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Bjørn Lomborg, just a scientist with a different opinion?

Filed under: — stefan @ 31 August 2015 - (Español)

Bjørn Lomborg is a well-known media personality who argues that there are more important priorities than reducing emissions to limit global warming. In a recent controversy centering on him, the Australian government (known for its contradictory position on climate change) offered the University of Western Australia (UWA) $4 million to make Lomborg professor – which UWA first accepted, but then after massive protest from its staff and students refused. The Australian government was quick to label it a “freedom of speech” issue that Lomborg should get a university position, and vowed to find another university that would host him. However, free speech doesn’t guarantee everyone a university position; there are also academic qualifications required.

Lomborg’s publication record

Let us thus start by looking at Lomborg’s track record in the scientific literature. This is where original research results, i.e. new findings, are published. One can look this up in the Thomson Reuters Web of Science, the main data base of the scientific literature. According to this Lomborg only has published 20 papers, of which 15 have never been cited by anyone (Fig. 1). The number of citations shows whether any other researchers in the world have found the results interesting enough to discuss them in their own papers (whether critically or otherwise). Only one of Lomborg’s papers has a reasonable number of citations: 42. This is on a problem of game theory, apparently resulting from his PhD thesis. On closer inspection, the other articles appear to be merely opinion pieces that made it into the Thomson Reuters data base by appearing in periodicals that are indexed there, including Forbes, Foreign Affairs or New Scientist.

Lomborg1Lomborg2

Figure 1 Lomborg’s citation record in Web of Science, as viewed on 22 Aug 2015. The ten most-cited papers (out of 20) are listed. Click to enlarge.

That means that apart from one paper in 1996, Lomborg has never published anything in any field of science that was interesting or useful to other scientists, or even just worth the bother of contradicting in the scientific literature. PhD students at many universities are expected to publish two or three original research papers from their PhD, and without that, they are generally uncompetitive for a postdoc position.

For comparison I also show a snapshot of the publication record of an economist who really studies the economics of climate change: Gary Yohe (Fig. 2) – to give readers unfamiliar with bibliometric data an idea of what they look like for a regular scientist at professorial level. One number illustrates the point: Lomborg’s papers were cited once last year, Yohe’s 608 times.

Yohe1Yohe2

Figure 2 Gary Yohe’s citation record in Web of Science, as viewed on 27 Aug 2015. The ten most-cited papers (out of 93) are listed. Click to enlarge.

Lomborg’s public comments on sea-level rise

I study sea-level rise, and I first noticed Lomborg’s sea-level comments in October 2008, when he published an opinion piece in the Guardian (via Project Syndicate) in which he wrote:

Since 1992, we have had satellites measuring the rise in global sea levels, and they have shown a stable increase of 3.2mm per year (1/8 of an inch) – spot on compared to the IPCC projection. Moreover, over the last two years, sea levels have not increased at all – actually, they show a slight drop. Should we not be told that this is much better than expected?

The first sentence is a debating trick frequently used by those wanting to downplay climate change: Lomborg compares the observed past rise with average projections for the future. However, in the projections sea level rise accelerates over time in response to global warming, so if the rate of rise is already now as high as models expect only in several decades, this is not “spot on”. When comparing like with like, i.e. the same time interval, it has been shown both in the journal Science and in the 4th IPCC report (published 2007) that the observed rate of rise greatly exceeded the projections available at the time of Lomborg’s writing. (In the 5th IPCC report the projections are about 60% higher than in the 4th and now do match past observations.)

Lomborg’s second sentence is also a classic debating trick of climate skeptics: confuse the public by cherry picking some short interlude which goes against the long-term trend (Fig. 3). This is always possible with noisy geophysical data.

Bjorn_Lomborg_Sea_Level_Rise

Figure 3 The data behind Lomborg’s claim of falling sea level. Image courtesy of Greg Laden’s blog.

Ironically, the title of Lomborg’s article was “Let the data speak for itself”, but he did not show the data. (I did later in a response – for those wanting to read more on my exchange with Lomborg, see the Appendix below.)

Misrepresentation of IPCC reports

Lomborg has quite a history of misrepresenting what is written in IPCC reports. I noted this already in the Guardian exchange about the 4th IPCC report. Lomborg has likewise seriously misrepresented what IPCC says about sea level in its latest (5th) report. In a newspaper column for Project Syndicate, which got published in newspapers in many countries, he wrote:

For sea-level rise, the IPCC now includes modeling of glacier responses of 3-20 centimeters, leading to a higher total estimate of 40-62 cm by century’s end – much lower than the exaggerated and scary figure of 1-2 meters of sea-level rise that many environmental activists, and even some media outlets, bandy about.

Compare this to what the IPCC actually writes about sea level in its Summary for Policy Makers:

For RCP8.5, the rise by the year 2100 is 0.52 to 0.98 m.

(RCP8.5 is a scenario with unmitigated rise in greenhouse gas emissions.)

For the lowest emissions scenario RCP2.6 (which involves drastic emissions reductions starting in a few years and leading to zero global emissions by 2070) the best-estimate sea-level rise by the year 2100 given by IPCC is 44 cm. The emissions reductions needed to keep sea-level rise so moderate is the kind of scenario that Lomborg has devoted his career to prevent. Telling his readers that sea-level rise might just be 40 cm so they should not worry, without telling them that this low number would require massive mitigation efforts, is rather misleading.

The risk of a rise of 1-2 meters is dismissed by Lomborg as “exaggerated” and “bandied about” by “environmental activists and even some media outlets”. But surely Lomborg knows that a large part of the sea-level expert community considers this a serious risk, as documented in a number of peer-reviewed scientific publications? The thoroughly peer-reviewed US National Climate Assessment, published some months before Lomborg’s newspaper article, summarizes the state of science on future sea level in the following graph (Fig. 4).

US national assessment

Figure 4 Sea level rise according to the US National Climate Assessment (2014). The high end scenario of 6.6 feet equals 2 meters of rise between the years 2000 and 2100.

And an expert survey in which 90 sea-level experts (in contrast to Lomborg, all with a good track-record of research in this area) took part has come up with this distribution for the upper reaches of sea-level rise by 2100 (Fig. 5).

.

survey_histogram1

Figure 5 Distribution of the experts’ answers to the upper limit of the ‘likely’ range for the RCP8.5 scenario by the year 2100. Many experts consider a global sea-level rise between 1 and 2 meters quite possible in case of unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions.

Cynical misinformation offered to developing nations

Lomborg’s message to the newspaper readers has thus nothing to do with a fair portrayal of how much sea-level rise the scientific community expects. Rather it is a distortion and blatant attempt at downplaying future sea-level rise. Looking at Lomborg’s many other Project Syndicate columns shows that this is not a singular case but a regular pattern in his columns. This is all the more irresponsible given that Project Syndicate opinion pieces are widely reprinted by newspapers in developing nations, where reporting on the actual state of science is often poor and where people are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Earlier this year Lomborg travelled to Bangladesh to tell people there that “focusing on global warming instead of child nutrition is quite frankly almost immoral” (his standard false dichotomy). He further claimed:

The Dutch has shown us 200 years ago, you can handle sea level rise fairly, easily and cheaply, you can do the same thing here and you will do the same thing here.

It only takes a look at Google Earth to see how preposterous the comparison of Holland and Bangladesh is (Fig. 6). The latter coastline is vastly more difficult to defend against rising seas, and unlike Holland it is in the path of tropical cyclones.

Holland

Bangladesh

Figure 6 Coastlines of Holland (top) and Bangladesh at similar scale. Holland expects to spend 1.2 to 1.6 billion Euro (1.4 to 1.8 billion US$) per year until 2050 to upgrade its already well-established coastal defences – but it has a straight, easy-to-defend coastline with only a small river delta region. Bangladesh in contrast is largely a river flood plain with major problems draining the monsoonal waters to the sea (closing the coast with a huge dike is not an option) combined with storm surges from tropical cyclones. [See more in Appendix 2.]

Lomborg’s cynical attitude towards the victims of sea-level rise could hardly be better illustrated by another Project Syndicate op-ed he wrote. There he dismisses even a catastrophic 20-foot sea-level rise (6 meters – a plausible outcome of unmitigated global warming in a few centuries) which would inundate about 16,000 square miles of coastline where more than 400 million people currently live:

That’s a lot of people, to be sure, but hardly all of mankind. In fact, it amounts to less than 6% of the world’s population – which is to say that 94% of the population would not be inundated.

What a cavalier way to dismiss the plight of 400 million people, coming from a rich Dane who in 2012 received a salary of US$ 775.000 in the US via conservative foundations!

Conclusion

To answer the question posed in the title: No, I do not think Lomborg is a scientist who just happens to have a different opinion from the majority. First of all, there is very little indication that he is actually working as a scientist, given his near-zero scientific track record since his PhD work according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. Second, the arguments he presents to the wider public on sea-level rise can hardly be seen as  made in good faith – rather, they appear to me carefully crafted (and admittedly rather eloquent) distortions, aimed to deceive his lay audience about the seriousness of the threat. In short, I would consider much of Lomborg’s writing propaganda.

Ever since his “Skeptical Environmentalist” book Lomborg has a simple, single message: don’t worry about reducing fossil emissions. Whether he denies or plays down the seriousness of global warming, sings the praises of adaptation, advocates to prioritize other problems or pushes geoengineering, the message is always the same: anything is better than phasing out fossil fuels.

As seen by the lack of citations, this message has zero credibility or impact in the scientific community. After all, scientists can judge the merits of the arguments. Unfortunately, Lomborg’s propaganda message is not only popular with fossil fuel interests, but continues to get ample space in the media.

 

Appendix

I did not want to burden the main article with too much detail, so here is how my exchange with Lomborg in the Guardian went on. In response to my complaint about the cherry-pick, Lomborg wrote:

Rahmstorf is correct to note that the levels are no longer dropping — which they were from 2006 to early 2008, the data available at the time of my article — but curiously seems disinclined to explore why the rise over the past four years (2005-2008) has been half the previous rise at 1.6mm/year. The inescapable point is that sea levels are not escalating out of hand – if anything, they are doing the exact opposite right now.

To start with, the satellite data were freely available online in near real-time from 1992 at the time of Lomborg’s earlier article, so the distinction between long-term trend and short-term noise should have been evident to him – it is inconceivable to me that Lomborg could have so little understanding of statistics that he does not understand the role of noise in the data, so his claim that sea-level rise is slowing can’t be out of ignorance but must have been a deliberate attempt to mislead his lay audience. And the short blip that Lomborg focused on was already over when his article appeared.

In my reply to this in the Guardian I wrote:

Why does Lomborg cite the trend since 2005? Last October, he cited that of the previous two years. Why now four years? Because the trend of the past two years (2007-2008) is now + 3.7 mm/year? It is even worse. The trend since the beginning of any year of the data series varies between 1.6 mm/year and 9.0 mm/year, depending on the start year chosen. Using 2005, Lomborg cherry-picked the by far lowest. He’s done this before, see for example his recent claim that the globe is cooling.

It is worth rereading these Lomborg articles from back in 2008/2009 to realise how even more ridiculous they are today, in the light of the data that have been gathered since. Of course sea-level rise has not slowed down.

Another example is how Lomborg tries to tell his readers that the globe is actually cooling:

Temperatures in this decade have not been worse than expected; in fact, they have not even been increasing. They have actually decreased by between 0.01 and 0.1C per decade.

That was another disingenuous cherry-pick; we now know that the hottest years on record are 2014, 2010 and 2005, with the hottest 12-month period being the past 12 months.

Appendix 2 by Jonathan Gilligan [Added on 4 September, from Comment Nr. 57)

About defending the Bangladeshi coast: See L. Auerbach et al., “Flood risk of natural and embanked landscapes on the Ganges-Brahmaputra tidal delta plain,” Nature Climate Change 5, 153 (2015) (Disclosure: I am a co-author), F.K. Khadim et al., “Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Impacts in South West Coastal Zone of Bangladesh and Fact-Finding on Tidal River Management (TRM)” J. Water Resource & Protect. 5, 953 (2013) and Atiur Rahman’s book, “Beel Dakatia: The Environmental Consequences of a Development Disaster” (University Press, 1995)

In the 1950s through the 1970s, following recommendations of the UN Krug Commission report, Bangladesh built a large network of more than 100 embankments, or “polders,” based on the Dutch model, for flood control in the coastal areas.

The engineers designing and implementing this project did not account for the vast geological differences between the Bengal delta and the Netherlands. In Bangladesh, these polders prevented the natural flow of sediment onto the land and caused accelerated subsidence that contributed roughly 10 times more to relative sea level rise in many parts of the delta over the last 50 years than eustatic sea level rise.

Thus, far from protecting the coast, these Dutch-style embankments increased problems of flooding, waterlogging, and vulnerability to catastrophic flooding when storm surges from cyclone Aila in 2009 destroyed several embankments, destroying the homes of tens of thousands of people much as Katrina did in the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. And severe tropical cyclones hit Bangladesh an average of once every three years.

Ironically, a number of Bengali engineers warned, in the 1920s and 30s, that building such embankments to control floods would actually make flood risks worse for the reasons I give above.

Additional recent work by J. Pethick and J. Orford, “Rapid rise in Effective Sea-Level in southwest Bangladesh: Its causes and contemporary rates” Global Planetary Change 111, 237 (2013) showed that the embankments along the tidal channels of Bangladesh also caused tidal amplification, which further exacerbated relative sea-level rise.

There is some hope for Bangladesh because if the land is not mismanaged (for instance, if sediment flow is not blocked by poorly designed systems of embankments and sluice gates), natural sediment deposition can cause significant aggradation of the land surface, enough to completely keep up with moderate sea-level rise. See, e.g., CA Wilson and SL Goodbred, “Building a large, tide-influenced delta on the Bengal margin: Linking process, morphology, and stratigraphy in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta system,” Annu. Rev. Marine Sci. 7, 67 (2015). See also, the extensive literature on “Tidal River Management,” such as Khadim et al. (2013).

However, even the billion tons a year of sediment carried by the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system is likely insufficient to keep pace with the kind of accelerated eustatic sea-level rise we expect in coming decades if the world continues to follow an RCP 8.5-like emissions trajectory.

Lomborg’s poorly informed recommendations to Bangladesh and his ignorance of the disastrous consequences of Bangladesh’s past attempt to emulate Holland exemplify Santayana’s warning that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

Weblink

Danish biologist Kåre Fog has a good summary on his Lomborg Errors website of how Lomborg has shifted his position continuously over time, from denying global warming is a problem to wanting to fix it with drastic geoengineering measures. The website has extensive documentation of Lomborg’s errors. Fog concludes about Lomborg: “He does precisely what the fossil fuel industry would want a PR agent to do”.

205 Responses to “Bjørn Lomborg, just a scientist with a different opinion?”

  1. 151
    Hank Roberts says:

    Mike, Dan H. refines here claims that he (or someone by the same name) posts on other sites where, often, no one debunks them. Elsewhere, he claims expertise, e.g.

    … Multiple lines of evidence are NOT pointing to continued warming. I have anaylized these datasets thoroughly. If you can show me how they point to warming, I will listen.

    cited above.

    We don’t write for the trolls, who claim to listen and never do.

    We do write for the people who — when they read somewhere else that they’re being offered “Only genuine pre-war American and British whiskeys” — bother to look up the claim.

  2. 152
    Keith Woollard says:

    Someone isn’t a Troll because they disagree with you. A troll is someone who hijacks a thread and takes it to their own personal gripe. Dan H (and I) have pointed out legitimate problems with the thread. Sure, not everything we say is perfect, but it is valid discussion. I am still waiting for Hank to say “yes, sorry you are correct, the non-peer-reviewed-press-release I linked to was a clear exaggeration designed to amplify people’s concerns” tick tock tick tock

  3. 153
    Dan H. says:

    Kevin,
    Have you read what NASA has to say about the Totten glacier?
    http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/news/reducing-salt-bad-for-glacial-health-20131205.html#.VQ7xkuHLL5y

    This conflicts with Hanks claims that warm water is flowing below the cold water and melting the glacier. They theorized that it was the salt content, not the temperature, which affected the glacier. Grasping onto the latest paper (as Hank does) as evidence that ones beliefs trump others, does science a disservice, as it ignores previous scientific research. Is his theory correct? Possibly, but one paper, opposed by others, does not a solid case make. A more detailed analysis can be found here:

    http://www.ocean-sci.net/10/267/2014/os-10-267-2014.pdf

    The larger numbers for ice melt are calculated differently than previous estimates, so we cannot say definitively that any acceleration has occurred. This rate of melt could have been occurring for decades. Even this high rate of melt is an extremely small fraction of the total mass of the glacier.

    What is even more hilarious is the ridiculous claim of “moving the goalposts” whenever someone cannot refute the evidence. We can all sit around and speculate all we want about what would happen IF the glacier melted, but ignore the actual possibility of it occurring. These two are inherently connected. That would be akin to discussing the consequences of an asteroid impact, without mentioning the remoteness of its occurrence.

    You seem quite keen on grasping onto anything that somehow verifies your own beliefs, but refute that which does not. Do you not notice the circular reasoning that accompanies the claim that any research which does not support your position must originate from a denier? Mike has a similar type post.

  4. 154
    flxible says:

    Dan H says: “http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/news/reducing-salt-bad-for-glacial-health-20131205.html#.VQ7xkuHLL5y …. conflicts with Hanks claims that warm water is flowing below the cold water and melting the glacier. They theorized that it was the salt content, not the temperature, which affected the glacier.”

    Dan H’s communication skills are astounding … or maybe it’s just that his reading comprehension is lacking. The NASA study in fact indicates the lack of salt content is increasing the glaciers melt rate.

    Khazender and his colleagues developed a hypothesis that reductions in the volume of brine would increase Totten’s thinning and melting. Additional research supported that hypothesis.

    [……]

    The researchers hypothesized that when the cold brine pooled under Totten Ice Shelf, it mixed with the water there, lowering its temperature and slowing the glacier’s winter melt rate. If so, a reduction in cold brine would mean the glacier’s winter melt rate would increase.

    […..]

    If there are more winters with reduced polynya extents, Khazender points out, the cavity under Totten can fill with warmer ocean water rather than cold brine. “If that happens, the glacier’s flow could be significantly destabilized, causing it to discharge even more ice into the ocean,” he said.

    Emphasis added …. so yes, “salt content” does affect melt rate, resulting in increased melting caused by warm ocean water.

  5. 155

    DH: This conflicts with Hanks claims that warm water is flowing below the cold water and melting the glacier. They theorized that it was the salt content, not the temperature, which affected the glacier.

    BPL: Look again. What do differences in salt content do to water?

  6. 156
    Richard Caldwell says:

    flxible quotes an article: If there are more winters with reduced polynya extents, Khazender points out, the cavity under Totten can fill with warmer ocean water rather than cold brine

    RC: Winds are what they are, but I would think that the creation of polynyas would be easier in a warming world. Since polynyas are ice-factories (and the ozone hole), Antarctic winter sea ice might stay elevated for a long time. This looks like a negative feedback, but Khazender expressed it as a potential positive feedback. I wonder why he chose the counter-intuitive example.

  7. 157
    Dan H. says:

    It is amazing to what extends some people stretch their comprehension to match their own beliefs. The NASA research does NOT show that increased melt is due to warming ocean waters. Rather, the research show that “with reduced polynya extents, … , the cavity under Totten can fill with warmer ocean water rather than cold brine.” The report does NOT say that the surrounding ocean waters have warmed. Rather, it states that the surrounding ocean waters are warmer than the cold briny waters. The research did not state what caused the changes in polynyas – it may or may not be related to the surrounding ocean temperature. Compare that to the link provided by Hank, which claims that the glacier is melting due to ocean waters warming. It appears that this subtle difference in wording has been lost in the last few posters, but it is significant.

    Please try to refine your own reading and comprehension skills, before criticizing others. Your plank may be larger than other’s splinters. Lastly, scientific evidence is a better argument than personal insults, which tend to lessen the credibility of the post.

  8. 158
    Romain says:

    Hank (132),

    Thanks for your answer, but I am still puzzled by your strong statement.
    In the paleoclimate Wikipedia page I’ve linked to, you can find a graph of Vostok records. (towards the end in the “quaternary climate” section)
    There are high frequency swings in temperature on the right of the graph (from 10,000 years before present). These are not glacial cycles, and show significant warming (a few degrees) in a very short time scale (a century or two), suggesting warming rate more than 1°C per century.

    So when you say “We’re pushing warming — faster than nature ever did — into the same range.”, you seem to discard these Vostok records. Why? Is it just measurement noise? Or not to be extrapolated because conflicting with other proxys? Or do I read the graph in a wrong way?

    [Response: Local variations can be quite large, but they are not globally coherent. – gavin]

  9. 159

    #153–Uh, dude, you seem not to grasp that the ‘more detailed analysis’ you pro-offer me is in fact the same one I already linked for you, here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/08/bjorn-lomborg-just-a-scientist-with-a-different-opinion/comment-page-3/#comment-636021

    What was that you were saying about reading comprehension again?

    Most of #153 was rhetoric attacking Hank’s or my objectivity, a la this snippet:

    “You seem quite keen on grasping onto anything that somehow verifies your own beliefs…”

    Thanks for that, Mr. Pot. Always good to get some honest feedback from an unbiassed source.

    But the best bit was “…the ridiculous claim of “moving the goalposts” whenever someone cannot refute the evidence.”

    I was amused all over again by that–simple mind that I am!–since it’s in fact the only defense you offer against my ‘refutation’ that Totten is melting *now*, when you claimed that that was–what was the phrase, now? Guess I’ve got to go look–oh, yes:

    “…so remote, as to say it will not happen in a reasonable timeframe.”

    You seem to be down to bluster, and not very coherent bluster at that.

    But let me just add for the record that the Southern Ocean is showing some pretty good warming trends:

    http://www.whoi.edu/fileserver.do?id=50024&pt=2&p=56967

  10. 160
    Hank Roberts says:

    Scholar:
    polyna cause time trend antarctic

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n4/full/nclimate2132.html

    Nature Climate Change | Letter
    Cessation of deep convection in the open Southern Ocean under anthropogenic climate change
    Casimir de Lavergne1, Jaime B. Palter, Eric D. Galbraith, Raffaele Bernardello, Irina Marinov,
    Nature Climate Change 4,278–282 (2014)
    doi:10.1038/nclimate2132

  11. 161
    Tony Weddle says:

    Romain, I think what Gavin is saying is that the Vostok records concern a single region, not the the whole globe. :)

  12. 162
    Thomas O'Reilly says:

    #147 Hank Roberts says:

    “The pseudonym could cover a whole team at work distributing this stuff under the same name, or one very active guy; ‘oogle is fascinating. This kind of stuff:”

    A Classic Bust Baby!

    And I am not talking about Marilyn Monroe! (big smile)

  13. 163
    Hank Roberts says:

    Focus, folks, on the real point of the original post here:

    Cynical misinformation offered to developing nations

    Lomborg’s message to the newspaper readers has thus nothing to do with a fair portrayal of how much sea-level rise the scientific community expects. Rather it is a distortion and blatant attempt at downplaying future sea-level rise. Looking at Lomborg’s many other Project Syndicate columns shows that this is not a singular case but a regular pattern in his columns. This is all the more irresponsible given that Project Syndicate opinion pieces are widely reprinted by newspapers in developing nations, where reporting on the actual state of science is often poor and where people are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

  14. 164
    Romain says:

    Thanks Gavin,

    So none of these warmings shown in Vostok is coincident with the warmings of other proxies/localisations?
    I guess that the answer lies in papers like Marcott et al 2013 (shown on the Wikipedia paleotemp summary graph) or other attempts to reconstruct global paleotemps with proxies.
    So a warming of 2 degrees in 200 years in Antarctica is compatible with a global temperature not moving more than a few tenth of a degree in the same 200 years (according to Marcott). Wow. Not intuitive. Is there a known phenomenon behind that? At this point I think it is wiser for me to go read the Marcott discussions of 2013. Don’t want to waste anybody’s time and hi-jack the thread. Thanks.

  15. 165
    Dan H. says:

    Kevin,
    You appear to be proving my point. While there have been multiple publications concerning the southern ocean, few have shown warming, except for your link. One has to ask why you would make the rather biased claim that the southern ocean has warmed, when most scientists have acknowledged the opposite.

    http://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2013/392632/

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/staff/cdeser/docs/fan.antarctic_seaice_trends.grl14.pdf

    http://www.cesm.ucar.edu/events/ws.2015/presentations/crosswg/deser.pdf

    http://oceans.mit.edu/~ozoneholeandclimate/June_2015_Progress_Report.pdf

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/arctic-antarctic-ice.html

  16. 166
    Daniel Kuhn says:

    Those that want fssil fuel power plants in poor countries to help them develop. nobody is hindering you to build them power plants, you can go an build a coal power plant.
    but they never will, because they give a shit about poor people, they merealy abuse them in their lausy “argumentation”
    all they really care about is their own standard of living, and they fear that that will sink when AGW mitigation policies are implemented. they don’t care about others.

  17. 167
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://oceans.mit.edu/~ozoneholeandclimate/June_2015_Progress_Report.pdf

    Strengthening and southward displacement of surface winds produce an SST dipole around Antarctica: cooling south of 50S and warming in a zonal band along 30-50S, similar to observed patterns. These wind-induced
    cooling trends in the Southern Ocean are large enough to locally overwhelm the effect of greenhouse gas forcing and allow the sea ice cover to expand in a warming world…..

    You cite that as though it were good news.

    http://www.cesm.ucar.edu/events/ws.2015/presentations/crosswg/deser.pdf

    Southern Ocean cooling in a warming world
    Antarctic sea ice expansion in a warming world
    Gille, J. Climate 2008
    Vertical Structure of Southern Ocean Temperature Anomalies …
    1970s warmest at surface
    2000s warmest below surface

    You cite that as though it were good news.

    Odd.

    The warm water reaching the underside of the ice isn’t warmed above Antarctica — it’s thermohaline circulation:
    http://www.igsoc.org/annals/56/69/a69a890.pdf

    Above the continent, the ozone hole complicates an already complicated climate, and will continue to as the deficit in stratospheric ozone decreases for the next few decades (if we don’t screw up controls on CFCs and other ozone-depleting persistent organic chemicals).

    http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/3404/20130808/hole-ozone-cooling-effect-study-shows.htm

  18. 168
    Hank Roberts says:

    For Romain — at the Marcott discussion in the earlier thread, the link Gavin’s inline response to the first comment is broken — but you can find the same information at
    https://westerntoday.wwu.edu/inthemedia/wwu-faculty-find-overwhelming-scientific-evidence-to-support-global-warming

    That’s an example: Easterbrook taking local temperature excursions and treating them as global events in a presentation to the Wa. state legislature.
    Much more in the discussion there

  19. 169

    #165–Dan, good links. Thanks for sharing them. However, you are quite wrong to suspect that I deliberately passed over or suppressed those you found. Had I found them, I would have modified my comment.

    But do note that there are two different things being talked about here: your UCAR link (Schneider, Deser an Fan, also the data source used by at least one of your other links) is talking about *surface* temperatures. So does the Maheshwari et al paper.

    By contrast, the link I cited is primarily concerned about ocean heat content–which, of course, must consider temperatures throughout the whole water column (or at least a decent subset thereof–most of the graphs showing this in the Gille presentation I linked extend down to 1000 meters below the surface.) It’s a more comprehensive measure of warmer or cooling, if harder to observe.

    I’d argue that that is also rather more to the point than just the surface temps, important though the latter undoubtedly are–and particularly so when we are speaking in the context of whether warming coastal waters might risk increasing bottom melt rates for glaciers such as Totten.

    It’s also worth noting–non-contentiously, I just think it’s an important caveat to keep in mind–that the observed SST trends are quite inhomogenous spatially. To quote the Maheshwari et al paper you linked:

    From the time series analysis of the variation of Southern Ocean surface temperature anomalies, a slightly negative (i.e., cooling) trend in average temperature anomaly over the entire region is obtained. However, this trend is very weak and found to be statistically insignificant. However, on a regional scale, there are regions showing statistically significant trends in warming/cooling surface temperatures. Thus, regions like Amundsen-Bellingshausen Seas sector are showing statistically significant warming trend, while the Western Pacific Ocean sector close to the continental coast is showing a cooling trend, and the far off regions over the ocean are, however, giving a warming trend.

  20. 170
    Dan H. says:

    Kevin,

    Yes, the surface temperatures are inhomogeneous. However, the surface temperatures are the more important factor when considering glacial melt, as it is these temperatures, not total ocean heat content, which will influence melt.
    My apologies for assuming that you deliberately suppressed the other publications. The reports have differing explanations as to the cause of the cooling (or lack or warming), and until that can be ascertained with any degree od certainty, future predictions are speculative, at best.

  21. 171

    Dan, upon what ground do you base the assertion that:

    “…the surface temperatures are the more important factor when considering glacial melt, as it is these temperatures, not total ocean heat content, which will influence melt”?

    I find it unconvincing, given that the grounding line of Totten, as with most of these glaciers is way, way below the surface. For instance, going back to the abstract of the paper which started off most of this subthread:

    Warm modified Circumpolar Deep Water, which has been linked to glacier retreat in West Antarctica, has been observed in summer and winter on the nearby continental shelf beneath 400 to 500 m of cool Antarctic Surface Water… We identify entrances to the ice-shelf cavity below depths of 400 to 500 m that could allow intrusions of warm water if the vertical structure of inflow is similar to nearby observations.

    400-500 meters depth cannot be considered ‘surface’ by any stretch of the imagination.

    “The reports have differing explanations as to the cause of the cooling (or lack or warming), and until that can be ascertained with any degree od certainty, future predictions are speculative, at best.”

    I think again you are exaggerating the level of necessary ignorance. The uncertainties certainly exist. However, there is no uncertainty that we live in a warming world, and little uncertainty that at some point in the future the secular warming will dominate any smaller-scale counter-trends that may exist. That’s more than speculation. (By contrast, it’s my impression–FWIW–that the timing of this point could reasonably be termed ‘speculative’ at this point.)

  22. 172
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Dan H. — 28 Sep 2015 @ 1:14 PM, ~#170

    Dan, you have been arguing that the southern ocean surface is not warming, that surface temperature inhomogeneity is not relevant to glacier melt, and that glaciers will not release increasing amounts of water and influence sea level rise in the future. These assertions are not supported by Maheshwari et al, 2013 (http://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2013/392632/). From their Conclusion section:

    “One of the very important findings of this analysis is the steep rise in summer surface temperature observed in the Indian Ocean from 2005 to 2011. If this rise continues for more years to come, it would have an adverse effect on the thickness of Amery ice shelf [13].

    There are other significant cryospheric impacts of these findings. Majority of the glaciers in the Antarctic region are retreating at an accelerating rate. It is found that the melt rate of ice shelves is directly related to the surface temperature of the ocean [25]. Therefore, our study on the surface temperature variability and the findings, thereof, of a very strong surface warming over some sectors of the Antarctic Ocean would have significant implications on the future of the ice shelves and global climate change.”

    PLEASE NOTE that this study was the first of the links you provided in your # 165 comment to reference your opposite opinion. Also note that references #13 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2004GL020697/full) and #25 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2004GL021106/pdf), in the quote above, further document the mechanisms by which retreating Antarctic outlet glaciers are releasing larger volumes of water and that this is significant and accelerating, which is also contrary to your assertions upthread.

    Steve

  23. 173
    Joe Duarte says:

    This is confusing. Lomborg is a political scientist (by training) and an economist (by training and by work focus). This Stefan person keeps smearing him for not being a “scientist”. His use of the word suggests he means a physical scientist. It’s unclear why anyone needs to be a physical scientist.

    This attack piece seems to pivot on quoting Lomborg, then quoting the highest possible estimate of sea level rise from RCP8.5 and knocking Lomborg around for not using that estimate.

    In what sense is this argumentative method privileged by the rays of science? In what sense are the alleged “debate tricks” actually debate tricks?

    How is a person supposed to evaluate a piece where an environmentalist quotes someone, cites one source that appears to contradict them, and then wraps it up? The kinds of questions Stefan (Rahmstorf?) is trying to argue here are handled with much greater care by scientists. It’s called meta-analysis.

    When a scientist keeps referring to someone’s publication count, keeps talking about peer-reviewed this and peer-reviewed that, I take it as a bad sign. Lomborg writes more for the general public than for environmentalist academics like Rahmstorf. We already know that academia is biased, so peer-review is not a good indicator.

    The Change.org petition against Lomborg’s hire by UWA said “At UWA studying science I learned that climate change is the biggest threat facing my generation…”

    Indeed. Studying “science”, she learned what the biggest threat to her generation was.

  24. 174
    Dan H. says:

    Kevin,
    For easier reading, here is the publication related to the power point presentation to which you linked.

    http://www-pord.ucsd.edu/~sgille/pub_dir/i1520-0442-21-18-4749.pdf

    Gille states that warming has been “intensified near the surface” since the 1930s. They admit that there is large uncertainty in the measurements from the 30s and 40s, on which they are basing their conclusions. Their data shows no statistically significant warming since the 1970s (see Fig. 5). Also, it should be noted, that their measurements only extend southward to 60 degrees. This is the Southern Ocean, nto Antarctica. They suggest a poleward migration of the ACC, but not direct warming of the ACC.

    You may feel that I am exaggerating the level of our uncertainty when it comes to the climate around Antarctica. However, I find little to contradict that.

  25. 175

    Thanks, Steve. You inspired me to take another quick look at the WAIS situation, just to check on more recent examination of the issue. I found this paper from last year, by Rott et al.:

    18 years after disintegration of the buttressing ice shelves the glaciers draining into the Prince-Gustav-Channel and Larsen-A embayments are still clearly out of balance. Our estimate of the 2011 to 2013 mass balance for the API outlet glaciers between Seal Nunataks and Prince-Gustav-Channel is −4.21 ± 0.37 Gt a−1, based on analysis of volume change. Subtracting the estimated mass deficit of floating ice, the estimated contribution to sea level rise amounts to 4.05 ± 0.35 Gt a−1, corresponding to 17% of the Antarctic Peninsula mass depletion rate reported by McMillan et al. [2014] for 2010 to 2013.

    The spatial pattern of volume change with the rates of surface lowering decreasing up-glacier reflects the main driving mechanism for mass depletion: dynamic thinning due to stress imbalance initiated at the glacier front. The specific rates of elevation change (dh/dt) differ significantly between individual glaciers, depending on glacier geometry, subglacial topography, glacier size, and history of frontal retreat. The largest loss in ice mass (2.18 ± 0.17 Gt a−1), elevation losses up to 12 m a−1 near the glacier front, and high ice flow velocities are observed for Drygalski Glacier, indications that the glacier is still far from balanced state. On the other hand, in the northern section of the study area the mass losses of glaciers decreased significantly since 2003−2008, which agrees with deceleration of glacier flow and decrease of calving cross sections due to glacier thinning.

    (From the ‘Conclusions’ section; paragraph break added for readability.)

    Basically, there was a large speedup following the breakup of Larsen. Since then, flow rates have slowed, but 18 years later the glaciers involved are not back to equilibrium.

    Is there any reason to think that the parallel situation wrt Totten would play out differently? Some (Drygalski) are worse than others, certainly, so one must look at the details. But clearly this pattern of loss of buttressing ice leading to speedup of glacial flow rates leading to ice loss and sea level rise is, as the kids like to say, ‘a thing.’

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL061613/full

  26. 176
    kevin king says:

    Attack the man not the argument. You are losing the argument and in the not too distant future all of your grant money. Keep up the irrational argumentation..you are doing us all a favour.

  27. 177
    Dan H. says:

    Steve,
    If you read your references, they state that the glaciers of the Antarctic peninsula sped up, after the break up of the Larsen B ice shelf. I have never argued against speed up of glacial melt, following the reduction of the ice sheets. Indeed, I would support their conclusion that the loss of the ice sheets, buttressing the glaciers, would enhance melt.

    Once again, I have been referring to the area around Antarctica, not the mid-latitudes.

  28. 178
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/09/29/scientists-declare-an-urgent-mission-study-west-antarctica-and-fast/

    Excerpt follows, click the link for the full article and its internal links.

    researchers are also calling for more support from the federal government to make studying West Antarctica’s glaciers, and Thwaites in particular, a top priority.

    “In some scenarios, the next 50 years or 100 years could see, you could begin to see very rapid ice loss from central West Antarctica. It’s the wild card,” said Ted Scambos, the lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center who chaired a meeting earlier this month of West Antarctic scientists outside Loveland, Colorado. Thwaites, says Scambos, has “much more upward potential than we realized.”

    “It is hard to find tipping points in physical systems likely to be activated in the near future, with the possible exception of Thwaites,” Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Penn State University, said at the meeting.

    The scientists are backed by a just released report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which concluded that the National Science Foundation – which runs U.S. Antarctic programs – should make research on Antarctica’s sea level implications its top priority, with a particular emphasis on West Antarctica. That’s because much of its ice is below sea level and thus “vulnerable to a runaway collapse process known as marine ice sheet instability.”

  29. 179
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Kevin King,
    Oh, that’s so cute. You think scientific debate occurs on blog pages. There’s this thing called “the scientific literature,” and that is where science takes place. In the scientific literature, there is no real argument. Climate change is happening. It is a threat. It has to be addressed.

    Coincidentally, one place you won’t find Lomborg and his ilk is in the scientific literature.

    Q: Where can you hide a $100 bill in a place where no creationist/climate denialist/antivaxxer… will find it?
    A: In a science text.

  30. 180
    Jeffronicus says:

    Re- Comment by Dan H. — 30 Sep 2015 at 9:37 AM, #174

    A few notes regarding Gille 2008, a paper which has been cited about 120 times and appears to be somewhat of a foundational work in the field:
    –You point to figure 5 to show that “their data shows no statistically significant warming since the 1970s.” Those data compare 1990s temperature records to prior decades, are not intended to and most likely could not show significant trends within 20 years.
    –You suggest that there is an admission of large uncertainties in the measurements from the 1930s and 1940s which undermines the author’s conclusions. The actual reference is to a lack of measurements taken in the Southern Ocean during the 1940s — presumably due to World War II — and the suggestion ignores that much of the paper is taken up with explaining the methods used to ensure the conclusions were accurate and statistically robust by matching sampled 1990s locations to previously sampled locations.
    –You quote only part of a sentence that says warming “intensified at the surface,” as if that’s all that happened. The actual statement was “The profiles suggest that the Southern Hemisphere ocean has warmed progressively during the time period between the 1930s and the 1990s. Warming appears intensified near the surface but is statistically significant at all depths where the comparisons can be made.”
    —You suggest that ocean temperature measurements only go south to 60 degrees. In a section on the geographic distribution of ocean heating, Gille 2008 cites prior research by Levitus, et. al. and elaborates: “From the 1930s to the present, 80% of the net increase in Southern Hemisphere ocean heat content occurred south of 30°S. From 1955 through 2005, essentially all of the increase appears to be south of 30°S, with 83% between 30° and 50°S and 17% between 50° and 60°S.”

    If you look at the literature —and it will take a while, as there was a vast amount before 2008 and much written since — I think you’ll see that science’s understanding of Antarctic trends, while far from complete, is quite substantial.

  31. 181
    Hank Roberts says:

    This confirms that polynyas affect the water under the ice sheets seasonally:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015JC010709/abstract

    That’s part of the good news/bad news story I cited earlier above — the polynyas have been feeding cold water down that helped preserve the ice sheets — and the polynyas are going away with climate change, cutting off that flow. Look especially at the illustrations in this one for that:

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n4/full/nclimate2132.html
    Nature Climate Change | Letter
    Cessation of deep convection in the open Southern Ocean under anthropogenic climate change
    Nature Climate Change 4,278–282 (2014)
    doi:10.1038/nclimate2132

  32. 182
    Mal Adapted says:

    Kevin King:

    You are losing the argument and in the not too distant future all of your grant money.

    It’s also “cute” that he thinks AGW is a hoax perpetrated by thousands of scientists over 200 years — to get grant money. Actually, it would be cute if it wasn’t such a scurrilous tu quoque calumny.

    You’d think if climate scientists were initforthegold, there wouldn’t be such a lopsided consensus for the reality of AGW.

  33. 183

    Dan, #174–Once again, thank you for the link.

    However, you need to read a little deeper. From the conclusions:

    The findings suggest that warmer water frontal features could be perhaps a few hundred kilometers closer to Antarctica now than they were 50 yr ago (at least in locations where the ACC path is not entirely topographically constrained). The implications of this for the climate system are unclear, but potentially provide a source of warm water to feed a reported long-term warming of the Weddell Sea (Robertson et al. 2002; Fahrbach et al. 2004).3 In addition, at longitudes where the ACC fronts are farthest south, just west of Drake Passage, a poleward displacement of the ACC frontal features (or a strengthening and/or warming of the southernmost jet of the ACC) could bring anomalously warm water into contact with the ice shelves, poten- tially contributing to the rapid melting observed in this region (e.g., Rignot 1998; Wingham et al. 1998; Shepherd et al. 2001, 2004).

    I note that this paper by Sarah Gille was published in 2008. What has the reaction to it been in the literature?

    Well, it has had a healthy 218 citations, according to Google Scholar. Looking into just the first page of those, we find among others:

    Pritchard et al., 2012–http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v484/n7395/abs/nature10968.html

    Here we use satellite laser altimetry and modelling of the surface firn layer to reveal the circum-Antarctic pattern of ice-shelf thinning through increased basal melt. We deduce that this increased melt is the primary control of Antarctic ice-sheet loss, through a reduction in buttressing of the adjacent ice sheet leading to accelerated glacier flow2. The highest thinning rates occur where warm water at depth can access thick ice shelves via submarine troughs crossing the continental shelf. Wind forcing could explain the dominant patterns of both basal melting and the surface melting and collapse of Antarctic ice shelves, through ocean upwelling in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas, and atmospheric warming on the Antarctic Peninsula. This implies that climate forcing through changing winds influences Antarctic ice-sheet mass balance, and hence global sea level, on annual to decadal timescales.

    Levitus et al., 2012–http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012GL051106/full

    [Shows warming of world ocean, not as directly applicable to topic at hand.)

    Marshal & Spear, 2012–http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n3/abs/ngeo1391.html

    {Paywalled, but their figure 4b is worth a look. It shows rather dramatic heat fluxes into the Atlantic and Indian sectors of the Southern Ocean.]

    Abraham et al., 2013–http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rog.20022/full

    It’s primarily a methodological review of how ocean temperature measurement has developed (fantastically, would be my short descriptor), but also looks at what the data show, which is robust warming of both upper layers and the deep ocean. Most pointedly, for the present purpose:

    Above the deep water, Argo data document a large-scale warming and freshening around Antarctica that may be partly associated with a southward shift of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) [Gille, 2008]. Given the barotropic nature of the ACC and the vertical coherence of the associated thermohaline structure, it is likely that this warming pattern extends to deeper waters and potentially impacts MOC. However, the sparseness of available data precludes quantification of such an impact. The analysis of Böning et al. [2008] confirms the reported trends in the Southern Ocean…

    More generally:

    past and present measurements show that the Earth is experiencing a net gain in heat, largely from anthropogenic factors [Hansen et al., 2005; Levitus et al., 2001], although the magnitude differs among individual studies. For ocean heat content, there have been multidecadal increases in energy content over the entire water column. Two recent detection and attribution analyses [Gleckler et al., 2012; Pierce et al., 2012] have significantly increased confidence since the last IPCC AR4 report that the warming (thermal expansion) observed during the late twentieth century, in the upper 700 m of the ocean, is largely due to anthropogenic factors. For sea level rise, despite spatial and temporal nonuniformity, the global trend is approximately 3 mm yr−1 over the past 20 years, with a large contribution from thermal expansion.

    Bintala et al., 2013–http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n5/abs/ngeo1767.html

    Suggests that basal melt of ice shelves is important in the observed expansion of sea ice:

    …we present observations indicating that melt water from Antarctica’s ice shelves accumulates in a cool and fresh surface layer that shields the surface ocean from the warmer deeper waters that are melting the ice shelves. Simulating these processes in a coupled climate model we find that cool and fresh surface water from ice-shelf melt indeed leads to expanding sea ice in austral autumn and winter.

    Notice my added emphasis? “…the warmer deeper waters that are melting the ice shelves.”

    Marshal et al., 2013–http://tinyurl.com/MarshallEtAl2013

    [Proposes that Arctic and Antarctic response to anthropogenic radiative farcing are modulated by ozone hole-related forcing, and constructs framework for understanding & evaluating this possibility. Notes SST cooling of (much of) the Southern Ocean, while concomitant warming at depth continues.]

    Trenberth et al., 2014–http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00294.1

    [Compares ocean heat content data to TOA forcings to better constrain heat budget (specifically, mean energy imbalance). “An inventory of energy storage changes shows that over 90% of the imbalance is manifested as a rise in ocean heat content (OHC).”]

    A bit of a ‘gallop’, I’m afraid, though since it’s evidence-based, it’s not really Gishean. (Note, BTW, that that’s just a quick survey of the first page of results.)

    But let’s sum up:

    –Several sources agree that the Southern Ocean is indeed warming, despite weak cooling trends in SSTs.

    –Several sources agree that this warming is implicated in basal melt of ice sheets, leading to the loss of buttressing of glaciers and upstream acceleration of glacial flow rates–precisely what we have been discussing.

    –Abraham et al. cites two studies which specifically link secular warming of the upper 700 m to anthropogenic forcings. We know that these will continue to increase for some time. Hence, continued warming of the upper 700 m will continue for even longer. (Not ‘speculation’, but a straightforward logical consequence.)

    Which gives me a segue to your comment that:

    You may feel that I am exaggerating the level of our uncertainty when it comes to the climate around Antarctica. However, I find little to contradict that.

    Well, let’s recap. I’m sure you’re sincere; people rarely do things they think are, in some sense at least, pragmatically wrong. But people constantly do things which are consistent with their mental ‘filters.’

    We started with a discussion about the melt rate of Totten glacier, and its consequences for glacial flow to the ocean. You proposed in #153 that this was exclusively due to polynya extent which was affecting brine formation.

    But note that this leaves out the fact that the brine formation is hypothesized in turn to modulate basal melt–which, in turn, is a function of warmer water at the glacier’s foot. Or, as the story you linked describes the situation:

    Ice loss seen in Antarctica is generally attributed to the well-documented rise in temperature of the surrounding ocean, but scientists are still puzzling out the mechanisms behind the regional variations that they are observing.

    So, you appear to me to be seizing on one piece of the story–while disregarding the piece that is entirely in accord with what Hank had said. I can only “speculate” why; but the obvious speculation is that it was an attractive idea, and that you therefore jumped on it without looking at the overall context.

    Following a heated exchange, I off-handedly cited the Gilles power-point presentation (#159.) That prompted you to cite the 4 links showing generally cooling SSTs in the Southern Ocean (#165.) However, as I noted in my #169, you seemed to be unaware that OHC and SST are not the same thing. Again, it appears to me that you jumped on something that seemed favorable to your point of view without looking carefully at the context.

    Be that as it may, you turned to insisting that it was the SSTs that were really important (#170). So far, there’s been no support of that, and you haven’t really responded to my challenge of the notion. (#174 just quibbles about Gilles 2008.) I doubt you can support it; to the best of my recollection, I’ve never seen anything suggesting that SSTs are the dominant driver of Antarctic glacial melt, and I have cited work suggesting the opposite.

    Again, it’s speculation, but I can’t help suspected that you just made that up–not intentional mendacity, just saying something that seemed, at first blush, to be self-evidently true to you–but once again(?), without thinking much about the larger context.

    So, from this sequence, it appears to me that the main reason that you “find little to contradict” the idea that we have little ground for anything except uncertainty is that you keep looking at little bits and pieces that seem at first blush to support your preconceptions, and keep overlooking contrary information.

  34. 184
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Dan H. — 30 Sep 2015 @ 2:58 PM, ~#177

    So Dan, you have reversed your opinion and now admit that recent increased flow of Antarctic glaciers is due to warming of southern ocean water, that inhomogeneous warming is an important factor, and that glacial flow is likely to continue to increase as more glaciers are affected.

    Steve

  35. 185
    Michael Doliner says:

    I don’t get Lomborg. Does he know he is falsifying the picture or doesn’t he? I don’t see how anyone can intentionally try to delude the world about this topic. With human extinction a far from zero possibility what can anyone hope to gain from misleading us about the need to take action? On the other hand how could anyone do what he does innocently? It all looks too obviously contrived for that.

  36. 186

    JD 173: We already know that academia is biased, so peer-review is not a good indicator.

    BPL: You “already know” a number of things that would never occur to a normal person.

  37. 187
    Hank Roberts says:

    for Michael Doliner: see
    http://www.ssrc.org/workspace/images/crm/%7BEEE91C8F-AC35-DE11-AFAC-001CC477EC70%7D.pdf

    and the four articles citing that one, focusing on the political process using purchased “science” (see also “advocacy science”) — it’s an industry paid for countering climate scientists’ published work:

    https://scholar.google.com/scholar?oe=utf-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&lr&cites=11408889067155567362

  38. 188
    Michael Doliner says:

    Hank Roberts # 187
    Thanks for the help but I don’t think it really treats my perplexity. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that someone is paying Lomborg. I just don’t understand how both Lomborg and this person can humanly exist. It is as if someone said, ” here is a lollypop. If you take it your entire species will be extinguished, but you will be able to enjoy the lollypop on the way down.” Could someone sane take this deal?

  39. 189
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Michael Doliner,
    You forget that the vast majority of people don’t think like scientists, and that the scientific perspective is a relatively new one. To most people the truth is a nebulous thing, and indeed, there may be many truths, including some “higher truths,” for which they think it justifiable to lie.

    When the truth is frightening, people will often tell themselves comforting lies, and sometimes they may come to believe their lies. Likewise when the truth is counter to their immediate interests or desires. The lie may be as simple as saying there is time in the future to deal with this or that no one really knows the answer.

    As Richard Feynman said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” Science is critical, because if we practice it properly, it tells the truth, whether we want to hear it or not.

    I’ve noticed that many denialists are technological optimists. They convince themselves that we will find a technological fix that will make everything all better. To them, addressing the threats of climate change represents a distraction from realization of their technological Utopia. Others simply cannot deal with the idea that their own comfort in the present is endangering their children and grandchildren. They cannot imagine a reality so cruel.

    Regardless of the motivation of the denialist, they are most effective when they first convince themselves of their lies.

  40. 190

    Michael, I just had a bit of by-play on an unrelated issue that might illuminate it Lomborg and others a bit–though I’m not sure I entirely understand it, either.

    Briefly, a commenter on a story about the newly (2014) rediscovered Franklin Expedition ship, the Erebus expressed skepticism about the ship’s identity. There was a comment to the effect that the ID ‘verged on scientific misconduct’, and speculation that the motive was political, with Prime Minister Harper pushing a story-line that he sees as building Canadian national identity. Words like ‘pseudo-archaeological’ were bandied.

    I pointed out that, given the recovery of a ship’s bell demonstrating that 1) the wreck could be no earlier than 1845 and 2) that it was a Royal Navy ship, there were really only two alternate candidate wrecks, either of which should be differentiable by size. He countered by naming three other RN ships lost in the Arctic and alluding to others (US or private) as well. Thing is, the bell already ruled out non-RN vessels, and the three ‘new’ RN alternates were even easier to tell from the Erebus by size and sail plan. Heck, one of them was a steamer!

    Inspired to dig a little deeper, I found that the Erebus ID had been based on direct measurements of the wreck–the relative placement of features such as hatchways could then be compared to the shipbuilder’s plans for Erebus, still on file in a museum in Britain. Call it biometrics for ships.

    Due to closure of commenting on the story, I didn’t get a reaction to my last comment. But the level of self-deception–dare I say, denial?–seemed awfully familiar somehow. The gentleman in question seemed ‘sincere’ (at the level of conscious belief) and was no fool. But his doubt seems absolutely unreasonable, and feels to me at least entirely willful. Self-deception, I conclude once again, can be very, very powerful–even without reinforcement by a convenient ‘echo chamber’ community such as climate change denialists inhabit.

  41. 191
    Dan H. says:

    Kevin,
    First we need to distinguish between those papers which refer to the Southern Ocean as that portion of the southern mid-latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees south (i.e. the Gille paper), and those that refer to the Southern Ocean as pole-ward of 30 degrees south (i.e. Marshall & Speer, Maheshware, et. al., Fan, et.al., etc.). While the South Atlantic, South Pacific, and Indian oceans have shown warming trends (along with the global oceans as a whole), the Southern Ocean (south of 60 degrees S) has not. This is not a quibble, but a large difference in definition.

    Both the Pritchard and Bintala papers detail how the sea ice has been melting, which is contrary to the NASA data, showing expansion. Indeed, the most commonly stated explanation for the sea ice expansion, has been the cooling of the Southern Ocean. Whether this is a result of the ozone (Marshall & Speer), Glacial melt water, changing winds or ocean currents, has been well established. A few mechanisms have been presented concerning the Totten glacier (polynyas, influx of warm water, decreased snowfall, etc.), without definitive conclusions or overall historical context.

    Too many people are trying to determine how global warming can be the cause of what we are witnessing in Antarctica. This is backwards thinking. We needs to look at the bigger picture, without bias, in order to determine an accurate analysis of the situation.

  42. 192

    First we need to distinguish between those papers which refer to the Southern Ocean as that portion of the southern mid-latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees south (i.e. the Gille paper), and those that refer to the Southern Ocean as pole-ward of 30 degrees south (i.e. Marshall & Speer, Maheshware, et. al., Fan, et.al., etc.). While the South Atlantic, South Pacific, and Indian oceans have shown warming trends (along with the global oceans as a whole), the Southern Ocean (south of 60 degrees S) has not. This is not a quibble, but a large difference in definition.

    Oh, bosh. The only reason Gille doesn’t deal with the Southern Ocean south of 60 is because the dataset they are working with is too sparse farther poleward than that. There is no definitional difference. For example, Marshl and Speer says:

    ocean observations do indicate a freshening of Antarctic Intermediate Water (Wong et al., 1999) and a substantial warming of the upper 1000 m of the Southern Ocean at all depths (Gille, 2002, 2008) which may be linked to atmospheric forcing (Banks and Bindoff, 2003; Fyfe et al., 2007).

    Does that sound to you as if they are using a “different definition” of the Southern Ocean than Gille, whom they cite? And does it sound as if they think that the Southern Ocean isn’t/wasn’t warming?

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~aaron/nobackup/noaa_global/noaa_global/SO_upwelling_marshall_speer.pdf

    And see, too, the Maheshwari you posted. For example, the spatial structure of the warming trend–in SSTs, in this paper–does not at all resemble what you say. Here’s their Figure 4:

    http://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2013/392632/fig4/

    And you are hopelessly muddled on the Pritchard and Bintala papers. You say that they “detail how sea has has been melting… contrary to NASA data, showing expansion.” Yet how does the second sentence of the Bintala abstract begin? Let me quote it:

    “In contrast to Arctic sea ice, sea ice surrounding Antarctica has expanded…”

    As for Pritchard, the abstract has *not one word about sea ice.* I haven’t sought out an open copy to see if there’s anything in the body of the paper about it, because writing this comment has already wasted enough of my time, and you haven’t demonstrated enough care in reading to make me think that there really might be.

  43. 193
    Dan H. says:

    Kevin,
    Regardless of the reasoning, his dataset does not extend south of 60 degrees south. Making assertions of trends south of this point is speculative, at best. The Maheshwari paper shows some areas of statistical warming, and other of statistical cooling. Overall, they found “a slightly negative (i.e., cooling) trend in average temperature anomaly over the entire region is obtained. However, this trend is very weak and found to be statistically insignificant.” Which is exactly what I stated previously.

    Muddled? All Bintanja et. al. did was devise a model that could explain how melting glacial ice could lead to increased sea ice. There are other plausible explanations for Antarctic sea-ice expansion, however. “The mechanism could be completely true, but this study does not demonstrate that increased melting has made a significant contribution to the increase in sea-ice cover,”

    http://www.nature.com/news/global-warming-expands-antarctic-sea-ice-1.12709

    Pritchard does something similar.

  44. 194
    Hank Roberts says:

    He’s good, isn’t he?

    I wonder what value our hosts see in giving Dan the continuing opportunity to make his claims more sciency before posting them elsewhere.

    Long ago Gavin challenged him to provide cites or be rated as boring. He’s been making fake cite claims since then.

    This isn’t hard argument, though it sounds like it superficially.

    People who read his stuff elsewhere seem to believe his claim that he’s real and doing his own analysis. And he eventually wears out anyone who checks his cites, though consistently there’s been no support in them. He can assert cites much faster than anyone can check his claims.

    Well, he’s a treasure of a particular sort, worthy of commemoration.
    It’s too bad the blog appropriate to document his wor long since closed:
    More for the annals of climate misinformation

  45. 195
    Hank Roberts says:

    P.S., I did check for Pritchard, you can find copies:
    https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=13215356239435872615&hl=en&num=20&as_sdt=0,5

    No surprise: there is no mention of “sea ice” in that paper at all.
    Dan H. makes claims and gives “cites” that don’t say what he says they say.

    Perhaps the reason he’s not boring yet is that Dan H. is doing a fine Lomborg — assertion without support. That works for Lomborg.

  46. 196
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Steve Fish: So Dan, you have reversed your opinion and now admit…

    RC: No, he said, “If [anecdotal hypothetical], then [possible localized result]”. You’re trying to nail down jello.

    Michael Doliner: With human extinction a far from zero possibility what can anyone hope to gain from misleading us about the need to take action?

    RC: I suppose it depends on whether you care about what happens between the time of your (and your loved-ones) death and the death of our sun (or, if you’re optimistic, the death of the universe). Human extinction is guaranteed. We’re just talking about timing. However, I’d bet that Lomborg IS doing it innocently. Corporations don’t pay people to lie. People generally “happen” to believe most anything which will improve their lot in life, so energy-intensive corporate executives largely either sincerely believe climate change is a hoax or they suppress even thinking about the subject. It’s so far down the list of Important Issues so as to be unworthy of consideration. They find people who (have chosen to?) Religiously Believe the same and support those folks’ efforts. As Ray Ladbury said, the most effective denialists believe their untruths.

    Dan H: Too many people are trying to determine how global warming can be the cause of what we are witnessing in Antarctica. This is backwards thinking. We needs to look at the bigger picture, without bias

    RC: I agree with the “without bias” part, but I disagree with the rest. Scientists are looking at the bigger picture. Nobody in the know thinks it’s just global warming. It’s global warming, aerosols and black carbon, ozone depletion, and natural variation (though natural variation, or weather, is tough to define when climate is changing).

    Kevin McKinney: Oh, bosh. The only reason Gille doesn’t deal with the Southern Ocean south of 60 is because the dataset they are working with is too sparse farther poleward than that. There is no definitional difference.

    RC: Defining motivations for others is an error. Plus, regardless of motivations, decisions have concrete results. Since other papers included 60-90 degrees, the data was available. They deliberately chose to leave out 60-90 degree Southern Ocean because [Martians were invading]. So what? They left out 60-90. Personally, I’d say 30-60 degrees is sidebar. 60-90 degrees sounds like the main course. This small part of Dan H’s contention stands.

    Hank Roberts: Dan H. makes claims and gives “cites” that don’t say what he says they say. Perhaps the reason he’s not boring yet is that Dan H. is doing a fine Lomborg — assertion without support. That works for Lomborg.

    RC: That is so unfortunate. Extracting bits and pieces which support alternative views can have value, but pure-t-lying is vile. Now I can’t accept Dan H’s assertions as honest additions to the discussion. That’s huge; even larger than “boring”.

  47. 197

    #193: *Her* dataset, Dan: first name ‘Sara,” remember?

    And again, Maheshwari is about SSTs, and again, it doesn’t say what you claim. You were wrong yet again. Interesting how you never choose to acknowledge it.

    Interestingly, the southern ocean deeps show the strongest warming signal in the abyssal world ocean, according to Purkey & Johnson, 2010:

    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/purk3524/section4.shtml

    “In general, a clear pattern in the magnitude of abyssal heating is seen: smaller values farther to the north and larger values to the south (Fig. 8). The three southernmost basins—the Weddell–Enderby, the Australian–Antarctic, and the Amundsen–Bellingshausen—show strong local warming below 4000 dbar of 0.33 (±0.28), 0.25 (±0.14), and 0.15 (±0.11) W m−2, respectively, all significantly different from zero at 97.5% confidence.”

    #193-4: Don’t know what to say, Hank! ‘Good’ isn’t the word that came to mind, but definitely points for persistence. Kind of a ‘black knight’ thing; ‘just a flesh wound’ and all that.

  48. 198

    RC: Corporations don’t pay people to lie.

    BPL: What planet did you say you were from?

  49. 199
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Michael Doliner,
    You ask what could motivate the Lomborgs of the world. It could be as simple as not fully understanding the risk. How many times have you been driving down the road only to have some punk kid run across it in front of your car? What motivates said punk kid? Laziness–he doesn’t want to walk down to the corner and the light. A failure to understand–or at least to fully consider–the risks and consequences of his actions. A bravado–showing his friends he “ain’t afraid o’ no car”.

    There is no other species that does things as stupid as ours does. And smart people sometimes find the most creative ways to be stupid.

  50. 200
    Dan H. says:

    Kevin,
    I fail to see how the Maheshwari does not say what I claim, when I took a direct quote from their results. Perhaps you should read the paper more closely. Do have some insight in interpreting their figure different than they did?