Yes, It’s Another Antarctic Ice Post

From a reader, comes yet another article claiming micro-climate variations on the Antarctic Peninsula are indicative of global warming.

New evidence has emerged that a large plate of floating ice shelf attached to Antarctica is breaking up, in a troubling sign of global warming, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Thursday.

Images taken by its Envisat remote-sensing satellite show that Wilkins Ice Shelf is "hanging by its last thread" to Charcot Island, one of the plate’s key anchors to the Antarctic peninsula, ESA said in a press release.

"Since the connection to the island… helps stabilise the ice shelf, it is likely the breakup of the bridge will put the remainder of the ice shelf at risk," it said.

Wilkins Ice Shelf had been stable for most of the last century, covering around 16,000 square kilometres (6,000 square miles), or about the size of Northern Ireland, before it began to retreat in the 1990s.

No, No, No.  The Antartic Peninsula’s climate is not indicative of the rest of Antarctica or the rest of the Southern Hemisphere, much less of the globe.  Here, one more time, is the missing context:

    1. The Antarctic Peninsula is a very small area that has very clearly been warming substantially over the last decades, but it represents only 2% of Antarctica 

    2. The rest of Antarctica has seen flat and even declining temperatures, as has the entire southern hemisphere.  In fact, the Antarctic Peninsula is a very small area that is anomalous within the entire Southern Hemisphere, which makes it incredible that it so often is used as indicative of a global climate trend.

      Uahmsuspol

      Uahmsushem

    3. Antarctic sea ice extent is actually at the highest levels observed since we started watching it via satellite around 1979.  Ice may be shrinking around the Peninsula, but is net growing over the whole continent
      Currentanomsouth
    4. We have no clue how ice shelves behave over time spans longer than the 100 years we have watched them.  It may well be they go through long-term natural growth and collapse cycles.

Much more here.

  • Sedulous

    A little off topic of Antartic ice, but here’s something kinda ironic, if you haven’t seen it yet:
    Cleaner skies explain surprise rate of warming The opening paragraph goes on to say:

    “GOODBYE air pollution and smoky chimneys, hello brighter days. That’s been the trend in Europe for the past three decades – but unfortunately cleaning up the skies has allowed more of the sun’s rays to pierce the atmosphere, contributing to at least half the warming that has occurred.”

    Hmmm. Maybe the climate is more complex than even the AGW folks think…

  • morganovich

    a question:

    what is the source of the sea ice anomaly chart? who produces it and how?

  • “Hanging by a thread.” “At risk.” “Would be lost.” Reads more like a eulogy than a science article.

    So when is the wake? Will they just scoop up some water to put in the urn? Does one wear white or black to a memorial service for an ice shelf?

    To put this in perspective, Glaciologist Ted Scambos stated several months ago, “We believe the Wilkins has been in place for at least a few hundred years, but warm air and exposure to ocean waves are causing it to break up.”

    A few hundred years. Out of 4.5 billion. So if we give the benefit of the doubt & round this up to a nice even 450 years, that’s approximately 0.00001% of the earth’s history that this block of ice has existed.

    So what was this ice shelf before it became an ice shelf? Water maybe? And how long did it take to refreeze into a cute block of ice before Wilkins came along and decided to adopt it into his family?

    And poor Wilkins. If only he had discovered a desert.

    Perhaps they’ll invite me to the service. I’d like to show up eating a giant snow cone with “Wilkins” written on it just to freak out the mourners.

  • Insider

    Hello climate sceptic,

    first off all: Is there an ongoing discussion central? A place which is mostly visited and where people place comments and discussions?
    Haven’t found any link here (well plenty of links, but I don’t want to visit each of those 50 pages), so I place my question here:

    You claim to be “laymen” climate sceptic.
    Perfectly honest with yourself, you claim that you stand in a position, form which you can’t understand something as complex as climate change.
    Yet you claim that no one actually understands climate change.

    While this is certainly truth, it is also truth to claim that no one actaully understands electricity or law of gravity.
    Yet scientist without perfctly undarstanding both of the latter issues are able to make stable enough predictions to make your computer running or 747’s flying.

    Now the very same scientist claim, that global warming is a threat to human kind, that CO2, produced by man is accelerating the effect.
    And you say: “Nah, you don’t undertand the issue enough.”

    You claim that there are severe “holes” in the AGW theory, but is it really possible?

    Maybe the right question is:

    Who are you to question studys and announcments made by AAAS or NAS ? The widest scientific body on earth? Do you really think, that does people, that mass of scietntist, who make Science Jurnal, who struggled their all life to be honest and critical at all times will suddenly turn to money-hunger alarm spreading puppets in hand of all-influential governments all around the world??

    Tell me one single body comparable with AAAS or NAS that claims the opposite.
    Tell me one single reason, why should not scientist in peer-reviewing process notice the “obvious holes” you calim to find?
    Tell me why should I trust you more, then those guys ?

  • Keith

    Hey Insider, are you capable of discussing any technical issues, or are ad-hominem rants about all you got?

    “While this is certainly truth, it is also truth to claim that no one actaully understands electricity or law of gravity.
    Yet scientist without perfctly undarstanding both of the latter issues are able to make stable enough predictions to make your computer running or 747’s flying.”

    Nice try. Our understanding of electromagnetic and gravitational forces is highly refined. We can, within a very high degree of accuracy, predict the location of all the major planets thousands of years into the future, for example. I see no equivalent predictive capability for our current understanding of climate. You can refer to an earlier post on this blog pointing out that James Hansen, one of the primary leaders of climate alarmism, has been spectacularly wrong in his 20 year prediction of catastrophic global warming from 1988 to present.

    On the premise that you are just lashing out from a lack of understanding, I respectfully suggest that you do some of your own research. Look for original sources of data. Plot monthly satellite temperatures for the past 30 years. Look up terms like Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age. Look at polar ice cap extent records for the past 30 years. Look at the absorption spectrum of CO2 vs. that of H2O. Read about Beer’s Law.

    What you’ll find at most blogs such as this is that very few people dispute that global temperatures have risen over the past century. Very few people dispute that human induced increases to atmospheric CO2 have occurred. Very few people dispute that global temperatures may have risen slightly due to those human induced increases to atmospheric CO2. There is a large amount of dispute about how significant and catastrophic those changes will be in the future.

  • Insider

    This is not attack ad hominem. Period.

    AAAS and NAS are most respected and widest scientific body on earth. It consist of many scientist from different fields of study. One would expect, that these guys are very critical about statements of theire collegues. Yet the whole body is able to make this announcment as a whole:

    Globe is warming, it is man made, it is going to be bad, and people should quick about taking responsibility for theire own future.

    This is of course not a quote, but the message in short they are giving over past years. In fact only thing that changed over the past years about theire statement is about how fast we should act and about the extent of potential risks.

    You ask me to do some reserch. I deny this request because:
    1) I’m no scientist, I’m economist
    2) I have no reason to don’t belive those scientific bodies
    3) Even if I take your premise, that they made the data wrong or the conclusions from data, how do you expect me to do better job about it?

    So again I ask you:
    Give me refference to comparable body of scientist as AAAS who address the weaknes of AGW theory.
    If you can’t do that then at least give me refference to peer-reviewed work with disputes the significance of man made contribution to GW or signifficance of impacts.

    If you can’t do that too, then what the hack do you disscuss here ?????

    Now on lighter note (this is not important):
    Yes it is possible he was wrong, it is the nature of science to state hypotesis and then look for contradictions to prove it wrong in order to make better hypotesis.
    In this case you cherry-picked one such event that happened 20 years ago. But you forgot to mention that number of climate change scientific work done since 1988 has risem exponantionaly, and todays predictions based on todays models are more accurate then ever before and are still improving.

    Only thing that changed is that we should act more quickly with more dire consequences if we don’t.

  • Stevo

    Insider,

    Thank you for your interesting questions.

    First off, the answer to your question – why should you trust us more than the committees of the AAAS or NAS – the answer is that you shouldn’t. What you are asking for is an example of the Appeal to Authority, a logical fallacy in which an argument’s truth is determined by examining who said it. (It is related to the Ad Hominem fallacy, in which an argument is dismissed not on the basis of its own merits, but because of who said it.) You believe us (or not) on the basis of our arguments.

    Second, you should be aware that when the AAAS, NAS, and so on make these announcements, it is not the whole body of scientists that has generated the statement, but a much smaller number on a committee tasked with managing public relations. These tend to be staffed with people good at getting on committees – i.e. those good at politics – rather than experts on the detailed science. Regarding the actual spread of opinions of working scientists, there are few systematic surveys to back up this claim of an “overwhelming consensus”, but you might like to consider that of Von Storch published at the Nature website. We can also direct you to Nobel prize winners, lead authors of IPCC report chapters, and IPCC reviewers who are sceptical. Try looking up Richard Lindzen’s qualifications, if you like. But true sceptics don’t rely on such arguments, treating their own with as much or more caution. Science is not a democracy, with truth determined by majority rule or trumped by academic qualifications – it is based on evidence and argument.

    Your argument concerning electricity/gravity is reasonable, but you need to take account of the scale of the remaining uncertainty. Different scientific theories are understood to different degrees, and with different levels of confidence. Newtonian gravity used for calculating satellite orbits has high confidence, quantum gravity for probing the centres of black holes or the first nanosecond after the big bang, virtually none. Climatology is somewhere in between. We know some stuff quite well, but it’s a lot nearer to the quantum gravity end than the IPCC want you to think. If the computers could predict next month’s weather with the same precision they can predict 747 performance, we would take their claims a lot more seriously.

    If you want a quick start on just one reason for maybe questioning the consensus, I suggest you go to the http://www.surfacestations.org/ website and click on the ‘click to view slideshow’ link. A lot of the alarmist-sceptic arguments get deeply technical and it can be hard for the layman to come to judgement, but these slides illustrate one particular issue that is very easy to understand visually, without any technical background. It’s not the most important problem with the science, but it tells you a great deal about the state of the science generally.

    If you’re not satisfied, feel free to ask more questions.

    Keith, It helps to start off polite. Newcomers are always going to give you what they know, which is usually the media-presented ad-Hom/Authority argument. Some people are amenable to persuasion if you give them the evidence.

  • morganovich

    insider-

    in your research, i think it would also be fruitful to examine precisely what group like the IPCC assumes will cause warming in the future. it’s not predominantly CO2. there is no reputable group claiming that CO2 can cause runaway warming on it’s own. all the models making such predictions rely on feedbacks (mostly water vapor) caused by small amounts of warming.

    even the IPCC admits they understand such feedbacks poorly. yet they have become an increasingly large portion of predicted warming at the same time that the claimed certainty levels about the warming have increased. something there does not add up.

    recent evidence from the NASA AQUA satellite project has shown negative feedback from water vapor as opposed to the positive feedback included in all the major GCM’s.

    a good discussion of the results can be found in spencer’s paper (bulletin AMS) “Chaotic Radiative Forcing, Feedback Stripes, and the Overestimation of Climate Sensitivity.”

    regarding appeals to authority – obviously we all do this some times. i listen to my mechanic about noises in my engine because i think he knows more than i do. however, if he began to make outlandish claims that sounded implausible (and expensive) to me, i’d question his pronouncements more closely and get another opinion or check him on his facts.

    checking an authority on their facts makes more and more sense in increasing proportion to the uncertainty of the subject matter upon which they are authoritative. it also makes more sense in increasing proportion to the degree an authority derives personal benefit from holding a position. for all the heat that “big oil” has taken for allegedly funding “skeptic” research, very little attention is paid to “big green”. they spend orders of magnitude more money than big oil. if AGW were to be shown to be false, an enormous amount of funding goes away. so assuming their motives are pure may not be a safe assumption.

    never have i seen a committee say: “the working group has examined the issue for which we were empaneled and determined that it is not, in fact, an issue. nothing need be done. here is the remainder of our budget back. we are disbanding.”

  • An Inquirer

    Insider,

    A fellow economist! Great! That would be only one of several reasons why I would like to have some dialogue with you. There are a great many opportunities for response to your post, but I would like to clarication on at least one point. When you refer the scientitifc body of the AAAS, can you point out to me its position on global warming? Kudos to you for referencing the AAAS rather than the IPCC, but even the position of the IPCC has been misconstrued by the media and misunderstood be the masses.

    And no doubt you will be getting references to peer-reviewed studies that question or belittle the significance of AGW.

  • Keith

    Stevo,

    Point taken. Thanks.

  • TinyCO2

    There’s been something odd going on around the Antarctic Peninsula. I’ve been watching the Cryosphere site every day to watch the Arctic ice melt (yes I know, I’m a bit sad) and I’ve noticed the odd growth of ice, or lack of it on the Antarctic Peninsula.

    Despite rapid growth on all other areas the Antarctic Peninsula remained stubbornly bare of ice. I initially put it down to warmer currents zipping between the peninsula and the tip of South America. West to East.

    However, when the ice did begin to form it still avoided the coast, forming a spur up towards South America. If it was warmer currents you would expect the ice to start forming close to land and thicken.

    This link shows it quite clearly.

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/ANT-ARCHIVE/ant.20080708.jpg

    What the reason for this odd formation? Volcanos? And guess where the dodgy Wilkins Ice Sheet is?

  • Insider

    Thank you gently for first respons on what I asked.

    However, after I red that page, I only found out that:
    1) Sceptics in past ill-informed about results of the survey
    2) In later survey even more scientist agree with the metodology and AGW then in the first one

    This seems as rather weak proposition to so support your claim.

    Second article about famous “hockey stick” tells me, that its usage brought some questions and it was replaced in latest IPCC report with variaty of metodology reconstructing data. Author also notes that he and his colegues are now satisfied with the tools climate science uses.

    So yes, climate science improves, yes it is most complex endevor ever, potentionaly prone to mistakes.
    I even red Lindzens last report on modeling and potentional mistakes.

    So basicly all of sceptics has to say to this isssue is, as I understand it:

    “Whole GW is based on imperfect models with many unknows which are not inclouded in models, and thus the climate sensitivity (CS) is exagarated in order to match past data.
    Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, yes its amounts has risen 35% since pre-industrial age and are now in levels never before in planets history. But we don’t have enough evidence that CO2 is to blame for majority of warming effect.”

    If this seems to be the key issue, I bet that someone must have addressed this before. You have some reference? Peer-reviewed preferably?

    About concensus:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/306/5702/1686.pdf
    note: this is 2005, didn’t spent much time looking for more recent

    About AAAS:
    Just visit their page, you find a lot of statements inclouding one a bit emotional video too.
    http://www.aaas.gov/climate

    About politics:
    No doubt that big money are at stake on both sides and I did notice overwhelming panic on the issue, but I would rather stay away from it as far as possible, thus asking for peer-reviewed papers.

  • Insider

    Hm, no edit button.

    edit:
    address is http://www.asss.org/climate/

    btw. I’m not sure this is the right place for the debate, any forum you can point me to ?

  • SunSword

    insider — I suggest the following facts for you, which you can easily verify.
    (1) Most of the warming that occurred in the 20th century happened in the FIRST 50 years.
    (2) For the past 10 years, cooling not warming has occurred.
    For evidence, go here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/cag3/na.html
    Set the Period dropdown to “Most Recent 12 Month Period”
    Set “First Year to Display” to 1905.
    Set “Last Year to Display to 1955.
    Push submit.
    Repeat the exercise but this time do 1950 to 1990. Notice it is almost flat.
    Now…repeat the exercise but set first year to display to 1998 and last year to display to 2008. Note that the trend is downwards. As in, yes it has net cooling for last 10 years.
    (3) The problem is — the most CO2 was in the recent past. The most per year has been in the past 10 years. And yet — cooling. How strange if CO2 is the driver.
    (4) But there is an alternative driver. See here: http://co2sceptics.com/attachments/database/1212569190.jpg
    Or here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Solar_Activity_Proxies.png

    What do we see there? Why, solar radiance increased (a lot) in the first half of the 20th century. Right when most of the temperature increased. Why, how interesting.

  • Regarding the Wilkins Ice sheet and the Antarctic Peninsula: see Antarctic Peninsula Summary for a summary of the peninsula conditions as well as past Wilkins events – in 1996 the same Wilkins story occurred – but the ice sheet grew back only to disintegrate once more after a decade. According to the Smithsonian, Antarctica has the largest number of active volcanoes in any land region of the world.

  • I run a forum, insider — although it’s geared more towards the political & economic side of the issue, unlike here. While there’s a science section, I’ve just used it primarily for documentation of contrarian evidence. But any of you are welcome to use it, just click on my name, find the groundhog forum section & help yourselves. I’ll be cramming for the CPA exam this weekend, though. Probably best…the owner of this blog & participants here are far better at explaining the science than I.

  • An Inquirer

    Insider,
    Here is an article from the International J. Climatology that I believe is a worthwhile read.
    * Douglass, D.H., J.R. Christy, B.D. Pearson and S.F. Singer, 2007: A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions. International J. Climatology, DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651.
    In essence, it points out that observed temperature trends do not match the projections and assumptions of AGW models.

    If you read up on the peer reviewed process in journals dealing with climatology, you might coming away disillusioned and shaking your head. It does not seem to have the rigor or integrity that you find in the field of economics.

    There is so much that I would like to address, but time is a constraint, especially today. In one post, you mentioned this thought: CO2 “amounts has risen 35% since pre-industrial age and are now in levels never before in planets history.” [SIC] Actually CO2 has been much higher than present levels a number of times in the history of the planet. I do not believe that there is any controversy on that. Also, it appears that CO2 increases have followed increases in world temperatures, not preceded them, and there is widespread acceptance on the scientific explanation of that.

    You will see many references that world temperatures have not increased in the last 10 years; neither side would (or should) rest their case on a single decade. However, it does get interesting when satillite-measured temperatures have not increased for twenty years! (Such measures of temperatures have been around for less than thirty years.)

    BTW, you referred to a website address as http://www.asss.org/climate/. That is a no-no site that could get me in trouble with the college where I teach! 🙂 I will find the correct site.

    More later.

  • Keith

    “Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, yes its amounts has risen 35% since pre-industrial age and are now in levels never before in planets history.”

    Insider, if you go to:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter6.pdf
    and examine figure 6.1, you will see that atmospheric CO2 levels have been much, much higher in the Earth’s past.

    You might also find this paper interesting:
    Ice Core Records of Atmospheric CO2 Around the Last Three Glacial Terminations, Hubertus Fischer, Martin Wahlen, Jesse Smith, Derek Mastroianni, Bruce Deck, Science 283, 1712 (1999), http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/283/5408/1712
    This paper points out that CO2 increases follow temperature increases for the last three ice age terminations. In other words, temperature tends to drive atmospheric CO2 concentrations, not the other way around.

    By the way, I would like to apologize for the tone of my previous response to you. I do hope you take the time to learn more about the science behind climate, regardless of a grumpy post done at the end of my lunch break!

  • Stevo

    Insider,

    “However, after I red that page, I only found out that:
    1) Sceptics in past ill-informed about results of the survey
    2) In later survey even more scientist agree with the metodology and AGW then in the first one
    This seems as rather weak proposition to so support your claim.”

    What you could also have noticed was that approximately 35% of scientists are sceptical to some degree, and about 15% are undecided.

    One of the difficulties with surveys on controversial topics is that people tend to pick out just those aspects that support their case. (That was partly why I decided to just point you to the survey and not comment.) Sceptics had, amongst other things, compared the ‘strongly agree’ to the ‘strongly disagree’ and noted the latter were higher, and I agree with Von Storch that this is a meaningless comparison. It’s not that sceptics were ill-informed about the data, it was that they were drawing conclusions not justified by it. It’s fair enough for Von Storch (an AGW-supporter) to point that out.

    Regarding your second point – yes, the number of sceptics decreased, and I could also say that in both surveys the sceptics were in the minority. However, it is also the case that their minority is not insignificant. Approximately a third of the scientists surveyed disagreed.

    It all depends on whether your aim is to understand the true state of affairs and are genuinely asking why we’re sceptical, or whether you’re just trying to win a debate or prove our position wrong.

    If you’re willing to acknowledge facts that support scepticism where they’re valid, then we might believe it’s worthwhile talking to you. There are valid points on both sides of the debate, and we need people to critique our arguments and catch our errors. But if you’re going to argue with them whether they are valid or not, then your arguing tells us nothing at all about their validity.

    If there is no argument that could possibly change your mind, and we are similarly determined not to change our minds, then it’s all a lot of noise for no purpose. It can be entertaining, but you shouldn’t go into it thinking you can achieve anything here. You must understand that given our position we get such arguments all the time. You haven’t said anything we haven’t heard many times before, from some very persistent people in the past, and we’re still sceptics.

    Sometimes we get people who don’t seem to realise this, and think that repeating the simple media arguments that convinced them will devastate us in debate. I can tell you now, they won’t. And eventually it gets annoying.

    So assuming you’re not a person who finds their entertainment by going around just annoying people, would you be willing to accept that it’s possible that we have many good reasons for our scepticism that we haven’t had the opportunity to explain to you?

    You say “So basicly all of sceptics has to say to this isssue is…” But that isn’t all we have to say (or even what we say – both of those arguments are incorrect). You’ve told us you’re not a scientist, and so we’ve held back on a lot of the technical argument. But if you rule out discussing scientific details, and it’s the scientific details that make us doubt, then you shouldn’t be surprised that we can’t give you an answer you’ll accept.

  • Lindsay

    Nobody seems to have asked the question why is there such an incredibly small ammount of co2 in the atmosphere 300 ppm 400ppm ie one part in 25000, given that the earth contains trillions of tons of coal oil carbonacious materials etcetc. One has to conclude the biosphere is so good at removing the stuff that it rarly has had a chance to build up untill humans started clearing land & mining the stuff even then it only adds 2ppm per year.
    I note with interest in the big glasshouses growing vegetables etc typically increase the co2 content up to 1500 ppm to encourage the plants to grow better, up to 15% faster, the glasshouses arn’t any warmer though!.
    The co2 causes climate change debate is a dividing line for political ideology, people with a socialist bent are ten times more likely to want to believe in AGW than others. Climate change has become a new and dangerous religion which gives its advocates opportunities to have power over the way people live.
    After 10 years and billions of dollars of AGW advocacy and research there is still no clear scientifc proof that the increasing co2 is a responsible for observed climate change.
    Carl Popper will be turning in his grave .

  • Insider

    Thank you for patience with me.

    I looked around after I watched part of the Swindel movie, which has been so criticised.
    While most of the info there is cherry-picked and numbers are not right, general suggestions of alternative causes pointed me in direction. Especialy I looked for the correlation between solar radiation and mean temperature.
    I red theire paper from 91 where they claim over 80% of mean temperature data being explained by solar activity.
    Also the later works conclusion, where they state that data till 1985 can be explained by s. radiation but not further.

    This seems very impressive. Is there paper with actual numbers for last 25 years for radiance and mean temperature?
    If mean T has risen by 0,6 C after 100 years, how much has it risen til 1985?
    This would imply that AGW might actualy be reponsible for rise of temperature since 1985, that would be a very small like 0,1 C at best.

    Also I was thinking about structure of GHG. If 99,9% of atmosphere is non-GHG, then lets look on the GHG only as only 0,1% is responsible for majority of GHE. I found very controversial info about to which excent are each of the GHG family responsible for the GHE. Worst seems wiki in this matter where variations of 35% or more are given to vapor and 9-26% to CO2. This is odd imo, any beeter source for this?

    Well back to the question.
    If we look at the pre-industrial structure of GHG and current structure, what would be expected impact on GHE from the change of the structure based on GHG radiance (ie. reposnsibility for GHE)?
    What would be the expected impact on GHE when you change structure of GHG other things being equal?
    I know that the total GHE is based on the structure itself rather then on single components, but still this seems a good aproach.
    Any paper on this issue?

    PS. I definetly don’t try to break any opposition, but Im looking for evidence instead. I have some limited experience with econometric modeling, but from it I can tell that models can give you variety of answers depending on the way you look at them.

  • Stevo

    Insider,

    You’re right about the Swindle documentary being imperfect. It was designed I think as a response to Al Gore’s movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, and while it’s probably more accurate than Al Gore’s, it does take a similar approach in that it seeks to persuade an audience of laymen and over-simplifies a lot.

    On Solar-Climate correlations, one of the main researchers in the area is Nir Shaviv. He has a summary of their results here, links to peer-reviewed papers, and responses to a lot of specific criticisms made against the solar hypothesis on his site. It is important to bear in mind that at the moment the connection is a hypothesis, in much the same way that the CO2-climate connection is still only a hypothesis. Responsible sceptical scientists don’t say that this definitely is the cause of the observed warming, or that it causes all of it. They say that the correlation is such that it’s a plausible contender for around a third to a half of the variation. (Shaviv is a bit more enthusiastic than I’d be.) For the rest, you have to look to other effects, like the major climate oscillations, land use, and yes, GHGs.

    Judging the influence of greenhouse gases by their absolute amounts is misleading – there is no reason to assume that small amounts are necessarily insignificant. Also, it’s difficult to say what percentage of the effect is caused by each gas, because their effects overlap. If one person paints the left-hand half of a window, and another person paints the left hand third, what proportion of the light is blocked by the second painter? One argument says none, because the first has already blocked it, another argument says a third, because that’s the effect it would have on its own, and a third argument says one sixth, because if you split the credit between the two painters where they overlap, that’s what you get. So please don’t get too caught up on what the percentages are, unless you know exactly what they mean.

    The main three GHGs are water vapour (H2O), CO2 and ozone (O3). The ozone only has a significant effect above 10km, where it warms the stratosphere. The H2O has two effects in opposite directions. It absorbs some of the shortwave visible light coming in, stopping it reaching the ground, and it strongly absorbs longwave infrared light going out, warming the surface. CO2 is transparent to the shortwave, but absorbs some of the longwave going out. The cooling from H2O is about equal in size to the warming from CO2, and the total warming below 10 km closely follows the curve for H2O absorbing longwave. (This is all based on Manabe and Strickler’s paper in the Journal of Atmospheric Science, vol21, p373, (1964).)

    However the situation is complicated further by the presence of clouds. These are difficult to handle because the effect depends not only on how much of the sky is covered, but on what height they are. High clouds are in colder air, and so have less of a surface-warming effect than low clouds. They obviously shade the surface during the day, but they warm the surface at night. Only a couple of percent change in cloudiness would equal the whole effect ascribed to CO2, and we can’t measure global cloudiness that accurately. Clouds are poorly understood and modelled, and a lot of the arguments revolve around them.

    The sensitivity to CO2 alone – all other things being equal – is generally agreed to be about 1.1 degrees C every time CO2 is doubled. So the 40% rise over the past century ought to cause about half that effect, and we’ll get the same again over the next century. However, other things don’t stay the same, because of climate feedbacks. There are a lot of these, and we don’t know what they add up to. One of them is that the warmer it is, the more water is evaporated from the surface, and water vapour is a GHG and increases warming. Another effect is that as water vapour rises by convection, it carries latent heat away from the surface far faster than it can radiate, cooling the surface. (This is the same mechanism by which sweat cools you.) The computer models say that the first of these is stronger than the second, and that the result should be to triple the warming rate at the surface, but that the warming in the tropics at high altitude should be double that, because the water vapour is dumping more latent heat there.

    Unfortunately for the modellers’ assumptions, this isn’t actually happening. Water vapour is changing far more slowly with temperature than predicted, and the heat in the upper atmosphere is not really changing at all. (Other people have given some links to these papers.) Professor Richard Lindzen thinks it’s because of clouds – but the rising temperature and water vapour changes the distribution of clouds to yield more cooling. And there are other reasons for thinking the feedbacks are probably not high. e.g. see this paper http://www.warwickhughes.com/papers/Idso_CR_1998.pdf) But personally, I’d have to say that nobody really knows. This is active research at the moment.

    I’ll stop there for the moment, because this is getting very long. But please, do keep asking questions.

  • Bill in Vigo

    There was a recent article in Icecap that theorizes that part of the warming effect from the early 1970s to around 2000 very possibly could have been caused due to the efforts of the Europeans and the North Americans to clean up their pollutants. IE lead free fuels, sulphur free fuels. and sulphur free coal fired power plants. This reduced the amount of aerosols released into the atmosphere (mostly sulphur based). This cleaner air has in effect allowed more of the suns irradiance to reach the surface increasing the W/M2 causing at least part of the warming effect. With the reduction of the sun cycle in the past months and the recent PDO shift it appears that we are now in a cooling phase. How long will it last? Who knows predictions run from 6 months to 20+ years. Do we know what is really causing the climate to behave as it does, nope but we have suspicions and they don’t always agree. The major point is that we must keep studying and continue to learn. The cause for the continued study is skepticism and need for increased learning.

    Keep on trying to learn and don’t be bothered if you don’t always agree with someone just try to learn from their position. Use science to attempt to find your own conclusion but don’t by any means count heads and let the majority rule. Remember that at one time the consensus was that the earth was flat and we now are suspicious that maybe it isn’t. I personally believe that it is spherical. make up your own mind after time in the books but check many sources.

    Bill Derryberry

  • Tony Edwards

    Having read down through the long comments above, I would like to make a couple of points. First, insider, it may not be the most important thing on the planet, but you would get more traction with readers if you actually spell and use the right words. red for read, swindel for swindle and so on do not give credibility to your arguments. Using spell check might help, but doesn’t get all of them.
    In another blog,
    http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/hansen-not-interested/
    there is a short, but neat post.


    old construction worker

    Hmm what part of the CO2 drives the climate theory could Hansen defend?
    CO2 leads temperature— no, CO2 lag temperature-observed data
    Upper troposphere warming faster than the surface— no, not happening-observed data
    Oceans are warming— no, oceans cooling as CO2 increased- observed data
    Water vaper positive feedback — no, darn that Spencer–observed data”

    Says it very succinctly, I think.
    One last detail, is that, though there is the GHG/CO2 hypothesis, there is nowhere to be found any definitive paper showing experimental as opposed to climate model data which proves the warming is (a) all due to CO2 and (b) that all of the CO2 increase is due to man. Indeed, there is almost certainly an anthropogenic influence, but it is largely due to the fact the the population and change of land use has seen a dramatic increase over the last 100 years.
    Steve McIntyre at ClimateAudit has been looking for this for a long time and over at the forum, jae has just started this thread
    http://www.climateaudit.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=404
    You might care to check it and CA generally for more information.

  • Insider

    Thanks for pointing me stuff around, I’ll look into it once i find some time.

    About the typos:
    Yea, I know I make a lot of ’em, its mostly due to poor light conditions during evening posts 🙂
    Thats why I was complaining there is no edit button.

  • Peter

    If GW was the cause of the breakup of the Wilkins ice sheet, or even a major contributing factor, then wouldn’t one expect the breakup to occur in summer? The fact that it’s happening in winter strongly suggests that the cause is something other than GW.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    “Tell me one single reason, why should not scientist in peer-reviewing process notice the “obvious holes” you calim to find?…”

    Well, we know through FOI requests that scientists have not participated in a peer-review process. They have just signed an acceptance document with no comments (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1589 et al).

    Another reason is that, because there is no peer review process, the scientists miss obvious holes which we find, and then they have to correct (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1885).

    So, if someome independent were not checking them, all these mistakes would just be ignored…

  • Stevo

    “…why should not scientist in peer-reviewing process notice the “obvious holes”…”

    If you want the most fundamental reason, it is that this isn’t the purpose of the peer review process.

    Peer review is a means used by journals to filter out the worst of the rubbish – by checking that the results reported are new, interesting, appropriate to the journal’s topic, and appears to be competently done. Essentially, the question is “is this something our readers would want to read?” Except in a few special cases, it is not the usual practice to actually check the correctness of the work in detail, or to chase up every reference to see that it says what it is claimed to.

    The way science is supposed to work is that scientists publish and then other scientists try to reproduce the result, falsify it, extend it, or improve it. If somebody can find something wrong with it, they publish that and science moves forwards. If it survives all challenges unscathed, the result becomes accepted and science moves forwards. But as a general rule, papers in scientific journals should only be considered to be tentative works-in-progress, not to be trusted – especially recent ones. Them publishing and us finding holes in it is the way it is supposed to operate. Presenting settled science is the role of textbooks.

    Unfortunately, human nature is imperfect, and you often get academic hacks who play politics with it – who manoeuvre their way onto funding committees, onto journal editorial boards, who get a reputation as ‘the expert’ in a subject who is consulted on all matters pertaining to it, and then seek to bend the scientific process to their own advantage. (Not generally out of malice or greed, but simply because they think they’re right and want the right side to win.) They have a greater tendency than usual to take peer-review and conformity with consensus as sources of authority, since they control them and rely on them for their power. Usually they can be circumvented easily, but not always. And sometimes it can all go horribly wrong.

    Basically, if anyone demands “peer-review” as a source of authority, it is virtually certain that they either don’t know how the peer-review process actually works, or they know all too well, but have it rigged in their favour. In either case, you shouldn’t pay much attention to them. Peer-review is a plus, but a weak one. Only the content of the argument – the quality of evidence and its ability to withstand a determined sceptical assault – really matters in science.

  • Jeff

    As I’ve said elsewhere… “Peer review is little different from allowing GCSE students to mark each-others’ exam papers”.

  • Insider,

    “Globe is warming, it is man made, it is going to be bad, and people should quick about taking responsibility for theire own future.”

    The globe is warming. Well, yes it is, about 0.6 to 0.8 degrees C over a century. Consider that catastrophic or not, its up to you.

    It is man made. Some of it may well be, we pave great chunks of the landscape in asphalt and concrete absorbing and radiating heat.

    It is going to be bad. Why? If we believe Al Gore, it will be catastrophic. But in reality, the earth has seen higher avergae temperatures in the past and most species of plants and animals have survived. Past interglacial periods have been warmer than today. In this interglacial period there have been at least 3 warming periods prior to the current slight warming. In the Roman Warm Period, temperatures were higher than now. The Micean Warm Period was up to 5 degrees warmer than today. Yet here we are, unscathed by such warming. The polar bears evolved about 100,000 years ago, they survived the last glacial period and the warmer-than-today periods in our recent past. The biggest threat to non-human species is human caused environmental destruction like stripping firewood from woodlots to cook tonight’s dinner in 3rd world countries, or the mowing down of rainforests to satisfy the environmentalists demands for biofuels. Birds suffer from the huge wind mills we erect to satisfy the demands for green electricity. None of these things have anything to do with increasing temperature. The current “bad” thing is the new syndrome which seems to afflicting those who worry about global warming.

    People should quick about taking responsibility for their own future. Yes they should. We should do just that. But Al Gore and other environmentalists want to take that responsibilty away from people and put it into the hands of some supra-national quasi-governmental agency that will govern what you and I are free to do. This is not taking responsibility for our own futures, this is abdicating responsibility.

    In short, temperatures go up and they go down, the last 12 months have seen a relatively large COOLING. The IPCC has stated that nature has temporarily stalled warming, but they are sure that it will start up again in 10 years or so. Maybe, maybe not.

    In the past 100 years or so, we have seen catastrophic and world ending global cooling, world ending global warming, cooling again, and now warming. We view the world with a very short memory. We don’t have climate records for the last 5 billion years. We see things change and assume that its all bad. Had the dinosaurs not died out, we would not be here. If the globe had not warmed substantially 15,000 years ago, Canada and a good portion of the USA would still be under several kilometres of ice. I consider those events to be good things. Species come and species go, without any help from Homo Sapiens. Gore says that 2,000,000 species will go extinct in the next 50 years, that’s about 40,000 per year, yet nobody can point find all the bodies. Sea levels are supposed to rise between 20 feet (Gore) and 80 feet (Hansen) but they don’t give a time frame, maybe in the next interglacial. Even the IPCC states that sea level rise might be 5 inches… in 1,000 years. Glaciers are melting, and some are growing. Oddly, the growing ones don’t get the same attention as their melting cousins.

    There are more important issues facing the world right now than global warming. Every day 30,000 people starve to death, on a planet where obesity is now an epidemic. 4.5 million children in 3rd world countries die every year from lung disease secondary to inhaling wood smoke from indoor cooking fires. Malaria and AIDS afflict hundreds of millions of people. Malaria is not a warm places disease, it is a poor places disease, it should be remembered that tens of thousands of people died from malaria in Archangle in Siberia, you need an ice breaker on the sea there for 6 months of the year. We could remediate most, if not all of these problems with a far smaller outlay of cash than Kyotophils demand we spend on averting about 0.08 degrees C over the next 50 years.

    So, yes, I do agree that we do need to take responsibility for our own futures. By demanding that our governments and the UN address the real problems, not global warming.

  • An Inquirer

    This article on peer review might be relevant to the discussion:
    http://climatesci.org/2008/07/15/recent-ignored-scientific-findings-an-illustration-of-a-broken-scientific-method/

    The article discusses “three research findings that are in the peer reviewed literature, but have been completely ignored by the IPCC and CCSP climate assessment communities, nor have been refuted in the literature. These are just three examples of the level to which the scientific method has sunk to in climate science.”

  • Dear An Inquirer, Why do you think that the ONE part or so in 10,000, that let us concede man has added to the atmosphere has the ability to so dramatically effect the atmosphere beyond it’s one part in 10,000. What is 1 ten thousandth of 253C.

    The dew point is reported all the time and it varies hour by hour. And where the most sun shines the dew point remains where, over 60F 70F. So how many parts of H20, just water vapor phase are in the atmosphere absorbing IR by the same process of CO2. Yes H20 absorbs a far greater range of wavelengths and most of the few CO2 wavelengths somewhat.

    Well I have charted the h20 PPM by dew point. http://toms.homeip.net/global_warming/what-the-hell-is-air.html
    The scientific frame work behind the chart is the Goff-Gratch equations to relate Temperture to the Saturation water vapor pressure. Then just Ideal gas law to ratio moles of h20 to moles of air at 101325 Pascals pressure.

    Basically, a dewpoint of 60F has 17,434 PPM of H20, 70F is 24,705 PPM and 80 is 34,501 PPM If you go to my
    http://toms.homeip.net/global_warming/unisys/toms-unisys.html page, I have the latest USA are Surface Dewpoint Plot.
    The link to the current plot is this. http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sfc_con_dewp.gif

    So as we go from the southern US into the tropics the dewpoint goes to 80F and higher. 24,705 PPM H20 and higer. Those latitudes are the fattest of the earth and the get the most direct, the energy per square meter of the planet.
    So how does the 1 part in 10,000 of CO2 overwhelm the over 240 and more parts of H20 always in the atmosphere.

    The disparity of the ratio is so huge, I cannot fathom how any one comes up with effects hundreds to thousands of times larger than the material.

    If you wish a for an education on the physics and history of the greenhouse effect, Two PHD’s in physics have written an outstanding paper. Now these guys are German. http://www.tsch.de/recent_falsification_v2/