March 10, 2011

Amazing Arctic Reconstructions

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

We hear over and over that any warming at the global scale will be amplified in the Arctic region of the Northern Hemisphere, and the warming will cause ice to melt and sea level to rise and all the rest. Let some ice-free area appear during summer near the North Pole and the global media will take the bait every time and announce we are witnessing geophysical changes of Biblical proportions. Several articles have appeared recently in leading journals with interesting results regarding the temperature history of the Arctic over the past 1,000 to 1,500 years, and they show that temperatures there have risen and fallen to a significant degree many times in the past (that is, without the benefit of large changes in atmospheric CO2 levels), and they call into question whether any unusual warming (or cooling) has occurred there in recent decades.


March 1, 2011

Coldest Back-to-Back U.S. Winters in a Quarter Century

Filed under: Climate Changes

As the curtain falls on the climatological winter (December-February) of 2010-11 in the U.S., we are left shivering.

For the second year in a row, the winter temperature when averaged across the contiguous United States came in below the average temperature for the 20th century. This marks the first time since the winters of 1992-93 and 1993-94 that two winters in a row have been below the long-term normal, and it makes for the coldest back-to-back winter combination for at least the past 25 years.

Figure 1 shows the history of winter temperatures averaged across the Lower 48 as compiled by the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) for the winters from 1895-96 through 2009-2010. Although all the data have yet to be completely processed by NCDC for the winter of 2010-11, when the final numbers are in the average winter temperature will probably fall within the oval we added at the end of the record. If it does so, it will mean that the combined average temperature for the past two winters will be colder than any two-winter combination since 1983-84 and 1984-85, and perhaps even as far back as the all-time back-to-back coldest winters of 1977-78 and 1978-79.

Figure 1. Average winter (Dec.-Feb.) temperature for the contiguous United States (data source: NCDC). The oval of the right hand side of the data series contains our guess as to the value for the winter of 2010-2011.

[Update: March 8, 2011. NCDC’s final numbers are in for winter 2011, and the U.S. winter temperature history looks like this.]

What’s global warming got to do with any of this? It is hard to say. But what we can say for sure, is that whatever influence it may have, the end product during recent winters is nothing out of the ordinary—at least as far as can be ascertained by looking at the seasonal average temperature history of the U.S.

Over the longer term (i.e. since 1895-86) there has been a statistically significant increase in the NCDC-compiled U.S. winter temperature history. And recent decades have been dominated by warmer than average winters (including many that have been much warmer than average). But as the last two winter seasons have aptly demonstrated, cold snowy winters have not been relegated to a thing of the distant past.

Whether or not all the winter warming exhibited by the NCDC-compiled record is actual warming of the broader-scale climate (there are indications/suggestions/contentions that some of the warming may result from artificial warming from microclimate or instrument changes), what is undoubtedly true is that whatever your tastes in winter may be, we are sure that you will continue to get your fill from winters to come.

February 16, 2011

Uncertainties Galore!

One word that comes up over and over in the global warming issue is “uncertainty”. The alarmists tend to minimize the discussion of uncertainties while the so-called skeptics seem to harp on how uncertain we are on so many fronts. Two articles have appeared in the literature during the past year highlighting amazing uncertainties dealing with ice loss from glaciers and water mass in the world’s oceans.


February 3, 2011

Good News for Sea Turtles from the Great Barrier Reef

If you haven’t heard the news, global warming is causing sea level to rise and causing storms to become more severe, and the net result is shoreline erosion throughout the world. This pillar of the apocalypse is particularly easy to sell—gather up some pictures of shoreline erosion, throw in some images of turtle nest destruction, and you are on your way to winning a Nobel Prize for putting all the pieces together.

A recent issue of Global and Planetary Change contains an article on this subject written by two scientists with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland; funding was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency-Queensland. Dawson and Smithers focused on Raine Island located on the northern portion of the Great Barrier Reef, and if you don’t know, Raine Island is “a globally significant turtle rookery.” So it’s all here—an island on the Great Barrier Reef, turtles, sea level rise, relatively frequent tropical cyclones, sand beaches easily eroded—we are sure the global warming alarmists cannot wait to see how bad things have become at this sacred location.

But, alas, the results from Raine Island are about to rain on their parade of pity.


January 31, 2011

Arctic Ice “Tipping Point” Rejected

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

A common rhetorical device to make potential future climate sounds even scarier, is to invoke the concept of “tipping points”—events that no one is sure when or even if they will happen, but suggest that when and if they do come to pass, they will lead to some sort of catastrophe that can’t be recovered from. Of course, global warming will push us closer to reaching these “tipping points.”

President Obama’s advisor on Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, John Holdren, is a fond user of such scare tactics.


January 24, 2011

Bye-Bye Polar Lows?

Filed under: Climate Changes, Polar

We suspect everyone who reads World Climate Report has experienced a mid-latitude cyclone. These are the low pressure features that routinely cross the United States with warm, cold, and occluded fronts that bring us rain and snow. Some of these lows, like the occasional Nor-easters, can produce high winds, large amounts of precipitation (either rain or snow), and can be associated with considerable damage. Many of our readers have also experienced tropical cyclones – low pressure features that can grow into hurricanes. With lows in the tropics, and lows in the mid-latitudes, some alert school child might ask about lows in the polar regions.

So here we’ll take at how “polar lows” and how they may change character in a warmer climate.


November 5, 2010

Good News for Polar Bears: Goose Eggs on the Menu

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Arctic, Polar

Back in May, we reported on the Trumpeter Swan’s recovery from the edge of extinction that was being made a bit easier by a warming Arctic. Now comes word of another Arctic bird that is benefiting from the warming—and at the same time, helping the polar bear cope with climate change.

This time around it is the snow goose—a rather plentiful denizen of the far north.


October 8, 2010

Tibetan Snowpack Decreasing??

No global warming presentation is complete without some pictures of snowpacks and glaciers melting away in alpine environments. The world is warming and the warmth is melting snow and ice in mountainous areas – seeing is believing, and finding pictures of melting snow is rather easy (just wait until spring every year)!

We conducted a search on the internet for “Global warming and snowpack” and nearly 70,000 sites appear with nearly all of them insisting that snowpacks the world over are being devastated by ongoing warming. The Technical Summary of the IPCC states:

“Decreases in snowpack have been documented in several regions worldwide based upon annual time series of mountain snow water equivalent and snow depth. Mountain snow can be sensitive to small changes in temperature, particularly in temperate climatic zones where the transition from rain to snow is generally closely associated with the altitude of the freezing level. Declines in mountain snowpack in western North America and in the Swiss Alps are largest at lower, warmer elevations. Mountain snow water equivalent has declined since 1950 at 75% of the stations monitored in western North America. Mountain snow depth has also declined in the Alps and in southeastern Australia. Direct observations of snow depth are too limited to determine changes in the Andes, but temperature measurements suggest that the altitude where snow occurs (above the snow line) has probably risen in mountainous regions of South America.”

The IPCC is widely cited by the websites – clearly there is a consensus that snowpacks are declining, and who can argue with a consensus?


August 9, 2010

Sea Level History Lesson

Filed under: Sea Level Rise

We are sure you’ve heard that sea level is rising? We conducted a web search on “Global Warming and Sea Level” and nearly 3.5 million websites are immediately located. And before you conduct the search yourself, you already know what you will find. The earth is getting warmer due to the buildup of greenhouse gases, the warmer sea water expands causing sea level to rise, and most of all, you will read all about the ice melting throughout the world pouring fresh water into ocean basins causing sea level to rise far more. Alarmists insist that the worst is just around the corner, and the sea level rise will accelerate or even quickly jump to a new level given some catastrophic collapse of large sheets of ice near the fringes of the polar areas. Coastlines will be inundated, the human misery will be on a Biblical scale, ecosystems will be destroyed … this goes on for millions of websites!

But things aren’t really so simple.


July 29, 2010

Recent News from Antarctica

Filed under: Antarctic, Polar

We have featured Antarctica many times in our essay series, and despite a million claims that “the icecaps are melting,” we continue to find no end of articles in major journals building a case for the opposite. Here we examine some recent research, and find evidence for decreased melting and, at least local, mass gains.


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