October 26, 2007

Settling on an unstable Alaskan shore: A warning unheeded

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

An intense storm struck the northwestern tip of Alaska during the fall of 1963. This storm caused over 3 million dollars in damage, primarily to the U.S. Government research camp that was located at Barrow, AK, as 55mph winds (gusting to 75mph) and waves topping 10 feet pushed a storm surge over the 10 foot high protective beach. The storm hit during an unusual ice-free period in early October—the primary reason why the seas grew to such damaging heights. During most months there, near shore sea ice coverage is sufficient to dampen (or prevent entirely) the build up of significant wave heights. James Hume and Marshall Schalk, described the damage from the 1963 storm in an article written for the journal Arctic in 1967 and based upon historical weather records and the recollection of Inuit elders, reckoned that the storm was about a “200 year” storm.

This storm, and others like it, should have served as ample warming against settling on the unstable coastline of much of Alaska. Instead, today we here repeated reports of recently-established native Alaskan villages having to be moved inland because of an encroaching ocean—and the culprit is always anthropogenic global warming, never lack of foresight.


October 22, 2007

A million square miles of open water

A couple of weeks ago, New York Times science writer Andrew Revkin wrote a piece titled “Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts” in which he described this year’s record low Arctic summer sea ice extent and the how the dramatic decline over last year had caught many sea-ice scientists by surprise. Revkin goes on to interview a variety of experts on the topic of sea ice, most of which realize that some (most) of the sea ice decline observed over the past several decades is likely related to anthropogenic changes to the earth’s climate, while admitting that undoubtedly, some natural (non-human-influenced) processes likely contributed to the decline as well.

Revkin starts out by noting “astonished by the summer’s changes [in ice extent], scientists are studying forces that exposed one million square miles of open water—six Californias—beyond the average since satellites started measurements in 1979.”

And then he continues:

Proponents of cuts in greenhouse gases cited the meltdown as proof that human activities are propelling a slide toward climate calamity.

Arctic experts say things are not that simple. More than a dozen experts said in interviews that the extreme summer ice retreat had revealed at least as much about what remains unknown in the Arctic as what is clear. Still, many of those scientists said they were becoming convinced that the system is heading toward a new, more watery state, and that human-caused global warming is playing a significant role.

For one thing, experts are having trouble finding any records from Russia, Alaska or elsewhere pointing to such a widespread Arctic ice retreat in recent times, adding credence to the idea that humans may have tipped the balance. Many scientists say the last substantial warming in the region, peaking in the 1930s, mainly affected areas near Greenland and Scandinavia.

Depending on what Revkin meant by “recent times,” perhaps we could help him out as to where he may look in order to find out some information indicating that “widespread Arctic ice retreat” has occurred without any human help. If Revkin meant “since satellites started measurements in 1979” then, he probably has that covered, but if by “recent” he meant within the past 100 years or so, then maybe we could suggest a few other avenues to investigate.


October 18, 2007

Drunken Trees

Filed under: Arctic, Climate Politics, Polar

The other week the busy little bees who are working on Nobel Al’s new book… what, you didn’t know Gore was working on a new book? Yep, apparently in the works is a book on climate change and its solutions, supposedly titled “A Path to Survival” in which Gore lays out, well, you can probably figure that out. As we have detailed previously Gore is more than just a little out there when he starts talking about the climate change threats to human’s survivability on Earth. So, we don’t yet know whether his new title will be shelved in the science or science fiction section.

But, as we were saying, the other week the busy little bees who are helping out on Al Gore’s new book sent a call out looking for photographs or other particularly useful information that could be used to illustrate the impacts of melting permafrost and changes to the environment that may result. The request was for images or charts that could be incorporated in a chapter on “permafrost melting” (as a technical point, because we’re sure that Gore will be paying more attention to the details this time around, permafrost—any type of soil that spends most of its time below freezing, whether or not any water is present—doesn’t ‘melt’ but rather, it ‘thaws’). And although it wasn’t specifically mentioned, we’re sure they meant “The more dramatic the better!”

Always interested to help out, we thought that we’d offer up a few images that we recently came across in our on-going effort to compare current conditions in the Arctic with conditions earlier in the 20th century.


October 16, 2007

Greenland Climate: Now vs. Then, Part I. Temperatures

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

We at World Climate Report have been spending some time over at the local library digging through some old journals looking for information about climate conditions in Greenland during the early-to-mid 20th century—a time when it pretty well established that much of Greenland was as warm, or warmer, than it is presently. This fact, however, seems largely ignored by alarmist scientists and the media who continue to turn up the volume on rhetoric claiming that Greenland is experiencing events that have not been experienced there for time immemorial. Knowing what we do about the climate history of Greenland, we can’t help to wonder whether time immemorial only extends back about 50 years or so.

We will present what we uncover through a multi-part series of World Climate Reports under the general title, “Greenland Climate: Now vs. Then.”

In our first installment, we’ll briefly review the temperature history of Greenland over the course of the 20th century, setting the stage for future articles in which we’ll visit topics that have been in the news recently such as record levels of surface melt extent, rapidly retreating glaciers, surface mass balance estimates, and “warming islands.”


July 24, 2007

Polar Bears: Times is on their side

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Arctic, Polar

The New York Times sets the stage for a new movie, scheduled to open in the coming weeks, called “Arctic Tale” – a fictitious account of the struggle of polar bears and walruses against a changing climate. In his July 23, 2007 article “Cooking Up a Fable on Melting Ice” Andy Revkin describes how, using footage filmed over the course of several years, filmmakers Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson, assembled a story “exploring challenges facing polar bears and walruses, two familiar denizens of the icy, but warming, seas at the top of the world.”

The idea is to create a “new genre of wildlife adventure movies” composed of scenes of wild animals coping with trials and tribulations of the real world and its constantly changing conditions. The movie is apparently geared towards the same folks who lined up to see the likes of pseudo-documentaries like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “March of the Penguins” – the former being all about climate change, while the latter went light on the subject. “Arctic Tale” sounds like it will be somewhere in between.


May 24, 2007

Cooling the Permafrost Scare

The global warming story is told over and over, and today every school child in America is aware that burning fossil fuels increases the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, and they have learned that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that will warm the Earth as its concentration increases. Of course, the United States is largely responsible for this mess, and children are given terrific suggestions on how they can get their parents to stop global warming.

Should someone begin to look more into the global warming issue, they will uncover literally hundreds of additional gems in the greenhouse apocalypse – they will rather quickly discover that Arctic region permafrost is melting at an unprecedented rate, and somehow this will lead us to a runaway greenhouse effect that might warm the Earth far more than any of us ever feared. The melting of permafrost is a solid, never-weakening pillar, of the greenhouse – global warming story.

But all is not as it seems (or as Al Gore would have you believe).


May 2, 2007

Arctic Ice and Polar Bears

A new study looking at observed and projected rates of Arctic sea ice loss concludes that the Arctic oceans are losing ice faster than expected considering anthropogenic greenhouse effect changes alone (or, alternatively, our expectations are in error). But before anyone goes off and starts pointing to the imminent demise to polar bears… oops, too late…


February 5, 2007

Arctic Lessons from the Last Interglacial (Polar bears survived)

Filed under: Arctic, Extinctions, Polar

In recent years, much has been made of the warming in the northern high latitude region of Earth over the last two decades of the 20th century. Data on glacial and sea ice recession and frightening computer simulations of rising sea levels underscore the doom and gloom of the warmth in the Arctic. On top of this, global climate models are predicting that this region will continue to be a “hotspot” of greatest warming during the 21st century. And, in an effort to drive the impact of all of this home (because who would otherwise really care if the coldest places on earth warmed up a bit), a small, but vocal band of climate alarmists have attempted to convince us that as a result of Arctic warming, everyone’s favorite bear (with the exception of perhaps Teddy and/or Yogi), ursus maritimus—the polar bear—will be pushed to extinction.

The contention of climate alarmists that the late-20th century warming is unprecedented over the past two millennia has been contested with contrary scientific evidence over and over, especially in the high latitudes. As the geologic timeline that is available to the global warming crusade gets spottier, one thing is clear – they can only shorten their sights. Going back to Earth’s last interglaciation is not an option for building their argument that much of the recent warmth is unnatural—because back during the last interglacial warm period, temperatures in the Arctic were higher, and polar bears survived (obviously).


January 18, 2007

Half-baked Reporting on Greenland

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

In VERY large type, the New York Times of January 16 proclaimed “The Warming of Greenland.” As has become increasingly typical of their reporting on polar climate, that’s about half of the “news that’s fit to print.”

The big story, of course, is the melting of Greenland’s ice, and threats of a major rise in sea level. After all, if the entire 630,000 cubic miles of it disappeared, the ocean would rise 23 feet.

The Times relied on an off-the-cuff estimate of ice loss, given to them by Professor Carl Boggild from the University Center at Svalbard. According to the Times, he “said Greenland could be losing more than 80 cubic miles of ice per year.” Nowhere did the Times give the amount determined by meticulous analysis of recent satellite data, which is around 25 cubic miles, published by NASA’s Scott Luthcke in Science less than two months ago.

They then quoted Richard Alley, from Penn State, who reported that “a sea-level rise of a foot or two in the coming decades is entirely possible.”

Wrong. It’s entirely impossible.


Arctic Forecast: Nordic Sea Ice Expansion

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

What’s the first image that comes to mind when you hear the term “global warming”? The most common is that of melting ice. That image is then easily cultivated by climate change alarmists who would like you to translate it into a downward spiraling Arctic ecosystem and a sputtering global oceanic circulation. (The image that comes to our mind is that of Al Gore recently pretending to be a research professor on The Oprah Winfrey Show.) What we hear little about from the global warming crusade is research findings that suggest that a measure of the recent atmospheric warming is part of a natural cycle or that the impacts are far less than what is portrayed. Well, that’s what we at the World Climate Report are here for.


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