Sunday, November 02, 2008

"Artic Icecap is Melting, Even in Winter"

Leaky Jonathan is an old science fraud from way back. His latest effort is demolished below

The scare: Jonathan Leake, in The Times of London on 26 October 2008, says:

1. The Arctic icecap is "shrinking at record rates" even in the winter;
2. "The period in which the ice renews itself has become much shorter";
3. The "even more alarming" cause of the thinner ice is warmer seas rather than warmer air;
4. "The Arctic is likely to melt much faster than had been thought";
5. "The summer icecap could vanish within a decade", according to unnamed "experts";
6. The Northwest Passage was open in the summer of 2008 for the first time in 30 years;
7. Arctic sea ice is half of its 1976 thickness;
8. "Now the ice is just collapsing". as shown by "satellite-based observations";
9. In September 2007 the Arctic icecap had "lost an extra 1.1 million square miles;
10. The icecap was "43% smaller than it was in 1979, when satellite observations began";
11. Less ice means less sunlight reflected harmlessly back to space and so more warming;
12. "The process accelerates until there is no more ice to melt"; and
13. A scientist has said: "This is one of the most serious problems the world has ever faced".

The truth: This article, like so many on "global warming", is rooted in the naive fallacy that the fact of warming tells us that the cause is anthropogenic rather than natural. We begin this Scarewatch, therefore, with a few truths about how much warmer the climate was before humankind could possibly have affected it significantly (or at all).

Today's temperatures are below normal

In the Cambrian era, 550 million years ago, global temperatures were usually 7 degrees C (12.5 F) warmer than the present. The natural state of the planet for most of past half billion years has been entirely ice-free. Humankind cannot have been to blame. We were not there.

In each of the past half dozen ice ages over the past half million years, Antarctic (and by implication global) surface temperatures were up to 5 degrees C (9 F) warmer than the present. We were still not there. In the interglacial period about 850,000 years ago, the entire Greenland ice sheet melted away. It is inconceivable that there could have been any Arctic icecap then. We were not to blame. There were very, very few SUVs or coal-fired power stations at that time.

What about more recent history? For 6,500 of the 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age, temperatures have been warmer than the present. Today's temperatures, therefore, are not unprecedentedly high. They are below normal.

In the Bronze Age, Roman, and mediaeval warm periods, temperatures were warmer than the present. The largest mediaeval Viking settlement in Greenland, at Hvalsey in the south-west, prospered in the warm weather that allowed Eric the Red to dub Greenland Greenland.

Today, the Viking graveyard at Hvalsey is under permafrost. The Vikings could not bury their dead in permafrost. So the permafrost was not there during the mediaeval warm period.

What about more recent history still? As recently as the 1930s to early 1940s, the Arctic was warmer than the present. Yet humankind at that date was less numerous and less industrially active than today.

Now that we have established that today's temperatures are not exceptional, it follows that we cannot attribute any temperature changes in the Arctic exclusively or even primarily to humankind. What, then, are the natural influences on the Arctic climate?

Natural influences on the Arctic climate

The Sun: The first and most important of the natural influences on climate is the Sun. Soon (2004) has demonstrated a remarkably close correlation between solar activity and Arctic temperature changes. Scafetta and West (2008) say that the influence of the Sun on the climate is far greater than the IPCC finds it expedient to imagine: they calculate that more than two-thirds of the warming that ceased in 1998 worldwide was caused by solar activity, and they conclude that the influence of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations on temperature is many times less than the IPCC would like us to think.

The sea: Next, the great ocean currents sometimes direct vast bodies of tropical warm water up towards the Arctic, causing a considerable warming of the Arctic ocean and a consequent melting of ice. A paper by NASA in 2007 found that anthropogenic "global warming" had very little impact on the Arctic in comparison with the effect of global changes in patterns of currents such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which has recently been moving unusually large volumes of tropical water into the Arctic, assisted by the wind.

Seabed volcanoes: Finally, researchers have recently discovered that subsea volcanic activity in the Arctic region has increased. Early in 2008 a paper was published explaining that in the Greenland-Iceland Gap the ocean bottom had reached temperatures as high as 573 degrees F.

Taking factors such as these into account, it is simply not scientifically credible to attribute the current temperatures in the Arctic to anthropogenic "global warming". Interestingly, the Sunday Times article is noteworthy for not mentioning humankind as a culprit at all.

The alarmism on which newspapers thrive is present: but it is clear that a very much more cautious approach to "global warming" has been taken. To this extent, and to this extent only, the Sunday Times article begins to reflect the truth.

With this background, we turn to the individual scares itemized in our summary of Mr. Leake's rather hysterical article -

1: The Actic icecap is "shrinking at record rates" even in the winter

At the Science and Public Policy Institute we do not proselytize. We make the scientific facts and data available and allow readers to draw their own conclusions. The image below shows the extent of Arctic sea-ice cover on 25 October 1979, the first year of the satellite record (no image for the 26th is available), compared with 26 October 2008, the date of the Sunday Times article -

2: "The period in which the ice renews itself has become much shorter"

Once again, we shall provide real data rather than hollow debating points. The graph below shows the past year's sea-ice area compared with the mean for 1979-2000 -

It is self-evident from this graph that the "period in which the ice renews itself" will be considerably longer this year than it was last year, when the anomalous natural conditions described in NASA's paper about the influence of ocean currents had occurred.

3. The "even more alarming" cause of the thinner ice is warmer seas, not warmer air

Here, Mr. Leake confirms what NASA had found: that ocean currents and winds taking warmer water from the tropics to the Arctic have made the Arctic Ocean warmer. So has the subsea volcanic activity in the Greenland-Iceland Gap. There is nothing "alarming" about this. It is an entirely natural phenomenon, over which humankind has no influence and no control.

We know that, overall, the oceans have not in fact been warming. See, for instance, Lyman et al., 2006, whose study of ocean temperatures is one of the most detailed of its kind; or Gouretski and Koltermann (2007). Just as the air temperatures have shown no appreciable increase in the past decade, worldwide sea temperatures have shown no increase either. In short, there has been no "global warming" going on. That is a very powerful reason why it is imprudent to attribute the recent warming of the Arctic waters to anthropogenic "global warming". It is instead attributable to natural, local warming against a background of prolonged and intense global cooling.

4. "The Arctic is likely to melt much faster than had been thought"

In April 2007, the UK Met Office issued its long-range forecast for the British summer. It said the summer would be the hottest, driest, most drought-prone summer on record because of "global warming" (and, if we've scared you enough, please can we have a smart new computer at taxpayers' expense?). Just six weeks later, in June 2007, the coldest, wettest, most flood-prone summer since records began came in - and was of course blamed on "global warming".

If our forecasters cannot get a general forecast correct six weeks in advance, on what rational scientific basis can they claim that "The Arctic is likely to melt faster than had been thought"? We were told earlier this summer that it might be possible to reach the North Pole by kayak for the first time since recent records began: but a lavishly-funded expedition had travelled only two days northward from its starting-point in Svalbard before being halted by impenetrable ice and intense cold.

The launching of the expedition was heavily reported in The Times and other news media, especially because the organizers fatuously said they were kayaking to the North Pole "to raise awareness of global warming" (presumably this was the only way to do it in the absence of any actual warming compared with 28 years ago). Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, bizarrely telephoned the kayakers after they had become ice-bound, to congratulate them on their achievement. What achievement? They claimed they had kayaked further north than anyone had ever done before. Like most claims to do with "global warming", this was false: an expedition half a century previously had done considerably better.

In short, there is no scientific basis for the article's declaration that "the Arctic is likely to melt much faster than had been thought". Currently the Arctic is freezing much faster than had been thought - which is why the kayakers and their stunt became icebound after just two miserably cold days.

Much more here (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Arctic sea ice extent now GREATER than in 2002

See the graph here

About the source of the graph: "The IARC-JAXA Information System (IJIS) is a geoinformatics facility for satellite image analysis and computational modeling/visualization in support of international collaboration in Arctic and global change research at the International Arctic Research Center in corporation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Advanced Earth Science and Technology Organization of Japan".

Which is it? Trees Cool Or Heat the Planet? Studies Give Contradictory Results

Flashback to April 9, 2007:

Forests May Increase Temperatures by 10 Degrees by 2100, New Study Says; Deforestation Could Cool the Planet

Excerpt: Forests on certain parts of the planet may actually warm the Earth, according to researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in a study released today. According to the study, forests in mid- to high-latitude locations -- such as boreal forests of Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia -- may actually create a net warming. The study concludes that by the year 2100, these mid- and high- latitude forests may make some places up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than would have occurred if the forests did not exist. The research, led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory atmospheric scientist Govindasamy Bala, appears in the April 9-13 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New Study: October 31, 2008

Chemical released by trees can help cool planet, scientists find - Scientists discover cloud-thickening chemicals in trees that could offer a new weapon in the fight against global warming

Excerpt: Trees could be more important to the Earth's climate than previously thought, according to a new study that reveals forests help to block out the sun. Scientists in the UK and Germany have discovered that trees release a chemical that thickens clouds above them, which reflects more sunlight and so cools the Earth. The research suggests that chopping down forests could accelerate global warming more than was thought, and that protecting existing trees could be one of the best ways to tackle the problem. Dominick Spracklen, of the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science at Leeds University, said: "We think this could have quite a significant effect. You can think of forests as climate air conditioners."

Global cooling hits England again

Surrey enjoys first October snowfall in 121 years

Up to an inch of snow greeted East Surrey residents today (Wednesday, October 29) following the earliest October snowfall in the county for 121 years. The snow blanketed parts of Surrey after Arctic winds turned Tuesday night's rain into a mini-blizzard. As temperatures plunged from 9C during the afternoon to freezing point by 11pm, the rain turned to snow.

The first flakes began falling at about 10pm and by midnight, roads had become treacherous in the hilly villages of both Tandridge district and the borough of Reigate and Banstead. Particularly snowy were Chaldon, Woldingham, Banstead, Tadworth, Burgh Heath and Kingswood.

By the morning, many roads were like skidpans and some drivers found their vehicles turned into frozen igloos. Buses in Caterham inched their way along icy streets while on the railways, trains from London to Surrey were delayed by frozen points and equipment.

Mirror weatherman Ian Currie, who has studied the climate for more than 40 years, said it was the first October snowfall in Surrey since 1887. "This is as rare a weather event as the Great Storm of 1987," said Mr Currie, 57. "There has been snow observed in 1974 and 1981 but such a covering has not occurred since 1887.

"In Victorian times it was more common to see snow in October. With all the global warming and seas being much warmer than they used to be, it is even more remarkable and I shall be studying this event in great detail."


"Green" car goes bang as British driver lights up

A motorist has vowed to steer clear of green driving after his gas-powered car exploded when he lit up at the wheel.
Peter Tidbury, 50, had a "miraculous" escape when his Peugot 607 blew up after he lit a cigarette. The businessman thought that he was saving money and the environment by switching to a car that ran on liquid petroleum gas, which is cheaper and less polluting than petrol or diesel.

A suspected leak in the vehicle's pipes led to an explosion that blew the windscreen 50ft down the road and forced the evacuation of nearby houses. The incident happened after Mr Tidbury, who works for an energy-saving company, stopped at a service station in Barnsley to fill up with gas. He said: "I was doing about 30mph and as I lit the cigarette there was an almighty explosion. The windows went out, the bonnet went up and the boot went up just as you see in the Hollywood movies."

Mr Tidbury, who was treated for flash burns at Barnsley District Hospital, is now looking for another car. It will be a diesel.


Brain-dead Greenie assumptions underly Australian climate proposals

China and India have ALREADY said: "No deal"

You don't have to be a Treasury modeller to work out that if the developed world signs up to a global climate change deal next year and the biggest emitters in the developing world agree to follow suit soon after, then "carbon leakage" isn't going to be a huge problem. Carbon leakage is the spectre raised by many emissions-intensive trading industries - such as LNG, cement and aluminium - that they will be forced offshore if made to bear a domestic carbon price when their competitors overseas pay none.

If their competitors overseas are already paying a price, or are clearly going to have to pay one in the relatively near future, then long-term investment decisions won't be influenced by the international price differentials. That, effectively, is what the comprehensive Treasury modelling released yesterday assumes. Given the stated intentions of the European Union and both US presidential candidates, this assumption may prove right. Given the back-pedalling by some EU members and the political ramifications of the present economic meltdown in the US, it might not be.

If it does prove right, then the news from this ambitious modelling exercise is good. The costs to Australian businesses and households of the proposed emissions trading scheme seem manageable. Electricity price rises of between 17 and 24 per cent are not insignificant. But translated into an extra $4 or $5 on the average weekly power bill they don't seem impossible either, particularly with the compensation the Government has already promised.

The upheavals in Australian industry will also be significant, with some sectors thriving and others shrinking. And there will, of course, be major changes in the way we generate electricity, this being one of the main points of the exercise. But if the carbon price ratchets up slowly and structural adjustment money is available for sectors and regions hit hardest, these difficulties don't seem insurmountable either. Kevin Rudd made it pretty clear on the 7.30 Report last night that a slow rachetting up is exactly what he has in mind. The Prime Minister sounded like a thesaurus reciting the entries for cautious: "calm", "cool", "sober", "practical". He was going all out to be reassuring. And the modelling makes the economic case for acting quickly clear. The environmental case for rapid action already was.

But the big unanswered question is where we will end up if the assumption is wrong, if Copenhagen fails, if the outcome is messy. Surely we have to take into account the possibility that the pressures of the global economic crisis will mean isolationist short-term self-interest prevails over a multilateral solution in the interests of all.

More here


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