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  1. Journalism fails dramatically once again.

    I’m starting to wonder when people will wake up and check things out further themselves, since journalists (see Fox News the $200 million a day Obama trip) refuse to do so. How long can this go on in an educated, advanced civilization? I’m also wondering when people are going to start punishing media outlets for propagating lies, by taking their information-consumption business elsewhere, to more trustworthy sources.

    It’s really reached utterly silly, embarrassing proportions in recent months.

    I also wonder why a media war hasn’t started. Why don’t some media outlets embarrass their competition by highlighting their biggest missteps? The only one I see doing this is Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

    At the same time, why am I not surprised that once again Watts is at the forefront of misinformation. I wonder when the cheerleaders over there are going to get a clue? Except that they’re the ones that will still be repeating and recycling this tidbit five years from now.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 4 Dec 2010 @ 1:43 PM

  2. If you watch the news on PBS TV you see news programs from Russia, the BBC, Al Jazera, France, Germany, Europe [Belgium], Japan, India, the US and “the world.” At least one of them branches out to someplace else. You can supplement that with news from 4 different American commercial networks. If they each tell their own lie, the lies should wash out.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 4 Dec 2010 @ 1:49 PM

  3. Is it any surprise at all that WUWT is the promulgator of this nonsense? If that is news to anyone, you don’t know Watts and his agenda very well.

    Comment by Derecho64 — 4 Dec 2010 @ 2:13 PM

  4. The truly desperate will grasp at any straw. Countless examples. Here is another.

    Comment by Mark Stephens — 4 Dec 2010 @ 2:23 PM

  5. The Zangari story can be found here. A friend sent it along for a laugh a while ago. Some of what shows up on the internet can be amusing, except when it gets taken seriously.

    Comment by The Elf — 4 Dec 2010 @ 2:37 PM

  6. Last year when my toes were unexpectedly frozen, here in Devon, England, a kind person pointed me to a link to a graphic showing, among other things, the temp in the middle of Greenland was 8C above the average (or whatever you call it). Could some kind person point to the link again.

    BTW. I recall last year the Greenland polar bears were sitting by the pool side wearing shades and sipping pina coladas.

    Comment by urban leprechaun — 4 Dec 2010 @ 2:46 PM

  7. In the first PS, why the need for Google Scholar when Petoukhov and Serdeczny work for the same institute?

    [Response: Vladimir Petoukhov works in my department so obviously I know this is serious. It was meant to be a gentle hint how any journalist could quickly find out whether some science news should be taken seriously. -stefan

    Comment by Ed Davies — 4 Dec 2010 @ 3:09 PM

  8. Why don’t some media outlets embarrass their competition by highlighting their biggest missteps?

    Because it wouldn’t make any difference, that’s why. The birdbrains who want to swallow this sort of (dis)misinformation will go right on swallowing it.
    Can you force them to watch your hypothetical Truth Squad cable channel or go to your theoretical Truth In Action website?
    Admittedly I do fantasize about strapping some of these dopes in dentist’s chairs, peeling back their eyelids and forcing them to watch the truth–think Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. But somehow I don’t think that would work and even at this late date there might be Magna Carta-type issues involved.

    Comment by Sufferin' Succotash — 4 Dec 2010 @ 3:27 PM

  9. So I’ll add Petoukhov and Semenov (2010), mentioned in the linked article, to my reading list on top of Cattiaux et al. (2010), and hoping for some enlightening discussion of these here. Better to light a candle, etc.

    Comment by CM — 4 Dec 2010 @ 3:31 PM

  10. Isn’t this process of rumors, opinions, and mistakes amplifying themselves in a positive feedback loop, akin to the IPPC report of Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035?

    [Response: Somewhat I guess, but this one involves the screw up of just one issue by a handful of people, whereas the glacier melt mistake initialized an attempt to discredit as many IPCC AR4 statements, on a range of topics, as could be fabricated.–Jim]

    [Response: The only connection I see is that the Himalayan glacier snafu also to some extent involved some woefully bad numbers originating in media reports (rather than scientific publications), which, through a number of unfortunate mis-steps, found their way into the IPCC Working Group II report. I don’t see that happening with the bogus millennial winter claim that is the subject of this post. –raypierre]

    Comment by stephen — 4 Dec 2010 @ 3:45 PM

  11. Yeah, ten minutes is what it took me too to establish that this was a ‘canard’. The usual giveaways. I didn’t dig further; life’s too short. Great detective job Stefan and Olivia!

    I’ve given up on newspapers. My wife still believes in them… well, in the crossword puzzles to be precise.

    [Response: And the comics of course, especially the unintentional ones like this.–Jim]

    And they are good for lighting the fireplace. Except Iltalehti, which carried this canard in Finland: too much colour dye in the pics of sportsmen and scantily clad ladies :-(

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 4 Dec 2010 @ 3:53 PM

  12. Lack of sea ice over much of the Eastern North American Arctic is very dramatic, all while the opposite weather is happening on each side of Greenland. The High pressure unusually hanging between Greenland and Iceland
    exacerbates North Atlantic advection making Baffin Bay a very warm area, which has more often than not a Low pressure system much strengthened by all this open water, It is correct to attribute this European early winter to a lack of sea ice, not only North of Russia, but over much of the Arctic, but since the Arctic populations are so small, you would never know that a huge area opposite to NW Europe is facing a great warming. I also suggest that the traditional oscillation effects are somewhat different since the seascape is not the same. This favors a steadier positioning of Cyclones and Anti-cyclones alike. I made a sketch on my website. I find the news about this “cold spell” interesting but nothing new. Its up to sites such as this one to dispel the usual exaggerations, but Hudson Bay nearly devoid of ice at this time of the year, is truly freakish, and proves the main theories on Climate science astonishingly correct. A glimpse of the near future unfolds.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 4 Dec 2010 @ 4:29 PM

  13. You mentioned Russia Today. RT is the Kremlin-financed international English-language satellite TV. They put English speakers on–Monckton and that guy from the Cato named Something-or-other Michaels.

    RT is a propaganda mouthpiece of the Kremlin for English-speaking audiences. The other day they had Putin on Larry King. Putin is the head of the ruling Russia United Party, and he seems to be running the show.

    I think Putin is nervous about Wikileaks because a bit is revealed about how the gas companies corrupt politicians. It wasn’t anything that surprised me, but it is “secret” so people read it.

    Here is how the BBC describes RT:

    “An English-language satellite channel, Russia Today, was launched in late 2005. The news-based station is funded by the Kremlin and aims to present ‘global news from a Russian perspective.'”—BBC, Russia Country Profile–Media

    You scientists might want to keep that link so you can refer to it again. A lot of media are characterized. See how many are owned by Gazprom?

    See RIA Novosti? State owned. Cuccinelli cited an article in that newspaper in his brief to the EPA as “proof” that the British scientists were fudging Russia’s temperatures.

    That was an English version of a Russian article in Kommersant (Gazprom/steel mogul Alisher Usmanov owns that).

    Cuccinelli had to “fix” the very obvious errors before he “cited” the Russian article in his brief.

    Nothing secret about that, so nobody writes about it.

    Nobody asks Cuccinelli why he thinks the EPA should give any credence to Alisher Usmanov’s “respected” Kommersant.

    Comment by Snapple — 4 Dec 2010 @ 5:25 PM

  14. Jim writes that this story is the result of a “screw up of just one issue by a handful of people.”

    I doubt very much that this is a “screw up.” The Russians have a lot of people who specialize in placing stories and manipulating media.

    Stories don’t make it into RT by accident.

    The AIDS campaign–“Operation Infektion”—is a really good example of how it works.

    Comment by Snapple — 4 Dec 2010 @ 5:45 PM

  15. @1 Sphaerica (Bob)At the same time, why am I not surprised that once again Watts is at the forefront of misinformation. I wonder when the cheerleaders over there are going to get a clue?

    The next glaciation of Hell would be my guess.

    Comment by Adam R. — 4 Dec 2010 @ 6:32 PM

  16. Thank you for shining some light on media group think. Perhaps with enough exposure through examinations like this, a sense of shame can be instilled in mass journalism.

    Well anyway, one can hope… There needs to be some cost forced to accrue on bad reporting and punditry.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 4 Dec 2010 @ 6:57 PM

  17. “Isn’t this process of rumors, opinions, and mistakes amplifying themselves in a positive feedback loop, akin to the IPPC report of Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035?”

    No, the story referenced here is only regards opinion-based journalism whereas the Glaciergate “mistake” was passed off as peer-reviewed science by a powerful political lobby disguised as an unbiased scientific body (IPCC) in an attempt to force the US to accede to ridiculous cap and tax demands.

    I leave it to the reader to judge which is worse.

    [Response: Really? How is it then that the WG1 report–which came out before the WG2 report that contains the error, and has the prime responsibility for summarizing the state of the cryosphere–does not contain the error, and describes the glacial melt situation accurately and in more detail. I mean, it’s a nice effort they’re making to impose taxes on US citizens and all, but they really do need to get their “team” on the same page.—Jim]

    Comment by William Jackson — 4 Dec 2010 @ 6:57 PM

  18. #6 Urban Leprechaun – Last winter was a very strange one indeed. On at least one day in early January, it was actually colder in Florida than in coastal Alaska and southern Greenland.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 4 Dec 2010 @ 6:59 PM

  19. Very interesting indeed. The researchers at the Norwegian Bjerknes Center in Bergen have published articles on the sea ice extent vs. NAO topic as well. See for example Seiersted & Bader (2008).
    There is little doubt that the connection is real. The problem is that this weather pattern is a dream come true not only for skiers, but for our “skeptic” friends as well. The global average temperature doesn’t seem to care though, as the troposphere temperature anomalies are on the way up again, just like they were when smashing records back in January when large parts of the NH were in the deep freeze.

    Comment by Esop — 4 Dec 2010 @ 7:36 PM

  20. Is there a connection with “Accelerated Arctic land warming and permafrost degradation during rapid sea ice loss”?

    We find that simulated western Arctic land warming trends during rapid sea ice loss are 3.5 times greater than secular 21st century climate-change trends. The accelerated warming signal penetrates up to 1500 km inland….
    From August to October last year, air temperatures over land in the western Arctic were also unusually warm, reaching more than 2 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1978–2006 average….

    The decade during which a rapid sea-ice loss event occurs could see autumn temperatures warm by as much as 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) along the Arctic coasts of Russia, Alaska, and Canada.

    Needless to say, such warming would have a huge impact on the permafrost:

    “An important unresolved question is how the delicate balance of life in the Arctic will respond to such a rapid warming,” Lawrence says. “Will we see, for example, accelerated coastal erosion, or increased methane emissions, or faster shrub encroachment into tundra regions if sea ice continues to retreat rapidly?”

    Faster shrub encroachment would, of course, also accelerate warming (see “Tundra 3: Forests and fires foster feedbacks“).

    Comment by Prokaryotes — 4 Dec 2010 @ 8:05 PM

  21. In connection with these findings

    Global warming may be contributing to the current heavy snow and subzero temperatures across Europe

    Cold weather in Europe is often associated with a weather system known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) but there is also a significant impact from current low levels of sea ice in the Barents-Kara Sea, according to a leading climate scientist. Low levels of sea ice in the Barents-Kara Sea are currently close to the record lows seen in the harsh winter of 2005 and 2006.

    Comment by Prokaryotes — 4 Dec 2010 @ 8:12 PM

  22. Global heating causes cooling. It is cold in NY and it was cold in the summer in CA and the last winter in South America was seeing record cold as well…the burden of proof seems to lie on the climate scientists still making the claim for global warming.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 4 Dec 2010 @ 8:37 PM

  23. I just would like to make a comment about your link to the article “sharing the blame for Europe’s cold weather”. This article attributes the current cold weather in Europe to very low levels of sea ice in the Barents and Kara Sea. In actual fact, as repoted on the Cryosphere Today website, the level of sea ice in the Barents Sea is much higher than at this time last year. The Arctic Sea ice extent overall is lower than in 2009, particularly near the Bering Strait, but it is higher North of Scandinavia and European Russia.

    Comment by phil263 — 4 Dec 2010 @ 9:25 PM

  24. #22 “Heating causes cooling.” Ah, very profound, grasshopper. Yet — consider the link provided in comment 18, and ponder the meaning of the word “global.”

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 4 Dec 2010 @ 9:35 PM

  25. #22 Jacob, I rely (amongst other ways) on Global Temperature averages confirmed by shrinking Arctic sea ice volumes. One confirms the other. GT’s are robust measurements, but it doesn’t mean that the warming will be uniform, consistent nor overwhelming at most locations. I am from the Arctic, I need no proof other than to go outside. Most of we in the Arctic
    are convinced, but the rest of the world languishes in silly arguments. All while we witness real events once thought improbable, unthinkable and the stuff of fiction or fantasies.




    Very warm 1998

    and 2010

    The ice vanishes as the world sleeps…

    Comment by wayne davidson — 4 Dec 2010 @ 9:40 PM

  26. Jacob at 22: We’re talking about global mean temperatures. Large parts of the world were exceptionally warm, so it’s easy to show that 2010 is one of the warmest, if not the warmest year since records have been kept (something like 1850). Yes even with climate warming, some regions experience periods of cold weather.

    Comment by Bill DeMott — 4 Dec 2010 @ 10:00 PM

  27. Jacob Mack,

    The burden of proof, since there is no science to back up your snide drive-by comment, is on you. All evidence to date supports what we all know to be fact, even if not strictly scientifically “provable.” do keep in mind that, if memory serves, E=MC2 was proven only a few years ago. Ah, yes:

    Only a fool need stand in the rain to prove it is raining when he can see the rain, hear the rain falling, hear others commenting on the rain and see others using their umbrellas outside.

    Comment by Killian — 4 Dec 2010 @ 10:03 PM

  28. #6–urban leprechaun, the polar bears are again “around the pool”–at least around Hudson Bay–because there is no ice yet to speak of for them to venture out upon. (As Wayne pointed out.)

    Sure, they’re great swimmers, but the point would be to find a seal for dinner, and good though swimmers though the bears may be, they’re not going to swim down a seal! They need the ice to stage their ambush predation.

    Local biologists say they don’t look too bad so far–luckily. But survival and reproduction rates further into 2011 will tell the tale.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Dec 2010 @ 10:55 PM

  29. #17–

    “ridiculous cap and tax demands. . .”

    Who’s supposed to be ‘demanding?’

    And if the demands are ‘ridiculous,’ how about some actual ridicule–or would that involve learning how cap and trade is supposed to work? (Mockery being funnier in proportion to the accuracy of the observations made.)

    I don’t suppose we could have that!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Dec 2010 @ 11:01 PM

  30. JacobMack – Welcome back from the denialosphere. You don’t seem to have picked up anything new out there in your cold corner. Regardless of the fact it’s also quite cold in parts of Canada at the moment and we have a LaNina in progress, we are on track for 2010 to be the warmest year on record for Canada. Cure the myopia and pay attention, climate science has offered the proof.

    Comment by flxible — 4 Dec 2010 @ 11:20 PM

  31. He might not have said it, but that doesn’t mean it is untrue!

    Comment by Spiff — 5 Dec 2010 @ 2:03 AM

  32. I stopped being ‘staggered’ by the laziness of many journalists a long time ago. Now that newspapers are going broke and can’t afford decent journalism, they rely on press releases from whoever has a yarn to spin, articles from two or three syndicated media firms and copying articles from other newspapers. There are very few real journalists left any more – ie those who sense a story, do the research, and then publish.

    Television and radio mostly only have time for soundbites, opinions or occasional investigative ‘journalism’ into feuds between neighbours.

    There are some good current affairs programs around, but mostly it’s just talking heads. There are a few good newspapers around the world. A couple in the USA, UK and Australia that I know of (although the standards here in Australia have dropped a lot). Very little simple fact-checking, let alone old style research and investigation these days.

    Comment by Sou — 5 Dec 2010 @ 2:18 AM

  33. Predicting an imminent ice age is a denial meme that won’t go away. For example, The Australian ran a completely bogus article making that claim in 2008, as I outline here. It’s all part of the denial industry: make it looks as if there’s a plethora of competing claims, and hence the science is a mess, a tactic invented by the tobacco industry.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 5 Dec 2010 @ 2:32 AM

  34. William Jackson #17, from the unintentionally humoristic department, when trying to manipulate a US audience, why bother with the Himalayan glaciers? “A faraway country of which we know little“. Why not use the closer to home Glacier National Park?

    Ah, I see…

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 5 Dec 2010 @ 2:58 AM

  35. Urban leprechaun #6:
    I’m guessing you mean the figures from the GISTEMP people. The monthly ones from last year are gone – don’t know if they are archived – but you can still see the seasonal maps. Bottom left panel on this figure:

    To find this image, I google gistemp and select the first hit, click ‘Graphs’ on the right, scroll to the bottom and hit the second ‘More graphs’ link. It’s the third figure on this page at Columbia:

    Comment by Kevin C — 5 Dec 2010 @ 5:06 AM

  36. CM #9,

    Timewasting deniaist tripe aside.

    I too will be following this thread for more enlightened discussion of the reasons for the cold weather.

    I’m prepared to wait some years for the answer, but what’s been interesting me is the cause of last winter, bearing in mind that this winter seems again to be shaping up to be unusually cold (here in the UK).

    I’m interested in 2 (non mutually exclusive) explanations implied by:

    1) Lockwood et al 2010, “Are Cold Winters in Europe associated with low solar activity.” And othe rstudies such as Shindell et al’s 2001 paper on solar forcing during the Maunder Minimum. Could low solar activity be connected with this cooling? On the face of it given the SST related mechanism described in the Shindell paper I suspect not (due to ocean warming). However I lack the skills & data to answer that.

    2) Zhang et al’s 2008 paper, “Recent radical shifts of atmospheric circulations and rapid changes in Arctic climate system.” And the related subsequent resaerch into the Arctic Dipole Anomaly, including the recent NOAA Arctic Report Card section on Atmosphere:

    Is the cold weather being caused by (1)low solar activity or (2)lower than normal Arctic sea-ice cover?

    On the BBC recently on of their Weather staff stated that the early onset of a hard winter in the UK was due to the La Nina, so we may have 2 effects currently – early onset due to La Nina, with a low AO due to cause 1 and/or 2.

    Last February the AO index was -4.2, the lowest monthy index since 1950, the start of the series. I’ll be watching the coming years’ AO index to see if we have any more unusually low AO index figures.

    If the Arctic Dipole Anomaly (reduced sea ice) is playing a significant role in last winter (and possibly this one), then it’ll be amazing to follow. We may actually be seeing an ongoing shift in climate – I stress the “may”.

    Comment by Chris — 5 Dec 2010 @ 6:03 AM

  37. #22(Jakob): 2010 looks like it will be the warmest globally in at least one of the datasets. This despite the record solar low, strong La Nina in the second half of the year, and of course the old “skeptic” favorite, a negative PDO. I seem to remember Dr. Hansen predicting this back in 2008 while all the alarmist “skeptics” were screaming about their predicted Maunder Minimum.
    One single country set an all time low temperature record in 2010, while in comparison, 19 countries set all time high records. Some old records were completely smashed, like Finland. The rapid Arctic warming has changed the circulation patterns, resulting in typical London weather in Greenland and vice versa, all while the average temperature is steadily climbing, skewing the energy balance even more and causing more and more anomalies and strange weather patterns all over the globe.

    Comment by Esop — 5 Dec 2010 @ 6:04 AM

  38. Erm, Chinese whispers anyone?

    Comment by The Ville — 5 Dec 2010 @ 6:36 AM

  39. JM 22: Global heating causes cooling. It is cold in NY and it was cold in the summer in CA and the last winter in South America was seeing record cold as well…the burden of proof seems to lie on the climate scientists still making the claim for global warming.

    BPL: They made it a long time ago. AGW doesn’t mean winters won’t still be cold. Duh.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2010 @ 6:45 AM

  40. Urban leprechaun

    Perhaps this is what you seek:

    Click on “surface temperatures” and you get a global picture of raw temps and anomalies over different timespans. Its a reanalysis, but still useful. And yes, Greenland has been looking exceptionally “warm” this past week or so.

    Comment by Mike — 5 Dec 2010 @ 8:32 AM

  41. Pravda is constantly publishing denialist arguments about how we are about to go into an ice age. These articles are even recycled by the “conservative” sites.

    Here is one example from Newsbusters. The conservative author even conceeds that the Pravda scribbler he is citing as an authority is a 9-11 Truther who hates America. (Some Truthers have now become “experts” on climate.)

    Even the fact that Pravda publishes a Truther doesn’t faze the conservative author:

    “How delicious that an America-hating Truther who contributes to Pravda has a firmer grasp of climatology than Nobel Laureate Al Gore, James Hansen, Gavin Schmidt, and most of the folks at the IPCC.”

    Really, this is just like the kind of craziness that used to be published in Stalin’s time.

    Scientists need to understand the arrogance and mendacity of the powerful billionaires who are out to get you. They can hire a lot of hack writers to recycle the Russian media, and amazingly the conservatives aren’t ashamed to quote Pravda and Kommersant as “science.”

    I hope you will keep fighting for us, but don’t underestimate the opposition. They are getting in power.


    Moscow is skillfully advancing its interests in the West, not through intelligence but business, often supported by crafty industrial espionage, influence-buying, and under-the-table deal-making…

    In Western Europe, Moscow has operated by making lucrative arrangements with foreign energy companies that become de facto lobbyists for the Kremlin within their own countries.”—“Why The Russia Spy Story Really Matters” (RFE/RL, 7-9-10)

    This is already happening in America, too.
    Congressman Weldon got in trouble because his daughter got 500,000 from the Russian gas company Itera while Weldon became their lobbyist. Itera is in Florida. It was a spin-off from Gazprom.

    Comment by Snapple — 5 Dec 2010 @ 8:43 AM

  42. Jacob’s post attempted irony. Irony doesn’t travel well on the Intertubes.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2010 @ 10:43 AM

  43. WUWT’s series of colder-and-snowier articles is intended to counteract the reality of increasing global temperatures. There’s a real irony that these extreme winter stories are currently bookends to one of the hottest years.
    This November/December there’s cold and snow in the NE and in England. Last January/February there was cold and record snow in the NE and in England.

    As the snowfall statistics accumulate, it becomes increasingly harder to deny that what goes up (evaporation) must come down (as snow in winter).

    That northern cold can be partly a consequence of a warmer Arctic (Barent’s Sea) will take more explaining. How do weatherman tell it?

    Comment by Same Ordinary Fool — 5 Dec 2010 @ 11:53 AM

  44. Kevin C #35
    “I’m guessing you mean the figures from the GISTEMP people. The monthly ones from last year are gone – don’t know if they are archived”

    All the maps are still available for 2010 and all the way back to 1880. You can change the Time Interval for any year you want. Ex. If you want to see December 1998 choose Begin: 1998 and End: 1998 and choose Mean Period: December and then click “Make Map”. Click on “Projection type” and change to Polar to see a polar view of Earth. You can do this for any year and time period in the record.

    Comment by Michael T. — 5 Dec 2010 @ 11:55 AM

  45. Why 1000 years?

    It is always possible to create anti-matter given sufficient energy from a particle physics machine. In just the same way it is possible to create
    anti-knowledge given sufficient promotion from the energy industry, of the fossil fuel variety. That is the reason for the special choice of 1000.

    (with apologies for mangling Dirac)

    Comment by deconvoluter — 5 Dec 2010 @ 11:59 AM

  46. Judging by your comments about it, you evidently didn’t read the WUWT article you linked to.

    Comment by Peter317 — 5 Dec 2010 @ 12:52 PM

  47. Frustrated with the media? Read up on media theory.

    Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan establishes a framework for how different types of communication technology project a value system into the minds of public. I suggest the science community get wise to how people consume information from the television and print media. Doing so will help you expertly craft arguments that cut through the noise. It will also help you poke the inflatable monsters that the opposition puffs up.

    Both McLuhan and John Culkin are very good resources for understanding how media works.

    Comment by matt — 5 Dec 2010 @ 12:56 PM

  48. Jacob # 22 “Global heating causes cooling.” Well, you might look at it that way. The extra energy in the climate system blows weather around in ways we are not accustomed to. Some areas have temperatures well above average ( the Arctic and probably some areas in the forgotten Southern hemisphere). Ergo other areas have to be below average to compensate. You might call it “the law of averages.” ;)

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 5 Dec 2010 @ 1:04 PM

  49. #17 William Jackson

    The IPCC was set up to issue summaries of the science. How is that a political lobby precisely?

    Unfortunately, the IPCC does not have enough budget to sustain a secret organization of climate lobbyists to infiltrate the United States with cloak and dagger schemes to destroy America and rule the world with European influence, socia-lism, communism and other scary ideas that live in the mind of some.

    Or do you have inside information you wish to leak that proves your opinion?

    Economics: Balancing Economies
    October Leading Edge: The Cuccinelli ‘Witch Hunt”

    Fee & Dividend: Our best chanceLearn the IssueSign the Petition
    A Climate Minute: Natural CycleGreenhouse EffectClimate Science HistoryArctic Ice Melt

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 5 Dec 2010 @ 1:05 PM

  50. William Jackson wrote: “… a powerful political lobby disguised as an unbiased scientific body (IPCC) in an attempt to force the US to accede to ridiculous cap and tax demands.”

    Right. And people who unquestioningly believe every crackpot conspiracy theory that they hear from some blow-hard on the radio are “skeptics”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Dec 2010 @ 1:44 PM

  51. Your help is needed at:

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 Dec 2010 @ 1:58 PM

  52. This is a nice exposition about the relationship between hot and cold in the north: note the horseshoe in the graphics around Greenland and the North Pole, where there used to be a solid. The video is particularly good, starting just before minute 8 and going on for not too long. Although there’s lots else good in it, if your time is limited the explanation is one of the best I’ve seen on this subject, which I find interesting and logical (just from watching MSM weather reports and maps); why shouldn’t cold weather come from the Arctic as it warms?

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 5 Dec 2010 @ 2:37 PM

  53. Not all journalism is bad. There are some interesting things on Russia Today, but one has to keep in mind their overall perspective, rather like one does with the BBC or CNN.

    But corporate, western, media is losing credibility because increasingly the structural bias it conforms to is being recognised. There are notable and noble exceptions to the overall level of conformity, but sometimes one thinks they are only there as a form of ‘window dressing’ to disprove the theory that the media is absolutely under state/corporate control.

    Comment by Michael K — 5 Dec 2010 @ 3:50 PM

  54. Edward Greisch @ 51

    Hmm. Sounds like Revkin is heroically saving the day for uncertainty.

    “Likely.” An exercise in weasel language. Now you could say that if you toss a coin, it is equally ‘likely’ that it will turn up heads as tails.

    No wonder the well recommended deniers are shouting boo-yah. Who really is being equivocal (or unequivocal as the case may be)?

    Comment by Radge Havers — 5 Dec 2010 @ 4:45 PM

  55. Ok, I’ve had a handle on what is going on in the atmosphere for decades but boy are sentences (in the linked to article) like “The simulations demonstrated that lower-troposphere heating over the Barents-Kara Sea in the eastern Arctic caused by the sea ice reduction may result in a strong anticyclonic anomaly over the Polar Ocean and anomalous easterly advection over northern continents and a consequent cooling.” hard to get to grips with because they can be distilled, with only the very slightest mischief, into ‘Hah, so now they say “Warming equals cooling”‘.

    The trouble is this warming isn’t just local it’s near European if not continental – it must have an impact on global figures? Humm, then global warming = slight global cooling? Crikey, I find that hard to buy, and I’m as convinced as they come, what about the tabloid/blog science willingly led people? Does this mean it’s not as simple as trend warming, but it’s perhaps trend warming with a hefty blip of some decades for some of us (Europe/NW Europe?) while the Northern Hemisphere responds to the Arctic Sea ice’s demise? So where else is going to warm faster to keep warming on trend (a trend allowing for the slight solar quieting?)?

    And, why isn’t global warming simply on trend for us in Europe – gradually just gradually (on trend) overwhelming us? The forcings increase, the oceans warm, the pressure on the climate increase but we see a winter (a very early winter – late Autumn as well) so cold it’s (clue perhaps) got an unreal feel to it. But, explaining that, as I say, sheesshh.

    So, what do I say???

    Comment by Peter Hearnden — 5 Dec 2010 @ 4:48 PM

  56. Warming the Arctic by 5 to 10 degrees C still makes it a much colder placer than anywhere except the Antarctic.
    The La-Nina NAO explanation from BBC weather staff is nice, but Negative NAO’s and La-Nina’s occurred in the past. Global warming over time affects the regular effects from oscillations due to the drastic Arctic sea-scape changes. In this NW European cooling case, there is a propensity for Low pressure cyclones to stay in place due to much more open Polar sea water , also allowing more cyclones from the South to penetrate the usual Polar cold air barrier. At some locations this channels a more steady uninterrupted colder or warmer air channel giving a stable unusual temperature setting for some rather big regions.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 Dec 2010 @ 5:01 PM

  57. May I ask a question? Has the confidence of the owners or readership of this website reduced in the light of the data and developments of the past year?

    [Response: Confidence in what? – gavin]

    Comment by Brent Hargreaves — 5 Dec 2010 @ 6:13 PM

  58. But to get to science, maybe some more discussion about how the ocean circulation works would be worth while.

    I hear everyone shout out, “How might we get that going?”

    And I answer, “Let’s review that bit about carbon isotope dating of the deep ocean waters.”

    “I am wondering about the validity of dating water.”

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company — 5 Dec 2010 @ 6:52 PM

  59. #18, JiminMpls,

    Somewhat off topic, but tying-in to Stephan and Olivia (thanks “guys”) highly useful piece of investigation of what goes into perceptions.

    The “coastal Alaska” in your statement is a little vague. Alaska has more than twice the coastline of the rest of the US (although having the Pacific Plate interacting with the North American one and creating lots and lots of good sized islands does add some to that).

    On the temp graph at your link, the Bearing and southern Chukchi Sea coast share the cold anomaly, but the bulk of the State’s shore line temps are quite normal. The two Alaskan locations mentioned in the blurb are moderately close together, by Alaska standards, with a mere ~600 mi/1.000 km separation. I’d think that even my fellow geographically illiterate “average” American would have some notion of where Anchorage is (well maybe).

    But the mention of Cold Bay (pop ~80 and boasting one emporium/bar/bunkhouse/motel formerly known as the World Famous Weathered Inn – a particularly apt name) at the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, on the Bearing Sea/North Pacific boundary, seems likely to have been chosen as much for the associations its name and State would elicit. “Cold” Bay, Alaska resonates so much better than Narsarsuaq, Greenland.

    Cold Bay weather is quite wacky. In one stretch of less than nine months it set records for both the daily hi and lo temp for the date (Sep 25, 2000 – May 14, 2001 – Jun 16, 2001). A short observational history (< 70 years), possibly serious observational site and instrument issues, proximity to the Bearing Sea Low, and terrain contribute to the likelihood that “records” there can be mined for curious “factoids”.

    Comment by WhiteBeard — 5 Dec 2010 @ 6:57 PM

  60. “p.p.s. Should your newspaper have also reported this turkey, feel free to write a polite letter to the to editors asking for a correction. It is only if readers demand published information to be verified (or if needed corrected) that something will change to the better.”

    For all of us – check the news -> climate/science/whatever for existence or NOT existence of this story, and mail them even when NOT found and give them lots of credit for not publishing this obvious faked science information, with a link to and this story.

    Really positive responses to journalists for doing a good job is vital, to give them incentive to front facts and not crap – and to be aware of as a source for finding sound material of climate science.

    Comment by Kjell Arne Rekaa — 5 Dec 2010 @ 7:24 PM

  61. Author claims we’re in the grip of a mini ice age

    Gavin said: “It is the sun’s energy which keeps the earth warm and the amount of energy the earth receives isn’t always the same. I’ve looked at the evidence for global warming and while I understand and agree with a lot of it, there has been a lot missed out. A major factor is the activity of the sun.”

    There is also solar wind – streams of particles from the sun – which are at their weakest since records began. In addition, the Sun’s magnetic axis is tilted at an unusual degree. This is not just a scientific curiosity. It could affect everyone on earth and force what for many is unthinkable – a reappraisal of the science behind global warming.

    It was thought that carbon dioxide emissions rather than the sun was the bigger effect on climate change. Now a major re-think is taking place.

    Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 5 Dec 2010 @ 8:43 PM

  62. Stefan, as an expert on the Thermohaline Circulation, can you tell us, has the THC in the Nordic Seas in fact slowed down the past few years? We have seen reports that the surface waters have freshened, which might be expected to impact the THC, so how much sinking is there these days? Also, do you have any recent data on the sinking in the Arctic in general, given that the Nordic Seas are part of the Arctic Mediterranean by way of the deep sill thru the Fram Strait?

    E. S.

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 5 Dec 2010 @ 9:12 PM

  63. Here is a story about a man in England who wrote a book that claims we are having a mini ice age.

    “Author claims we’re in the grip of a mini ice age”

    “These bitter winters aren’t going to last forever. The bad news is that they will go on for the next 30 years as we have entered a mini ice age.

    So says author Gavin Cooke in his book Frozen Britain. He began writing it in 2008 and it was published last year…

    To simplify, the basis of his theory seems to be sunspot activity, or rather the lack of it. Sunspots are dark, cooler patches on the sun’s surface that come and go in cycles.

    They were absent in the 17th century – a period called the “Maunder Minimum” named after the scientist, Edward Maunder, who spotted it. Crucially, it has been observed that the periods when the sun’s activity is high and low are related to warm and cool climatic periods.”

    Comment by Snapple — 5 Dec 2010 @ 9:16 PM

  64. Here is a real Russian quantum physicist named Sergei Zimov who who believes in global warming and has an idea about how to seal up the permafrost. What do you all think of his idea?

    Here is someone who is willing to speak up.
    I wonder if his views are given any notice in the Russian media?

    I guess Anthony Watts missed this story about a Russian scientist.

    Mr. Zimov’s name means “winter”–Zima.

    Comment by Snapple — 5 Dec 2010 @ 9:32 PM

  65. Sergei Zimov even has his own Wikipedia entry.

    The AP article says he hopes to slow global warming.

    The Wikipedia article notes:

    [Zimov] “hopes to back the hypothesis that hunting, and not climate change, destroyed the wildlife.

    The aim of Pleistocene Park is to recreate the ancient taiga/tundra grasslands that were widespread in the region during the last ice age. The key concept is that animals, more than temperature, maintained that ecosystem. This argument is the justification for rewilding Pleistocene Park’s landscape with megafauna that was previously abundant in the area, as evidenced by the fossil record.”

    Comment by Snapple — 5 Dec 2010 @ 9:47 PM

  66. Here is a Russian article (11-24-10) about the zoopark.

    Your Google translation tool is helpful.

    They study the permafrost there and greenhouse gasses, but this seems under the cover of protecting tigers.

    This project is called the global tiger initiative.

    Comment by Snapple — 5 Dec 2010 @ 10:06 PM

  67. #61 Vendicar Decarian

    The angle of the earth to the sun is not new information

    Any major rethink you might be talking about on that issue is most likely in the blogosphere, not the realm of science.

    And just because yet an other author has figured out that controversy sells to those that narrowly scope their examination of climate to that which supports their view, is not new news either.

    As to solar wind etc., here are some pretty pictures for you:

    Lot’s of graphs too ;)

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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 Dec 2010 @ 3:14 AM

  68. Peter Hearnden #55: find a map of the world — no, not Mercator –, and highlight Europe on it. Notice how small it is?

    Natural variability is a funny thing: it’s much stronger locally than globally. There will be the occasional cold and snowy winters in Europe for some time to come; that won’t really change until globally, we’re up several degrees. Just like you may occasionally empty out the one-armed bandit, but the gambling hall will still make a profit (and you will lose if you go on playing).

    Also, global warming isn’t geographically uniform: things will move around. So, you’ll see some glaciers grow longer, even as most get shorter. And you’ll see Antarctic sea ice increase (a little), even as Arctic sea ice diminishes (a lot).

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 6 Dec 2010 @ 3:59 AM

  69. In a few years time people like Watts will be pointing at this claiming scientists “predicted an ice in 2010”.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 6 Dec 2010 @ 4:44 AM

  70. Vendicar Decarian #61,

    If you open your windows during a cold night in winter the fact that your house gets cold doesn’t mean your central heating is broken.

    i.e. It’s possible that low solar activity could cause a cooling. But this doesn’t mean CO2 didn’t cause at least the last 30 years of global warming.

    Comment by Chris — 6 Dec 2010 @ 5:52 AM

  71. Maybe you all could consider posting articles about Russian scientists who are concerned about global warming. If you read Pravda, Kommersant, etc., they make it seem like Russians don’t accept global warming; but there are articles about global warming on Russian sites.

    Marc Morano and other denialists don’t have those articles about Russian scientists on their sites; they only have the big media that is giving the Gazprom line. Still, Russian scientists do express concerns about global warming; they are especially concerned about the possibility that a lot of methane could be released and accelerate the warming.

    Maybe you could draw the attention of the Western media to these stories, as the AP has done.

    Maybe you could feature what the AP article said on your site as a good example of journalism.

    Zimov’s theory is that repopulating the permafrost with grassland animals will make the permafrost gradually become covered with soil, grow grass and hold in the methane.

    He believes the animals disappeared mainly because of over-hunting, not climate changes.

    He tells readers that scientists all over the world are trying to solve the complicated problem of climate change and global warming.He calls the release of methane dangerous.

    I started some links here, but have to read the Russian more so I don’t misunderstand what they are saying.

    They want grassland animals but also keep talking about getting tigers. Perhaps this makes the idea more exciting, but it seems the tigers would eat the grassland animals. He already jokes about a “hooligan” bear.

    I have no way of judging if this scientists’ idea has merit and would appreciate some opinions.

    Turning the permafrost into a grasslands sounds like an ambitious project.

    A few links:

    Comment by Snapple — 6 Dec 2010 @ 6:23 AM

  72. This scientist is featured in Science Magazine.

    I think its pretty pathetic that the denialists only write what Pravda and Kommersant say as if these Russian scientists don’t even exist. It is really ignorant for Senators and other politicians just to be promoting the Russian propaganda. Gazprom controls a lot of the big media, but not everything.

    Russian people are only a few generations from the land, and they are very interested in nature topics.

    Comment by Snapple — 6 Dec 2010 @ 6:46 AM

  73. Correction to my #67

    The angle of the earth to the sun is not new information, it’s old information. In fact the precession of the equinoxes is very old information.

    Aristarchus of Samos (c. 280 BC) is the earliest known astronomer to recognize and assess the precession of the equinoxes at almost 1º per century (which is not far from the actual value for antiquity, 1.38º).

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 Dec 2010 @ 7:32 AM

  74. I need help from my betters with an OT problem. Hank? Ray? Martin? Barton? Gavin/Jim/Eric/Mike/Raypierre? Anyone?

    [Apologies for dropping this OT comment here, but I’m unsure where to put it. At least it fits in with the idea of misreporting evidence. I’m just not sure who’s doing the misreporting!]

    Skeptical Science recently had a post adding weight to the idea of CO2 being the cause of recent warming, due to the difference in signature between greenhouse gas versus solar warming, i.e. warmer nights versus days, and warmer winters versus summers.

    A denier pointed out — correctly, I thought, and so I’ve been defending his logic there — after all, truth is truth — that because we expect a sizable positive feedback from H2O (and CO2, and ultimately CH4), one should not be able to easily distinguish warming from different forcings, that they would all carry the same features. They might carry them to a different degree, but if 1C warming from a forcing causes 2C positive feedback (in albedo, H2O, and CO2/CH4 responses, but dominated by the GHGs), to give a net 3C climate sensitivity, then the GHG feedback component in all cases should be fairly large and so all warming should involve warmer nights/winters.

    One commenter tried to argue (as evidenced by the original post itself) that because warming prior to 1979 demonstrated no such signature, it proved that GHG-forced warming differs from other warming. [As an aside, as arguments go, this is bad. It amounts to proving that the signature difference exists by assuming that recent warming is from GHG, and then goes on to argue that this proves that recent warming is from GHG, because it has a different signature. If B is true, then A is true, but then since A is true, that proves B is true. Sounds like denialthink to me.]

    This whole line of thinking presents a series of problems/questions.

    Why did warming periods prior to 1979 present no evidence of GHG feedbacks (as pertains to differences in nighttime and daytime anomalies, and winter versus summer anomalies)?

    Or is it as simple as the fact that the non-GHG forcing component can/would balance/overwhelm the GHG feedback components?

    Or does it have to do with a delay in feedback responses, since it will take time for the oceans to warm and for the H2O and CO2 feedbacks to be felt.

    But if so, couldn’t one argue that the GHG warming we see today is merely the feedback response to pre-1940 warming, delayed by aerosols in the 1940-1970 period?

    Is the argument that GHG warming will carry a different signature truly valid, and if so, how does the expected strong positive GHG feedback response fit into the picture? How can this work?

    Can the differences between the two be quantified and so incorporated into the argument (i.e. how much winter vs. summer, night vs. day, forcing vs. GHG feeback vs. non-GHG feedback, for each)?

    It seems to me that if this can’t all be explained, the warming prior to 1940 (without a GHG signature) implies that the positive GHG feedback response is negligible, and climate sensitivity is much lower than predicted. That’s obviously wrong.

    Things just don’t fit together properly.


    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 6 Dec 2010 @ 8:08 AM

  75. Re: #62

    To add to my comment above and give more emphasis to my question for Stefan, it appears that the recent wind patterns over the North Atlantic are beginning to push the surface waters of the Gulf Stream back toward the northwest. Last winter, that same pattern occurred and the Gulf Stream water flowed into the Labrador Sea. No wonder the UK and Northern Europe experienced a rather cold winter last time around. This year, the winter months could turn out to be a repeat of last winter. Are we seeing a new pattern in winter weather? Only time will tell…

    E. S.

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 6 Dec 2010 @ 9:03 AM

  76. V. D. @ 61, re:
    “there has been a lot missed out. A major factor is the activity of the sun.”
    “It was thought that carbon dioxide emissions rather than the sun was the bigger effect on climate change. Now a major re-think is taking place.”

    I’ve been hearing about this since I started paying attention in 2006, and I’m sure it had been going on for years before that. I was tempted to be sarcastic in my response because I have come to feel contempt when I see this type of thing still being repeated, but I suppose that doesn’t really help. Instead I’ll just repeat a few facts, that apparently need repeating no matter how many times they’ve been said before:

    1)Solar activity was never left out of the “big picture” in climate science.

    A quick glance at IPCC WG1 reports, a search on google scholar, browsing through past RealClimate posts, and probably a dozen other easy activities performable right there at your own computer will allow you to confirm this for yourself. If you have any interest in doing so, that is.

    2)Expertise really does exist.

    Any time someone claims to have overturned the standard position of experts in a field, it deserves very careful scrutiny before the claim should be accepted. Such overturning happens, of course…but very rarely, and MUCH less often than it is claimed. And when such a claim is made based on the premise that the experts have been overlooking something obvious, like climate scientists neglecting the role of the sun, you can bank on the claim being false.

    3. In science there is ALWAYS a re-think taking place, and that doesn’t take away what we already know.

    Relativity didn’t make calculations based on Newtonian physics stop working. Our understanding of climate dynamics is, necessarily, incomplete…but improvements in that understanding are going to refine what we already know, not reverse it.

    4. I like cheering for the underdog, too…but see points 1, 2 and 3 for reasons to be very careful about doing so in climate science discussions.

    In the words of Carl Sagan: “…the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

    Comment by Kevin Stanley — 6 Dec 2010 @ 9:38 AM

  77. #73 Bob (Sphaerica)

    My general thoughts are that the signal to noise ration of the cumulative forcing was not so easily separated prior to the last 30 years.

    It is this recent period where the cumulative affects are notable and the science has more clearly identified the signal to noise ratio.

    Gavin et al. pointed out in recent work the cumulative effect and models already consider the feedback component reasonably well.

    • H20 (water) = around 50%
    • Clouds = around 25%
    • Non-condensing greenhouse gases 25%
    ◦ CO2 (carbon dioxide) = around 20%
    ◦ All other absorbers – around 5%

    Keep in mind the ocean and atmosphere are already warming. And the general effects are fitting well with the GCM’s

    Others here may help fill in the gaps

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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 Dec 2010 @ 9:55 AM

  78. and more clearly identified divergence

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 Dec 2010 @ 11:23 AM

  79. Hmmm, re. #75, 76, as I consider this, a better way to say it might be that the cumulative increase in radiative forcing did not achieve a pronounced divergence of the anthropogenic forcing in contrast to the modeled path of the climate without the large increase in anthropogenic forcing.

    Of course there are many ways to express this. I remember once working on a film, someone brought up an issue and one of the grips said, there are a million ways to do something, a hundred ways to do it right, and three really awesome ways to do it.

    Since there are many perspectives we will probably just have to keep explaining it in different ways until more people start to get it.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 Dec 2010 @ 1:22 PM

  80. Bob 74,

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2010 @ 2:31 PM

  81. Bob (Sphaerica),

    Yes increased WV acts as an amplifier in both GHG and non-GHG driven warming/coolings. So you will expect to see common factors between different sources of warming because of WV amplification, but there are differences.

    If you have an increase in long lived greenhouse gasses (specifically CO2). It’ll trap heat during the daytime so will cause some daytime warming, but as convection is the major factor in dissipating daytime surface heating it won’t have such an effect as increasing solar will. Then at night when the surface is no longer actively being heated, convection dies down (doesn’t cease though) and radiation takes over as the major player. GHGs ‘trap’ infrared radiation so they have a larger effect at night, this causes more night warming and the diurnal range closes as the night warming catches up with the daytime temperatures (diurnal range being the difference between daytime max and nighttime min temperatures). Furthermore in CO2 driven warming you’ll get the stratospheric cooling (due to reduced net IR flux through the stratosphere) that’s also considered to be a fingerprint of GHG driven warming.

    However with, for example, solar driven warming due to an increase in solar energy. Most of the warming will occur during the daytime, so the diurnal range will increase. And the Stratosphere will warm along with all layers of the atmosphere that the increased solar radiation passes through.

    One crucial difference between long lived GHGs and water vapour is that WV can condense out of the atmosphere with cooling, like at night or in winter. CO2 doesn’t.

    If some hypothesised early 20th century warming caused the post 1977 linear trend in temperature. What you’d expect to see is a more rapid rise in temperature early on, then it would taper off as the warming reached the new equilibrium state. What you actually see is a linear trend post 1975 in both HadCRU & GISS (no evidence of deviation from linear in the residuals). If someone suggests such a mechanism my advice to them would be to come back when they’ve produced a model that explains the observations.

    As for why things took off in the 1970s, see this graph from GW Art:

    Comment by Chris — 6 Dec 2010 @ 4:25 PM

  82. Don’t think anyone’s pointed to Zangari’s report, it’s available from In it, the good doctor has observed the shedding of a Loop Current Eddy in the Gulf of Mexico. Next, he states that such an event has never earlier been observed in satellite data! (“comparative analysis with past satellite data until may 2010 didn’t show
    relevant anomalies”). All this is then brought to the obvious conclusion that the extraordinary event “may generate a chain reaction of unpredictable critical phenomena and instabilities due to strong non linearities”. Scary thing, non-linearities.

    Comment by Arne Melsom — 6 Dec 2010 @ 4:54 PM

  83. I was sent a link to an article in Der Spiegel that says that as a result of Global Warming “Sea Level Could Rise in South, Fall in North.”,1518,732303,00.html

    A couple of things caught my attention
    “Stammer, who is the director of the Center for Marine and Climate Research at the University of Hamburg, is familiar with the incorrect notions that lay people have, which is why he likes to present them with two numbers to shatter their illusions. “In the Indian Ocean, the sea level is about 100 meters (330 feet) below the average, while the waters around Iceland are 60 meters above the average.”
    “This striking effect is based on the law of gravity, which states that every mass attracts every other mass. Water levels are higher off the coast of Iceland for the same reason. Volcanic activity pushes heavy masses of rock out of the Earth’s interior, and those masses attract water like magnets. By contrast, sea levels are lower in the Indian Ocean because, eons ago, a meteorite most probably knocked so much rock out of the Earth’s crust there that the gravitational force attracting water was reduced.”
    The second paragraph really seems to be flawed. It would seem that the overall gravity of the earth would overwhelm continental masses that are above sea level. And the gravity of the moon pulls the tides around.

    Comment by Sir — 6 Dec 2010 @ 6:36 PM

  84. #74-

    I certainly wouldn’t consider myself your “better”, Sphaerica, unless maybe at constructing double invertible counterpoint or some such, but one way in which CO2 and H2O might be differentiable in terms of their GH effects would lie in the “well-mixed” aspect of CO2.

    Not much water vapor in the stratosphere–which would lead me to suspect that that well-known stratospheric cooling trend has little to do with water, but much to do with CO2 (as well as the confounding variables, of course, darn it.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Dec 2010 @ 11:20 PM

  85. Peter #55,

    I need to read up on this and have contacted a couple of authors for reprints of recent papers, but if I’m reading basic summaries correctly, there seems to be evidence for a marked change in winter circulation patterns over the N Atlantic-Arctic area as a consequence of the strong warming that has demonstrably been going on in the Arctic: this would result in the NW of Europe getting a lot more of its weather from the north round to the east in winter, as opposed to the west as per usual. At the same time the seas around e.g. the UK remain warm: as you will be aware as a fellow UK weather-enthusiast, nothing generates snow shower-streamers like convergence-zones over a warm sea that is getting very cold air advected over it.

    However I want to read up on the whole matter in more detail: the potential implications of this possibility are rather profound!

    Cheers – John

    Comment by John Mason — 7 Dec 2010 @ 5:09 AM

  86. Correction to my #67
    re. #61 Vendicar Decarian

    Actually, the angle of the earth to the sun is very old information. Consider early knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes:

    Aristarchus of Samos (c. 280 BC) is the earliest known astronomer to recognize and assess the precession of the equinoxes at almost 1º per century (which is not far from the actual value for antiquity, 1.38º).

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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 7 Dec 2010 @ 7:12 AM

  87. RE # 85

    John, you said; “there seems to be evidence for a marked change in winter circulation patterns over the N Atlantic-Arctic area”

    There might be in the flight logs and pilot observations of the thousands of Europe to US to Europe flights each late autumn, early winter, mid winter these past ten years or so.

    Perhaps there is no archival data available. But, pilots would know if things are different (changing) on their flight routes and particularly where circulation patterns are concerned. Just a thought.

    John McCormick

    Comment by John McCormick — 7 Dec 2010 @ 8:57 AM

  88. 80, 81, 84 (Barton, Chris, Kevin),

    Thanks for the help so far — but people seem to be focusing on why it’s not the sun (not an issue under contention) or how GHGs differ in signature (again, not an issue).

    My sole problem is that positive feedbacks on any forcing should introduce strong positive GHG feedbacks, and once you get that into the equation, the diurnal and seasonal differences in GHG warming should be present in all warming, not just CO2 forced warming, so it should not be possible to easily distinguish GHG forced warming from other forcings.

    At the same time, the temperature record has a clear seasonal and diurnal distinction between warming in the 20th century prior to 1979, versus after.

    [Barton — If the answer was in the page you linked me to, I’m sorry, I must have missed it. It was all useful info, but stuff I knew, so I mostly skimmed it.]

    [Chris, Kevin: Likewise, if your answer was in there and I misunderstood, please restate it… but I didn’t get it from what was posted.]

    77, 78, 79 (John),

    …a better way to say it might be that the cumulative increase in radiative forcing did not achieve a pronounced divergence of the anthropogenic forcing in contrast to the modeled path of the climate without the large increase in anthropogenic forcing.

    I think I see what you’re saying here, but it just restates the problem without really explaining it.

    One thought that I’ve had of late is that the divergence might be so great because one forcing offsets the other, particularly early on, since feedbacks are not instantaneous. Also, few feedbacks would be continuous, both because of noise in the climate system, and the fact that some involve “step changes,” or at least arise in fits and starts.

    So, my current thought, just to put play numbers together, would be that within a short period, given 0.2C of forced warming, and 0.2C of rapid (realized) feedback, and 0.2C of slow (unrealized feedback), if the forcing is solar and the rapid feedback is (always) GHG, these would to some degree offset each other (solar making days warming, GHG making nights warmer, for example). Alternately, if both were from GHG effects, the diurnal and seasonal differences would be additive and far more pronounced.

    So, in the end, it becomes a question of quantifying rather than qualifying the differences, as well as recognizing that the full weight of the feedbacks will not be felt all at once, or even instantaneously.

    It still leaves the problem that one could argue that the warming we are seeing today is merely the slow GHG feedback response to the warming prior to 1940, though.

    But this is just me thinking “out loud”. I’m still waiting for someone who feels they “know” the answer to chime in.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 7 Dec 2010 @ 8:57 AM

  89. Sir #93, the article you link to appears mostly good — the graphics on the left certainly are. The speculation in the second passage you quote though is bull… I suspect that this was made up by the journalist, not by Dr Stammer :-(

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 7 Dec 2010 @ 9:01 AM

  90. RE # 85

    John, you said: “there seems to be evidence for a marked change in winter circulation patterns over the N Atlantic-Arctic area”

    It would seem to me that the thousands of Europe-to-US-to- Europe flights each late autumn, early to mid- to late-winter would provide archival data regarding circulation pattern changes.

    Career pilots would repeatedly fly those routes also experience those changes as they fly their routes. They might also be a source of observational data over the past ten years. Just a thought.

    John McCormick

    Comment by John McCormick — 7 Dec 2010 @ 9:02 AM

  91. #55, 85–

    We’ve gotten rather a lot of this sort of “but it’s so cold” argumentation in North America, because, for the most part, the most populous regions have warmed less dramatically than many other parts of the world–like most of Europe, for instance, if considered over the last couple of decades.

    Actually, I believe the Southeast, where I live, has yet to reach the point of net warming, if considered over the entire instrumental record–although it has been warming over the duration of the “modern warming area.” (IIRC, the 1880s were particularly warm in Dixie. And no, that’s not a personal recollection.)

    Anyway, and FWIW, I usually refer people back to the global data when confronted with these concerns. Since the issue is one of distribution of warmth, not total decrease or increase, there WILL be other warm areas. Unfortunately, the NCDC maps, like most convenient representations online, aren’t generally available till about 2 weeks after the end of the month in question, so to look at November data (for instance) we’ll have to wait another week or so. October looked liked this:

    You can often get a decent general sense of the “shape” of global temperature distribution via the NCDC sea surface temperature maps, which are updated weekly:

    We do know, for example, that the Baffin Bay area, west of Greenland, has been about 8 C above normal. (Clearly visible in the SST plot linked above.) That sounds pretty abstract for most, I suppose, but for context, Baffin Bay has an area of 689,000 km2, nearly 3x the area of the UK (243,610 km2.) Some folks will appreciate that fact, in terms of the “balance” of warmth and cold.

    Sometimes it’s worthwhile to invoke temporal context as well. For instance, at the moment here (near Atlanta, Georgia) it is unusually cold–about 14 F, counting the wind chill, equivalent to about -10 C if my quick and sketchy calculation is to be trusted. But up until December 1, it had been unseasonably warm. Folks forget not-quite-recent weather quickly, but not completely, and reminders can be effective sometimes.

    I sometimes think that this whole climate debate can be summed up in a twist on the old adage about real estate: “Three things are important: context, context, and context.” At least a whole bunch of denialist argumentation boils down to an effort to obfuscate or rule out relevant context. And accordingly, a whole bunch of my argumentation boils down to not letting them.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Dec 2010 @ 9:21 AM

  92. #86–

    This is where the “not your better” part comes into play; I don’t really claim to have a fully-formed “answer”–just the thought that since one of the biggest feedbacks is water vapor, and since it’s effective via greenhouse-style forcing, but with a different spatial structure than CO2, you should in principle (I would think) be able to differentiate the warming due to H2O feedback from warming directly due to CO2.

    (But maybe the practicalities would be quite intractable, I don’t know; I think at least you’d have to compare the observed summation of the two effects (plus all other forcings, of course) to various modeled scenarios. An attribution problem, albeit a slightly “off-kilter” one.)

    So this is rather inconclusive, but it does seem to me at least to go to the point you raised, ie.:

    . . .that because we expect a sizable positive feedback from H2O (and CO2, and ultimately CH4), one should not be able to easily distinguish warming from different forcings, that they would all carry the same features.

    Summing up, I think the point just quoted is incorrect in principle, since I don’t think they would in fact all carry the same signature. But I’m unsure about the practicalities of actually investigating it–and, obviously, unaware whether anyone has already attempted something directly on this point.

    One last set of comments. You wrote that:

    One commenter tried to argue (as evidenced by the original post itself) that because warming prior to 1979 demonstrated no such signature, it proved that GHG-forced warming differs from other warming. [As an aside, as arguments go, this is bad. It amounts to proving that the signature difference exists by assuming that recent warming is from GHG, and then goes on to argue that this proves that recent warming is from GHG, because it has a different signature. If B is true, then A is true, but then since A is true, that proves B is true. Sounds like denialthink to me.]

    Well, yes, there does seem to be some potential for circular argument. However, as the sort of inference that sparks investigation, the point seems reasonable–clearly, from what you’ve said, there is data to differentiate warming pre-1979 from post-1979 in terms of the diurnal structure, etc. It’s reasonable to ask, well, is this due to the post-79 warming being “GHG-forced”?–particularly since many other avenues of investigation say it has indeed been.

    Looked at from this point of view, it might seem that the key to clarifying everything for you would be solid attribution of the early 20th-century warming Callendar observed. AFAIK, though, that issue’s not entirely resolved–unfortunately.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Dec 2010 @ 9:57 AM

  93. John (#89),

    This is one paper I am keen to read in full:

    Overland, J. E., and M. Wang, 2010: Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. Tellus, 62A, 1–9.

    I’ve emailed the first author for a reprint, and will hopefully get chance to study it in the near future.

    Cheers – John

    Comment by John Mason — 7 Dec 2010 @ 11:00 AM

  94. “Overland, J. E., and M. Wang, 2010: Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. Tellus, 62A, 1–9.”

    That does sound interesting. Does anyone else have any suggestions for the latest studies of what the consequences might be of relatively ice free Arctic for broader climate patterns in the Northern Hemisphere?

    Comment by wili — 7 Dec 2010 @ 4:06 PM

  95. Hi Olivia!

    Maybe not the last 100 years, but the last 30-days look as cold as I’ve ever seen (must admit, I’m not nearly 100 years old).

    Comment by thomas hine — 7 Dec 2010 @ 4:44 PM

  96. #87 Bob (Sphaerica)

    I don’t think it is just a restatement. But let me add to it to bring it along. We are trapping more heat. 1.6 W/m2 is the mean estimate. So when you add up all the meters and the time span, you can see the back-filling going on. There are fast feedbacks to consider and slow feedbacks, mixing it up with natural variation.

    As the quantities for radiative forcing build in the dam of the climate system, the feedbacks (let’s call them leaks in the dam, i.e. influences on natural variation and feedbacks) only start as the pressure builds. So now we see a crack in the dam (the divergence, definite leak). There is also reasonable confidence that there are hidden cracks that have yet to manifest (ocean heat content that is not yet measured).

    ‘fits and starts’ is an interesting way to put it. yes the natural variability can get in the way of the anthropogenic signal. But now we see the divergence and it is pretty clear.

    So there is a lot of pressure behind the dam and more water is coming out the overflows (extra heat that is warming the planet). Unexpected things could happen, but the expected is already happening and it generally quantitative.

    In other words the amount of GHG’s and the general understanding of the sinks, maths, physics are tracking will with the scenario B from Jim Hansen’s model he started in the late 80’s.

    So I think the quantitative assessment is reasonably well established as it now is matching well with the observations.

    While uncertainties linger in the noise, the signal is standing out and waving its arms saying hey, I’m over here, pay attention.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 7 Dec 2010 @ 6:47 PM

  97. Bob Sphaerica, First, you have to look at ALL the evidence. There is no way you get simultaneous stratospheric cooling and tropospheric warming without a greenhouse forcing. And increased tropospheric water vapor ain’t gonna give you that.

    Second, one cannot simply posit a mystery forcing and say it will behave like a greenhouse gas without specifying the candidate mechanism. If they were saying the mechanism were increased insolation, then perhaps you would see warmed nights, but it is very unlikely you’d see the seasonal effect (WV persists only on a timescale of days).

    I cannot emphasize this second point enough. I mean ferchrissake, they could posit Martians with heat rays sending in IR photons to exactly mimic greenhouse forcing by CO2. They need to propose a mechanism and see what sort of signature it would give.

    Simply saying, “Well, it could be something else” ain’t science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Dec 2010 @ 7:00 PM

  98. Bit of a sticky wicket, (to quote the British), this WickiLeaks, eh? There’s the issue with releasing classified information, but also there’s the issue of living in a free society, where freedom of speech is a guaranteed right. The cretin who stole all this information should be tried and sent to prison, but Assange is only disseminating what he was handed. Wonder what they would do to him if this were Russia?

    Comment by — 7 Dec 2010 @ 9:42 PM

  99. I probably should have included this graph for clarification. It shows the comparative anomaly for winter versus summer, and is the heart of the skeptical science post. It shows that warming prior to 1979 had summers slightly warmer, or at worst intersecting, with winter.

    Then, in 1979, the signal switched, and winters became warmer than summers.

    This is perfectly in keeping with the signal that one would expect for a GHG forcing (after 1979), versus any other forcing (prior to 1979).

    Unfortunately, the roughly 0.4C warming from 1890 to 1940 should have included a strong GHG feedback component as one (notable) part (2/3) of it. If that were the case, then one would think that the summer/winter deviation would not be so high. If it is not the case, then this implies a lack of GHG feedbacks, and so a lower climate sensitivity.

    My problem is not one of proving or disproving attribution. The stratospheric cooling argument is still valid. The lack of change in TSI argument is still valid, etc. It’s just a question of whether or not the “seasonal signature” argument is valid as affirmation of GHG warming (or alternately if the dominance of GHG feedbacks is valid, on the timescales seen within the climate events of this century, given that the GHG signature for such feedbacks appear to be missing in the period from 1890 to 1940).

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 8 Dec 2010 @ 9:43 AM

  100. Gallagher 98,

    My take on the WikiLeaks fiasco is here:

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Dec 2010 @ 10:26 AM

  101. Wili #94,

    You may want to read this if you’ve not seen it:
    NOAA Arctic Report Card 2010.
    If it looks daunting just read the summary and the last paragraph.

    Comment by Chris — 8 Dec 2010 @ 11:14 AM

  102. #99–

    Just eyeballing it, but are we sure this “switch” is even significant, let alone robust?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Dec 2010 @ 11:59 AM

  103. Well, it’s rather strange when journalist in order to reach a larger audience deliberately changed the original interview. Everyone is more perceived and sensitive about the weather forecast for past few years. We shouldn’t make jokes out of it. Basically, it was totally irresponsible what journalist had done with that interview…

    Comment by Jay B. — 9 Dec 2010 @ 3:27 AM

  104. The hydro electricity situation in Norway is really in deep trouble – last winter Norways precipitation was 52% of normal – this november the precipitation is at record low. This is in good agreement with statements made by Francis et al (2009) – full reference at Arctic Report Card. Funny, but norwegian scientists keep claiming Norway will have more precipitation, when other science say precipitation in Norway may decline in winter due to loss of sea ice in Arctic.

    The latest research on these strange arctic atmospheric anomalies really should get more coverage – it really makes a lot of sense, also related to strange precipitation events in southern Europe in the last days, and last winter I may add.

    Will RealClimate cover this in more depth?

    Comment by Pbo — 9 Dec 2010 @ 10:16 AM

  105. Pbo:

    You are basing your concern on one or two years of data? That’s a bit premature, don’t you think?

    This, of course, presupposes that you are actually right, which I doubt. A change in winter precipitation is unlikely to have such a huge impact on hydro, particularly if most of the precipitation comes pre-frozen.

    You carefully avoid mentioning annual precipitation.

    Comment by Didactylos — 9 Dec 2010 @ 11:15 AM

  106. Didactylos:

    The Francis paper was out in april 2009, and it states:

    – “Scandinavia, for example, depends on hydropower for much of its electricity generation, and its
    winter precipitation has declined following recent summers with reduced ice.”

    Seems releated to me so far, even if this is a short period. Anyway, the ice loss in Arctic, and winter anomalies on NH really should get more attention.

    Comment by Pbo — 9 Dec 2010 @ 11:48 AM

  107. #102 Kevin McKInney,
    That difference between Summer & Winter anomalies is interesting. As for signifinance: Prior to 1979 Summer above Winter (120 years) – after 1979 Winter above Summer. The odds of such a pattern occuring by chance are probably small.

    #104 Pbo,
    It’s wise to be patient. If there is a climatic shift going on due to the Arctic it will come out in the data in due course, and more years mean more data.

    Comment by Chris — 9 Dec 2010 @ 11:52 AM

  108. For today’s chuckle, see how Steve Goddard gets this post comically wrong:

    “Real Climate Explains That It Isn’t Cold In Europe”

    When confronted with the fact that this is just a bald-faced lie, he explains how it’s merely sarcasm.

    Comment by ChrisD — 10 Dec 2010 @ 3:02 PM

  109. NASA: November was hottest ever worldwide! Both on land (, +0.96C) and on land+ocean (, +0.74C)
    Above 60 degrees North, average temperature in November was more than 3 degrees C above normal, huge swaths above 4C:

    Comment by Kees van der Leun — 10 Dec 2010 @ 4:11 PM

  110. #107–potentially interesting, sure. But I’m not convinced it’s significant–“the odds are probably small” doesn’t really cut it for me. And I don’t see the pattern as quite that clear-cut. What I notice the most–just eyeballing–is how much more variable the winter anomaly is.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Dec 2010 @ 4:45 PM

  111. #110 Kevin McKinney,
    Actually having slept on it, we’re even further apart than when I posted last on that graph (as at post 99). :)

    Looking at the graph without knowing anything else about it, I’d say that the 5 year average plot tells me that something changed in the late 1970s causing the switch from Winter below to Winter above. Agreed the annual variations are large, but the averaging lets us focus on the multi-year behaviour – the signal amongst the annual noise.

    Comment by Chris — 11 Dec 2010 @ 12:48 PM

  112. Naive (?) question.
    Current cold weather in Europe: Are the explanations provided by Vladimir Petoukhov [lead article’s link to ‘scientifically well founded attempts’]
    and the New Zealand meteorologists mentioned in #52 (high pressure and extreme warming in Arctic) two versions of the same mechanism or independent possibilities?

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 13 Dec 2010 @ 9:35 AM

  113. #112 Geoff Wexler,

    From my reading probably the same.

    In essence it seems that as the Arctic ice reduces we can expect weather impacts, and the cold weather we’ve been having may be the first of these impacts. Basically lower ice levels at the annual minimum imply:
    1) Increased latent heat flux into the atmosphere from open water.
    2) Increased latent heat of fusion releases from more forming ice releasing heat into the atmosphere.

    The bottom line being changes to Arctic atmospheric circulation and subsequent impacts on Northern Hemisphere circulation. If you’ve not read it I recommend the NOAA Arctic Report Card 2010:

    Comment by Chris — 14 Dec 2010 @ 6:43 AM

  114. No consensus on this headline!!


    Comment by Bob Newhart — 30 Dec 2010 @ 9:45 PM

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