Thursday, January 17, 2008

Greenland thaw biggest in 50 years?

More nonsense below. First off, note they only go back 50 years. Had they gone back to 1930's and 40's it would be a different comparison. See the July 2007 Senate Report on Greenland where we see that a 2006 study found Greenland has cooled since the 1930's and 1940's, with 1941 being the warmest year on record. Another 2006 study concluded Greenland was as warm or warmer in the 1930's and 40's and the rate of warming from 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than the warming from 1995-2005.

The Reuters article below uses the following words: "perhaps;" "continued warming could threaten;" "probably." Plus there is the obligatory "if" and "then you can reach a point of no return." Alister Doyle of Reuters must be following a standard script for these articles, if, then, possibly, maybe, could, might and of course cherry picking the years.

Surprisingly the article does note the warming around 1940. (Note: Before 80% of man-made CO2 was in the atmosphere): "Hanna said that there was also a warm period around 1940 in Greenland -- but that warming was triggered by natural variations in the Arctic climate, perhaps shifts in ocean currents. This time, the Greenland warming fits a far broader trend across the planet." How do they know that the c.1940 warm up was "natural variations" but today's recent warming "fits a far broader trend across the planet." It's just an assertion
Climate change has caused the greatest thaw of Greenland's ice in half a century, perhaps heralding a wider meltdown that would quicken a rise in world sea levels, scientists said on Tuesday. "We attribute significantly increased Greenland summer warmth and ice melt since 1990 to global warming," a group of researchers wrote in the Journal of Climate, adding to recent evidence of faster Antarctic and Arctic thaws. "The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be highly susceptible to ongoing global warming," they said. Greenland contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by 7 metres, a process that would take centuries if it were to start.

Melt water from Greenland -- excluding ice losses from glaciers slipping into the sea -- totalled 453 cubic kms in 1998, the most ahead of 2003, 2006, 1995 and 2002 in detailed records stretching back to the 1950s. Preliminary data showed that 2007 would rank second or third highest and confirm the last decade as the biggest melt, said Edward Hanna of England's University of Sheffield who led the study with colleagues in Belgium, the United States and Denmark. So far, the water runoff has been largely offset by rising snowfalls in Greenland that may also be a side-effect of climate change. Even freezing air can hold more moisture, and so deliver more snow, if it gets slightly less chilly.

But continued warming could threaten an irreversible meltdown. The report noted that typical climate models pointed to a warming for Greenland of 4-5 degrees Celsius (7.2 to 9 Fahrenheit) by 2100. "The ice probably wouldn't grow back under current conditions," Hanna said. "If you have an extra 3-5 degrees Celsius warming ... then you can reach a point of no return ... bringing the eventual demise of the ice sheet. That could take probably 1,000 or 2,000 years," he said.

On Monday, a climate researcher said that Antarctica lost billions of tonnes of ice over the last decade, contributing more to rising sea levels around the world. The U.N. Climate Panel, which blames global warming mainly on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, projects a rise in sea levels of between 18 cms and 59 cms (7 and 23 inches) by 2100. The panel assumes that the little-understood rate of ice flow from Greenland and Antarctica will not change from 1993-2003, when their mass losses accounted for less than half of annual sea level gains of 3.1 millimetres (0.12 inch).

Hanna said that there was also a warm period around 1940 in Greenland -- but that warming was triggered by natural variations in the Arctic climate, perhaps shifts in ocean currents. This time, the Greenland warming fits a far broader trend across the planet.



Showing that, although the Greenland melt has increased during the 1992-2006 period, the melt was even higher in 1900s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. So there is no indication that the current melt is above natural climate variability. Of course people who look just on the 1990 to 2007 period "see" great melting acceleration and influence of carbon dioxide and anthropogenic climate change.
Remote sensing of Greenland ice sheet using multispectral near-infrared and visible radiances

By Petr Chylek et al.


We present the physical basis of and validate a new remote-sensing algorithm that utilizes reflected visible and near-infrared radiation to discriminate between dry and wet snow. When applied to the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data, our discrimination algorithm has the potential to retrieve melting regions of the ice sheet at a spatial resolution of 0.25 km2, over three orders of magnitude higher than the resolution of current microwave methods. The method should be useful for long-term monitoring of the melt area of the Greenland ice sheet, especially regions close to ice sheet margins and of the outflow glaciers. Our analysis of MODIS retrievals of the western portion of the Greenland ice sheet over the period 2000 to 2006 indicates significant interannual variability with a maximum melt extent in 2005. Collocated in situ meteorological data reveal a high correlation (0.80) between the MODIS melt-day area and the average summer temperature. Our analysis suggests that it is the magnitude of the summer temperature that dominates the melting (not the variability of the length of the melting season). Furthermore, we find that the melt-day area increases by about 3.8% for each 0.1 K increase in the average surface air summer temperature. We combine this empirical relationship with historic temperature data to infer that the melt-day area of the western part of the ice sheet doubled between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s and that the largest ice sheet surface melting probably occurred between 1920s and 1930s, concurrent with the warming in that period.

Citation: Chylek, P., M. McCabe, M. K. Dubey, and J. Dozier (2007), Remote sensing of Greenland ice sheet using multispectral near-infrared and visible radiances, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S20, December 2007

Huge logical and other holes in global warming reporting

From today's Sydney Morning Herald comes the headline: "Global warming to impact health". First, by impact the reporter almost certainly means influence, a more accurate, but far less energetic and "actionable", word. But never mind that. Our lesson instead comes from the story, one of a breed which appears almost daily in some major newspaper somewhere in the world.

But before we can get to it, you first have to learn, if you do not already know it, the definition of tautology. A tautology is a statement which is always true; that is, no matter what happens in the word, no matter what conditions eventually hold, a tautology will be true. Some examples: "Either it will rain tomorrow or it won't" and "Marxism is a stupid theory or it is not."

Here, from the article we are studying, is the lead sentence; it is a tautological fragment, "Rises in temperature produced by global warming could result in an increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital with kidney disease, heart disease and mental illness in Australian cities." To make this into a grammatically correct tautology we need only add the implied clause "or the rise in temperature will not result in an increase, etc., etc."

So the reporter has written something which is true, which will always be true, and will be true regardless whether mankind influences the climate or not. But he has written his tautology in such a way to show where his sympathies lie, much as I did in my second example. In any case, we have no grounds for criticizing the reporter on the grounds of accuracy. All such attempts, which I have seen from the skeptical community, are doomed to failure.

We now have to look at the "study" on which the reporter did his article. This will require some work from us, but it is exceedingly important that you understand this study, because it is entirely typical of academic work in this area. You will see more of its kind, and with increasing frequency, so it is imperative that you learn to recognize it and ascertain how to properly criticize it. Here are the second and third sentences:

The study, by a team of academics and senior health professionals from across the country, compared the number of hospital admissions, ambulance trips and the deaths in Adelaide during heat waves, with those in normal weather conditions. The heat waves - defined as a periods of three days or more in which the average temperature exceeded 35 degrees - produced a seven per cent increase in admissions to hospital and a four per cent increase in ambulance trips.

They also tabulate rates of kidney disease and mental illness under non-heat wave and heat wave conditions, finding these maladies increase during heat waves. Here is their argument: since, they conclude, more cases of some diseases are present during heat waves, and heat waves will increase with global warming, and that global warming is true, we will see more cases of these diseases.

The structure of their pleading is in perfect logical form, and is correct; that is, their conclusion is true given their premisses. I emphasize: you cannot criticize the form of their argument, since that form concludes something which is true. Or I should say, conditionally true. We will see more disease if it is also true that more cases of some diseases are present during heat waves, etc. Are their premisses true? I will offer a series of alternate possibilities and likely faults, but I am sure to miss some, which I hope my readers will help supply.

Statistical sample criticisms:

* Did the authors look through the data to find diseases that increased in frequency during heat waves? If so, it is highly improbable that if we look at future heat wave data, we would see the same high levels of the diseases, most would have "regressed" to their mean level. And other diseases that they did not study will be found to have increased in frequency.

* What period of data was used? Presumably, the epidemiology of these diseases have changed through time, certainly "ambulance driving" has. The time series component to these data should have been accounted for.

* How many diseases did they find that did not increase in frequency during heat waves? These should have been noted.

* How many diseases did they find that decreased in frequency during heat waves? These should have been touted as benefits of warming.

* What were "non heat wave conditions"? Cold waves? All other periods of time? If cold waves, then how many diseases increased in frequency during cold waves? These should have been touted as benefits of warming. If all other periods of time, then they have chosen a poor sample: cold waves should have been separated out.

Medical criticisms:

* Are there rigorously clear and certain connections between humans living in heat waves and the diseases noted? If not, then the uncertainty associated with each should have been detailed.

* Again, the diseases increasing in frequency under cold waves were ignored.

* What benefits for other maladies are there for increased warming? It is foolish to say there are none, for, at the least, fewer people would die from extreme cold.

Technological criticisms:

* It is not at all certain that, given that heat waves will increase in frequency, people will suffer in them as they suffer now. It is highly probably that technological advances will, for example, increase the availability and efficiency of air conditioning.

* Medical science, too, will almost certainly increase in efficacy and, with high probability, lessen the number of people susceptible to the diseases under question, therefore, even if heat waves increase, the rate at which people suffer will decrease.

Global warming criticisms:

* Even if global warming is true, it is not certain, and even unlikely, that heat waves will increase in frequency. Assuming the models which predict warming are accurate, they predict more warming at nighttime and a more evening out of temperatures (reducing the diurnal swing of temperatures) than an increase in severe weather. In any case, the uncertainty inherent in these forecasts of increasing heat waves must be taken into account, and it was not.

* All other possible benefits of warming were ignored.

* And, finally, the uncertainty that global warming will continue was not accounted for.

Every criticism I offered did the same thing: increase the uncertainty, or decrease the certainty if you like, that we should have in the conclusions, in my view, to such an extent that the study is nearly worthless, and should not have seen publication.

But the authors were not content with their "findings", they progressed to naked speculation: said one of them, warming "might also bring a significant increase in previously uncommon diseases such as Dengue and Ross River fever to Australia's rural communities" and that we "could see both a worsening of existing diseases as well as the spread of diseases usually associated with warmer region." Of course, we could; it is mere tautology to say we could, but to offer such a prediction without evidence and without an expression of uncertainty can rightly be called fear mongering.

I hope you have learned a little about how to properly criticize studies of this type. But whatever other criticism you offer, you cannot say this study, and others like it, are "not science." It is science, but it is bad science, poorly executed science, and irresponsible science.



Despite warnings that global warming is already impacting precipitation quantities, local rainfall statistics have remained essentially unchanged in the 60 years they have been tracked. "While models project gloom and doom for climate change, field observation of rainfall indicates a grayer stability," according to Haifa University's Noam Halfon. The institute's geography department recently completed research that found no substantial change in rainfall quantities.

Over the past two years, Halfon examined all the monthly rainfall data amassed by the Meteorological Service since the establishment of the state. In addition, researchers looked at daily rainfall statistics from 30 meteorology stations and reports of unusual climatic events. The research covered the area of the country north of the desert line (north of the Negev) to preserve the reliability of data over years.

According to the research, rainfall in the examined area has remained stable. Average monthly rainfall data showed no clear trend change for any particular month, nor was the rainfall distribution between seasons different over time. Average annual rainfall has not changed in the period Halfon examined. "Data from certain stations showed increased localized precipitation - mostly in the eastern and southern coastal plain," he said. "In other areas, figures showed a slight drop in rainfall quantities, mostly in the North and East. No area showed a clear change."

Frequent warnings of future extreme climatic phenomena like drought years and diminishing rainfall, have not been fulfilled in Israel. The deviation from multi-year rainfall averages has not increased in either direction in recent decades.

The longest drought in the past 60 years was a six-year period in the late '50s and early '60s and not in the last decade. The longest sequence of rainy seasons that approached the multi-year average were the past four winters (2003-2007) although all four deviated slightly underneath the average.

Additional concerns regarding fewer rainy days and a parallel increase in rainfall on individual days also were not found accurate, with no change in light rain versus heavy rain days. Halfon noted it is therefore not surprising that the single-day rainfall record in Israel is from 1921. "The common belief that weather events are becoming more extreme can therefore be attributed to greater press coverage of weather events, in particular extreme events, and not to an increase in these events," Halfon said.

According to Dr. Daniel Rosenfeld of Hebrew University's Earth Sciences Institute, Halfon's findings demonstrate the fact Israel is impacted by different mechanisms than those influential in the northern Mediterranean region - from Turkey to Italy - where diminishing rainfall is already clearly evident. However, Rosenfeld emphasized that in northeastern Israel in the Lake Kinneret basin area there is a multi-year downward trend in rainfall. "The annual amount of water reaching Lake Kinneret today has dropped by 100 million cubic meters compared to quantities recorded 40 years ago," Rosenfeld said. "There are a number of explanations for this, and one of them is climate change."


Survey shows eco-warriors are worst polluters

A survey of travel habits has revealed that the most environmentally conscious people are also the biggest polluters. "Green" consumers have some of the biggest carbon footprints because they are still hooked on flying abroad or driving their cars while their adherence to the green cause is mostly limited to small gestures.

Identified as "eco-adopters", they are most likely to be members of an environmental organisation, buy green products such as detergents, recycle and have a keen interest in green issues

But the survey of 25,000 people, by the market research company Target Group Index, found that eco-adopters are seven per cent more likely than the general population to take flights, and four per cent more likely to own a car. The survey found similar trends in France and the United States.

Geoff Wicken, the author of the report, pointed to David Cameron, the Conservative leader, as a classic eco-adopter because despite styling himself as a green warrior he also takes flights in private helicopters and planes.


Green "Disparate Impact": Ugly and selfish realities

By Thomas Sowell

It was front-page news on the January 14 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle that blacks by the tens of thousands have left the San Francisco Bay area since the 1990 census. Since my book Applied Economics analyzed this situation a few years ago, it was nice to see that the information has finally reached the Chronicle, though they have yet to explain the politics and the economics behind the exodus.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not peculiar to the San Francisco Bay area, and blacks are not the only group being forced out of upscale liberal communities in California. It is much the same story in Monterey and Los Angeles, for example. Skyrocketing housing prices are forcing out families with children, as well as blacks and other people with low or even moderate incomes.

But these runaway housing prices in California did not just happen, for no reason. Prior to 1970, California housing prices were very similar to housing prices in the rest of the country. In more recent times, it has not been uncommon for California homes to cost three times what homes cost nationwide. What happened in the 1970s was that severe government restrictions on building became common in coastal California. With supply restricted and demand not restricted, it was inevitable that prices would soar beyond many people's ability to pay.

The main impetus behind severe restrictions on building is environmentalist zealots who demand that vast amounts of land be set aside as "open space" on which nothing can be built. It is not uncommon for substantial proportions of all the land in an entire county - sometimes more than half - to be set aside as "open space."

Environmentalists often talk as if they are trying to save the last few patches of greenery from being paved over, when in fact 90 percent of the land in the United States is undeveloped and forests alone cover more area than all the cities and towns in the country combined.

Behind much of the lofty and pretty talk are some ugly and selfish realities. People who already own their homes in an upscale community pay no price for making it hard for others to move into their community. On the contrary, the value of the homes they already own shoots up when they restrict the supply of new homes. In other words, they can keep out the less affluent people - or, as they put it, "preserve the character of the community" - while benefiting themselves economically in the name of green idealism.

"Open space" laws are just one of the weapons in their arsenal. Other legal impediments to building include so-called "smart growth" policies, historical preservation laws, and zoning boards and coastal commissions with arbitrary powers to limit or forbid building.

The financially ruinous powers of delay that these and other laws and institutions can impose on anyone wanting to build anything can be illustrated by a current legal case involving a developer who has for 15 years been prevented from building in the coastal California town of Half Moon Bay. A judge recently awarded him $36 million in damages, but that decision has been appealed. Anyone familiar with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals knows that anything can happen there - including more years of delay. Someone once said that the ability to tax is the ability to destroy. So is the ability to delay.

When a business sets standards or policies with adverse effects that fall disproportionately on minorities, courts call that a "disparate impact" and equate it with discrimination. But the same liberals who applaud that approach when it comes to businesses would be appalled if the same standard were applied to their own environmentalist restrictions that force vast numbers of blacks out of their own upscale liberal communities. Nor do black "leaders" who are quick to cry "discrimination" and "racism" in other contexts. Apparently it all depends on whose ox is gored.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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