Saturday, January 03, 2009

Some more Southern hemisphere temperature data showing a Mediaeval warm period

Discussing: Lorrey, A., Williams, P., Salinger, J., Martin, T., Palmer, J., Fowler, A., Zhao, J.-X. and Neil, H. 2008. "Speleothem stable isotope records interpreted within a multi-proxy framework and implications for New Zealand palaeoclimate reconstruction". Quaternary International 187: 52-75.

What was done

Two master speleothem (stalactite, stalagmite or flowstone cave deposit) delta18O records were developed for New Zealand's eastern North Island (ENI) and western South Island (WSI) for the period 2000 BC to about AD 1660 and 1825, respectively. The WSI record is a composite chronology composed of data derived from four speleothems from Aurora, Calcite, Doubtful Xanadu and Waiau caves, while the ENI record is a composite history derived from three speleothems from Disbelief and Te Reinga caves.

What was learned

For both the ENI and WSI delta18O records master speleothem histories, their warmest periods fall within the AD 900-1100 time interval, which is also where the peak warmth of a large portion of the temperature records found in our Medieval Warm Period Project fall (see our Interactive Map and Time Domain Plot).

What it means

Not wanting to acknowledge that the earth was likely as warm as, or even warmer than, it is currently a thousand or so years ago (when the atmosphere's CO2 concentration was much lower than it is today), the world's climate alarmists have been loath to admit there was an MWP or Medieval Warm Period anywhere other than in countries surrounding the North Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, the seven independent speleothem records that produced the results reported by Lorrey et al. are of great importance to the ongoing global warming debate, as they greatly advance the thesis that the MWP was indeed a global phenomenon, and that there is thus nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about earth's current warmth, and that it therefore need not be attributed to the historical increase in the air's CO2 content.

Source. (See here for a similar finding from Argentina)

1800 year China temps data confirm Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age?

Discussing: Zhang, P. et al., 2008. "A test of climate, sun, and culture relationships from an 1810-year Chinese cave record". Science 322: 940-942.

Working with a stalagmite found in China's Wanxiang Cave (33ø19'N, 105ø00'E) -- which Zhang et al. (2008) say is located on the fringes of the area currently affected by the Asian Monsoon and is thus sensitive to (and integrates broad changes in) that annually-recurring phenomenon -- the seventeen researchers developed a delta18O record with an average resolution of 2.5 years that "largely anti-correlates with precipitation" and runs continuously from AD 190 to 2003.

Even more important than its close ties with precipitation, in our opinion, Zhang et al. demonstrate that the record "exhibits a series of centennial to multi-centennial fluctuations broadly similar to those documented in Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstructions, including the Current Warm Period, Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period and Dark Age Cold Period."

And when one compares the peak warmth thus implied by their data for the Current and Medieval Warm Periods, it is readily seen that the Medieval Warm Period comes out on top as having been the warmer of the two.

In another important set of comparisons, Zhang et al. superimpose their delta18O record upon individual plots of Northern Hemispheric temperature as derived by Esper et al. (2002), Moberg et al. (2003) and Mann and Jones (2003). In the first of these comparisons, the two records closely mimic each other, with both of them indicating greater peak warmth during the Medieval Warm Period than during the Current Warm Period. The same is likewise true of the second comparison; and in the third comparison the records also closely mimic each other over the vast majority of their expanse.

Over the last decades of the 20th century, however, the temperatures of the Mann and Jones record rise far above the temperatures implied by the Zhang et al. record (and, therefore, those of the Esper et al. and Moberg et al. records as well), which suggests to us that this anomalous behavior of the Mann and Jones record is indicative of its possessing a major defect that is not found in the other three datasets. And that defect, in our estimation, is Mann and Jones' use of directly-measured as opposed to reconstructed temperatures over their record's last few decades, which leads to their anomalous end-point "oranges" not telling the same story as that told by everyone else's "apples."

Another point of great interest about the Zhang et al. record is that it "correlates with solar variability, Northern Hemisphere and Chinese temperature, Alpine glacial retreat, and Chinese cultural changes." And since none of the last four phenomena can influence the first one, it stands to reason that solar variability is what has driven the variations in every other factor mentioned.

In fact, in a commentary that accompanies Zhang et al.'s article, Kerr (2008) states that the Zhang et al. record is described by other researchers as "amazing," "fabulous," and "phenomenal," and that it "provides the strongest evidence yet for a link among sun, climate, and culture."

In addition, we note that it provides equally strong evidence for at least the Northern-Hemispheric-extent of the Medieval Warm Period and its greater and more persistent warmth than that of the Current Warm Period.


Prediction 2009: No agreement at Copenhagen

The global warming community have suggested for a while now that, given the almost-certain change in US administration policy on global warming (remember John McCain's position), the conference of the Kyoto Treaty parties in 2009 at Copenhagen would result in a sea change in global action on greenhouse gas emissions. Copenhagen would produce a new treaty, son-of-Kyoto, that would have full US participation, set stringent and enforceable emission limits aimed at getting the world to the sort of emissions levels some scientists demand, and start to involve the developing world in emissions reductions.

This is not going to happen. For a start, it looks like US policy is going to concentrate on getting a domestic settlement in place before agreeing to any international action other than the traditional "agreeing to agree." Secondly, with the world in financial chaos, governments are going to look askance at any possibility of deep emissions cuts in the short term because they know how costly that will be (the recent EU agreement - in actuality an agreement for just 4% cuts by 2020 - is a great example). This will make the drastic emissions cuts supposedly necessary in the medium-term well-nigh impossible to achieve. Finally, developing countries have consistently stated that they will not take on any emissions reductions, demanding the developed world move first. Yet even if the developed world reduces its emissions to zero by 2050, the developing world will have to keep its emissions at around today's levels to meet just a 50% global reduction by 2050. That represents a reduction from expected developing world emissions of 57%. To meet the 80% reduction demanded by most scientists will require a severe reduction in emissions from today's levels that represent widespread energy poverty.

So despite the optimism, a genuine international agreement looks some way off. Copenhagen will doubtless be sold as a triumph, but in reality the world will be no closer to a genuine, binding international agreement than it was in 2001.


British birdwatcher makes fruitless journey to Norway only to find Arctic bird in her own garden

It goes with Britain's current episodes of of Arctic weather. See here

A birdwatcher who made a fruitless journey to Norway to see a rare snow bunting, returned home to Britain only to discover one of the species had landed on her garden fence. Janet Davies, 58, an amateur ornithologist, spent three weeks in the Arctic including a week in Spitzbergen hoping to catch sight of a snow bunting. She failed to see one of the distinctive birds but was startled when she returned to home in Helston, Cornwall, and found one in her garden.

She said: "It was an expensive trip. Organised birdwatching holidays can be pricey. "We were in Spitzbergen for a week but I never saw a snow bunting and it is one of the birds I wanted to see most. "It never happened and I thought it would be the one that got away and I would never cross it off my list. "But then lo and behold one shows up in my back garden in Cornwall. I looked out of my window and there it was. The odds of it happening and showing up in a birdwatcher's back garden must be huge. It must have been blown off course. Sightings of them in Britain are few and far between."

Mrs Davies, a community carer, added that the bunting arrived in her garden on Sunday and was mixing with some chaffinches. "I feed wild bird seed to them and the snow bunting is quite happily eating it from the ground." She said it was believed to be a female. "It is different from North American species because it has not got the brown back. It is totally white on its upper shoulders and back. We think it is female because of its brown head and speckled buff breast. That would be the winter plumage of the female." Mrs Davies added: "It is about the size of a plump chaffinch or sparrow. Its colour is beautiful and when it flies it stands out. I worry it might be in danger from predators because it is so conspicuous. I have put out extra seed for it."

She joked: "I am hoping to go Antarctica when I retire and when I get back I am half expecting a penguin to show up at the back door." Snow buntings, which have striking 'snowy' plumages, are normally found in Scandinavia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. They are only occasionally seen in Scotland and eastern England.


Skeptical Ulsterman sticks to his guns

He is the (conservative) environment minister in the N. Ireland government

Spending billions on trying to reduce carbon emissions is one giant con that is depriving third world countries of vital funds to tackle famine, HIV and other diseases, Sammy Wilson said. The DUP minister has been heavily criticised by environmentalists for claiming that ongoing climatic shifts are down to nature and not mankind. But while acknowledging his views on global warming may not be popular, the East Antrim MP said he was not prepared to be bullied by eco fundamentalists. "I'll not be stopped saying what I believe needs to be said about climate change," he said. "Most of the people who shout about climate change have not read one article about it

"I think in 20 years' time we will look back at this whole climate change debate and ask ourselves how on earth were we ever conned into spending the billions of pounds which are going into this without any kind of rigorous examination of the background, the science, the implications of it all. Because there is now a degree of hysteria about it, fairly unformed hysteria I've got to say as well. "I mean I get it in the Assembly all the time and most of the people who shout about climate change have not read one article about climate change, not read one book about climate change, if you asked them to explain how they believe there's a connection between CO2 emission and the effects which they claim there's going to be, if you ask them to explain the thought process or the modelling that is required and the assumptions behind that and how tenuous all the connections are, they wouldn't have a clue. "They simply get letters about it from all these lobby groups, it's popular and therefore they go along with the flow - and that would be ok if there were no implications for it, but the implications are immense."

He said while people in the western world were facing spiralling fuel bills as a result of efforts to cut CO2, the implications in poorer countries were graver. "What are the problems that face us either locally and internationally. Are those not the things we should be concentrating on?" he asked. "HIV, lack of clean water, which kills millions of people in third world countries, lack of education. "A fraction of the money we are currently spending on climate change could actually eradicate those three problems alone, a fraction of it. "I think as a society we sometimes need to get some of these things in perspective and when I listen to some of the rubbish that is spoken by some of my colleagues in the Assembly it amuses me at times and other times it angers me."

Despite his views on CO2, Mr Wilson said he does not intend to backtrack on commitments made by his predecessor at the Department of the Environment, Arlene Foster, to make the Stormont estate carbon neutral. He said while he wasn't worried about reducing CO2 output, he said the policy would help to cut fuels bills. "I don't couch those actions in terms of reducing Co2 emissions," he said. "I don't care about Co2 emissions to be quite truthful because I don't think it's all that important but what I do believe is, and perhaps this is where there can be some convergence, as far as using fuel more efficiently that is good for our economy; that makes us more competitive. If we can save in schools hundreds of thousands on fuel that's more money being put for books or classroom assistants.

"So yes there are things we can do. If you want to express it terms of carbon neutral, I just express it terms of making the place more efficient, less wasteful and hopefully that will release money to do the proper things that we should be doing."



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