April 24, 2008

Floods and Droughts and Global Cooling?

In nearly every presentation on global warming, we hear that floods and droughts will be more severe as the temperature rises. Believe it or not, and who would not believe it given thousands of websites on the issue, there are many scientists who believe the opposite. We have covered these topics in many previous essays, and a recent article in Quaternary Science Reviews reinforces our skeptical viewpoint.

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April 21, 2008

Little Ice Age in Southern South America?

Recall our long essay series a few years (e.g., here) ago regarding the now-debunked “Hockey Stick” depiction of hemispheric and/or global temperatures. In 2001, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) rolled out a depiction of temperatures over the past 1,000 years, and as seen below (Figure 1), the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age all but disappeared, and the warming rate of the most recent 100 years looked nothing short of incredible. The second plot below (Figure 2) comes from the most recent IPCC assessment, and note that (a) the plot is clearly labeled as “Northern Hemisphere,” (b) the recent warming looks less impressive, and (c) the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age periods are more prominent.

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February 11, 2008

A 2,000-Year Global Temperature Record

Over the past decade, considerable debate existed regarding the temperature history of the Earth on the time scale of millennia. If you followed our discussion on the subject, you know that one camp would like you believe that the highly-publicized warming of the planet over the past century is absolutely unprecedented over the past few thousand years. This group seems to fixate on the “hockey stick” representation of the temperature history of the past 1,000 years, and they hold on to the stick in spite of evidence to the contrary. Many others have argued based on proxy evidence throughout the world that the past few thousand years include a very warm period 1,000 years ago and a cold period 500 years ago; in their eyes, the warming of the past century is not at all unusual. These folks even go on to suggest that the Earth today may not be yet as warm as conditions 1,000 years ago, despite the 100 ppm increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past century.

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February 4, 2008

1,500 Years of Cooling in the Arctic

The Arctic is melting, right? There is simply no questioning this pillar of the greenhouse scare, and images of ice melting, polar bears struggling, and indigenous people crying the blues are all part of any self-respecting presentation of global warming. Imagine a study published in a major journal showing that a location in the Arctic has “a trend of -0.3°C over the last 1,500 years.” Of course, you would never have learned of such a result had you not discovered World Climate Report.

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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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September 25, 2007

Questioning 20th Century Warmth

In 2006, an article appeared in Science magazine reconstructing the temperature of the Northern Hemisphere back to 800 AD based on 14 smoothed and normalized temperature proxies (e.g., tree ring records). Osborn and Briffa proclaimed at the time that “the 20th century is the most anomalous interval in the entire analysis period, with highly significant occurrences of positive anomalies and positive extremes in the proxy records.” Obviously, concluding that the Northern Hemisphere has entered a period of unprecedented warmth is sure to make the news, and indeed, Osborn and Briffa’s work was carried in papers throughout the world and was loudly trumpeted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that publishes the journal Science.

A recent issue of Science contains an article not likely to receive any press coverage at all. Gerd Bürger of Berlin’s Institut für Meteorologie decided to revisit the work of Osborn and Briffa, and his results raise serious questions about the claim that the 20th century has been unusually warm. Bürger argues that Osborn and Briffa did not apply the appropriate statistical tests that link the proxy records to observational data, and as such, Osborn and Briffa did not properly quantify the statistical uncertainties in their analyses. Bürger repeated all analyses with the appropriate adjustments and concluded “As a result, the ‘highly significant’ occurrences of positive anomalies during the 20th century disappear.” Further, he reports that “The 95th percentile is exceeded mostly in the early 20th century, but also about the year 1000.” Needless to say, Gerd Bürger is not going to win any awards from the champions of global warming – nothing is more sacred than 20th century warming!

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January 23, 2007

Summer Heat History

We are sure by now you’ve heard the news that global warming is causing heat waves to increase in frequency, intensity, and duration around the world, humans are suffering and dying at alarming rates in the ever-increasing summer heat, and it could all be prevented if we seriously addressed the greenhouse issue. Just go on-line and look up heat waves and global warming. Within seconds we found global warming advocacy sites claiming that “Heat-waves in Europe are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. A preliminary analysis of the 2003 heat-wave in Europe estimated that it caused 14,802 excess deaths in France, 2045 excess deaths in the United Kingdom, 2099 in Portugal.” Or, try “An estimated 15,000 people died as a result of the heatwave in France last August. Chicago’s heatwave of July 1995 killed about 739.” If you’ve not seen enough, you will quickly find headlines like “Consequence: deadly heat waves and the spread of disease” in which you learn that “More frequent and more intensive heat waves could result in more heat-related deaths. These conditions could also aggravate local air quality problems, already afflicting more than 80 million Americans. Global warming is expected to increase the potential geographic range and virulence of tropical diseases as well.”

We have addressed the heat wave story many times at World Climate Report, and we have shown research results demonstrating that the American public is far less susceptible to heat waves than at any time in the past thanks to good old technology. The last we checked, two of the fastest growing cities in North America are Phoenix and Las Vegas where temperatures routinely exceed 110°F in the summer months. These cities seem stuck for months in what the rest of the world would call heat waves, and they have clearly engineered their way around uncomfortable conditions outdoors. A normal summer day in Phoenix or Las Vegas would certainly be a disaster in many other cities worldwide (of course, one inch of snow in Phoenix would be a disaster as well). And given the apparent fact, from the internet at least, that the buildup of greenhouses is causing heat waves to increase, it is tempting to blame all recent heat waves on the dreaded global warming phenomenon.

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January 3, 2007

The Park Formerly Known as Glacier

Glacier National Park just seems to come up repeatedly in the debate about global warming. This poster child of the greenies is sacred ground, for it provides an opportunity to show the kids where the glaciers were when you were a kid, see where the glaciers terminate today, and of course blame global warming and further blame the Bush Administration for not signing the Kyoto Protocol. Many documentaries on the greenhouse effect have been drawn to the Park, and if you Google “Glacier National Park and Global Warming,” you will be directed to approximately 159,000 sites.

A very interesting paper on Glacier National Park appears in a recent issue of Earth Interactions by scientists at Montana State University and the U.S. Geological Survey. Pederson et al. begin their article noting that “Evidence from an increasingly rich paleoproxy record demonstrates that over the last millennium decadal to multidecadal precipitation anomalies have been a substantial, if not defining, component of western North America’s climates. As in the twentieth century, the last 1000 yr has experienced sporadic episodes of both persistent (>10 yr) droughts and wet regimes, though the magnitude and duration of many paleodroughts surpass those captured by the instrumental record.” The notion that droughts in the past were far worse than any recent drought brought our attention to the article, but there is far more to the story than just past droughts.

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December 11, 2006

Seal’s Hair Skins Hockey Stick?

We have written probably a dozen essays over the past few years on the crazy “Hockey Stick” favored by global warmers showing virtually no global temperature variation over the past 1,000 years followed by a substantial increase in temperature over the past 100 years. Who could ever forget Al Gore’s performance pointing to a few minor bumps on the “stick” 1,000 years ago and kidding about how others claim that the world was warmer than today a millennium ago? Al’s prop with the hoist was a highlight for us during the epic film that by now must have surpassed Ben Hur in terms of audience excitement.

The science literature is always alive and well, and we are fairly certain you have not seen this classic in many places before visiting us at World Climate Report. The elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) has an interesting story to tell us about the Hockey Stick and the global temperatures over the past few thousand years. In a recent article in the very prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists from the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy reveal an amazing discovery that further challenges the shape of the hockey stick.

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December 8, 2006

A Stickier Handle on the “Hockey Stick”

Many of the documents generated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make repeated reference to the famous “Hockey Stick” - the depiction of reconstructed Northern Hemisphere temperature for the past 1,000 years (Figure 1). We at the World Climate Report have maintained an anxious curiosity about the temperature series. If you will remember, at issue are the absences within the “Hockey Stick” of the so-called “Medieval Warm Period” of 1,000 years ago and the “Little Ice Age” that began 450 years ago and ended around 1900. Lacking evidence of the “Medieval Warm Period,” the “Hockey Stick” can be wielded to characterize the warmth of the last of the 20th century as beyond anything of the past millennium. Therefore, that pronounced warmth is a key piece of evidence in the climate change debate. Unfortunately for those swinging the “Hockey Stick,” the handle portion of the stick has become increasingly sticky from a stream of articles that show evidence of the warm period in the climate records of locations sprinkled across Earth. Yet another such piece appeared earlier this year in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

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