November 14, 2008

Slowdown in Greenland

Filed under: Arctic, Polar, Sea Level Rise

No self-respecting global warming presenter would ever miss the chance to warn the audience that higher temperatures could melt ice in places like Greenland, the melting water could lubricate the interface between ice and rock, and watch-out … the ice could increase its velocity, fall or move quickly into the sea, and cause a rapid rise in sea level. If you happen to be Al Gore, you might show us melting ice, water pouring into some moulin (Figure 1), and then cap it off with an image of water drowning out the World Trade Center Memorial. This story in its near infinite varieties appears on literally thousands of websites dealing with the global warming issue. (more…)

July 1, 2008

Of Antarctica and Penguins

Tell us the truth – do the two pictures below really hit home with you? Do they make you want to walk to work, put up solar panels this weekend, and eat lower on the food chain the rest of your life? The images, and literally dozens like them available on the internet, drive home the obvious point that Antarctica is melting, global warming is the cause, and we in the United States are responsible for the demise of the penguins thanks to our appetite for fossil fuels. This type of presentation is very typical of the global warming alarmists – feel free to visit nearly 500,000 web sites dealing with global warming and Antarctica. If you have visited our site before, you would know that the professional scientific literature is full of articles questioning the simplistic statements regarding global warming, Antarctica, and the poor penguins.

And in today’s news, there is another tear-jerker about penguins. A new soon-to-be-published study by University of Washington’s P. Dee Boersma reports that the world’s penguin species are generally in decline (remember, bad things happen to good species and good things happen to bad ones) and the press eats it up. AP science writer Seth Borenstein describes their plight like this:

The decline overall isn’t caused by one factor, but several.

For the ice-loving Adelie penguins, global warming in the western Antarctica peninsula is a problem, making it harder for them to find food, said Phil Trathan, head of conservation biology at the British Antarctic Survey, a top penguin scientist who had no role in the new report.

For penguins that live on the Galapagos island, El Nino weather patterns are a problem because the warmer water makes penguins travel farther for food, at times abandoning their chicks, Boersma said. At the end of the 1998 record El Nino, female penguins were only 80 percent of their normal body weight. Scientists have tied climate change to stronger El Ninos.

Oil spills regularly taint the water where penguins live off Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil and have contributed to the Punta Tumbo declines, Boersma said.

Hmmm, the “several” factors the Borenstein comes up with are “global warming,” “climate change,” and our thirst for oil. If he is trying to be subtle, he doesn’t succeed.


May 16, 2008

Where Are All The Drowning Polar Bears?

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Arctic, Polar

The Interior Department just announced its decision to list the polar bear as “threatened” under the U.S Endangered Species Act (ESA). The justification behind the decision is that polar bears are highly dependent on sea ice in the Arctic for their livelihood—hunting, mating, birthing, family rearing, etc.—and thus if sea ice declines, so will the overall health of the species. While this may, in fact, be true in some sense, it also gives short-shrift to the bears adaptive abilities, which must be large, given that they survived the previous interglacial warm period as well as an extended period of warmer-than-present conditions in the Arctic (which undoubtedly were associated with reduced sea ice levels) about 5,000 to 7,000 years ago (give or take a thousand years) (see here fore example). If the bears fare worse this time around, it will mostly likely be because their natural adaptive response may run up against a human roadblock in the form of habitat disruption or other types of difficulties that an increased human presence may pose to the adapting bears. It seems that this is what the intent of the ESA is aimed at tempering, not trying to alter the climate—precisely how the Act should have be applied, despite all the criticism surrounding the decision.

All this renewed attention to polar bears has piqued our interest in just how the bears have been faring recently. Al Gore made movie stars out of drowning bears in his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth with an animation sequence depicting a small patch of floating ice disintegrating under a struggling polar bear until it was left swimming alone in a vast expanse of open ocean. One couldn’t help to get a little teary-eyed at the notion.

And as the public just can’t get enough of cute, cuddly, slightly aggressive movie stars who are a little down on their luck, the paparazzi are never too far behind to document their each and every move. Pictures of Paris Hilton partaking in every activity imaginable abound and Britney can’t even pull out of a parking lot without running over a photographer’s foot. So where are all the pictures of drowned and drowning polar bears?


March 31, 2008

“Warming Island”—Another Global Warming Myth Exposed

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

In our continuing theme of exposing ill-founded global warming alarmist stories (see here and here for our most recent debunkings), we’ll examine the much touted discovery of “Warming Island”—a small piece of land that has been “long thought to be part of Greenland’s mainland”—but that turns out to have been known to be an island back in the early 1950s.

Another good story out the window.

As was the case of the previous two scare stories we examined that turned out to be untrue (global warming leading to amphibian decline in Central and South America, and the Inuit language lacking a word for ‘robin’), the story of “Warming Island” was also prominently featured in the New York Times. On January 17, 2007, The Times dedicated an article to “The Warming of Greenland” and described the recent “discovery” of islands that were exposed as such when the ice connecting them to the mainland melted away.


March 28, 2008

The red, red Koyapigaktoruk comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Arctic, Polar

One of the most well-known and beloved harbingers of spring is the appearance of our feathered friend, the red-breasted robin. And as is the case with virtually every other cute species, it is the subject of climate change speculation from time to time. But in the robin’s case, it doesn’t surround global warming pushing the robin to extinction. Quite the contrary, global warming is expanding the robin’s range into never-before-seen-territory.

How is this bad news, you may wonder? Well the creative minds behind the global-warming-makes-all-things-worse mantra must have been working overtime, but finally, they did manage to come with a good one—the appearance of robins in high northerly latitudes is a sign the global warming is impinging upon the Earth’s sacred Arctic regions, and robbing them of their uniqueness. Case and point, there is no Eskimo word for ‘robin.’


February 27, 2008

Antarctica Ain’t Cooperating!

Filed under: Antarctic, Polar, Sea Level Rise

We have kidded from time to time about renaming World Climate Report to World Hurricane Report given all the evidence we encounter in the professional literature discrediting the claim of more frequent and intense hurricanes. If we decided to never again report on hurricanes, our next most popular topic would be Antarctica.

Literally thousands of websites on global warming claim that the icecaps are melting at an unprecedented rate due to emissions of greenhouse gases (particularly from the United States), and in case you cannot picture what that looks like, the sites feature an endless number of pictures of blocks of ice floating away from Antarctica (the really effective pictures have a few penguins floating away as well). National Geographic magazine featured a cover story entitled “The Big Thaw,” and based on what you would see in that issue, you would think there is absolutely no debate about rapid and undesirable changes occurring in Antarctica all due to the dreaded global warming phenomenon. As we have shown over and over, nothing could be further from the truth!


February 20, 2008

More “Bad for Good and Good For Bad”

Just in case you don’t believe our original contention that reports about the impacts of global warming almost always say that ‘bad’ things will happen ‘good’ species and ‘good’ things will happen to ‘bad’ ones, we’ve recently come across perhaps the best example of this phenomenon to date.

A symposium titled “Under Thin Ice: Global Warming and Predatory Invasion of the Antarctic Seas” was held at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) during which several researchers discussed the probability that in the near future, anthropogenic global warming is going to elevate the temperatures in the sea off the coast of Antarctica such that sharks and crabs (read ‘bad things’) are going to invade the ecosystem there (where it has thus far been too cold for them to venture) and wreak havoc, or rather find a “smorgasbord” among all the innocent and unprepared creatures (i.e. the ‘good’ things) that currently inhabit those waters.


January 21, 2008

Antarctica Snowfall Increase

Filed under: Antarctic, Polar

The ice caps hold a special place in the cold hearts of the global warming advocates who are all too quick to insist that our ice caps are currently melting at an unprecedented rate. We suspect that they will not be particularly thrilled to learn that a paper has just appeared in Geophysical Research Letters entitled “A doubling in snow accumulation in the western Antarctic Peninsula since 1850.” The article is by scientists with the British Antarctic Survey and the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada; the work was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council and the U.S. National Science Foundation. In case you think that the Desert Research Institute in Nevada would have little interest in Antarctica, recall from geography classes you’ve had that Antarctica receives little precipitation and is regarded by climatologists as a frozen desert.

We have covered Antarctica many times in past essays, and despite literally thousands of websites claiming that some calamity is occurring in Antarctica related to global warming, we side with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in this matter. Magazine covers have wonderful pictures of melting of the Antarctic, but IPCC in their 2007 report clearly states “Antarctic sea ice extent continues to show inter-annual variability and localized changes but no statistically significant average trends, consistent with the lack of warming reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region” (in fact, Antarctic sea ice extent has recently set record highs for both total areal extent as well as total extent anomaly (see here and here)). Furthermore, IPCC tells the world (and we wonder if anyone is listening) “Current global model studies project that the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall.”


January 3, 2008

Arctic Fingerprint Doesn’t Match?

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

Remember the good old days when “fingerprinting” was in vogue as the way to demonstrate a human impact on global climate? The idea was to show that observed temperature changes throughout the atmosphere match well the temperature changes predicted by climate models to occur there. One of the most prominent, and ultimately disproven, attempts was made by Ben Santer and colleagues, back in 1996. Santer et al. published an article in Nature magazine titled “A search for the human influences on the thermal structure of the atmosphere” in which they concluded that “Our results suggest that the similarities between observed and model-predicted changes in the zonal-mean vertical patterns of temperature change over 1963-1987 are unlikely to have resulted from natural internally generated variability of the climate system.” In other words, there must be a human influence on the observed changes. However, we (Michaels and Knappenberger, 1996) published a subsequent Comment in Nature, titled “Human effect on global climate?” describing how the correspondence between the observed patterns of vertical temperature change in the atmosphere and those projected by climate models broke down if a longer time period were considered. In other words, if the comparison was extended from 1958 to 1995 (instead of Santer et al.’s 1963 to 1987) the correspondence between model and observations became much less obvious. We concluded “Such a result… cannot be considered to be a ‘fingerprint’ of greenhouse-gas-induced climate change.” (See here for more details)

Now, 12 years later, another study appears in Nature magazine that suggests that there is a poor correspondence between the observed patterns of vertical temperature change and those predicted to occur by climate models over the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. This time, Rune Graversen and colleagues from the Department of Meteorology at Sweden’s Stockholm University, conclude in their article “Vertical structure of recent Arctic warming” that variations in atmospheric heat transport from the lower latitudes into the northern high latitudes (via atmospheric circulation patterns) are largely responsible for the enhanced warming of the Arctic atmosphere. This leaves less temperature change there ascribable to our current understanding of anthropogenic global warming.


January 2, 2008

Nunavut News

Here’s a trivial question for geography buffs: What is the capital of Nunavut (pronounced ‘Noo-na-voot’)? If you know that the answer is Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay), you win five stars. Of course, you are probably the only one in the room who has a clue about this place called Nunavut.

As seen in the map below (Figure 1), Nunavut is the largest and newest territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999 via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries were established in 1993. The creation of Nunavut resulted in the first major change to Canada’s map since the incorporation of the new province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949. Nunavut includes Ellesmere Island to the north, as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west. Nunavut is both the least populated and the largest of the provinces and territories of Canada. It has a population of only 29,474 spread over an area the size of Western Europe. If Nunavut were a sovereign nation, it would be the least densely populated in the world: nearby Greenland, for example, has almost the same area and twice the population.


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