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  1. Already the denial community is giving credit for Arctic melting to the sea-bed volcanic activity (eg: It would be great to have an analysis of that idea with actual numbers and science.

    [Response: That’s hilarious (if unsurprising). I’ll see what I can do… – gavin]

    Comment by Andy Gates — 27 Jun 2008 @ 3:11 PM

  2. Ah ! Finally RC moves from atmospheric sciences to human psychology. Much deeper, impossible to know, and still interesting.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 27 Jun 2008 @ 3:17 PM

  3. Gavin, I’ve been hoping you would do a post on Jim Hansens’ testimony before the Congressional Committee on the 20th anniversary of his appearance in 1988. Would you consider doing so? I have found it to be somewhat bizarre that there has been so little follow up in the press.

    Comment by Bill Durbin — 27 Jun 2008 @ 3:19 PM

  4. There’s a very simple answer to why this got traction: TV producers sift it continuously, then rush coverage.

    You can find out more (and see links to my earlier coverage of Arctic sea-ice trends, and what’s going on with sea ice at the other end of the planet) in my latest post on Dot Earth.

    More on how the media could do much better covering climate can be found in one of my two book chapters on the media and climate, which the radio show On the Media posted online.

    Comment by Andy Revkin — 27 Jun 2008 @ 3:19 PM

  5. My bet is that this year’s Arctic Sea ice extent ice will not fall below
    last year’s minimum (4.28 or 2.77), because last year’s minimum was very
    low in comparison to all other years of record (1979-current).

    Arctic sea ice monitoring at NSIDC

    Comment by pat neuman — 27 Jun 2008 @ 3:21 PM

  6. Gavin:

    I hope that I will not be pilloried by the community for being a part of this story. From what I can gather, it started with a piece in “National Geographic Online”, moved to a piece in “The Independent”, another piece on CNN, and then quickly grew out of all reasonable proportion. A positive feedback process. I’ll be the first to agree that losing the ice at the north pole this summer would be purely symbolic, but symbolism can be pretty darned powerful.

    [Response: As we are seeing! We should perhaps tap into it more often. :) – gavin]

    Comment by Mark C. Serreze — 27 Jun 2008 @ 3:31 PM

  7. I have a naive question: does the AGW theory predicts that the Artic sea ice should disappear first?

    Another puzzling observation, If we look at the global sea ice extent, there is no long term trend:


    [Response: Yes. Arctic regions are expected to warm faster than the global mean. Global values are not particularly useful since they conflate the two disparate and out of phase seasonal cycles. Antarctic sea ice has both a larger seasonality and bigger year to year variability and so dominates the much more significant Arctic changes. – gavin]

    Comment by Khebab — 27 Jun 2008 @ 3:47 PM

  8. Partly, all the attention is the result of some conflation. People have been hearing recently about the disappearance of summer sea ice at some point between 2010 and the end of the century. When they hear ‘North Pole might melt this year’ they might think the former predictions are being dramatically revised.

    The symbolism is also important. Hopefully, this will help to discredit some of those who argue that anthropogenic climate change doesn’t exist, or that its impacts will be minimal.

    Comment by Milan — 27 Jun 2008 @ 3:53 PM

  9. Pat:

    Many people betting on the arctic sea ice are using statistical analysis of the recent history. If, and this is THE big IF, we have finally passed one of the climate tipping points, then all past statistics are of no value in predicting the new dynamics of ice extent in the arctic.

    Comment by John Ramming — 27 Jun 2008 @ 3:56 PM

  10. The headline on the piece is probably why it gained so much traction. The very thought of Santa, his elves, Mrs. Claus, and rudolph’s home being submerged must be too much for Matt Drudge to take.

    Comment by PeterB — 27 Jun 2008 @ 4:08 PM

  11. Andy Gates writes:

    Already the denial community is giving credit for Arctic melting to the sea-bed volcanic activity (eg: It would be great to have an analysis of that idea with actual numbers and science.

    The mean global sunlight absorbed by the climate system is about 237 watts per square meter.
    The mean global geothermal flux is about 0.087 watts per square meter.
    Divide A by B. Discuss.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 27 Jun 2008 @ 4:09 PM

  12. Khebab wrote 27 June 2008, 1547:

    re sea ice: Mr. Revkin posted a link

    to a study on antarctic sea ice on the dotearth blog.


    Comment by sidd — 27 Jun 2008 @ 4:15 PM

  13. Hi Gavin,
    I’m just trying to figure out how to spin the jolly bearded fellow if my children hear there is no ice at the North Pole this summer. Maybe he summer vacations in Antarctica? ;-)

    By the way, with so much open water attracting heat in the summer, won’t this have a detrimental affect on Greenland and the northern permafrost?

    Comment by PeterW — 27 Jun 2008 @ 4:21 PM

  14. RE: #1 Undersea Arctic Volcanism

    Yep, I heard it today on Rush Limbaugh’s show (I don’t know where Rush got his degree in Climatology, but he must have one since when he talks about it he holds himself up as an expert). Something about a volcano as big as Vesuvius – and if it could bury Pompei it certainly could melt all that ice. He went on to imply that scientists were ignoring this because of their hidden agenda. Who needs numbers when you have detailed analysis like this?

    Seriously, you have a great site and I would like to also encourage a “Real Climate” analysis of this red herring. If only the “denial community” would study it instead of looking for slick sound-bite retorts.

    Comment by Paul Melanson — 27 Jun 2008 @ 4:25 PM

  15. Has anyone considered, or studied the possible outcome of moving all of that mass (ice) and distributing it around the world? I know that there are predictions of sea levels increasing, but how will it affect the tilt and rotation of earth?

    Comment by HarryA — 27 Jun 2008 @ 4:31 PM

  16. [Response: As we are seeing! We should perhaps tap into it more often. :) – gavin]

    I dunno. I’d feel, if this were tapped into, to be “not doing it right”. Using the same tricks as the denialists feels rather like a descent into their madness.

    Then again, I’m weird.

    [Response: The point I was making is that using themes and ideas that resonate might get us further than not. – gavin]

    Comment by Mark — 27 Jun 2008 @ 4:52 PM

  17. “Something about a volcano as big as Vesuvius – and if it could bury Pompei it certainly could melt all that ice. He went on to imply that scientists were ignoring this because of their hidden agenda. Who needs numbers when you have detailed analysis like this?”

    Well, why is this volcano only having an effect now? Why is it erupting. And, to hoist them with their own claptrap, if this huge new volcano erupts, what chance for us, what with a volcano producing more pollution than humans have ever done over their history (which is wrong because that’s conflating ancient [100million year] volcano eruptions with eruptions today, just for those new here).

    Comment by Mark — 27 Jun 2008 @ 4:55 PM

  18. The story is featured in the Daily Telegraph, too:

    And brings out a few denialists in comments.

    Comment by Peter McGrath — 27 Jun 2008 @ 5:04 PM

  19. Regarding global trends in sea ice, I wrote this for “another site,” but no one found it interesting.


    The longest analysis of satellite sea ice data is the Goddard Space Flight Center sea ice extent series, starting in 1972 for the Arctic and 1973 for the Antarctic. For a period in 1977 and 1978, there is a gap in the satellite data, and the National Ice Center (NIC) data fills in, which is also used to match up the different satellite sensors.

    This is documented here:

    The data is here:

    Their most recent analysis ends in 2006, and must be combined with their previous analysis which includes the pre-1978 data (the differences between the two series during the period of overlap are miniscule). To extend it to the present, I used the NSIDC sea ice extent. I matched it to the GSFC data by comparing the period of overlap between 1988 and 2006 (which is the most recent/best “SSMI” data). To adjust the NSIDC data to match GSFC, multiply by these values for each month:

    Month NH SH
    Jan 97% 96%
    Feb 98% 100%
    Mar 98% 90%
    April 98% 92%
    May 99% 93%
    June 98% 95%
    July 97% 96%
    Aug 99% 97%
    Sept 99% 98%
    Oct 93% 98%
    Nov 97% 96%
    Dec 97% 91%

    If you calculate the anomaly based on the 1979-2000 averages, you get this (with moving 12 month average).

    There is a trend in global sea ice and it is down.

    Comment by cce — 27 Jun 2008 @ 5:13 PM

  20. “Where does father Christmas live?”
    “At the North Pole with his Elves”
    Child of 1950: satisfied
    Child of 2050: “Where do they live in Summer?”
    Child of 2150: “He lives on a boat?”

    Comment by bobn — 27 Jun 2008 @ 5:44 PM

  21. Idea: volcano heated ocean to increase melt of artic ice:
    Volume of water in artic (about 1% of world’s ocean vol.): that is, 0.0013 billion km3. If molten stone is at about 2000 C, and the heat capacity is about 0.2, than you would need 32,500 km3 to provide the required heating. However, to melt ice, you need far more heat so this number is very low.
    In any case, just using this very low value, a cube of molten stone that is about 32 km x 32 km x 32 km would need to be released.
    So, if each underwater artic volcano emitted 1 km3 a week (a rather large average flow) and did it for a year (about 52 weeks) you would need about 620 very active and extremely powerful volcanoes in order to warm the artic ocean by just 1 C (and that ignores surface cooling, in/out water flows and time rates that would require even more volcanoes.)
    (Did math fast, so check)

    Comment by DBrown — 27 Jun 2008 @ 7:02 PM

  22. Somewhere I saw a picture of three submarines parked at the north pole amongst loose pack ice. I assume this was at mid-summer.

    Comment by A.Syme — 27 Jun 2008 @ 7:43 PM

  23. That is a very interesting graphic on Dot Earth. It looks like almost all the old ice escapes through a narrow (about 200km) passage between Greenland and Svalbard.

    I wonder if a surface barrier would be effective in keeping ice in the artic? That might be some low cost geo-engineering.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 27 Jun 2008 @ 8:04 PM

  24. When I first started talking about polar cities as an adaptaion strategy for future global warming problems in the far distant future, say 2500, nobody would listen to me here or anywhere else. Now a few people are listening. But most people are still not listening. Can you hear the Arctic sea ice melting yet? Listen…

    Comment by Danny Bloom — 27 Jun 2008 @ 8:14 PM

  25. The basic reason I bet with stoat is that sea ice levels have a large amount of hysteresis, and 2007 guaranteed that any ice which formed would be relatively thin. Note that this works both ways.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 27 Jun 2008 @ 8:43 PM

  26. I’m more worried about native populations of the Arctic like the Inuit, and how they can continue their customary lifestyles, than about jolly Santa. After all if he knows when you’re sleeping and he knows when you’re awake, he ought to know whether or not the toy shop is gonna sink into Davy Jones locker. For all its glorification the pole itself is less important than the entire NH region, close to and above the arctic circle.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 27 Jun 2008 @ 8:48 PM

  27. re: #1
    Although it’s not exactly the same, the “undersea vents near greenland” thing cam up a while ago. This nice, short discussion talks about temperature measurement techniques, and how hard it is to actually measure temperature rises from vents anyway, i.e., the ocean is BIG.

    “Boiling the ocean” is hard work, whether as aa marketing strategy or in real life.

    Comment by John Mashey — 27 Jun 2008 @ 9:55 PM

  28. Whether the area around the North Pole is free of sea-ice at the end of this year’s melt season is not the important problem. The trend over the past couple of decades points toward a continuing decline in extent in the near future. Some analysts have suggested that all the sea-ice will melt within a decade, perhaps by 2013. The larger issues are: how much longer will it be before the Arctic Ocean is essentially free of sea-ice, and, once the sea-ice is gone, what will be the climate impact?

    To put those questions into perspective, the U.S. CCSP claims “According to paleoclimatic records, there is no evidence of an ice-free summer Arctic during the last 800 millennia…”

    Once the sea-ice is gone, there will no longer be a “plug” of multi-year sea-ice, which now limits the exiting flow of both sea-ice and water from the Arctic. When the plug is gone, there is little prospect of it re-forming, due to the positive feedback due to the albedo difference between the ocean and sea-ice. The resulting increase in low salinity water moving into areas which now exhibit THC sinking may be expected to weaken or halt this major component of ocean circulation.

    My question for the model builders is, do your models produce a rapid decline in sea-ice such as we are seeing and what happens to the climate as a result?

    E. S.

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 27 Jun 2008 @ 10:18 PM

  29. The comments regarding volcanoes in the Arctic probably relate to the Gakkel Ridge, where volcanic activity was discovered in 2001. It is worth keeping in mind that this is a slow-moving mid-oceanic ridge, and that it is under 3-5 km of water. The following short articles should provide some background on this issue.

    From the second article:

    “Much to their surprise, scientists aboard the 2001 cruise dredged up rocks from the Gakkel Ridge that appear to have been chemically transformed by hydrothermal venting. Sensors on their dredging lines also detected whispers of warmer water, chemicals, and particles that are present in plumes of vent fluids that billow out from small vents (the emphasis is mine).”

    If the Arctic ice sheet is to feel the effects of effusive volcanism from a depth of 3-5 km, it is not just a fairy tale . . . it is straight out of The Princess and the Pea.

    Comment by Jeff — 27 Jun 2008 @ 11:05 PM

  30. Pat, you may be off by 1 million square kilometers or 2.
    There is no sign of a summer cooling switchover, although there has been a Low pressure where there usually is a High pressure system, at the same area where the ice melted last year mainly North of the Yukon and Alaska. The Independent story headline is a small gamble, there can be massive cloud coverage (occurring as I write) continuing from the usual great snow and ice Arctic summer melt, but I am quite sure the ice extent may be equal or less than last year come September 20. The biggest non story of the melt of summer 2007, is that there was a wide new area of ocean, seen from space, but never reported by any film crew in person, it was the most disgraceful, or biggest environmental press blunder in my memory. However, the North Pole
    has world wide magnetic attraction, is a much more powerful media savvy area, than that huge area
    of forgotten Arctic Ocean open water, I don’t need to hope about someone out there who will explore what its like when nothing but water is seen at the Pole. Reality is often forgotten at the altar of fame, albeit geographical…….

    Comment by wayne davidson — 28 Jun 2008 @ 12:08 AM

  31. You say that what would be different would be the presence of large expanses of ice-free water. What’s a large expanse? 100 square metres? 100 square km?

    [Response: The latter and larger. Leads of 10’s of meters open up relatively frequently. – gavin]

    Comment by Bishop Hill — 28 Jun 2008 @ 12:27 AM

  32. #11 Barton Paul Levenson

    I don’t think the mean global geothermal flux can be a relevant measure when discusssing a volcano can it?

    Comment by Bishop Hill — 28 Jun 2008 @ 12:42 AM

  33. Why not listen to the pundits? I mean after all, conservative authorities like Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, Beck, Malkin and others know far more about climate science than….say climate scientists.

    Comment by Rick Cain — 28 Jun 2008 @ 12:59 AM

  34. While we are on the subject of the cryosphere (or at least the North Pole sea ice), I thought people might like to know that there is a new rag out:

    The Cryosphere (TC)
    An Interactive Open Access Journal of the European Geosciences Union
    Co-Editors-in-Chief: Jonathan L. Bamber, Jon Ove Hagen, Peter Lemke, John Pomeroy & Michiel Van den Broeke

    First published in 2007. Currently two volumes.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 28 Jun 2008 @ 1:26 AM

  35. PeterB (#10) wrote:

    The headline on the piece is probably why it gained so much traction. The very thought of Santa, his elves, Mrs. Claus, and rudolph’s home being submerged must be too much for Matt Drudge to take.

    Be careful what you say about Drudge — this year at least.


    Comment by Timothy Chase — 28 Jun 2008 @ 1:27 AM

  36. “The mean global sunlight absorbed by the climate system is about 237 watts per square meter.
    “The mean global geothermal flux is about 0.087 watts per square meter.
    Divide A by B. Discuss.”

    Well, thanks for the invitation.

    Volcanoes are very localized. Sunlight is not. Average volcanic heat over the globe could be a very small number, much smaller than the average value for global sunlight, as it is, but this would not mean the inhabitants of Pompeii would be wise to conclude that a local volcano would be less dangerous than the sun.

    Yes, volcanic activity will not by way of direct heat warm the planet much by comparison with the sun. However, as the Pompeians found out, large enough explosions can have huge local effects. Including, they could melt ice at the Pole, if they were big enough. I have no idea whether these particular explosions are big enough, and suspect BPL doesn’t either. But the comparison to sunlight across the planet is irrelevant.

    There are other phenomena which are similar. Mortar fire, for instance, is on average, across a position, over an hour, fairly low in power. But within a couple of feet, it has rather unfortunate effects on bystanders.

    Comment by fred — 28 Jun 2008 @ 2:19 AM

  37. The Telegraph also covered the issue under its earth section.

    They may have reported it first. Prof Peter Wadhams is even quoted, the bloke from Fred Pearces “with speed and violence” book fame.

    Comment by pete best — 28 Jun 2008 @ 4:28 AM

  38. The three regions with a most notorious sea ice area reduction in the summer last year were the East Siberian Sea Ice Area, the Chukchi Sea Ice Area and the Arctic Basin Sea Ice Area. It’s now June the 28th and the three above mentioned areas show the following INCREASES OF SEA ICE AREA compared to last year:

    East Siberian: +0.18M km2 (+20% increase in its sea ice area)
    Chukchi: +0.1M km2 (+30% increase in its sea ice area)
    Arctic Basin: +0.2M km2 (+5% increase in its sea ice area).

    The article in The Independent makes its predictions based on the increased speed of reduction of the Sea Ice Area compared to last year. But this increase is due to the fact that THERE IS MORE SEA ICE than last year. And all the extra ice has to be in lower latitudes, where it is hotter. Therefore, it has to melt faster. No surprise, really.


    Comment by Nylo — 28 Jun 2008 @ 4:42 AM

  39. #8 The symbolism is also important. Hopefully, this will help to discredit some of those who argue that anthropogenic climate change doesn’t exist, or that its impacts will be minimal.

    I think the effect is the opposite. Media says that there is no «ice this summer» and after the summer come the debunkers saying that there is more ice than last year (something we can expect this year). So who wins with this type of news? Only deniers!

    Apologize for my bad English.

    Comment by aflo — 28 Jun 2008 @ 4:44 AM

  40. #17 Mark

    Keeping true to what the scientific evidence shows is essential, breaching that rule would mean descending into the denialist’s mire. However for anyone involved in persuading the public, using examples the public can connect to emotionally is a technique that is more likely to work than any number of pages of dry scientific text.

    Those volcanoes are not going to matter much in terms of the Arctic ice melt.

    In addition to what you say:

    The area is well away from the seat of action in the Arctic (Chucki/Beaufort Sea) where the melting last year was due to ice-albedo feedback: Perovitch “Sunlight, water, and ice: Extreme Arctic sea ice melt during the summer of 2007″ abstract:

    There’s an ocean net heat flux of 3.8T Watt through the Fram Strait (between Iceland and Greenland) with 2.3T Watt through the Bering Strait, both into the Arctic.
    See slide 8 of this 3.91Mb pdf 2006 presentation by Maslowki re Arctic Basin heat fluxes.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 28 Jun 2008 @ 4:57 AM

  41. With regards denialist insinuation that an ice-free Arctic is not unusual, thereby implying that the current events are not unusual.

    From my reading such claims are not supported by evidence.

    Scientific Evidence.
    From Overpeck 2005 “Arctic System on Trajectory to New, Seasonally Ice-Free State”

    There is no paleoclimatic evidence for a seasonally ice free Arctic during the last 800 millennia.


    Despite 30 years of warming and ice loss, the Arctic cryosphere is still within the envelope of glacial-interglacial cycles that have characterized the past 800,000 years. However, although the Arctic is still not as warm as it was during the Eemian interglacial 125,000 years ago [e.g., Andersen et al., 2004], the present rate of sea ice loss will likely push the system out of this natural envelope within a century.

    It may in fact turn out to be much longer that 800,000 years.

    estimates range from 700,000 years in the opinion of Worsley and Herman,[11] to 4 million years in the opinion of Clark…

    According to Clark:

    …Recently, a few coccoliths have been reported from late Pliocene and Pleistocene central Arctic sediment (Worsley and Herman, 1980). Although this is interpreted to indicate episodic ice-free conditions for the central Arctic, the occurrence of ice-rafted debris with the sparse coccoliths is more easily interpreted to represent transportation of coccoliths from ice-free continental seas marginal to the central Arctic. The sediment record as well as theoretical considerations make strong argument against alternating ice-covered and ice-free….

    Historical Evidence.
    1) Chinese Navy and the ice free pole.
    This claim was based upon the book “1421” by Gavin Menzies:

    This entertaining amateur ‘detective’ novel, masquerading as revisionist history, may well prove to be the Piltdown Man of literature and should only be classified as fiction.

    As Tim Lambert notes with regards this claim: “if you are going to ignore the consensus view of scientists, you might as well ignore the consensus view of historians.”

    2) Amundsen’s 1903-1906 navigation of the Northwest Passage was not done in an ice free NW passage.

    British Library feature on the Search for the NW Passage:
    Princeton University feature on the Search for the NW passage.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 28 Jun 2008 @ 5:42 AM

  42. Re #19

    The longest analysis of satellite sea ice data is the Goddard Space Flight Center sea ice extent series, starting in 1972 for the Arctic and 1973 for the Antarctic

    So the longest analysis of sea ice starts just at the end of a 30 year period during which Arctic temperarues fell by almost 1 deg C. I take it this doesn’t bother you at all?

    Trying googling William Scoresby. WS noted ” … a remarkable dimunition of polar ice” in … wait for it …1817.

    [Response: Scoresby was referring to the single anomalous years – mainly in the Archipelago, where interannual variability is (or at least used to be) very large. Read the history of the Franklin expeditions and subsequent explorers (The Arctic Grail by Pierre Breton is very good) to find dozens of stories of random straits opening or not in summer. Variability is not the issue. Trends are. – gavin]

    Comment by John Finn — 28 Jun 2008 @ 5:54 AM

  43. Off-topic but currently topical: I’ve posted a new web page to my climatology site:

    It takes apart Ferenc Miskolczi’s pseudoscientific paper which is getting so much play from the denialists lately. I think I nailed his major errors, but I’d be grateful for any input by folks who really know this stuff. Thanks.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 28 Jun 2008 @ 5:58 AM

  44. Gavin,

    It is headlines that sell papers, and papers (or the media) that convinces people. Without catchy headlines, the scientific facts will not be read, even if the editor agrees to publish them. Because scientists, unlike the sceptics, have required that the headlines are 100% scientifically provable their message has been lost.

    For instance, take what you refer to as “the notoriously over-excited story in the New York Times back in August 2000.” In it Dr McCarthy reported that there was no ice at the North pole in 2000. That report was true. But Drs. Mark Serreze and Claire Parkinson lined up to debunk it in “the correction” implying that open water at the pole was not unusual. Perhaps someone should have told Robert Peary that!

    In that “correction”, McCarthy explained that the ice was much thinner during the journey to the pole, with open ocean there, not a large lead. However, Dr Mark Serreze stated “But there’s nothing to be necessarily alarmed about.” He doesn’t seem to be saying that now :-(

    The point I am trying to make is that by trying to be scientifically accurate Mark and Claire were actually misleading, if not down right untruthful. There was something to be alarmed about!

    Worse, there is something even more alarming happening now. Whether the North Pole itself is free of ice again this summer is not important. That may be bad for Santa Clause and for polar bears, but if there is a large increase in the loss of sea ice then the global albedo will be affected, and inevitably the global climate will be affected too. How will the 6.5 billion people on this planet cope with Peak Oil and a climate catastrophe at the same time?

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 28 Jun 2008 @ 6:00 AM

  45. In a recent article in GRL it was noted. “Arctic sea ice in 2007 was preconditioned to radical changes after years of shrinking and thinning in a warm climate. ” There is that refrain again preconditioned after years of warmth. We just read about this with respect to the loss of ice shelves in Antarctica. This same quote could be applied to the loss of some glaciers as well.

    Comment by Mauri Pelto — 28 Jun 2008 @ 6:07 AM

  46. Isn’t one reason why the story has ‘legs’ simply that a lot of people are vaguely aware of the North West Passage? At least one news item has touted this as an economic benefit from global warming. Any volunteers for the first cruise liner?

    Comment by valdemar — 28 Jun 2008 @ 6:11 AM

  47. Actually, if your story makes the top of The Drudge Report, than media pickup is assured. Frankly, you guys should be pitching your stuff to Drudge. He’s not bad on the issue, although he tends to balance off the real science with the BS in the name of balance.

    Comment by bigcitylib — 28 Jun 2008 @ 6:44 AM

  48. Perhaps loss of the Artic Ice is AGWs “ozone hole”. The history of CFCs and the ozone hole may be instructive.

    In the CFC story there was a significant time lag between scientists sounding the first warnings (Molina & Rowland 1974) about potential damage to the ozone layer from CFCs and the ultimately unstoppable political momentum to get rid of CFCs (Montreal 1987, London 1990, etc.).

    There were early bans on CFC aerosol propellants and actions by environmentalists, together with the predictable opposition of vested interests; but the “tipping point” was the discovery by British Antarctic survey scientists of an “ozone hole” over Antartica in October 1984.

    This dramaticic realisation of scientists’ warnings – in a way scientists had not predicted – made it absolutely clear to the vast majority of thinking people that CFCs were a problem.

    From that time on, sceptics and vested interest were seen for what they were. For example in 1987, the Reagan administration Interior Secretary Donald Hodel suggested that that the US government should encourage encourage the use of sunglasses and sunscreen, rather than violating the administration’s philosophy of minimal government regulation. The simple point that “fish don’t wear sunglasses”, made it clear that the issue went well beyond skin cancer.

    There are many parallels with AGW. Scientisfic warnings – in this case much older – taken up by environmentalists. Vested interests, procrastination by governments, counterclaims by skeptics.

    But now something dramatic is happening at one of the poles, and much sooner than scientists had (until recently) predicted. Once the arctic ice is gone the skeptics (undersea volcanism!) will look like fools to almost everyone.

    True the politics are much more fraught, our economies are much more carbon dependent than they were ever CFC dependent, and much more damage is in the pipeline, but the dangers of not tackling AGW head on will be self-evident.

    Comment by Bruce Tabor — 28 Jun 2008 @ 7:15 AM

  49. Here is a comment that I just posted over at

    When the Arctic ice melts, the sunlight goes into the exposed ocean waters and can be used by alga. Since the water is still fairly cold, there is lots of CO2 available for them to use for photosynthesis. As the alga grow the CO2 concentration drops but it is replenished by CO2 from the air. More exposed cold ocean water, the more CO2 sucked out of the air.

    The alga are the base of the food chain and are eaten by zooplankton and other small animals such as baby fish. Thus, if the ice melts away early, more food will eventually become available for the entire ecosystem.

    The seals will be happy because there will be more fish to eat. The polar bears will be quite happy for there will be more seals to eat. The Inuit hunters will be happiest of all because there will be more seals and polar bears.

    For sure the Arctic will freeze over when winter comes, and the heat of fusion will be eventually be lost to outer space. So why is everbody worrying about the ice melting? Melting ice helps in keeping the planet cool.

    [Response: All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds… – gavin]

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 28 Jun 2008 @ 7:34 AM

  50. The North Pole is one of the fabled “Ends of the Earth”. It is a place ‘with-out man’, wild and in a natural state. If AGW is changed the North Pole, then it surely is affecting us.

    These symbolic locales cut through the noise of the weather and provide the evidence of human effects. Sort of like a picture of empty beer cans on top on Mt Everest. (Not that I’ve seen such a picture; I’m just saying.)

    Comment by Greg — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:04 AM

  51. Why do you keep on telling your kids funny stories about father Christmas living at North Pole? Everyone should know that he lives in Finnish Lapland. What on earth would his reindeer eat at North Pole. Ice?

    Comment by arja — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:22 AM

  52. Gavin,

    While RC readers are of course aware of the reality, wouldn’t it make sense, in the interests of science education and integrity, to highlight a simple disclaimer in sea/polar ice postings that:

    * There are only ~100 years of anecdotal sea ice observations.
    * There are only ~30 years of comprehensive sea ice observations.
    * Therefore, readers should be cautious about making, or listening to, statements about “recorded history” with respect to polar ice.

    Even if the ice isn’t always solid, let’s stick to cold hard reality in our statements. No need to feed the tabloids.

    [Response: “recorded history” is obviously only the history that has been recorded (as you say, that goes back about 100 years – but in some places much longer). If I meant to say “in all of history” or “thousands of years” I would have. – gavin]

    Comment by MrPete — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:42 AM

  53. I think it is pretty clear that most members of the public only know two things about the Arctic ocean, polar bears, and the north pole. They also think of the NP as the coldest point on earth. So if they hear NP is icefree, that will be conflated with “all the arctic ice has melted”, which I suspect is conflated with GIS has melted. And you can bet the main stream media, will all have a special, showing the open water. PR wise, if it happens it could be a psychological tipping point.

    (7) Gavin neglected to also point out, that the arctic is more sensitive than the antarctic because the land based ice in the antarctic is very stable, so the land ice albedo positive feedback is not operating very strongly there. In the NH a lot of land surrounding the arctic ocean is subject to the combination of decrease in seasonal snow cover (with climate warming), and decreasing albedo due to vegetation feedbacks. Both these factors (as well as sea ice albedo feedbacks, give the arctic region very strong positive feedback which regionally amplify the GW signal.

    Comment by Thomas — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:59 AM

  54. about an geographically special, but climatically unimportant, single point traditionally associated with a christianized pagan gift-giving festival

    …associated only in America. In Denmark, said child-loving gentleman is a native to Greenland; in Finland, his domicile is an Eastern-border hilltop called Korvatunturi; in the Netherlands, the Christian-pagan conflation did not take place and the gift-bringer, long-dead but historical bishop Nikolaus of Myra, Asia Minor, arrives from Spain on his gift-packed steam ship on December 5 — nothing to do with Christmas! :-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 28 Jun 2008 @ 9:28 AM

  55. Regarding the undersea volcansim:
    Has anyone calculated the heat that the undersea volcano would need to emit to melt all that ice? And whether that result is consistent with temperature changes in the Arctic Ocean?

    Seems like a useful mathematical exercise for some geologist/oceanographer (not me).

    Once could note that despite all the volcanoes, Iceland is still covered with ice.

    This article has a few reference to under-ice volcanoes:

    Comment by Bruce — 28 Jun 2008 @ 9:34 AM

  56. #15 HarryA:

    First off, the effect of melting sea ice would be close to nil, as it floats and displaces an equal amount (mass) of sea water. If it melts, also the displacement effect goes away.

    As for melting continental ice sheets, yes, that would increase the Earth’s moment of inertia about its axis of rotation, leading to a slight increase in length of day. Also the position of the pole (relative to the Earth’s solid body or crust) would change (but not by much). The position of the Earth axis relative to the ecliptic (the well known 23 degs responsible for the seasons) would not change due to this. (But it does vary over time as modelled by celestial mechanics.)

    The change in Earth’s moment of inertia, a quantity called J2-dot, due to the ongoing isostatic rebound in Canada after the last ice age, has been well observed by satellite orbit monitoring, e.g., of the Lageos laser reflecting satellites.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 28 Jun 2008 @ 9:56 AM

  57. So. How do things look down in Antarctica?

    Comment by MattN — 28 Jun 2008 @ 10:20 AM

  58. Re: #4 Andy Revkin

    Thanks for the note the other day. But that post never made it in to your blog with the ipcc links. I read your piece

    and enjoyed your perspectives.

    FYI I’m developing a movie script dedicated to the science of understanding this global warming event.


    The script is in development and some fine scientists are helping. Getting it right is one thing, getting it illustrated so non-scientists understand it is the hard part.

    Re: #13 PeterW

    I’m recommending the Bahamas at least for now.

    Re: #16 Mark/Gavin

    I agree with Gavin, “themes and ideas that resonate” reach people. In my own (previously denialist family) I told them a couple years ago, how are you going to explain to your kids where Santa lives when the arctic ice is gone? That made them pause.

    Illustrative themes help, as long as they are not using the denialist tactics of fabrication out of context. I believe Gavin has this in the right context.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (The Centrist Party) — 28 Jun 2008 @ 10:57 AM

  59. The media interest about an ice-free north pole prompted me to look at climate model output from CCSM3. CCSM3 is one of only two IPCC models that can keep up with the sea ice decline in the satellite record. It has excursions as big as September 2007 about 1% of the time in the early 21st century.

    The model estimates odds of an ice-free north pole in September are about 1 in 70 for the decade starting in 2008. The north pole is ice-free more frequently in the upcoming decades and it is virtually always ice-free by 2040.

    The model almost certainly does not have perfect natural variability or sensitivity to anthropogenic forcing. I think it is probably better than our guesses though!

    Comment by Cecilia Bitz — 28 Jun 2008 @ 10:59 AM

  60. re 33 (Sorry for the formatting – cutting & pasting from spreadsheet to text editor to RC)

    Lister, C. R. B., Heat Flow and Hydrothermal Circulation, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol. 8, p.95

    “lava heat content of 1350cal/cc”

    “The worlds largest oceanic hotspot, the Hawaiian/Emperor seamount chain, may put out as much as 10e9 cal/s,…”

    lava heat content 1350 cal/cc
    ice melting 80 cal/g

    volume erupted 4 km3
    = 4e+9 m3
    = 4e+16 cm3
    heat released = 5.4e+19 cal (about 17 years worth of Hawaii hotspot heat output, if my math is correct)

    ice melt mass 6.75e+17 gram

    arctic ice area ~14e+6 km2
    = 1.4e+13 m2
    = 1.4e+17 cm2

    thickness melted 4.82 cm (if uniform over total arctic ice area)

    area melted 7.36e+11 m2
    @ 1m thickness =7.36e+5 km2 (“first year ice… thickness from 0.3 to 2 meters” NSIDC glossary)

    2007 melt area 7.72e+6 km2 (rough estimate from NSIDC charts)

    % due to eruption 9.5 % (assuming the average thickness of melted ice was 1 meter, and not allowing for any of the heat being lost to warming the 4 km thick sea water column, or air, or evaporation)

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 28 Jun 2008 @ 11:17 AM

  61. It currently seems that the willingness of the media to cover global warming is directly proportional to the financial costs of the aspect of global warming that they are covering.

    Thus, articles that link the loss of Arctic sea ice to global warming are acceptable, and any news article on Arctic sea ice will generally touch on the role of global warming – usually with a mention for polar bears, which are indeed cute (not too cuddly, tho).

    What isn’t acceptable is to directly link extreme weather events to global warming, as that opens up some financial liability issues that end up on the doorstep of the fossil fuel industry. More flooding, droughts and heat waves are expected in a warming regime. The explanation is pretty clear: a warmer atmosphere means more evaporation over land and oceans, leading to a drier continental interior and a moister atmosphere. Large masses of warm moist air can produce more precipitation, leading to unprecedented flooding. In other regions, persistent high temperatures lead to more frequent droughts and heat waves.

    Actually, a few news outlets are covering this: – but most are not making the connection. Almost no U.S. news outlets have drawn the connection between flooding in the Midwest, drought in the Southwest, and global warming – but that’s not the case with the European media (and European governments), which regularly points out that everyone needs to start thinking of these “extreme conditions” as the new normals.

    Where the U.S. media really fails entirely is on solutions to global warming – and U.S. academic and scientific institutions aren’t doing their jobs here either. For example, NASA – JPL has a good basic overview of global warming at – until you read their “solutions” section, that is. There are in fact only two solutions, both of which need to be implemented: halt the use of fossil fuels, and halt deforestation.

    That leads to the large and important question: without fossil fuels, what do we do for our energy supply? Sunlight and wind are the two basic energy resources that won’t run out. The technology is already well-developed and ready to be implemented – everything from solar themal to solar PV to giant wind turbines to micro wind turbines.

    However, I’ve never seen a single media article in any U.S. press outlet that covered these issues – the large-scale evidence for global warming (melting glaciers, warming poles, shrinking sea ice, ocean temperatures) to the local scale (more intense hurricanes, more intense precipitation, more frequent droughts and heat waves) while also discussing the real causes (fossil fuels and deforestation) and the real solutions (replacement of fossil fuels with renewables, limiting deforestation, and halting the use of fossil fuels, especially coal and oil.)

    The only real reason seems to be financial – fossil fuel interests and global fossil-fueled transportation & electricity interests don’t want to face lawsuits over the costs of these extreme weather events, and they also don’t want to see their markets for fossil fuels shrink. There is probably a decent legal argument that the fossil fuel industry could be held legally responsible for a certain fraction of recent crop losses due to Midwest flooding, for example – especially since they’ve waged a very well-documented multi-decade PR campaign that attempted to hide and distort the evidence for global warming.

    The current U.S. media coverage on the fossil fuel industry and global warming can be seen in this article – a long interview with Chevron’s CEO that doesn’t even mention global warming – apparently, it’s not a question the reporter thinks is relevant:

    However, the NYT, to their credit, did cover the current efforts by the BLM to sabotage the expansion of solar thermal electricity generation in the U.S.: – that would be the same BLM that has been working overtime to transfer public lands to fossil fuel interests for the past 8 years or so.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 28 Jun 2008 @ 11:23 AM

  62. Re #9, #30

    Historical and recent climate data are valuable in assessment of climate trends and in prediction,

    even IF, we have passed one or more of the climate tipping points.

    Comment by pat neuman — 28 Jun 2008 @ 11:34 AM

  63. Re #44


    Again I agree with you and this goes to the discussion points raised in the Ics Shelf Instability thread. That scientists are reticent when speaking outside of the purview of their field.

    I think that Dr. Hansen has been doing this very well combining his professional understanding and knowledge with his perspectives as an individual speaking as a citizen.

    I hope that more scientists follow this example and offer their perspectives as individuals/citizens based on their knowledge and understanding.


    Comment by John P. Reisman (The Centrist Party) — 28 Jun 2008 @ 11:39 AM

  64. I find the following web site a nice place to compare Artic Ice levels, to date I am more worried about June of 1979 and 1999 then current ice levels, but I plan to keep looking!

    Comment by T Siefferman — 28 Jun 2008 @ 12:01 PM

  65. In post #40, CobblyWorlds points to a recent analysis by Perovich et al. (2008), which uses calculations of solar energy input to the Arctic Ocean to assess the melting last summer. However, Perovich et al. make the usual error in assuming the values for albedo of the ocean and sea-ice.

    They assert:
    “Open water reflects only 7% of the incident solar radiation, compared to 85% for snow-covered sea ice and 65% for bare sea ice….”

    Actually, the fact that the direct component of the incident sunlight arrives at a shallow angle to the surface and thus experiences a much larger albedo, as one would expect for any transparent material. This fact has been known since early tower experiments in the 1970’s, which indicated albedo values approaching 30% or more, depending on wind speed. On the other side of the equation, the albedo for sea-ice is likely to be too large, since the sea-ice begins to melt and form ponds, which have properties much closer to that of open water. Measured albedo during the peak of the melt season can be as low as 40%. Thus, there isn’t a great deal of difference between the albedo values during the seasonal peak in insolation during the melt season.

    During the SHEBA experiment, measurements of incident and reflected energy were collected, but there was no coincident measurement of the direct beam. Also, the Eppley pyranometers used have a cosine angle roll off for energy with high incident angle. As a result, I don’t think their results to be of great value, even thought these data are often cited. See: Perovich, D. K., T. C. Grenfell, B. Light, and P. V. Hobbs (2002), Seasonal evolution of the albedo of multiyear Arctic sea ice, J. Geophys. Res., 107(C10), 8044, doi:10.1029/2000JC000438.

    Part of this repeated confusion is due to the fact that we often see composite photographs derived from satellites. From this point of view, there is a stark contrast between the bright sea-ice and the dark ocean. These photographs usually view the scene below by looking straight down at nadir, or nearly so. The light which is captured by the camera is reflected from incident light which tends to arrive at the surface from nearly overhead and is likely to be diffuse in origin. It’s true that this portion of the incident light experiences the large albedo differences as noted in Perovich et al. (2008), but this light represents only a fraction of the total incident sunlight at the surface.

    E. S.

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 28 Jun 2008 @ 12:27 PM

  66. Ok ok I hear you all but if the polar ice cap is melting where is the vast sea level rise every man and his dog is going on about?
    I know this posting won’t be allowed to be posted up but you never know, Realclimate may actually answer some relevant questions sometime soon.

    [Response: Ask some and see. (Note that the Arctic sea ice is floating and only has a very minor effect on sea levels – the worry is in relation to the land based ice-sheets (Greenland and West Antarctica)). – gavin]

    Comment by tony — 28 Jun 2008 @ 12:40 PM

  67. A question:

    What do we know about the age distribution of ice in the arctic? If some suitably huge area of the arctic is totally free of ice this summer, could it then be claimed with confidence that this was the first time such a large region was free of ice in “x” years, where x is some largeish number like 50,000 or 100,000 ? What would be the basis for such a claim? Ice cores? I know such statements are/ will be made but I don’t know their scientific basis. I don’t know what the long term average rate for replacement of sea ice in the arctic is. If it is 50,000 years or something, then I presume claims about how often the arctic has been totally free of ice could easily be based on ice cores. If it is 1,000 years, say, then probably all of the ice has been replaced within the last few thousand years it seems you couldn’t use ice cores to support statements about it being the first time in 50,000 years, say, that the north pole was this free of ice. ???

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 28 Jun 2008 @ 1:03 PM

  68. Martin Verneer notes that concerns related to the “christianized pagan gift-giving festival” are somewhat misplaced since Santa’a workshop isn’t generally thought to be at the North Pole specifically. That’s a comforting thought, but will we ever be able to adjust to the concept of the “Barge of Solitude”?

    In a serious vein, the map plot from the Independent article is at least a few weeks old. In addition to an overall retreat, IIRC one change since then has been that the first-year ice has broken through the Fram Strait, which seems significant since that hasn’t been observed to happen before.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 28 Jun 2008 @ 1:03 PM

  69. Re: #19

    Dear cce,

    I have just been to your site and began reading and could hardly “put it down”! Please publish this as a book! It is wonderful, and it takes a lot these days to keep my attention. (I am unfortunately getting to be pretty jaded.)

    I loved it!

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 28 Jun 2008 @ 1:13 PM

  70. I enjoy reading your blog. Regarding the “volcano”, in 1999, a team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, led by geophysicist Rob Reves-Sohn, funded by the NSF, discovered Arctic Ocean thermovents along the Gakkel Ridge. The 1800 km Gakkel Ridge runs across the arctic from Greenland to Siberia and is submerged up to 4 km deep. Geologists now know that the Gakkel Ridge is an active zone of slow spreading tectonic plates with massive amounts of activity including explosive emissions of super carbonated magma that have blown the tops off dozens of undersea mountains, produced mineral/metal riches from extensive hydrothermal vents throughout the range and holds sea life around smoker chimneys with abundant hydrogen-sulfide based ecosystems.
    It is the focus of scientists from around the world because of:
    Governments seeking to stake their sea bottom dominion claims, grant money, greed/wealth, reputations/degrees, adventure, and advancement of human knowledge . The arctic seems to be teeming with researchers (American, Russian, and Canadian), their ice breakers, ships, submarines, and tourist flotillas! See ScienceDaily for info.

    Comment by TedH — 28 Jun 2008 @ 2:12 PM

  71. Ike Solem wrote:

    However, the NYT, to their credit, did cover the current efforts by the BLM to sabotage the expansion of solar thermal electricity generation in the U.S.: – that would be the same BLM that has been working overtime to transfer public lands to fossil fuel interests for the past 8 years or so.

    I urge everyone to read that article. It is appalling that while the federal government is pushing offshore oil drilling and mountaintop-removal coal mining, proposing to strip-mine shale oil and tar sands and to dramatically expand the production of high-level nuclear waste, they have declared a two-year moratorium on new solar electric power plants on public lands — which have some of the best solar energy resources in the world — for “environmental reasons”.

    Meanwhile, the meager federal investment and production tax credits for solar and wind energy have not been renewed and are due to expire this year.

    If the federal government were actively seeking to crush the solar and wind energy industries in order to protect fossil fuel and nuclear interests from the competition, they couldn’t find a more effective way to do it.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Jun 2008 @ 2:43 PM

  72. What are considered to be the dominant physical processes responsible for the recent (15 to 20 years) variability of the ice at the Arctic circle? Specifically, are the processes related to thermal matters such as increases in the air and water temperatures, increased radiative energy deposition onto the surfaces of the ice field, or others, or are they more related to structural issues?

    Have any of the GCMs correctly estimated the observed trends?

    Have any special-purpose models correctly estimated the observed trends?

    Thank you for any assistance for finding information about these. Google Scholar gives so many hits that it’s difficult to know where to start.

    Comment by M Seaman — 28 Jun 2008 @ 3:34 PM

  73. @66, tony, floating ice doesn’t raise the level of the water in which it floats – the simplest example of this is to pour a full glass of water with ice, and let it melt. The glass doesn’t overflow as the ice turns liquid. This is where science meets single malt :)

    (strictly, it does, but only a *very* small amount; for our purposes, the difference is negligible)

    When ice is *added* to water, the level goes up, of course. Once the barrier of the sea-ice is gone, there is a concern that the land-ice in places like Greenland will melt into the sea. That *would* be disruptive, causing a sea-level rise and introducing a lot of dense fresh water into the circulation currents.

    Comment by Andy Gates — 28 Jun 2008 @ 3:37 PM

  74. SecularAnimist (#71) wrote:

    I urge everyone to read that article. It is appalling that while the federal government is pushing offshore oil drilling and mountaintop-removal coal mining, proposing to strip-mine shale oil and tar sands and to dramatically expand the production of high-level nuclear waste, they have declared a two-year moratorium on new solar electric power plants on public lands — which have some of the best solar energy resources in the world — for “environmental reasons”.

    Synthetic oil made from coal may do quite well — from an economic perspective. Here is an article touting its feasibility back in 2006 when oil was $40 per barrel rather than $140 per barrel:

    Thanks for the Cheap Gas, Mr. Hitler!
    How Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa perfected one of the world’s most exciting new fuel sources.
    By Daniel Gross
    Posted Monday, Oct. 23, 2006, at 3:30 PM ET

    The emissions per unit of energy is roughly twice that of conventional oil.

    Please see:

    Search for New Oil Sources Leads to Processed Coal
    By MATTHEW L. WALD, July 5, 2006

    But tar sands beats this — with emissions roughly three times that of conventional oil. National governments might not give such matters much thought — though the last seems to have caught the attention of mayors.

    Please see:

    U.S. mayors pass resolution urging cities not use oilsands derived fuel (US-Mayors-Oilsands)
    Jun 23, 2008 5:00:00 PM MST
    The Canadian Press

    Not that the mayors have much of any real power in the matter, I’m afraid.

    Non-traditional fossil fuel promises to be much dirtier than conventional oil. I wonder whether this been factored into business as usual scenarios?

    Unfortunately, non-traditional fossil fuel has the advantage that we can leave a great deal of the infrastructure the same — such as the internal combustion engine. And unfortunately, whether the subject is water, gasoline, electricity or humans, one principle seems rather invariant: that things tend to follow the path of least resistance.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 28 Jun 2008 @ 3:41 PM

  75. Gee, tony– there’s your post, up for all to see. Too bad it’s so silly. The arctic ice is already floating– melting it has no net effect on sea level, since it’s already displacing its mass in water. Archimedes could have told you that.

    Comment by Bryson Brown — 28 Jun 2008 @ 3:50 PM

  76. Here’s Dr. James E. Hansen on Youtube. I was hoping to find his senate testimony there, but no luck. This video is 4 days old.

    Comment by catman306 — 28 Jun 2008 @ 4:17 PM

  77. RE: 30

    Hey All,

    I apologize for the digression to the earlier discussion; however, I seem to recall several several instances in which there has been ice free areas in the polar region over the last 50 years.

    Two simple examples:

    A textual recording regarding polar adventures:

    A pictorial recording regarding polar adventures: Though the truth is that images such as below, (Note the 5th photo down from the top: ), are not naturally occurring openings. However, the depth of the ice even then was not significant, based on many journal notes I have read.

    Point being, regardless of the temperature and winds even in the middle of NH winter, the polar ice dimensions, away from pressure ridges, are not very thick as a rule. This is quite different from the example of the ice that used to form in Lake Erie as the ice dragged the bottom and scarred the rock as recently as the 1970’s.

    This does not mean that the current ice melt pattern is an example of anything less then excessive heat content in the region. In addition to warming, the observations regarding ice melt could also be related to increased ocean salinity. It is possible the Arctic ice melt could also be related to ocean currents carrying highly saline water caused by the recent increased SSTs in the temperate oceans between 1985 and 2005 to the region.

    Meaning that the recent ice melt is likely due to global warming with an additional participant that has not been explored yet. Hence, this may offer the opportunity for additional research and model fodder to address how regional deviations can participate in global changes. It may be possible that this could be similar to the earlier thread regarding the West African Iodine and Bromine effects on methane or sulfides. If the research holds up it appears to not decrease the accuracy of the models, only to offer the opportunity to better model the physical processes.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 28 Jun 2008 @ 4:24 PM

  78. #38 Nylo, The vagueries of Polar ice are well known, on one side of the Pole you may have more ice, on the other less. There was a long standing Anticyclone SW of North American side of pole exacerbating arctic ocean gyre movement, causing more open water there, as it is big open area right now. Polar ice does not behave in a continuous expected as usual way, Polar sea Ice changes with the wind and with so many other factors as well. This is why, stating no ice at the Pole may be wrong, or premature, winds and ice momentum may make it not so. A better number or graph to watch is
    total ice extent,
    2008 extent is a little behind 2007, it should be surprising to some as winter was cold in some qaudrants around the Pole. However there is more first year ice now, the melt may be greater this year for that reason.

    #52 Historic evidence may be found in the DNA of Bowhead whales. the Atlantic and Pacific Bowheads are genetically different suggesting a long long time of ice barriers, in other words,
    this seasonal melting of vast Arctic Ocean ice, never happenned, all the way back to when there was no Bowhead DNA distinction.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 28 Jun 2008 @ 4:27 PM

  79. Wayne, the NOAA website says:

    “September Arctic sea ice has decreased between 1973 and 2007 at a rate of about -10% +/- 0.3% per decade. Sea ice extent for September for 2007 was by far the lowest on record at 4.28 million square kilometers, eclipsing the previous record low sea ice extent by 23%.” […] “Snow extent and sea-ice are also projected to decrease further in the northern hemisphere, and glaciers and ice-caps are expected to continue to retreat.”

    I’d like to see what the 5 year trend looks like.

    Comment by pat neuman — 28 Jun 2008 @ 4:47 PM

  80. John Pearson, do a little reading. You’re asking if we know anything from drilling “ice cores” in the Arctic sea ice, but I hope you realize that’s silly. It’s thin floating ice there — if you read just a bit (try some of these):
    you’ll find plenty of information on the age of that ice is documented. Not by drilling cores, but by how much accumulates and melts.

    Yes, core drilling does reveal a lot about the age of ice — but it’s cores drilled in the sediment below the water. You can look that up too. It’s revealed a great deal about the age of the ice shelves in the Antarctic.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Jun 2008 @ 4:48 PM

  81. I have a Quibble:

    “- the worry is in relation to the land based ice-sheets (Greenland and West Antarctica). – gavin”

    WAIS is mostly not land based.

    I would like to repeat my query from a previous thread:

    Does anyone have a link to the presentation referred to in the article


    Comment by sidd — 28 Jun 2008 @ 5:17 PM

  82. RE # 49 Harold Pierce Jr.

    Why do you assume marine phytoplankton in the arctic are CO2-limited? Can you cite any published papers on this?

    Regardless, even if they are, the zooplankton that eat the phytoplankton, and the fish that eat the zooplankton, will exhale CO2 into the water. And the seals and polar bears will exhale their CO2 directly into the atmosphere. So, unless you can come up with a mechanism by which the phytoplankton are sequestered in the deep sea and not undergo decomposition, it is difficult to see how there could be a net reduction in atmospheric or oceanic CO2 levels.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 28 Jun 2008 @ 5:25 PM

  83. Re #76 catman306

    Here is a collection of Hansens videos from the house hearing on political interference:

    Comment by John P. Reisman (The Centrist Party) — 28 Jun 2008 @ 5:40 PM

  84. 80: One of the purposes of this site is to educate the layman. I don’t always have time to wade through a bunch of journal articles in areas that have nothing to do with my field. Next time you want to answer someone’s question I suggest you either attempt to answer it without lecturing them about how silly it is or simply keep quiet. I have no idea how people figure out how ice free the poles have been over long periods of time. How is it done? Can it be done?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 28 Jun 2008 @ 5:47 PM

  85. Here is the URL for the pictures of the three subs at the north pole


    [Response: No disinformation sites please – similar photos can be seen here or here instead. As I stressed above, the issue is not a few leads in the pack ice, but genuine large expanses of open water. – gavin]

    Comment by A.Syme — 28 Jun 2008 @ 5:47 PM

  86. @81 Sidd:

    “I have a Quibble:

    WAIS is mostly not land based.”

    A minor quibble indeed! (why even make it?)

    Some (are you talking volume or surface are?) of the WAIS may be over terrain currently under the local “sea level” but it is indeed grounded and as such much (most?) of it is supported above the water and it’s melting will indeed contribute to sea level rise.


    Comment by Arch Stanton — 28 Jun 2008 @ 6:53 PM

  87. Re (61) : The BLM moratorium on new Environmental Impact Statements is indeed a nasty development that should be remedied. Especially in these times of economic decline, we ought to be able to hire enough staff to handle the demand. Unless or until there is evidence that it is deliberate sabotage ( this is certainly possible for Bush appointees ), I wouldn’t attribute it to deliberate sabotage. Bureaucracies do tend to operate in this this manner.

    (82/49) Regardless of the potential effect on CO2 uptake by the seasonally icefree polar ocean, there are two major effects from the icefree ocean that should be of general concern. The first is that even if (and I think it is a big if) the polar biological productivity were to increase, it is still a major change to the ecology of the region. The second, is that the boundary conditions on both the atmosphere and oceans will be substantially different from what they used to be. This would have an effect on both atmospheric and ocean circulation and heat balance that would have to be modeled by detailed ocean/atmospheric climate modeling.

    Comment by Thomas — 28 Jun 2008 @ 7:09 PM

  88. I should have said that the paleoclimatologists who study sea floor sediments are pretty confident that the high lattitude arctic ocean has not been ice free for many hundreds of thousands of years. An ice-free ocean, and the extra sunlight implied by that, would have a significant impact on the microfossils that are deposited on the seafloor. I don’t know any of the details, but I do know that the detailed study of these is a major source of information on paleo-climate.

    Comment by Thomas — 28 Jun 2008 @ 7:30 PM

  89. John Pearson, you want information on
    > how people figure out how ice free the poles have been over long periods of time. How is it done? Can it be done?

    Yes. The North Pole is an ocean. The ice is only a few meters thick and much of it melts each summer. The South Pole is also an ocean, but it is underneath an ice cap several miles thick.

    Antarctic ice cores do provide a lot of information about conditions over geologic time.

    Around the edge of the Antarctic, broad beds of sediment are present, some of which have been under ice shelves that have lasted a very long time. Drilling into those sedimentary layers provides a history of the kind of organisms that lived there.

    Arctic ice can’t tell much from ice core drilling because it is never very old. Instead cores are drilled from the sedimentary layers below the water. Each layer of sediment is a record of the kind of organisms that lived in the water.

    Open water favors very different kinds of organisms than ice covered water, so the sediment record gives a picture of when and for how long there was ice on top of the water in a particular area.

    Try try clicking this link, most of these after the first few science journal abstracts are brief popular science articles on topics that will help you find answers to some of your questions.

    Other readers here will be able to point you to other sources. Most of us responding here are like you and like me, ordinary readers not experts in the field — most of us try to help point out answers to the basic questions that are often asked.

    Putting “paleo” into the Search box at the top of the page and searching this site will find much more.

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Jun 2008 @ 7:52 PM

  90. Re 82: Chuck: There is a mechanism by which ocean eco-systems sequester CO2 into the deep sea. It is called “the biological pump” ( and basically involves inorganic carbon (calcium carbonate) sinking. My understanding of this process is that it mostly occurs near coastal upwellings which bring up nutrients from the deep and that it is responsible for a significant fraction of ocean carbon sequestration. That being said, I have no idea what role this might play in a world with an ice free arctic ocean. I believe that will require measurements that can’t be made until the arctic is ice free. (Just for the record: I certainly don’t agree with Pierce’s “why worry” sentiments. )

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:00 PM

  91. Specific pointer to article and illustration on sediment cores under ice and what’s learned:

    “The ANDRILL objective for this year is to look at the sediments trapped under the modern day ice shelf (see graphic …) in an effort to model how much—and how rapidly—the Ross Ice Shelf has changed. Layers of sediment that date to times when the site was covered by ice are coarse grained and include large pieces of gravel (the geological term is “diamict”). Sediment from the years when the drill site was covered by open ocean are made of diatoms, tiny marine plankton (“diatomite”). These very different rock types give geologists a clear picture of what conditions were like in the geological past. We are drilling back in time: The deeper we drill, the older the sediments get.”
    “The sediments tell the story. An example of rock types and interpretation from the ANDRILL core.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:06 PM

  92. RE: #82

    As long as the aeals and polar polar bears are alive, they become CO2 sinks since they need lots of fat for insulation to keep warm. Fish are CO2 sinks also. If any these animlas die and sink to the ocean floor, they are consummed by scavengers such as crabs and lobsters. The shells of these animals are CO2 sinks because these are mostly chitin. As their bodies of the animals decay, nutrients are released and these can be used by filter feeder whose shells are usually calcium carbonate, which is a CO2 sinks.

    Nothing goes to waste in the ocean, and most of the carbon ends up as limestone or in coral reefs.

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:12 PM

  93. I have been wondering a couple of things about the ice that is melting up there.

    For example, 20 years ago (and I am just picking the year out of a hat), I assume that the ice was much thicker. I also assume that warm water both from the Pacific and the Atlantic has gone into the Arctic Sea and done some melting of that ice from below.

    But, in my certainly imperfect understanding, doesn’t the ice first need to absorb lots of kcals before it will actually melt?

    So, for example, has anyone calculated the kcals, over time, that were necessary to make the sea ice reach the melting point?

    Has this value been added to the calculations when searching for the so-called “missing” heat content of the oceans?

    [N.B. Obviously, I don’t know all that much about physics, ok?]

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:44 PM

  94. Hank: I appreciate the links but those are all for Antarctica. Why is there so little on the arctic?

    92: “As long as the aeals and polar polar bears are alive, they become CO2 sinks since they need lots of fat for insulation to keep warm.” This is just nonsense. Most of the rest of your post is nonsensical in detail, but correct in it’s premise that biological processes send some CO2 (in the form of calcium carbonate) to the depths. But the claim that “nothing goes to waste in the ocean” is non sequitur . The ocean is fully capable of disgorging large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. It isn’t “waste”. It is just what physics/chemistry/geochemistry/ecology dictates. The efficiency of the biological pump depends on poorly characterized mechanisms. For example; heterotrophic bacteria can compete with carbon fixing autotrophic bacteria for nitrogen which can result in a substantial reduction of carbon export to the deep since the heterotrophic bacteria send CO2 back to the atmosphere via respiration. The nature of this competition is not well understood.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:50 PM

  95. I have a question for Gavin or Mark Serreze, or rather a comment and a question because I was surprised that youz guys referred to the opening of the Arctic Sea in the summer as largely “symbolic.”

    OK, it was bound to happen under the current conditions, so it was expected, but “symbolic”?

    As PeterW in #13 noted, and as I am sure you are aware, the change in albedo is bound to have all sorts of detrimental effects.

    Also, I think it is quite all right to use this tipping point to catch the attention of the public who are sleeping at the wheel.

    If the denialists can use junk science to grip the public’s mind, what is wrong with using facts?

    The change in albedo for such a long period of time each year is bound to cause all sorts of weird weather that we have never before experienced. Hot air is going to go up there, and what is going to come back down? Not the colder air we used to get.

    And the remaining glaciers and ice caps of the Canadian Archipelago are gonna go. Today, Pituffik (Thule), Greenland, hit a record high of 62 F, breaking the old record of 57 F, set in 2002. OK, I know, we can call that part of the natural variability, but well…

    [Response: The symbolic part is the focus on the North Pole. The substantive part is the Arctic wide decline in ice cover. – gavin]

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 28 Jun 2008 @ 8:59 PM

  96. Citing a speech by a retired TV weatherman who could no more construct a climate model than a television camera , and the philosophical authority of one “Thomas Eddington ” ( the inventor of the supernova light bulb, perhaps –surely not the Sir Arthur who confirmed the relativistic precession of the orbit of Mercury?) ,James Kerian, scion of the North Dakota potato, fruit and nut-sorting machine dynasty, and recent mechanical engineering graduate of Gonzaga University, has authored a Wall Street Journal online oped entitled “Yellow Science”, equating global warming warnings with the “Yellow Journalism ” William Randolph Hearst devised to spawn the Spanish American War .It baldly ,and bizarrely, asserts that no hard scientific evidence links human activity and climate change. None. Nada. Zip.

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 28 Jun 2008 @ 9:18 PM

  97. Re: 69

    Thanks Tenney. At this stage, I’d love any input (contact info on site). I’m especially interested in any scientific blunders/misrepresentation or false logic that anyone can spot. This thread has more on what I’m trying to accomplish.

    Thanks again!

    Comment by cce — 28 Jun 2008 @ 9:43 PM

  98. RE: 87/88

    Hey Thomas,

    My apologies as I do not have confirming evidence; however, I suspect that ice cover is not going to cause a major reduction in phytoplankton activity. Based on the recent work done in Antarctica it would seem that ice covered areas are also biologically rich. Then again it is possible that the evidence only occurs at the edge of large regions of ice cover, (it was not clearly described in the article I had read).

    The only question I have would be, is there a possibility that the ice cover may actually be protecting phytoplankton from UVA/B energy? Most images of ice floes taken from beneath the ice suggests there may be rich algae and bacteria colonies growing in the translucent ice.

    I am curious about the source for what you are sharing, in regards to the biologic levels changing as the sea ice cover changes. About the only change in activity, I would expect, would involve a change in air breathing water borne sea life, that may be limited by the ice cover.

    I had not considered CO2 to be much of an issue as I would expect it to be well dissolved in the sea water. There have been a number of recent articles in regards to whether sea life flourishes being related to the nutrient and iron content. I would appear these would seem to be well dissolved in the sea water as well (without an overabundance contributing to a dead zone). It would appear that the remaining contributor would be light, an interesting aspect to research may be how much would the quantity of life change in the region, if the albedo changes?

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 28 Jun 2008 @ 9:59 PM

  99. Re # 92 Harold Pierce, Jr.

    What you have written makes no sense whatsoever. I strongly suggest you learn some basic physiology before claiming that seals, polar bears, and fish are CO2 sinks (Hint: Start your readings with basic aerobic cellular respiration). And for the record,the shells of crabs and lobsters are indeed mostly chitin, but that is a polysaccharide (a polymer of N-acetyl glucoseamine). Their shells do contain some calcium carbonate, but that is added only after a molt – and some of it is recycled from the previous exoskeleton – there is no continuous deposition, so the shells are not a significan CO2 sink.

    # 90 John E. Pierson ” I have no idea what role this might play in a world with an ice free arctic ocean.”
    Then why mention it?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 28 Jun 2008 @ 10:00 PM

  100. In comment # 86 Arch Stanton wrote at 28 June 2008 1853:

    Re: Quibble, WAIS

    “…it’s melting will indeed contribute to sea level rise.”

    oh, i entirely agree. my point was that WAIS is substantially grounded below sea level


    Comment by sidd — 28 Jun 2008 @ 10:18 PM

  101. John E. Pearson (#84) wrote:

    I have no idea how people figure out how ice free the poles have been over long periods of time. How is it done? Can it be done?

    wayne davidson (#78) wrote earlier:

    [In response to MrPete’s]#52 Historic evidence may be found in the DNA of Bowhead whales. the Atlantic and Pacific Bowheads are genetically different suggesting a long long time of ice barriers, in other words, this seasonal melting of vast Arctic Ocean ice, never happenned, all the way back to when there was no Bowhead DNA distinction.

    Same story gets told by the mitochondria of three species of right whale:

    New DNA Studies Verify Existence Of Three Right Whale Species
    ScienceDaily (Mar. 1, 2005)

    … and their whale lice:

    Secrets Of The Whale R.iders: Crablike ‘Whale’ Show How Endangered Cetaceans Evolved
    ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2005)

    … which aren’t insects but are actually crustaceans closely related to the “snapping shrimp.”

    Please see the abstract:

    Right whales carry large populations of three ‘whale lice’ (Cyamus o.valis, Cyamus g.racilis, Cyamus e.rraticus) that have no other hosts. We used sequence variation in the mitochondrial COI gene to ask (i) whether cyamid population structures might reveal associations among right whale individuals and subpopulations, (ii) whether the divergences of the three nominally conspecific cyamid species on North Atlantic, North Pacific, and southern right whales (Euba.laena glac.ialis, Eubal.aena jap.onica, Euba.laena aust.ralis) might indicate their times of separation, and (iii) whether the shapes of cyamid gene trees might contain information about changes in the population sizes of right whales….

    Kaliszewska ZA, et al 2005. Population histories of right whales (Cetacea: Eubalaena) inferred from mitochondrial sequence diversities and divergences of their whale (Amphipoda: Cyamus). Mol Ecol. Oct; 14(11): 3439-56.

    … and:

    The Utah research focused on genes found in mitochondria – the power plants of cells – and that mutate at a high rate, acting like a clock to reveal when evolutionary events happened. The scientists calibrated the clock by comparing genes from whale lice with related snapping shrimp.

    Secrets of the Whale R.iders
    Crablike ‘Whale Lice’ Show How Endangered Cetaceans Evolved
    Sept. 14, 2005

    Depending upon the whim of the author or the exact species, the “snapping shrimp” may be called a snapping shrimp, mantis shrimp, mantid shrimp, p.istol shrimp, etc. even though technically it isn’t even a shrimp.

    It is a fascinating creature:

    Mantis shrimp

    … noted for its hyperspectral color vision:

    “Weird Beastie” Shrimp Have Super-Vision
    Anne Minard
    for National Geographic News
    May 19, 2008

    … and ability to see circular polarization:

    Mantis shrimp vision reveals new way that animals can see
    Public release date: 20-Mar-2008

    … among other things:

    Pistol Shrimp

    YouTube – Mantis Shrimp Attack (emerald crab)

    … and at least one species of mantid shrimp has had its entire mitochondrial genome sequenced:

    A.D. Miller and C.M. Austin, The complete mitochondrial genome of the mantid shrimp Harpiosquilla harpax, and a phylogenetic investigation of the Decapoda using mitochondrial sequences
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
    Volume 38, Issue 3, March 2006, Pages 565-574

    Mitochondria are of course endosymbionts of the eukaryotic cell — and would appear to be most closely related to rickettsia, the bacteria responsible for typhoid:

    Michael W. Gray, News and Views: Rickettsia, typhus and the mitochondrial connection
    Nature 396, 109-110 (12 November 1998)

    For more on rickettsia, please see:

    So to make a long story short, it appears that there has been sea ice in the Arctic Ocean pretty much constantly for the past six or so million years. But don’t you just love how its all related!?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 28 Jun 2008 @ 10:42 PM

  102. Incidentally, there are a few extraneous “.”s in my post above. Turns out that the spam catcher doesn’t like Latin.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 28 Jun 2008 @ 10:50 PM

  103. #59, Dr Bitz/anyone less busy who knows,

    Do the CCSM3 models show the same trend in perennial ice area as shown in figure 3 of Nghiem 2007 “Rapid reduction of Arctic perennial sea ice”? GRL Vol 34, doi:10.1029/2007GL031138

    I hope you’re right about the models, but I’m not convinced 2007 was just a blip from which the ice will rebound.

    #65 Eric Swanson,

    Thanks for pointing that out, indeed Meir/Serreze/Stroeve (ARCUS) noted angle of incidence as a reason why the overall first year ice melt may not be as much as expected for first year. However the predominance of the impact of sunlight is supported by the fact that during maximum insolation (May – Aug) the rate of loss is typically at its greatest. If modellers don’t take this factor into account, I agree they should.

    I second your question in post 28, about climatic impacts outside the Arctic.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 29 Jun 2008 @ 3:09 AM

  104. We keep seeing the same graph showing current ice cover is at least up to now, June 2008 no worse than this time last year. The winter levels were better than 12 months before. Then we get comments that there is a lot of new ice. Clearly if extent increases is increasing it has to start with more new ice. We know new thin ice is more vunerable to weather than older thicker ice. So reduced sea ice in the summer is not a good indicator of continued decline OR absence of decline. More interesting is winter levels and the volumes. Does anyone have an url showing volume and thickness showing 2007 compared to 2008? I can not remember seeing thickness after 2004 at which point it showed a rising thickness trend showing historic around 1998 – a half or third of 1950s levels.
    If the ice loss trend halted in 2007, this is what it would look like. There are claimed 60 year cycles in ice cover which could mask global warming for a time.

    Imagine that Sept 2008 had favourable winds and the new ice did not break up. It would still prove nothing.

    Comment by sean egan — 29 Jun 2008 @ 4:21 AM

  105. #64 T Siefferman

    What you see on Cryosphere Today is the percentage of ice cover on the ocean, and at this time of year you won’t see anything really notable. Try September:

    If you were buying a car would you just look at how shiny the paint is, or would you have a closer look?

    Try ice thickness as measured by submarine, note the non linear time axis. Zhang’s using that to show the long term accuracy of the PIOMAS model, you can use it to see the changes in typical thickness, the British Navy measurements (Wadhams) done on different tracks at different time convey the same general message, Wadhams states over 40% thinning. Or you could try the figure in the Nghiem paper to which I referred Dr Bitz.

    Harold Pierce jr.

    If you are correct, your suggested increased CO2 uptake will be countering what looks like a much more massive release of stored carbon.

    I’ve recently been persuaded by Gareth Renowden and Steve Bloom over at “Hot Topic” that methane releases are potentially disastrous on policy/human timescales. (Er… thanks a lot guys)

    In “Methane hydrate stability and anthropogenic climate change”, David Archer argues that methane release is likely to be “chronic rather than catastrophic”.

    However Shakhova 2008
    Seems to argue that there is nonetheless the potential for substantial short term release.

    The total value of ESS [East Siberian Shelf] carbon pool is, thus, not less than 1,400 Gt of carbon. Since the area of geological disjunctives (fault zones, tectonically and seismically active areas) within the Siberian Arctic shelf composes not less than 1-2% of the total area and area of open taliks (area of melt through permafrost), acting as a pathway for methane escape within the Siberian Arctic shelf reaches up to 5-10% of the total area, we consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time.

    Then there’s the land permafrost;

    So whilst talk of Methane release in terms of all of it going quickly is overstated. It seems there’s still the potential for a rapid enough release to cause serious impacts within decades (if we are in a rapid transition to a seasonally ice free Arctic – I think we are).

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 29 Jun 2008 @ 4:24 AM

  106. fred writes:

    Including, they could melt ice at the Pole, if they were big enough. I have no idea whether these particular explosions are big enough, and suspect BPL doesn’t either.

    You suspect wrong, pal. They are not large enough. Go look up the size of the lava flow from a volcano. A big one might be two miles long. Now consider the size of Antarctica.

    Volcanoes are not melting the ice.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 29 Jun 2008 @ 5:48 AM

  107. I tried to find statistics detailing the coverage AGW gets in the press but couldn’t really find anything useful. Here in Germany it “feels” rather unbalanced and unscientific. Interviews with scientists are cut down to the question of what the worst possible scenario might be and sometimes it seems like the media is explicitly pushing in the general direction of climate change even if the matter has nothing to with it. I remember a lengthy interview with a scientist from a NGO in one of the major news journals on TV concerning the wildfires in Greece last summer. When asked about the cause of these fires, the scientist said it was in part real estate speculation and in part the lumber industy which first planted the wrong trees and then basically gave up on the woods alltogether when the market collapsed (or something like that). When pressed for other possibilities, she blamed the government for reacting too slowly and only half-heartedly. But this was not what the anchor man wanted to hear, so he asked her explicitly about global warming. When she said that there was no relation she could see, he asked whether she could rule out the possibility and she said of course she could not. Finally satisfied, he moved on. We see this a lot. I think it gets to the point where people get fed up with hearing about one possible katastrophe and rather want to be afraid of something else. We saw the same thing with terrorism, the famous “waldsterben” (death of the woods) and other threats. Last year it got so far, that the socienty for the german language (GfdS) voted the term “Klimakatastrophe” as the official “Word of the year”, the term that dominated media and public discussion. The danger in that is that people tend to forget about it and probably even oppose it reflexively once a critical amount of coverage has been reached and nobody wants to hear about it any more and people roll their eyes when the subject comes up. Everything about AGW that gets into the media hyped for something it isn’t and quickly destroying itself simply by not reappearing next year or by being obviously wrong (like the link between earthquakes and AGW which made it into CBS and MSNBC recently), leads to less awareness in the public, not more. It may help getting into the headlines but in the long run, I think it is counterproductive – and the long run is what we need here.

    Comment by Henning — 29 Jun 2008 @ 6:31 AM

  108. Re #74. The Athabasca tar/oil sands are expanding at an alarming rate to 3 mbpd come 2012. As heavy oil as it is called has not had much attention lavished onto it by now the economics of energy will come down. New In Situ techniques will lower the over all energy costs associated with this type of oil mining but hydrogen is needed as it water and they are in short supply so who knows how much of the 1.7 to 2.5 trillion barrels of this type of oil will see the light of day.

    CTL projects are worrying though and the USA, China and Australia are planning these types of plants. Plenty of coal means use some for oil.

    Comment by pete best — 29 Jun 2008 @ 8:18 AM

  109. I was interested to see that no one had put a link to the only long term sedimentary record in the Arctic, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program ACEX drilling in 2004 ( They drilled on Lomonosov Ridge at about 88degN. In the 2006 Nature paper (Moran et al., 2006, The Cenozoic Palaeoenvironment of the Arctic Ocean, vol 441, 601-605), they revisited their initial results and suggest that perennial ice cover was present in the Arctic for at least the last 14 million years. Further publications from this expedition are in Nature in subsequent years.

    This does not mean that there were not periods of ice-free ocean. I have participated in drilling near Svalbard, where the ice exits, (Ocean Drilling Program Leg 151,1993; see The drilling showed a warming in the Pliocene ca 3 million years ago (see the Thiede and Myhre summary), but good indications of sea ice both before and since then.

    A seasonally ice-free Arctic is a big deal.

    Comment by Mitch Lyle — 29 Jun 2008 @ 8:26 AM

  110. I believe the psychological effect on the masses of the main ice pack retreating past the North Pole will be much greater than the last bit of mulityear ice melting along the Greenland-Elesemere Islands in the next 20 years or so.

    Statistically it looks like its going to happen sooner or later. It may happen this year, it may not.

    For those who are hooked on watching the retreat of the ice pack, I prefer the following site.

    AMSR-E Daily Ice Map

    I prefer this over Cryosphere today, as it have better resolution, however it does appear to under-report open drift conditions (3 tenths and below)

    Comment by LG Norton — 29 Jun 2008 @ 8:32 AM

  111. Re #49 & #82
    The limitations on the growth of algae in the arctic varies with the season, the effect of sea-ice melting is not as certain as Harold would have us believe:

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 29 Jun 2008 @ 9:19 AM

  112. re #60 Brian Dodge,

    very nice calculation… however there is a teeny error here:

    volume erupted 4 km3
    = 4e+9 m3
    = 4e+16 cm3
    heat released = 5.4e+19 cal (about 17 years worth of Hawaii hotspot heat output, if my math is correct)]

    however, according to my reckoning, 4e+9 m3 = 4e+15 cm3

    so heat released = 5.4e+18 cal

    and so unfortunately your puny volcano only managed a miserable sub-1% contribution to the summer 2007 melt (assuming all that heat found its way 4000 metres to the surface)

    unless someone can find a compensating error in your maths, I’m afraid we’re not too impressed with your volcano!

    Comment by Chris — 29 Jun 2008 @ 9:49 AM

  113. Re #93 My comment to John E. Pierson

    Sorry to be so curt. What I should have pointed out was that Harold Pierce, Jr. was not proposing any sort of biological pump such as you described (and with which I am quite familiar, which is why I raised the point about CO2 sequestration) – rather, he was fantasizing about CO2 being sequestered by passage through a food chain. Unfortunately, his scenario was based on a complete lack of understanding of basic physiology and ecology.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 29 Jun 2008 @ 10:10 AM

  114. Re 89

    According to my atlas the south pole is not an ocean.

    Comment by Goffers — 29 Jun 2008 @ 11:13 AM

  115. Re Harold’s observation in 92:
    Fish are CO2 sinks also. If any these animals die and sink to the ocean floor, they are consumed by scavengers such as crabs and lobsters.

    Unfortunately, humans are doing their utmost to remove this carbon sink from the planet. We’re strip-mining the oceans of biomass with industrial efficiency; soon, only jellyfish and anaerobic algae will remain to sink carbon in the emptied, acidified oceans.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 29 Jun 2008 @ 11:34 AM

  116. The MODID satellites provide near real-time visible/actual photos of the Artic Ocean from space (ie they are not the computer program generated graphics from the NSIDC.)

    Here is a good sat picture of the North Pole from today – June 29, 2008 (ie. there is lots of melting to go yet before the Pole is ice-free for the few weeks of the year predicted.)

    NorthWest Passage (upside down but still frozen solid.)

    Comment by Lowell — 29 Jun 2008 @ 11:51 AM

  117. I´ve seen meteorologists dismiss the North Polar Cape melt as some kind of natural cycle since the southern ice shows some increase. Indeed, we can see that here:

    Is this right?

    Comment by Alexandre — 29 Jun 2008 @ 12:08 PM

  118. Re #92
    The carbonate compensation depth (the depth below which calcium carbonate dissolves) is shallow in polar waters, so calcium carbonate sediments are virtually absent on the arctic seabed. Any CO2 sequestered by increased bioproduction as calcium carbonate will remain dissolved in the water column.

    Organic carbon may deposit to the seabed. Massive blooms of Azolla growing in a fresh/brackish surface layer on the Arctic ocean created laminated sediments alternating with marine siliceous sediments during the early Eocene, and sequestered large amounts of CO2. These blooms may be the carbon source for North Sea oil deposits.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 29 Jun 2008 @ 1:01 PM

  119. Re: 116

    My understanding is that the visible spectrum is not the best for looking at ice. Despite this, if you display those images at 500 meter resolution, you can see where the ice in the North West Passage is a darker blue, which would indicate some level of breakup.

    What is interesting, is the McClure strait area is breaking up from west to east. The North Pole may not melt out this year, but the North West Passage should be open water definitely.

    On another note, here I sit in Nova Scotia in the rain and fog at 12 degrees celsius, and Eureka and Alert on Elesmere Island is 16 degrees C and sunny today.

    Comment by LG Norton — 29 Jun 2008 @ 1:50 PM

  120. #109 Mitch Lyle,

    Thanks for that, I wasn’t aware of it.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 29 Jun 2008 @ 2:09 PM

  121. As the author of the “casual” article in The Independent, I’d like to point out that on the front page of the actual newspaper (as opposed to our website) the strapline above the headline says: “Scientists warn that this summer there may be….”, which I hope puts the main headline into the correct perspective. I don’t actually write headlines, but I think the editors who did made a good job of projecting a very important story with a high degree of accuracy, which is why it got such a big pick up globally. Headline writing is after all more of an art than a science. I’m only sorry that the website didn’t carry the strapline as well, but perhaps that’s the downside of getting something for free. The reason it went so big is precisely because we put it on the front page, in the starkest possible terms, and without I hope twisting the science. By the way, I’m a great fan of RealClimate and I love your headlines especially!

    [Response: Thanks for stopping by. I should probably make clear that by ‘casual’, I meant to imply that the source of the story was based on conversations with Mark and others, rather than being tied to the publication of a paper or the release of new information. I did not mean in it any derogatory sense. I agree that good headlines are tricky, but I am well aware that these are not written by the journalists. – gavin]

    Comment by Steve Connor — 29 Jun 2008 @ 2:13 PM

  122. Harold Pierce Jr (#92) wrote:

    As long as the algeas and polar polar bears are alive, they become CO2 sinks since they need lots of fat for insulation to keep warm. Fish are CO2 sinks also. If any these animals die and sink to the ocean floor, they are consummed by scavengers such as crabs and lobsters. The shells of these animals are CO2 sinks because these are mostly chitin.

    And here I thought fat floats!

    Sure — some of the polar bear will end up chitin left by crabs — but how much? It isn’t like the only scavengers in the ocean have shells — or are entirely made of shell.

    Think worms:

    A plague o’ both your houses!
    They have made worms’ meat of me.

    -Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene I, Line 112

    They are as much a factor below the surface of the ocean as on dry land. And plenty of dead fish float, for a while at least. There is bacteria at work as well. Some live inside the organism itself and go to work decomposing their host as soon as it dies. What gases do you suppose are created during this process — and would you honestly expect all of that to remain in the water?

    Then there are anaerobic bacteria below the oxycline. Since your biological pump relies so heavily upon algae, you might want to check look up “dead zones” in the news. Try Oregon, for example.

    For the second time in three years, a hypoxic “dead zone” has formed off the central Oregon Coast. It’s killing fish, crabs and other marine life and leading researchers to believe that a fundamental change may be taking place in ocean conditions in the northern Pacific Ocean.

    New Hypoxic ‘Dead Zone’ Found Off Oregon Coast
    ScienceDaily (Aug. 10, 2004)

    Yes, we are having larger algae blooms. And given the fact that land warms more quickly than ocean, resulting in areas of low pressure over land, changing patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation are bringing them to the coasts — where so much life’s diversity is found. When the algae blooms die off, they decay — using up whatever oxygen is in the water.

    The most severe low-oxygen ocean conditions ever observed on the West Coast of the United States have turned parts of the seafloor off Oregon into a carpet of dead Dungeness crabs and rotting sea worms, a new survey shows. Virtually all of the fish appear to have fled the area.

    ‘Dead Zone’ Causing Wave Of Death Off Oregon Coast
    ScienceDaily (Aug. 14, 2006)

    But setting the dead zones aside, there is also the fact that the ocean water is becoming more acidic, more corrosive, making the shell-formation your biological pump depends upon another endangered species.

    Please see:

    Rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is threatening to make oceans too corrosive for marine organisms to grow protective shells, according to researchers.

    If emissions continue unabated, the entire Southern Ocean, which stretches north from the Antarctic coastline, and subarctic regions of the Pacific Ocean will soon become so acidic that the shells of marine creatures will soften and dissolve making them easy targets for predators. Others will not be able to grow sufficient shells to survive.

    Ian Sample, science correspondent
    The Guardian, Thursday September 29, 2005

    … and:

    A new study by an international team of oceanographers published in the September 29, 2005 issue of Nature reports that ocean acidification could result in corrosive chemical conditions much sooner than previously thought. Within 50 to 100 years, there could be severe consequences for marine calcifying organisms, which build their external skeletal material out of calcium carbonate, the basic building block of limestone. Most threatened are cold-water calcifying organisms, including sea urchins, cold-water corals, coralline algae, and plankton known as pteropods—winged snails that swim through surface waters. These organisms provide essential food and habitat to others, so their demise could affect entire ocean ecosystems.

    News Release : Marine Organisms Threatened By Increasingly Acidic Ocean
    Corals and Plankton May Have Difficulty Making Shells
    September 29, 2005

    Yes — there is a biological pump. But judging from the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, it isn’t able to keep up with us. Judging from the rising acidity of the ocean, the prognosis for much of this biological pump doesn’t look very good. Judging from the paleoclimate record, it is limited, and it can fail catastrophically.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 29 Jun 2008 @ 2:19 PM

  123. Of another interesting note:

    The NOAA North Pole Web Cam (they should call it the Fram Strait web cam, as it has drifted from 89 North to 84.8 North in less than 3 months).

    The camera is now sitting in its own melt pool as seem from this photo:
    North Pole Web Cam in its own melt pool

    What is amazing is the ice has moved 5 degrees of latitude in less than 3 months.

    It looks like this year, we will get to see a bunch of expensive scientific gear end up in Davy Jones’ locker live via webcam :)

    Comment by LG Norton — 29 Jun 2008 @ 2:22 PM

  124. #101, Timothy, but of course there are all these other species, All with traceable DNA history. If they all lead to 6 million years ago, that would be interesting time to study Climate wise.

    #109 Mitch 14 million years ago resonates with the existence of Axel Heiberg silent High Arctic forest stump Red Dawn sentinels,,9171,962379,00.html

    Although Time article 45 million years number seems off, was told quite often that it was 11 to 14 million years ago.

    Now for those who think climate science is easy, consider all the disciplines involved, so Radio talk show Hosts of the Right wing money machine kind, should hit the science books not climate scientists, read the science, watch low budget science TV like PBS NOVA shows, and be a little humbled by near by University professors , without the likes of them no TV no Radio just soap boxes to stand on…… .

    Comment by wayne davidson — 29 Jun 2008 @ 2:31 PM

  125. Re: 113 and 118

    CHuck: No worries.

    the reason I mentioned it in the first place is that I don’t think we know all that well how eco-systems will respond as the planet warms and ocean pH decreases, etc.. An ice free arctic ocean will comprise a new ecological niche. I understand that right now the carbonate compensation depth is shallow, and there are probably relatively low concentrations of carbon fixing bacteria anyway, but as the arctic warms isn’t it likely that there will be an increase in carbon sequestration there? It seems to me that ultimately this question is going to be answered by observation, although a decent model prediction might be a bit of a coup for the models.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 29 Jun 2008 @ 2:40 PM

  126. Can someone tell me if this big grey spot right in the middle of Greenland is an area of melting or is it an artifact? It could be melting — even Alert went to 63F today.

    The images are from the Cryosphere and show today versus last year.

    I used a tiny url because I saved it to my harddrive, then posted it to my blog so that the enlarged image is much better:

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 29 Jun 2008 @ 3:16 PM

  127. Alexandre (#117) wrote:

    I´ve seen meteorologists dismiss the North Polar Cape melt as some kind of natural cycle since the southern ice shows some increase. Indeed, we can see that here:

    Is this right?

    For 2007, the Arctic sea ice extent minimum was 25% below the previous minimum, whereas the sea ice extent maximum for the Antarctic was roughly 1% above the previous year. Hardly comparable. And it is worth noting that Antarctic sea ice extent still hasn’t recovered from its record losses in the 1960s-70s.

    Please see:

    Sea Ice, North and South, Then and Now
    October 8, 2007

    Some models actually show a slight cooling of the southern oceans for a while, and all show it not keeping up with the rate at which the waters to the north warm — for a somewhat longer period of time. Partly this has to do with changes in ocean circulation taking warmer water deeper and partly as the result of the southern hemisphere having less land mass and more ocean — where the ocean has a higher thermal inertia, meaning that it takes longer for those waters to warm.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 29 Jun 2008 @ 3:18 PM

  128. Re John Pearson’s comment in 125:

    An ice free arctic ocean will comprise a new ecological niche.

    In fact, the loss of arctic sea ice may well annihilate an ocean entire ecosystem:

    Sea ice: a refuge for life in polar seas?
    Christopher Krembs
    Jody Deming
    University of Washington

    The ice-specific ecosystem includes bacteria, viruses, unicellular algae, diatom chains, worms and crustaceans. … Sea ice, especially during the sunlit seasons, serves as habitat for an ice-specific food web (sympagic foodweb) [1] that includes bacteria, viruses, unicellular algae, which often form chains and filaments, and invertebrates sufficiently small to traverse the brine network. The brine network is comprised of passages in the ice, with diameters ranging from micrometers to several centimeters when the temperature remains above -5°C.

    Sea ice is critical for polar marine ecosystems in at least two important ways: (1) it provides a habitat for photosynthetic algae and nursery ground for invertebrates and fish during times when the water column does not support phytoplankton growth; and (2) as the ice melts, releasing organisms into the surface water [3], a shallow mixed layer forms which fosters large ice-edge blooms important to the overall productivity of polar seas.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 29 Jun 2008 @ 3:36 PM

  129. (98) Dave:
    I’m in the same (intellectual) boat as the other 90percent of the commentors here, i.e. I am not a working scientist. I think you’d need a polar biologist/ecologist to get a well formulated reply. I do know that the seasonal ice covered oceans are very highly productive biologically. I think the ice/water interface seems to concentrate certain nutrients -or some such, but again I’m not going to speculate beyond that, as I think I should let the experts do that.

    Comment by Thomas — 29 Jun 2008 @ 4:19 PM

  130. Re #1, others – Volcanism at the Poles:

    New volcanoes at BOTH Poles erupt just as AGW starts receiving wide attention? What’s next for the denialists? Space aliens and their heat rays?

    Re #49:

    LOL at both the original post and Gavin’s response.

    Comment by Peter Backes — 29 Jun 2008 @ 4:30 PM

  131. wayne davidson (124) — From 6 to 4 million years agao the Mediterranean repeatedly dessicated and refilled. During this same period the Isthmus of Panama finally closed.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 29 Jun 2008 @ 5:19 PM

  132. Tenney #126

    Average temperature in the grey spot area is -10 to -15 C per:

    Unlikely to be melting there. Other grey areas on the map are snow.

    Comment by B Buckner — 29 Jun 2008 @ 5:52 PM

  133. Re 116, 119: I believe that the darker blue in the NW passage (in 7-2-1 band false-colour) is melting sea ice. It wasn’t that colour a month ago. Possibly wet slush on top of the ice?

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 29 Jun 2008 @ 6:59 PM

  134. Re: #132

    B Buckner,

    Thanks for the link — did you notice that on June 28 almost all of Greenland heated up substantially, and on the 29th the temperatures to the north rose into the 10s and 15s (C)?

    Let us not forget that huge melt in Antarctica in 2005.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 29 Jun 2008 @ 8:07 PM

  135. It is claimed that AGW “science” predicted that Southern Hemsiphere sea ice extent would increase as arctic sea ice would decrease. I believe that claim is incorrect. AGW “science” predicted that Antarctic continental ice would increase because of more precipitaion due to global warming, not sea ice extent. AGW has no explanation for Southern Hemisphere SEA ICE extent increase. Please provide a link to AGW prediction for increased Southern Hemisphere SEA ICE extent. Southern Hemisphere SEA ICE extent is 1,000,000 sq. Kilometers greater than the 20 year average. I hope the reference by AGW “science” to increasing Souther Hemisphere sea ice extent would be older than 5years. I beleive AGW was predicting less SEA ICE in both hemispheres. But since that did not happen AGW “science” may have changed it’s position much like the term “global warming” was changed to “climeate change” when the global temperatures stopped rising a few years ago. Over the past three or four years global temps have been flat according to NOAA data. Not coincidentally the sun has been in a prolonged state of hibernation between solar cycle 23 and solar cycle 24. Because of this lull the oceans have been giving up heat. Arctic sea ice extent will be 500000 sq kilometers greater this year than last. And each of the next 4 to 5 years will show succesively more arctic sea ice. If solar cycle 24 turns out to be a dud then expect to see a decades long increase in arctic sea ice extent. It will take a few years to see if the solar/climate connection is as strong as many scientist beleive. AGW has underestimated the affect of solar influence on climate. In few years we will know the truth.

    Comment by iceman — 29 Jun 2008 @ 8:33 PM

  136. RE: 129

    Hey Thomas,

    Thanks for the reply, I suspect that Phil Felton in Posting 111 may show links that demonstrate the biology is active under the ice. The main difference appears to be the type of activity is different between an ice covered -vs- surface ice free Arctic ocean. Also, we have to note that as to insolation, that the albedo difference due to ice melt will likely only be higher for one to two months per year. At the same time the open ocean would make more radiant surface available for cooling during the periods of reduced insolation.

    As to the salinity question, the NOAA research ships had noted in earlier cruises that for the ice melt the salinity though lower then normal for open ocean demonstrate only a thin fresh/brackish water zone. This would seem to suggest that if the volume of ice melt is as great as suspected, that there had to be a greater salinity in the region that was mixing with the melt water to reduce the expanse and depth of the brackish region.

    To my layman thoughts this would seem to suggest that increased salinity could be playing a part in the total contribution as regards polar ice melt. (As the Barents build up of salinity between 2004 and 2006 was substantial.) If there was a difference when a dominant (NAO vs PDO), with the NAO ocean current carrying higher SSTs and saline ocean currents into the Arctic region had differing results in regional melt, I suspect it would be a good correlation for salinity playing a part. However, when I look at the Arctic melt record, though greater for both the PDO and NAO, it does not seem to favor one pattern over the other.

    However, it would be very useful to have a few years of extensive ice melt, as seen last summer, to try to confirm how much the salinity is involved in lowering the freezing temperature of the Arctic ocean and contributing to its melting. To me it seems sad that neither the Woodshole institute nor NOAA seem to have a plan to make a cruise into the melt zones for these observations even in this International Polar Year IPY 2008

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 29 Jun 2008 @ 8:59 PM

  137. RE: potential 134

    Hey All,

    Just a clarification in my second to the last paragraph I wrote;

    “If there was a difference when a dominant (NAO vs PDO), with the NAO ocean current carrying higher SSTs and saline ocean currents into the Arctic region had differing results in regional melt, I suspect it would be a good correlation for salinity playing a part.”

    I would like for it to have read;

    If there were a difference between which were dominant, (NAO vs PDO), there might be a hypothesis worth exploring. If the NAO were driving an ocean current that contains higher SST’s and more saline surface water into the Arctic region, I suspect it would be a possible correlation that salinity may be playing a part in the Arctic ice loss.

    The problem is I hit the Post prematurely rather then the Preview button, my apologies.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 29 Jun 2008 @ 9:40 PM

  138. #132 sublination occurs at these temperatures, direct snow to water vapour, especially in very strong turbulent winds.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 29 Jun 2008 @ 9:52 PM

  139. Re #104

    “Does anyone have an url showing volume and thickness showing 2007 compared to 2008? I can not remember seeing thickness after 2004 at which point it showed a rising thickness trend showing historic around 1998 – a half or third of 1950s levels.”

    This do?

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 29 Jun 2008 @ 10:04 PM

  140. Re #114

    An archipelago perhaps?

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 29 Jun 2008 @ 10:11 PM

  141. Re #123
    “The NOAA North Pole Web Cam (they should call it the Fram Strait web cam, as it has drifted from 89 North to 84.8 North in less than 3 months).

    The camera is now sitting in its own melt pool as seem from this photo:
    North Pole Web Cam in its own melt pool

    What is amazing is the ice has moved 5 degrees of latitude in less than 3 months.

    It looks like this year, we will get to see a bunch of expensive scientific gear end up in Davy Jones’ locker live via webcam”

    Yeah the transpolar drift is still moving rather fast, the flow of multiyear ice out of the Fram continues:

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 29 Jun 2008 @ 10:28 PM

  142. Erm… I know that the north pole is symbolic and such, but is it my imagination or does the NOAA wecbcam #1 show water flowing? I take it that the site is at 84.727°N 0.338°E, but the website is not that clear.

    In any case, that water was not there a week ago :(

    [Response: It’s a summer-time melt-pond – fresh water created from surface melting that sits on top of the ice. These are ubiquitous during the late summer around the Arctic until they either drain (if the ice structure weakens) or freeze over again in the fall. Note too that the web cam is now a significant distance away from the pole and is heading quite quickly towards Fram Strait (between Greenland and Svalbaard). – gavin ]

    Comment by R Marks — 29 Jun 2008 @ 11:42 PM

  143. Re #93:

    The energy required to melt the sea ice is negligible compared to the heat that goes into the oceans. I already calculated it in comment #78 of the Antarctic ice shelf posting. It’s only a fraction of the heat that we emit directly into the atmosphere by primary energy consumption (which is also negligible compared to greenhouse gases) and compensates for a forcing of roughly 10 mW/m².

    Comment by Clarence — 30 Jun 2008 @ 1:45 AM

  144. The Change to newer ice can add to the “ice-albedo feedback” newer ice is darker
    new ice 0.05-0.15
    first year ice – 0.24-0.64
    second year ice – 0.70
    multiyear ice – 0.72
    from A classification of sea ice using its albedo-The Geophysical Institute Univ’ of Alaska

    PS at Andy Revkins Dot Earth appeared photo from Peabody Energy of huge wall of coal its fake a photomontage
    If you don’t see look at

    [Response: You are correct about the photo manipulation. The duplicated bit highlighted is a different photo of the same area (look at the shadows to the left). I wonder why they did that? – gavin]

    Comment by Eyal Morag — 30 Jun 2008 @ 4:57 AM

  145. Sea ice is projected to shrink in both the Arctic and
    Antarctic under all SRES scenarios. In some projections,
    arctic late-summer sea ice disappears almost entirely
    by the latter part of the 21st century. {10.3}

    IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

    [Response: Possibly worth pointing out that a projection for 2100 is not the same as an expectation for the last few decades. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan Hughes — 30 Jun 2008 @ 7:43 AM

  146. Looks like Australia has skipped straight through an El Nino without the rain that this would normally bring, and is in for yet another hot dry year.
    Or so predicts the Australian Bureau of Meteorology …
    * Warmer season for western and southern Australia
    * Drier conditions indicated from northwest WA to southeast Australia

    They attribute this to continuing high temperatures in the Indian Ocean (associated with the Indian Ocean dipole).

    If the Arctic ocean shifts to being largely ice free in summer, what impact will this have on Northern Hemisphere weather patterns? What do the models suggest will happen. A degree or so warming in the Indian Ocean is wreaking havoc down here. I imagine that an ice free Arctic would have massive implications.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 30 Jun 2008 @ 9:24 AM

  147. Re 128:

    I’m not sure what your point is.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 30 Jun 2008 @ 9:30 AM

  148. Observed arctic sea ice reductions can be simulated fairly well in models driven by historical circulation and temperature changes.

    When referencing the group of FAQs, please cite as:
    IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

    I understand that the comment refers to hindcast procedures, much along the lines used in this paper.

    Miller, P. A., S. W. Laxon, and D. L. Feltham (2007), Consistent and contrasting decadal Arctic sea ice thickness predictions from a highly optimized sea ice model, J. Geophys. Res., 112, C07020, doi:10.1029/2006JC003855.


    Decadal hindcast simulations of Arctic Ocean sea ice thickness made by a modern dynamic-thermodynamic sea ice model and forced independently by both the ERA-40 and NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data sets are compared for the first time. Using comprehensive data sets of observations made between 1979 and 2001 of sea ice thickness, draft, extent, and speeds, we find that it is possible to tune model parameters to give satisfactory agreement with observed data, thereby highlighting the skill of modern sea ice models, though the parameter values chosen differ according to the model forcing used. We find a consistent decreasing trend in Arctic Ocean sea ice thickness since 1979, and a steady decline in the Eastern Arctic Ocean over the full 40-year period of comparison that accelerated after 1980, but the predictions of Western Arctic Ocean sea ice thickness between 1962 and 1980 differ substantially. The origins of differing thickness trends and variability were isolated not to parameter differences but to differences in the forcing fields applied, and in how they are applied. It is argued that uncertainty, differences and errors in sea ice model forcing sets complicate the use of models to determine the exact causes of the recently reported decline in Arctic sea ice thickness, but help in the determination of robust features if the models are tuned appropriately against observations.

    Comment by Dan Hughes — 30 Jun 2008 @ 9:49 AM

  149. John, if I read your post 125 correctly, you’re suggesting that the loss of polar sea ice will increase Arctic Ocean biodiversity. I provided the link to suggest the opposite: permanent loss of Arctic sea ice may well cause a drastic decline in biodiversity.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 30 Jun 2008 @ 9:54 AM

  150. Iceman, please see “Changing Sun, Changing Climate?” to learn why solar forcing is ruled out.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 30 Jun 2008 @ 9:57 AM

  151. John, I think his point in 128 is that the ‘new ecological niche’ you suggest will be created in an ice-free Arctic is likely at first to be a biological desert, because of the rate of change.

    The rate of change from human causes is far faster than any past event short of an asteroid impact.

    Earth abides; it has little practice hurrying.

    Much of the primary production (q.v.) comes right at the edge of the melting ice each year.

    The marine biologists are very attentive to what’s changing for that reason.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jun 2008 @ 10:07 AM

  152. RE # 146

    Great question and one I have been asking on the several blogs posting Arctic ice melt threads. Question ignored.

    There is a fascination (maybe obsession) with measure of ice melt extent with virtually no discussion or concern about the impact of an ice-free Arctic on precip and temp in western North America.

    As the Australian drought continues to repeat, wheat harvest will likely continue to be affected. How the world will maintain grain surplus if weather in W. NA worsens the grain production there is not on the radar yet. But, it will be.

    How about some thought and response to Craig’s question?

    John McCormick

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 30 Jun 2008 @ 10:22 AM

  153. regarding inline response to #7

    where is this increased seasonality/variability associated with the SH? i think you might be confused with resolution, as both hemispheres appear to normally fluctuate + or – about 1 million square km each year. as for which pole is “significant”, i guess of course that is for you to say! by the way, the largest annual anomaly (negative) occurred 1979-1980 and took place in the SH, with -3 million square km lost compared to the NH loss of -2 million square km last year. for betting purposes, there was not a SH repeat the following year.

    Comment by iheartheidicullen — 30 Jun 2008 @ 10:41 AM

  154. > where is this increased seasonality/variability …? …
    > both hemispheres appear to normally fluctuate + or – about
    > 1 million square km each year …

    What’s your source for that number? Why do you believe it?
    Are you confusing the anomaly with the variability? Look at the size of the anomaly as a percentage of normal variation.
    Compare your information to this, see if it helps:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jun 2008 @ 10:48 AM

  155. re 154:

    yes that is my source. look at the axis for NH/SH. i guess the absolute value including the anomaly would be the variability – no?

    Comment by iheartheidicullen — 30 Jun 2008 @ 11:14 AM

  156. yes, the fluctuation i refer to is from the ANOMALY graphs (for each hemisphere)from uiuc.

    Comment by iheartheidicullen — 30 Jun 2008 @ 12:06 PM

  157. What I miss completely, is what North Pole are we talking about? The magnetic North Pole or geographic North Pole?

    The submarines in open water at the North Pole is probably the magnetic North Pole, which has been moving northward quite fast. So an ice free magnetic North Pole in 2008 is something different than, say, 1959. According to the data, it was located at 70 degrees north in 1830.

    [Response: Everyone is talking about the geographic North Pole. – gavin]

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 30 Jun 2008 @ 12:31 PM

  158. iheartheidicullen @ 153, Hank @ 154: The bald statement of “+ or – about 1 million square km each year” is broadly true; see the long-term anomaly graphs at Cryosphere Today:
    However, this superficially true statement is also misleading; it is disingenuous, or at best ignorant, to equate the two anomalies.

    The southern-hemisphere anomaly:
    – is a much smaller proportion of the SH area; and
    – has no statistically significant trend (the 2008 numbers are peculiar, but it is much too soon to tell whether this is a trend).

    The northern-hemisphere anomaly:
    – is larger in absolute terms;
    – is much larger in relative terms;
    – has had a very clear trend for two full decades; and
    – this trend has clearly accelerated in the last five years.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 30 Jun 2008 @ 12:41 PM

  159. #152 When the land or ice scape is drastically changed, fundamental differences in atmospheric planetary waves occur. I guess we are just learning about these changes as they come along. This means that the weather in your location may seem a little different than usual. Climate models
    may give you a better long term idea. I have noticed a few things, winter is greatly milder
    in most parts of the Arctic, dominant winds have equally changed there, rain or precipitation patterns seem out of whack pretty much everywhere else on Earth as well. 500 year Mid West flooding events occur every 15 years for instance, as Dr Masters has said on his website. If one huge area of the world has been transformed, weather wise. since every weather system is interconnected, like multiple gears in a machine, change the size, or features of one gear, and the entire machine behaves differently.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 30 Jun 2008 @ 12:42 PM


    Comment by Sergei — 30 Jun 2008 @ 12:51 PM

  161. Re #146: Craig, there are recent model results linking reduced Arctic sea ice to increased drought in the Western U.S. We may already be seeing the effects of this linkage, although it’s far too early for a formal attribution to be made.

    That aside, less summer ice will mean a lot more heat gain throughout the Arctic, with dorect local implications for the permafrost, the Greenland ice sheet and (worst case) the East Siberian Shelf shallow clathrates. That said, as the Arctic warms the whole planet will be affected.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 30 Jun 2008 @ 1:16 PM

  162. come on nick, “superficial” “disingenuous” “misleading”? same “trend” would be apparent in SH from 1993 on. “trend” currently in limbo in NH, i guess that’s what the excitement’s about. 50/50 odds, maybe i shouldn’t have got out of bed today with that kind of likelihood.

    “at best ignorant”

    Comment by iheartheidicullen — 30 Jun 2008 @ 2:17 PM

  163. Here is a good satellite picture of the NorthWest Passage from yesterday (June 29, 2008). No ships going through that for about 6 weeks (with a resulting two or three week window to reach the Pacific before it freezes up again in mid-September.)

    Comment by Lowell — 30 Jun 2008 @ 2:31 PM

  164. Why they (Credit: Peabody Energy) did the photo manipulation?
    I think that connect to the problem of peak coal that may come soon. If we can’t trust coal we should find alternative now. the manipulated photo show that there is a lot of coal. The original attached text in “An Export in Solid Supply” by CLIFFORD KRAUSS is
    “An 80-foot wall of coal at Peabody Energy’s North Antelope Rochelle mine in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming is an example of abundance in America.”

    By the way I guess there used to be mountain peak above the coal In the photo.

    Comment by Eyal Morag — 30 Jun 2008 @ 3:49 PM

  165. Re: 146 “If the Arctic ocean shifts to being largely ice free in summer, what impact will this have on Northern Hemisphere weather patterns?”

    Maybe we’ve already seen some of the impact with shrinking Arctic sea ice in recent years.

    My observations agree with the statement on the NOAA NCDC Global Warming website that:

    … “there is evidence of increases in the heavy and extreme precipitation events”
    in mid-high northern latitudes.

    Comment by pat neuman — 30 Jun 2008 @ 4:36 PM

  166. Does anyone know if anyone keeps track of ‘dry fronts’? I live in a region (N. Georgia) that has been experiencing droughts for the past several years. We seem to be having the usual number of fronts passing per week (1 or 2), but 20 years ago each front would produce 1/2 to 1 inch of rain. Last summer and this, each front may only produce 0.1 inch to 1/4 inch. So we get lightning and wind, which may be quite intense, but very little rain.

    If a ‘dry front’ is defined as a front that produces less than 0.1 inch of rain, is anyone keeping track? This might be a new metric for tracking the desertification of the SE US.

    Comment by catman306 — 30 Jun 2008 @ 4:41 PM

  167. #146 Craig Allen, #152 John L McCormick,

    I gave up posting what more I was going to say, keeps getting rejected by the filter. But in short, yes there will be an impact, yes it quite possibly is already happening. I am worried about it.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 30 Jun 2008 @ 4:46 PM

  168. iheartheidicullen @ 162: Sorry if my tone was intemperate, but really the SH and NH sea ice trends have been analysed at length online by Tamino and others, over the last year or two, with the clear conclusion that the SH anomaly trend is small (the anomaly at the maximum last year was about 1.5% of the mean annual maximum, if I remember correctly) and not statistically significant (at the 95% level, I think), whereas the NH trend is large (tens of percent), long-lived, and statistically very significant indeed.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 30 Jun 2008 @ 4:59 PM

  169. Re #146, #152, #167

    Recent papers with a direct bearing on this issue:
    “Accelerated Arctic land warming and permafrost degradation during rapid sea ice loss”
    David Lawrence, Andrew Slater, Robert Tomas, Marika Holland, and Clara Deser
    Geophysical Research Letters, June 13, 2008
    (UCAR press release)

    Good coverage of this at Open Mind, and extensive discussion at Hot Topic here.

    Lawrence et al focus in the impact on permafrost, but that are equally significant implications for the whole NH.

    Also significant:Greenland Ice Core Analysis Shows Drastic Climate Change Near End Of Last Ice Age

    Startlingly, the Greenland ice core evidence showed that a massive “reorganization” of atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere coincided with each temperature spurt, with each reorganization taking just one or two years, said the study authors.

    Lawrence et al find evidence of a significant and rapid step change in Arctic temperatures associated with rapid loss. We’re seeing rapid ice loss. If the atmosphere can reorganise on such short time-scales, we badly need to look inside the models to see if we can tease out the implications. Perhaps Gavin might like to comment – or better, work up a post on the issue…

    Comment by Gareth — 30 Jun 2008 @ 5:15 PM

  170. RE: 166

    Hey Catman,

    From observations I have been making since the 1980’s the reason for the dry fronts you are experiencing in GA may be related to the reason for the reduction in US coast crossing tropical storms over the last two-three years. A La Nina event appears to set up a series of seasonal pressure waves which are the reverse of what you should see during a neutral or positive ENSO pattern.

    It appears that during an La Nina period an anti-cyclonic (high pressure) zone sets up near Southern Arizona and New Mexico drifting between S. Cali and S. Texas during the early summer. If this high pressure wave drifts south it appears to cut off the flow of Gulf of Mexico water vapor from flowing up the Mississippi Valley and feeding the normal Late Spring and Early Summer afternoon showers in the Southern Mid-Atlantic region.

    Normally we would see the Bermuda High pressure wave interacting with this SW US pressure wave, by oscillating East and West. Since the mid-1970s the two patterns appear to have become disconnected at times with the Bermuda High retrograding and sitting off the coast of the Savannah/Charleston region at times, resulting in an increasing occurrence of a dry, high temperature wind coming out of the SW. At other times it will take up a station about 400-500 miles SSW of Ireland.

    (In the mid-80s the Bermuda High actually retrograded to the point it set up south of Panama City FL.) (You may remember this period as when one season the Mid-West had a drought and the Southern farmers shipped hay to them and two seasons later the Southern farmers had a drought and the Mid-Western farmers returned the favor.) It appears the Bermuda and SW US High, at least for the last 5 years, has more of a the character of moving North and South.

    In short, the current pattern will likely breakdown over the next two years and the El Nino pattern will slowly reassert itself with the wetter and generally warmer winter temperatures in GA. While the Mid-west will likely return to their normal balanced moisture with cooler winter time temperatures. There is a real good review of the effects of the ENSO events at the NOAA site and as of last Fall there was a good reference to be found there that talked about the formation of Stagnant Fronts. (Note: One of the modeled expectations related to Climate Change relates to an increase in formation and duration of Stagnant Fronts. )

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 30 Jun 2008 @ 6:22 PM

  171. This pix from Cryosphere

    viewed in the context of the last few weeks shows how homogenous the whole ice pack is, and most disturbingly how the area adjacent to the Canadian Archipelago is now showing as in the 80% to 60% range. This would seem to suggest that the multi-year ice is now well and truly adrift and practically indistinguishable among the mush of younger ice. With no anchoring of the old ice and the on-going push through Fram Straight the whole future of the Arctic over the next few months looks like it will be determined by how the wind blows.

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 30 Jun 2008 @ 6:40 PM

  172. Nigel (#171),

    Try looking at the higher resolution sea ice images available from the University of Bremen here (my new favourite sea-ice site – hat-tip to LG Norton at #110 above). You can see a lot more of what’s going on – and it certainly looks as though a lot of the multi-year ice is disappearing fast…

    Comment by Gareth — 30 Jun 2008 @ 7:50 PM

  173. What effect will the melting north pole ice have on sea levels? Did someone actually ask that with a straight face???

    Try this: Fill a glass half full of ice. Fill the remainder with water. Let the ice melt.


    [Response: You are mostly right, but (as always) the real world is a little more complicated. The main issue is that sea ice is fresher than sea water (has less salt), and since salty water is more dense (1028 kg/m3) than fresher water (1004 kg/m3 for 5 psu), the volume of sea water displaced by the ice is slightly less than the volume of the ice if it melted. Thus sea levels do rise if fresh ice melts over a salty ocean. Having said that, it is a really small effect – if the entire Arctic summer sea ice pack melted (average thickness 2 metres, density ~920 kg/m3, area 3×10^6 km^2 (0.8% total ocean area) => a 4.5 cm rise instantly which implies a global sea level rise of 0.36 mm. Given current rates of rise of 3 mm per year, this is negligible (but not zero). – gavin]

    Comment by Robert — 30 Jun 2008 @ 10:15 PM

  174. With regard to my (#146) question about the effect of an ice-free arctic on weather patterns:

    I’ve been thinking about atmospheric circulation a lot as I try to work out what global warming if doing to Australia’s climate. So bringing together my shambolic understanding of atmospheric circulation, here are my pondering on the implication of an ice free arctic for northern hemisphere weather.

    1) It seems to me that the key mechanism for any impact must be the changes that increased arctic ocean temperatures will impose on the atmospheric circulation feature known as the Polar Cell, and via this on the Ferrel cell which sits over the mid latitudes.

    There are handy explanations of these at Wikipedia …
    * Atmospheric circulation
    * Hadley cell

    2) The World’s deserts are due to the down-welling of dry air caused by the northern and southern Hadley Cells. This works as follows: As hot air rises in the tropics, moisture condenses causing high tropical rainfall. As it descends in the Horse latitudes (approx 30 degrees north and south) the opposite effect happens and deserts therefore occur. It seems that decreasing rainfall in these regions in recent decades is due to a shift and expansion of this down-welling toward higher latitudes due to global warming. In the northern hemisphere this is causing the desert regions to expand northward. In the south they are expanding southward. This is very evident in Australia, where the east moving low pressure systems that bring us our rain increasing pass south of the continent. As a result, our westerly fronts are much drier than in the past.

    3) At the poles, cold air within the Polar Cells descends then travels equator-ward and rises at the junction with the Ferrel Cells at the temperate latitudes around 60 degrees. (The Ferrel Cells are a secondary cells that sit between and are driven by the circulation of the Polar and Hadley cells.) The descending air masses of the Polar Cells is responsible for low precipitation at the polls. And likewise it is responsible for high precipitation where the air rises at the junction with the Ferrel Cells at latitudes 60 degrees.

    4) So in thinking about the implications of a warmer arctic, we need to consider what this will do to the circulation of the Arctic Polar Cell. Given that it is driven by the descent of cool air at the poll, a warmer arctic would presumably slow the circulation. Therefore you would expect that the southward movement of air from the poll to latitude 60 degrees would slow. This would have a kick-on effect on the Ferrel cell, so you would expect the northerly movement of surface air – the mid latitude westerlies – within that cell to also slow. With a decreased mass of air moving, perhaps we will see decreased precipitation at and around latitude 60 degrees where it ascends. Then again, with a big expanse of exposed arctic ocean, you would expect evaporation to increase, so rainfall might be expected to increase north of the confluence of the Polar and Ferrel cells.

    5) Given that that Ferrel Cells acts like a ball bearing between the upwelling of the Polar Cells and the downwelling of the Hadley Cells, you would expect there to be weather implications within the region of the Northern Ferrel Cell if the relative rate of circulation of the Arctic Polar and Northern Hadley cells alters. If there is an increased miss-match between the mass of air movement in each, then perhaps this would lead to increase turbulence and therefore increased storminess. Alternatively, perhaps the Hadley cell is currently slower than the Polar cell, so the slowing of the Polar Cell will actually bring the two into better accord and storminess will decrease. I imagine that this has implications for the number and intensity of tornadoes and hurricanes.

    Can anyone point to discussions of this sort of thing anywhere on the internet? Preferably by someone who knows what they are talking about – unlike myself. And does anyone know what the current balance is between the Northern Polar and Hadley cells. Surely someone somewhere is investigating all this with climate models.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 1 Jul 2008 @ 12:18 AM

  175. Well, the WSJ is at it again.

    “Global Warming as Mass Neurosis” by Bret Stephens

    1. Let’s confuse the mean temperature of the continental 48 with the mean temperature of the whole world!

    2. Now how about the increasing ice extent in the Antarctic??

    3. This winter the Northern Hemisphere was the coldest in decades! (And a bunch of German scientists predict global warming will take a “vacation” for a few years.)

    4. And 3,000 scientific robots have shown that the ocean has cooled over the last five years!

    I know enough from following the discussions here to ignore the first three points, but I missed the underlying story likely misrepresented in point 4. Someone care to comment, or point me to the relevant discussion?

    Comment by Jamie — 1 Jul 2008 @ 9:17 AM

  176. Robert, people often don’t consider the ice on Arctic land. The situation is more like a bowl with an ice cube in the water and another resting on the rim. Tip the ice on the rim into the water (i.e., melt the land ice), and the water level in the bowl rises.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 1 Jul 2008 @ 9:55 AM

  177. The young neocon speaks. This really belongs in The Weekly Standard.

    Anybody care to compose a rebuttal for comments?

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 1 Jul 2008 @ 10:06 AM

  178. Re Eyal Morag @164: “By the way I guess there used to be mountain peak above the coal In the photo.”

    No, The Powder River basin is in the rolling high plains of NE Wyoming and SE Montana and there is relatively little overburden above the coal beds.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 1 Jul 2008 @ 10:24 AM

  179. RE: 174

    Hey Craig,

    I am afraid this discussion my be slightly OT, as both your and my observations may involve processes unrelated to changes in Arctic Ice Coverage. I read through your thoughts and though I am not an expert being little more then a layman myself, I have some insights that seem different from your developing hypothesis.

    First and foremost is I have yet to see a good discussion on how Global Warming effects your observation of a Northward movement of the apparent circulation of the ITCZ heat energy and water vapor distribution. I have a hypothesis of my own; however, I have insufficient synoptic data to back it up. I can share with you two observations I think are crucial. The first is the NASA observations in 2004 and again in 2005 that demonstrate that the air high over the poles appeared to be warmer then normal, though at the surface the temperatures appear normal and drier in Winter. While in the Summer the temperatures appear to be slightly warmer and a bit wetter. The second observation relates to the apparent difference in the wet/dry adiabatic altitude at temperatures in the range of -30 Deg C. Apparently, the British Arctic Survey Team operating out of Northern Canada in 2006 seemed to suggest that the formation of ice/snow in the upper atmospheric region of around 250mb seems to be remaining as super cooled water drops.

    Secondly, as to your thoughts in regards to the Polar, Farrel and Hadley cellular interaction. It is likely the interface between the Hadley and the Farrel cells drive the Northern Jet Stream. Though I have not seen any data that would suggest the speed of the Jet Stream has shown a decrease. However, occurrence of the north and southern deviation (meanderings) of the Jet Stream have increased to the point that many former seasonal patterns appear to be changing. At issue is trying to determine the cause of these changes, for instance are the deviations due to an attempt of the Jet Streams to speed up? Where as more the impetus for speed has been traded for increased volume and without constraint it has resulted in increased the North/South meandering. However, most winds, even the Jet Stream, are more likely driven by the differences in Air Pressure cells and not circulation interaction or latitudes.

    The interesting thing is when looking at the synoptic record we have a clear signature of an increase in the speed of the surface Polar Easterlies in the NH. At the same time we seem to have an indication of a decrease of the surface Temperate Zone Walker circulation between 20 and 40 Deg. North and South. Yet, if we look at the Air Pressure records, ( ) at the various altitudes there does not seem to be a increase in these values, though the occurrence of where the Air Pressure zones occur seem to be related to the ENSO, PDO and NAO interaction. At best there seems a possibility that the geographical breadth of these Air Pressure Zones may have changed rather then their intensity.

    In the past we have had extensive discussions in regards to these observations on UKWeatherWorld; however, there has not been much research released recently. Hence, the discussions have waned there over time. I can share that there may be several resources you may want to research further as you continue to develop your hypothesis. NOAA and the Hadley Met Center have quite a collection of discussions and studies along these lines as do several of the Scandinavian countries. However, I do not recall any discussions that appear to track with your current thoughts.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 1 Jul 2008 @ 10:39 AM

  180. OFF TOPIC but can anyone verify or refute this paper on GHG:

    [Response: Garbage (again). – gavin]

    Comment by pete best — 1 Jul 2008 @ 10:53 AM

  181. Re 172 and therein cited,
    This pattern of ice melt is hard for polar bear “cubs of the year” to survive. Unless the multi-year ice reverts to shore anchored modes, we may be seeing the functional extinction of polar bears.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 1 Jul 2008 @ 11:06 AM

  182. In #170 david cooke wrote … “While the Mid-west will likely return to their normal balanced moisture with cooler winter time temperatures.” …

    However, warming trends are evident in the climatalogical data. Thus it is not possible for the Mid-west to return to “cooler winter time temperatures”.

    Data plots:

    Comment by pat neuman — 1 Jul 2008 @ 11:45 AM

  183. Okay, I’d like to post the following rebuttal to the WSJ opinion piece. Before I post, any feedback from this great group is appreciated!

    It’s unfortunate that WSJ would run an editorial that contains so many factual errors. They are, in order:

    “NASA now begrudgingly confirms that the hottest year on record in the continental 48 was not 1998, as previously believed, but 1934.”

    This claim confuses local temperature with global temperature. The trend for global temperature is inexorably upward.

    “Six of the 10 hottest years since 1880 antedate 1954.”

    According to the Hadley Centre, the 11 warmest years on record occurred in the last 13 years. This claim also fails to note the increase in droughts, especially in the US West.

    Data from 3,000 scientific robots in the world’s oceans show there has been slight cooling in the past five years, never mind that “80% to 90% of global warming involves heating up ocean waters,” according to a report by NPR’s Richard Harris.

    This claim fails to note that in the NPR story, the the principal researcher notes the cooling is “not anything really significant.” Furthermore, this claim fails to note the long-term trend in ocean heat content, which is inexorably upward.

    “The Arctic ice cap may be thinning, but the extent of Antarctic sea ice has been expanding for years.”

    This claim ignores the accelerating disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). It also neglects the imminent destruction of the entire Arctic sea-ice ecosystem.

    “Last winter was the Northern Hemisphere’s coldest in decades.”

    This cooling is caused by La Niña, a phase of the well-known El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the ocean-atmosphere system.

    As for the larger claim that climate science is religious in nature, its empirical basis is at least as strong as that of economics. When Mr. Stephens dismisses the results of climate science as “neurotic” and “Social-ist,” he should tell it to the Marx-spouting liberals in the global re-insurance industry.

    Munich Re, for example, states unequivocally that “Munich Re and its experts have been drawing attention to man-made climate change and its effects since 1973. In the long term, global warming will lead to a further increase in weather-related natural catastrophes, the financial impact of which will have to be borne by insurers and the public. Rapid international action is called for.”

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 1 Jul 2008 @ 1:04 PM

  184. #144 Peabody image manipulation

    I made an animated gif of the overlain sections and it shows quite clearly that the left hand 30% of the image overlays directly (with slight scaling) on to the part of the image from 280 to 480 pixels. It is clearly a picture of the same spot taken at a different time of day (hence the shadows change). As to why they would have done it, and then claimed that it was just a question of ‘touching up‘ the photo, that remains a mystery.

    Comment by gavin — 1 Jul 2008 @ 2:59 PM

  185. [# arja Says:
    28 June 2008 at 8:22 AM

    Why do you keep on telling your kids funny stories about father Christmas living at North Pole? Everyone should know that he lives in Finnish Lapland. What on earth would his reindeer eat at North Pole. Ice?]



    Comment by Mark — 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:06 PM

  186. RE: 182

    Hey Pat,

    Not to quibble; however, I have done an extensive analysis of the USHCN data for the Mid-Western region just for kicks, myself. For 40 of the sites for which there is a historic record of a minimum of 75-78 years and 8 sites of which there is a record of more then 110 years in this region, the Monthly low temperature, when tracked from year to year separately for the Months Dec. Jan. and Feb., shows an average low temperature rise of 1.5 degrees since 1930-33 using a 30 sample moving average.

    Point being is, I suspect we have a miscommunication occurring. Though there is a increase in the low temperatures, whether it is your estimate of a rise of 12 Deg. F or the USCHN record demonstrating a 1.5 (+/-.5) degree average monthly long term rise, the low temperatures are generally lower during a positive ENSO or negative to neutral transition for this region. Normally, they will warm during a negative ENSO of positive to negative transition based on my long term observations.

    I am curious though, is your data based on the measured daily low temperature? If so how widely distributed are your sensing stations? Have you noted a change in the relative or specific humidity at each station that tracks with the changes in the temperature trend? Have you tried comparing the wet bulb/dry bulb low temperature data? Have you tried to analyze the range of the daily high and low temperature against the daily range in the humidity values? Have you tried tracking the difference in the high temperature from the day before to the current days low temperature to demonstrate the change in the radiational cooling from one day to the next day? Finally, have you ran a comparison between the indicated radiational cooling to the change in humidity?

    I know too many questions… I have found that a simple temperature analysis will not tell me as much as an analysis that reduces the confounding variables to a minimum. That is part of the problem the experts face today in that it is very difficult to separate the seed from the chaff. My hope is that the science will continue to march along with better data sets and increasingly improved analysis techniques. I am always curious as to how someone has arrived at the conclusions they have and an explanation of yours would be welcome, though a bit OT for this thread.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:09 PM

  187. RE: Chuck Booth #82

    Actually, the extra biomass would contain some current atmospheric CO2. But if it were even as much as a trillion tons of new animals and plants composed solely of carbon, we’d still have retarded the growth in CO2 by about three weeks.


    Be still my beating heart.

    This would also have to assume that our fishermen wouldn’t fish these stocks for our own consumption. How likely is that? We have had recent satellite pictures of no-go areas for fish breeding (and fish stocks haven’t recovered as quickly as models suggested). Where the poor recovery is because of fishing trawlers going in there and catching spawning fish. Even though, if they listen to their own people, they should know that fish stocks have to recover before they can fish at the old levels they were used to, so fishing now robs their future for fifty years so that they get paid for one year now.

    So not likely, is it.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:17 PM

  188. # 180

    The tone of that paper alone should give away its bias. Quite a bit of the paper involves attacking the analogy of a greenhouse to the actual greenhouse effect– it’s not a surprise to anyone that the analogy breaks down pretty quick, but the authors feel like they are making a revelation here. They go on about how a greenhouse effect violates thermodynamics, how a pot of boiling water invalidates the greenhouse effect, and other absurd remarks.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:25 PM

  189. [Re: 125 John E. Pearson Says:
    29 June 2008 at 2:40 PM]

    However, this ecological niche of the North Polar Ocean is already occupied by organisms. Given no better models or reasoning, we can only assume that the new ecological niche will create new biomass opportunities (which as I’ve said earlier, is only a one-time reduction in CO2) at the expense of the biomass currently exploiting the current niche.

    If you want to take some time looking at the solution, feel free. But I’d call this a dead end (pardon the pun) until someone looks at it.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:28 PM

  190. RE #174 Craig
    My layman’s view of the Polar cell circulation’s response to removal of the ice cover is:
    Open water picks up more solar heat; descending cool dry air is heated and moistened (latent heat); the warmer, moister, less dense air gets pushed south (& west; Coriolus effect) to the convergence with the Ferrel cell(s); this warmer, moister, less dense air rises faster; precipitation releases latent heat, increasing convection; the increased convection sends even more air mass higher in the atmosphere and poleward; radiation cools the poleward bound air mass, precipitating out more water; the cool dry dense air descends, continuing the cycle.
    I.e., I would expect more heat(sensible & latent)=> more convection=> more mass flow=> a stronger cell, at least in the summer. Latent heat released by freezing in the fall would tend to keep the increased convection going. If my simplistic qualitative view captures the dominant mechanisms, we should see larger seasonal variation as well.

    PS #112 Chris,
    thanks for checking my math – I should have entered 1e6 instead of 100000(it LOOKED like enough zeros!). I wonder what will be the cause du jour for this years melting?

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:55 PM

  191. Jim some suggestions:

    “NASA now begrudgingly confirms that the hottest year on record in the continental 48 was not 1998, as previously believed, but 1934.”

    In 2001 Hansen et al. published the following:
    “The U.S. annual (January-December) mean temperature is slightly warmer in 1934 than in 1998 in the
    GISS analysis (Plate 6). This contrasts with the USHCN data, which has 1998 as the warmest year in the century.
    In both cases the difference between 1934 and 1998 mean temperatures is a few hundredths of a degree. The main
    reason that 1998 is relatively cooler in the GISS analysis is its larger adjustment for urban warming. In comparing
    temperatures of years separated by 60 or 70 years the uncertainties in various adjustments (urban warming, station
    history adjustments, etc.) lead to an uncertainty of at least 0.1°C. Thus it is not possible to declare a record U.S.
    temperature with confidence until a result is obtained that exceeds the temperature of 1934 by more than 0.1°C.”
    So Hansen freely conceded this 7 years ago, nothing begrudging about it!

    “The Arctic ice cap may be thinning, but the extent of Antarctic sea ice has been expanding for years.”

    Hardly, the March extent (minimum) is changing at 4.2 ± 4.6 %, i.e. fluctuating without much trend, two years ago it was 20% below average.
    The September extent (maximum) is changing at 0.8 ± 0.8 % i.e. rather flat.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 1 Jul 2008 @ 3:57 PM

  192. RE 183


    Thanks for the rebuttal. I’m not competent to critique, but it does help me with point 4 in my post above.

    Comment by Jamie — 1 Jul 2008 @ 4:09 PM

  193. David (#186),

    I updated the website (below) to include additional data plots.

    If you go there I think you will find the answers to your questions.

    Comment by pat neuman — 1 Jul 2008 @ 4:10 PM

  194. #183, Jim, yet again another fabulous arm chair commentator from the WSJ. Similar to TV football anchors, but with a difference, he didn’t watch the climate change in person, is like a commentator looking at the stadium parking lot and making key comments about the football game in progress. I wonder if WSJ ever reported the astounding record Polar ice melt of 07?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 1 Jul 2008 @ 4:33 PM

  195. Re #180, thanks Gavin. I knew it was but your response confirms it.

    Comment by pete best — 1 Jul 2008 @ 4:41 PM

  196. Mark at 185 indicates that reindeer would eat penguins at the North Pole. I’ll ignore the problem of reindeer being herbivores, for the moment, because these are undoubtedly magical reindeer and I don’t know what THEY would eat. But I do know that there aren’t penguins at the North Pole. Search “penguin” here:

    Comment by Steve L — 1 Jul 2008 @ 4:47 PM

  197. Unless they are also magical, invisible penguins.

    Comment by Steve L — 1 Jul 2008 @ 4:48 PM

  198. Phil, #191, I may be missing some text here, but

    “Hardly, the March extent (minimum) is changing at 4.2 ± 4.6 %, i.e. fluctuating without much trend, two years ago it was 20% below average.
    The September extent (maximum) is changing at 0.8 ± 0.8 % i.e. rather flat.”

    Means (as far as I can tell) that the minumum us changing by:

    Sometimes increasing by 0.4% (-1SD)
    Sometimes decreasing by 4.2% (median)
    Sometimes decreasing by 8.8% (+1SD)

    Given more than 1SD below is just as likely as more than 1SD above, this doesn’t mean “rather flat”.

    Same problem with the september. If the lower bound is 0%, only if the upper bound is also 0% could that be considered “flat”.

    Maybe it’s just the text you use.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Jul 2008 @ 4:59 PM

  199. Mark, did you learn New Math?
    I learned it the old way; I read it thus:

    > 4.2 ± 4.6 % is a range between these extremes:

    4.2 + 4.6 = +8.8 %
    4.2 – 4.6 = -0.4 %

    > 0.8 ± 0.8 % is a range between these extremes:

    0.8 + 0.8 = +1.6 %
    0.8 – 0.8 = 0

    How did you do the addition? Can you show your work?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Jul 2008 @ 5:29 PM

  200. “Unless they are also magical, invisible penguins.”

    There were once the northern hemisphere equivalents of penguins.
    They were called the Great Auk. Humans killed them, to extinction.
    Magical, invisible birds. Gone forever.

    Comment by CL — 1 Jul 2008 @ 5:46 PM

  201. On Gavin’s response to comment #173, that melted sea ice being less salty(ergo less dense) than the underlying water will lead to a slight rise in sea level. Live and learn. Thank you. It may be a negligible rise, but it’s interesting to know that it’s non zero.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 1 Jul 2008 @ 6:21 PM

  202. RE: 193

    Hey Pat,

    Interesting data, though it does not seem to be the representation of the low temperature for Dec., Jan., and Feb. that we were originally talking about. It looks to me you are representing the DJF and Annual mean, which I believe can have multiple variables. I can see in most of the DJF mean graphs you appear to have between a 1 to 2.5 Deg F. variation across the record for most sites which would appear close to what I have seen in the USHCN record.

    To reduce the participation of other variables I prefer to look at the low temperature (Tmin) average, (since I am concerned about the change in the radiant loss). If I am trying to develop the amount of “radiant efficiency”, I also like to track the high temperature of the day before, against this mornings low, as that helps me to see the change in the range across long term data sets. (I simply insert a blank Cell at the top of the Tmax column to offset the data by one day and extract the difference between Tmax and Tmin to demonstrate the radiant cooling range.)

    I also usually try to include the change in the Relative Humidity,(if it can be found), in my graphs as humidity plays a part in the atmospheric heat content. It was not until I started comparing the daily temperature range between a Desert (or recently cleared land) as opposed to a Rain Forest that I found out how important that change in the humidity is.

    Since 2006, I have started using the Julian Date across the historic record, as this appears to make the best statistical model of comparing apples to apples. (For instance if you compare say the 15th of June across the data set you can choose samples of thirty from anywhere in the historic record (total population of June 15th values for that station record) and have a proper statistical sample according to my statistics references.) This helps me to identify if there may be multiple modes (variables) participating in the statistical models. (Sometimes I get the feeling that the way we are looking at the data today may be be like if you were to try to solve a algebraic equation and were not abiding by the algebraic orders of operation…)

    The important point is, no matter the data set, an increase in the long term surface temperature record is present. My hobby of late has become one of trying to determine how global warming could be changing the weather patterns. (For me, it is one thing that the models seem to suggest more extremes, it is another to understand how these extremes are caused.)

    I think I have taken up enough space talking about the Mid-West temperature records and my evaluation of US surface temperature changes. Time to get back to the thread, have you any insights regarding Arctic air/ocean temperature or salinity changes?

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 1 Jul 2008 @ 6:48 PM

  203. RE: 193

    Hey Pat,

    Sorry, I went back to review your graphs and saw the low temperature record values this time, my apologies. By the way have you considered using Dot Plots of the temperatures? It just seems curious to me that when I look at the trend data and the data points and I see what appears to be an even distribution of outliers across the range, even though we are seeing upward trending. (I was expecting to see skewing of the data set.)

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 1 Jul 2008 @ 7:06 PM

  204. David (#202),

    Yearly low temperature plots at Green Bay WI and Park Rapids MN exhibit increases of 5 to 11 deg F from the early 1900s to 2008 – as shown on data plots (link in #193), from 10 year moving averages.

    Milder winters in the Midwest have been occurring because there have been fewer and less extreme Arctic air blasts into the Midwest.

    Comment by pat neuman — 1 Jul 2008 @ 7:48 PM

  205. And I think what the postings by Mark and Phil aren’t clear about is what an ‘increase’ in a minimum is — is that a change in the direction of less, or more? It’s probably in the original source clearer than here.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Jul 2008 @ 9:57 PM

  206. A question if I may…
    I am not surprised by the current Arctic ice melt, but I am at a loss by the faster melt north of Canada as opposed to the slower melt north of Siberia.
    North America had an “average” winter in spite of La Nina and yet for most of the past winter Siberia was above normal.
    The melt conditions are exactly opposite to what I expected….

    Comment by Tom G — 1 Jul 2008 @ 11:55 PM

  207. Japanese Naval Records indicate a fleet navigated a completely ice-free Arctic Ocean at the peak of the Medieval Warm Period, so total melting is nothing new, however unlikely at current temperatures.

    [Response: What tosh. Where do you get this kind of nonsense? – gavin]

    Comment by Jim Peden — 2 Jul 2008 @ 8:40 AM

  208. #206 Think winds and JUne dominant low pressure…

    Comment by wayne davidson — 2 Jul 2008 @ 9:14 AM

  209. Re: 206

    Believe the rate of melting is largely a function of how much warm air is transported north by various weather systems. So, it’s possible that the North America weather has been more favorable for melting this season so far.

    Understand that many other factors are involved as well, but the prime differance between one side of the artic and another is weather and currents.

    Comment by Andrew — 2 Jul 2008 @ 9:18 AM

  210. Well, I posted my rebuttal on the WSJ forum, but strangely, I can only see the first two pages of comments. Can anyone else see later comments? Do you have to be a subscriber or something?

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 2 Jul 2008 @ 9:39 AM

  211. Re: comment #206

    Tom G,

    If you had been looking at daily temperatures in Canada south of Banks Island, you would have observed that strong heat waves from the south were reaching all the way to the Arctic Sea and melting the ice there.

    This was not the case in northern Siberia.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 2 Jul 2008 @ 9:46 AM

  212. Jim Peden, I am interested in what possible source could suggest this, as the first mention of Japanese Naval engagements is the engagement of the Mongol force circa 1280 CE (origin of the kamikaze legend). It would appear your source is as ignorant of Japanese/Naval history as they are of climate.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Jul 2008 @ 9:54 AM

  213. Re 212:

    If you google “Jim Peden” you’ll find your way to a webpage featuring an amusing grab-bag of the stock howlers and talking points. You’ll also find RealClimate mentioned as:

    one particular pro-hoax web site calling itself “Real Climate” which tells us that it is all about “climate science from climate scientists”, …. The site isn’t actually run by “scientists”, it’s actually run by Environmental Media Services, which specializes in spreading environmental junk science on behalf of numerous clients who stand to financially benefit from scare tactics through environmental fear mongering. [edited – no need to repeat nonsense]

    At last, the cunning conspiracy is revealed!

    [Response: Gosh! I wondered where those monthly million-dollar deposits were coming from …. (I wish!). It shouldn’t need saying, but all EMS do is host our server (see the original disclaimer). – gavin]

    Comment by spilgard — 2 Jul 2008 @ 11:07 AM

  214. [Mark, did you learn New Math?
    I learned it the old way; I read it thus:

    > 4.2 ± 4.6 % is a range between these extremes:

    4.2 + 4.6 = +8.8 %
    4.2 – 4.6 = -0.4 %

    > 0.8 ± 0.8 % is a range between these extremes:

    0.8 + 0.8 = +1.6 %
    0.8 – 0.8 = 0

    How did you do the addition? Can you show your work?]

    That’s how I worked it, but the text said “mostly flat”. Which isn’t “sloped” unless you’re a very bad carpenter.

    Hence the query.

    Comment by Mark — 2 Jul 2008 @ 11:14 AM

  215. David (#203),

    I’ve been using Microsoft Excel’s scatter diagrams with trend lines determined based on moving averages.

    Comment by pat n — 2 Jul 2008 @ 12:17 PM

  216. Re #214
    Sorry I omitted the timescale in error, it’s /decade.
    I would argue that a slope of less than 1%/decade is ‘mostly flat’

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 2 Jul 2008 @ 12:35 PM

  217. Thanks to Brian Dodge (#60) and corrections from (#112) about how much ice a Vesuvius-sized volcano could melt. This was approached by the denial community in different ways, from the simple (from alt.globalwarming):

    Now let’s use just a tiny bit of common sense, and consider honestly
    for just once in the hysterical discussion this topic always seems to
    devolve into:
    Which is likely to have more impact on frozen ice in the water
    directly above those volcanoes?
    A tiny theoretical change which nobody can actually measure, in the
    air (above) that ice?
    Or a literal mountain of red-hot molten rock exploding directly into
    the water, at over 10 times the boiling point of water?…
    Hmm. Lemme think.
    Tough one.
    We should probably raise taxes, and immediately had over our national
    government, to social-ists at the UM

    to the numeric (from Bob Krumm’s blog):

    “A cubic mile of molten rock, like was launched by Vesuvius on to Pompeii, converts to 4.186 billion cubic meters. At a density of 3,000 kilograms per cubic meter, that much molten rock works out to be approximately 1.25 x 1013 kg.

    Basaltic magma has a specific heat of 1,000 joules per kilogram per degree Celsius. In other words, a kilogram of magma releases 1,000 joules of heat energy for every degree it cools until it transforms into a solid. A kilogram of molten rock at 1350 degrees Celsius, therefore gives off 250,000 joules of heat as it cools to its crystallization temperature of 1100 degrees Celsius. Passing through that phase from liquid to solid, that kilogram releases another 400,000 joules of heat. Then as the solid rock cools from 1100 degrees to 0 degrees Celsius it releases another 1,400 joules per degree, or 1,540,000 joules. In total, one kilogram of molten basalt at a temperature of 1,350 degrees releases 2,19 million joules of heat into the surrounding atmosphere. Multiplying the weight of a cubic mile of lava by the heat energy released per kilogram and we find that a Pompeii-sized underwater eruption releases 2.739 x 1019 joules of heat into the sea.

    One kilogram of ice at 0 degrees Celsius requires the addition of 333,550 joules of heat energy to turn it into a liquid. Dividing that number into the quantity of joules of heat released by the volcano that we calculated above, we find that the cubic mile of magma can melt roughly 82 trillion kilograms of ice. A cubic meter of ice at 0 degrees weighs 917 kilograms, so that works out to roughly 90 billion cubic meters of ice melted by our undersea volcano.

    Because of the shifting currents beneath the North Pole, the sea ice there is only two to three meters thick. Dividing 3 meters into the volume of ice that our volcano melted, we find that it would cover an area of just under 30 billion meters square, or a little less than 30 thousand square kilometers. Convert that into English, and it works out to 11,532 square miles of ice three meters thick, or an area about 10% larger than the state of Massachusetts.

    Obviously, I’ve made some simplifications, like ignoring whatever effects the pressure of 13,000 feet of sea might have on the equation, and I haven’t taken into account the change in melting point as a result of the salinity of the ocean. But this is probably close enough to demonstrate that Jonah Goldberg’s original question is worthy of much more analysis.

    In short: how much polar ice is melted by an undersea volcano? A whole lot.”

    An article in Investors Business Daily has picked up the “Volcanoes Ate My Homework” storyline about Arctic ice melting (“Are Volcanoes Melting Arctic?” June 30, 2008). This ends with the paragraph:

    “Earth is not a museum, but a geologically active place that reminds us frequently how relatively puny our activities are. The WHOI’s voyage to the bottom of the sea shows it is climate alarmists who are skating on thin ice.”

    This, in turn, got picked up by Dakota Voice, where Bob Ellis ended his article with:

    “According to the article, Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute spoke at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change and said Arctic temperatures were warmer during the 1930s, and that most of Antarctica is actually cooling now.

    Anthropogenic global warming apostles would have us believe the planet has never changed in all it’s history, and suddenly man and his evil, capitalistic, oil-company fed industry has plunged the planet into an unprecedented warming event.

    That simply isn’t the case. The planet hasn’t been sitting in a glass case all these years (or in a museum, as the IDB article put it). Greenland wasn’t so named as a joke; it used to be warm enough for the Vikings to plant vineyards.

    But if you’re already biased against capitalism and the West, why let an inconvenient truth get in your way of a useful tool for bashing both?”

    Vineyards in Greenland? Not only in this article, but as it turns out, all over the web. Yeah, I realize it’s probably a conglomeration of the “warm, green Greenland” and “Vineyards in England” contrarian arguments, but if this is the level of truthiness they use to approach science, is it any wonder they’re confused about climate change?

    P.S. “social-ists” used to defeat the spam filter.

    Comment by Paul Melanson — 2 Jul 2008 @ 1:21 PM

  218. #217, A little hint for the volcano “dun it” gang, find the spot where the surface ice has melted, either on a glacier or on floating ice, aside from that , laughing is a healthy thing to do, its good stand up comedian stuff. .

    Comment by wayne davidson — 2 Jul 2008 @ 2:00 PM

  219. RE: 215

    Hey Pat,

    Yes, I realized that. Excel is supposed to have the capability to support Least Squares or Linear Regression functions, if you are interested. I generally only use the old Bell Labs technique (Dot Plots) to check for multiple attributes. (I have been expecting greater evidence of multiple attributes / modes or a shifting mean in the weather station data sets then I have found.)

    Have you tried sampling the daily Tmin values in the USHCN yet? I have found if you will also include the TMIN/TMAX Flag Codes you can check the data continuity. (Generally I try to only select sites with a minimum of 90 years history when I am looking for a strong correlations and use sites with a minimum of 60 years for regional testing.)

    I am curious what would a long term Arctic weather station (Like Pt. Barrow, AK) low temperature, wind, pressure and relative humidity record would show us. (Regional Weather Stations above the Arctic Circle ) Have you tried to access and analyze data from any of these sites yet? I had not thought to try to test for temperature trends above the Arctic Circle until yesterday.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 2 Jul 2008 @ 2:03 PM

  220. Dear Gavin,

    Moving right-along to
    then- Greenland melt file for Google Earth (KMZ, 404 KB),
    Isn’t Melt curve at lower left best served by exponential-
    non-linear regression curve, rather than linear as depicted
    in Graph??

    Upmost Respect,

    Comment by Richard Morgan — 2 Jul 2008 @ 2:10 PM

  221. “less than 1% per decade … flat”

    It’s slow on a human lifetime time scale.
    On an ecological time scale it’s quite rapid.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Jul 2008 @ 3:04 PM

  222. Re: #183

    Jim, remember who you are dealing with (WSJ). They choose only certain comments — mine was already filtered out.

    Good luck, and let us know what happens.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 2 Jul 2008 @ 3:11 PM

  223. For anyone who might still be interested, the WSJ forum seems to be fubared. It keeps reporting spurious empty pages that appear and disappear, regardless of the browser I use. I reposted my rebuttal for good measure, but so far, no dice.

    I blame Rupert Murdoch.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 2 Jul 2008 @ 3:20 PM

  224. #150

    It would be foolish to “rule out” solar forcing completely, as certain correlations between solar variation and climate have certainly been observed in the past, and the current warm period has coincided with high solar activity. Ruling out solar as a forcing would be equivalent to saying ENSO and the NPI and other forms of natural variability no longer play a role in climate change because of CO2….they obviously do, as the declining temperatures of the past year have shown.

    This isn’t to say that greenhouse gases may or may not be the dominant factor now, but to not consider other forcings on climate would be rather narrow-minded. Climate science is still very young, and there is lot that has not yet been determined or proven.

    Comment by Sean — 2 Jul 2008 @ 3:29 PM

  225. [# Phil. Felton Says:
    2 July 2008 at 12:35 PM

    Re #214
    Sorry I omitted the timescale in error, it’s /decade.
    I would argue that a slope of less than 1%/decade is ‘mostly flat’]

    Unless you’re expecting 0%/decade. My shelf is “flat” but if you put a well balnced steel ball bearing about 5mm diameter on it, it will move. So it is “flat” for storing books on. However, if it were a machinist’s bench, that’s not very flat at all.

    You need a bit of context. Alternatively, if the third year had grown by 0.4% the eighth shrunk by 1% and the 8.8% was in the fifth year, then again, that’s “flat”. But if it was 0.4% bigger, 0.2% smaller, 1.6%smaller, 2.4% smaller….

    That would not be flat.

    It’s a problem though with limited text availabe and graphical needs.

    Comment by Mark — 2 Jul 2008 @ 3:31 PM

  226. Just when did this Vesuvius sized volcano erupt and cause all this melting we are seeing currently in the Arctic? And can anyone point me to the Richter Scale readings on that eruption?


    Comment by John P. Reisman (The Centrist Party) — 2 Jul 2008 @ 3:33 PM

  227. (from alt.globalwarming):


    So get a cold store. Put the temperature at *exactly* 0 degrees C.

    Put some ice in it.

    Leave it.

    Still there?

    Now, we cannot measure the temperature with our bodies, but put the thermostat at +0.5C.

    Leave the ice there.

    Still there?


    (the only reason I put it there was in case anyone *dumb* enough to read and think “they may have a point” was passing. this is an experiment they can manage for themselves)

    Comment by Mark — 2 Jul 2008 @ 3:37 PM

  228. Re Gavin’s in-line to Jim Peden @207,
    Perhaps Mr. Peden is confusing Japanese ‘naval records’ with Gavin Menzies’ tosh about the arctic exploits of the Chinese Treasure fleets.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 2 Jul 2008 @ 3:46 PM

  229. Paul Melanson quotes some global warming denier: “But if you’re already biased against capitalism and the West, why let an inconvenient truth get in your way of a useful tool for bashing both?”

    It is really quite peculiar how so many deniers seem to assume that taking action to mitigate anthropogenic global warming is in fundamental conflict with “capitalism” — as though the manufacturers of wind turbines, solar thermal power plants, photovoltaic panels, energy-efficient buildings and appliances, etc. were not profit-seeking companies. It is as though they equate “capitalism” with “the fossil fuel industry”.

    According to WorldWatch Institute, in 2007 alone $71 Billion in private investment went into the wind and solar industries. Now admittedly that is just a couple quarters worth of profits for ExxonMobil, but still, it’s not nothing.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 2 Jul 2008 @ 3:48 PM

  230. #206

    Actually, North America experienced a colder than normal winter, at least compared to 30-year averages.

    Interestingly enough, the last two moderate/strong La Nina winters did not have such a cooling effect on North America…in fact they were very warm.

    Perhaps a function of the PDO switch believed to have occurred this past year?

    Comment by Sean — 2 Jul 2008 @ 4:00 PM

  231. #230: I don’t know the immediate cause,the la Nina or what, but it’s been a cold summer too where I’ve been, which was Grand Rapids Michigan til a couple of days ago, and is Vancouver, BC since. It seems I can’t find enough clothes to wear. I had to sleep under a wool blanket last night to avoid turning the heat on!

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 2 Jul 2008 @ 5:23 PM

  232. A minor quibble with the Krummy blog (#217), he has neglected that he would have to heat a column of water roughly 4.3 km deep and several hundred km^2 in area–so we’re talking a few degrees of heating at most. Now given that most of the deep ocean is right near freezing, as well as salty and dense, this heat will stay in the deep ocean, and the ice will never see it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Jul 2008 @ 5:25 PM

  233. David (#219),

    While a NOAA NWS hydrologist from 1976-2005, I worked on consistency analysis of climate station data for use in calibration of hydrologic model parameters for flood and low water forecasting and risk assessment.

    Since leaving NWS, I created plots for annual mean temperature plots at 19 stations in Alaska (about half inland and half near coastal waters/ice). The majority of the climate stations in Alaska have records beginning in 1950. Several NOAA NWS Cooperative Climate Stations in the Midwest have daily records starting in the 1890s.

    I’ve plotted average daily Tmin values (annual, seasonal and monthly) for many stations, and average annual and monthly dewpoints – but not recently.

    Comment by pat n — 2 Jul 2008 @ 6:43 PM

  234. NSIDC July update is now available:

    Comment by gavin — 2 Jul 2008 @ 7:42 PM

  235. Re #232
    “A minor quibble with the Krummy blog (#217), he has neglected that he would have to heat a column of water roughly 4.3 km deep and several hundred km^2 in area–so we’re talking a few degrees of heating at most. Now given that most of the deep ocean is right near freezing, as well as salty and dense, this heat will stay in the deep ocean, and the ice will never see it.”

    I tried to give a post with sample calculation here but the spam checker wouldn’t let me!
    See here for an example:

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 2 Jul 2008 @ 8:02 PM

  236. The solar crowd has some new research and has some jumping for joy.

    Does a Spin–Orbit Coupling Between the Sun and the Jovian Planets Govern the Solar Cycle?

    Abstract :We present evidence to show that changes in the Sun’s equatorial rotation rate are synchronized with changes in its orbital motion about the barycentre of the Solar System. We propose that this synchronization is indicative of a spin–orbit coupling mechanism operating between the Jovian planets and the Sun. However, we are unable to suggest a plausible underlying physical cause for the coupling. Some researchers have proposed that it is the period of the meridional flow in the convective zone of the Sun that controls both the duration and strength of the Solar cycle. We postulate that the overall period of the meridional flow is set by the level of disruption to the flow that is caused by changes in Sun’s equatorial rotation speed. Based on our claim that changes in the Sun’s equatorial rotation rate are synchronized with changes in the Sun’s orbital motion about the barycentre, we propose that the mean period for the Sun’s meridional flow is set by a Synodic resonance between the flow period (~22.3 yr), the overall 178.7-yr repetition period for the solar orbital motion, and the 19.86-yr synodic period of Jupiter and Saturn.

    I’m a layman. Can anyone help explain what this means?

    [Response: Not much. There is a vague numerological connection between the orbit of Jupiter (roughly 10 years) around the sun and the length of an average solar cycle. Ever since this was noted (decades ago) people have hypothesised that the latter is connected to the former. This paper is just an extension on that theme. The completely absence of any force, mechanism or physics that could – even theoretically – make a link has not apparently been a deterrent. Why this has any implication for climate is .. mysterious.. to say the least. -gavin]

    Comment by mike — 2 Jul 2008 @ 8:12 PM

  237. Unfortunately, my attempt to answer the question previously posed to me by Ray Ladbury was rejected as “spam”, and multiple attempts to find the forbidden language was unsuccessful. In fact, I could find nothing in verbiage not traditionally used in climate science. Such is the life of a “denier”….

    Comment by Jim Peden — 2 Jul 2008 @ 8:17 PM

  238. re #217, #226, #232

    Not to mention that if you subtract 110% of the area of Massachusetts (~2.3e4 km2) from the area that melted last year (~7.72e6 km2), you’re left with ~7.7e6 km2, or 99.7%. Volcanoes as a cause for 2007 arctic melting? 99.7 percent BS.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 2 Jul 2008 @ 8:24 PM

  239. Gavin says “Why this has any implication for climate is .. mysterious.. to say the least”

    I thought so but a well known meteorologist who likes to sign certain ‘petitions’ claims that “On each occasion that the Sun has done this in the past the World’s mean temperature has dropped by ~ 1 – 2 C. ”

    Comment by mike — 2 Jul 2008 @ 8:51 PM

  240. Jim Peden (237) — If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

    First of all, the internet seems to me to becoming less reliable; your comment may simply not have even reached the spam filter. Second, try putting in hyphens .

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Jul 2008 @ 8:51 PM

  241. #232 Ray, the stand up comedian contrarians will easily point out that not all of the Arctic Ocean is 4.3 Km deep, its a no brainer. Volcano “dun it” guys dont know that I have collected Pumice rocks on the shores of Ellesmere Island in the early 80’s when there was lots more ice, there is a thing called geological activity, which mind you, can be picked up by US or Canadian Geological surveys, But hey, lets not encourage them to do proper research, its fun to read them so over the top.

    #234 Thanks Gavin, Great report. I want to note the early Melt aspect of 2008, which is a match
    with the late now defunct “big blue” skies which was an extraordinary event of continuous cloud free skies which lasted several months, well before spring, giving a greater ice extent at least on the North American side of the Pole, what “big blue” gaveth “big blue” taketh away…..

    Comment by wayne davidson — 2 Jul 2008 @ 9:29 PM

  242. Re #240

    I had exactly the same problem posting a reply to that post (see #235) and was unable to find what the offending word was (the message explicitly said that it was a spam violation). It told me to email ‘them’ if I thought it was a mistake, but no address given.

    [Response: contrib – at – – gavin]

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 2 Jul 2008 @ 10:46 PM

  243. Jim Peden:

    I’d love to hear your response to Ray Ladbury’s question. Can’t wait.

    But I have to wonder: why would you solicit information from a website which you yourself have described elsewhere as “a staged and contracted production, which wasn’t created by “scientists” …

    Comment by tamino — 2 Jul 2008 @ 11:19 PM

  244. Mike, cite please? You’re apparently quoting something. What?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:30 AM

  245. Brian Dodge #238 (and all those before him): that’s all for a volcano producing a cubic mile of hot rock, coming into direct contact with sea water, Krakatoa style. I have nothing against theory, on the contrary, but what about the small empirical matter of observability of such a beast on a planet instrumented to see kiloton events wherever they might happen? ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:58 AM

  246. #230 Sean,
    From Jeff Masters:
    Under “This winter’s jet stream pattern.” 17 Dec 07.

    The missing sea ice between Russia and Alaska has also brought unusual storminess and low pressure to the region during November and December. This may have deflected the position of the jet stream, bringing colder conditions to North America than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. The current La Nina event and natural variability are also involved, and it is difficult to say which effect is mostly responsible for the current jet stream pattern.

    From now on any list of candidates for odd largescale northern hemisphere weather should initially (at least) include the Arctic.

    Jim Peden
    Pop it on your website then.

    If it’s already there I can’t find it.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 3 Jul 2008 @ 1:06 AM

  247. NSIDC Arctic sea ice news and analysis, 08/07/02 update: “Satellite data shows us that surface melt began earlier than usual over most of the Arctic Ocean (see Figure 4)

    In the area between Greenland, Svalbard and the North pole where the NOAA webcams are located, the NSIDC´s Figure 4 shows surface melt beginning earlier than 2008/06/10.
    But, the webcam images don´t show the same: 2008/06/10: . I don´t see surface melt
    2008/06/21: Surface continues whitout melting.
    The Figure 4 seems to be incorrect, at least at that location.

    What do you think about??

    Thank you.

    Comment by maikdev — 3 Jul 2008 @ 6:25 AM

  248. Paul Melanson,

    You’re assuming the heat in the lava is all evenly distributed. It isn’t. The lava isn’t perfectly spread out so as to melt ice. Most of it is in huge lava flows, and the surface solidifies long before the center. The center can take years to cool down. So all the heat isn’t instantly transferred to the ice.

    Air, on the other hand, circulates.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 Jul 2008 @ 6:39 AM

  249. The main media idiocy in this case is as usual concentrated on the americanized and germanized etc. subject “polar bears” which are feared to dissappear. They didn’t dissappear during the Eem warming ca. 125000 years ago and during the climatic optimum ca. 9000-5000 years ago, when it was warmer than it is now (or was it? We’ll never know before it’s far too late.)

    The knowledge, that mankind is threatening itself by among other things threatening millions of species is of course not very popular, because it’s more difficult to grasp and more unpleasant to understand. Media is what they call entertainment (Zbigniew Brzezinski called it “tittytaintment” back in 2001, when asked what the according to him 80 pct. unnessescary members of mankind should be doing in 2050. How enlightened. Brzezinski is the main adviser to Obama).

    TV is idiocy, but TV, as the internet, is a product of certain types of human beings and their endless need for escaping reality and replacing it with “virtual reality”. As I see it, this is merely an expression of their deathwishes – they find life as it is unbearable. TV etc. is the “modern” form of religious nonsense, as usual used by psychopaths (“power-seekers”) to manipulate others. Every evening the citizens do their own brainwashing in front of their TV-sets. Modern totalitarianism is driven by “free will”.

    I think mankind is incapable of solving the problems concerning global warming, as it has shown itself incapable of solving any other real problem coming towards it during the socalled “history”. Mankind is completely unable to control even it’s most elementary parts of it’s “inner pigdog” as it was called around 1933-45. Almost everyone wants to own their own 25 square kilometers flatscreen TV and then have one in their cabin(s) too, then in their car(s) and so on and so forth, they’ll all have children even the ones who can’t and so on and so forth. And there’s no end in sight. The flat earth society is bigger than ever.

    Mankind is in itself a global catastrophe. But I think the earth will survive us, even if it’s far easier for it to survive the termites or the volcanoes.

    Comment by K Johansen — 3 Jul 2008 @ 6:54 AM

  250. Those interested in why ice is complicated , may want to study this:

    Many buoys are moving opposite to “average” or “normal” drift…..

    Comment by wayne davidson — 3 Jul 2008 @ 7:39 AM

  251. Re #249, Polar bears did not exist 125,000 years ago I believe.

    There is always war and that is where peak oil will exacerbate climate change in regard to prices, resources and impacting the so called globalised economy.

    Comment by pete best — 3 Jul 2008 @ 8:21 AM

  252. Re 247:

    It depends on what surface melting means.

    Does it mean surface temps of 32F, the presence of liquid water or visible ponding?

    Also, snow doesn’t even necessarily melt at 32F.
    If the humidity is low enough, it will sublimate instead.
    So, maybe the dewpoint needs to be 32F.

    Comment by Andrew — 3 Jul 2008 @ 9:09 AM

  253. RE: 233

    Hey Pat,

    Actually, what is happening of late is critical. Based on the NOAA data set for the number of days the low temperature has exceeded the freezing point for brine water has certainly increased such that the 1998 and the stretch from 2002 to 2007 have exceed the normal high of near 205 days, with maximums of 241 and 247 days. When you look at the former record in the 1939 (+/- 3 years) the current records are definitely outside of the standard deviation of the record.

    Here is the data set access I used to reach this conclusion:

    Another interesting point is that the warming of surface air temperatures above 15 Deg. F is not all that remarkable. It is not until you get to to 0 Deg. F that the really interesting data begins to show up. What was fun was when walking down the thermometer from 32 Deg. F to 0 Deg. F was the plateau that I reached at 15 Deg. F. The average days change actually flattened out requiring a strong downward change to get the average to change.

    The interesting thing is how much the trend data seems to be different from the data here:

    Well I am hoping I have stirred up a hornets nest over on UKww with this observation and I want to thank you for your observations and taking the time to share your research with me. Hopefully, we will talk again soon.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 3 Jul 2008 @ 9:21 AM

  254. hang on Ray (232), geothermal heat can’t stay in the deep ocean; if it did, the deep ocean would be hot, just like the continental crust is at a depth of 3 or 4km. Convection carries the geothermal heat to the surface. If we call the deep ocean the bottom 3km, then, were it not for convection carrying the heat to the surface, the total geothermal heat flux of about 20TW would raise the temperature of the deep ocean by 1K every 4000 years or so.

    [Response: You need to compare that heat flux with the flux associated with the overturning circulation and associated processes. For a rough estimate, downwelling water to the deep ocean in convection zones is about 40 Sv (10^6 m3/s), assuming that comes in with say 2 deg C, and leaves (through upwelling, isopycnal and diapycnal diffusion), that is a heat flux of 320 TW, thus at least an order of magnitude larger than the geothermal fluxes. Model estimates of the effect of geothermal heating on the ocean temperatures and circulation have shown small effects – a few tenths of a deg C in the deep water (i.e. Adcroft et al, 2001 – they used ~18 TW of geothermal heat into the bottom of the ocean). – gavin]

    Comment by David — 3 Jul 2008 @ 9:27 AM

  255. With UAH and RSS mean temps for June out, can anyone offer why the carbon warming b/n 1979 and the present has only increased about +0.05*C and +0.285*C, respectively. I would have thought that over the last 29 years, we would have had more warming.

    Then considering the lack of solar activity over the last several months, I wonder how that will affect the global mean temp for the coming months, and eventually sea ice.

    Curious to read some viewpoints here about that. Thanks. Happy 4th.

    Comment by floodguy — 3 Jul 2008 @ 10:22 AM

  256. Re: 247, 252

    OK. Now I understand that the onset of surface melt is not the same thing that the onset of pools or visible ponding. The pools are the second phase of melting.
    But these pools are very easy to see in the webcam pictures. Search&Results: In 2003, the first pools appeared at 07/04. * 2004: 07/05. * 2005: no pictures. * 2006: 06/28. * 2007: lag of pictures.
    * 2008: 06/29.
    According to the NSIDC,s Figure 4 ( ), the onset of surface melt in 2006 was later than in 2008. But pools appeared then one day earlier than now! Lag of effects of the earlier first onset of surface melt of 2008?

    Comment by maikdev — 3 Jul 2008 @ 10:35 AM

  257. RE: 255

    Hey Floodguy,

    Actually, since we do not have a great handle on the mechanics yet probably not. If I were to take a SWAG I would suggest that the relationship between what we are seeing the last two years are likely linked to the 1960’s dip.

    It is more likely that the lighter colored aerosols being added to the atmosphere by emerging industrial powerhouses are driving the deviation we see today. As to actual data you may want to search on the recent data regarding the surface accumulation in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic by NASA and the NOAA US Western coastline aerosol detection stations regarding aerosol precipitation fallout being detected there. Here is a link to a recent NASA satellite study:

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 3 Jul 2008 @ 11:14 AM

  258. RE no ice at the North Pole or other symbolic, localized effects of GW that might inspire us to action. For me it was the droughts in the Sahelian-Sudanian belt in Africa featured in the film, IS IT HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU? (1989?). I had been aware of droughts and famines there since the 1970s and Biafra. Once I made the connection that I might be contributing to these droughts and famines, that spurred me into action.

    So I think single effects in localized regions could play a great role in getting people involved. Sometimes the entire basket of harmful GW effects might be too overwhelming to handle for beginners in GW awareness and mitigation. They might just throw up their hands in a sense of helplessness.

    RE all this talk of FLAT. Here’s some bad flat — flat-screen TVs, which (except for Toshiba apparently) use nitrogen trifluoride in their manufacture, a 17,000 times more potent GHG than CO2, which remains in the atmosphere 550 years — according to an article based on a new study (see )

    I have an old clonker TV that I assume didn’t use that GHG, but I was thinking of perhaps buying a new TV once the digital conversion goes into effect next year, so now I’ll have to be sure it doesn’t involve nitrogen trifluoride in its manufacture. I can do that!

    If we focus on one or two things at a time people can do, then it doesn’t seem so impossible. It helps foster an “I can do that,” can-do attitude. It’s the LITTLE WAY OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALING. According to Mother Teresa, our love and concern for that single localized GW harm makes our tiny, drop-in-the-ocean efforts infinite. She said she wouldn’t have helped over 35,000 destitute people, if she hadn’t gone out to that first dying man in a Calcutta street. One step at a time adds up, as long as we don’t see it’s a Mt. Everest of needed action we’re climbing, and get paralyzed.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 3 Jul 2008 @ 11:18 AM

  259. David, Of course things don’t stay in the deep ocean indefinitely, the question is timescale. The deep ocean and surface water don’t overturn because of differences in density, so the exchange is via global circulation. My point is that a volcano could be going off 4.3 km below your feet at the North pole and you’d never have any indication. The heat would dissipate to the general volume of the ocean–so, no, the deep ocean would NOT be hot. The volcanic flux is about 3 orders of magnitude smaller than that coming in from the surface.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Jul 2008 @ 11:27 AM

  260. 256 Malkdev, You need to travel on sea ice like people in the Polar regions do. One spot may be like winter with strange looking sublimated or jagged snow (as with the NOAA picture), the other very wet with water pools everywhere, nothing is uniform, everything depends on everything else, ice thickness for example, the NOAA webcam shows a very small area, most likely chosen for its thickness (they dont put things on thin ice). Sleeping in a tent on the ice, even late spring feels like…….. sleeping on ice!

    Comment by wayne davidson — 3 Jul 2008 @ 11:30 AM

  261. RE #217 & “But if you’re already biased against capitalism and the West…”

    You really got me pegged, I’ve been against capitalism and the West for a long time, since I was a kid — and I was reared in a staunch Republican, patriotic family! The reason is I’m a Christian, so I guess that says it all. I took Sunday school very seriously.

    Then I went to the East, and found out they’re not any better than us — maybe just bad and good in different ways. So I stopped looking for paradise and started working on making myself a better person. But I keep back-sliding, keep picking myself up and dusting off the dirt, and keep on trying again. So now I’m not so disgusted with capitalism and the West as I used to be, bec we all have problems we have to work on, and it’s really hard getting out of our bad, GW-causing ways and other bad habits.

    BTW, I think I have found paradise afterall. Just give “doing the right thing” or “random acts of kindness” a little try, maybe when no one is looking, so you won’t be lumped in with those social-ists or bleeding-hearts.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 3 Jul 2008 @ 11:37 AM

  262. RE 217 & “Which is likely to have more impact on frozen ice in the water directly above those volcanoes? A tiny theoretical change which nobody can actually measure, in the air (above) that ice? Or a literal mountain of red-hot molten rock exploding directly into the water, at over 10 times the boiling point of water?…

    You’ve really brought up a very important point. Nature can do us a lot of harm. I understand there are volcanoes under the Antarctic ice — the more dangerous type.

    But the way I see it is, we can only do what we can do. We can’t stop volcanoes, but we can reduce our GHGs, at least 2/3 of them in cost-effective ways that save us money and make us richer. And for the bleeding hearts, we can reduce even more with a bit of sacrifice.

    We wouldn’t want to add insult to injury by causing GW on top of natural disasters and problems. It might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s those last few inches of flood water over the levee or the last bit of storm intensity that can cause the most harm.

    And since we can’t control natural harms, it behooves us all the more to reduce as much as possible our own contributions to harms against humanity and nature. We need to redouble our efforts, considering all the other harms out of our control.

    P.S., there’s a good novel about GW in conjunction with volcanic eruptions under Antarctic ice, THE RISING, JOURNEYS IN THE WAKE OF GLOBAL WARMING by Tom Pollock and Jack Seybold (see ). Maybe the scientists here could talk about whether this scenario is possible.

    I’m also thinking that melting glacial ice on land masses can cause local earthquakes. I’m wondering if massive melting of ice on Antarctica — once it gets really under way — might actually trigger some earthquake activity and possible (yikes) volcanic activity.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:04 PM

  263. Re: 255

    RSS shows warming of 0.17 degrees per decade of the lower troposphere since 1979 (the most of any temperature series). UAH shows warming of 0.13 degrees per decade since 1979 (the least of any series). Current temperatures are depressed due to the strongest La Nina in decades.

    Comment by cce — 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:21 PM

  264. [224] – “It would be foolish to “rule out” solar forcing completely…This isn’t to say that greenhouse gases may or may not be the dominant factor now, but to not consider other forcings on climate would be rather narrow-minded. Climate science is still very young, and there is lot that has not yet been determined or proven.”

    Climate Science is not that young. Solar forcing is not “ruled out”, but it is weighed and measured alongside the other forcings. The conclusion is that, at most, it contributes less than one-fifth of the net anthropogenic forcing.

    So, it’s not irrelevant, but the important thing is that there isn’t anything we can do about. What we can do something about – CO2, CH4, deforestation, etc – has a greater effect already, which will only grow if we don’t stop emitting the stuff. This simply isn’t in doubt anymore.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t good science that can be done to investigate Sun-Climate interactions, whether current or past, but it does mean that there is no chance of the Sun giving us a free pass so that we don’t have to take responsibility for what we are doing to ur climate.

    Comment by Timothy — 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:34 PM

  265. “K Johansen Says:
    3 July 2008 at 6:54 AM

    The main media idiocy in this case is as usual concentrated on the americanized and germanized etc. subject “polar bears” which are feared to dissappear. ”

    No, I think the Polr Bears will go somewhere else, rather than sit on the dwindling ice until they drown.


    Oh, Alaska mainland.

    Where there’s food to eat.

    Unfortunately, there are already humans there. Ah well, more protein for Mr Bear, eh?

    What? A cull of these dangerous animals!

    The death of the Polar Bear will be because we’re already on the land they would have to move to and, greedy buggers that we are, we’re not letting go. So we’ll eliminate the competition.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:53 PM

  266. 247, 252, 256
    Re: 260
    Thank you for your answer.
    You say: “the NOAA webcam shows a very small area”. OK, but that area is representative of a bigger area (maybe a 5% of the arctic ocean?) And in that area (the triangle between Greenland, Svalbard and the north pole) there is no agreement between the webcam pictures and the NSICD´s Figure 4. And I continue without understanding that fact.

    Comment by maikdev — 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:54 PM

  267. #1 Andy, Gavin

    Yep this “it’s the volcanoes under the Arctic” looks like the stock phrase at the mo but that Andy Revkin ala NYT is on the case.

    No offence intended but also time for realclimate to step into the breach dear friends? I’d appreciate an authoratitive post on it.

    Comment by Mike Donald — 3 Jul 2008 @ 1:21 PM

  268. RE: #248

    I didn’t assume anything, but the people I was quoting did. If I wanted to make such calculations I would go back and study my geophysics first, then consult with people who knew what they were doing. However, unlike those who think that propaganda trumps reality, I am more than satisfied to let special-ists study this and let me study in my field. Just like I go to see an MD if I’m sick instead of trying to cure myself using calculations on the back of a napkin.

    The reason I quoted this garbage was because we’ll all be hearing it ad nauseum in editorials and on the Internet. Like “vineyards in Greenland” it will get a life of it’s own. Besides, I figured everyone here could use a laugh…

    P.S. Hyphen to defeat spam filter

    Comment by Paul Melanson — 3 Jul 2008 @ 1:25 PM

  269. pete best (251) wrote “… Polar bears did not exist 125,000 years ago I believe.” I seriously doubt that.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Jul 2008 @ 1:29 PM

  270. #266, Not even 5% , I’d say something like .000001% . 1 square kilometer of say 10 million square Kilometers. 1/10X10E6 =.0000001 for the picture, Hard to say how many “dry” spots there is for the entire Arctic Ocean remaining ice , something like 30 to 40%… If you want to disprove a big league outfit like NOAA you need big league proof. Extrapolating from one litle camera shot is not the way to find errors.

    Happy 4th for American readers, wish that they could remember our 1st of July Canada day though…

    Comment by wayne davidson — 3 Jul 2008 @ 1:38 PM

  271. As for the polar bears you are missing my point: it’s just as important that several million other species are threatened by extinction. It’s far more important that fx. Cyprus now has to get water shipped in from Greece, Barcelona is making plans getting water from the Rhone in France etc. But of course you see no pictures of that on your TV. Polar bears are cute, water isn’t. Nonsense is selling nonsense, facts are not… The globe is warming, but everything looks fine on your TV, and soon you can even ski there, or at least look at the celebrities apparently chosen by some god to do it.

    (BTW I’m really not able to understand why anyone can admire a god like these mideastern tyrannic types, because as Albert Camus said around 1945: “If god exists, he must be evil”.)

    Comment by K Johansen — 3 Jul 2008 @ 1:47 PM

  272. Re: 253,

    Alaska stations at Barrow, Bethel, McGrath and Norway show mean annual temperatures which contradict statements made on the AK annual mean on the ClimTrends webpage.

    Comment by pat n — 3 Jul 2008 @ 2:38 PM

  273. Re: 270
    My 5% (and perhaps more) was refered to the triangle between NE Greenland, NO Svalbard and North Pole. Maybe, the conditions showed by the webcam could be extrapolated to that zone. (NOAA reports “extrapolating” from the webcams: )

    Curiously, now I´ve seen a change in the Figure 4 of the NSIDC june report: now it is updated at july 1. And now the green colour in “my triangle” has disapeared…
    The “new” onset of the surface melt is shown at that location in blue and dark blue, at late june: as the webcams showed (and very near to the past years).
    I think this new update clarifies all. The onset of surface melting in that concrete sector of the Arctic hasn´t been earlier than past years.

    [Response: The updated figure is indeed significantly different from the first version. This one probably makes a little more sense. – gavin]

    Comment by Maikdev — 3 Jul 2008 @ 3:26 PM

  274. Ref 234 from Gavin. I routinely visit the NSIDC site. I notice that the 2007 and 2008 curves for surface overage are diverging, with more and more of the sea surface being covered this year than last. I know that this year’s ice is much thinner than last year’s. So that, while the surface area may be greater this year compared with last year, the volume of ice in the Arctic this year is probably already less than at the same time last year. I gather from the NSDIDC site that the forecast is that before the summer has finished, there will be less surface coverage in 2008 compared with 2007. This must mean that some time within the next 60 days or so, the 2008 surface coverage curve is going to take a huge change of direction and head very rapidly downwards; far more rapidly than on July 1st 2007. I searched the NSIDC site for a discussion of this, but could not find any. Can someone confirm that my reasoning is correct, and give me an idea of when the sudden change in 2008 ice surface area is likely to occur? TIA.

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 3 Jul 2008 @ 3:28 PM

  275. Goodness what a lot of hot air hyping this. Enough to fry some eggs on people’s faces considering that this year’s melting is now behind 2007, and 2006 and 2005 for that matter in spite of all that thin thin ice.

    You think maybe lower global temps have something to do with it? Or do people not care about that data anymore?

    Comment by Spyros — 3 Jul 2008 @ 4:22 PM

  276. #273 Malkdev, Gavin, I agree that the preceding map was a little too green over much wider area, spotty melting pond zones notwithstanding.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 3 Jul 2008 @ 4:36 PM

  277. Another example of half-truths etc. at

    I was considering whether I had time or energy to comment, but wondered if anyone knew who Steven Goddard is and what the “policy based evidence making” is about. Its disappointing seeing the cheering in the comments which just me despair.

    [Response: “ice free up to 81N” gosh! Possibly it’s worth pointing out that even above Svalbard you could have sailed past 82 N in ice free conditions last year, and approaching from Siberia, you could have gone to past 84 N. – gavin]

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 3 Jul 2008 @ 4:44 PM

  278. #274,

    What will happen in the coming months will happen.

    This must mean that some time within the next 60 days or so, the 2008 surface coverage curve is going to take a huge change of direction and head very rapidly downwards; far more rapidly than on July 1st 2007. I searched the NSIDC site for a discussion of this, but could not find any.

    Funny, when I read “Early onset of melt” and all below, I immediately realised why they made a such a bold estimate.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 3 Jul 2008 @ 4:47 PM

  279. Re #269

    I would seriously suggest that your doubts aren’t that well founded.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 3 Jul 2008 @ 4:55 PM

  280. Compare and contrast:

    “… Figure 2 indicates that on a daily basis, sea ice extent appears slightly higher than 2007 for most of the month. This apparent contradiction arises because of the monthly averaging calculation and because some days may have areas of missing data. … June sea ice extents in 2008 and 2007 are essentially identical, and near the lowest values for June ever recorded by satellite for the Arctic….”

    “… sea ice concentration (SIC) data* of AMSR-E standard products are used for area calculation.
    * Usually, sea ice extent is defined as an average of several days in order to eliminate calculation errors by data deficiency. However, we adopt the average of two days in this site for the purpose of rapid release.
    … we are applying the AMSR-E sea ice concentration algorism developed by Dr. Comiso in NASA/GSFC.
    … The numbers of sea ice extent in this site are estimates calculated by certain algorism.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Jul 2008 @ 5:13 PM

  281. Re #275

    Spyros lower global temps don’t matter much, local temps are far more important and they haven’t been that low.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 3 Jul 2008 @ 5:36 PM

  282. It seems to me, from looking at the 500m- and 250m-resolution MODIS pictures, that the whole arctic ice pack, barring a very narrow strip along the archipelago coast, and the channels within the archipelago, is broken into floes with sizes ranging up to around 8km, separated by leads most of which are narrow but which range up to a few km in areas. All of this counts as solid “extent”, of course, but observing “area” graphs at CT might give a more reliable impression.

    This pattern of broken ice includes essentially all the perennial ice along the archipelago coast. Almost none of it is fast to the coast.

    All this broken ice is in motion, and some is flushing out (mostly out of Fram Strait, but also through the very constricted Nares Strait). By watching the motion of individual floes one can estimate the overall speed through these straits – my attempt at this came out at one or two knots.

    Curiously, very little of the ice seems to be moving west along the archipelago, towards the Beaufort sea polynya, which I would expect from the action of the Beaufort Gyre. Almost all that ice close to the archipelago coast, which I believe to be the perennial ice, is instead heading east towards Greenland and Fram Strait.

    Looking at MODIS archives, it was not like this in early July 2005, early July 2006, or even early July 2007.

    The other really noticeable contrast with previous years is that this year there is almost no cloud cover on the ice pack.


    Comment by Nick Barnes — 3 Jul 2008 @ 5:47 PM

  283. Re #274:

    AIUI, the assumption is that most of the first-year ice will melt, and much of it is located around the North Pole this year, so it will melt late (if at all) because of less insolation at high latitudes. Also, it’s almost completely surrounded by multi-year ice (except towards the East Siberian Sea), so there won’t be much open water around it soon that could assist melting. Probably it highly depends on the weather in August and September.

    BTW, does anybody know an image like figure 4 of the June 2008 NSIDC sea ice news (multi-year ice percentages), updated to current conditions? It’s possible to extract the information from the NIC ice charts (updated today), but it’s hard to see the whole picture there.

    Comment by Clarence — 3 Jul 2008 @ 6:05 PM

  284. Between April and June, I looked at the IR satellite photos of the Arctic, every day, as they updated every few hours.

    The multi-year ice was located in a rather restricted area off of northern Greenland and the northern islands of the Canadian archipelago.

    In April, the multi-year ice to the west of Ellesmere began its move to the south, along with the ice before it. That multi-year ice moved down to the Beaufort Sea and melted.

    The multi-year ice off of northern Greenland went out that strait by Svalbard.

    Thus, the multi-year ice is gone, all gone.

    Any curve that represents the sea ice extent this year cannot be compared to last year’s curve — it would be comparing apples to oranges.

    If you go to the site of the University of Bremen, you can see from their graphics that the remaining ice is melting out from the middle of the Arctic Sea.

    How can anyone think that the remaining ice is going to last through this summer?

    See here:

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 3 Jul 2008 @ 6:10 PM

  285. Re #282
    Wayne has said that the flow has been different this year, the buoys program shows a strong trans polar drift but the gyre seems rather weak.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 3 Jul 2008 @ 6:36 PM

  286. RE:#243 Tamino asks:” But I have to wonder: why would you solicit information from a website which you yourself have described elsewhere as “a staged and contracted production, which wasn’t created by “scientists” …

    I have to question about what his definition of scientists is, since Mr. Peden later states in a comment in a at the same sight
    that: “consider the theoretical possibility that Sen. Inhofe, myself, and the 32,000 other scientists who have come forth in protest are correct.”

    My question is what field of science does he think Senator Imhofe specializes in? Oh wait a minute- I forgot –Political Science! I wonder how many of these are included in the 32,000 “scientists” he mentions.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 3 Jul 2008 @ 6:49 PM

  287. Clarence, on a different thread ( )

    in comment #168, posted this animation of images from Bremen University of the Beaufort Sea area, from May 1st through the end of June roughly.

    It shows how the multi-year ice went south to the Beaufort Sea and melted there.

    What didn’t move south just melted right where it was, as there was a record-breaking heat wave for a few days there in northern Canada on the coast of the Arctic Sea.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 3 Jul 2008 @ 9:17 PM

  288. RE 244 Mike, cite please? You’re apparently quoting something. What?

    Hank, Is this what your looking for?

    Comment #77

    Comment by mike — 3 Jul 2008 @ 9:24 PM

  289. Eli is running a pool on when the NW passage will open. First prize is a blue bunny (magnet).

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 3 Jul 2008 @ 10:20 PM

  290. How 32000 people with some sort of science degree (maybe), have been hoodwinked

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 3 Jul 2008 @ 10:22 PM

  291. #284 Tenney Naumer,

    Check previous years of QuikScat. The internal structure of the ice is always masked in the summer, it’s due to the amount of water vapour and surface melt. It does not mean the multi year ice is gone. The NIC charts clearly show there’s still multi-year ice in there. Just much less than last year.

    A massive melt to come is by no means certain, although anyone who thinks it isn’t at all possible needs to consider that weather uncertainty acts both ways.

    Re my #278
    Now NSIDC have radically changed figure 4, it doesn’t seem to me to support a very atypical melt. Which makes me feel a bit happier.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 4 Jul 2008 @ 1:18 AM

  292. In the thread linked by mike in 288, the weather guy points to this chart of global temperatures going back 4500 years.

    I’ve seen that graph before

    Comment by cce — 4 Jul 2008 @ 1:52 AM

  293. Tenney @ 287 : my observations (not current, but looking back at the MODIS archive) don’t agree with yours. Much of the ice off Banks and Prince Patrick islands does seem to have gone west and melted after the big fracture on about 7th May. But the ice off Ellef Ringnes, Axel Heiberg, Ellesmere, and north Greenland does not seem to have moved west. A coastal polynya opened in mid May, then closed again a few days later as the ice was pushed back against the archipelago. Neither has this ice melted in place, although it has certainly broken up. The 60-day buoy tracks make it clear that this ice has moved around 500km eastwards, towards the Fram Strait, during May and June, and continues in that direction at about 5-10km per day.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 4 Jul 2008 @ 3:14 AM

  294. >239, 244, 288
    “Is this …”
    I asked you your source — is that where you got what you pasted in?
    It might be. I pasted that line you quoted into Google — it’s posted on upwards of a dozen blogs, I quit counting after the first page of hits. I was asking you your source, hoping you had an original source.

    Try the same exercise, paste some of the stuff you’ve quoted here into Google and get a feel for how it’s being circulated. Repetition isn’t credibility. Citing to “some guy on a blog posted this” isn’t either.
    Chasing those is whack-a-mole stuff, not worth the effort after a while.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Jul 2008 @ 3:31 AM

  295. Re #269, Well the oldest fossil is under 100,000 years old although they state that the species is around 200,000 years old but the jury seems to be out on that one. However I stand corrected if that is indeed true but they do state that its between 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago which is rather a large gap although evolutionary changes do indeed take a long time.

    Comment by pete best — 4 Jul 2008 @ 4:16 AM

  296. Re 263

    Strongest La Niña in decades? La Niña episodes in 1999 and 2000 were stronger that this one. How many years are your decades made of?

    [Response: Ummm, no. the commenter is actually right. check your facts before pronouncing someone else wrong. By standard measures such as the Multivariate ENSO index (“MEI”), this recent La Nina was the largest in two decades. – mike]

    Comment by Nylo — 4 Jul 2008 @ 5:16 AM

  297. [274] – That wasn’t quite how I read the NSIDC piece. They said that all the preconditions were there for a record melt, but that it would now depend on the winds and cloud (ie the weather). They also noted that 2006 was poised for a record melt (compared to 2005), but there wasn’t one because of the weather that year.

    That said, the preconditioning is so strong that even with cloudy weather it looks likely that the ice will fall below the 2005 level and be the second lowest on record, even if it doesn’t exceed the record melt last year.

    Comment by Timothy — 4 Jul 2008 @ 5:17 AM

  298. This may seem a silly question, but what are the upper limit estimates for sea level rise by (say) 2030 / 2050? Worst case emission scenarios, extra methane release, the works. Is there a value X such that we can say “Sea level will not rise by more than X metres”, or do we just not know enough about ice sheet dynamics to make that estimate?

    Comment by Peter Ellis — 4 Jul 2008 @ 6:59 AM

  299. [Re: #277: I was considering whether I had time or energy to comment, but wondered if anyone knew who Steven Goddard is and what the “policy based evidence making” is about. Its disappointing seeing the cheering in the comments which just me despair.]

    Worse, those not cheering get in based on whether “Dr” Stephen Goddard is moderating at the time.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Jul 2008 @ 7:22 AM

  300. #286, & “consider the theoretical possibility that Sen. Inhofe, myself, and the 32,000 other scientists who have come forth in protest are correct”

    I’ve considered it, even tho it is a very remote possibility now. It would be the great false positive bonanza! Assuming that we are trying to avoid the false negative (that we avoid doing nothing when GW is actually happening), and we become very energy/resource efficient/conservative, that will solve lots of enviro, political, and economic woes, and will be great in and of itself, even without GW happening.

    So, either way — whether GW is happening or not — we really need to mitigate it, and in the process reap all the other wonderful benefits such actions yield. And most importantly, avoid the (increasingly great) chance of a FALSE NEGATIVE SCENARIO in which we do nothing to mitigate GW when it really is happening — which is a very dire scenario, opposite the happy scenario of mitigating GW when it is not happening.

    OK, is that clear now?

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 4 Jul 2008 @ 8:30 AM

  301. Re: 274, 278, 283, 284

    Looking at the slope of the melt data, it looks like 2008 is like 2007 except only about 3 days behind. Around the end of July last year, the melting slowed down. This year, I expect that curve to keep at a steep slope for a while longer, as the ice will be very thin and in poor shape.

    I find it hard to believe however, that all that 6 meter thick multiyear ice that hangs around the north coast of Greenland and Elsmere Island is all gone. Does anybody have an updated multiyear ice map ?

    On a climate note, I have a question. In the mid northern latitudes, the warmest week (based on long term historic records) occur about 5 weeks after the summer solistice. Does the same apply at high latitudes (ie is the warmest week the last week of july for the North Pole, statistically speaking) ?

    Comment by LG Norton — 4 Jul 2008 @ 8:43 AM

  302. wrt 236 and gavin’s comment. There is no observed effect on the TSI at earth’s orbit. End of story.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 4 Jul 2008 @ 11:11 AM

  303. #285, Phil ,

    some ice circulation now is exactly opposite near the archipelago. Meaning
    its badly broken ice, succeptible to winds, prevailing momentum and tides. The old ice is taking a beating, also the apparently more closed Russian shoreline is explained, look at Russian side buoys heading towards Russia….

    Comment by wayne davidson — 4 Jul 2008 @ 11:58 AM

  304. #296 The climate world does not rotate around the Galapagos Islands! As some may recall, there was unusual clear skies in the North American Arctic sector during the long night and spring, triggereing very cold surface temperatures, to the joy of contrarians, who as their habit dictates, had to demonstrate their lack of knowledge about basic climate equations:

    lack of clouds in darkness = cold
    lack of clouds with sunshine= hot

    Canadian Arctic Spring was warmer due to lack of clouds, oblivious to LaNina.
    Average climate is the combination of all regions, not just the one by Peru.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 4 Jul 2008 @ 12:12 PM

  305. Re: 296

    My decades are made out of 10 years, as in “the last El Nino this strong was in 1988”

    Comment by cce — 4 Jul 2008 @ 12:19 PM

  306. Re: my post in 292, which was truncated.

    It should be:

    In the thread linked by mike in 288, the weather guy points to this chart of global temperatures going back 4500 years.

    I’ve seen that graph before, but this new one takes the cake.

    Comment by cce — 4 Jul 2008 @ 12:23 PM

  307. Re #303

    #285, Phil ,

    some ice circulation now is exactly opposite near the archipelago. Meaning
    its badly broken ice, succeptible to winds, prevailing momentum and tides. The old ice is taking a beating, also the apparently more closed Russian shoreline is explained, look at Russian side buoys heading towards Russia….

    Yes looking at the IAB maps the Beaufort gyre (a source of multiyear ice) has almost gone, the transpolar drift is apparently running close to the north american side. As you say that explains the Siberian and Laptev sea behaviour this year.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 4 Jul 2008 @ 1:10 PM

  308. Re: 305

    Of course that should be “La Nina” not “El Nino.” Sorry.

    Comment by cce — 4 Jul 2008 @ 1:41 PM

  309. Re: #293

    Dear Nick,

    Sorry, I did not repeat what I had already written in #284 about the multi-year ice north of Greenland. Sure, it went out the Fram.

    What’s left of the multi-year ice is some tiny fraction of what was already a very small percentage of the total sea ice.

    Paolo Morelli just sent me a new link to images that show a different picture than even the Bremen or the UIUC graphics — see here:


    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 4 Jul 2008 @ 2:13 PM

  310. Tenney #309
    Can you describe how it is that you differentiate between new and multi-year ice when looking at the satellite photos?

    Comment by B Buckner — 4 Jul 2008 @ 4:03 PM

  311. Re #236 where mike say:

    The solar crowd has some new research and has some jumping for joy.

    Does a Spin–Orbit Coupling Between the Sun and the Jovian Planets Govern the Solar Cycle?


    I’m a layman. Can anyone help explain what this means?

    To answer your question, they are talking about solar tides.

    Just as the earth has tides from the sun and the moon, the sun will have tides from the Milky Way and its planets. The major planet is Jupiter so it will provide the main tide, and combined with that of the glactic centre could account for the 11 year solar cycle. Saturn is also a giant planet with a 30 year orbital period, and the two planets will produce high (spring) tides when they are aligned with the sun every ~22.3 years, and when they are aligned in the the center of the galaxy as well every 178.7 years.

    We know that the solar cycle (main tide) does not have a profound effect on the climate, although it does have some. If the solar cycle is the result of a Jovian tide, so it is unlikely that the lesser effect of Saturn could account for the global warming that is now occuring.


    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Abbe Mac — 4 Jul 2008 @ 4:14 PM

  312. This arctic sea surface ice anomoly is just noise. Please don’t worry so much. In a few years it will not be an issue.

    Everyone was so excited about Atlantic basin hurricane activity 3 years ago and were sure it was AGW caused. Now, hardly anyone talks about hurricanes because the number and intensity in the Atlantic basin has dropped to below normal for 2 consecutive years. And the TC that hit Burma developed and travelled over waters that were below normal in sea surface temperature.

    Everyone was so excited about new records being set in global average temperature, but with no record setting global averages in 10 years, ho hum.

    Comment by Gary P — 4 Jul 2008 @ 4:24 PM

  313. re 294Citing to “some guy on a blog posted this” isn’t either.
    Chasing those is whack-a-mole stuff, not worth the effort after a while.

    Hank, I agree completely but this weather guy is the most influential weather guy in the state of Alabama. He’s influencing a lot of people and spreading a lot of bad info. I am not a scientist but would like to help balance the scales.

    Comment by mike — 4 Jul 2008 @ 5:38 PM

  314. Wow! cce dug up a diamond in #306:

    In the thread linked by mike in 288, the weather guy points to this chart of global temperatures going back 4500 years.

    I’ve seen that graph before, but this new one takes the cake.

    The “climatologist” and “meteorologist” who run the “Harris-Mann Climatology” company predict that between 2019 and 2045 the cyclic return of hot and dry climate will cause more nudism, murals, schizophrenic art, caricatures, depression, and death camps, to name just a tiny subset.

    For sheer entertainment, everybody should click on the second of cce’s links in the above quote.

    Context: The “weather guy” that cce refers to is TV weather person James Spann in Alabama. The 4500-years temperature graph that Spann cited as the truth, is the distorted one in the first link above. Spann also wrote:

    I tend to throw out all on the extremes of the argument; lots of fringe lunatics out there on both sides of the issue. I welcome all opinions, and explore them all except for the extremists.

    So apparently Spann does not consider the folks who produced that first chart to be fringe lunatics nor extremists. We can see where Spann sets the bar on fringe lunacy and extremism, by looking at the chart in the second link above, produced by the same stable, mainstream, well-grounded folks.

    (Spann was spouting in response to an op-ed piece by University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology James B. McClintock, in the Birmingham News. Spann’s credentials seem to me to be just a tiny bit less appropriate: Spann claims to have completed a Broadcast Meteorology program at Mississippi State. That program’s web site has a disclaimer: “This program is not designed for those looking for federal government positions in meteorology. Those positions require several high level math, physics and chemistry courses that are not required in the on-campus program.” Spann got some national media coverage (guess which shows?) in 2007 comments about The Weather Channel’s Heidi Cullen.)

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 4 Jul 2008 @ 6:00 PM

  315. Gary P (312) — Remember we are concerned about long term averages, not just a few months or even a whole year:

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Jul 2008 @ 6:20 PM

  316. The difference is that sea ice has a memory. Multi year ice (ice that has survived through a few or more summer and is thick, is much harder to melt than new ice, formed during a single winter.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 4 Jul 2008 @ 6:50 PM

  317. David B. Benson (315)

    Such alarming figures. It is amazing what colors can do. Why not use 1900 for the baseline, then all the globe will be dark red.
    I prefer plotting my own data. try the following:

    Comment by Gary P — 4 Jul 2008 @ 6:53 PM

  318. Nick Barnes: Looks like I’m about to lose our November 07 bet on sea ice minimum unless things cool down fast up there.

    Comment by Joe Hunkins — 4 Jul 2008 @ 7:42 PM

  319. Gary P., Gee, anomalous years for hurricanes, superstorms like that in Burma, record ice melt–sounds like a lot of strange weather events. And you’re right, any one of them could be just weather, but all of them, and as parts of long-term trends–that’s climate change. You’re making a pretty good case for it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Jul 2008 @ 8:09 PM

  320. Re #301:

    The North Pole has no warmest week. Temperatures stay close to 0 °C from end of June to end of July.

    I made temperature plots from the reanalysis 2 (NCEP/DOE) data for the North Pole (actually a zonal mean at 88.5° N; there’s no grid point at the pole) and for the zonal means at 85° N, 81° N and 75° N (excluding land and the last also excluding the always ice-free parts of the Atlantic).

    Individual years are gray with darker colors indicating more recent years, 2008 is black and 2007 red; blue is the 1979-2007 mean, green the 2003-2007 mean. All values are running means from the 00Z, 06Z, 12Z and 18Z 2m temperatures. Alignment is corrected for leap years (note that nominal dates in 2008 are 0.75 days behind the seasonal cycle when compared to 2007 because of the leap day).

    The multi-year ice isn’t all gone. What has melted in the Beaufort Sea is mostly ice that has been rotating in the Beaufort gyre; only a smaller part came from further east. The NIC ice charts show still a broad strip north of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago with 80+ % multi-year ice. (I’m still looking for an easier to read multi-year ice map with current data.)

    Comment by Clarence — 4 Jul 2008 @ 9:04 PM

  321. >312, Gary
    Is there a function for timespan trends, like the illustrations that Atmoz and Stoat provide?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Jul 2008 @ 9:44 PM

  322. An interesting article about Arctic sea ice, polar bears, and U.S. politics:

    Politicizing the Polar Bear

    By Richard Ellis (Posted on Jun 30, 2008)

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 4 Jul 2008 @ 10:39 PM

  323. Ray Ladbury, for a combination of extreme weather events and their relationship with climate, see NOAA’s CEI:
    Unfortunately, it is US only, and I know of no explicit attempt to determine its relationship with AGW specifically. However, see this graph which seems to show a significant rise in recent years.

    Comment by llewelly — 4 Jul 2008 @ 11:09 PM

  324. for those interested in such tings, i have now a rotating melted greenland at

    1.5M animated gif, so pliz be kind, cache with attribution
    server is old and crotchety, and may fall over (like me)

    i may, as time permits, rotate unmelted greenland, will let yall know.


    Comment by sidd — 5 Jul 2008 @ 12:32 AM

  325. Symbolism. A little water at the North Pole.

    Extinction is forever, sure, but as long as we don’t all perish during MY lifetime, then I see no reason to fret. –Quite a few million of us are thinking this, but there’s no sense in saying it out loud.

    Picture the last two humans on earth. They are carrying an empty gas can, as they go in search of some place where they can get some more fuel for their empty Hummer.

    As they are the very last of their species, there has been no infrastructure or communications network for quite awhile–so it is totally impossible for them to know they are the very last.

    They both agree that there used to be an Exxon-Mobil station just over the next hill. They have no idea at all that they are both already well over the hill, in terms of tomorrow.

    But as they walk, we can hear them arguing. One is quite concerned that the gas station may not be there any more, as he has observed that gas stations are declining in number. His friend thinks he’s an idiot, and tells him so: “You and your trends. I’ve got plastic. What you’re about to see, my pathetic friend, is exactly how well money talks. You’d still be riding a bicycle if it weren’t for me.”

    The good folks studying polar ice were thinking, just several years ago, that this North Pole ice-free event would come, say, sometime after 2050. Amusing ourselves reading this thread and sipping a good latte, we might wonder just when our last two heroes set out between their Hummer and eternity. Sometime after 2050?

    Comment by John G. — 5 Jul 2008 @ 1:09 AM

  326. #277 Phil Scadden: “I was considering whether I had time or energy to comment, but wondered if anyone knew who Steven Goddard is and what the “policy based evidence making” is about. Its disappointing seeing the cheering in the comments which just me despair.”

    The only living person named Goddard you’ll find in the scientific literature w/publications related to climate is a Steve Goddard, at UNL. I’m pretty sure he’s not the same fellow. The real Goddard coauthored a paper on improving the quality of longitudinal temperature datasets in the U.S., which ironically is related to the pseudo-Goddard’s gripes, but nothing else seems to indicate any relationship.

    I’ve asked “The Register” as well as the ghostly version of “Steven Goddard” for a CV, to no avail. Apparently there’s something drastically wrong with it?

    It also appears that “The Register” is taking a rather aggressively protective stance toward “Goddard” and his “analysis” in article comments, as public requests for his CV are moderated out, as well as at least some criticisms of his writings.

    What’s even more annoying about “Goddard” than the ample grist he’s providing to the mill of deception are his accusations of scientific misconduct against James Hansen. All potshots taken from behind a cloak of anonymity, of course.

    Perhaps if “The Register” is peppered with requests for a CV they’ll get either get tired of publishing Goddard’s slander or they’ll cough up his identity. I personally think they’re being punk’d so they’d be doing themselves a favor either way.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 5 Jul 2008 @ 1:59 AM

  327. Is there any comment on this article?
    It needs a reply/response I think…

    Comment by paulm — 5 Jul 2008 @ 2:57 AM

  328. Alastair writes:

    the sun will have tides from the Milky Way

    Huh? The Milky Way is the galaxy we’re in.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Jul 2008 @ 6:35 AM

  329. Re:320

    Thanks for the plots. The center of the above freezing period is around the middle of July, so the north pole is still warming 3 to 4 weeks past solar maximun.

    If we had 200 years of daily climate records for the north pole, like we have for the mid latitudes, then the curve would be smoother, and a warmest week could be picked out, if it does not simply plateau.

    It appears that the mid point of the warmest period occurs a little earlier than mid latitudes. I would expect, with global warming, with the ice melting earlier, this date would move forward for the high latitudes, and should also cause the date of minimun arctic ice extent to move foward also.

    Comment by LG Norton — 5 Jul 2008 @ 8:52 AM

  330. Re: #320

    OK, Clarence, you have access to much better data than I do — those egg codes got beyond me last night. Maybe after I have another cup of coffee, I will try again. In the meantime, I will have a go at your other links — thanks for all the effort!

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 5 Jul 2008 @ 9:39 AM

  331. 328.

    Huh? The Milky Way is the galaxy we’re in.

    Yes, and the earth includes the water that is showing a tide.

    Hopefully that jarred out out of complacency and made you think about your misconception.

    The Sun is not the entire milky way. It is not at the gravitational centre (where it would see no or little gravitational variability). It’s out on the bondooks.

    Where the greater mass is moving about quite fluidly and its density-per-light-year is malleable to a large degree. The Sun’s density is not that malleable, it must obey hydrostatic limits.

    So the Sun has its surface moved about because the average gravitational pull keeps changing magnitude and vector based on the changing locations of the rest of the milky way.

    Just like the waters of the earth respond to the changing gravitational vectors from the Sun, the moon and the other planetary bodies.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Jul 2008 @ 10:32 AM

  332. #331, Mark, keep in mind that gravitational force decreases as the inverse square of distance, so about the only object in the solar system that has any influence would be Jupiter–and that is probably negligible. Beyond the solar system, gravitational influences are infinitesimal. I look on this theory as an exercise in numerology.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Jul 2008 @ 11:13 AM

  333. Mark, would you cite your source on what you report you know about how the sun behaves? Where are you getting this information?

    What I find says so little is known that models use many estimates, not yet observations.

    Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
    Volume 69, Issues 1-2, February 2007, Pages 3-17
    Challenges to Modeling the Sun-Earth System, a Workshop, Huntsville Workshop 2004 “Challenges to Modeling the Sun-Earth System

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Jul 2008 @ 11:20 AM

  334. #327 PaulM,

    The article you referenced…

    1) Steve Connor did not report “The North Pole will be ice-free this summer “for the first time in human history,” he reported:

    It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

    This may seem pedantic, but that article does not support the use of the word “will”, read Connor’s arcticle and it will be seen that there are plenty of qualifications that make clear this is not certain (“would be” “may well have”). The denialists are just trying to make a straw man here. “On course” does not mean you will get there, it means on course.

    2) What relevance are small areas of open water in 2000 (or earlier) given the loss of over 2million km^2 perrenial ice since then* (on a 3.6M km^2 baseline)? None at all, given the volume losses in that subsequent 8 years.
    *Nghiem 2007 “Rapid reduction of Arctic perennial sea ice.” ( and subsequent findings of perennial loss over this last winter. I said small; well 10 by 3 miles is about 77km^2, and we’re talking extent measured in millions of km^2.

    3) “Summed up over the entire earth, polar ice has remained constant.” Why sum over the entire earth if the author is talking about the Arctic??? An obvious trick designed to avoid awkward facts.
    How about we start discussing 20th century U.S. temperature trends using global datasets?

    4) Selecting a 1984 paper by Hansen that uses a mixed ocean depth of only 65 metres. i.e. picking superseded work using early models that didn’t fully account for damping due to ocean heat content. Something improved by later research.

    Try something more current, where Antarctica warms much less than the Arctic: Again either the author is aware that the current models don’t support their propaganda, or they should bother to educate themselves to avoid spreading their lack of knowledge. Whichever way you look at it, it doesn’t look good.

    5) Soot is still a human impact. The collapse of old (millenial) ice shelves along the Canadian Archipelago suggests the warming now is actually having more of an impact than past warming, as does the permafrost melt impact on buildings/infrastructure. And temperatures went down after the 1940s, anyone foolish enough to claim that’s going to happen in the Arctic?

    6) The wind driven outflushing of perennial ice is likely linked to the Arctic Oscillation (AO). Changes in the mode of the AO propagate down from the stratosphere. Shindell and other researchers find that GHG driven stratospheric cooling affects the AO mode – favouring such outflushing. Yet again, with the denialist advocates, what is more interesting than what they tell you is what they omit. Shindell at el abstract:

    7) The author is a gift to a dodgy used car salesman: He can’t even be bothered to look under the bonnet (‘hood’ for those in the US): from NSIDC 22 August 2007 figure 4.

    Current AMSRE concentration plots suggest he’s bought a rust bucket that’s been polished up by the car dealer’s nephew:

    8 ) Re the Northwest Passage, see my post #41 above, point 2 under historical evidence. Amundsen’s transit was not at all comparable to conditions last year. Real sceptics do their research, others just read a single line that tells them what they want to hear and they run with it.

    9) It is also notable that the caveats given by the researchers, such as the angle of incidence of insolation at the pole and weather related uncertainty have been completely overlooked by the author! Once again, the author is building a straw man argument, claiming “they said “X” will happen”, when “they” are actually saying “there is a realistic chance “X” may happen”. Anyone with any knowledge of the Arctic would not claim an ice free North Pole is impossible. Some will claim they were right when it was just a serendipitous correlation between their prejudice and reality.

    A real sceptic would trash that article.

    Denialists will swallow it hook line and sinker.

    The public will be left in doubt – which is exactly what that sort of stuff is all about.

    Rant over. ;)

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 5 Jul 2008 @ 11:52 AM

  335. “Hank Roberts Says:
    5 July 2008 at 11:20 AM

    Mark, would you cite your source on what you report you know about how the sun behaves? Where are you getting this information?”

    Take a course.

    I did.

    Or do you have a theory about the distribution of matter in the galaxy inconsistent with the spiral galaxy placement?

    Do you know any different theory about stellar lifecycles than the hydrostatic equations used to discern the construction of the sun?

    Please, if you know of any theory, let us know.

    If you don’t take a look at any standard textbook on stellar formation.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Jul 2008 @ 12:33 PM

  336. [# Ray Ladbury Says:
    5 July 2008 at 11:13 AM

    #331, Mark, keep in mind that gravitational force decreases as the inverse square of distance, so about the only object in the solar system that has any influence would be Jupiter–and that is probably negligible. Beyond the solar system, gravitational influences are infinitesimal. I look on this theory as an exercise in numerology.]

    True. However, the density of the stellar atmosphere is a lot less dense than our water.

    There are also a lot of stars out there.

    The magnitude isn’t part of the explanation of 328’s query. That asked nothing about magnitude, just indicated incredulity that the sun, being part of the milky way, could feel tidal forces from the rest of the milky way.

    The explanation I gave was HOW the sun could feel tidal forces from the rest of the milky way.

    PS: note that the gravitational attraction of the rest of the galaxy is enough to cause the sun to move in an orbit. If the magnitude of force was negligible, then the sun would be travelling in a straight line.

    Think on that for a while.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Jul 2008 @ 12:37 PM

  337. CobblyWorlds, PaulM also trolls the Register website for anti-AGW stories to support. See the other comments from people about Steven Goddard to show what PaulM likes to hear.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Jul 2008 @ 12:40 PM

  338. #327 paulm:

    The casual issuance and acceptance of accusations of scientific misconduct in that article reveals the real problem with making progress on modifying our habits to reduce our unacceptably large contribution to climatic instability.

    To a greater or lesser extent government and industry are responsive to popular pressures. If popular pressure in the form of a response to a perceived risk is rooted in solid understanding of that risk we may expect popular pressure to move government and industry in the direction of mitigation of whatever risk may be at hand.

    Unfortunately Goddard’s article reveals the author’s deep ignorance of scientific inquiry and how it operates in the modern world. Comments by the consumers of Goddard’s article indicate that a sizable slice (I would argue the majority) of our populace probably have no true understanding of the “scientific method” or how it has come to be implemented.

    In fact, we take for granted that we all understand the word “science” when in fact most of us do not.

    Taken on the whole, our populace is unable to discriminate opinions or feelings from a linearly coherent and self-consistent body of knowledge. Without being able to make this discrimination we (I mean the collective body responding to any given perceived risk) are highly vulnerable to manipulation by special interests.

    Hence “the debate” over global warming. Or, for that matter the “debates” over a plethora of issues that are contentious not because of underlying facts but because remediation of these issues threatens various interests.

    The article and particularly the comments on “The Register” and myriad other loci of discussion (for instance, NY Times climate blog) tell us that until we can improve our collective understanding of science as a concept we can expect to encounter a lot of friction in any attempt to make progress in public and industry policy responses to GW. Indeed, as we’ve seen there’s enough intellectual drag on the GW response that it’s quite arguable we’ll end up with far too little response, too late.

    RC and other similar sites might be well advised to always include and prominently advertise a standard treatise on what we actually mean when we say the word “science”. We assume that word and all it conveys are understood, but it’s clearly not the case, as evidenced by “Goddard” and his unwitting readers.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 5 Jul 2008 @ 1:11 PM

  339. #330 Tenney Naumer.

    And anyone else interested…

    NIC’s Arctic page
    The Egg Code:
    Ice Codes:

    Open up the Ice Codes.
    Now open up this page: I’ve chosen Hi East Arctic because that’s the one that covers the pole.

    Area B is the biggest, looking to the egg code for that area you can see…
    8 1
    4 1.

    The top line means there’s between 8/10 and 10/10 ice coverage.
    The second and third lines are read together, to read them you need to refer to the Ice Code. The second line is the fraction, and each figure below is the type of ice for that fraction figure.

    Bear in mind that for any number that has a dot, you carry the dot over to all numbers to the left. So from the third line “4” isn’t ice type “4”, it’s ice type “4.”.

    So using fraction amounts and the respective ice codes are B is:
    8/10 of 4.(thick first year ice), and 1/10 of 1. (medium first year ice).

    Area I is just along the Northern coast of Greenland, seperated from area B by area F, it is 8/10 old ice that’s survived more than 1 year (perennial). That’s the sort of stuff that shows up bright white on the QuikScat images.

    If you want to see the difference between this year and last check out this:
    This time last year the largest area (G) was 8/10 perennial. With a bite out of that (A) being 1/10 perennial, 8/10 thick first year.

    And here’s the same time in 2000: Solid 8/10 perennial. The trace of 1/10 first year is because the ice cap, even as it once was, was mobile so subject to cracking. Those cracks would freeze over with first year ice.

    Which reminds me: With regards the 10 mile by 3 mile crack in the Arctic (my post above point 2): Nare’s Strait seperates Ellesmere Island from the West Coast of Greenland. At it’s narrowest just before it opens into the Arctic it’s some 14-16 miles wide.

    #337 Mark, thanks, I have noticed other people touting that article.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 5 Jul 2008 @ 1:27 PM

  340. CobblyWorlds et al

    I’d also put your attention toward a recent El Reg discussion about the LHC. The level of deliberate ignorance is very similar to AGW denial. And by deliberate ignorance, I mean that the only argument they have is “you could be wrong, so let’s assume I’m right”. They don’t even want to think, they just want to tell someone what to do because they’re right.

    I have asked El Reg respondants on how AGW is a conspiracy to pop over to the 11/9 conspiracy debunking sites and tell them that they have absolute knowledge of a worldwide conspiracy: AGW science, so they cannot say a conspiracy cannot exist about the twin towers, because they have a real life example there.

    I also suggested that the ones thinking that a very small chance of something going wrong in the LHC being enough to stop it go to the AGW denialists and tell them that even a small chance of catastrophe MUST be avoided.

    In neither case did they do so.

    Probably because their beef wasn’t with the science or the probabilities but with scientists ever considering themselves right.

    I suspect some of the more rabid god squad are riding the pony so we’ll stop making the gaps we don’t need god to explain bigger.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Jul 2008 @ 1:44 PM

  341. Re Steven Goddard, he says this about himself in comments:

    “I am an independent scientist/engineer who has taken the time to analyze the data.”

    There you have it. Apparently that’s all it takes to write columns for The Reg.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 5 Jul 2008 @ 3:09 PM

  342. Re #139
    Thanks Phil Felton does show the difference 2007-2008. I take it the units are in metres of thickness – only asking as the US is less metric than here in France.
    However by eyeballing it, I can not see if the overall thickness is less and if so, is it down enough to make the volume less that 2007? I can not see any text with the diagram to tell us what we are seeing, and nothing in National Climatic Data Center monthly report or NSIDC.

    Re 246 – I take you point that weather as well as climate was a factor in the 2007. However, there will be unfavourable years, and … So it is good to see some recovery in the extent – hope it lasts to become a multiyear recovery. However, without a better handle on draft I can not see if volume is up or down. From Fig4 it would appear there is the current data available to do a monthly volume. I would like to see a running graph of volume.

    Comment by sean egan — 5 Jul 2008 @ 6:03 PM

  343. Regarding the sun and a supposed 178.7 year climate period: I used a periodogram technique for finding quasi-periodic anomalies in the GISP2 ice core temperature proxy by Alley, but just for the Holocene. While my method suggests there may well be some quasi-periods between 45 and 90 year intervals, there certainly are none to be found by this method at any longer intervals, up to 300 years.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Jul 2008 @ 6:24 PM

  344. 327 paulm :

    I posted this comment as I have a Google alert on Ice Sheets and this showed up in it. There will be many others monitoring the news like this, trying to figure out what the latest is. Many have read his article – It is the no. 1 read on the Reg in the last 24 hrs.

    On reading it I found it very convincing that it was compelling science. However, I know that this is not the case and so I place my post requesting a reply to this. I hope that one will be sent to the editors at the Reg and also posted in the articles comment section.

    If we are to convince the general public that there is danger around the corner then contributors to Real Climate and such like have to get the news out to the public. This means disseminating it through appropriate channels. The general public does not come to Real Climate, RC has to go to them.

    The challenge of current Climate Change will not be over come until most of us understand and accept the changes required, empowering our leaders to act.

    Comment by paulm — 5 Jul 2008 @ 10:40 PM

  345. If the magnitude of force was negligible, then the sun would be travelling in a straight line.

    Well, no, it would simply be travelling along a very large orbit. Just how tight is the sun’s orbit within the galaxy, BTW? Equivalent, say, to the diameter of Mercury’s?

    Comment by dhogaza — 6 Jul 2008 @ 5:33 AM

  346. Mark, the tidal differential on the Sun from the Milky Way galaxy is negligible. Want the math?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Jul 2008 @ 6:26 AM

  347. sean egan (#342) :

    Thanks Phil Felton does show the difference 2007-2008. I take it the units are in metres of thickness – only asking as the US is less metric than here in France.

    That is not a graph of thickness. It’s a graph of ice age. The units are not meters – they are years. Older is generally thicker – but I don’t know anything more about the relationship.

    Comment by llewelly — 6 Jul 2008 @ 8:20 AM

  348. Jim Galasyn, perhaps the general public requires a translation for the term “independent scientist/engineer.” Near as I can tell, it means somebody too dumb to get grants or meaningful employment.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jul 2008 @ 8:53 AM

  349. Mark, I second Barton and suggest you do the math on this one. Consider the fact that we are ~2.5 x 10^20 meters from the Sun, while the galactic mass is “only” 5.8 x 10^11 solar masses. I get an acceleration of about 0.2 nanometers per second^2.
    And if we are talking about tidal forces, we’re talking inverse cube dependence. I think you’ll find that despite having smaller masses, the planets exert much larger forces on the Sun, albeit still probably negligible.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jul 2008 @ 9:17 AM

  350. Ray,

    Not that simple.

    Why does the Moon have nutation (where it wobbles from side to side, showing us slightly more than half the moon surface)? Because it isn’t even.

    Again, the query I was responding to was how the sun, being part of the milky way could feel any tidal forces FROM the milky way.

    I explained how.

    Comment by Mark — 6 Jul 2008 @ 12:00 PM

  351. #327 paulm follow-on to Register screeds:

    This is probably completely futile to continue pursuing, but for what it’s worth “Steven Goddard” replies to my email. I believe this by and large a canned response:

    Dear Doug,

    Thank you for your thoughtful questions about the article.

    My intent in writing this series is to raise what I believe are legitimate questions about discrepancies and changes in published predictions and data.
    Over the last few years I have been surprised to see that some normally critical and analytical members of the press have treated a few government scientists as if their opinions were above question. America was built around a healthy skepticism of government, so why is government funded global warming research considered exempt by the American press?

    The only skills required to do this sort of analysis are a basic ability to read and understand maps, graphs and technical papers. As an engineer, my work often involves digging into other people’s work in detail to find possible sources of error, and I have applied the same methodology here. I have little interest into delving into theory – that is for climatologists. Rather, my interest is in comparing published predictions vs. actual results, as well as changes to published data.

    I have made in this article a short-term verifiable and falsifiable prediction about Arctic sea ice this summer. If I am incorrect, obviously my credibility is damaged. This is in sharp contrast to the standard global warming predictions of events 80+ years from now. I am amazed that some publications are even willing to print such nonsense.

    BTW- I have no direct or indirect ties to any energy industry and no financial stake in this debate. My interest is in making sure that decision makers and the press have accurate and complete information.

    I would love to do a Q&A with Dr. Hansen to get my questions answered.
    Best regards,

    I’ve asked him to come out into the light of day:


    Thanks for your reply. I was despairing of ever hearing from you.

    I’m going to reply with the assumption that you are in fact what you claim to be.

    To be blunt, your articles are offensive in that they accuse Dr. Hansen of scientific misconduct. Your remarks in both your latest and your earlier articles go quite beyond a simple processing of numbers, crossing instead into such excursions as:

    “Hansen is only telling half the story”


    “If someone wanted to present a case for a lot of recent warming, adjusting data upwards would be an excellent way to do it. Looking at the NASA website, we can see that the person in charge of the temperature data is the eminent Dr. James Hansen…”

    and finally:

    “…when the data is calibrated in lockstep with a very high-profile and public political philosophy, we should at least be willing to ask some hard questions. Dr. James Hansen at GISS is the person in charge of the NASA temperature data. He is also the world’s leading advocate of the idea of catastrophic global warming, and is Al Gore’s primary climate advisor. The discrepancies between NASA and other data sources can’t help but make us consider Einstein’s advice: “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”

    That last quote goes beyond being a rhetorical question or tease and instead seems an attempt to steer readers to the conclusion that Dr. Hansen’s scientific work has become inseparable from and is fact dependent on external factors removed from pursuit of truth. That’s a very serious matter, and I can’t think you’d make that suggestion if you understood how serious such a charge really is. Perhaps you also don’t understand the patina of authority that comes with publication of opinion pieces such as yours in even such a low-level outfit as El Reg, but please believe (I think you already know this) there are legions of ill-informed folks just gobbling up what is perilously close to if not actually libel, authored by you and promoted by El Reg. It’s just not the same thing at all as a few hastily scrawled rants in a blog comments section.

    As I have remarked earlier, Dr. Hansen’s work and professional life is entirely visible, published for all to see. Meanwhile, you are anonymous. Without a CV your name means nothing, and in fact given that it includes “Goddard” the moniker seems fictitious. Nobody has the means to establish with certainty your credentials or more importantly the agenda you are pursuing (which does seem to include targeting Dr. Hansen specifically) or your track record of honesty and correctness. Your correctness is poor (see comments on Real Climate), which taken in conjunction with your seeming reluctance to identify yourself is positively destructive to any hope you may have of gaining a following among any but the ignorant (and I say “ignorant” in the non-pejorative sense).

    But given your peculiar personal attacks on Dr. Hansen it’s not really your credibility I care about. It’s giving Dr. Hansen or some useful (ie educated, practicing in the field) proxies the opportunity to perform public corrections on your public errors with your public participation that really counts. Hiding behind an obscure, self-moderated discussion thread at El Reg is not the way you can allow this to happen. You also can’t have a scientific repartee in the accepted sense as you don’t appear to work within the community of research scientists, so why not bring your discussion over to Real Climate and get the complete record corrected, not just to Dr. Hansen’s benefit but also incidentally your own?

    Thanks again for writing.


    PS– There are a number of people who believe Steve Goddard at UNL is you. They are conflating his professional activities with your opinion pieces. As I mentioned earlier in fairness to Dr. Goddard you need to correct this problem, which is another good reason to come out.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 6 Jul 2008 @ 12:53 PM

  352. Interesting series of comments. The game is on! It seems pretty clear to me that the Denialists are mounting their final defense; regardless of the actual climatological meaning (being little to none) of an ice-free North Pole, the Denialists are correctly sensing that the unwashed masses are likely to come unglued in the event. Prudence dictates that no serious student of climate change place much weight on transient events like ice coverage (or lack of it) until such transients become trends in their own right. Weather is not climate, as they say, so the matter will generate no real science. So for now, I suppose, the Denialists can rage. If the ice melts it will be what it is, the cruise ship operators will reap a harvest in excursions. If it doesn’t then nothing else will have changed and we’ll continue to lurch unsteadily toward our certain future. The mass of Western men will resolutely keep to the sports page while the planet sorts itself out. Which of course it will. The science of all this is fascinating while the political argument is a revealing sideline. The two will proceed along their appointed paths unto the end because neither in itself can address the total problem. If we had actual scientists in political positions that might change things. I suspect the day is approaching when science will by law become policy, policy pulled out of thin air at the very edge of catastrophe. Then we will see what intelligent people bent on ultimate survival can really accomplish.

    Comment by cat black — 6 Jul 2008 @ 2:28 PM

  353. Ray (332), but didn’t interstellar (and maybe “primordial stellar”) gravitational force begin and keep the whole galaxy going?

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Jul 2008 @ 2:51 PM

  354. Ray (349), we’re a bit OT here, but it’s interesting science. I can’t disagree with your numbers, but the effect? Is not the Sun’s gravitational pull on the Earth, and in turn the tidal forces, exactly the same as the Earth’s pull on the Sun, ignoring the nil angle differences? And if the Sun affects our tides wouldn’t the Earth cause tidal action on the Sun? Maybe even to a greater degree given the lower density of the solar atmosphere (at least at the fringes), though somewhat mitigated by that nil angle difference.

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Jul 2008 @ 3:10 PM

  355. Rod, Amazing what you can do when you are the only force with unlimited range that doesn’t get canceled out by opposite charges, huh?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jul 2008 @ 3:36 PM

  356. It occured to me that many non-linear systems can entrain on a weak external forcing. So it is at least plausible that the 22 year solar cycle entrains on the Jupiter-Saturn tidal influence.

    That said, I find no 22 year influence on global temperature throughout the Holocene.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Jul 2008 @ 4:12 PM

  357. > 327, 351
    Perhaps the Register needs bigger numbers to set rates for advertisers?
    Seems trollish.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jul 2008 @ 7:47 PM

  358. > Is not the Sun’s gravitational pull on the Earth, and in turn the
    > tidal forces, exactly the same as the Earth’s pull on the Sun …?

    Reality check needed here. Compare the masses of the Earth and Sun.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jul 2008 @ 9:32 PM

  359. RE 352 cat black

    I disagree that the melting of the Arctic Ice cap is merely a “transient event” with little or no “actual climatological meaning”. The sediment core record indicates that no hot weather periods in the last 700,000 to as much as 4 million years resulted in open water over a large fraction (>60%) of the Arctic Sea including the North Pole(see comment 40). The meters thick ice covering millions of square kilometers has enough thermal inertia to shrug off warm weather(at least it has for hundreds of thousands of years), but not resist a warming climate. The thermal inertia of the thousands of meter thick Greenland Ice sheet makes its integrative time constant even longer(>20x volume, >1000x thermal path length, nonlinear function due to rate dependencies). My laymans’ viewpoint is that as the Arctic ice has thinned (due to global warming, climate change), it has moved to where it only now responds to the weather (will the North Pole be ice free this year? Depends on the wind, cloud cover, monthly temperature history etc; i.e., the weather). I agree that most people will not fully understand the implications of this, because most don’t know diddly about Hadley cells, Ferrel cells, the Polar cell, albedo, latent or sensible heat, and mechanisms by which solar energy can be transported from the Arctic to melt more of the Greenland ice sheet. They may have the wrong reasons, but they will see this as a “tipping point” and may well “come unglued”. Especially if they put $4+ a gallon gasoline, global warming disinformation, and Exxon/Mobil record profits together in a “perfect storm” (rightly or wrongly) of public reaction.

    When Dr. Hansen came unglued a teeny bit and called for the criminal prosecution of energy company executives, my first thought was “he’s REALLY frustrated from dealing with the Bush Administration”, followed quickly by “Holy [expletive] cow, he’s really worried; we’re in [expletive] deep [euphemism: excrement]” as the significance sank in. I’m not reassured, or optimistic.

    Regarding the issue of liability for the effects of global warming, I would like to point out that we’re(USA & developed nations population mostly) the ones who burned the fossil fuels to CO2, not Peabody Coal or Exxon/Mobil. Firearm and ammunition manufacturers aren’t held liable for the murder and mayhem their products (in the wrong hands) cause in our society.

    Perhaps if gun industry spokespeople had a history of claiming their products can’t cause harm, or that what appear to be bullet holes in people are actually caused by cosmic rays, sunspots, volcanoes, internal forcing, or other natural phenomena, the courts might rule differently.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 6 Jul 2008 @ 9:33 PM

  360. Rod, this may help.

    “The Jupiter tide on the Sun is 1/1000 the height of the Moon’s tide on the Earth and totally insignificant. There is an equally strong tide on the Sun caused by Venus, but again, that tide is minuscule.”

    — Leif Svalgaard, at in the Spaceweather discussion, Posted – 07/06/2008 : 20:45:11

    It’s off topic here.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jul 2008 @ 10:22 PM

  361. RE: 359

    Hey Brian,

    In regards to: “Regarding the issue of liability for the effects of global warming, I would like to point out that we’re(USA & developed nations population mostly) the ones who burned the fossil fuels to CO2, not Peabody Coal or Exxon/Mobil.”

    We may have been the ones to use the products; however, our governments were the ones that provided the environment for the products and vehicles to flourish and to become the “drug” of choice. In addition, it was our government that promoted and saw tax profits from the economic expansion opened up by these energy sources and the taxes that could be obtained by the exploitation of the oligopolies formed of both the fuel producers and the fuel consuming product manufactures.

    Our government and science researchers have been attempting to find a technical alternative for fossil fuels for nearly 60 years now. As wood became scarce, the development of plastics created from the cracked hydrocarbon wastes generated in the vaporization of oil have been harnessed to replace wood. As to transportation or industry the truth is there is no other portable energy source that offers quite the concentration of energy or the abundance found of the original bounty found in liquid fossil fuels.

    The point being we burned the fossil fuels because that was the most economical and over time it eventually became the only choice. As the systems were tuned to provide the most cost effective energy source and utilization, the transportation industry has grown into a oligopoly. We also have to keep in mind that part of the growth for the personal transportation and economic freight hauling we the need for alternatives to the rail oligopoly.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 6 Jul 2008 @ 11:07 PM

  362. Lynn Vincentnathan (#258):

    I have an old clonker TV that I assume didn’t use that GHG, but I was thinking of perhaps buying a new TV once the digital conversion goes into effect next year, so now I’ll have to be sure it doesn’t involve nitrogen trifluoride in its manufacture.

    NF3 almost certainly wasn’t used to make it, but as far as I know, all of the etching gasses used for similar purposes are also very strong GHGs (and all of the etching gasses in use when Kyoto was formulated were included in it), of similar magnitude to NF3. Furthermore, essentially all electrictronics require etching gasses. The problem is by no means unique to TVs.

    Comment by llewelly — 6 Jul 2008 @ 11:52 PM

  363. Is not the Sun’s gravitational pull on the Earth, and in turn the
    tidal forces, exactly the same as the Earth’s pull on the Sun …?

    Yeah, and when I jump off a cliff my gravitational pull on the earth is exactly the same as the earth’s pull on me.

    Yet, strangely, I’m the one that quickly accelerates to 200+ mph and goes “splat” soon after.

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Jul 2008 @ 12:36 AM

  364. Re #342, #347:

    The captions for the figures are here.

    Older ice isn’t necessarily thicker than younger ice. It may lose more during the summer than the freezing season can replace. An example is the floe that is carrying buoy #7413. It barely survived the 2007 melting season in the Beaufort Sea. In figure 4 of the April 2008 NSIDC sea ice news it must be located near the tip of the slim red strip. Now it’s heading towards the North Pole and it will be there until the beginning of September at current speed.

    Animations of sea-ice with position of buoy #7413: Full lifetime, weekly (2.3 MB), 2007 melting season, daily (4.1 MB).

    Comment by Clarence — 7 Jul 2008 @ 2:11 AM

  365. [# Hank Roberts Says:
    6 July 2008 at 9:32 PM

    > Is not the Sun’s gravitational pull on the Earth, and in turn the
    > tidal forces, exactly the same as the Earth’s pull on the Sun …?

    Reality check needed here. Compare the masses of the Earth and Sun.]

    See, this is the sort of question to which the magnitude of effect is important. Not whether it’s possible: there IS a tidal effect from the solar system on the sun (despite the sun being part of the solar system). But when someone asks “is the effect the same?” you can answer “no”, not if the question is “can the sun be affected by the solar system”.

    If we’re going to be trusted, we need to be trustworthy in our answers.

    Comment by Mark — 7 Jul 2008 @ 4:07 AM

  366. Brian Dodge (359) Says:
    {Regarding the issue of liability for the effects of global warming, I would like to point out that we’re(USA & developed nations population mostly) the ones who burned the fossil fuels to CO2, not Peabody Coal or Exxon/Mobil. Firearm and ammunition manufacturers aren’t held liable for the murder and mayhem their products (in the wrong hands) cause in our society.}

    But when the companies deliberately lie or rubbish evidence because it will negatively affect their profit levels, they ARE involved intimately with the problem.

    The people who took up smoking in the ’60’s and ’70’s were lied to by advertising and propaganda from the tobacco companies telling them they were safe. In the 70’s and maybe into the 80’s they were deliberately lying to avoid telling people smoking was dangerous.

    For the people so lied to, their cancers ARE the fault of the company.

    Since then, there’s not been any debate about smoking being bad for your health, so people starting smoking since the mid/late 80’s have themselves to blame.

    Oddly enough, one of the biggest payroll sources for Anti-AGW propaganda is Phillip Morris: if the smoking lobby can convince people scientists wrong on GW, they can move on to whether they are wrong about smoking and cancers.

    Comment by Mark — 7 Jul 2008 @ 4:12 AM

  367. Rod, The relevant fact that you are missing is the fact that tidal forces go as the inverse cube of the distance. The Wikipedia article on the subject does a reasonable job of explaining this.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jul 2008 @ 4:12 AM

  368. Gurk!

    Re: 350, I noticed I worded it badly. Very badly. Oopsie.

    The reason why the moon nutation exists is because the moon is not a point object.

    Orbital mechanics is the only part of Rocket Science that deserves the use in the phrase “it’s not Rocket Science”. How a rocket works is easy. How to get it there (orbital mechanics) is the bloody hard bit!

    Comment by Mark — 7 Jul 2008 @ 4:16 AM

  369. Okay, let’s do the math, since Mark still thinks he has a point.

    Webster (1925) gives the height of mid-ocean tides as:

    h = 0.85 MA RB4 / (MB r3)

    where h is the tide height, MA the mass of the tide-raising body, RB the radius of the affected body, MB the latter’s mass, and r the separation between them. The proportionality constant is for the SI.

    Let’s try Jupiter on the Sun. From NASA fact sheets, we have:

    MA = 1.8986e27
    RB = 6.96e8
    MB = 1.9891e30
    r = 7.7857e11

    This results in h = 0.000403 meter, or 0.403 millimeter. Not too significant.

    Now, let’s try the Milky Way galaxy on the Sun. New values are:

    MA = 2.0e42 (I assume 1 trillion Solar masses)
    r = 2.6e20 (I assume 27,000 light-years)

    This results in a tide of 1.1 x 10-14 meters, or about 10 billion times less than Jupiter raises. It is equivalent, in fact, to one one-hundred-millionth of a micron. It is a distance smaller than the width of a hydrogen atom.

    No significant effect. Sorry.


    Webster, A.G. 1925. The Dynamics of Particles and of Rigid, Elastic and Fluid Bodies. Leipzig: B.G. Teubner.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 Jul 2008 @ 8:14 AM

  370. Re: #369


    The point is the query “Huh? The Milky Way is the galaxy we’re in” has nothing to do with “the sun will have tides from the Milky Way”.

    Oh, and the “tidal” pattern is because of the change in masses, not the average. Granted not much still, but your maths is measuring the wrong thing.


    Comment by Mark — 7 Jul 2008 @ 9:05 AM

  371. [Yeah, and when I jump off a cliff my gravitational pull on the earth is exactly the same as the earth’s pull on me.

    Yet, strangely, I’m the one that quickly accelerates to 200+ mph and goes “splat” soon after.]

    Wow. You must be very aerodynamic.

    Me? I’d be grabbing handfuls of air on the way down. Every little helps!

    Comment by Mark — 7 Jul 2008 @ 9:07 AM

  372. Mark, Re: the phrase “It’s not rocket science.”

    Um, not to nitpick, but actually, the propellant guys have to be pretty damned smart–we are talking controlled explosions here. A small mistake and you mixture either burns too hot, eroding your nozzle, or too cool, and you run out of fuel. And if you still doubt me, look up “multi-phase flow” and its relation to propellants. There is absolutely no part of spaceflight that is easy or routine.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jul 2008 @ 9:17 AM

  373. [Um, not to nitpick, but actually, the propellant guys have to be pretty damned smart–we are talking controlled explosions here.]

    That’s merely engineering being difficult. The actual science is pretty straightforward. The difficult science is how to get down from your stable orbit into a lower stable orbit. You can’t accelerate down to that, it works against you.

    Comment by Mark — 7 Jul 2008 @ 10:32 AM

  374. Mark @ 370: yes, Abbe Mac @ 311 was technically correct to say that the Sun has tides from the Milky Way. But Barton @ 328 was also correct to say “Huh?”. The Swiss Alps raise much larger tides on the Sun than the Milky Way does.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 7 Jul 2008 @ 11:38 AM

  375. Hank (358), admittedly the respective accelerations will be different and depend on the individual masses, but the Force is exactly the same on both Earth and Sun. Doesn’t matter which is big M and which is little m. Same as an apple falling from a tree.

    Comment by Rod B — 7 Jul 2008 @ 11:50 AM

  376. Brian (359), a minor clarification. I am unaware of any significant (or even minor?) corings from the Arctic region, other than lower Greenland. Are there some? Or is your assertion an extrapolation ?

    Comment by Rod B — 7 Jul 2008 @ 12:30 PM

  377. Hank (360), despite the equality of gravitational forces, I agree the inequality of tidal acceleration makes it extremely difficult to imagine it as having any effect on any solar cycle.

    Comment by Rod B — 7 Jul 2008 @ 12:38 PM

  378. This gravitational discussion should come closer to home, there is a strange tidal anomaly
    which occurs uniquely during the full or new moon on Arctic Ocean ice.

    The best explanation I can give is that its tidal and wind combination, but tides occur everyday, just as the ice goes wild every full and new moon, not only on the coast but everywhere as reported by Polar ice extreme adventurers. . May be someone has a better explanation,
    gravity plays a role, that is all I know.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 7 Jul 2008 @ 12:51 PM

  379. I did a back of the envelope calc on the volcano thing. I looked up an estimate for total geothermal energy output of the Earth. To give a break to the volcano folks I assumed it all comes out through the oceanic ridges. Since there are 80,000 km of ridges and 1800 km (2.25%) of these are in the Arctic, I simply applied 2.25% of this total geothermal energy to a slab of ocean 500,000 square miles in area and 4 km deep. A temperature rise of 0.001 C per year would be the result.

    I then applied a 1 watt/sq meter forcing to a 10 meter thick slab of ocean and he atmosphere above to get a warming of 0.6 C per year. That is, a 1 watt/sq meter forcing has 600 times the strength of a geothermal effect.

    Note: The 0.6 C/yr warming isn’t an actual warming. Since the ocean is covered with ice, rather than warming the surface, the forcing would melt ice. The energy need to melt a volume of ice is equal to the energy needed to warm water by 80 C. Thus the energy that can produce 0.6 C of warming would cause the melting of 0.6/80 = 0.75% of the ice cover per year. Over a decade that is a 7.5% reduction in ice cover produced by imposition of a *net* 1 watt/sq meter forcing to the Arctic. Since the actual loss of ice is similar in magnitude to this figure, I conclude that a 1 watt/sq meter forcing is “big enough” to produce the melting actually seen, whereas geothermal energy is much too small.

    The reason the geothermal “melting power” is so small is because it is applied at the *bottom* of the ocean. It has to heat up all that water before it can affect the ice. The poster who called it the “Princess and the Pea” effect has it exactly right.

    Now there is one way geothermal energy could matter. If the normal geothermal energy were stored up for a long time and then released over a short time, then it could produce *transient* melting.

    For example, even if the average energy release is 1/600th the size of forcing effects, if the energy were stored up for 3000 years and then released over a single year, the effect would be 5 times larger than the forcing effect. This, of course, is what a volcano does. However, associated with volcanic energy releases are *explosions*.

    One of my sources said that about 1% of geothermal energy shows up as earthquakes, that is, kinetic/potential energy. The energy needed to warm a volume of water 1 degree C is equal to the energy needed to lift it 430 meters. If we assume that delivering energy volcanically is associated with about 1% of the energy beg released as potential/kinetic energy, this means that a 1 C warming (sufficient energy to melt 1.25% of the ice cover) would be associated with a potential/kinetic energy equivalent to lifting the ocean bed some 4 meters, which would generate an enormous tsunami.

    Since nothing like this has happened we can be sure than no volcanic eruption big enough to matter has happened.

    Another way to look at this is that an eruption large enough to melt a significant amount of ice would be on the order of 100,000,000 Hiroshima bombs. That is a big explosion.

    Comment by Mike Alexander — 7 Jul 2008 @ 4:12 PM

  380. About #378, on the link mentioned
    you must look for a noticeable tidal wave, Caught during the full moon, which opened very thick sea ice near the NW archipelago coast. Apparently unusual and always during a lunar event in line with Earth and sun.

    As a matter of probable coincidence, definite observations confirmed an extraordinary event. On March 23, 1989 there was a huge lead opening off the archipelago coast which spanned from Greenland to near Alaska as seen on NOAA Satellite pictures. This lead opened through thick ice in front of many North Pole bound expeditions, causing a terrifying noise which lasted for several hours, as soon as it opened, sea water froze, it was very cold. This mega lead appeared to have closed within 24 hours. Causing a wall of new ice shingles 1 Km wide, 10 meters above the ice surface, as long as the eye can see. It took a snowmobile expedition 1 week to cross this new ice shingle ridge.

    Now here is the twist:

    On March 23 1989 an Asteroid , called Apollo had a near miss to Earth. Did this tiny little
    thing compared to the Earth, add to the gravitational full moon tidal anomaly? A question which I have yet seen resolved.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 7 Jul 2008 @ 5:13 PM

  381. Wayne,

    The high tides that happen at full and new moons are called spring tides. See Wikipeia Note that they happen twice for each orbit ot the moon.

    Therefore it is unlikely that the 11 year solar cycle is caused by Jupiter’s orbit. That also takes 11 years, but that means the solar tides it causes will peak every 5 1/2 years.

    Returning towards the topic, above the Arctic Circle there will be times when there is only one tide because points there will always remain closer to the sun and moon than the centre of the Earth in summer and further from them in winter.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Abbe Mac — 7 Jul 2008 @ 5:25 PM

  382. Nick, 374.

    No, if Hank in posting #328 had said “huh? the tidal forces compared even to jupiter is miniscule” then that would have been correct. “Huh? the sun is part of the milky way” is incorrect.

    Later workings showed the numbers (and although the changes available are slightly larger, it’s only by a couple of orders of magnitute and still pretty insignificant) but no retraction to the silly rebuttal. The sun being part of the Milky Way doesn’t stop the sun feeling tidal forces from the milky way. The milky way being thinly spread stops the sun from feeling any *significant* tidal force from the milky way would have been better, but was an option not taken.

    Comment by Mark — 7 Jul 2008 @ 5:27 PM

  383. #381, Alastair, Thanks, I looked at that, the tide magnitudes near the coast are apparently the same. I was always stumped by this, we call them spring tides, but the ice, acts a little stranger during these events. I would be more than happy to see a tidal chart showing an estreme anomaly in sea level at thesame moment as with observed tidal ice events, but the charts I’ve seen show 100 cm tides even at the full moon. Nevertheless spring tides have a significant impact on the withering ice as we write.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 7 Jul 2008 @ 5:58 PM

  384. Mark,
    ‘scuse me son, but how do you think you get down to your lower stable orbit without your propellant guys doing their job. I will say it again. There is no portion of spaceflight that is routine. I have worked on enough anomaly investigations and failure review boards to know that when you start saying “That’s easy,” your tuckus is about to disappear into the yawning maw of complacency. Every satellite is unique and faces its own dilemmas. I have seen propellant engineers save satellites that had been written off for lost. I’ve also seen people take a cavalier approach to a 24 hour mission and have it fail because of propellant problems. In space, nothing is easy.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jul 2008 @ 6:02 PM

  385. re OT rocket science. Before one relegates the entire field of rocket propulsion to engineering you really have to understand the history of nozzle development, e.g. Like gHz frequency digital modulators it’s pretty much (at least was initially) more of an art than a science, let alone an engineering challenge.

    Comment by Rod B — 7 Jul 2008 @ 8:14 PM

  386. Mark wrote, conflating two hypotheticals:

    > No, if Hank in posting #328 had said “huh? …

    If I’d written anything in 328, my name would be Barton.
    Check your sources.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jul 2008 @ 9:08 PM

  387. re # 376

    McKay, J L; Hillaire-Marcel, C; de Vernal, A; Polyak, L; Darby, D
    (2006), Title, Eos Trans. AGU, 87(52), Fall Meet. Suppl.,HR: 1340h AN: OS53B-1101
    Holocene Paleoceanography of the Chukchi Sea / Alaskan Margin, Western Arctic Ocean
    “A multi-proxy approach to the analysis of deep-sea sediment cores has been used to investigate paleoceanographical changes in the western Arctic.”
    “It is also possible that the isotopic composition of the planktonic foraminifera was influenced by enhanced sea-ice formation and sinking of isotopically-light brines during the early Holocene. This second hypothesis is compatible with reconstructions from dinocysts that suggest maximum sea-ice extent during the early Holocene.”

    Jan BackmanC, Martin Jakobssonb, Reidar Løvliec, Leonid Polyakd and L.A.Lawrence A. Febo Quaternary Science Reviews
    Volume 23, Issues 11-13, June 2004, Pages 1435-1454
    “Numerous short sediment cores have been retrieved from the central Arctic Ocean, many of which have been assigned sedimentation rates on the order of mm/ka implying that the Arctic Basin was starved of sediments during Plio–Pleistocene times.”

    Nature 300, 321 – 325 (25 November 1982); doi:10.1038/300321a0

    Origin, nature and world climate effect of Arctic Ocean ice-cover

    David L. Clark

    Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA

    “During the Cenozoic, an open water Arctic Ocean changed to the modern permanently ice-covered condition. Significant world climate modification accompanied this change but the precise role of the Arctic Ocean in major Pleistocene climate events is controversial. The present ice-cover averages 3 m thickness but there are theories that during the Pleistocene it was Antarctic-like, several thousand metres thick. The time of origin of the ice-cover is placed as young as 0.7 Myr ago and as old as the middle Miocene.”

    google scholar “Results 1 – 10 of about 900 for “Arctic ocean” “sediment core”.”

    There have been many cores taken, although far fewer than in ice free ocean areas. Many of the papers don’t address whether or not the ocean was ice covered, but other science. There is currently debate over rates of sediment accumulation, stratigraphy, and whether the Arctic has been permanently covered for 100000, 800000, or millions of years, but I haven’t seen any that assert that the present melting we’re seeing is business as usual based on the sediment record.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 8 Jul 2008 @ 1:40 AM

  388. The milky way being thinly spread stops the sun from feeling any *significant* tidal force from the milky way would have been better, but was an option not taken.

    Sigh, despite your pedantic ponderings, the context was clear enough to those of us interested in what’s happening on earth. And the context was whether or not galactic tides could impact solar output and therefore climate on earth.

    Note the title of this blog. Real *Climate*. With “on earth” being implied.

    Comment by dhogaza — 8 Jul 2008 @ 1:56 AM

  389. Off topic re rocket science – my brother was a NASA engineer at the Cape.

    from wikipedia –

    “Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is the effort to discover, understand, or to understand better, how the physical world works, with observable physical evidence as the basis of that understanding.”

    “The American Engineers’ Council for Professional Development (ECPD, the predecessor of ABET[1]) has defined engineering as follows:
    ‘The creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property.’”

    Sucessfully developing the Shuttle Main Engine was definitely pushing the envelope-
    weight- ~7000 lb
    fuel consumption- ~275 gallons/sec liquid oxygen & ~750 gallons/sec liquid hydrogen, pumped from tanks at 30psi and delivered at > 4000 psi
    combustion chamber pressure – 3000 psi
    combustion chamber temperature 3,300 °C (6,000 °F), (higher than the boiling point of iron.)
    Pressure stability of the first generation engines was tested by detonating four sticks of dynamite in the combustion chamber while the engine was running at full throttle
    – but it was (mostly) engineering, based on extensive understanding of the underlying science (physics, chemistry) and math. At the leading edge, whether it’s engineering or science is a fuzzy and ultimately unimportant distinction. This is also very much the case in High Energy Physics.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 8 Jul 2008 @ 2:25 AM

  390. Sheesh, guys.

    A throwaway comment.

    Orbital mechanics IS weird and strange.

    WWII got rocket propellants.

    All this stuff about GHz doohickeys is how to get more or better controlled propulsion.

    Engineering is HARDER than physics, because physics includes only those things we’re thinking about or can formulate. Engineering has to deal with the real world, which obeys all the laws, not just the one we know about. Add into our limited ability to reach much beyond our current technical level and you have a field that is real hard. The physics isn’t anywhere near as important as the engineering. And nowhere near as difficult. As you’ve been pointing out. But the problems and their solutions are driven by the engineering, not the physics.

    And you’re conflating the two.

    Comment by Mark — 8 Jul 2008 @ 2:51 AM

  391. As I’ve already whined about here, a fellow by the name of Steven Goddard is publishing a series of articles in the online IT journal “The Register”. These are chock-a-block with yummy DenialChow and are being gobbled up eagerly all over the world by intellectully malnourished climate change skeptics.

    Here’s what Goddard tells me motivates his articles:

    “The questions I have raised need to be answered. They are completely legitimate questions, formed from apparent contradictions and changes in Dr, Hansen’s published data and public comments. What is truly disturbing is that so few are asking them.”

    Mr. Goddard also tells me in private correspondence he’s afraid to reveal his identity or CV because he’s received “a number of death threats from zealous believers in catastrophic global warming”. Apparently the danger is so great that he cannot even bring his pseudonym to Real Climate to satisfy his sadly appealing need for explanation and information. I suggested he do so several times but the more I repeat myself the more ill-tempered he becomes. Go figure.

    I’m going to try to help him here, and he won’t have to write a thing. The only thing is, I can only gag down one article at a time; the misconceptions and distortions are just too thick to handle all his articles in one meal.

    Are the ice caps melting?

    Goddard opens his first article with the breathtaking announcement ‘The headlines last week brought us terrifying news: The North Pole will be ice-free this summer “for the first time in human history…Or so the experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado predict. “.’

    The actual headline of the article? “Scientists warn that there may be no ice at North Pole this summer”

    What this piece says– once you bother to read it which Goddard counts on you failing to do– is there’s a greater than 50% chance of open ocean this year at the pole, with the pole possibly reachable by surface craft. Nobody quoted in the article says the pole will be ice free, certainly nobody at Boulder, nor even did “The Independent”, the source of the article.

    (Independent article:

    Goddard’s first paragraph of his first article is a nicely figured rococo lie. The really great thing about this, I suppose, is that later Goddard can create a double cognitive shortcircuit by writing -another- article about how the predictions he fabricated in his first article turned out not to be true. Leaves your head spinning, doesn’t it?

    That first lie is an important precedent, one that may save you a lot of time. If you don’t want to wade through the rest of this little critique I can guarantee you’ll only learn one significant thing from the time I spent slogging through Goddard’s article. Goddard’s a liar. There, a single fact you can take with you, now go on about your life. But if you just can’t resist more punishment, here goes…

    Goddard next refers to the prior existence of polynyas at the pole as proof that the pole has previously been “ice free”. He shows a photo of 3 nuclear subs, surrounded and dwarfed by ice as far as the eye can see as evidence of the “ice free” pole. Keep your eyes peeled, because Goddard’s going to ask ’em to lie to you again, in just a paragraph or so.

    Goddard moves on to a graph, apparently from the University of Illinois (no cite, but it looks real) showing global sea ice area from 1979 to the present. Although a recent downward trend in coverage is clearly visible by naked eye inspection, Goddard invites us to believe there has “…been no net gain or loss of polar sea ice since records began.” A few minutes’ extra work, or rather full disclosure, on Goddard’s part would of course have revealed that Arctic coverage has been declining at about 3.4%/decade. It is true that Antarctic ice has been on the increase, but it’s nothing to write home about (0.9% +/-1.3%/decade). Given the relatively similar initial sizes of Arctic versus Antarctic sea ice and the much steeper downward slope in Arctic ice, it’s easy to see why Goddard needed to beg the favor of lying eyes to make his point with the University of Illinois graph. Goddard would like us to look at it and form the opposite conclusion from what it plainly shows.

    (UI graph:
    (Arctic/Antarctic coverage:

    Introducing Dr. James Hansen with a brief quote saying that 2007’s fairly dramatic loss of old ice confirms “The Arctic is the first tipping point and it’s occurring exactly the way we said it would”, Goddard then refers to an ancient 1980s article, in which Dr. Hansen’s initial prediction was of cleanly symmetric polar amplification. Goddard’s essential beef in this section is that because the predictions and models of the 1980s have since been refined to correct observed discrepancies in Antarctica, recent statements by Hansen are somehow not accurate or credible. In other words, Goddard’s claim is that the more Hansen learns, the less he knows and should be believed. Goddard can’t resist embroidering further by saying Antarctic sea ice “has rapidly expanded” since Hansen’s 1980s remarks, when of course we know that there has been an extremely modest increase in Antarctic sea ice, little enough that the derived slope in the coverage graph is useful in seeing any increase at all.

    Having besmirched himself early and large, Goddard moves on to discuss soot. Referring to a 2004 paper examining the impact of soot on albedo, Goddard fabricates a conclusion by Hansen: “In 2004, Dr Hansen… explained that most of Arctic warming and melting is due to dirty snow from soot, not CO2.”


    The paper Goddard is referring to is work of Hansen’s on integrating soot into global climate modeling. As a product of this work, Hansen concludes that soot is a significant player. Here are conclusions of the paper that come closest to Goddard’s fabrication, as far as I can tell:

    “Our estimate for the mean soot effect on spectrally integrated
    albedos in the Arctic (1.5%) and Northern Hemisphere land areas
    (3%) yields a Northern Hemisphere forcing of 0.3 W m2 or an
    effective hemispheric forcing of 0.6 W m2.”

    “We suggest that soot contributes to near worldwide
    melting of ice that is usually attributed solely to global warming.”

    “Our estimate for the equilibrium global warming of current soot levels
    is 0.2°C, most of which is already achieved.”

    So yes, soot is a problem, but no, Hansen never said “most of Arctic warming and melting is due to dirty snow from soot” or anything remotely like it.

    Moving on in an article that seems less and less about the North Pole and more and more about Dr. James Hansen’s imagined offenses, Goddard rants: “Dr Hansen also talks frequently about the unprecedented temperature rise in the Arctic, yet his own temperature records show that much of the Arctic (including Greenland) was warmer from 1920-1940 than now.”

    Well, no, they’re not Dr. Hansen’s temperature records. And no, Dr. Hansen is not found talking frequently about unprecedented temperature increases in the Arctic. But this doesn’t stop Goddard from selecting a few graphs to show that, yes, the temperature at many stations was warmer circa 1920-1940. I’m not sure exactly what Goddard’s point here was, but it does not take long to pull the covers back and see, just like everywhere else, Greenland is showing a swift upward trend in temperatures in the past few decades.

    Finally tiring of chewing on Hansen, Goddard spends few words speculating that a “brown cloud” helped cause the 2007 melt, but provides no citations or other information on this. Apparently self-appointed armchair climatologists are free to do this sort of handwaving and see it published before a global audience, courtesy of “The Register”, even as they nitpick and complain about real climatologists’ refinement of real climate models.

    Concluding his article, Goddard clinches his case that 2007 was nothing special because in 1922 “…there was open sailing very close to the North Pole that year.” Yes, the Weather Bureau reports it was possible to sail as north as 81 degrees that year and you can trust this data because Dr.James Hansen was not born yet. I wonder if Steven Goddard could walk that last 540 miles to the North Pole? I suppose so, because in his reality being 540 miles away is “very close”. It’s also safe to say Goddard gets no closer than 540 miles away from any approximation to a useful contribution to the human condition, either.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 8 Jul 2008 @ 4:09 AM

  392. Mark, I’m not going to retract what I said, because I said nothing wrong. You are the one asserting that it can somehow matter that the Sun has tides from the Milky Way. I showed that the tide has no noticeable affect on anything. [edit]
    Mentioning the Milky Way is irrelevant [edit]. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Jul 2008 @ 7:57 AM

  393. O.K. I’ve tried to read through a bunch of this (with 392 replies, it’s a little difficult to go through all of them in one sitting).

    I guess I’m what you guys term a “denier”. Somehow, I’m mentally deficient for believing that this whole Global Warming thing is a hoax.

    [Response: No. Just wrong. – gavin]

    I’ve seen enough data to show that a) we’ve had many periods of warmer climate than we do now and b) that Mars is also going through a period of climate change. Recent reports also indicate that possibly Jupiter is also experiencing changes to the climate there as well. (I guess we managed to corrupt those two planets with our polution causing probes) I don’t deny that the climate is changing. I just don’t believe that humans are a significant factor in it. There’s a little thing called the sun that seems to do just fine with it.

    Another thing. Warmer climates mean that we have more fertile grounds. Better growing conditions. So, granted, we have some fools who have placed their homes directly on the beach who might lose them, but is it really such a bad thing that more people be able to eat?

    I’m sure I’ll be excoriated and scorned for a while, and maybe even have my post pulled. I just would love to see someone answer the following questions:

    1) If it’s man-made, then why are other planets experiencing changes similar to ours?

    [Response: They aren’t. – gavin]

    2) If it’s man-made, then why have we had much (as much as 7 degrees) warmer than we do now before man had a major impact on the world?

    [Response: Does the existence of natural forest fires preclude the existence of arsonists? This point is logically incoherent. If you see someone murdered, does the culprit get a pass because more people died at the Somme? The current rise in greenhouse gases is man-made and it is currently driving climate change. None of the things that drove climate change in the past appear to be relevant because they are either not changing, are too slow or are insignificant on these shorter timescales. – gavin]

    3) If it’s so bad, then since now colder climates historically able to produce better quality foods and drinks than now, and warmer climates encourage plant growth, is the risk not worth it to provide better crop production than before?

    [Response: Where is the data to back that up? But in any case, the issue is that we, and various ecosystems, have gotten used to the relatively stable climate we have now. Changes will be positive in some places, and negative in a lot more – increasingly so as the world warms. Sure, English wine and Canadian wheat will do well, Bangladesh? – not so much. – gavin]

    4) Why is it the proponents (believers/hypists/faithful) want to shut down not only fossil fuel production, but also all other energy production methods in the United States and other developed countries? (Try to build a windmill, solar farm, nuclear plant, hydrothermo dam, offshore turbine facility in the US. You CAN’T. The environmental crowd will ALWAYS crow about some endangered species, bird, fish, etc.)

    [Response: B**cks. New generating capacity is going up all over the place. But frankly this is irrelevant to any issue of what is actually happening to the atmosphere. The radiative properties of CO2 and CH4 are completely independent of how society chooses to deal with that information. We might actually find common ground in agreeing that society is not doing a great job on this issue so far. – gavin]

    I have said it before, and I will say it again, and I’m sure your church of environmentalism can’t stand to hear it, but the AGW theory and the entire environmentalist movement is not about “saving the planet”, but controlling others. Please, someone here have the intellectual honesty to at least address the issues I’ve gone over.

    [Response: In return, try laying off the intellectually lazy cliches and paranoid conspiracy theories. – gavin]


    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 10:00 AM

  394. Barton, #392

    Please show me where I said it can somehow matter that the sun has tides from the milky way.

    I’ll wait…

    Comment by Mark — 8 Jul 2008 @ 10:02 AM

  395. Mark, no one thinks it matters. Do you need attention?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jul 2008 @ 10:22 AM

  396. Hank, any point to asking? Surely if your hypothesis is correct, you are walking straight into my dastardly plan.

    Comment by Mark — 8 Jul 2008 @ 10:32 AM

  397. RE: #393

    Paul, perhaps RealClimate is not the best place for you to begin your research into climate change, because RealClimate tends to be rather technical, and delves into individual topics in depth. For example, your comment #93 covered a wide range of topics beyond the narrow scope of this “North Pole notes” post. Gavin answered well (#94), but this is not the best place for your broad and basic queries.

    Here’s a well-written introduction to the global warming debate, by cce. It’s in a nice narrative format, it’s got both text and video versions, and it’s not the least bit confrontational: The Global Warming Debate: A Layman’s Guide to the Science and Controversy.

    For point-by-point addressing of arguments (rather than the above narrative coverage of many points), here is a great indexed site: Skeptical Science.

    Along the same lines, here is another indexed site on Grist, though I believe it’s not updated as often as the Skeptical Science site. It seems to be broken at this moment, but keep trying: How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic.

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 8 Jul 2008 @ 10:55 AM

  398. RE # 397 Tom, you offered Paul some good advice he is likely not programmed to follow. His choice of characterizations gives him away.

    Paul did not come to RealClimate to debate or learn. He came here to vent his spleen. When I see the ‘church of environmentalism’ and ‘(believers/hypists/faithful) want to shut down not only fossil fuel production, but also all other energy production methods in the United States and other developed countries?’, I relegate that kind of contributor to the Bozo Bin.

    Gavin was too generous with his time. People like Paul are best ignored.

    His defect is not that he is mentally deficient (his words). He has a conspiratorial mind prone to absorbing nonsense and lies that do not require any thinking…only believing.

    John McCormick

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 8 Jul 2008 @ 11:41 AM

  399. RE #398:

    Yeah, I pretty much figured that was Paul’s motivation. But I like to give people the benefit of the doubt at least once, because there are lots of people whose anger is perfectly justified given their knowledge.

    It’s easy for the majority of the folks who gravitate to the RealClimate blog, to forget how little most people in the world know about climate. Or science. Or math. Or Nature. Or places outside their own town or even neighborhood.

    Imagine someone who has heard from their best friend, that all the planets are warming exactly like the Earth is. And this person has never heard a contradiction to that statement. And this person has only the vaguest notion of what planets are and where they are. (I’m not exaggerating!) They also have not even a faint awareness that other people know much more than their best friend. So they get angry, which would be appropriate if the actual situation matched the one in their head.

    I like to give such folks at least one chance to improve their fundamental knowledge. But if they don’t take advantage of that chance, then I ignore them. Sometimes after yelling at them.

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 8 Jul 2008 @ 12:55 PM

  400. More for people following Doug’s message.

    Steven Goddard has said to me he’s a Californian and a vegetarian who pefers to cycle than drive (a comment that grants great irony to the posters congratulating him and villifying the “eco nazi” “hippies” while doing so).

    He said (though I don’t believe him) that he doesn’t want to see time and effort wasted on climate change and CO2 when there’s a water shortage in California because they are putting it all in animal feed.

    Whether this rings any bells…

    Comment by Mark — 8 Jul 2008 @ 1:00 PM

  401. re: 398. Precisely. Whether or not he bothers to show up here again will tell the tale as well. Chances are that he is just a smug, drive-by poster with little scientific understanding. How sad that such people have such little critical analysis ability. Or the ability to admit when he is simply wrong.

    Comment by Dan — 8 Jul 2008 @ 1:34 PM

  402. Actually, I did go to the website and have spent most of the day reading articles there.

    Very interesting.

    I didn’t find my opinions changed, but I did find that there are wildy varying opinions presented as fact on both sides of the argument.

    John, I was quite irritated by some of the sneering commentary by some of the “enlightened” crowd.

    There is a new program underway to create a solar farm of a huge nature in Nevada in the desert. Somewhere that would be very much out of the way and yet, the environmentalists are blocking it because of some small animal that would be harmed by it.

    [Response: Where do you get your information from? Nevada Solar One is now up and running and is the thrid largest solar power plant in the world. If you are going to doubt everything I have to say, at least have the intellectual honesty to check your sources. – gavin]

    There is a construction project underway in eastern North Carolina that is to build a huge windmill project. It would provide clean, inexpensive energy to the residents of some of the poorer counties here, and yet, the environmentalists are blocking it because a) it’s a danger to birds and b) it’s too noisy and cause noise polution that would endanger many native species.

    [Response: Environmental impact assessments are necessary for big projects – but N.C. seems to be pushing ahead with wind anyway. Texas an California – as different as two states can be, are leading wind energy deployments. Maybe if you stopped trying to look for excuses to demonize environmentalists you could focus on the facts? – gavin]

    And you can “ignore” me all you want John. I’m actually trying to find facts. There seems to be a LOT of hype on both ends. Mainly from your end in my opinion, but that’s not my call, it’s history’s. I do believe there is a LOT of money involved in this movement and that’s a large portion of where it’s coming from. Some of the things are just too contridictory.

    Gavin, I appreciate your responses. In response to your responses, I’ll address what I’ve learned today in reading on Skeptical Science and some of the commentary and related sites after…

    1) If it’s man-made, then why are other planets experiencing changes similar to ours?

    [Response: They aren’t. – gavin]

    Actually, there are changes happening on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto of similar nature, warming. According to the information, there is actually additional reasons that it’s occurring on other planets that, according to some, has little to none to do with the sun’s output, but others believe so. Again, a discrepency.

    [Response: No. It’s someone lying to you. There is no ‘global warming’ on Jupiter – what you have is a new storm that has developed near the Great Red Spot, but it is neither global, nor warming. Pluto has just passed perihelion (the closest approach to the sun) and is still warming because of that. Since we haven’t even observed an annual cycle for Pluto, how you can define a climate change is beyond me. Saturn? No clue what you are talking about. But think about this more logically – climate is always changing (I think I heard that somewhere). Therefore you would expect roughly half the planets to be warming and half cooling at any one time even if there was no connection between them. But frankly people are seizing on anecdotes for climate change in the solar system that would rightly be derided if I was to use analogous arguments on Earth (i.e. global warming is happening because of a big storm, or that a single glacier was melting). – gavin]

    2) If it’s man-made, then why have we had much (as much as 7 degrees) warmer than we do now before man had a major impact on the world?

    [Response: Does the existence of natural forest fires preclude the existence of arsonists? This point is logically incoherent. If you see someone murdered, does the culprit get a pass because more people died at the Somme? The current rise in greenhouse gases is man-made and it is currently driving climate change. None of the things that drove climate change in the past appear to be relevant because they are either not changing, are too slow or are insignificant on these shorter timescales. – gavin]

    Actually, according to several sites, yes, there was as much as a 7 degree variance higher in previous times, and according to some, that is because of natural factors, and that those natural factors don’t seem to be occurring right now. Not sure I believe that. It was warmer by a lot a long time ago, but now, it’s warming nowhere near that level, and yet, it’s because of man.

    [Response: Huh? Everyone agrees that there were warmer times before – Google the Cretaceous or Eocene, or mid-Pliocene and obviously that was due to natural variability. But the causes were tectonic, or orbital, or due to geologically-controlled changes in greenhouse gases. But that isn’t what is happening now. – gavin]

    Your response to #3, I could find very little in one direction or another, but there is a LOT of data out there to sort through, so maybe I’ll learn more and respond later.

    Your response to #4, I partially addressed above, but I’ll also respond one other thing. You’re right. We’ve made a mess of how to properly provide energy to the masses. Those who made money spent massive amounts trying to make more and keep people from taking away their money pit. One article I was recently reading stated that hemp seed oil produces a cleaner buring fuel (nearly 90% burn, with considerably less ash and CO2 production) than any fossil fuel (33% burn at the most efficient) and was actually banned because the oil industry (and the rope industry, as hemp weave made a stronger and less expensive rope than current materials) decided to push their congresscritters to close it down because hemp could make Marijuana. Again, we’ve made a mess of our energy needs, and frankly, if we used hemp and flax seed oil for fuels, we’d be doing considerably better (flax burning at a 88% rate).

    (And yes, John, you can pick your jaw up off the ground. I’m not some rabid beast.)


    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 1:42 PM

  403. Mark, you can tell Steven that the real reason they’re having a water crisis in Cali is not the water feed. It’s Pistachio’s.

    Pistachios require cleaning of some form. Either hand cleaning, which is cumbersome, inefficient and expensive, or washing.

    Washing is easy, cheap and quick.

    There was recently an article on the Food Network that was discussing them. They visited the 11th largest pistachio farm in California. 11th largest!!! And they were told by the owner that they use over 500 MILLION GALLONS OF WATER ANNUALLY!!!!

    Imagine if they raised the cost of water $.01/gallon for the farms. They would have enough to buy water from every state with flood conditions and provide water for their entire state. Or better yet, they could create an aquaduct system throughout the entire western US and actually move water from drought areas to needed areas and efficiently provide for everyone.


    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 1:49 PM

  404. (Apparently, either I put in too many posts back to back, or just didn’t get sent)

    Mark, tell Steven that the main reason is Pistachios.

    An article on the Food Network had the 11th largest pistachio farm owner claiming they use 500 million gallons of water annually. The 11th largest!!


    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 1:51 PM

  405. Tom,

    What is amazing though is that, instead of finding out, they attack.

    If they are genuine, they don’t even know enough to know they know nothing. Which is kind of strange when they make accusations and make up “the science wot they know” and tell us that this is right and what the people who study this believe is wrong. Or the experts forgot something and they can and will enlighten us( “It’s the Sun Stupid!!” “What, that hot burny thing hovering just beyond arms reach? Never thought of that..!”).

    And worse, if they are still genuine, that we don’t admit our mistake, they call everyone names and make up strange and far-reaching conspiracy claims.

    Or they aren’t legitimate and they don’t WANT to believe because it then becomes their fault. AND IT’S NOT I TELL YOU NONONONONNONNNONONONNONNONONO! I’M TELLING!!!!

    In one case of a family member, the denial is because God Wouldn’t Let That Happen. And the insistence that we are making a change for the worse is an attack not against them but against God.

    I’ve tried to ask “well, what if, after giving us intelligence, he wanted to see if we’d use it?”.

    And then they get upset.

    Comment by Mark — 8 Jul 2008 @ 2:08 PM

  406. Apparently, since I posted a rather long reply, it’s awaiting moderation. That’s fine.

    As far as the “drive by” poster with “little scientific understanding”, I’m actually well educated and try to improve myself on a regular basis. I believe that there are forces at work that are driving both ends of this mess. If I am wrong on science, I want to know. I want to know why. I want to review the data and if I’m interpreting it incorrectly, then I want to figure out why.

    I was irritated by the attitude in the first 80 or 90 posts that basically attempted to humiliate anyone who would dare to disbelieve. That’s why the snarky attitude in the first post. You’ll find that I’m a) very eager to debate in a civilized manner and b) like to find out the facts.

    Anyone who is willing to completely disregard any facts presented that oppose their viewpoint, give creedence to the idea of an almost religious ferver. I do look at the facts, from both sides, and try to figure out what’s going on.


    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 2:38 PM

  407. [edit – do you have any idea how insulting that is?]

    Today, science is typically portrayed as self-correcting, but it took decades for most evolutionary biologists to disassociate themselves from the junk science of eugenics. For years, the most consistent critics of eugenics were traditionalist Roman Catholics, who were denounced by scientists for letting their religion stand in the way of scientific progress. The implication was that religious people had no right to speak out on public issues involving science.

    The reason I don’t slavishly hold to one side or another is simple. For the longest time, the world’s leading scientists and scholars told us the world was flat. That the world was the center of the universe. And even that flight was impossible and so was space flight. Eventually, we find that no matter what our preconcieved notions are, the world of reality has a tendancy to annoyingly correct our perceptions.


    [Response: None of your statements are true. Scientists since ancient Egypt have known the Earth was round. Occasional religious authorities decided otherwise. Anyone that has ever seen a bird or an insect knows that flight is possible. That insight is not restricted to scientists. Space flight was a theoretical possibility from the time of Newton. What you are displaying here is a post hoc justification for not wanting to hear what is being said. Maybe you should look at your own preconceived notions? And check on reality now and again to correct them. – gavin]

    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 2:46 PM

  408. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction that acts on a different body.

    Paul. You seem unable to read any facts that oppose your viewpoint. You have a religious fervour that AGW is incorrect and that you have found The One True Answer. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a zealot and unable to think beyond their beliefs.

    Gavin and many of the frequent posters here have a nearly saintly patience with each and every one who comes on here and asks “how do you know that X isn’t doing it?”.

    You have none.

    You don’t even know what you are talking about. You have some soundbites you have from others and, rather than be skeptical of what THEY have told you, you come on here and tell us we’re wrong.

    Then get upset when we say “no, you’re wrong”.

    Go away and find out what warming has happened on other planets. Find out how much of a change they have had. Work out how that change is modified by distance (radiative power varies with the fourth power of temperature and energy density does down with the second power of distance. this should allow you to work out a rough calculation of how temperature varies with distance). Now see if that describes the changes here. Be skeptical of what you’ve heard about GW not being A.

    When you’re done with that, you should have enough knowledge to argue what you’ve been told on this site.

    Rather than just tell us you’re wrong because some thing you’ve read makes you think we are.

    Comment by Mark — 8 Jul 2008 @ 3:03 PM

  409. Re: #406 (Paul)

    What irritates *me* is people who *claim* that they want to know the objective truth, and that they’re well educated, then repeat drivel like “there are changes happening on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto of similar nature, warming.” It sure looks like you’re not educating yourself, you’re just regurgitating other peoples’ stupidity.

    Most commenters here (myself included) were skeptical at one time (in my case, highly so). So we invested the time and effort to find out. Only THEN did we come here to make assertions. If you want to play the “humble investigator into truth” card, get your facts straight *first*.

    Comment by tamino — 8 Jul 2008 @ 3:03 PM

  410. Gavin, you seemed surprised by my response. Given your response to it, I believe you may have misunderstood me (and that EASILY could have been me being somewhat wordy using three lines to say what one sentance could do, as one of my former professors once told me)….

    [Response: Huh? Everyone agrees that there were warmer times before – Google the Cretaceous or Eocene, or mid-Pliocene and obviously that was due to natural variability. But the causes were tectonic, or orbital, or due to geologically-controlled changes in greenhouse gases. But that isn’t what is happening now. – gavin]

    I agree, according to what I was seeing, the data shows that “that isn’t what is happening now.” I don’t know if those factors are sun-driven, naturally derived, or man-made.

    In the planetary commentary, it’s simple. There are changes happening. I asked the question. And you replied that there wasn’t change happening. I went to the sites mentioned, did some research, and as I said, there is something happening on some planets as to be expected, as you stated. What I also said was that there is little to no consensus on what the cause is for those planets having changes occurring, but that my original question and original assumption was very much in doubt that it was solar influenced.

    The Nevada solar project that was put on hold was the new project. It was mentioned (and I’m having a hard time finding the specific article on that right now) along with several others that were because of environmentalist protests to Bureau of Land Management and the entire problem was addressed in the following article:

    The article does not specifically mention the lawsuit that caused the BLM to take the action they did, but there was one.


    [Response: The BLM decision had nothing to do with environmentalists, and in any case was rescinded in short order given the overwhelmingly negative reaction from everyone (environmentalists included). – gavin]

    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 3:03 PM

  411. 500 million gallons per year is a tiny fraction of Californian water use (something like 80 billion cubic metres per year; 500 million gallons is about 2 million cubic metres). Without numeracy there is no hope.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 8 Jul 2008 @ 3:03 PM

  412. Mark, as you may have seen, I read up on things, as several of you have asked me to do. I found that, yes, I was wrong in my preconcieved notion on what I’d heard about climate change on other planets. Yes, according to several sites, there is something happening on some planets, but as Gavin so graciously pointed out, in a dynamic system, there are going to be changes.

    Gavin, my quote from the article was not intended to be insulting, but, instead, an attempt to prove a point. That not being able to be flexible in our opinions can lead to bad results. And that’s why I’m trying to find out more. Trying to learn. I appreciate the time you’ve taken and the carefully crafted responses.

    With regards to the response you had, there were many “scientific” texts that had agreement with the religious texts.

    [Response: Find one scientific reference since the third century BC to the Earth being flat (to save you the trouble, there don’t appear to be any). – gavin]

    Nick, you’re missing the point of my comment. With many more than 11 farms, and the 11th largest using 500 million, even if the ten larger were much more efficient and only used the 500 million number (not likely, but I do not have access to the exact amounts), then the top 11 farms would use 5.5 billion gallons of water annually. It does add up.


    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 3:24 PM

  413. And Gavin, I missed the LA Times article. I’m VERY glad they lifted it. I’d heard two different comments about the BLM basing that decision on a lawsuit.

    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 3:26 PM

  414. RE: #410

    No, Paul, you did not simply claim that other planets are “changing.” You wrote, quite specifically (#402), “Actually, there are changes happening on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto of similar nature, warming.”

    Revising history works poorly when your history is publicly written.

    (Okay, John and Mark, you’re right about this guy.)

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 8 Jul 2008 @ 3:26 PM

  415. Gavin wrote: “The BLM decision had nothing to do with environmentalists, and in any case was rescinded in short order given the overwhelmingly negative reaction from everyone”

    Thank you! I hadn’t heard that the BLM moratorium on processing applications for solar power installations on public lands had been rescinded. That is the best news I have heard all day. It was an outrageous decision, particularly coming from an agency that has fallen over itself to facilitate fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 Jul 2008 @ 3:39 PM

  416. Re @402 Paul

    One article I was recently reading stated that hemp seed oil produces a cleaner buring fuel (nearly 90% burn, with considerably less ash and CO2 production) than any fossil fuel (33% burn at the most efficient)

    I suggest you cancel your subscription to that source, it’s nonsense fossil fuels are burned in gas turbines with efficiencies exceeding 99%.
    Hemp seed oil might be a good substitute for alcohol produced from corn but combustion efficiency isn’t a major factor, energy used to produce it is however.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 8 Jul 2008 @ 3:59 PM

  417. Paul,
    You claim that your initial post was somewhat hostile and provocative in response to the hostile and dismissive tone you had observed in other posts.
    Well, how did that work out for you?

    You have to understand that you are hardly the first person to come along and trot out the points that you raised. Not even by a long shot. We’ve seen each and every one of them time and time again. You also have to understand that unlike most public general and political blog sites, a good many regulars who comment here are working scientists. Most are not, but many of the rest have read a great deal on the science of global warming and climate change, as opposed to the rhetoric. So don’t be at all surprised by the response when someone comes along and makes provocative and unsubstantiated sophomoric assertions that are easily refuted–and have been many, many times over.

    As others have advised, educate yourself on the subject so that you can form your own opinion about which arguments and which sources are more plausible. You can’t do that by reading op-ed pieces or blogs that don’t provide references to the science that backs up their assertions. You can only do it by reading about and discussing the actual science itself. And RealClimate is one of the few places where you can do that.

    If you have questions as you go, by all means ask them. There are plenty of people here who are willing to bend over backwards to help you out. But not if you insult them or their intelligence with blatantly untrue statements, poorly understood misinformation, or outright fabricated disinformation.

    Others have provided resources for you to investigate. Here are a few more:

    At the very top of each RealClimate page is a button bar. Click on the “start here” button for links to a great many references and information sources conveniently segregated by knowledge level. There are even more embedded in the comments section of that page.

    To the right of the “start here” button is the search box. Enter the subject or topic key word to find archived RealClimate posts on the desired topic.

    In the right hand column are links to a number of frequently referenced archived subject topic posts under the heading “Categories” and “Highlights.”

    Under the heading “Science Links” are some very helpful links, especially the very first one, Spencer Weart’s on-line book The Discovery of Global Warming.

    If you do some reading on the scinece, ask genuine questions, and honestly seek to learn about the science, I’m sure you will find the discussion at RealClimate much more pleasant.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 Jul 2008 @ 4:16 PM

  418. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s a shame how people with viewpoints that don’t agree with everything on this blog are often treated on here. The same thing happens to AGWers at skeptic sites, to be sure…some of the name-calling and automatic dismissals comes across as rather close-minded on both sides.

    Anyone who thinks these issues are totally decided and not up for debate is delusional. As Gavin and others have pointed out, even Hansen has adjusted his views over time. That’s the way science is, we are always discovering new things and should keep our minds open to various possibilities. I know that is hard when it comes to such a politically charged issue as anthro global warming…but as new data and information comes in, the spirit of science should be to analyze and interpret it, with the intent to find the truth about our world – not prove someone else wrong or ourselves right.

    Science is always evolving.

    Comment by Aaron — 8 Jul 2008 @ 4:33 PM

  419. “Science is always evolving.”

    Of course it is, Aaron, but there is absolutely no comparison between debating the science in good faith and merely stopping by to post the same old tired and long-refuted talking points.

    Those who do so are either truly ignorant, incapable of dealing with reality, or actively seeking to provoke a response and disrupt the discussion.

    We can help cure the ignorance. We’re under no obligation to put up with the latter two.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 Jul 2008 @ 4:47 PM

  420. re: 418. “Anyone who thinks these issues are totally decided and not up for debate is delusional.”

    Pot kettle black. The debate has been done. That is what scientific conferences, journals and peer-review are all about. It’s called the “scientific method”. It is the foundation of science and it has worked for centuries. The fundamental scientific debate re: AGW is over. What is most interesting is that none of the skeptics/deniers have a scientific explanation to explain the warming over the past 30+ years which has far exceeded natural influences. All they do is regurgitate lies and misinformation from what others (often with vested/political interests) have told them. And then they claim they are “educated” (ha!) and know more or know something that literally thousands of climate scientists/researchers do not know…and every major climate science organization in the world does not know including the National Academy of Sciences. That is the height of arrogance and insecurity (an inability to see how they are fundamentally wrong). And it is a truly sad reflection on their scientific education and supposed knowledge.

    Comment by Dan — 8 Jul 2008 @ 4:52 PM

  421. Aaron wrote: “Anyone who thinks these issues are totally decided and not up for debate is delusional.”

    Anyone who thinks that there is any genuine “debate” about either the reality of anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change, or the grave threat not only to human civilization but to all life on earth if unmitigated, “business as usual” anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change are permitted to continue, is profoundly misinformed.

    The commenters here who receive “automatic dismissals” are not those with “viewpoints that don’t agree with everything on this blog” (whatever that may mean — what does a “viewpoint” have to do with objective scientific facts?) but those who regurgitate tiresome, long-ago-refuted pseudoscientific denialist rubbish and/or rave about liberal environmentalist conspiracies to destroy capitalism with the great global warming hoax and other Limbaugh-inspired nonsense.

    Those who ask genuine questions in search of real answers are always, in my experience, treated with patience and respect by the climate scientists who generously contribute their personal time to maintaining this site.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 Jul 2008 @ 4:53 PM

  422. Nick, you’re missing the point of my comment. With many more than 11 farms, and the 11th largest using 500 million, even if the ten larger were much more efficient and only used the 500 million number (not likely, but I do not have access to the exact amounts), then the top 11 farms would use 5.5 billion gallons of water annually. It does add up.

    I’m not missing the point of your comment. You claim that “the real reason they’re having a water crisis in Cali is not the water feed. It’s Pistachio’s.” I pointed out that for every eighty thousand gallons of water used in California, only two are used on that pistachio farm. That’s 0.0025% of Californian water use. Even supposing the other pistachio farms each use ten times as much water, pistachios are not the reason for the water crisis in California. So you are wrong: it does not add up.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 8 Jul 2008 @ 5:05 PM

  423. #418 Aaron:

    I glanced at this site some years ago and have returned only in the past few days. Here’s what I see from my perspective.

    Years ago on RC I quickly noticed the constant arrival of neophyte posters all armed with eerily similar talking points crudely disguised as questions. Arguably a majority of these introduce themselves as “confused” or “looking for facts in the debate” or “just trying to get a handle on the issues”. Nearly invariably they are quickly revealed as being on scene purely to grind away at the particular topic du jour they’ve been fed elsewhere, be it the eldritch but still occasionally visible “we can’t even predict the weather so how can we model climate” to the more recent “cosmic rays are overwhelming CO2” canard.

    You can see these memes pulsing through sites like RC, repetitive in general form even as they’re different in particular details. They have a half-life and never completely disappear. Constant renewal appears required, though, because the lose efficacy over time.

    Not to say no minds are changed or no information is ever exchanged on RC, from my relatively limited picture. However the monotonously low general quality of recently arrived misconceptions and their carriers at RC along with the misconceptions’ immutability and carriers’ unwillingness to assimilate facts seems the same now as it did several years ago.

    It’s as though there’s an unlimited army of recruits available, ready and willing to be handed shoddy ammunition and then sent “over the top” only to mowed down willy-nilly leaving no impression other than fatigue and a slight diminishing of patience on the part of those who’re working to maintain RC’s responsiveness.

    On the brighter side, I’ve also noticed that carriers bearing even the lousier memes who take the time to bring along some reasonably well-sourced (even if the source is completely-but-earnestly-wrong) material for examination and are willing to assimilate even a little information offered in rebuttal are well treated. There’s an astonishing level of consideration extended to these, given the constant drone of repetition involved in replying.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 8 Jul 2008 @ 5:40 PM

  424. Thank you all for your responses.

    I would, however, caution against saying “the science is already settled”, “debate is over”, etc. Climatology is still a rather young scientific field, and while some principles are understood well, others are not. Therefore, it is my position that more knowledge/data and analysis is needed before we can draw such absolute conclusions. Yes, I think most of the principles and theories behind AGW makes sense…but I still think there are things that need to be proven in the real world before I can say the science is settled.

    I know that many of you believe we must act drastically now to curb the effects of global warming, and because of that you cannot accept a “wait and see” approach. That is fine, and if you are that convinced that everything will occurr as predicted, then I understand your sense of urgency. However, if others do not share your desperation, please do not label us as “denialists” or whatever.

    There are actually many people who think that AGW (or the effects thereof) may be overestimated, and I have had some very good conversations with some of them. So I am still making up my mind until I see better proof from either side. If it were such an obvious choice as some of you make it out to be (like whether or not the earth is flat), then I would have to be an idiot not to see the light and make my decision. But I’m not an idiot, and I don’t think the science is so cut and dried.

    Comment by Aaron — 8 Jul 2008 @ 6:12 PM

  425. Aaron (424) — Here are temperatures during the Cenozoic:

    Notice that as temperatures increase, we approach those of the Miocene, when Antarctica melted. I’ll say the risk is too great to fool around with.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Jul 2008 @ 6:53 PM

  426. Aaron, Let me try explaining a few things. First, when people say the science is settled, they do not mean that we have nothing left to learn about climate. Nobody believes that. Rather, they mean that 1)We understand the role CO2 plays in climate very well; and 2)it is very unlikely that any future discovery in climate science will be sufficiently revolutionary to overturn that understanding.
    Contrary to your assertion, climate science if fairly mature. It has a history of >150 years, and it presents a pretty good understanding of the factors that affect climate. See Spencer Weart’s history:

    The importance of CO2 in climate rests on several factors:
    1)It is a strong greenhouse gas. 2)It remains well mixed well into the stratosphere. 3)It persists in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. And so on.

    Aaron, I don’t think you are an idiot. You are however quite misinformed. You do not understand the science, and so you are vulnerable to disinformation–whether deliberate or merely ignorant. I would urge you to learn more of the physics here. Then you would understand why the peer-reviewed literature favors anthropogenic causation by a ratio of over 100:1, and why not one single professional scientific society that has reviewed the science has rejected it–not even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. There are no two sides to this debate.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Jul 2008 @ 6:59 PM

  427. re: 424. “So I am still making up my mind until I see better proof from either side.”

    It is absolutely fundamental to understand that “proof” is a mathematical concept. It does not directly apply to science which is based on hypotheses, data collection, testing, repeatable experiments/peer review, conclusions/consensus and further hypotheses. Again, this gets back to the basic need to understand the scientific method/process. The scientific debate over AGW is long over per numerous peer-reviewed studies, publications and conferences. The AGW certainty is far greater than most scientific results that are widely accepted. There are no natural causes (solar, cosmic rays, etc.) which alone can explain the long-term warming that has occurred since the 1970s.

    Comment by Dan — 8 Jul 2008 @ 7:55 PM

  428. Ray, I find your post somewhat condescending…perhaps you did not mean it that way, but it certainly came across that way. You seem to be under the assumption that because I don’t have your conviction on this issue that I am “misinformed” and “do not understand the science”. How you arrived at that conclusion, I’m not sure. Honestly, all of the basic premises you outlined I am already very familiar with. I’m not new to this debate, I have been examing both sides for several years. And as I have said, I have yet to see enough compelling evidence from either side to convince me.

    You seem to see this issue as rather black and white, almost with a good vs. evil mentality. Sorry, but I don’t see things as simplified as that.

    Climate science, in comparison to many other fields, is still quite young. Consider that only in the past 20 years have scientists began venturing climate predictions, and there has not even been enough time for many of those projections to verify, and you’ll get a sense of what I mean. Also consider the recent development of GCMs, the recent discovery of such variables as the PDO/NPI, etc…

    I am very much aware of the physics behind CO2 and the greenhouse effect. As I said, I think this makes sense…but there have been many examples of science that added up in theory, but then reality ended up a bit differently. I’m not saying this will be the case with AGW theory, but I’m certainly open to that possibility at this point.

    Comment by Aaron — 8 Jul 2008 @ 8:38 PM

  429. Water professionals like myself measure large volumes of water in acre-feet. 1 million gallons is just over 3 acre feet. For a large pistachio farm to use 1,500 acre-feet annually is actually a very low number. For context, total annual water use for irrigated agriculture in California is about 35 million acre-feet annually. These numbers are very easy to find.

    The point, Paul, is that you’re way too quick to assume you know what you’re talking about. This is true of both your understanding of California water issues and global climate change issues.

    Comment by Francis — 8 Jul 2008 @ 8:51 PM

  430. SecularAnimist,

    Declaring the debate “over”, is exactly the comment about the church of environmentalism was all about.

    To those of us who aren’t “believers”, there is a lot of debate. And there are a lot of legitimate questions that frankly, those of us who look at it from the outside have. For the debate to be “over”, it has to be accepted science. And frankly, there are areas that looking at from any of the hundreds of questions you guys answer “over and over again” that look very suspicious to someone who hasn’t absorbed all the information. Science is always evolving. And hopefully, you will not be so blind as to think there will be no changes. Even Evolution is a “theory” not proven scientific fact, and the theories for that have been around MUCH longer. There is still much debate on the subject, even if there are many who believe those who do not absolutely accept evolution as written by Darwin (and yes, I actually do have a copy of the book which I’ve read a majority of, and found even Darwin wasn’t 100% convinced that the theory was right).


    As you can tell by some of the responses, it didn’t go very well. I did make an earnest effort to read some of the site information that some people graciously posted. I have made an atempt to participate eagerly and honestly in presenting what I have known before. Given information that directly and believably can counter what I have known, I am always willing to change my views and knowledge base. It is rather difficult to accept all the changes at once. Think about it. You’ve been told for 15 years that the world is purple, and suddenly, you’re being told to accept that the world is actually blue and green. It’s not an easy transition. Not something that acceptably happens in one sitting. I certainly will do a lot more research on the topic and hopefully become more educated.

    Nick, O.K. You’re right. I screwed up. (Never be unwilling to admit mistakes.) I stated that it was the “real reason”. It is one portion. Of many. There are many portions to it, but that one is going to make a difference.

    One thing I’ve been told often is that my writing style is too wordy. I say things in a way that goes around the subject and sometimes leads to confusion. I asked the question about change. The response was that there wasn’t any change occuring. According to the sites I was sent to earlier today, the statements are simple that the planets listed above are actually appearing to have some form of observed warming, but in each situation, there are some reasons that it wasn’t solar radiation which would be problematic to the AGW proposition. I was explaining, and very poorly, that from what I read, there is some change, but I actually learned that the issue that was causing me trouble on that aspect was not what I thought, and thus, today, I learned something that makes me have to re-think. Don’t bust my chops for learning, but writing badly. ;)


    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 9:07 PM

  431. Gavin,

    If you look at the info, you’ll see that there was a great amount of debate but that the spherical concept did originate (in the Western world) in the third century BC. There were many people and many descriptions of the earth as being a flat sphere.

    And yes, there was proof found that showed that it wasn’t. What I can say on that is simple. If AGW is truly accurate and correct, then those who do not believe it is right will find themselves rapidly being found in the camp of the flat-earthers. If it is found that AGW is not correct, or that the problems associated with the claims are not, then the other side will be.

    A lot of the problem with the concept of “flat earth” being scientifically acceptable is from the romantic notion that Columbus’ crew was reluctant to sail to the New World because of falling off the edge of the world. It may be that there was little to no scientific belief in it, but there certainly points to there being a debate, and one with serious social consequences.


    Comment by Paul — 8 Jul 2008 @ 9:28 PM

  432. Response to Doug Bostrom –

    First, it is scurrilous to reprint a private E-mail on a public forum without the author’s consent or knowledge. Then to call the other person a “liar” behind their back is quite remarkable behaviour. I have attempted to deal with you in a civil fashion, and you have violated all decorum.

    Besides Doug, you are wrong on all points.

    The first paragraph of the article in the Independent read on June 27 at 15:25 GMT when I took a zotero snapshot – “Exclusive: No ice at the North Pole Polar scientists reveal dramatic new evidence of climate change It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year. ”

    They have since changed the text, possibly as a result of my pointing out their inaccuracy. My piece contained the text from the Independent article exactly as it read at the time. A similar article with the same text appeared on Sky News at the same time, which has been removed completely. I have a zotero snapshot of that article as well. Instead of calling me a liar on RC, how about asking me first on The Register Forum where I would expect to see the question? There was a simple explanation – apparently Steve Conner chose to correct his story.

    [Response: You were hardly the only person to comment on the headline (see above), and you should know that journalists do not write the headlines in any case. – gavin]

    Also, you are misrepresenting Hansen’s paper.

    In Hansen Nazarenko 2004, Hansen wrote that “Our estimate for the mean soot effect on spectrally integrated albedos in the Arctic … is about one quarter of observed global warming.”

    i.e. Dr. Hansen said that one-fourth of all global warming (over the entire planet) is due to Arctic soot. The same paper shows the forcing of soot as 2XC02 at 4.05 W/m2 Figure 1 shows Arctic warming of as much as 2-3C due to soot. My statement was completely correct – By any reasonable interpretation Hansen did imply that most of the warming in the Arctic is due to soot.

    [Response: You are confused. There are many factors – both warming (CO2, CH4) and cooling (sulphates) that act on the Arctic. Soot is certainly one of them, but an attribution of the actual warming to more complicated than you have understood. See this post for instance. Imagine that there are two equal positive effects A and B, and one equal but negative effect C. The net effect is equal either to A or B, but it makes no sense to say that A is responsible for 100% of the warming or that B is. A better answer is say that A and B contribute equally. – gavin]

    Also as mentioned in my article, a more recent paper from the University of California says that up to 94% of Arctic warming is due to soot.

    [Response: This is the same problem – single factor atttributions for the 20th Century are just wrong. It is too complicated for that. – gavin]

    Unlike your incorrect characterization, my article (“Are the poles melting”) was about both poles – not just the Arctic. Antarctic ice is completely relevant.

    According to both UIUC and NSIDC, Arctic ice is greater than this date last year. I predicted in the article that the North Pole will not be ice free this summer. Check back in six weeks to see if I am wrong.

    As mentioned in my article, Mark Serreze at NSIDC said in 2000 “There’s nothing to be necessarily alarmed about. There’s been open water at the pole before” During the summer of 2000 there was “a large body of ice-free water about 10 miles long and 3 miles wide near the pole”

    Doug Bostrom – instead of calling me a “liar,” how about engaging in civil conversation as I have attempted to do with you? Hint – you could start with an apology.

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 8 Jul 2008 @ 10:34 PM

  433. > There are actually many people who think that AGW
    > (or the effects thereof) may be overestimated, and
    > I have had some very good conversations

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    What you can do is ask them for the sources, the facts — and then look those up. Google Scholar will give you an idea whether the statements those good conversationalists make have a basis in the published scientific work, if they don’t know for sure themselves.

    And of course the real fun is that every so often you find newly published, or newly cited, work that changes your mind about what the facts are likely to be.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jul 2008 @ 10:57 PM

  434. Further response to Doug Bostrom –

    I have not accused anybody of wrongdoing, other than you. Rather I have raised completely legitimate questions about changes in datasets, graphs and maps over time. These questions deserve answers.

    Everybody’s work is subject to review and analysis, particularly when they blur the line between science and politics. It is the right – in fact the duty – of all the world’s citizens to ask very hard questions of people making bold claims that have huge effect on our day to day life.

    [Response: I beg to differ. Your previous articles were laced with insinuations that the GISTEMP record is being ‘fixed’ with the clear implication that it is being done deliberately to skew the results. In any scientific forum ‘thems fighting words’ – and if you think that isn’t an accusation of wrongdoing, you need to go back to English class. Had you bothered to read any of the copious papers available on the subject (for instance:, you would have been aware that a) the revisions to the US temperatures came from NOAA, not NASA, b) are nothing to do with Hansen, and c) are for very sensible reasons – how would you suggest dealing with the fact that today temperatures are taken in the morning, but used to be taken in the afternoon? Your brand of sneering (I particularly liked the implicit comparison of scientists to monkeys), based on complete ignorance of what the real issues are, cannot be described in any way as simply ‘asking the hard questions’. It is more akin to asking when scientists stopped beating their graduate students. – gavin]

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 8 Jul 2008 @ 11:05 PM

  435. Aaron #224: “I know that many of you believe we must act drastically now to curb the effects of global warming, and because of that you cannot accept a “wait and see” approach.”

    Given the clear evidence, “wait and see” would qualify as drastic inaction.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:04 AM

  436. Tamino #409 says:

    Most commenters here (myself included) were skeptical at one time (in my case, highly so).

    Didn’t know that. Very, very interesting… because of what it tells about effectiveness of the “mendacity environment” and the soundness of ExxonMobil et al.’s modest investment in it. Contrary to most people with a history like that, you are scientifically very literate and apparently used to reading broadly outside your field.

    This is a narrative deservant of exposure. Why not on your own blog!

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 9 Jul 2008 @ 2:49 AM

  437. More from Hansen-Nazarenko

    “The climate forcing due to snow/ice albedo change is of the order of 1W/m2 at middle- and high-latitude land areas in the Northern Hemisphere …. This compares with a global mean forcing by present anthropogenic CO2 (compared to preindustrial times) of 1.5W/m2, which is relatively uniform over the globe.”


    “Soot snow/ice albedo climate forcing is not included in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change evaluations. This forcing is unusually effective, causing twice as much global warming as a CO2 forcing of the same magnitude.”

    [Response: That was then, this is now (fig SPM2). – gavin]

    The 2X greater efficacy makes the temperature effect of soot greater than CO2 in the Arctic, as can also be seen in figure 1 and figure 3. Most of the overall rise in Arctic temperature seen in figure 3 is accounted for by soot as seen in figure 1.

    Furthermore, the text reads “On the other hand, our calculations exclude a factor that magnifies the soot warming effect. Melting snow tends to retain aerosols, darkening the surface more in the late winter and spring when the sun is high in the sky and most effective, thus increasing absorption and lengthening the melt season”

    Thus the effect of soot is greater than already calculated. The paper spells out quite plainly that soot likely causes more Arctic warming than CO2, as does Zender’s paper.

    [Response: As above… – gavin]

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 9 Jul 2008 @ 3:22 AM

  438. Aaron, there are many who think that they have been anal probed by aliens.

    That many people think something isn’t on its own a reason to believe them.

    Now, if these multitudes had a reason for it being overestimated (and, why it isn’t being underestimated) instead of “we don’t know how clouds work” or “we aren’t sure what the oceans will do with this” which is an appeal to incredulity and can be used just as well to intimate that CC is *underestimated*.

    Since you know at least how much you don’t know, please refrain from asking or telling those who are working on the issue they are wrong because someone has said they are. Either work it out yourself, or leave it to these others to do it.

    Most people here will help clarify questions you have, but you can’t be educated without your involvement and you seem lacking in desire.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2008 @ 4:26 AM

  439. Climatology is still a rather young scientific field

    Aaron, you do realize you’re repeating a tired denialist talking point when you make this statement?

    Do you understand why repeating a litany of such points tends to just cause people to tune you out (other than those who express their annoyance)?

    Comment by dhogaza — 9 Jul 2008 @ 5:06 AM

  440. Mark posts:

    Please show me where I said it can somehow matter that the sun has tides from the milky way.

    Your original post on the matter said:

    Just as the earth has tides from the sun and the moon, the sun will have tides from the Milky Way and its planets.

    “The Milky Way and its planets” implies that you were confusing the galaxy with the Solar system, a la Alfred Bester. As I showed, tides from the Milky Way galaxy are irrelevant.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Jul 2008 @ 6:53 AM

  441. Aaron writes:

    Climatology is still a rather young scientific field

    Let’s see, Fourier posited the greenhouse effect in 1824. Louis Agassiz demonstrated that there had been ice ages in the 1850s. John Tyndal found that water vapor and carbon dioxide were the major greenhouse gases in 1859, and Svante Arrhenius made the first estimate of global warming under doubled carbon dioxide in 1896.

    Climatology is older than quantum mechanics. And if you don’t accept quantum mechanics because it’s such a new field, what are you doing using a computer? You know that semiconductors are based on theories having to do with quantum mechanics, don’t you?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Jul 2008 @ 7:05 AM

  442. Paul writes:

    A lot of the problem with the concept of “flat earth” being scientifically acceptable is from the romantic notion that Columbus’ crew was reluctant to sail to the New World because of falling off the edge of the world. It may be that there was little to no scientific belief in it, but there certainly points to there being a debate, and one with serious social consequences.

    His sailors may have been afraid of falling off the edge; but no scientist of the time was. Educated people have known the world was round since Eratosthenes measured its size circa 300 BC. Aristotle gave several proofs of the round world and in Columbus’s time, Aristotle was all the rage in scientific circles.

    It’s also untrue that the church ever taught that the world was flat. That was made up by Washington Irving and Andrew Dickson White in the 19th century. Both had an anti-clerical agenda.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Jul 2008 @ 7:10 AM

  443. Aaron,
    I am sorry that you found my missive condescending. I say that you are misinformed because you blindly parrot denialist talking points like “Climate science is a young science,” and “The science is uncertain.” Now you say that you know and accept the science but simply reject it despite presenting zero evidence to favor rejection.
    Perhaps if you had read my post dispassionately without looking for condescencion, you might have gotten the point that different portions of climate science have different levels of uncertainty. The importance of CO2 is well established. There are mountains of evidence favoring a sensitivity around 3 degrees per doubling, and it is virtually impossible to construct a reasonable climate model with a sensitivity less than 2 degrees per doubling.
    Science is about evidence, and since you present no evidence supporting your rejection of the accepted science, what are we to assume your rationale to be? That you don’t like the consequences? Many also do not like the consequences of the theory of evolution. Or the first and second laws of thermodynamics? Should we demand a different standard for scientific truth when we don’t like the consequences.

    Aaron, the fact that you claim there are two sides to this argument shows me that you don’t understand the science, because the denialists publish bupkis. They have no alternate theories, no insights, no understanding. As Mark Twain said, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    Paul, WRT you issues communicating, I also recommend to you the counsel of Mr. Twain, who had wonderful advice on the craft of writing:
    “Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”


    “If you see an adjective, kill it.”

    There’s lots more.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jul 2008 @ 8:02 AM

  444. Thank you Ray.

    My english professor once told me “Paul, you use 3-4 sentances where one word will do.”

    Sometimes, I get the feeling that stating directly what I’m trying to get across won’t get the point across (as, when I type it, I read it and say “Hey, I understand it, but will anyone else?” and then I rewrite it.

    I may just toss it out there raw next time. Most of the posters here seem to be highly intelligent and capable of reading quite well, and may even be able to decipher my blobs of consciousness. I’m used to posting on forums where not all the readers have a basic education. (Spend any amount of time on a divorce support forum, and you’ll see what I’m talking about)


    Comment by Paul — 9 Jul 2008 @ 8:18 AM

  445. re: 439. Then there the tired denialist classic “church of environmentalism” from post 430. Talk about taking one’s credibility about *science* to absolute zero!

    Comment by Dan — 9 Jul 2008 @ 8:47 AM

  446. Dan,

    The comment about “church of environmentalism” was specifically to point out that holding one’s belief in a particular scientific finding doesn’t give you credibility. You have zero if you’re unwilling to change your thoughts if you are proven wrong. And anyone who claims a topic in science is over, is categorically stating they are unwilling to change even if they are proven wrong. I’m not saying today someone is going to prove their theories wrong, but frankly, clinging to it seems more a religious fervor than true science.

    A willingness to be open to new scientific discoveries is extremely important in science. Look at what we know now that we didn’t know 50 years ago, 100 years ago. If you are blinded by an unwavering attachment to a scientific theory, you could end up wrong.

    What if, tomorrow, geologists announced that they had determined that the core of the earth was expanding for some unknown reason, and the expansion was what was causing a heating of the earth, and they had calculated models that proved it? I know. Far fetched idea, but what if everything you know today is somehow positively proven false tomorrow? Are you going to cling to it saying the debate is over?

    I know at this point, I’ve seen enough conflicting “evidence” that has been “proven” to be incorrect on both ends (and yes, the sites I was sent to yesterday for research have some pretty convincing arguments), that I’m not willing today to say I think that AGW is either accurate, or as devastating as is predicted, but I’m also not willing to say it isn’t accurate or as devastating either. I will say this. The goals of the AGW activists and my desires for cleaner air and a more livable world for my children are in agreement in a lot of areas. I’d love to see coal and oil reduced tremendously in use in the world. That would provide several positive results. Cleaner air. Always a good thing. Less strip mining, leaving better, more beautiful lands for our children. Less depenedence on countries that want to harm us. Less war. I’ve got two children. I’m trying to find out what the answers are because I want to do what’s best for my children.

    That’s why I’m here. I’m not here to rip at people or “vent my spleen”. I spend time on conservative forums reading from one side of the equation, and I feel like it’s appropriate for me to spend the time to get educated properly on what is going on from the other side of the aisle.

    So, if you want to talk about taking one’s credibility about science to absolute zero, think about what I’m saying. If you’re right, if AGW is right, then fine. We will all be better off from the efforts you’re making. If it’s wrong, don’t hold on to say “it can’t be wrong. I’ve got charts.”


    Comment by Paul — 9 Jul 2008 @ 9:22 AM

  447. Dan (427) (though applicable to many, not just Dan): I have a philosophical disagreement with the logic that gives AGW a can’t lose for winning position. It is said “proof” is only a mathematical concept and not applicable to looking for iron-clad assurance of AGW. And that assessing AGW (and other sciences…) is a matter of making judgments on hypotheses and the analyses that went into the hypotheses. But then it is followed with, in essence (other words are used but mean the same), the current level of analysis and judgments applied to the hypothesis of AGW is such that it is, in fact, proof par excellence, and need not be further questioned. (Also, in fact, “proof” does have a clear and accepted meaning outside of mathematics even though it falls short (by a teensy amount maybe) of 100% absolute mathematical certainty.)

    In short it is said 1) proof is not applicable here so quit looking for it, and 2) anyway the AGW hypothesis has been scientifically proven already so quit looking for it. That logic is invalid and self-serving.

    Comment by Rod B — 9 Jul 2008 @ 9:49 AM

  448. The notion that this area of science “need not be further questioned” is from the Inhofes, Rod. You’re doing the straw man thing here.

    Yes, there are nitwits out in all directions around the political axis, but there’s no point arguing with them as though they had a serious philosophy. Why bother?

    [Response: This is an excellent point and one that bears repeating often. On any issue one can find people saying stupid things. While correcting them is occasionally useful (though rarely heeded), acting as if the stupidest statements are representative of the most compelling arguments is silly. One can find a history of idiocy amplified by partisan point-scorers on the environment, on foreign policy, on taxation, on human rights etc., but laughing at folly is very different to dealing with real and serious underlying issues. – gavin]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2008 @ 10:26 AM

  449. Re Paul @ 430: “To those of us who aren’t “believers”, there is a lot of debate. And there are a lot of legitimate questions that frankly, those of us who look at it from the outside have. For the debate to be “over”, it has to be accepted science.”

    But that’s just it, Paul, within the scientific community anthropogenic causation of increasing greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas-induced warming, and potential climate effects and impacts of increased warming are accepted science. If the foundations of that science were still being debated you would find that debate in the form of papers published in the relevant scientific journals and presented at the relevant scientific conferences. What you do see is plenty debate about the details of competing forcings and natural variability and the underlining mechanics of the climate system (as you say, science is always evolving), but what you do not see are legitimate papers showing that the basic science of greenhouse gas forcing is wrong.

    To be sure a ‘debate’ over whether or not human activity is altering the climate still rages, but it is not a clear-headed objective debate about the science among scientists actually working in the relevant fields, it’s a debate about the science and its impact on human society in the court of public opinion. Those are two entirely different debates that should not be confused. That a substantial portion of the public does not widely accept the science does not make it a scientific debate.

    Paul: “Even Evolution is a “theory” not proven scientific fact”

    There you go with another oft-repeated canard of misunderstanding. Here’s one thing you should keep in mind: the general usage of the word “theory” and the scientific usage of the word ‘theory’ are not at all the same.

    In general usage a ‘theory’ immediately follows the observation or experience of a single phenomenon or event, or a group of seemingly related phenomena or events, and that’s often pretty much as far as the process goes. Think ‘conspiracy theory’. This is why “evolution (or global warming) is only a theory” is used dismissively to discount evolution (and global warming).

    But in science, a theory is the end product of the scientific process, which starts with observation of phenomena, forming an hypothesis to explain the phenomena, designing a means to test the hypothesis, analyzing and interpreting the results of the tests, refining the hypothesis to account for observed discrepancies, retesting and refining repeatedly as needed, publishing the results for review and duplication of results by peers, consensus acceptance of the hypothesis by peers. Only at the end of the process, when peer consensus becomes overwhelming does a hypothesis have any chance of becoming accepted as a theory.

    In science theories are as good as it gets. There are no proven scientific ‘facts’, only well supported, consistent theories that have withstood all attempts to disprove them.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 9 Jul 2008 @ 10:44 AM

  450. dhogaza, BPL, et al: You guys are the ones guilty of the charge dhogaza is laying on Aaron (et al) You say we are guilty of repeating a litany of “young” climate science, yet it is you all that are oft repeating a “sounds like” religious litany of a long-established climate science. For example, the history BPL cites is of one or two outliers who had an idea even before Boltzmann was being thrown out for his “stupid” theory of gases, but were not given the time of day and got virtually zero acceptance in scientific circles. This is nowhere near “long-established” science, even though they later were shown to be reasonably correct.

    btw, IMO, your sounding like a religious litany is completely unnecessary for your case. Being “long-established” by itself makes a theory neither valid nor invalid.

    [Response: I disagree, the longer a theory has been around the more it has been subjected to tests and challenges, therefore in a Bayesian sense it should be weighted more highly than an idea that Joe just had in the bar but hasn’t been written up, published, thought about, criticised or supported etc… – gavin]

    Comment by Rod B — 9 Jul 2008 @ 10:51 AM

  451. Gavin,

    Thanks much for your response.

    Interesting that Steve Connor explained the exact problem with The Independent story on this thread in post #121, yet Doug Bostrom went ahead and accused me of “lying” about it below Steve’s fully adequate explanation. Thanks for pointing that out, and I will try to get a note put into The Register article that the Independent story has been corrected.

    Re 437: “That was then, this is now”

    Hansen-Nazarenko may no longer be the best source in your estimation, but you are not disagreeing that my interpretation of the article is valid. Zender was from 2007.

    [Response: Perhaps I wasn’t clear. The figure I pointed you to was the latest IPCC assessment of forcing, which very clearly includes an assessment of the black carbon/albedo effect. Therefore quoting H&N04 as saying that isn’t included in IPCC is no longer valid (though it was at the time). You seem very fond of the Zender paper – but that too isn’t a multi-factorial attribution study and so has exactly the same problem that I highlighted above. Try Hansen et al 2005 instead (data available here). – gavin]

    Thanks for pointing me to Hansen 2001. I am familiar with the USHCN adjustments from the ORNL web site and wrote in my series “NASA’s published data is largely based on data from the US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN)” Your description of TOBS was a bit terse, and it is less than half of the upwards USHCN adjustment. As you know, some people have raised serious questions about the accuracy of the FILNET, URBAN and SHAP adjustments.

    [Response: GISTEMP doesn’t use the FILNET or URBAN adjustments. SHAP is something else – but are you arguing that adjustments for station moves shouldn’t be accounted for? In any case, that is done by NOAA, not NASA. – gavin]

    Gavin, I’m curious to hear your interpretation of this graph?

    [Response: What about it? – gavin]

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 9 Jul 2008 @ 10:55 AM

  452. Ray (443), is “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so” referring to Aaron or to you?? ;-)

    Comment by Rod B — 9 Jul 2008 @ 10:56 AM

  453. His sailors may have been afraid of falling off the edge; but no scientist of the time was. Educated people have known the world was round since Eratosthenes measured its size circa 300 BC.

    Or perhaps his sailors were simply afraid of the scurvy, which was plaguing them as it did every lengthy sea voyage of the era. Mortality rates from scurvy were high enough to cause anyone to fear a long voyage.

    And perhaps they were afraid of unknown seas with uncharted reefs, unknown weather patterns, of storms blowing their ships onto unknown shores …

    Face it, a long voyage of exploration into the unknown at that time was not quite suicidal but … it wasn’t that far from it. Look up how many of Magellan’s sailors survived the circumnavigation (and keep in mind that Magellan was not one of them).

    Columbus wasn’t arguing that the world was flat, he was arguing that the distance to the east was much smaller than it really was, with or without a friggin’ unknown New World forcing one to sail around Cape Horn to get there.

    It was Columbus that was wrong, not the learned of the day who were aware of Eratosthenes work. Not, that is, the intellectual establishment (science as we know it today did not yet exist).

    I spend time on conservative forums reading from one side of the equation, and I feel like it’s appropriate for me to spend the time to get educated properly on what is going on from the other side of the aisle.

    So, if you want to talk about taking one’s credibility about science to absolute zero, think about what I’m saying.

    Well, you’ve just taken your credibility about science to zero, Paul, because you’ve just described climate science as being “liberal”, which is the same as saying climate science is not science at all, but simply advocacy.

    And you wonder why people don’t take you seriously …

    Comment by dhogaza — 9 Jul 2008 @ 11:38 AM

  454. #443 (Ray)

    Ray, I am not “blindly parroting” anything. If you honestly don’t think that climate science is still young and has had many big developments in recent years (I see you didn’t even acknowledge my points about the natural ocean cycles just beginning to be understood), then you are the blind one. The difficult thing about climate science is that it deals with such long time periods, and the changes that occur over those periods are not easy to observe, as well as the forces that drive them. If you think that climatologists have it all figured out right now, you are sorely mistaken. There is so much that is still not known about climate change and climate forcings…which is why every year we hear about so many new theories and possible tweaks that should be made to the climate models. It is a very exciting time to be a climate scientist, I think, because there are still so many discoveries to be made.

    I am not a skeptic of climate science at all, I think it has grown a lot in the last 30 years especially. However, I still see room for debate on the AGW issue because of the incredible complexities of climate itself. Based on what we know, increases in CO2 SHOULD cause atmospheric warming…how much, and what feedbacks interact and alter the impacts, we just don’t know at this point. At least, that’s the conclusion I have reached for myself…at this point.

    As far as your statements about the “denialists” – I think you are being a little extreme. There are some no doubt who publish junk that has no scientific merit, but not all are like that. I think sometimes they look too hard for problems in AGW theory (every theory is going to have some things it cannot explain), but I also think there are some people who honestly don’t believe the evidence favors catastrophic global warming. You make them all out to be crackpots (just as many of them make all AGWers to be religious zealots), but I have encountered a fair number of reasonable-minded skeptics who are not like that at all. If you want me to go into more detail about why I find their arguments somewhat reasonable I will, but I am not here to defend them, or to attack your beliefs.

    Comment by Aaron — 9 Jul 2008 @ 11:41 AM

  455. Paul: “Even Evolution is a “theory” not proven scientific fact”

    So why are we worried about Bird Flu. I ain’t no bird, foo!

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:01 PM

  456. Re: #440

    [ Just as the earth has tides from the sun and the moon, the sun will have tides from the Milky Way and its planets.

    “The Milky Way and its planets” implies that you were confusing the galaxy with the Solar system, a la Alfred Bester. As I showed, tides from the Milky Way galaxy are irrelevant.]

    Yup, still doesn’t say those tidal effects are important.

    Just that they exist.

    Ergo “Huh? The sun is part of the milky way” has nothing (absolutely nothing) to do with refuting the sun is affected by tidal forces from the milky way. That it makes 10^-10m difference IS.

    However, you got to that point rather late.

    If you don’t like being corrected, don’t make mistakes.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:07 PM

  457. #432 “Steven Goddard”:

    First, it is scurrilous to reprint a private E-mail on a public forum without the author’s consent or knowledge. Then to call the other person a “liar” behind their back is quite remarkable behaviour. I have attempted to deal with you in a civil fashion, and you have violated all decorum.

    [blah-blah, woof-woof redacted]

    Also, you are misrepresenting Hansen’s paper.

    I tried to cover this at The Register, comments need to meet a mysterious threshold for acceptability (invective usually ok, lengthy detailed rebuttals less so) so -I- alerted -you- that I’d posted a response here. Thanks at least for bringing your pseudonym to a place where you can be exposed to some real expertise (not me, I’m not an expert but it’s still easy for me to sail through your gaping holes…)

    Meanwhile, private email? From “anonymous”? No such thing. You volunteered for the “Anonymous Army” and you can resign any time you like, either by stepping into the light with your CV,


    I’m misrepresenting Hansen’s paper?

    You should put down your knitting needles, because your yarn is getting all tangled:

    Your “In 2004, Dr Hansen returned to the subject. This time, he explained (pdf) that most of Arctic warming and melting is due to dirty snow from soot, not CO2.”

    morphs into:

    “By any reasonable interpretation Hansen did imply that most of the warming in the Arctic is due to soot.”

    Explain=Imply? Even if your “interpretation” were correct, that’s quite a loss of definition, eh? Doesn’t matter what the UC articles says, it had nothing to do with Hansen’s explanation/implication/whole-cloth fabrication as created by Steven Goddard.

    Your problem, Steven, is that you weave such a tangled web you can’t help but trip yourself up. If you’d found just –one– good chink in Hansen’s armor and worked on that, you might have come out of this smelling a little better, maybe.


    As to the apology, ok, try on “suffering from paranoid delusions” for size. (The Independent changed their headline because of you. The “ice free Pole”, full of ice as far as the eye can see. Sea ice coverage graphs that look flat to your eyes only. The list goes on…)

    Last night I’d just about persuaded myself that I should stop badgering you because my cavalier remark about “paranoid delusions” might actually be true in which case I’m just being cruel. This morning I see that my repost of the piece I wrote here over to The Register is missing, despite your invitation to bring specific concerns there, and I see that my comprehensive correction to your lunatic hallucination of submarines waltzing about in a mill pond at the North Pole is missing.* Hard to be nice in the face of that, and your general contributions to collective cultural dementia.

    *Turns out the subs had search extensively for polynyas, crash their way upward through masses of a mineral found in abundance at the Pole and known as “ice”, stand guard w/rifles against polar bears which presumably would be walking most of the way to Lunch, etc.

    [Response: I’ve edited out some of the invective in this post and I’m tempted to edit out more. This is not a free for all, and I’m not going to allow any more of this venting. Please stick to the issues and matters of fact – that goes for everyone. – gavin]

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:09 PM

  458. Paul states:

    “If you look at the info, you’ll see that there was a great amount of debate but that the spherical concept did originate (in the Western world) in the third century BC. There were many people and many descriptions of the earth as being a flat sphere.”

    Nope, the Mayans knew the earth was round and knew the moon was too. Admittedly they thought both rotated around the earth.

    But that was a lot earlier and definitely (unless plate tectonics was a lot faster in them dais) not in the western world. New world, yes.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:12 PM

  459. HOW TO LIE:

    STEP 1: Deliberate acquiescence should be hidden in reasonableness.

    cf #424. “So I am still making up my mind until I see better proof from either side.”

    See, one side says “don’t change because GW isn’t A” and the other side says “change because GW is A”. So you’ll do nothing until both sides have proven their statements.

    Now to me, this looks like believing the anti-AGW crowd. At the very least, all they have to do to get their way is NOT prove anything. You shall be doing what they want.

    Alternatively, just as you don’t let your child walk the dark streets “in case they get abducted”, you should likewise do something to remove the possibility of bad things happening. If they don’t turn up, you can go back to what you were doing. You can’t so easily undo the changes you did that cause GW.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:17 PM

  460. [> No, if Hank in posting #328 had said “huh? …

    If I’d written anything in 328, my name would be Barton.
    Check your sources.]

    Aye, sorry.

    Pity there’s not a way to say sorry that doesn’t fill this already overlong thread…

    Still, I ought to apologise, so I do.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:19 PM

  461. Odd piece of bad timing? Especially for the remaining old ice to continue drifting towards the North Atlantic:

    This is odd…. Quite peculiar.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:20 PM

  462. re: 446. Paul, as has been pointed out several times already, it has become clear that you simply do not have a full understanding of the scientific method/process with regards to theories. When a new theory comes out it is tested and peer-reviewed. When you have a testable, peer-reviewed theory re: global warming that relies on natural forces/variation and not anthropogenic CO2 and GHGs to discuss, we will be waiting. Meanwhile, the scientific method has worked for centuries. As it has for AGW.

    BTW, you continue to refer to “proof” or “proven”. Please see post 449.

    Comment by Dan — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:23 PM

  463. “Gavin, I’m curious to hear your interpretation of this graph?

    [Response: What about it? – gavin]”

    I think Steve is pointing out that it is currently cooler than in 1988, the year, coincidently, Mr Hanson made his seminal statement to Congress.

    Steve probably would like to see a comment on how this can be, given that A/CO2 emmisions have increased at a greater rate than predicted at that time. What natural causes can have stopped the huge forcings that the theory states has been happening since this time?

    [Response: Weather. Long term trends 1988-2008 are all positive – which is, as I keep saying, the key to climate change. – gavin]

    Comment by Alan Millar — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:23 PM

  464. Re #407
    For the longest time, the world’s leading scientists and scholars told us the world was flat. That the world was the center of the universe.

    Not for over 2000 yrs in the first case, accurate estimates of the radius of the earth have been available for about as long. In the latter this was a dogma of the church and heresy was severely punished because of this western scientists were rather late in adopting heliocentricity (unlike the arabs and indians).

    A lot of the problem with the concept of “flat earth” being scientifically acceptable is from the romantic notion that Columbus’ crew was reluctant to sail to the New World because of falling off the edge of the world. It may be that there was little to no scientific belief in it, but there certainly points to there being a debate, and one with serious social consequences.

    Which is a nonsensical notion in the first place, sailors had long known that the world was round.
    There was a debate but it’s not the one you mention: it was between Columbus who used an old and discredited value of the radius of the earth which gave a distance to Japan of about 3,000 miles, whereas the Queen’s advisors were using a much more accurate value which gave a distance to Japan of over 9,000 miles (well beyond the range of their ships). The sailors were scared of sailing so far that they would not be able to make it back. Columbus’s voyage ultimately proved the advisors right although to his deathbed C believed that he had reached Asia.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:26 PM

  465. re: 447. Rod, I’d be quite interested if you could find a scientific study/paper re: AGW which refers to it as scientifically “proven”. This is not simply semantics. When you say “proof par excellence”, that is not within the scientific realm. As you pointed out, “proof” does have a clear and accepted meaning outside of mathematics. But I am specifically talking about the meaning within science.

    Comment by Dan — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:30 PM

  466. #451 “Steven Goddard”:

    Interesting that Steve Connor explained the exact problem with The Independent story on this thread in post #121, yet Doug Bostrom went ahead and accused me of “lying” about it below Steve’s fully adequate explanation. Thanks for pointing that out, and I will try to get a note put into The Register article that the Independent story has been corrected.

    I grant you that online newspaper headlines are frangible, so I’ll take that –single– item off my list of gripes. But as usual with you, there’s more to the story. Here’s what you wrote:

    “The North Pole will be ice-free this summer “for the first time in human history,” wrote Steve Connor in The Independent. Or so the experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado predict. ”

    Here’s everything that was said by NSIDC in the article:

    “From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water,” said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.


    “The issue is that, for the first time that I am aware of, the North Pole is covered with extensive first-year ice – ice that formed last autumn and winter. I’d say it’s even-odds whether the North Pole melts out,” said Dr Serreze.

    and finally:

    “Indeed, for the Arctic as a whole, the melt season started with even more thin ice than in 2007, hence concerns that we may even beat last year’s sea-ice minimum. We’ll see what happens, a great deal depends on the weather patterns in July and August,” he said.

    Now I realize this is a matter of “interpretation” as you call it, but where in that did “experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado predict” the Pole would be ice-free? The closest statement to that is Dr. Serreze’s “it’s even-odds whether the North Pole melts out”, a very long way from your “interpretation”.

    This is exactly what I mean when I say you don’t know when to stop.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2008 @ 12:37 PM

  467. Re Gavin 451 :

    Thanks again for your courteous response

    It appears that UAH and RSS data would indicate that global temperatures over the last 20 years may have fallen below even the most conservative IPCC scenarios. Satellite data for May had the tropics at it’s lowest value of any May on record. UAH June had nearly all areas below the 30 year mean, despite a neutral ENSO.

    Answering your earlier remark – I have never accused anyone of “fixing data” or intentionally skewing records. All human beings tend to preferentially look for information which agrees with their core value system. When there is a lot of subjective data post-processing and adjustment occurring, this becomes increasingly problematic. Some people believe that UHI is not properly accounted for in GISS data. This is a highly subjective judgment call. Some people believe that many GHCN and USHCN stations are of inadequate quality. Once, again another judgment call.

    No one is infallible and it is completely appropriate to look for data patterns and changes in data which may indicate an inherent bias or error. That is an essential part of the scientific and journalistic process.

    [Response: As above, estimates of change associated with a single month are completely irrelevant to climate. For instance, take the exact day June 23 and specific location – it was warmer in DC in 1988 than in 2008. Does that mean that the planet has cooled over that period? Obviously not. What about a week, and the whole north eat coast? No? well try the month and the continental US? No again. The global mean trends are derived from global mean trends – nothing else will do! PS. I do hope we can see more of this reasonable tone in your future pieces. – gavin]

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 9 Jul 2008 @ 1:06 PM

  468. #458

    Mark, I’m not sure if you are accusing me of lying, I hope you are not. I am being as honest as I possibly can – I am admitting that I do not see conclusive proof from either side of this debate to convince me. When looking at evidence, I try to be as logical as possible, and the “worst-case scenarios” presented by some AGWers appeal to my feelings, not to my sense of logic.

    I have looked at as much evidence as I can, from both sides, and I find that both sides tend to fixate too much on short term examples (latest ten/twenty year trend, sea ice, etc), and I need more compelling evidence. To me, the most compelling evidence for AGW is not temperature trends, but the physics, the mechanisms behind CO2 warming. They seem to indicate that some warming MUST occur. On the other hand, the most compelling argument from the skeptics is previous natural cycles and the PDO/NPI variations that appear to have better correlation with temperatures than CO2.

    To give you another example of something I am undecided on: solar forcing. Many skeptics will argue that solar activity is a big climate influence, even though TSI measurements, etc. would indicate it is not. Nevertheless, there do seem to be some temperature correlations with past solar activity. So I do not see compelling evidence on either side to convince me that solar forcing on climate is signficant.

    Comment by Aaron — 9 Jul 2008 @ 1:46 PM

  469. #457:

    Gavin, thanks for the edits. Nearly everybody can benefit from red ink and there’s no doubt I’m overheated about the matter at hand. Meanwhile the author is here now which is a good thing for all.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2008 @ 2:09 PM

  470. RE # 468; Aaron, if you say you are looking for PROOF one more time, I might say you are lying.

    Can you please accept what so many honest contributors have said in this long and lost thread; SCIENCE DOES NOT WORK TOWARDS PROOF; MATH DOES. Please; enough with the proof searching….unless you are working to triangulate.

    John McCormick

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 9 Jul 2008 @ 2:33 PM

  471. Steven Goddard.

    1) What was your purpose in citing tiny areas of open water in the Arctic way back in 2000?

    2) Why did you think a graph of ice area for both poles summed was more appropriate than the Arctic area?

    a)What was your rationale for selecting a 1980s paper by Hansen?
    b)Were you unaware that current models don’t show equal warming at both poles?

    4) Why did you not feel it appropriate to mention in your article that published papers suggest a role for enhanced greenhouse effect driven stratospheric cooling?

    5) Were you aware that Amundsen’s 1903-06 transit through the NW Passage was done in much worse conditions than we saw in the NW passage last year?

    6) Why did you not consider it appropriate to mention the caveats that Serreze/Meir/Stroeve made concerning weather and latitude (i.e. insolation angle)?

    #486 Aaron

    Correlation does not imply causation.

    The correlation between CO2 and paleoclimatic temperatures would mean nothing were it not for the sound physical basis for knowing CO2 will cause warming as it’s atmospheric concentration is raised. It’s that understanding that makes the correlation significant. Without mechanism the correlation is intriguing, but no more.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 9 Jul 2008 @ 2:36 PM

  472. #470

    John, why does looking for proof indicate dishonesty? What would you say science working towards? I think that the goal of science is to work towards greater knowledge and understanding of the physical world. Once a certain amount of knowledge is attained on something, scientific rules and laws can be created and applied. That, to me, is the process of reaching scientific proof. Arguing the exact meaning of proof is merely semantics: I’m just saying a certain amount of evidence is needed to claim something as a scientific certainty.

    If I am trying to make a decision on something, I am going to carefully weigh the arguments from both sides and make my own decision. This attitude of: “You are not completely sold on AGW, you must not comprehend science, or else you would see the truth as I do”, is rather off-putting. I happen to see this as a very complex issue that will take more time to resolve for certain.

    [Response: Your asking for ‘scientific certainty’ is a chimera. It doesn’t exist – not for medical procedures, not for epidemiology, not for climate science. Yet people (quite sensibly) try to lose weight if they are obese, get vaccinated, and (hopefully) try to reduce their carbon emissions. Thus demanding certainty is equivalent to demonstrating that you will never be persuaded, and thus signalling to those who might be minded to help you that there is no point. This is not a new tactic, nor is it merely a semantic point. There really is a big difference between beyond reasonable doubt and absolute certainty. In your real life, you do not depend on absolute certainty for anything practical – why should climate change be an exception? – gavin]

    Comment by Aaron — 9 Jul 2008 @ 3:14 PM

  473. Paul wrote: “To those of us who aren’t ‘believers’, there is a lot of debate. And there are a lot of legitimate questions that frankly, those of us who look at it from the outside have. For the debate to be ‘over’, it has to be accepted science.”

    With all due respect, you are merely parading your ignorance as though it were some kind of challenge to the science.

    Anthropogenic global warming and climate change is “accepted science” — indeed it is overwhelmingly accepted science. There is absolutely no genuine scientific debate about the reality of anthropogenic global warming, period. You “argument” amounts to declaring that because you are ignorant of the science — as your comments have repeatedly demonstrated — the science must not be “accepted”.

    There certainly are “legitimate” questions that may be, and should be, asked by those such as yourself who are just beginning to learn about the issue. But those questions arise from your lack of knowledge, not from any problem with the science of global warming. If you keep asking legitimate questions, and learning from the answers, your understanding will grow. But to assert that because you don’t understand the science and don’t know the facts, there is something wrong with the science, or global warming is a “religion” or a “liberal conspiracy”, is absurd.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Jul 2008 @ 3:26 PM

  474. This post has certainly been a “lightening rod” for denialist “discussions” (I use this term loosely because a lot of it is “sniping” than an effort to start a discussion), no doubt due to the visual and emotional impact an ice-free North Pole would have.

    Re: Columbus and the flat earth. Columbus was arguing for a smaller earth, not a spherical one (by the way, what the heck is a “flat sphere?”). By shrinking the size of the earth and expanding the breath of Eurasia he could argue that it was practical to sail west to get to the Far East. Not a very good example for good vs. bad science, but maybe one for “dumb luck.” Denialists may take heart, but I’m at a loss as to what “new world” might intervene in the path of our carbon usage and save our biscuits like America saved Columbus’.

    A better example than a belief in a “flat earth” might be something that happened to me in the late 70’s at a party. Someone I had just met, after finding out I was a chemist, pressed me for “the chemical you can add to water to make it burn like gasoline.” His reasoning was like this: 1) Gasoline and water are both liquids, 2) The biggest difference I can see is that gasoline has a distinctive odor that water doesn’t, 3) You can add things to water to make it smell (e.g. perfume), so thus, 4) You should be able to add something to water to make it like gasoline which would mean you could use it in your car a fuel. I tried to argue with him using any number of simple examples, but nothing broke through. If it hinted of chemistry, like oxidation and reduction, I was confusing him with technical terms, if I tried to divorce it from unfamiliar concepts I was “talking down” to him. It was not only a complete waste of my time, the person left thinking I was part of an OPEC conspiracy. You can lead a horse to water…

    P.S. Although I’m both “Paul” and “Paul M.” I’m not the one posting here under either of those names. Some here thought that I was posting denialist arguments when I was simply trying to quote them (#217), but I was unable to put them all in italics for quoting (I’m not very posting-format savvy).

    Comment by Paul Melanson — 9 Jul 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  475. Paul (430) — Then you first ought to learn some actual climatology. One way is the use the Start Here link at the top of the page. Another is to read “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

    Review of above:

    A third is to read a beginning text on the subject. I suggest starting with W.F. Ruddiman’s “Earth Climate: Past and Future”.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Jul 2008 @ 3:38 PM

  476. Dan (465), it’s probably a matter of definition, but IMO when someone “validates” AGW with umpteen pieces of evidence that rattle on for sentence after sentence, and uses every probative word in the book except “proof”, …they’re proving it. No matter how they rationalize their treatise. Otherwise, they would lightly acknowledge us sceptics (even while asserting we are incorrect, even tiresome) instead of telling us we’re just way too stupid and blind (and probably hang with bad people) if we can’t see the mounds of (non) proof lying around.

    Comment by Rod B — 9 Jul 2008 @ 4:16 PM

  477. A nit: To prevent unnecessary arguments, I suggest folks not use the most common turn of phrase “Correlation does not imply causation.” The correct phrase is “Correlation is insufficient evidence of causation.” I realize that most folks know what is meant. But we’ve had arguments break out over similarly loose language.

    (Correlation is the heart of causation. Anyone wanting to dive into the topic–but you should wear deep-sea gear–should read The Cement of the Universe: A Study of Causation, by J.L. Mackie.)

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 9 Jul 2008 @ 4:28 PM

  478. ps see SecularAnimist’s 473 as a rough example of what I’m saying.

    Gavin, your point as stated is well taken, but we are not talking about “proof certain (100%)” which is only mathematical. We’re talking of proof “par excellence” (my term) that is probably a scientific proof exceeding legal’s beyond a reasonable doubt, but less than absolutely certainty. But “scientific” proof it is. I do not understand the aversion to the term (other than a bit because it might be misinterpreted) when it’s clearly what is being attempted.

    Comment by Rod B — 9 Jul 2008 @ 4:39 PM

  479. From the Free Online Dictionary, we have

    proof n.
    1. The evidence or argument that com-pels the mind to accept an assertion as true.
    a. The validation of a proposition by application of specified rules, as of induction or deduction, to assumptions, axioms, and sequentially derived conclusions.
    b. A statement or argument used in such a validation.
    a. Convincing or persuasive demonstration: was asked for proof of his identity; an employment history that was proof of her dependability.
    b. The state of being convinced or persuaded by consideration of evidence.
    4. Determination of the quality of something by testing; trial: put one’s beliefs to the proof.
    5. Law The result or effect of evidence; the establishment or denial of a fact by evidence.

    None of these variants are actually very helpful to practioners of the

    except possibly as the scientific method applies to mathematics; in mathematics deductive logic alone is used to structure the proofs of theorems.

    For experimental science, it is far better to use the Bayesian terminology of ‘confirm’ and ‘disconfirm’ when relating data to hypotheses. This is sometimes done quite formally, but often enough scientists are but informal Bayesians; this works quite well.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Jul 2008 @ 5:02 PM

  480. #477 Tom Dayton, noted. Thanks.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 9 Jul 2008 @ 5:04 PM

  481. > solar activity [not is, but was] a big climate
    > influence, even though TSI measurements, etc. would
    > indicate it [not is, but was] not [since the middle of the 1900s].

    Get the details right in the description, there’s no disagreement about the facts.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2008 @ 5:16 PM

  482. Gavin-

    I appreciate your response, but you too seem to misunderstand me. I am not beyond being persuaded at all by evidence. In fact, I see strong scientific evidence of many things (gravity, a round earth, viral infections, evolution/natural selection, recurring weather patterns, energy conservation, etc), and I have high certainty in the scientific validity of those things. However, I think it is too soon to reach that conclusion with AGW (especially catastrophic AGW), as more empirical evidence is needed. That’s just my personal opinion, though, I understand that others feel there is plenty of evidence to support their viewpoint.

    Alternately, I would believe wholeheartedly in AGW if I saw no other reasonable explanations for the warming that has been seen in the past 100 years or so. However, I think there are some plausible natural explanations for the climate change that has occurred, and so even though the physics of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would indicate a likely rise in temperature, I cannot rule out that natural forces have also had quite a bit of influence on our climate.

    Therefore, my position as of right now is that natural forcings and human forcings have *both probably* contributed to the observed climate change. I am inclined to think CO2 is more responsible than natural forcings since at least 1950…but what I really hope for is substantial negative forcings from the ocean cycles and solar the next 10 years or so. This should help clear things up quite a bit…if GHG’s are indeed the primary climate force, then global temps should continue to rise (with some variability, of course) regardless of low solar cycles or historically cooler oceanic phases.

    Comment by Aaron — 9 Jul 2008 @ 5:55 PM

  483. Aaron, read up on ocean pH.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2008 @ 7:24 PM

  484. Paul Melanson: italics use an i-tag followed by the text to be in italics, followed by an /i-tag. “Tag” means preceded by the less-than sign and followed by the greater-than sign.

    You will find more than you ever wanted to know about HTML by googling “html tags”

    Comment by Tim McDermott — 9 Jul 2008 @ 10:01 PM

  485. RE: 451

    Hey Steven Goddard and Dr. Schmidt,

    I know the discussion has moved beyond this region of the thread, (RE posting 451). However, I suspect the data contained within the link below may be of high value to not only the referenced exchange; but, to the thread as a whole. To this end let me share my question of whether either of you reviewed the more recent data appearing to come from the ARCTAS Mission?

    I understand Dr. Schmidt’s pointing to the IPCC AR4, as it is likely the most reviewed document to date; hence, more likely to reflect the greatest accuracy. personally, I just thought it would be of value to review the data there in reference to more recent data collections.

    It appears that some of the questions that Steven Goddard is attempting to address are better explained within the NOAA paper. (I have yet, to complete the papers.) I have found a lot of interesting hypothesis being examined within and it appears to be relevant to your discussion. Hopefully, this interruption in the threads progression will help advance the discussions here.

    RE: 482

    Hey Aaron,

    I have been reviewing the various posts from Mark, Paul and yourself and find that many of the points brought up have been addressed in the past, if not here, at least in other similar forums. Personally, I remain a skeptic in regards to AGW; however, the state of the data at this point seems to support the validity of the theory. (Keep in mind, it is difficult to prove a theory, if you want to challenge a theory you need to have the data to disprove it. (A basic premise I have stolen from John Mason at UKweatherworld.))

    As the science advances the basic underlying processes that are occurring appear to be following the AGW trending that has been laid out for over 24 years. As Dr. Schmidt has already shared there is natural and even Anthropogenic variability involved in the recent synoptic variations, suggesting that there may be a short term deviation from the noted cause and effect model scenarios.

    As to your hopes, I will share a small thought that has occurred to me in regards to concerns regarding the CO2 uptake in the oceans. The evidence to date points to a reduction or a flattening of uptake in the Southern Pacific and North Atlantic.

    It has been noted in a recent study that the PH of the ocean water has dropped to @ 7.4 and the uptake of CO2 has plateaued. (However, the acid that appears to be contributing to the change in PH has not been documented, to my knowledge. This brings up the question of possible biologic decay and the acidic bacterial wastes generated as the bacteria break down dead phytoplankton in the oceans.) There may be hope; however, at this time it appears to be related to a process that is in decline.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 9 Jul 2008 @ 10:17 PM

  486. Aaron, #482:

    … but what I really hope for is substantial negative forcings from the ocean cycles and solar the next 10 years or so.

    By far the most likely negative climate forcing is the staggering increase in aerosols from Asia. (And perhaps this will help explain the global temperature trends of the last 10 years or so. But not all aerosols cause cooling. ) After that is the potential of a large volcanic eruption. But Asia will likely be forces to reduce its aerosol pollution – and in any case, CO2 has a far longer atmospheric lifetime than any aerosol. So there’s essentially no prospect of a negative forcing that will outweigh CO2 over the next 50 years or more.

    Comment by llewelly — 9 Jul 2008 @ 10:37 PM

  487. Aaron wrote in 482:

    Therefore, my position as of right now is that natural forcings and human forcings have *both probably* contributed to the observed climate change. I am inclined to think CO2 is more responsible than natural forcings since at least 1950…but what I really hope for is substantial negative forcings from the ocean cycles and solar the next 10 years or so. This should help clear things up quite a bit…if GHG’s are indeed the primary climate force, then global temps should continue to rise (with some variability, of course) regardless of low solar cycles or historically cooler oceanic phases.

    Why ten years, Aaron?

    We have seen the warming of the past century. Those negative feedbacks could have kicked in during any one of those decades.

    Why not twenty years from now?

    Why not thirty? Forty? Or a hundred years from now?

    Thing of it is, you can always claim that the feedbacks that are going to bring us back from the brink are only a few years off — no matter how bad things get. But in the meantime we will be committing ourselves to business as usual with new energy infrastructure — in all likelihood alternate fossil fuels. Oil from coal with twice the emissions per unit of energy. Oil from tar sands with three times the emissions per unit of energy. New coal mines in China and other parts of the world.

    Why didn’t those negative feedbacks kick in half a million years ago — or any of the years in between? We have a paleoclimate record that shows that temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide are strongly correlated. Approximately 2.8 C per doubling. We get the same sensitivity to the forcing from carbon dioxide as we do from solar radiation and roughly the same from the aerosols due to volcanoes.

    There is of course some uncertainty in any of the methods used to estimate climate sensitivity, but it is greater on the high side than the low — more likely to be a half a degree higher than half a degree below the central estimate. However, this climate sensitivity which they estimate takes into account only fast feedbacks. It doesn’t as of yet take into account the feedbacks due to the carbon cycle and it doesn’t take into account the feedbacks due to ice sheets. Feedbacks due to the latter are positive. Ice, afterall, melts.

    And there is a great deal of evidence that feedbacks through the carbon cycle will be strong and predominantly positive. As droughts increase in frequency, duration and severity flora become a carbon source. As temperatures rise, the ocean has a reduced capacity to absorb or even hold carbon dioxide. As temperatures rise, permafrost melts — and the deeper it goes the closer it gets to methane-rich yedoma. As temperatures rise along the shallow coasts, the likelihood of massive releases from methane cathrates rise as well.

    Its happened on several occasions in the Earth’s past. It has happened on a scale scarcely imaginable. The release of carbon dioxide on a scale sufficient to cause runaway global warming. One of those times was 251 million years ago. A Siberian supervolcano resulted in what is sometimes called the “Permian-Triassic Extinction” or more simply, “The Great Dying.” By the time it was done, the majority of the carbon in the biosphere had been converted to atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    It is unlikely that we will be able to cause something on quite that scale — but there is good reason to believe that a great many lives hang balance over what we do in the next decade or so — particularly with the inertia which will exist within the system.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Jul 2008 @ 11:05 PM

  488. 482
    Aaron says. “I think there are some plausible natural explanations for the climate change”.

    And this is where we disagree. Just where are the published papers that account for observed temperature record which are somehow negating the changes in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere? What I see is a lot of hand waving, without any serious attempt to create an alternative model. Why do you suppose carbon-lobby funds advocacy instead of trying to build their own non-AGW model?

    You cant have certainty in science because you cant know for sure that some new insight and flight of the human imagination wont find a better model tomorrow. However, you can do some risk-analysis and decide whether you want to find out what the upper end of the future prediction might look likes. When the prevailing model says we would be in hell, then I’ll back solutions that go there rather than hoping somehow that the model is wrong.

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 9 Jul 2008 @ 11:31 PM

  489. Re 471

    Dr. Hansen’s 20th anniversary comment “We see a tipping point occurring right before our eyes… The Arctic is the first tipping point and it’s occurring exactly the way we said it would”

    appears to have been intended to indicate that he believes that his 1980s CO2 predictions have borne out. That is certainly how it was interpreted by the press and politicians.

    Yet, his writings from the 1980s indicated that we should see symmetrical warming in the Antarctic, which has not happened. figure 2-2.
    Some NASA maps show significant cooling across most of the Antarctic.

    [Response: It’s not symmetric because the ocean dynamics are different in the South. Slower warming in Antarctic has been expected for over a decade. I’m sure that you’ll be equally critical of people who said in the 1980’s that global warming wouldn’t continue at all. – gavin]

    Dr. Hansen also predicted maximum mid-troposphere (200mb) equatorial warming which has not happened – same figure 2-2

    [Response: You are completely off-base with this one. The TMT is not a ‘mid-troposphere’ signal – instead it integrates over the mid-troposphere and lower stratosphere – one of which has been warming and one cooling, thus the integral is pretty flat. This has been known for decades. Instead, look at the multiple recent papers on the radiosonde data – the mid-troposphere is likely warming as the models suggest they should. – gavin]

    Additionally we now know that a substantial portion of the Arctic warming which has been observed is due to soot and ozone. Anyone who flies over western Greenland in late summer or fall can plainly see the black snow along the margins of the ice sheet and around the moulins.

    [Response: You are mostly seeing water not soot. Black carbon does play a role, but perhaps you’d like to demonstrate your attribution study that takes all of the changes and works out exactly what caused what? If you can’t, then your statement is no more defensible than someone saying it’s all the sun. – gavin]

    The models do not explain well the extensive Arctic cooling which occurred from 1940-1970, and they do not explain why (according to GISS records) most Arctic temperatures were at least as high in the 1940s as they are now – despite substantially lower CO2 levels.

    [Response: Not true. – gavin]

    Given all of these shortfalls, I don’t see how the case can be made that we have an adequate understanding of what is going on at the poles. We certainly did not 20 years ago.

    [Response: Yet out of all this uncertainty, you claim complete certainty that it is all due to soot? Huh. – gavin]

    The case for the Arctic being at a “tipping point” is also quite subjective. The Greenland ice sheet is having an exceptionally cold summer, and Arctic sea ice is not headed for a repeat of last summer.

    Temperatures remain cold at the pole.

    [Response: Temperatures are cold at the poles. Truly profound. – gavin]

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 9 Jul 2008 @ 11:50 PM

  490. [Therefore, my position as of right now is that natural forcings and human forcings have *both probably* contributed to the observed climate change.]

    What other forcings are there? Supernatural?

    And if humans are contributing to the observed climate change, how about NOT contributing until we do know exactly what we’re doing?

    It’s not like we can move to another apartment when we’ve got this one in such a mess…

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2008 @ 4:35 AM

  491. Hank in #481, sounds like my complaint with “Huh? The sun is part of the milky way”…

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2008 @ 4:36 AM

  492. Paul writes:

    What if, tomorrow, geologists announced that they had determined that the core of the earth was expanding for some unknown reason, and the expansion was what was causing a heating of the earth, and they had calculated models that proved it?

    I’d say they were on drugs. We’ve measured the heat from the Earth and it isn’t enough to cause the observed warming by orders of magnitude. The average geothermal flux is 0.087 watts per square meter. Compare to 237 W m-2 from absorbed sunlight.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2008 @ 7:20 AM

  493. rod writes:

    the history BPL cites is of one or two outliers who had an idea even before Boltzmann was being thrown out for his “stupid” theory of gases, but were not given the time of day and got virtually zero acceptance in scientific circles.

    That is not true. Debate about what had caused the ice ages was a big scientific issue in the late 19th century and continued to be until about 1970. And the existence of the greenhouse effect has been accepted since the early 19th century. The fact is there was a science of climatology in the 19th century, it is older than quantum mechanics, and to say climate science is a young field is just plain wrong.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2008 @ 7:24 AM

  494. Aaron writes:

    If you honestly don’t think that climate science is still young and has had many big developments in recent years (I see you didn’t even acknowledge my points about the natural ocean cycles just beginning to be understood), then you are the blind one.

    No matter how many times you write that climate science is a young field, you will still be wrong. It isn’t. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2008 @ 7:27 AM

  495. Mark posts:

    If you don’t like being corrected, don’t make mistakes.

    Confusing the Milky Way Galaxy with the Solar System is a mistake. Implying that tides from the Milky Way influenced the Sun significantly is a mistake. Pointing out those two mistakes is not a mistake.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2008 @ 7:28 AM

  496. Re #495

    Uh, that wasn’t the orignal huff n puff.

    #328 Barton Paul Levenson Says:
    5 July 2008 at 6:35 AM

    Alastair writes:

    the sun will have tides from the Milky Way

    Huh? The Milky Way is the galaxy we’re in.

    So? What does “The mily way is the galaxy we’re in” relate to whether the sun will have tides from the milky way? You were either dribbling or making a mistake in thinking this rebutted Alastair’s comment.

    Feel free to tell us why you brought up this irrelevancy if neither are correct.

    [Response: Drop it – this is pointless and uninteresting. – gavin]

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2008 @ 8:42 AM

  497. Gavin,

    The point about temperatures being cold at the pole is that we are at peak melt season in the Arctic, and as the season winds down over the next 3-4 weeks it is increasingly unlikely that the predictions of an ice-free pole will be realized. That is the topic here after all.

    [Response: It’s always cold at the pole – even when it’s melting. The fact that there is any ice, restricts the ocean surface to be near freezing, and the air temperature can likely only go one or two degrees above that. The NP issue was a 50/50 call, and I have no special insight into which way it will go. -gavin]

    I’m surprised at your assertion that the models explain the equally warm 1940s Arctic temperatures. If CO2 is the driver of recent warming, what was driving equivalent or greater warming 90-70 years ago?

    [Response: I didn’t say that above, but you can see what the models can and cannot explain in the figures in the IPCC report. They don’t, in the mean, get quite as much warming in the 1940s as observed – indicating that (assuming the forcings were appropriate) the Arctic peak was likely not a forced response. That leaves either internal variability – possibly associated with the N. Atl. ocean circulation: some models do show excursions of about the right magnitude, or uncertainties in the forcings. Curiously, and I’m surprised you haven’t picked up on this, the maximum black soot deposition in the Arctic was in the 1930s, not today – mostly from US industrial sources. – gavin]

    I can’t imagine why anyone would predict that warming would stop. The earth has been warming for at least 200 hundred years, and the most likely trend is that it will continue.

    [Response: Climate science using only Excel’s linear regression routine! Tyndall would be proud. – gavin]

    Your claim that I have attributed all the warming to soot is incorrect. I never said anything like that, and it is a bit careless on your part to say that I did.

    [Response: You keep implying it, but if that’s not what you mean, try again. – gavin]

    The fact that the models have more recently been adjusted to match empirical evidence in the Antarctic does not negate my point. Events have not proceeded “exactly as predicted” in the 1980s.

    [Response: You are correct. In the Arctic, ice melt is happening faster than predicted. – gavin]

    I’ll have a look at your radiosonde links and respond later.

    Thanks much for your response, Gavin.

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 10 Jul 2008 @ 9:27 AM

  498. [Response: Temperatures are cold at the poles. Truly profound. – gavin]

    This had me laughing for a few minutes.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 10 Jul 2008 @ 9:32 AM

  499. #432 Steve Goddard.

    Dishonesty and misinformation do not make for objective analysis!

    This is dishonest:

    Also, you are misrepresenting Hansen’s paper.

    In Hansen Nazarenko 2004, Hansen wrote that “Our estimate for the mean soot effect on spectrally integrated albedos in the Arctic … is about one quarter of observed global warming.”

    i.e. Dr. Hansen said that one-fourth of all global warming (over the entire planet) is due to Arctic soot. The same paper shows the forcing of soot as 2XC02 at 4.05 W/m2 Figure 1 shows Arctic warming of as much as 2-3C due to soot. My statement was completely correct – By any reasonable interpretation Hansen did imply that most of the warming in the Arctic is due to soot.

    In fact Hansen didn’t say what your “i.e….” indicated at all, since your “quotation” of “what Hansen wrote” is a crude and blatant truncation.

    Here’s what Hansen and Nazarenko actually stated (putting back the parts of the sentences you omitted, with your “selection” in italic):

    Our estimate for the mean soot effect on spectrally integrated albedos in the Arctic (1.5%) and Northern Hemisphere land areas (3%) yields a Northern Hemisphere forcing of 0.3 W/m2 or an effective hemispheric forcing of 0.6 W/m2. The calculated global warming in an 1880–2000 simulation is about one quarter of observed global warming.

    James Hansen and Larissa Nazarenko (2004) “Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101, 423-428

    So Hansen and Nazarenko are (i) not referring to soot effects on Arctic albedo as you insinuate, but to soot effects on the entire N. hemisphere ice albedo (ii) they are referring to global warming during the period 1880-2000.

    Secondly, if you are interested in representing the science or an individuals research faithfully, you should ensure that you stay abreast of the field. You should note that amongst other things that:

    (ONE) Hansen et al have reassessed the contribution of black carbon on global snow/ice albedo and have “downgraded” the contribution by around a factor of 3 compared to their PNAS paper. So the simulated contribution of black carbon to global warming since 1880 is now 0.065 oC. In other words the total black carbon effect on snow and ice worldwide (not just the arctic) is around (according to Hansen) 1/12 of all global warming since 1880:

    Hansen, J et al. (2007) Climate simulations for 1880-2003 with GISS modelE. Clim. Dynam., 29, 661-696

    (TWO) That while black carbon has a positive contribution to global warming, it is part of the total human atmospheric aerosol load the nett contribution of which is a cooling one. In other words while black carbon in isolation through its effects in the atmosphere and surface is overall warming, black carbon cannot be considered in isolation from all the other atmospheric aerosols.

    So while black carbon has contributed to Arctic ice melt/warming to some extent, the overall cooling effect of our aerosolic emissions has contributed to Arctic cooling. It would be nice if we could selectively eliminate “soot” from our emissions, but “soot”/black carbon is a product of combustion processes that release a cocktail of aerosols the nett effect of which is a cooling one.

    This is discussed in detail in a recent review:

    V. Ramanathan & G. Carmichael (2008) Global and regional climate changes due to black carbon; Nature Geoscience 1, 221-227.

    In their Table 2, R&G diagram the contributions from various man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) and man-made aerosols, considering the effect on both the atmosphere or surface:

    all GHG’s (CO2, methane, N20, halons, ozone):
    atmosphere +1.4
    surface +1.6
    total +3.0 (W/m2 presumably)

    atmosphere +1.0
    surface +0.6
    total +1.6

    black carbon (BC):
    atmosphere +2.6
    surface -1.7
    total +0.9

    non BC man-made aerosols:
    atmosphere +0.4
    surface -2.7
    total -2.3

    There is uncertainty in the precise local and global contributions of these warming and cooling forcings. However if one is interested in presenting what the science indicates, one needs (a) to be honest, (b) to stay abreast of the field and (c) to consider the whole story…

    Comment by Chris — 10 Jul 2008 @ 9:57 AM

  500. Rod, re 452, actually I believe I make a pretty concerted effort to ensure that what I know is, in fact, so. As you have in the past not hesitated to ask me questions, I presume that you do not disagree to vigorously with this characterization. Also, when someone shows me that I am wrong, I usually thank them for their efforts. This is one reason why I am still happily married.
    As to anthropogenic causation of the current warming epoch, I’d be more than happy for somebody to show me I am wrong or even that there remain significant doubts. Unfortunately, all of the evidence, as represented by peer-reviewed studies, points toward the inescapable conclusion that we are to blame. When the evidence and the physics agree, it’s hard to retain serious doubts.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Jul 2008 @ 10:18 AM

  501. Aaron, you claim that natural factors can account for the changes we have seen, but you cite not a one. Do you have a candidate or candidates? Keep in mind that your candidates have to do at least as good a job accounting for ALL the evidence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Jul 2008 @ 10:28 AM

  502. Re: 489

    Notice how the North Pole webcam #3 (Now at 84.3 North) #3, now has a nice tilt, as the melt pool is destablizing the platform.

    Obviously its not cold enough at the north pole :)

    Comment by LG Norton — 10 Jul 2008 @ 10:30 AM

  503. About ice or not at the North Pole this summer, unless ice flows change drastically I see ice at the Pole all summer. There is something strange by the way Arctic Ocean pack ice is circulating so far, strange is normal for the short term, but not for the long term, old multi-year ice is not heading toward the melting pond North of Alaska same as last year, in fact old ice is heading towards the North Pole, compressing ice towards Russia. A dramatic weather system change is needed to favor a greater North Pole open water scenario.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 10 Jul 2008 @ 10:32 AM

  504. Joe Hunkins @ 318: It looks as if I’m set to win our bet, yes, although it could still go either way. Of course I hope you win. I’m less likely to win my bet with William Connolley.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 10 Jul 2008 @ 10:47 AM

  505. Interesting how some of the posters here carelessly throw around insults. How can you expect to have intelligent discourse in such a careless environment?

    Hansen and Nazarenko 2004 implied that most of the warming in the Arctic was due to soot. Gavin did not disagree about that conclusion and Chris seems to have completely ignored that discussion which took place over several posts. Likewise, Zender 2007 said the same thing.

    [Response: You mischaracterise both H&N and my views. H&N and Zender did single factor experiments which produced more than proportionate warming in the Arctic because of soot. That’s fine. However, saying that ‘most of the observed warming’ is because of soot requires a full study of all the factors and an apportioning of the ‘blame’ (attribution) accordingly. When you do that you find that soot is *not* responsible for most of the warming – in fact, well-mixed greenhouse gases are (figure 9 in Hansen et al, 2007). You can’t just make up conclusions that do not follow from the studies you cite. – gavin]

    That is most certainly not the same thing as my saying that all Arctic warming is due to soot. I have no first hand information on the matter, and am simply interpreting other people’s writing.

    I’ve been hiking on large glaciers where the air temperature was in excess of 20C. Ice does not restrict the air temperature to close to zero, and if it did the Arctic would never melt. At the north pole, the sun never gets above 24 degrees declination. In order to get any significant melting under that condition temperatures well above freezing are required.

    [Response: “Well above freezing” at the North Pole? Care to be more specific? You aren’t going to get above 1 or 2 deg C. Melting occurs when the there is a net energy influx to the ice, which is not purely determined by the sensible heat fluxes. – gavin]

    I see a lot of very sloppy discourse going on over here and am disappointed. I expected better from RC.

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 10 Jul 2008 @ 10:52 AM

  506. #486

    “So there’s essentially no prospect of a negative forcing that will outweigh CO2 over the next 50 years or more.”

    Right, that is what is theorized. So, if global temperatures do not resume significantly upwards in the next 10-20 years (and there is no major volcanic eruption – even though this would only cause a brief 1-3 year drop in temperatures), I would think other major forcings would have to be considered. I certainly think CO2 is a climate forcing, but to me, the definitive proof of its dominance would be to overpower negative forcings from solar/ocean cycles. That would easily be enough to convince me that AGW theory is living up to its billing.

    Comment by Aaron — 10 Jul 2008 @ 11:51 AM

  507. #487

    Timothy said: “Why ten years, Aaron?

    We have seen the warming of the past century. Those negative feedbacks could have kicked in during any one of those decades.

    Why not twenty years from now?

    Why not thirty? Forty? Or a hundred years from now?”

    Well, Timothy, it actually does appear that negative feedbacks DID kick in during the 50s, 60s and 70s, as those decades did not see a rise in temperatures like the previous and following decades. Those years also coincided with a negative PDO phase and less El Ninos, which would lead one to believe those were major factors.

    So, many current predictions have us staying in a period of cooler ocean cycles and perhaps lower solar activity for the next 10-20 years. If that occurs, and if CO2 proves to be a much stronger climate forcing as modeled, then temperatures should at the very least remain steady and most likely rise. Then AGW/GHG theory will be substantiated by direct, empirical evidence that would most certainly silence most of its critics.

    Comment by Aaron — 10 Jul 2008 @ 11:59 AM

  508. BPL (493,4), If you interpret what was actually happening with the scientists and physicists in the 19th century and much of the 20th as a done deal fully growed everybody on board science, then, sorry, you are the one that is blind. And btw I for one would have no difficulty at all “dealing with it” if it was an old fully established science. I don’t understand why its actual youth drives you guys nuts…

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Jul 2008 @ 12:00 PM

  509. #494

    “No matter how many times you write that climate science is a young field, you will still be wrong. It isn’t. Deal with it.”

    Really? Then explain to me how such an advanced science can have such an incomplete understanding of oceanic/polar relationships? We still don’t know what drives ENSO, the PDO/NPI occilation wasn’t even discovered until the late 1990s and is still just in the beginning stages of being understood, scientists are still trying to figure out why there is such disparity in polar temperatures, etc.

    Sure, people have been studying climate for a long time, but compared to many other scientific fields, the knowledge/data stage is still in its infancy. Climate science is largely considered one of the last few true frontiers in science, because there is still so much to be discovered.

    Comment by Aaron — 10 Jul 2008 @ 12:10 PM

  510. Gavin – According to this RSS chart, it would appear that the vast majority of TMT is derived from altitudes less than 10km.

    It is difficult to see how factoring in a cooling stratosphere can account for the large discrepancy with Hansen’s 1980 middle troposphere prediction.

    [Response: But indeed it does – the issue is that the stratosphere is cooling much more than the troposphere is warming. You can see the model estimates of TMT in Table 2 in Hansen et al 2007 (you really should read this). RSS has a trend of 0.13 degC/dec, the coupled model has a trend of 0.14+/-0.01, UAH TMT is lower (0.05 degC/dec) indicating the structural uncertainty in the satellites is much wider than the uncertainty in the models. – gavin]

    Chris – you chose to ignore the rest of the Hansen 2004 discussion before you started throwing insults and accusations around. How do you expect to have intelligent or sane discourse in such an environment of rancor?

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 10 Jul 2008 @ 12:39 PM

  511. Re #497 Steve Goddard

    This isn’t really true either:

    “The fact that the models have more recently been adjusted to match empirical evidence in the Antarctic does not negate my point. Events have not proceeded “exactly as predicted” in the 1980s.”

    In fact, the very slow response to greenhouse gas-induced warming of the deep Southern latitudes and especially the Antarctic Circumpolar region (if that’s what you are referring to), was predicted from modelling in the 1980’s, and this can be established simply by looking at the relevant papers from the time. These are reviewed in a recent account:

    S. Manabe and R. J. Stouffer (2007) Role of Ocean in Global Warming; J. Meterolog. Soc. Jpn. 85B 385-403.

    Here’s a bit of a summary (direct excerpts are in italicised block quotes):

    Discussing the early models of Schneider and Thompson (1981) to evaluate the delay in the response of the sea surface temperature to gradual increase in CO2, Manabe and Stouffer say:

    “Their study shows that the time-dependent response of zonal mean surface temperature differs significantly from its equilibrium response particularly in those latitude belts, where the fraction of ocean-covered area is relatively large. Based upon the study, they conjectured that the response in the Southern Hemisphere should be delayed as compared to that in the Northern Hemisphere because of the inter-hemisphere difference in the fraction of the area covered by the oceans.”

    In a later model Bryan et al (1988) made the same sort of analysis, investigating the role of the oceans in modulating the response of surface warming to enhanced greenhouse gases.

    “They found that the increase in surface temperature is very small in the Circumpolar Ocean of the Southern Hemisphere in contrast to high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere where the increase is relatively large.”

    It’s not just the oceans per se of course. It’s also ocean and air currents, and particularly the mechanisms governing the efficiency of surface heat transfer into the deeper oceans. If this is efficient, the deep oceans will absorb heat and there might be little measured surface warming, at least for a while. So (speaking of Bryan et al (1988)) again:

    “However, the detailed analysis of the numerical experiment reveals that the absence of substantial surface warming in the Circumpolar Ocean is attributable not only to the large fraction of the area covered by the oceans but also to the deep penetration of positive temperature anomaly into the oceans.”

    Later models predict the same hemispherical asymmetry that is seen in the real world.

    e.g. discussing the simulations of Manabe et al (1992):

    “Figure 3 also reveals that there is a large asymmetry in surface warming between the two hemispheres. In the Northern Hemisphere, the surface warming increases with increasing latitude, and is particularly large in the Arctic Ocean. This is in sharp contrast to the Southern Hemisphere, where warming is relatively large in low latitudes and decreases with increasing latitudes. It becomes small in the Circumpolar Ocean of the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in the immediate vicinity of Antarctic Continent.”

    Why is this, one might ask?! Here’s what Manabe and Stouffer say:

    “One can ask: why the polar amplification of warming does not occur in the Southern Hemisphere, despite the existence of extensive sea ice which has a positive albedo feedback? As discussed in the following section, the absence of significant warming in the Circumpolar Ocean of the Southern hemisphere is attributable mainly to the large thermal inertia of the ocean, which results from very effective mixing between the surface layer and the deeper layers of ocean in this region. This is in sharp contrast to the Arctic Ocean, where very stable layer of halocline prevents mixing between the surface layer and the deeper layer of the ocean.”


    “In view of the absence of significant surface warming, it is not surprising that the area coverage of sea ice hardly changes in the Circumpolar Ocean despite the CO2-doubling.”

    (n.b. remember this is a prediction from a model; we’re nowhere near CO2 doubling yet!).

    Comment by Chris — 10 Jul 2008 @ 12:53 PM

  512. Re # 485 David Cooke: ” the PH of the ocean water has dropped to @ 7.4 …(However, the acid that appears to be contributing to the change in PH has not been documented, to my knowledge. This brings up the question of possible biologic decay and the acidic bacterial wastes generated as the bacteria break down dead phytoplankton in the oceans.)”

    David: To repeat what I wrote in another thread (CO2 is Not the Only Greenhouse Gas.. # 38), you really should try reading the literature on the subject of ocean acidification – I provided some references in that post, most of which are free access. If you can find the June 13 issue of Science (available in many public libraries), you should also check out the following article:

    Evidence for Upwelling of Corrosive “Acidified” Water onto the Continental Shelf
    Richard A. Feely, Christopher L. Sabine, J. Martin Hernandez-Ayon, Debby Ianson, Burke Hales
    Science 13 June 2008: Vol. 320. no. 5882, pp. 1490 – 1492 DOI: 10.1126/science.1155676;320/5882/1490

    That the increasing level of CO2 is causing acidification is very well documented. What acids are you thinking of?
    By the way, where did you read that the ocean pH has dropped to 7.4? The Feely et al article I cited above reports some values as low as 7.6, but most studies on ocean acidification report a pH of over 8, which still represents a drop of around 0.1 pH unit; this might seem like a small change, but the pH scale is logarithmic, and it reflects a significant drop in titratable alkalinity, or buffer capacity.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 10 Jul 2008 @ 1:29 PM

  513. Re #507


    Well, Timothy, it actually does appear that negative feedbacks DID kick
    This isn’t correct:
    in during the 50s, 60s and 70s, as those decades did not see a rise in temperatures like the previous and following decades. Those years also coincided with a negative PDO phase and less El Ninos, which would lead one to believe those were major factors.

    In fact the temperature statis during the 1950’s through early 70’s wasn’t due to “feedbacks” but had a major contribution from the atmospheric aerosols that effectively countered the relatively small increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations during this period (after all atmospheric [CO2] was around 300 ppm at the turn of the 18th/19th century, and had only reached 320 ppm by 1965). So it didn’t take a lot of cooling aerosols from our rather dirty emissions (pre-Clean-Air-Act days!) to counter a rather small forcing from enhanced atmospheric [CO2]

    e.g. see Figure 1 of Hansen et al (2005) “Earth’s energy imbalance: Confirmation and implications. Science, 308, 1431-1435

    Re #509


    This isn’t correct:

    Really? Then explain to me how such an advanced science can have such an incomplete understanding of oceanic/polar relationships? We still don’t know what drives ENSO, the PDO/NPI occilation wasn’t even discovered until the late 1990s and is still just in the beginning stages of being understood, scientists are still trying to figure out why there is such disparity in polar temperatures, etc.

    The “disparity in polar temperatures” is quite well understood. See my post #511 just above, for an account of what was known about this even in the 1980’s.

    And don’t fall for the fallacious argument that since we don’t know everything, that a scientific field is not rather advanced! The science of atmospheres and climate has been pursued since the days of Tyndall in the mid 19th century (it was known then that water vapour and CO2 were the dominant greenhouse gases that gave the Earth an “extra” 30 oC of warmth above its black body temperature…..Arrhenius knew already by the late 19th century that the Earth’s surface temperature rose in a linear fashion in response to logarithmic increases in atmospheric CO2…the study of the glacial – interglacial transitions was advancing in the 19th century and so on).

    So climate science certainly isn’t a young field! And the knowledge isn’t “still in its infancy”, and nor is it “one of the last few true frontiers in science” (what about the science of the mind…or the mechanisms and treatment of cancer….or the origin of the universe…or the origin of Life on Earth…and many other examples of scientific frontiers) I would say that climate science is a rather mature science which has taken on a renewed importance and focus in recent decades as a result of a compelling phenomenon – i.e. massive man-made enhancement of the earth’s greenhouse effect and its consequences) .

    Anyway, rather than playing semantic games about whether the science is young or old, and highlighting areas of residual uncertainty as if these negated an assessment of “maturity”, it makes more sense to ask a more constructuve question: e.g.:

    “is our knowledge and understanding of the climate system and its response to enhanced greenhouse gas forcing sufficient for us to make informed policy decisions with respect to our emissions and their future consequences?”

    Comment by Chris — 10 Jul 2008 @ 1:30 PM

  514. Aaron, #509

    Don’t be a fool.

    You’re talking about the NUMERICAL MODELS which is not the science.

    And since Newton’s gravitational theory is how many centuries old, why do we still not know WHY we feel gravitational force?

    We’ve know inertial mass and gravitational mass are equal.

    We still have no idea WHY. Higgs bosons may solve it, but we still aint seen them.

    Is gravity still a young science???

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2008 @ 1:41 PM

  515. Gavin,

    I did a Google search for news stories this month reporting that the North Pole might be ice-free this summer for the “first time.” Hundreds of them came up including from most major news outlets. This is particularly interesting since Lewis Pugh swam at the North Pole in open water in July, 2007 in a widely publicized story. How quickly they forget.

    Four days ago the north pole webcam was reporting 4.5C external temperature and there were significant sized pools of meltwater on top of the ice.
    Today the temperature is 0C and the meltwater is freezing over.

    Andy Revkin posted some good pictures showing dirty snow around moulins. From the air, the dirty snow in western Greenland is unmistakable.

    [Response: It’s not dirt. That’s mostly how dark old ice is. – gavin]

    I will read Hansen’s paper you referred to about stratospheric cooling.

    You seem to have implied earlier that the Arctic warm period in the 1940s was primarily due to soot. Is that a correct interpretation of your remark?

    [Response: No. I was just curious as to why you didn’t think so since you are so fond of the soot idea. It may have played a role, but without the full attribution studies, I can’t say. – gavin]

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 10 Jul 2008 @ 2:59 PM

  516. I’ve got back from work to find myself superfluous. :)

    Steve Goddard,

    I note you did not chose to explicitly answer my questions in #471. However in light of what I said in post #334, I am sure you got my point.

    Perhaps rather than throw around faux-accusations like “I see a lot of very sloppy discourse going on over here and am disappointed.” You may see the pattern of how much you are getting wrong and upon reflection desist from journalistic forays into a field you are evidently not currently able to comment upon. Some basic thermodynamics would have helped you with the following point:

    With regards air temperature being pegged to zero on the Arctic ice: As you don’t seem to be aware of the physics, perhaps some observations may help with this, check out NOAA’s webcam weather data: You can see how the temperature rises out of the winter, but levels at just below zero.

    Glaciers are not the Arctic, you’ve generally got breezes shifting heat off the bare mountains around or from ice-free lower areas. But just try taking the temperature in the relatively static air at foot level. Air is a good insulator and cooler air falls.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 10 Jul 2008 @ 3:04 PM

  517. #513 – Chris

    I am aware of the aerosol theory…however, one thing to consider is that this theory was created before the discovery of the PDO (which happens to coincide just about perfectly with that downturn in temps). Therefore, it is somewhat outdated…though still possible, it makes more sense to me that the negative PDO phase correlates with that period, since aerosols didn’t suddenly start effecting the atmosphere in the late 1940s and then just as suddenly stop in the late 1970s. A pretty sharp start and stop of that cooler period can be seen…

    “The “disparity in polar temperatures” is quite well understood. See my post #511 just above, for an account of what was known about this even in the 1980’s.”

    I understand there is some rationale behind it, but that doesn’t explain how the South Pole has not followed modeled temperature predictions. Or has it? I have read from several sources about how it was modeled to warm somewhat, but Antarctica as a whole has actually cooled in the past 30 years. There did not seem to be any consensus explanation of this from scientists.

    “Anyway, rather than playing semantic games about whether the science is young or old, and highlighting areas of residual uncertainty as if these negated an assessment of “maturity”, it makes more sense to ask a more constructuve question: e.g.:

    “is our knowledge and understanding of the climate system and its response to enhanced greenhouse gas forcing sufficient for us to make informed policy decisions with respect to our emissions and their future consequences?”

    I absolutely agree that the more important question (rather than how advanced/young climate science is) is what you wrote above? Although, that does get into politics a bit, and I prefer to separate discussion of science/politics as much as possible. Anyway, I personally do not think that our knowledge and understanding of the forces involved in climate change is sufficient for us to take drastic action at this time. But you are certainly entitled to disagree with that.

    Comment by Aaron — 10 Jul 2008 @ 3:31 PM

  518. RE: 512

    Hey Chuck,

    There were a number of articles that were released between 3 July and 4 July relating to work by Dr. Le Quéré that was linked to my weekly NASA Science News list of articles.

    In a offshoot from one of the stories listed there, via a Yahoo link, an article appeared where the author picked up some erroneous data and now I have Parroted it and the article has been corrected. (My memory of the article discussed that the values in the Southern Ocean has been as low as 7.4.)

    From my memory, the article references were two fold, there was the discussion by Dr. Feely and his 2007 and 2007 analysis of the Pacific coast in response to highly acidic upwelling waters on the Pacific coast of North America and the discussion of geologic vents generating solutions with up to a ph of 7.4 and it’s influence on sea life. Though the article abstracts in AAAS and the oceanacidification organization that suggests that the average value was more like a drop of 0.1 units from 8.1 or 8.0 to 8.0 or 7.9

    The second reference was to Dr. Le Quéré’s work in the Southern Ocean and the Carbon uptake being limited. (Apparently, it was not until she plugged in the variance identified as sourced by anthropogenic CO2 that the data she was researching appeared to make sense.)

    In addition, there has been a rash of articles since last Fall regarding oceanic CO2 uptake linked to the projection that between 2100 and 2300 the ocean could return to a ph of 7.4, which it has not been at in over 21My.

    As to CO2 being a participating GHG I am quite aware of the other participants as the CDIAC has a great set of references of proposed participants. (The primary participant being water vapor, which of course takes us far off the topic.)

    As to my concern of published data in regards to the acidic values there has not been a reference I have viewed that has come out and claimed that the rise in ph was due to Carbonic Acid. I have read that there are areas of surface water where there are deviations in values; however, I have not seen a study that defines the various acids in ocean water solution at depth and the changes there in.

    Let me try a different approach Chuck. Do you or anyone else participating here have a reference as to the types of acids collected by oceanic sampling that indicates both the depth and the temperature at the time of the sample? (For clarification, I am looking for acid content in solution not ph.)

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 10 Jul 2008 @ 4:02 PM

  519. I’m perplexed. Some here are simply pointing out that there were very few folks working with what we know call climate science until almost mid-20th century. (…matter of fact it was probably the military’s work on radar in WWII that gave its big boost…), or at least through the 19th century. And hardly anyone paid those few folks any heed. It seems neither difficult nor profound nor meaningful to conclude it was then considerably less than an established science. And that, by common logic, would kinda make it “young” today — even if advancing rapidly. Yet the bonkers reaction here is like we’ve thrown a smidgeon of dirt on your dogma and creed, and if it creates even the teeniest of doubt, right or wrong, (which it shouldn’t) it might put the tenet of AGW in jeopardy and must be killed. Boggles the mind.

    After Chris falls into the mire within his long post 513, he (surprisingly?) then concludes with the only meaningful and pertinent thought, IMO, in this nonsense.

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Jul 2008 @ 4:42 PM

  520. Re #519 Rod:

    Have you got a specific problem with my post #513? After all, one shouldn’t pretend or assume that things that we do know quite well, aren’t known. Or don’t you think so? So if we know pretty well:

    (i) why the global temperature was rather “flattish” during 1945ish – to early 1970’s ish….


    (ii) why the high Northern latitudes are undergoing considerable more warming under the influence of excess greenhouse forcing than the high Southern latitudes….

    it seems pertinent to point these out in the context of Aaron’s posts.

    I’m curious to know in what sense you consider that I’ve “fallen into the mire” by addressing those points? After all one can only benefit from clarification of our knowledge and understanding. I thought that was the point of all these threads! I certainly didn’t feel like I’d been “mired” in taking the few moments to clarify those particular issues…

    in any case you seem intent in “re-engaging” with the “mire”. I would have thought that the fact that Tyndall et al knew already in the mid-19th century that CO2 and water vapour were the dominant greenhouse gases (they make us 30 oC warmer than the poor Earth “should be”!)…and that Arrhenius worked out already in the late 19th century that the Earths surface temperature responds linearly to logarithmic changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations…and so on…really does establish atmospheric and climate science as being an endeavour of rather deep historical provenance. Frankly those guys in the 19th century had more or less worked out most of the essentials that inform us now!

    Comment by Chris — 10 Jul 2008 @ 5:20 PM

  521. Andy Revkin posted some good pictures showing dirty snow around moulins

    Not being funny, but have you never heard of till? What you are mistaking for “dirt” (soot?) does contain an amount of aerosol and windblown dust, however, the bulk of what you’re looking at is rock dust and debris which has been ground from the bed over which the glacier/icesheet is sliding.

    This till has been forced up to or deposited on or near the surface by any number of different processes. Including rapid melt induced hydro-fracturing.

    Near the snout of a glacier, where ablation is strongest, the till tends to concentrate as the ice melts back. As a result the glacier gets ‘dirtier and dirtier’ until such time as all is left is a pile of till…which is then called moraine!

    Comment by Hugh — 10 Jul 2008 @ 5:22 PM

  522. Rod B (519) — And also physics, cosmology, astronomy, biology, geology, materials science, horticultue, agronomy, genetics, …

    Almost all scientists, by count, are currently alive.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Jul 2008 @ 5:31 PM

  523. This argument about whether climate science is young or old is getting absurd. Let’s try to stay on topic.

    [Response: well said – gavin]

    Comment by Jeff — 10 Jul 2008 @ 5:32 PM

  524. Re: #505/510 Steve Goddard:

    Where are the “insults” and “rancour” of which you speak? Pointing out the mendacity of misrepresenting scientists by “stitching” together parts of sentences from their papers so as to create a false representation of their work (see my post #499), is not an “insult”. I hope we would agree that one should highlight lies and misrepresentation where we encounter it.

    Anyway, the point is to establish what the science “says” on a particular subject, in this case the possible contributions of soot (black carbon) to Arctic warming and sea ice melting.

    I’ll itemise (sketchily!) what I consider to be the scientific understanding on “soot” as it stands, and number these for easy reference. You can then easily highlight what you consider to be problematic/erroneous. I’ll use the term “black carbon” (abbrev. BC) in place of your “soot”, but we can assume (unless someone tells us otherwise) that they are equivalent.

    1. Hansen and Nazarenko [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (2004)] identified BC as a potentially major contributor to reduced albedo of ice and snow in both polar and mountain glacial locales.

    2. These authors later reassessed the impact of BC albedo effects. They consider that the total contribution of BC albedo effects on ice/snow to be equivalent to a contribution of 0.065 oC to total global warming since 1880 [Hansen et al. (2007)]. This doesn’t preclude significant local effects on especially spring snowmelt.

    3. A detailed analysis of BC in Greenland ice cores [McConnell et al (2007)] defines the deposition of BC from industrial emissions since the start of the “industrial age” (1850ish). These authors show that (at least in the Greenland ice cores sampled) the greatest effects of black carbon on Artic ice occurred in the period rising from around 1900 to 1930, and then dropping back down to low levels by 1950, with occasional pulses (due to forest fires) from then.

    So the dominant effects of black carbon on Arctic ice albedo seem to have been in the early to mid 20th century, and perhaps that was a significant contribution to the Arctic warmth in the early part of the 20th century. The median estimated surface forcing (during early summer) was around 0.42 W/m2 before 1850, and was around 1.13 W/m2 in the period 1850-1951, with values as high as 3.2 Wm2 in the early 20th century. It’s been around 0.59 W/m2 since 1951 to present.

    Like Gavin, I’m surprised (see your post #497 and his responses) that you didn’t consider the possible role for BC in early-mid 20th century warming, considering that BC deposition in the Arctic regions seems to have been extremely strong in these periods!

    4. Note that Dr. Charles Zender (who you speak of) is a coauthor on McConnell et al (2007) cited in point #3 just above.

    5. Zender (2007) of which you refer (your post #505) doesn’t seem to exist. It’s possible that you are referring to Flanner et al (2007) on which Dr. Zender is also a coauthor. These authors modelled the effect of BC on global land and sea ice snow pack in 1998 (a strong boreal fire year) and 2001 (a weak boreal fire year) and determined that BC makes a strong contribution to albedo reduction coincident with snowmelt onset especially in years (like 1998) with lots of BC from boreal fires. The forcing during spring over the Tibetan plateau is especially marked….

    6. While BC makes a contribution to warming and snow/ice melt due to surface deposition and reduction of albedo, the overall contribution of atmospheric aerosols (of which BC is a presently a non-seperable part) to the global thermal balance seems to be rather strongly cooling. This is apparent from the balance of forcings [e.g. see Hansen et al (2005) and Hansen et al (2007) again].

    7. This point is explicitly discussed in a very recent review on BC and atmospheric brown clouds (ABC’s) by Ramanathan and Carmichael (2008). As indicated by the estimated forcings (tabulated at the bottom of my post #499 above) the overall aerosol forcing is globally a strong cooling one. Thus while BC may well be contributing to Arctic warming and sea ice melt (more likely it’s main contribution was during the earlier parts of the 20th century – see point #3 above), overall the manmade aerosol effect on Arctic warming/sea ice melting is not clear. It may be a net cooling one, it may be a net warming one, it may be about neutral…

    8. and so on…..

    J. Hansen and L. Nazarenko (2004) “Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101, 423-428

    Hansen, J. et al. (2005) Efficacy of climate forcings; J. Geophys. Res., 110, D18104

    Hansen, J et al. (2007) Climate simulations for 1880-2003 with GISS modelE. Clim. Dynam., 29, 661-696

    M. G. Flanner et al (2007) Present-day climate forcing and response from black carbon in snow J.Geophy. Res. 112, D11202

    J. R. McConnell et al (2007) 20th-century industrial black carbon emissions altered arctic climate forcing; Science 317, 1381-1384.

    V. Ramanathan & G. Carmichael (2008) Global and regional climate changes due to black carbon; Nature Geoscience 1, 221-227.

    Comment by Chris — 10 Jul 2008 @ 5:34 PM

  525. #500 Ray Ladbury:

    “…when someone shows me that I am wrong, I usually thank them for their efforts. This is one reason why I am still happily married.”

    Now there’s some useful advice we can all take home with us, regardless of what we believe we know!

    #502 LG Norton:

    I’m not believing anything until I see a fleet of submarines emerge in front the camera.

    #505 Steven Goddard:

    Steven, I don’t think anybody else here has come close to being as nasty to you as I’ve been, and you shouldn’t even consider me as “here” because I’m an arriviste at RC. (In any case I’m reforming my RC character, taking a cue from Gavin.) I do hope you’ll sincerely reassess your published remarks about Dr. Hansen in light of your own feelings about how you’re treated here, and even more I hope you’ll bring whatever you’re considering including in future articles here for “peer review” via fact checking and critique of your accuracy. It may not always prove pleasant, but your work will be the better for it.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 10 Jul 2008 @ 5:52 PM

  526. Gavin,

    A good flight to see Greenland is London to San Francisco in late summer or early autumn. The flights generally go near Nuuk and you can plainly see the very dirty snow along the western margins of ice sheet. Miles and miles of dark grey to nearly black snow. There is a reason why Zender and Hansen have recognized that dirty snow is a major contributor to melting.

    [Response: That’s not because of soot. – gavin]

    So my curiosity is peaking about 1940 Greenland. It was warmer in 1940 than now, yet CO2 levels were lower. We can’t quantify the soot factor or the “natural variability” factor. So how can anyone say with any degree of confidence what has caused the warming over the last 25 years?

    [Response: Because it is coherent with warming all over the world. – gavin]

    And what is causing the exceptionally cold summer they are having this year?

    Will there be any Earth Observatory papers published about the low number of melt days on Greenland this summer, and will they make headlines at the BBC?

    [Response: ‘Exceptional cold’? Perhaps you’d care to point out some basis for that? – but even if correct, it’s just the weather. The climate changes are about the trends. – gavin]

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 10 Jul 2008 @ 5:55 PM

  527. David Cooke writes several places above that he is unaware of any reason that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide will increase ocean pH or that the observed increase in ocean pH is due to carbon dioxide, as opposed to something else.

    Possibly excess citric acid from a surfeit of orange peels?

    C’mon. Don’t pretend ignorance, it’s unglorious.

    Look it up. Good grief. You know how to find these:

    Anthropogenic carbon and ocean pH
    K Caldeira, ME Wickett – Nature, 2003 –
    … methane hydrate degassing. When carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean it lowers the pH, making the ocean more acidic. Owing to a …
    Cited by 161

    Reduced calcification of marine plankton in response to increased atmospheric CO2.
    U Riebesell, I Zondervan, B Rost, PD Tortell, RE … – Nature, 2000 –
    … exchange. The present rise in atmospheric CO2 levels causes significant changes in surface ocean pH and carbonate chemistry. Such …
    Cited by 195

    Middle Eocene Seawater pH and Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations
    PN Pearson, MR Palmer – Science, 1999 –
    … The carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere [measured as the partial … pCO 2 )] affects the content of the surface ocean, which in turn affects seawater pH. …
    Cited by 71

    [PDF] Accelerating carbonate dissolution to sequester carbon dioxide in the ocean: Geochemical
    K Caldeira, GH Rau – Geophysical Research Letters, 2000 –
    … Cretaceous mass extinction — possible biogeochemical stabilization of the carbon cycle and … and HJ Herzog, Near field impacts of reduced pH from ocean CO …
    Cited by 44

    Carbon dioxide on the early earth
    JCG Walker – Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, 1985 – Springer
    … on the pH of the ocean. Equilibria in the carbonate system are illustrated in Figure 2 as functions of P, the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in bars, and …
    Cited by 80 …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jul 2008 @ 6:06 PM

  528. RE: #518

    “What kind of acids” isn’t going to help. Strong acids completely (or nearly so) dissociate when in solution – in other words the acid part (H+) and the anion part (various) separate. Weak acids will stay, in part, as a molecule – and carbonic acid is weak – but these amounts depend on the equilibrium concentration of the ions NOT where they came from originally. For example, I could make a solution from sodium chloride and dissolved carbon dioxide, and also make the exact same solution from sodium carbonate and hydrochloric acid. First year chemistry.

    If the pH shift isn’t caused by dissolved Carbon dioxide, then what do you propose is causing it?

    Comment by Paul Melanson — 10 Jul 2008 @ 6:15 PM

  529. Steven Goddard @ 515:

    This is particularly interesting since Lewis Pugh swam at the North Pole in open water in July, 2007 in a widely publicized story. How quickly they forget.

    Lewis Pugh swam in a lead. There have been leads of various sizes at or near the pole in late summer, many times, over the decades. Everyone who knows anything about the pole knows this. There are many, many photos of submarines and/or ice-breaking vessels at the pole, some in leads. There was a story in 2000, discussed at enormous and tedious length earlier in this very comment thread, concerning a lead of a few kilometres at the pole.

    The story this year, as anyone with basic reading ability should be aware, is that arctic sea ice experts (such as Serreze at the NSIDC) believe there might be open ocean at the pole this year. Not leads. Open ocean. As in, navigable, not by ice breakers but by regular surface vessels, all the way from a coast (possibly Alaskan), to the pole.

    Not leads. Open ocean.

    Do you understand the difference between a lead and open ocean?

    No experts are saying that this will happen this year. That depends on the weather. But it might happen. We have ten weeks of melt season left, and all the ice north of the Beaufort Sea is looking decidedly iffy.

    Four days ago the north pole webcam was reporting 4.5C external temperature and there were significant sized pools of meltwater on top of the ice.

    Firstly, please bear in mind that the north pole webcam is not at the north pole. It’s at 84.8 degrees north. It’s about as far from the pole as London is from Aberdeen or Lyon. So citing it to discuss conditions at the pole itself is just plain daft. Here’s the map showing this year’s station drift:

    Secondly, that same webpage has a graph of the temperature so far this year, from the weather station. You’ll see that the temperature rises in the spring, and then plateaus at zero. That’s the latent heat of the ice, keeping it there. The effect is even more visible in the actual weather data:

    The temperature reported is very stable, between about -3 and +1, 24/7, for many weeks.

    However, the webcam images themselves show temperature, as recorded by a sensor on the webcam itself. This is not official weather station air temperature; it’s the temperature of a sensor on the camera. The webcam information page says: “The temperature shown on the image is the temperature of the camera, and may be warmer than the surrounding air temperature (think about how your car heats up on a sunny day)”. 4.5 degrees might indicate exposure to sunlight; as you can see in the pictures until 7th July the webcam was exposed to sunlight. However, you’ll notice that the webcam was moved between 7th and 9th of July, from one side of a white structure to another. Out of the sun, possibly? And if you look at the most recent picture from webcam 1, you will see a meltpond – the same meltpond as in all the pictures taken by that camera this July:

    Lastly, the picture you refer is not from “Four days ago”. It’s from 1st July, nine days ago (day 183).

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 10 Jul 2008 @ 6:34 PM

  530. Gavin,

    The NCEP maps have been showing southern Greenland 2-10 degrees below normal all summer. More recently, the cold has moved north as well.

    [Response: I saw that, but NCEP is neither climatology nor real data and may have significant biases over significant topography and far from input data. But it isn’t really important. – gavin]

    I assert that until an adequate explanation is given for 1940 Greenland warming, any theories about current warming are not on solid footing. CO2 was considerably lower in 1940, yet temperatures were higher.

    [Response: This is nonsense. Greenland is not the world – and fixating on remote places with poor data quality is simply cherry picking. Maybe I could explain everything that had ever happened in Greenland, would the next comment be how without an adequate explanation of changes in Ulan Bator, or Diego Garcia no theories can be on solid footing? Please, be serious.]

    A very interesting study would be to correlate the NASA Greenland melt maps with snow albedo. My guess is that they would line up quite closely.

    [Response: Of course: wet snow is darker than fresh snow and ice is darker than snow and water is darker than ice – this has been known for decades, if not centuries. It’s just another one of those darn positive feedbacks…. -gavin]

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 10 Jul 2008 @ 6:50 PM

  531. Hoy! Someone never seen blowing dust, dirt, even blowing little rocks in the Arctic. Quite common in the spring, summer or fall, dirtying glaciers , big ones and small ones alike, a clue on the big ones, there is more dirt on the edges, many lands have no soil in the Arctic. Also temperature variances at the North Pole, I can tell stories, when its very warm there when it shouldn’t be and very cold when it shouldn’t be. Weather is weather, not always directly proportional to sun disk elevation (declination??…. at the equator perhaps) , always a matter of so many other factors. Like the Polar Ice Cap, which seems to be vanishing more from the Pacific side of the Pole. Having lots of ice at the Pole now is not because it is colder there, the chap who swam last year at this time could have done the same thing in March when it was -35 C, this happens on occasions, there is extra flowing ice towards the Pole now a days (compression for the ice connaisseur). The summer melt is not over, and it usually happens near the continents. To have a solid idea of what is happening would be to have. as someone wrote, an ice volume check, or an ice thickness map, just to have a better idea of the melting, extent is a matter of momentum and winds on most occasions. NOAA sat pics makes it hard to tell whether there is still a significant surviving ice thickness for the first year type. Hold on to your guns quick draw McGraws! But show me an ice thickness link, and lets see….

    Comment by wayne davidson — 10 Jul 2008 @ 7:16 PM

  532. Re #528

    to add a quantitative perspective to your post….

    Yes carbonic acid is not a strong acid. However it is pretty much fully dissociated (to bicarbonate and H+) in sea water, since the pKa defining the equilibrium dissociation is very much below the pH of sea water:

    so for:

    H2CO3 (carbonic acid) = = = = = HCO3- (bicarbonate) + H+

    the pKa is around 6.4

    the pH of sea water is around 7.8-8.0ish. We can calculate the degree of dissociation of carbonic acid to bicarbonate using the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation! Thus:

    pH = pKa + log ([base]/[acid]) (with bicarbonate and carbonic acid being the “base” and “acid” in this instance)

    so in sea water at pH 7.8 [bicarbonate]/[carbonic acid] = 10^(7.8-6.4) = 15.8

    and at pH 8.0 = 39.8

    in other words, although carbonic acid is not a particularly strong acid, 94% or more of the molecules of CO2 that partition from the atmosphere into the ocean surface waters and become hydrated to carbonic acid, dissociate to bicarbonate and release a proton into the surrounds…..

    Comment by Chris — 10 Jul 2008 @ 7:29 PM

  533. Meanwhile, in the middle of the winter near the other pole:

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Jul 2008 @ 7:41 PM

  534. Steven Goddard, Just a suggestion. Maybe, just maybe you might have been better received here had you not accused the entire scientific community of fraud. Real scientists take accusations like that pretty seriously and do not throw it around lightly. Now you show up here [edit] -and it appears your knowledge of climate is quite confused. Moreover, even though you are at one of the premier resources for learning about climate, you are more interested in pontificating and telling us how disappointed you are that you’ve been ill received by some. I have to say, sir, that you did not disappoint me. You were about what I expected.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Jul 2008 @ 7:49 PM

  535. Does anyone else have the feeling this thread and another recent thread have been hijacked by several libertarians home on summer break. They are not the people for whom RC has an obligation to win over. Their questions, retorts, topic choices are worthy of debate topics in a contrarian society monthly meeting.

    It is not irresponsible to ignore trolls and mischief makers. They have motives different from commenters seeking answers to questions they cannot, or have failed to, find answers on their own. Help the latter and ignore the former. That is my advice. Likely we would walk away from the former if we confronted them at a party or social gathering having given them the opportunity to show their real intent.

    They will not leave but you patient, knowing and generous souls do not have to encourage them either.

    John McCormick

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 10 Jul 2008 @ 8:00 PM

  536. Aaron, Actually, I think your examples of PDO and ENSO are pretty good examples of why climate science is mature. After all, they are not climatic themselves, but rather part of the noise that obscures climatic trends on short timescales. When a field is sufficiently advanced that it has the luxury of characterizing the noise on its subject matter as well as its subject matter, that is pretty mature (think electronics).
    And still you have not given us a single candidate for an alternative driver that can explain the trends we are seeing. Do you have one or do you just not want to admit there is no other viable answer except anthropogenic causation.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Jul 2008 @ 8:34 PM

  537. Chris (520), actually I was referring to only part of your post 513, the part dealing with young and old, not the science substance. It’s the young-old debate that I think is inane and was pleased when you extricated yourself from it with your closing words of wisdom, which I heartily endorse. Then, unable to pass up a road mine when you see one, I guess, you jumped right back into the fray in #520.

    I said, “…very few folks working [in] … climate science …. at least through the 19th century. … hardly anyone paid those few folks any heed. … [so couldn’t be] an established science.” You now say (paraphrasing), ‘but Hey! Two lonely guys [I’ll grant, maybe a couple more] did some stuff back then [that everybody else gave short shrift to], but turned out [a number of decades or so ago] to be pretty good.’

    Even though you’re saying, in essence, the same as I, you somehow claim this validates it as a long-established science. I think this is an amazing logical conclusion… though it might be good for the dogma protection.

    But, whatever…

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Jul 2008 @ 9:19 PM

  538. Ray (500), mostly I was just pulling your chain (hint: a winking smiley face). I just thought the juxtaposition of Twain’s words about the worst stuff is “what we know for sure that just ain’t so” with your words of the unassailable unchallengeable climate science that you know for sure was a tad ironic.

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Jul 2008 @ 9:29 PM

  539. RE: 532, 528, 527

    Hey Chris,

    If I understand you correctly, are you suggesting that the dissolved Carbonic Acid disassociates and forms bicarbonate and hydrogen? Is this to be taken as a suggestion for the observed reduction in oceanic Carbonic Acid? Certainly the observed AGW CO2 participation dissolved in the ocean should have a clear isotope marker, which should also be visible in the calcium carbonate formation.

    Hey Paul,

    Contrary to to the feedback I am seeing, I am not suggesting that CO2 is not driving ocean acidity. I am simply curious if the observed ocean ph change could be related to other biologic processes. Especially in the recent light of the expansion of “Dead Zones”, oceanic turn over, and discoveries a few years back suggesting the gases released by decaying phytoplankton could have been participating in the formation of clouds.

    Hey Hank,

    It is clear that scientists with greater education then I have established an AGW GHG/Oceanic Acidity association. It is clear that for the significant data vacuum, as observed by Dr. Le Quéré, the AGW GHG participation seems to resolve the issues regarding observations of ocean CO2 uptake.

    There is data by NOAA, the SeaWiffs satellite package and the Woods Hole Institute that demonstrates phytoplankton blooms in regions of high nutrient run off. There are also recent studies that support the observation of high amounts of dimethyl sulfides in regions containing decaying phytoplankton found on the west coast of North America, the South Pacific, the North Sea and the Southern Ocean.
    ( ) For me this leads me to the question of, whether or not biologic processes could explain limited oceanic CO2 uptake?

    My main interest in the content of participants in the column remains. Especially in light of what I sense is a limiting mixing factor caused by a reduction in Wind/Wave interaction in the Temperate Zones ( ) and a warming of the Sea Surface Temperatures. Restated, my main interest is identifying the ocean column acid content at this time. However, if as Paul suggests, acids disassociate in solution/brine, that this may not be possible.

    At risk of being redundant, I am curious whether or not you may have a reference that addresses the question I posed to Chuck? Not that the conclusions in the studies are incorrect, only that I am curious as to the balance of participants in the ocean column. If you have supplied it, I must have missed it in the plethora of studies you have provided. (Oh BTW, have you seen the latest they are actually deploying buoys starting this past week that measure PH.)

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 10 Jul 2008 @ 9:54 PM

  540. Chris (532), I might have missed it, but I have a basic question. Does the extensive dissociation of carbonic acid in seawater mean that there is very little if any CO2 dissolved as molecular CO2? I think you said maybe 6% of all absorbed CO2. Does this apply to fresh water (ballpark)? Is it just the 6% “pure” CO2 solute that is the parameter in Henry’s law, or is the CO2 dissociated into carbonic acid considered as part of the solute for Henry’s law?

    Thanks for any help.

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Jul 2008 @ 9:55 PM

  541. Steven Goddard, you’re getting ridiculous, and I’m surprised gavin has chose to continue responding

    before the satellite era, all you have to represent that thousand-plus-mile-long ice sheet and surrounding land is a handful of mostly-southern, all-coastal stations (so anyone who actually says that they know what Greenland was doing should be viewed with doubts). Most people have Greenland a bit warmer now, but with lots of uncertanties.

    Global warming so far is nearly 1 degree. That is large compared to decadal-average global-average variability, so we can see the warming signal clearly. But, it is not large compared to variability over shorter times and smaller areas, so it is virtually guaranteed that there are still places that are not (yet) anomalously warm, or record warm, or what have you. The smaller the area and shorter the interval, the larger the variability. Greenland is large, but much smaller than the globe. The earlier warming seems to have had a bit of solar, a bit of lack-of-volcanic, maybe a bit of ocean (Atlantic Meridional Oscillation), and possibly some black carbon (see the piece by McConnell et al. 2007 in Science).

    Comment by Chris Colose — 10 Jul 2008 @ 10:11 PM

  542. Re # 518 David Cooke:

    there has not been a reference I have viewed that has come out and claimed that the rise in ph was due to Carbonic Acid.

    No surprise there, since the addition of carbonic acid lowers the pH of an aqueous solution. As for ocean acidity, as I noted earlier, ocean acidification has been documented by the drop in pH, but also the decrease in titratable alkalinity (TA; sometimes referred to as acid neutralizing capacity, ANC) – that decrease in TA is essentially a measure of acidity. Ocean chemistry has been studied pretty intensively for the past 100 years, or so; any good university library will have chemical oceanography textbooks that summarize what is known.
    What acids do you think would be produced by bacteria? And why do you think these acids would be sufficient in sufficient quantity to lower the pH of the world’s oceans?
    And why do you think the measured increase in CO2 partial pressure in the ocean is insufficient to explain the observed declines in pH and TA? This is pretty fundamental aquatic chemistry (it applies to your blood plasma equally well).

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 10 Jul 2008 @ 11:28 PM

  543. In response to Aaron

    I had said in 487:

    Why ten years, Aaron?

    We have seen the warming of the past century. Those negative feedbacks could have kicked in during any one of those decades.

    Why not twenty years from now?

    Why not thirty? Forty? Or a hundred years from now?

    Aaron responds in 507:

    Well, Timothy, it actually does appear that negative feedbacks DID kick in during the 50s, 60s and 70s, as those decades did not see a rise in temperatures like the previous and following decades.

    The northern hemisphere actually saw cooling for through much of the mid-forties to early seventies. In contrast, the southern hemisphere saw statistically significant cooling for only one year — and globally we experienced statistically significant cooling for only six years.

    Please see:

    August 17, 2007

    Mainstream science attributes the cooling to the effects of anthropogenic reflective aerosols. Such tropospheric aerosols have a half-life of approximately seven days — which explains why their effects were predominantly in the industrialized Northern Hemisphere, not the Southern.


    The IPCC considers the role of aerosols uncontroversial enough that they state it matter-of-factly in a Faq:

    From about 1940 to 1970 the increasing industrialization following World War II increased pollution in the Northern Hemisphere, contributing to cooling, and increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases dominate the observed warming after the mid-1970s.

    IPCC 2007: WG1-AR4, Faqs, pg. 104.

    Likewise we know that as the result of environmental laws were put in place in the major industrialized nations (e.g., the United States and countries in Western Europe) which reduced such pollution in the early seventies — and with the reduction in aerosols we saw the beginning of the modern era of global warming ~1975.

    Last time I checked, anthropogenic reflective aerosols were not a feedback to carbon dioxide.


    Aaron continues:

    Those years also coincided with a negative PDO phase and less El Ninos, which would lead one to believe those were major factors.

    Ah — climate modes… At least one for every ocean basin. The Pacific Ocean has ENSO, PDO, the mock-El Nino by Japan, and then of course there is the Indian Diapole — although I am not sure that the last of these would count as a climate mode of the Pacific Ocean.

    I believe you are right: there is a causal relationship between climate modes and global warming. However, there is reason to think that the causation flows in the opposite direction. This view has been a part of the literature for some time.

    Please see for example:

    Abstract: A crucial question in the global-warming debate concerns the extent to which recent climate change is caused by anthropogenic forcing or is a manifestation of natural climate variability. It is commonly thought that the climate response to anthropogenic forcing should be distinct from the patterns of natural climate variability. But, on the basis of studies of nonlinear chaotic models with preferred states or ‘regimes’, it has been argued2,3 that the spatial patterns of the response to anthropogenic forcing may in fact project principally onto modes of natural climate variability. Here we use atmospheric circulation data from the Northern Hemisphere to show that recent climate change can be interpreted in terms of changes in the frequency of occurrence of natural atmospheric circulation regimes. We conclude that recent Northern Hemisphere warming may be more directly related to the thermal structure of these circulation regimes than to any anthropogenic forcing pattern itself. Conversely, the fact that observed climate change projects onto natural patterns cannot be used as evidence of no anthropogenic effect on climate. These results may help explain possible differences between trends in surface temperature and satellite-based temperature in the free atmosphere.

    Corti S., F. Molteni, and T. N. Palmer, 1999: Signature of recent climate change in frequencies of natural atmospheric circulation regimes. Nature, 398, 799–802

    During periods of global warming, ENSO tends to be in a positive phase (more El Ninos which are stronger and last longer) and the North Atlantic Oscillation and tends to be in a positive phase. The reason being? The system is chaotic and sensitive to its environment, particularly the forcing, whether it is solar in origin or due to greenhouse gases. In the troposphere at least there is very little difference between the two and how they affect the climate system. However, with warming due to solar forcing, one expects both the troposphere and the stratosphere to warm (with the ultraviolet of increased sunlight being absorbed in the stratosphere by ozone), whereas with greenhouse gases one expects the stratosphere to cool while the troposphere warms — as the increased opacity of the atmosphere below the tropopause to infrared radiation reduces the thermal radiation reaching the stratosphere. I will give you the answer in a little bit, but you might try guessing which way the trend in mid-stratospheric temperatures has been — while the tropospheric temperatures have been rising.


    Do you understand what a climate mode does? Let’s consider the example of El Nino.

    Here is a fairly basic explanation:

    For example, there’s a pool of warm water in the western pacific ocean. When this pool of warm water spreads out, it’s exposed to more air, and exchanges more heat with the atmosphere. This tends to raise the air temperature, and therefore raise global average surface air temperature (“SAT”); this phenomenon is called “el Nino.” During strong el Nino years, global average SAT tends to be higher; at other times (generally called “la Nina”) global average SAT is lower. That’s why 1998 was the 2nd-warmest year on record according to HadCRU, the warmest according to GISS; 1998 was a very strong el Nino. The completely natural exchange of energy among earth’s systems leads to natural climate variability.

    Wherefore art thou warming? Part 2
    December 5, 2006

    Climate oscillations aren’t magic. They don’t cause energy to disappear or reappear. What they do is move this heat content around. Warm salty water sinks, cool fresh water rises — and perhaps it will have something to do with the trade winds. But the heat is still there. And until the surface temperature rises to a sufficient degree for the thermal radiation it emits to compensate for the increased opacity of the atmosphere, there will be an imbalance between the rate at which energy enters the climate system and the rate at which energy leaves the climate system. And the heat content will go up.

    They are called “climate oscillations” for a reason: they cause the climate to “oscillate.” They always give back what they take from the climate system — only later. They don’t cause trends and they can’t explain why the planet has warmed since the beginning of the twentieth century any more than a magician can pull a quarter out of your ear.


    Aaron continues:

    So, many current predictions have us staying in a period of cooler ocean cycles and perhaps lower solar activity for the next 10-20 years.

    Who predicts this and on the basis of what?

    I know that the Hadley Centre predicted a couple more years or so “no-trend” earlier this year, but this was by taking into account ocean circulation and the distribution of heat content in the ocean. Particularly El Nino. And afterwards? The temperatures continue their long trajectory upward.


    Regarding solar activity — if this were the dominant cause of global warming, one would expect the stratosphere to warm while the troposphere warms. But what we have seen is the opposite. If the sun were responsible for twentieth century global warming, one would expect solar irradiance to have increased along with global warming. However, but for the normal cyclical behavior, the sun has been more or less flat since 1951 — and in fact it trended somewhat down during the latter part of the twentieth century.

    The reason why we conclude that carbon dioxide is the primary forcing in the recent rise in temperature isn’t simply one of correlation. We know from spectral analysis that it absorbs and emits thermal radiation. We know its distribution in the atmosopheric column.

    We can measure it’s emissions at different altitudes. We can image those emissions from satellites at a variety of altitudes, measure it from planes, balloons and the surface. We have spectral measurements of atmospheric constituents at over a million different wavelengths. As such, the forcing due to carbon dioxide is well-known. We can do the same with solar variability, and while the exact effects of aerosols are more uncertain given their diversity and distribution, no such difficulties exist in the case of solar variability or carbon dioxide.

    In fact, this is what pictures such as the following rely upon for measuring concentrations of greenhouse gases at various altitudes:

    NASA AIRS Mid-Tropospheric (8km) Carbon Dioxide

    The image is carbon dioxide at 8 km. You will notice the plumes rising off the heavily populated east and west coast of the United States. What is being measured is the infrared radiation being absorbed and then reemitted by carbon dioxide. The thicker the carbon dioxide, the more opaque the atmosphere becomes to the infrared radiation in that channel. So in essence, you are seeing the enhanced greenhouse effect in action when you look at that photo.

    The forcings due to solar variability and carbon dioxide are given with a fair degree of accuracy by the following GISS data:

    In watts per square meter, forcing due to well-mixed greenhouse gasses relative to 1880 was 1.6053 in 1978 and was 2.7487 in 2003. Given the leveling off of methane, the good majority of the difference between the two years is carbon dioxide. Forcing due to solar variability relative to 1880 was 0.2232 in 1978 and was 0.2233 in 2003. Not much of a difference between the two years, is there? Clearly, relative to 1880, the increase in forcing due to well-mixed greenhouse gasses (principally carbon dioxide and methane) has exceeded that of solar variability.

    Increased solar irradiance cannot explain the cooling of the stratosphere. It can’t explain why nights have warmed more quickly than days. It can’t explain why winters have warmed more rapidly than summers. The increased insulation of carbon dioxide can — as it slows the rate at which thermal radiation is able to make it to the stratosphere and as it insulates the nights and winters against the loss of heat. Increased solar irradiance would have the opposite effect.


    For more ways in which we have our fingerprints all over global warming, please see:

    Global Warming 101
    Human Fingerprints


    Aaron continues:

    If that occurs, and if CO2 proves to be a much stronger climate forcing as modeled, then temperatures should at the very least remain steady and most likely rise. Then AGW/GHG theory will be substantiated by direct, empirical evidence that would most certainly silence most of its critics.

    Aaron, the scientific case for our understanding of anthropogenic global warming is quite strong — and it has been for some time. If you haven’t the time to learn about all of the science yourself, you may want to examine the statements by scientific bodies in this matter.

    Please see:

    The American Denial of Global Warming

    Every major scientific organization which has issued a statement in this matter has come down on the side of climatology. In large part it really is just a matter of physics — despite the complexity of the climate system.

    Please see:

    The Consensus on Global Warming:
    From Science to Industry & Religion

    It includes links to those statements.

    Where then is the opposition to doing something about climate change coming from?

    I will give you a hint.

    As I pointed out (but you simply ignored), we can’t wait for the world to become dependent upon alternative fossil fuels. Not with twice the emissions per unit of energy for synthetic oil produced from coal. Not with three times the emission per unit of energy for oil produced from tar sands. Not with the investment and commitment in infrastructure that this would entail.

    Not with what we have learned of past periods of global warming — or of the potential for strong positive feedback from the carbon cycle. Not with the warming which is already in the pipeline and the additional warming that this would entail. Not with the droughts that this would entail or the loss of coastal cities due to rising oceans. Not with the lives that will hang in the balance.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 10 Jul 2008 @ 11:32 PM

  544. Gavin,

    Most long term GISS records north of 60 latitude show a similar pattern to Greenland – i.e. as warm or warmer in the 1940s than now.
    Mayen, Angmagssalik, Akureyri, Godthab Nuuk, Nar’Jan-Mar, Kanin Nos, Arhangel’Sk, Tromo/Skatto, Sodankyla, Haparanda, Bodo Vi, Vardo, Murmansk, Salehard, Nar’Jan-Mar, Kanin Nos, Turuhansk and Hanty-Mansijs. What I am describing is hardly isolated to Greenland.

    A good image showing dirty snow in Greenland is in Hansen’s Illinois Wesleyan presentation – the slide titled “Surface Melt on Greenland”

    This picture was taken up a little higher on the ice sheet, and as you can see there is quite a bit of dark matter in the upper layers of the ice, despite the absence of any exposed rock. Closer to the coast, the ice gets very filthy.

    Being a Nordic ski racer, I am quite tuned into the differences in appearance and quality of wet snow and dirty snow. I suggest you take a flyover over Greenland later in the summer and see for yourself. It is an amazing sight – two miles of ice.

    BTW – I don’t think it is constructive to use words like “nonsense” in conversation. Assuming that the person you are talking to is of lower intellectual stature is generally in error.

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 10 Jul 2008 @ 11:47 PM

  545. Rod, if you’re going to continue to flog the “young science” horse despite its having been declared dead by our host, please explain why physics is not a “young, immature science”. Because, after all, at the time of Einstein there were only a couple hundred people in the entire world who called themselves “physicists”, and of those, only a handful were involved in the ground breaking revolution that swept the field a century ago.

    The fact that there’s a couple orders of magnitudes (at least) more people doing physics today in no way undermines the work done a century ago. The numbers of people involved aren’t what matters, it’s the results they get that count.

    And your attempt at paraphrasing is something I just don’t get:

    Two lonely guys [I’ll grant, maybe a couple more] did some stuff back then [that everybody else gave short shrift to]…

    They had grasped the essence of CO2s role in our climate, but of course they had no way to predict that we’d burn so much fossilized carbon that, a century and a half later, the amount of CO2 would be doubled. They were working in an interesting corner of science that at the time didn’t seem closely coupled to the fate of future generations of humanity. So what? Doesn’t impact the quality of the work at all, nor its correctness, nor ITS AGE.

    Comment by dhogaza — 11 Jul 2008 @ 1:29 AM

  546. Re: Greenland and North Pole temperatures:

    Here are the 2m temperatures of Greenland (averaged over the whole area) 1979-2008, using Reanalysis 2 data. Individual years are gray with darker colors indicating more recent years, 2008 is black and 2007 red; blue is the 1979-2007 mean, green the 2003-2007 mean.

    Not exactly a cold summer so far. Of course there may come colder weeks (and years). That’s weather.

    I already posted plots for the North Pole temperature above, but here are updated plots: North Pole; zonal means (Arctic Ocean) at 85° N, 81° N, 75° N; whole Arctic (north of the Arctic Circle), Arctic without land. And, to compare, global temperature using Reanalysis 2 data.

    Also see the anomaly maps at CDC. You can also plot zonal anomalies there.

    BTW, there might be a big polynia developing near the pole at ~ 86° N / 150° E. It’s been an area of low and declining ice concentracion since 2 weeks, and it’s not just melt ponds as you can see on the MODIS pictures.

    And, if anybody is interested in, I’ve made an animation (6 MB) of the last 6 weeks sea ice with buoy positions (daily data from here, but doesn’t seem too reliable).

    Comment by Clarence — 11 Jul 2008 @ 1:54 AM

  547. Rod B posts:

    If you interpret what was actually happening with the scientists and physicists in the 19th century and much of the 20th as a done deal fully growed everybody on board science, then, sorry, you are the one that is blind.

    And if you don’t post a straw man caricature of what I said and then add in a personal insult, people will take you more seriously.

    Aaron writes:

    “No matter how many times you write that climate science is a young field, you will still be wrong. It isn’t. Deal with it.”

    Really? Then explain to me how such an advanced science can have such an incomplete understanding of oceanic/polar relationships?

    I don’t know — maybe the same way astronomy could be an advanced science long before there was a consensus about the existence of dark matter? Or the same way nuclear physics could be an advanced science even though we still don’t know how to build a fusion reactor? Or the same way physiology could be an advanced science even though we didn’t know about the existence of one of the muscles in the face until c. 2000? What makes you think an “advanced” science is one that knows everything there is to know about a field? That won’t describe any real science, ever.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Jul 2008 @ 6:51 AM

  548. RE: 528

    Paul said, “For example, I could make a solution from sodium chloride and dissolved carbon dioxide, and also make the exact same solution from sodium carbonate and hydrochloric acid.”

    Hey Paul,

    (Warning: This is posting starts off OT and appears to only demonstrate a bit more of my ignorance, I appreciate the tolerance shown to date.)

    Given the choice of placing my hand, in a 4.4 liter container of water containing 1.5kg of magnesium sulfate and a liter of 70% hydrochloric acid versus 4.4 liter container of water containing 1.5 kg of magnesium chloride and 70% sulfuric acid, I would choose the former rather then the latter. Sorry, I am no chemist and I am out of my element there.

    I am worried that my main point appears to have been lost. I am concerned with identifying the various acidification process contributions in the oceans. As with the atmosphere and GW, there appear to be many contributors (forcings) in the reduction of ph in the oceans.

    The recent work defining the processes that explain the changes in the oceans ph and CO2 uptake appears to mimic the original work I saw in the 80’s and 90’s, regarding AGW. Based on what we know currently, it is clear that the AGW CO2 is the primary driver of the oceans ph change. Whether that changes over time or not depends of further research and I am hoping there will be more work forthcoming in the near future.

    To get back to the subject; however, I am curious. Has anyone noticed that the conversation regarding Arctic Ice reduction has gotten a bit side tracked? I was hoping we could return to the original discussion. I am interested if anyone has noted that the problem in the Arctic may not be that the days with temperatures higher then freezing (of fresh water). While at the same time, the days where the temperatures are higher then the freezing point of brine have increased.

    Based on the earlier conversations with Pat Neuman it is curious that the average days below 273K seems to not have increased more then 2% (If my rough analysis is correct.) while at the same time the average days above 255 K seems to have increased about 15%. This would appear to be in alignment the AGW theory… I am curious if there could be an alternative reason for the Arctic Ice Melt other then the reduction in the low deviation in atmospheric temperature…

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 11 Jul 2008 @ 7:06 AM

  549. Summing up my argument –

    Paraphrased, Dr. Hansen implied that we have “reached a tipping point” caused by CO2, as proven by the “Arctic,” which has behaved “exactly” as predicted in the 1980s.

    Pointing out the logical fallacies in that argument.

    1. There is little or no empirical evidence that the Arctic is behaving any differently than during the last warm period in the 1940s. Temperatures are no higher across most of the Arctic than they were 70 years ago.

    2. Other factors besides CO2 – such as ozone, soot and natural variability are large and not well understood theoretically or empirically. Thus it is not yet possible to establish how much of the warming in the Arctic is due to CO2 relative to other factors.

    3. The polar predictions from the 1980s (which are the basis of the argument) have had to be adjusted significantly. The Antarctic has cooled or not warmed significantly. The claim that events have proceeded “exactly” as predicted is not accurate.

    Given all of the above, and the fact that the Arctic is no warmer than 60 years ago – the claim of a “tipping point” in the Arctic appears to not be on solid ground.

    [Response: Ah. The joy of erecting and demolishing strawmen…. 1) is false, 2) is partially true, 3) is misleading. I love the way you take a single line in an newspaper interview and elevate it to a theory with the exactitude of Newton’s laws. Predictions in the 1980s were that the Arctic would warm faster than the rest of the world and it has. That was all that was said. If you want a serious examination of how 1980s projections panned out – caveats and all – then see Hansen et al, 2006. If you prefer to focus on over-extrapolating one-line comments to journalists, carry on! – gavin]

    Re : Clarence

    Thanks for the Greenland temperature analysis.

    I commented above that, until recently, the anomalous cold has been isolated to southern Greenland. Northern Greenland has been above normal. Given that the vast majority of melt takes place in the south, it would make sense to weight it more heavily in this discussion.

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 11 Jul 2008 @ 8:08 AM

  550. RE: 542

    Hey Chuck,

    First, as to the balance of constituents in sea water I am more curious in the observations of the more recent sampling programs.

    You asked, “And why do you think the measured increase in CO2 partial pressure in the ocean is insufficient to explain the observed declines in pH and TA?”

    I think mainly because I am ignorant that there has been an measured increase in CO2 partial pressures fully mixed in the ocean column.

    Where you asked, “What acids do you think would be produced by bacteria?”

    I have not begun to research the participants to any degree, yet. Logically, I suspect there likely would be amino acids released by dead phytoplankton, as well as acidic sulfuric compounds from anaerobic bacterium. I ran across one study indicating an increase in silicate based acids; however, I have not gone any further then this at this time.

    The data that Chris shared earlier suggests that the acids disassociate and form other compounds hence they are likely unmeasurable directly. Hence, my request for further information is invalid and I withdraw the request until have done some more homework.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 11 Jul 2008 @ 8:33 AM

  551. Re # 539 David Cooke:

    are you suggesting that the dissolved Carbonic Acid disassociates and forms bicarbonate and hydrogen?

    He’s not merely suggesting it, he is stating it as fact – it is fundamental chemistry.

    Is this to be taken as a suggestion for the observed reduction in oceanic Carbonic Acid?

    This makes no sense – as atmospheric CO2 partial pressure rises, the CO2 partial pressure in the ocean surface waters also rises, creating more carbonic acid – not less. But, as Chris also explained, that carbonic acid dissociates into H+ and bicarbonate. There is virtually no undissociated carbonic acid in natural waters, never has been, never will be. What has been decreasing with ocean acidification is the concentration of carbonate, as ocean pH shifts away from the pK’ of the HCO3-/CO3= reaction and closer to the dissolved CO2/HCO3- reaction.

    Re your post in # 548:

    Sorry, I am no chemist and I am out of my element there.

    I’m afraid this pretty much sums up your understanding of carbonate chemistry in aqueous solutions. Stop grasping at straws (and strawmen) and learn the basic chemistry before you try to argue that marine chemists, chemical oceanographers, marine microbiologists, et al are missing something fundamental.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 11 Jul 2008 @ 9:14 AM

  552. Gavin,

    Thanks for your response.

    It should be pointed out that single lines from newspaper articles are what get remembered by policy makers and journalists.

    The claim in The Independent that the North Pole has never been ice free before has propagated all over the Internet and major news sources, and the inconspicuous withdrawal of that text from the article has gone unnoticed. The damage was done and is irreversible.

    Similarly, the vast majority of people I talk to believe that both poles are warming and melting at an unprecedented rate. Where did that that impression come from? I suspect that if you took a poll of Congressmen, MPs, journalists or schoolchildren you would get the same response.

    Words matter, and it is very important that scientists be careful with their public statements.

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 11 Jul 2008 @ 9:28 AM

  553. Re # 548 David Cooke:

    there appear to be many contributors (forcings) in the reduction of ph in the oceans.

    OK, maybe on very localized scales (e.g., at the sediment-water interface in, say, a hypoxic lagoon). But, while organic (e.g., lactic or acetic) and inorganic (e.g., sulfuric) acids may be produced during bacterial decomposition, they are also consumed by other bacteria. You really need to read up on the marine chemistry, paying particular attention to the carbon, sulfur, phosphorus, and nitrogen cycles. There is no reason to postulate unidentified acids as a significant contributor to ocean acidification on a world-wide scale. (Refer to the RC thread, More PR Related Confusion, for a discussion of Occam’s Razor).

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 11 Jul 2008 @ 9:28 AM

  554. The phrase “the Arctic has reached a tipping point” evokes some very strong imagery. Is it justified? I don’t see it.

    Capturing particulates from coal fired power plants (as is done in the US) and eliminating Siberian gas flaring would probably make a huge difference in Arctic melt and temperature profiles.

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 11 Jul 2008 @ 9:41 AM

  555. Shorter David Cooke: ‘There has to be some explanation other than increasing CO2, here’s some word salad, please give me references to support my notion something here might suggest a better explanation.’

    Are you determined that ocean pH change must be explainable by something other than increasing CO2, and willing to believe anything but fossil fuel use?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2008 @ 10:03 AM

  556. Steven Goddard @ 552:

    The claim in The Independent that the North Pole has never been ice free before has propagated all over the Internet and major news sources, and the inconspicuous withdrawal of that text from the article has gone unnoticed. The damage was done and is irreversible.

    That claim is true. The North Pole has never been ice free before. There is a huge difference between a lead and open ocean, and nobody in his right mind would describe a pole with a small fraction of open water between massive floes as being “ice free”. If the article created an impression in the public mind that the changes in arctic sea ice are unprecedented and worrying, then that is a good thing. They are.
    In other words, what damage?

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 11 Jul 2008 @ 10:11 AM

  557. Capturing particulates from coal fired power plants (as is done in the US) and eliminating Siberian gas flaring would probably make a huge difference in Arctic melt and temperature profiles.

    Why do you continue to grasp at straws after you’ve been shown several times over that you misunderstand the scientists you quote and that their work does not support your claims?

    Comment by dhogaza — 11 Jul 2008 @ 10:14 AM

  558. It should be pointed out that single lines from newspaper articles are what get remembered by policy makers and journalists.

    You’re claiming that journalists shouldn’t do their homework? Just copy each other no matter how wrong they might be?

    You’re right about yourself, I’m sure, but wrong about policy makers, and wrong about many hard-working, responsible journalists who I’m sure will cringe upon reading your statement (Mark York around?)

    Comment by dhogaza — 11 Jul 2008 @ 10:17 AM

  559. Steven, please tell us why dumping hundreds of gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere over a geologically brief time would not alter the climate.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 11 Jul 2008 @ 10:23 AM

  560. Steven, what about this graph of Arctic sea ice does not say “tipping point” to you?

    Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Anomaly

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 11 Jul 2008 @ 11:09 AM

  561. Steven Goddard, let’s take stock:

    1)Do you dispute that CO2 is a greenhouse gas?

    2)Do you dispute that it’s responsible for about 20-25% of the greenhouse effect?

    3)Do you dispute that human activities have been responsible for increasing CO2 from roughly 280 ppmv ot 385 ppmv?

    4)Do you dispute that the climate is warming?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jul 2008 @ 11:11 AM

  562. Does anybody have a site that shows the current snow depth on the arctic ice. I have seen plenty of maps of snow depth over land, but none over the arctic ice ?

    Im not even sure if we have the satelite technology to differentiate snow on ice as we do for snow on ground.

    I was wondering if the delay of the rapid melt (as compared to 2007) may have been due to excessive snow cover.

    Comment by LG Norton — 11 Jul 2008 @ 11:17 AM

  563. Again reading myths by RC commentator, well , thank goodness for facts.

    “There is little or no empirical evidence that the Arctic is behaving any differently than during the last warm period in the 1940s. Temperatures are no higher across most of the Arctic than they were 70 years ago.”

    In the past, i.e. about before 10 years ago, achieving a trip through the NW passage was tricky.
    Ordinary ships, not the big type icebreakers, were lucky to make it through. Even the famous USS
    Manhattan (a tanker ice breaker) needed some help back in the seventies. Now the 40’s
    Ummm not so sure about any extensive warm period then. You have a famous unfortunately to Mr. Goddard, only in Canada, little ship, the St-Roch.

    Made the NW passage twice in the 40’s, always froth with difficulties, always taking months or years to do so, as with Amundsen back in the early 1900’s. Soon this passage can be made in a week or less, as with last summer, as with 4 or 5 years ago, when an Ice breaker Captain did the passage without seeing “ANY” ice…

    The St-Roch made it in the early 40’s, how about the latter 40’s?
    Resolute Weather station on Cornwallis Island Canada was created reluctantly as a second choice; it should have been further West; the Winter Harbour weather station, on Melville Island. Resolute was a joint US/Canada project, started with a convoy from Boston USA, in 1947, with Icebreaker escort. Perhaps there was a chap like Goddard then, who thought it was warmer in the Arctic, and there would be no difficulties in reaching Melville Island. However, the ice was so dense past Barrow Strait. the convoy didn’t have a chance. Dumped their entire load in Resolute Bay, and the rest is history.

    So for Mr. Goddard. to speak of similarities between now an then, is, hate to say it, pure “shooting in the dark”. Sorry, most people Up North, also know that this recent warming is unprecedented in memory. I think of people like Mr Goddard, as politically motivated fairy tale spinners, is good to have their weaving exposed.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 11 Jul 2008 @ 11:37 AM

  564. #544

    Photos are great, but as Gavin and I mentioned earlier, glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets are known to get ‘dirty’. This is due, both to the influence of airborne dust and aerosol transported for, sometimes, thousands of miles and also to perfectly natural subglacial and ice marginal erosion processes.

    Whilst I accept that conditions in Iceland are slightly different from on the GIS (in that sub-glacial and sub-air volcanic eruptions regularly put vast amounts of ash and tephra underneath, into and onto the glacier surfaces), you would not believe how ‘dirty’ the snouts of that country’s outlet glaciers get in summer.

    Which brings us to the fundamental point:

    Considering the tonnage of glacial till, continental ‘dust’ and marine aerosol which is *naturally* transported onto these ice masses every year…does your attribution of ‘soot’ as being the principal driver of temperature rise in these areas take full account of whether such inputs are actually producing an EXTRA forcing, ontop of the naturally occurring processes…or are their effects merely being subsumed into the noise??

    I don’t know…do you?

    Comment by Hugh — 11 Jul 2008 @ 11:52 AM

  565. Re # 540 Rod B:

    … is the CO2 dissociated into carbonic acid considered as part of the solute for Henry’s law?

    Yes, “dissolved CO2” concentration usually refers to the sum of the dissolved gas and carbonic acid, the latter being so minimal as to safely ignore it in most calculations, e.g., when using Henry’s Law to calculate dissolved CO2 concentration based on the CO2 partial pressure and CO2 solubility coefficient. In over 30 years of reading about CO2 in water, I’ve never encountered a case (i.e., in a research paper or textbook) in which the actual concentration of undissociated carbonic acid was considered to be important.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 11 Jul 2008 @ 11:54 AM

  566. Re #552

    Steven Goddard

    How true your statement is:

    Words matter, and it is very important that scientists be careful with their public statements.

    Scientists go to a lot of trouble to be clear and careful about the meaning of their words. Of course in an interview one doesn’t have the luxury of careful editing and so one needs to accord a certain latitude to the things that scientists say in interviews. However, if there is any confusion or misunderstanding, or clarification is required, then it is straightforward to seek this from the scientist. After all we should be interested in what scientists mean rather than what we might hope we can insinuate their words to mean…

    The problem lies with rather more blatant misrepresentation of their words and their work. However carefully a scientist might formulate his/her thoughts into text, he/she is helpless in the face of mendacious or fradulent false precis.

    So I find that your fine sentiments that “words matter” rather contradicted by your misuse of Hansen’s and Nazarenko’s words in their 2004 Proc. Ntl. Acad. Sci. paper (see your post #432 and my post #499). After all I’m sure that Hansen and Nazarenko considered their text carefully so as clearly to express their meaning…”words matter”….

    …so one wonders whether you consider that “words matter” at all!

    Anyway, for a reminder about the way that scientists words can be misrepresented, here’s what you asserted that Hansen and Nazarenko said:

    Steven Goddard (post #432):

    “In Hansen Nazarenko 2004, Hansen wrote that “Our estimate for the mean soot effect on spectrally integrated albedos in the Arctic … is about one quarter of observed global warming.”

    i.e. Dr. Hansen said that one-fourth of all global warming (over the entire planet) is due to Arctic soot. The same paper shows the forcing of soot as 2XC02 at 4.05 W/m2 Figure 1 shows Arctic warming of as much as 2-3C due to soot. My statement was completely correct – By any reasonable interpretation Hansen did imply that most of the warming in the Arctic is due to soot.”

    …and here’s what Hansen and Nazarenko actually stated (putting back the parts of the sentences you omitted, with your “selection” in italic):

    Our estimate for the mean soot effect on spectrally integrated albedos in the Arctic (1.5%) and Northern Hemisphere land areas (3%) yields a Northern Hemisphere forcing of 0.3 W/m2 or an effective hemispheric forcing of 0.6 W/m2. The calculated global warming in an 1880–2000 simulation is about one quarter of observed global warming.

    James Hansen and Larissa Nazarenko (2004) “Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101, 423-428

    words matter??

    Comment by Chris — 11 Jul 2008 @ 11:55 AM

  567. (Sigh!)
    dhogaza, Barton, Ray, et al, with apologies to Gavin, I’ll be terse.
    1) Of course being an established and accepted science doesn’t mean it has discovered all there is to find. (Though that was the view of long established and accepted Physics around the turn of the century.)
    2) Of course you do not need a massive number of people in the field for it to be l-e&a. Centuries back culture was too short on money to support such. But a goodly percentage of those in the field at a time need to be aware and supportive. This was virtually nil with the outlying GHG effort of the 19th century plus.
    3) Just because the outliers later prove to be maybe correct does not per se make it a l-e&a science at the time. This is the argument most of you guys are counting on, but it just ain’t so. (Though Barton does say, “…the existence of the greenhouse effect has been accepted [my emphasis] since the early 19th century…” which has zero historical evidence to back it up. Most/all of the potential acceptors thought it was crazy.) You might check out
    4) I really no longer care (or like everyone else, getting tired… ;-) ) ….except that the guys whose science I respect and learn from are looking off the wagon in this case.

    ps to BPL (547) I thought I was echoing your insult, but turned out I was wrong and misreading the post. Sorry.

    [Response: This conversation is over. – gavin]

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Jul 2008 @ 12:06 PM

  568. Chuck (551) this is a real Sandbox-1 question, but, a clarification ….of maybe a nit:

    Isn’t carbonic acid dissociated H2CO3? If it is carbonic acid before dissociation, as your post says, why do they call it “acid”?

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Jul 2008 @ 12:17 PM

  569. 552 Steven Goddard:

    “The claim in The Independent that the North Pole has never been ice free before has propagated all over the Internet and major news sources, and the inconspicuous withdrawal of that text from the article has gone unnoticed. The damage was done and is irreversible.”

    On the contrary. The meme infecting the Internet is that the North Pole has been ice-free in the past. The favorite supporting argument for this (besides silly stories about people reaching a point over 500 miles distant from the Pole before being thwarted by ice) is a photograph of submarines near the Pole. I’d suggest that this sort of false conclusion helps build what I call “cultural dementia”, hallucinations on a mass scale.

    In the manner he ascribes to Dr. Hansen, Steven implies we’ve already seen an “ice free” North Pole, way back when. In one of Steven’s articles he shows a photograph of 3 submarines, at the North Pole, circa 1987.

    What’s truly amazing about this “evidence” is how it demonstrates the susceptibility of the gullible to simple suggestion. Read the words, let your eyes lie to you.

    How about some facts?.

    A threesome of subs first visited the North Pole in 1986, even earlier than 1987. Good news, more DenialSpice on the DenialChow, right?

    Nope. Here’s are the germane parts of the 1986 story as it happened, as covered in the press and related by Dolphins-wearing personnel on the scene:

    “Three attack submarines navigated under the ice to surface at the North Pole last spring in the most ambitious expedition mounted until that time.

    The captain of one of the submarines on this year’s voyage, Comdr. Stephen A. Johnson, said in an interview after returning to home port here that his vessel, the 4,600-ton nuclear-powered Ray, cracked through a thin sheet of ice first. Then came her sister craft, the Hawkbill, and finally the Archerfish.

    [Thin ice! Hold on a minute…]

    Over the next 10 hours, sailors clambered out to take pictures as others stood guard with rifles to scare off polar bears.

    [The polar bears were either good swimmers, or there was something to walk upon, presumably leading to somewhere else where the main supply of bears comes from.]

    … the constantly moving ice is broken by stretches of ice only a couple of feet thick and occasionally by a patch of open water. It is through those ice holes that submarines surface.

    [What we knew.]

    Surfacing through the ice caused the most tension in the crew. First came a search for an ice hold. Sonar was some help in detecting the thickness of the ice, but Commander Johnson said, ”The periscope and a seaman’s eye were the best tools we had for finding friendly ice.”

    [Searching for an opening. Not something necessary in “ice-free” conditions.]

    With the submarine moving slowly, the captain turned the periscope up to look for cracks and fresh ice, which is white, rather than old ice, which is gray. When he found an ice hold, he positioned the ship. ”Instead of sliding up the way you do in open water,” he explained, ”you come straight up.”

    ”Once you decide to go,” the captain says, ”you lower the periscope and go blind for a while. It’s a tense moment. Sometimes, when the ice is thin, you crack it and slip right through. At other times, you bump up through thicker ice and then stop, like an elevator stopping. If you don’t go right through, you listen for the ice cracking, like ice cracking in a glass when you pour a drink on it.”

    [In “open ocean” the submarine can generally be expected to surface without grind to a halt.]

    Clearly, knowing that the submarine might not be able to surface through the ice in an emergency had a pervasive effect. For the captain, the sense of loneliness is even stronger than in the open sea. ”

    New York Times, December 16 1985

    Clearly not just a routine surfacing in “open water at the North Pole.”

    It’s also worth noting that dwell time on the surface was controlled by the need to prevent the submarines from being trapped or crushed by subsequent movement of ice.

    Here’s another photo helping to put the typical 1980s submarine scene into perspective, in case the endless vista of ice the most popular photo shows is not enough. From the 1986 visit:

    Things were not any better ’87, either.

    Here are some photos. What do your eyes tell you?

    SSN-676 Billfish sail, protuding from beneath a vast slab of white stuff known as “ice”:

    Another perspective of the scene Steven provided. Notice the endless fields of white stuff known as “ice” extending into the distance:

    According to Steven’s interpretation, this last photo shows sailors from Billfish chopping liquid water away from the bow of their craft:

    Silly sailors. They could just scoop all that open water up in teacups and throw it aside, right?

    As they say, a picture tells a thousand words. If you actually look at it and ponder what it shows, as opposed to what you’ve been told it shows, that is.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 11 Jul 2008 @ 12:26 PM

  570. Ray (561) and Steve, Can I play??
    My answers:
    1)No, I understand and accept the basic theory of greenhouse gases, and that CO2 is one.
    2) I have little doubt that CO2 is responsible for 20-25% of the historical greenhouse effect. I do have doubts that this is accurate for marginal increases. But I am not where I can “dispute” it.
    3) I would agree that part, maybe most, of the atmospheric CO2 increase is anthropocentric. I doubt that all is, though again I’m not solid enough to actually dispute it.
    4) I don’t necessarily dispute the climate is warming but I’m not comfortable with validity of the measurements to affirm its accuracy.

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Jul 2008 @ 12:40 PM

  571. Re #537


    I gave two specific examples of the very considerable knowledge about the Earth’s atmosphere and greenhouse effect in the mid-late 19th century. You’re now suggesting that this doesn’t support the (rather obvious) conclusion that climate/earth/atmospheric science has been a rather long-standing endeavour…after all (you say) Tyndall and Arrhenius were “two lonely guys”..

    ..that’s silly though…. It’s an argument from ignorance isn’t it?. You can’t think of the long history of this science and therefore from your perspective there ain’t one. No doubt if I provide another 10 names of climate scientists working in the 19th /early 20th century, you’ll assert – “just 10 lonely guys” (the Monty Python “what did the Romans ever do for us” ploy!).

    I had a brief look at the contents of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 1776-1876. There is a tidy scattering of studies of atmosphere, greenhouse gas absorption, solar effects on atmospheric and ocean heating, ocean science and so on (I’ve put a tiny selection at the bottom of the post!). As well as the Royal Society in London, there were equivalent learned societies in continental Europe in which scientists were publishing climate-related observations…there was the British Association, the Royal Institution and the Royal Meteorological Society (begun in 1850’s with the aims:

    a society the objects of which should be the advancement and extension of meteorological science by determining the laws of climate and of meteorological phenomena in general.

    Tyndall and Arrhenius didn’t work either in isolation, nor did their ideas pop perfectly formed from their minds. They debated, corresponded and read the works of previous and contemporary scientists (just like we do!)…Sau-ssure, Fourier, Pouillet, Chamberlin and so on, as well as the dozens of scientists whose climate-related work is sampled in the Phil. Trans. of the Royal Society…they weren’t “two lonely guys”!

    And it should be obvious that an interest in climate has been of profound importance in the entire history of mankind… this was formulated into a “modern”-style scientific enterprise with special-ised societies, journals and government funding alread in the 19th century, especially under British, German and French influence. One could cite countless examples. For example the Indian Meteorolological Department was founded under British auspices already in 1875. The importance of understanding the climate in the Indian/Australian/East African and Pacific regions was already recognisied in relation to the monsoon and the requirements for feeding a large Indian population, and one of the first uses of the new telegraph system set up in the 1870’s, for example by Charles Todd in Australia, was to send information about temperatures, rainfall and barometric pressures back to India where they were collated (initially under Henry Blandford and later by Gilbert Walker).

    Already in the early 1920’s the “see-saw” nature of atmospheric pressure oscillations were recognised as important drivers of local microclimates. In the early 1920’s Walker had recognised and named the North Atlantic Oscillation, the North Pacific Oscillation and the Southern Oscillation. So one could hardly presume to suggest that the recognition of the central importance of these atmospheric/ocean circulations doesn’t have a long history of study.

    …and so on…

    It’s a modern conceit to presume that we are uniquely sophisticated and learned in our contemporary knowledge. However a litle bit of exploration invariably yields a rather awe-inspiring insight into the abilities and sophistication of earlier times in relation to scientific endeavour. Going back to poor old “lonely” John Tyndall, and Svante Arrhenius, it’s extraordinary that these scientists and their contemporaries knew that atmospheric CO2 is a greenhouse gas…that the Earth’s temperature responds linearly to logarithmic changes in atmospheric CO2 content, and that they could make a reasonable estimate of the warming effect…

    …and yet more than 100 years later, a concerted effort is underway in some quarters to pretend that increased CO2 concentrations don’t actually cause the earth to warm…..go figure!

    Here’s a few papers from the 19th century issues of the Philosophical Transactionsof the Royal Society (enjoy!):

    On the Constitution of the Atmosphere
    Issue Volume 116 – 1826
    Author John Dalton

    On the Effect of the Pressure of the Atmosphere on the Mean Level of the Ocean
    Issue Volume 144 – 1854
    Author James Clark Ross

    On the Finite Extent of the Atmosphere
    Issue Volume 112 – 1822
    Author William Hyde Wollaston

    The Bakerian Lecture: On the Transparency of the Atmosphere and the Law of Extinction of the Solar Rays in Passing through It
    Issue Volume 132 – 1842
    Author James D. Forbes

    The Winds of Northern India, in Relation to the Temperature and Vapour-Constituent of the Atmosphere
    Issue Volume 164 – 1874
    Author Henry F. Blanford

    On the Composition of Sea-Water in the Different Parts of the Ocean
    Issue Volume 155 – 1865
    Author Georg Forchhammer

    On the Specific Gravity, and Temperature of Sea Waters, in Different Parts of the Ocean, and in Particular Seas; With Some Account of Their Saline Contents
    Issue Volume 109 – 1819
    Author Alexander Marcet

    Experiments on the Mechanical Expansion of Air, Explaining the Cause of the Great Degree of Cold on the Summits of High Mountains, the Sudden Condensation of Aerial Vapour, and of the Perpetual Mutability of Atmospheric Heat. By Erasmus Darwin, M. D. F. R. S.; Communicated by the Right Honourable Charles Greville, F. R. S.
    Issue Volume 78 – 1788

    On the Changes Produced in Atmospheric Air, and Oxygen Gas, by Respiration
    Issue Volume 98 – 1808
    Authors W Allen and W. H. Pepys

    (and some classics!)

    Tyndall, John (1861). “On the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gases and Vapours…” Philosophical Magazine ser. 4, 22: 169-94, 273-85.

    Tyndall, John (1863). “On Radiation through the Earth’s Atmosphere.” Philosophical Magazine ser. 4, 25: 200-206.

    Arrhenius, Svante (1896). “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon the Temperature of the Ground.” Philosophical Magazine 41: 237-76.

    Comment by Chris — 11 Jul 2008 @ 12:44 PM

  572. Chuck, Thanks

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Jul 2008 @ 12:50 PM

  573. Re 568 Rod B

    No, carbonic acid (acid = proton donor) is the uncharged form H2CO3- it dissociates into H+ and HCO3 (bicarbonate, the base anion). Refer to Chris’ posts on this.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 11 Jul 2008 @ 1:38 PM

  574. The submarines sent to try surfacing at the North Pole were reinforced specifically for these operations:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2008 @ 2:04 PM

  575. A shot from the movie “Ice Station Zebra” depicting a submarine attempting to break through.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 11 Jul 2008 @ 2:42 PM

  576. Re #549:

    Summer temperatures in northern Greenland aren’t much lower than in southern Greenland. The difference is less than 1 °C. Substantial melt also takes place in the north.

    This year, the south has been colder than the north (but still above normal) and most of the visible melting area in MODIS pictures is located in the north east. It’s not that unusual, but frequency is increasing.

    To compare: Temperatures of the southern half (46% of total area) and whole Greenland.

    Re #562:

    GDAS, GFS and the reanalyses have water equivalent of snow over sea ice. You can make plots here (the variable is named “WEASDsfc”). But that may be just modelled data. Currently, the GDAS/GFS values are zero for most of the Arctic Ocean.

    Comment by Clarence — 11 Jul 2008 @ 3:09 PM

  577. I’ll be darn, Ice once at the North Pole has melted enough to have small areas of open water,
    this was new ice, open water will probably appear and disappear again:

    Cant see it on Quicksat, but there appears to be huge areas of thinner ice, North of Alaska and Russia

    There seems to be no surprises in store with respect to extent, it should rival 07 soon…

    Comment by wayne davidson — 11 Jul 2008 @ 5:16 PM

  578. [edit]

    [Response: Enough. Repeating yourself ad nauseum and trolling for attention is not interesting. – gavin]

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 11 Jul 2008 @ 6:56 PM

  579. Note from a page about those pictures of submarines surfaced at the North Pole here. He’s now a fiction writer; this is from his notes and photographs page from submarine service.

    A brief excerpt follows; see original for full text and pictures.

    USS RAY SSN 653 at the North Pole. Look at the picture, came pretty close huh? The ice that day was pretty thin, about two feet thick. As you can see the fair water planes are in the “under ice” position. We were the first to surface that day. We were waiting on the USS ARCHERFISH, and USS HAWKBILL to come up near us. Actually this was the fourth time we had surfaced through the ice. Each time was an adventure on its own!

    The first thing you do is find a nice thin place in the ice, (at least you hope its thin). … if you go to fast, you will slam the ice and break something, or worse case the boat could roll under the ice, the reactor would scram, and you’d be in a very bad position. If you go too slow the boat will not enough force to punch through, which means you go back down and try again.
    About an hour after this picture was taken CBS news in a hired plane flew over to get some shots of this historic event. I wonder to this day how they edited out most of the crews names written in yellow snow. …

    A nice picture of USS ARCHERFISH after she had surfaced near us. In the foreground you get an idea of the thickness of the ice. Five days before ARCHERFISH had a bad experience. She had surfaced near one of the scientific ice camps run by some university. A snowmobile carrying two members of the ice camp were riding to meet the boat, when the ice shifted, and suddenly opened just as the snowmobile passed over. All they heard was a splash and a scream, and the ice closed back over them. There are a million ways to die in the ice….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2008 @ 8:52 PM

  580. Re #577

    Wayne, I think Quikscat loses some of its discrimination at this time of year with the surface melt water,
    ASMR-E agrees with the CT data:

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 11 Jul 2008 @ 9:06 PM

  581. The progression of papers on the Arctic soot issue looked to me as if there’s a bit of planning behind it. I checked to see if another paper is out, and sure enough here’s Quinn et al (2008) (abstract pasted below). Interestingly, there’s a note at the end of the paper that says in part; “In January and November of 2007, workshops on the impacts of short-lived pollutants on Arctic climate were convened with sponsorship by NASA, CATF, NILU, IGAC and CPC.”

    So it looks to me as if an eminent climate scientist (maybe… Jim Hansen?) figured out a few years ago that this was important to look at and that various funding agencies and scientists then got involved. It’s beyond ironic and well into bizarre that some people are using these research results to criticize Hansen, but I suppose he’s used to it by now.


    Short-lived pollutants in the Arctic: their climate impact and
    possible mitigation strategies

    Several short-lived pollutants known to impact
    Arctic climate may be contributing to the accelerated rates
    of warming observed in this region relative to the global
    annually averaged temperature increase. Here, we present
    a summary of the short-lived pollutants that impact Arctic
    climate including methane, tropospheric ozone, and tropospheric
    aerosols. For each pollutant, we provide a description
    of the major sources and the mechanism of forcing. We
    also provide the first seasonally averaged forcing and corresponding
    temperature response estimates focused specifically
    on the Arctic. The calculations indicate that the forcings
    due to black carbon, methane, and tropospheric ozone
    lead to a positive surface temperature response indicating the
    need to reduce emissions of these species within and outside
    the Arctic. Additional aerosol species may also lead to surface
    warming if the aerosol is coincident with thin, low lying
    clouds. We suggest strategies for reducing the warming
    based on current knowledge and discuss directions for future
    research to address the large remaining uncertainties.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 11 Jul 2008 @ 9:42 PM

  582. A special thanks to Clarence for all those useful links.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 11 Jul 2008 @ 9:48 PM

  583. #579 Hank Roberts

    Interesting description of three submarines above, but not the same subs or year. One of the three subs in the 1987 picture was British, and the adventure you quote was three American subs after Desert Storm in 1991. [edit- better source]

    Comment by Oleg Voronov — 12 Jul 2008 @ 12:52 AM

  584. Open water at the North pole in July 1987

    [Response: The satellites don’t see right at the pole, but there does look to be some kind of polynya near by for a couple of days there. Unfortunately, the data for the week before are missing. – gavin]

    Comment by Oleg Voronov — 12 Jul 2008 @ 1:35 AM

  585. Phil,

    That’s it then, the flow of ice should change soon, a High pressure is at the right place to make that big spot of loose ice near the Pole, head there.

    The winds are right and some buoy drifts are looking a little more “normal”

    Comment by wayne davidson — 12 Jul 2008 @ 3:12 AM

  586. Rod #570

    So what are you arguing about? You don’t agree to the measurements others made, but accept the ones you have. So produce a paper with your measurements and why they are more right.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Jul 2008 @ 4:31 AM

  587. wayne @ 585: that chart shows an anticyclone, 1031mb, centred at about 155W, 79N. Is this the one you mean? It should generate clockwise winds pushing the Canadian coastal ice down towards the Beaufort Sea, and bringing the Siberian coastal ice towards the pole. Is the the effect you mean? There’s a northerly force 2 on Prince Patrick.

    The chart also shows temperatures well above freezing all over the Canadian Arctic. 12 degrees at Resolute and on Prince Patrick Island. 13 degrees on Banks Island and in the far north of Baffin Island. 5 and 7 degrees on Ellesmere. 6 on Ellef Ringnes. Does this agree with what you’re experiencing? Maybe it’s time to adjust my guess over at Rabett Run.

    And it shows temperatures of 1-3 degrees over the Arctic Ocean. Not a single temperature below freezing over water. Coastal Greenland has -6 (inland from Nares strait) and -1 (Lincoln Sea). The only real cold on that chart is in central Greenland (-13, -16).

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 12 Jul 2008 @ 11:10 AM

  588. > three subs … 1987 picture

    Look up the 1987 pictures –here is one place they are described:

    You can find each one described with a caption. They describe the surroundings as walkable:

    ” U.S. and British sailors explore the Arctic ice cap while conducting the first U.S./British coordinated surfacing at the North Pole. The ships are, left to right: the nuclear-powered attack submarine Sea Devil (SSN-664), the fleet submarine HMS Superb (S-109), and the nuclear-powered attack submarine Billfish (SSN-676), 18 May 1987.”
    Official U.S. Navy Photograph # DN-ST-87-09888

    More useful than anecdotes:

    The inimitable John Daly, whose pages have long outlived him, beat this subject half to death long ago; most of the current denial PR stuff seems copied from his pages.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2008 @ 11:20 AM

  589. Rod, it sounds like you’ve almost moved out of the “skeptic” camp and are heading for the climate science camp. Let me be the first to welcome you!

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 12 Jul 2008 @ 11:39 AM

  590. Moderator, I have no problem with you appending what you consider to be a another source, but why remove the link I provided – which was a US Navy photo and confirmed my point?

    [Response: The site it came from is full of disinformation and we try not to further confuse the issues. Just trying to be helpful… – gavin]

    Comment by Oleg Voronov — 12 Jul 2008 @ 11:55 AM

  591. Oleg, original images from many years including the recent blogosphere favorite are here:

    Note that meltwater on top looks like open water, but the submarines were searching for the thinnest ice they could find to punch up through. From what I read of the descriptions at the cite noted earlier, all three came up through ice; two came up through ice with some meltwater on top.

    The root page actually has some wonderful material:

    (Firefox flags this as having an invalid security certificate, check carefully to make sure you’re getting a legitimate page)

    Submarine Development Squadron FIVE
    including: Sample of Under-Ice Video

    [Response: Good find! I was wondering where the original was. – gavin]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2008 @ 12:27 PM

  592. Jim Galasyn,

    Shhhh!!! You’ll scare him!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Jul 2008 @ 12:58 PM

  593. Nick #587, that is right, a high pressure like that has powerful influence in many ways, the sunshine is obvious, but now its winds are in league with the Ocean current, the 2 combined move a lot of ice, which is loose right now, decompressing the jam on the Russian side of the Pole will now expose the thin ice there, and create more and more open water in that sector. As expected there is a growing temperature anomaly at about the center of this High Pressure system:

    The archipelago is equally warm.

    #584, Oleg, Niet, that wasn’t there, I studied pictures of that time, 1987 was the last mean cold year for the ice, look at Lancaster Sound, or see how jam pack the NW passage was with rock solid ice.
    This hole looks like a missing piece or picture filled with water, these kind of openings of ice, so large and widespread don’t disappear in a day.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 12 Jul 2008 @ 1:07 PM

  594. Jim (589), Thanks, but don’t stick your hand out too fast. I’m still solidly in the skeptic group. But I’m a bit more discriminant than maybe other skeptics in that 1) I don’t dispute the basic science; 2) my skepticism falls in just a few specific areas; 3) In the back of my mind I’m aware that I might be all wrong, which I think keeps be out of the ad hominem denier group. For what it’s worth I don’t hide my areas of doubt but neither do I vociferously express them as I feel I need to improve my understanding a bit more before I argue too loudly.

    My one little kernel of angst is that by the time I prove myself wrong it might be too late! It’s in part for that reason that I fully agree with some others here that we ought to be moving as fast as we can (but without undue disruption — as some others are willing, even hoping ;-) to have) to downsize our use of fossil fuels. I think we’re behind in planning for the possible gradual demise in the economic availability of fossil fuels. Will it be available to us at an economical viable cost? Will if be available at all? Will the indirect costs mess us (USA) up? (This refers to the import costs, as T. Boone Pickens says, our imports of fossil fuel is by far the greatest continuing transfer of wealth in history.) If solving the fossil fuel availability problem also buys some insurance against global warming, my skepticism aside, that’s fine.

    I’m still a skeptic. But thanks anyway.

    Ray, I have no fear! I suppose, per Dean Martin, this is why I get beat up a lot :-P

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Jul 2008 @ 2:42 PM

  595. Rod,

    Global warming is a worldwide problem, not just something for that may affect the US. Being worldwide it will affect the US, and already is. But it will only be solved if all nations including the US, China and India sign up. Your president Bush has set such a bad example, it is unlikely that Russia, China and India will sign up now. They now ask “Will it be available to us at an economical viable cost? Will if be available at all? Will the indirect costs mess us up?

    George W. Bush said ‘Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter’ He could have stopped that. But he cannot stop The ‘world’s worst polluter’ :-(

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 12 Jul 2008 @ 5:12 PM

  596. I am curious as to whether it is correct, that the current scientifically accepted Climate Models, can explain and replicate the cooling and CO2 reduction from the geological time when the Earth was much warmer with hugely more CO2 in the atmosphere?

    [Response: What are you really asking? If CO2 reduces, it will cool. Why CO2 reduced over geological timescales is a function of plate tectonics, weathering and very long term changes in volcanism – continental drift is not generally included in standard climate models. – gavin]

    Comment by Alan Millar — 12 Jul 2008 @ 7:56 PM

  597. In re 594:

    My one little kernel of angst is that by the time I prove myself wrong it might be too late! It’s in part for that reason that I fully agree with some others here that we ought to be moving as fast as we can (but without undue disruption — as some others are willing, even hoping ;-) to have) to downsize our use of fossil fuels. I think we’re behind in planning for the possible gradual demise in the economic availability of fossil fuels. Will it be available to us at an economical viable cost? Will if be available at all? Will the indirect costs mess us (USA) up? (This refers to the import costs, as T. Boone Pickens says, our imports of fossil fuel is by far the greatest continuing transfer of wealth in history.) If solving the fossil fuel availability problem also buys some insurance against global warming, my skepticism aside, that’s fine.

    Since it sounds like you’ve bought my argument, you should be aware that I am 100% in agreement with the science. I just happen to think that long before we manage to get to 2050 or whenever and reach all sorts of “tipping points”, we’ll have long since passed through severe economic hardship and probably a few global wars over food and/or fuel.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 14 Jul 2008 @ 2:57 AM

  598. Polar base evacuated as ice melts early

    MOSCOW, Russia (AP) — Russian scientists are evacuating a research station built on an ice floe drifting in the western Arctic Ocean because global warming is melting the ice early, a spokesman said.

    The North Pole-35 station, where 21 researchers and two dogs live in huts, will be pulled out this week instead of late August, said Sergei Balyasnikov of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg.

    “The evacuation is ahead of schedule because of global warming,” Balyasnikov said.

    The nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika will escort a research vessel to the station, which is drifting between the Franz Josef Land archipelago and the island of Novaya Zemlya in the western Arctic.

    The researchers are packing up their winterized huts and equipment to prepare for the arrival of the icebreaker and the research vessel Mikhail Somov, Balyasnikov said.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 14 Jul 2008 @ 10:55 AM

  599. FurryCatHerder, I am aware of your position on the science and did not intend to imply otherwise, just because I have some GW science skepticism.

    Comment by Rod B — 14 Jul 2008 @ 10:56 AM

  600. The good news is, it appears that 2008 is falling behind last year’s Arctic ice melt, at least so far. Let’s hope this positive trend continues.

    Comment by Ringo — 14 Jul 2008 @ 12:16 PM

  601. RE # 600

    Ringo, what will a continuation of “this positive trend” tell you? I am curious as to what that blue line tells you vis-a-vis AGW and the global warming trend which is also trending in the positive direction. Please reply.

    John McCormick

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 14 Jul 2008 @ 12:41 PM

  602. I’m not sure what your question is exactly, John. The trend just tells me that, at this point, it does not look like 2008 is melting as fast as 2007 did. This is probably not significant one way or another to the overall temperature trends, but it is somewhat surprising, considering all the talk about how this year could easily surpass last year and set a new record for low ice extent. I have noticed that the temperatures in the Arctic this year have been a lot cooler than last year…which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising, considering the abnormally warm temperatures that dominated last summer.

    What do you mean the global warming trend is also “trending in the positive direction’?

    Comment by Ringo — 14 Jul 2008 @ 1:16 PM

  603. Re: 600

    The NSIDC sea ice extent could still take a steep dive, as 85%+ of the remaining ice out their is first year ice, and is soon going to be in bad shape.

    Even if we don’t break any records this year, most of the remaining first year ice will flush out of Fran Strait this winter.

    And next year, it will be play it again Sam.

    Actually im in the pro global warming camp. There is nothing I would like more than an ice free arctic, to convince the politicians, that its time to take global warming seriously, before its to late (if it isn’t already to late)

    Comment by LG Norton — 14 Jul 2008 @ 1:36 PM

  604. How has the increased ultraviolet radiation in the polar regions due to ozone layer depletion affected the ice there?

    Comment by John K — 14 Jul 2008 @ 4:34 PM

  605. I’ve put up some weather forecast plots for the Arctic at (GFS model output, including ice thickness and wind).

    Comment by Clarence — 14 Jul 2008 @ 5:49 PM

  606. A steep drop is certainly still possibe, LG. But as you have said, much of the ice this year is first-year ice, so one would think that it would already be melting at least as fast as 2007. The fact that it isn’t melting so fast is just evidence that the Arctic patterns drive much of the extent, and this year they have been colder and less favorable towards extreme melt.

    I understand your point about “waking up” the politicians, but at the same time, it is good to see Mother Nature fighting back – so to speak. But of course, it is too early to say too much.

    Comment by Ringo — 14 Jul 2008 @ 5:50 PM

  607. John K asked:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jul 2008 @ 6:31 PM

  608. I can find no research into the effect of increased ultraviolet on snow and ice surfaces. Is the rate of melting altered?

    Comment by John K — 14 Jul 2008 @ 8:16 PM

  609. Ringo, you need to remember there’s a distinction between area and volume. The ice can be melting and thinning, without much change in the surface area. If you look at the GFS plots kindly provided by Clarence (thanks!) you can see that very large areas of the Arctic currently have very thin ice.

    Comment by Gareth — 14 Jul 2008 @ 8:47 PM

  610. I getting awfully tired of breathless bulletins and endless back and forth, on RealClimate and elsewhere, concerning daily and weekly weather and ice, including Arctic sea ice. The short-term events don’t matter to most of us. The long-term trends are abundantly clear, and a yearly update would be plenty. Please get over it.

    Even scrolling through quickly is getting to be a burden.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 14 Jul 2008 @ 10:10 PM

  611. John, tell us what search terms you are trying, if online, or what question you asked a librarian, if using human help, and we can suggest how to find what you’re looking for. Without knowing what you tried that failed, it’s just shotgunning to try to help you. Having said that, again taking a string from your posting:

    finds, among much else, this interesting recent paper (note, the higher the albedo, the more reflection)

    Atmos. Chem. Phys., 7, 2759–2764, 2007
    © Author(s) 2007. … licensed under a Creative Commons License.
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
    Effective UV surface albedo of seasonally snow-covered lands

    “… The aim of this work was to determine the characteristic effective UV range surface albedo of various land cover types when covered by snow….

    “… fresh pure snow UV albedos near unity have been reported (Grenfell et al., 1994; Wuttke et al., 2006).”

    I’m pointing you to ways it occurs to me to find the research, rather than trying to give you an answer because, first, I don’t know anything, I’m no expert, I just like to read, and second, this is the International Polar Year. There’s a huge amount of field work going on, and the people who asked this question a few years before you did, some of them, got grants and places in programs and are out there trying to find answers.

    On a few minutes’ browsing, short answer, dry snow and ice reflects; once there’s meltwater, UV gets transmitted through, or absorbed in, the snow/ice. This plus a few field measurements are enough to start trying to understand what’s going on.

    Trying to focus the search, and using it in Scholar, helps:“snow+and+ice”+%2Bmelt

    Here for example:
    The interaction of ultraviolet light with Arctic sea ice during SHEBA

    From the abstract:

    “… Peak values of incident ultraviolet irradiance occurred in mid-June. Peak transmittance was later in the summer at the end of the melt season when the snow cover had completely melted, the ice had thinned and pond coverage was extensive. The fraction of the incident ultraviolet irradiance transmitted through the ice increased by several orders of magnitude as the melt season progressed. Ultraviolet transmittance was approximately a factor of ten greater for melt ponds than bare ice. Climate change has the potential to alter the amplitude and timing of the annual albedo cycle of sea ice. If the onset of melt occurs at increasingly earlier dates, ultraviolet transmittance will be significantly enhanced …

    From the body of the paper, telling you what they had to start with:

    “… observations of the incident ultraviolet irradiance on the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean are sparse. Also lacking is information on the partitioning of the incident ultraviolet light between reflection to the atmosphere, absorption in the snow and ice, and transmission to the ocean.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2008 @ 12:21 AM

  612. #610 Ric Merritt,

    In terms of 1 year being weather – I agree – generally. However… ;)

    For myself; following the ice this year has been fascinating. It’d be nice to talk more about it with similarly interested people. But at present I’m suffering denialist-fatigue: It seems impossible to say anything in public without them chipping in with their usual evidence-lite noise. It’d be good to think some of those people were genuinely interested, but it’s clear they are not. Had it not been for that factor I’d have had more to say on this thread.

    After last year’s volume loss, for this year to maintain the behaviour of “no new record year after a record year” is (IMHO) very interesting. I had been anticipating a drop well below last year, at least it seems we are to be spared that. I think this still holds open the possibility that last year was a blip which could be followed by some recovery, at least in the sense of the previous trend re-asserting itself (as seen in models).

    With regards daily products (Cryosphere Today and Bremmen’s AMSRE).

    I’d recomend following them in tandem with something like Environment Canada’s HRPT weather satellite products. It’s quite clear that some of the transient areas of apparent high concentration are more likely due to cloud masking the ice. Alternately using the Cryosphere Today 30 day timeseries of the Arctic Ice allows the general pattern to be visible and due weight to be given to transient high concentration areas.

    If I am wrong on this and the rapid changes from concentrations as low as 50-60% up to almost 100% (over large areas) are real I’d appreciate being corrected.

    PS, Anyone want to bet against Beaufort being ice-free this year?

    Comment by Cobblyworlds — 15 Jul 2008 @ 6:01 AM

  613. Thank you very much Hank Roberts for helping me with research on ultraviolet’s effect on polar ice. How the increased radiation is transmitted through ice, and affects biological processes under the ice, was interesting but doesn’t get to my question. Specifically, does increased ultraviolet light increase the melting of ice? This seems so basic to the discussion here, and something so easy to test in the lab, that I am surprised it gets no attention. One thing that has really changed in the polar regions, aside from rising temperatures, is the huge influx of UV radiation. Does this make the ice disappear faster?

    Comment by John K — 15 Jul 2008 @ 11:01 AM

  614. #613 John K,

    Hank has given you all you need, even if you didn’t know it.

    See his link to “The interaction of ultraviolet light with Arctic sea ice during SHEBA” check out figure 2. It’s in cm^3 and the figures are in the microwatt range.

    In a square metre there are 100*100 = 10,000 cm

    A microwatt is 0.000001 Watts.

    0.000001 * 10,000 = 0.01

    So multiply that graph’s vertical axis units by 0.01 (or divide by 100) as a conversion factor to convert to Watts/metre-squared.

    Now click on the link in my post 516 above (panel 1, short wave radiation – observed). You’ll see that insolation values in the summer exceed 100 watts. But the highest UV insolation level in figure 2 is 30*0.01 = 0.3 W/m^2. Any increase will only be a small fraction of that.

    So in answer to your question:

    Specifically, does increased ultraviolet light increase the melting of ice?

    There will be an effect, but it’s tiny.

    Interesting paper, thanks Hank.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 15 Jul 2008 @ 12:53 PM

  615. Re #613

    Most of the UV radiation reaching the surface if the ice is reflected, just as visible light is. The reflection of UV light is the cause of snow blindness.

    Thus the loss of the ozone layer in the polar regions is not causing the ice to melt. In fact ozone is a greenhouse gas, and the loss of ozone will decrease the greenhouse effect there causing cooling.

    However, that is over-ridden by the increase in CO2 which acts in a more powerful region of the infra-red spectrum.


    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 15 Jul 2008 @ 12:55 PM

  616. #613 John K.:

    See this

    for a comprehensive treatment.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 15 Jul 2008 @ 1:11 PM

  617. John, albedo is reflection. UV mostly reflects from clean dry ice and snow, so wouldn’t be heating it; but once you get a film of water the UV is not reflected and you have to figure out what happens to it. It’s not as simple as you’re trying to make it. How much of the polar ice gets some surface melt? How much of the UV gets absorbed and turns into heat within the ice?

    And you’re probably aware that the ozone hole seems to be helping keep the Antarctic cooler — not for simple reasons. Look at the articles citing this article on that:
    Journal of Climate

    Article: pp. 1467–1479 | Full Text | PDF (280K)
    Cooling of the Arctic and Antarctic Polar Stratospheres due to Ozone Depletion

    You can’t get a simple answer to this question, unless I’ve missed one doing the above searches. Keep looking, it IS a good question being addressed by a lot of people.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2008 @ 1:12 PM

  618. John, following up on “How much of the polar ice gets some surface melt” (and so, probably, absorbs rather than reflects ultraviolet): Just one example from a quick search, here, of how much area may be involved just on Greenland. You know I can’t tell you how much difference it makes. But this is the way to start trying to answer it. We can hope someone’s going to come along who actually knows something about this specific question and tell us more.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2008 @ 2:05 PM

  619. Watching the ice, studying its daily movements, comparing with previous years, is the stuff
    of climate just as much as Autopsies of corpses are part of the science of anatomy. How can one possibly understand what happened to the ice caps in ancient times, without studying, what is going on now? Keep up the good comments guys! It is stimulating, and challenges us to have a better understanding of how mega ice floes behave, I cant think of anything more interesting in climate at this moment, than to see how Arctic ice behaves, especially after last years big melt. You may say its weather, glaciology, not part of any trend etc… But over all, when this year’s melt is over, it will be part of the climate record, The devil is in the details….

    Comment by wayne davidson — 15 Jul 2008 @ 5:14 PM

  620. RE: #616 – At last, something I can apply my area of expertise to – UV absorption by water.

    The spectrum of pure water is interesting, but in the area where you get the most UV flux (near UV) it has almost no absorption. Real surface waters do, however, due to trace contaminants (some minerals, most particles, and many natural organics). For example, the absorption by humic acids (the brown in rich soil) in this region is quite intense. The exact level is probably only of interest in thin layers of water, UV light that makes it past the surface and into any thick water layers will probably get absorbed before it gets reflected out, especially by biofilms (which exist even in cold, very nutrient-limited environments).

    I have to wonder why this would even matter, due to the power spectrum of solar radiation. As they say, “follow the money,” and in this case the money is in the IR. Then again, I understand that denialists have been known to taunt advocates with claims about the “ozone hole” (or my favorite, acid rain) as if being able to address these problems somehow means they were overblown to begin with. See the “Aerosols, Chemistry and Climate” article here at RealClimate for an example.

    Comment by Paul Melanson — 15 Jul 2008 @ 5:51 PM

  621. Thank you Paul!
    In the image I linked earlier
    am I right that the size of the red area (watts per square meter per wavelength) is the ‘power spectrum’?

    And the little bit of red on the chart shown for both the infrared and ultraviolet, compared to the bulk of the red ink under the visual spectrum, is what you’re talking about? So whether that little bit of UV gets absorbed by the air, the ice, the water, the biofilm, it’s going to turn into a little bit of heat?

    PS, I hope our hosts get a thread sometime on biofilms and other biological material, however this relates to climate change. Biofilms are utterly fascinating!!

    (Perhaps I’m easily fascinated — oooh, slimy!)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2008 @ 8:26 PM

  622. Muy gracias to each of you. I now see that the math to really solve this issue is way beyond me, and that the effect of ultraviolet on ice-melting is insignificant anyway, thus no study found. This website is the paragon of the internet!
    In no way was my question about the role of ultraviolet an attempt to excuse or confuse the role of GHG’s in the disappearing precious Arctic. Still, one thing about ultraviolet radiation continues to baffle me. I understand, perhaps wrongly, that the overall cooling effect of ozone depletion is entirely due to stratospheric cooling. Since ultraviolet light burns our skin and eyes and tender vegetation, does not this radiation raise tropospheric temperature at the ground level, which is then more than cancelled as it rises to space?

    Comment by John K — 16 Jul 2008 @ 5:48 PM

  623. In re #599 by Rod B:

    FurryCatHerder, I am aware of your position on the science and did not intend to imply otherwise, just because I have some GW science skepticism.

    The only “skepticism” on the basic science is “denialism”. Skepticism on the finer points of the environmental impacts, sure. Skepticism on the merits of focusing more on worst-case scenarios, sure. But on the basic science? No, that’s “denialism”.

    The basics are pretty simple — even if CO2 is a relatively weak greenhouse gas overall in parts-per-million, and even if it only contributes some small number of watts of additional energy, over time the concentration builds and those additional watts increase right along with it. It’s like wind erosion — not as dramatic as the water stuff, but over time all that wind makes a difference.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 16 Jul 2008 @ 8:52 PM

  624. John K, try here:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jul 2008 @ 9:39 PM

  625. John,

    You asked “Since ultraviolet light burns our skin and eyes and tender vegetation, does not this radiation raise tropospheric temperature at the ground level, … ?”

    The answer is no. The total amount of UV energy is very small, although each UV photon does have relatively high energy. It is this high energy which causes the radiation burning when the photons destroy the cells. It is not like heat from infrared radiation which makes the skin warm.

    Visible red and infrared radiation from a branding iron produces a similar reaction from the skin as UV, but you can feel the heat from the iron immediately. You cannot feel UV, only its effects later.


    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 17 Jul 2008 @ 3:01 AM

  626. FurryCatHerder (623), while I categorically reject the term “denialism” in the context of climate science, mostly because it’s simply a stupid ad hominem despite its appeal to many (and despite their vociferous denial that they mean it as an ad hominem), even within your definition I’m missing your point. I explicitly said “I don’t dispute the basic science” (594) of greenhouse gases. Would you clarify please?

    Comment by Rod B — 17 Jul 2008 @ 8:49 AM

  627. Re #585
    That’s it then, the flow of ice should change soon, a High pressure is at the right place to make that big spot of loose ice near the Pole, head there.

    The winds are right and some buoy drifts are looking a little more “normal”

    Wayne, You can see the effect now, the flow direction has switched over the last week:

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 17 Jul 2008 @ 9:15 AM

  628. Rod, says, “I categorically reject the term ‘denialism’ in the context of climate science.”

    Are there other sciences in which you would accept the term denialism? For example, are creationists “denialists” in the context of evolutionary biology?

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 17 Jul 2008 @ 10:29 AM

  629. Rod B #626:

    ‘Denialist’ is the opposite of ‘alarmist’. Both camps call each other names. Is this bad? People have a need to ‘label’ others. I am not sure whether it is good or bad. I see it as a given, people are people after all.

    Many ‘skeptics’ flatter themself with that title, because they categorically reject any notion of anthropogenic climate change and have no intention of ever challenging that opinion (just like many creationists will always reject evolution). Labeling them ‘denialists’ has the advantage of reserving the title ‘skeptic’ for those that merit it.

    What if we start calling everyone ‘skeptic’ from now on? Will that change anything? Banning the word will not make the two types of people go away. We will still want to distinguish between the true and fake skeptics, so it is inevitable that a new name will be invented for either category.

    In my country I have seen the common term for elderly people being replaced by a new euphemism a few times, because the old word was considered stigmatising. Of course the problem was not in the word. Shakespeare already observed that changing the name alters neither the object, nor our perception of it.

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 17 Jul 2008 @ 1:53 PM

  630. Are there other sciences in which you would accept the term denialism? For example, are creationists “denialists” in the context of evolutionary biology?

    He’s an intelligent design guy, so at least he’s consistent … give him credit for that!

    Seriously …

    Comment by dhogaza — 17 Jul 2008 @ 2:28 PM

  631. Go to the source for definitions of terms. I recommend

    Dr. Lindzen, as quoted by Dr. Curry, nails this one I think — “industry stooges … “

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jul 2008 @ 3:39 PM

  632. #627, Phil. Ice thickness would be really great to have, just about now, its very difficult to judge
    what is going on without that component. However I noticed some “normal” movement,
    and that plays badly for the ice drifting towards the open water North of NWT, Yukon and Canada.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 17 Jul 2008 @ 8:12 PM

  633. Jim, Anne, and a little dhogaza, actually you all make valid points. My problem with being called a denialist is in the context, the term being co-opted by a few in the AGW debate to associate us “aginers” with the Holocaust bad guys deniers. It’s unfortunate. As you point out, there is a valid objective distinction between skeptic and “denier” (repudiator??), though there are varying degrees of skepticism which can make it cloudy.

    It’s a little less gray, but creationism comes in degrees also. The hard core (strict literal Biblical interpretation) clearly repudiate (deny??) evolution. But that slides back toward “intelligent design” which doesn’t necessarily refute/deny evolution (or Big Bang), but doesn’t necessarily buy them hook, line and sinker, either. [This ignores that the hard core creationists co-opted (stole?) the term intelligent design by first coming up with “intelligent creation” — like denialism was co-opted by some radical AGWers.]

    “Alarmist” in its pure form would be a perfectly valid term also, as, — in the strict sense, some AGWers are, like Hansen, e.g. But it too has been adopted (glommed?) by some repudiators because to some it implies a goofy chicken-little (which Hansen is not, e.g.), and generates blind, emotional and hopefully rabid support. I don’t use the term. (…though I have called people here goofy a time or two, I think… :-P )

    A minor disagreement with The Bard: true, changing the name does not change the object, but it can and does change perception. All kinda sad, really.

    Comment by Rod B — 17 Jul 2008 @ 11:00 PM

  634. the term being co-opted by a few in the AGW debate to associate us “aginers” with the Holocaust bad guys deniers. It’s unfortunate.

    I’d like evidence that the term was co-opted in order to associate deniers with Holocaust deniers. The term “denialist” is describes a large percentage of the naysayers accurately.

    This ignores that the hard core creationists co-opted (stole?) the term intelligent design

    This isn’t the place for a discussion on biological science denialism, but please, do yourself a favor and get your history straight. You’ve got the history backwards. Read the Dover transcript for details. You are entitled to your own beliefs, but geez, fantasy history is a poor foundation for them.

    Comment by dhogaza — 18 Jul 2008 @ 2:58 AM

  635. Re #632:

    GFS (weather forecast model) contains ice thickness. I don’t know however, how reliable it is. At least it has some obvious flaws. I have plots here:

    To compare: sea ice thickness climatology.

    I’ve also added an animation of sea ice with buoy positions:

    Re #612:

    I wouldn’t bet on an ice-free Beaufort Sea, because thick ice from the north of the Canadian Archipelago may easily drift in faster than it can melt. But I also wouldn’t bet against it.

    Clouds seem indeed to mask low ice concentration, but without clouds the ice concentration is sometimes displayed way too low on the daily products. Compare the 2007-06-08 IUP analysis with a MODIS image. There aren’t even large amounts of melt ponds where IUP has open water, and it also isn’t a one-time error; it’s similar for adjacent days.

    Re #621:

    I expect the solar spectrum to be quite dependent on the latitude (and also the season). In the Arctic, even less UV should reach the surface because of higher ozone concentrations and lower insolation angle, thus a longer way through the atmosphere and more absorption.

    Yesterday’s model based downward fluxes: UV-B, short wave, long wave.

    Comment by Clarence — 18 Jul 2008 @ 8:33 AM

  636. RE: 625

    Hey Alistair,

    Just a quick note. By personal experimentation I believe your interpretation of the effect of UV does not match up very well.
    My first experience was when I was younger and at the beach I would attempt to tan and thought the temperature was in the mid-70’s I would perspire easily. Later in life having less time in the Sun I found that the heat I would feel was much higher. However, I could apply an SPF 60 UVA/UVB blocking lotion and feel immediately cooler.

    By the same token, here at home I have a palladian window which would allow direct sunlight to hit me at around 11 AM local time. The heat of the sunlight was significant. To resolve this I simply added a clear non-mirrored 70% UV blocking film. This film reduced the measured temperature by nearly 14 Deg. F on a wet bulb thermometer sitting in my chair.

    As a General Open Comment:

    To be unwelcome, if after 30 years of personal research, I do not perceive direct cause and effect evidence that supports the current conclusion of anthropogenic global warming of certain participants, is sad. Then again I can understand this response if this site is dedicated to self edification of experts; however, that was not the intent that Dr. Schmitt has indicated in the past. Word Salad terminated…

    I will retire from this site now. I am tired that my words get twisted and my comments or desire to reduce my ignorance appears not to be welcome. I thank Dr. Schmitt and the rest of the team for their forebearance as I have attempted to share and learn here.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by l david cooke — 18 Jul 2008 @ 8:45 AM

  637. Re # 636 David Cooke – If you are still reading this thread:

    I am certainly no expert on UV radiation, but your UV-blocking film could also be blocking some IR (and possibly some visible) wavelengths, which would explain your greatly reduced solar heating. Here is an excerpt from an ad for 3M Window Film:

    Our spectrally-selective films reject up to 97% of the sun’s infrared light to keep your home cool and lower your energy bills.
    3M™ Window Films will also block up to 99.9% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, which are the single largest cause of fading.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 18 Jul 2008 @ 1:07 PM

  638. #635,

    Thanks Clarence, really good stuff indeed! Now if there was an ice thickness of say June 17 2008, just to see how fast it melted, even if thickness is suspect, the same method of measurement applied twice should give a good idea. Also to judge how well the less than 1 meter thick presently remaining large extent of ice will survive in the coming weeks.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 18 Jul 2008 @ 1:24 PM

  639. re: 633. “..the term being co-opted by a few in the AGW debate to associate us “aginers” with the Holocaust bad guys deniers.”

    That is classic, inexcusable AGW denialist hyperbole. There was *never* “a few in the AGW debate” who said that. It was one person: Ellen Goodman in a Boston Globe op-ed. Naturally the denialist blogosphere hyped the story and exaggerated it so that their uninformed readers would regurgitate it somewhere else. Indeed, it’s unfortunate when all it takes is a simple Google search to check the facts.

    Comment by Dan — 18 Jul 2008 @ 2:06 PM

  640. dhogaza (634), I’m totally missing your last point, as your history reference seems to support my contention. Unless for some reason you think the term “intelligence design” originated in ~2003 with the good folks of Dover…

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Jul 2008 @ 3:19 PM

  641. Mentioned in EOS (AGU) 1 July v89 No. 28 — new paleo data working group for Arctic climate change. Website:

    “The PAGES Working Group (WG) on arctic climate during the last two millennia (Arctic2k) was launched in March 2008 to generate and synthesize high-resolution paleoclimate data to assess and elucidate both the timing and variability of the Arctic climate change during this period.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Jul 2008 @ 4:21 PM

  642. Dan (639), says, “….classic, inexcusable AGW denialist hyperbole. There was *never* “a few in the AGW debate” who said that. It was one person: Ellen Goodman…”

    Yeah. And I suppose the cherub AGWers jumped all over her, rejected the ad hominem vociferously, and gave it no quarter in their own use… Jeesz. And all us paranoid hyperbolic skeptics harangued in chorus, “Ma! They’re calling me a DENIER!”… Jeesz. Read the posts here or anywhere to find some. (But bear in mind I’m accusing only a probably small minority of AGWers; and you have to see past their standard disclaimers such as ‘Now I’m not accusing you stupid, blind, low-life, revisionist deniers of being like the Holocaust deniers, but….’)

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Jul 2008 @ 5:11 PM

  643. In re 626, etc.

    It’s a little less gray, but creationism comes in degrees also. The hard core (strict literal Biblical interpretation) clearly repudiate (deny??) evolution. But that slides back toward “intelligent design” which doesn’t necessarily refute/deny evolution (or Big Bang), but doesn’t necessarily buy them hook, line and sinker, either. [This ignores that the hard core creationists co-opted (stole?) the term intelligent design by first coming up with “intelligent creation” — like denialism was co-opted by some radical AGWers.]

    There’s a difference between, say, denying certain projected outcomes (what I do), and denying that certain things are happening, may happen, G-d might somehow allow them to happen, whatever. Which is to say, I’m unclear where exactly it is you differ from Gavin, et alia.

    Likewise, I’m a strict biblical literalist. But only when said bible is read by people who aren’t illiterate, particularly when it comes to the original language, and particularly when it comes to understanding the difference between “synopsis” and “detailed expository”. “Yiyeh ohr, va’yiyeh ohr” is not a discussion of underlying physics — there just aren’t enough letters — but I think it passes pretty good for Introduction to Big Bang Cosmologies.

    One should never confuse Cliff Notes for Shakespeare nor sacred texts for Physics texts. Likewise, one should never confuse ignorance for education, or an incomplete education for reasoned argument.

    (Off topic — the bible is generally a “why” kind of book, while science texts are generally “how” kinds of books. Two different objectives …)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 18 Jul 2008 @ 6:15 PM

  644. Kindly take ‘intelligent design’, bible, etc. over to

    and try to stick to climatology here. Thank you.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Jul 2008 @ 6:36 PM

  645. FCHerder, other than a few who have posted here recently and before, I don’t know which et alia agree or disagree with me, nor to what extent. I can imagine some inferring that my “denialist” charge applies to them (which it often would not) and taking umbrage. I don’t know Gavin’s position though suspect he’ll tire of Bible and ID posts pretty soon — though I think the analogy is appropriate ala co-opting terms to the detriment of the discussion.

    It was literal King James Bible thumping creationists, not Greek/Hebrew scholars, who burgled the ID term.

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Jul 2008 @ 10:44 PM

  646. With all the butressing multi-year ice now gone from the shores of Greenland and the Canadian islands

    what effect is this having on the rate of glacier and ice-sheet movement (and consequential sea level rise)?

    Any pointers?

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 18 Jul 2008 @ 10:49 PM

  647. re: 642. You conveniently missed the main point. Which was that *one* person wrote it. You exaggerated it to make it sound like there were more. As did many uniformed anti-science denialist bloggers/regurgitators and other journalists. Sorry, all were wrong. But they could never admit it of course.

    Comment by Dan — 19 Jul 2008 @ 5:04 AM

  648. Rod B, maybe you could tell us what bits of the science in climatology you don’t believe are right. Your current exposition is bereft of any detail.

    Please note: you’ve already said that the climate models are exaggerating the climate change, so please, when you state what you have a problem with, ensure that you place also why you think the errors inherent in the point you think incorrect must make climate models over-estimate.

    Comment by Mark — 19 Jul 2008 @ 9:19 AM

  649. Here’s a feedback loop — emissions from shipping:

    Extensive measurements of the emission of light absorbing carbon aerosol (LAC) from commercial shipping are presented. … The highest emitters (per unit fuel burnt) are tug boats, thus making significant contributions to local air quality in ports. … This small fraction could have disproportionate effects on both air quality near port areas and climate in the Arctic if direct emissions of LAC occur in that region due to opening Arctic sea routes. …. Increases of 20–50 ng m−3 LAC (relative increases up to 40%) due to shipping occur

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jul 2008 @ 11:00 AM

  650. re 647: Who was the absolute first with an expressed thought, by a nanosecond or a month, is irrelevant, insignificant, and ignores the essential true thrust of my accusation, which is that a minority group of folks that align themselves with AGW (scientists or not) glommed onto the holocaust-implied meaning of “denier” ands ran like hell and with much self-satisfying glee with its co-opting use as a clever ad hominem. When one robs a bank with flair and flourish, they’re not excused just because “but Willie Sutton did it first.”

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Jul 2008 @ 11:04 AM

  651. Er, Rod, you’re wrong. No one except that one nitwit newspaper writer has conflated climate denial (the “stooges” as Lindzen names them) with those crap artists involved in denying history. You’re echoing the concern troll line, the ‘oh you called me this you must mean that’ whining used to derail conversation about the science. Please stop.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jul 2008 @ 12:19 PM

  652. For what it’s worth, I think the term “global warming denier”, used with a moral import similar to that of “Holocaust denier”, is entirely appropriate.

    The Holocaust already happened. Millions of people died horrible and unjust deaths. Though we may feel repugnance towards Holocaust deniers, the fact that some bigot or crank denies that reality is not going to change what already happened. It isn’t going to kill anyone.

    In the case of anthropogenic global warming, however, there are millions of lives — probably hundreds of millions or billions of lives — at risk if we do not act promptly and aggressively. Indeed, the entire fabric of life on Earth, the viability of the rich, diverse biosphere of the Holocene, is at risk. Global warming denial delays action, and thus directly increases the likelihood of misery and death for millions and catastrophic damage to all life on Earth in the not-too-distant future. It is, if anything, more morally objectionable than Holocaust denial.

    So, speaking for myself, let me be clear: when I use the term “denier” or “denialist”, I most certainly do intend it to carry an overtone of moral condemnation.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Jul 2008 @ 12:29 PM

  653. Let’s stop analyzing the ad homs okay? We all know propaganda when we see it and we all learned about sticks and stones back on the playground (even though it was not exactly true).

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 19 Jul 2008 @ 1:04 PM

  654. Yeah. And I suppose the cherub AGWers jumped all over her, rejected the ad hominem vociferously, and gave it no quarter in their own use… Jeesz.

    I know I didn’t jump all over her.

    Mea culpa.

    Then again, I don’t read Ellen Goodman’s column more than a couple times a year, max, and I doubt I’m alone in that.

    ignores the essential true thrust of my accusation, which is that a minority group of folks that align themselves with AGW

    Well, the essential true thrust of your accusation didn’t include the word “minority”.

    Backpedaling one step at a time, good for you.

    I’ve never heard of the accusation, frankly. My guess is that the association is much more firmly in the minds of a few AGW denialists seeking unwarranted respect than those of us who accept science.

    Comment by dhogaza — 19 Jul 2008 @ 1:29 PM

  655. Rod B #650

    True, who was the first was irrelevant. It was SO irrelevant, that wasn’t what #647 said.

    I really wonder if you thought anyone didn’t notice.

    Comment by Mark — 19 Jul 2008 @ 2:28 PM

  656. re: 650. Goodness no. Again, Ellen Goodman wrote it. Now you are making things up as you go along. No one else said it or glommed onto it (the Holocaust-implied meaning of “denier”). It is not that difficult to comprehend. The only references to Goodman’s op-ed are on denialist web sites who try to make it sound that it was some sort of perverted consensus position. See Google for examples.

    Comment by Dan — 19 Jul 2008 @ 2:41 PM

  657. Hank (647) strongly avers it ain’t true, followed immediately by SecularAnimist explaining that it’s not only true, it’s totally justified. You guys need to check signals ;-) .

    re dhogaza’s nicely stated assertion that I’m now back peddling because I introduced the word minority flies blatantly in the face of fact. In just this thread I think I first used the word “many”; then when directly on point I used “a few”, followed with “some radical..”, later “some”, then followed with my “probably small minority”, and that as a clarifying reminder, and finally “a minority”. You really have to stretch to find back peddling in there. I assiduously, sometimes tediously, try not to pigeon-hole or stereotype any group with my accusations.

    Mark, so E.G. was the only one,… but not the first? hmmmm.

    Dan and everybody, it seems “denialist” and “denialism” , which, btw, were not even dictionary words until first in the context of the Holocaust, are always used as a pejorative used by one group to denigrate another, and never used as a badge of honor by, say, us AGW skeptics. [Though I agree with Anne, et al that otherwise they could be perfectly good terms.] Tell you what: if I quit whining about “denialist” (even though I could not accept it) and pointing to the emperor’s nakedness, can I assume you all will quit crying over “alarmist”? (Even if not an even trade…)

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Jul 2008 @ 6:05 PM

  658. Rod writes — 19 July 2008 at 18:05:
    > Hank (647)

    Nope, sorry. Wrong number.

    Numbering changes when delayed posts get belatedly released; they then appear in chronological order, bumping up subsequent numbers.

    Best to cite (or copy the timestamp link), and use quotation marks rather than paraphrasing. Elen Goodman’s meme appears contagious as well as toxic. Sorry to see that.

    “Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jul 2008 @ 9:18 PM

  659. Rod #657:

    Hank (647) strongly avers it ain’t true, followed immediately by SecularAnimist explaining that it’s not only true, it’s totally justified. You guys need to check signals ;-) .

    Welcome to the difference between fact and opinion Rod :-) Facts don’t need any signals to be self-cosistent.

    I take it that Hank’s opinion is on the tactical unwisdom of throwing the simile around, as more people may be offended, mistaking it for hyperbole, than convinced. As for the facts, I am with SecularAnimist and his reasons. Sometimes reality is offensive.

    Think about it: anno 1939, warnings that an old civilization in the heart of Europe was about to engage in the industrial extermination of a whole people, were often dismissed as rhetorical excess. You just don’t want to believe it.

    Using the denialism label is appropriate only for those fully at home with the science, and still denying it. Psychologically it produces a tension (“in your heart you know it’s true”). Keeping the untruths consistent requires further effort. The wise pay heed.

    You’re not at that point yet, Rod, but well positioned… flatly denying the words of your own vice president spoken on air less than a decade ago was a useful exercise (sorry, couldn’t resist) ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 20 Jul 2008 @ 3:39 AM

  660. Here’s a decent definition of denialism …

    “the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one’s viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.

    Seems like an accurate description of most of the anti-AGW crap (and anti-biology crap) one sees.

    Rod, you really want to argue that denialism in the AGW debate doesn’t exist?

    Comment by dhogaza — 20 Jul 2008 @ 4:42 AM

  661. Martin’s got it right: “… the tactical unwisdom of throwing the simile around, as more people may be offended, mistaking it for hyperbole, than convinced.”

    Making business choices that result in short term profit with large external costs is execrable. It’s not the same as rounding people up and murdering them wholesale — an activity much in vogue for the whole history of humanity.

    There’s a difference between convicting people for what they did in the past, and convicting people for the future consequences. The pollution laws, the Geneva Conventions, the nuclear controls, the building codes, all try to preclude consequences of known bad choices.

    Precautions aren’t generally popular with people who get their answers by “talking to the invisible hand” (Jon Stewart’s phrase)

    These are different than proving murder and war crimes happened. That’s why it trivializes real death to compare real murderers to the stupid, shortsighted, profit-blinded, wilfully ignorant industrialists.

    Rod, you know what Lindzen means by “industry stooges” — don’t you? I’m sure I’ve reminded you of it repeatedly.

    Those are the people who are responsible for the lack of understanding. Yes, there are industries paying stooges to lie to and confuse the public about the consequences of short term profit and long term externalized costs. This is a business tactic.

    Read about the work of the stooges, it’s well documented.

    The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism
    PJ Jacques – Environmental Politics, 2008 –
    “… conservative think tank associations … in the
    US have helped diffuse [sic] environmental scepticism internationally. …”

    Remember, the courts have ruled it is acceptable for a newspaper to print lies decided by their owners, they are selling you to the advertisers, not selling the news to you.
    Doubt and verify what you read.

    This goes way off topic repeatedly, because people keep coming into threads proclaiming what they believe to be true on faith.

    You can look it up. You can look most things up.
    Don’t rely on online sources. Get to know a reference librarian.
    They’re the most likely people in the world to help you find facts.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Jul 2008 @ 12:55 PM

  662. Rod, I have to wonder what you hope to gain here. You have an impossibly high standard of evidence; there seems to be no observation or theory that will change your mind.

    How can you believe that humans can dump hundreds of gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere without changing the climate?

    How can you look at the horrifying evidence of widespread ocean anoxia, acidification, and ecosystem destruction without concern?

    How can you watch the unprecedented loss of Arctic sea ice and shrug?

    It boggles my mind that in the face of overwhelming empirical evidence, you choose to look the other way. The human destruction of the biosphere and climate is a moral issue. Deal with it.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 20 Jul 2008 @ 1:29 PM

  663. dhogaza, you might have included a couple of other phrases from your quoted definition that don’t make it sound entirely sanguine, like, “…when they seek to influence….by illegitimate means…”, or, “used pejoratively, …denies established scientific or historical truths by dishonest means.” In any case I probably wouldn’t have a problem with “denialism, denialist” (or, from the other side, “alarmist” for that matter) ala Anne’s post, e.g., if it were understood in the pure sense — some skeptics do go to the length of denying (refuting?) virtually all of AGW science and politics (crap I guess you call it). But, it actually and unfortunately remains an egregious pejorative most/some of the time.

    Some think I et al have an obligation to accept this name calling because (in their mind) I really am a low-life and use illegitimate and/or dishonest means. Or that they claim they really don’t mean it in a bad way… But that’s just not going to fly. I really don’t see the nature of the expression changing. I’d go with something else that, at least so far, has not been co-opted like repudiator, or something — I don’t know, but there ought to be a term to distinguish between part skeptic and entire skeptic. My hopes are not high though; there’s way too much self-satisfaction that stems from uttering “denialist!”

    I think we’re getting close to a blocking point…?

    Comment by Rod B — 20 Jul 2008 @ 1:40 PM

  664. Mark (648), I agreed here on RC some time back that I should do more study and research to actively expound my areas of skepticism, as opposed to exploring and questioning. [I also check some of the peripheral hyperbole that crops up now and then from some AGWer’s exuberant enthusiasm. :-) ] But, roughly and for the record, my primary area of concern is in the area of marginal increases in CO2 vs. the degree and timing of marginal forcing increases. I also have some raised eyebrows over the accuracy and reliability of global temperature measurements and global CO2 concentrations, though this is secondary. And another area or two.

    btw, I do not believe that I’m obligated to fully develop my own science to make my case. It just need a little enhancement (and it might fail). I can assure you I have no intention of writing my own GCM to try to prove a point as some have implied I’m obligated to do.

    Comment by Rod B — 20 Jul 2008 @ 2:05 PM

  665. re: 662. Unfortunately I think what is quite telling is the past belittling and mocking of peer-review. When denialists and/or skeptics can not debate or understand the science involved, the scientific method/process is often attacked.

    Comment by Dan — 20 Jul 2008 @ 5:29 PM

  666. So, we’re back to the definition of “denialist”. Since we are talking science here, and science is about evidence, I would contend that a denialist is one who denies or refuses to examine the evidence. Rod does not fit into this category–rather, he is a bit like Ernst Mach refusing to accept the existence of atoms despite Brownian motion and a dozen other indications. One wonders whether Mach would have even accepted them now that they have been imaged.

    Rod, I keep saying that the better you understand the science, the less you’ll be able to reject the conclusion that we are changing the climate.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Jul 2008 @ 8:24 PM

  667. Don’t like “denialist?” Count your blessings, if this was a less-charged or less-political subject, people who threw out such comments would be called “crackpots.” I know that’s not flattering, but it’s the truth. Please realize that the people here are showing you more respect than most would if you attacked their area of expertise in this manner.

    Comment by Paul Melanson — 21 Jul 2008 @ 3:15 PM

  668. Mmm North Pole Notes seems to have well and truly gone south!

    I take if from this that there is nothing at all happening in Santa’s cave thats worthy of note? No vyersts of open leads? No square parsecs of mush? Cubic furlongs of frost? No Babbling bubbles of GHGs? No Polar Bears treading water?

    Or are we simply fiddling, while Rome (and the Artic) burns – waiting until the October minimum so we can say to those who will not hear – “I told you so!”?


    Comment by Nigel Williams — 21 Jul 2008 @ 10:10 PM

  669. Gavin:
    In 7 you say that “Global values are not particularly useful since they conflate the two disparate and out of phase seasonal cycles.”

    A couple of questions arise from this:
    1. Isn’t “global” ice relevant in a discussion of “global” warming. It is just a bigger average.
    2. defines “disparate” as “distinct in kind, essentially different”. How is northern sea ice different?
    3. If the seasonal cycles are out of phase, can’t you simply shift one by 6 months to put them in phase? Have you don this? What do you get?
    4. In principle, wouldn’t “global” warming make all sea ice, fall?

    Thanks for your answers.

    Comment by Leonard Herchen — 22 Jul 2008 @ 12:22 AM

  670. Nigel Williams wrote:

    I take if from this that there is nothing at all happening in Santa’s cave thats worthy of note?

    Well, if it continues to follow the same trend it has been taking so far, we are probably talking about something slightly above 2005 in terms of sea ice extent. Obviously there is a great deal less volume than back then, but… at the same time, the winter was largely snow-free. Snow insulates — which means that it prevents the ocean from cooling as much as it would otherwise. So we actually got back a little thickness. Chance.

    They say that records aren’t usually consecutive in things like this — but I wasn’t sure. I wondered if last year might have — in terms of the underlying physical principles — set up this year for another record due to positive feedbacks between the atmosphere and ocean almost as a matter of some sort of physical necessity. Apparently not.

    It would appear that even when you reach a tipping point, to have that kind of positive feedback set in requires passing beyond near-term tipping point each year. But it is difficult to say. Still — I expect us to reach the ice-free summer state sooner rather than later — and I will go with 2013 for the time being.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 22 Jul 2008 @ 1:51 AM

  671. [669] – I can have a go at a few of these questions. They’re not all there, but I’ve kept your numbers.

    (2) The Arctic and Antarctic are different principally because their geography is different. The Arctic is an ocean surrounded by land, whereas the Antarctic is a continent surrounded by ocean. This has an effect on the atmospheric circulation and the location of the sea ice for starters.

    Therefore, there is a reasonable expectation that they might react differently.

    (3) I wouldn’t really want to shift things out of phase, since the phase is important for the sea-ice albedo effect. If you want to track the change in the global amount of sea-ice you would be better off combining the annual means, rather than trying to track the total day-by-day or month-by-month through the year.

    As far as I remember, if you were to do this you would have a small decreasing trend at present.

    (4) Well, “global” warming is an average warming, so some areas can warm less, or not at all, whilst the globe still warms as a whole. Ultimately, once the level of global warming is sufficiently high, you would expect this average warming to overcome any regional difference, but clearly we haven’t reached that stage yet.

    As to why the Antarctic is behaving differently – I don’t know. It certainly makes the Antarctic climate an interesting and active area of research, but it does little to alter our view of global warming as a whole.

    One thing that might be important to find out is whether the difference in reaction is permanent or temporary, since the amount of sea ice, and the local warming, would have an impact on the rate at which the Antarctic ice sheet melts at the edges – contributing to sea level rise.

    Comment by Timothy — 22 Jul 2008 @ 9:53 AM

  672. Indeed, Paul, maybe we can sidestep Rod’s objections to “denialist” by calling them “cranks” instead.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 22 Jul 2008 @ 11:18 AM

  673. Leon #669.

    Point 4:. In principle, wouldn’t “global” warming make all sea ice, fall?

    Well, did you know that one of the driest places on earth is in the middle of Antartica?

    Why’s that? Because REALLY cold air can’t hold moisture. The colder it is, the less it holds. It’s why clouds form: wet air rises, cools, condenses the water out.

    So let’s say the centre of antartica is -50C. Let’s say global warming is raising it by a massive 20C. It’s still well below freezing. So any precipitation will be snow. But since it is a lot hotter, it can hold more water. So you’d get more snow.

    So even though the antartic has gotten 20 degrees warmer, it is now snowing MORE.

    Which sounds to us in temperate areas like it’s getting colder, doesn’t it? Well your grandad may have told you in the past winters “it’s too cold for snow”. HE knew.

    Comment by Mark — 22 Jul 2008 @ 12:29 PM

  674. Mark:
    The issue is sea ice, not ice at the middle of Antarctica. For the record, The antarctic continent has see no significant changes in temperature anomaly in the last several decades.

    Comment by Leonard Herchen — 22 Jul 2008 @ 1:30 PM

  675. Yes, Mark, your hypothesis makes sense…but as Leonard pointed out, Antarctica has not been warming at really, so there would not be that reason for increased snow/ice.

    Comment by Ringo — 22 Jul 2008 @ 3:25 PM

  676. Jim Galasyn said:

    Indeed, Paul, maybe we can sidestep Rod’s objections to “denialist” by calling them “cranks” instead.

    As I’ve been doing for more than a year…

    Comment by Gareth — 22 Jul 2008 @ 4:50 PM

  677. Gareth: Nice!

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 22 Jul 2008 @ 5:33 PM

  678. On the other hand, coastal station at antarctica mostly show a warming trend.

    And the moisture for snow would come from air blowing from the ocean onto the continent …

    And there is evidence that the rate of snow accumulation has accelerated since 1960..

    Comment by dhogaza — 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:42 AM

  679. Ringo #657

    I’d made the difference massive to show how it would happen.

    Now, the air near the south pole (say, for example, over the ocean nearby) is getting warmer. It will hold more moisture. And some of that wet air will go inland. Snowing.

    The same thing can happen near the mountains elsewhere.

    Hence “wouldn’t global warming make all ice fall” isn’t true. At least not if you take spot values to prove snow is growing and hence it isn’t warming.

    Comment by Mark — 23 Jul 2008 @ 3:28 AM

  680. RE #663

    Rod, you asked:

    [I don’t know, but there ought to be a term to distinguish between part skeptic and entire skeptic]

    In your particular case, I offer this term that might be worthy of your and others’ consideration.

    How about ‘attention seeker’.

    I and many of the diligent contributors to this thread have continued to engage your ideas, theories, beliefs in ways that weigh more heavily in their favor than yours. Yet, you come back with innanne comments such as your not having any responsibility to construct you GCM to ‘prove’ your point. How selfish of you.

    It is my thought that what you are really engaged in is logging ‘stage minutes’. The longer you dodge critiques of your opinions, the longer you can stretch your vibility on this and other threads.

    Joe Romm’s Climate Progress blog has its share of attention seekers who contribute no new ideas or discussions…only resentment that they will not pick up and go home.

    John McCormick

    Comment by John McCormick — 23 Jul 2008 @ 10:43 AM

  681. John, no, that won’t fit. I care not a twit if I get your attention

    Comment by Rod B — 23 Jul 2008 @ 11:24 AM

  682. John McCormick wrote: “How about ‘attention seeker’.”

    The traditional term, dating from the USENET era, is “troll”. The term “troll” comes from a technique of that name used in fishing, where a fisherman drags a moving, baited hook through the water, in the hope that the movement will lure fish into biting. (Contrary to popular belief it does not refer to the mythical “trolls” of fairy tales — malevolent monsters who often lived under bridges and harassed or killed travelers crossing over their bridge.)

    Internet “trolls” are people who post comments or inquiries, sometimes but not always deliberately annoying or inflammatory in nature, and sometimes repetitions of questions that have long ago been answered, for the sole purpose of “luring” other participants into responding. In some cases their motivation seems to be simply to attract attention to themselves; in other cases they appear to be deliberately and maliciously seeking to waste other people’s time, or upset them, just for the “fun” of it. In a few cases, they may have a somewhat more complicated purpose, such as seeking to create the impression among new visitors to a forum that questions that have actually been long since laid to rest are still the subject of legitimate dispute.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Jul 2008 @ 12:14 PM

  683. Rod, #681

    You care enough to post about it, though.

    And Secular Analyst, #682, you’re correct. Being from a fishing port, I thought everyone knew trolling was a fishing term, but when I left, I found out how little some knowledge travels.

    I think part of the problem is that anyone with a desire to correct in a minor point of arcane knowledge is considered “a smartarse” and so the little things get killed off.

    Comment by Mark — 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:10 PM

  684. The lyric:
    The FAQ:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Jul 2008 @ 1:48 PM

  685. Wow. Remember when “watching ice melt” was a metaphor for slow and boring? That changed around the beginning of July:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Jul 2008 @ 2:37 PM

  686. PS, don’t assume the July melt is unique; check the comparable animation sequences for earlier years, e.g.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Jul 2008 @ 2:39 PM

  687. One thing that I haven’t seem mention is the role of storms in breaking up first year ice.

    Generally later in the summer season, fall storms with high winds can really do an excellent job breaking up sea ice. As sea ice gets broken in smaller bits, it has more surface area which quickens the melting process.

    On a side note, does url’s need to be in displayed in HTML markup, as I had a few messages that failed to get posted, and the moderator should have no problem with the content (compared to some of the messages I have seen on this board).

    Comment by LG Norton — 23 Jul 2008 @ 8:40 PM

  688. Looks like no one wants to answer the tougher questions.
    Oh well.

    Comment by Leonard Herchen — 23 Jul 2008 @ 10:42 PM

  689. #686 Hank Roberts,
    Exactly why I haven’t been commenting much recently.

    Considering the changed state of a substantial area of the ice, the “action” from Beaufort towards the Pole, the the substantially reduced perennial in that area… The fat lady is still singing, she could still beat her performance of last year.

    #688 Leonard Herchen,
    You haven’t asked any tough questions here. I noticed what you said and didn’t consider it worthy of my time.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 24 Jul 2008 @ 1:47 AM

  690. Herchen, your questions aren’t difficult, and were mostly answered in 671 above.

    Here’s one back atcha;

    Why would you expect global warming to act equivalently at the two poles, given that one sits in the middle of an ocean surrounded by continents, while the other sits in the middle of a continent surrounded by the sea?

    Or at the edges of the southern continent vs. the edges of that northernmost ocean?

    Acting surprised that there are differences is like acting surprised that the Oregon Coast is much warmer in winter than central Montana. Geography matters.

    Comment by dhogaza — 24 Jul 2008 @ 7:50 AM

  691. Doghaza et all.
    Thanks for pointing out 671’s answers. What is interesting here, is that it seems a bit selective. If there is a fall in sea ice at a pole, its global warming, but if there isn’t a fall in sea ice at the opposite pole, its natural variations and differences in geography. On the face of it, it all seems like reasonable explanations, but, it basically boils down to some observation that suggests “global warming” are interpreted as such, while if some observation isn’t consistent, its natural variation or geography. Basically, any observation possible will fit the anthropogenic global warming theory either as evidence for it, or natural variation, never evidence against.

    If we have only 30 years of ice history for the north pole, the current changes can easily be described as natural variation as well. How do we know that the current north pole ice variation, isn’t also simply natural variation?

    From an objective point of view, neither skeptical nor supportive of the theory, the lack of warming in certain very large portions of the world is an observation that puts the idea of “global” warming in doubt. This fact, as well as the fact that temperatures haven’t moved up in 10 years, are probably the amongst the biggest observational weaknesses in AGW theory.

    Lets try this question then: Lets assume, for sake of argument, that 2007 is a minimum in Arctic ice for several years and 2008 and the next few years are up from 2007. For how long and how much ice would it have to continue to be inconsistent with AGW theory?

    [Response: You are not getting the point here. 2007 was way below the expected trend – defined either by the model projections or by simple linear extrapolation. The trend is what is expected – not what one single year has – and that trend will still exist even with another 5 years (maybe more) of higher-than-2007 amounts. Conversely, if 2008 is lower than 2007, it doesn’t prove anything either. You just can’t look at individual years for ‘proof’. The scientific interest in 2008 ice amounts is focussed on whether the September minimum is a predictable a few months in advance, how the Arctic acts in low summer-ice conditions etc. – gavin]

    Comment by Leonard Herchen — 24 Jul 2008 @ 11:35 PM

  692. The melt for 2008 has really picked up over the past week with 95,000 to 110,000 sq km of sea ice loss per day. In the next few days we will surpass the 2005 and 2006 sea ice loss on a given date (which had already slowed down in those years.

    It appears now that the ice is in such poor shape, some serious melting is taking place.

    Sea ice extent chart 2002-2008

    In addition Environment Canada now estimates the the northern route of the North West Passwage will be clear enough for navigation by mid August.

    When looking at the 2008 ice lost, if a record is not broken, one must remember that last winter was rather harsh, and we started with an addtional milion sq km. of ice.

    Some places in the Canadian arctic was the coldest in 27 years. But despite this, if we don’t break the record for lowest ice extent, we will propablily break the record for the amount of ice melt in one season.

    Imagine what will happen if we get another warm winter, like in 2006/2007

    Comment by LG Norton — 25 Jul 2008 @ 6:21 AM

  693. Leonard Herchen writes:

    This fact, as well as the fact that temperatures haven’t moved up in 10 years, are probably the amongst the biggest observational weaknesses in AGW theory.

    The temperature trend is up:

    Tim Ball’s errors

    Tilo Reber’s errors

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Jul 2008 @ 6:58 AM

  694. On the face of it, it all seems like reasonable explanations, but, it basically boils down to some observation that suggests “global warming” are interpreted as such, while if some observation isn’t consistent, its natural variation or geography.

    You never did answer my question … why would you (or scientists) *expect* regional changes due to global warming to be the same in the arctic and antarctic?

    Given there’s no reason to expect regional changes to be the same, how does the fact that they’re not (and very importantly that the differences in response have largely been *predicted* – as *in advance*) in any way correspond to your statement that it’s inconsistent with global warming?

    We know that regional and local climate are greatly affected by geography (why do you think intereriors of continents tend to get less precipitation than those areas near the coast?). This has nothing to do with global warming. The impact of geography on climate isn’t going to magically disappear as increasing CO2 causes the planet to warm. Why on earth do you seem to think that it should?

    Likewise natural variability. We know climate is variable, that over the short term we experience *weather*. Before we started inserting large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, we had drought years, wet years, warm years, and cold years. Weather. Variablity. Why would you expect this to stop? Why do you claim that appeals to variability are simply “convenient”?

    None of this is, as you claim, “inconsistent with global warming”. That’s the false premise you’re arguing from.

    Comment by dhogaza — 25 Jul 2008 @ 8:56 AM

  695. Remeber the guy that went for a 1km swim at the North Pole last year, in an open lead.

    This year he is going to try kayaking to the north pole starting at one of Svalbard islands on August 29.

    I wonder if he knows how dangerous this is. Anyways it should be some good entertainment, and should provide some overtime for Search and Rescue Crews.

    Kayaking to the North Pole

    Comment by LG Norton — 25 Jul 2008 @ 5:55 PM

  696. #692 LG Norton,


    Out of interest, in the image you link to “Sea ice extent chart 2002-2008” have you noticed the blip in all years at around 1st June? (It’ll be a processing artefact)

    Cryosphere Today show that there’s not much in it, given that it’s only just before the start of August. The total area difference between current date this year and last is reducing, now down to 0.6 million sqkm, here. The difference between this year and last is mainly due to East Siberian and Laptev Seas.

    Cryosphere Today’s animated loop of the last 30 days shows how rapidly things are moving. It also shows the lead along the Canadian Archipelago opening again. That happens when the AO index drops negative due to wind forcing. The AO has just gone negative (NOAA). The lead is visible in this image from Terra.

    Lewis Gordon Pugh may well find enough open water amongst the ice in late August to complete his kayak trip.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 26 Jul 2008 @ 2:46 AM

  697. What I am curious about is the frequency of tourist and research ships cruising through (which therefore fractures) polar ice.

    What effect does this have on what we are currently seeing? None?

    If we took 3 glasses, one with 1/2″ layer of ice on it, another with a same volume of ice but is broken into large chunks and the third with an equal volume of ice but the ice is crushed: Will these melt at different rates? I know this is grossly oversimplifying a complex system, but is there a link?

    Is the way we are studying it actually messes with the polar ice, agitating it in such a way to assist in it’s melting?

    Thanks for anyone who can answer.

    Comment by Dan C. — 28 Jul 2008 @ 3:49 PM

  698. Total 50 heavy-duty icebreakers (“capable of steaming steadily through ice 4 to 8 feet thick”):

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Jul 2008 @ 7:07 PM

  699. Re #696

    Cobblywoods, I’ve been watching that lead on the univ bremen site over the last week or so, it runs all the way along to Ellesmere.

    Re #697

    The melting of the ice is greatly facilitated by the breakup of the ice however the breakup by icebreakers is insignificant compared with the wind.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 28 Jul 2008 @ 9:21 PM

  700. Dan C, #697, How many boats do you think are up there? A boat can break up ice into largish chunks about 30m across. How many km must they patrol to break up a single square km of ice?

    Now how much ice is there up there?

    Multiply the two.

    Now divide by the optimistic 10kph speed of an ice breaker.

    How many hours is that? Your numbers may be better represented in aeons…

    Comment by Mark — 29 Jul 2008 @ 2:58 AM

  701. #699 Phil,

    The last NSIDC (14 July) Sea Ice News makes reference to the wind conditions that open that lead showing pressure patterns (fig 3 I think). The period they show average pressure, revealing a high over the Archipelago, was another negative excursion of the AO. The NOAA link (AO index) I gave above is a useful shorthand for when to expect the opening there. It’s called the Circum Polar Flaw Lead – a term I don’t really like, Trans Polar would be better (as it doesn’t go round the pole!).

    #697 Dan C.
    If you check out my post #696 above your post you can open up the link to the image from Terra. That enables you to see the scale of the area, try opening the image as a 250 or 500 metre per pixcel (i.e. 250X250 or 500X500). And then consider the size of an ice breaker. As the other posters have said – that impact is negligible.

    I was looking at more Terra/Aqua images last night, along the Siberian coast and by Svalbard are some of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen. Fractal like vorticity patterns in the ice.

    Comment by Cobblyworlds — 29 Jul 2008 @ 6:05 AM

  702. Thanks all,

    #701 Cobblyworlds,
    Is it possible to link me/us to the images you refer to:
    “along the Siberian coast and by Svalbard”?


    Comment by Dan C. — 29 Jul 2008 @ 9:39 AM

  703. Note Dan and others, when you look at Cobblyworlds’ image link for the TERRA and AQUA imagery (which is truly wonderful) — note the choices and be careful on a slow download phone line link — the “250 meter per pixel” images are huge(!) image files, because each pixel on them represents a 250-meter resolution on the ground.

    There are lots more services using their imagery. For example, I watch my local N. California air quality change several times a day as the winds shift:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Jul 2008 @ 10:46 AM

  704. Very Sorry!
    I forget not everybody has 8Mb broadband. The 250×250 metre per pixcel images are of the order of 6.7Mb when saved to my hard-drive. Thanks Hank.

    Funny you should ask for that, I just posted a link to one at Hot Topic.From my fourth paragraph down. The page for that at smallest size is here. From there you can select 4km/1km/500m/250m per pixcel as appropriate for people’s ISP connections.

    If you like that one, here is another one of the Siberian coast.

    I’ve followed the moods of Morecambe Bay and the East Lancashire fells for years. But I’ve never done the same thing via remote sensing for a place I’ve never even been to! Actually I know more scientifically about the Arctic than I have ever done about any part of the UK (which isn’t saying much as I’m just an amateur who’s degree is in Electronics).

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 29 Jul 2008 @ 3:50 PM

  705. Cobbly, real cool link, thanks, a point to make, July 4 the big lead got bigger (new moon), July 18-19-20, a mega lead event SW of the Archipelago (full moon), Today New moon, mega activity along the coast again. Also Ward Hunt Island Ice shelf is almost toast:

    all that open water is having nefarious effects. I am not surprised by this years melt, just a little
    startled by how its going on. Winds are playing a major role as well, with stong winds reported in the Arctic:

    93 Km/hr winds

    wow, in the summer. Some remember Lorenz butterfly, I remember the Polar vortex of last winter
    with 200 MPH winds, a little bigger event than a wing flap.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 29 Jul 2008 @ 5:07 PM


    I love this stuff. What a beautiful world.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Jul 2008 @ 5:26 PM

  707. Canadian Arctic sheds ice chunk

    A large chunk of an Arctic ice shelf has broken free of the northern Canadian coast, scientists say.

    Nearly 20 sq km (eight sq miles) of ice from the Ward Hunt shelf has split away from Ellesmere Island, according to satellite pictures.

    It is thought to be the biggest piece of ice shed in the region since 60 sq km of the nearby Ayles ice shelf broke away in 2005.

    Scientists say further splitting could occur during the Arctic summer melt.

    The polar north is once again experiencing a rapid ice retreat this year, although many scientists doubt the record minimum extent of 4.13 million sq km (1.59 million sq miles) of sea-ice seen in 2007 will be beaten.

    Nonetheless, dramatic changes are occurring in the region, affecting the ice both in the open ocean and the ice which is attached to the coast.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 30 Jul 2008 @ 10:23 AM

  708. Re #705 et seq

    Comparing the Nasa pic from yesterday and the image in the BBC report leads me to believe that much more of the shelf has gone, perhaps I’m misreading the the images? Can any one familiar with the area confirm my interpretation (Wayne)?

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 30 Jul 2008 @ 11:29 AM

  709. #708. Phil, The Globe and Mail article is better, it is based on site observations coupled with remote sensing images. It may be no coincidence that the shelf gets battered by powerful lunar tidal waves, could they be more effective when there is less pack ice? Its a question of ice and sea interface physics. THe Globe’s article cite an important opinion, which is the disintegration
    is not being followed by some form of mending, the destruction of the old shelf is relentless,
    again an indication of global warming, the contrarians cant possibly explain it any other way.

    Also doubts about whether 2008 will exceed Arctic Ocean 2007’s melt should be tempered by actual ice thickess, many vast areas of thin ice are left , but the melting continues at a furious pace now, the surprise of this year may be the way the ice melts given a greater extent from a colder winter in some Polar sectors. It seems that even thin Ice needs larger areas of open water
    to accelerate melting. once there is such an area established, melting feedbacks accelerate.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 30 Jul 2008 @ 12:13 PM

  710. It seems that even thin Ice needs larger areas of open water
    to accelerate melting. once there is such an area established, melting feedbacks accelerate

    Is it even that, or is it simply that if an expanse of ice is of a more or less homogeneous thickness, you’d expect it to melt evenly across the entire area. Thus you won’t see any large changes in ice extent until it all melts out quite suddenly.

    The Arctic ice pack this year must be much more even in thickness than previous years, since there’s so little thick multi-year ice left. The big question is whether that thin single-year ice will hold on till the end of the melt season, or whether we’re due for a very sudden collapse in extent as the last couple of feet melts through across the whole Arctic more or less simultaneously.

    Comment by Peter Ellis — 30 Jul 2008 @ 12:31 PM

  711. The NW passage seems to be be open, if you relly on

    going through Peel Sound, and circumnavigating King William Island a la Amundsen or perhaps even not so, and the trick is done.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 30 Jul 2008 @ 12:31 PM

  712. Hi All,

    Yes, I agree it seems to be negligible the effect of icebreakers on the “whole” north polar ice cap.

    Only 50 high-capacity icebreakers in the world and only a portion
    (?%) of these are in the north.

    My nagging thought is still present. In the 1940’s and for decades since, not many people thought about what man could do to the earth’s atmosphere as relating to having an effect on earth’s weather- good or bad outside of nuclear war: The assumption was- We are too small.

    Well into the 2000’s, some still think man is too small to effect earth’s weather. Today there is volumes of data, 1000’s of reports and studies that allow us to form a consensus that we have in the past and currently are indeed effecting our weather.

    Has or can anybody study specifically: IF and WHAT effect these icebreakers have on polar ice? What do satellite images which have known icebreaker activity in it show? Over time- a day after it passes- how does the broken ice move/flow knowing wind and current data? How plastic is sea ice and shelf ice (assuming there is some difference)? Is any agency tracking all movement through polar ice?

    Is north pole ice more fragile/sensitive than assuming we are too small to negatively impact it? Has somebody already looked at data/ measurements regarding icebreakers impact? By studying it in this way (by breaking ourselves into the artic), have we influenced the system being measured?

    I personally don’t think we broke it, but is it just possible we’re helping nudge it’s demise along?

    Please accept my apology if I offend, it is not my intent. I only wish to know.
    -old news but enlightening :-(

    Dan C.

    Comment by Dan C. — 30 Jul 2008 @ 2:35 PM

  713. Phil Hunt,
    You’ve marked the wrong island, that’s Meighen Island. Ward Hunt is off Ellesmere, not to it’s west, and it’s pifflingly small in the context of the region. It’s importance is as a time-marker, it’s been there for thousands of years. It’s at Lat 83deg 4′ 35.94″N Long 74deg 12′ 12.64″W, if that helps

    The best graphics are on the BBC and other media may well follow.

    But for those who want to see it on the images from NASA, this image is recent.

    You really need to open at 250 or 500 metres resolution, the chunk of ice that’s broken off is tiny on a regional scale.

    Go right down to the bottom left corner of the image.
    Go right until you can see the ice to the right of the north coast of Greenland, with a stretch of deep turquoiuse water leading up onto the image.
    Place the mouse curser midway between the ice and water on the bottom on the image and scroll upwards until you meet more land, there’s an inlet with sparse ice just where the curser hits land (with a single berg to the right).
    Now follow the coast up past an inlet blocked with ice until you can see 2 islands in an inlet, the islands are horizontal to each other. The bigger of the 2 islands is Ward Hunt Island itself.

    On this image you can see the time just after it broke off. Ellesmere island is just right of centre, the orientation of the 2 islands mentioned above is vertical (not horizontal as in the image above.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 30 Jul 2008 @ 4:28 PM

  714. Re #709

    Thanks Wayne, I’d also noticed that the inner passage looked close to passable. Was I correct in my identification of Wayne Hunt here?

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 30 Jul 2008 @ 4:37 PM

  715. Dan, the diesel exhaust from Arctic shipping will have far more effect on the ice. That’s actually been estimated. This isn’t the paper I recalled, but it’ll do as a start:

    I think if there were any significant effect of using icebreakers, we’d have seen them used to open up shipping channels months earlier than they normally melt out, in the many places where ice stops freighter use during winter months. There would be a strong economic incentive to use them if it would work.

    And if icebreakers can’t even keep a channel clear, I’d guess there’s little basis to imagine they could make the whole ocean melt out faster.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jul 2008 @ 5:36 PM

  716. Dan C #712

    Take an ordinary plank.

    Seat on top of it a 1kg weight.

    It is fine.

    Seat another. Still fine. Keep on putting one more kilo.

    Will it always be fine?


    CO2 doesn’t go out of the system unless there’s a sink for it. And so it continues to grow.

    So what was true in 1940 is not always going to be true.

    Comment by Mark — 30 Jul 2008 @ 5:44 PM

  717. #714 Phil, Yep, distinguishing fast ice and the ice shelf may be a problem.. This is why its always better to have a guy there doing field work. Further so, the passage, impassible even in September, for so many years, is now open for shipping.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 30 Jul 2008 @ 6:14 PM

  718. Re #713

    Thanks Cobbly Worlds, I thought that I probably had it wrong, I was looking for something bigger!
    Great pictures.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 30 Jul 2008 @ 6:28 PM

  719. Phil, 00ps ya, Meighen Island looked like it, but after closer inspection was off by 400 miles. Me bad…

    Comment by wayne davidson — 30 Jul 2008 @ 7:54 PM

  720. Links to images of the underlying topography of both Greenland and Antarctica have been posted before, I thought I had bookmarked them but apparently I did not and now I can find neither the comment with the links nor the images using a google search.

    Does anyone have those links bookmarked or recall the thread where they were posted?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 30 Jul 2008 @ 7:55 PM

  721. Wayne: It’s not clear to me that Simpson Strait (between KWI and the mainland) is clear, or that the route up James Ross Strait and Peel Sound is clear enough for shipping. Do you have better images than I can find on MODIS (mostly obscured by cloud) or QuikSCAT? Amundsen would make it through, without a doubt, but I wouldn’t take a yacht up there yet. Another week or two and it’ll be blue water.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 31 Jul 2008 @ 3:58 AM

  722. #712 Dan C,

    “How plastic is sea ice and shelf ice (assuming there is some difference)?”

    Shelf ice is pretty static, being buttressed by immobile land. Check out the link in Hank’s post #706, where you can see the ‘circum polar flaw lead’ along the Candian Archipelago coast (a dirty great crack in the ice). That’s caused by the movement of sea ice against the fixed ice shelves along the coast. It’s worse now than it seems to have been in the past because of the thinner ice along that coast.

    You may find this .avi video interesting: The sea ice is mobile, it will be more mobile now than it once was as it’s thinned significantly. But given it’s mobility any tracks of disruption by ice-breakers will be “fixed” (mixed away) relatively quickly. The mechanisms behind how the ice cap got into it’s current poor state are more vast in scale and are associated with:

    * changes in wind forcing (Arctic Oscillation tending to a more positive mode likely due to CO2 stratospheric cooling) mainly since the 1990s. (Fram Strait Outflushing – as seen in the movement of ice past Greenland in the above .avi movie)

    * a general warming since the 1950s, likely compounded by soot.

    * ice processes themselves e.g. preferentially reducing the thickness of the thicker ice. Thick ice grows more slowly than thin so over time (given a general warming trend) this amplifies the loss of thick ice as compared to thin.

    Overall it’s a very complex process (what in nature isn’t?).

    Here is a recent Aqua image of the North West Passage in McClure Sound & Viscount Melville Strait.

    From current behaviour here’s what I am thinking at present:
    1) The area this year will end up being over about 0.6 million sqkm above last year. But will probably be a new second lowest area. The lag between 2007/08 of ~0.6 m kmsq has been persistent for weeks now as has the current rate of reduction (although that rate may reduce shortly).
    2) Nghiem’s measurement of perennial extent was massively down on a precipitous trend that has persisted for several years now. If next year’s March figure does not maintain that trend it may support the idea that 2007 was a “blip” not the start of a more intense drop. This may be seen to support the GCM projections.
    3) The results of studies such as Zhang 08 – suggesting that weather was the key factor last year, imply that the Arctic Basin is not yet able to sustain a seasonally ice-free state. We may need higher levels of GHGs (or cloud +ve feedback) to impede winter cooling and ice formation before we can expect the transition to a seasonally ice free state. Last year’s massive input of insolation energy in the newly open water delayed re-melt, but did not stop significant freeze once it had set in.
    4) I’ll stop rambling now…

    Comment by Cobblyworlds — 31 Jul 2008 @ 6:12 AM

  723. #722

    Last winter was rather severe, and we started with 0.6 million km more ice, so given the unfavorable weather conditions this summer, roughly the same amount of ice will melt this year as last year, its just that we won’t reach a new minimun.

    I believe we have reached a tipping point, and we just need one mild winter globally and more favorable summer weather conditions, and we will have an ice free north pole, probably within the next five years.

    Comment by LG Norton — 31 Jul 2008 @ 10:27 AM

  724. #723, LG, the surprise was really last year, no one that I know of, saw the great melt coming. Our skills with ice makes it quite favorable to expect another surprise this year, The apparent 2008 slower melt was leaning towards a mending of sorts, but that is falling apart daily now. Peter #710, is calling it more accurately. No one has observed such a great extent of first year ice melt, it is a learning experience for us all. However it is warm in the Arctic, I definitely will not call it over \until its over\.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 31 Jul 2008 @ 12:26 PM

  725. LG Norton / Wayne,

    Sorry for the length, but I want to be clear.

    In reading through the above to get my thoughts together I note I said “agreed” to LG Norton, that was wrong, what I had was a very specific agreement: I agree things are still not settled for this year, a surprise is still possible, however I now think the likelihood of that is small.

    By my reckoning, reading figures from Cryosphere Today’s “recent ice area” and “hemispheric ice area” plots, all in million square km:
    3/2007 13.3
    now 2007 4.5
    9/2007 3.0
    3/2008 13.9
    now 2008 5.2

    The lag between 2008 & 2007 at current date 4.5 – 3.9 = 0.6

    Melt up to now 2007 and 2008
    2007 13.3 – 4.5 = 8.8
    2008 13.9 – 5.2 = 8.7
    So the melt this year so far has been almost as much as this time last year (but not more), that’s without the weather of last year, but much of that area was at lower latitudes than the Arctic Basin.

    I am interested in the implications of Nghiem’s work on perennial ice extent, which I still view as the tipping point. That shows a precipitous drop every year after 2002 (at the same time area started reducing more quickly), and my reasoning was that once the perennial is gone we’d shortly after see a seasonally ice free state. However now I suspect that in a few years we could see the drop turn into a new regime of perennial extent randomly fluctuating at a low level until eventually a summer ice free state is reached (rather like a sigmoid – where we’re on the high rate of change slope and about reach the lower tail). I think the more usually considered total ice area/extent will change less, although become more responsive to weather, as last year showed. In effect I consider the perennial a “damper”, not as a prequisite for a perennial ice-cap (under the current IR regime).

    In short I think it’s too early to discount the idea that 2007 was the sort of outlier “blip” seen in models as noted by Bitz (and others). And that we may well see the more leisurely transition that the models show.

    When I factor in the loss of volume last year as implied by the drop of 1 million sqkm in perennial ice (Nghiem), and indications of thinner ice (NIC, NSIDC Sea Ice News 17/7/08 fig 5), I’d have expected more melt this year than is so far apparent. I am no longer so sure that thickness is as key a condition under current conditions. The top figure on Zhang’s summary of his teams modelling (here) is interesting, using the weather for 2001-2007 they find only last year’s weather gives a drop below last year’s minima using 30/9/07’s ice/ocean state as an initial condition. Note that their extent is for the Arctic Basin as used in PIOMAS, not comparable to Cryosphere Today’s Northern Hemisphere winter extent. And I am aware that Beaufort is ahead of all ensemble members over a month ahead of time.

    This year is clearly behind last year as seen from Cryosphere Today. Further significant reduction is still possible (e.g. 2006) all things being equal, but all things are not equal as insolation is already falling off. So further inroads into the central Arctic will be fighting against reducing insolation and lowering angle of incidence. It would be interesting if this is the reason Zhang’s PIOMAS run using 2007 weather gives a further drop, but one which is nowhere near as low again as last year’s drop from the previous trend.

    At present the rate of drop has been maintained for the last 6 weeks or so, it’s notably straight in terms of the records of past years. Furthermore the concentration anomaly for this July is worse than any year save last year (NSIDC). These seem to suggest the effect of thinner ice than typical.

    However comparing SST anomalies for July 2007 and July 2008 shows that the ocean heating this July is not as marked as in July 2007 (source here). I suspect that as insolation falls there will not be such a “thermal momentum” as last year for the re-freeze to overcome. As the re-freeze starts it may start ealier than last year, we could see an increase in the perennial ice over this winter (Fram Strait allowing), possibly even a re-assertion of the post 2002 rate of reduction.

    Aside from the shock of last year, why do people think we are going through a Small Ice-Cap Instability (SICI) type threshold?

    Was 2007 just warning shot from a region that may well be able to unleash armageddon (CH4, rapid climatic shifts), or is it really too late?

    I’m already more interested in 2009 than 2008, especially Nghiem’s perennial figure for March 2009.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 1 Aug 2008 @ 1:42 PM

  726. Cobbly, Ice extent is mostly weather driven, nothing too much to do with how thick ice is. The images between 2007 and 08 cant be more clear, Ice in 07 was bunched up by Gyre current and winds compressing the last bits into a formidable fortress of ice. This year, a Low pressure is/was almost always present in the SW quad of North American side of the Pole, This gives the illusion of a much smaller melt, yet there is very little difference in extent compared to 07, there is a lot of loose thin ice, which may compress, and reveal the same open water surface as last year, but Highs North of Alaska/Yukon are rare this summer. The image changes, the melt is similar, whether it will exceed 2007 is a matter of happenstance, there is no evidence here of cooling, plenty of evidence that winds play with the eyes of the observer. Those persistent Lows cancel the effects of the Arctic Ocean Gyre current. But Russian side current melt seems to be a signature event of this moment.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 2 Aug 2008 @ 4:09 PM

  727. It looks like this is the dive everybody has been waiting for.

    NSIDC ice area

    Also, we just dropped below the 2006 ice coverage for this date, and we are less than 100,000 km from droping below the 2005 ice coverage for this date.

    IJIS ice extent

    Comment by LG Norton — 3 Aug 2008 @ 7:32 AM

  728. I would hazard a guess that the current main driver of Arctic Sea ice melt is the persistence of the 500-hPa height anomalies over the area of northeastern Greenland and Svalbard. See animation of the past 30 days here:

    Also, for a better look at the ice situation, the Danish Institute of Technology maintains a page, but it is often difficult to access — first click on the link that follows and then click on the left-most image to go to the page of up to date images:

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 3 Aug 2008 @ 9:50 AM

  729. Re #726
    Hi Wayne, enjoying the warm, sunny weather I hope? Thanks for your updates, regarding ice thickness this buoy data shows a quite dramatic picture of the last two melt seasons:
    The latest IUP-Bremen images make it look like the southern route for the NW Passage is clearing rapidly as you commented a few days ago, looks like it would be a reasonable trip now.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 3 Aug 2008 @ 11:43 AM

  730. #726 Wayne,

    Ice extent is mostly weather driven, nothing too much to do with how thick ice is.

    Then how do you explain the trend in extent and last year’s crash in particular? Surely with the thicker ice of the 20th century that wouldn’t have happened.

    With regards winds, they could just as likely drive the low concentration ice apart, and increase extent.

    I agree the Siberian sector is a key area of current activity.

    #727 LG Norton,

    I’ve just seen that NSIDC have a new update of 1/8/08 which is also saying a new record looks less likely. That drop in extent looks like it’s due to Laptev/East Siberian Seas (from CT’s regional coverage).

    I’m still not holding my breath for last year being surpassed, I still think this year will be a new second lowest.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 3 Aug 2008 @ 11:56 AM

  731. Re: #730

    OK, I can’t believe no one ever discusses this, so I am going to:

    Last year, the atmospheric water vapor streams, and their attendant winds, pulled most of the potential hurricanes and typhoons straight up to the Arctic Circle.

    Additionally, sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the northern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans were higher for a longer period than they have been this year.

    The winds driving the water vapor streams were quite intense, and this situation persisted for several months in the latter half of 2007.

    As a consequence, warmer waters entered the Arctic Sea. At the same time, the gyres went faster, and the air above the ice was warmer. There were also extremely persistent 500-hPa, and above, height anomalies hanging just to the north of Alaska.

    None of that happened this year.

    Nevertheless, this year, the waters under the ice, and air temperatures this June, were still warm enough to melt a good bit of the sea ice until the much cooler weather of July.

    From what I understand, there is usually enough of an insulating layer of cold water between the bottom of the sea ice and the warmer water below it that the warmer sea water below doesn’t normally melt the ice that much from beneath.

    Obviously, that was not the case this year.

    But, this year, once enough of the sea ice melted from the bottom, by the end of June, a “protective” layer of cold, less-salty water might have been created (helped by the slowness of the gyres), and that, coupled with the cooler air temperatures in July, may have protected the sea ice somewhat throughout July.

    In any case, given the extra fragility of the single-year ice that remains, it may be very susceptible to the warming SSTs resulting from the changing albedo of the open ocean surface waters.

    Additionally, as I noted in #728 above, there is a rather persistent 500-hPa height anomaly stretching from Greenland to Norway. This is having an effect on the only area in the Arctic Sea where there are still some thicker remnants of sea ice (according to the images at the page linked to in #728).

    All of this just points to the extreme fragility of the ice — it is melting and decreasing regardless of the fact that there are no strong winds pushing it out into the north Atlantic this year.

    Temperatures in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere do not seem to be as high as they were last year. But what goes around, comes around.

    Are y’all paying any attention to the +20 degrees C temperature anomalies hanging over Antarctica for the past 30 days? (I know — it’s just weather…)

    Isn’t about time for a post on “South Pole notes”?

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 3 Aug 2008 @ 2:46 PM

  732. #730 Cobbly, Sea ice extent does not define melting entirely, if there is no compression like 2007, there will likely be less melting on account of more scattered open water, which in itself reduces sea temperatures from warming. However, if planetary waves behave slightly differently
    we may see the curtain of ice fold and reveal a wider body of water, Current melt is slowed by the winds, not by cooling.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 3 Aug 2008 @ 3:11 PM

  733. From New Scientist:

    “Christian Haas of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, and his team estimated the thickness of late summer ice at the North Pole in 2001, 2004 and 2007. They found that the ice was on average 1.3 metres thick at the end of the summer in 2007. By contrast, its depth was 2.3 metres in 2001 and 2.6 metres in 2004.

    Records from 1991 show that the summer ice that year was 3.1 metres thick.”

    Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2008GL034457

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 3 Aug 2008 @ 5:36 PM

  734. Wayne,

    Yep, that’s why I prefer CT’s area as a metric, I figure it’s less prone to such effects. I leave Extent for long term comparison prior to the the satellite period, and for those with money riding on it.

    All I am saying is it’s late for such a lot of catching up. But we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks. :)

    Tenney Naumer,

    The changes in thickness are reflected in the change of designation by the National Ice Centre from thick perennial to thick first year ice that occurred in the High East Arctic over last year. Also in Nghiem’s findings of the massive drop in perennial ice. However I still maintain that we might not be at a stage where a seasonally ice-free state is stable. From all I’ve read it seems that last year’s crash was due to unusually clear weather allowing ice-albedo feedback to cause the melt out, the modelling studies I’ve seen support that. There was a storm in Beaufort that seemed to have an impact (QuickScat), and storms kept the Chucki/Beaufort Seas to Amundsen Gulf open well into the winter.

    On my doubts about whether we’re on the verge of a stable an persistent ice-free state: If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, no big deal. However I’d rather not wrong be given the signiicant dangers involved in a transition to a seasonally ice-free state.

    The North West Passage (NWP),

    I’ve had a good root through the last 48hrs of Terra/Aqua. The best I can find is poor, I need the coincidence of a direct sweep across, what I’ve found is at the periphery of the image (so is distorted), and there’s cloud over much of the interesting part of the image. Here it is, but I warn you, you really need to know your way around – I balk at giving directions.

    For the time being Bremmen’s AMSRE are the best images for the NWP, and Terra/Aqua merely confirms what they show (espcially when viewed as a slideshow for those who collect such things). McClintock Channel has fairly compacted ice, but Viscount Melville Sound (major part of the Northern NWP route) is a fractured mess with significant open water.

    National Ice Service outlook from May (in the Arcus assesment) looks good. Northern NWP open after mid August.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 4 Aug 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  735. One for the “Trainspotters”.

    North West Passage ice state – visible.
    Terra 5 Aug 02:35
    No cloud and minimal edge distortion.

    Top middle is a peninsular (green), from the water (dark) just below that follow along in a straight line (40 degrees down from horizontal) to the right, past a cluster of tiny islands there’s ice. Then about 1/5 of the image width from the edge turn vertically downwards. Cloud obscures as it goes into the Beaufort Sea past Banks Island (largely cloudy) on the right edge of the image. Hope that helps.

    Useful map page Wikipedia: Canadian Arctic Archipelago

    PS Beautiful parallel strata on Melville and Bathurst Islands.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 5 Aug 2008 @ 4:51 PM

  736. #735 Cobbly, No chance in getting Peel Sound? If open the passage has been available for quite a while, I see contradictions between Cryosphere and Bremen and Danish ice maps, the very former appears to be clogged the Danish and German maps don’t agree.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 Aug 2008 @ 7:58 PM

  737. I’m sure this must have come up somewhere, but I haven’t seen it and it is not something easy to search for.

    The large arctic sea ice melt in summer 2007 was presumably not primarily caused by a suddenly warmer Earth, but by a redistribution of the heat (or of the ice). So how much heat was absorbed by the extra ice melting? Was it enough to have been a significant cause of the following winter being unusually cool, or was it too small or too distant in time to matter?

    Comment by Greg Simpson — 5 Aug 2008 @ 8:16 PM

  738. Well, its official in some ways, the “smaller” NW passage has been open for a while:

    But the story missed the point I raised, there is no cooling, just winds opposing Arctic Ocean sea current, causing the ice not to compress, hence making surface temperatures apparently cooler, and reducing the feedback process incurred by more open water. The atmosphere is quite warm, check out Kujjuaq extreme Northern Quebec: +27 C !

    Even after a very cold La-Nina and unusaul quite cold late North American side Acrtic winter, the atmosphere is warm. It simply does not appear that way, unless you study it wholly, not at individual Upper heights, not only on the surface, the whole thing, which does not cool in one season after many years of warming. Recent scattered refraction sun shots from cloudy Montreal +18 C as I write, show no cooling at all! May be some institution will post a Density Weighted Temperature (DWT) map one day? You never know, it may be useful.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 6 Aug 2008 @ 11:42 AM

  739. #737 Greg Simpson,

    Bearing in mind that I’m an amateur, not a real scientist…

    The large arctic sea ice melt in summer 2007 was presumably not primarily caused by a suddenly warmer Earth, but by a redistribution of the heat (or of the ice).

    Yes, the heat of any area (like the Arctic) in any one year is not really related strongly to global temperature changes, weather has more of an impact.

    From what I’ve read, what happened last year was that the ice cap was pre-conditioned from the previous years. This allowed an unusually clear sky due to an area of high pressure to melt much more ice than usual. The heating of the sea was because of sunlight (google – ice albedo feedback). That warming actually delayed the winter melt as that heat was lost from sea to atmosphere.

    So how much heat was absorbed by the extra ice melting? Was it enough to have been a significant cause of the following winter being unusually cool, or was it too small or too distant in time to matter?

    With regards what caused a cold winter in some parts of the Arctic Ocean, it’s weather. I’m not sure what factors contributed towards that weather.

    Ignoring atmospheric heat fluxes from outside the Arctic (a gross simplification). In summer you have sunlight coming in, and infra-red going out up into space. In winter you only have the infra-red going out into space, no sunlight. Over months of “night” at the pole the heat loss can be massive, much more than any imbalance between any 2 years. So the heat doesn’t really carry over from year to year.

    What can carry over from year to year is the amount of ice. Not really the area(the change within a year is much bigger than the difference between years), but mainly the thickness/volume. There has been some increase in thickness from 2007 to 2008 in some areas, but a massive amount of thick ice was lost in 2007.

    A big factor in the areas where ice thickness has increased more than expected has been a lack of snow, because the snow insulates the ice surface it can reduce the heat lost to the atmosphere (or space). So it can reduce the amount of ice forming on the underside ot the ice.

    However from all I’ve read the ice loss of last year far outweighed the small gains in thickness this winter.


    Re Peel Sound and the Southern NWP:

    For me the NWP is the northern route (Lancaster/Visc’t Melville/McClure) that’s the best bet commercially. So I must confess I haven’t paid any attention to the Southern Route. I’ve just had a look and it’s too cloudy on all possibly relevant Aqua/Terra for the last 3 days, as far as I can see. I’ll let you know to save your bandwidth.

    The way I use AMSRE type images is wih slideshows because I find it’s only by “visually averaging” that I can get a feel for what’s really there, as opposed to being swayed by weather. For me the still images are not enough, the time-domain is a crucial dimension. So I have never looked at the sort of tiny detail you point out in Franklin Strait/Peel Sound area.

    But looking at Bremmen AMSRE in Windows Photo Gallery, and squinting at Cryosphere Today’s 30 day animation. It is as near as damn-it clear.

    27degC – WHOA THERE! You guys have stolen our (UK) summer weather! ;)

    Here we had 93% relative humidity earlier today, 88% as I type. Our Summer has been eaten up by latent heat… :(

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 6 Aug 2008 @ 1:55 PM

  740. The northernmost point of Quebec, is Povungnituq, near by Salluit is + 26 C, right by Hudson Strait. There is a High Pressure again trying to settle North of Alaska , if it stays, a great deal longer than it has recently, there will be some serious catching up with 2007 melting in the works.

    Cobbly lets we forget, Franklin and his 125 sailors all dead, after horrible last days of living, totally stuck for 2 years in a place NW of King William Island, beset in impossibly thick ice, now today 2 years running with no ice during summer.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 6 Aug 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  741. One is reminded of Goldblum in Jurassic Park II
    “Ooh, aah, that’s how it always starts, and then later the running and screaming”

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 6 Aug 2008 @ 4:15 PM

  742. Re #740

    Yes Wayne, looking at the weather forecast for Gjoa Haven which is for ~12ºC and sunny later this week it’s hard to believe that it was ever thus for Franklin and his men! Even more recently Amundsen was iced in there for 2 years I think around 1903 (hence the name).

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 6 Aug 2008 @ 5:40 PM

  743. I’m wondering what’s going to happen around the Queen Elizabeth Islands, north of the northern NWP (75-80N, 80-120W). The main channels are Ballantyne Strait, Hazen Strait, Prince Gustav Adolf Sea, Peary Channel, Maclean Strait, Belcher Channel, Norwegian Bay, Massey Sound. Temperatures there are now persistently high (10C, 13C, see Bremen shows melt. Modis shows breakup, the same sort of crushed-ice-margarita look that we’re seeing elsewhere. I don’t think that area melted out last year.

    Good PDF topo maps of Canadian archipelago:

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 6 Aug 2008 @ 6:18 PM

  744. #742 Phil, there wont have been any stigma or fear attached to the NW passage if it was always like this, Most good sea Captains the world over must know how scary it is to sail in this passage.
    That is history, but the scary part lags, fear is a hard thing to break. Its a question of time before a serious shipping company will take up this opportunity to save a fortune, and hire Captain daring, to open this passage as once dreamed about, a nightmare once, a day dream now.

    #743 Nick, Ya that is a good point,

    Ice thickness is key, there are huge areas of ice barely thicker than 20 cm, all gone come September I would say, including in the Archipelago, Which incidently continues to be pummeled by winds, which may in this case accelerate the melting given the thin ice.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 7 Aug 2008 @ 1:00 AM

  745. According to the IJIS site (See #727 for link) we lost over 140,00 sq. km. of ice yesterday, and we are now at the second lowest ice extent for this date.

    The ice lost is now accelerating, when it should be slowing down. This has been one strange summer in the arctic.

    Comment by LG Norton — 7 Aug 2008 @ 6:37 AM

  746. #745, LG, right you are! Look at this site:

    stop it at the end, and observe how fast ice is disappearing in the last few days, by advancing each frame manually. Incredible daily surface water gains indeed. I still think this year is helpful in understanding how mega melts work,
    two things are needed: wide open water coupled with very thin ice, Notice, thin ice not surrounded by wide open water does not disappear as fast. There may be something else at play, winds, being excessively important , but these three factors seem to be dominant.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 7 Aug 2008 @ 4:39 PM

  747. wayne@746: I hypothesize from your observation that wave action is important. The wide open water provides a reach for waves to build up.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 8 Aug 2008 @ 5:21 AM

  748. Surely all it tells us is that extent (or area) is a poor indicator of the actual amount of ice present? In all likelihood the melt (and total ice loss) is slowing down by now – but the ice that’s remaining is so thin that even a small loss (by volume) equates to a large change in area. Coupled with that is the fact that the winds/currents can disperse or compress the remaining slurry and produce apparent changes in ice area without altering ice volume at all.

    [Response: Unfortunately, all we have are the things we can observe – and the focus is likely to stay on those until such time as the observations become more extensive. – gavin]

    Comment by Peter Ellis — 8 Aug 2008 @ 7:08 AM

  749. I guess there’s nobody actually at the North Pole these days? of the webcams, number 1 over a period of days has slowly rotated so most of the image is blocked by part of its mount, number 2 got wet a while back and hasn’t returned images lately; number 3 is still working (straight up, fisheye).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Aug 2008 @ 10:21 AM

  750. Hank, you do know that the North Pole station is actually at about 83N now, don’t you? Just north of the Fram Strait. One of the pages on that site has a drift map.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 8 Aug 2008 @ 5:07 PM

  751. Somewhat off topic, but the general subject is melting ice.

    After a visit to the local museum, my kids asked, “Why did all the ice melt from the last ice age?” and “How fast did it melt?” The “most recent” means the most recent North American glacial interval, Wisconsin, which I think ran 70,000 to 10,000 years ago. My best internet digging around says the ice was retreating at the rate of 0.3-1 km/year for about 3000 years, which sounds awfully fast, and then it sort of stabilized into the present era. So a lot of heat was somehow quickly available to melt the ice.

    For a cause, it sounds too fast and abrupt to be accounted for by the normal astronomical causes (Milankovich cycles). The “present best guess” that I can discern is that the ocean currents reorganized themselves to bring more heat from the tropics. Reasonable, but is there any theory as to why the currents rearranged themselves? Can someone point me to a recent HS or college intro level publication on the topic?

    Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Jerry — 8 Aug 2008 @ 6:10 PM

  752. Thanks, Nick, I was getting the images via a different link.
    Found that:

    NPEO 2008 Ice Mass Buoy 30065
    latest atmospheric data co-located with WebCams
    08/08/2355Z 83.386°N 2.667°E -0.4°C 1006.1mb

    This one:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Aug 2008 @ 8:19 PM

  753. Let me just interject one thing here, going back to April. At that time, the skies above the Arctic were very clear, and so it was possible to get really good views, updated about every two hours or so, from the Canadian weather service site:

    (Put that link in your favorites/bookmarks for next spring.)

    Remember, there was very little multi-year ice and it was mostly hanging around north of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago.

    Anyway, some time toward the end of April, if I remember correctly (always a question), cracks appeared all over that thin ice, over the entirety of it. Of course, I was not observing “cracks” — what was observable on the IR satellite photos was the vapor coming from the cracks. Nearly the entire Arctic Sea appeared to have been crackle glazed, from Canada to Siberia.

    As the days passed, the amount of vapor issuing from these cracks increased to the point that the wind could be seen to carry it off in trails. (It took me a while to figure out what was going on, being new to all this.)

    Also, the crack along the entire outer edge of the Canadian Archipelago (now open water) appeared way back in early June.

    As the thin ice in the middle of the Arctic Sea weakened further, the volume of vapor produced began to be quite dramatic. Eventually, so much water vapor poured out that it was no longer possible to get a good view of the ice.

    Let me just say this — it was quite a show! But it is over until next spring.

    If one of you gentlemen ever has the time, I could really use some help. The mechanics of heat exchange or whatever it is called are unknown to me. I don’t understand what is going on when the ice freezes or when it melts, and how that works in the Arctic. I just know that I saw a lot of vapor rising, which in my ignorance means that the water below the ice was warmer than the air above it. In my mind, an absolutely incredible amount of heat left the water (from April through June) and went into the air, and at some point, a type of equilibrium was reached after which very little vapor was created. If you ever have any time for explaining this, you can leave a comment on my blog, linked to my name above, unless you can leave it here. It would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 9 Aug 2008 @ 10:38 AM

  754. From today’s Observer [UK]:

    The most important of these computer studies of ice cover was carried out a few months ago by Professor Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Using US navy supercomputers, his team produced a forecast which indicated that by 2013 there will be no ice in the Arctic – other than a few outcrops on islands near Greenland and Canada – between mid-July and mid-September.

    ‘It does not really matter whether 2007 or 2008 is the worst year on record for Arctic ice,’ Maslowski said. ‘The crucial point is that ice is clearly not building up enough over winter to restore cover and that when you combine current estimates of ice thickness with the extent of the ice cap, you get a very clear indication that the Arctic is going to be ice-free in summer in five years. And when that happens, there will be consequences.’

    First reference I’ve seen to a new Maslowski study… a fairly dramatic prediction.

    [Response: It’s not a reference to a study – it’s more of an opinion… and one I’m unsure is widely shared. – gavin]

    Comment by Gareth — 9 Aug 2008 @ 8:57 PM

  755. Gavin,

    I have just linked to a recent Maslowski presentation (June 08) over at Gareth’s blog Hot Topic.

    That Maslowski presentation (pdf) ishere (5.36 Mb pdf). The reason for Maslowski’s 2013 opinion seems to be:

    Between 1997-2004… ice volume decreased by 40%, which is >2x the rate of ice area decrease.

    If this trend persists the Arctic Ocean will become ice-free by ~2013!

    page 16.

    The graphs end in 2005, qualitatively the thinning since then seems to support a continuation of reduction, despite the levelling on that graph in 2003 to 2005. But I can’t get current figures to extend the graphs. i.e. The figures I have don’t allow me to reproduce the trend of the graph as shown, so it’s pointless trying to extend quantitatively.

    I agree that Maslowski’s 2013 is not widely supported in the cryospheric science community, but I don’t find outright rejection. FWIW I use Maslowski’s 2013 as a lower bound, Stroeve’s 2030 as an upper (fingers crossed for the latter).

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 10 Aug 2008 @ 10:35 AM

  756. #751 Jerry,
    All the references I have are complex. In short, the changes in incoming sunlight (at 65deg North) due to the Milankovitch cycles correlate well with the rate of change of the ice sheets. But it’s local processes that dominate at small timescales and in small areas, not the Milankovitch cycles themselves. Natural processes amplify the small changes in sunlight, a similar process is being seen in the Arctic where natural processes are amplifying the human impact.

    If I find anything by next weeked I’ll post.

    As of yesterday, too much cloud over the Archipelago for visual pics of the NWP. Much cloud over the central pack, but where there are breaks it’s a mess.

    On the subject of clouds…

    #753 Tenny Naumer,
    I don’t think it’s quite over, I could still be wrong and this year might actually beat last year (a lot has happened since my post 725 on 1/8/08).

    Water vapour from the ocean is a notable effect, and there was some awesome cracking in April. I’ll post answers to your questions at your blog within a few days.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 10 Aug 2008 @ 11:14 AM

  757. Is Maslowski someone who could be invited here? I first stumbled over his students’ thesis work with Google searches a few years ago. I’ve wondered if the Navy postgraduate school thesis work is allowed to draw on data the Navy doesn’t release in detail — thinking that might explain both why their models seem to consistently differ from others, and why people including, you should pardon the expression, Wegman (who worked on “Star Wars” for Reagan) have explicitly warned about the rate of polar warming.

    I’d hate to think our government was keeping important information secret. But I’d like to think scientists with access to such hypothetical secrets would say everything they could and hope to be heard.

    Just guessing of course.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Aug 2008 @ 12:52 PM

  758. Hank,

    From my reading of the Maslowski presentation I linked to above Maslowski’s reasoning seems to be fully open: Model scale/Heat fluxes are the reason for the aggression of his predictions as compared to the results of other modellers.

    Personally I fear he has a point, but I hope he’s wrong. Especially as I am watching the jetstream’s influence on our (British) summer with unease, ENSO neutral conditions are now neutral (since May/June – Wolter MEI ESRL/PSD) but our “La Nina Summer” of 2007 seems to be repeating itself. I am uneasy but unsure if that means anything, I hope I’m wrong and it means nothing.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 11 Aug 2008 @ 12:52 AM

  759. addition to 751: the “best concise” summary I have been able to find is this link
    and fig. 3 indicates that the temperature anomaly tracks the calculate July 65N insolation, which varies from 400 to 500 w/m2 over the past 350k years.
    About why it’s every fifth cycle, well, “area of active research”.

    Comment by Jerry — 11 Aug 2008 @ 11:04 AM

  760. A few interesting Terra/Aqua images. (Hope RC staff don’t mind)

    Once again to appreciate them you need to open in 250m resolution, which means images of the order of 6Mb! I save all the large images I view and have found that viewing them as negatives via photo manipulation software helps find the ice amongst the cloud.

    For all the following use the small orientation image on the left hand bar of the NASA page to find your way, bearing in mind that the short edges are bent round, so you’re really only getting a band up the middle and losing some area on the edges.

    Image 1 gives a visual feel for the concentrations you’ll see on AMSRE.

    For those following the Bremmen AMSRE images you’ll have noted the low concentration area following 165E longitude line in towards the pole. You’ll find that on the top middle of the image, following along at 45deg down from the middle and you’ll see more breaks in the cloud with low concentration as that area reaches toward the pole.

    If you go down from the middle you’ll reach the line of islands (Severnaya Zemlya, Zemlya Fransfa-Losifa, Svalbard). Again from the AMSRE images you’ll have noted that between those islands and the 165E longitude region is an area of ~100% concentration, so you can see what that looks like.

    Also the following 2 images compliment each other nicely and show a larger swathe of the central arctic than has been visible for a while.Image 2 and
    image 3.

    Still too much cloud for the North West Passage, as far as I can see anyway.

    #759 Jerry,

    That’s quite a good page.

    I hate to hit you with an actual paper. But Gerard Roe’s “In defence of Milankovitch” is one that first struck me as elegant and neat when I first read it. I think it will help you. Don’t worry too much about the text unless you want to, it’s the graphs at the end that may be of interest.

    There’s an adobe pdf file, available here.

    On page 14 figure 1 shows the relationship between ice volume (black traces) for two different records of ice volume (A & B) and the green trace which is insolation (INcoming SOLar radiATION) at 65degrees North lattitude. There is no clear relationship.

    The neat thing Roe did was to compare the rate of change of ice volume and 65degN insolation (figure 2). When looked at like that there is a pretty good fit. And because ice is white and reflects sunlight, the changes in the ice sheets would have affected global temperature.

    Then Roe points out that if you just take the June 65 degN insolation you get a very near perfect fit (figure 3). Roe notes that this does not explain everything, but it explains a lot of the observed changes.

    This doesn’t mean CO2 had no role to play, merely that the most likely initial cause was the effect of sunlight on ice-sheets. With CO2 having a secondary amplifying role, notably away from the northern ice sheets. So unlike today*, CO2 was not a cause but an effect that then amplified the initial changes ultimately due to orbital “wobble”.
    *CO2 is not the only cause of human driven climate change, although it’s a substantial one.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 12 Aug 2008 @ 3:46 PM

  761. Re: 760

    I find using the 7-2-1 banding on the NASA MODIS images really separates the clouds from the ice. This is only available from down to 500 meters however, but it really brings out the contrast.

    The latest satelite pictures are getting scary as that ice is getting in bad shape.

    Something else that may be worth considering is that the ice may still cover the North Pole at the end of the melt season, however if we get the right wind and storm conditions, some areas that will probably be free of ice at 85 North, may actually get pushed the 300 miles to the pole right up to mid October.

    So it may not all be over by September 15 after all.

    Comment by LG Norton — 12 Aug 2008 @ 5:40 PM

  762. Cobbly, According to Cryosphere graph:

    2008 sea ice extent is about to catch up with 2007.

    Big puzzle for me is NASA GISS not getting any data for the warmest zone in the Arctic, the Archipelago, which surely affects their average…

    Its been a strange year for trends.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 12 Aug 2008 @ 9:19 PM

  763. RE 759

    You wrote:
    “This doesn’t mean CO2 had no role to play, merely that the most likely initial cause was the effect of sunlight on ice-sheets. With CO2 having a secondary amplifying role, notably away from the northern ice sheets. So unlike today*, CO2 was not a cause but an effect that then amplified the initial changes ultimately due to orbital “wobble”.
    *CO2 is not the only cause of human driven climate change, although it’s a substantial one.”

    Please don’t mix an analysis over hundreds of kiloyears with what has taken place over past 150 years. The mechanisms and conclusions are different. The study you refer to does nothing in explaining AGW.

    Comment by Lauri — 13 Aug 2008 @ 2:02 AM

  764. This chart from the US Navy gives an interesting way to view global warming and polar amplification.

    [Trust their certificate :-]

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 13 Aug 2008 @ 4:22 AM

  765. Re #763 where Lauri wrote:

    Please don’t mix an analysis over hundreds of kiloyears with what has taken place over past 150 years. The mechanisms and conclusions are different. The study you refer to does nothing in explaining AGW.

    Although glacial cycles last around 100 kiloyears, the terminations when temperatures rise from a minimum to a maximum, take only a few thousand years, and in the northern hemisphere such temperature changes can happen in around three years (3 not 3,000.)

    We are fairly confident that the glacial cycles are due to oscillation in the earth’s orbit which are smooth. Therefore the abrupt climate changes must be due to an amplifying factor, which is most likely carbon dioxide since there is a strong correlation between it and temperature.

    Most of the CO2 on earth is dissolved in the oceans and when they warm, the dissolved CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Thus a rise in CO2 can produce a rise in temperature, but also a rise in temperature can cause more CO2. There is a real danger that if we increase the CO2 in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, then we may cause the oceans to release even more leading to a runaway greenhouse.


    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 13 Aug 2008 @ 8:18 AM

  766. Hi there. Can anyone point me to discussion on potential or observed physical responses to the continuing disintegration of Arctic sea ice? For example, could lack of ice, or changes in timing of ice pack formation and ablation somehow trigger changes to thermohaline circulation?

    Comment by Rando — 13 Aug 2008 @ 9:55 AM

  767. Rando, the sea ice is salty in any case. Moreover, even the Greenland glaciers are probably not enough to significantly affect the THC. Europe’s Winters are probably safe for now.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Aug 2008 @ 10:46 AM

  768. re: Cobbly (760), Laurie (763), Alister (765):

    Cobbly, thanks for the paper pointer. I will take some time to digest it.

    Laurie & Alister, my reason for asking in this forum is that the rapid decay of Arctic ice, most noted in 2007 but observed (less spectacularly) for over 20 years, reminded me of the rapid (decades?) retreat of the last North American ice sheets that my kids asked about.

    If I get the rate of change sorta right, (from the NCDC.NOAA link) it took ~10k years for insolation to move from 420 to 480 W/m^2 (+15%) in July insolation at the time of the last glacial retreat. Just does not seem like a rapid enough power change to directly melt kilometer thick ice sheets, especially mid-continent, where ocean currents are not present to bring warm water from the topics. So the atmosphere must have warmed, or wind patterns shifted, to bring more heat northward.

    The change in insolation may have provided the energy, but Alister’s point is that it had amplification. Alister argues that increased insolation allowed CO2 to be released from the ocean, and that the CO2 effects acted as the amplifier. OK, but still, that seems too slow a mechanism for the reported northern hemisphere climate shifts (as little as 3 years).

    My impression is that the last glacial retreat happened comparably, or faster than the current Arctic melt is occurring. Maybe this impression is wrong; if so, let me know.

    So I’m trying to get a sense for what possible mechanisms (climate or weather) could bring that much power to the task of melting that much ice at the necessary rate. As distasteful as it is to invoke catastrophes like comets, I can’t exclude them (how much debris of a strike would remain if it hits a kilometer thick ice sheet?) as possible accelerators to more gradual processes. Or maybe the ocean currents reorganized (why?), altho that (to my mind) seems like a thousand-year process. The fact that the glacial retreats match every 5th insolation cycle tells me it isn’t just that single factor.

    I’m working on the mental model that the longer term (decades) current melt of Arctic ice is due (mostly) to increased heat transport in the oceans and secondarily by atmospheric heat transport.

    Kids ask the darndest questions…

    Comment by Jerry — 13 Aug 2008 @ 1:01 PM

  769. #763 Lauri,

    Agreed. Roe’s paper is not about the current situation.

    My sole purpose in that paragraph: In the current context of obfuscation and denial about the radiative forcing impact of CO2, it is important never to allow misunderstanding to lead to the incorrect conclusion that because CO2 was an effect of wider processes in glacial/interglacials it is not a driver now.

    In stating the matters previous to that final paragraph as Roe’s conclusions, and not doing so for the final paragraph I trusted that seperation to be implicit. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make it explicit.

    #762 Wayne,

    It looks like I’m wrong again, at least I have been consistent: In consistent under-estimation of the situation.

    I think you’ll find that in the months to come more data will be incorporated into the GISS dataset. I have noticed that the most recent month is always more patchy then preceding months.

    #761 LG Norton,

    Thanks for the advice. As for what happens next, we’ll see. This is actually a more interesting year than last.

    #766/767 Rando/Ray,

    I’m more concerned about atmospheric circulation than ocean as a potential impact. I agree with Wunsch’s interpretation of wind forcing’s dominance upon ocean circulation (but as I’m an amateur that means little). I do not think changes to thermo-haline subduction will be significant in terms of European climate and Northern latitude heat transports (I presume that’s behind your “winter” comment Ray?). I am waiting to see what the scientific and meteorological community have to say with regards any impacts from thinned and fragmented ice.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 13 Aug 2008 @ 1:31 PM

  770. The kids in your class will like this one, if they haven’t seen it already. Lots of info available if they ask their librarian to help them find it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Aug 2008 @ 1:39 PM

  771. Jerry,

    The mechanism that drives the degaciation is not fully understood yet. One reason is that it must be complex to include both a 10,000 year and also three year episodes. If it was simply just an asteroid impact, for instance, we would have discoverd that by now.

    The second reason is that the climate models are wrong. That is why every second post by Gavin is to argue that the models are correct despite the evidence to the contrary. The mistake the modelers are making is to believe that the greenhouse effect from gases operates high in the atmosphere. In fact the greenhouse gases absorb the terrestial radiation in the air next to the surface. Check out Beer’s Law. More greenhouse gases means more absorption and heating of the air close to the surface so melting the ice.

    So the following is a plausible sequence.

    Recently a paper was published that showed that the deglaciation begins when the solar radiation in southern hemisphere is at a maximum. This warms the surface there, which is mainly ocean, and so releases CO2 which warms the globe, but espcially the tropics where the warmer and wetter climate leads to more methane (CH4).

    This increase in CO2 and CH4 melts the margins of the NH ice sheets, which creates water vapour, another greenhouse gas. James Hansen has argued that melting ice sheets are wet, and this accelerates their demise. Moreover as they retreat the land exposed becomes boggy generating more methane.

    What the greenhouse gases are doing is raising the snow line both in latitude and in altitude. As the ice sheets are undercut, they become lower and eventually their top surfaces melt. That reduces the sunlight reflected from their surfaces (albedo.) This is the main cause for the inclease in absorbed heat which melts the ice, not the increased solar radiation due to the 20,000 year astronomical cycle.

    About 7,000 years after the SH solar max., the NH is then approaching its solar max and the ice then melts vigourously. As it disappears the warming from change in albeo and the greenhouse gases melts the sea ice which has been covering the North Atlantic. Sea ice melts evenly and disappears suddenly causing the abrupt wamings that are recorded taking only three years. See recent paper on entry into Holocene and into the Bolling-Allrod.

    If this scenario is correct, we need not fear a cooling, but rather a warming when the Arctic sea ice disappears.


    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 13 Aug 2008 @ 2:50 PM

  772. Gack. Alastair, of course greenhouse gases absorb near the ground. Because the ground is where all that sunlight is being averaged out into warmth. That emits infrared. Greenhouse gases absorb the infrared And reradiate, or get agitated and crash into and warm up all the sourrounding non-greenhouse oxygen and nitrogen. Which collide with the greenhouse gases. Which absorb imapact energy and radiate some as infrared.

    And so it goes. At every level. As below so above, up to the altitude and thin air where the photons have a fair likelihood of departing the planet without running into anything else, and the greenhouse gases can actually get rid of some of the heat energy.

    But ya gotta come up with an experiment that will show one result if theory A is correct, and a different result if theory Everybodyelse is correct — at least hypothetically, describe how someone would test whether your idea makes any detectable difference.

    What difference would it make if you were right?
    You need a website to explain this, right now it’s just trickled out all over other people’s blogs and never pulled together anywhere you can point people to.

    Save typing!

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Aug 2008 @ 4:36 PM

  773. Jerry, from actual observations, the greatest ingredient to accelerate melting is a warm winter (2006-200, very cloudy), followed by a cloud free summer (2007). Hinting evidence of greenhouse gases giving a boost in warming (more clouds in winter) and also extra heat causes less clouds in summer, I think that summer 08 melt proves that Heat acquired in the atmospheric system does not escape to space even after a reverse scenario (caused by La-Nina and the disappearance of Arctic clouds at solar minima) ….., which is a clear winter and cloudy summer. The atmosphere in itself has a certain level of heat capacity not easily giving away its heat, as some may surmise, the atmosphere and its greenhouse gases play a huge role in this.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 13 Aug 2008 @ 9:32 PM

  774. Rando, I took a string directly out of your posting above and dropped it into the Google search window and got good answers. You might start here:

    — or start by making up other examples and trying them out

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Aug 2008 @ 9:43 PM

  775. [771, Alastair] – “The mistake the modelers are making is to believe that the greenhouse effect from gases operates high in the atmosphere.”

    I think you misunderstand what the models do. They certainly have greenhouse gases acting at the surface, but at surface temperature and pressure the absorption bands are saturated. This is why early 20th century scientists didn’t think the extra CO2 was going to have a global warming impact, because the effect of additional gases would be nil.

    Later in the century it was realised that at the lower temperatures and pressures in the upper atmosphere the absorption bands would not be saturated, and so the extra CO2 would be able to have an increased effect. The details of the fact that the bands are already partially saturated, etc, is why the effect of extra CO2 on radiation is logarithmic and not linear.

    So, if you look at the total forcing from CO2, it is certainly true that a lot of it acts near the surface, but if you look at the change in the forcing, between now and pre-industrial, this occurs mainly higher up.

    So I don’t think there is any fundamental mistake in the climate models here. Having said that, I am surprised by how broad the uncertainty range is for CO2 radiative forcing in the IPCC reports.

    Comment by Timothy — 14 Aug 2008 @ 4:55 AM

  776. CT today reports NH sea ice area of 4.001 Mkm^2, lower than the 2005 minimum of 4.01 Mkm^2.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 14 Aug 2008 @ 4:43 PM

  777. Nick, just eyeballing it, that curve looks like an exact repeat of last year’s.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 14 Aug 2008 @ 6:33 PM

  778. Depending on if you are measuring sea ice area or extent, you get number ranging from 200,000 to 600,000 more ice this year than last year.

    We might end up at the end of the melt season, with conflicting numbers on if the 2007 minimun was beat.

    It does not matter scientifically, however it does matter if you had a bet on it (I do not).

    On another note. The Canadian ice service declared the southern route of the North West Passage open for navigation on August 14.

    The Northern Route thru Perry Channel is now down to 7 tenths ice for about 180 km, so I imagine in another week or two, the Northern route will be open.

    The Canadian Ice Service is a Department of Environment Canada, and they are always practiceing due dillegence; so I imagine the conditions are better than they say.

    Comment by LG Norton — 15 Aug 2008 @ 8:00 AM


    August 14 sea ice extents compared for 2007 and 2008. If you go on to look at the September data for 2007, in simplistic terms it looks as though everything that’s shaded yellow through to red on the August 14 map eventually melted out. Now look how much of this year’s remaining ice is in similarly poor shape. If things follow a similar trajectory, the Arctic could be in for a real world of hurt this year. I wouldn’t yet betting against a new record low for either extent or area.

    Also, in more trivial “gosh wow” terms – the pattern of ice melt is sufficiently different this year that it looks to this (uninformed) bystander as if the Northwest and Northeast passages will be simultaneously open. When was the last time that happened, if ever?

    Comment by Peter Ellis — 15 Aug 2008 @ 12:20 PM

  780. LG, There is actually one expedition which is already there…

    A sail boat, reporting a few wind driving floes… I think its looking more and more like 2007

    despite significant weather differences. The underlying , invisible, if you like, force behind all
    this is heat in the atmospheric and ocean systems, almost oblivious to weather when it comes to Arctic Ocean ice it seems, so it appears to be a true metric of GW.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 15 Aug 2008 @ 12:21 PM

  781. Wayne,

    I think that you are correct about it be the underlying forces which are behind it all. As I see it, these underlying forces are ice thickness and ocean salinity :-)

    The thickness depends on whether the ice is first or multi-year ice. Since there is little thick multi-year ice left, then the melt will continue rapidly until the end of September, eating its way through the remaining first year ice.

    When the ice melts, it alters the salinity of the ocean surface because produces fresh water which has a higher melting/freezing temperature than sea water. It is also less dense and floats on the top of the ocean. The big melt last year left a lot of fresher water on the surface of the Arctic ocean which readily froze during the winter. The result was that the spring ice extent in 2008 exceeded that in the spring of 2007.

    I don’t have a convincing explanation of why the 2008 melt did not accelerate in June as happened in 2007, but it seems that in 2007 the Parry Channel was free of ice by August, allowing the fresh melt water in the east Arctic to flow across the surface and drain out into Baffin Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

    I argue that the accelerated 2007 melt slowed towards the end of August when all the first year had gone and the thick multi-year ice began to melt. As already explained, this year that will not be a problem, and now the Parry Channel is effectively clear. Thus the current accelerated melt will continue up until the end of September when the North Pole receives no more solar energy until next spring.

    So, Hank et al., I have put forward a proposition which can be disproved. If the Arctic ice does not continue to melt for another month, then my theory may be wrong!

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 15 Aug 2008 @ 4:00 PM

  782. Wayne and LG: here’s another sailor taking the southern route, more-or-less accompanying the one to which Wayne links:

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 15 Aug 2008 @ 4:04 PM

  783. Alastair, ya, that fooled a lot of contrarians who saw the newly formed January 2008 vaster ice as an excuse to deny Global Warming. I support your idea that it was from fresh water, certainly as I like to mention, polar ocean old ice makes a splendid cup of tea, very salt free indeed. I am a bit interested in the biology under this new vast ice area, I think we are quite ignorant about it,
    because huge seasonal variances never happened before in recent history. The topography makes it different than Antarctica, we can only observe what happens from this. But I am wondering if for the near future the ice will have in its “DNA” the same characteristics of Antarctic ice which disappears every summer.

    For near future consequences, a repeat of 1997-1998 is in the cards,
    when EL-Nino raged hot, if this happens again with current wide open Polar water, another mild
    winter like 2006-07 will happen, what is left of old ice will doubtfully survive.

    What is happening now is compression of the ice, opening up suddenly vast areas, I dont like:

    NSIDC extent number, it is not giving a good idea, if the ice was thoroughly scattered last year, instead of being highly compressed, 15% extent could have easily covered the entire Arctic ocean, and there would have been a coverage of 100%…..

    I like an exact percentage of how much ice is left is a better figure. Lets settle on a good measurement instead of being confused by all these distractions. The ice has melted extensively already.

    Finally I have a beef with the surface temperature record at present, it is not reflecting
    true nature of heat in the atmosphere, current polar ice melt proves this. So your theory
    will ultimately fail if you use current surface temperature record. Splendid idea to use the ice instead.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 15 Aug 2008 @ 4:49 PM

  784. RE # 781 Alastair, you said:

    [The result was that the spring ice extent in 2008 exceeded that in the spring of 2007.]

    The NH sea Ice Extent graph:

    shows 2008 extent at the top of the melt season as 14 million sq km and the 2007 as approx 13.3. If the 2008 melt equals or exceeds the 2007 extent, more ice will actually melt in 2008–more fresh water but similar open ocean extent compared to end of 2007 melt season. It is the additional fresh water I am focusing upon.

    John McCormick

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 16 Aug 2008 @ 9:05 AM

  785. Gentlemen, have you had a look at the Danish and/or Bremen sites today?

    Wayne, can you elaborate further on this:

    “Finally I have a beef with the surface temperature record at present, it is not reflecting true nature of heat in the atmosphere, current polar ice melt proves this. So your theory
    will ultimately fail if you use current surface temperature record. Splendid idea to use the ice instead.’

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 16 Aug 2008 @ 2:12 PM

  786. Steven Goddard has recently published another article on the Register’s web site.

    The methodology and some of the claims seem erroneous to me, and so I wanted to find out how exactly he arrived at his 30% figure. It says, “The 30 per cent increase was calculated by counting pixels which contain colors representing ice.” but that’s somewhat vague. Were the background pixels (text, legend, border, stars) removed? If so, how? How was the fact that the Sahara desert on this picture

    (which I assume was the source he used — he didn’t actually say) is the same color as used to indicate some of the sea ice at the pole?

    I see that he has occasionally posted here, so I thought I’d try this in addition to using the Reg’s “email the author” mechanism.

    Comment by Ed Beroset — 16 Aug 2008 @ 4:11 PM

  787. Even eyeballing those pictures, you can see that the number of pixels of ice-covered ocean is clearly substantially higher this year. I strongly suspect this is an artefact of spatial averaging and the low resolution of the pictures at

    I don’t know what resolution the NSIDC use for their analysis, but the pixel size of the UIUC images must be of the order of hundreds of kilometers across. Look how much of that ice is at ~50-60% concentration. At a higher resolution, that will resolve into ice floes (100% cover) and open areas (0% cover), and various concentrations in between. The poor resolution of the images Goddard used gives a misleading impression of the health of the Arctic ice cover. To take a silly example, you could use a single pixel that covers the complete Arctic Ocean, and declare that for every month on record, this pixel has had over 15% concentration, therefore there has never been any change in ice extent, not even a yearly cycle!

    In any event, he’ll end up looking a prat in a month’s time when all the red fragmentary ice from the pictures he favours melts out over the next month.

    Comment by Peter Ellis — 16 Aug 2008 @ 6:20 PM

  788. > Goddard

    This is a great example of a point where it would be wonderful if there were a forum that would invite the people who produce those charts together to discuss what Goddard is saying about them.

    A line on a graph and a colored chart, both based on rather extensive data sets, shouldn’t be compared like this. The data should be compared instead.

    Goddard looks at the pictures, then reasons from those that he can determine the numbers behind them and say how much they differ.


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Aug 2008 @ 6:30 PM

  789. Alastair, you’re kidding, right? Or left out something?

    > If the Arctic ice does not continue to melt for another month,
    > then my theory may be wrong!

    If the Arctic ice does not continue to melt for another month, everyone’s theory will be wrong. When has it ever stopped melting in August?
    ReCaptcha says: “William Fairhaven”

    Uh, oh. I’m starting to think the programmer behind reCaptcha is using something like Google’s ad-placing text analysis. This is just too good.

    William Fairhaven Bradford.

    Okay, look at the plate for August 18th, plate number 8:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Aug 2008 @ 6:59 PM

  790. Tenney #785 There is no way possible to have a cooling of the atmosphere without having some sort of evidence in the Polar ice melt. Although some contrarians are again fooled, gullible on purpose, and use very little analytical prowess to figure out that 2008 is the equivalent, if not a greater melt than 2007….. Despite Low pressure systems affecting ice compression by causing winds opposing the Arctic Gyre current, compression by synergism is something that actually accelerates a melt like in 2007, in addition despite summer time clouds and also an incredible late winter bout of clear skies…. The melt is huge… So the surface temperature record does not reflect total atmospheric heat. Here is something to consider, temperatures measured over an icy surface during summer is not the same measurement of a temperature reading over rocks, land and water during the same season, akin to the Urban heat bubble. There is something amiss, only a calculation of the entire troposphere weighted temperature gives a good reading comparable to total heat content. For those who cant do that, use the sun disk as a fixed sphere of reference,
    and watch it expand over the years, because there is less refraction in warmer air.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 16 Aug 2008 @ 9:19 PM

  791. RE: #787 Peter Ellis says:

    “I don’t know what resolution the NSIDC use for their analysis, but the pixel size of the UIUC images must be of the order of hundreds of kilometers across.”

    Actually, I traced back through and the NSIDC data is based on 25km grid data. The NSIDC data is derived from a NASA data and not the other way around as the Goddard article incorrectly asserts. I went to

    and clicked on the link labelled “about the data” under the picture that was reproduced on the Reg’s site. The NSIDC site says:

    Image derivation is from the Sea Ice Index data product, which relies on NASA-developed methods using passive-microwave data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F13 Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I). The basis for the Sea Ice Index is the data set, “Near Real-Time DMSP SSM/I Daily Polar Gridded Sea Ice Concentrations,” and the NASA-produced “Sea Ice Concentrations from Nimbus-7 SMMR and DMSP SSM/I Passive Microwave Data.”

    Second, the U of I data (which he mentions, but doesn’t link to) is at If you look at that page it says “Snow and ice data provided by the National Center for Environmental Prediction/NOAA.” I am guessing that is the same data that is at ttp:// but it’s not clear to me if that’s correct. It seems Goddard wasn’t clear on that either, since he says that the U of I data is based on the NSIDC data, which doesn’t seem to be correct. Anyway, on that NOAA site, if you click on “How the ice grids are constructed” and you get a full page of detailed information on just that topic, including the sentence:

    The data source for the algorithm is the SSMI instrument on the DMSP F-13 satellite.

    In other words, the data ultimately derives from the exact same instrument used to make the graph on the NSIDC’s web site. So if there’s a difference, it has to be in the processing and interpretation of that data.

    To see if there really was “something odd” in the NSIDC data (which is what the Goddard article claims) I downloaded the 2007 and 2008 daily data from

    and wrote a program to interpret the images and count grids with >= 15% ice. I found that on 8/12/2007, this program calculates that there was 5.54563 million square km of sea ice and for 8/11/2008, I get 6.2775. Now first, I’m comparing the near real-time data with the final data which isn’t exactly apples to apples. Second, I’m calculating area and not extent (a distinction which Goddard’s article muddles). Third, I’m not sure that my calculation regarding the missing data area just at the pole is correct (the NASA web site says that there is an area of 0.31 km^2 right at the pole which is not “seen” by the instrument. For this calculation, I assumed that area was entirely ice.) Even with all those caveats, that’s a difference of 13% in area, which is pretty nearly exactly the percentage difference in extent which the NSIDC’s web site shows, so my analysis agrees much more closely with the NSIDC data than with the Goddard article.

    That’s why I want to understand exactly how Goddard’s 30% figure was derived.

    Comment by Ed Beroset — 16 Aug 2008 @ 9:26 PM

  792. Re Steven Goddard,

    Yet another tour-de-force of his incapacity to opine on this matter.

    It’s notable that Goddard didn’t show Cryosphere Today’s area plot:
    Which doesn’t support his “nothing to see here” nonsense.

    That the melt has sped up and gained on last year this late in the melt season seems to suggest a role for thin ice. Granted, as NSIDC noted in Sea Ice News on 11 August, wind patterns have had a role. But thicker ice would be less responsive to such impacts.

    The difference between the area(Cryosphere Today) and extent(NSIDC) is that:

    *Area is the sum of pixels with over 15% sea ice concentration weighted by the percentage ice coverage in that pixel.

    *Extent is the sum of pixels with over 15% sea ice concentration.

    Hence the extent at minima is always greater than area, and I argue that as the ice gets thinner in the years to come area will probably drop faster than extent. As the ice gets thinner concentration will drop and extent may miss that because more pixels will be less than 100% but more than 15%. That’s why I use area(CT) not extent(NSIDC).

    By pixels I am talking about the base derivation from raw data used by CT/NSIDC, not using pixels off the end product (as Steven Goddard appears to have done to get his dubious 30%).

    In post 725 I went over the state of play in terms of area. Here’s a reworking of that, reading figures from Cryosphere Today’s “recent ice area” and “hemispheric ice area” plots, all in million square km (rounding up from the minima and down from the maxima – i.e. conservative):

    3/2007 13.3
    now 2007 3.1
    9/2007 3.0
    3/2008 13.9
    now 2008 3.4

    The lag between 2008 & 2007 at current date 3.4 – 3.1 = 0.3

    Melt up to now 2007 and 2008
    2007 13.3 – 3.1 = 10.2
    2008 13.9 – 3.4 = 10.5

    i.e. so far this year the overall area melt from maxima has been greater this year than last.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 17 Aug 2008 @ 1:41 AM

  793. RE: #792

    Thanks for the clarification about area and extent calculations. Based on this, I updated my program to derive both from this NSIDC data:

    My area graph now agrees very closely with

    except that my data is not smoothed (e.g. missing data from the near real-time data set is counted as no ice in my plot).

    I agree that it doesn’t make too much sense to count pixels from the end product at the Cryosphere Today site, but that’s apparently what Mr. Goddard did. I’m hoping he’ll respond and let me know exactly how he obtained his 30% number.

    Comment by Ed Beroset — 17 Aug 2008 @ 11:13 AM

  794. Cobbly , The chap is an attention seeker, but instead of paying for an argument, for say 1 pound. LOL Monty P. !… He gets it for free… It looks more and more like 2007, at an incredible late pace. Can’t say for certain how its going to end yet, but looks like 08 melt will beat 07, not only in melt extent but it might exceed last years record.

    I looked at your MET office sea-ice prediction animation again, with now 2
    seasons extreme melt in retrospect,

    A1B scenario has it wrong by consistently showing a greater melt from the Russian side (the side with the thinnest ice). This model should be checked as to why it does so. But I suspect that its integrating the surface temperature projection with ocean temperatures, and fails to mimic what is going on now, 2 years running… When will we see A1C?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 17 Aug 2008 @ 12:22 PM

  795. Hi Wayne,

    For myself on that issue; the relevant Monty Python sketch has to be “Deja Vu”. ;)

    I’ve been using Env Canada HRPT timeseries trying to get a lucky allignment of Terra/Aqua with frontal breaks in the cloud over McClure Strait and Viscount Melville Sound. No joy so far, the cloud is just too thick (even with LG Norton’s 7-2-1 ban hint). For me it’s superfluous, AMSRE and SMRI are good enough for me to conclude the northern NWP is virtually ice free, if nothing else I’ve got a good feel for how visual and those images match up – Bremmen’s AMSRE are damn good! But a visual of open water in Melville/McClure would be cool.

    There are some very large areas of loose ice out there in the ocean, as we both know that can open or close given the right winds. If either index is more likely to meet/beat last year I’d say CT’s area (partly because of the state of the ice). But it’s now a case of wait and see as far as I’m concerned. I certainly didn’t expect it to be this close.

    CT’s area index is still on a straight line trajectory, which stuns me, if I suspect it’s about to start to reduce the rate of loss that’s only because I’m expecting it (time of year). There is no more deviation from a straight line than there has been since start of June. CT seems to have a time lag, their area plots don’t show halfway through August, yet it’s the 17th now. Bremmen shows notable loss in the last week (Chucki/E Siberian//Laptev), that’s disappearance(melt) not dispersal. AMSR SST from JAXA/EORC shows 4-5degC anomaly warming in the areas they’ve not excluded as possibly containing some ice for this August.


    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 17 Aug 2008 @ 3:08 PM

  796. Ed Beroset,

    I’ve never tried to deal with raw data as you’re doing, that’s mainly because I’m aware of how many caveats there are and how little I know. That’s not meant as a criticism, it really is good to see you having a go. With regards the November 2007 extent discrepancy you mention – could it be partly because NSIDC were applying a monthly averaging? There’s a note about them switching to daily figures on their recent Sea Ice News pages.

    As for Steven Goddard, did you know he turned up here? (Late-400s and 500s of this thread) While browsing through the comments on his article I saw a further comment from him strengthening my suspicion about his 30%. I suspect he may be using some code to numerically processes the images from Cryosphere Today. I agree, best go to the real data if that’s what one is trying to do. He’s got a channel on You Tube (stevesgoddard) with some videos that are even more obscure than the solitary one I posted there earlier this year (under my name CobblyWorlds). I might pull my finger out and do some more, but knowing me I probably won’t.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 17 Aug 2008 @ 3:42 PM

  797. CobblyWorlds, check out this Terra shot from Friday:
    There’s thin cloud/fog cover, but I think you can pick out the contrast between the floes and the water, showing mostly open water right through Melville Sound.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 17 Aug 2008 @ 7:10 PM

  798. Guys,

    The Danish site’s links change every day and even throughout the day, but if you get a chance look at this ENVISAT — shows all the slush:

    ReCaptcha: Pringle women LOLOL

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 17 Aug 2008 @ 11:15 PM

  799. #797 Nick Barnes,
    Thanks for that. I’d missed it: Due to work pressures I’m very likely to miss things at the end of the week.

    #798 Tenney Naumer,
    Picasso does the Arctic! ;)

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 18 Aug 2008 @ 10:16 AM

  800. Thanks for the link Tenney, The Danes and Bremen seem to capture ice conditions better, if you take that shot and compare with cryosphere which seems a tad conservative. It looks like the North EAST passage will open soon as well, something that happened last year for a day or 2.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 18 Aug 2008 @ 12:01 PM

  801. wayne @ 800: don’t count on the NE passage (aka the “Northern Sea Route”) opening. The location of the remaining ice barrier – around Severnaya Zemlya, blocking the Vilitsky Strait and to the east of the Taimyr Peninsula – is where that route was blocked last year, where the tongue of multi-year ice reaching across from Greenland touched Siberia. There was a UK sailor soloing that route last year, to complete an implausible circumnavigation, who had to abandon there and hitch a lift on a freighter in a small convoy with an ice-breaker. It seems that winds and currents conspire to keep that area ice-bound.
    The sailor’s name was Adrian Flanagan; his blog, which included a lot of local (Russian) ice radar shots at the time, is here:

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 18 Aug 2008 @ 7:20 PM

  802. Re: 801

    It is a lot warmer over on the Siberian side than north of Greenland, and warm air continues to enter between Iceland and Norway. If this continues a few more days, the Northeast Passage will show open even on the Cryosphere page. The Danes already show it as open. Fresh snow cover on northern Greenland and Ellesmere, though. It is pretty cool up there.

    ReCaptcha Enters 186,000

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 18 Aug 2008 @ 9:09 PM

  803. Hey Wayne….2 cm of snow forecast for Res today. Winter’s back….

    Comment by Rando — 19 Aug 2008 @ 9:31 AM

  804. The latest Canadian ice charts for McClure Strait and Perry Channel has come out.

    Except for a few areas of 3/10 ice, its clear sailing.

    The only thing, is that things can get clog up quickly if the wind changes, and all that multiyear ice on the north side of victoria island starts drifting in the channel.

    The German research vessel Polarstern, operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute is actually traversing the passage this week. I presume they would be taking the northern route thru parry channel – McClure Strait.

    Polar Stern Tracking

    Comment by LG Norton — 20 Aug 2008 @ 3:01 PM

  805. Sea ice thickness and age may be more important variable affecting summer sea ice melt. One year old ice has more sea salt in it. Sea ice 2 years or older has less sea salt, so it would not melt as fast as saltier ice.

    One year old sea ice is softer due to it being saltier.

    Natural phenomenon are rarely plotted on a temporal or spatial basis as linear…so it is not surprising that sea ice melt rates vary annually.

    It seems to me though that one variable/factor not described well is how wind speed affects ice melt and break up.

    When wind speeds over the Arctic Ocean are high, that the kinetic energy of the water (long and deep waves) would more rapidly break up 1 year old ice, than 2 year old ice even if it was the same thickness. Secondly 2 year old ice would be less bouyant, denser, and harder than 1 year old ice.

    Therefore, as the wind picks up in the Arctic, it would take less kinetic energy (wind pushing the ice, and wave action) to cause the summer sea ice to melt. Moreover, as the air temperature in Northern Hemisphere increases globally due to all factors including anthropengic ones, there would be more energy for evapotranspiration, and more mass movement of air in the trophosphere, leading to a small, but not negligible positive feedback: more wind, more melting, more surface area of ice exposed to solar radiation, warmer and stronger winds, more open ocean to absorb warm air, and much lower albedo (reflectivity).

    The analogous situation is occurring in the mid latitudes: longer hurricane and tornado season, higher frequency of hurricanes and tornadoes, et cetera. Apparently a sea surface temperature of at least 80 Fahrenheit is required to produce a hurricane.

    Greater air mixing in the northern hemisphere equals greater mass transport of warmer, southern air to the arctic, greater increase in the melt of summer sea ice, hence the ‘tripping point’ or ‘trigger point’ of no return for many decades or even centuries.

    all the best


    Comment by John Foster — 20 Aug 2008 @ 3:26 PM

  806. Re #804

    Here’s another site with the sat ice as well.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 20 Aug 2008 @ 4:06 PM

  807. I’ve been working on this in my spare time for a few days and I’ve not gotten any response from Mr. Goddard in answer to my question of how he counted the pixels. However, I wrote my own software to do so and found something quite interesting. First, I’ll explain what I did and then what I found.

    First, I downloaded the two images that Goddard mentioned:

    Next I used the jpegtopnm program version 10.35.45 (see ) to convert from the jpg image to the much simpler and linear ppm format which simply uses three bytes (for red,green,blue) per pixel. I then used GIMP (see ) to select just the color portion of the color gradient legend, a 13 x 306 pixel area, and exported that to a separate ppm format scale file. Finally, I wrote a program to read the scale file and “remember” each of the pixels. It then processes a whole image file and counts the number of pixels that have exactly the same color values as are in the scale file. Also, it creates a simple copy of the input file, but substitutes white pixels for matches and makes all other pixels black to make it easy to see where pixels matched. I’ll make that C++ source code available to anyone who would like to use it.

    Much to my surprise, I found that almost none of the pixels matched exactly. Specifically, I found that 3846 pixels matched in the 2007 image, and 3849 in the 2008 image. However, 3978 pixels (13 x 306) were the pixels in the legend on the unaltered picture. Obviously all of the pixels in the copied legend match all of the pixels in the original legend. This leaves just 132 and 135 pixels in the 2007 and 2008 pictures that match exactly. Obviously, just by the count, that’s too small an area to represent all of the ice on these 850 x 850 pixel images (722500 pixels). In fact, it looks like about half of those are in the yellow lettering for the date and timestamp at he bottom of the picture.

    If one uses exact pixel matching, with a computer counting the pixels, then one does not get any meaningful result, let alone the 30% difference claimed by Mr. Goddard. So did he use some inexact matching method? Did he count the pixels with an eyeloupe and abacus? I don’t know, but it seems to me to throw considerable doubt on the claim.

    If anyone else can offer some explanation about this discrepancy or point out any error in my re-analysis, please let me know. My question still remains: How did Mr. Goddard count the pixels?

    Comment by Ed Beroset — 20 Aug 2008 @ 8:44 PM

  808. Hi Mr Beroset:

    “If anyone else can offer some explanation about this discrepancy or point out any error in my re-analysis, please let me know.”

    This was discussed recently on Anthony Watts site. I assume the poor match is due to colour distortion either from JPEG compression or the code used to generate the image.

    As a workaround, I used a metric coming from the sum of absolute values of differences of RGB values, with fudge factor of 50 for a ‘match’. This was chosen empirically to give a good visual match when the resulting b&w image was used as a mask on the original image.

    Besides the good visual match, I got general agreement with Steven Goddard’s claim of around a 30% difference between 20080811 and 20070812.

    Comment by dipole — 20 Aug 2008 @ 11:55 PM

  809. Ed, I have been able to reproduce Goddard’s result.

    The most important point for anyone to note is that you should expect some differences when there is different processing of date involved. There are different satellites sensors, and different algorithms for mapping brightness to ice and picking up coastlines and so on. The identification of the 15% boundary for defining “extent” may vary. Hence, you can sensibly compare results obtained by the same algorithms, but comparing across data processes differently to get ice cover from brightness readings on satellites will have systematic differences.

    You can read more about such things at NSIDC Interpretation Resources. Goddard’s biggest problem by far is that he’s comparing different data. The underlying satellites may be the same, but there’s other processing variations involved. It’s not generally a problem, I think.

    But in any case, to get Goddard’s result, I started by looking at the color scale in the corner of the UIUC image, I have obtained an approximate algorithm for getting colors for a give ice level. Very roughly, it goes as follows, using an RGB color scheme, and ice from 0 to 100

    *Ice 0 to 20; R = 0, G and B rise to 255. (B rises slightly faster)
    *Ice 20 to 40. G = 255, R rises to 255, B falls to 0
    *Ice 40 to 60. G falls to 0
    *Ice 60 to 80. B rises to 255
    *Ice 80 to 100. B falls to about 100, R falls to about 150.

    There’s a lot of slop around that, and the pixels in the map itself are even worse due to merging of colors. But the following algorithm quite reliably picks up the added pixels for ice cover.

    if R+B+G > 650 then ice = 0 // Too white
    elseif R > 200 then ice = 1 // mid range ice
    elseif R > 100 and B > G and G 100 and B 200 then ice = 1 // thinish ice
    elseif R > 100 then ice = 0 // land
    elseif R > 50 and B > 50 and B 200 then ice = 1 // thin ice
    else ice = 0 // water, land

    The pole is at pixel 428,428 in the full UIUC image with two globes side by side. (The image is 1709×856 total). I only count pixels that are within 250 pixels radius of the pole. You can use the above algorithm to modify a bitmap or make a mask to verify that you are picking up ice correctly. The method above gets very close indeed to picking up all the ice.

    Then count. On 12-Aug-2007 there are 36741 ice pixels. On 11-Aug-2008 there are 47214 ice pixels This is a 28.5% increase.

    The next question is to manage the projection. I don’t know exactly the projection being used, but I have been able to get close by using a sphere for the Earth, and a viewpoint from above that gives a tangent to the surface at latitude 26.93 (0.47 radians), and project to a flat surface. Using this, I’ve estimate the extent of pixels in the UIUC images as follows: on 12-Aug-2007 there are 4.6 million sq km. On 11-Aug-2008 there are 6.0 million; a gain in extent of 29.8%

    Now these numbers are actually both substantially smaller than the NSIDC figures for extent, which are 5.4 and 6.3 respectively. My algorithm is crude, so I don’t trust more figures than this. However, remapping the NSIDC data (which gives a gridded product and easy access to latitude and longitude for each cell) allows me to make another mask and overlay the UIUC images using my presumed projection. This confirms that the projection I have used is really close, and also that the UIUC images do indeed show less ice extent than the NSIDC dataset; by about 17% and 5% respectively. I expect this is simply the normal systematic variation of different algorithms being used. In any case, the same two dates show a gain of 16.06% in the NSIDC figures, and 29.8% in the UIUC area weighted pixel count. I think the UIUC images omit some of the thinner ice, which may still get above 15% coverage as far as NSIDC is concerned.

    Differences in independent calculations of extent of this magnitude seem to be within the kinds of variations in processes discussed at the link I gave above for “Interpretation of Resources”.

    I can’t believe I actually did all this calculation… but bottom line. UIUC seems to be an independent calculation, which generates images by adding pixels to a map, probably when ice cover is over 15% according to their analysis. In any case, they omit pixels which would still be part of the extent in the NSIDC analysis. The difference is fairly small, but significant, and enough to account for Goddard’s figures.

    Comment by Duae Quartunciae — 21 Aug 2008 @ 12:10 AM

  810. No two years melt are exactly the same, even if their areas/extents are equal.

    So comparing on a pixel-by-pixel basis for two days in two different years will tell you nothing of value with regards the multi-year reduction (whether image pixels or pixels (625kmsq) of the underlying dataset). Such a difference between 2 years is weather.

    Steven Goddard’s 30% means nothing.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 21 Aug 2008 @ 2:38 AM

  811. I also counted pixels and it wasn’t possible to select the ice pixels automatically by comparing with the key, even with the PNG images you get on the page where you can compare 2 dates. Anti-aliasing and resampling change the individual pixels and make it unsuitable for automatic processing (even on the NSIDC images, where pixels correspond 1:1 to data grid cells, the pixels don’t match the key).

    I used the GIMP. I selected non-ice pixels with the color select tool; first with high threshold, then with lower threshold to sort the remaining pixels out (but note that even manually it’s not possible to find the exact border). I filled the selections black (you have to change the mode to “dissolve”, else you’ll produce new colors). I got this intermediate result.

    Then I selected the 2 areas with the remaining ice pixels and pasted them into new images. I selected the black background, inverted the selection and filled it white. Then I used the histogram to count the white pixels. The ratio is 43341 / 33130, an increase of 30.8 %.

    The reason is that the CT ice extent was very low at 2007-08-12 when compared with NSIDC data (you can compare the CT and NSIDC images with Uni Bremen data and a MODIS image). I made an overlay of both, but that’s only a very rough picture because of the different projections. CT data changed very much from day to day at that time, while NSIDC data where quite stable. See CT and NSIDC images.

    Comment by Clarence — 21 Aug 2008 @ 2:57 AM

  812. Re #807

    I agree with dipole, and the process of compressing the data into a JPEG then your uncompressing it again is what is causing your problem.

    Here are some GIF files which, which when uncompressed do not produce distortions. Your pixel counting should work with them.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 21 Aug 2008 @ 4:42 AM

  813. I then used GIMP (see ) to select just the color portion of the color gradient legend, a 13 x 306 pixel area, and exported that to a separate ppm format scale file.

    OK, so in this step you’re trying to reverse-engineer the conversion of percentage ice value into pixel colour, to work out what colour corresponds to which percentage ice value. Fine.

    Finally, I wrote a program to read the scale file and “remember” each of the pixels. It then processes a whole image file and counts the number of pixels that have exactly the same color values as are in the scale file.

    I have no idea what you’re trying to achieve with this. Think about it logically. The colour scale has a vast number of possible values, and yet the key to the colour scale (i.e. the graded bar on the image) is only about 300 pixels long. It therefore stands to reason that most of the pixels in the actual ice data will have values that fall somewhere in between the pixels on the key – i.e. they will not be a perfect match to any single pixel from the keystrip.

    What you need to do is determine the mathematical algorithm that was used to translate percentage ice into an RGB value. You should be able to do that by simple linear regression of the RGB values (derived from the keystrip) against the indicated percentage values. It looks to me as though you’ll end up with a series of linear segments.

    0-20% ice: runs from something near black (use GIMP to get exact values) to pure cyan (#00FFFF)
    20-40% ice: runs from pure cyan (#00FFFF) to pure yellow (#FFFF00)
    40-60% ice: runs from pure yellow (#FFFF00) to pure red (#FF0000)
    60-80% ice: runs from pure red (#FF0000) to pure magenta (#FF00FF)
    80-100% ice: runs from pure magenta (#FF00FF) to a middling magenta (can’t get exact values by eye, but will be trivial in GIMP)

    You’ll need to double-check the above numbers in GIMP, especially the values for 0% and 100% ice. Once you’ve extrapolated the actual values for the various segments of the conversion graph, you can then use that to interpret the pixels of the ice image itself, though some wiggle room may be needed because of colour distortion artifacts.

    As I said above, it looks like a bit of a futile exercise, though. The resolution of the images you’re analysing is not the same as the resolution of the raw data: it appears to be lower. That lowering of resolution is almost certainly what leads to the discrepancy in measurements. In areas with low ice concentration, the coarser resolution blurs together regions of (say) 50% and 0% ice concentration into a double-size region of 25% ice concentration. If you weight according to percentage ice value (i.e. do the area calculation rather than extent calculation), that won’t matter much. If you do the cruder extent calculation (i.e. count every pixel over 50% ice), then the coarser resolution will overstate ice extent. And it will do so more severely this year than last, since this year has such a large amount of low-concentration ice.

    Comment by Peter Ellis — 21 Aug 2008 @ 5:45 AM

  814. (i.e. count every pixel over 50% ice)

    Typo, that should of course read 15% ice.

    Comment by Peter Ellis — 21 Aug 2008 @ 5:47 AM

  815. dipole, did you pick those values so as to get 30% or did you pick those values for another reason and just happen to get an agreement?

    Comment by Mark — 21 Aug 2008 @ 6:10 AM

  816. Apologies for post spam – I downloaded GIMP and had a look at the jpeg files. As others have said, there is some loss of colour information due to JPEG compression. The scale bar doesn’t even have the same pixel values across its whole width! However, it’s probably still possible to get some (albeit slightly distorted) data out of it.

    The boundaries for the scale segments appear to be as follows:

    0-20%: #000020 – #00FFFF
    20-40%: #00FFFF – #FFFF00
    40-60%: #FFFF00 – #FF0000
    60-80%: #FF0000 – #FF00FF
    80-100%: #FF00FF – #702050

    Comment by Peter Ellis — 21 Aug 2008 @ 6:30 AM

  817. The data used to generate the pictures is available at

    Why not use these data directly instead of the indirect and unreliable method of ‘comparing pixels’?

    That was of course one of the first serious questions put to Goddard at The Register, but he never really answered it. At one moment he was even surprised that this data was available.

    Perhaps he’s handy with Photoshop.

    “He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 21 Aug 2008 @ 7:22 AM

  818. dipole:

    Thanks for your note. Yes, I’m sure that the compression of the JPEG image is at least part of the problem. For example, if I zoom in to look at the legend, I’m sure that the border around it is supposed to be white (and looks so to my eye at normal size), but it’s actually all different colors due to color averaging with surrounding pixels.

    Doing pixel averaging and adding fudge factors seems a poor basis to make any claim about NSIDC data accuracy, but perhaps this is indeed how Goddard got his number. It’s a shame he still hasn’t anywhere described his method to the detail I have, or shared any actual numbers other than the rather vague 30% figure. Until that happens, I’m not inclined to spend any further time on this.

    Comment by Ed Beroset — 21 Aug 2008 @ 7:39 AM

  819. RE 817:

    Thanks for the web address. It does not, however, seem to have the satellite data that has been discussed, only historical century span data.

    Comment by Lauri — 21 Aug 2008 @ 12:35 PM

  820. I see the Northern Sea Route is open today, according to Bremen. Lots of cloud cover at MODIS but it certainly looks plausible on this:

    As for pixel-counting: Why? The raw data is available.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 21 Aug 2008 @ 2:36 PM

  821. RE: 812, 813, 817, 820 (similar themes)

    “As for pixel-counting: Why? The raw data is available.”

    Yes, I know that, and I’ve analyzed that, too (see 791, 793). The only reason for this was to evaluate the article that Goddard wrote by:

    1. Independently evaluate the NSIDC graph construction to see if “something odd” was indeed happening there.

    2. Independently evaluate the claim of Mr. Goddard that there is a 30% difference between the UIUC data and NSIDC data (this seems largely to have been accepted without challenge or replication)

    3. If indeed there is a difference, try to discern why (Goddard seems to have simply assumed that the NSIDC data was incorrect without stating the basis

    Anyway, it’s now a moot point. See the recently appended Editor’s note in which the author himself now acknowledges:

    “it is clear that the NSIDC graph is correct, and that 2008 Arctic ice is barely 10% above last year – just as NSIDC had stated.”

    Comment by Ed Beroset — 21 Aug 2008 @ 3:45 PM

  822. Anne, Ed and Nick, Exposing people who count pixels, and who play “got you wrong”, rather than fully analyze the entire melt from March onwards is a good thing.

    There is a lag in the melt caused by contrarian winds for most of the melt season,

    The Anticyclone North of Alaska now, is compressing ice with the Gyre current and Tide, recently there was usually a Cyclone there. It seems likely that 2008 will catch up with 2007 a bit late. The loose ice areas should consolidate if current systems maintain themselves there.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 21 Aug 2008 @ 4:49 PM

  823. > As for pixel-counting: Why? The raw data is available.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Aug 2008 @ 4:54 PM

  824. There has been a lot of discussion on the Cryosphere map versus the NSIDC data, on a skeptic site, Wattsupwiththat, with Steven Goddard posting over there in defense of his Register article. Mark Serreze and Walt Meier from the NSIDC tracked him down there, and after much discussion, a correction has been published there, and on The Register site.

    Meier’s post is about 13:00 on August 19, and Serreze posted the next day for the second time.

    Comment by Paul Klemencic — 21 Aug 2008 @ 6:34 PM

  825. [822,wayne] – “It seems likely that 2008 will catch up with 2007 a bit late.”

    I don’t think there’s enough time, it is now getting to be pretty late in the season, with less than 10 days until September starts.

    What I would like to see would be an NSIDC style timeseries plot with 2008 compared to 2005 and 2007. I suspect that 2008 is going to be below the previous record of 2005, even though it will most likely be above 2007.

    I think this is itself very noteworthy. 2007 broke the 2005 record in no small part because of very favourable weather for ice melt, but it looks like 2008 will also exceed the 2005 melt even though it has had prolonged periods of weather that were not favourable for ice melt.

    That is a sign of a very strong trend indeed.

    Comment by Timothy — 21 Aug 2008 @ 7:47 PM

  826. I see a number of people here asking about the pixel counting.

    This certainly did not start out as a pixel counting exercise. It started as a UIUC side by side comparison of August 12, 2007 vs. August 11, 2008. There was clearly a lot more ice shown in 2008. I then overlayed 2008 on top of 2007, which highlighted the increase even more. Finally, I counted pixels which qualitatively confirmed what I (and a number of other people) were seeing. 30% more ice in 2008. This is much more gain than the NSIDC graph showed. It seemed implausible that the maps could be wrong.

    My further research has shown that the August, 2007 UIUC maps were not showing a significant amount of ice in several peripheral regions of the Arctic, and as a result the increase in 2008 appeared much more dramatic than it actually was. I discovered this by overlaying an August 19, 2007 NSIDC map on a UIUC map from the same date. (NSIDC does not archive their daily maps, and I found that file by chance.) I then compared the regions of discrepancy vs. NASA satellite images of August 20, 2007 (August 19 was not available) and it was clear that the NSIDC map was indeed more accurate.

    Because UIUC was showing less ice last year, the increase this year appeared much larger. I had always considered the UIUC maps to be a very accurate source, and was quite surprised to see as much difference as there was.

    It is clear that the NSIDC graph is correct, and that the 2007 UIUC maps are not precise enough to be used for quantitative analysis.

    Comment by Steven Goddard — 21 Aug 2008 @ 8:17 PM

  827. Just to clear things up re 815 818 822. No, I didn’t go fishing for the 30% figure with the aim of validate Goddard’s claim.

    I experimented with a few different fudge factors to generate a B&W mask which I used to switch pixels on and off in the original image. With the chosen value it was visually obvious there was a good match with the ice extent.

    I suspect that just quantising the RGB values down to 4 bits would have a similar effect, with the advantage of sounding more professional.

    So pixel-counting seems quite valid to me, and appears to demonstrate that older UIUC images are simply not accurate.

    Since these images are widely linked, shouldn’t they do something about it before more unsuspecting pixel-counters are lured to their death?

    [Response: The ‘pixel counting method’ is a completely waste of time – but see the continuation of this thread for more details. – gavin]

    Comment by dipole — 21 Aug 2008 @ 8:22 PM

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