Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category


Barack Obama: Glaciologist

September 6, 2015

The avid outdoors-man and eminent scientist, Barack Obama, has been trekking through Alaska lately.  He is lamenting the demise of the great glaciers of the North.  He is surely grieving over the harm that man is inflicting on the planet by spewing his toxic CO2.  The Washington Post reports

Standing near the foot of the Exit Glacier, which has receded 1.25 miles since 1815 and 187 feet last year alone, Obama said “this is as good of a signpost of what we’re dealing with it comes to climate change as just about anything.”

The man certainly has a way with words – a true poet.

I guess we are supposed to be alarmed because 187 feet per year is a lot faster than 1.25 miles per 200 years.  After all, 1.25 miles in 200 years averages out to only 33 feet per year.  The message we are supposed to get is that the Exit Glacier is receding about 6 times faster now than its average over the last 200 years.  This, of course, is due to the CO2 that vile humans use to poison the atmosphere and it means endless and escalating disaster unless we socialize the economy of the world.

But what does the National Park service say about the retreat rate of Exit Glacier? The following table of retreat distances and rates comes from the National Park Service’s “The Retreat of Exit Glacier.” Annotation in red was added by me.

Exit glacier retreat annotatedSo, this data confirms Obama’s assertion that the Exit Glacier has retreated 1.25 miles in the last 200 years.  But it also makes it quite clear that it was retreating as fast, or faster, 100 years ago.

If CO2 is the culprit today, what was the culprit 100 years ago?  The following graph shows the amount of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere as a function of time going back to 1750.  The data comes from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  I made the plot and added the annotation. It’s kind of hard to explain why the retreat rate was so much greater in the past when there was less than 10% of the anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 than there is today.  Perhaps Professor Obama will elucidate.

anthro atmos carbonMy wife and I were up in Alaska a few years ago, and we also visited some some of those receding glaciers.  At Glacier Bay National Park, which is several hundred miles southeast of Exit Glacier, I happened to pick up a park pamphlet that had the following series of illustrations showing the glacier extents in the park going back to 1680.

glacier bay extents v3The first thing that jumps out at you is the rapid ice advance between 1680 and 1750 and the subsequent retreat between 1750 and 1880.  The pamphlet said

“The Little Ice Age came and went quickly by geologic measures.  By 1750 the glacier reached its maximum, jutting into Icy Strait.  But when Capt. George Vancouver sailed here 45 years later, the glacier had melted back five miles into Glacier Bay – which it had gouged out.”

As an aside, a co-worker once told me that the Little Ice Age was not a global phenomenon, but rather, local to Europe.  He cited the Union of Concerned Scientists as the source of this insight.  But there it is, in Alaska!

It is hard to argue with the Union of Concerned Scientists because they’re, well, scientists.  Not just anybody can be a Concerned Scientist.  You have to send a check first.  My wife used to send a check years ago, but it was from our joint account so I figure I was only half a Concerned Scientist then.  Now I guess I am just a wholly unconcerned scientist.

IMG_1546 v2Anyway, Obama was getting excited about 1.25 miles of glacier recession since 1815, and a whopping 187 feet in the last year.  That pamphlet that I mentioned also had a large map of the Glacier Bay area marking the location of the various glaciers back to 1760. It’s easy to string the locations together and calculate the recession rate of these glaciers.  The image at the left  shows the map as I marked it out for Grand Pacific Glacier. (Click to enlarge.)

I have plotted the distance as a function of time for three glacier routes using this crude method.   As you can see below, these glaciers have receded at a much faster rate than Exit Glacier.  But Exit Glacier and the Glacier Bay National Park glaciers have one thing common:  they all retreated at their maximum rate back when anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 levels were very low compared to today.

Glacier retreatLet’s take a closer look at the Grand Pacific Glacier.  John J. Clague and S. G. Evans (J. of Glaciology)  used various data sources to plot the retreat of the Grand Pacific Glacier.  I have converted their data to miles and overlaid it with my coarser data from the map. The Clague data and the map data agree nicely, but the Clague data fills in some of the gaps.  The most interesting point is that like Exit Glacier, the retreat rate for the Grand Pacific Glacier was greatest around the last part of the 19th century. In fact, the Clague data may indicate that the Grand Pacific Glacier was slightly progressing, not retreating, during most of the 20th century.

Grand Pacific Glacier retreatIt is pretty clear that the Grand Pacific Glacier was retreating fastest around 1860.  Where is that on the anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 timeline?  The graph below shows that the anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 level was only about 2% of today’s level when the Grand Pacific Glacier was retreating at its fastest by far!

CO2 and Grand PacificHow is that possible???????  I thought it was high CO2 levels that caused the glaciers to recede.


A new round of Antarctic ice alarm

March 28, 2015

The alarm of a catastrophic meltdown of the Antarctic cycles up and down every year or two.  A journal article says the rate of melt is increasing, the popular press picks up on it and breathlessly warns about huge sea level rises sinking coastal cities around the world. We are told that x number of gigatonnes of ice per year are being dumped off the continent and wreaking their havoc on the world.   Then another study says “not so fast,” the mass losses aren’t that great after all.  Or, some crazy old skeptics ruin all the fun by recklessly bringing some logic to the discussion.

Today we have “Volume loss from Antarctic ice shelves is accelerating” (Paolo, et. al., Science, 2015).  The abstract warns us

“Overall, average ice-shelf volume change accelerated from negligible loss at 25 ± 64 km3 per year for 1994-2003 to rapid loss of 310 ± 74 km3 per year for 2003-2012.”

310 km3 per year (roughly the same as 310 gigatonnes per year) is pretty high compared to most other estimates. So you will probably see many references to this number because the bigger and scarier the more the press likes it.  But for the more sober minded, consider the following comparison of ice loss estimates from “Ice sheet mass balance and climate change” (Hanna, et. al., Nature, 2013)

Various estimates of ice mass change in the antarctic

Various estimates of ice mass change in the Antarctic

How does the recent Science paper compare?  If we place it on estimate plots from Hanna’s paper it would look like this..

Ice sheet mass balance and climate change - Hanna - Nature - 2013 v4

The Paolo Nature paper is an outlier.  But lets take them at their word.  They say that the Antarctic, on average, shed about 300 more Gigatonnes of ice per year during the 2003 to 2012 period than during the 1994 to 2003 period.  Where did all this ice go?  In to the oceans, of course.  That is why we have the great sea level rise scare.

So it follows that the sea level should have been rising faster during the 2003 to 2012 period than during the 1994 to 2003 year period.  How much faster?  Well, every gigatonne of water dumped into the oceans raises the sea level by about 2.78 microns. So 300 gigatonnes of extra water per year would raise the sea levels about an extra 840 microns a year, or about an extra 0.84 mm per year.  We are told that satellite data indicates that the global sea level is rising about 3 mm per year.  0.84 mm per year is a significant fraction of 3 mm per year, so such a rate increase should really stand out in the sea level rise data..

Well, here is some of that satellite sea level rise data…

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This discussion has been about ice that is moving from the land to the sea and raising the sea level.  But let’s take a quick moment to look at the sea ice that surrounds Antarctica.  While this ice does not contribute to changes in the sea level, it does say something about the conditions in that area.

seaice_anomaly_antarctic - Cryosphere Today 150328

Do you see a trend?  I see a trend.  And I know there are variety of “just-so stories” to explain away this trend, but I am unconvinced.


Between 1994 and 2003 the average sea level rise rate was 3.77 mm/yr, according to satellite data (University of Colorado).  If the Antarctic were depositing an average of about 300 more gigatonnes of water in the ocean per year in the following years (2003 to 2012), then the average sea level rise rage from 2003 to 2012 should have increased by about 0.84 m/yr, to 4.61 mm/yr.

Instead, the average sea level rise rate from 2003 to 2012 dropped to 2.66 mm/yr.

The claim of a huge rise in ice loss from the Antarctic over this period is quite implausible.


Plain Speaking from John Coleman

October 22, 2014

John Coleman, co-founder of the Weather Channel, knows a thing or two about the climate.  He recently had plenty to say about global warming hysteria.  In an open letter to the UCLA Hammer Forum he said…

The ocean is not rising significantly. The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number. Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing). I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.

Here’s John explaining the basics…



Time to recognize approaching Southern Hemisphere disaster

December 26, 2013

I warned the world before, and they ignored me, but the evidence continues to mount. The Southern Hemisphere, and maybe the entire world, is headed for a frozen doom.

All day long polar orbiting satellites fly over the Antarctic and the surrounding ocean and measure the extent of the sea ice.  The amount of ice waxes and wanes with the seasons, ranging from about 2 to 16 million square kilometers between southern summer and winter.

Thirty years of this satellite data have made it possible to calculate the average ice extent for any given day of the year.  The deviation from this average is called the “anomaly.”  It is this anomaly data that reveals the impending drastic changes in the Southern Hemisphere.

Here is the anomaly data for the last three years from the University of Illinois’ Polar Research Group…

advance rate

The anomaly is increasing by half a million extra square kilometers every year!!! To put this in perspective, the Earth has a surface area of about 500 million square kilometers. Roughly speaking, an additional 1/1000th of the Earth’s surface is covered by ice each year. Consider that the Southern Hemisphere sea ice maxes out at about 16 million square kilometers each year, then 32 years of the current increase rate would double this amount.

By 2050, a mere 36 years from now, the ice encased Tierra Del Fuego on the southern tip of South America will replace Greenland as the most ironically named place on Earth.  By 2100 the dairy farms surrounding the town of Gore in the Southern Plains of the South Island of New Zealand will be a frozen mockery to the same-named purveyor of global warming alarmism.

Here is what is in store for the Southern Hemisphere…

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You can’t deny this.  This is science!  My conclusion is based on the proven analysis techniques of NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally.

Has the 21st century brought us to a tipping point?

All the best data indicates that a tipping point has already occurred.  Think about this: according to NOAA data (see here and here) 8 out of 10 years with greatest Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent have occurred since 2000!  Here they are in order…

  1. 9/14/13
  2. 9/24/12
  3. 9/24/06
  4. 9/24/09
  5. 9/29/05
  6. 9/28/00
  7. 9/8/04
  8. 9/29/07

We also now know that the all time low temperature for the Antarctic was reached in 2010.  Satellite data shows that on August 10th, 2010, the Antarctic temperature descended to 136 ºF (minus 93 ºC).  This shattered the previous record of minus 128.6 ºF (minus 89.2 ºC), set in 1983.

That is a drop in the minimum recorded temperature of 7.4 ºF in a mere 27 years.  If that continues, as indicated by Jay Zwally type analysis, then the low temperature by 2100 could be minus 159 ºF (minus 106 ºC)!!!

The effects are already being felt

It is now the warm season in the Southern Hemisphere.  Sea ice is making its seasonal retreat, yet the Russian cruise ship, Akademik Shokalskiy, is trapped in the sea ice with “52 tourists, scientists and explorers” and a crew of 22.  You would think the combined brains of all those scientists on board would have kept them out of the zone of freezing water.  While the ship’s brochure points out that “Views are excellent from the large, open decks and the Navigation Bridge'” maybe they couldn’t see the ice coming from the vantage point of the “Lounge and bar, open late afternoon and evening with a wide selection of wines and spirits” (an essential feature of all scientific research vessels).  Our prayers go out to the scientists and others on this harrowing adventure as ice breakers race to free them the frozen grip of the sea.  I hope the sauna stays warm and the booze holds out until they get there.

Why the great silence?

Where are the voices of leading scientists and environmentalists?  Why haven’t you seen anything about this impeding hemispheric disaster on the front pages of the news papers or on prime-time news reports?  A subsequent post will soon answer those questions and break this issue wide open.  

Stay tuned…


Michael Mann’s delusional fever

November 29, 2013
Michael Mann's fevered dream

Michael Mann’s fevered dream

Ever read the New York Times?  Wadda ya think, does it veer persistantly to the left?  Is the Pope Catholic?

Well, Michael Mann has been huffing and puffing at the Huffington Post that the New York Times has strayed from his approved dogmatism concerning global warming.  They dared to run an opinion piece by Richard Muller.

Richard Muller lives happily on the alarmist side of the road, but on occasion he lets his toes cross the dividing line, so that he can claim some credit for being open-minded.

In a recent op-ed he must have touched one of Mann’s extremely frayed nerves when he said…

“I worried that the famous “hockey stick” graph plotted by three American climatologists in the late 1990s portrayed the global warming curve with too much certainty and inappropriate simplicity.”

Ouch.  This was simply Muller’s demure way of stating the obvious. Of course, the main “American climatologist” who made this graph of “inappropriate simplicity” is none other than Michael Mann.  Muller’s soft punch of a statement seems to have left a big bruise on Mann’s sensitive ego.

Mann thinks The New York Times never should have let Muller engage in this attack on his crowning achievement.  But then the Times went even further and let the apostate spread even more heresy in a second op-ed about tornadoes.  Muller wrote

Despite the recent spate of deadly twisters, including those that tore through the Midwest over the weekend, the scientific evidence shows that strong to violent tornadoes have actually been decreasing for the past 58 years, and it is possible that the explanation lies with global warming…

I am not talking about global warming per se, which I am convinced is real and caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. But not everything attributed to global warming has a scientific basis…

So let’s consider only the most violent tornadoes, the ones in categories EF3 to EF5…

NOAA… shows that the number of these storms has been significantly decreasing over the past 58 years, from over 50 per year in the first half to under 40 per year in the second. The statistical significance of this decrease is extremely high: well above 99 percent confidence.

How dare Muller display such an attitude!

Mann is especially incensed that Muller quoted from an earlier HuffPost article which said…

Michael Mann, a climatologist who directs the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, agreed that it’s too early to tell.  “If one factor is likely to be favorable and the other is a wild card, it’s still more likely that the product of the two factors will be favorable,” said Mann. “Thus, if you’re a betting person — or the insurance or reinsurance industry, for that matter — you’d probably go with a prediction of greater frequency and intensity of tornadoes as a result of human-caused climate change.”

But Muller wrote

Michael E. Mann, a prominent climatologist, was only slightly more cautious. He said, “If you’re a betting person — or the insurance or reinsurance industry, for that matter — you’d probably go with a prediction of greater frequency and intensity of tornadoes as a result of human-caused climate change.”

Mann called this innocent contraction “sleight of hand.”  Touchy, touchy.

Mann uses his mighty reasoning powers to discern a conspiracy.  You can’t be too careful when even your friends are out to get you.  He warns us that this is ultimately the work of the Koch brothers, just like every other vile conspiracy against the goodness and light of global warming alarmism and the left in general.  (It used to be Dick Cheney and Halliburton, but I guess they must have passed the world control levers over to the Koch brothers.)  You see, Richard Muller now controls the New York Times, and the Koch brothers control Richard Muller.

Mann wraps his tin foil a little tighter and lectures…

The New York Times does a disservice to its readers when it buys into the contrived narrative of the “honest broker”–Muller as the self-styled white knight who must ride in to rescue scientific truth from a corrupt and misguided community of scientists. Especially when that white knight is in fact sitting atop a Trojan Horse–a vehicle for the delivery of disinformation, denial, and systematic downplaying of what might very well be the greatest threat we have yet faced as a civilization, the threat of human-caused climate change.

Shame on you New York Times. You owe us better than this.

You can get the full temperature of Mann’s paranoid delusional fever at his Huffington Post’s article, Something Is Rotten at the New York Times.


James Delingpole, please correct this mistake

November 23, 2013

The only thing that bugs me more than when climate alarmists get things wrong is when skeptics get it wrong.

A case in point is the assertion by James Delingpole that a recent volcano in Iceland put more CO2 into the atmosphere that all of human activity since 1950.

Delingpole is a vocal supporter of the skeptic community, and the fact the he has a widely viewed blog , writes for several publications and authored several books, all give his words wide dissemination.  The problem is that when a fence-sitter who is trying to make up his mind about the global warming issue realizes that somebody like Delingpole is asserting and defending an indefensible claim, well, that fence-sitter is likely to fall off the fence to the side of the alarmists.  This will happen even if Delingpole is correct on other points.  Fence-sitters don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to sort out and weigh all the arguments, and something like this can easily tip their judgement scales one way or the other.

Delingpole appeared as a guest on the Mike Rosen Show on Denver’s AM station KOA.  This is a 50,000 Watt station and tens of thousands of people probably heard this exchange.  Rosen is a pretty smart guy and usually nobody’s fool, but he let this bogus assertion slide by…

Audio version: Rosen/Delingpole 11/20/13 MP3

Rosen: 713-8585 our telephone number in Castle Rock. Cliff, you’re on 850 KOA. James Delingpole our guest. Hi Cliff.

Cliff: Mike and James, good morning.

Rosen: Morning

Delingpole: Hi Cliff.

Cliff: Hey, I finally think I have somebody who can actually answer this question.

Rosen: Alright.

Cliff: Ah, you know we’ve got, the greenies are all against cars and the exhaust, and you know, all this pollution that we put in the air. Ah, whats the equivalency of a volcano that’s erupting and spewing stuff into the air thirty miles high.

Delingpole: That’s a good question. You remember that volcano that erupted in Iceland a couple of years ago?

Cliff: Yep, that’s the one that made me start thinking about it

Delingpole: Yeah, I think that, I think that that – that volcano produced more CO2 than I think humans have produced in the last, in the last fifty years.

Cliff: Watta we gonna do about that? (…unintelligible…)

Delingpole: We should ban volcanoes.

You  can hear the entire interview (Wednesday, 10AM, 11/20/13) on KOA’s podcast

What are the facts?

The facts are well know, easily accessible, and have been presented to Delingpole before now.  Here it is summed up by the USGS…

Do the Earth’s volcanoes emit more CO2 than human activities? Research findings indicate that the answer to this frequently asked question is a clear and unequivocal, “No.” Human activities, responsible for a projected 35 billion metric tons (gigatons) of CO2 emissions in 2010 (Friedlingstein et al., 2010), release an amount of CO2 that dwarfs the annual CO2 emissions of all the world’s degassing subaerial and submarine volcanoes (Gerlach, 2011).

The published estimates of the global CO2 emission rate for all degassing subaerial (on land) and submarine volcanoes lie in a range from 0.13 gigaton to 0.44 gigaton per year (Gerlach, 1991; Varekamp et al., 1992; Allard, 1992; Sano and Williams, 1996; Marty and Tolstikhin, 1998). The preferred global estimates of the authors of these studies range from about 0.15 to 0.26 gigaton per year. The 35-gigaton projected anthropogenic CO2 emission for 2010 is about 80 to 270 times larger than the respective maximum and minimum annual global volcanic CO2 emission estimates. It is 135 times larger than the highest preferred global volcanic CO2 estimate of 0.26 gigaton per year (Marty and Tolstikhin, 1998). 

It is an embarrassment to me, as a skeptic, that the alarmist site “Skeptical Science” gets it right while Delingpole, a well know mouthpiece for skepticism, gets it wildly wrong.  This meme has been around for years and was long ago thoroughly debunked.  

I would forgive an acquaintance at a coffee shop or around the water cooler for making this mistake.  Then I would gently try to set him straight with the facts  But if you are going to put yourself forth as some kind of expert, then you need to get your facts straight.  This type of mistake may win converts to your side in the short run, but when people realize how wrong you have were, then they will not believe you even when you are right.  Worse yet, they will also be less inclined to believe other skeptics when they are right.

So, James, please fess up on this issue.  Admitting this mistake will only improve your credibility in the long run.


By the way, this reminds me of another misinformed claim:that underwater volcanoes in the Gakkel ridge were causing reduced sea ice in the Arctic.


The Search for Acceleration, part 9, the Baltic Sea

October 23, 2013

magnifying glass 145This is part 9 of a series of posts in which I am searching for a large acceleration in sea level rise rate in the latter part of the 20th century.  Such a rise rate acceleration is needed  to reconcile the 1.8 mm per year average rise rate for the century attributed to tide gauge data and the approximately 3 mm per year rise rate for the tail end of the century attributed to the satellite data.

The Baltic Sea

There are 22 tide gauge stations in the Baltic Sea area that are at least 90% data complete from 1960 to 2005.  Eighteen of those are 90% complete all the way back to 1930 and ten are 90% complete back to 1900.  The weighting (using a 200 km threshold) is nearly constant for the entire 20th century (see weighting graph below).  I will use the usual technique of detrending, weighting, averaging and derivatives, as shown in the following slide show.  (Note that you can pause or increment the slide show forward or backward by using the buttons that appear when your cursor is placed over the image.)

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The following graph makes clear that the Baltic Sea tide gauge data DOES reconcile the sea level rise rate from the tide gauge data with the higher late century rise rate from the satellite data.

Baltic Sea Detrended Acceleration annotated 2
On the other hand, the tide gauge sea level rise rate immediately before the era of satellite data is higher than rise rate after….

Baltic Sea Detrended Acceleration annotated 3

See an index of the Search for Acceleration series here.



20th century rise rate average of 1.8 mm/year

1. Church and White Global Mean Sea Level Reconstruction

2. Links to Church and White sea level data

Satellite data (about 3 mm/year): CU Sea Level Research Group

RLR tide gauge data: Permanent Service For Mean Sea Level


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