long before it is apparent whether existing ones are realistic or achievable. In 1997, the Government said it was going to "reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 20 per cent on 1990 levels by 2010". By 2003 this had become an aspiration to "move towards a 20 per cent reduction..." By 2005, it was saying that "emissions of all greenhouse gases would be around 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010".

In 2006 a target was set for "all new homes to be zero carbon within a decade" but in the first month of 2008, just three zero carbon homes were built. The Government then pledged to reduce carbon dioxide by 60 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050, which Mr Miliband has now said should rise to 80 per cent in line with a recommendation delivered just last week by the Government-appointed Climate Change Committee. When the 60 per cent target was first recommended by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, it implicitly included emissions from aviation. But Mr Miliband now says aviation and shipping will be excluded, though specific proposals for achieving this tougher target have still to be published.

His statement was hailed as "bold and courageous", yet it amounted to nothing beyond the utterance of some words. This is not to say that there is something inherently wrong with wanting a cleaner environment, simply that announcing ever higher numbers has become something of a political virility test with no obvious connection with the real world, and one that the Conservatives seem happy to go along with.

Mr Miliband said the price to be paid for doing nothing was greater than the cost of acting, though not if it means investment in clean technology dries up as a result. There are so many economic uncertainties that substituting one random and impractical number for another seems precipitate.



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