Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ice sheet warming faster than thought: according to "adjusted" data

Hokum:  They are attributing the adjustments to missing plots  -- but that should not alter the final figure. Adjustments shmadjustments

A study of temperature records over more than half a century shows the west Antarctic ice sheet is warming nearly twice as quickly as previously thought.

A re-analysis of temperature records from 1958 to 2010 revealed an increase of 2.4 degrees Celsius over the period, three times the average global rise.

The increase means west Antarctica is one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth, according to paper co-author David Bromwich of the Byrd Polar Research Centre.

"Our record suggests that continued summer warming in west Antarctica could upset the surface balance of the ice sheet, so that the region could make an even bigger contribution to sea-level rise than it already does," he said.

The west Antarctic sheet is a huge mass of ice up to four kilometres thick that covers the land surface and stretches into the sea.

Scientists believe its shrinking is responsible for about 10 per cent of the global warming-related sea-level rise, which if unchecked threatens to flood many coastal cities within a few generations.

The American study fills in gaps left by incomplete data records kept at the US-run Byrd Station in Antarctica's central west.

Since being established in 1957, the research station has not been consistently occupied and has seen frequent power outages, especially during the long polar night, when its solar panels cannot recharge.

Dr Bromwich and a team from several US-based research institutions used weather data from different sources to plug holes in the Byrd data and corrected calibration errors.

The updated log was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

"Aside from offering a more complete picture of warming in west Antarctica, the study suggests that if this warming trend continues, melting will become more extensive in the region in the future," Dr Bromwich said.

The researchers say the temperature increase is being caused by tropical winds from the Pacific Ocean, but they cannot be certain that human activity is playing a role.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 had projected a sea level rise of 18 to 59 centimetres worldwide by the year 2100.

But a study by the US National Research Council said in June the actual rise could be two to three times higher, with the polar ice-cap melt speeding up the process.


Global Warming Has Oceans Rising At Alarming Rate! (Or Maybe not)

Whew! We made it through that Mayan end of the world apocalypse thing. But don’t even begin to imagine that our doomsday problems are nearly over.

Even the Wall Street Journal breathlessly reported “Polar Ice Melt Is Accelerating: Shrinking in Greenland, Antarctica Has Sent Ocean Levels Higher, Study Says”. This ain’t just your typical run-of-the-mill, left of almost everywhere, New York Times or Washington Post global warming alarmist stuff. So it must be true… right?

To be more specific, the article discusses a study published in the journal Science states that higher temperatures over the past two decades have contributed to a nearly half-inch rise in global sea levels since 1992, attributing about 30% of that increase to melting of polar ice sheets. The study estimates that roughly half of that 0.43 inch rise was caused by thermal expansion of the oceans (as water warms, it becomes less dense and expands), some from from runoff from melting glaciers, and the rest from melting of Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets.

And by the way, it also points out that Greenland has been a bigger contributor to all of that because Northern Hemisphere ocean currents are warmer (yup, it’s called the” North Atlantic Oscillation”…a natural cycle that shifts about every 60-70 years), while “Antarctica is so cold that even if warming occurs it won’t melt” at the rate seen in Greenland (according to the study co-author). The study also admitted that it’s a tricky question whether or not the overall accelerated melting of polar ice sheets can be linked to man-made climate change influences; that current climate-change models predict that some parts of the Antarctic ice sheets will grow, while others will melt; that Antarctica is not losing ice as rapidly as suggested by many recent studies; and that “The signals suggest there is no immediate threat” from rising sea levels.

What a relief!  I was really worried there for a minute.

In fact, another recent study posted in Science, concluded that polar ice sheet melting has been massively overestimated. That analysis is based upon new methods that filter out “noise” from “Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment” (GRACE) satellite data. As researcher Frederik Simons of Princeton explains, “Our technique learns enough about the noise to effectively recover the signal, and at much finer spatial scales than was possible before.”

Simons and his colleague Christopher Haig directed particular attention to the Greenland ice sheet, noting that the Antarctic ice cap is actually getting bigger. While they found that Greenland’s ice loss did consistently increase between 2003 and 2010, the change was very patchy from region to region. In addition, the enhanced detail of where and how much ice melted allowed them to estimate that the annual loss acceleration was much lower than previous research suggested, roughly increasing by 8 billion tons annually, Previous estimates were as high as 30 billion tons more per year.

Such rates of Greenland ice loss were barely larger than the margin of error in their readings, making it difficult to discern any difference between a supposed loss curve on a graph from a straight line. At the current rate, it will cause sea levels to rise about 2.4 inches over the next century.  And according to the authors: “At current melt rates, the Greenland ice sheet would take about 13,000 years to melt completely, which would result in a global sea level rise of more than 21 feet (6.5 meters).”

The good news is that we are scheduled for the next Ice Age long before that. It should give Al Gore at least some comfort knowing that.

Sure, but even if Greenland and Antarctica melting is on ice for a while, what about that dreaded sea level-hiking runoff from those glaciers? After all, according to the EPA and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main factors driving sea level changes now  are: “the expansion of ocean water caused by warmer ocean temperatures, melting of mountain glaciers and small ice caps, and (to a lesser extent) melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Antarctic Ice Sheet.”

Besides, we all knew there was a big crisis after the IPCC warned us that the Himalayan glaciers might disappear altogether by the year 2035, leading to flooding of rivers followed by imminent drought and starvation for billions of people. Well, okay, it later turned out that they made this all up, but never-the-less, those glaciers must be melting pretty fast, or they wouldn’t have worried their Nobel Peace Prize- awarded minds and have scared us all to death about it…would they?

Darn! Maybe we all might have gotten a lot more sleep had we known about recent results of another GRACE satellite study published in the journal Nature that shows that Himalayan glaciers are hardly melting at all. According to John Wahr at the University of Colorado-Boulder, glaciers and ice caps in places other than Greenland and Antarctica lost about 30% less ice than had previously been estimated.

Wahr expressed surprise at these findings, saying: “One possible explanation is that previous estimates were based on measurements taken primarily from some of the lower, more accessible glaciers in Asia and were extrapolated to infer behavior of higher glaciers. But unlike the lower glaciers, many of the high glaciers would still be too cold to lose mass even in the presence of atmospheric warming.”

Not only that,  it appears that glaciers in the high Asian mountain ranges…the Himalayas, the Pamir and the Tien Shan…were even  much better off (presuming they really care). Previous estimates suggesting depletion rates as high as 50 billion tons of ice per year were exaggerated by a plus-or-minus 20 billion ton error.

And what about those sea levels?  Are they rising at a terrifying rate?  Although the UN’s IPCC, based upon its highly theoretical climate models have predicted an increase in the rate of global average sea level rise during the 20th century, that rate has actually been rather stable, with no significant rise over the past 50 years. The rates in the 1920-1945 period were likely to have been just as large as today’s.

So please, someone, tell Al Gore that maybe it’s time to relax. When co-anchor Katie Couric asked him on the May 24, 2006 Today show “What do you see happening in 15 to 20 years if nothing changes?…Even Manhattan would be in deep water/”, he replied: “Yes, in fact the World Trade Center Memorial site would be underwater.” Then, much more recently when hurricane Sandy blew in, he knew exactly what to blame. Us of course…due to our coal-fired-electricity-powered laptop computers, fossil-fueled-climate-ravaging SUVs, and a host of other tide-raising influences. Wouldn’t you think that informing him about this recent research would make him feel a lot better, knowing that his new $9 million ocean-view villa in Montecito, California is safe?

SOURCE  (See the original for links)

Some more pesky history

New paper finds modern sea ice coverage in Canadian Arctic near highest levels of past 150 years

A new paper published in the European Geosciences Union journal Biogeosciences reconstructs sea ice coverage in the Beaufort Sea of the Canadian Arctic over the past 150 years and finds modern sea ice coverage [9.4 months per year] is significantly greater than during the period from ~ 1887-1945 [8.3 months per year]. Figure 4 of the paper shows modern sea ice coverage is amongst the highest levels of the entire 150 year record. The authors find that the reduced sea ice coverage from ~1887-1945 corresponded with reconstructed sea surface temperatures that were up to 3C warmer from 1885-1935 in comparison to the average modern temperature. According to the paper, sea ice coverage was dominated by natural variation from the Pacific Decadal Oscillation [PDO] and Arctic Oscillation [AO].

According to the paper:

4.4 Reconstruction of sea-surface conditions

Summer SST [sea surface temperature] reconstructions (Fig. 6c) are characterised by a decreasing trend between ∼ AD 1855–1960 and reconstructed SST between ∼ AD 1885–1935 are warmer by up to 3◦C with respect to the average modern temperature at the coring site which is ∼ 4.1◦C. During ∼ AD 1935–1975 reconstructed SSTs are ∼ 1◦C below the modern value. Within the next 10 yr, the temperature increases up to 5.4◦C (∼ 1987) and gradually decreases towards the modern value of 4.1◦C.

The reconstructed SIC [sea ice coverage] trend mirrors that of reconstructed SSTs (Fig. 6b). The root mean squared error (RMSE) calculated on SIC values, which is the difference between reconstructed and observed values, is 1.43 months yr−1, and reflects the accuracy of the approach. For the period ∼ AD 1887–1945, reconstructed SIC values are  an average 8.3 months yr−1 which is 1.1 months yr−1 lower than the modern values. In contrast, the period AD 1945–1975 is marked by reconstructed SIC values closer to the modern conditions, with an average value of 8.8 months yr−1

A decrease in SIC characterises the period AD 1975–1995, with an average value of 7.6 months yr−1, which is 1.8 months yr−1 below the modern value. Sea ice cover duration then gradually increases toward the modern value. All above reconstructed values are within or very close to the confidence limits of the method.
Quantitative reconstruction of sea-surface conditions over the last 150 yr in the Beaufort Sea based on dinoflagellate cyst assemblages: the role of large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns

By L. Durantou et al.


Dinoflagellate cyst (dinocyst) assemblages have been widely used over the Arctic Ocean to reconstruct sea-surface parameters on a quantitative basis. Such reconstructions provide insights into the role of anthropogenic vs natural forcings in the actual climatic trend. Here, we present the palynological analysis of a dated 36 cm-long core collected from the Mackenzie Trough in the Canadian Beaufort Sea. Dinocyst assemblages were used to quantitatively reconstruct the evolution of sea-surface conditions (temperature, salinity, sea ice) and freshwater palynomorphs fluxes were used as local paleo-river discharge indicators over the last ~ 150 yr. Dinocyst assemblages are dominated by autotrophic taxa (68 to 96%). Cyst of Pentapharsodinium dalei is the dominant species throughout most of the core, except at the top where the assemblages are dominated by Operculodinium centrocarpum.

Quantitative reconstructions of sea-surface parameters display a series of relatively warm, lower sea ice and saline episodes in surface waters, alternately with relatively cool and low salinity episodes. Variations of dinocyst fluxes and reconstructed sea-surface conditions may be closely linked to large scale atmospheric circulation patterns such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and to a lesser degree, the Arctic Oscillation (AO).

Positive phases of the PDO correspond to increases of dinocyst fluxes, warmer and saltier surface waters, which we associate with upwelling events of warm and relatively saline water from Pacific origin. Freshwater palynomorph fluxes increased in three phases from AD 1857 until reaching maximum values in AD 1991, suggesting that the Mackenzie River discharge followed the same trend when its discharge peaked between AD 1989 and AD 1992. The PDO mode seems to dominate the climatic variations at multi-annual to decadal timescales in the western Canadian Arctic and Beaufort Sea areas.
SOURCE  (See the original for links and graphics)

Sea-level rise data based on shoddy science

Stemming the tide of political fear-mongering

There is much concern over rising sea levels and disappearing coastline. Yet how are such changes really measured?

Satellites can measure tiny changes in sea levels referenced to a known baseline, but those measurements have only been available since 1993. Two other methods used for changes occurring over more than 100 years are tide gauges and efforts by the United Nations‘ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in computer modeling.

A tide gauge monitors water level changes in relation to a local reference height. They are simple devices, not too different from a pingpong ball floating in a tube. Tide gauge data are available for more than 1,750 stations around the world and are the longest time series available. In the case of Delaware, records go back to the early 20th century, while in places such as Amsterdam they go back to the late 17th century.

How reliable are such data?

In Atlantic City, for example, coastal engineer Cyril Galvin says the tide gauge data may be too sensitive to local and regional activities that aren’t ultimately related to “natural” changes in sea level — including any that might be related to greenhouse gas-induced global warming.

In examining sea-level changes for 100 years or more from stations on the Eastern Seaboard, Mr. Galvin could not find any acceleration in sea-level rise. University of Florida professor Robert Dean and Army Corps of Engineers analyst James Houston have independently reached this same conclusion.

While examining tide gauge records from Atlantic City's Steel Pier, Mr. Galvin discovered a remarkable effect apparently caused by spectators who came to watch horse-diving between 1929 and 1978. From old photographs, it was estimated that there must have been about 4,000 spectators who would come to watch. Given that this crowd probably weighed about 150 tons, the pier was subject to significant loading and unloading cycles. The initial 1912-1928 data showed the sea level rising at a rate of 0.12 inches per year. The rate tripled around 1929 when the horses began diving. When the shows were suspended from 1945 to 1953, sea level fell at a rate of 0.06 inches per year. When the diving resumed, the sea level rose again at a rate of 0.16 inches per year.

Such clear documentation of the direct influence of local weight loading and unloading activities on tide gauge reading should add a cautionary note to connecting tide gauge data series to man-made greenhouse gas global warming phenomena.

Model projections of rapid sea-level rise and acceleration caused by global warming as proposed by the IPCC’s coming Fifth Assessment Report should also be subject to scrutiny.

The first bit of bad news for the IPCC is that scientists have always been uncomfortable in predicting climate 20, 50 or 100 years in the future because they know that climate models are simply not up to the task. Such long-term climate forecasting is more the result of political pressure.

The major problems with simulating variations and changes in ice sheets have been known for a long time now. The key issue is the accurate representation of topography. In the Fifth Assessment Report’s climate models, the representation of the Greenland Ice Sheet, for example, is clearly deficient. Without the correct accounting for the valleys and hills beneath the ice sheet, melted ice quickly drains off the ice sheet and is counted as a net loss of ice mass.

In the real world of bumps and valleys in ice surfaces, refreezing can quickly occur when cold temperatures return. This is why Swiss Federal Institute of Technology scientists long ago concluded that it may even be possible for both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to gain ice mass under the doubled atmospheric carbon-dioxide scenario if improved climate models are used.

In an eagerly anticipated paper in the Journal of Climate, a group of scientists from the British Antarctic Survey documented how all of the 18 climate computer models that are used in the Fifth Assessment Report failed in the simple task of simulating the annual cycle and trends in the Antarctic sea ice extent. The authors found the majority of the climate models have too small a sea ice extent at minimum in February, while several of the models have less than two-thirds of the observed values at September maximum.

Even more devastating news is that the observed Antarctic sea ice extent over the past 30 years is showing an increasing trend, while most climate models produce decreasing sea ice extent. Such an obvious discrepancy from observed phenomena should once again cast strong suspicion upon rapid sea level change scenarios in the Fifth Assessment Report and render them void for use in public policy.

Not surprisingly, objective sea level research should be based on observational facts in nature itself and not on computer models.

The message is clear. When it comes to sea level, any reliance on the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report is misplaced. Study of current and ancient climate tells us that climate model predictions of rapid acceleration in global and regional sea levels are simple scaremongering. Prudent policymaking should be based on objective science rather than fear.


More abuse of young minds

Fortunately, few people were interested

Local resident Thea Holm has just returned from a six month international leadership training course in education for sustainable development and her first project saw Hartbeespoort pupils play ‘energy detectives’ at a four star hotel in Pretoria.

Thea and her group convinced the Centurion Lake Hotel to take part in their experiment and convinced the hotel chef to use a solar cooker to prepare lunch while the ‘energy detectives’ take measurements of water, electricity, waste and assessing means of travel.

“The United Nations declared the decade from 2005 to 2014 the ‘UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development’. I have just returned from six month ESD leadership training of which the objective was for all of the 19 international participants to implement individual projects in their home countries, covering the topic of sustainable development. I decided on combining the tourism industry and schools to improve their strategy towards sustainability,” Thea said.

Although Thea had difficulty for almost 5 months to get a hotel interested in her project the Centurion Lake Hotel agreed to participate.

“The aim was to then get a participating school in the vicinity of the hotel, but then not one of the schools approached was interested to take part! Isn’t it sad that even when we offer so much to people in helping them to initiate change for a better world, that no interest whatsoever is shown? Not only sad, but also shocking”, Thea says.

Luckily, after some serious talks with Hartbeespoort High School the project could continue. Twenty two grade eight pupils were selected to be energy detectives who had to inspect the use of water, electrical appliances and lights, waste and travel.

Others had to do practical measurements of water flow and some had to have a closer look at appliances in use and their electricity consumption.

Thea has big sustainable development plans for the high school and early in 2013 she plans to help the school to join WESSA’s Eco school programme. Sixteen schools in our region already joined this programme the past year.”

Watch out, Thea is going to turn Hartbees-poort High School green.


The author is obviously a native Afrikaans speaker so forgive some curious grammar

Another mechanism for solar influence discovered

Finding:  Small increases in radiation received from the sun clearly increase the transport of heat from equatorial to polar regions
Solar Irradiance Modulation of Equator-to-Pole (Arctic) Temperature Gradients: Empirical Evidence for Climate Variation on Multi-decadal Timescales

By Willie Soon & David R. Legates


Using thermometer air temperature records for the period 1850 to 2010, we present empirical evidence for a direct relationship between total solar irradiance (TSI) and the Equator-to-Pole (Arctic) surface temperature gradient (EPTG). Modulation of the EPTG by TSI is also shown to exist, in variable ways, for each of the four seasons.

Interpretation of the positive relationship between the TSI and EPTG indices suggests that solar-forced changes in the EPTG may represent a hemispheric-scale relaxation response of the system to a reduced Equator-to-Pole temperature gradient, which occurs in response to an increasing gradient of incoming solar insolation.

Physical bases for the TSI-EPTG relationship are discussed with respect to their connections with large-scale climate dynamics, especially a critical relationship with the total meridional poleward energy transport.

Overall, evidence suggests that a net increase in the TSI, or in the projected solar insolation gradient which reflects any net increase in solar radiation, has caused an increase in both oceanic and atmospheric heat transport to the Arctic in the warm period since the 1970s, resulting in a reduced temperature gradient between the Equator and the Arctic.

We suggest that this new interpretative framework, which involves the extrinsic modulation of the total meridional energy flux beyond the implicit assumptions of the Bjerknes Compensation rule, may lead to a better understanding of how global and regional climate has varied through the Holocene and even the Quaternary (the most recent 2.6 million years of Earth's history).

Similarly, a reassessment is now required of the underlying mechanisms that may have governed the equable climate dynamics of the Eocene (35 to 55 million years ago) and late Cretaceous (65 to 100 million years ago), both of which were warm geological epochs. This newly discovered relationship between TSI and the EPTG represents the “missing link” that was implicit in the empirical relationship that Soon (2009) recently demonstrated to exist between multi-decadal TSI and Arctic and North Atlantic climatic change.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


1 comment:

slktac said...

Solar cookers would be out the window in the US as soon as one case of food poisoning occurred or was claimed. Perhaps the US could send one or two of our friendly TV attorneys over to watch for cases that require a personal injury lawyer. That should shut down the whole process rather quickly.