Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why the scientific basis of greenhouse gas warming is incorrect

Greenhouse theory calculations are based on the assumption that the atmosphere radiates like an ideal black-body. However, the gases in the atmosphere do not have available a continuum of quantum transitions that are necessary for black-body absorption or emission. If the atmosphere resembled a black-body, the radiation spectrum would follow an ideal Planck curve as shown on the right side of the graph below, and emissivity ε would = 1. This is what the IPCC and climate models assume, leading to an exaggeration of heat input 50 times greater than alleged anthropogenic global warming. Observations show the atmosphere is far from an ideal black-body radiator, therefore emissivity ε < 1 [ε =0.76 according to the APS], and greenhouse gas warming is much less than assumed.

A comment on this site from a heat transfer engineer: 
In this APS publication, the authors point out that to get energy balance, you must reduce lower atmosphere emissivity ε from 1, used by the IPCC, to 0.76. This means the models exaggerate heat input by 333[1-0.76]=80 W/m^2 or 50 times calculated AGW! [333 is the assumed value of so-called 'back-radiation"]
This corresponds to increasing IR by 350%, the cause of the imaginary feedback. There are many other serious faults in this pseudo-science. No climate models can predict climate.
If the atmosphere was an ideal black-body radiator, the energy flux would follow a Planck curve 
A post from heat-transfer expert Dr. Jinan Cao explains this and other fundamental problems of the greenhouse theory in greater detail:

Why the scientific basis of greenhouse gas warming is incorrect

Late Prof. Richard Schwartz was an astrophysicist, and had his article entitled “An Astrophysicist Looks at Global Warming” published posthumously by the Geophysical Society of America in GSA Today, 22(1), 44-45 (January 2012). Schwartz demanded in the article “most important, contrarians must show why the scientific basis of greenhouse gas warming is incorrect.”

This question does deserve an answer. Let’s answer the question by addressing what Schwartz considered the scientific basis of greenhouse gas warming was.

First of all, Schwartz employed the planetary mean temperature for the Venus, the Mars and the Earth to interpret the greenhouse gas warming effect; the total atmospheric greenhouse gas warming raised the temperature by 33 °C for the Earth, 6°C for the Mars and 460°C for the Venus.

To explain why this interpretation is incorrect, we need to examine how the 33°C greenhouse effect for the Earth is obtained. 33°C = 15°C – (-18°C). The -18°C is obtained by radiative equilibrium between incoming absorbing radiant flux from the Sun and outgoing emitting radiant flux from the Earth:

(1) p r2 (1-a) S0 = 4 p r2 ε σ T4

where, r, is radius of the Earth, and T earth’s mean surface temperature; α is albedo and S0 is the solar constant representing the incoming solar radiation energy per unit area and unit time with its value being around 1368 W/m2; σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant equal to 5.670373 x 10-8 (W/m2K4), and ε is the emissivity of the earth surface. [and p is pi]

In current climate research, ε is either missing in the equation or is assumed to be unit. Inserting the value of α = 0.3 and ε = 1 into and rearranging Eq. (1) leads to:

(2) T = 254.9 (K) @ 255 (K) @ -18°C

However, by adopting ε = 1, one has assumed that the earth surface is a black-body surface, which of course can not be true. If ε is not 1, but 0.9, 0.8, 0.7 and 0.6, T would be -11.5°C, -3.6°C, 5.5°C or 16.5°C respectively. This -18°C is simply a result of technical error.

On the other hand, the Earth’s mean near-surface air temperature, as measured by global weather stations, is around 15°C (@ 288K). Another widely spread technical error is to use this 15°C to subtract the -18°C.

To explain why, it is essential to decode highly symbolised notions “surface” and “surface temperature T” of the Stefan-Boltzmann law to extract true physical meanings for the case of earth-atmosphere system.

If there is no atmosphere, the surface means the land and water ground surface of the Earth, and T represents the mean temperature of the ground surface. If there is atmosphere that are all of nitrogen and oxygen, the surface is still the ground surface, and T still the mean temperature of the ground surface, regardless what the temperature of nitrogen and oxygen may be. This is because nitrogen and oxygen are non-radiative (literally ε = 0 for transparent and white bodies). 0 multiplying anything leads to 0.

The real earth-atmosphere system consists of the ground surface, non-radiative gases as well as radiative gases such as water vapour and carbon dioxide. In this case the earth surface is not straightforward anymore: over the absorption bands of water vapour and carbon dioxide (e.g. the absorption band 15 μm for CO2), the surface is a layer of atmosphere starting from the top of atmosphere (TOA) with thickness equal to absorption depth, and the temperature is the mean temperature of CO2 in this air layer, Tco2(h). One can similarly find out the surface and surface temperature for any other absorbing bands of radiative gases. For the rest of infrared bands, the surface and surface temperature are the ground surface and its mean temperature, TGSurf. WhatT stands for in Equation (1) is the mean temperature averaged over all the infrared bands. Figure 1 shows that over the 15 μm infrared band, the earth surface and surface temperature are the top layer of the atmosphere and the temperature of CO2 in this layer respectively.

Figure 1 An illustration showing what surface and surface temperature should be over the CO2absorption band 15 μm. For infrared bands transparent to the atmosphere, the surface and surface temperature are the ground surface and ground surface temperature, TGSurf

The global mean surface temperature 15°C is measured by weather stations using thermometers, and can be denoted Tair(h). Obviously, Tair(h) is the mean temperature of Tn2o2(h), Tco2(h) and temperature of water vapour etc., averaged in terms of heat capacity. As such the 15°C is largely of the temperature of nitrogen and oxygen gases that consist of 99% dry air. Therefore, it is not physically meaningful to subtract -18°C from this 15°C.

In calculation of Mars planetary mean temperature using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation, climate scientists made the same error as they did in calculation of the earth mean temperature, i.e. they falsely assumed the Mars has a black-body surface. If this error is corrected, one obtains the mean surface temperature for Mars -47.13°C, which is in agreement with measurements -47°C. http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_1_2_1t.htm

When there is a net heating source on a planet, we’ll not be able to calculate its planetary mean temperature any more from radiative equilibrium. For example, the incoming radiation energy for the Sun is almost 0, while its outgoing radiation energy is still εσT4, with ε @ 1 and T = 5778 K, which is a result of its energy generation due to nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium.

Venus has almost same temperature day and night in spite of the fact that a venusian day is as long as 243 earthly days. This is an indication that there are heat generating sources, most likely magma covering generated by volcanoes on the Venus.

Clearly, how to apply and interpret the Stefan-Boltzmann’s law is the problem that has led to a misunderstanding of the greenhouse gas warming effect.

In explaining the molecular mechanism of greenhouse gases warming, Schwartz stated:

“When a greenhouse molecule absorbs an infrared photon, the molecule rotates or vibrates faster and is said to be in an “excited” state. At low gas densities, an excited greenhouse gas molecule will spontaneously (by the rules of quantum mechanics) reradiate an infrared photon, which may escape the atmosphere into space and produce no net warming. “At the higher densities of Earth’s atmosphere, the excited molecule will bump into (collide with) another molecule (any molecule in the atmosphere). In the collision, the energized greenhouse gas molecule loses its rotational energy, which is transferred to the kinetic energy of the molecule it collides with (this is called collisional de-excitation). The increased kinetic energies of the colliding molecules means that the molecules are moving faster than they were prior to the collision, and the increased velocities of such molecules represents a direct measure of increased atmospheric temperature. “’Greenhouse gas’ warming occurs because the collisional de-excitation time for greenhouse molecules in Earth’s lower atmosphere is much shorter than the radiation lifetime of excited molecular states. This is the basic science of greenhouse gas warming.” 

A paper by Prof. Pierrehumbert (Pierrehumbert, R.T., 2011, Infrared radiation and planetary temperature: Physics Today, v.64, p.33–38.) specifies radiation lifetime ranging from a few milli-seconds to a few tenth of a second, and collisional time 10-7 s, implying that the thermal transfer process between N2O2 and CO2/H2O by molecular collisions is far faster than the heat loss/gain by radiation for CO2/H2O.

Unfortunately, wrong physics has been employed to explain the thermal absorption and in particular emission phenomena of radiative gases. De-excitation occurs only after excitation; however, emission occurs 24/7 to a non-white/transparent object as long as temperature of the object is not 0 K (-273.15°C), regardless whether it absorbs or not.

The kinetics of heat transfer by radiation is determined by the equation εσT4 (or I = a I0) that measures the heat energy gained/lost per unit area and unit time for an object. Assuming the total surface area, S, mass, M, and specific heat capacity, cp, for the object, one can readily convert absorption/emission energy to temperature rise/drop for the object. The emission rate will be 1012 times faster at 1000 K than that at 1 K. On the other hand, the collision time of 10-7 s, which is related to the mean free path of air molecules, does not mean that air homogenizes its temperature in 10-7 s time scale. In fact air is a thermal insulator because thermal transfer for air by molecular collision is slow. Industrial examples of taking advantage of air’s thermal insulation property include: double glass windows for trains and hollow synthetic fibres etc.

Hopefully, this article is comprehensive enough and does answer late Schwartz’s question.

Paper finds NE Atlantic sea surface temperatures have cooled ~3°C over past 2,400 years

A paper published in Quaternary Science Reviews finds that sea surface temperatures of the NE Atlantic have cooled approximately 3°C over the past 2,400 years from 400 B.C. to 2000 A.D. The authors find that the peak temperature of the Medieval Warm Period was approximately 2.2°C greater than the peak temperature of the late 20th century, and that the peak temperature of the Roman Warm Period was about 2.7°C greater than that of the late 20th century. As stated by The NIPCC Report, "the fact that the warmest portions of the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods in the vicinity of the northeast Atlantic were so much warmer than the warmest portion of the Current Warm Period - and at times when the air's CO2 content was so much less than it is currently - strongly suggests that the atmosphere's CO2 concentration had little to no impact on the late-Holocene climatic history of that part of the planet."
Reconstructed sea surface temperatures of the NE Atlantic are shown in the second graph, with the end of the 20th century [year 2000] at the left side of the graph. The smoothed data indicates a cooling of approximately 3C over the past 2,400 years.
Full paper available here

Analysis published today from The NIPCC Report:

Reference: Richter, T.O., Peeters, F.J.C. and van Weering, T.C.E. 2009. Late Holocene (0-2.4 ka BP) surface water temperature and salinity variability, Feni Drift, NE Atlantic Ocean. Quaternary Science Reviews 28: 1941-1955.

Richter et al. (2009) obtained high-resolution (22-year average) planktonic foraminiferal Mg/Ca and stable oxygen isotope (δ18O) data from a pair of sediment cores retrieved from the northeast Atlantic Ocean's Feni Drift, Rockall Trough region (55°39.02'N, 13°59.10'W and 55°39.10'N, 13°59.13'W) from which they derived late Holocene (0-2.4 ka BP) sea surface temperatures (SSTs).

According to the authors, their research revealed "a general long-term cooling trend," but that "superimposed on this overall trend" were "partly higher temperatures and salinities from 180 to 560 AD and 750-1160 AD," which they say "may be ascribed to the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, respectively," the latter of which was followed by the Little Ice Age (LIA) and what they describe as the "post-LIA recovery and, possibly, (late) 20th century anthropogenic warming."

Of this latter warming, they say that it "concurs with distinct continental-scale warming, consistently reaching unprecedented maximum temperatures after ~1990 AD." Their use of the word "unprecedented," however, is a bit misleading; for they subsequently state that "the SST increase over the last three decades does not, or not 'yet', appear unusual compared to the entire 0-2.4 ka record," and that "the warming trend over the second half of the 20th century has not yet reverted the late Holocene millennial-scale cooling." In fact, their data clearly indicate that the peak temperature of the Medieval Warm Period was approximately 2.2°C greater than the peak temperature of the late 20th century, and that the peak temperature of the Roman Warm Period was about 2.7°C greater than that of the late 20th century. 

The fact that the warmest portions of the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods in the vicinity of the northeast Atlantic were so much warmer than the warmest portion of the Current Warm Period - and at times when the air's CO2 content was so much less than it is currently - strongly suggests that the atmosphere's CO2 concentration had little to no impact on the late-Holocene climatic history of that part of the planet. 

So what was responsible for the oscillating temperatures of the surface waters of the northeast Atlantic Ocean? The three Dutch researchers say that "pervasive multidecadal- to centennial-scale variability throughout the sedimentary proxy records can be partly attributed to solar forcing and/or variable heat extraction from the surface ocean caused by shifts in the prevailing state of the North Atlantic Oscillation," as well as to "internal (unforced) fluctuations." Hence, there would appear to be little need to blame the current high (relatively speaking) atmospheric CO2 concentration for the current low (relatively speaking with respect to the entire 2400-year period) temperature of the northeast Atlantic.

New review concludes global warming often decreases temperature extremes

Full report available here

One of the projected negative consequences of global warming is a concomitant increase in climatic variability, including more frequent hot weather events. It is a relatively easy matter to either substantiate or refute such claims by examining trends in extreme temperatures over the past century or so; because if global warming has truly been occurring at an unprecedented rate over the past hundred years, as climate alarmists claim it has, temperature variability and extreme temperature events should be increasing, according to them. In prior summaries we have investigated this issue as it pertains to North AmericaEurope, and Asia. In the present review, we investigate how it pertains to other locations across the globe.

The review concludes,

Contrary to the contention of the IPCC, therefore, real-world data from various locations around the world, as described above, demonstrate that global warming is often accompanied by a  decrease in temperature extremes, which for agriculture is generally a positive development.

New paper finds southeastern US has cooled over past 112 years

A new paper published in Climate Dynamics finds "Portions of the southern and southeastern United States, primarily Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, have experienced century-long (1895–2007) downward air temperature trends that occur in all seasons."

The 20th century cooling trend over the southeastern United States

Jeffery C. Rogers

The 20th century cooling trend over the southeastern United States Portions of the southern and southeastern United States, primarily Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, have experienced century-long (1895–2007) downward air temperature trends that occur in all seasons. Superimposed on them are shifts in mean temperatures on decadal scales characterized by alternating warm (1930s–1940s, 1990s) and cold (1900s; 1960s–1970s) regimes. Regional atmospheric circulation and SST teleconnection indices, station-based cloud cover and soil moisture (Palmer drought severity index) data are used in stepwise multiple linear regression models. These models identify predictors linked to observed winter, summer, and annual Southeastern air temperature variability, the observed variance (r2) they explain, and the resulting prediction and residual time series. Long-term variations and trends in tropical Pacific sea temperatures, cloud cover, soil moisture and the North Atlantic and Arctic oscillations account for much of the air temperature downtrends. Soil moisture and cloud cover are the primary predictors of 59.6 % of the observed summer temperature variance. While the teleconnections, cloud cover and moisture data account for some of the annual and summer Southeastern cooling trend, large significant downward trending residuals remain in winter and summer. Comparison is made to the northeastern United States where large twentieth century upward air temperature trends are driven by cloud cover increases and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) variability. Differences between the Northeastern warming and the Southeastern cooling trends in summer are attributable in part to the differing roles of cloud cover, soil moisture, the Arctic Oscillation and the AMO on air temperatures of the 2 regions.

More evidence of alarmist bias at Wikipedia: Review paper finds periods of ice-free summers in Arctic during early Holocene

A paper published in Quaternary Science Reviews reviews several studies of Arctic sea ice during the Holocene [the past 12,000 years] and finds,

"Arctic sea ice cover was strongly reduced during most of the early Holocene; there appears even to have been periods of ice free summers in large parts of the central Arctic Ocean (Fig. 2)."

Wikipedia, edited by activists such as William Connolley, falsely claims,
"There is currently no scientific evidence that a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean existed anytime in the last 700,000 years, although there were periods when the Arctic was warmer than it is today."

Periods of low sea ice are shown in dark green. Horizontal axis is thousands of years before the present.

New insights on Arctic Quaternary climate variability from palaeo-records and numerical modelling

  • Martin JakobssonaCorresponding author contact informationE-mail the corresponding author
  • Antony Longb
  • Ólafur Ingólfssonc
  • Kurt H. Kjærd
  • Robert F. Spielhagene
  • a Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
  • b Department of Geography, Durham University, Science Site, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
  • c Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, Is-101 Reykjavik, Iceland
  • d Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5-7, DK-1350 Copenhagen, Denmark
  • e Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Literature, Mainz, and Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, IFM-GEOMAR, Wischhofstr. 1-3, D-24148 Kiel, Germany
Terrestrial and marine geological archives in the Arctic contain information on environmental change through Quaternary interglacial–glacial cycles. The Arctic Palaeoclimate and its Extremes (APEX) scientific network aims to better understand the magnitude and frequency of past Arctic climate variability, with focus on the “extreme” versus the “normal” conditions of the climate system. One important motivation for studying the amplitude of past natural environmental changes in the Arctic is to better understand the role of this region in a global perspective and provide base-line conditions against which to explore potential future changes in Arctic climate under scenarios of global warming. In this review we identify several areas that are distinct to the present programme and highlight some recent advances presented in this special issue concerning Arctic palaeo-records and natural variability, including spatial and temporal variability of the Greenland Ice Sheet, Arctic Ocean sediment stratigraphy, past ice shelves and marginal marine ice sheets, and the Cenozoic history of Arctic Ocean sea ice in general and Holocene oscillations in sea ice concentrations in particular. The combined sea ice data suggest that the seasonal Arctic sea ice cover was strongly reduced during most of the early Holocene and there appear to have been periods of ice free summers in the central Arctic Ocean. This has important consequences for our understanding of the recent trend of declining sea ice, and calls for further research on causal links between Arctic climate and sea ice
full paper available here

Muller's latest BEST stuff is the worst so far

Ex climate sceptic' Muller's latest BEST stuff is the worst so far

Non-partisan' group abandons pretence of neutrality

Analysis Richard Muller's Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project, which began with goodwill from all corners of the climate debate, has made a series of bold announcements (without benefit of peer review) to the effect that global warming is definitely serious and definitely caused by humans. This has aroused derision among formerly supportive climate sceptics, caused an eminent climatologist to abandon the project, and even drawn criticism from generally alarmism-sympathetic media commentators.

Muller, professor of physics at UC Berkeley, is often regarded as a climate sceptic because he has frequently criticised the techniques used by climate scientists in the past and because he accepted funding for BEST from libertarian oil billionaire Charles Koch. When BEST launched in the wake of Climategate, it vowed to be "an independent, non-political, non-partisan group", with Muller promising that "there will be no spin, whatever we find". Critics of the existing temperature establishment, including well known sceptics Anthony Watts and Doug Keenan, welcomed it.
However each announcement has been aggressively trialled in the press not only before the peer review process had judged them ready for publication - which may not be a major issue - but also before anyone outside the BEST project could examine the papers at all. This requires the ordinary reader to take BEST's accompanying press releases on blind faith - which is not a barrier for some journalists, but is far short of acceptable practice. (The publicity is handled by Muller's daughter Elizabeth, who is the actual executive director of BEST. Ms Muller holds degrees in Literature and International Management, and has worked as a consultant in such fields as e-government, "profitable sustainability" and government energy policy. In fact she still does, alongside her work at BEST.)

BEST renewed its science-by-release offensive last week, including an ambitious assertion that Prof Muller could attribute warming to the specific cause of carbon emissions by curve fitting (capturing the trend in the data by assigning a single mathematical function across the entire range).

Now an independent expert who peer-reviewed one of the four new BEST journal submissions has published his comments. The BEST team stated that the paper had not been rejected by peer review and no major flaws had been discovered. This does not appear to be true: the Journal of Geophysical Research ended up rejecting the BEST paper on UHI (Urban Heat Island) effects.

Last September, Ross McKitrick - an associate professor of economics - was asked by the geophysical research journal to review the BEST heat-island paper, which had been submitted to the journal. McKitrick is the economist whose statistical analysis, with Steve McIntyre, of a well-publicised temperature reconstruction led to Congressional hearings in 2006. These hearings endorsed McKitrick and McIntyre's work and raised serious questions about the conduct of the paleoclimate science community.

McKitrick was asked last year to review BEST's approach to grappling with the UHI (Urban Heat Island) effect. It's fair to say he wasn't impressed.

McKitrick said he had discovered "serious shortcomings" in BEST's methods and said "their analysis does not establish valid grounds for the conclusions they assert." He continues: "I suggested the authors be asked to undertake a major revision."

McKitrick's reports are here and here, as short PDFs.

The second comment is worth taking the time to read, as new research using a much more comprehensive classification system puts the lack of rigour in dealing with the UHI effect in the spotlight. BEST appears to replicate the lack of rigour, and worse, appears not to care overmuch:
In their Journal of Geophysical Research submission, the BEST team writes:

"We are not asserting that surface temperature data are unaffected by urbanization, but that a global average based on data that includes stations that may have warmed due to urbanization is not significantly different to one based only on stations that are assumed not to contain urban effects."
McKitrick comments, rather acidly:
I suspect that any reasonable reader, upon completing the paper, would be startled to learn that the authors did not intend to assert that surface temperature data are unaffected by urbanization. I think the above sentence was meant to say something like: “We are not claiming there are no contaminating influences in individual locations, only that they are too small and isolated to affect the global average.” 

Unfortunately the whole issue is whether their methodology reliably supports this conclusion, and in this draft they have done nothing to deal with the evidence that it does not, instead they simply assumed the problems away.
Muller also made the claim that he was a former climate skeptic, which was rapidly disputed.
"If [Al Gore] reaches more people and convinces the world that global warming is real, even if he does it through exaggeration and distortion — which he does, but he’s very effective at it — then let him fly any plane he wants," Muller told climate activist website Grist in October 2008, rather undermining his claim to be sceptical or even impartial at that point.

All this leaves much of the press, including the New York Times - which indulged Muller by giving him an op-ed space last week to announce his latest results - with some explaining to do.

This seems to have been acknowledged even by the New York Times Malthusian-in-Residence, Andy Revkin, a very widely read environment columnist who is generally sympathetic to the warmist position. Revkin wasn't impressed with the Mullers' "PT Barnum showmanship".

Meanwhile, the most distinguished co-author of the early BEST papers last year has declined to be involved in the latest. Dr Judith Curry, Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and President of Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN), describes the work as "oversimplistic and not at all convincing in my opinion".
There's a critical analysis by two early participants in BEST, writing in a personal capacity, on Curry's blog, here.

The BEST team uses some interesting techniques, such as kriging – estimating values at locations which haven't been sampled by using a weighted average of neighbouring samples to estimate the 'unknown' value at a given location, so named for geostatistics pioneer Danie Krige – to compensate for sampling biases in station coverage.

The team also examines more stations than existing temperature series. However, BEST fails to use the latest, and more comprehensive, WMO standard for station quality, which results in low quality data. And it's limited, by design, to ignore satellite and sea readings – thus ignoring most of the Earth, which is mostly covered by water.

All in all, it would seem that BEST's stated goal - to produce absolutely undisputable climate data and science, for all that this would mean a regrettable absence of simple, clear soundbites - has been abandoned. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Polar bears have endured 'extreme shifts in climate' over past 5 million years

According to a new study, polar bears arose about 4 to 5 million years ago, when the climate was about 5C warmer than the present, "around the same time when, some scientists believe, the Arctic’s thick sea ice first formed," and implying "that the species weathered extreme shifts in climate."
Graph from Jo Nova shows temperature over the past 5 million years

Genetic blueprints suggest the animals arose millions of years ago
Web edition : Monday, July 23rd, 2012
  Text Size
Polar bears split from brown bears 4 million to 5 million years ago, a new study finds. That means that the species weathered extreme shifts in climate.Uryadnikov Sergey/Shutterstock
The polar bear has been around for a surprisingly long time. A new analysis of its DNA suggests that Ursus maritimus split from the brown bear between 4 million and 5 million years ago — around the same time when, some scientists believe, the Arctic’s thick sea ice first formed.

With such old origins, the creature must have weathered extreme shifts in climate, researchers report online July 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Simulations of how the DNA changed over time suggest that polar bear populations rose and fell with the temperature. After thriving during cooler times between 800,000 and 600,000 years ago, the bears seem to have suffered a genetic bottleneck and crashed after a warmer period that started about 420,000 years ago.

Whether the Arctic icon will survive today’s rapid warming remains an open question. [Note: the current warm period is not accelerated nor unprecedented] “Even if this species has for sure experienced dramatic climatic changes before, that does not mean it’s safe today,” says Charlotte Lindqvist, an evolutionary biologist at the University at Buffalo in New York.

Lindqvist and colleagues had previously dated the emergence of the polar bear to no more than 150,000 years ago (SN: 3/27/10, p. 14). But that research relied on a single fossil containing mitochondrial DNA, genetic material inherited from the mother. In April, the origin was pushed back to 600,000 years ago by Frank Hailer, an evolutionary biologist at the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt (SN: 5/19/12, p. 12). His team examined more than 9,000 letters in nuclear DNA (derived from both parents) of modern bears.

The new study provides an even clearer picture, says Lindqvist, because it looks at the entire genetic blueprints of 23 modern polar bears.  Lindqvist and colleagues spelled out more than 2.5 billion letters in the creatures’ nuclear DNA and identified more than 13 million points of comparison.

But the date in the new study was calibrated using the rate at which mutations appear in the DNA of primates, Hailer says. “They’re assuming that the genetic clock in bears ticks at the same pace as that in primates.”

Even as it establishes an ancient pedigree for the polar bear, the new research blurs the lines between the species and its darker cousins. Isolated brown bears living in Alaska’s Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof islands share between 5 and 10 percent of their DNA with polar bears, Lindqvist’s team found. A previous study found that ancient brown bears in Ireland also shared much mitochondrial DNA with their comrades to the north.

So although polar bears and brown bears separated long ago, they seem to get together every now and then for a fling — perhaps when the weather warms, sending polar bears southward and brown bears northward. And that interbreeding may in itself be a threat.

“If you get more and more hybridization, you may lose whatever makes polar bears special,” says Ceiridwen Edwards, a geneticist at the University of Oxford in England.

New paper shows Antarctic temperatures haven't increased over past 500 years

A paper published today in Climate of the Past shows no increase in temperature of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica over the 536 year period from 1470-2006. The paper, based upon a temperature proxy from stable isotopes of deuterium [δD] in ice cores, finds that the Little Ice Age prior to 1850 was about 1.6C cooler than the last 150 years. Smoothed proxy temperatures at the beginning of the ice core record in 1470 indicate slightly higher temperatures than at the end of the record in 2006. Climate alarmists claim the poles are the "canaries in the coal mine" and warm the fastest, however, this data shows Antarctica, home of 90% of the world's ice, has not warmed over the past 500+ years.
from the paper, page 1228
Proxy temperature records from Ross Ice Shelf ice core δD [deuterium isotope] relative to the 1950-2006 mean. The record shows several cooling periods identified with letters A-E and shows smoothed proxy temperatures at the beginning of the record in 1470 were slightly higher than in 2006. 
Full paper available here

Clim. Past, 8, 1223-1238, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Little Ice Age climate and oceanic conditions of the Ross Sea, Antarctica from a coastal ice core record

R. H. Rhodes1,2,*, N. A. N. Bertler1,2, J. A. Baker3, H. C. Steen-Larsen4, S. B. Sneed5, U. Morgenstern2, and S. J. Johnsen4
1Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington, 6140, New Zealand
2GNS Science, National Ice Core Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 30-368, Lower Hutt, 5040, New Zealand
3School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand
4Centre for Ice and Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
5Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
*present address: College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

 Abstract. Increasing paleoclimatic evidence suggests that the Little Ice Age (LIA) was a global climate change event. Understanding the forcings and associated climate system feedbacks of the LIA is made difficult by the scarcity of Southern Hemisphere paleoclimate records. We use a new glaciochemical record of a coastal ice core from Mt. Erebus Saddle, Antarctica, to reconstruct atmospheric and oceanic conditions in the Ross Sea sector of Antarctica over the past five centuries. The LIA is identified in stable isotope (δD) and lithophile element records, which respectively demonstrate that the region experienced 1.6 ± 1.4 °C cooler average temperatures prior to 1850 AD than during the last 150 yr and strong (>57 m s−1) prevailing katabatic winds between 1500 and 1800 AD. Al and Ti concentration increases of an order of magnitude (>120 ppb Al) are linked to enhanced aeolian transport of complex silicate minerals and represent the strongest katabatic wind events of the LIA. These events are associated with three 12–30 yr intervals of cooler temperatures at ca. 1690 AD, 1770 AD and 1840 AD. Furthermore, ice core concentrations of the biogenic sulphur species MS suggest that biological productivity in the Ross Sea polynya was ~80% higher prior to 1875 AD than at any subsequent time. We propose that cooler Antarctic temperatures promoted stronger katabatic winds across the Ross Ice Shelf, resulting in an enlarged Ross Sea polynya during the LIA.

 Final Revised Paper (PDF, 4058 KB)   Supplement (559 KB)   Discussion Paper (CPD)   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another broken hockey stick: New paper finds ocean temps were warmer during multiple periods over past 2700 years & current warming within natural variability

A paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters finds that sea surface temperatures [SSTs] in the Southern Okinawa Trough off the coast of China were warmer than the present during the Minoan Warm Period 2700 years ago, the Roman Warm Period 2000 years ago, and the Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period 1400 years ago. According to the authors, "Despite an increase since 1850 AD, the mean [sea surface temperature] in the 20th century is still within the range of natural variability during the past 2700 years." In addition, the paper shows the rate of warming in the Minoan, Roman, Medieval, and Sui-Tang dynasty warm periods was much faster than in the current warming period since the Little Ice Age. The paper finds "A close correlation of SST in Southern Okinawa Trough with air temperature in East China, intensity of East Asian monsoon and the El-Niño Southern Oscillation index has been attributed to the fluctuations in solar output and oceanic-atmospheric circulation," which corroborates other papers demonstrating that the climate is highly sensitive to tiny changes in solar activity. The paper adds to the peer-reviewed publications of over a thousand scientists showing that the current warm period is well within the range of natural variability and is not unprecedented, not accelerated, and not unusual in any respect. 
Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperatures [SSTs] over the past 2700 years. The Minoan, Roman {RWP],   & Sui-Tang dynasty [STWP] warm periods were all warmer than the current warm period [CWP]. The Dark Ages Cold Period [DACP] and Little Ice Age [LIA] are also shown.
Key Points
  • The 20th century warming in SOT is still within variability of late Holocene
  • A strong coupling of KC, EAM and ENSO exists in late Holocene
  • MWP has a mean SST lower than RWP and STWP in Okinawa Trough
Weichao Wu
MOE Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
Wenbing Tan
MOE Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
Liping Zhou
MOE Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
Center for Ocean Studies, Peking University, Beijing, China
Huan Yang
Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology of Ministry of Education, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China
Yunping Xu
MOE Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
Center for Ocean Studies, Peking University, Beijing, China
Most of the temperature reconstructions for the past two millennia are based on proxy data from various sites on land. Here we present a bidecadal resolution record of sea surface temperature (SST) in Southern Okinawa Trough for the past ca. 2700 years by analyzing tetraether lipids of planktonic archaea in the ODP Hole 1202B, a site under the strong influence of Kuroshio Current and East Asian monsoon. The reconstructed SST anomalies generally coincided with previously reported late Holocene climate events, including the Roman Warm Period, Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period, Current Warm Period, Dark Age Cold Period and Little Ice Age. However, the Medieval Warm Period usually thought to be a historical analogue for the Current Warm Period has a mean SST of 0.6–0.8°C lower than that of the Roman Warm Period and Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period. Despite an increase since 1850 AD, the mean SST in the 20th century is still within the range of natural variability during the past 2700 years. A close correlation of SST in Southern Okinawa Trough with air temperature in East China, intensity of East Asian monsoon and the El-Niño Southern Oscillation index has been attributed to the fluctuations in solar output and oceanic-atmospheric circulation.

Attorney analyzes Michael Mann's frivolous legal threats

New SLAAPstick Courtroom Capers as Michael Mann Falls Foul Again

Media war of words erupts in anticipation of another global warming courtroom battle. We take time to see how latest events connected to Climategate’s controversial scientist Michael Mann stack up alongside Mann’s legal shoot out versus Dr. Tim Ball.
Last week Pennsylvania State University (PSU) popped back up on the notoriety radar thanks to lingering fallout over their jailed child sex felon, football coach Jerry Sandusky. PSU’s other alleged  bad boy, climatologist Michael Mann, came out with all legal guns blazing after popular right-wing writer, Mark Steynand the National Review wrote of the parallels in the “whitewashes” PSU investigations performed separately on Sandusky and Mann. The recent and hard-hitting Freeh Report is damning of PSU’s hierarchy.
With talk of more lawsuits flying, observers are now wondering how an earlier Michael Mann face off with Tim Ball is shaping up one year on. Readers may recall that Ball’s whimsy that Mann belongs in “the State Pen., not Penn. State”triggered the first of what now may become a series of desperate SLAAP lawsuits.
You might imagine plenty must have transpired by now up there in the British Columbia Supreme Court. But you would be wrong. Mann’s zeal for pressing home his action against his fellow climatologist appears to have waned. Some observers are even of the opinion that Mann is delaying the inevitable until Ball slaps one home between the pipes.
Today – despite being duly served with legal notices – Steyn and the National Review are taking a leaf from Ball’s book and not caving over their “Football and Hockey” article. Steyn has a reputation for being a tough enforcer capable of lighting the lamp in any SLAAP face off. So is Mann skating on thin ice with more time wasting dangles and dekes?
Steyn and others will no doubt take note of how Mann’s prevarications over Ball suggest he has finally realized he’s dug himself a humungous hole. I’m one of many who believes the Mann-v- Ball case will turn out to be a watershed moment for Mann. It’s most likely he will be compelled by the court to disclose his “dirty laundry” (as Mann, himself, refers to his hidden data in his Climategate email). If the hidden numbers are as bad as skeptics suggest then none of his friends in high places can save him.
So Steyn should take with a pinch of salt the “warning shot” from Mann’s lawyer claiming that a slew of official investigations “cleared” Mann of any wrongdoing in the 2009 Climategate scandal. Such claims are not what they seem.
Andrew Montford (read his ‘Caspar and Jesus’ paper)  is one such expert who deftly explains that those (non-judicial) “Climategate” inquiries fell well short of robust exoneration. This is because they all skirted around the unscientific behavior concerning Mann’s key hidden data. Unfortunately, for Mann he has made himself the plaintiff in this Canadian libel suit and cannot now duck the issue.
In the B.C. Supreme Court Ball’s attorney, Michael Scherr, has a clear run to perfectly demonstrate how climate “scientists” have been (and still are) withholding data that would help to resolve the climate controversy; we may say unscientific behavior, because hiding data makes it difficult or impossible for independent scientists/statisticians to replicate the claimed results.
As we know, Mann’s “dirty laundry” is the withheld r-squared correlation coefficient numbers for the “hockey stick” graph which McIntyre, Wegman,Cuccinelli and others have been desperate to see publicly examined but which Mann (and his university employers) have always kept under wraps. It’s not just the key evidence, but also Mann’s days that are numbered. This is because, as plaintiff in the action, Mann picked the worst possible jurisdiction to do legal battle over his “hockey stick” graph. This is for two key reasons:
(1.) The “Truth Defense” to Libel
Canadian courts offer the defendant in a libel lawsuit the unique opportunity to pursue the “truth defense.“ Ball has sagely opted to pursue that path rather than, for example, the “fair comment” defense. This is because the “truth defense” places a higher – more onerous – evidential burden on the parties. This means any and all evidence demanded by either party in the ongoing discovery process must be revealed. So effective can the “truth defense” be that some cynics refer to it as the “scorched earth” defense.
(2.) “Spoliation”: The Intentional Withholding/Destruction of Evidence
Since 2008 we can give thanks that Canada has beefed up it’s due process laws to punish litigants that intentionally withhold or destroy evidence (e.g. seeMcDougall v. Black & Decker Canada Inc.,[1.]). This means that Mann’s lawyer,Roger McConchie, cannot persist in indefinitely stalling over compliance with Ball’s motion to hand over those “hockey stick” r-squared correlation coefficient numbers.
Purposely prevaricating and failing to comply with this disclosure demand renders this omission to act a willful contempt of court (“intentional spoliation”) with serious repercussions. As such, due process rules entitle Ball to file a motion demanding the imposition of [a] punitive sanction[s]. Note: this is not discretionary but mandatory upon the court.
Such sanction[s] may include summary dismissal of Mann’s case with prejudice or, in the alternative; the court may grant what is termed an adverse inference jury instruction. This is a binding direction on jurors that they must find that Mann “intentionally spoliated” the evidence of the r-squared correlation coefficient numbers (i.e. with a sense of guilt Mann unlawfully withheld/destroyed his metadata).
(3.) A Legal Analysis
Be advised that as of July last year I have not assisted Dr. Ball in any way in this case so my opinion should not construed as necessarily the same as his or his counsel’s and we’ve had no discussions on the matter since. But to my mind neither of the above outcomes bodes well for Mann in other jurisdictions with regard to any possible subsequent legal proceedings. Firstly, this is because dismissal with prejudice will destroy what little remains of Mann’s credibility – even though he may get to keep his numbers hidden; while the second outcome sets a compelling and unequivocal international legal precedent  in other common law jurisdictions (i.e. U.S., U.K. Australia, N.Z). For example, a prosecutor in Virginia may then apply any such a Mann-v-Ball Canadian judgment as proof of Mann’s guilt to conspire to commit climate data fraud.
My guess is that Mann will go with the first option and let Ball win the libel suit without having to disclose the “dirty laundry.” But this outcome may only serve to buy Mann a little more time. But that’s probably the best he can do hereon in.
(4.) Case Background
Michael Mann apologists appear not to understand the issue. A brief summary of the historic background is thus helpful. Mann’s hockey stick graph first appeared to worldwide fanfare in 2001 when it became the battle flag for global warming crusaders of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It’s a 1,000-year  proxy (tree ring) reconstruction of past climates (proxies are used because thermometer records only go back 150 years). The controversy over Mann’s hockey stick graph is less a climatology question, but more an issue of plain, black and white statistical analysis. Thus any claim that only climatologists are “qualified” to weigh the matter is bogus. JoNova has an excellent article addressing the basics here.
Mann’s tree-ring proxy graph purported to prove modern temperatures were dangerously warmer than previous eras. Mann’s number-crunching had somehow managed to do away with the balmy Medieval Warm Period (WMP). Bizarrely, the IPCC immediately bought into Mann’s graph and quietly dropped their original version from 1995 with no explanation whatsoever.
IPCC Presentation of the Medieval Warm Period from their 1995 Report
IPCC Presentation of the Medieval Warm Period from their 1995 Report
Unusually, Mann refused to disclose key calculations for his flat-handled, uptick-bladed graph thus blocking independent scientists from fully checking their reliability. However, it wasn’t long before Michael Mann’s published work was falsified by McIntyre & McKittrick. McIntyre also destroyed Mann08, in which Mann used the Tiljander proxy – known to be corrupted [2.]
IPCC Replacement Presentation - Mann's Version of the MWP (2001)
IPCC Replacement Presentation – Mann’s Version of the MWP (2001)
Retired Canadian statistician, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, an economics professor at the University of Guelph (M&M) thus came to the fore as the key critics of Mann’s methodology. Together they uncovered fatal flaws in both Mann’s statistical analysis and data interpretation. In 2005 this led M&M to publish a paper explaining the problems in Geophysical Research Letters.What was proven was that Mann’s methodology would generate a hockey stick regardless of almost any data input. This was because Mann numbers had been generating “Spectral noise,” One satirist, “Iowahawk” provided a primer on how to create a hockey stick at home, using a standard spreadsheet program.
Defenders of Mann claim that even if there are problems with his method or data set independent results from other researchers back him up. But as Andrew Montford’s ‘Caspar and Jesus’ study demonstrates, those third party statistical efforts to vindicate Mann actually raise more questions than they answer. But so much focus has been on Mann that his co-author of the hockey stick graph, Keith Briffa has managed to evade the same level of scrutiny. But as
McIntyre showed, Briffa was no less culpable. Briffa had claimed to have independent Eurasian tree-ring analysis that confirmed Mann’s results. But what he offered from the Polar Urals and Eurasian data from Yamal led to even greater suspicion because leaked Climategate emails proved Briffa’s claims about these were unreliable. Emails proved Briffa had been telling one story in public but another privately. A criminal prosecution was only averted due a technicality over the statute of limitations. British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) confirmed that the UK’s University of East Anglia at the center of Climategate scandal had indeed  unlawfully withheld and/or destroyed data. Further McIntyre examinations proved thatBriffa’s Polar Urals update would not show a hockey stick shape graph at all.
Absent a full release of all the evidence (which governments and university authorities appear not to want) the evidence in the public domain points to a clique of climatologists that conspired to cherry-pick tree ring data. It appears their purpose was to be bolster “evidence” for their belief of unprecedented warmth in our modern era due to human emissions of carbon dioxide.
Briffa and others secretly accepted that the data from modern tree ring analysis showed a poor match with temperatures. So if there is was poor reliability when compared with modern temperatures it is reasonable to infer that any conclusions drawn from them before the pre-thermometer era would also be unreliable.
What this means is that there is no persuasive proxy evidence from trees to substantiate Mann’s hockey stick graph – more precisely – there is no blade to Mann’s stick.
What does this all mean? For certain, bristlecone pines and larches are not accurate thermometers. Also, climatologists who persist in hiding their statistical data from independent review should no longer be given the benefit of the doubt and their findings should be treated with extreme caution.
If the British Columbia Supreme Court rules against Michael Mann and in favor of Tim Ball then there is a strong likelihood that Mann’s conduct in the tree ring controversy was malevolent. As such, it becomes increasingly likely he and others will face criminal investigation.
[1.] McDougall v. Black & Decker Canada, Inc.; 2008 ABCA 353; October 2008
[2.] McIntyre, S., McKitrick, The M&M Project: Replication Analysis of the Mann et al. Hockey Stick; (accessed online: July 25, 2012)

See also Steve Goddard's History of how the hockey stick was manufactured