The recent retreat of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula has been widely attributed to warming atmospheric temperatures. There is, however, little published work describing the response of glacier margin positions to this regional climate change. In the paper Retreating Glacier Fronts on the Antarctic Peninsula over the Past Half-Century published this week in Science, we presented new data describing trends in 244 marine glacier fronts on the Antarctic Peninsula over the last 50 years. The data come from matching archives of over 2000 aerial photographs of the Antarctic Peninsula to satellite images, and represent about three years of work by Alison Cook. The work was carried out at British Antarctic Survey, but was funded by the US Geological Survey, as part of a larger programme to map change in the coastline of all Antarctica.
Arctic and Antarctic
Guest Commentary by Drew Shindell (NASA GISS)
The current winter and early spring have been extremely cold in the Arctic stratosphere, leading to the potential for substantial ozone depletion there. This has been alluded to recently in the press (Sitnews, Seattle Post Intelligencer), but what’s the likely outcome, and why is it happening?
by Michael Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf, Gavin Schmidt, Eric Steig, and William Connolley
Senator James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma recently provided us with an update of his views on the issue of climate change in a speech given on the opening senate session, January 4, 2005. His speech opened with the statement:
As I said on the Senate floor on July 28, 2003, “much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science.” I called the threat of catastrophic global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” a statement that, to put it mildly, was not viewed kindly by environmental extremists and their elitist organizations.
Cutting through much of his polemic, Inhofe’s speech contains three lines of scientific argument which, according to him, provide “compelling new scientific evidence” that anthropogenic global warming is not threatening. We here submit his statements to scrutiny.
[Read more…] about Senator Inhofe on Climate Change
In a departure from normal practice on this site, this post is a commentary on a piece of out-and-out fiction (unlike most of the other posts which deal with a more subtle kind). Michael Crichton’s new novel “State of Fear” is about a self-important NGO hyping the science of the global warming to further the ends of evil eco-terrorists. The inevitable conclusion of the book is that global warming is a non-problem. A lesson for our times maybe? Unfortunately, I think not.
In early November 2004 the results of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) were published, a uniquely detailed regional study compiled by 300 scientists over 3 years. The study describes the ongoing climate change in the Arctic and its consequences: rising temperatures, loss of sea ice, unprecedented melting of the Greenland ice sheet, and many impacts on ecosystems, animals and people. The ACIA is the first comprehensively researched, fully referenced, and independently reviewed evaluation of arctic climate change and its impacts for the region and for the world.
Sadly, in recent years we have become accustomed to a ritual in which the publication of each new result on anthropogenic climate change is greeted by a flurry of activity from industry-funded lobby groups, think tanks and PR professionals, who try to discredit the science and confuse the public about global warming.
Another apparent ‘refutation’ appears in a CNS news story (a right-wing internet news service). The piece is predominantly an interview with Pat Michaels and other less prominent skeptics. We take their scientific points one at a time:
Does the ACIA overstate the problem of ozone depletion? The overview report states that the “stratospheric ozone layer over the Arctic is not expected to improve significantly for at least a few decades”. This is partly because CFC concentrations (that enhance stratospheric ozone destruction) are only expected to decrease slowly as a function of restrictions imposed by the Montreal Protocol and subsequent amendments. Another factor is the fact that stratospheric temperatures are generally cooling as greenhouse gases increase (see MSU Temperature Record, also Why does the stratosphere cool when the troposphere warms?). Due to the temperature dependence on the rates of chemical reactions involving ozone, cooler temperatures also lead to more ozone destruction. Stratospheric temperatures, particularly near the pole are also significantly influenced by dynamical changes, and in particular, the strength of the [Read more…] about The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment III
by Eric Steig and Gavin Schmidt
Long term temperature data from the Southern Hemisphere are hard to find, and by the time you get to the Antarctic continent, the data are extremely sparse. Nonetheless, some patterns do emerge from the limited data available. The Antarctic Peninsula, site of the now-defunct Larsen-B ice shelf, has warmed substantially. On the other hand, the few stations on the continent and in the interior appear to have cooled slightly (Doran et al, 2002; GISTEMP). At first glance this seems to contradict the idea of “global” warming, but one needs to be careful before jumping to this conclusion.