Monthly Archives: May 2013

Cold Alaska Spring – Part 2 – The Nenana Ice Classic

The Nenana Ice Classic is an Alaska tradition.   Each year thousands of us guess when the ice will melt on the Tanana River at Nenana in central Alaska.  This year somebody won $318,500.

The ice was late this year, really late.  It set a record.  The contest began in 1917, and the latest date had been May 20th in 1964.   We beat it this year….by 2 hours.   2013 now has the dubious distinction of being the new cold standard for the classic.   The following Snow and Ice Data Center chart illustrates the dramatic nature of this years cold.

1964 really stands out!  And 1992 in more recent times.  The date shown in the chart is the Julian date.   The chart was last updated in 1998.  Data since then has been well within the average range of the chart with all dates falling between 114 (2004) and 127 (2002)   The average winning date is Julian 125 or May 5 (or May 4th on a leap year).   This year we were late….16 days late.

I’d be the first to admit that the data really doesn’t mean much, but it is interesting.   1992 (the Pinatubo volcano year) was a very late year and the time around the record setting El Nino in 1998 was unusually early.   And look at 1940.  I wonder what happened that year.

A New Cooler Alaska, I wonder if the IPCC noticed

The last few weeks have been chock full of climate change and environmental news.

Tuesday,  May 1  –  Earth’s greenhouse gas approaches milestone levels.  Carbon dioxide in the environment officially passed 400 ppm.  This story was nothing more than an excuse to drag out all the old gloom and doom climate stuff that we all have been witness to for the last 30 years.

Carbon dioxide has been steadily rising for 200 years and man is probably responsible for most of it, but if there ever was a predictable event this one was it.

Tuesday, May 14 –  A Washington Post story noted that the Obama administration allows wind farms to kill eagles, birds despite federal laws.    Mr. Obama has decided that global climate change is more important than the Endangered Species Act.  This should be interesting to watch.

Friday, May 17 –  The Guardian posted Obama’s climate strategy sets off climate a time bomb.  The article is critical of the compromises the administration has made in the Arctic.

Friday, May 17 –  Weather.com posted an article detailing the record cold in Alaska titled Where Winter Won’t End.  My favorite part of that article was a map showing how cold it has been in Alaska for the last 44 days.  Here it is:

Map of temperature anomalies from April 1 through May 14, 2013. Strongest cold anomalies (4-5 degrees C or more) indicated by deep purple contours. (Image: NOAA/ESRL Physical Science Division)

Saturday, May 18th – Anchorage sets new records for snow and cold as documented in the Anchorage Daily News article titled Late-May snow sets multiple records.

Sunday May 19 – At 7:00 AM this morning it was 21 degrees F at my house.      The high yesterday was new record low temperature for a daily high by a whopping 7 degrees.   Today will be the 46th consecutive day it has been colder than average in Fairbanks.

Record high carbon dioxide, record low temperatures, and lots of environmental news.   Alaska was supposed to be one of the places most impacted by global warming as this chart prepared by the IPCC in 2007 shows:

Most of the  lawsuits relating to the Arctic environment  in the US revolve around the shrinking Arctic ice pack.  And the Arctic is melting in the summer despite the cold in Alaska.  But here’s an interesting sidebar.   It’s melting more off Asia and Europe than off Alaska as this map of the current Arctic Ice condition demonstrates:

US lawsuits about the disappearing Arctic Ice will abound and will be largely ineffective because they are regional in nature and the problem being addressed in international in nature.  It matters not what the USA does, if Russia, Norway, Denmark and Canada don’t go along.  Recent history would indicate that actions off the coast of Alaska have had very little to do with the current Arctic Ice disappearance.

Such is the nature of climate science and environmental law as it sits today.   The subject is  very complex and does not fit well into 30 second time bites.   Carbon dioxide is steadily rising, the world is not warming and all the IPCC projections to date have proven to be wrong.  We are running well below the temperatures the IPCC predicted just 6 years ago as this recent IPCC chart demonstrates:

AR4 (orange) was prepared in 2005 and published in 2007.  Virtually every year since has been colder (the black bars) than their predicted range and 2012 continued the trend.  So far 2013 has been a bit colder than 2012.  So what’s going on?

I don’t know.

It does emphasize something I think I have been right about since day one of this blog.  Where climate is concerned everybody with a strong opinion on the subject is guessing.  I see  guesses here, guesses there, guesses everywhere whenever climate science is discussed.

Snow in Anchorage

Each morning I walk to the end of my driveway and collect the morning paper while coffee brews in the kitchen.  Today, May 16th, I dodged snowflakes.  Yep, it’s 35 degrees F and snowing right now at my house in South Anchorage.

Two posts ago I complained that global warming had left Alaska, at least for April.   Well May is cold too.   Really cold.   There’s still some winter snow in my yard and our normal summer planting weekend is only a bit over a week away.

The weather man is predicting more snow and a low of 27 on Saturday.   I’ve lived in Alaska since 1972 and this is by far the coldest spring I have ever seen.  No wonder I’m a global warming skeptic.

IPCC Climate Synopsis Critique – Part 1

Any frequent reader of this blog knows I think the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been practicing sloppy science for at least the last 20 years. Wild Ass Guesses are their stock and trade.   I thought I’d take a few blogs to better explain myself.

Today’ Subject: Climate Forcing

The IPCC has been writing Synopsis Reports since 1992.  The latest is nicknamed AR4 (The 4th Assessment Report).  It was published in September of 2007.  UN Scientists (and politicians too because it is the UN) are working on AR5 right now.  It should be ready for public consumption in 2014.

The IPCC says the following in bold print in the beginning of section 2.4 of the 2007 Report:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.

The term very likely is a defined term in the document which means that they are more than 90% certain but less than 95% certain.  Unfortunately most is not a defined term.  I’d guess they mean greater than 50 percent.  The document  never defines most and  is silent about all other possible reasons the world has warmed.  Man caused greenhouse gases (GHG) are the only subject discussed.

The document begins with the statement that the IPCC is 90% certain that man is responsible for more than 50% of the increase in worldwide temperatures since 1950.  The rest of the document is constructed around the assumption that man is responsible for measured changes seen in recent years.

Recent temperature increases are considered confirmation that they are correct.  Temperatures that are well within the range of normal climate variation.   OK?

Early in Chapter 2 of the 2007 Report,  a graph is presented that explains the forcing agents behind global climate change (Figure 2.4).  Here it is:

This chart drives me crazy!  LOSU means level of scientific understanding.  This chart says the IPCC knows a lot about long lived greenhouse gases (high LOSU) and nearly nothing about everything else including Aerosols and the Sun (both are low LOSU).  It also says that greenhouse gases are 22 times more important than changes in the Sun.  The math looks like this:

(1.66+.48+.16+.34)/.12= 22

Everything shown on the chart is anthropogenic except Solar Irradiance. If so, where do ice ages come from?

The IPCC states that before 1950 most warming was natural climate variation.   The AR4 document appears to be saying that variation in Solar Radiation reaching the earth surface is always a very small number and only contributes to warming, and never contributes to cooling.

Here is an Antarctic Ice Core, the Vostok Ice Core: (http://rubyelephant.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/vostok-ice-core.jpg)

Wow look at all that natural variation;  400,000 years worth.  About 12 degrees C of natural climate variation. 3 degrees warmer than 1950 and 9 degrees colder.  And even today we are within the very tight range of the last 11,000 years…a period of nearly no change.

The temperature changes in a cycle that averages about 100,000 years.  Today, and for the last 11,000 years, it has been warm.  Less warm than 130,00o years ago but much more stable. Solar Irridiance must have been much less than it is today just 20,000 years ago.

The IPCC says in the Synopses document that their Solar data is based upon the time period from 1750 to 2005.  It appears that the IPCC has taken a period of stable warming climate…and then assumed that is the only condition that can exist.  If they had started say….500 years earlier… the results would have been different.

Look at the Aerosol numbers in the chart. It could be very small or bigger than carbon dioxide….and the IPCC admits to now knowing much about it

And carbon dioxide appears to be a trailing rather than a leading indicator as this image demonstrates:

130,000 years ago, carbon stayed stable while temperature dropped.   And it lasted for 20,000 years.  About 20,000 years later temperature rose rapidly while carbon dioxide levels drifted a bit lower.  Recent data shows wild increases in carbon dioxide without the corresponding temperature rise.  A less than perfect correlation.

Other  Vostok ice core images include dust particles in the graph.  They show sudden increases in dust during some of the cooling periods.  My guess….super volcano eruptions.

The IPCC admits to lots of areas where their knowledge is weak and they admit that Aerosols could be very important (the number could be large), they have used a simplistic model of the sun and admit they don’t know much about many important subjects. And they are 90% sure man is mostly responsible.

Can you say SWAG.

Science the IPCC way.

April was Cold in Anchorage

April 2013 was one cold month in Anchorage.   The average April day in Anchorage has  a high of 44 degrees F.  One April 2013 day beat the average (49 degrees F on April 22nd) and another made it to the average….but the other 28….oh well.  On April 10th, the high was 21 and the following morning it got down to 8.  The average day in April 2013 was over 6 degrees colder than the average April of the last 97 years.

Wow!  No wonder I’m a doubter of climate change.

I live in the one part of the world that is supposed to have been the most impacted by global climate change.   Just look at this chart I lifted from the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Synthesis Report.

Alaska and western Canada warmed more than the rest of the world…between 1970 and 2004.   I moved to Alaska in 1972, so I was OK with the new warmer world.  That 5 degrees F made for longer growing seasons, and warmer summers.  It was great.  Only one problem…..it went away.   We’ve had lots of colder than average weather since this chart was prepared in 2005.

The IPCC likes to use observed changes as a part of their argument for global climate change.  Short term observations personalize the argument.  This connects with people, but as a scientific argument….well….it’s a stupid argument in a climate cycle that lasts 100,000 years.  Particularly when natural climate variation is taken into account.  But it’s fun to personalize the data.  And two can play at this silly game…. it’s cold out there right now…and the IPCC predicted the opposite.

I wonder what the IPCC will say about that in their new AR5 due out in just 2 years.