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.

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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.

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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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March 17, 2010

Problems with the Permafrost?

Filed under: Arctic, Climate Changes

You’ve heard it a thousand times before – greenhouse gases are causing the Earth to warm, there is more warming in the Arctic than other parts of the planet, and the permafrost is melting away. Remind the world that permafrost holds carbon and methane that can be released into the atmosphere, throw in some pictures of a drunken forest (below), claim that the permafrost melting is some type of global warming time bomb, and you will be embraced by the global warming alarmists. Do a web search on the subject of global warming and permafrost melting for 1,000s of additional ideas.


Figure 1. “Drunken forest” undoubtedly caused by widespread melting of the permafrost?

We have covered the permafrost issue before, and over and over, this story seems to be far more complex than one might expect. A recent article in Global Change Biology is yet another addition to the complicated warming = melting of permafrost issue.

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February 16, 2010

Another IPCC Error: Antarctic Sea Ice Increase Underestimated by 50%

Filed under: Antarctic, Climate Changes

Several errors have been recently uncovered in the 4th Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These include problems with Himalayan glaciers, African agriculture, Amazon rainforests, Dutch geography, and attribution of damages from extreme weather events. More seem to turn up daily. Most of these errors stem from the IPCC’s reliance on non-peer reviewed sources.

The defenders of the IPCC have contended that most of these errors are minor in significance and are confined to the Working Group II Report (the one on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability) of the IPCC which was put together by representatives from various regional interests and that there was not as much hard science available to call upon as there was in the Working Group I report (“The Physical Science Basis”). The IPCC defenders argue that there have been no (or practically no) problems identified in the Working Group I (WGI) report on the science.

We humbly disagree.

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December 21, 2009

A Christmas Story: Some Facts about Greenland

The wonderful Christmas season is upon us, and no Christmas story would be complete without snow. If you really like snow, Greenland is the place for you! The snow there lasts all year long and is 1,000s of feet deep in the interior – a white Christmas is guaranteed every year in this winter paradise.

Anyone following the global warming debate is aware that Greenland is a favorite topic of the apocalypse crowd – melt Greenland, sea level will rise, the ocean currents will be disrupted, and the climate of the world will be changed for thousands of years — all thanks to our inability to slow-down our greenhouse gas emissions. The rhetoric from Copenhagen recently was full of disasters involving rapid melting of Greenland. Within the past week alone, we found the headlines “Warming Hits Greenland’s Hunters” and “The Maldives and Greenland’s Ilulissat: Two Countries Experiencing Global Warming at an Alarming Rate”.

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October 20, 2009

Baffling Island

There is a bit of press covering a just-published paper that concludes that the current climate and ecological conditions in a remote lake along the north shore of Canada’s Baffin Island are unique within the past 200,000 years—and anthropogenic global warming is the root cause. Which of course, spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Somehow, that temperatures there were several degrees higher than present for a good third of the past 10,000 years and that there has been virtually no temperature trend in the area during past 50 years—the time usually associated with the greatest amount of human-caused “global warming”—was conveniently downplayed or ignored.

Go figure.

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October 6, 2009

Antarctic Ice Melt at Lowest Levels in Satellite Era

Where are the headlines? Where are the press releases? Where is all the attention?

The ice melt across during the Antarctic summer (October-January) of 2008-2009 was the lowest ever recorded in the satellite history.

Such was the finding reported last week by Marco Tedesco and Andrew Monaghan in the journal Geophysical Research Letters:

A 30-year minimum Antarctic snowmelt record occurred during austral summer 2008–2009 according to spaceborne microwave observations for 1980–2009. Strong positive phases of both the El-Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM) were recorded during the months leading up to and including the 2008–2009 melt season.


Figure 1. Standardized values of the Antarctic snow melt index (October-January) from 1980-2009 (adapted from Tedesco and Monaghan, 2009).

The silence surrounding this publication was deafening.

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January 30, 2009

Antarctica Again

Filed under: Antarctic, Polar

We have reported on many occasions about the climate history of Antarctica, basically concluding that the frozen continent was not warming up during the most recent couple of decades, despite expectations that it should have been.

At first glance, a new paper by the University of Washington’s Eric Steig and colleagues, published in last week’s Nature magazine and featured as its cover story, may seem to challenge our understanding—at least that is how it was spun to the press (see here and here, for example).

But a closer look at what the paper really says—as opposed to what is said about the paper—shows that there is not much in need of changing with the current understanding of Antarctica’s temperature history.

We’ll show you why.

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January 23, 2009

Glacier Slowdown in Greenland: How Inconvenient

In this week’s Science magazine, science writer Richard Kerr reports on some of the goings-on at this past December’s annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

While he didn’t cover our presentation at the meeting in which we described our efforts at creating a reconstruction of ice melt across Greenland dating back into the late 1700s (we found that the greatest period of ice melt occurred in the decades around the 1930s), Kerr did cover some other recent findings concerning the workings of Greenland’s cryosphere in his article titled “Galloping Glaciers of Greenland Have Reined Themselves In.”

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