June 22, 2012

Not So Hot in East China

While the IPCC is big on the idea that the warmth of the late 20th and early 21st century in the Northern Hemisphere is unprecedented in recent centuries, apparently that finding does not apply universally over longer timescales.

According to the Summary of Policymakers from the IPCC Fourth Assessmnet Report:

Average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were very likely higher than during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely the highest in at least the past 1,300 years.

This is basically a verbal description of the “hockeystick”-like temperature progression of the past millennia or so.

How that representation came to be and just how scientifically accurate it is a story unto itself, and one which continues to be assessed and reassessed over at the Climate Audit website. An interesting discussion has been taking place there as to yet another methodological flaw in the mathematics involved in multiproxy reconstructions. And another oft-discussed issue there is the very selective use of only particular proxy temperature records which are combined to produce the now-too-familiar hockeystick shape.

One proxy record that most definitely was not included in the assembly of the hockeystick is a just-published proxy reconstruction of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from the East China Sea.


December 14, 2011

Big Picture Items

Oftentimes, World Climate Report focuses on how elevated atmospheric levels of CO2 benefits various organisms or how observed changes in elements of climate in specific regions are not consistent with expectations from numerical climate model experiments. We could almost feature an article on climate change and hurricanes every week—these kinds of articles are found throughout the peer-reviewed scientific journals. But we don’t want to lose sight of the big picture—the term “global warming” implies that the world is indeed warming, humans are somehow responsible, and we better change our evil ways or we could inadvertently destroy of climate system. So here, we’ll review a couple of “Big Picture” articles from the recent scientific literature to see if things really are as cut and dry as they are implied.


February 8, 2011

Mixing Politics into “Scientific” Papers

There is a paper in this week’s Science magazine by a long list of authors led by Ulf Büntgen from the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research that unabashedly throws political commentary into the conclusions of their scientific research paper (i.e., it is not an opinion piece).

The work largely is an unremarkable retelling of the climate social history of Western Europe over the past two millennia or so, with a rather remarkable conclusion.

Anyone familiar with the history of European civilization and how is has been shaped by climate—a story that has been well known for some 30 or 40 years (and probably longer)—will find little new in the Büntgen et al. work.

Factually, that is.

What will come as a surprise to climate history buffs is their take of this well-known story and its implication for the future.


October 19, 2010

Lessons of the Loch Sunart Monster

Have you ever met a cryptozoologist? Cryptozoologists study and search for animals which are considered to be legendary or otherwise nonexistent by mainstream biologists. Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness Monster are all favorite subjects of these “scientists.”

Cryptozoologists believe that the Loch Ness Monster may live in lochs (fiords or fjords) inland in the western half of Scotland. Loch Ness is one of many lochs in western Scotland, so the famed monster may be found in a variety of different locations. In the eyes of some global warming alarmists, there is a potential monster in Loch Sunart taking the form of a sediment core from the bottom that is capable of reconstructing the temperature history of the area over a long time period, and characterized by a head that it much higher than its middle or tail. It seems that The Loch Sunart Monster may have a very interesting story to tell.


June 30, 2010

China’s 2,000 Year Temperature History

We constantly hear that the warmest years on record have all occurred in the most recent decades, and of course, we are led to believe this must be a result of the ongoing buildup of greenhouse gases. In most places, we have approximately 100 years of reliable temperature records, and we wonder if the warmth of the most recent decades is unusual, part of some cyclical behavior of the climate system, or a warm-up on the heels of a cold period at the beginning of the record. A recent article in Geophysical Research Letters has an intriguing title suggesting a 2,000 year temperature record now exists for China – we definitely wanted to see these results of this one.

The article was authored by six scientists with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, the State University of New York at Albany, and Germany’s Justus-Liebig University in Giessen; the research was funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the United States Department of Energy. In their abstract, Ge et al. tell us “The analysis also indicates that the warming during the 10–14th centuries in some regions might be comparable in magnitude to the warming of the last few decades of the 20th century.” From the outset, we knew we would welcome the results from any long-term reconstruction of regional temperatures.


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.


December 1, 2008

European Update

The United Nations Climate Change Conference kicks of this week in Poznan, Poland, and in anticipation of this great event, we have examined three research papers published recently in top journals that give us insight into the climate history of Europe. Given the results of these papers, we doubt they will receive any press attention from the massive media delegation covering the climate conference.


October 23, 2008

The Divergence Problem and the Failure of Tree Rings for Reconstructing Past Climate

Guest Commentary

Craig Loehle, PhD
National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI)

Tree rings are widely used for reconstructing climate and past climates are critical for putting the current climate (including global temperatures) into the proper perspective. Is current warming unusual? Only a comparison to the past can tell.


September 9, 2008

Another Message from Kyoto

Do a web search for “Kyoto and Global Warming” and you will be pointed to a stunning 4.5 million sites. For many people in the world today, Kyoto could never be located on a map, few would know that it was once the imperial capital of Japan, and for that matter, few would even know that Kyoto is in Japan. It really wouldn’t matter, for most importantly, almost everyone knows Kyoto has something to do with global warming, “Kyoto” is something President Bust did or didn’t do, and it led to more global warming, right?

A meeting in Kyoto, Japan resulted in an agreement by the United Nations aimed at slowing down the buildup of greenhouse gases. The resulting “Kyoto Protocol” was part of the International Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Protocol was adopted on December 11, 1997 by the Third Conference of the Parties which was meeting in Kyoto (all of this can be traced back to the famous 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro). If you had been on the “Conference of the Parties” circuit ever since, you would have enjoyed wonderful visits to Berlin, Geneva, Kyoto, Buenos Aires (twice), Bonn (twice), The Hague, Marrakech, New Delhi, Milan, Montreal, Nairobi, and Bali! Nothing says “fight global warming” any more than a never-ending world tour!


June 20, 2008

Finnish Finish “Global” Warming

An international conference was recently held in Zakopane, Poland hosted by the Department of Quaternary Paleogeography and Paleoecology at the University of Silesia and the Institute of Geography and Regional Development at the University of Wroclaw. The meeting also served as the Annual Conference of the Association for Tree-Ring Research. Over 100 scientists gave presentations at the meeting, most were from Europe, although one presenter was from Penn State University and two others from the University of Missouri made the trip to present their research in Poland. The Association for Tree-Ring Research is a credible organization with no agenda that we know of regarding the global warming issue.

One presentation there was entitled “Climate variation (cycles and trends) and climate predicting from tree-rings”, and normally, we would be reluctant to feature conference presentations at World Climate Report. However, the work is an update of what the lead author recently published in The Holocene, the work is currently under review at an undisclosed scientific journal, and the authors have a history of publications in outstanding journals.


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