Thursday, June 04, 2009

Updated: NSIDC keeps banging the global warming drum

(Updated with the first chart, below, plus the half-wise verbiage of the first paragraphs).
My erstwhile Antipodean shadow PKD has brought to my attention the June 2009 examples of the NSIDC's editorials, entitled "Melt Season Gains Momentum". His series of observations is in his unique style in the comments section at the bottom, or would have been had I not clumsily deleted the whole string of ten comments while trying to update the blog.

Any one of us can be accused of cherry picking data, I am sure (even you, PKD!), so in the spirit of cherry picking let me just use the NSIDC's words and illustration, and add that May's ice extent using NSIDC data looks to be about the same as 1990 and is higher than all but four of the past 19 years. If this is a trend, I think we can live with it. NSIDC helpfully plots the downward trend from 1979, a year whose only significance is that satellite data became available, then goes on to say:

May 2009 compared to past Mays

Compared to previous Mays, ice extent in May 2009 is about average. Over the last four years, May ice extent has increased.

Here is the original blog posting from a month ago:

Give the National Snow and Ice Data Center full marks for consistency. But not for objectivity, at least not for objectively presenting their own data.

Take their May 4 2009 update of sea ice extent. The chart shows 2009 ice extent approaching the average for the period 1979-2000, which NSIDC uses as a consistent benchmark. The start of the period corresponds with the beginning of satellite measurement of ice extent. The accompanying summary states:
Arctic sea ice extent declined quite slowly in April; as a result, total ice extent is now close to the mean extent for the reference period (1979 to 2000). The thin spring ice cover nevertheless remains vulnerable to summer melt.
So don't stop worrying about global warming just yet, dear reader, because this ice could melt! Could it melt more readily than spring ice from other years? Yes, NSIDC declared a month ago:
the melt season has begun with a substantial amount of thin first-year ice, which is vulnerable to summer melt.
If temperatures remain below average (a condition which the NSIDC has finally acknowledged) then somehow the thin first-year ice may survive and become second-year ice, with any luck less "vulnerable to summer melt". But again, don't count on it, according to the NSIDC
...conditions may not always favor the survival of second-year and older ice. Each winter, winds and ocean currents move some sea ice out of the Arctic ocean.
Reading this, one would think that once there was a patch of open water the whole place turns liquid faster than you can say "Save us, Al Gore!" This is consistent with climate modelers' worldviews that climate feedbacks are positive and once a change has been set in motion there is no stopping it.

Think about that.

In geologic time frames our plucky blue planet has been brass monkey cold, and stinking hot, and every temperature in between. If the feedbacks were positive, once we started heading towards hot we would just keep going until we made ashes of ourselves. We would not BE here if climate feedbacks were positive.

Back to the NSIDC and its little report. Recall in the opening quote that they call 1979-2000 their "reference period". This is nice and neutral. If the same organization referred to a "long term decline" in their same article, how would you think this related to the reference period?

Below is the chart that covers the putative long term decline. The astute reader will note that while it comes from the same organization, the data and trend line extend into 2009. The reader would then wonder why the last eight full years are not included in the reference data, as they would most certainly confirm that ice extent is above overall average levels calculated from all data at hand. From the chart, ice extent appears higher than any April in the last decade.

The informed reader would also observe that the beginning of the period of satellite observations coincides with the end of the cold period that began in 1940 and covered almost 4 decades during which CO2 levels steadily climbed while temperatures dropped, but that is a topic for another day. It is no wonder that ice extent started high and dropped for a while.
Trends are not destiny. Ocean temperatures and atmospheric temperatures have both signalled that the warming trends of the NSIDC reference period have reversed and heat energy is being lost from the earth and its atmosphere, not accumulating as many have been led to believe.

There is more ice now than there has been in a decade. Don't be surprised by this. And consider the possibility that there will be even more ice next year and next decade as solar activity, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and heaven knows what other mechanisms exert their normal will on us.

Then consider whether a colder planet is such a welcome prospect. I can imagine a time within ten years when we are struggling to feed our population and someone will suggest increasing CO2 emissions to enhance crop yields and maybe warm the place up a bit.


PKD said...

Trends are not destiny. Ocean temperatures and atmospheric temperatures have both signalled that the warming trends of the NSIDC reference period have reversed and heat energy is being lost from the earth and its atmosphere, not accumulating as many have been led to believe.

Oh ok.

So the fact the last year was at best the 10th warmest year on record escaped your attention did it Half?

True, PDO is in the cooler phase, true solar cycle is currently in its cool phase....and yet it was STILL the 10th warmest year!!!

Please explain how you account for that?

You also seem to think that there is no such thing as greenhouse gases. Do you steadfastly deny that greenhouse gases have any affect in the global tempratures???

And as for the May ice levels...yet again you are cherry picking one months weather and calling it the climate - will you ever learn?

Do try and wait for the end of the melt season before proclaiming the ice cap has been saved Half...

PKD said...

BTW - I found it VERY interesting that you remembered to update the month by month graph with all of May...but forgot to update the day-by-day graph.

I mean hey, that was a just a simple mistake hey? Nothing to do with the fact that the graph is looking a lot sicker than when you cherry picked it???

Halfwise said...

You are only embarrassing yourself. Daily ice extent has plunged over a few days? Sure, that's climate change. (Some people think CO2 caused it! I wonder how the ice extent grew? Was that a lack of CO2? Please...)

And no, I do not dispute that CO2 has a greenhouse effect (or "affect", if you prefer the quality of your spelling). But if we can find mechanisms with stronger correlation coefficients with global temperatures, say for example sunspot cycles or el Ninos and decadal oscillations, why in the world would we worry about CO2, especially if its marginal impact as a greenhouse gas diminishes as its concentration increases?

I dunno. It doesn't look much like science. Do you ever think there might be some politics mixed in there? You know, taxing for absolutely no benefit to the climate? Creating anxiety and guilt in school children? Wasting resources and talent on climate research that would have been better spent on water research, if the welfare of people actually matters?

Frankly, PKD, to me you represent a cohort of our modern society that is unbearably self-assured in its assessment of a dynamic, chaos-rich system, and presumptuous in demanding that the rest of the world reorder its priorities in accordance with its ludicrous conclusions.

The AGW movement is to environmental science what quant jock derivatives modelers were to the investment world. Models work until they don't. The AGW model with CO2 forcing at its core explains nothing that can't be better explained without CO2.

Heckle away. It's still a fairly free country and you do serve to provoke and amuse. But I hope you are beginning to realise how shaky the foundation is of your beliefs.

Ah, heck, let me just reprise my list of why I think the way I do. All this stuff appears earlier in the records of this feeble little blog or in links from here.
1. Today's temperature record is poor, due to station siting issues and changes in makeup of station siting over time.
2. Satellite data begins at a cold point in recent history. Trends appear when in fact they are just fragments of cycles.
3. The rate of change of temperature in the recent warming period is no different than the rate of change of temperature in the warming period of the 1930s. There is no runaway warming occurring.
4. Climate feedbacks are negative not positive, and the most important ones involving water vapour and cloud formation are not modelled.
5. Factors other than CO2 explain temperature changes over time better than CO2.
6. The amount of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is small. The amount by which our feeble conservation efforts will affect anthropogenic CO2 is not even measurable.
7. The AGW movement is full of sanctimonious hypocrites who fly around the world telling others not to use fuel.
8. AGW alarmists are prone to saying that good species will suffer and bad species will proliferate under warming conditions. How odd.
9. The world grows more food when it has higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.
10. The world used to be much warmer. We coped. It got colder. We coped then too. Warmer was better...
11. Climate has always changed. Our choices were always pretty clear: adapt, move or perish.
12. There is big money in CO2 trading, AGW research and climate alarmism in general. That money could be used elsewhere to create actual value.

Feel free, PKD, to list your reasons for thinking the way YOU do. Why should I be the only target?

PKD said...

Sure, that's climate change. (Some people think CO2 caused it! I wonder how the ice extent grew? Was that a lack of CO2? Please...)

Errrm - you've COMPLETELY missed the satire in my piece there. After all, you were the one getting all excited enough after April's slow start to use it in a misleading manner, and then drop it for the follow up now the graph is not looking so favourable.

I appreciate Americans don't have a great track record getting satire andirnoy - ah,well!

PKD said...

happy to list my way of thinking Half - 1st though let me counter the points on your way of thinking. Many are clearly incorrect and are probably the cause of your denialism.

1) Siting issues have not been demonstrated to invalidate the entire data set. Even if a fraction of the sites are in bad spots, there are enough sites left that the data can still be valid.

Without real evidence, this is just denilist carping in trying to shift the goalposts now the evidence is growing...

2) Satellite data is not used to determine the global temperatures, but to corroborate the temperature with the ground stations - which have been going for a heck of a lot longer. Like the 30's...whose data set you use to rely on in point 3. So really you're barking up the wrong tree there.

4) Err, climate feedbacks can work eiher way Half. Where on Earth did you get such an idea? Please provide me a link to the source of that - I could do with a chuckle...

5) I will agree with you that our current conservation efforts are feeble and leave it there - see 6.

6) BS. The ppm of CO2 os currently around 380ppm - about 100 ppm more than at the start of the Industrial Revolution. There is no other explanation for the source of this CO2 than the burning of fossil fules which give off...CO2.

7) Classic denialism. Conservation is not about burning zero CO2. Plane flying is in any way a neccesity of modern man that no-one like Gore has suggested we have to eliminate it or essnetial transport in general. And plane flying produces the least amount of CO2 per 100km of any mode of transport. So if its a neccessity...take the plane.

8) Historical observations show that when you dramatically alter an eco-system e..g via pollution in any way, the eco-system is degraded. This is simply a line made on previous observations Half!

It would be wishful thinking to claim that the global eco-system will be improved by the CO2, when History teaches science that its extremely unlikely.

9) And if the increased CO2 causes increased droughts and flooding? Your arguments are far too simplistic to be creditable...

10) I see. At least thats the 1st signs of admission that we really are warming the atmoshpere. Thats progress I guess.

11) Yes, climate has always changed...naturally. No-one is suggested otherwise!

12) Aah yes, you've saved the best too last. Science has been ijacked by evil business types who have corupted it to the point where we should no longer listen to the scientists. The world biggest conspiracy theory in History.
Um, you do know that science is able to debunk these cases, think smoking, think Intelligent Design and you'll get the idea. Niether of these has managed anywhere near the amount of acceptance that AGW does - becuase science debunked them!

You need to RELAX Half - theres NO conspiracy theory, ok?

PKD said...

Sorry for the typos BTW, there was too much there to proof-read when I have kids shouting in the background!

Halfwise said...

Hi PKD. You have done an effective job of validating my comment about unbearably self-assured AGW types.

Didn't quite catch the drift of your comment about Americans and irony, though. I hope my Canadian-ness is not too big an obstacle for your nationality-related prejudices.

In my previous posting I was referring to satellite ice extent data, not temperature. I am happy to have you refer to the satellite temperature record. Most AGW types have found it rather unsupportive of their agenda, since it stubbornly refused to rise at anywhere near the rate originally expected.

And as for sources of CO2, sure, burning is one. But since even Al Gore's graphs show CO2 changes lagging temperature changes by some 800 years, one could easily see how the Medieval Warm Period could lead to rising CO2 concentrations in the 20th century. Complicated? Chaotic? Poorly understood? Stubbornly challenging facile explanations? That would be climate science. I don't claim the science is settled, and I can't trust those who do.

I don't believe in conspiracies because I don't think people can scheme together in secret for any length of time. But I do recognize popular delusions and the madness of crowds, the inevitability of self-interest being promoted, the bending of truth in pursuit of money and power, and the resolute unwillingness of those who have taken a position publicly to accept evidence that casts doubt on their opinions. These behaviours can be seen in people on any side of a contentious issue. AGW alarmists accuse their opponents of them while failing to recognize their own reflections in the mirror.

As a serious student of climatology I was a global cooling believer in the 1970s. The rhetoric was identical, the science was as good as could be done, and the suggested cures using de-industrialization were the same.

Your implication that we can change the weather and somehow prevent droughts and flooding is sad. I can imagine you saying in all seriousness that "we have to do SOMEthing".

Think Cane Toads, PKD. Serious, learned people agreed that they had to do something about cane beetles. Wrong diagnosis, wrong cure, bad outcome.

Serious, learned people agreed in the 1970s that sprinkling carbon black on the Arctic might be necessary because of the ice age that was coming. Fortunately they did not get the chance.

Now serious learned people have demonized carbon and propose massive interventions in pursuit of a few tenths of a degree of temperature delta. The noise in the system is greater than the expected benefit, and the human sacrifice has not been reckoned. It seems to me like a form of madness.

The oceans have been giving up heat for 5 years. Temperature trends have reversed and turned downwards. This was not forecast by the models and is not part of the scenarios that the IPCC generated to substitute for predictions. The data and the hype are not at all in harmony, PKD.

But so what. You and I would be no better off arguing religion, or politics, or the right way to discipline children, or whether Sydney is nicer than Melbourne, or that AFC team in the drab brown and yellow should get new colours. We won't agree. That is ok, it is a big world and there is room for more than one opinion.

Just don't expect me to willingly sacrifice anything for a meaningless goal like reducing CO2 emissions.

PKD said...

By America I was referring to the continent not the country.

Don't let your Cannadian intferiority complex get in the way of remembering you share the continent with the yanks!

Halfwise said...

>By America I was referring to the continent not the country.

>Don't let your Cannadian intferiority complex get in the way of remembering you share the continent with the yanks!

Wow, you have kids? With a woman? Who is their father?

I think we have seen enough of you for a while, PKD.