December 22, 2007

Contaminated Temperature Data

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

It’s that time of year again when we see headlines about 2007 being the mth warmest year on record over the past n years whether we are talking about the United States or the world as a whole. Reporters breathlessly reveal that the trend in temperatures is alarming and completely unprecedented over the eons of earth history. The buildup of greenhouse gases is immediately blamed, and we are all left to believe that the rising temperatures can only be explained by human emissions. Rarely does anyone seem to question the quality of the temperature data, and yet, articles appear regularly in the scientific literature showing that the near-surface air temperature measurements are fraught with errors, gaps, and any number of inhomogeneities.

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December 19, 2007

Warmer Seas But No Change in Hurricane Intensity?

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

We have visited this topic repeatedly over the past five years (e.g., here and here), and here we go again given the latest news. Every self-respecting presentation about global warming includes a claim that hurricanes are becoming more intense, and if you don’t believe it, you will be treated to images of the Katrina disaster as the final proof. Gore’s film clearly makes the case that burning fossil fuel equals higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration which equals higher atmospheric and oceanic temperatures. He claims in the film and during every stop on his global circuit that the warmer sea surface in the tropics clearly means more intense hurricanes and BANG … the Katrina horrors are unveiled. It seems to work every time, and despite a lot of research that suggests the relationship is not so clear, people have bought the intense hurricane pillar of the global warming scare. If you suggest that there is some debate on the subject, you will undoubtedly be told that the climate deniers are few in number, well financed from industry, and discredited by scientists the world over.

Many would argue that Nature is the leading scientific journal in the world, and over the years, Nature has been an ally of the global warming crusade. A recent article in Nature begins with the sentence “The response of tropical cyclone activity to global warming is widely debated.” That sentence alone hints that the article may be somewhat atypical of Nature, since actual acknowledgement of the “d” word is greatly frowned upon by the crusaders. The second sentence states “It is often assumed that warmer sea surface temperatures provide a more favourable environment for the development and intensification of tropical cyclones, but cyclone genesis and intensity are also affected by the vertical thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere.” Once again, we get the hint that this presumed link between warmer oceans and more intense hurricanes may be more complicated than we’ve (or, rather, you’ve) been led to believe by the likes of Gore. We have been telling you this has been the case for several years.

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December 14, 2007

Tropical Trends Stir Warming Debate

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

Over and over, we hear that the global warming debate is over, the science is settled, and it is time to move past the science and turn the focus onto the policy side of the issue. Anyone who suggests that the science is not settled and the debate is still alive is immediately accused of being heavily funded by industry and discredited by the mainstream scientific community. Who could forget the August 13, 2007 Newsweek issue with its cover suggesting “naysayers” are well-funded by industry and apparently unaware that the Earth is becoming the red planet.

Anyone who reads World Climate Report regularly is aware that the debate is very much alive and well in the major scientific journals related to global warming. We find numerous articles each year presenting results that are clearly at odds with the popular predictions and claims of the global warming advocates. A recent article has appeared in the prestigious International Journal of Climatology, and the last two sentences of the piece state “Yet the models are seen to disagree with the observations. We suggest, therefore, that projections of future climate based on these models be viewed with much caution.” To say the least, we wanted to examine this one in far more detail.

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December 12, 2007

More on Polar Bears

We’ve been talking ‘til we’re blue in the face about how the very existence of polar bears today is the strongest evidence possible that they should manage, as a species (although some individual populations may struggle), to hold their own in a warming climate. Why is this? Because their existence today is proof that they survived long periods of time (many thousands of years on end), when the climate of their Arctic habitat was warmer (and thus likely more ice-free) than conditions are now, and will be into the future.

But, in case you were withholding final judgment until you heard it from someone else, well, here you go:

Ancient polar bear jawbone found

By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco
Monday, December 10, 2007

What may be the oldest known remains of a polar bear have been uncovered on the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic.

The jawbone was pulled from sediments that suggest the specimen is perhaps 110,000 or 130,000 years old.

Professor Olafur Ingolfsson from the University of Iceland says tests show it was an adult, possibly a female.

The find is a surprise because polar bears are a relatively new species, with one study claiming they evolved less than 100,000 years ago.

If the Svalbard jawbone’s status is confirmed, and further discoveries can show the iconic Arctic beasts have a deeper evolutionary heritage, then the outlook for the animals may be more positive than some believe.

“We have this specimen that confirms the polar bear was a morphologically distinct species at least 100,000 years ago, and this basically means that the polar bear has already survived one interglacial period,” explained Professor Ingolfsson.

And what’s interesting about that is that the Eeemian - the last interglacial - was much warmer than the Holocene (the present).

“This is telling us that despite the ongoing warming in the Arctic today, maybe we don’t have to be quite so worried about the polar bear. That would be very encouraging.”

So there. We’re not the only ones who think that polar bears are quite adaptable, and stand more than a good chance of surviving a warming climate—a feat that they have demonstrated on previous occasions. Will this new finding by Professor Ingolfsson put folks’ minds at ease and quiet the talk of the bears’ imminent extinction? Hardly. After all, the ultimate goal of such talk is not the survival of the polar bear, but the restriction of mankind’s activites on earth. And such fervent desire is not easily doused.




December 7, 2007

Sign of the Times

Filed under: Droughts, Floods, Precipitation

In the Wednesday December 5th, 2007 issue of the New York Times appeared a story by Felicity Barringer titled “Precipitation Across U.S. Intensifies Over 50 Years.” In it, Ms. Barringer reports on a new study released by an organization called Environment America that she described as “a national group that advocates new laws and policies to mitigate the effects of climate change.” The focus of the Environment America report was on the results of an analysis they performed examining trends in “extreme” precipitation frequency across the United States (apparently Environment America has spread these results to their arms in individual states, Environment Colorado, Environment California… you get the idea). The research was funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. As Ms. Barringer reported, Environment America concluded that “Across the United States, the number of severe rainfalls and heavy snows has grown significantly in the last half-century, with the greatest increases in New England and the Middle Atlantic region” and, of course, that this was just as predicted to occur from global warming. Lest you think that more precipitation is a good thing, Environment America is quick to warn that “An increase in the frequency of storms delivering large amounts of rain or snow does not necessarily mean more water will be available” and that “[w]hile it may seem like a paradox, scientists expect that extreme downpours will be punctuated by longer periods of relative dryness, increasing the risk of drought.”

That the New York Times chose to highlight the Environment America report is interesting for a number of reasons, among them: 1) the report did not appear in the scientific literature (rather it was released by an environmental organization), 2) a day prior to the Times article, a paper was published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature which concluded that “extreme” precipitation was increasing across the United States (but no mention of it was made by Ms. Barringer), and 3) a paper published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature back in 2004, also described increases in “extreme” precipitation events across the United States, but also cautioned that based upon the nature of precipitation, increases in precipitation amounts are virtually always accompanied by apparent increases in “extreme” precipitation events and thus singling out “extreme” precipitation events without discussing overall precipitation trends is alarmist by its very nature. Oh, we forgot to mention, that the two papers in the scientific literature that found increases in extreme precipitation across the U.S. included among their co-authors some folks often deemed industry-funded global warming skeptics (Brommer, Cerveny, Balling, 2007; Michaels, Knappenberger, Frauenfeld, Davis, 2004). Perhaps our papers didn’t warrant coverage in the Times because we failed to include breathless prose about how global warming was to blame, or perhaps because we failed to outline steps that should be taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, or maybe we didn’t time the release of our papers to coincide with a major international meeting on climate change (although one of them was published by chance this week). Or maybe, it was that pointing out that the basic findings by some global warming “skeptics” closely matched that from “concerned” environmental organizations would take all the fun out of vilifying the skeptics, so it was best to simply ignore them to avoid the awkwardness altogether.

A closer look at the Environment America paper clearly shows it to be the inferior of the three papers—at least if scientific significance is the standard by which it is judged. If global warming alarmism is deemed the most important attribute, well, then there is no contest.

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December 3, 2007

More on New York Hurricanes

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Back in October, we reviewed an article dealing with hurricanes in New York over the past four centuries, and the researchers found that intense Big Apple hurricanes were more common during the much-colder Little Ice Age than today. We noted at the time that any hurricane striking New York will be greeted by the global warming advocates as the final nail in the coffin of the greenhouse scare, when in reality, such storms are relatively common and are possibly more frequent in cold periods, not warm ones.

Another article on New York hurricanes has appeared in Natural Hazards, and once again, we doubt the greenhouse crusade will be pleased with the results.

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