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A brief history of knowledge about Antarctic temperatures

Filed under: — eric @ 9 December 2010

Sources in italics.

Early 20th Century:

Scott: It’s cold here.
The media: Scott is a hero!
Scott: It’s really really cold here.
The media: Scott is a hero!
Amundsen: It’s not that cold.
The media: Scott is a hero. Oh, and Amundsen.
Public: Shackleton is a hero, but please shut up, there’s a war on.

Mid 20th Century:

Geophizzicists: Let’s find out just how cold it is.
Media: Scott is a hero!
Public: yawn…

Late 20th Century:

Scientists: It’s colder in some place than others.
Media: Antarctica is cooling.
Scientists: It’s cooling at the South Pole, but warming very fast on the Peninsula.
Media: Antarctica is cooling, but warming faster than anywhere else on earth.
Public: Huh…?

Thompson and Solomon: Most of Antarctica is cooling in summer, but it is warming on the Peninsula. We think it has to do with the ozone hole.
Media: Because of ozone, Antarctica is warming faster than anywhere else on earth and we are all going to die.
Public: Huh…?

Early 21st Century:

Scientists: The troposphere over Antarctica is warming significantly in winter.
Media: Even though that paper was published in Science, our readers don’t know what the troposphere is. Neither do we. Next?

Scientists: The troposphere over Antarctica is warming significantly in winter and spring, especially over West Antarctica.
Media: That paper wasn’t published in Nature, so we’re not very interested.

Scientists: Antarctica is cooling in fall — not summer — in some places, but warming, especially in winter and spring, especially in West Antarctica.
Media: Antarctica stops cooling! Conservative or liberal, we are ALL going to die.
Steve McIntyre: The “team” made up the data again. I don’t know what Antarctica is doing, but I think it is probably cooling.
Media: Antarctica starts cooling again, global warming is a fraud.

Ryan O’Donnell: Our paper in the Journal of Climate shows a somewhat better way to look at the same data. Antarctica is warming a bit more in summer, and a bit less in winter in the Ross Sea region. In fall it is cooling a bit more too, and so the overall trends are smaller. Still, West Antarctica is definitely warming significantly, as Steig et al. found. That’s interesting.
Eric Steig: Nice paper Ryan. Thanks for sending along a pre-print.
Steve McIntyre: Hey, we got published in the Journal of Climate! Another paper showing that the “team” made up the data again! (Sotto voce): Ryan says it it is warming a bit more in summer, and a bit less in winter in the Ross Sea region. In fall it is cooling a bit more. Otherwise we get the same results, though the magnitude of the trends is smaller. But West Antarctica is still warming significantly. But I really don’t care. The peer review process is broken, which is why.. umm…our paper was published in the leading climate journal.
Liberal Media: That paper wasn’t published in Nature, so we’re not very interested.
Conservative Media: Antarctica is cooling. Global warming is a fraud.
Public: zzzZZZzzz
P.S. For those actually interested, yes, I’ll have more to say about O’Donnell et al., but overall, I like it.–eric

76 Responses to “A brief history of knowledge about Antarctic temperatures”

  1. 1
    toto says:

    Spot on. I’m particularly impressed at how many outlets described Ryan O’s paper as a “refutation” of yours, when he himself had explicitly advised against it.

    Unfortunately the paper is still not showing up on J Climate’s website yet. Any info about when we mere mortals will be able to get our dirty paws on it?

  2. 2
    Jon P says:

    Some more history.

    James Martin says:
    7 June 2009 at 10:01 PM
    I read today a claim that in the paper published recently by Dr Steig et al. in Nature regarding the Antarctic warming trend, there is a weighting problem. They claim that most of the weighting comes from the peninsula stations, which represents a relatively small part of the continent.

    I was wondering if this is in fact the case? It doesn’t seem likely, but could you comment on this at all? If these assertions are left unchecked, before you know it they’ll be taken as fact.

    [Response: The point of the Steig et al paper was to use spatial correlations in recent data to look at how under-sampled parts of the continent likely changed over longer time periods. Those correlations will necessarily weight different stations differently as based on the physical characteristics. The analysis you saw is simply a fishing expedition, an analysis of what the calculation is doing (fair enough), combined with an insinuation that the answer is somehow abnormal or suspicious (not ok). But how is this to be judged? What would be normal? No-one there can say and they would prefer simply to let people jump to conclusions. It’s kinda of typical of their tactics, but not a serious scientific point. – gavin]

    I won’t be holding my breath for Gavin admitting he was wrong.

    [Response: Gavin is not wrong very often. Nor in this case!–eric]

  3. 3
    Rocco says:

    Hahaha, don’t you just love how many memes can McIntyre put into one post? Plagiarism! Bristlecones! Climategate!

    Also, the warmist international conspiracy failed to block another paper. Damn! :)

  4. 4
    Doug Proctor says:

    Good! Humour is a good antidote to both cynicism and hubris. Point is, of course, that the signal for widespread, i.e. global, warming is still equivocal. Statisticians and modelers might see the signs, but the are not yet large enough or “global” enough for the average Joe to see. Recognizable trouble is still 10 years away – a little different from the Al Gore cinematic impression. Unfortunate: if you yell Fire! in a theater, the crowd expects at least a lot of smoke.

    [Response: Oh, there’s plenty of smoke. Unfortunately, there’s a crowd with a bunch of mirrors trying to distract your gaze from the fire.–eric]

  5. 5
    PBG says:

    I really like this quick-n-dirty summation, especially the spelling of geophysicists. Someone without a sense of humor is bound to tell you that you spelled that ALL WRONG, though.

    [Response: They need to read up on their history then. See Walt Kelly’s Pogo around 1957/1958 (I.G.Y.). Though admittedly I may have spelled Walt’s spelling wrong.. didn’t have a copy of the comic strip handy.–eric]

  6. 6
    MapleLeaf says:

    Could someone please explain to me how O’Donnell et al. is a refutation of Steig et al.? Reading Ryans’ comments and the paper’s abstract I do not get that impression at all. To me, this look s like science advancing and building upon and improving and earlier (and seminal) work.

    I bets this is how that paper came to be. SM: “Guys, we have to attack the “team” again”. SM faithful: “But how, oh wise master?”. SM:”How about we look into that Nature paper by Steig that is getting so much attention and showing inconvenient things?”. SM faithful “Oh master thou truly are wise”.

    So they start all filled with hope and glee that Eric et al. messed something up big time. Nope. OK, dig deeper, and deeper and deeper still…until, voila we found some issues that were not adequately or properly addressed the first time round! Phew, good, science and peer-review still work.

    Now the WUWT crowd will spin and milk this for all it is worth, and use it to make attack the integrity of Eric and his co-authors, and then extrapolate that to all those scientists involved in climate research.

    What scared me upon looking at some of the images is how much more warming they found over large portions of the WAIS (especially the Peninsula) than Steig et al. originally did. Yikes, things are not looking good for the PIG. I’m sure Anthony will ignore that fact. And look at that warming over parts of the EAIS…fortunately that warming does not seem to be statistically significant just yet.

    And why did WUWT show an image that appears to have less warming than the one shown here by Eric? Sorry but I have to fault you both there..the figures should show for what season they are valid, or if they are for annual temperatures.

    [The figure here shows O’Donnell’s et al.s reconstruction for the same time period as our Nature cover image. These are annual mean estimates. I cannot speak to WTF WUWT has done.–eric]

    In closing to quote Ryan
    “With that being said, I am quite satisfied that the review process was fair and equitable, although I do believe excessive deference was paid to this one particular reviewer at the beginning of the process.”

    “My feeling is that Dr. Broccoli did a commendable job of sorting through a series of lengthy reviews and replies in order to ensure that the decision made was the correct one.”

    “Overall, we find that the Steig reconstruction overestimated the continental trends and underestimated the Peninsula – though our analysis found that the trend in West Antarctica was, indeed, statistically significant. I would hope that our paper is not seen as a repudiation of Steig’s results, but rather as an improvement.” [Yet the WUWT headline is
    “Skeptic paper on Antarctica accepted – rebuts Steig et al”

    “In my opinion, the Steig reconstruction was quite clever, and the general concept was sound. A few of the choices made during implementation were incorrect; a few were suboptimal. Importantly, if those are corrected, some of the results change. Also importantly, some do not.”

    Definition of “Rebut”:

    ‘re·but (r-bt)
    v. re·but·ted, re·but·ting, re·buts
    1. To refute, especially by offering opposing evidence or arguments, as in a legal case.
    2. To repel.
    To present opposing evidence or arguments.”

    [Response: I suspect your history is quite accurate, but to be fair, these guys DID publish the paper, even though their results wound up not supporting their thesis very well. I commend them on that. Indeed, I think it speaks very well to the integrity of the authors, when it comes down to facts (as opposed to speculation).–eric]

  7. 7
    Eli Rabett says:

    The implications for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet scare the carrots out of Eli, and with it sea level rise becomes more immediate and dire.

  8. 8
    MapleLeaf says:

    Thanks for your responses Eric.

    I do give them credit for getting this published– I should have been clearer on that.

    From what I can tell, I have no reason to doubt the integrity of O’Donnell. In fact, until yesterday I did not know of him. I’m afraid though, that past actions clearly dictate that two of the paper’s co-authors do in fact lack integrity and do not necessarily have honest intentions in this debate.

  9. 9
    nigel jones says:

    This is a good article and a great site. I have a comment regarding the public turning off or going to sleep over climate change. What do swine flu, bird flu, the ozone hole, resource depletion, and acid rain have in common? The are all science based issues with catastrophe threatened that turned out to be pretty moderate.

    The problem you have is the public look at this and look at climate change and conclude it will likely be the same. The fact that the ozone hole is disapperaring and acid rain caused less damage than feared was because we took action but this is lost on them. It will take another truly big temperature spike or something similar to wake them up Im afraid.

  10. 10
    _Arthur says:

    ” What do swine flu, bird flu, the ozone hole, resource depletion, and acid rain have in common? The[y] are all science based issues with catastrophe threatened that turned out to be pretty moderate.”

    Yes, and except for resource depletion, all those catastrophies were avoided in great part because effective action was taken to prevent a catastrophic outcome, and those actions were based on scientific grounds.

    Doesn’t that suggest you a proper course of action ? Hello ?

  11. 11
    nanny_govt_sucks says:

    Still, West Antarctica is definitely warming significantly, as Steig et al. found. That’s interesting.

    Not if all the warming is in the peninsula. That’s not as interesting as warming over the Ross Ice Shelf.

    [Response: Actually, the area O’Donnell shows significant warming is more interesting. Your definition of ‘the Peninsula’ is a bit off, but in any case, as I’ll show in another post, O’Donnell et al. actually find warming over the Ross, though only recently. As we’ll see, that is an important finding — but not for the reasons (melting of ice) that your presume.–eric]

  12. 12
    SecularAnimist says:

    “Your levity is good. It relieves tension, and the fear of death.”
    — The Terminator

  13. 13
    Martin Vermeer says:

    I’m afraid though, that past actions clearly dictate that two of the paper’s co-authors do in fact lack integrity and do not necessarily have honest intentions in this debate.

    Sure… but the nice thing about the peer review regime is that it forces also basically dishonest persons to play straight, if they want to play at all. If the integrity of science depended on human nature alone, it wouldn’t exist.

    …and I’m happy to see another amateur getting published, after BPL, Jim Prall, and semi-amateurs like Eli and Tamino. Poor show for the ‘priesthood’ :-)

  14. 14
    noiv says:

    Julian Day 2020.342
    Scientists: Satellite data says Antarctica lost petatons of ice last year.
    Sceptics: Antarctica completely frozen today – no warming visible.
    Politics: Antarctica will not melt this legislative period.
    Media: Melting ice cubes do not disintegrate your cocktail.
    Public: Antarctica is last place on Earth for skiing.
    Tuvalu: Blub.

    Julian Day 2010.342,9&lvl=4&yir=2010&dag=342

  15. 15
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 9 and 10

    Why so casual about resource depletion? We passed Peak Oil in 2005 — new discoveries have NOT kept pace with use. That’s the definition of Peak Oil.

    Did people expect Mad Max the next day?

  16. 16
    Lou Grinzo says:

    Jeffrey: No. The definition of peak oil is the global peak in rate of oil extraction. It is not directly tied to rate of discovery.

    As Matt Simmons used to say in many presentations, peak oil is a “rear view mirror event”, in that we won’t know for sure we’ve passed it until several years after the fact. This is because the rate of oil extraction is so tied to other things like economic activity, public policy (e.g. encouraging alternatives), etc.

    Yearly worldwide consumption of petroleum passed discoveries in the early/mid 1980’s. We’ve been largely living off the ongoing production from the supergiant oil fields, like Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, for decades.

    This now completes our digression into peak oil issues. Carry on, everyone.

  17. 17
    NicL_UK says:

    “In response to MapleLeaf’s question in #6, the reason why WUWT showed an image that appears to have less warming than the one shown here seems to be that the scale has been altered on the RealClimate image, covering the range -0.4 to +0.4 rather than a range of -0.6 to +0.6 degrees C as used in the original and reproduced at WUWT. With the colour range used being much the same in both images, that obviously makes the warming trend appear greater in the image shown here. I can confirm that the continental 1957-2006 trend per our reconstruction, at 0.06 degrees C per decade, was only half the 0.12 level shown by the Steig et al. 2009 reconstruction.”

    Nicholas Lewis

    [Response: Yes. I never said otherwise. The point very simply is that Antarctica is not cooling, no matter how much some people try to make it so. Oh, and West Antarctic is still warming, even if you try to call parts of West Antarctica “the Peninsula”.-eric]

  18. 18

    Hey Eric, you spelled geofizzyzits ALL WRONG.

    Ah, I see, you already addressed that in post #5, where Peanut Butter and Gas (PBG) may have inadvertently bloviated.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist the temptation.

    Great post Eric :)

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

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

  19. 19
    J Bowers says:

    For some reason your graphic of the O’Donnell map is very different to the McIntyre one, which seems to show less warming. McI’s is also a lot smoother. Just wondering where your version comes from?

    McI comparison graphic at CA:

    [Response: “smoothness” is just file conversion for web posting. ‘Less warming’ is in the eye of the beholder. If the debate is now about ‘how much warming’ rather than warming at all, I guess I’ve won the debate, eh? –eric]

  20. 20
    J Bowers says:

    Eric – “If the debate is now about ‘how much warming’ rather than warming at all, I guess I’ve won the debate, eh?”

    And I wasn’t saying otherwise. Look forward to your further post on it.

  21. 21
    S. Molnar says:

    What liberal media?

  22. 22
    DeNihilist says:

    Maple Leaf @ 8 – Why would you feel that 2 of the authors lack integrity? Did they not publish what the facts spoke to them? If they lacked integrity, they would have tried to bamboozle this study to their opinions. It appears to me that all 4 authors had the integrity to publish what their results stated.

    If you take a breath and relax a second, you may realize that this is exactly what has been a thorn in the debate. The scientists have to play by the peer review rules, somewhat handcuffed, the bloggers do not. Well in this case the bloggers got together and played by the scientists rules. We should be celebrating this for a few moments, then let the process continue, with rebuttal and comment and hopefully more peer reviewed publishing by scientists and bloggers all. This is what will eventually break the log jam, and maybe allow the politicos to proceed with knowledgable legislation.

    [Response: Yes, this is exactly my point. Of course, one could be excused for having a less charitable view if one were to be so foolish as to waste time reading what they write at their blogs….but as I said to Mcintyre some time ago, “I’ll meet you in the peer reviewed literature.” –eric]

  23. 23
    MapleLeaf says:

    Cross posted from Rabett Run:

    “It is my understanding that the reconstruction methodology/technique is designed to estimate temperatures using the satellite data, so the image should be high resolution, with the temperature data having the same resolution the satellite data/pixels. The AVHRR satellite data from the NOAA satellites are fairly high resolution, although I am not sure exactly what; 1-km comes to mind.

    Anyhow, the RC graph makes more sense, as the detail is consistent with the satellite data used to generate it. Smoothing the data potentially removes valuable information.

    I’m confused and do not trust McI or WUWT. Does anyone have access to the graphs as they appear in the paper? I went to the AMS site and the paper was not available yet, even here:

    Someone really needs to clear this all up and fast.”

    [Response: Enough with the conspiracy theory already. I’m using their data — which the lead author sent me — presumably they are using their own data too. Evidently we are using different plotting routines. Nobody is doing anything nefarious here. Sheesh!–eric]

  24. 24
    MapleLeaf says:


    Thanks again for your feedback. Not to harp on this, but you seem to have misunderstood my post. I was not suggesting that you were smoothing the data or not displaying it correctly. IMHO, your reproduction (“RC” above) is the appropriate way to display the data.

    I was taking issue with the fact that others are smoothing (or overly smoothing) the data, and as a result, information may be being lost. That is all.

    [Response: I don’t know why I’m defending the lunatics, but no, I don’t think anything important is being lost. Spatial autocorrelation is huge in Antarctica so if you average a few pixels together it cannot possibly matter.–eric]

  25. 25

    re: responses to comment #6

    Wonderful Eric, it’s nearly 2 a.m. here in Brazil, and I am waking the neighbors I am laughing so hard. ‘course, they already think I’m some kind of crazy American, so it doesn’t matter.

    reCaptcha: Utopian Gedear

  26. 26
    steven mosher says:

    Thanks, for posting this Dr. Steig.

    “O’Donnell et al. actually find warming over the Ross, though only recently. As we’ll see, that is an important finding — but not for the reasons (melting of ice) that your presume.”

    I think if you pressed the authors on the issue (pers comm) they would not put too much confidence in that particular splotch.

    But that will be an interesting conversation. Looking forward to it.

    I havent seen Ryan’s code, but if he did stuff in R I’d be willing to donate some time to put it into a proper R package.

  27. 27
    Gilles says:

    So, speaking for “the public” : can anybody clearly tell me whether the current data on Antarctic say anything about the anthropic origin of global temperature changes, or not ?

    [Response: That’s raising a bigger question. Of course, there is the Gillett et al. paper in 2008 that says ‘yes’, this is anthropogenic — Antarctic temperature trends that is. I think the jury is still out, because the data is still (even with these reconstructions) too short. Except perhaps on the Peninsula where the 100-year warming trend makes ‘natural variability’ a bit harder to believe. In any case, proving Antarctic is warming due to ‘global warming’, or proving it isn’t, will not have very much bearing on understanding global temperatures in general.–eric]

  28. 28
    raindrop says:

    Ryan’o, Jeff ID etc… just like to see stats done well at the end of the day. When they see a novel (or unusual) approach it sets off alarm bells – as it should. Plus the Steig graphic on the cover off Nature looked odd, particularly when compared with weather stations and previous work. Whilst many of the conclusions remain the same, the overall trend is reduced and greater resolution captured. I dont see any issue with that for anyone, as I have often heard people claim Antarctica should be cooling, based on GCM results.

    The work they have done should set the bar for such studies and engagement with them would be of benefit to everyone. They have done what any good engineer is trained to do, look at everything with a critical eye and ask “could we do that better”. Its unfortunate in my opinion that the stats community is not engaged more and that the peer review process did not identify that better results could be achieved with a few tweaks of the methodology.

  29. 29
    Alex says:

    “Also, the warmist international conspiracy failed to block another paper. Damn! :)”

    But they sure tried, or rather one of the reviewers:

    “We did, indeed, submit a paper to Journal of Climate in February. The review process unfortunately took longer than expected, primarily due to one reviewer in particular. The total number of pages dedicated by that reviewer alone – and our subsequent responses – was 88 single-spaced pages, or more than 10 times the length of the paper.”

    Also the warming for the continent is within the error bars so I wouldn’t say more then that Antarctica might be warming.

    One further note this whole article is way off since the press gladly shouts out any claim about globalwarming. If you think you got the press against you I dont know what press you read, but it certainly ain’t Swedish press.

  30. 30
    Larry Huldén says:

    I think the warming along the peninsula is an exaggeration caused by the calculation method.

  31. 31
    Stephen says:

    Dear Eric,

    at the time your paper was published, the Guardian reported (see that:

    “..overall, the continent has warmed by 0.12C each decade over the same period [since 1957]. This matches the warming of the southern hemisphere as a whole and removes the apparent contradiction [Antarctica not warming with Southern Hemisphere].”

    The article goes on to quote you:

    “The issue, which had been highlighted by global warming sceptics, was an annoyance, said Steig, despite the science having been reasonably well understood. “But it has now been killed off,” he said.”

    Given that the O’Donnell improvement to your original work shows a much smaller (0.06) warming, this no longer presumably “matches” the warming of the southern hemisphere. A contradiction remains, and given your acknowledgement at #27 above that the jury is still out, would you be gracious enough to concede that announcing the death of an annoying mis-match between southern hemisphere warming and Antarctic warming was premature?

    [Response: I doubt that quote is mine. The Guardian is not exactly a reliable outlet in my experience. But sure I’ll concede this point is probably technically correct. The CRU data give about 0.12 for S.H. as a whole so that’s roughly twice O’Donnell et al. Of course, we made it very clear in the paper that the rate of warming was not necessarily distinct from zero at 95% confidence, so this isn’t a new result.–eric]

  32. 32
    Eli Rabett says:

    What warming at the margin of the continent (which is stronger in the O’Donnell paper) is important is for sea level rise, not only from melting but also from weakening of the ice sheet at the discharge point and speeding up of discharge into the oceans.

    However, as Sarcasto would say, this is all to the good as dilution will decrease the effect of adding additional CO2 to the atmosphere on ocean acidification.

  33. 33
    Eli Rabett says:

    Eric, since you have both sets of data, it would really help if you provided maps plotted on the same temperature scale and also maps with mean summer temperatures in the coastal regions rather than anomalies re the melting/weakening/acceleration of discharge issues, since as glaciologists should say, that is where the ice meets the water.

    [Response: Eli, yes, a future post will show differences, and discuss where they might be interesting.–eric]

  34. 34
    Hunt Janin says:

    Re: WAIS updates

    I’ve been away from a computer for about four weeks and now want to catch up on the most current thinking re the WAIS. Any suggestions on how I can do this?

  35. 35
    Rocco says:

    Alex: No, that is peer review you are talking about. The warmist international controls all journals and can make papers (maybe even people) disappear! Don’t take it from me, that is what has been reported on the internet.

  36. 36

    There’s some great social commentary here. I also have to say I love any blog that employs the term, “Phizzicists”.


  37. 37
    Ryan O says:


    Not to be pedantic, but your implication that we included a portion of West Antarctica in the Peninsula is not correct. Our Peninsula mask accurately reflects the official definition of the Peninsula by the US Geological Survey, and includes less of Ellsworth Land than most rule-of-thumb definitions (i.e., land northward of 75S). Rather, I would submit that the definition used in your paper (land northward of 72S) is the outlier.

    [Response: Ryan, I’m not referring to what you wrote in the paper. I was referring to what people (who may or may not have read the paper) have claimed your paper said. I quote from a prominent blog: “Steig’s West Antarctic warming results from a spreading of warming in the Peninsula to the West Antarctic through choices made in their principal components.” Uh huh. So where does O’Donnell’s West Antarctic warming from?–eric

  38. 38
    Maya says:

    Alex and Rocco, I don’t know why none of the moderators have asked this, but please stop with the conspiracy theories. These discussions are for science, questions and answers, and reasoned argument. “Reported on the internet” doesn’t cut it – lots of things get reported on the internet that have nothing to do with reality.

  39. 39
    Ryan O says:

    One other small clarification . . . the reason that Eric’s plot at the top of the page appears to show more warming is due merely to choice of temperature scale and coloration. The scale Eric chose (-0.4 to +0.4) is different from what we used in the paper (-0.6 to 0.6) and the coloration scheme is different as well. The colors we chose were such that the transition between light yellow and orange roughly correspond to statistically significant trends.

  40. 40
    David Miller says:

    In #35 Rocco says:

    … Don’t take it from me, that is what has been reported on the internet.

    Boy howdy, you sure know it. Why, you can find canned unicorn meat on the Internet. You can learn how Obama is Socia-list, fasc-ist, not an American citizen who is out to destroy if not the world at least the US. Rachel Maddow is a les-bian vam-pire. The list goes on….

    For an entertaining video on fact-checking, point your browser at and enjoy.

  41. 41

    Maya, I rather suspect Rocco was being sarcastic.

  42. 42
    Susan Anderson says:

    Beautiful! Love a good laugh any day.

    Don’t know if it might be relevant, but there was an excellent article about penguins etc. in The New Yorker a while ago. For those looking at consequences, this kind of thing grabs the attention in a different way from measurements and data, which can help. Unfortunately, the article is just an abstract; it was very good. There is also an excellent slide show:

  43. 43
    nigel jones says:

    Arthur at 10#

    I totally agree but I said all that in my post, please actually read it right thru.

  44. 44
    Maya says:

    Ooh, my bad. I’m too quick to assume people have … themselves in interesting anatomical positions … rather than simply tongue in cheek.

  45. 45
    lucien says:

    Eric @ 9 Dec. 2010

    eric…it’s simple….you’re a riot! I know, I know, this business of GW is not funny but I laughed and laughed. Jon Stewart needs to see your brief history

    best to you and yours,

  46. 46
    Eli Rabett says:

    Ryan, (#39) if you look at both maps together you see clearly that there are significant places where your data indicates much higher warming, principally the Antarctic Peninsula and large areas of the west Antarctic near the Peninsula. The map at the top of the post also appears to have much higher resolution than the ones at climate audit and the ones from Steig, et al., at least the versions that appeared on RC and CA

    At the link, Steig and Co.’s map is from +0.5 to -0.4 which is pretty close to the map at the top of this post. What Eli would say to both of you is that best practice is to set the scale so all of the colors in a false color map are used consistent with not changing scales between instances.

  47. 47
    PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    Where is the paper itself? I thought it was supposed to come out on the 7th? JOC website does not show it.

  48. 48
    Paul K2 says:

    Has anyone looked at what portion of the continent has statistically meaningful warming, versus statistical meaningful cooling? If I recall, the decadal trends are accurate to roughly +/-0.1 deg C.

    It appears from the maps at the Eli Rabett link, that O’Donnell found statistically meaningful warming in about 30% of East Antarctica, with less than 5% showing meaningful cooling. The previous paper by Steig had far less resolution, and showed less than 5% of East Antarctica showing meaningful warming (with the rest of the area not showing any meaningful warming or cooling trends).

    In West Antarctica, both the O’Donnell paper and previous work by Steig show statistical warming over 70% of the area, but the O’Donnell paper shows much warmer anomalies across much of West Antarctica, particularly the Antarctic Peninsula. O’Donnell shows most of the Peninsula warming over 0.4 deg C per decade.

    So the lead paragraphs in an accurate news article on the O’Donnell paper would read something like this:


    A new paper published in the highly regarded Journal of Climate shows statistically significant warming in over 70% of West Antarctica, consistent with a previous study. However, the new study shows much higher warming throughout the Antarctic Peninsula than the previous work showed. West Antarctica has some of the most threatened ice sheets, glaciers, and ice shelves on the continent.

    The new study also shows significant warming over 30% of the much larger East Antarctica ice sheet, whereas previous studies showed no statistically significant warming. In contrast, less than 5% of East Antarctica showed significant cooling, inconsistent with some forecasts expecting significant cooling due to effects from the ozone hole over the South Pole.

    Is this a reasonable summary of the new results?

    [Response: Probably something like that. We’ll have to look at those numbers carefully when we get a chance.–eric]

  49. 49
    Hank Roberts says:

    Would the two groups of authors be willing and able to do a better, more comparable set of maps?
    — Maps drawing isobars (contour lines) would be much easier to understand and compare.
    — A map showing the differences between the two maps could help.
    I realize the maps don’t convey uncertainty.

  50. 50
    Rocco says:

    Maya, David Miller: C’mon you guys, it’s a humor thread (not sure if Alex is joking, thought)