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Friday, September 30, 2005

I'm melting! Or check your sources, again!!!

New Zealand's resident blogosphere science reporter has found that shock horror, arctic sea ice is melting. According to his consultants this is due to positive feedback and accelerated warming. Must be true, scientists have said so. But wait, this is from satellite studies only, what about when someone looks further back than the space age?
After researching the log-books of Arctic explorers spanning the past 300 years, scientists believe that the outer edge of sea ice may expand and contract over regular periods of 60 to 80 years. This change corresponds roughly with known cyclical changes in atmospheric temperature.

The finding opens the possibility that the recent worrying changes in Arctic sea ice are simply the result of standard cyclical movements, and not a harbinger of major climate change.

The amount of sea ice is currently near its lowest point in the cycle and should begin to increase within about five years.
Oh, so you mean that being at the bottom of a cycle that the satellites can't measure might mean more melting anyway? Nah surely not. Or what about this guy who has similar results and concludes similary. He even has references to science journals to it must all be true. (He claims to be a scientist but we all know that meteorologists are in league with Lucifer)
If we want to understand variability of Arctic sea ice (and, for that matter, sea and air temperature) we should take our eyes off greenhouse gases, at least for a moment, and study multidecadal phenomena. We should also avoid the temptation of taking the last 20-30 years of data, computing a trend, and assuming that that trend will continue for 50-100 years. History tells us that long-term linear trends will not occur. In the words of Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Or make bad forecasts.
But what about the source of the information itself? It came from NASA, what does it say? Here are some quotes that didn't seem to make it into that great scientific journal of The Herald
Scientists are working to understand the extent to which these decreases in sea ice are due to naturally occurring climate variability or longer-term human influenced climate changes.

Claire Parkinson, senior scientist at Goddard, cautions against thinking that Arctic sea ice is gone for good, especially with such limited data. "The reduced sea ice coverage will lead to more wintertime heat loss from the ocean to the atmosphere and perhaps therefore to colder water temperatures and further ice growth," said Parkinson.

There are many factors beyond warmer temperatures that drive changes in the Arctic. A longer data record, combined with observations from additional environmental parameters now available from NASA satellites, will help scientists better understand the changes they are now seeing.
Ahhh, reality is such a tricky thing, particularly for a science reporter with the attention span of a tick and no desire to even try and corroborate anything. Note to Russell, give up the science reporting. You're absolutely shit at it.

As an aside, how lucky is it that the irrelevant (to NZ) DeLay scandal came along and saved the writer's arse when he desperately didn't want to talk about financial scandals in his own nonpartisan party cough Field cough? But Republican shenanigans are of course much more important than some trifling irrelevant and even understandable Labour lapse of judgement. Have I mentioned how angry I am with W yet? No? Still, at least DeLay going down will perhaps lead to less of this:
· Linked Article

Posted by Chefen | 9/30/2005 05:10:00 pm


Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Funny you mention meteorologists Chefen.

Several nights ago the chief met guy for the MetService was interviewed by Kim Hill. He was very careful to qualify (as any good scientist does) his comments about local New Zealand weather and the relationship between climate cyles and hurricanes/weather disasters, but when the topic moved (ie driven by Hill) onto "global warming" he suddenly changed character. He suddenly found himself blessed with the ability to say with absolute certainty that human-caused global warming was occurring, it was causing disasters, and that we should do something about it. He and Kim both nodded their heads wisely, each building the other up until by the end of the interview the met-man was sagely offering advice on the likely economic impact of climate change.

9/30/2005 05:43:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

AL, just added in some of the actual NASA quotes that make it seem much less alarmist than what the peddlers of pox are parroting.

9/30/2005 05:44:00 pm  
Blogger Whaleoil said...

Oh for heavens sake why don't these dickheads do some basic school science.

Sea Ice is floating. It is already displacing water.

Get a jug, chuck heaps of ice in it and I mean heaps, like a better percentage than sea ice to ocean, may be 1/3 ice and 2/3 water. Now get a black indelible marker and draw the water level.

Wait till the ice melts and check the water level now.....oh Duh its the same.

9/30/2005 05:59:00 pm  
Blogger Whaleoil said...

Oh yeah and what about the fricken ice
age that froze most of the British Isles under a ice sheet....do we want to go back to that....nope, didn't think so.

9/30/2005 06:01:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

I read somewhere that Mars is also experiencing warming (I think it was in a letter to the editor). Anyway, Chefen, do you know if anyone's looking into whether the heat of the sun has changed? Can people measure that?

9/30/2005 06:40:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

Lucyna, I haven't seen much about that. It can be measured of course, but historical records would be dodgy. The energy coming in from the sun is usually assumed to be of small enough variation to be negligible. But I'm not convinced personally, the climate occurs in a region of a few kilometers sandwiched between a hot fusion ball and a hot planetary core. When talking about temperature variations of a degree I can't help but feel that leaving out geological factors, magnetic influences from Sun and Earth and total solar output is one enormous bloody approximation to make policy on.

9/30/2005 06:57:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Lucyna - do a Google search on 'heat output from mid ocean ridges'.

I think they're still using estimates from the 70's for how much heat output the MOR's put out.

9/30/2005 07:03:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

Here's a link about Mars warming. It is based on one year's measurements apparently, although the climate is known to vary considerably. It is interesting for the fact that large swings are possible on "dead" planets. There is no true steady state of a planet like ours or Mars, despite the allusions often made. But this is all rather like evolution and ID teaching, it's politics and not science that is driving the conclusions.

9/30/2005 07:24:00 pm  
Blogger Psycho Milt said...

Whaleoil - the sea level rising is predicated on ice currently covering places like Antarctica and Greenland melting, not the stuff that's already in the sea. That said, I agree re lunacy of trying to extrapolate from a few decades of data when we know weather cycles can run for centuries.

9/30/2005 07:46:00 pm  
Blogger Whaleoil said...

In order for the ice to melt on Antarctica the temperature needs to rise something like 30 degrees or more, highly unlikely at the poles, in fact some would say impossible. The freezing point of water is 0 degrees, and a little higher than saltwater, but since we are talking of land based ice we are talking about freshwater ice.

In Summer on the Antarctic plateau temperatures can reach a balmy -30°C. So it is almost impossible for that ice to melt in any quantity to significantly affect sea levels.

Of course when the temperature supposedly rises they have all ignored conveniently the evaporation factor.

Put simply, Ocean levels rising from supposed Global Warming is pure unaldulterated bunkem.

9/30/2005 08:15:00 pm  
Blogger Gooner said...

Notice how it's not global warming now but 'climate change'. It's changed. Or is it just my odd liking of words and how they're spoken and written?

Al, I saw that KH show. Both were preaching to the converted.

9/30/2005 10:40:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

The shift to "climate change" began a few years ago, when it was needed to explain why some areas might not get warmer. The "Greenhouse Effect" was originally proposed as a solution to the feared onset of a new ice age, back in the 70s. When it became clear that the ice age wasn't going to begin *just* yet, "global warming" took on a life of its own as a calamity. Now it has morphed to "climate change", partly in order to cover bases in places where it didn't warm up (eg expanding ice sheets some seasons). But now it has become fairly non-scientific, the climate has no steady state and will change constantly and often dramatically (ice ages can have surprisingly fast onsets for instance), so "climate change" the hypothesis explains everything and in doing so explain precisely nothing, a theory that explains too much is pretty much worthless. Politics pure and simple, which is why you see stupid terms like "denier", "unbeliever" and "heretic" bandied about in supposedly serious discussion.

9/30/2005 11:20:00 pm  
Blogger JamesP said...

I like Bjorn Lomborg's take on the issue. He argues that even if you accept all the arguments about global warming, Kyoto (or similar) is a bad idea because it involves spending a lot of money to achieve a small change which will only benefit people in the distant future who will be richer than we are today.

He proposes that we should be spending the money on things like HIV and malaria prevention, free trade, and good governance. Not only will these projects be cheaper than Kyoto but they benefit people immediately. Which it turn will give us more resources quickly to attack other problems.

One of the nice things about this argument is that it completely flat foots leftists when you get into an argument about global warming. You can argue in circles about the science and then say "Well even if you are right..." and nail em with this.

It is also completely common sense. The world has many problems but we have finite resources to address them. Thus we should tackle the problems where we can do the most good, fastest and cheapest first.

9/30/2005 11:50:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Indeed Chefen. One of our first posts, if not our first post, was taking the piss out of 'global dimming' - a subject raised by No Right Turn no less. How about that! Can't figure out why he wouldn't like us...

Someone should direct the lefties to studies on glacial surges.

9/30/2005 11:53:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Here's Adolfs post on global dimming:

Hmm the interaction with Idiot must have been later. Note the 4th comment is from him ;-)

10/01/2005 12:01:00 am  

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